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5/22 Through the 1940s: Josh Bomb; Expo Aflame; Game Stories; HBD George, Jim, Terris, Tom & Hooks

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  • 1884 – RHP Tom McCarthy was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Tom makes today’s list as one of the Bucs flipped so quickly that hardly anyone knew he was here. He started the year as a Red, had one terrible outing and was sold to the Pirates in May. He pitched twice for the Buccos, once as a starter and once in relief, and reversed his fortune by giving up one unearned run and three hits in six frames. Then in mid-June, he was part of a deal with the Boston Doves for Irv Young, joining his third team in a span of 39 days. Tom tossed pretty well for the Beaneaters into 1909, then was traded to the minor league Hartford club (then independent clubs rather than affiliates) for Chick Evans. That was the end of Tom’s baseball road pretty much – he had two good minor league seasons, then had to retire due to a balky back. 
  • 1894 – 3B Hoke “Hooks” Warner was born in Del Rio, Texas. Hooks played for the Bucs in 1916 as the starting third baseman after being purchased from Dayton in August and returned for cups of coffee in 1917 and 1919 (he spent 1918 in the army). Warner hit .232 over that span, and would play just 14 more MLB games with the Chicago Cubs in 1921. After his playing days, he managed a restaurant in Pittsburgh. 
Expo Park was scorched by some disgruntled directors (photo via Love of the Game)
  • 1900 – Exposition Park was plagued by a series of fires set in the stands. The Pittsburgh Press wrote that “It is believed the fires were started by persons who formerly held passes but whom the new management refuses to recognize,” referring to small stockholders who were cut out of the action by new owner Barney Dreyfuss and apparently took the loss of their perks hard. 
  • 1910 – RHP Terris McDuffie was born in Mobile, Alabama. Originally a speedy but poor-hitting outfielder, he later converted to pitching and won over 170 games. He played baseball for 25 years in the Negro, Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Venezuelan and California Winter leagues with some time in the minors. He pitched for the Homestead Grays in 1941, going 12-8/3.12 and starting in the All-Star game (he was a three-time Negro League AS). McDuffie was a flashy player; he wore a jacket that had “McDuffie the Great” embroidered across the back and went by the nicknames of Speed, Elmer the Great, Terris the Terrible, Schoolboy and Payaso (a person who likes to clown around). 
  • 1921 – In their initial meeting of the season, the first place Pirates defeated the second place NY Giants 8-6 at the Polo Grounds. After trailing for most of the game, the Pirates scored twice in the eighth and six times in the ninth. Possum Whitted went 3-for-3 with a homer, George Cutshaw went 4-for-5 with two doubles, Cotton Tierney added three knocks and Max Carey belted a four bagger. Wilbur Cooper went the distance for the win. It was a 2-0 game in favor of Gotham going into the eighth; the G-Men had no quit in them either and scored once in the eighth and three times in the ninth to keep it interesting. NY lost that battle but won the war; the Giants took the 1921 NL title by four games from the Bucs. 
  • 1925 – The Bucs scored five times in the first inning, keyed by Glenn Wright’s three-run homer, and then didn’t score again until the 10th, but it was enough to edge the NY Giants 6-5 at the Polo Grounds. Pie Traynor shot a liner off pitcher Wayland Dean’s shin that ricocheted into short RF for a double and scored on a two-out knock by George Grantham for the game winner. Vic Aldridge got the win; Dean was a hard luck loser, working 9-2/3 innings of one-run relief only to get tagged with the loss (and a bruise). 
Steve Swetonic 1929 (image from The Sporting News)
  • 1932 – Mt. Pleasant’s Steve Swetonic, a Pitt grad, had his scoreless innings streak snapped at 26 frames when Pepper Martin hit a seventh inning solo homer, but ended up with a three-hit, 5-1 win over Dizzy Dean and the St. Louis Cardinals at Sportsman’s Park. Steve would finish 11-6/2.86 for the year, but a bum arm short-circuited his career; he would have only one more healthy season left, missing all of 1934 and retiring in 1935. 
  • 1937 – OF George Spriggs was born in Jewell, Maryland. The Bucs signed the speedy Spriggs from the fading Negro Leagues and he led the AA Southern and AAA International League in stolen bases from 1964-66. In 56 games for the Pirates from 1965-67, Spriggs hit just .182 though he was 5-for-5 in stolen bases. He got two more MLB years as a bench guy for the Kansas City Royals. George also logged time in Mexico, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and independent leagues in addition to his 10-year minor league stint. 
  • 1946 – Josh Gibson hit a homer an estimated 490’ over the left center wall at Forbes Field to lead the Homestead Grays to an 11-8 victory over the New York Black Yankees. Gibson hit .379 that season and led the Negro League with 16 homers in 49 games. It was the opener for the defending Negro National League champion Grays, played in front of 5,000 fans; Homestead CF’er Jerry Benjamin led both teams with four hits. 
  • 1946 – Coach Jim Colborn was born in Santa Paula, California. He pitched for a decade in the show – he was the Brewers first 20-game winner – and went to LA as a pitching coach after his playing days. Colborn followed Jim Tracy to the Pirates in the 2006 offseason. He got into an infamous shouting match with Jack Wilson on a ball that dropped between three Buccos, didn’t have much luck in developing the Pirates young pitchers, and was let go after the 2007 campaign. He caught on with the Texas Rangers as a bullpen coach and then as their Pacific Rim coordinator; he’s based in Australia now.


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