Baseball History for February 1

BIRTH ANNOUCEMENTS:

1858 Lew Brown

Baseball nomad of the 1870s and 1880s, kicked out of the game for consumption and insubordination in 1882.  Mostly caught, but played some first base and appeared in two games as a pitcher.

Baseball Profiles tells a remarkable story about the guy.  Brown was a pretty good baseball player – a tough catcher who was among the last to play without any gear.  He boxed John L. Sullivan and was friendly with other boxers despite coming from a family of wealth.  Brown made the majors and caught 100 games in a season before turning 20.  He was very
popular in Boston, as you can imagine, and once even appeared as a wrestler on stage.

His arm got weak as he gained weight – by the age of 30, he was pretty portly.  Brown once got in a fight at his bar in late 1889.  To break up the fight, Joe Goss’s widow hit him across the legs with an iron pipe and shattered his knee cap.  (Goss was once a heavyweight champ himself.)  Told he would have to have his leg amputated, he went bananas and died – his body buried in the same grave as Joe Goss.

1867 Pete Wood

Ontario born pitcher for Buffalo and Philadelphia in the 1880s.  Brother Fred also played briefly with Buffalo – they were both teens.  Short career – left baseball to become a doctor in both Canada and Montana.

1874 Harry Bemis

Handsome Harry Bemis was fine catcher for the Cleveland Indians in the first decade of the American League.  Kind of a smallish guy (5′ 6″ – 155), but tough as nails.  Ty Cobb once ran him over in a play at the plate, so Bemis beat the tar out of Cobb by smacking him upside the head with the ball until the umpire dragged him away…

1875 Billy Sullivan

Longtime catcher for the White Sox at the founding of the American League, though originally spent two years with the Boston in the National League.  Played in more than 1000 games, but with stats you might not notice…  (Batted .213, for example, with 21 career homers.)

His son, Billy Jr., was a catcher, too (Detroit), and they were the first father/son combination to appear in the World Series.

Trey Strecker wrote the SABR bio of this early AL defensive standout.

1882 Joe Harris

Red Sox pitcher from 1905 and 1907…  Went 2 – 21 in 1906.  Threw 20 straight innings of shutout ball against Jack Coombs during the 1906 pennant race before losing in the 24th inning…  Brought back after going 2 – 21, and lost seven straight decisions.  Returned to his native Melrose, Mass to become a firefighter for the next 30 years.

Bill Nowlin wrote his SABR Bio

1884 Joe Connolly

Outfielder with the Boston Braves between 1913 and 1916.  A legend in Rhode Island, and a pretty good major leaguer.

SABR Bio by Dennis Auger:

1884 Jim Kelly (Robert John Taggert)

Pirates utility outfielder in 1914, also a Federal League outfielder in 1915, and came back to play well for the Boston Braves in 1918.  Used Joe Kelly in his early baseball days, but changed to his real name for the 1918 season… Played semi-professional baseball into his 60s(!).

I encourage you to read his SABR Bio written by Bill Lamb – fascinating.

1890 Earle Mack

Son of Connie, brother of Roy…  Went to Niagara U. and Notre Dame, played five games for his dad.  Spent many years in baseball as a coach, scout, and later owner.  The Connie Mack who was a senator was his nephew…

1892 Tom McGuire

Chicago native who pitched in 1914 with the Federal League Whales, and one game with the Black Sox in 1919.

1892 Oland “Dixie” McArthur

Alabama native…  Pitched an inning with the Pirates in 1914.  It was the last inning of a July 10 game against the Phillies.

1894 Walt Golvin

Cubs first baseman for a week in 1922.  Batted twice, made two outs, but drove in a run.

