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5/26: Kitten Perfect; HR Heaven, Dale Dong, Josh Bomb, Max-Imum; Frankie, Candy, Steve Gems, Game Tales; String Snapped, Ward, Brown Cycles, Riots Goin' On, For Sale; HBD Endy, Dann, Chuck & Jack

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  • 1874 – RHP Jack Cronin was born in West New Brighton, New York. He tossed four games for the Pirates as a 24-year-old, slashing 2-2/3.54 after being purchased from Fall River of the New England League in July of 1898. He was released and ended up with the Reds the following year. Jack had a long pro career lasting from 1895 until he tossed his last inning for Reading of the United States Baseball League in 1912, including seven years in MLB, although he was only part of a regular big-league rotation twice in that span and appeared a dozen or fewer times in the other five campaigns. 
  • 1890 – Rumors regarding the sale of the Pirates (or in this case, the Alleghenys) are as old as the franchise. The Press published an article regarding the possible sale of the franchise, or at least William Nimick’s 25% share, to an unnamed New York interest. Nimick was noncommittal regarding the report, but hung on until the end of the 1891 season, when he sold his share to William Chase Temple, who remained an owner until 1894. The ownership didn’t stabilize until 1899 when Barney Dreyfuss maneuvered himself into a controlling interest of the club. 
  • 1894 – The Pirates were thumping Cleveland, 12-3, in the top of the ninth inning when the crowd of 6,200 at League Park began to run amok after being taunted by the 500 rooters who had made the trip from Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Press wrote “A more disgraceful affair never occurred upon a ball field…when the disappointed Forest City fans, unable to endure the disgrace of defeat, attacked the Pittsburg club, the rivalry at white heat…In a second, cushions and pop bottles were flying in all directions…the crowd swarmed out of the stands…” and the frustrated hometown fans rushed the field. The two teams had traded accusations of dirty play the day before and after today’s donnybrook, 50 ready-to-rumble ‘Burghers escorted the Pittsburgh club to its train as some added Steel City muscle. Red Ehret got the win, backed by an 18-hit Bucco attack. 
  • 1908 – The Pirates beat the Boston Doves, 8-1, at Forbes Field behind Vic Willis, who scattered seven hits, and a balanced 10-hit attack. But all was not well in Pittsburgh; the Bucs were sputtering at 15-12, and 34-year-old team rock Hans Wagner, who had held out and missed all of spring training, was hitting just .268. Fortunately, the Dutchman was about to turn it around and carried the club with him. Honus batted .369 over the remaining 127 games of the season with 10 homers, 89 runs, 83 RBI and 47 swiped sacks; the Pirates piled up an 83-44 mark with Wagner back in the swing. The Buccos finished a game out of first, but Honus ended up on top once again – after the smoke had cleared, he won his third straight batting crown with a .354 BA. 
Hans – 1908 Rose Co. Post Card
  • 1925 – Max Carey walked and then swiped second, third, and home (he had 46 swipes for the campaign and led the league in steals 10 times; Max stole home 33 times in his career) during the Bucs 7-2 win over the Chicago Cubs. Kiki Cuyler added a two-run homer and Al Neihaus drove in two more scores as Ray Kremer coasted to the win at Forbes Field. 
  • 1933 – The Homestead Grays right fielder Ray Brown hit for the cycle vs. House of David in a 19-4 win. Brown had five hits on the day while Homestead posted 24 knocks (eight of the nine Grays had multiple hits against HoD) in a barnstorming match played in Clarion. They met again two days later at Greenlee Field and that match was a barnburner, with Homestead squeaking by, 2-1, with the game-winner being Terrible Ted Page’s eighth-inning solo homer. 
  • 1942 – RHP Chuck Hartenstein was born in Seguin, Texas. After three years with the Cubs, he came to Pittsburgh in a minor deal and worked from the pen in 1969, slashing 5-4-10/3.95. He got off to a rough start in 1970 and was released, playing for the Cards and later the Red Sox during the campaign. Chuck spent from 1971-76 in AAA before making a brief comeback in 1977 with the expansion Blue Jays. He coached and scouted afterward, finally leaving the game in 1995. The 5’ 11”, 150 lb. Hartenstein went by the nickname “Twiggy” for fairly obvious reasons, with the moniker bestowed on him by the Cubs’ Billy Williams. 
