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7/1 Through 1964: Elmer-Robby; Bullet Joe Signs; Game Tales; Runnin' Away, Sportsman Opener, 3 For the Thumb; HBD Gunner, Al, Red & Fritz

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  • 1891 – OF Fritz “Dutch” Sheeren was born in Kokomo, Indiana. Fritz’s family moved into the Pittsburgh area when he was young and opened a saloon; from those beginnings, Sheeren went on to Lafayette College, where he starred in baseball and football, and had a brief MLB career with the Pirates from 1914-15, hitting .265 in 15 games. He played through the 1916 season in the minors before getting on with his life’s work. It appeared he did remain a home boy; he died in Kittanning and is buried in Marienville outside the Allegheny National Forest. 
  • 1901 – The Bucs were blanked by the Phillies, 1-0, at the Baker Bowl, the only time during the 139-game season when Pittsburgh was shut out, setting a 20th century NL record. Jack Chesbro tossed a four-hitter for Pittsburgh, while the Bucs banged nine hits off Red Donahue but couldn’t dent home. 
  • 1911 – The Pirates dropped a hard-fought 3-2 decision to the Cardinals, in part because they lost a fight with the umpire. The rhubarbs began with a tag play at second that the Pirates figured they had made; the ump begged to differ. Infielder Bill McKechnie slammed his glove in disgust and was banished; a new rule made that action an automatic ejection. Manager Fred Clarke put in his two cents worth later about St. Louis doctoring the ball and was given the thumb too. Dots Miller later joined the gang given the heave-ho for tossing his mitt. As a result, Hans Wagner ended up playing three positions as the Pirates tried to cobble together a lineup (Clarke was a player/manager, so the Pirates had three starters kicked out, and benches were short in that era). There had been a bottle-throwing incident the day before, and Clarke told the Pittsburgh Press that he believed that had influenced the umpires, who didn’t want to risk running a gauntlet of missiles launched from the Robison Field stands again. 
Fred Clarke – July 1911 Pittsburgh Press
  • 1913 – RHP Frank “Red” Barrett was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Frank worked during the war years of 1944-46 and tried to make a comeback in 1950 with the Pirates, going 1-2/4.15 in five outings after being purchased from New Orleans. Red had a long professional career, lasting from 1935-50 (he won 141 games in the minors), and afterward he was a farm league player/manager through 1953. He then moved back home and opened Red Barrett’s Drive In, a gas station/diner, in Leesburg, Florida, near Orlando. 
  • 1915 – It was a mixed bag for the Federal League Pittsburgh Rebels against the Baltimore Terrapins at York Road Park. In the opener of a twin bill, the Pittsburgh Feds were shut out, 6-0, by Jack Quinn. A little break between games did the Rebs bats a world of good and they bounced back to take the nitecap by a 13-5 tally, becoming the first big league team to score in every inning since 1894. It was the end of a long road trip, with the Rebels winning 11-of-18 matches after dropping 7-of-10 on a western swing (in that era, the far west was St. Louis, KC and Chicago) that opened their trek. Sadly, they were rained out in Pittsburgh upon their return and had to hop a train for four more games, splitting a set with the Chicago Whales before spending most of the summer at home, where they had 59-of-85 remaining contests booked at Exposition Park. 
  • 1916 – The Gunner, Bob Prince, was born in Los Angeles. Prince was an army brat and was always on the move; he graduated from Pittsburgh’s Schenley HS and went to Pitt, where he lettered in swimming. After gigs with WJAS and KDKA, he teamed with Rosey Rowswell in 1948 as a Bucco broadcaster and became the main announcer in 1955 when Rowswell passed away. He and partner Nellie King were let go in 1975 after a long running dispute with KDKA management. Prince returned to the booth in May, 1985, just weeks before he died of cancer. 
  • 1916 – Behind a Honus Wagner homer and Ray O’Brien’s ninth-inning single, Al Mamaux’s four-hit effort was enough to down the Cincinnati Reds and Elmer Knetzer, 2-1, at Redland Field. Mamaux was pretty good with the stick, too, hitting a double and triple while scoring the winning run with two down in the ninth. Hans’ fourth-inning homer made him the oldest player, at 42 years and four months, to hit an inside the park four-bagger. 
