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1925 Pirate Replay, July 18: Bucs Split Two, Retake First
March 6, 2021
1925 Season Replay / Uncategorized
The Pirates concluded a hard-fought five-game series in Boston by splitting a doubleheader with the Braves. They took a big lead and then just hung on to win the first game, 9-8. The second game was a pitchers’ duel, with Boston coming out on top in 11 innings, 2-1. In the series, three games went into extra innings. Four were decided by one run and the one that wasn’t went to extras. The day worked out well enough for the Bucs, as Cincinnati’s Dolf Luque blanked the Giants, who played only the one game. That left Pittsburgh in first place by half a game. In game one, the Pirates built up a 9-1 lead over the first six innings against Boston’s Johnny Cooney. They got a quick lead in the top of the first, when Kiki Cuyler doubled home Max Carey, then erupted for five runs in the second. Boston’s defense provided some help. After a single and an error, Johnny Gooch doubled in a run and starting pitcher Emil Yde doubled in two more. Carey then reached on another error, with Yde going to third. When Carey stole second, catcher Oscar Siemer threw the ball away, letting Yde score and Carey take third. Eddie Moore brought Carey home with a squeeze bunt to put the Pirates up, 6-0. The Braves got one back in the bottom of the second on two singles, a double play and a single by Siemer. Things got quiet after that, as neither team had more than one runner in innings three through five. The Bucs picked up three more in the top of the sixth, with all the action occurring after two were out. Yde doubled for the second time, then a single and a walk loaded the bases. Cuyler singled for two runs, then Clyde Barnhart singled to drive in another. Cuyler was thrown out trying to score on the play, but the Pirates led, 9-1. Yde pitched well through the sixth, but ran into trouble in the seventh. Three singles and a walk led to a run and set up a bases-loaded triple by third baseman Ernie Padgett. A sacrifice fly made the score 9-6. Bill McKechnie stuck with Yde and the lefty had more problems in the eighth. A walk, a single and an infield hit loaded the bases with two out, and center fielder Gus Felix singled for two runs. Yde got Padgett on a fly ball to hold the score at 9-8. The Pirates failed to score in the eighth or ninth, primarily because they had one runner thrown out at home and another at second, and also had a runner picked off third. When a walk and a single put runners at the corners with one out in the bottom of the ninth, McKechnie finally sent Ray Kremer out to relieve Yde. Kremer got Dave Bancroft to hit a grounder to third and Pie Traynor threw the lead runner out at home. A ground out ended the game. Yde gave up 17 hits, four of them to right fielder Les Mann, but still improved his record to 10-5. He was better at the plate than on the mound, going 3-for-4. Carey and Cuyler also had three hits apiece, with Carey scoring three times and Cuyler driving in three runs. Game two was much quieter. The total combined hits went from 31 to 15 and the combined errors went from seven to one. Instead, the starters, Johnny Morrison for the Pirates and 30-year-old Bob Smith for the Braves, mostly held things in check. Until this year, Smith was an infielder, but he held the Bucs to six hits. Cuyler and Carson Bigbee, who gave Barnhart a break in left, each had two. Cuyler had a two-out triple in the first and Bigbee a two-out double in the second, but both were stranded. The Pirates had other chances. In the third, with runners at the corners and two out, Cuyler got picked off first. In the fourth, with two on and one out, Bigbee hit into a double play. Morrison was pitching as well as Smith, but the Braves got on the board in the bottom of the fourth. A pair of singles and a bad throw put runners at second and third, and a long fly ball to right by Dave Harris brought in the game’s first run. With the score 1-0, little else happened until the top of the seventh. The Pirates put runners on second and third when Glenn Wright walked and went to third on a single by Bigbee, and Bigbee took second on the throw to third. Boston walked Earl Smith to get to Morrison, who struck out. Carey tied the game with a sacrifice fly, but that was all. Other than a single by Smith, there were no baserunners until the 11th. Cuyler led off the inning with his second triple of the game, giving him 16 on the year. He had to hold, though, when George Grantham bounced back to Smith. Then Traynor flied to Jimmy Welsh in shallow right. Cuyler tagged and tried for the plate, but Wright threw him out. The game didn’t last much longer. Welsh beat out a bunt to start the bottom of the inning, then Dick Burrus tried to bunt and ended up with a single. That brought up Felix, who singled to left to drive in Welsh and end the game. Morrison pitched a fine game, but fell to 8-8. The Pirates have a day off and then play three games in Philadelphia....
Card of the Day: 1887 N172 Old Judge John Coleman
March 6, 2021
Card of the Day
We are lucky enough here to have contributors from time-to-time, including a gentleman named Kevin Cummings, who is a 19th century baseball expert. He has posted articles here in the past on the 1886-90 N172 Old Judge set, as well as a memorabilia article. I have linked all of his previous articles posted here at the bottom of this page. Today he looks at Alleghenys outfielder/pitcher John Coleman, who had two stints with the team. He was an outfielder during the 1886-88 seasons and he came back briefly as a pitcher during the disastrous 1890 season. This is an in depth look at the name named John Coleman, along with a look at one of his poses/variations from the 1887 Old Judge set. Here’s the card, so you can get a good visual of the man you’re going to read about below: The Baseball Life of John Coleman by Kevin Cummings There is some uncertainty as to exactly where and when John Francis “Jack” Coleman was born. Baseball-Reference.com has that data listed as March 6, 1863 in Saratoga Springs, New York, apparently taken from a December 23, 1893 profile of him in the New York Clipper. Alternately, SABR’s Biography Project suggests he was born in Illinois around 1860 based on US Census records. Coleman’s death certificate, however, says he was born in 1855. No matter. One fact is incontrovertible – Jack Coleman owns a Major League baseball record that will likely never be broken: as a pitcher he lost 48 games in his rookie 1883 season! That performance alone got him some consideration as the “Worst Major Leaguer In The Nineteenth Century” in David Nemec’s book The Great Encyclopedia of 19th Century Major League Baseball, but, in truth, that charge was unwarranted because Coleman was better than that. The April 15, 1883 issue of The Sporting Life said that Coleman had been signed in November 1882 by the Philadelphia Quakers, a new team to the National League, as their fourth pitcher, but there was “…not much known about him…” He came with some very good statistics based on his work in 1882 for the Peoria Reds, but they were only a semipro team who often played against amateurs. There was also a rumor Coleman had thrown a baseball 121 yards and 6 inches…underhanded! In the first exhibition game ever for the Quakers on April 2, he no-hit and shut out the Ashland amateur team. Things continued on a high note for him with exhibition wins over the Baltimore Orioles on April 7 (The Sporting Life said that “…Coleman’s pitching proved a stumbling block…”) and the Philadelphia Athletics on April 16 (The Sporting Life said “Coleman’s pitching was very effective…”). Management, coaches, and fans alike thought they had signed a budding star. The wheels began to fall off, however, during the first week of the regular season. Despite Coleman pitching passably, Philadelphia lost both of its first two games to the Providence Grays in the late innings. Thus began the all-too-frequent season-long litany about the poor/untimely hitting and poor fielding of the Quakers by the columnists of The Sporting Life. Coleman got his first career win (an 11-inning 4-3 victory) on May 15 against Detroit. The Sporting Life commented that “…Coleman pitched extremely well…” But by the end of May, Philadelphia had a 4 – 16 record and Coleman had started 15 of the games. The rest of the 1883 season was much of the same. And the preseason quote about Coleman being the fourth pitcher was laughable. For most of the season the team did not have even two capable hurlers. Despite the club’s poor inaugural season record (17 wins and 81 losses, good for last place – 46 games behind Boston) Jack pitched quite well at times. Among his 12 wins, he beat HOFer Pud Galvin four times as well as outdueling HOFer Mickey Welch once. He also tossed three shutouts. Coleman’s 4.87 ERA and 48 losses really spoke more to his teammates’ ineptitude with their gloves (dead last in the league in every meaningful fielding category) and their bats (also the worst in the league) than his own pitching. Due to the club’s small roster, though, the exhausted Coleman was forced to pitch to the point where he severely permanently damaged his arm. On the few days he did not pitch, he was used as an outfielder despite his aching arm. Though he was not the best fielder or hitter, he was not the worst either. Jack had 32 RBIs, good for third on the team. His ability in the field and at bat extended his career, though it would not be with the Quakers. Their acquisition of Charlie Ferguson and Bill Vinton to pitch in 1884 combined with Coleman’s still-lame arm forced manager Harry Wright to release Jack in mid-August. He latched on with the cross-town Philadelphia Athletics of the American Association. Manager Lon Knight, well aware of Coleman’s arm issue, used him almost exclusively in the outfield. His lackluster second-half performance in the field and at bat for the Athletics did not bode well, but the Athletics retained him anyway as an outfielder and change-pitcher for 1885. With new manager Harry Stovey relying almost exclusively on Bobby Mathews as his pitcher for 1885, Coleman pitched in just eight games all season. That was fine with Jack since his arm was not 100%. Despite the pain, he did contribute two wins, three complete games, and a 3.43 ERA. Although Jack’s fielding did not put him at the top of the league, his 23 outfield assists were ranked fourth. He did, however, respond solidly with his bat: Coleman ranked in the top ten in average (.299), on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, and RBIs. Jack’s attitude also improved as he got married, moved permanently to Philadelphia, and began his off-season training regimen for the 1886 season. In addition, Coleman’s play made history on May 10 against Saint Louis resulting directly in a rule change. Athletics pitcher Mathews hurt his hand early in the game and initially just swapped positions with right fielder Knight. When it became apparent that Mathews could no longer play at all, the Athletics were without a substitute. It just so happened that Jack had a day off and was observing from the stands. As The Sporting Life reported it, “…In the sixth he suffered greatly and had to leave the field, Coleman taking his place in right and playing in citizens clothes…” He even singled in one of his two at-bats. Jack started the 1886 season as the Athletics’ right fielder and clean-up hitter, but he tailed off from his 1885 numbers. His average dropped to .246, but he still had decent power and speed numbers (16 triples and 28 stolen bases), drove in 65 runs, and even chipped in pitching three games with a 2.61 ERA. Even so, the Athletics dismissed Coleman in September. The rival Pittsburgh Allegheneys, looking for some stretch-run help signed Jack and positioned him in left field. His confidence was renewed and he finished strongly with a .349 average and 9 RBIs in 11 games. During the 1886 off-season, the Allegheneys became the first team to move from the American Association to the National League. They were miffed at the perceived unfair treatment they received in the dual signing of Sam Barkley by Pittsburgh and Baltimore. Despite Coleman’s self-imposed training regimen, his arm was still not up to being a full-time pitcher. The Allegehneys agreed and 1887 was the first season Jack was solely a field player. Despite having the pitchers and hitters that suggested better, the Allegheneys managed but a sixth-place finish. Unburdened from pitching, Coleman had the best season of his career with a .293 average, 54 RBIs, 25 stolen bases, and an .899 fielding percentage, exceeding the league average for right fielders. In their July 7 issue, The Sporting Life even commented, “…It is hard to realize to see his field work here that it is the same Coleman…” During the 1887 off-season, Jack came down with an undisclosed illness. It was reported that he was bedridden for several months, but some surmised it was just a contract negotiating ploy since other reports said he was back in the gym by March. The Allegheneys were still concerned with the condition of Coleman’s throwing arm, so they planned for him to be a first baseman and signed Billy Sunday to play right field, yet on Opening Day, Jack was back in right field. Apparently, Jack’s illness was not feigned because his play for the entire month of April and most of May was lackluster. His play for the rest of the season was streaky at best. The magic had gone out of his bat, although his glove work was still superb – a .928 fielding percentage (better than the league average) and 20 outfield assists. Despite his best attempts to maintain his condition in the 1888 off-season, the Allegheneys believed Coleman was damaged goods and though they initially reserved him, they eventually gave Jack his release on April 26, 1889. For the next two years, Jack tried desperately (even occasionally employing an old-style underhand delivery) to latch on as a pitcher with another professional baseball team. He signed with the Athletics again in 1889 and pitched well for them in the five starts he made – three wins and a 2.91 ERA – but everyone knew his arm could not withstand the rigors of an entire Major League season. He started with the Toronto Canucks of the International Association in 1890. His solid play there in Spring won him some time with the player-desperate Pittsburgh Alleghenys. After his second losing pitching effort with them, though, Coleman’s Major League career ended on July 18. He continued to play for various minor league and semi-pro teams as both a pitcher and a fielder through at least 1903 with varying levels of success. When his baseball playing days were completely behind him, Jack became interested in myriad other athletic activities and professions – including baseball umpire, baseball manager, boxing referee, and professional trainer – none of which seemed to occupy him for very long, if at all. After decades of living in Pennsylvania, Coleman moved to Detroit around 1912, where he found steady work in a bowling alley. He died on May 31, 1922 after being hit by a car. While Jack is most remembered for his amazingly futile rookie season, one has to wonder how different his career might have been if his first team did not permanently ruin his arm through overuse. He should also be remembered as someone who believed in year-round physical fitness, especially during the off-season, when most of his peers were doing all their heavy lifting in saloons. Finally, Coleman should ultimately be recognized for the competitive spirit that drove him to be a better fielder and batter so he could continue playing the game he loved for as long as he could. Here are the other offerings from Mr Cummings N172 Bob Allen, a player who never played for Pittsburgh in a regular season game, but got a card with them N172 Sam Barkley Pirates Memorabilia, Jot Goar Pepsin Pin. Jot Goar was a real player. N172 Pop Smith...