1894 Rube Parnham

James Parnham pitched briefly with Connie Mack in 1916 and 1917, but gained his fame as an ace for the Baltimore Orioles in the International League.  Won 33 games, with 28 complete games, for the 1923 IL pennant winners.  His reputation for being a bit dimwitted earned him the Rube nickname…  Went 167 – 102 in the minors…

1898 Bud Messenger

The pride of Grand Blanc, MI, made two starts and won two decisions with the 1924 Cleveland Indians.  Won 178 games in the minors, much of it with Atlanta and New Orleans in the Southern Association.

1903 Carl Reynolds

LaRue, TX native who had a fine career in the 1920s and 1930s with the White Sox, Senators, Browns, Red Sox, Senators (again), and finally with the Cubs.  Hit .302 over 13 seasons, including a 1930 season where he hit .359 with 22 homers and 104 RBI (and 18 triples in spacious Comiskey Park).  Finished with 107 triples and 80 homers in his career…

Played all over the outfield, but his strong throwing arm usually meant he was playing in right…

1908 Vince Barton

Cubs outfielder in the early 1930s, but couldn’t hit .240 when everyone was hitting .300.  From Edmonton, Canada…

1910 Dutch Lieber

Connie Mack gave him a couple of chances with the 1935 and 1936 teams.  Wasn’t horrible in 1935, pitching to a 3.09 ERA in 18 appearances, but he was overmatched in 1936.  Was a reasonably successful pitcher in the PCL for the 1930s, mostly with the Mission Reds.

1915 Woody Abernathy

Giants pitcher just after World War II…  First name was Virgil – Woody was short for his middle name, Woodrow.

1917 Elmer Burkart

Temple grad who got a few opportunities to pitch with the Phillies in the late 1930s.  Minor league record was 48 – 77.  Ouch.

1919 Norm Brown

Lost two years to World War II; pitched briefly for Connie Mack but spent the bulk of his 15 year baseball life in the minors.  Won 21 games for Lincoln in the Western League at 34 years old…

1921 Dave Madison

LSU grad who pitched for three AL teams in the early 1950s.  Missed time while fighting in Korea.  After his career ended, he spent a number of years as a minor league manager and scout for the Yankees.

1930 Chuck Churn

Answer to the trivia question: What Dodger pitcher got the win when Elroy Face got his only loss while going 18 – 1 in 1959?  Got three years in the majors, but spent 18 years in the minors, pitching in 548 contests…

1931 Riverboat Bob Smith

Lefty pitcher for the Red Sox, Cubs, and Indians in 1958 and 1959, signed by the Red Sox out of that evil university that bolted the Big 12 to join its confederacy brethren of the SEC (Mizzou).  Tolerable for the Sox in 1958, but traded to the Cubs for Chuck Tanner.  Made one appearance and gave up something like 29 runs (not really, it was 6 runs in 2/3 of an inning), so he was traded to Cleveland for Randy Jackson.  Spent the better part of 13 years in the minors…

1934 Bob Conley

Made two starts with the Phillies in 1958, a local minor league star with the Miami Marlins of the International League…

1943 Ron Woods

Fourth or fifth outfielder for the Yankees, Tigers, and Expos.  Signed Straight Outta Compton (High School) by the Pirates…  I’m betting a few members of this group remember him – as a kid he showed some power and batting skills – and then they changed the strike zone.  He couldn’t hit consistently in the majors, which led to his getting traded every couple of years.  When his major league career ended, he played for Chunichi in Japan…

1944 Paul Blair

Three fourths of the earth is covered by water – the rest is covered by Paul Blair.

Eight time gold glove winner, played a year with the Mets as an amateur in the minors and was drafted by Baltimore in 1962. Pretty good hitter, too – except for 1968 – but struggled some after getting his nose broken by a Ken Tatum pitch in 1970.  Helped the Orioles win two World Series and appear in several other playoff series.

After his career ended, he coached in college (Fordham, Coppin State) and in various capacities for the Astros, Orioles, and independent leagues.  Died of a heart attack in 2013.