Al Mamaux – 1915 photo/Paul Thompson
  • 1918 – RHP Al Tate was born in Coleman, Oklahoma. Al was a minor league hurler who lost three years to WW2 and returned to baseball in 1946. The Pirates inked him then and sent him to the minors; he got two Bucco appearances (one start) and went 0-1/5.00 in his only MLB duty. He spent 1947 as a Pirates farmhand at Albany and played one more year in the Pacific Coast League before he retired. 
  • 1920 – The Pirates played St. Louis in the Cards first game at Sportsman’s Park (also the home of the AL’s St. Louis Browns; the Cards rented it off them) after the Redbirds flew the outdated Robison Field coop, which was built in 1893. The Bucs took the debut game, 6-2, in 10 innings, with Hal Carlson getting the win and Babe Adams picking up the save. The Pirates 10th had a little of everything – a walk, steal, error, two singles, a pair of doubles – and they added up to a big inning to send 20,000 plus St. Louis fans home disappointed. 
  • 1921 – The Bucs sent 28-year-old RHP Elmer Ponder to the Cubs for 31-year-old OF Dave Robertson. Ponder was coming off an 11-win/2.42 campaign for Pittsburgh and Robertson posted a .300/10/75 line for Chicago in ‘20, but both were approaching the end of their MLB trails. Elmer had a 3-6/4.74 slash with the Cubs to finish the year. They traded him to the Pacific Coast League LA Angels, and he spent the next six years working in the PCL. Robertson was hot, hitting .322/6/48 for the Pirates, then held out in the spring. The Pirates released him, and he was signed by the Giants. Used mostly as a bench bat, it was his swan song in the show, and he spent the next six seasons on the farm, mostly with Norfolk of the Virginia League, serving as player/manager for four years. 
  • 1926 – The Bucs broke an eight-game losing streak by spanking the Cards at Forbes Field, 7-3, as Kiki Cuyler and Pie Traynor each drove in three runs. Don Songer got the victory with Babe Adams picking up a save. In spite of that losing string, they claimed first place three weeks later before eventually fading to third with an 84-69 slate, five games out. 
Bullet Joe Bush (1926) – 1992 Conlon Collection/TSN
  • 1926 – The Pirates signed Bullet Joe Bush, recently waived by the Washington Senators. Joe had won 107 games for three clubs from 1920-25, but the 33-year-old was in the midst of an 1-8/6.69 campaign for the Sens. The Bucs got their money’s worth as Bullet Joe went 6-6/3.01 for them the rest of the year but fell apart in ‘27 and was released in June. He would appear in just 14 more games after that and was out of the league by the summer of 1928. 
  • 1940 – The Pirates scored once in the ninth inning to tie the game and added another in the 10th frame to nose past the Chicago Cubs, 4-3, at Wrigley Field. Vince DiMaggio was the Corsairs’ hitting star, going 3-for-5 with a homer, double, two RBI and two runs scored. Mace Brown, the third Buc hurler, got the win in relief after pitching scoreless ninth and 10th frames. 
  • 1960 – Speed kills, and the Bucs proved it to LA at Forbes Field when they raced to a 4-3, 10-inning victory in front of 27,312 fans. In the extra frame, Joe Christopher was on second with two outs and the Pirates down 3-2. Roberto Clemente rolled one to SS Maury Wills and it hung up in his webbing for just a tick, but that was enough to allow the Great One to beat the throw by a whisker. Meanwhile, Christopher kept flying around the bases and slid in just ahead of Gil Hodges’ toss to home to tie the game. C Johnny Roseboro jawed at ump Al Barlick, but the man in blue stuck to his call that Roseboro had missed the tag. Dick Stuart then blooped a single into short right and Frank Howard was a bit leisurely getting to the Texas Leaguer. Roberto, like Joe before him, had the pedal to the metal and the surprised Howard, seeing Clemente dashing plateward, gunned his throw up the third base line allowing Arriba to score standing up. In the clubhouse, Clemente said “My foot was sore…I didn’t want to play anymore and I tried to end the game.” Mission accomplished, Roberto. Gino Cimoli drove home two runs in regulation while Fred Green earned the win in relief of Vern Law.


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