This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: March 6th, Willie Stargell
March 6, 2021
This Date in Pittsburgh Baseball History
Five former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, one of them is among the team’s all-time greats. Willie Stargell, 1B/OF for the 1962-82 Pirates. He played 21 seasons in a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform, three more than anyone else in team history. He also hit 475 homers and drove in 1,540 runs, both tops among the team’s all-time list. The Pirates signed Stargell at the age of 18 as an amateur free agent in 1958, and he made his pro debut the following season playing Class D ball. He hit just seven homers in 118 games that rookie season. He moved up a level for 1959 and hit 11 homers in 107 games with a .260 average. Stargell never had a great hitting season in the minors, but his breakout year could be considered 1961 when he hit .289 with 22 homers playing for Asheville of the South Atlantic League. The Pirates jumped him up to Triple-A for the next season, and by September he was up in the majors for ten late season games. He would be in Pittsburgh for good from that point on. In his first full season, Pops started just 71 games and hit a modest .243 with 11 homers in 304 at-bats. He made his first All-Star team in 1964, but the 1965 season was his first true All-Star type season in the majors. Stargell batted .273 with 22 homers and 78 RBIs in 117 games in 1964. His OBP was low due to just 17 walks, but he finished with a .501 slugging percentage. In 1965, he hit 27 homers and drove in 107 runs, earning his second of three straight All-Star appearances. Stargell gained some respect from pitchers, which led to more walks (including 13 intentional walks), but his slugging percentage was exactly the same as the previous season. His overall numbers just looked much better because he was in the lineup more often, playing 144 games. He garnered some MVP consideration in 1965, finishing 14th in the voting. That would be one spot ahead of where he would finish in the MVP voting the next season when he had one of the best years of his career at the plate. He hit a career high .315 with 33 homers and 102 RBIs. Stargell’s .962 OPS that year would be his highest during the first nine years of his career and it ranked him third in the National League. Stargell saw a decline in each of the next two seasons, though he still put up solid numbers in 1967. That year he hit .271 with 67 walks, 20 homers and 73 RBIs in 134 games. He hit 24 homers in 1968, but it came with a .237 average and a lowly (for him) .757 OPS. That would be his lowest OPS during a 15-year stretch (1964-80). After a couple of down years, Stargell put together a solid 1969 season in which he hit .307 with 29 homers and 92 RBIs. He played 145 games that season, a total he would top just once in his career. His .938 OPS was eighth best in the league. Stargell followed that up with a 31-homer season in 1970, before putting together the best stretch of his career. The Pirates won the 1971 World Series and the man they would later call “Pops” led the way. He set career bests in both homers with 48 and RBIs with 125. The Pirates won everything in the postseason, but Stargell provided very little help. He went hitless in the NLCS, then hit .208 with one RBI in the WS. He led the NL in homers for the first time in his career and became just the second Pirates player to reach the 40-homer mark, and his total still sits third in team history behind Ralph Kiner’s two top seasons. His 125 RBIs fell six short of the team record, and it ranks fifth among the Pirates single-season marks. His 1.026 OPS ranked second in the NL behind an incredible season put up by Hank Aaron. Stargell scored 104 runs that year, the first time he cracked the century mark in a season. The 1972 season gets lost between his two best years, but Stargell still put up big numbers. He hit .293 with 33 homers and 112 RBIs, leading to a .930 OPS. However, those playoff struggles from 1971 would come back the next season. Despite finishing third in the 1972 MVP voting, he hit just .063 in the NLCS against the Reds, and the Pirates lost the series. Stargell would hit .299 in 1973 with a league leading 44 homers and 119 RBIs. He set career highs with 106 runs scored and 43 doubles. His 1.038 OPS led the league and set a career high. His .646 slugging also led the league and was his career high. He had 90 extra-base hits that year, setting a still-standing team record. During that 1971-73 stretch he finished second or third in the MVP voting every year. Stargell still had plenty of strong seasons left, but the 1974 season would be the last time he played over 130 games in a year. He hit .301 with 96 RBIs during the regular season, then hit .400 with two homers in the playoff loss to the Dodgers. He drew a career high 87 walks, which led to a career best .407 OBP. Stargell helped the Pirates to the playoffs again in 1975 by hitting .295 and driving in 90 runs , earning a seventh place finish in the MVP voting. The 1976-77 seasons were tough ones for Stargell between family and physical problems. He played just 180 games total those two years, though he combined to hit 33 homers and drive in 100 runs. He was 38 years old going into 1978, but he proved that he wasn’t done as a player. He hit .295 with 28 homers and 97 RBIs that year, making his seventh and final All-Star appearance. He may not have made the All-Star team in 1979, but he did one better. He led the Pirates to their fifth World Series title, and in the process won the regular season MVP, the NLCS MVP and the WS MVP awards. He hit 32 homers and drove in 82 runs during the season, then hit .455 with six RBIs in the three-game NLCS and .400 with three homers and seven RBIs during the WS. That would be the one final shining moment for Stargell, who still played another three seasons with the Pirates, but only saw action in 179 games, many of them off the bench. In his first year on the Hall of Fame ballot in 1988, Pops was voted in with 82.4% of the votes. He finished with a .282 career average, 1,195 runs scored, 2,232 hits, 475 homers and 1,540 RBIs. Besides his team home run and RBI records, he also holds the Pirates all-time record for walks with 937 and he had 227 career intentional walks. Francisco Cervelli, catcher for the 2015-19 Pirates. Cervelli signed as an international amateur free agent with the New York Yankees in 2003 out of Venezuela, just days before his 17th birthday. He spent the first 12 seasons of his pro career with the Yankees, making it to the big leagues for the first time in 2008 for three September games. Cervelli had a very slow start to his pro career. His first two seasons were spent in the Dominican Republic, before playing in the Gulf Coast League in 2005, where he put up a .190 batting average. He got on track to the majors in 2006, batting .309 in 42 games, while playing in the New York-Penn League. The Yankees skipped him over Low-A the next year and he did well in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, where he put up a .783 OPS. He got some great winter ball experience playing against older competition in Venezuela that off-season, but his 2008 season was basically a lost one due to an injury suffered in a home plate collision in Spring Training. He played just 27 games, but made up for lost time by playing regularly in Venezuela again over the winter. The Yankees also gave him a brief taste of the majors with five September at-bats. Cervelli split the 2009 season between two stints in the majors and Triple-A. He did well in his big league time, hitting .298 in 94 at-bats over 42 games. He saw more time with the Yankees in 2010, batting .271 with 38 RBIs in 93 games. After batting .266 with four homers in 43 games in 2011, Cervelli spent most of 2012 in the minors, seeing just three games with the Yankees. Injuries and a 50-game suspension during the 2013 season limited him to just 66 games over his final two seasons in New York. He was acquired by the Pirates following the 2014 season in exchange for pitcher Justin Wilson. Cervelli played 450 games for the Pirates over five seasons before they let him go late in 2019, which allowed him to sign with a playoff contender (Atlanta Braves). His best season with the Pirates was his first year, when he hit .295 and played 130 games, helping the team to their third straight playoff appearance. He also had a strong 2018 season, setting career highs with 12 homers and 57 RBIs. In 13 seasons in the majors, he played 100+ games three times, all with the Pirates. Unfortunately for Cervelli, injuries were also a big part of his time with the Pirates, especially concussions. Between June 11, 2016 and May 26, 2019, he was placed on the disabled list eight times, including five times for concussions. He had a total of 14 trips to the disabled list during his time in the majors. He was limited to 81 games in 2017 and 34 in 2019 before his late season release so he could sign with Atlanta. He was hitting just .193 with one homer for the Pirates before being let go. Cervelli signed with the Miami Marlins for the 2020 season and he hit .245, with three homers in 16 games before a concussion ended his season in August. He retired following the 2020 season. In 730 big league games, he hit .268 with 41 homers and 275 RBIs. With the Pirates he batted .264 with 26 homers and 169 RBIs. He put up 3.4 WAR in 2015 and 3.1 WAR in 2018, nearly half of his career total (14.1 WAR). His third best season also came while with the Pirates when he put up 1.5 WAR in 2016. Clint Barmes, shortstop for the 2012-14 Pirates. He was drafted out of Indiana State in the tenth round in 2000 by the Colorado Rockies and made his Major League debut three years later. Barmes played eight seasons in Colorado, one for the Houston Astros, then signed as a free agent with the Pirates prior to the 2012 season. He debuted with a .282 average in 45 games at the short-season level in 2000, before hitting just .173 in 19 games after a late season promotion to Low-A. Barmes didn’t exactly tear up the minors in his first full season, which was split between Low-A and High-A. He had a .683 OPS for Low-A Asheville before putting up a .672 OPS in the Carolina League. He stole 25 bases in 2001 and averaged 18 steals per season in the minors before establishing himself in the majors, but speed wasn’t a significant part of his big league game. Barmes moved up to Double-A in 2002 and hit .272 with 15 homers and 15 steals. He moved up to the high offense of Colorado Springs in the Pacific Coast League in 2003 and had a mediocre .709 OPS, but it still earned him a trip to the majors in September. He hit .320 in 12 games with the Rockies that year. Back in Triple-A in 2004, he had an .881 OPS, which led to a big league call in August and 20 late season games. Barmes earned a big league job in 2005 and he hit .289 with ten homers and 46 RBIs in 81 games. posting a 2.6 WAR, due in part to some great defense. After batting just .220 in 131 games during the 2006 season, he was replaced at shortstop by Troy Tulowitzki. Barmes played just 27 games for the 2007 Rockies, spending a majority of the season in the minors. He returned in 2008 as a backup infielder, though he took over at second base by the end of the year. He hit .290 with 11 homers in 107 games, which led to him getting the second base job in 2009. That year he set a career best with 154 games played, while breaking 500 at-bats (550) for the only time in his career. Barmes hit just .245 and his low walk rate led to a .294 OPS, but the Colorado air did well for his slugging percentage. He belted 23 homers, 32 doubles and drove in 76 runs, all career highs. His numbers dropped off significantly in 2010 and the Rockies traded him to the Astros after the season. In his one year in Houston before reaching free agency, he hit .244 with 12 homers and 39 RBIs in 123 games. With the Pirates, he held the shortstop job for 2012, while serving as a mentor to Jordy Mercer. Barmes hit .229 with eight homers and 45 RBIs in 144 games in 2012. He put up a 2.2 dWAR, which was the fifth best total among all National League players. He saw his OPS drop to .558 in 108 games in 2013, then he saw limited use backing up all four infield spots in 2014, playing 48 games total. After the season, he left via free agency. In three years with the Pirates, he batted .224 with 13 homers and 75 RBIs in 300 games. Barmes played one more season in the majors (2015 San Diego Padres), then signed with the Kansas City Royals in 2016 and played two months at Triple-A before retiring. In 13 seasons, he was a .245 hitter with 89 homers in 1,186 games. His 2.5 dWAR in 2005 rated him as the best defensive player in the National League. His uncle Bruce Barmes played for the 1953 Washington Senators. Bert Husting, pitcher for the 1900 Pirates. He began his pro career in 1899 for the Milwaukee Brewers of the Western League playing for Connie Mack. The Western League proved to be a little too tough for the 21-year-old pitcher out of college, so he was loaned to New Haven of the Connecticut League for part of the season, before returning to Milwaukee. The next year the Brewers moved to the American League (one year before the league was recognized as a Major League). The Pirates acquired him from the Brewers in August after three Pirates players went to Milwaukee, including Hall of Famer Rube Waddell. Husting was sought after by Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss, who actually showed interest in him before he owned the Pirates, but he thought he needed more minor league experience and the American League was a good level for him. Husting wasn’t with Milwaukee long in 1900, joining the team on June 17th after finishing up his college studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He was secured by Dreyfuss on July 31st, just six weeks after beginning his season. Milwaukee had a salary dispute with him which amounted to $25 a month, with them paying him $150 and he wanted a raise to $175 in July. Husting would end up pitching just two games for Pittsburgh, both in relief, going eight innings in which he allowed five runs, but recorded seven strikeouts. In his debut on August 16th, nine days after his arrival to the team, he took over for the final three innings from Deacon Phillippe against Brooklyn and gave up two runs, one being a home run to Hall of Famer Joe Kelley. The local papers said that Husting threw hard, had “a lot of good curves and a cross-fire delivery that puzzle some of the league’s best batters”. Husting pitched again seven days later, with another Hall of Fame connection involved. He took over for Jack Chesbro, after the latter allowed eight runs over the first four innings of an 11-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. On August 29th, he pitched a complete game shutout over a local amateur team (Homestead) in an exhibition game. When the Pirates left on an 18-day road trip after their game on September 1st, Husting and outfielder Tom McCreery were left in Pittsburgh to save on travel expenses. On September 8th, Husting pitched a game for the same Homestead team he just defeated. There was nothing heard from him again until the Pirates held a Field Day at Exposition Park and they played an exhibition game between all of their players. Husting pitched part of the game and finished out in left field. He left a few days later for a football coaching job at Wisconsin University. The next season he returned to Milwaukee and went 9-15, 4.27 in 34 games, 26 as a starter. That Brewers team eventually became the current day Baltimore Orioles, with a stop in St Louis (Browns) in between. He signed with the Boston Americans (Red Sox) for 1902, but after one very poor start in which he allowed 15 runs and 23 base runners, he was sold to the Philadelphia Athletics, a team managed by Connie Mack. After going 14-6 for the Athletics that year Husting retired at 24 years old to take up law, ending his playing career. His real name was Berthold Juneau Husting, but he mostly went by the nickname Pete, which was given to him in college. John Coleman, outfielder for the Pittsburgh Alleghenys from 1886-88 and 1890. He started his career as a pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1883 and set four pitching records as a rookie that will never be broken, and none of them are positive. Playing for the franchise in their first year of existence, Coleman lost 48 games that season (against 12 wins) while giving up 772 hits, 510 runs and 291 earned runs, all Major League records. In his defense, the team wasn’t any better when he wasn’t pitching (5-33 record in their other games) and he did throw 538.1 innings with the worst fielding team in the league behind him. Coleman played 31 games in the outfield his rookie season, and by 1884 he was in the field more often on the mound, partially due to throwing his arm out as a rookie. He pitched just 18 more games after 1884, two of them for the 1890 Alleghenys. Coleman didn’t put up great stats at the plate during his first two years. He batted .234 as a rookie, then followed it up with a .230 average and a .585 OPS in 1884. His fortunes at the plate got better in his third season. He hit .299 with 70 RBIs and 71 runs scored in 96 games in 1885 for the Philadelphia Athletics of the American Association, a team he joined mid-season in 1884, switching leagues, but staying in the same city. He was hitting .246 with 65 RBIs, 16 triples and 28 stolen bases through 121 games when Pittsburgh picked him up at the end of the 1886 season. He hit .349 with nine RBIs in the last 11 games of the season, earning the starting right field job for 1887 when the team moved to the National League. That first year for Pittsburgh in the NL, he hit .293 while scoring 75 runs and driving in 54 runs. His production dropped off significantly in 1888, and he would play just nine more Major League games over the next two seasons. In 116 games in 1888, he hit .231 with 15 extra-base hits, putting up a .558 OPS. He returned to the Athletics for six games in 1889, then joined the Alleghenys on July 15, 1890 after his minor league team disbanded. Coleman was called the best pitcher in the International League prior to rejoining Pittsburgh, but that success didn’t carry over. In his first start on the same day he joined Pittsburgh, he allowed eight runs over the first three innings against his old Philadelphia Phillies team, then shut them down without a run for the final six innings. Coleman started in right field two days later, then made his second pitching appearance on July 18th. He allowed 15 runs in five innings, then went to left field to finish the game. After the game on July 21st, he was released and paid $100 for his seven days with the team. Following his last season in the majors he played another four seasons of minor league ball before retiring as a player. In 629 games over eight seasons, he hit .257 with seven homers and 332 runs scored. He has 279 RBIs, though that doesn’t include his partial 1884 season in the American Association, where the RBI records are incomplete. He hit two homers while with Pittsburgh, both against Boston pitcher Kid Madden, though they occurred over three months apart....
