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11/21 From 1960: Q, Clint, Cooke, Andy Inked; Hill Dealt; '02 Roster Shuffle; Barry-Bo 2-3; Pops Hutch, MVP #2; 'Nam Tour; HBD Brian & Junior

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  • 1969 – Ken Griffey Jr. of Seattle/Cincinnati fame was born in Donora. The Kid (a childhood nickname given to keep him sorted from his dad, Ken Sr.) was a 13-time All-Star, and his 630 home runs rank as the sixth-most in MLB history. Junior also won 10 Gold Glove Awards in center field. He’s tied for the record of most consecutive games with a home run (eight games, along with Don Mattingly and Dale Long). His pop, Ken Griffey Sr., was born there and was a multi-sport star at Donora HS, since merged with Monongahela to form Ringgold. 
  • 1970 – Pirates broadcaster Bob Prince joined with Bucco players Willie Stargell, Mudcat Grant, the Baltimore O’s Merv Rettemund & Ed Watt plus the Atlanta Braves Phil Niekro, on a tour of troops and hospitals in Vietnam. Richie Hebner joined the war zone visitors in December. 
Willie Stargell – 1973 Kelloggs
  • 1973 – Pete Rose won the National League MVP, edging out Willie Stargell by a 274-250 tally. Rose took his third batting crown with a .338 mark; Stargell led the league with 44 homers, 119 RBI, and a .646 slugging percentage while batting .299. Many observers still believe Captain Willie wuz robbed of the award as a victim of the Charlie Hustle hype train. 
  • 1975 – RHP Brian Meadows was born in Montgomery, Alabama, pitching for Pittsburgh from 2002-05 after signing as a free agent after leaving Kansas City. The Bucs converted him to a reliever in 2003, and his line with the Pirates was 8-12-2/4.20. He went on to Tampa Bay in 2006 and retired the following season after failing to make it out of camp with the Reds. 
  • 1978 – Willie Stargell won the Hutch Award for persevering through adversity as did the honor’s namesake, Fred Hutchinson. Pops had lost the majority of the 1977 campaign to injury and illness, but bounced back in ‘78 to play 122 games and hit .295 with 28 homers & 97 RBIs during the Bucs down-to-the-wire chase of the Phillies. Captain Willie was the first Pirate to win the award, followed by Don Robinson (1984), Rick Reuschel (1985) and Sid Bream (1990). 
  • 1979 – Free agent LHP Andy Hassler signed a six-year/$750K (+$25K bonus money available annually) contract with the Bucs. It was much ado about nothing for the Pirates. They sold the hurler in June after just six outings and a 3.86 ERA to California, where he strung together three solid campaigns with the Halos. He mostly struggled during his last three seasons of the contract while with the Angels & Cards and retired after the deal expired. 
Andy Hassler – 1980 Topps
  • 1991 – The Brave’s 3B Terry Pendleton, who hit .319 with 22 HR and 86 RBI, won the National League MVP over Barry Bonds, who hit .292, with 25 HR & 116 RBI, by a 274-259 point count. Bobby Bonilla (.302 BA/18 HR/100 RBI) came in third and Bo was thought to have split teammate Bond’s vote, leading to Barry’s disappointing runner-up finish. 
  • 1996 – The Pirates took a low-risk flier on LHP Steve Cooke, signing him for a one-year/$175K contract. Due to shoulder injuries, he had made only three MLB appearances in 1995-96. He did give them about league average performance in 1997, going 9-15/4.30, but was released at the end of the year and pitched just one more game in 1998 for Cincinnati to end his big league career. Cooke was 10-10/3.80 w/200+ IP in his rookie campaign of 1993 and looked like a potential rotation mainstay, but never enjoyed a healthy season afterwards. 
  • 2002 – The Pirates added 2B Pat Meares and LHP David Williams to the 40-man roster from the 60-day IL, along with minor leaguers C Ryan Doumit, SS Jose Castillo, RHP Bobby Bradley and OF Walter Young, releasing OF Armando Rios and DFA’ing LHP John Grabow, with OF Adrian Brown having been set free earlier. The shake-and-bake wasn’t quite over: Meares ended up back on the 60-day DL, finishing his career, while Grabow was re-signed and debuted in 2003. 
  • 2005 – The Pirates sent 2B Bobby Hill, part of the ill-fated A-Ram salary-dump deal with Chicago, to San Diego for RHP Clayton Hamilton, a Beaver Falls native who went to Blackhawk HS and Penn State. Clayton never made it to the majors, topping out at AAA, although he did work two or three seasons in Japan. It was a wash; Hill, who had been DFA’ed three days before the trade, never made another MLB appearance, either, finishing up by playing indie ball from 2008-11. 
Bobby Hill – 2005 Fleer Tradition
  • 2011 – The Pirates signed ex-Astros’ SS Clint Barmes to a two-year/$10.5M free agent deal, their first $10M+ free agent deal since they signed Steve Buechele in 1991. Barmes ended the Ronny Cedeno experiment, and they re-signed him in 2014 as a back-up after he had played 252 games in his first two campaigns as the bridge to Jordy Mercer. Barmes, a popular and respected clubhouse guy, tutored the young Mercer to make the transition painless. He lived up to his glovely rep with a +26 DRS (good thing; he only hit .224 as a Bucco), and gave the breakout Bucs an identity when made his walk up song “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey, which became that club’s “We Are Family” 2013 variation on a theme as they finally broke their 20-year losing streak and made the playoffs. When he first returned to PNC Park as a Padre in 2015, he was greeted by the song and an ovation. Clint retired in 2016 after a 13-year MLB run. 
  • 2021 – The Pirates signed free agent lefty Jose Quintana, 32, to a one-year/$2M contract, pending his physical. The Colombian had gone 0-3/6.43 for the Angels and Giants in ‘21 after being out until June with shoulder inflammation. Because of the injury, he was used mostly in relief for the first time in his career and averaged a personal-best 12 K per nine innings, giving the Bucs the option of using him to start or bolster the pen, both which were short of southpaws. It was also expected that the 10-year vet would drop some smarts on a young staff, and as a final plus, Q was no stranger to the Central Division; before his left coast jobs last season, he had spent four years as a Cub. Jose ended up a rental, but he was respected as a mentor and ended up a rotation mainstay with a 3-5/3.50 line in Pittsburgh before being flipped at the deadline to the Cards.


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