1944 Hal King

Power hitting catcher who played for Houston, Atlanta, Texas, and Cincinnati from 1967 to 1974.  Undrafted out of high school and never went to college – but the Angels found out about him and signed him three years later.  Once hit 30 homers with Asheville in the Carolina League in 1967, leading to his first call to the big leagues.

Productive hitter but prone to slumps, which kept him from playing regularly.  Patient hitter, too – though his career batting average was .221, he got on base in nearly a third of his plate appearances.

Played in the Mexican Leagues following the 1974 season…

1947 Danny Thompson

Oklahoma State grad signed by the Twins.  Traded with Bert Blyleven to Texas in 1976.  Found to have Leukemia in 1973, but continued to play shortstop – pinch hit in October 1976, and died ten weeks later due to complications following surgery on his spleen at the Mayo Clinic.

1947 Jim McKee

Otterbein College alum who pitched for the Pirates in 1972 and 1973.  Sent back to the minors in 1974, didn’t pitch too badly, but wasn’t going to get a job…  Became a teacher and athletics coach; collapsed and died suddenly in 2002.

1950 Don Castle

Movie star of the 1930s and 1940s, including the western Stampede…

Oops wrong guy.

Southern Miss grad drafted by the Washington Senators in the first round in 1968.  (Taken two slots ahead of Greg Luzinski, nine spots ahead of Gary Matthews, and behind Foli, Munson, and Valentine…)  Made it to the bigs with the Rangers in 1973, where he would bat 13 times and get four hits as a DH/PH.  Couldn’t get out of AAA after that and retired after the 1978 season.

1955 Ernie Camacho

First round pick of the As out of Salinas, CA, alternated between decent and struggling seasons – need to look at baseball cards to see why.  Most of the time, he was a reliever for the Indians, sometimes as a closer (45 career saves), but he played for five other teams…

1955 Mark Souza

First round pick of the Royals in 1974, took six years and three teams before landing a cup of coffee with the As in 1980.  Returned to the minors, he retired soon after.

1956 Geoff Combe

18 appearances for the Reds in 1980 and 1981, credited with a lone win.

1957 Tom Wieghaus

Chicago Heights native who caught briefly (very briefly) for the Expos and Astros.  Hitless in 13 plate appearances, but he got a sacrifice fly for a lone RBI in 1984.

1960 Cecilio Guante

Pirates reliever involved in the Doug Drabek trade (he went to the Yankees).  His 1987 season in New York was a disaster and was shipped to Texas where he pitched decent enough for two years.  Out of baseball after 1990.

1966 Darrin Chapin

Cleveland State grad who spent a decade in the minors, but got a couple of looks with the Yankees (1991) and Phillies (1992).

1966 Eduardo Zambrano

Venezuelan utility player for the Cubs in 1993-1994.  Not a horrible player, but not destined for stardom, either.  Boston signed him in 1985, took several years to figure things out but earned a shot with the Cubs after hitting .303 at AAA Iowa.  Out of the majors in 1995 and out of baseball before the century ended.

1967 Tim Naehring

Boston infielder of the mid-1990s whose career was just getting rolling when a shoulder injury derailed him and ended his career at 30.  Now with the Yankees front office.

1967 Juan Guerrero

Infielder out of San Pedro de Macoris, infielder for the 1992 Houston Astros, batting .200 in about 140 at bats.

1968 Kent Mercker

Reds broadcaster, gutsy pitcher who came back from a cerebral hemorrhage in 2000.  Threw a combined no-hitter in 1991, and his own no-no in 1994.

Answer to the trivia question: Who is the last Atlanta Brave to throw a no-hitter?

After six seasons with the Braves, he became a baseball nomad, eventually playing for nine total teams – and making four different stops with the Reds.

1970 Joe Vitko

Mets draft pick in 1989, got to the majors in 1992 and made one start for New York.  Tall dude – 6′ 8″ – must have gotten hurt after that because he was done the next year and couldn’t do the job in 1994 for AA Binghamton.