1925 Pirate Replay, July 17: Pirates Rally in Ninth, Win in Tenth
March 5, 2021
1925 Season Replay / Uncategorized
For eight innings, Braves’ starter Skinny Graham had the Pirates’ number. In the ninth, though, the Bucs rallied for two to tie the game. They then won it, 7-3, with four in the tenth. The Bucs took a quick lead, getting a run in the top of the first on a walk to Max Carey, a single by Kiki Cuyler and a two-out single by Pie Traynor. The Braves tied it just as quickly. Abie Hood, who’s bedeviled the Pirates a couple days after making his major league debut, drove a ball into right-center between Carey and Cuyler, and ran out an inside-the-park home run. For the next seven innings, the Bucs could do little with Graham. They managed two singles, two walks and, in the eighth, a two-out double by Cuyler. Bucs’ starter Vic Aldridge pitched nearly as well. He gave up an unearned run in the third when Graham led off with a double, took third on a one-out error by Glenn Wright, and scored on a sacrifice fly. Boston went up, 3-1, in the sixth when Dick Burrus doubled with two out and Gus Felix singled to drive him in. Aldridge held it to a 3-1 game until the top of the ninth. The Pirates got a break when right fielder Jimmy Welsh dropped Pie Traynor’s line drive to start the inning. Wright singled, but George Grantham popped up and Earl Smith forced Wright. Bill McKechnie sent Stuffy McInnis up to hit for Aldridge and the veteran lined a single off the third baseman. Wright scored and Smith’s pinch runner, Carson Bigbee, went to third. McInnis and Bigbee pulled off a delayed double steal, with Bigbee stealing home to tie the game, 3-3. Babe Adams took the mound and got three ground outs in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to the tenth. A leadoff walk to Eddie Moore rid the Pirates of Graham and his reliever, Jesse Barnes, gave up a single to Cuyler. An error on a sacrifice attempt loaded the bases and Traynor immediately unloaded them with a three-run triple. Wright singled to score Traynor and put the Pirates up 7-3. Adams had another quick inning in the bottom of the tenth to finish the game. The win boosted Adams to 5-3. Traynor had four RBIs and Cuyler had three hits. New York lost, so the Pirates moved back into a first-place tie....
Card of the Day: 1983 Topps Super Veteran Kent Tekulve
March 5, 2021
Card of the Day
Obviously I was going to use a Kent Tekulve card today with it being his birthday, but I went into my decision open-minded, other than the fact that it definitely wouldn’t be showing him on those other two teams he played for after leaving the Pittsburgh Pirates. I actually haven’t featured Tekulve in this series yet and I wasn’t specifically waiting for his birthday, but this was the longest I could wait before getting him in this series. I went to Ebay and started scrolling through his cards. His rookie card would have been a great choice, but I’ll save it for another day. I really wanted to use his 1981 Topps card, but I feel like I talk about that set too much. I just really like the design, so whenever a player comes up who is in that set, I am tempted to use it. Anyway, I went with this particular card because I’ve already mentioned it here. Today’s Card of the Day is card #18 from the 1983 Topps set, Super Veteran Kent Tekulve. Here’s the front of the card: A quick lesson to explain the Super Veteran series. It was a 35-card subset in the 1983 set, which featured veteran players, showing them during their first season in the majors and their current season, I guess so you could see how much they have changed over the years. The baseballs in the bottom corners had the years for each photo, with the second one always being 1983. As mentioned in the link above, Tekulve is the only Super Veteran shown with the Pirates in both photos. Topps also included Gene Garber and Al Oliver in the subset, both shown with the Pirates in the earlier photo, but not the later one. Here’s the back of the card: The back of each Super Veteran card shows the major highlights of their career. I think most everyone would agree that Tekulve’s career highlight is being on the mound for the final out of the 1979 World Series. The back of this card sort of alludes to that by saying that he had three saves in the 1979 World Series, it just doesn’t mention that the third save came in game seven. His other highlights include leading the Pirates in saves four times, and the time that he picked up wins in three straight relief appearances during the 1980 season. Let’s focus on that last fact for a second. This mini streak of wins happened on May 6th, 7th and 9th. The first two at Three Rivers Stadium against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the third one coming on the road against the San Diego Padres. In game one, Tekulve threw a scoreless ninth to keep it a 1-1 score. In the bottom of the inning, the Pirates had back-to-back singles, followed by an intentional walk, which loaded the bases with no outs. Phil Garner walked it off with a single. In game two, Tekulve came on in the 7th inning with a 6-5 lead and two men on base. Steve Garvey singled to tie it. The Pirates took the lead in the bottom of the seventh on a Dave Parker homer, then Tekulve held the lead, throwing 2.1 innings without a run charged to him. The Pirates were off on May 8th due to travel, so it was quite literally three games in a row and not just three straight appearances. Tekulve came on with a tie score in the bottom of the eighth and retired the side. Bill Madlock brought home Omar Moreno with a sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth, then Tekulve shut down the Padres in the bottom of the inning. He moved to 5-0 on the season…then finished with an 8-12 record. It’s quite interesting to note that 127 saves ranked him ninth all-time at the time. Right now if a pitcher had 127 saves, they would rank tied for 116th place. Times have changed. This card is a common from the 1983 set and it’s quite easy to find on Ebay, who should really be sponsoring this series because I mention them enough. You’ll pay $2-$3, which will include delivery. Three people also have this card autographed and for sale. One of those cards is graded, which authenticates the signature. Happy shopping....
This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: March 5th, Kent Tekulve
March 5, 2021
This Date in Pittsburgh Baseball History
Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including one of their top relief pitchers ever. Before we get into them, current Pirates reliever Sam Howard turns 28 today. He will get his bio when he’s a former player. Eric Bedard, pitcher for the 2012 Pirates. He was a sixth round draft pick of the Baltimore Orioles in 1999, selected out of Norwalk Community College in Connecticut. It’s a school that has produced ten draft picks since 1970 (none since 2000) and Bedard is the only one to make the majors. Despite the college experience, he started his career in the Gulf Coast League in 1999, where he put up a 1.86 ERA in 29 innings. He spent the entire 2000 season in Low-A, where he had a 3.57 ERA in 111 innings. He missed a small part of the 2001 season, but did well when healthy, putting up a 2.15 ERA over 17 starts in High-A. Bedard missed the end of 2002 due to Tommy John surgery, but did outstanding at Double-A (1.97 ERA in 68.2 innings) and earned a brief trip to the majors, where he made two early season relief appearances. His comeback in 2003 was limited to 19.1 innings due to the timing of his surgery. Healthy in 2004, Bedard spent the season in the majors (except two Triple-A starts), going 6-10, 4.59 in 137.1 innings. He made 24 starts for the Orioles in 2005, compiling a 6-8, 4.00 record in 141.2 innings. Bedard established himself as a top pitcher in 2006, going 15-11, 3.76 in 33 starts and 196.1 innings. The next year he finished fifth in the American League Cy Young voting by going 13-5, 3.16 in 182 innings. He made 230 starts during his career, but only pitched one complete game. It came during the 2007 season and saw him throw a two-hit shutout over the Texas Rangers, while racking up 15 strikeouts. Bedard was traded to the Seattle Mariners for five players prior to the 2008 season and it did not go well for his new team. They gave up Adam Jones, while Bedard was limited by injuries during his four years in Seattle. He made a total of 46 starts for the Mariners, going 15-14, 3.31, while missing the entire 2010 season due to a shoulder injury. He went 5-9, 3.62 in 24 starts in 2011, splitting the season between the Mariners (16 starts) and Boston Red Sox. The Pirates signed him as a free agent in early December 2011. He went 7-14, 5.01 in 125.2 innings over 24 starts before being released in late August. He would go on to pitch two more seasons in the majors before retiring, going 4-12, 4.59 in 151 innings for the 2013 Houston Astros, and 4-6, 4.76 in 75.2 innings for the 2014 Tampa Bay Rays. Bedard posted a 71-82, 3.99 record in 11 seasons in the majors, throwing a total of 1,303.2 innings. Kent Tekulve, pitcher for the 1974-85 Pirates. Since his time ended with the Pirates, he has been sitting in second place on the team’s all-time list of games pitched and saves, trailing only Elroy Face in both categories. Tekulve signed with the Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1969 after a tryout at Forbes Field. It took him seven seasons and 255 minor league appearances before he established himself as a big leaguer. He was a starter during the 1969 season, posting a 1.70 ERA in 53 innings in the New York-Penn League. He moved up to the Carolina League the next year and switched to relief. Tekulve pitched well, posting a 1.94 ERA in 41 appearances, with 75 strikeouts in 79 innings. Despite those stats, he remained at the same level the next year and saw a slip in his performance, putting up a 3.48 ERA in 75 innings. The 1972 season saw him pitch strong enough at Double-A (2.63 ERA in 72 innings) that he made nine appearances in Triple-A, where he had a 4.09 ERA in 22 innings. That Triple-A assignment didn’t stick in 1973, but perhaps it should have according to his stats at Double-A that year. Tekulve went 12-4, 1.53 with 18 saves over 57 appearances and 94 innings. He spent the 1974 season in Triple-A, where he went 6-3, 2.25 in 35 appearances and 60 innings. From May 20th until June 10th, he made eight appearances with the Pirates, giving up six runs in nine innings. He did not pitch again in September. After his brief stint with the Pirates in 1974, Tekulve was recalled again in late June 1975 and he stayed in the majors for good, but that almost didn’t happen with the Pirates. After the season, the Pirates dropped him from the 40-man roster, which made him eligible for the Rule 5 draft. As it turned out, he was ready for the majors in 1975. He pitched 56 innings over 34 games that season with the Pirates, posting a 2.25 ERA, helping them to the playoffs, where he pitched twice in the NLCS against the Cincinnati Reds. During his first full season in the majors in 1976, Tekulve went 5-3, 2.45 in 102.2 innings over 64 appearances. He picked up nine saves and he had a 1.13 WHIP. That was followed by a 10-1 record in 1977, when he recorded seven saves. He had a 3.06 ERA in 103 innings, and he pitched 72 times. In 1978, he set team records with 91 appearances and 31 saves. He pitched 135.1 innings, posting a 2.33 ERA with eight wins. Those numbers earned him MVP (13th place) and Cy Young Award (5th place) votes. The Pirates won their fifth World Series title in 1979 and Tekulve was a big part of that team. He topped his games pitched record, appearing on the mound 94 times. He tied his saves record with 31, while also winning ten games. Kent pitched twice in the NLCS and five times in the World Series, saving three games, including recording the final out of game seven. In 1980 Tekulve posted his highest single season ERA with the Pirates, but managed to make the only All-Star appearance of his career. It wasn’t exactly a bad year though. His 3.39 mark in 93 innings and 78 appearances was still better than the team average that year. He had an 8-12 win/loss record with an odd split, starting the year 5-0, then going 3-12 over the final four months. During the strike-shortened 1981 season, Tekulve lost his closer job, but he pitched well. He had a 2.49 ERA in 65 innings over 45 games. He had another big season in 1982, leading the National League with 85 games pitched. He won 12 games that year, saved another 20 and threw 128.2 innings. He was at his best during the 1983 season, putting up a career best 1.64 ERA in 99 innings, while recording seven wins and 18 saves. Tekulve was strong once again in 1984, putting up a 2.66 ERA in 88 innings over 72 appearances. He had 13 saves that season. He remained with the Pirates until early in the 1985 season when he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for reliever Al Holland and a minor league pitcher named Frankie Griffin. Tekulve played another four seasons before retiring in 1989. While he was rarely used in the closing role with the Phillies, Tekulve was still used often. In his four seasons in Philadelphia, he had a 3.01 ERA in 291 appearances and 367.1 innings. He became a free agent after the 1988 season and signed with the Cincinnati Reds at the end of Spring Training in 1989. His last season in the majors was rough, with a 5.02 ERA in 52 innings over 37 games. Tekulve pitched 1,050 games in his career, all in relief, and was second on the all-time list for games pitched to Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm when he retired. While with the Pirates he pitched 722 games, saving 158, winning 70 and throwing a total of 1,017.1 innings with a 2.68 ERA. Larry Elliot, outfielder for the 1962-63 Pirates. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Pirates in 1958. During his first two seasons of pro ball he led his team in homers. In 1958 he finished with 16 home runs for the D-level Clinton Pirates of the Midwest League, then in 1959 he had 25 for the Wilson Tobs of the Class-B Carolina League. He spent almost all of the 1960 season with Savannah of the South Atlantic League, where his saw a decline in the power, which led to a .753 OPS. Elliot saw some brief action in the Pacific Coast League that year, just one step from the majors. In 1961 he played his first full season at Triple-A ( Columbus of the International League), hitting 16 homers with 67 RBIs in 134 games. The next season he started the year with the Pirates, but was returned to Columbus after just ten at-bats. In his final at-bat with the Pirates, Elliot hit a pinch-hit two-run homer. He spent the rest of the season in the minors, where he batted .235 with 23 homers, trailing in home runs to only two Pirates minor leaguers, Bob Bailey (28 homers) and a 22-year-old named Willie Stargell, who hit 27 homers that year. Elliot made the Opening Day roster again in 1963, but was sent to the minors after just four pinch-hit appearances over the first 17 games, with three of those at-bats resulting in strikeouts. In December 1963 his contract was purchased by the New York Mets. The Mets were bad at that time and they offered him a much better opportunity than he could get in Pittsburgh. In 1964, he played 80 games, hitting .228 with nine homers and 22 RBIs, seeing most of his playing time in center field. He spent the entire 1965 season in the minors, then returned to the Mets in 1966, where he hit .246 with five homers and 32 RBIs in 65 games. He was traded to the Kansas City A’s early in the 1967 season, but never appeared in the majors after 1966. Elliot remained active as a player through the end of the 1969 season. He hit 186 homers in his pro career (15 in the majors), yet his first big league hit was a bunt single off of Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry. That hit came in his only start with the Pirates on April 25, 1962 when he played right field in place of Roberto Clemente, who had the day off until pinch-hitting late in the game. Del Crandall, catcher for the 1965 Pirates. He already had 14 years in the majors before the Pirates acquired him from the San Francisco Giants for Bob Burda and Bob Priddy on February 11, 1965. Crandall was an outstanding defensive catcher, a four-time Gold Glove