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9/23 Through 1954: Murry #20; Ralph #51; Craws Champs; '25 Clincher; Clarke Day; Picky Pud; Game Tales; HBD Dennis, Jim, Rook, Dino, Lino, Johnny, Joe & Cy

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  • 1880 – LF Cecil “Cy” Neighbors was born in Fayetteville, Missouri. Cy’s MLB career consisted of one inning in the pasture without a fielding chance for the 1908 Pirates. He was a minor league mainstay, though, batting .302 in 15 seasons on the farm (1905-20). He was a player manager for Tacoma in 1921 before settling into a post-baseball gig as a carpenter. 
  • 1886 – According to Charlton’s Baseball Chronology and Wikipedia, Alleghenys’ pitcher Pud Galvin walked the first three Brooklyn Bridegrooms he faced, and then picked them all off for a 1-2-3 inning! Pittsburgh won the game at Washington Park by an 8-2 score. The Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette made no mention of the feat, but did note that “Galvin…showed up well. To-day he not only twirled with great effect but showed remarkably good judgment when men were on base.” 
Pud Galvin – 2012 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions
  • 1886 – OF Joe Kelly (not to be confused with Bucco “Handsome Joe” Kelly of earlier years) was born in Weir, Kansas. He played regularly during his rookie campaign as a Pirate in 1914, hitting .222, and spent parts of five seasons in the show. Joe had a long career in minor league ball that spanned 23 seasons (1908-30), spending the last five years as a player/manager. 
  • 1895 – OF Johnny Mokan was born in Buffalo, New York. He started his seven-year career with the Bucs in 1921-22, hitting .262 off the bench, then spent the next five campaigns with Philadelphia where he blossomed. He spent the last two years of his playing days with the local farm clubs at Buffalo and Rochester and later worked as an equipment operator for NY State. 
  • 1904 – The Pirates downed the runaway NL leaders, the NY Giants, by a 7-0 score at the Polo Grounds. Charlie Case tossed a two-hitter, and didn’t give up a knock after the second frame. His opponent wasn’t quite up to snuff; the Pittsburgh Press said that “Leon Ames…was as wild as a March hare and issued six free passes. Besides, the Pirates stung his delivery at a lively rate and practically sewed up the game in the second inning, when three free passes turned into tallies.” The New York Herald was a little less kind – “Pittsburg Plays All By Itself” was its headline. 
  • 1907 – The Pirates dropped the NY Giants, 2-1, at Exposition Park. Vic Willis tossed a six-hitter with six K to outgun Hooks Wiltse. Bill Hallman had three hits and a run scored for the Bucs, Honus Wagner added two knocks and a stolen base, and Ed Abbaticchio doubled and scored. The game had a little added spice when umpire Bill Klem and Giant manager John McGraw argued during the lineup exchange, priming the pump for McGraw’s ejection in the sixth inning. 
Vic Willis – 1906 Fan Craze
  • 1915 – It was “Fred Clarke Day” in Pittsburgh, and player/manager Cap suited up one last time in his only on-field appearance of his final season. He played four innings and went 1-for-2 against Dick Rudolph of the Boston Braves in an 8-4 win at Forbes Field with Wilbur Cooper on the hill. For farewell gifts, Clarke received an eight-day grandfather clock from his players and a leather binder containing the names of several thousand supporters as a keepsake. 
  • 1922 – LHP Lino Donoso was born in Havana (Seamheads has his b-day as February 23 but most sources agree on this date). Donoso was a star in the Mexican League (and for a few seasons with the Negro League NY Cubans) although it didn’t quite translate in MLB. The Pirates brought him up on the strength of his 19-8/2.37, Pitcher of the Year performance in 1954 for Hollywood in the PCL; the only problem was that Lino came to Pittsburgh as a 33-year-old and was losing steam on his fastball. He worked 1955-56 as a Bucco, going 4-6/5.21 and returned south of the border. He posted 100+ wins and was elected to the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988. 
