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This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History, September 23rd, Jim Morrison and Jim Rooker
September 23, 2021
This Date in Pittsburgh Baseball History
Ten former Pittsburgh Pirates players have been born on this date, including a member of the 1979 World Series champs. We also have one game of note. Chris Volstad, pitcher for the 2015 Pirates. He was a first round pick out of high school by the Florida Marlins in 2005, taken 16th overall. He spent four seasons in their rotation (2008-11), then pitched for the 2012 Chicago Cubs and the 2013 Colorado Rockies. He debuted in pro ball at 18 years old, posting a 2.22 ERA in 13 starts and 65 innings in short-season ball. He spent the entire 2006 season in Low-A Greensboro of the South Atlantic League, where he went 11-8, 3.08 in 152 innings. Volstad pitched 126 innings in High-A and 42.2 innings in Double-A in 2007, combining to go 12-11, 4.16 in 168.2 innings. The 2008 season was split between Double-A and the majors, with a 6-4, 2.88 record in 84.1 innings with the Marlins. In 2009, Volstad went 9-13, 5.21 in 159 innings over 29 starts. The record improved with a slightly better ERA in 2010. He went 12-9, 4.58 in 175 innings. He set a career high with 117 strikeouts in 2011, when he had a 5-13, 4.89 record in 165.2 innings over 29 starts. Volstad was traded to the Chicago Cubs in January of 2012 and he had a rough season, going 3-12, 6.31 in 111.1 innings over 21 starts. He became a free agent and signed with the Colorado Rockies, where he spent most of the season in Triple-A as a starter. He appeared in six games with the Rockies, allowing ten runs and 19 hits in 8.1 innings. After playing winter ball in the Dominican, Volstad spent part of 2014 in the minors for the Los Angeles Angels and the rest of the year was spent in Korea. Volstad was signed by the Pirates as a minor league free agent prior to the 2015 season and he was designated for assignment shortly after being called up mid-season. He pitched two scoreless innings on June 24th, which ended up being his only appearance with the Pirates. He spent the rest of the 2015 in the minors after clearing waivers. He signed a minor league deal with the Chicago White Sox in 2016 and ended up staying there for his final three seasons in pro ball. He spent all of 2016 in Triple-A, then got into six games (two starts) for the 2017 White Sox, posting a 4.66 ERA in 19.1 innings. He was with Chicago for most of 2018, making 33 appearances, including one start. Volstad had a 1-5, 6.27 record in 47.1 innings. He had a 37-58, 5.00 record in 772.1 innings over nine seasons in the majors. After not pitching at all in 2019, he attempted a comeback in 2020 with the Cincinnati Reds, who released him early in Spring Training. Dennis Lamp, pitcher for the 1992 Pirates. He was a third round pick of the Chicago Cubs in 1971 out of high school. He made the majors in 1977 and spent four years with the Cubs, then moved across town for three more seasons. In 1984, he moved on to the Toronto Blue Jays for three seasons. Lamp then spent one year in Oakland and four years with the Boston Red Sox, before joining the Pirates. His minor league career started out rough at 18 years old with Caldwell of the rookie level Pioneer League, where he had a 6.46 ERA in 46 innings. Lamp moved down to the Gulf Coast League in 1972, going 7-2, 1.93 in 70 innings. He jumped to the Class-A Midwest League in 1973 and spent part of the season in the Double-A Texas League. He combined to go 8-8, 3.35 in 137 innings, with much better results at the lower level. Lamp had a similar split in 1974 between the Florida State League and Double-A, going 2-6, 3.22 in 109 innings. That split included a 1.74 ERA at the lower level. He also moved to a bullpen role this season. In 1975, Lamp spent the entire year in Double-A and had his first success at the level. He went 7-5, 3.33 in 127 innings, with nine starts and 28 relief appearances. The next year he moved up to Triple-A Wichita of the American Association. He had an 8-14, 4.06 record in 153 innings, with 25 of his 30 appearances coming