winner, despite the fact the award didn’t exist his first six seasons in the majors. He led National League catchers in assists six times, including four years in a row (1957-60). He led in games caught five times, putouts three times, and fielding percentage four times. In a modern stat called Total Zone Runs, which measures the effectiveness of catchers, Crandall ranks eighth all-time, and he was the best in the NL six times. That career stat doesn’t even include his first two seasons, since the stat currently goes back to the 1953 season. Crandall was also named to the National League All-Star team 11 times while with the Boston/Milwaukee Braves. He received MVP support in seven different seasons and finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting in 1949. He wasn’t much of a hitter for average (.254 career), but from 1953 until 1960 he hit at least 15 homers every season, piling up 179 homers during his career. He had a career best 26 homers in 1955 and he set a high with his .805 OPS in 1958. That home run streak ended in 1961 when an arm injury kept him out of action for almost the entire season. Crandall helped the Braves get to the World Series during the 1957-58 seasons, where they played the New York Yankees each year and won the 1957 title. He accomplished all of things during his career despite missing two prime years (1951-52) while serving in the military during the Korean War. Crandall received Hall of Fame votes in 1976-79, but may have fared better on that ballot if he didn’t miss those two full season. In his first year back from the service, he put up a .759 OPS and threw out more runners than any other catcher in the NL. He was on the downside of his career by the time the Pirates traded for him, just shy of his 35th birthday at the time. He had played just 69 games in 1964 for the Giants, hitting .231 with three homers. His offensive numbers slipped even more during his only season with the Pirates. He hit .214 with two homers and ten RBIs in 60 games, but on defense he made just one error and threw out 57% of would be base stealers. Pittsburgh released him following the season and he finished his playing career the next year with the Cleveland Indians. Crandall spent 17 years as a manager in the pros, six in the big leagues. Four of those big league years were back in Milwaukee (for the Brewers) where he played 11 years during his career. He also managed the 1983-84 Seattle Mariners. He turns 91 years old today. Harry Shuman, pitcher for the 1942-43 Pirates. He began his minor league career in 1936 at 21 years old after attending Temple University. Two years after his pro debut, he began a string of five straight seasons with at least 11 wins, topping out with 18 victories for the Harrisburg Senators of the Interstate League in 1941. Shuman recorded 200+ innings in three of those seasons, with a high of 237 during that 1941 season. He joined the Pirates after the Interstate League playoffs ended and spent the last 12 days (Sept. 17-28) on the bench without an appearance. In 1942 he went 12-11, 3.18 for Toronto of the International League before earning a September look with the Pirates. The Pirates just gave him a tryout in 1941, so when he went from Harrisburg to Toronto, it was actually a player sale between the two minor league clubs. The Pirates purchased his contract on September 2, 1942, allowing with two of his teammates, Burgess Whitehead and Jim Russell. In his big league debut on September 14, 1942, Shuman tossed two shutout innings at the Polo Grounds against the New York Giants, allowing just one runner (a walk). In 1943 he was used in a mop-up role in Pittsburgh, making 11 relief appearances (all in losses) through July 10th, many of them being one-sided games. In his final game, the Pirates lost 23-6 to the Brooklyn Dodgers, allowing ten runs in the first and another ten runs in the fourth inning. Shuman came on with one out in the first and allowed four runs of his own before being removed after recording just one out. He was loaned to Toronto for the last half of the season on July 21st in exchange for infielder Al Rubeling. Shuman was still a member of the Pirates for the first three months of 1944, but did not pitch because he decided to work in a war plant during WWII. He was put on waivers where he was picked up by the Philadelphia Phillies on July 21st. He pitched 18 games for Philadelphia, all in relief, posting a 4.05 ERA over 26.2 innings. That would be his last season in the majors. The Phillies attempted to trade him to Oakland of the Pacific Coast League, but the deal fell through and they released him instead. He pitched briefly in the minors in 1946 before retiring. Earl Browne, first baseman/outfielder for the 1935-36 Pirates. He started his pro career at the age of 17 in 1928, playing eight seasons in the minors before getting his first shot in the big leagues in September 1935 with the Pirates. He started as a pitcher but switched to the outfield in 1933. He had some success as a pitcher, including a big second year in pro ball. He won 17 games for Dayton of the Central League (Class B), then saw time with Louisville of the American Association, a very advanced level for an 18-year-old. He ended up pitching 254 innings that year and the workload may have got to him because he pitched much worse the following season, seeing the same playing time split between the same two clubs. He had a 19-10 record one year and then 10-17 the next. He may have considered his move to the outfield at this point, because while his pitching wasn’t as good, he batted .313 in 147 at-bats. Browne actually moved down a level in 1931, playing for a Class C team called the Huntington Boosters of the Middle Atlantic League. He went 14-7, 3.67 in 162 innings. He batted .295 that year in 70 games, occasionally picking up at-bats when he wasn’t pitching. After a 4.44 ERA in 148 innings during the 1932 season, Browne made the moving off of the mound. Browne batted .323 with 45 extra-base hits in 139 games for Little Rock of the Southern Association in 1933. He didn’t hit as well in 1934 (.257 average in 155 games), but he still got picked up by the Pirates that September 18th under an agreement with the Little Rock club. The papers said that his slump (which they quoted as a .280 batting average) was to be blamed on Browne having “domestic difficulties” during the season. He attended Spring Training with the 1935 Pirates, but returned to the minors and bounced back in a big way, which led to his Major League shot. He had hit .345 with 19 triples and 13 homers during the 1935 season for Little Rock. He was called up to Pittsburgh on September 4th and played nine games, hitting .250 with six runs scored and six RBIs. He returned to the minors for 1936, this time playing for Minneapolis of the American Association. Browne attended Spring Training again, trying to win the first base job from Gus Suhr, but he was sent to the minors after the third game of the regular season. In 155 games with Minneapolis, Browne hit .328 with 35 homers, earning another September promotion. This time he hit .304 in eight games for the Pirates. Just four days prior to Opening Day in 1937, Pittsburgh traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for pitcher Joe Bowman. Browne ended up playing 105 games that season for the Phillies, hitting .292 with 52 RBIs. The next season he was an everyday starter early in the season, before he was sold to the St Louis Cardinals on May 26th, who sent him to the minors. He played another 12 seasons without returning to the majors. He played over 2,100 minor league games, with over 2,300 hits and 189 homers. Browne also managed for five seasons in the minors, the last three as a player/manager, playing his final game at 38 years old. His name was often listed as James Earl back then, but research has the two names flipped now. His nickname was “Brownie” while with the Pirates. John Richmond, shortstop for the 1885 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He debuted in pro ball in 1875, playing for his hometown Philadelphia Athletics in the National Association at 20 years old. During the final season of the first Major League (1871-75), Richmond hit .200 in 29 games, but he managed to score 29 runs. He played all three outfield spots, second base and even caught three games. He was out of a pro job in 1876 when the National League was the only level, but returned to pro ball in 1877 in the League Alliance, the first professional minor league system. He played for Utica of the International Association in 1878, then returned to the majors in 1879 with the Syracuse Stars for their only season as a big league franchise. Richmond hit .213 with one homer in 62 games, splitting most of his time between shortstop and center field. He would switch between shortstop and center field the next two years in a limited role while playing for the Boston Red Stockings, where he combined to hit .260 in 59 games. Richmond split the 1882 season between the Cleveland Blues of the National League and the Philadelphia Athletics of the brand new American Association. He didn’t hit in either place, batting .176 with a .509 OPS in 59 total games. He saw his best big league time with the Columbus Buckeyes of the American Association during the 1883-84 seasons. Richmond played 197 of the team’s 207 games during those two years, hitting .267 with 120 runs scored. After the 1884 season, Columbus sold nine of their players off to the Alleghenys, including Richmond. The 1885 Alleghenys were basically the Columbus Buckeyes in 1885, with only three holdovers from the previous season. Richmond hit .206 in 34 games for Pittsburgh, playing 23 games at shortstop, eight in center field and three in right field. His game on July 10th was his final big league game, ending his eight-year career with a .238 average in 440 games, with five homers and 239 runs scored. He was released by the Alleghenys on July 16th. He finished the 1885 season in the minors and played his final pro game in 1887....
1925 Pirate Replay, July 16: Bucs Blow Late Lead, Lose in Tenth
March 4, 2021
1925 Season Replay / Uncategorized
The Pirates couldn’t hold a three-run, eighth-inning lead in Boston and then lost in the tenth inning, 9-8. The Giants won, dropping the Bucs a game out of first. Initially, the Pirates took a three-run lead against Braves’ starter Rosy Ryan. Kiki Cuyler singled in one in the top of the first after Eddie Moore singled and moved up on an outfield error. The same combination worked again in the third, when Cuyler drove Moore in with an inside-the-park home run, his 11th round-tripper of the year. At the end of the play, Cuyler slid into catcher Frank Gibson, who had to be removed. That put the Pirates up, 3-0. Boston quickly tied it in the bottom of the third. Specs Meadows, not having one of his better starts, gave up singles to three of the first four hitters. That produced one run and, after a second out, an infield hit loaded the bases. Dick Burrus singled to center, driving in two more. The Bucs quickly got the lead back in the top of the fourth when George Grantham doubled and Earl “Oil” Smith singled. Cuyler made it 5-3 in the fifth when he singled, stole second, took third on a wild throw and scored on a ground out by Clyde Barnhart. The Braves cut that to 5-4 on a hit batsman, two ground outs and a wild pitch in the bottom of the inning. In the sixth, the Braves tied the game again on two singles and a sacrifice fly. After an error loaded the bases, Bill McKechnie replaced Meadows with Babe Adams, who got a double play to end the inning. The Pirates got three walks to load the bases in the eighth, but failed to score. In the eighth, though, they put three runs on the board to go up, 8-5. Smith reached on a one-out error and Kremer beat out an infield hit. Max Carey doubled in one run and Eddie Moore singled in two. Kremer, however, couldn’t hold the lead. A single, a double and a two-run triple by Dave Harris made it 8-7, then backup catcher Oscar Siemer, who’d replaced Gibson, singled to tie the game, 8-8. The Pirates had a chance to get the lead back in the top of the ninth. Glenn Wright beat out an infield hit, then took third on a double by pinch hitter Stuffy McInnis. An intentional walk loaded the bases to Kremer and McKechnie chose to let him hit. Kremer hit into a force at the plate and Carey followed with a ground out. Boston also had a chance to go ahead in the bottom of the ninth. Burrus led off with a double and William Marriott singled with one out. Carey, however, threw Burrus out at the plate. The Pirates failed to score in the top of the tenth and the game soon ended after that. Kremer hit the leadoff hitter and, after a sacrifice attempt resulted in a force play, a ground out moved the runner to second. With two out, Abie Hood grounded through the middle for a walkoff, 9-8 Boston win. Kremer fell to 8-6. Moore was 4-for-5....
Card of the Day: 1994 Flair Brian Hunter
March 4, 2021
Card of the Day
I once took a quiz to name all of the Pittsburgh Pirates home run leaders for each season. I got all of the answers correct except 1994. That year, Brian Hunter played 76 games for the Pirates before he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for minor league outfielder Micah Franklin. It was a strike-shortened season, so the Pirates only played a total of 114 games that year, but Hunter finished as the team leader with 11 homers. Dave Clark was second with ten homers. It’s not like the Pirates were devoid of talent at that point, even though it was at the front end of “the streak”. Their lineup still had Andy Van Slyke, Jay Bell, Jeff King, Al Martin, Don Slaught, Orlando Merced and Carlos Garcia. Hunter turns 53 years old today, so we celebrate his birthday and honor his team home run title with today’s Card of the Day, coming from the 1994 Flair set. Here’s the front of the card: There were a lot of cards to collect in 1994, including a 450-card set produced by Fleer, with the similar name of Flair. It was produced in two series, 250 cards in the first and 200 cards in the second. They were organized by team in each series. In series one, the Pirates cards were numbers 214-222 and included players like Jay Bell, Don Slaught, Al Martin, Zane Smith and Rick White (why didn’t I just name all nine?). The second series had seven cards (#420-#426), including players like Andy Van Slyke, Jeff King, Denny Neagle and #421, Brian Hunter (I did it again, why not just name the other three?). These were high end cards for the day, printed on a thicker stock of cardboard than your average card, and both sides had a UV gloss. There were no borders on the front and gold foil writing, with two quality pictures of each player neatly blended into each other. They were fancy cards to say the least. Here’s the back of the card: The back included a third photo of the player, serving as the background for the stats, which in some cases made it difficult to read the stats. I’m not 100% sure what is going on in this photo because it’s a very odd shot. Hunter was a right-handed batter, so maybe it’s a follow through swing or he turned to get out of the way of an inside pitch, really not sure. Maybe he wasn’t even batting, just in the middle of doing something else. As you can see, they continued the gold foil writing on the back, which I REALLY like for the Pirates logo at the top. Notice at the bottom that the MLB logo also got the gold foil treatment. Also notice that part of the writing on the bottom covers up part of the stats. Now look to the left of the writing at all of the space, which could have prevented that overlap. Finally, I like the fact that they included all of his career stats as a pro. Some cards would leave off early years in the minors. Some wouldn’t include minor league stats at all. This is a cheap card to purchase, just not as easy to find as some cards. It was tough just getting a good back scan here. There were only seven options on Ebay, all of them are charging more for shipping than the card itself. One person had the whole Pirates team set for $9.59 delivered, although they had a best offer option, so you should be able to get it a little cheaper. If you’re going to pay about $3 for just Hunter, might as well put out a little more for the other 15 players....
