Baseball History for October 11th

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1854 Will White

Nicknamed “Whoop-La” or “Medicine Bill”, will White was a pitcher for Boston, Cincinnati and Detroit (NL) for a decade between 1877 and 1886. All but five of his decisions were with Cincy – either the NL version of the 1870s, or the American Association version of the 1880s. Three times he won more than 40 games, and two other times he finished with more than 30 wins. When his career closed in 1886, he had 228 wins against just 166 losses. He also had crazy heavy workloads – throwing 680 innings in 1879, 577 innings in 1883, 517.1 innings in 1880, and well over 400 innings on three other occasions.

His story is well told in Major League Baseball Profiles (1871 – 1900). His first major league start was caught by his brother, Deacon. He only made three starts for Boston in 1877, but earned extra money as a groundskeeper. Oddly, the only three games he pitched were all against Cincinnati… He must have impressed the Reds, though – they signed both Deacon and Will for the 1878 season, where he made 52 starts and won thirty. That 1879 season where White went 43 – 31 with 75 complete games (and one more in relief), logging 680 innings and facing more than 2900 batters (!), was a record year at a time when a lot of pitchers threw underhand and were overworked – one assumes that all of his records will never, ever, be broken.

He pitched briefly for Detroit when Cincinnati was booted from the National League, but returned to the Reds when they were reorganized as part of the American Association and had a few more good years. However, as pitchers started throwing overhand, Will continued to throw underhand – when he lost velocity (as we all do), he lost his ability to get batters out. He was likely the first player to wear glasses on the field; pictures show a man who was prematurely gray with a big mustache, and when his career was over, he was a successful retailer (his Medicine Bill nickname came from his owning a drug store).

MLBP also says that White was an early version of Sal Maglie or Bob Gibson – intimidating and singled out as a pitcher whose style necessitated the current Hit By Pitch rule.

His demise was quick and sad – he suffered a heart attack and drowned while teaching a niece to swim in the summer of 1911.

1858 Buttercup Dickerson (aka Lewis Pessano)

A teammate of Will White on the 1878 and 1879 Cincinnati Reds, Lewis Pessano was among the first Italians to play in the majors. However, this was a time when Italians weren’t as well liked as they might be as boxers in the 1950s… Anyway – he hid his ancestry by taking on the name Dickerson.

Dickerson was a nightmare for a manager – an immensely talented centerfielder and hitter, but impatient and a heavy drinker. He was booted by the Reds, blacklisted after the 1881 season, jumped the American Association to play in the Union League – only to jump that organization for two other AA clubs, blacklisted a second time, and finally banished to the minors and semi-pro leagues after a five game stretch for Buffalo in 1885.

1859 Bill Burdick
1866 Bill Husted
1867 Emmett Rogers
1869 Yale Murphy
1869 Alex McFarlan
1878 Frank Roth
1882 Buck Washer
1888 Dwight Wertz
1894 Gary Fortune
1899 Eddie Dyer

The Cardinals used Dyer as an extra pitcher and utility/pinch hitter in the 1920s at a time when a few of these guys were around. (You’d think these days, someone might keep a Carlos Zambrano around to soak up innings in lost cause games and occasionally pinch hit).

Dyer appeared in 69 games as a pitcher, making 23 starts, and going 15 – 15. He also appeared in 60 other games, mostly as a pinch hitter, getting 35 hits in 157 at bats overall (with 12 of his hits going for extra bases).

1899 Ernie Smith
1905 Joel Hunt
1906 Tom Carey

Befitting a guy nicknamed “Scoops”, Carey was a light hitting but great fielding infielder for the Browns and Red Sox in the 1930s and 40s, taking a couple of years off to fight in World War II. The Hoboken native played until he was about 40 – which makes him an early verson of former Toronto infielder John McDonald…

Trey Strecker wrote a solid biography of Carey’s life for SABR which you can read here.

1912 Wayne Osborne
1912 Mike Guerra
1917 Vince Castino
1918 Bob Chipman

Mr. Chips was born in Brooklyn, where he was able to make occasional appearances for the Dodgers during the war years. In 1944, he was packaged to Chicago for Eddie Stankey, and he spent the rest of the 1940s with the Cubs.

There, Chipman was a spot starter and long reliever – once he made 21 starts, but never more than 17 after that. A normal season for him might have been 7 – 7 with 12 starts and 120 innings of work.

He spent three seasons with the Boston Braves in the same role and though he pitched well enough in 1952 in limited work, his career closed out then. According to Baseball Players of the 1950s, he occasionally scouted for his hometown Dodgers and sold liquor for a few years. His post-baseball career was rather short, passing away at the age of 55.

1926 Joe Ginsberg

As a kid, he was called “Little Joe” after his father, and Joe stuck – even though his name was Myron Nathan…

My friend John-William Greenbaum could tell you that Ginsberg caught Clem Labine in the New York Mets first home game of 1962… He caught one other game before his career ended.

Among his career highlights were playing on the AL team with the most wins (Cleveland, 1954 – since broken) and the NL team with the most losses… On a different note, Ginsberg once broke up a Vic Raschi no-hitter by knocking a homer up into the wind at Yankee Stadium and watching the ball get carried into the seats – just as he told the home plate umpire he would do – in 1952.

Ginsberg, like fellow birthday catcher Mike Guerra, wasn’t much of a power hitter. He knocked out 14 of his 20 career homers in Detroit during the 1951 and 1952 seasons – then only six more in his last 1000 at bats. He hung around for better than a decade because he could catch well enough and he batted left handed – though he acquired a lot of stickers on his suitcase. Ginsberg played for Detroit, Cleveland, Kansas City, Baltimore, Chicago, Boston, and New York. According to Baseball Players of the 1950s, he used his ability to travel selling Jack Daniels – claiming that he promised to sell more whiskey than he drank.