as a starter. He repeated Wichita in 1977, going 11-4, 2.93 in 129 innings. He got called up to the majors in late August and posted a 6.30 ERA in 30 innings, making three starts and eight relief appearances. He made 36 starts for the 1978 Cubs, going 7-15, 3.30 in 223.2 innings. The next year saw his ERA rise just slightly, but his win-loss record improved greatly. Lamp went 11-10, 3.50 in 200.1 innings. He was never much of a strikeout pitcher, but his 86 that year set a career high. In 1980, he went 10-14, 5.20 in 202.2 innings, leading the league with 117 earned runs allowed. He made 37 starts that season. He was traded to the Chicago White Sox at the end of Spring Training in 1981. Lamp went 7-6, 2.41 in 127 innings over ten starts and 17 relief appearances during the strike-shortened 1981 season. The next year saw him go 11-8, 3.99 in 27 starts and 17 relief appearances, with 189.2 innings pitched. Lamp took on a closer role during the 1983 season, helping the White Sox to a division title by going 7-7, 3.71 in 116.1 innings, with 15 saves. He made three relief appearances during the ALCS and allowed an unearned run, though he didn’t allow any hits. He became a free agent and signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. In 1984, he went 8-8, 4.55 in 56 games, with nine saves and 85 innings pitched. In 1985, he went 11-0, 3.32 in 105.2 innings, making 52 relief appearances and one start. In the playoffs that year, he threw 9.1 scoreless innings in relief. Lamp faltered the next year, going 2-6, 5.05 in 73 innings over 40 games. He signed with the Cleveland Indians in February of 1987, but they released him a month later and he spent the season with the Oakland A’s. He went 1-3, 5.08 in 36 games and 56.2 innings pitched. Lamp signed with the Boston Red Sox as a free agent prior to the 1988 season. He went 7-6, 3.48 in 82.2 innings over 46 appearances. He was used in more of a long relief role in 1989 and had a 4-2, 2.32 record, while 112.1 innings in 42 games. The next year saw him get nearly as much work, though his results began to drop off. Lamp went 3-5, 4.68 in 105.2 innings in 47 appearances. He pitched in 51 games in 1991, going 6-3, 4.70 in 92 innings. In the last season of his 16-year career, Lamp had a 5.14 ERA over 21 relief appearances for the Pirates. He was released in mid-June, finishing his career with a 96-96, 3.93 record, with 40 saves in 639 games (163 starts), with 1,830.2 innings pitched. Jim Winn, pitcher for the 1983-86 Pirates. He was a first round pick (14th overall) of the Pirates in 1981, who was in the majors 22 months after he signed out of John Brown University. He is the last draft pick from that school and the only drafted player from that school to make the majors. In his first season of pro ball, Winn pitched one game in the Gulf Coast League and made 12 starts in Double-A. He went 2-5, 4.30 in 69 innings. The next year saw him pitch just 34.2 innings, with time in A-Ball and Double-A. He began the year in the disabled list due to an elbow injury. In 1983, he was pitching most of the season in relief for Hawaii of the Pacific Coast League, where he had a 3.96 ERA in 38.2 innings. Winn struggled in his initial trial with the team at the beginning of that 1983 season, posting a 7.36 ERA in seven appearances. He didn’t return in September. He pitched just slightly more in 1984 and lowered his ERA to 3.86 in 18.2 innings with the Pirates, while still spending more of his time in Triple-A. Except for seven starts for Hawaii, the 1985 season was mostly spent in the majors, where he pitched a total of 75.2 innings, while posting a 3-6, 5.23 record. Winn had his best season in 1986, while making three starts and 47 appearances. He had a 3.58 ERA in 88 innings and picked up three saves. Overall, Winn had a 4.47 ERA in 193.1 innings over ten starts and 86 relief appearances with the Pirates. He was traded to the Chicago White Sox for John Cangelosi during Spring Training in 1987. He lasted one full season in Chicago, posting a 4.79 ERA in 56 appearances, with six saves. He was released after the season and signed with the Minnesota Twins, where he finished