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1/3 Through 1964: Sure Shot Signs; Rabbit & Rogers?; Clean Bill For Deacon; Bucs In Black; HBD Gus, Dick, Harry, Eudie & Rip

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  • 1888 – 2B Fred “Sure Shot” Dunlap signed with the Alleghenys following the sale of his contract by the Detroit Wolverines. He agreed to a $5‚000 salary and a $2‚000 bonus‚ making him the highest-paid player of the time. The rangy defensive whiz played three years for the team, hitting just .240 (his lifetime BA was .292) at the backside of his career. Sure Shot is credited with earning his nickname from King Kelly, who was duly impressed with his fielding acrobatics and sure, strong arm. There is an alternate tale, per Wikipedia. In his book “The Complete History of the Home Run,” Mark Ribowsky claimed the nickname was won when Dunlap, then with the Cleveland Blues, hit a two-run, walk-off homer in the ninth to snap a 21-game Chicago White Stocking victory streak. One of the local papers called the blast the “…Shot Heard ‘Round Cleveland,” leading to the Sure Shot dub. Dunlap was also known as “The King of the Second Basemen.” Fun facts: Alfred Spink in “The National Game” wrote that Dunlap was ambidextrous and could catch/throw a baseball equally well with either hand. Moreover, Sure Shot reportedly never wore a glove. Continuing his dealing, club President William Nimick purchased RHP/1B/OF Albert Maul from Philly for $1,000 and immediately signed him to a $2,800 contract. Al played three years for the Pirates, batting .230 over that time while going 2-8/6.24 in 17 outings fromf the hill; he also spent 1890 with the Burghers of the short-lived Players League. 
Sure Shot – 2014 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions
  • 1894 - RHP Kirby “Red” White was born in Hillsboro, Ohio. Kirby tossed parts of 1910-11 for the Bucs. He was traded to Pittsburgh by the Boston Doves early in 1910 and went 10–9/3.46 in 30 games. In 1911, he was used for just three innings, going 0-1/9.00, and was released, spending the next four seasons in the minors. We assume he was red-haired; Kirby also went by “Buck.” 
  • 1906 - 1B Gus Suhr was born in San Francisco. He spent 9-1/2 seasons (1930-39) with the Pirates, hitting .279 with a .386 OPB and driving in 818 runs, earning an All-Star berth in 1936. Suhr started 1,389 games at first base for Pittsburgh, a team record, and once held the NL standard of 822 consecutive games played, which lasted until 1957. The game he missed wasn’t due to injury; he took off to attend his mother’s funeral. Gus retired after the 1940 season as a Phil and ran a liquor store, and we assume he never took a day off from that job, either.
  • 1913 – C Euthumm “Eudie” Napier was born in Milledgeville, Georgia. His family moved from the farm to Pittsburgh when Eudie was a kid and he graduated from Allegheny HS. He was athletic and played baseball for Pittsburgh’s sandlot Monarchs, where he caught the notice of the black pro clubs. A defensive whiz (although he did hit .279 over his career as a Gray per Seamheads), he was yo-yo’ed on the Homestead roster, playing sporadically from 1939 until 1948 before moving on to Canadian and Latin American ball. Napier continued playing in the local sandlot leagues after he retired and was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame (Western Chapter) in 1978. He passed on in 1983 and is buried in Union Dale Cemetery. 
Eudie Napier – photo via SABR
  • 1920 – Ralph Davis of the Pittsburgh Press wrote “…it is generally believed that the Pirates have been casting longing eyes in the direction of Rogers Hornsby and Milton Stock of the St. Louis Cardinals…but (St Louis) President Branch Rickey is apparently determined to demand a ‘pound of flesh’ if he relinquishes his hold…” No wonder; 2B Hornsby went on a six-season batting title streak beginning during the 1920 campaign to go with a 13-year .300+ skein (including three .400+ years) on his way to the Hall of Fame. It would have been a sweet sight indeed to see Hornsby and Pirates SS Rabbit Maranville together in the middle for five years had the deal been consummated. The lesser-known 3B Stock started for the next six years while batting .299 for the Cards and Dodgers, but the Pirates had an in-house replacement in the pipeline. After a 1920 apprenticeship, Clyde Barnhart kept the hot corner warm for the Bucs before moving to the OF when Pie Traynor arrived for good in 1922. 
  • 1926 – PH/RHP Harry Fisher was born in Waterloo, Ontario. He was a two-way guy and appeared in 18 MLB games with the 1951–52 Pirates, split between pinch hitter and pitcher. Harry hit .278 for the Bucs, and went 1-2/6.87 on the hill. His last appearance was in August, 1952, before his return to the minors, where he played through 1959, yo-yo’ing between the mound and the pasture. 
  • 1944 - RHP Dick Colpaert was born in Fraser, Michigan. Dick toiled in the minors for 13 years, 10 as a member of the Pirates system. He got his taste of the bigs in the late summer of 1970 after a hot start at AAA Columbus, getting into eight games and going 0-1/5.91, not as bad a line as it looks at first blush. He had seven effective outings (2.89 ERA), including his win over Atlanta when he blew through Hank Aaron, Orlando Cepeda and Clete Boyer, until the Mets beat him up in an August appearance, blowing up his ERA and sending him packing back to the farm. He retired in 1974 at age 30 and did some scouting for San Diego and the MLB combine.
Dick Colpaert – 1971 Topps
  • 1961 – The Pittsburgh Press reported that the Pirate owners collected their first dividend check since buying the club from the Dreyfuss family in 1946, citing the increased attendance thanks to the 1960 World Series championship. They got $4/share. The Galbreath family held majority team ownership from 1946-85. 
  • 1962 – Vern Law, who had suffered for years with muscle tears in his shoulder, was given a clean bill of health by the team doctors in Pittsburgh whose opinions were seconded by a Columbus specialist a couple of days later. Law agreed that he felt no pain in his wing, but by August his record was 4-5/4.93 in just 12 starts. Danny Murtaugh suggested it was time for Law to retire and he did. But a cure did exist – in the off season, he was blessed by a High Priest (Law was a devout Mormon) while in Salt Lake City, and came back to post a 12-13/3.61 line in ‘64, followed by a 17-9/2.15 slash in ‘65, winning the Comeback Player of the Year award.


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