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4/13 Through 1974: Curt, Stuffy Join; Game Tales - Deac Streak, Babe 1-Hitter, Balks, Openers; HBD Ricardo, Doug, Claude, Mike & Abel

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  • 1870 – 1B Abel Lizotte was born in Lewiston, Maine. His major league career consisted of seven games played as a Bucco in 1896 with Abel proving to be not very threatening with the stick, going 3-for-29. Lizotte was a 17-year man in the bushes, wielding the lumber a lot better on the farm with a .292 lifetime BA while playing for 10 different clubs. He also managed in the minors. 
  • 1883 – C Mike Simon was born in Hayden, Indiana. He was with the Bucs from 1909-13, mainly as a reserve, and hit .244. He jumped to the outlaw Federal League in 1914 and finished his big league career there, playing two more seasons. Mike then spent his final two years in the minors. 
  • 1889 – RHP Claude Hendrix was born in Olathe, Kansas. He pitched for the Bucs from 1911-13, posting a 42-30/2.71 slash. He jumped to the Federal League in 1914 where he won 45 games in two years for the Chicago Whales. When the Fed folded, he stayed in the Windy City with the Cubs and won 57 more games with them over five seasons. He got caught up in the backwash of a gambling investigation and his career ended in 1920. He passed away at age 54. 
  • 1914 – The Bucs dropped their Opener, 2-1, at St. Louis’ Robinson Park as Babe Adams lost his duel to Dan Griner of the Browns, whose pitching, according to the Pittsburgh Press, was “of the airtight variety.” Redbird manager Miller Huggins, despite the win, liked the Pittsburgh lineup, saying that “Fred Clarke has a sweet baseball club this year.” Huggins was a better skipper than prognosticator as the Pirates finished in seventh with a 69-85 record. 
Babe Adams – Helmar Big League Brew
  • 1916 – Babe Adams tossed a one-hit, 4-0, gem against the Cards. The only hit was a generously ruled knock that clanged off 2B Joe Schultz’s mitt. Adams won only one more game that season and was sent to the minors in August. The Pirates brought him back again in 1918 after he sat out a season, and he stuck through 1926, winning 48 games between 1919-21. Babe’s last game was on August 11th, 1926 when he was released after leading a player revolt, asking that former manager and current FO suit Fred Clarke, who had been openly critical of manager Bill McKechnie, be banned from the bench in what became known as the “ABC (Adams, Skeeter Bigbee & Max Carey were the ringleaders) Affair.” He would never play another major league game, though at age 44 his better days were in the rearview mirror. Babe worked 19 years for the Bucs, winning 194 games with a 2.76 ERA and he won three World Series games in 1909. 
  • 1925 – 1B Stuffy McInnis was released by the Boston Braves and signed by the Bucs. He hit .368 in 59 games and played in Pittsburgh’s World Series win over Washington. He was a bench guy the following year, hitting .299 before retiring after 1927. McInnis gained his nickname as a youngster in Boston, where his spectacular fielding brought shouts of “that’s the stuff, kid.” 
  • 1954 – Seven years after Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier, second baseman Curt Roberts made his major league debut during the season Opener at Forbes Field and became the first African American to play for the Pirates (although Carlos Bernier, who came up in 1953 and was considered Latino rather than black, was the first black Buc). The former Kansas City Monarch tripled off Robin Roberts in the first inning as the Bucs beat the Phillies, 4-2, by scoring four times in the eighth frame. It was the first time the Pirates had ever opened the season at Forbes Field, drawing 32,294 fans. It was their 11th straight home opener win, a streak that would end the following year. There was a little pre-game merriment as three-year-old Leslie Blair, Honus Wagner’s granddaughter, was slated to throw out the first pitch, but was struck by stage fright and never let loose the horsehide, causing the umps to begin the game without its traditional opening. 
Curt Roberts – 1954 Topps
  • 1962 – The Mets played their first Home Opener against the Bucs with only 12,447 fans at the Polo Grounds on a cold, drizzly day. It was Friday the 13th to boot, and the date cursed the home team. The Pirates scored the winning run on two eighth-inning wild pitches thrown by Ray Diavault, scoring Dick Groat, who had opened with a walk, to defeat New York, 4-3. The Pirates had eight hits, with five coming from the 6-7-8 hitters (Smoky Burgess, Don Hoak & Bill Mazeroski), who accounted for two runs and three RBI from the bottom of the order. Tom Sturdivant went seven innings for the win with ElRoy Face nailing down the save. 
  • 1963 – The Pirates clobbered the Reds, 12-4, at Crosley Field, but the big story was on the bump. The league decided to clamp down on balks and a record seven were called in the game, including a MLB record of four on Bob Friend (the mark lasted a month until the Braves’ Bob Shaw was caught five times), who was nonplussed by the calls. He admitted that he never adhered to the full stop rule because it had never been called before. An MLB record 924 balks were rung up during the season after umpires were instructed to enforce the rule as written. As for the game, Ducky Schofield, Bob Skinner and Billy Maz each had three hits; Roberto Clemente and Friend had two knocks each. Pete Rose collected his first MLB hit during the game, a triple, after an 0-for-11 start. 
  • 1964 – IF Doug Strange was born in Greenville, South Carolina. He ended his nine-year MLB run off the bench in Pittsburgh, batting .173 in 90 games. He spent a couple of seasons as minor-league depth, then joined the Marlins as a scout for a couple of more years before coming over to Pittsburgh’s Baseball Operations section in 2002. He’s now a Special Assistant to the GM. 
  • 1966 – Vern Law won his 10th straight game by a 6-0 count over the Braves at Atlanta Stadium. The Deacon gave up four hits, no walks and fanned four, never allowing a runner to advance beyond first base. Willie Stargell had a homer and three RBI while Donn Clendenon added a two-run blow to key the attack. Law then missed a month with a pulled rib muscle, lost his next outing in May (ironically against the same club, Atlanta) and finished 12-8/4.05 on the campaign. He only had fumes left in his tank, and a groin injury led to his retirement in August of ‘67. 
Vern Law – 1966 Topps
  • 1968 – Al McBean went the distance to claim a 2-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants and Gaylord Perry at Candlestick Park. McBean did it all; he tossed a three-hitter and even singled in the winning run with two outs in the seventh inning. The key play was The Great One gunning down Willie Mays at third with no outs in the seventh to keep the lid on a potential rally by the G-Men. Per BR Bullpen, Mays could recall being caught going from corner-to-corner just once in his career, and it was on this day. “Roberto Clemente threw me out on a bang-bang play at third. I should have remembered what a tremendous arm he had…” later explained the sadder-but-wiser Say Hey Kid. 
  • 1970 – LHP Ricardo Rincon was born in Cuitlahuac, Mexico. Rincon, signed as a veteran of the Mexican leagues, pitched for the Pirates from 1997-98. He went 4-10-50/3.17 with 135 K in 125 IP. Rincon was part of a combined no-hitter on July 12th, 1997 when Francisco Cordova threw nine innings of hitless ball and RR pitched a clean 10th. He was traded for Brian Giles in 1998.


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