his big league career with a 6.00 ERA in nine outings during the 1988 season. He was 12-17, 4.67, with ten saves in 161 games and 308.1 innings over six big league seasons. Jim Morrison, third baseman for the Pirates from 1982 until 1987. He was drafted three times before signing with the Philadelphia Phillies as a fifth round pick in 1974 out of Georgia Southern University. He originally attended South Georgia College, where he was drafted twice by the Pirates in 1972, taken in the fifth round in the January portion of the draft, followed by a first round pick (22nd overall) in the June portion. Morrison went right to full-season ball after signing and hit .259 in 75 games, with five homers and 27 RBIs. He remained with the same team (Rocky Mount of the Carolina League) for all of 1975, where he hit .288 with 50 extra-base hits, 88 RBIs, 98 runs scored, 22 steals and 65 walks in 140 games. In 1976, he skipped up to Triple-A, playing for Oklahoma City of the American Association for the first of four straight seasons. In 1976 he hit .289 with 18 homers, 71 RBIs and 17 steals in 126 games. The next year Morrison batted .294 with 23 homers, 12 homers and 71 RBIs. His OPS dropped 50 points over the previous season, but he still got a five-game trial with the Phillies in late September. Morrison split the 1978-79 seasons fairly evenly between Triple-A and the majors. He hit just .157 in 53 games for the 1978 Phillies, but he improved greatly in 1979 after being traded to the Chicago White Sox on June 10th. Morrison was blocked in Philadelphia by Mike Schmidt at third base, so the trade gave him a chance to play. He was in the minors the entire time with Philadelphia that year, then hit .275 with 14 homers, 35 RBIs and 11 steals in 67 games with Chicago. In 1980, the White Sox got him into all 162 games, with 160 starts at second base. He hit .283 that season, setting career highs with 40 doubles and 66 runs scored, to go along with 15 homers and 57 RBIs. He moved to third base during the strike-shortened 1981 season and hit .234 with ten homers and 34 RBIs in 90 games. The Pirates acquired him in a trade for Eddie Solomon in the middle of the 1982 season. Morrison lasted six seasons in Pittsburgh, playing more than half of his career games with the team. Prior to the trade, he was hitting .223 with seven homers in 51 games. After the deal, he batted .279 with four homers in 44 games, though he only batted 96 times. He got 16 starts at third base for the Pirates, who had Bill Madlock at the position. In 1983, Morrison was a utility man, who saw the majority of his defensive time at second base. He hit .304 with six homers and 25 RBIs in 66 games. He got more playing time in 1984, hitting .286 with 11 homers and 45 RBIs in 100 games. He slumped down a bit in 1985, hitting .254 with four homers in 94 games, but he got his chance to play full-time in 1986 after the Pirates traded away Madlock. That year he hit .274 with career highs of 23 homers and 88 RBIs in 154 games. Late in 1987, the Pirates traded him to the Detroit Tigers for Darnell Coles and Morris Madden. At the time of the deal, Morrison was hitting .264 with 22 doubles, nine homers and 46 RBIs in 96 games. After the trade, he hit .205 with four homers and 19 RBIs in 34 games for the Tigers. Morrison finished his career in 1988, splitting his final season between the Tigers and Atlanta Braves. He struggled at both stops, finishing with a .181 average and two homers in 75 games. He had a .764 OPS in 552 games with the Pirates, hitting .274 with 57 homers, 241 RBIs and 180 runs scored. In his 12-year career, he was a .260 hitter in 1,089 games, with 112 homers and 435 RBIs. Jim Rooker, pitcher for the 1973-80 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball at 17 years old in 1960 as a hitter, spending his first three years in Class-D ball at an outfielder. He actually put up strong stats after a slow first season, hitting .268 with 39 extra-base hits and 66 walks in 125 games at Jamestown of the New York-Penn League in 1961. The problem was that he had 164 strikeouts, which is a lot now, but well beyond acceptable at that time. In 1962 