Tag Archives: Pittsburgh Pirates

Roberto Clemente 1961

Roberto Clemente Explains The Sweet Spot On The Bat – 1961

Today, September 15 is designated as Roberto Clemente Day in baseball. Players around MLB can wear Clemente’s number 21 to honor him and all teams have a small patch on their uniform with 21 emblazoned upon it. One day soon MLB will likely retire Clemente’s number across all of baseball like they did for Jackie Robinson’s number 42.

So what is Clemente Continue reading

Dick Groat A Rare Star Of Both Baseball & Basketball Dies At 92

Dick Groat Who Set Duke Basketball Records & Was National League MVP In 1960 Is Dead

Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Dick Groat hitting during the 1960 World Series. photo: Marvin Newman

In 1952, when Dick Groat was 21-years-old, Duke University’s sports publicity department published an entire pamphlet heralding his achievements.

In 1950-51 Groat put up 831 points with 261 free points shattering records at Duke, the Big 5 (North Carolina schools) and the Southern Conference.

Groat, who was five feet eleven, Continue reading

A Baseball Record No One Wants To Break (Or Probably Will)

Stealing Lots Of Bases Means Getting Caught Stealing A Lot

The Record No Player Wants To Break – Caught Stealing

Rickey Henderson Owns The Most Career Steals & Caught Stealing Records

Pittsburgh’s Maury Wills is caught stealing third in the eighth inning as Giants third baseman Jim Ray Hart applies the tag, umpire Augie Donatelli signals Wills out. June 13, 1968  photo: Russ Reed

The new rule changes scheduled to go into effect in 2023 might result in more stolen bases. The bases will be physically larger increasing Continue reading

October 13, 1960 Pirates Celebrate Beating Yankees In The World Series

Pittsburgh Pirates Clubhouse Celebration After Stunning Game 7 Defeat of Yankees

Pirates pitcher Clem Labine pours champagne into coach Frank Oceak’s mouth after the Pirates game seven victory.

One of the most dramatic World Series victories occurred 62 years ago today when Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski Continue reading

Roberto Clemente Almost Crushed By Mets Catcher Joe Pignatano

Roberto Clemente Involved In A Strange Play At Home

Roberto Clemente August 21 1962 photo AP


New York, August 21, 1962 – It’s just that Roberto Clemente of the Pittsburgh Pirates objects to being sat upon by catcher Joe Pignatano of the New York Mets after sliding into home plate with a run in the first game of a twin bill Tuesday. Pittsburgh won the first game 8-6 but lost the second 5-4. Photo: Associated Press

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Five Things You Didn’t Know About Ralph Kiner

Ralph Kiner, Mets Longtime Announcer And Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer Dies At 91

Ralph Kiner (r) holds several bats while watching the Braves young slugger Eddie Mathews (l) before a game - 1953

Ralph Kiner (r) holds several bats while watching the Braves young slugger Eddie Mathews (l) before a game – 1953

For many New Yorker’s who grew up watching or listening to baseball, a part of their childhood ended today February 6 2014, with the death of Pirates slugger and Mets broadcaster Ralph Kiner.

Ralph Kiner had a brief, yet great playing career followed by a long TV and radio career where he had been with the Mets broadcast team since their inaugural season in 1962.

Besides announcing Mets games, many baseball fans enjoyed watching Kiner through the Mets post-game TV show Kiner’s Korner.

The obituary writers will surely cover Kiner’s career thoroughly, but here are five things you might not have known about Ralph Kiner:

Ralph Kiner slides safely past Phillies catcher Andy Seminick at Shibe Park May 7, 1949

Ralph Kiner slides safely past Phillies catcher Andy Seminick at Shibe Park May 7, 1949

1. In the 1940’s Chicago Cubs scout Dutch Ruether found two bright prospects he wanted to bring to the Cubs. He got Ralph Kiner and Ewell Blackwell to agree to be signed for what he thought were bargain price bonuses. The Cubs didn’t sign Kiner saying it was too much money. The cost? $3,000!  Blackwell wanted only $750 and the Cubs passed on him too!

2. Ralph Kiner came up with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1946 and had one of the most extraordinary starts to a career, leading the National League in home runs for seven consecutive years.

3. In 1947 Ralph Kiner became just the fifth player in the history of baseball to hit 50 or more home runs in a year.

4. In his short career which spanned only ten years (1946-1955) Kiner hit 369 career home runs and walked 1,011 times, but struck out only 749 times.

5. According to Pirate teammate Joe Garagiola, Kiner was one of the great practical jokers in baseball. Kiner’s frequent victim was Pirates trainer Doc Jorgensen. One day Kiner removed all of the bottles and bandages out of Jorgensen’s medical kit. Later during a game when a player got spiked, Jorgensen ran out to the field and opened his bag to treat the player, and found that it was filled with sandwiches courtesy of Ralph Kiner.

How To Throw A Spitball

Burleigh Grimes Demonstrates How To Throw A Spitter – July 12, 1929

The spitball was officially banned from baseball in 1920. Existing spitball pitchers were grandfathered to be allowed to legally throw the pitch. Hall of Famer Burleigh Grimes was the last of these legal spitball pitchers playing when he retired in 1934 after winning 270 games over 19 seasons. Grimes pitched for nine teams during his career and is one of only fourteen players to play for all three New York teams: the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants and New York Yankees.

In this news photograph, which looks like it was taken in a backyard rather than a ballpark, Grimes demonstrates his method for throwing the spitter.

The news caption reads:

World Wide Photos

The National League’s Leading Hurler

Philadelphia, PA. – Burleigh Grimes veteran spitball pitcher of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who is leading the National League throwers with 14 wins and one defeat, demonstrates how he starts to throw his famous ‘spitter’ 7/12/29

illustration New York Times

Grimes won only three more games for the rest of the year and ended up with a 17-7 record. The Pirates finished in second place, ten and a half games behind the Cubs.

The object of the spitter is to have it sink. You first apply a good amount of saliva to an area of the ball. The two top fingers go over the wet part of the ball. The rest of the hand grips the ball tightly. You control the direction of the drop by tilting the top of the fingers slightly to the left or to the right. In order to be effective, your wrist must be straight and rigid when releasing the ball. This combination will give the ball a reverse spin. Controlling the location of the pitch is difficult and that is why when it was outlawed in 1920 there were only 17 pitchers using it effectively and they were grandfathered to keep using it.

Even though it has been banned for over 90 years, there are still many managers and batters who swear there are pitchers who throw the illegal pitch. In a 1967 Sports Illustrated article it was estimated that approximately 25% of pitchers were throwing spitballs.

Vintage Photos – Stealing Home

or Jackie Robinson Makes Stealing Home Look Easy

One of the most famous film highlights of a baseball game is from September 28, Game 1 of the 1955 World Series where the Brooklyn Dodgers star Jackie Robinson stole home against the New York Yankees. The photograph above captures the bang-bang action. The play was incredibly close and you could look at the film 100 times and still not be sure of the outcome. Robinson was called safe by umpire Bill Summers. To this day, Yankees catcher Yogi Berra vehemently Continue reading