Friday, March 1, 2013
Food-Issue Friday: 1954 Dan-Dee Potato Chips Max Surkont, Sid Gordon
Pitcher Max Surkont and outfielder Sid Gordon were two of the five players Milwaukee sent to Pirates in exchange for second baseman Danny O'Connell. Others included in the December 26, 1953 trade: Sam Jethroe, Curt Raydon, Fred Waters, and minor leaguer Larry Lasalle.
Surkont's best years were behind him by the time he arrived in Pittsburgh. In 2.5 years in the Steel City, he produced a record of 16-32 and an ERA of 4.92, while allowing almost as many walks as strikeouts (159/163). Many attribute the pitcher's downfall to his affinity for food- the fans in Milwaukee often showered the portly pitcher with gifts, particularly Polish sausage. Max was happy to oblige, while watching his already large frame grow even bigger. A few years after retiring from the game, Surkont opened a restaurant, Surkont's Cafe, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, where he had spent most of his life. He owned the cafe for twenty-one years before retiring in 1984, just two years before his death at age 64.
Pirates fans, players, and management surely knew who Sid Gordon was prior to acquiring the veteran outfielder. After all, it was Sid who hit the Braves' twelfth home run off of Pirates pitching during an August 30, 1953 doubleheader. Not only did Sid's homer give Milwaukee the league record for home runs by a team in a doubleheader, but it also gave the Braves another record: total bases for the two games (71). Gordon may not have been the player he once was, but he certainly was no slouch for the Pirates. The outfielder still displayed a keen eye at the plate- walking twice as often as he struck out, which was right on par for his career.
He would appear in 131 games for the Bucs during the '54 season, and then another sixteen games for them in '55 before being traded back to the New York Giants, where he played his first seven years.