with Jamestown, he improved to .281 with 16 homers, 80 RBIs, 101 runs scored, 27 steals and 66 walks again, this time cutting his strikeouts down to 134. He moved up to A-Ball in his final year as a full-time batter, hitting .272 with 19 homers, 78 RBIs and 82 runs scored in 115 games. Rooker had a .677 OPS in 104 games in 1964, and a 5.29 ERA in 63 innings. The next year saw him take up pitching full-time and he went 2-11, 4.15 in 115 innings, while spending time in A-Ball and Double-A. In 1966 he struggled in a brief stint in Double-A, but he went 12-5, 2.05 in 143 innings with Rocky Mount of the Class-A Carolina League. That was followed by splitting the 1967 season between Double-A and Triple-A, with solid/decent results at both levels. He combined to go 10-7, 3.46 in 156 innings. Rooker debuted in the majors at 25 years old in 1968 and put up mediocre stats over five seasons before joining the Pirates. For the 1968 Detroit Tigers, he made two mid-season relief appearances, sandwiched between a 2.61 ERA in 190 innings in Triple-A. He was traded to the New York Yankees after the season, but they lost him to the Kansas City Royals in the expansion draft. That opened the door for him to pitch full-time in the majors, though he was pitching for a poor team at that point. Rooker went 4-16, 3.75 in 158.1 innings in 1969, with 22 starts and six relief appearances. He had a 10-15, 3.54 record in 1970, with 203.1 innings spread out over 29 starts and nine relief appearances. He saw more relief work in 1971, going 2-7, 5.33 in 54 innings. He went 5-6, 4.38 in 72 innings in 1972, with ten starts and eight relief appearances. In October of 1972, the Pirates sent Gene Garber to the Kansas City Royals to acquire Rooker. Rooker immediately turned things around with the Pirates in his first season, posting a 10-6, 2.85 record in 170.1 innings over 18 starts and 23 relief appearances. He moved into a full-time starter role in 1974, going 15-11, 2.78 in a career high 262.2 innings, making 33 starts. That was followed by a 13-11, 2.97 record in 196.2 innings over 28 starts in 1975. He made one playoff start each year in 1974-75, giving up two runs over seven innings in his first game, followed by four runs over four innings in the second start. In 1976, Rooker had his best record (15-8), though his ERA was up to 3.35 in 198.2 innings. He went 14-9, 3.08 in 204.1 innings over 30 starts in 1977. His performance slipped in 1978 down to 9-11, 4.24 in 163.1 innings over 28 starts. During the 1979 season, he went 4-7, 4.60 in 17 starts and two relief outings. In the World Series that year, Rooker started game five with the Pirates down 3-1 in the series. He gave up one run over five innings and the Pirates ended up winning the game 7-1. In game one if the series, Rooker threw 3.2 shutout innings in relief. Rooker pitched briefly for the 1980 Pirates before hurting his arm in his fourth start, which ended his career. He went 82-65, 3.29 in 1,317.2 innings over 187 starts and 26 relief appearances for the Pirates, and he had a career record of 103-109, 3.46 in 1,810.1 innings in 13 seasons. He became a broadcaster after his playing career ended and remained in that role until 1993. Dino Restelli, outfielder for the Pirates in 1949 and 1951. He debuted in pro ball at 19 years old in 1944, playing 38 games for San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League. It was a strong debut, batting .343 with 19 RBIs and 23 runs scored, but he had to wait to build on that early success. Restelli missed the 1945 season while serving during WWI. He returned to San Francisco for part of 1946 and struggled in his return, hitting .103 in 26 games. He got back on track in 1947 and hit .292 with 20 doubles and ten homers in 119 games. He played 145 games in 1948, hitting .289 with 86 runs scored, 43 doubles, ten homers and 80 RBIs. He began the 1949 season in San Francisco and had a breakout year, batting .351 with ten homers and 65 RBIs in 72 games. On June 10, 1949, the Pirates acquired Restelli from San Francisco for pitcher Hal Gregg, outfielder Cully Rikard and an undisclosed amount of cash. Gregg was being sent to San