This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: March 4th, Dazzy Vance and Michael McKenry
March 4, 2021
This Date in Pittsburgh Baseball History
There have been eight former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date. Before we get into them, current reliever Richard Rodriguez turns 31 today. He will get his bio once he’s a former player. Cory Luebke, pitcher for the 2016 Pirates. He was drafted three times before he finally signed, the first time by the Pirates out of high school. After passing on signing as an 18th round pick in 2004, the Texas Rangers selected Luebke in the 22nd round two years later. He then moved up to the 63rd overall pick in 2007 (still considered a first round pick that year), taken by the San Diego Padres. He signed quickly and split the season over three levels, posting a 3.07 ERA in 58.2 innings. The next year did not go well, splitting the season between High-A and Low-A, Luebke went 6-9, 5.12 in 128.1 innings. He completely turned things around in 2009, playing between High-A and Double-A. He had a 2.78 ERA in 129.2 innings, despite spending more than half of the year in the high-offense California League. Luebke started off 2010 with a 2.40 ERA in Double-A over eight starts and two relief appearances. He moved up to another high offense league, the Pacific Coast League, and posted a 5-0, 2.97 record in nine starts. That led to a September call-up to the Padres, and he had a 4.08 ERA in 17.2 innings. He spent the entire 2011 season with the Padres, making 17 starts and 29 relief appearances. In 139.2 innings, he went 6-10 with a 3.29 ERA. Luebke did great in five April starts in 2012, before his career was completely derailed. He missed the rest of the season with a strained elbow, followed by two Tommy John surgeries and another injury that cost him all of 2013, 2014 and most of 2015. The Pirates signed him as a minor league free agent in February of 2016 and he made the Opening Day roster as a reliever. A hamstring injury quickly put him out of action and by June he was released. In nine appearances, he allowed nine runs over 8.2 innings with the Pirates. He finished the 2016 season in the minors for the Miami Marlins, then signed with the Chicago White Sox for 2017, before retiring in May of 2017. In his big league career, he had a 3.52 ERA in 197 innings. Michael McKenry, catcher for the 2011-13 Pirates. He was a seventh round draft pick of the Colorado Rockies in 2006 out of Middle Tennessee State, who made his Major League debut in September of 2010. McKenry had a rough debut in short-season ball, hitting .216 in 66 games in 2006. He moved up to Low-A with Asheville of the South Atlantic League in 2007 and had an outstanding year, hitting .287 with 22 homers, 90 RBIs and 66 walks. He moved up to High-A in 2008, where he hit .258 with 18 homers, 75 RBIs and 55 walks in the high-offense California League. McKenry had a similar season in Double-A the next year, batting .279 with 12 homers, 50 RBIs and 54 walks in 102 games. He struggled in winter ball in the Dominican, then had average stats in Triple-A the next year (.752 OPS in 99 games), playing in a hitter-friendly park for Colorado Springs. He went 0-for-8 at the plate in six games for the Rockies that September. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox prior to the start of the 2011 season and played in Triple-A, before the Pirates picked him up in early June after a rash of injuries depleted their catching ranks. McKenry caught 58 games for Pittsburgh in 2011 and hit .222 with 11 RBIs in 180 at bats. He remained with the team for two more seasons and served in a platoon role in 2012. That year he hit .233 with 12 homers and 39 RBIs in 88 games. He had a similar role through late July of 2013 before a knee injury ended his season and his time with the Pirates. In his final game with the Pirates, he collected four hits and drove in two runs. In Pittsburgh, he finished with a .226 average, 17 homers and 64 RBIs in 187 games. He became a free agent after the season and played two seasons in Colorado (2014-15), followed by his final three big league games for the 2016 St Louis Cardinals. His 2016 season was a wild ride. He signed as a free agent with the Texas Rangers in February, then got released in May. He signed with the Cardinals and spent two months there before being released. On July 23rd, he signed with the Atlanta Braves, who sold him to the Milwaukee Brewers. Before the calendar year was up, he became a free agent and signed with the Tampa Bay Rays for 2017. McKenry spent the entire 2017 season in Triple-A, before retiring as a player. He is currently an announcer for the Pirates. He was a .238 hitter in 311 big league games, with 29 homers and 103 RBIs. Bruce Aven, outfielder for the 2000 Pirates. He was a 30th round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians out of Lamar University in 1994, who made it to the majors by August of 1997 season. Aven batted .332 after signing in short-season A-ball, then put up big power numbers during his next two seasons. He hit 23 homers for Kingston of the Carolina League in 1995, then another 24 in 1996, while spending a large majority of the season with Double-A Canton-Akron. He also put up a .304 average and a .911 OPS in 1996. In 1997, he began the year at Triple-A, where he batted .287 with 17 homers, 77 RBIs and 50 walks in 121 games. Aven debuted with the Indians on August 27, 1997 and he hit .211 in 13 games. He missed all but five Triple-A games of 1998 due to elbow surgery. He spent 1999 with the Florida Marlins after being selected off waivers on October 28, 1998. He hit .289 with 12 homers and 70 RBIs in 137 games for Florida. In December of 1999, the Marlins traded him to the Pirates in exchange for outfielder Brant Brown. Aven hit .250 with 25 RBIs in 72 games for the Pirates, seeing time at all three outfield spots, before they shipped him to the Los Angeles Dodgers in early August. Aven played just nine games with the 2000 Dodgers. He made brief appearances for the Dodgers in 2001 (21 games) and Indians in 2002 (seven games) before finishing his career in the minors in 2003 as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. He was briefly with the Philadelphia Phillies in the minors during the 2002 season after the Indians traded him for pitcher Jeff D’Amico on June 25th. In his big league career, he hit .273 with 20 homers and 103 RBIs in 259 games. Aven stole just six bases in the majors and only attempted ten steals total. In the minors, he had 59 steals over his first four years, then stole just 13 bases over his last five seasons. Brian Hunter, first baseman for the 1994 Pirates. He was an eighth round pick in 1987 at 19 years old, selected by the Atlanta Braves out of Cerritos College in California. It’s a school that has produced 16 big league players, but just one (Joel Adamson) since the 1987 draft when Hunter and Bret Barberie both made it. Hunter didn’t have the best start to his pro career, batting .231 with a .295 OBP in the Appalachian League during his first season. However, he moved up to A-ball in 1988 and hit 25 homers and drove in 80 runs, while putting up an .819 OPS. He was in Double-A by 1989, hitting .253 with 19 homers and 82 RBIs in 124 games. Hunter remained in Double-A for more than half of the 1990 season, hitting .241 with 14 homers. He added another five homers in Triple-A, but it came with a .197 average in 43 games. He earned a trip to the majors with a decent start to the 1991 season in Triple-A, batting .260 with ten homers and 30 RBIs in 48 games. For the Braves, Hunter batted .251 with 12 homers and 50 RBIs in 97 games. He finished fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. He batted .333 with a homer in the NLCS against the Pirates that year, then he hit just .190 in the World Series, which was won by the Minnesota Twins. In 1992, Hunter hit .239 with 14 homers and 41 RBIs in 102 games. The Braves made it to the World Series again in 1992 and he went 1-for-5 in both the NLCS and the World Series, which they lost to the Toronto Blue Jays. Hunter struggled in 1993, hitting .138 in 37 games, which caused him to spend part of the season back in the minors. The Pirates acquired him in November of 1993 in exchange for minor league infielder Jose Delgado. Hunter played 76 games with the Pirates, hitting .227 with 11 homers and 46 RBIs, prior to being traded to the Cincinnati Reds in late July for minor league outfielder Micah Franklin. The trade happened shortly before the strike ended the season, so Hunter played just nine games for the Reds that year. He finished as the Pirates team leader in home runs that season. Hunter hit .215 with one homer in 40 games for the 1995 Reds, then he batted .268 with seven homers in 75 games for the 1996 Seattle Mariners. After spending the entire 1997 season in the minors, he reemerged in the majors with the 1998 St Louis Cardinals, where he hit .205 with four homers in 62 games. He ended up back with the Atlanta Braves in 1999, hitting .249 with six homers and 30 RBIs, while playing a career high 114 games. He came off of the bench in 74 of those contests. He went 2-for-18 in the playoffs, as the Braves lost the World Series to the New York Yankees that year. He began the 2000 season with the Atlanta Braves, but after just two games, he was lost on waivers to the Philadelphia Phillies, where he hit .210 with seven homers in 85 games. That ended up being his final big league season. Hunter played in the minors until 2002, hitting 142 homers over 13 minor league seasons. He was a .234 Major League hitter with 67 homers in 699 games. During most of Hunter’s career, there was another National League outfielder named Brian Hunter. Mel Queen, pitcher for the Pirates in 1947-48 and 1950-52. He was signed by the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent in 1938 and he spent most of his first seven seasons of pro ball in the minors. He pitched just 33 Major League games for New York, seeing four early season appearances in 1942, followed by ten starts at the end of the 1944 season. He went 6-3, 3.20 in 81.2 innings that season, completing four games, including a 14-0 shutout over the Philadelphia Athletics on September 4th. That performance would have likely led to more during the 1945 season, but he was inducted into the Army in February of 1945 and wasn’t released until June of 1946. Queen had a 6.43 ERA in 30.1 innings over 14 appearances in 1946. In five early season appearances for the 1947 Yankees, he had a 9.45 ERA in 6.2 innings. The Pirates purchased his contract that July and put him in the starting rotation, where he went 3-7, 4.01 the rest of the way. In 1948 he spent most of the year in the bullpen and struggled. In 25 games he made eight starts and had a 6.65 ERA in 66.1 innings pitched. Queen spent the entire 1949 season in Triple-A, where he won 22 games for Indianapolis of the American Association. The Pirates put him in their rotation for 1950 and stuck with him most of the way, despite a final record of 5-14 with a 5.98 ERA in 120.1 innings. In 1951 he set career highs in wins (seven), innings pitched (168.1) and games pitched (39), with 21 of those appearances in the starting role. Queen had two very poor outings to start the 1952 season and then was sent to the minors, where he pitched another four years before retiring. His final game on May 1st saw him give up seven runs over two innings. Later that same day, the Pirates released him to Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League. With the Pirates in five seasons, he went 19-36, 5.33 in 432.1 innings. He was 8-4, 4.27 in 124.1 innings during four years with the Yankees. He won 134 games during his minor league career. His son, Mel Queen Jr., pitched seven seasons in the majors and held numerous other jobs in baseball up until his passing in 2011. Clyde McCullough, catcher for the 1949-52 Pirates. He began his pro career in 1935 at 18 years old and made his Major League debut with the Chicago Cubs in 1940, pinch-hitting once in April, then returning mid-September for eight more games. McCullough did well in the lower levels, debuting with a .263 average and 42 extra-base hits in 130 games during his first season. He batted .306 in his second season, then jumped to a .329 average for Binghamton of the New York-Penn League in 1937. He moved up to the upper levels of the minors in 1938 and hit just .234 in 90 games. Before joining the Cubs in 1940, he hit .277 with 38 extra-base hits in 108 games for Kansas City of the American Association. He put up big numbers between his big league stints in 1940, batting .324 with 53 extra-base hits in 145 games for Buffalo of the International League. McCullough earned a spot with the Cubs in 1941 and he hit .227 with nine homers and 53 RBIs in 125 games. That ended up being his career high for games, homers and RBIs during his 15-year big league career. He batted .282 in 109 games in 1942, then saw his average drop to .237 in 1943, while his work was limited to 87 games. After playing four seasons, he enlisted in the Navy and missed the 1944-45 seasons, although he was back in time to play in the 1945 World Series. He played three more seasons for the Cubs and was even named to the 1948 All-Star game despite playing just 69 games and compiling a .209 batting average. In his first season back from the war, McCullough hit .287 in 95 games. His .755 OPS was a career high for the first nine years of his career. The Pirates acquired him in a four-player deal during December 1948, with two players going each way. McCullough played four seasons in Pittsburgh, catching about 60% of the games over the 1949-51 seasons. He had a .237 average and a .665 OPS during his first season with the team. In 1950, he hit .254 with six homers and 34 RBIs in 103 games. It was the only time in his final 12 seasons that he topped 100 games. In 1951, he hit a career high .297 with 39 RBIs. His .806 OPS was also his best. That ended up being just a one-year high. McCullough batted .233 with one homer in 66 games in 1952. Pittsburgh traded him back to the Cubs after the 1952 season in exchange for pitcher Dick Manville and cash. McCullough made the All-Star team in 1953 again, this time playing just 77 games all year, while hitting .258 with six homers. He played with the Cubs until 1956, playing a total of 89 games over his final three seasons, which included 49 total starts. McCullough finished his pro career in the minors in 1957. While with the Pirates he hit .258 in 352 games with 19 homers and 109 RBIs. In his career, he hit .252 with 52 homers and 339 RBIs in 1,098 games. Dazzy Vance, pitcher for the Pirates on April 16, 1915. He would eventually go on to win 197 games and make the Hall of Fame in 1955, but during his Major League debut with the Pirates he did not pitch well. Vance started the third game of the 1915 season, lasting just 2.2 innings against the Reds, giving up three runs on three hits and five walks before being pulled. Later that same season, he was picked up by the New York Yankees, where he went 0-3 in eight games. He next pitched in the majors in 1918 with the Yankees and did not fare well in two games. He wouldn’t pick up his first win until 1922 with the Brooklyn Robins when he was 31 years old. In his first 11 seasons with Brooklyn he won a total of 186 games, three times topping 20 wins. Vance led the National League in strikeouts for seven straight seasons (1922-28) and thrice led the league in ERA. He pitched in the majors until 1935 and including his minor league win totals, he won 330 pro games. Vance had the second most wins of any pitcher in Pirates history after they left the team, trailing only Burleigh Grimes. We posted a One Who Got Away article detailing Vance’s time with the Pirates. Vance went to Spring Training with the Pirates in 1915 and made a strong first impression in a Pirates vs Pirates exhibition game, which is basically all they played for most of that spring. He tossed three shutout innings in his spring debut. The next game didn’t go as well, and he was facing the younger hitters on the team, players who were vying for bench spots. Vance gave up seven runs on 14 hits in five innings. He gave up one run over four innings on March 24th versus the starting lineup players, but he was also helped by an outstanding triple play that was inches away from breaking the game open. Just two days later, he pitched five more innings and allowed three runs against the younger players. Jumping teams again, he faced the starting lineup again on March 29th and somehow allowed just one run in four innings, despite five hits and five walks. On April 3rd he pitched against a minor league team from Nashville and threw a complete game, limiting them to two runs. Ten days later in the final exhibition game of the spring, which was just three days before his lone Pirates start, he pitched a complete game against a minor league team from Indianapolis, losing 2-1. Five days after his start for the Pirates, they optioned him to St Joseph of the Western League, which is where he pitched during the 1914 season. Vance was only with the Pirates on tryout, with the team having the option to purchase him for $5,000 from St Joseph. After his first game, St Joseph’s owner asked the Pirates to either pay the amount of return Vance, which they did. The Pirates still held the option to purchase him for the same amount later that same season, but they never did. In his first game back in the minors, Vance threw a three-hit shutout on April 25th. In between his time with the Pirates and Yankees, he was reportedly purchased by the Chicago White Sox, but never made an appearance for them. It turned out that the announcement was made prematurely and he ended up being purchased by the Yankees a week later on July 31st. His first name was Charles, sometimes listed as Arthur Charles, but he had the Dazzy nickname (for his dazzling fastball reportedly) before he made the majors. Jeff Pfeffer, pitcher for the 1924 Pirates. He was in his 13th big league season when the Pirates picked him up on waivers on July 17, 1924 after he was released by the St Louis Cardinals. At one time he was considered one of the better pitchers in the league, but by 1924 he was on the downside of his career. He would go 5-3, 3.07 in 58.2 innings for Pittsburgh in what turned out to be his last Major League experience. He made four starts for the Pirates and 11 relief appearances. On December 13, 1924, the Pirates released Pfeffer unconditionally. He played in the minors for the next five seasons until retiring at 41 years old after the 1929 season, spending the first year with San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League, followed by four seasons with Toledo of the American Association. Pfeffer won 16 or more games in a season six times in the majors and twice he topped 20 wins. His two best seasons came with the Brooklyn Robins in 1914 when he went 23-12, 1.97 and in 1916 when he went 25-11, 1.92. The impressive part about that 1914 season is that Brooklyn finished the season 75-79, or in other words, they went 52-67 when he didn’t get the decision in a game. Pfeffer finished his big league career with a 158-112 record, plus he won another 130 minor league games. His career 2.97 ERA ranks 97th all-time among pitchers with at least 1,000 innings in at the big league level, and he’s 47th among all pitchers who put in more than ten seasons (including partial years) in the majors. Knowing that, it’s probably a little surprising that he had just four seasons in which he finished among the top ten in the league in ERA. He put up those impressive stats despite missing all but one game during the 1918 season, right in the middle of his prime, while serving in the military during WWI. Pfeffer debuted in the majors in 1911 with the St Louis Browns, who moved on from him after just two relief appearances, making him the One Who Got Away for the Browns (hat tip to our own series on the Pirates and their losses). He won 25 games in the minors in 1913 before returning to the big leagues with Brooklyn. His older brother was also known as Jeff Pfeffer, though he was referred to as “Big Jeff”. The odd part about both brothers having the same name is that neither of them was named Jeff. The older Pfeffer was named Francis Xavier Pfeffer, while the young Jeff was actually named Edward Joseph Pfeffer. The local press from the day he was acquired by the Pirates off waivers said that “Big Eddie Pfeffer, who goes by the nickname Jeff like all members of the Pfeffer family…”....