  • 1924 – OF Dino Restelli was born in St. Louis. He had just a two-year MLB career (1949, 1951) spent with the Pirates, but has a legit claim to fame: he hit a record seven home runs in his first ten games. He, along with Jose Abreu (White Sox – 2014) and Mark Quinn (KC – 1999), are the only players since 1914 to have a pair of multi-HR outings in their first 10 career games. But his star dimmed quickly. In parts of two seasons (1949-50), he hit .242 with 13 HR and was nagged by a series of injuries. The theories as to why he fizzled seem to focus on two issues – one was fear of the Lord, instilled in him by the Reds’ Ewell Blackwell who drilled him high with a fastball as a rookie. The other was his eyesight – he wore glasses that fogged up and he would often back out of the box to wipe them clean with an ever-present red hankie (which precipitated his incident with Blackwell). After his baseball career ended in 1955, he became a San Francisco police officer briefly before another injury caused him to leave that job. But he found work in nearby San Carlos where his parents lived. There he became a civic mover and the local Mr. Baseball, coaching and working as a member of the local Parks Department. 
Emil Yde – 1924 photo Conlon Collection/TSN/Getty
  • 1925 – The Pittsburgh Press wrote “The Phillies gave the Pirates a merry tussle in the game that clinched the pennant for the Smoky City…” as the Bucs turned six DPs and edged the Philadelphia Phillies, 2-1, at Forbes Field to claim the NL flag for the first time since 1909. It was the ninth straight victory for the Pirates. Emil Yde tossed a seven-hitter for the victory with late help from Tommy Sheehan. Max Carey and Pie Traynor contributed a pair of knocks. 
  • 1935 – Behind the four-hit pitching of Jim Weaver and Pep Young’s three knocks/seven RBI, the Bucs left the St. Louis Cardinals pennant hopes on life support, winning 12-0 over the Redbirds at Sportsman’s Park. The loss dropped the Redbirds four games behind the Cubs in the loss column with four games to go. Woody Jensen had four hits, including a pair of doubles, while Lloyd Waner and Arky Vaughan added three hits and runs apiece. 
  • 1935 – The Pittsburgh Crawfords beat the New York Cubans to win the Negro NL Championship, 3-0. Lefty curveballer Leroy Matlock, who went 18-0 during the regular season, tossed a three-hitter. He was backed by Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, Judy Johnson and Oscar Charleston, all future Hall of Famers. Pittsburgh took the hard fought seven-game series after falling behind three-games-to-one to New York for its only undisputed Negro League title. 
  • 1942 – LHP Jim Rooker was born in Lakeview, Oregon. Rook pitched eight years (1973-80) for the Bucs with a line of 82-65-6/3.29, which he equalled in playoff time with a 3.20 ERA, including a strong start in Game #5 of the 1979 Series, a crucial match that the Pirates, down three-games-to-one, won. He was also a Pirate TV color analyst from 1981 through 1993, and worked for ESPN from 1994 to 1997. Rooker’s most memorable TV moment came when he said on air that he’d walk home from Philadelphia if the Pirates lost. They did, and he did. True to his word, he staged a cross-state charity walk after the season. Retired now, he’s an author of children’s books. 
Ralph Kiner – 1947 Exhibits
  • 1947 – Ralph Kiner hit his franchise record 51st homer (he would break that mark in 1949) against Jim Kearns of the Cards at Forbes Field in an 8-4 loss to the Redbirds. It was the only strike saw that night; he walked on four pitches in three other at-bats and was ahead 2-0 before his swat. 
  • 1951 – Murry Dickson tossed a five-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds at Crosley Field to win his 20th game, 3-0. Gus Bell had a pair of hits and two RBI to back Dickson. Murry was the only Bucco pitcher to win more than eight games that season; the team only won 64 contests. 
  • 1952 – IF Jim Morrison was born in Pensacola, Florida. He spent half (1982-87) of his 12-year career as a Pirate, hitting .274 as a Bucco with a standout 1986 campaign, posting a line of .274/23/88 as Pittsburgh’s starting third baseman. He had his most memorable outing on June 1st, 1986, against the Los Angeles Dodgers, when Jim chased home seven runs with a double, a triple and a grand slam, the only granny of his career. After he quit playing, he managed in the Phillies system for a couple of years and has been with Tampa Bay since 2007. 
  • 1952 – RHP Dennis Lamp was born in Los Angeles. He worked in Pittsburgh in 1992 as a 40-year-old, finishing out his 16-year MLB career going 1-1/5.14 in 21 appearances until his June release. At last look, Dennis works behind the seafood counter at Bristol Farms in Newport Beach. According to his store manager, “He talks sports. He sells fish. He works hard.” Lamp, for his part, shrugs and says he doesn’t really need the money, but just likes to work and stay busy.


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