Baseball History on April 6th

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1862 Eddie Hogan

Pitched in one game for the St. Louis Browns in 1882 and lost.  The Louisville Courier-Journal mentions him in the box but nothing else – which is more than the St. Louis Post-Dispatch…

1863 Dick Johnston

Spent most of the 1880s playing centerfield for Boston where he was a pretty good run producer.  Led the league in triples once, hit 20 another time when he didn’t lead the league.  In 1888, he had 31 doubles, 18 triples, and 12 homers.  His batting fell off, though, and he started wandering around until he was out of a big league job.  According to MLB Profiles: 1871-1900, (Vol. 1) a drinking problem may have contributed to his early demise.

1868 Walt Preston

Played about a third of a season with the Louisville Colonels in 1895 – and got hit by ten pitches that season in just 50 games.  Ouch.  He really wasn’t that bad a player – so maybe his defense at third or the outfield led to his being dispatched elsewhere…  Something to figure out one day.  (There is only one blurb about Preston in MLB Profiles – and it says that Jimmy Collins was able to take his job because Preston was quite error prone.  I’ll go with that.)

Returned to the minors, though, where he played for more than a decade.

1876 Frank Murphy

Played just one year in the bigs – in 1901 he spent time with Boston and the Giants in the NL.  He played well enough in Boston – batted .261 with a homer and 18 RBI in 45 games, but struggled in the big city, with just a .162 batting average.

1876 Charlie Luskey
1884 Rudy Schwenck
1885 Smokey Joe Williams

One of the early greats of the Negro Leagues – first of four Hall of Famers born on this day.

In exhibitions, he won games over five other Hall of Famers – including Walter Johnson.  Threw a blazing fastball – legend has it that he’d need two catchers because the first catcher’s hand would be too swollen to continue after about five innings or so.

1890 Tom Fitzsimmons
1890 Red Smith
1900 Joe Wyatt
1903 Mickey Cochrane

The greatest catcher between Johnny Kling and Roy Campanella or Yogi Berra…  Could hit for average, run, field, and throw.  A severe beaning ended his career, but he was already showing signs of pressure affecting him – it was one thing to play and lead, and quite another to play and manage.

Charlie Bevis wrote his SABR Bio:  http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/a80307f0

1906 Benny Frey
1908 Dick Gyselman
1908 Ernie Lombardi

Among the best hitting catchers of all time in that his hand/eye coordination was uncanny – Bill James’ bio of Lombardi in his Historical Baseball Abstract is some of James’ best writing.

1908 Joe Mowry
1914 Dee Moore
1925 Hal Schacker
1926 Ed White
1927 Jim Romano
1929 Don Elston
1931 Emanuel “Sonny” Senerchia

One of the greatest violinists to play in the majors…  In 1952, Senerchia was tabbed to take a shot at third base for the Pittsburgh Pirates and he wasn’t half bad.  But, he needed more seasoning – and just as he got close to getting back he was beaned in the face.  He converted from infield to outfield and then pitcher – he made it to the high minors with a strong arm and movement, but eventually gave it up to become a teacher and concert violinist.  And he wasn’t done.  Senerchia was a true renaissance man, and his story is fascinating.

Died riding his motorcycle at 72 in 2003.

1936 Wayne Graham
1937 Phil Regan

Nicknamed “The Vulture” because he would swoop in as a reliever and steal wins.  Career got messed up early on, but he changed his motion and started throwing in a deep sidearm (nearly underhanded) motion and became quite successful in the bullpen for about a decade.

1942 John Wojcik
1943 Marty Pattin

In my mind, the first pack of baseball cards I ever bought was from a small corner store like the ones they used to have scattered in cities all over this country.  This one was at the corner of Byron and Sacramento a block from my grandparent’s house in Chicago.  One summer day in 1972 – my grandfather gave me and my brother each a quarter and we could buy whatever we wanted.  Mike got candy – I bought a pack of baseball cards.

I don’t remember all of the cards in that pack, but there were no Cubs or White Sox players.  However, I do remember that Marty Pattin was in the pack – he was from nearby St. Charles, Illinois.  So – even though my father had bought me baseball and football cards starting in about 1971 (he’d leave a pack under my turned over cereal bowl), I consider this the first pack I ever bought – and Marty Pattin’s card the first card.

