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1/16: JHK, Jose, Ollie, Kip Sign; Interleague OK; Lamb Chop; AS Skin; Long Road; Hoopin' It Up; HBD Alfredo, Ron, Dave, Erskine & Art

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  • 1858 – IF Art Whitney was born in Brockton, Massachusetts. Known for his glove, he played for the Alleghenys from 1884-87, hitting .248 while in Pittsburgh. His lifetime BA was a paltry .223, but the slick gloveman led the league four times in fielding percentage, three times as a third baseman (1886, 1887, and 1891) and once as a shortstop (1885). 
  • 1890 – RHP Erskine Mayer was born in Atlanta. He worked two seasons for Pittsburgh from 1918-19, going 14-6 with a 3.19 ERA. In 1919, he was traded to the Chicago White Sox, becoming part of the infamous “Black Sox” team. His only appearance in the scandal-tainted 1919 World Series was a one-inning relief stint, his last in a MLB uniform. He ended his eight-year career with a slash of 91-70-6/2.96. Over that time, he had several notable moments. His best as a Bucco was going 15-1/3 shutout innings when he started the longest scoreless game in Pirate history (the Pirates eventually beat the Boston Braves 2-0 in 20 innings). He had a couple of lowlights, too. As a rookie for the Phils in 1912, Mayer set the MLB record for consecutive hits allowed with nine (since broken), and also was the pitcher who surrendered Honus Wagner’s 3,000th hit in 1914 while wearing the same Philadelphia uniform. 
  • 1930 - Before the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues, teams traveled all over the country for camp. The Pirates took 30 players to the 1930 spring training site, California’s Paso Robles, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The club announced nine late-March final tune-up games after breaking camp at nearby LA, SF and Oakland, then trips to Fort Worth, Dallas, Tucson, Mobile, New Orleans and Cincinnati before returning to Pittsburgh and Forbes Field. The pre-season warm-up trip rolled over 6,500 miles of railroad track and the shuffling of countless hands of gin rummy. 
Dave Jauss w/Clint – photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates
  • 1957 - Coach Dave Jauss was born in Chicago. Dave was named to the Pirates scouting staff in 2011 and became a coach for Clint Hurdle next season. He’s been managing, coaching and scouting since 1982, managing college, Dominican & minor league nines while coaching and scouting for Montreal, Baltimore, Boston, the Dodgers and Mets prior to landing in Pittsburgh, where he’s a coach without portfolio. He was let go when the new regime took over in 2019 and has moved back to the Mets as bench coach, where he was replaced by another ex-Buc coach, Glenn Sherlock, when Buck Showalter took the reins. 
  • 1960 – The Pirates and Steelers picked a neutral sport – basketball – to go mano-a-mano for charity, with the gridders taking a 22-20 sudden-death overtime win at Fitzgerald Field House despite 14 points from Dick Groat. The 15-minute match, set up by The Gunner, was part of a tripleheader played for the benefit of Children’s Hospital with Pitt whipping Westminster and Carnegie Tech upsetting Duquesne in front of 5,308 fans. Prince got into the action – he and the “Voice of the Steelers” Joe Tucker were the refs for the Bucco/Black & Gold game. 
  • 1970 - LHP Ron Villone was born in Englewood, New Jersey. Villone played for 12 teams in his 15-year career, tied for second all-time with P Mike Morgan and OF Matt Stairs, trailing only P Octavio Dotel, who played for 13 teams. All but Morgan wore Bucco uniforms. Villone tossed for the Pirates in 2002, going 4–6/5.81 in 45 games with seven starts after signing a $900K, one-year FA deal in February. 
  • 1974 - In a bit of a shell game, the Pirates sold RHP John Lamb to the White Sox, only to buy him back two months later. Lamb had three years with Pittsburgh (1970-71, 1973), going 0-2-5/4.07 in 47 appearances. They would be his last in MLB; the Bucs stashed him away at AAA Charleston as insurance and 1974 ended up his last pro season. 
John Lamb – Pirates promo photo
  • 1978 - IF Alfredo Amezaga was born in Ciudad Obregon, Mexico. He was claimed off waivers in April (Chris Duffy was sent down to clear a space for Alfredo), and then was released two weeks later with just four PA’s and four innings in the field after Jose Castillo came off the DL. Amegaza went on to play fairly regularly for Florida from 2006-08 and lasted nine MLB seasons in all, retiring after the 2011 campaign and closing out his playing days in Mexico in 2018 at age 39. 
  • 1991 – LHP Bob Kipper avoided arbitration by signing a one-year/$825K deal with the Bucs, upping his take-home pay by $300K. His line was 5-2-3/3.02 in 1990, but he slashed 2-2-4/4.65 in 1991 and left as a FA to join the Twins in the off season. That was the end of his road; he was released by Minnesota in July after eight MLB campaigns and began coaching in the indie and minor leagues. 
  • 1996 – Interleague play was approved by MLB for the next season and was later given an imprimatur from the MLBPA. It was meant to showcase rivalry games; three decades in, the Pirates are still looking for their natural rival; Detroit is their MLB-designated blood foe. 
  • 2003 - To add some skin to the All-Star game, the owners voted unanimously to give the winner home field advantage for the World Series, later approved by the MLBPA. It was eventually scrapped; 2016 was the last Mid-Summer Classic to determine the World Series home field. Good thing, too, for the NL – the Junior Circuit had won 11 of the 14 games played under that format. 
  • 2006 – LHP Ollie Perez signed a $1.9M contract in his first arbitration year after coming off a 7-5/5.85 campaign. The Bucs had high hopes for a bounce back from the southpaw who had gone 12-10/2.98 with 239K in 2004, but the 24-year-old posted a 2-10/6.55 line during the season and the Pirates sent him to the Mets at the 2006 deadline as part of the Xavier Nady package. 
Jose Veras – 2011 photo Justin Aller/Getty
  • 2011 - The Pirates signed RHP Jose Veras to a minor league deal worth $1M if he made the big club. He did, going 2-4-1/3.80 with 79K in 71 IP. Jose was one-and-done with the Bucs; in the off season, he was flipped to the Brewers for 3B Casey McGehee. Veras had three seasons left in the tank, slashing 9-10-23/3.64 and averaging almost 10 whiffs per game. McGehee hit .230 with eight homers for the Bucs while playing on a gimpy knee and was sent to the Yankees at the deadline for RHP Chad Qualls. 
  • 2015 – The Pirates officially signed Korean SS Jung-Ho Kang to a four-year, $11M contract ($2.5M, $2.5M, $2.75M & $3M with a $250K/$5.5M option for 2019). He could earn up to $750K/year in at-bat bonuses, with a guaranteed annual stipend for family travel and an interpreter. Pittsburgh also paid his club a posting fee of $5,002,015 for negotiating rights, making the deal the most expensive the Pirates ever paid out for an international signee. Kang, 27, hit .356 with 40 home runs and 117 RBIs in 501 PAs for the Nexen Heroes of the Korean Baseball Organization in 2014. His slash was .287/.355/.461 in his first MLB campaign, cut short by a late-season leg injury. He was strong again in 2016 but suffered through another injury-shortened year. That was followed by a missed campaign in 2017 due to legal issues in Korea that cost him his US work permit after a DUI conviction. JHK finally got back in good graces in 2018, but missed considerable time with a wrist injury. Kang was non-tendered, then re-signed by Pittsburgh for the 2019 wars before being released at the end of the campaign.


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