Baseball History on January 29

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1848 Denny McKnight

Owner of the Pittsburgh franchise and American Association president for a short time.

1853 George Meister

Spent a year with Toledo in the American Association in 1884 – but played most of a decade in the minors in the 1880s and early 1890s.

Born to German immigrants and named after his father, Meister arrived in Baltimore and then his parents relocated to Pittsburgh where his sister Maria (Mary) was born.  He must have played semi-pro ball or low level minor league ball but for the time being, there isn’t much of a record of it (I’ll keep looking).  He took over the 3B position in Toledo but couldn’t hit enough to keep his job and from that point forward, he was in the minors – mostly in Michigan and Ohio before returning home for good.

As a teen he was listed in the census as a barber, but eventually he started his own business as a cigar maker and tobacco store – he might have even gotten his own liquor license.  In later years, he was elected as a school director – despite the fact that he never married and had children.  He ran his business for at least 35 years, and maybe longer, before retiring.  He passed away from complications related to pneumonia just after Christmas in 1928.

1849 Art Allison

Journeyman of the Association days…  His brother, Doug, was on the 1869 Red Legs…  According to ML Profiles of the 1800s, he was the first player to strike out in a major league game, but reached first base because of a called strike.  Like many who would follow, lost his skill and job because he liked cheap whiskey.

1859 Bill Krieg

Minor league batting champ, went to Notre Dame, and a player who could play behind the plate, at first base, or even in the outfield.  Played in the minors until he was 42…  After that he managed another fifteen years.  Nicknamed “Stonewall”, which suggests he was a tough cookie…

1860 Bart Cantz

Part-time catcher for Philadelphia and Baltimore in the late 1880s. Batted all of .157 in 217 at bats…

1860 John Coleman

Not the guy who took his weatherman job at ABC-7 in Chicago and left to found the Weather Channel…  Played for either Philadelphia or Pittsburgh in the 1880s.  Apparently, he once was forced to enter a game following an injury – only he wasn’t wearing a uniform.  The rules were changed after that.

A story in ML Profiles of the 1800s says that he once threw a ball more than 360 feet UNDERHANDED

1885 Hack Simmons

Outfielder for Detroit, New York, and the Federal League Baltimore Terrapins – was a regular with the Highlanders in 1912.

1890 “Irish” Ed Conwell

Played one game for the Cardinals in 1911 – he struck out as a pinch hitter, then made an error in the field.  Spent his twenties playing minor league ball, playing more than 1000 games in places like Waco and Evansville.  His life was equally short as he passed away in 1926 in Chicago.  Apparently, I used to drive past his grave site as a little boy – he is buried in All Saints Cemetery in Des Plaines, IL.

1891 Esty Chaney

Red Sox pitcher in 1913, later Brooklyn in 1914.  The vast majority of his life would be spent on the rails, first as a fireman and then as an engineer.  Bill Nowlin wrote his biography for SABR.

1894 Otto Rettig

A Seton Hall grad, Adolph Rettig got four starts for Connie Mack in 1922, winning one.  An article on the web suggests that Rettig was rather lucky to have even gotten the chance to pitch, much less beating the St. Louis Browns in his first major league start.

1897 Pat Patterson

Full name was Willian Jennings Bryan Patterson, so he almost could be included with guys like Abraham Lincoln Bailey and Grover Cleveland Alexander.  Only played for the Giants in the 1921 season, but hit .400 in his 23 games.  Spent a good chunk of time in the Texas Leagues before getting his gig in New York and little in his minor league record suggests that he could hit any.  Must have been a heck of a fielder…

1898 Dick Burrus

Signed by Connie Mack out of the SALLY League, later pitched for the As and Boston Braves in the 1920s.

1899 “Ode” Ollie Voigt

University of Illinois grad who got six weeks with the St. Louis Browns in 1924, winning his only decision in eight appearances (one start).

1902 Elmer Eggert

Got a brief cup of coffee with the Red Sox in 1927.  He was called Mose as a player, but it was accidentally recorded as Moose in some record books, which belies his 5’9 and 160 pound frame…

A minor league infielder for a decade; never married, and spent his days after baseball as a mail carrier.  Bill Nowlin wrote his biography for SABR.

1904 Ray Hayworth

Starting catcher on the January 29th Birthday All-Star Team, Hayworth played 15 years in the majors, mostly for Detroit, but later with Brooklyn and the Giants.  Only cleared 100 games on two occasions, but was a pretty good player during the 1930s.  Brother Red also played in the majors…  His biography is part of a SABR book on the 1935 Tigers, in case you were curious.

1909 Murray “Red” Howell (later, “Porky”)

Pinch hit 11 times for the Indians in 1941, getting two hits and four walks.  The Indians signed him away from the Phillies after Howell became eligible for the Rule 5 draft.  Red spent the better part of 17 seasons in the minors playing all over the country at just about every level imaginable and for at least seven different farm systems.