After his career was over, he managed the Kansas Jayhawks baseball team – I got there the year after he left, so I never got to call a game that he managed.  But he still lived in Lawrence at the time – maybe he heard me on the radio.

1951 Bert Blyleven

Recently elected to the Hall of Fame under the same rules granted to Don Sutton – he really was a fine, fine pitcher for a long time and I’m happy for him.

Had the best curveball of his day.

1952 Steve Waterbury
1954 Ken Clay
1958 Leo Sutherland
1964 Ken Williams
1967 Tommy Greene
1969 Bret Boone

Had a late career surge in his second tour with Seattle and was accused of using steroids by Jose Canseco.

Did you know that the Reds once had a game where the infield consisted of two pairs of brothers?  Yep – the Larkin and Boone brothers played together – the Larkins at third and short; the Boones at second and first.

1970 Tim Belk
1971 Lou Merloni

Speaking of steroids – in a radio interview, Merloni said that doctors came into the Red Sox clubhouse and said something to the effect that, “…we’d prefer you not use steroids, but if you are going to do that here’s the right way.”

1972 Marty Malloy
1974 Danny Clyburn
1976 Alex Pelaez
1977 Andy Phillips
1977 Barry Wesson
1978 Blaine Neal
1983 Bronson Sardinha
1983 Thomas Diamond
1989 Alexi Amarista

OBITUARIES:

1908 Jim Brown
1909 Doggie Miller
1918 Newt Halliday
1928 Ike McAuley
1938 J. B. Young
1949 Gene Madden
1965 Rudy Kneisch
1966 Rolla Mapel
1973 Ernie Smith
1974 Roy Wood
1977 Frank Rooney
1979 Al Evans
1979 Rudy Kallio
1981 Steve Mesner
1984 Glenn Wright
1987 Bud Morse
1989 Carlos Bernier
1994 Goody Rosen
1994 William Ford
1998 John Wyatt
2000 Don Johnson
2002 Tom Sunkel
2004 Lou Berberet
2004 Ken Johnson
2007 Ed Bahr

YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN IT!

1973 Pittsburgh retires Roberto Clemente’s number.  The number is also worn as a patch on Pirate uniforms.

1973 Ron Blomberg draws a bases loaded walk as the first person to particpate in a game as the designated hitter.  Had the Yankees not gotten to Blomberg’s spot in the lineup, Orlando Cepeda of Boston would have been the first DH.

1974 Kansas City bombs the Twins, 23 – 6.  I don’t think the Chiefs scored that many in a game that season…

(I looked – the Chiefs had 42 in a win over the Broncos, 33 in a loss to the Giants, and 24 on two other occasions.  On the other hand, the Royals were on the rise and the Chiefs were getting old and got Hank Stram fired.)

1977 In the first game, the Seattle Mariners open in the Kingdome and lose, 7 – 0, to Frank Tanana and the Angels.

1993 A two out single by Atlanta’s Otis Nixon broke up a no-hitter by Jose Guzman of the Cubs in the ninth inning.

2009 For my friend, Steve Roberts.  Emilio Bonifacio hits an inside the park homer on opening day for the Marlins.  It’s the first of its kind since Carl Yasztremski did it in 1968.

TRANSACTION WIRE:

1916 The Browns sell Tillie Walker to the Red Sox for $3500.

1947 The Yankees sign future nemesis Lew Burdette as an amateur free agent.

1951 The Indians sign the aging Johnny Vander Meer.

1975 Oakland sends cash and a player to be named later to the Cubs for Jim Todd.  Champ Summers was sent to the Cubs to complete the trade.

1981 Seattle signs free agent infielder Lenny Randle.

1982 The Yankees deal for Mariner pitcher Shane Rawley.  Who’d they give up?  Bill Caudill, Gene Nelson and Bobby Brown.

1995 Kansas City sends David Cone to Toronto for Chris Stynes, Tony Medrano, and Dave Sinnes.

Ouch.

2013 Oakland purchases catcher Stephen Vogt from Tampa.

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