This Date in Pirates History: July 20

Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date including one of the lesser known Hall of Famers in team history. In his Jolly Roger Rewind, John Fredland goes back ten years ago to take a look at a huge day from an unlikely source.

John Lamb (1946) Pitcher for the 1970-71 and 1973 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Pirates out of high school in 1964 as an amateur free agent. Lamb spent his entire 11 year pro career in the Pirates system, getting three calls to the majors along the way. He did not have a start to his minor league career that made his look like a future major league player. As a 17 year old playing in the Appalachian League for the Salem Rebels, John went 1-9 5.21 in 76 innings. He had a dramatic turnaround after just one year, posting a 3.00 ERA in 135 innings at single-A, showing much better control than he displayed his rookie season. Lamb struggled in 1966, then came back with another strong season for Clinton of the Midwest League in 1967, throwing 175 innings with a 2.52 ERA. The Pirates moved him to a relief role in 1968 and he really took to the bullpen the following year when he had a 1.95 ERA in 50 appearances, winning 11 games.

After six seasons in A-ball, John finally made it to AA in 1970 and pitched even better than the previous season. He went 5-2 1.47 in 30 games with 11 saves and allowed just 36 hits in 69 innings. He earned a promotion to AAA, though his stay there was brief. After twenty solid innings, in which he gave up just one earned run, Lamb was called up to the majors for the first time in early August. He pitched 23 games for the Pirates over the last two months, posting a 2.78 ERA with three saves and a 1.11 WHIP. Despite that strong showing, he was back in the minors for the entire AAA season in 1971, getting a September recall. John pitched just two games in Pittsburgh, throwing 4.1 scoreless innings.  His 1971 season almost didn’t happen due to an ugly incident during early Spring Training. While facing Dave Cash in late February, Lamb was hit in the head by a line drive. In early April, he had to undergo surgery for blood clots.

He had two strong seasons of AAA in a row, with excellent numbers in the majors, but Lamb couldn’t make the Pirates out of Spring Training in 1972 and pitched poorly in the minors. He was the last pitcher cut during Spring Training, yet never played in the majors that season. He returned to form in 1973, going 6-0 1.42 in 31 appearances at AAA, earning an early July call-up. Lamb pitched 22 games for the Pirates that year, throwing 29.2 innings with a 6.07 ERA and two saves. After spending all of 1974 in the minors, he retired from baseball, finishing his major league career with an 0-2 4.07 record in 47 games. Until surpassed by Pat Clement in 1986, John had the most appearances in a Pirates uniform without a win.

Heinie Manush (1901) Pinch-hitter for the 1938-39 Pirates. He was in his 16th season in the majors in 1938, when the Pirates signed him on August 30th. He began the year with the Dodgers but after a month, he was sent to Toronto of the International League. It was the first time since 1922 that Manush had played in the minors. The Pirates signed him to serve as a pinch-hitter and emergency outfielder over the last month of the season as they tried to make a run at the NL pennant. He pinch-hit 15 times that year, collecting four hits, two walks and four RBI’s. Heinie served a similar role at the beginning of the 1939, though he had no success, going 0-12 with a walk. On June 7,1939, the Pirates decided to get rid of Manush when they had a chance to sign Chuck Klein. The move was unique in that they were getting rid of one future Hall of Famer to pick up another. In was the end of the major league career for Heinie, though he wasn’t done in baseball. He finished the 1939 season in the minors, then managed for the next six seasons down on the farm, playing at least one game all six years. During his career in the big leagues, Manush hit .330 with 110 homers, 1183 RBI’s and 1287 runs scored. He had over 2500 hits, nearly 500 doubles and 160 triples. Only 16 players in major league history have played as many seasons as Manush and hit for a higher average. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1964 by the Veteran’s Committee.

Harry Cassady (1880) Right fielder for the 1904 Pirates. He attended Illinois Wesleyan University, the first player from that school to make the majors, 22 years before the next would make it. Only nine major leaguers have attended that school, none that have played in the last 35 years. Harry began his pro career in 1902, playing three years for Bloomington of the Three-I League before joining the Pirates in August of 1904 for his major league debut. In his major league opener on August 8th, Cassady(called Cassidy by the papers) batted leadoff and played right field, going 2-5 with two runs scored in a 15-5 loss to the Phillies. The next day the Pirates acquired outfielder Moose McCormick from the Giants, and he would soon move to right field in place of Cassady, while utility player Otto Krueger played left field. At the time, Hall of Fame outfielder and team manager Fred Clarke, was out injured.

Harry then got some more playing time after sitting out a few games and the scouting reports on his arm and speed both were favorable. Clarke was working hard with him on his defense and the Pirates seemed high on him, but days later the Pirates began playing a rookie out of college named Lew “Bull” Smith. On September 1st, after not playing for a week, the Pirates loaned Cassady to a team from Youngstown, OH and he never returned to Pittsburgh. He played for the Washington Senators at the beginning of the 1905 season, then after ten games, he spent the rest of his career in the minors. Harry spent his last six seasons of pro ball(1907-12) playing for the Denver Grizzlies of the Western League. He played 12 games for the Pirates, all in right field, hitting .205 with three RBI’s and eight runs scored.

Jolly Roger Rewind: July 20, 2002

Adam Hyzdu’s two home runs and seven RBI led the Pirates to a 15-6 rout of the first-place Cardinals at PNC Park.

A veteran of eleven minor-league seasons when he reached the major leagues with the 2000 Pirates, Hyzdu had returned from AAA Nashville eighteen days earlier for his third Bucco cameo in three years. One night earlier, his fifth-inning grand slam had broken open a close game and paced the Bucs to a 12-9 victory over St. Louis.

On this night, Hyzdu connected on a pair of three-run homers as the Pirates rolled to a ten-run lead in the fifth inning. His three-run shot to right center in the bottom of the first capped a five-run uprising off starter Travis Smith. Four innings later, the Bucco center fielder’s three-run blast off reliever Dave Veres gave the Bucs a 10-1 advantage and provoked the crowd of 35,601* to request his second curtain call in two nights.** Hyzdu finished the scoring with an RBI single in the eighth inning.

Despite allowing baserunners in every frame, Kris Benson limited the Cardinals to one run in five innings to earn the victory. The Bucs had won eight of ten games to move within five games of .500 and seven-and-a-half games of first place in the National League Central. “No, the Pirates are not going to win the Central Division,” opined Bob Smizik in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “There’s an excellent chance they won’t finish at .500 or above. But they’re getting there. They still can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, but maybe when they get around the next bend they will.”***

Box score and play-by-play

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette game story

* The crowd included 7,650 walk-up tickets, which was at that time the largest walk-up crowd in PNC Park’s season-and-a-half history.

** “You know, it seems like every place he goes, they love him. They told me he could run for mayor in Altoona [where Hyzdu’s two seasons with the Pirates’ AA affiliate resulted in the team retiring his number and creating a bobblehead doll in his image],” Bucco manager Lloyd McClendon told the Post-Gazette. “He’s an innocent kid. He enjoys playing the game. He plays it with reckless abandon—which we’re probably going to have to have a little chat about [referring to a seventh-inning incident where Hyzdu nearly collided with left fielder Brian Giles].”

*** Smizik’s optimism proved unwarranted. After splitting their next two games, the Pirates would lose thirty-three of their next fifty-one to drop solidly into fourth place in the NL Central.

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John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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John Lease

John Lamb also Steve Blass’s brother in law.

John Lease

John Lamb also Steve Blass’s brother in law.

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