Francisco on option, so he was still technically property of the Pirates. Restelli hit .241 over 93 games in Pittsburgh, seeing most of his time during the 1949 season. He hit .250 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs in 72 games as a rookie in 1949, with most of his time in defense spent in center field. He spent all of 1950 in the minors (part of the year with San Francisco), hitting .302 with 18 homers and 68 RBIs in 120 games, then returned to Pittsburgh for the first two months of the 1951 season. He hit .184 in 21 games during his second stint with the Pirates, getting just seven starts (all in left field). Restelli was sold to the Washington Senators in September 1951, but the Pirates ended up being his only big league club. He spent a total of 11 seasons in pro ball, retiring after the 1955 season. He batted .340 in 73 games in the Pacific Coast League in 1953. Lino Donoso, lefty reliever for the 1955-56 Pirates. He was a 32-year-old rookie from Cuba in 1955, though that rookie status has been changed by recent developments in baseball. The Pirates acquired him from the Mexican League, where he had spent the previous four seasons. He also played Negro League ball in 1947, which is now included in his Major League stats due to MLB declaring that the 1920-48 Negro Leagues are now considered to be Major League Baseball. He went 5-2, 2.18 in 78.1 innings for the 1947 New York Cubans. Full stats aren’t known from the league as more research is being done, but that ERA is rated the best in the league at this point. The Pirates signed Donoso in February of 1954 and immediately assigned him to their affiliate in Waco of the Big State League, but he spent the 1954 season with Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League, which also had a working agreement with the Pirates. He went 19-8, 2.37 in 205 innings with Hollywood that season, then opened up the 1955 season there with a 3.26 ERA in 58 innings before getting called up to Pittsburgh. On June 15, 1955, the Pirates sent George Freese and Ben Wade to Hollywood to acquire the rights of Donoso, in a move that was said to be done to help balance their bullpen by adding a lefty. Donoso went 4-6, 5.31 in 95 innings with the Pirates, making nine starts and 16 relief appearances. His 1956 season consisted of spending the first few weeks in the majors, which saw him throw a total of 1.2 scoreless innings over three appearances. He was sent to the minors on May 3rd and remained there until 1962, spending most of that time back in the Mexican League. His name can often be found in old newspapers misspelled as “Dinoso”. Johnny Mokan, outfielder for the 1921-22 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball at 21 years old in 1917, playing 86 games for Fort Dodge of the Class-D Central Association, where he posted a .274 average. Mokan played for three teams in 1918, seeing time in the Class-B Texas League with Waco, Class-A Southern Association with Chattanooga and Double-A International League with Toronto. While his full stats are incomplete, they show that he hit .301 in 69 games in the Texas League and .212 in 55 games at Double-A. In 1919, he spent the entire season with Waco, hitting .258 with 40 extra-base hits in 145 games. A large majority of the 1920 season was spent with Wichita Falls of the Texas League, where he hit .303 with 39 extra-base hits in 150 games. On August 20, 1920, under the recommendation of scout Don Curtis, the Pirates purchased Mokan and his teammate Jimmy Zinn from Wichita Falls. Both were said to be reporting to the Pirates after their minor league season ended, but only Zinn got into a game with the 1920 Pirates. Mokan spent the first two months of the 1921 season with the Pirates, hitting .269 in 19 games before being sent to the minors. He wasn’t actually sent down to Minneapolis of the American Association until July 27th, but he was sent to the hospital at the end of June that year due to stomach troubles and never returned to play until after he was optioned to the minors. Mokan was back in 1922 and he batted .258 in 31 games, while seeing time again at all three outfield spots. He