1925 Pirate Replay, July 15: Pirates Edged by Braves
March 3, 2021
1925 Season Replay / Uncategorized
In the opener of their five-game series in Boston, the Pirates couldn’t get on track against Braves’ starter Larry Benton. They had only six hits and lost, 4-3. With the Giants winning over St. Louis, the Bucs are now tied with New York for first place, although they’re percentage points ahead by virtue of having played four fewer games. Pirates’ starter Johnny Morrison ran into some trouble starting in the bottom of the third inning. A roller toward third by Benton for a single led off the inning and Jimmy Welsh beat out a sacrifice attempt for another single. After a popup, shortstop Dave Bancroft tripled down the right field line to put Boston up, 2-0. Morrison managed to strand Bancroft by getting a strikeout and a grounder, but another triple cost him in the fourth. That one came with one out off the bat of left fielder Gus Felix. Catcher Frank Gibson followed by blooping an RBI single to right. Morrison got that run back himself in the top of the fifth. After a walk to George Grantham and a single by Johnny Gooch, Morrison singled to make the score 3-1. The Braves, though, quickly restored their three-run lead in the bottom of the inning. Second baseman Abie Hood, in just his third major league game, led off with his second double of the game, moved up on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a sacrifice fly. The Bucs made it 4-2 in the top of the sixth. Clyde Barnhart reached with one out on a dropped fly ball, then scored on a triple by Pie Traynor. Glenn Wright and Gooch, though, both popped up to strand Traynor. Morrison left for a pinch hitter in the seventh and Babe Adams threw two scoreless innings, but the Bucs couldn’t get the two runs they needed to tie. In fact, they got only one baserunner in the last three innings. That came when Traynor hit a drive to right-center and made it around for an inside-the-park home run. That was his fourth home run of the season. Morrison dropped to 8-7 with the loss....
Card of the Day: 1970 Topps National League Rookie Stars
March 3, 2021
Card of the Day
Today’s Card of the Day is a tribute to Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Angel Mangual, who recently passed away at the age of 73 in Puerto Rico. He played six September games for the 1969 Pirates, which led to the rookie card featured below. Mangual was one of three players included on a card titled “1970 Rookie Stars: National League”. He’s pictured alongside two other NL outfielders, Oscar Gamble and Charles “Boots” Day. Just one of these players went on to have a strong career, but I wouldn’t say that Topps necessarily missed with the other two players. Here’s the front of the card: The first obvious thing here might be what is not here. If you know of Oscar Gamble or if you’re old enough to remember him playing, you remember the hair. He had a lot of it. This card doesn’t even look like Gamble. I searched his Topps cards to find the first real shot of Gamble and it was quite interesting to see the natural progression of the hair over the years. I won’t picture all of his cards, but for fun, I’d suggest searching his Topps cards year-by-year to see the subtle changes. I like the fact that Topps put the nickname on there for Boots Day. He’s known by his nickname now and went by it then. It was a childhood nickname that he says he picked up at six months old from his sister, so he was used to going by that name before he could even talk. Mangual appearing here makes for a great third player for one simple reason. He played six games for the Pirates, then got traded to the Oakland A’s in 1970 for another great nickname, Jim “Mudcat” Grant. Interesting/quick side story with Grant. I was once talking with an old baseball fan and he was going on about how good Jim Grant was as a pitcher, even mentioning that he played for the Pirates. I had never heard of Jim Grant and I pride myself on knowing way too much about baseball history. It’s my one redeeming quality. Basically, I was so used to the Mudcat nickname that someone leaving it out had me clueless to who this guy was talking about. I have two Mudcat Grant autographed photos displayed in my room, I have a few of his old cards, I’ve probably been on his Baseball-Reference page 100 times (he’s not special in that regard). I know who he is, but leave out the nickname and he became as obscure as Charles Day. Anyway, Mangual appearing here is great because photos of him with the Pittsburgh Pirates are nearly impossible to find outside of this card. I found four total the other day while looking for one to feature in the announcement of his passing, and two of those pictures were autographed, so I went with the photo from this card. Here’s the back of the card: As you can see, with three players featured, there isn’t a lot of room to say much about each player. In fact, all they included for the stats were career minor league numbers, not even the previous season. I mentioned that Mangual wasn’t exactly a bad choice and it’s because his playing time was limited due to being on a great team. The Oakland A’s won the World Series three years in a row. The Pirates were one year away from their World Series win in 1970. They had Willie Stargell, Roberto Clemente, Matty Alou and Al Oliver in the outfield that year. Put him on an average team and he’s getting a lot more playing time, but being a young player trying to break into World Series winning teams and you’re going to have trouble. He still ended up playing 450 big league games over seven seasons. Day played six years in the majors, two as an everyday starter with the Montreal Expos and another year as a platoon player. Not a great career, but going through Topps cards over the years, you can find a lot of worse picks for rookie stars. What is interesting here is that they got Day with the Cubs and that’s because he was traded to Chicago on December 4, 1969. He was originally with the St Louis Cardinals. If you’re big into cards, you may have paused for a second when you saw that date and then saw him on a 1970 Topps card with his new team. Changes that late usually didn’t make it onto the cards for the next season due to the printing deadline, BUT this is card #654 in the set, so it’s from the final printing series and that gave them time to get a Day photo with the Cubs. Gamble was obviously a hit for Topps here. They got two guys who put together decent short careers and another who actually fits the “star” title. Gamble played 1,584 games over a 17-year career in the majors, finishing with exactly 200 homers, and a devilishly evil total of 666 RBIs. He was a .265 hitter, who drew more walks than he had strikeouts. He put up a nice 27.1 WAR on offense during his career, though his defensive numbers dragged his career WAR total down. If you’re interested in adding this card, then know that it’s not a common. Gamble adds some intrigue, but the price is higher because high series cards were printed in limited quantity. It’s much tougher to find on Ebay than most 1970 Topps cards and that’s reflected in the price. It’s also popular because there are set collectors looking for all types of grades, depending on their preference for condition. It’s not a break the bank card, but it’s not the typical $2-$5 card we feature here. You’re going to pay about $15 for one without a crease or major damage/wear. A PSA 8 recently sold for $135, while a PSA 6 went for $41....
This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: March 3rd, Neal Heaton and Ed Phelps
March 3, 2021
This Date in Pittsburgh Baseball History
Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date. Matt Diaz, outfielder for the 2011 Pirates. He was a 17th round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 1999 out of Florida State, who made at least a brief appearances in the majors each season from 2003 until 2013. Diaz saw very limited time in the majors in both 2003 and 2004 with Tampa, playing a total of 14 games. The Devil Rays lost him on waivers to the Baltimore Orioles in February of 2005, then just two days later he ended up with the Kansas City Royals. Diaz hit .281 with one homer in 34 games for the Royals, who traded him to the Atlanta Braves in December of 2005. Diaz saw instant success with the Braves as a semi-regular in the lineup, who also saw a lot of time off the bench. In 323 plate appearances over 124 games in 2006, he batted .327 with seven homers and 32 RBIs. The next year he hit .338 with 21 doubles, 12 homers and 45 RBIs in 135 games. He started 140 of his 259 games during those two seasons. Diaz was limited to 43 games in 2008 due to a knee injury suffered in late May when he crashed into the outfield wall. The next season he set career highs with 13 homers and 58 RBIs, while hitting .313 in 125 games. In 2010 he hit .250 with seven homers in 84 games for the Braves. On December 14, 2010 he signed a two-year contract with the Pirates. Diaz played exactly 100 games with Pittsburgh, hitting .259 with 19 RBIs and no homers. On August 31, 2011 he was traded to the Braves for minor league pitcher Eliecer Cardenas. He remained in Atlanta through the end of 2012, then finished his big league career with a brief stint for the Miami Marlins in 2013. He signed with the New York Yankees in December of 2012, but he was cut during Spring Training, then signed with the Marlins eight days later. Diaz finished as a .290 hitter in 736 Major League games, with 45 homers and 226 RBIs. He batted .297 as a starter during his career and .254 as a pinch-hitter. Neal Heaton, pitcher for the 1989-91 Pirates. He was a second round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians in 1981 out of the University of Miami, who made his Major League debut just one season later. By 1983 he was already an 11-game winner in the majors, who not only threw three shutouts, but also saved seven games. Heaton was originally drafted in the first round by the New York Mets out of high school in January of 1979, selected first overall, but he decided to attend college instead. He went straight to Double-A after signing, where he went 4-4, 3.97 in 77 innings over 11 starts. Heaton was in Triple-A the next year, going 10-5, 4.01 in 172.2 innings, before joining the Indians in September for four starts and four relief appearances. He went 11-6, 4.16 in 16 starts and 23 relief appearances in 1983 during his first full season in the majors. He moved into the starting role full-time the next two seasons and did not pitch well, but was also hurt by some poor teams behind him. He posted a 21-32 record between 1984-85 with an ERA over 5.00 in 67 starts. Heaton was traded to the Minnesota Twins in June of 1986 after posting a 4.24 ERA in 12 starts. After the deal, he went 4-9, 3.98 in 124.1 innings. The following February, he was dealt to the Montreal Expos, who kept him until late spring 1989, when he was shipped to the Pirates in exchange for 24-year-old pitcher Brett Gideon. Heaton went 13-10, 4.52 in 32 starts in 1987. From 1984-87, he averaged 199.2 innings per season. During the 1988 season, he spent the first two months in the starting rotation, then moved to a relief role on June 17th, after putting up a 6.12 ERA. Heaton started 18 games for the Pirates in 1989 and pitched another 24 games out of the bullpen. He had a career best 3.05 ERA in 147.1 innings pitched. In 1990 he went 12-9, 3.45 in 146 innings, helping the Pirates to their first division title since 1979. He also made his only All-Star appearance that season. In 1991 he pitched out of the bullpen all year, posting a 4.33 ERA in 68.2 innings over 42 games (one start). Despite being with the team during two playoff seasons, he did not appear in a postseason game. In fact, Heaton didn’t pitch in the playoffs once in his 12-year career. In 1992 the Pirates traded him during spring training to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for Kirk Gibson. Heaton played in the majors until July 1993, seeing time with the Royals, Milwaukee Brewers (one inning in 1992) and the 1993 New York Yankees. In 382 career appearances (202 starts) and 1,507 innings, he won 80 games and had a 4.37 ERA. With the Pirates, he went 21-19, 3.46 in 362 innings. Ron Wotus, infielder for the 1983-84 Pirates. He was a 16th round draft pick of the Pirates in the 1979 amateur draft, selected out of the best high school name I’ve ever seen, Bacon Academy in Colchester, Connecticut. Wotus didn’t hit much his first two years in the minors, but in 1981 in A-ball, he hit .283 with 63 walks, 63 RBIs and 72 runs scored. He improved upon those overall stats the next season, splitting the year between Double-A and Triple-A. In 128 games over the two levels, he hit .296 with 11 homers and an .809 OPS. In 1983. Wotus hit .301 in Triple-A with ten homers and 94 runs scored in 125 games. He got a September call-up, and in five games off the bench, he went 0-for-3 at the plate. He finished two games on defense at shortstop and another at second base after coming in as a pinch-runner. Wotus started back in Triple-A in 1984, then got a late June recall after Rafael Belliard fractured his fibula. He remained with the team through the end of the season, but received very little playing time. At one point he went 34 games without an at-bat, getting into just three games as a late inning defensive replacement during that time. Wotus ended up playing 27 games, hitting .218 in 64 plate appearances. The Pirates went 75-87 in 1984, but they managed to go 10-5 during the 15 games started by Wotus. His chances of making it back to the majors after 1984 took a serious hit during Spring Training when a shoulder injury limited him to just 37 games. He played in the minors with the Pirates through the end of 1986. After leaving the Pirates, he spent 1987 in Triple-A with the Kansas City Royals, then the 1988-89 seasons were spent with the San Francisco Giants in Triple-A. After his playing days were over, he managed for seven seasons in the minors with the Giants, starting just two years after his final game as a player. He became a Major League coach for the Giants in 1998 and he was at the helm of the Giants briefly during the 2006 season. Wotus also served as their manager for a few games during the 2016-17 seasons. He served as the Giants bench coach until 2017, and he is currently their third base coach. Jesse Jefferson, pitcher for the Pirates on October 3, 1980. He was a fourth round draft pick in 1968 by the Baltimore Orioles at 19 years old out of Carver HS in Virginia. He struggled during each of his first two seasons of pro ball, including a 7.02 ERA in 1969. He had an 8-16 record in the California League in 1970, though that came with a nice 3.67 ERA in 157 innings. Jefferson moved up to Double-A the next year and continued to