This Date in Pirates History: April 24

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date and two Opening Days have occurred on this date as well. Starting with the most recent player first.

Bob Beall(1948) Pinch hitter for the 1980 Pirates. He was originally a 28th round draft pick of the Phillies in 1970. Beall made his major league debut with the 1975 Atlanta Braves, hitting .226 in 20 games. He spent each of the next two seasons at AAA for the Braves before returning to the majors in 1978. Bob showed amazing plate patience, walking over 130 times during four of his seasons in the minors from 1972 until 1977. In his only full season in the majors(1978), Beall hit .243 with 16 RBI’s and a .368 OBP in 108 games. He started the 1979 season with the Braves, but was sent down after going 0-9 in his first 12 games. Beall was in the minors when the Pirates acquired him in a trade on July 16, 1980 in exchange for minor league second baseman Jerry McDonald. Bob was a September call-up for the Pirates, batting three times over the last 31 games without collecting a hit. He spent all of 1981 at AAA, in what would be his last season of pro ball.

Dixie Howell(1920) Catcher for the 1947 Pirates. He was originally signed as an amateur free agent in 1938 by the Brooklyn Dodgers but didn’t make his major league debut until 1947 with the Pirates. Howell missed the 1944-45 seasons while serving in the military during WWII. He returned in 1946 and hit .295 in 84 games for the Montreal Royals of the International League. The Pirates acquired Howell, along with four other players from the Dodgers on May 3,1947, in exchange for Al Gionfriddo and at least $100,000 in cash. Dixie hit .276 with 25 RBI’s in 76 games for the Pirates during that 1947 season. On January 15,1948 he was traded to the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League to complete an earlier deal for highly touted pitcher Bob Chesnes. Howell would end up playing another 264 games in the majors over parts of seven seasons. He finished his career in the minors in 1958 with the Dodgers.

Pete Falsey(1891) Star player at Yale, who played three games for the 1914 Pirates. The Pirates signed Pete on July 9,1914. He made his major league debut right out of college, pinch-hitting in the second game of a doubleheader on July 16,1914. Jeff Pfeffer, who would later finish his career with the 1924 Pirates, struck him out, in what turned out to be his only major league at bat. The only note in the local paper about his appearance was possibly in jest, saying that “He stands nice at the plate”. He was used just two more times, both as a pinch runner, before being released by the Pirates in early September. It was said that he failed to show sufficient big league stuff. Falsey played briefly for Albany of the New York State League in 1916 and later played semi-pro ball in Philadelphia.

Jim Field(1867) First baseman for the 1885 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He began his major league career with the Columbus Buckeyes of the American Association in 1883, hitting .258 in 75 games that rookie season. The next year he hit just .233 in 104 games but was able to score 74 runs. Jim was one of nine players the Alleghenys purchased from the Buckeyes on October 30,1884. The Columbus team folded and sold off all of their players to Pittsburgh, as the American Association went from 12 teams down to eight. Field hit .239 in 56 games for the Alleghenys, before finishing the season with the Baltimore Orioles. Jim went to the minors leagues in 1886, where he spent 15 more seasons as a player, coming back to the majors for only 52 games in 1890 and another five in 1898.

Opening Days

1919:  The Pirates opened up in Chicago against the Cubs after a long layoff between games. The 1918 season was ended early due to the war, wrapping up on September 2nd. Wilbur Cooper was on the mound on a very cold Chicago day and he took a 5-1 loss, with all the runs against him coming in the second inning. The Pirates lineup on that day, which had three future Hall of Famers in a row in the 2-4 spots, was as follows:

Howdy Caton,ss
Max Carey,cf
Casey Stengel,rf
Billy Southworth,lf
George Cutshaw,2b
Tony Boeckel,3b
Fritz Mollwitz,1b
Walter Schmidt,c
Wilbur Cooper,p

1889: The Alleghenys opened their season at home against the Chicago White Stockings with an 8-5 win in front of 4,000 fans. Pud Galvin went the distance for Pittsburgh and was hit hard, plus had some poor fielding behind him but he held on for the win. Chicago took a 3-0 lead early before the Alleghenys tied it in the sixth. Chicago came back and scored two in the bottom of the inning (the home team did not always bat leadoff back before a rule changed that practice). Pittsburgh came back with five runs in the seventh and the game ended without another run. The Alleghenys lineup that day was:

Billy Sunday,rf
Ned Hanlon,cf
Jake Beckley,1b
Fred Dunlap,2b
Fred Carroll,lf
Doggie Miller,c
Bill Kuehne,3b
Pop Smith,ss
Pud Galvin,p

Pittsburgh had a crazy schedule that season to open the year. They had eight home games, followed by 22 straight games on the road. They returned for a homestand against the Indianapolis Hoosiers that turned into just one game due to cancellations. They then played another ten straight on the road. That means between May 2 and June 19, they played just one home game.

  • On this date in 1998…

    Because the decline phase of his career now occupies the large majority of the back of his baseball card, it is easy to lose sight of how much of a force Jason Kendall was as a young Pirate.  Years before underperformance of big-contract expectations, middle-aged “Dave Kerwin”-sniping crankiness, and ex-spousal appearances on “Baseball Wives,” Kendall seemed hell-bent on leading the Buccos into the twenty-first century and securing the catcher slot on the all-time franchise team.

    Kendall’s performance in the Pirates’ 4-2 victory in San Diego on this date in 1998 provides a daguerreotype of what all the fuss was about.  With the Padres leading 1-0 in the top of the sixth, Kendall’s double drove in two runs and put the Bucs on top.  One out later, he was on third base.  Turner Ward then hit a ground ball to first baseman Mark Sweeney.  This is how the New York Times described what happened next:

    “Kendall headed for home . . . Sweeney’s throw was off line, forcing catcher Carlos Hernandez to dive
    to his left. Kendall hesitated about 10 feet from the plate, then leaped over Hernandez, touching the plate with his right hand.”

    To see what the play looked like:

    http://atmlb.com/I9avex

    Kendall’s acrobatic effort increased the Bucco lead to 3-1, and that was all the support starter Jason Schmidt would require.  Schmidt earned the win by allowing two runs in seven innings, scattering five hits, striking out six and walking none.  Jason Christiansen and Ricardo Rincon followed with scoreless innings to close out the victory.

    Here’s the box score and play-by-play:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SDN/SDN199804240.shtml

    Here’s the NY Times’ account:

    http://tinyurl.com/6rzg42h

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