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1/15 Through 1964: Chesnes, Hawley, Sunday Deals; '60 Rooks; Possum On Air; 1B Jam; FDR OK; HBD Ed, Jock & Mike

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  • 1858 – OF Mike Mansell was born in Auburn, New York. He played three seasons (1882-84) for the Alleghenys, posting a .251 BA. His final big league year was 1884 when he played for three teams. Mansell did have a knack for scoring – in 202 games for the Alleghenys, he touched home 164 times. His two brothers also played in the big leagues, and the trio even played the outfield together, albeit for minor league Albany Blue Stockings of the National Association. 
Jock Menefee as a Cub – 1903/04 Breisch-Williams
  • 1868 – RHP John “Jock” (the Scottish version of Jack) Menefee was born in Rowlesburg, West Virginia. Jock tossed three not very successful campaigns for Pittsburgh (1892, 1894-95), going 5-9/5.75. But he did have a shining MLB moment: Menefee became the first NL pitcher to pull off a successful steal of home while with the Cubs against Brooklyn on July 15th, 1902. 
  • 1880 – RHP Ed Kinsella was born in Bloomington, Illinois. He got his first taste of the show in September, 1905, going 0-1/2.65, with the Pirates in three outings (two complete game starts) and made a final MLB stop in 1910 with St. Louis. Kinsella was an early example of a AAAA player who finished his career with 144 minor league victories, including four 20+ win campaigns, in 10 seasons. 
  • 1888 – OF Billy Sunday was purchased by the Pittsburgh Alleghenys from the Chicago White Stockings for $2,000. Billy mostly spent his last three years with Pittsburgh, hitting .243, while the final few weeks of his career were served as a Philly after a late August trade. But the aptly named Sunday was transitioning from chasing flies to chasing souls; he became a famed tent revivalist in the early 20th century, and in a rarity (for both road-tripping evangelists and old-timey baseball players), one who never had a scent of scandal waft around him. 
Pink Hawley – Ars Longa art card
  • 1895 – The Pirates traded P Red Ehret and $3,000 (“a large bundle of dollars” per the Pittsburgh Press) to the St. Louis Browns for P Emerson “Pink” Hawley, the swap becoming official a couple of days later. Hawley spent three years in Pittsburgh as a workhorse, tossing 1,133-2/3 IP with a slash of 71-61-1/3.76 and becoming one of only three Bucs to win 30 games in a single season when he notched 31 victories in 1895. Pink was deservedly well compensated for his era – the Pirates paid him $2,400 a year (he asked for $3,000). Ehret had won 53 games for the Bucs over the previous three years, but in his remaining four seasons could only put up one more double-digit win campaign when he went 18-14 for the 1896 Reds; he would claim just 35 more victories total during the remainder of his MLB career. As for Hawley’s “Pink” moniker, Dale Voiss of SABR wrote “Emerson was born one of two twins, the other being named Elmer. People had trouble telling the twins apart so the nurse who assisted in their birth pinned a blue ribbon to one and a pink one to the other. This resulted in Emerson being given the middle name Pink, and the brothers were known as Pink and Blue.” He was a hit with the local fans, too. “Hawley earned the nickname ‘Duke of Pittsburgh’ because of his stylish dress and good looks. He was known to wear diamonds and other items of high fashion and developed a reputation similar to that of a matinee idol in Pittsburgh. Later a cigar was named Duke of Pittsburgh after Hawley. Boxes of these cigars featured his picture.” 
  • 1898 – The Detroit Tigers (then of the Western League, shortly to join the AL in 1901) were short at 1B and the Pirates had an overload at the spot, so owner George Vanderbeck stopped by Pittsburgh for a couple of hours of chat with Prez Bill Watkins to try to pry one of three redundant players – John Ganzel, Harry Davis or Jack Roth – loose for Motown. The Bucs refused to yield, admitting they weren’t going to carry all three but wanting to see them compete in camp. The patient Tigers eventually got their man when they bought Ganzel in late May. As for the other pair, neither made it through the year in the Steel City: Roth was sold to the KC Blues before the season and Davis, who had won the job early on, was sent to Louisville in July as Willie Clark claimed 1B. 
John Ganzel (w/Rochester) – 1909 T206
  • 1942 – Baseball in wartime, per BR Bullpen: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt sent his famed ‘Green Light Letter’ to Commissioner Judge Landis, encouraging MLB to continue playing during World War II. FDR stated that he believes playing the sport would be good for Americans and encouraged the owners to play more games at night to give war workers an opportunity to attend games. Despite the loss of players to the military, all 16 teams continued to play regular schedules for the duration of the war. 
  • 1948 – The Bucs paid a steep price to land RHP Bob Chesnes, shipping OF Gene Woodling, C Dixie Howell and minor league pitchers Ken Gables & Manny Perez, along with $100,000, to the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League for Chesnes’ services to complete a deal that began back in September. Chesnes had just finished up with a 22-8/2.32 slash in the PCL and looked like the real deal as a rookie, going 14-6/3.57 with 15 complete games. But the next two campaigns were plagued by arm soreness and he posted a 10-16/5.81 line. In June of 1950, he was assigned to the minors and never tossed another big league game. The Bucs did have a pretty good replacement in the system, though – after Chesnes was sent down, Vern Law was called up. 
  • 1958 – Jim “The Possum” Woods joined Bob Prince in the broadcast booth from NY, replacing Dick Bingham, who was axed. Woods and The Gunner formed a team that lasted through the 1969 season. In 1970, after battling KDKA over pay, The Possum moved to the second chair in St. Louis, supporting Jack Buck. He later manned the mic for Oakland, Boston and the USA Network. Bingham’s three-year run with Prince (the two didn’t have a smooth relationship) ended his radio career that had begun in 1946. He earned his daily bread as a realtor during the offseason and gave up announcing to then form his own real estate firm. 
The Possum – undated photo via SABR
  • 1960 – The Pirates invited 22 rookies to join the club for spring training in Fort Myers. Out of the group, there were three who would end up pretty good ballplayers – LHPs Bob Veale & Joe Gibbon along with 1B Donn Clendenon. Gibbon made the club out of camp and saw action in the World Series. Clendenon claimed a spot on the big team the following season and a starting job in ‘63 while Veale joined the squad in 1962 and ended up second on the franchise K list.


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