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12/8 Through the 1950s: Louisville Traded to Pirates; McCullough, Dixie, MacFayden Deals; Clown Prince Visits; Stars For Seals; HBD Pags, Spoon, Jimmy, Kid & Jack

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  • 1856 – Utilityman Jack Rowe was born in Hamburg, Pennsylvania in Berks County. He spent his 11th year in the league with Pittsburgh in 1889, much to his disappointment. He was sold to the club with Deacon White and they refused to report, preferring to play for Buffalo where they had begun their career and made their names. William Nimick, the Alleghenys owner, took a hard stand and the pair didn’t join the team until mid-season, and then bolted to Buffalo in 1890. After retiring from baseball in 1895, Rowe ran a cigar store in Buffalo where the sporting figures of the area would gather and kibitz, keeping his hand in the game via his own hot stove league. 
Jack Rowe – 1887 Tomlinson
  • 1869 – RHP Winifred “Kid” Camp was born in New Albany, Ohio. He made a couple of brief big league stops, appearing in four games for the 1892 Pirates (0-1/6.26 with one start) as a 22-year-old, with three more outings for the 1894 Chicago Colts. Sadly, he never got a chance to show he belonged in the show; he passed away at the age of 25 in 1895. His infielder brother Lew spent three years in the majors; they were teammates in Chicago. 
  • 1883 – LHP Charles “Jimmy” (his middle name) Wacker was born in Jeffersonville, Indiana. His MLB career lasted for two Pirates innings in 1909, surrendering two unearned runs on two hits and a walk. The 25-year-old got his shot after going 27-8 in 1908 for Evansville of the Central League; he finished his career in 1911 with Fort Wayne as an outfielder. 
  • 1899 – The Louisville Colonels, about to contracted out of the league, traded a dozen players to Pittsburgh (Jack Chesbro, George Fox, Art Madison, John O’Brien and $25,000 went to Louisville for Fred Clarke, Bert Cunningham, Mike Kelley, Tacks Latimer, Tommy Leach, Tom Messitt, Deacon Phillippe, Claude Ritchey, Rube Waddell, Jack Wadsworth, Honus Wagner and Chief Zimmer, with Chesbro being assigned back to the Bucs for the 1900 season). Barney had taken over the Pirates prior to the deal, and in effect merged his old team with his new one. They became one of the powerhouse clubs of the early 1900′s thanks to the greatest deal ever swung by the Buccos. 
  • 1902 – RHP Ernest “Spoon” Carter was born in Harpersville, Alabama. He tossed for 15 years in the Negro Leagues and made stops at both local clubs, working off-and-on for the Pittsburgh Crawfords (9-6/4.51) from 1933-38 and later for the Homestead Grays from 1942-45 (23-12/4.35). Spoon also pitched in the Cuban and Mexican Leagues and managed for a while. 
Spoon Carter – 1935 Crawfords team photo snip via Wiki
  • 1927 – Washington pitcher Al Schacht, the Clown Prince of Baseball, and his bud, coach Nick Altrock, appeared at the Sheridan Square Theater in East Liberty as part of a vaudeville revue, using a schtick they honed during games. Schacht only had a three-year MLB career but spent a dozen years on stage with Altrock and then opened a NY steakhouse where he sometimes performed. 
  • 1937 – C Jim Pagliaroni was born in Dearborn. “Pags” caught for the Bucs from 1963-67, sometimes starting and sometimes in platoon. He hit .254 during his Pittsburgh time and still has the record for most homers hit by a Pirate catcher in a season at 17, set in 1965. Injuries and reports that he wanted to be traded – he was playing in a rotation with Jerry May and Jesse Gonder – resulted in his contract being sold to Oakland in 1967. 
  • 1939 – RHP Bill Swift was traded, along with cash, to the Boston Bees for RHP “Deacon” Danny MacFayden. Swift had won 91 games for the Bucs in eight years and MacFayden claimed 124 victories in his career, but both were past their prime and the deal ended up a wash. MccFayden went 5-4/3.55 for Pittsburgh, then won twice more for Washington and Boston before the curtain fell on his career. Swift won four more games before his days were done. 
  • 1947 – The Pirates traded IF Billy Cox, IF Gene Mauch and LHP Preacher Roe to the Brooklyn Dodgers for RHP Hal Gregg, LHP Vic Lombardi and OF Dixie Walker in a swap that Buccos GM Roy Hamey later called the worst deal he ever made. None of the former Dodgers lasted past 1950 in Pittsburgh, while Cox and Roe would become mainstays in Brooklyn. 37-year-old Dixie was the key to the deal (he had made it clear that he and Jackie Robinson could not coexist), and the Pirates got two years and a .306 BA from him before he retired. The rumor mill at the time had Wally Westlake as the Dodger’s main target, but the outfielder remained with the Pirates until 1951. He played for six teams during his career, but never suited up for Brooklyn. 
Vic Lombardi – 1951 Bowman
  • 1948 – The Bucs sent IF Frankie Gustine and RHP Cal McLish to the Chicago Cubs for LHP Cliff Chambers and C Clyde McCullough. Gustine was a three-time All Star for Pittsburgh nearing the end of his career (he played two more years). Frankie would return later to open an Oakland restaurant on Forbes Avenue a few steps from Forbes Field. McLish went on to win 92 games in the next 11 years, including 19 for Cleveland in 1959. The Pirates unloaded Chambers the following year, while McCullough spent four years in Pittsburgh, batting .258. 
  • 1950 – The Pirates played musical chairs with their Pacific Coast League partners when the San Francisco Seals moved, along with former Bucco GM Fred Hamey, to the Yankees organization, and the Hollywood Stars joined Pittsburgh’s sphere to replace them. The Stars had a working agreement with the Dodgers, but like the Seals based their arrangement on a person – in this case, new Bucco GM Branch Rickey – rather than a franchise. The independent league was a fruitful source of players, with the Seals sending Pittsburgh Gus Suhr, Paul Waner and Dino Restelli while Hollywood would provide the Buccos with Gene Freese, Dale Long, Bill Mazeroski, Dick Stuart, Gus Bell, Bobby Bragan, Bob Purkey and Lee Walls during their time as feeder affiliates.


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