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11/22: Roberto Selected; French-Weaver; Cordova Signed; Quail To Mets; Tising Deal; HBD Benjy, John, Dick & Walt

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  • 1901 – RHP Walt Tauscher was born in LaSalle, Illinois. Walt only got 23 big league appearances over two seasons. 16 were with the Pirates in 1928, where he earned a save and posted a 4.91 ERA. But Tauscher was a baseball lifer. He pitched 23 seasons in the minor leagues as both a starter and a reliever, going 263-200 in 867 games, reaching the 15-win mark seven times and the 20-victory mark twice, winning a career-high 21 games in 1934. Tauscher spent 13 of his 23 seasons playing in the American Association, spending nine years with the Minneapolis Millers. Walt managed Pirates farm clubs from 1947-51 and led the Tallahassee Pirates to a Georgia-Florida League championship in 1950. He didn’t shuffle off this mortal coil until he was 91. 
  • 1907 – IF Dick Bartell was born in Chicago. He began his 18-year MLB career with Pittsburgh (1927-30) and hit .301 as a Bucco before being traded to the Phillies after butting heads with Pirate owner Barney Dreyfuss. A little friction was a given; his nickname was “Rowdy Richard” because of his aggressive play and jousts with management (in fact, he selected that moniker as the title of his autobiography). He added 14 more seasons to his resume after leaving Pittsburgh, missing a couple of years of play during WW2, and earned a pair of All-Star berths. 
Dick Bartell (1929) – 1991 Conlon Collection/TSN
  • 1934 – The Pirates acquired righties Guy Bush & Big Jim Weaver (he was 6’6”), along with 1B/OF Babe Herman, from the Cubs for LHP Larry French and OF Fred Lindstrom. French ended up the main man; he pitched seven years for Chicago, winning 95 games, while Weaver was a Buc for three seasons and won 36 contests before being sold to St. Louis. Herman was sold to the Reds in June and Bush was released in mid-1936 after going 12-14-4/4.56. Lindstrom remained solid, hitting .272 during his last two MLB seasons on his road to Cooperstown.
  • 1935 – The Bucs swung a conditional deal w/Louisville for RHP Jack Tising, who had led the American Association in strikeouts. Alas, he lasted 10 games (six starts), slashing 1-3/4.21 with 27 whiffs in 47 IP before returning to L-Ville. He was quite the AAAA workhorse, though – he tossed in the minors from 1924-46, winning 135 games and working over 3,500 innings in 472 games. 
  • 1947 – RHP John Morlan was born in Columbus, Ohio. John spent two years with the Bucs, going 2-5/4.16 from 1973-74. He was a two-sport athlete in high school, turning down a football scholarship offered by Ohio State’s Woody Hayes and instead going to Ohio U. where he could play baseball. He was drafted four times but wanted to get his sheepskin, and it paid off. After graduating with a teaching degree in 1969, John finally signed with the Pirates (he was their first round pick that year, #5 overall), teaching during the off-season. He planned well to have that fall back position; after his Bucco stint, he spent three more years in the minors before leaving pro ball. 
John Morlan – 1975 Topps
  • 1954 – The Pirates, with the first pick, selected Roberto Clemente from the Dodgers in the Rule 5 draft, signing him to a $20,000 bonus and sending $4,000 to Brooklyn based on the recommendation of scout Clyde Sukeforth. It was money well spent for a Hall-of-Fame player with 3,000 hits, four batting titles, 15 All-Star games and 12 Golden Glove awards during his Pittsburgh career. The reason he was eligible for the draft was that the Dodgers had signed him to a $10,000 bonus in February, and by the rules of the day either had to carry him for the season on their major league roster or expose him to the draft. They risked a roll the dice on the latter and lost. 
  • 1965 – CF Bill Virdon was officially released after retiring from the Bucs to begin his managing career in the Mets system. The Quail held down center field in the spacious Forbes Field for a decade after coming over from the Cards in 1956 after being named Rookie of the Year, winning a Golden Glove and batting .266 from the one-two hole. His retirement was a bit premature; he actually got into six more games in 1968 while coaching for Larry Shepard. Virdon managed the Bucs in 1971-73, winning a division title, later coached off-and-on during the Jim Leyland era and lent a veteran hand during camp. 
  • 1965 – IF Mike Benjamin was born in Euclid, Ohio. He spent from 1999-2002 with Pittsburgh (Benny missed 2001 due to elbow surgery), playing every infield position while batting .239. Mike ended his 13-year MLB run after the 2002 campaign, but not before having his 15 minutes of fame with the bat. The light-hitting glove guy tied the major league record for most hits in two consecutive games with 10, set a major league record for most hits in three consecutive games with 14, and tied another record for most hits in four consecutive games with 15 in 1995, pretty heady stuff for a player with a .229 lifetime BA. 
Mike Benjamin – 2001 Pacific
  • 2000 – The Pirates signed RHP Francisco Cordova to a new deal after passing on his $3.85M option; he signed for an undisclosed lesser base with a boatload of incentives after tossing just 95 innings in 2000 with arm woes. He never got to collect any bonus bucks; he had TJ surgery in June and missed the year. It marked the end of his MLB career as a brief comeback try with San Diego fizzled, and he spent the rest of his career pitching in the Mexican League.


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