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1/7: McClatchy Cashes In His Chips; Pitching Camp; Pirates-Pens Catfight; Fox TV Deal; HBD Ducky, Jim, Ted, Bud, Al, Red & Kitty

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  • 1875 – 1B William “Kitty” Bransfield was born in Worcester, Massachusetts. He played four seasons for Pittsburgh (1901-04), batting .271, and started for the 1903 Pirate team that played in the first recognized World Series, losing to the Boston Americans. He was active through the 1911 season and then spent time as a minor league umpire, Cubs scout and briefly as a farm team manager. Per David Anderson of the SABR Biography Project, “His original nickname was “Kid,” but a reporter with bad hearing (mis)heard it as “Kitty” and the name stuck.” 
  • 1889 – C Leo “Red” Murphy was born in Terre Haute, Indiana. Leo only spent one year in the majors when he was George Gibson’s 1915 back-up in Pittsburgh. He batted .098 and spent the next five years in the minors. But it did lead him on to bigger and better things – Red managed the Racine Belles of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (the inspiration for the “A League of Their Own” movie) for five years, winning the AAGPBL title in 1946. 
Al Todd – 1937 image by Berger/Press
  • 1902 - C Al Todd was born in Troy, NY. Todd spent from 1936-38 as a Pirate after coming over in a deal with the Phillies. He started the last two seasons, compiling a .282 BA during that span before being traded to the Boston Bees. He hung up the spikes at age 39 after the 1943 season and worked as a minor league manager and scout for several years after his playing career ended. 
  • 1902 – C Cliff “Bud” Knox was born in Coalville, Iowa. The 22-year-old broke in in 1924, catching six games for the Bucs, going 4-for-18, and that was his MLB career. Bud played 16 minor league seasons, batting .302, and was a farm manager from 1935-38. He coached semi-pro ball and college hoops/football when called upon. Knox stayed in sports for a long time – the four-sport star from Des Moines College officiated football and baseball games at the prep/college level for over 30 years, calling NAIA championship games in hoops and part of Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl ref crews. Nickname note: He was also known as “Hard Knox” in the minors after he broke bones in consecutive seasons. 
  • 1921 – OF Ted Beard was born in Woodsboro, Maryland. He played for the Pirates as a reserve outfielder from 1948-52, batting .203, after losing three years to WW2 as a medic. A top prospect, Ted had speed and showed some occasional flashes of power (he became the second player, after Babe Ruth, to clear the RF roof at Forbes Field), but was fated to become a AAAA player. He had great success playing for the Hollywood Stars & San Francisco Seals in the Pacific Coast League and later Indianapolis through the fifties and into the early sixties. 
  • 1924 – OF Jim Pendleton was born in St. Charles, Missouri. He played sparingly for Pittsburgh from 1957-58, mainly as a pinch-hitter who batted .306 in 49 games. He was one of the early Negro League players to reach the majors, having gotten his pro baseball start in 1948 with the Chicago American Giants. Sent to the minors in ‘58, he came back with the Reds and later the Colt .45s to carve out an eight-year career in the show. 
Jim Pendleton – 1959 Topps
  • 1935 – IF Dick “Ducky” (it was actually his dad’s nickname that followed Dickie around) Schofield was born in Springfield, Illinois. He played eight (1958-65) of his 19 big league years with the Pirates and took over for an injured Dick Groat during the 1960 title stretch run, hitting .333 to help the Bucs claim the NL pennant without missing a beat. Schofield was a regular infielder from 1963-65, but his BA (.248 as a Pirate, .227 overall) limited him to a backup role through most of his career. His son Dick continued the legacy, playing for 14 big league seasons while grandson Jayson Werth has put in 15 campaigns. 
  • 1997 - Fox Sports and the Pirates reworked their TV deal to extend through 2000. Over the course of the agreement, televised games would increase from 85/season to 100 and payments from $3.8M up to $4.5M in 2000; the 1996 deal had covered 75 games and $2.75M in payments. Some booth shuffling was also involved – Greg Brown became the TV play-by-play man while Lanny Frattare was relegated to radio only, with Bob Walk and Steve Blass alternating between radio and TV as color/analytic sidekicks. All four were inked to multi-year deals. 
  • 2001 – Under the regime of manager Lloyd McClendon and pitching coach Spin Williams, the Pirates held a voluntary week-long pitching mini-camp in Bradenton for the first time in club history. The staff had put together a 4.94 ERA in 2000, the clubs’ highest since 1953, and Williams said he wanted to get a jump on evaluating his charges’ physical shape, working on the fundamentals before training camp and pounding his philosophy of “Get quick outs.” Only three hurlers of the 20 invited didn’t attend – Kris Benson and Jason Schmidt (who was rehabbing an arm injury and wouldn’t get into a game until mid-May) were about to become fathers and vet Terry Mulholland begged off because of personal business. Their absence and the camp in general didn’t make a noticeable difference; the team posted a 5.05 ERA in 2001. 
  • 2004 - Pittsburgh pro teams usually get along well, but the Bucs were being a little bit catty (OK, downright mean) when they ran a season-ticket spot that had Lanny Frattare say something to the effect of “Cheer up, Penguin fans – baseball season is just three months away.” The Pens were not amused by the shade, even though they were going through a miserable season that featured a 17-game losing streak; after all, the Buccos had racked up an 11-season losing spell themselves. The Pirates pulled the radio ad on this date, apologized to the Penguins and both teams have played nicely in their community sandbox ever since. 
Kevin McClatchy -2001 AP photo
  • 2009 – Cashing in his last shares in the Pirates, Kevin McClatchy ended his 13-year relationship with the team. Always undercapitalized, he still managed to keep the financially floundering Buccos in Pittsburgh by coming up with investors to cover the $90-95M needed to buy the franchise. Bob Nutting became the majority stockholder in 2007 and ushered in the Frank Coonelly/Neal Huntington era when the season ended. They were replaced by Ben Cherington and company in 2019.


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