1970 Edwin Hurtado

Venezuelan reliever for the Mariners and Blue Jays, but got smacked around enough to regularly lose jobs…

1972 Rich Becker

Third round pick of the Twins in 1990, got to the big leagues by 1993 and impressed early.  Regular centerfielder through 1997 and then roamed the league rather the field, playing for the Mets, Orioles, Brewers, A’s and Tigers.  Was actually a productive hitter in 1996 and 1997, but his bat left him as a Met and he became a fourth outfielder.  Not sure why, but his career ended in 2000.

1976 Phil Norton

Cub draft pick out of Texarkana College…  Pitched for the Cubs and Reds between 2000 and 2004; the only time he stayed a while was with the Reds in 2004 when he made 69 appearances and couldn’t get his ERA under 5.00…

1978 Erick Almonte

Dominican infielder for the Yankees who replaced Derek Jeter briefly in the 2003 season.  Spent most of the next decade in the minors, though got a callup for the Brewers in 2011.

Brother Hector played for the Marlins, Red Sox, and Expos.

According to a note in Wikipedia, was the first major leaguer to be placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list in 2011.  Use that for trivia and impress your friends.

1978 Dusty Bergman

Lefty reliever out of Hawaii-Manoa, made a lone appearance for the Angels in 2004 and has a career ERA of 13.50.  Pitched for two years professionally in Germany, but now coaches baseball in Arizona.

1980 Hector Luna

Undrafted free agent; spent five years in the minors before getting a shot with the Cards in 2004 – and homered in his first at bat.  Has a lot of stickers on his suitcase – the last three years has played in Japan.

1982 Jean Machi

Signed out of Venezuela by the Phillies, spent forever in the minors before the Giants pulled him out of AAA in 2012.  Had a couple of good years, but struggled in 2015 and was moved to the Red Sox.  Signed a minor league deal with the Cubs for this season.

1983 Dane De La Rosa

Drafted by Texas in 2001 but went back to college…  Yankees drafted in out of juco in 2002. De La Rosa made the tour of the low and independent minors for nearly a decade before landing as a reliever for the Rays in 2011 – 2012.  Pitched well for the Angels in 2013, but had a rough start to 2014 and was out of baseball mid-season 2015..

1985 Elian Herrera

Dominican utility player, signed by the Dodgers in 2006, made the big leagues in 2012.  Claimed by the Brewers after the 2013 season, once had five hits in a game while batting in the eighth spot…  Non-tendered for this season, the Dodgers invited him to spring training in February.

Bit of a free swinger, but he gets hits and can drive the ball.

1985 Colin Curtis

Yankees draft pick out of Arizona State; briefly made the show in 2010.  Beat testicular cancer as a teen, but couldn’t beat a shoulder injury in 2011, and out of baseball after 2012.

1986 Justin Sellers

Son of Jeff Sellers, drafted out of Cal State-Fullerton by Oakland…  In a couple of years he was hustled to Chicago, who turned him over to Los Angeles.  Got to the majors in 2011 where he became a utility infielder, played briefly as needed for the Dodgers for a few years but didn’t hit.  Got sold to Cleveland and did much the same thing.

Currently looking for a gig.

1986 Kristopher Negron

Red Sox draft pick in 2006; took six years to sneak into the bigs with the Reds mostly as a utility player (can play every position except catch).  After a decent year in 2014, struggled to a .140 batting average in 2015.  Now looking to latch on with the Cubs.

1987 Joe Mahoney

Orioles draft pick in 2007 out of the University of Richmond, took a while to make it to the bigs.  Got a couple of shots in 2012 and 2013, but never stuck – eight career hits, but one was a homer.  Retired after the 2013 season.

1987 Austin Jackson

Remember when he was a budding star for the Tigers?  Traded to Seattle in 2014, and was a stretch run addition for the Cubs in 2015.  Whatever power he used to have in 2012 (55 extra base hits) seems to be gone; can still run some, but not as well as he used to (who can, really?)…  Could still start for a lot of teams, but likely a fourth outfielder if he stays with the Cubs.

