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7/4 Through the 1940s: Brain-y Deal; Satch No-No, Sweeps, Game Tales; 1st FF Fireworks, Wet One, Holiday Hits; HBD Chuck, Wayne, Jim, Mel, Stump & Lou

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  • 1882 – The Alleghenys defeated the St Louis Brown Stockings, 6-5, in 11 innings at Sportsman’s Park, scoring three times in the eighth and tying it in the ninth. It was thought to be the first Fourth of July match played by the American Association clubs, which would both later become MLB rivals as the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cards. (S/O DK Pittsburgh Sports). 
  • 1884 – LHP Lou Manske was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Lou had a short MLB career, getting into two games (one start) for the 1906 Pirates, posting a no decision and a 5.63 ERA. He had been purchased in August from Des Moines of the Western League where he had put together consecutive 20-win campaigns. Manske went to the American Association for three seasons afterward and closed out his pro pitching days with St. Joseph of the Western League in 1910. 
  • 1888 – The Alleghenys provided all the fireworks as they dropped the original Washington Nationals by a football-like score of 14-0 in front of 2,870 rooters at Recreation Park. Pittsburgh banged out 25 hits to give Ed “Cannonball” Morris, who spun a five-hitter, an easy holiday win. As stated in the Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette “It was hardly an exciting game but satisfying just the same.” The second game of the doubleheader was rained out after five frames. 
  • 1891 – RF Jacob “Stump” Edington was born in Koleen, Indiana. He got into 15 games as a 21-year-old for the 1912 Pirates, batting .302 as one of seven right fielders who saw playing time, and that was his MLB career. He continued on his baseball journey, playing in the Central League from 1915-1917, the Pacific Coast League from 1919-1921 and the Texas League from 1922-1927. Stump managed Raleigh for one more campaign before retiring at age 36. 
Bones Ely – 1896 team photo snip
  • 1899 – The Pirates celebrated the Fourth by sweeping a twin bill from the Cleveland Spiders at Exposition Park by 4-3 and 7-6 scores, both being walk-off, extra-inning triumphs. Pittsburgh fell behind 3-0 in the lidlifter before knotting it in the ninth and then winning in the 10th when Bones Ely’s two-out knock scored Ginger Beaumont. Bill Hoffer went the distance for the win. Ely was quite the hero; he scored the tying run and made a great, no-man’s-land grab in the field. The second game was a see-saw affair; the Spiders went ahead by a run in the 13th, but then mishandled a pair of bunts in the Pirates half to gift-wrap a Pittsburgh win. Jesse Tannehill claimed the victory in relief of Tully Sparks. The win set off some early Independence Day revelry – the Commercial Gazette wrote that “Men and women went fairly crazy, and there was enough noise to waken the dead. Firecrackers boomed and revolvers were fired into the air…” 
  • 1902 – The Pittsburgh Press headline read “River Invaded The Park.” During a doubleheader against Brooklyn, “…the Allegheny, which does not seem to know enough to keep its place, sneaked up…” backed up through a drain pipe, resulting in knee-deep water that flooded Exposition Park’s outfield. A special ground rule was created for the day: all outfield hits into the water were singles. Players occasionally caught a ball and dove into the water to splash around, providing “a source of pleasure to the crowd,” with over 20,000 pleased fans in attendance. The Pirates swept the Superbas as Jesse Tannehill tossed a 3-0 two-hitter in the opener and Tommy Leach collected two of his three hits on the day. Jack Chesbro spun a four-hit, 4-0 win in the nitecap with Lefty Davis banging out three raps to extend the team’s winning streak to eight games. 
  • 1904 – The Bucs and Cubs played a holiday twinbill at Exposition Park and the Bucs swept, winning the lidlifter, 7-2, and taking the nightcap, 11-6, in a game that featured six Bucco doubles. Roscoe Miller won the first match, supported by Honus Wagner’s three hits and two-knock days from Fred Clarke, Claude Ritchey and Ed Phelps. Mike Lynch gave up 11 hits but cruised anyway in the late game as every Pirate had two hits except for Kitty Bransfield, who only managed one rap. 