  • 1946 – Josh Gibson launched another long blast, this one 440’ into the Yankee Stadium bleachers, as the Homestead Grays whipped the NY Black Yankees, 11-8. It was the Grays’ fourth straight win and propelled them into first place in the Negro National League. It was familiar territory as the Grays won the league title nine times, although this season the Newark Eagles took the crown. 
Josh Gibson – Helmar T206
  • 1952 – The Pirates were a pretty poor excuse for a baseball team this season, but they were feisty. Bucco pitcher Ron Kline whizzed one over Cincy catcher Andy Seminick’s noodle in the second inning of the game at Forbes Field, which led to words between the backstop and Pirates coach Bill Posedel. They were close to blows and a crowd gathered, but peace was restored. Kline batted in the second and escaped without wearing a baseball, but Seminick and Posedel kept at it, started brawling, and both gangs joined the love-in. George “Catfish” Metkovich was exchanging love taps with various Reds when he was wrestled to the ground by Cincinnati trainer Dr. Wayne Anderson (it ends up they were old buds and the doc was trying to keep his friend out of harm’s way, per Catfish). The doc, Metkovich, Seminick and Posedel were all shown to the door. The Bucs won, 6-3, with the win going to Bob Friend, in relief of Kline. Ralph Kiner paid a price, getting ticked by pitches twice after the melee, but he had the last laugh with a homer. 
  • 1956 – Dale Long became the first player to go deep in seven straight games when he took the Phillies’ Ben Flowers deep in the eighth inning during his final at-bat as the Bucs dropped Philadelphia, 6-2, at Connie Mack Stadium. Frank Thomas and Hank Foiles also homered to give Vern Law the complete game win. Dale also doubled, and still wasn’t quite done with his historic home run streak. 
  • 1959 – In baseball’s ultimate pitching performance, Harvey Haddix threw 12 perfect innings against the Braves in Milwaukee’s County Stadium, only to lose the game, 1-0, in the 13th on a Dick Hoak error, sacrifice bunt, intentional walk and double that was a homer. (NL prez Warren Giles ruled that the final score should be 1-0, as runners Henry Aaron and Joe Adcock were ruled out, Aaron for leaving the field‚ and Adcock for passing him on the basepath. Adcock was credited with a double and not a HR.) In 1993‚ Bob Buhl admitted that the Braves pitchers were stealing the signs from C Smoky Burgess‚ who could not crouch down all the way because of his achy knees, and signaled the coming pitch, making Haddix’s effort even more remarkable. The only player who wasn’t impressed was Haddix, who told the Post Gazette afterward “My main aim all night long was to win. The perfect game would have meant something to me then. It’s just another loss.” Lew Burdette went the distance for the win, giving up a dozen singles. The Pirates hit into three double plays with only two runners advancing past first, both after two outs. 
  • 1959 – C Dann Bilardello was born in Santa Cruz, California. He spent most of his Pirates time at AAA Buffalo, hitting just .171 for Pittsburgh in 52 games between 1989-90. Dann got some MLB time at San Diego in 1991-92 and played out his time in pro ball at indie Winnipeg in 1994. 
Steve Blass – 1971 Topps
  • 1971 – Steve Blass carried the Pirates to 2-0 victory over Cincinnati at Three Rivers Stadium, recording a career-high 11 strikeouts while tossing a five-hitter for his second shutout of the season. Willie Stargell hit a two-run homer off Reds starter Tony Cloninger in the sixth inning that proved to be the game winner. Blass went on to post a 15-8/2.85 line for the year, matching his career high with 12 complete games and spinning five shutouts in 240 frames. 
  • 1978 – Montreal’s Steve Rogers spun a four-hitter at TRS, but two of them were back-to-back in the seventh frame when Rennie Stennett’s single was followed by Manny Sanguillen’s homer off a hung curve, and that was enough to carry John Candelaria and the Buccos to a 2-1 victory. Candy Man dodged plenty of raindrops, stranding 11, with the only blemish being Larry Parrish’s solo shot. Sangy, who was playing off the bench, manned first base (he got into 40 games at the spot in ‘78), replacing Willie Stargell, who had a sore back. 