1988 Brett Anderson

Former Oakland starter, was the #4 starter for the Dodgers after a season with the Rockies but struggled in three starts in 2016…  Hoping to stick with the Cubs in 2017.  Stillwater, OK native because his dad was the head coach for OSU.

After a 30 start rookie season, has started to collect injuries – elbow (including Tommy John surgery), oblique, broken foot, broken finger, herniated disc surgery, blisters…

Very hard to run on, picks off someone every sixth start.

1990 Stolmy Pimentel

First major leaguer named Stolmy.  Signed by Boston out of the Dominican Republic when just 16 years old, moved around some before landing with Pittsburgh and making the bigs in 2013.  Traded to Texas for the 2015 season, signed with the Mets, but finished last season playing in Mexico.  Fastball/Slider/Change guy, gets a few Ks and isn’t crazy wild, which will work for a few innings…

1991 Darnell Sweeney

Florida native, attended UCF after graduating from American Senior HS.  Drafted by the Marlins out of high school, but chose the college route, and then taken by the Dodgers in 2012. He sure does move around some…  Two high schools, two franchises, five positions on the field – I wonder if he can stand still!

Pretty quick – once had 16 triples in a season (2013) and has 134 minor league stolen bases – though he sure gets caught a lot.  Was part of the trade that sent Chase Utley from Philadelphia to the Dodgers – the Phillies got Sweeney and pitcher John Richy.  Got a taste of the bigs with the Phillies in 2015 (Cesar Hernandez got hurt) and wasn’t horrible.  His first major league hit was a pinch hit homer off of Marlins pitcher Justin Nicolino.  He didn’t stick and spent 2016 in AAA Lehigh Valley and struggled to hit (.233, a little less power, 100 Ks in 400 ABs).  When the season was over, he was traded back to Los Angeles along with Darin Ruf for infielder/outfielder Howie Kendrick.

OBITUARIES:

1890 George Trenwith
1902 Bill Sharsig
1912 Jim Doyle
1914 Sam Weaver
1928 Hughie Jennings
1929 Walt Wilmot
1945 Tubby Spencer
1946 Dad Hale
1948 Jim McCormick
1954 Norman Plitt
1958 Mysterious Walker
1969 Razor Ledbetter
1973 Lou Bevil
1974 Claude Berry
1978 Jack Saltzgaver
1979 Milt Byrnes
1980 Fred Walters
1980 Greg Mulleavy
1982 Ed Edelen
1988 Red Phillips
1999 Paul Calvert
2001 Sam Harshaney
2006 Jake Wade
2007 Ray Berres
2012 Herb Adams

YOU SHOULLD HAVE BEEN THERE!!!

1914 The Giants and White Sox, making a world tour to promote our national pasttime, stop to play baseball in the Saharan Desert in Egypt.  Everybody wins – except the game ends in the tie, 3 – 3.

TRANSACTION WIRE:

1913 Jim Thorpe signs with the New York Giants.

1954 New York trades Bobby Thomson and Sam Calderone to Milwaukee for Johnny Antonelli, Billy Klaus, Don Liddle, and Ebba St. Claire.  (I need to learn about that name…)

1969 First round picks of the January (Secondary) Amateur Draft include:

1) Derrel Thomas (Houston)
17) Ross Grimsley (Cincinnati)
19) Al Hrabosky (St. Louis)

Lee Lacy (2nd Round) and Steve Stone (4th Round) were taken later.

1985 St. Louis acquires Jack Clark from the Giants for David Green, Dave LaPoint, Gary Rajsich, and Jose Uribe.  And yet it seems fair.

1999 New York sends Mike Lowell to the Marlins for Ed Yarnall, Mark Johnson, and Todd Noel.  It was a STEAL for the Fish.

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