improve, going 12-11, 3.45 in 172 innings over 27 starts. He split the 1972 season between Double-A and Triple-A and did much better at the higher level. For Rochester of the International League, Jefferson went 6-3, 2.45 in 103 innings over 17 starts. He was back at Rochester to start 1973, before debuting in the majors in late June after ten starts. He went 6-5, 4.11 in 15 starts and three relief appearances as a rookie with the Orioles. The next year he saw limited work, getting some spot starts and long relief appearances, amounting to 57.1 innings and a 4.40 ERA. Jefferson had a 7-5 record through his first two seasons, but by the time he joined the Pirates six years later, he had a career record of 36-77 in 210 games. The Orioles traded him to the Chicago White Sox in June of 1975 and he struggled with his new team. In his 1 1/2 seasons in Chicago, he went 7-14, 6.35 in 170 innings. After the 1976 season, the Toronto Blue Jays selected him in the Expansion Draft. Jefferson was a regular in their rotation during his first two years, posting a 4.31 ERA in 217 innings in 1977, followed by a 4.38 ERA in 211.2 innings in 1978. His results were in a decline the next season and he got moved to the bullpen. Jefferson had a 5.51 ERA in 116 innings in 1979, followed by a 5.47 ERA in 121.2 innings in 1980. In four years in Toronto, he went a combined 22-56 with a 4.75 ERA. The Blue Jays put him on waivers late in 1980, where he was picked up by the Pirates on September 11, 1980. He pitched just one game for Pittsburgh, a start on October 3rd. He gave up one run over 6.2 innings and picked up the win. The Pirates allowed him to leave via free agency once the season ended and he played just one more year in the majors with the California Angels, where he went 2-4, 3.62 in 77 innings. He continued to pitch in pro ball until 1984, spending the next three years in Mexico, with a brief stint back with the Angels in Triple-A during the 1983 season. In his big league career, he was 39-81, 4.81 in 1,085.2 innings. Aubrey Epps, catcher for the Pirates on September 29, 1935. He had a nine-season minor league career, hitting .290 in 944 games, but his big league career lasted just one game. He played with two teams during the 1935 minor league season, playing a combined 85 games with a .288 batting average. The Pirates let him catch the last game of the season, which was also the second game of a doubleheader. He had an amazing debut at the plate, collecting three hits and driving in three runs, but he was just the opposite in the field. He allowed three stolen bases on three attempts and committed two errors as the Pirates lost by a 9-6 score. Epps played in the minors until 1941. We posted an Obscure Pittsburgh Pirates article on Epps here. You would assume that someone who played one big league game didn’t spend a lot of time with the team, but that’s not true at all here. The Pirates originally acquired him in September of 1934, after he hit .301 in 152 games for Birmingham of the Southern Association. In 1935, Epps went to Spring Training with the Pirates and he was limited due to a mid-March hand injury. He was sent to Birmingham for more seasoning, and the Pirates called him to the majors on August 1st, 59 days before he actually got into the lineup. During the 1935-36 off-season, he came down with a very bad case of pneumonia, which resulted in him losing 32 pounds over the winter. Epps made the Opening Day roster in 1936, though he was the fourth catcher at the time, and only lasted 18 days before being sent to the minors for the rest of the season. In 1937, he won an Opening Day job again and lasted with the club until May 15th, before being sold to Memphis of the American Association, ending his time with the club. His actual time spent on the Major League roster was 103 days, but he played one game. He served in the military after his playing days ended. Bill Brenzel, catcher for the 1932 Pirates. He played five season in the minors before the Pirates gave him his first chance at the big leagues to start the 1932 season. Brenzel debuted in pro ball at 17 years old, playing briefly in the Pacific Coast League in 1927, which was just a small step down from big league competition at the time. It was an incredibly advanced league for someone his age. He ended up playing in the PCL in each of his first five seasons of pro ball, slowly improving until he hit .304 in 87 games during his 1930 season. Brenzel saw more playing time in 1931, resulting in a .284 average and 24 extra-base hits in 109 games for Mission of the PCL. The Pirates announced his purchase on August 3, 1931, noting that he came highly recommended from their former scout Joe Devine, who was the manager for Mission. It was said that Brenzel would only join the Pirates in 1931 if it was an emergency situation, otherwise he would report during Spring Training in 1932. Local papers reported that the purchase price was $50,000 plus a player to be named later, with some sources saying that Mission was after young first base Gus Suhr. Brenzel played nine games in Pittsburgh, six as a starter, and the Pirates lost all six of those games. He had just one base hit in 24 at bats, an RBI double. He was forced into action with catchers Earl Grace and Hal Finney both out of action. For a short time, Brenzel was the only healthy catcher and his backup was either manager George Gibson, who last caught in the majors in 1918, or coach Grover Hartley, who was 43 years old, but only two years removed from his last big league game. Brenzel started five games in a row, then the Pirates were off five days in a row, mostly due to the weather. When they resumed play on May 15th, Earl Grace was back and Brenzel never played again. On May 21st, the Pirates acquired minor league catcher from Newark of the International League and Brenzel was sent to Newark in his place, though the Pirates still held his rights. Pittsburgh sold his contract to San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League on July 4, 1932, officially ending his time with the Pirates. Brenzel played for Kansas City of the American Association in 1933 and 1934 before coming back to the majors in September of 1934. He played 67 games for the 1934-35 Cleveland Indians before returning to the minors for another seven seasons, retiring from playing after the 1946 season. He also managed in the minors for three years and he was a longtime scout. Ed Phelps, catcher for the 1902-04 and 1906-08 Pirates. He spent five seasons in the minors before getting his first shot at the majors with the 1902 Pirates as a September call-up. The Pirates purchased Phelps from Rochester of the Eastern League on August 26, 1902 in what was a controversial signing at the time. The owner of Rochester apparently made a verbal agreement to sell Phelps at the end of the Eastern League season, which was one week later, to Boston (NL). Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss swooped in and purchased his contract, which didn’t sit well with the Boston management, who had no idea of the purchase until it was announced by the league. Phelps hit .213 in 18 games for Pittsburgh in 1902. In 1903 the Pirates won the National League pennant for a third time in a row and Phelps split the catching duties with Harry Smith. Phelps hit .282 with 31 RBIs in 81 games that year, then batted .231 in the World Series, getting into all eight games. His .980 fielding percentage was the second best for all NL catchers. In 1904 he caught a career high 91 games, hitting .242 with 28 RBIs and just eight extra-base hits. In February 1905 the Pirates traded Phelps to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for veteran catcher Heinie Peitz. He played with Cincinnati until May of 1906, when the Pirates purchased his contract and had him back up George Gibson for three seasons. Phelps played a total of 120 games over that stretch, with Gibson doing the bulk of the catching. Just 82 of those 120 games came as the starting catcher. In 313 games with the Pirates over six seasons, Phelps was a .247 hitter with two homers and 100 RBIs. He was released by the Pirates on January 6, 1909. He played in the majors until 1913, seeing time with the 1909-10 St Louis Cardinals and 1912-13 Brooklyn Dodgers/Superbas. The 1909 season was the only time he played more than 100 games (104) in a season, though he saw plenty of time as a pinch-hitter that year. Phelps hit a total of three homers in 2,096 plate appearances over 11 seasons in the majors, and just one cleared the fence. He had two seasons in the minors in which he hit four homers....
1925 Pirate Replay, July 14: Pirates Run Wild Against Vance, Brooklyn
March 2, 2021
The Pirates stole seven bases and roughed up Robins’ ace Dazzy Vance in an 8-5 win. They took three of the four games in Brooklyn and maintained their one-game lead over New York, which kept pace with a win over Chicago. The Pirates got a complete game from Emil Yde, who had to battle through five errors and five walks. Yde benefited from four double plays and also helped himself at the plate. The Bucs got to Vance early. In the first, Max Carey singled and stole second. After a one-out walk to Kiki Cuyler, the runners pulled a double steal. Vance fanned Clyde Barnhart, but Carey scored when Pie Traynor grounded to deep short and beat the throw to first. Cuyler tried to score, too, but first baseman Jack Fournier threw him out at home. In the second, Boots Grantham walked and stole second. With two out, Yde drove him in with a single up the middle. Carey tripled to drive in Yde, then scored on a single by Eddie Moore to put the Pirates up, 4-0. Yde got a 6-4-3 double play to end the first. In the second, after a leadoff single, Grantham took a grounder, stepped on first, and threw to second for a tag play. A single and two walks then loaded the bases, but Yde fanned Vance. Yde’s defense finally let him down in the bottom of the third. A dropped throw by Grantham, a walk, and a grounder booted by Moore loaded the bases with nobody out. Fournier singled to drive in two runs, and a third scored on a wild throw to home by Cuyler. A 5-4-3 double play ultimately ended the inning. The three errors let the Robins narrow the lead to 4-3. The Pirates, however, kept after Vance. With one out in the top of the fourth, Yde, Carey and Moore all singled to bring in one run. Second baseman Milt Stock booted Cuyler’s grounder, letting Carey score and Moore take third. Cuyler then stole second and a single by Barnhart scored both runners, stretching the lead to 8-3. The Robins replaced Vance after the fourth and three different relievers held the Pirates in check. They had only two hits the rest of the way. Yde managed to hang on. He gave up a solo home run to Dick Cox in the bottom of the fourth, making it 8-4. In the fifth, an error by Glenn Wright led to a runner reaching second with two out. Cotton Tierney singled for his third hit of the game to drive in the run. Tierney’s hit cut the lead to 8-5, but Yde allowed no more runs. He had his only perfect inning in the sixth, stranded two runners in the seventh and got a strikeout/caught-stealing double play in the eighth. The Robins picked up two more hits in the ninth, but Yde got a game-ending lineout with the tying run at the plate. Yde has won eight of his last nine decisions and is now 9-5. Carey was 4-for-5 and scored three runs. He now has 19 steals and Cuyler has 16. The Pirates now head to Boston for five games to conclude their road trip....
Card of the Day: 1954 Bowman Cal Abrams
March 2, 2021
Card of the Day
Today’s Card of the Day comes from the 1954 Bowman set and features outfielder Cal Abrams, who spent two seasons (1953-54) with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He came to the Pirates as part of a three-for-one deal with the Cincinnati Reds, which sent Gus Bell to Cincinnati, where he became a perennial All-Star, so it was a tough beginning to Abrams’ time in Pittsburgh. Abrams had a solid season of his own though in 1953, then was dealt to the Baltimore Orioles early in 1954 for veteran pitcher Dick Littlefield, which worked out a little better for the Pirates. Before he left in 1954, Bowman got a great card of Abrams with his new team. Here’s the front of the card: The 1954 Bowman set is a nice one with the colorized pictures. The earlier Bowman cards either had black&white photos, or artist renditions of the players. They had color photos in 1953, which makes that a great looking set, but these are nice too. These cards are slightly taller than your standard card size now, standing at 3.75 inches, instead of the normal 3.5 you get now. The names on the front were all autographs, facsimile of course. I really like the Pal Abrams one here. Here’s the back of the card: The back has a great fact on the back that I’m guessing nobody knew, but I’m sure it would have been fun trying to guess the names. It would be similar to trying to guess all of the Pirates second basemen since Bobby Hill, at least with the time comparison. Not so much with the Lou Gehrig part. I looked into Abrams’ minor league stats earlier today for the This Date article because (as you can see on the card) he was born 97 years ago today. That .345 season really stood out because you usually don’t see any of the “three true outcome” seasons back then (in this case, I mean hits and not homers), because guys rarely struck out over 100 times in a season, and if they did, they weren’t drawing a lot of walks as well, or hitting for average. Abrams had a three true outcome season that year with 203 hits, 124 walks and 120 strikeouts. He had an impressive .461 OBP that year, but he crushed that the following season by hitting .336 with 134 walks in 120 games (.497 OBP). Abrams got good at the wrong time in Brooklyn, as they had a strong lineup, which really limited his playing time in the majors. He played 124 games over four seasons with the Dodgers, then after leaving them, he averaged 123 games played per year during the next three seasons. One important note that this bio leaves off is that Abrams joined the Army before his 19th birthday in early 1943 and missed three full seasons before returning in 1946 to hit .331 for Danville. If you’re interested in this card, then run to your nearest Ebay and search for it under 1954 Bowman Abrams. I just did it and found 75 options ranging from about $5 delivered all the way up to $330 for one that is graded PSA 9. It’s amazing what people will pay for the grade, because there’s a PSA 8 for sale for $70 and I’ve seen plenty of 8/9 graded cards that look exactly the same condition. There are even a few signed examples available. Abrams passed away in 1997, so while he had time to sign cards during the heyday of signature collecting, he sadly hasn’t been able to sign for quite some time....