  • 1980 – There were lots of baseball fireworks as the Phils rallied to beat the Bucs, 7-6, at Veterans Stadium. Bert Blyleven brushed back a couple of Phillies early on; Philadelphia reliever Kevin Saucier later plunked Pops to even the score. Then he went one better, bopping Blyleven, who charged the mound, bat in hand. A donnybrook ensued, and as it was breaking up, Phil’s coach Mike Ryan reignited things to start round two. Philly had the last laugh, scoring twice in the ninth off Kent Tekulve, who gave up four straight hits, to claim the victory. 
  • 1997 – For the first time in twenty years, two inside-the-park home runs were hit in the same inning when Sammy Sosa of the Cubs and Tony Womack both circled the bases five minutes apart in the sixth frame of Chicago’s 2-1 victory at Three Rivers Stadium. Womack’s homer was a legit gapper with a copacetic bounce; Sosa made his circuit after Jose Guillen crashed into Adrian Brown, who had briefly gloved the ball. After the collision, it rolled away into right field and by the time the horsehide was chased down, Sosa won a bang-bang call at the plate. Francisco Cordova took the loss. 
Endy Rodriguez – 2024 Topps
  • 2000 – C Endy Rodriguez was born in Santiago, Dominican Republic. He came to Pittsburgh in 2021 from the Mets as part of the three-way Joe Musgrove deal and zoomed through the system with a .296 minor league average and the versatility to also play 1B and OF. Endy has shuffled through the Top 50 MLB Prospects lists, and after a slow start at Indy, his stick caught fire and he was called up to the Pirates in July, 2023 as part of a long-time-coming youth movement. 
  • 2000 – Behind Francisco Cordova’s four-hitter and a double steal gone awry, the Pirates bested the Colorado Rockies at Coors Stadium, 2-1, in the second lowest scoring game played to date at the mile-high field. In a 1-1 game, the Rox tried a double steal; the lead runner, Tom Goodwin, stopped between second and third, and the back runner, Mike Lansing, turned and retreated to first as catcher Jason Kendall ran the ball toward him. The nimble backstop tagged Lansing and then threw to third to catch the slow-reacting Goodwin. Cordova celebrated by singling home Mike Benjamin with the game winner in the seventh. He was supposed to bunt, but the third baseman crept in too close, and Francisco took advantage by swinging away. Luis Sojo made a nice pair of plays at third in the final two frames to seal the deal as the Pirates ended a five-game losing streak. 
  • 2004 – Daryle Ward hit for the cycle with a career single-game high of six RBI against St. Louis at Busch Stadium as the Bucs won, 11-8. Ward and his dad Gary (1980) became the first MLB father-son duo to hit for the cycle, with Craig (2002) and Cavan Biggio (2019) later joining the club. The Pirates used six pitchers, with the win going to starter Kris Benson. 
  • 2012 – The Cubs lost their 11th straight game, 3-2, to the Pirates, Chi-town’s longest losing streak since opening the 1997 season with 14 consecutive losses. The teams were tied in the bottom of the ninth at PNC Park when Jose Tabata led off with a single off Rafael Dolis. Two walks and two outs later, the aptly named “Hit Man” Matt Hague took a pitch in the ribs for a walk-off plunk. Joel Hanrahan earned the win in a game started by Kevin Correia. 
  • 2023 – Andrew McCutchen led off the game against Seattle at T-Mobile Park with a homer, and the Bucs followed his lead, tying the franchise mark with seven long taters (the other record swatfests were in 1894, 1947 and 2003) on the way to an 11-6 win. The team had hit a total of nine dingers during the first 25 days of the month, so go figure. The Pirates bombers were Jack Suwinski (2), Cutch, Carlos Santana, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Tucupita Marcano and Bryan Reynolds. Suwinski and Reynolds each had three hits and combined for seven RBI/four runs scored It was an unexpected outburst as Mariners’ hurler George Kirby and Corsair moundsman Mitch Keller were the early aces of their respective staffs, with 10 wins between them entering the game.


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