  • 1904 – Pinch runner/OF Mel Ingram was born in Asheville, North Carolina. A multi-sports star at Gonzaga U – he won 15 letters in four sports – he signed with the Pirates in 1929. He was on the roster for one month and got into three games, all as a pinch runner. His lack of playing time wasn’t much of a surprise – he had signed with Pittsburgh as a short-term rental, with the understanding they would release him when the Wallace Bulldogs (an Idaho college) season opened so he could manage their team. He then moved on to coaching HS baseball in Oregon. 
Dave Brain (w/NY Giants) – 1909 American Tobacco
  • 1905 – The Pirates traded shortstop George McBride to the St Louis Cardinals for IF Dave Brain. Brain lasted just the season in Pittsburgh, hitting .257 in 85 games, then was packaged in the trade to get Vic Willis, who became a Bucco mainstay on the hill. McBride played for 14 more seasons in the majors. A good glove guy, he never batted higher than .235, with a lifetime .218 BA. 
  • 1906 – There were no Bucco fireworks on this 4th of July as the Cubs took two from the Pirates by 1-0 scores at Exposition Park in front of 20,024 holiday rooters. In the opener, Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown beat Lefty Leifield with both pitchers firing one-hitters. It was the second double one-hitter in history, the first occurring in 1886. Leifield banged the only Buc hit off Brown while holding Chicago hitless until Jimmy Slagle’s single in the ninth inning. The Cub came around on a sacrifice‚ error‚ and ground out. In the second game, Carl Lundgren won a duel against Vic Willis when Sheckard plated on player/manager Frank Chance’s knock in the eighth inning. Willis gave up 10 hits but ducked and dodged the raindrops until the end; Lundgren spun a five-hitter. The Pirates had only been shut out twice all season before the twinbill, but it was a very good Chicago team. They won 116 games (tied with 2001 Seattle for the most victories in one campaign) and finished the year with a team ERA of 1.76, although they lost the WS to their cross-town rivals, the White Sox. The Pirates were pretty good, too, but their 93 wins left them eating the Cubbies’ dust. 
  • 1909 – Barney Dreyfuss started a Pirates tradition that’s carried on to this day: five days after Forbes Field opened in Oakland, he held a post-game fireworks display. Unlike today’s Zambelli exhibits, this was a separate event from the ballgame; after all, Barney had a new ballyard to pay for, and filled the house (and his pockets) again for fireworks. The show was the first time that pyrotechnics, now a ballyard staple, had been featured in a baseball stadium. 
  • 1927 – The Pirates swept the World Champion Cardinals, 7-2 and 6-4, in a Forbes Field doubleheader. Lee Meadows took the opener behind Johnny Gooch’s bases-loaded triple. The Cards rallied to tie the second game in the top of the eighth, but Clyde Barnhart answered with a two-run double in the bottom half for the win. Carmen Hill went the distance for the win. 
Chuck Tanner – 1983 Donruss
  • 1928 – Pirate skipper Chuck Tanner was born in New Castle. He managed the Pirates for nine years (1977–1985, 711-685 record) and won the World Series in 1979. He was also skipper of the White Sox, Athletics and Braves. Tanner was traded for Manny Sanguillen to the Pirates in 1977 by Oakland, only the second manager-for-player trade in history. He returned to the Pirates in 2007 as a special assistant to GM Neal Huntington, a spot he held until he passed away in 2011 at the age of 82. The Rotary Club of Pittsburgh hands out two awards in his name, the annual Chuck Tanner Major & Minor Baseball Managers of the Year, while the Pirates created the Chuck Tanner “We Are Family” Fund. Baseball was his life, saying “The greatest feeling in the world is to win a major-league game. The second greatest feeling is to lose a major-league game.” 