1918 Bill Rigney

Giants infielder after the war years during a period of Giants greatness and turmoil, and later a manager for the Giants after they’d had enough of Leo Durocher…  Also managed the Angels and Twins.  I believe Ike Futch has a brother whose middle name was Rigney…

Nicknamed “Cricket” because he was a non-stop talker…

Guessing there are many fans who know a fair amount about the fella, but did you know that he won the 1970 AL West with the Twins?  He took over for Billy Martin and did a heck of a job.  Rigney got the Angels job when Stengel declined an offer from Gene Autry – so Rigney got the gig.  When Autry fired him in 1969, Autry got him a job as a broadcaster for the Giants, whose games were carried by an Autry owned station.

1919 Hank Edwards

An outfielder for six of the sixteen teams of the 1940s and 1950s, Edwards was a line drive hitting type who missed time with various injuries and a three year hitch in World War II.

1919 Bill ‘Ninety-Six’ Voiselle

Saul Wisnia wrote his SABR Bio – wore 96 on his jersey because he was from the tiny town of Ninety-Six, South Carolina.  That was the highest number assigned to a player until Mitch Williams and Turk Wendell wore 99 because, well, because they were Mitch Williams and Turk Wendell.

As pitcher, Big Bill was okay during the war years – a 21 game winner for the Giants in 1943 – but struggled some after the players got back.  Voiselle was declared 4F for hearing loss, which made him ineligible for military service but eligible to play ball.  Pitched inconsistent baseball for nine years in the majors, but made 500+ appearances in the minors before going home to South Carolina and playing semi-pro ball into his 40s.

1928 Jim Robertson

Yankees farmhand who was involved in one of the many huge player count trades between the Yankees and someone – this time the As.  Played in both Philadelphia and Kansas City as a catcher – not much of a hitter.  Oldest living player born on this date…

A Bradley University grad, he was a three-sport star there and Robertson Arena is named for him.

1931 Jim Baumer

An interesting baseball life – a Tulsa area kid who got a shot with the White Sox at 18 years old in 1949.  He then spent more than a decade in the minors before getting to play with the 1961 Reds for two weeks.  He wasn’t hitting, so the Reds got Don Blasingame and later made it to the World Series.

Baumer was traded to Detroit, got dispatched to the minors, and never played in the bigs again.  He didn’t give up on baseball – after five seasons in Japan, he became a scout for various organizations and even joined the front office for Milwaukee and Philadelphia.

1931 Hy Cohen

Got seven appearances with the Cubs in 1955 – injured his arm and went back to college to get a masters in education, where he would teach and coach baseball.  (Baseball Players of the 1950s)

1939 Bobby Bolin

Longtime pitcher for the Giants, Brewers, and Red Sox.  Won 88 games as a guy who could either start or relieve with reasonable efficiency.  The one season he made more than 30 starts, he added four shutouts and had a 2.89 ERA.  In 1968, when everyone had low ERAs, Bolin sat at 1.99 while winning ten games and pitching 176 innings.

1945 Dick Mills

Red Sox pitcher who got a baseball card and a cup of coffee (two relief appearances) with the Sox in 1970.  Mills is probably more known to a younger crowd as a pitching instructor and founder of http://www.pitching.com website.  His son, Ryan, also got a shot in the bigs…  Died in March, 2015 of a rapidly progressive melanoma cancer.

1946 Tony Pierce

Athletics pitcher of the late 1960s.  According to his obituary, he once struck out five guys in an inning while pitching at Jordan High School. After his career ended, spent a number of years as a local coach and instructor.

1949 Jim Tyrone

I remember him as a Cubs farmhand of the 1970s who wasn’t going to take a job from Billy Williams, Rick Monday or Jose Cardenal…  Got some playing time with the As in 1977, but not enough to keep a career alive.  His brother, Wayne, also got a chance with the Cubs in 1976 and didn’t get another chance.

1950 John Fuller

Braves farmhand who got three pinch hitting appearances (and one hit) in 1974.

1951 – Sergio Ferrer

Middle infielder of the 1970s who couldn’t seem to catch a break – played for Twins and Mets, with a stop in Philadelphia (minors only) in between.  The Puerto Rican native eventually found his way to play ball in Mexico for a few years.

1960 Steve Sax

1982 Rookie of the Year for the Dodgers when any rookie that came up in LA would win the award, fairly good hitter and remarkable athlete – but may be best remembered for a throwing hitch that took over his brain for a couple of years there.  Very likeable guy – I was a fan of his for a long time – a bit of a clown and always having fun on the field.  I thought he might make a run at 2500 hits but he stopped hitting with the White Sox in 1992 and was out of baseball not long after that.