1929 Skeeter Kell
1930 Bill Fischer

Another spot starter of the 1950s, Fischer holds the record for most consecutive innings without issuing a walk in 1962. He’s also famous for serving up the Mickey Mantle homer that rocketed off the facade of the House that Ruth Built…

Fischer got his start with the White Sox, but was dealt twice in 1958 – first to Detroit and then Washington. He won 9 of 20 decisions with the Senators in 1958 but was returned to the pen, traded back to Detroit, then to Kansas City for a few years, and finally finished with the 1964 Twins. Fischer was involved in trades with a number of cult players of the era – Marv Grissom, Hal Brown, Ray Boone, Tito Francona, Tom Morgan, Ozzie virgil, Gerry Staley, and Reno Bertoia.

Fischer wasn’t a power arm – he was barely likely to strikeout four batters in nine innings. He was, however, cagey – and threw a useful spitter that, for him, darted like a knuckleball. According to Baseball Players of the 1950s, Fischer became a pitching instructor for the better part of four decades, the last several as a pitching coach.

1931 Gary Blaylock
1938 Bill Roman
1944 Mike Fiore

First baseman on the first Kansas City Royals team in 1969 – hit .274 with a dozen homers, but lost his batting eye in 1970 and his major league career after going hitless in six at bats for San Diego in 1972. Instead, he spent the next several years as a AAA hitter – mostly for Rochester in the Orioles chain.

1945 Bob Stinson

Scrap Iron Bob was a catcher of the 1970s, but probably a bit better hitter than a defender, though he had a decent enough arm. Stinson was on five teams prior to joining the expansion Seattle Mariners where he was finally able to be a regular… Played 124 games in 1978, hitting 11 homers, knocking in 55 runs, and batting .258. Had a nice career – 652 games and nearly 2000 plate appearances.

1946 Jarvis Tatum
1947 Charlie Williams

Reliever with the 1970s Giants (though he spent a year with the 1971 Mets). Had a four year run where he averaged about 100 innings of work, but his arm problems started in 1977 and finished him completely in 1978.

Williams claim to fame, of course, was that he was traded from the Mets to the Giants for none other than Willie Mays (the Mets gave the Giants cash, too).

According to his New York Times obit – which, sadly, was published in January of 2015 – Williams left baseball to drive a NYC taxi before moving to Florida (what New Yorker doesn’t retire and move to Florida, writes a current Floridian).

1947 Rick James
1949 Bob Jones
1959 Pat Dodson
1960 Curt Ford

The Cardinals had a bunch of guys like him from 1975 to 1995 – a utility outfielder who could run a little, hit some line drives, but not for much power, and would frequently pinch hit or get used in double-switches.

1965 Orlando Hernandez
1965 Erik Johnson
1966 Gregg Olson

For the first six years of his career, Olson was the curveball tossing closer of the Baltimore Orioles, averaging more than 30 saves a year from 1989 to 1993. He signed a big contract with the Braves – and his body (well, his elbow and then his shoulder) defied him. Trying to prove he could still pitch, Olson made more comebacks than Sugar Ray Leonard. He pitched for Cleveland, Kansas City, Detroit, Houston, Minnesota, Kansas City (again), Arizona, and then the Los Angeles Dodgers before finally giving up in 2001.

1969 Larry Luebbers
1971 Joe Roa
1973 Dmitri Young
1974 Mike Duvall
1974 Jesus Sanchez
1976 Carl Sadler
1977 Ty Wigginton
1979 Shane Youman
1982 Jeff Larish
1984 Max Ramirez
1988 David Goforth
1989 Jenrry Mejia
1989 Josh Smith
1991 Giovanny Urshela
1992 Grayson Greiner

OBITUARIES:

1891 Will Smalley
1907 Whitey Gibson
1916 Henry Luff
1920 George Adams
1927 Mike Corcoran
1928 Frank Smith
1932 Ed Spurney
1934 Sandy Burk
1935 George Pierce
1935 Chick Smith
1947 Doc Martel
1951 Bob Becker
1952 Roy Beecher
1958 Ira Thomas
1962 Bill Bell
1964 Stan Gray
1965 Willis Cole
1966 Red Smith
1972 Danny Taylor
1979 Abe Bowman
1989 Bill Phebus
1991 Clay Kirby
1993 Lee Walls
1993 Emmett O’Neill
1994 Charlie Cuellar
1994 Bobby Brooks
2006 Eddie Pellagrini
2006 Cory Lidle

Plane crash – his plane smashed into a New York apartment building.

2008 Kevin Foster

Converted shortstop to pitcher with the Cubs. Renal Cell Carcinoma took him at 39.

2011 Cy Buker
2011 Paul Martin
2012 Champ Summers

Kidney cancer.

2015 Dean Chance

YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE!!!

1967 Could be a transaction, huh? The Mets sign Gil Hodges to manage the team, but have to compensate the Senators to steal him…

1972 A wild pitch by Bob Moose allows George Foster to score the winning run, and puts the Reds in the World Series after beating Pittsburgh, 4 – 3 in game five.

TRANSACTION WIRE:

1946 Cleveland sends Allie Reynolds to the Yankees for Joe Gordon. Both teams won on this deal…

1948 Philadelphia purchased Cubs pitcher Russ Meyer for $20,000.

1956 Philadelphia sends Stu Miller to the Giants for Jim Hearn.

1962 The Mets go shopping, buying Ron Hunt from Milwaukee and Norm Sherry and Dick Smith from the Dodgers.

1968 Cincinnati sends Vada Pinson to St. Louis for Bobby Tolan and Wayne Granger.

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