This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: March 2nd, Seven Former Players Born on this Date
March 2, 2021
This Date in Pittsburgh Baseball History
Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates have been born on this date Brandon Wood, third baseman/shortstop for the 2011 Pirates. He was a first round pick out of Horizon HS in Arizona, selected 23rd overall by the Anaheim Angels in 2003. Wood had two solid seasons to open up his pro career, then really broke out in High-A ball in 2005. Playing in the high-offense California League, he hit .321 with 53 doubles, 43 homers and 115 RBIs. He even earned a late promotion to Triple-A to finish the season. Wood went to the Arizona Fall League after the season and he hit 14 homers in 29 games. In 2006, he spent the entire season in Double-A, where he batted .276 with 71 extra-base hits, 19 steals and 54 walks. He moved up to Triple-A in 2007 and hit .272 with 51 extra-base hits in 111 games, again playing in a high-offense environment. The Angels called him up three different times, all brief stints, amounting in a .152 average over 13 games. After the season, he did poorly in a short stint in the Mexican winter league. Wood began 2008 back in Triple-A, but he was up in the majors by the last week of April. He had a rough go, batting .125 through 29 games, when the Angels sent him back down in mid-June. He returned in late August and hit .256 with four homers in the final 26 games. Wood tried winter ball again, this time in the Dominican, and again did very poorly in a short stint. The 2009 season was similar to the previous two years. He did well in Triple-A (.910 OPS), but it didn’t carry over to the majors (.559 OPS in 18 games). In 2010, he was injured for part of the year and did awful at both Triple-A and during a brief big league stint. After the season, he played in the Arizona Fall League, as a rare player with MLB experience to see action in the league. He batted .341, but it comes with the caveat that he was basically playing Double-A level ball. Out of minor league options, Wood began the 2011 season in the majors and did poorly over six games. The Pirates took him off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels on April 22, 2011. He had played parts of five seasons for the Angels, hitting .168 over 173 games, with 11 homers. In 764 minor league games over eight seasons (up to that point), he batted .284, with 222 doubles and 161 homers. For the Pirates he played 99 games and hit .220 with seven homers and 31 RBIs. He saw most of his playing time at third base, but he also saw time at shortstop, second base and first base. He was granted free agency in early November 2011 and signed with the Colorado Rockies two weeks later. Wood played pro ball until 2014 without making it back to the majors. He played all of 2012 in Triple-A for the Rockies, then spent 2013 with the Kansas City Royals first, followed by the Baltimore Orioles, who released him in late July. He signed with the San Diego Padres for 2014, but they released him late in Spring Training. Wood finished up in independent ball in 2014, hitting .098 in 25 games for the Sugar Land Skeeters. His career ended at 29 years old, with a total of 211 homers over 12 seasons of pro ball. Don Schwall, pitcher for the 1963-66 Pirates. Schwall was a star basketball player at the University of Oklahoma, who wasn’t quite as good at baseball, but still drew the attention of scouts for his fastball and ability to throw strikes. He signed with the Boston Red Sox and debuted in pro ball at 22 years old in 1958. After a decent first season, he played for Alpine of the Sophomore League in 1959 and won 23 games, while posting a 3.36 ERA in 228 innings. He made the huge jump from Class-D to Triple-A in one year, playing for Minneapolis of the American Association in 1960. Schwall went 16-9, 3.59 in 193 innings. He moved sideways to the Pacific Coast League to start 1961, making five starts for Seattle before getting the call to the majors. He had a terrific rookie season for the Boston Red Sox in 1961, going 15-7, 3.22 in 25 starts, completing ten games. He was named to the All-Star team and was also voted the AL Rookie of the Year. His sophomore season wasn’t quite as good, as he posted a 9-15, 4.94 record in 32 starts and 182.1 innings. The difference in the two seasons showed in his inning total, pitching just 3.2 more innings in 1962, despite seven more starts and one relief appearance. The Pirates acquired him in a four-player deal that included them giving up power hitting first baseman Dick Stuart in November of 1962. Schwall had a 3.33 ERA in 167.2 innings during his first season with the Pirates, but his record suffered from playing for a sub .500 team. He went 6-12 and didn’t win a game after July 16th, going 0-8 in nine starts and nine relief appearances over the last 71 games of the season. He began the 1964 season in the majors, but ended up spending half of year (early May until mid-July) in the minors. Schwall went 4-3, 4.35 in 49.2 innings over nine starts and six relief appearances for the 1964 Pirates. He was in the majors for all of 1965 and pitched the entire season in relief, picking up nine wins and posting a 2.92 ERA in 77 innings. He had a 3-2, 2.16 record in 11 games (four starts) through the first two months of 1966, before the Pirates sent him to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for pitcher Billy O’Dell. Schwall finished the 1966 season with Atlanta, then pitched one game for them in 1967, which turned out to be his last appearance in the majors. He finished his pro career in the minors later that year. While with the Pirates he went 22-23, 3.24 in 102 games. His career record stands at 49-48, 3.72 in 743 innings over 103 starts and 69 relief appearances. Cal Abrams, outfielder for the 1953-54 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1942, but due in part to serving three years in the Army during WWII, he didn’t make his Major League debut until 1949. Abrams was a strong minor league hitter, batting at least .331 every season from 1946-1950. He played just 19 games before being inducted in the Army at 18 years old in January of 1943. He got out in January of 1946 and then went to Danville of the Three-I League, where he batted .331 with 86 walks, 100 runs scored and 20 stolen bases. Moving up to Mobile of the Southern Association in 1947, he batted .345 with 124 walks, 56 extra-base hits and 134 runs scored. Despite those great stats, he repeated the level for the entire 1948 season and put up similar results, albeit in 23 fewer games. Abrams then went from Double-A to the majors for Opening Day in 1949, playing eight April games before being sent to Fort Worth of the Texas League. He hit .336 with 137 walks and 116 runs in 120 games, putting up a .497 OBP. He got another look from Brooklyn in 1950, but still ended up spending half of the season in the minors, where he batted .333 for St Paul of the American Association. Abrams never got a chance to play full-time with the Dodgers during his four seasons in Brooklyn because they had a star packed lineup at the time. He hit .280 and had a .419 OBP in 1951, but from August 1st on, he was used strictly as a pinch-hitter, getting just 11 plate appearances over the last 60 games. The Dodgers traded him to the Cincinnati Reds in June 1952, then Cincinnati shipped him to Pittsburgh in October of that year as part of a three-for-one swap in exchange for Gus Bell. Abrams hit .274 with 21 walks and 13 extra-base hits in 81 games in 1952. For the Pirates, he played right field regularly in 1953, hitting .286 with 15 homers, 58 walks and 66 runs scored in 119 games. Just 17 games into the 1954 season, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for veteran pitcher Dick Littlefield. Abrams was batting .143 at the time of the deal. He hit .293, with 72 walks and 67 runs scored in 115 games for the Orioles that season. He followed that up with a .243 in 118 games in 1955, though his 89 walks led to a .413 OBP. The Orioles shipped him to the Chicago White Sox just two weeks after the 1955 season ended. By May of 1956 he was out of the majors, getting just five plate appearances over four games with Chicago. Abrams finished up as a .269 hitter in 567 big league games, with 32 homers and 138 RBIs. He had just 12 stolen bases in 32 attempts. He excelled at drawing walks, getting 304 free passes, which led to an impressive .386 OBP. He ended up playing the rest of the 1956 season and all of 1957 in the International League, before retiring as a player. Frank Colman, outfielder for the 1942-46 Pirates. Colman was born and raised in Canada, where he played amateur ball until signing his first pro deal in 1939. He hit .290 in limited time during his first season in pro ball, then moved up two levels to Wilmington of the Interstate League in 1940, where he batted .361 in 73 games. Colman joined Toronto of the International League in 1941, and he batted .294 in 113 games. In 1942 he hit .300 in 119 games for Toronto before joining the Pirates in September to make his Major League debut. The Pirates acquired him and teammate Jack Hallett on September 7, 1942 for what was described as “a sum of cash and several players to be named later”. Colman had a crazy debut with the Pirates on September 10, 1942, getting into a second inning collision with Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Eddie Murphy, which knocked Murphy out cold and he needed to be carried off the field in a stretcher. Murphy debuted in the majors that same day during the first game of a doubleheader. The collision happened in game two, which was called in the fourth inning due to the weather, so Colman’s first game in the majors didn’t actually make it to the record books. His recognized debut came two days later and he ended up batting .135 in ten games that year. Colman made the 1943 Opening Day roster, but through the first 82 games of the season, he played just 30 times and only started nine games. He was sent back to Toronto to finish the season. The 1944 season was his first full season in the majors and he hit .270 with 53 RBIs in 99 games, spending most of his playing time in right field. He didn’t hit well the following season, hitting .209 in 77 games and 162 plate appearances. Colman began the 1946 season with the Pirates before being sold to the New York Yankees on June 17, 1946. He hit .163 in 27 games total with New York through the end of the 1947 season. After finishing up his big league career in August of 1947, he was sent to Newark of the International League, where he spent the entire 1948 season. That was followed by two years in the Pacific Coast League, then his final three seasons of pro ball were spent back with Toronto in the International League. In his five seasons with the Pirates, he hit .233 over 244 games, with 12 homers and 95 RBIs. He only attempted one stole base (unsuccessfully too) during his six seasons in the majors. Most of his playing time with the Pirates was spent in right field, but he also played 30 games at first base and 14 games in left field. He was a .304 career minor league hitter in 1,035 games. Colman was mostly a singles hitter early in his career, but in the later years, he reached double digits in home runs four times, topping out at 18 homers during the 1950 season. Rip Wheeler, pitcher for the 1921-22 Pirates. He pitched just two games for the Pirates, one in each season with the team. Wheeler had won 23 games and pitched 263 innings in the minors when he joined the Pirates late in the 1921 season. He began the year pitching for London of the Michigan-Ontario League, but got his break when the Pirates let him throw batting practice as a tryout before an exhibition game on July 8th. He impressed manager George Gibson enough that the Pirates sent him to their affiliate (Birmingham of the Southern Association) to finish out the season. He joined the Pirates on September 19th and made his Major League debut on September 30, 1921 in relief of Hal Carlson, who gave up eight runs to the Cardinals through 4.1 innings. Wheeler pitched three innings, allowing four runs on six hits and a walk in the 12-4 loss. He returned to the minors in 1922, winning 22 games and again finished with 263 innings pitched. His one big league game that season came during the 13th game of the season and this time he pitched one scoreless inning, allowing a hit and two walks. On May 2nd, he was released on option to Rochester of the International League, though he was there for just one game before being sent to Wichita Falls of the Texas League. On December 16, 1922, the Pirates officially cut ties with him, releasing him outright to Wichita Falls. Wheeler spent the 1924 season with the Chicago Cubs, his last year and only full season in the majors. He had won 22 minor league games in 1923 and also made three September starts for Chicago, earning his full-time job in 1924. He played pro ball regularly until 1928, spending a lot of time with Wichita Falls (1922-23, 1925-26). In 1939 at age 41, he pitched two innings for San Diego of the Pacific Coast League, 11 years after his previous final game of pro ball. His pro career began in 1916 at 18 years old, but he didn’t play again professionally until five years later. His real name was Floyd and that is how he was most commonly referred to during his time in Pittsburgh. He had a sidearm delivery that was called puzzling for batters, and he was said to “scrape the grasstops” during his delivery. William Fischer, catcher for the 1916-17 Pirates. He began his minor league career in 1909 at the age of 18, playing in the New England League. He spent the 1910-11 seasons playing with Binghamton of the New York State League. After the 1910 season, he was drafted by the Brooklyn Superbas. He went to Spring Training with them in 1911 and 1912, but failed to make the team each year. At the beginning of 1912, he was traded to Toronto of the International League, a top minor league at the time. He lasted just 34 games in Toronto, finishing the season back in the New York State League with Wilkes-Barre. Brooklyn reacquired Fischer when they took him in the Rule 5 draft that September. He ended up playing two seasons (1913-14) in the majors for the Superbas. He hit .263 in 105 games, with one homer and 20 RBIs during that time. He broke his contract and jumped to the Federal League for the 1915 season before returning to the National League to play for the Chicago Cubs in 1916. Fischer did outstanding in the Federal League with the Chicago Whales, hitting .329 in 105 games. With the 1916 Cubs, he hit .196 in 65 games. The Pirates acquired him on July 29, 1916 in a four-player deal. He would go on to play 42 games for Pittsburgh that season, hitting .257 with six RBIs in 113 at-bats. In 1917 he platooned at catcher for the Pirates with Walter Schmidt and Bill Wagner. It would be the last season in the majors for Fischer, and he hit .286 with 25 RBIs in 95 games. He hit just ten homers in his 412 major league games but twice he hit two homers in the same game. His time with the Pirates ended due to a contract hold out in 1918. He stayed at home to work during Spring Training and the early part of the season, until the Pirates agreed to release him to Binghamton of the International League on May 5, 1918. He ended up playing sporadically in the minors over the next 12 years, seeing action in 1918-19, 1924, 1927 and 1929. Chick Robitaille, pitcher for the 1904-05 Pirates. He pitched 163 games for the Troy Trojans over four seasons before the Pirates purchased his contract in August of 1904. He also played some third base for Troy when he wasn’t pitching and the scouting report said that he was a fine fielder. Robitaille was signed by the Pirates on August 30th and joined the team two days later, one day prior to his big league debut in Pittsburgh, which he won 2-1 over Brooklyn, allowing ten hits and a walk while pitching a complete game. He made eight late season starts and had a 4-3, 1.91 record in 66 innings during that rookie season. In 1905 he spent the entire season with Pittsburgh, making 12 starts and five relief appearances, posting a record of 8-5, 2.92 in 120.1 innings. He fell out of favor with manager Fred Clarke at a surprising time. He won a complete game 2-1 over St Louis on the road on June 28th. Robitaille didn’t pitch again until August 10th, and was even left home to practice on his own on July 10th while the team went on a 17-day road trip. On August 7th, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported that the Pirates sold Robitaille to the Cincinnati Reds, going as far as patting themselves on the back for getting the scoop ahead of everyone else. The very next day it was reported that the St Louis Cardinals were after his services. Two days later he pitched five innings in relief and allowed just one run. Robitaille was left at home during another shorter road trip in September and he didn’t make a single appearance during the final 40 days of the season, yet the club still reserved him in September for the 1906 season. Despite the success in the majors (2.56 ERA over two seasons), he did not return with the Pirates in 1906, or with any other big league club. The Pirates acquired a strong starter in Vic Willis in the off-season and had a five-man rotation in place ahead of Robitaille. On January 18, 1906, the Pirates sold Robitaille and fellow pitcher Patsy Flaherty to Columbus of the American Association. He returned to the minors where he pitched eight more seasons, the last six near his hometown in upstate New York. His minor league stats are far from completely known, but we do know that he won 21 games for Columbus in 1907, and then matched that win total three years later with Utica of the New York State League. His actual first name was Joseph, but was more commonly known as Chick during his baseball career. While in Pittsburgh, he was known by the name Robertaille, which was even phonetically written in the local papers as “rob-er-toy” as an introduction to the fans....
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