1961 – Mike Aldrete

Fairly good hitter for a few teams in the 1980s and 1990s.  He hit .325 with the Giants in 1987, and teams spent the next decade hoping he could do it again.  Instead, he hit what he usually hit – about .263 with a few line drives here and there.  Teams kept him because he could play a few positions here and there and pinch hit as needed.

1963 – Brian Meyer

Mid-round Astros pick who turned into a middle reliever for Houston as the 1980s ended…

1964 – John Habyan

Reliever for about a dozen years with a quarter of the teams in MLB between 1985 and 1996 – I remember having him on my Strat-o-matic team in college…

Made 18 starts with Baltimore when he first arrived, but soon after moved to the bullpen – and then he just moved.  Played for the Yankees, Royals, Angels, Cardinals, and Rockies before calling it a career in 1996.

1968 – Kevin Roberson

Massive power hitting prospect for the Cubs who hit 20 homers in about 300 major league at bats, but those were his only hits.

I’m kidding, of course.  He had 41 other hits – but guys who strike out in 30% of their at bats don’t always hang around.

1972 – Julio Mosquera

Panama born catcher who spent forever in the minors and played for Toronto in 1996, 1997 and then Milwaukee for a game in 2005.

1972 – Morgan Burkhart

Undrafted Central Missouri grad and construction worker who fought his way to the bigs with the Red Sox in 2000 and 2001, and got a cup of coffee with Kansas City in 2003.  Had a nice little run with the Sox in 2000, hitting .288 with four homers in 25 games.  Spent time playing all over the world and according to his Wikipedia page has more than 250 professional homers.  Now a minor league batting instructor…

1973 Brian Edmonson

Middle reliever for the Braves and Marlins at the end of the last century…

1973 Jason Schmidt

I miss the guy – tough guy starter with the Pirates and Giants (also Atlanta and the Dodgers).  I saw him in one of his last minor league appearances pitching for Albuquergue and hoping to keep his career going – it stopped soon after.

Won 130 games in his career with a 3.96 ERA, with his two best seasons coming with the Giants in 2003/2004 where he went 17 – 5 and 18 – 7.  Helped put the Giants in the playoffs in 2002 and 2003, where he won three of five starts, including a complete game three-hit shutout in 2003.

1975 Miguel Ojeda

Mexican native catcher in the Padres chain, later played with Seattle, Colorado, and Texas.  Didn’t get a lot of time in the bigs, but his career stats (15 – 72 – .224 in 486 big league at bats) makes you think of his fellow birthday boy below (see Hank Conger).

1979 Lance Niekro

Son of Joe, Lance was first baseman for the Giants a decade ago (has it been that long?)…  Now the head coach for his alma mater, Florida Southern University.

1986 Jair Jurrjens

Curacao native who has turned into a pretty good pitcher, albeit one with a bit of an injury history…  Played for the Netherlands in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.  Originally signed by the Tigers, scooped up by the Braves where he became a front line starter for about four years.  Since wouding a wing, he has hit the road, pitching for Baltimore and Colorado – though he spent 2015 pitching in the minors.  I’ll root for his return, but I fear whatever we see going forward may be in smaller chunks.

1987 Alex Avila

One time Tigers catcher who once batted .295 with 19 homers and 82 RBI but hasn’t really approached that level of play since, leading to his landing with the White Sox.

1988 Hank Conger

Serviceable journeyman catcher who came up with the Angels and then started adding stickers to his suitcase – Houston and now Tampa Bay.  Has a good reputation behind the plate, and while he has a little pop in his bat, his batting average tends to hang around .220.

OBITUARIES:

1895 Tony Suck
1910 Marty Barrett
1915 George Baker
1934 Bill Schenck
1935 Ed Murphy
1936 Joe Delahanty
1937 George Fisher
1946 Ed Merrill
1947 Del Gainer
1963 Win Ballou
1963 Lee Meadows
1966 Homer Summa
1970 Miguel Fuentes
1972 Heinie Stafford
1975 Steve White
1976 Milt Galatzer
1976 Harry Otis
1977 Hod Ford
1979 Andy Harrington
1980 Charlie Bates
2007 Art Fowler

YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN THAT!!!

1958 Maybe we wish nobody had been there…  Roy Campanella was driving home from his liquor store when his car struck a telephone poll, breaking the catcher’s neck.  Campanella survives, but is paralyzed.

TRANSACTION WIRE:

1930 New York purchases outfielder Ken Williams from the Boston Red Sox.  And yet, not one jinx mentioned…

1943 Washington sends Bill Zuber and cash to the Yankees for Milo Candini and Jerry Priddy.

1966 In the January amateur draft, Atlanta drafts Tom Seaver – but the pick was voided.

1971 St. Louis sends Nelson Briles and Vic Davalillo to the Pirates for Matty Alou and George Brunet.

2007 Tampa Bay signs Carlos Pena to a free agent deal.  Pena rewards the Rays by hitting .282 with 46 homers and 121 RBI.

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