  • 1934 – Satchel Paige of the Pittsburgh Crawfords tossed a no-hitter against the Homestead Grays at Greenlee Field on Bedford Avenue with the only runners reaching via an error and a walk. He struck out 17 Grays, establishing the all-time Negro League record and matching what was then the MLB whiff record for a single game in the 4-0 win against Frank Stewart. The Craw’s Oscar Charleston had two hits, including a triple. Josh Gibson was Paige’s catcher, making it the only documented time in Negro league history in which no-hitter battery mates were both members of the Hall of Fame, something which has never occurred in the majors. The no-no was the opening act of a holiday twinbill that drew 12,000 fans to the Hill District yard. The Grays took the nightcap, 4-3, with Joe Strong getting the win over Bert Hunter. Ray Brown homered for Homestead. 
  • 1947 – RHP Jim Nelson was born in Birmingham, Alabama. Jim had a brief career but his fingerprints are all over the Bucco history books. Per Wikipedia: Nelson was a 31st round pick in the 1965 draft and made a dazzling debut in 1970. He relieved against the San Francisco Giants, struck out Willie Mays, and then got Willie McCovey to bounce into a twin killing. Jim spun three perfect innings with four strikeouts and also slapped a single (he was a good hitter, batting .269). Nelson started his career with a 4-0 record (and the team won his first seven starts), a feat not equaled by a Pirates starting pitcher until Zach Duke in 2005. Nelson also was the last Pittsburgh hurler to win his first three career starts until Gerrit Cole matched the feat in 2013. More trivia: Nelson also was the starting and winning pitcher in the final game played at Forbes Field on June 28th, 1970, a 4-1 win over the Chicago Cubs. But the next season saw him develop serious control issues and he was shipped to the minors in mid-July. Jim refused to report (he was 2-2/2.34 with the team but had made only 17 appearances) and it cost him as his teammates voted him a half-share of their 1971 World Series money but the FO stiffed him when handing out World Series rings. It was a sort of messy way to end a relationship, especially as he later had rotator cuff surgery and never got back to the majors. His lifetime line was 6-4/3.01 as a Buc from 1970-71. Nelson became a salesman after baseball and used to hand out $5 bills to the homeless in his Sacramento community as Christmas gifts until he passed away at the age of 57. 
Jim Nelson – 1972 Topps
  • 1947 – RHP Jim Minshall was born in Covington, Kentucky. A second-round pick in the 1966 draft out of HS, he tossed six games for the 1974-75 Bucs and was 0-1, even though he never gave up an earned run. Jim was a Pirates lifer; he pitched in the Buc system from 1966-76, posting a 59-53-20/3.70 line before closing out his career at AAA Charleston. 
  • 1948 – The Pirates took two from the Chicago Cubs by 5-1 and 6-2 scores at Forbes Field to reclaim second place in the National League, 2-1/2 games behind the front-running Boston Braves. Rip Sewell and Kirby Higbe gave up eight hits in the opener but only one run while Elmer Riddle tossed a four-hit complete game victory in the nightcap. Ralph Kiner and Stan Rojek led the way at the dish; each had five hits during the day. Ralph had a homer, a double and three RBI while The Happy Rabbit scored twice. As for the Pirates season, they finished in fourth place, 8-1/2 games behind the Braves, but did end up 83-71 in a competitive campaign. 
  • 1948 – OF Wayne Nordhagen was born in Three Rivers Falls, Minnesota. Wayne put up eight years off the bench in MLB, getting into one game as a Bucco in 1982 and doing pretty well, going 2-for-4 with two RBI. Nordhagen was part of a fairly byzantine set of moves. The Blue Jays sent him to Philly for Dick Davis; the Phils quickly swapped him to the Pirates on the same day for Bill Robinson. Then a week or so later, the Bucs shipped him back to the Jays for Davis.


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