Morning Report: Remembering Roberto

Today would have been the 80th birthday of the great Roberto Clemente. Back in 2012 on the Pirates Prospects blog site, I took a different route to celebrate the birthday of this all-time great. I went back through many of the major and local newspapers from November 23,1954, which was the day after the Pittsburgh Pirates picked up Clemente in the Rule V draft. The article gives a fascinating take of the first responses to the pick, the immediate reactions with some comments on the virtually unknown minor leaguer. You can read the full article here, it’s definitely worth the time checking out.

You will see many tributes today for Clemente, which will point out the great career he had and the even better person he was outside of baseball. He is a player that will live on forever due to both his untimely tragic ending and his feats on the field with his bat, his amazing arm, his defense and his base running. No one will forget his 3,000th hit, especially those that were lucky enough to be there to witness it in person. I’ve included the video, because it’s something worth watching no matter how many times you’ve seen it already.

Among Pirates players, a team loaded with Hall of Fame hitters, Clemente ranks first all-time in at-bats, tied for first with Honus Wagner in games played(both played 2433 with the Pirates), second in plate appearances, first in hits, first in total base and third in runs scored. He is third in doubles, triples, homers and RBIs. Those are impressive accomplishments, but the awards he won during his career tell even more of the story. He appeared in 15 All-Star games, won four batting titles and collected 12 straight Gold Gloves between 1961-1972. Clemente was the 1966 NL MVP, 1971 WS MVP and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1973.

Today is just another milestone day in the history of Roberto Clemente. A “what could have been” day, where the Pirates would have done something special for his 80th birthday.  Sure there will be some mention of it during the game, but you could you imagine if Clemente was actually there for it? Well, in a way he will be there, because he lives on in the hearts of those that knew him and the imaginations of those that have heard stories of the way he played. Here’s hoping the Pirates pay special tribute to him on this anniversary of his birth and win one for the Great One.

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

Pittsburgh: The Pirates are 2.5 games behind St. Louis for the first Wild Card spot. They are a 1.5 games behind San Francisco for the second spot. They are currently 5.5 games back from the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.

Indianapolis: The Indians are six games back in the International League West, and seven games back in the Wild Card with 15 games left in the season.

Bradenton: The Marauders are in first place in the Florida State League South, leading by two games over Palm Beach. They need to win the second half division to make the playoffs. The Marauders have 14 games left in their season, four against Palm Beach.

Today’s Schedule

Minor League Starter of the Day:  It’s a light day on the schedule today, with just four teams playing. Jamestown is now on their All-Star break. The game will be held Tuesday and three Jammers were named to the roster. Altoona, Bradenton and West Virginia all have the day off today. Nick Kingham gets the start for Indianapolis tonight. He had a strong outing last week, allowing one run over seven innings. Prior to that, he had four straight outings in which he allowed at least four runs. Between Altoona and Indianapolis, he has a 3.14 ERA over 140.1 innings, with a .233 BAA, 1.03 GO/AO ratio and a 1.09 WHIP. Kingham is third among Pirates minor league pitchers with 106 strikeouts.

MLB: Pittsburgh (64-60) vs Atlanta (64-60) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Vance Worley (2.51 ERA, 43:11 K/BB, 68 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (64-65) @ Louisville (63-66) 7:05 PM
Probable starterNick Kingham (3.25 ERA, 52:19 K/BB, 69.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (54-74) @ Akron (70-58) 7:05 PM 8/19
Probable starter: Jhonathan Ramos (3.99 ERA, 33:17 K/BB, 56.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (70-55, 35-21 2nd half) vs Fort Myers (74-52) 6:30 PM 8/19
Probable starter: TBD

Low-A: West Virginia (48-77, 28-29 2nd half) vs Lakewood (49-77) 7:05 PM 8/19
Probable starter:  Cody Dickson (4.18 ERA. 92:53 K/BB, 116.1 IP)

Short-Season A: Jamestown (29-32) vs Batavia (29-34) 7:05 PM 8/20
Probable Starter: TBD

RK: Bristol (17-39) vs Johnson City (30-27) 7:00 PM
Probable Starter: TBD

GCL: Pirates (18-32) vs Yankees2 (29-21) 12:00 PM
Probable Starter:

DSL: Pirates (32-34) vs  Yankees2 (36-30) 10:30 AM


JaCoby Jones hit his 22nd homer on Saturday night, a ninth inning grand slam in a 13-3 win over Lexington. Jones leads all Pirates minor league players in homers. As noted by the video, it was the third grand slam he has hit this year.

Cole Tucker had two hits on Saturday. The 2014 first round pick hit this line drive in his second at-bat…

…which followed him beating out this infield hit in the first inning. Both videos courtesy of the GCL Pirates fan page.

Recent Transactions

8/17: Charlie Morton placed on disabled list. Brent Morel recalled

8/17: A.J. Morris assigned to Indianapolis.

8/15: Elias Diaz promoted to Indianapolis.

8/15: Stolmy Pimentel placed on 15-day disabled list. John Axford added to roster.

8/14: Clint Barmes assigned to Altoona on rehab.

8/14: A.J. Morris assigned to Altoona.

8/14: John Axford claimed off waivers from Cleveland Indians.

8/14: Matt Hague designated for assignment.

8/14: Pirates sign pitcher Matt Nevarez. Assign him to Altoona.

8/13: Ernesto Frieri outrighted to Indianapolis.

8/13: Ramon Cabrera claimed off waivers from the Detroit Tigers. Assigned to Altoona.

8/13: Wirfin Obispo designated for assignment.

8/12: Brandon Cumpton recalled from Indianapolis. Casey Sadler optioned to Indianapolis.

8/12: Adrian Sampson promoted to Indianapolis.

8/11: Casey Sadler recalled from Indianapolis. Andrew McCutchen placed on the DL.

This Date in Pirates History

Roberto Clemente is obviously the biggest name among former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, but he isn’t the only Hall of Famer born on August 18th that played for the Pirates. Pitcher Burleigh Grimes had three different stints with the Pirates during his 19-year career. He won 270 games total, including 25 wins for the 1928 Pirates. That season, he led the National League in wins, games pitched, games started, complete games, shutouts and innings pitched. He was involved in four different transactions of note while with Pittsburgh and not only started his big league career in the Steel City, he also finished it there at the age of forty. You can read more about his career here, plus the short bios of five other players, including the ever-popular Mike LaValliere, who turns 54 today.

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John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

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  • David Lewis

    Chills. Previously, as I recall the story (I was 5 so don’t have much personal recollection), Clemente had hit a ball in the infield that had skipped off an infielders glove; the initial reaction from the crowd was elation, before the official scorer flashed up the “E” on the scoreboard.

    I always thought it was more karmically correct that Clemente’s 3,000th hit was a line-drive, stand-up double to the gap.

  • Bill Brown

    A better humanitarian than ball player and that’s saying something.

  • cocktailsfor2

    Happy birthday, Roberto.

    I will remember you always.

  • smurph

    Not just my favorite Pirates player of all time. He is my favorite athlete (tied with Jerry West) of all time. I was fortunate enough to see hundreds of his games on TV, and dozens of them in person. At old Forbes field, if you hit a ball off the right field screen, you didn’t even think about trying to get a double. Just stay at first base. I saw him catch a one-hop line drive down the right field line, do a 270, and throw behind the runner at first, who just stood there 15 feet off the base, knowing he was out.

  • smurph

    In 1960, Dick Groat won the batting title and the MVP. He was definitely not the best or the most valuable player on the Pirates. There is still a question of whether racism played a part in Clemente not winning it that year. Doesn’t matter. Pirate fans knew who he was.

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