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12/2 Through the 1970s: KC, Kline, Beaumont Trades; Jeep Signs; Pag Sold; RIP Irishman; HBD Andre, Johnny, Mike, Roscoe & Deacon

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  • 1847 – Hall of Famer C/3B James “Deacon” White was born in Caton, NY. He played as a 41-year-old for the Alleghenys in 1889, and lasted one more season before ending his 20-year career with the Buffalo Bisons, retiring with a .312 BA. As a member of Forest City of Cleveland, White led off the opening game against the Fort Wayne Kekiongas with a double off Bobby Mathews, considered the first major league hit (the National Association of Professional Baseball Players was the first pro league), and banged into the first double play. Deacon also helped popularize the catcher’s mask and he was the first pitcher to go into a wind-up (he pitched twice, piling up 10 innings of relief work). He managed briefly after he retired. As one would expect from a man named Deacon – he actually was a clean-living church deacon – he and his wife were closely associated with the Christian school Mendota (now Aurora) College after his baseball days. Sadly, Deacon died on July 7th, 1939, at the age of 91, just after being snubbed for inclusion in the Hall of Fame. It took until 2013 for White to earn his spot in the Cooperstown Hall. 
Deacon White – 2012 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions
  • 1876 – RHP Roscoe Miller was born in Greenville, Indiana. Roscoe started out on fire, winning 23 games for Detroit as a rookie. He stumbled along for the next couple of years but seemed to have righted the ship with the Pirates in 1904, going 7-7/3.35. But bad luck intervened. Miller was riding with 14 other Pirates in a carriage when the rear wheel collapsed. Several players were hurt when the carriage folded and was dragged on its side by the horses, including Miller, who injured his wrist badly in the accident. That would become his last MLB season, although he spent five years in the minors afterward. Roscoe had a boatload of nicknames, with Rubberlegs, Roxy and Ross among them. “Ross” and “Roxy” are wordplays on Roscoe, and he was dubbed “Rubberlegs” after moving from Detroit to New York to Pittsburgh in a 14-month span. 
  • 1896 – C Mike Wilson was born in Edge Hill, Pennsylvania (Montgomery County). Mike’s entire MLB career consisted of five visits behind the dish and an 0-for-4 hitting line in 1921 for Pittsburgh. He is notable, though, as one of the early two-sport players who suited up for the Pirates, as he spent four winters playing football with early pro clubs in Buffalo, Rochester and Rock Island. 
  • 1898 – Pittsburgh traded IF Bill Gray and RHP Bill Hart to Milwaukee of the Western League for OF Ginger Beaumont. Gray wouldn’t play in the majors again while Hart tossed one more big league campaign. Beaumont spent eight of his 12 MLB seasons as a Pirate, hitting .321 w/200 stolen sacks, winning the NL batting title once and leading the league in hits three times during that span. 
Ginger Beaumont – 1903 photo Pittsburgh Press
  • 1906 – RHP Johnny Welch was born in Washington, DC. Welch tossed for nine seasons, closing out his career in 1936 with the Pirates after being picked up in June from the PCL’s San Diego Padres, where he had been sent by Boston in May. He got a save for Pittsburgh in nine outings with a 4.50 ERA, spent the next season in the minors at St. Paul and hung ‘em up after the 1937 campaign at age 30 – his minor league contract had been sold to San Francisco and Johnny didn’t want to play so far from home. No compromise was reached and Welch walked. He didn’t have much time left and so got to spend his last years at home – he passed away in 1940 from TB. 
  • 1934 – UT Andre Rodgers was born in Nassau, Bahamas. He was with the Bucs from 1965-67, batting .257 over that time, playing all four infield spots while seeing action in left field, too. Rodgers was the first Bahamian to play in the major leagues. A talented cricket player who paid his own way for a tryout with the Giants in 1954, he finally cracked the majors in 1957 and played 11 big league seasons, finishing with a .249 BA. 
  • 1936 – The Pirates signed 23-year-old IF Lee “Jeep” Handley as a free agent after a strong rookie audition with the Reds. He was a dependable sometimes starter, sometimes bench player for the Bucs over eight seasons (1937-46, with time off for WW2), averaging 105 games per year and hitting .269. It’s been speculated (by the Uniontown Morning Herald of 1938) that he got his nickname in 1936 as a Cincinnati rookie when he apparently reminded the veterans of a new Popeye cartoon strip character, “Jeep.” As Popeye said when gifted with Jeep: “Well, blow me down! A baby puppy!” 
Jeep Handley – 1940 Play Ball
  • 1963 – Win some, lose some… The Pirates lost OF Bobby Tolan, who just turned 18 with a season at Class A Reno under his belt, to the Cardinals in the now defunct first-year player draft. Tolan ended up with a solid 13-year career, compiling a .265 lifetime BA, and even had a later reunion with his original organization in 1977. Pittsburgh claimed LHP Luke Walker from Boston in the same draft, and Luke spent 8-of-his-9 MLB seasons with the Pirates, going 40-42-9/3.42 in 243 games (100 starts) as a sort of an all-around pitching handyman. 
  • 1967 – GM Joe Brown worked out a pair of deals, trading minor league 1B/OF Bob Oliver to the Minnesota Twins for 35-year-old reliever Ronnie Kline and selling C Jim Pagliaroni, who had offseason neck surgery, to the KC Athletics the next day. Kline won 12 games and saved seven in a strong ‘68 campaign, then faded the next season and was sent to SF for Joe Gibbon. Oliver seasoned for awhile, then starting in 1969, ran off seven MLB seasons, five as a starter with KC and California, batting .256 lifetime with an OPS+ of 100 on the nose. Pags had two seasons and 120 games left in him, hitting .244 during his last hurrah in the AL. 
  • 1970 – The Pirates and the Royals swung a six-player trade with RHP Bruce Dal Canton, C Jerry May and SS Freddie Patek going to KC while C Jim Campanis, SS Jackie Hernandez and RHP Bob Johnson came to the Bucs. Patek and Dal Canton became everyday players for the Royals as Patek played nine years for KC and won three All-Star berths while Dal Canton served as an effective swingman for five campaigns with the Royals. May was a backup who played through 2003, Johnson was 17-16-7/3.34 with the Bucs and Hernandez was a reserve infielder, with the last pair lasting three years for the Pirates. Campanis, the son of Dodger GM Al, didn’t make the club until 1973, and he only had six at-bats in his last hurrah in MLB. 
Jackie Hernandez – Pirates promo photo
  • 1976 – Danny Murtaugh, who had retired two months earlier as Pirate manager, died of a heart attack/stroke at age 59 in his Chester home. He compiled a 1,115-950 record in 2,068 games (.540), second-most wins in Pirates history behind Fred Clarke, and took five pennants and two World Series championships. His number 40 was retired by the Pirates on Opening Day, 1977.


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