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12/7 Through 1974: Connie HoF; Johnson, Lopez, Sugden Dealt; HBD Bo, Don, Ken, Hal, Vinnie, Gee Whiz, Tony & Bobby

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  • 1886 – C Bobby Schang was born in Wales Center, New York. Bobby spent 1914-15 with the Bucs, hitting .194. He was nothing if not persistent – he toiled in the minors for the next 12 years before getting five more MLB at-bats as a Cardinal at the age of 40 in 1927. He was the brother of catching great Wally Schang, who had a 19-year big league gig. 
  • 1897 – The Pirates traded C Joe Sugden to the St. Louis Browns for C Morgan Murphy. Sugden played for six more years, batting .243 over that span, while Murphy played five games for Pittsburgh before being released and claimed by Philly, playing 45 games in three years with a .220 BA. 
Tony Piet – 1933 Goudey
  • 1906 – 2B Tony Piet (Pietruszka) was born in Berwick, PA. Tony started his career with the Bucs, playing from 1931-33 and hitting a solid .298. He was traded in 1934 as part of the Red Lucas deal after he led the NL in games played in 1932 with 154. Name game: his son told UPI that “He changed his name to Piet because Pietruszka wouldn’t fit on the scoreboard in Pittsburgh.” 
  • 1915 – LHP Johnny Gee was born in Syracuse. In August 1939, the top minor league prospect was purchased by the Pirates for $75,000 and four players, the highest price paid by the Bucs for a player until the purchase of Hank Greenberg in 1947. Nicknamed “Gee Whiz,” he lasted parts of four seasons (1939, 1941, 1943-44) with the Bucs, winning five games. Also known as “Long John” (the bonus baby was also called the “$75,000 Lemon”), he never recovered his form after a 1940 arm injury. Gee was the tallest person at 6’9” to play MLB until 6’10” Randy Johnson debuted for the Montreal Expos in September, 1988. He also went on to play pro hoops for the NBA Syracuse Nationals; he had been captain of his Michigan Wolverine five while in college. 
  • 1915 – C Vinnie Smith was born in Richmond. Smith’s career, like those of many wartime players, was defined by WW2; his rookie campaign was in 1941 and then he was drafted into the Navy. He returned to the Pirates in 1946 and played in a handful of games (he hit .259 over the two seasons) before being relegated to the minors afterward. Smith got a taste of umpiring on the farm when a crew couldn’t get to the game, so the players had to police themselves . Vinnie found the job to his liking. He began as an arbitrator after he hung up his spikes in 1954 and returned to the majors in that role in 1957. Smith became part of Pirates history while in blue: he was behind the plate on May 26th, 1959 when Harvey Haddix threw his 12 perfect innings against the Milwaukee Braves. 
Hal Smith – 1960 Game Seven homer photo/AP
  • 1930 – C Hal Smith was born in West Frankfort, Illinois. Although the backup catcher only played two seasons (1960-61) in Pittsburgh, his three-run homer in the seventh game of the 1960 World Series, though overshadowed by Maz’s climactic walk-off, may have been the key blow of the entire set. Mel Allen called it “one of the most dramatic base hits in the history of the World Series.” It put the Bucs up, 9-7, after eight innings of a see-saw battle and set the stage for Maz, whose blow elbowed Smith out of the history books. Hal played for five clubs and retired after 10 years in the show, batting .267 overall while catching 75+ games in seven of those campaigns. 
  • 1930 – Scout Ken Beardslee was born in Vermontville, Michigan. Beardslee was called high school’s first ace – he set national records in strikeouts in a 9-inning game (26), threw eight no-hitters, won 24 of 25 games and set the national record for career strikeout average (18 out of every 21 batters) and season average (19 of 21 batters in 1949) while tossing two career perfect games for VHS. It led to six minor league campaigns before back injuries forced him off the mound. Beardslee went on to scout/supervise for the Pirates for 21 years, and found enough offseason dead time to write eight books, including novels, poetry and a pitching how-to titled “Making Every Pitch Count.” 
  • 1935 – RHP Don Cardwell was born in Winston-Salem, NC. He spent four seasons (1963-66) in Pittsburgh, where injuries led to a lot of bullpen time. He was 33-33-1 with a 3.38 ERA in his time with the Pirates, winning 13 games in 1963 and again in ‘65 when healthy and starting, but was dogged by arm woes in 1964. Cardwell lasted 14 campaigns, tossing for five teams. He threw a no-hitter for the Cubs and won a ring with the 1969 Mets. 
Don Cardwell – 1964 Topps
  • 1936 – RHP Bo Belinsky was born in New York City. He was the closest thing baseball had to Joe Namath and brought his glitter to the Steel City in 1969 after his playboy career had pretty well dissipated. He went 0-3/4.38 and would pitch just one more major league game in the show after his Bucco stop. Bo did clean up his act later in life, flew straight and became a born-again Christian. 
  • 1937 – Connie Mack was selected by the Centennial Commission to the Hall of Fame and was installed on June 12th, 1939, when the Hall officially opened its doors. Mack’s last three seasons in the National League were as a player-manager with the Pirates from 1894 to 1896, compiling a .242 BA, close to his career average, and a 149–134 (.527) record as a field general. In 1901 he became manager, treasurer and part owner of the American League’s first-year Philadelphia Athletics franchise. He managed the A’s through the 1950 season, compiling a record of 3,582–3,814 (.484) before he retired at 87. 
  • 1946 – The Indians sent OF Gene Woodling to Pittsburgh for veteran C Al Lopez. Lopez played just 61 games in 1947, and Woodling spent a season as a reserve, hitting .266 before the Pirates sent him to the minor league San Francisco Seals. Woodling joined the Yankees in 1949, and by the time that he finally hung up his spikes in 1962, he had a 17-year career with three All-Star nods, five World Series rings and a lifetime .288 BA under his belt. 
Bob Johnson – 1972 Topps
  • 1973 - RHP Bob Johnson was traded by the Pirates to the Cleveland Indians for OF Bill Flowers, who played prep ball in Cincinnati with Dave Parker and was drafted 13 rounds ahead of The Cobra. Johnson won three games before ending his career while Flowers never made it out of the minors. In one of those close but no cigar scenarios, it was reported that a handshake deal had been made to get 24-year-old Cecil Cooper from the Tribe, but the deal between Boston and Cleveland that would have made that possible fell through at the last minute.


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