1/11 Through 1955: Wade-for-Lefty; HBD Max, Jack, Mickey, SIlver, Skipper & Bill
Friday, January 11, 2019 5:34
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- 1867 – 3B Bill Niles was born in Covington, Kentucky. He only played 11 games in Pittsburgh in 1895, hitting .216, and never landed in the show again, but he did have an interesting journey. He was cut by the Pirates in 1894, and NL clubs Cleveland and Washington put in claims for him while a handful of minor league clubs offered him a deal. Apparently intrigued enough by Niles’ potential to not want to lose him to a league foe, manager Connie Mack removed him from waivers and loaned him to Milwaukee, then in the minor Western League, for the year. Mack brought Bill back to the Bucs for the 1895 campaign, but was returned to the farm after the season and toiled in the minors through 1901.
|Silver King (photo via SABR)|
- 1868 – P Silver King was born in St. Louis. King only played one season in Pittsburgh, but it was a big deal when he signed. King won 110 games from 1888-90 and signed with the Pirates for $5,000, becoming the highest paid player in the game. The investment fizzled; the Bucs got a 14-29 record (although he wasn’t all that bad; he made 44 starts and tossed 384 innings to a 3.11 ERA). But problems were looming. The Bucs released him, and the early sidewinder had one more good year with the Giants before the rules committee chopped him down to size. He threw sidearm from the far right of the pitcher’s circle, making the ball appear to be launched from third base. In 1893, the rubber was introduced and he lost his territorial advantage, never posting an ERA south of four afterward. His nom de guerre is combination nickname and writer’s Anglicizing: His real name was Charles Koenig, but his prematurely white hair gave him the nickname of Silver while King is the English translation of Koenig.
- 1888 – C Clarence “Skipper” Roberts was born in Wardner, Idaho. The backstop got into 52 games for the 1914 Pittsburgh Rebels as Claude Berry’s caddy. He batted .234 in his final big league season after jumping to the Federal League Rebs from the NL Cards. Skipper played briefly for the Chicago Whales after he was bounced from the team for punching an umpire, but Federal League President James Gilmore returned him, after a scolding, to Pittsburgh after four games for the Windy City nine. Roberts returned to his home base, the Northwestern League on the left coast, and 1916 was his last season. He worked as a machinist and passed away in 1963. His nickname appears to be a naval promotion by his ball playing buds; he was called Sailor Roberts after a stint in the Navy and it evolved to Skipper after a couple of seasons.
- 1890 – Hall of Fame OF Max Carey was born in Terre Haute, Indiana. He played 17 seasons in Pittsburgh, compiling a .287 BA while stealing 688 bases, leading the NL in that category 10 times. He was at his best during the 1925 World Series, hitting .458 as the Pirates dethroned the Washington Senators and Walter “Big Train” Johnson in seven games.
- 1890 – 1B Mickey Keliher was born in Washington DC. He spent his two-year MLB career in Pittsburgh, striking out five times in seven at-bats. Mickey was a career minor leaguer; he spent 18 years on the farm, where unlike his major league performance, he hit .304 lifetime. He was a player/manager for his last three MiLB campaigns before dying young after a car accident.
|Mickey Keliher 1911 (photo via Out of the Ballpark Developments)|
- 1951 – Scout and executive Jack Zduriencik was born in New Castle. His first big league executive position was as the Pirates Scouting Director from 1991-93, following birddog gigs with the Mets and Bucs. He went on to scouting/farm positions with the Mets, Brewers and Mariners before becoming GM of Seattle from 2009-15. Since then, he’s been a pre-and-post game analyst for The Fan (KDKA-FM).
- 1955 – The Cards sent RHP Ben Wade and cash to Pittsburgh for LHP Paul “Lefty” LaPalme. Wade worked well if not often in ‘55 with a line of 0-1-1/3.21 in 11 outings Lefty was converted full-time to the pen and spent his final three years (1955-57) with three teams, going 10-12-11/3.29, while making 132 appearances. After the former Brooklyn Dodger hung ‘em up, he spent his post-pitching days as an LA scout.