hit .262 with 16 runs scored and 17 RBIs in 50 games with the Pirates. His time in Pittsburgh ended when he was sold to the Philadelphia Phillies in July of 1922. Mokan remained there until his big league career ended in 1927. The Pirates actually tried to trade Mokan to Sioux City of the Western League for young outfielder Roy Elsh, but the Chicago White Sox said that they had a claim in on Elsh, so the Mokan deal was called off and he was sent to the Phillies instead. Mokan hit .252 with three homers in 47 games to finish out the 1922 season. In 1923, he hit .313 in 113 games, with career highs of 78 runs scored, 53 walks, ten homers and 23 doubles. In 1924, he batted .260 in 96 games, with 44 RBIs and 50 runs scored. Mokan played just 75 games in 1925, but he managed to hit a career best .330, with a .905 OPS that was his best single season best. He set a career high with 127 games played in 1926. That year he hit .303 with 68 runs scored, 33 extra-base hits and a career high 62 RBIs. In his final season in the majors, he batted .286 in 74 games, though lower power numbers brought him down to a .728 OPS. His career finished in the minors in 1928. Mokan batted .291 in 582 big league games, with 32 homers, 273 RBIs and 282 runs scored. He was considered a below average defensive player, who finished with a -5.8 dWAR. Joe Kelly, 1914 outfielder. He spent six seasons in the minors before the Pirates acquired him from St Joseph of the Western League. Kelly debuted in Tulsa of the Class-D Oklahoma-Kansas League at 21 years old in 1908. He hit .302 with 25 extra-base hits in 65 games. The next year he hit .243 with 55 extra-base hits in 120 games with Pittsburg of the Class-C Western Association. He was in the same league in 1910, playing for Joplin, where he batted .300 with 38 extra-base hits in 115 games. He moved up two levels to St Joseph in 1911 and remained there for three seasons. Kelly hit .271 with 40 extra-base hits in 166 games in 1911. He followed that up with .287 average, 38 doubles and 15 triples in 168 games in 1912. In his last season before joining the Pirates, he hit .318 with 47 extra-base hits in 161 games. On June 23, 1913, the Pirates purchased Kelly and his teammate George Watson after manager Fred Clarke saw both players on a scouting trip. The Pirates tried to get Kelly for the 1913 season, but the club owner wouldn’t give him up because he was the manager and captain of the team. Kelly joined the Pirates in the spring of 1914 and started 136 games in center field that season, showing great range, but also led all National League center fielders with 19 errors. Kelly hit .222 and stole 21 bases in 141 games during his only season with the Pirates. After the season, he was sold to Indianapolis of the American Association (minors). Kelly made it back to the majors in 1916 with the Chicago Cubs, who then traded him to the Boston Braves in 1917, where he played his final three big league seasons. He hit .254 with two homers in 54 games with the Cubs. With Boston, he batted .222 with 36 RBIs, 41 runs scored and 21 steals in 116 games in 1917. He saw a little less time during the shortened (due to war) 1918 season, hitting .232 with 12 steals and 20 runs scored in 47 games. He batted just .141 in 18 games in 1919, playing his final game on May 27th before going to the minors for the rest of his career. Kelly was a .224 hitter over 376 big league games, with six homers, 117 RBIs, 66 steals and 129 runs scored. He played pro ball until 1930, spending the 1920-25 seasons with San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League. During that final season in San Francisco, the team also had Paul and Lloyd Waner patrolling the outfield. Including his big league stats, Kelly had 3,200 hits as a pro. Cy Neighbors, outfielder for the 1908 Pirates. He played left field during the final inning on April 29, 1908 and then never played in the majors again. Neighbors spent 14 seasons in the minors. In the ninth inning against the Chicago Cubs on April 29, 1908, Fred Clarke sent in a pinch-hitter for himself, putting in backup catcher Paddy O’Connor. He singled home a run to make it 1-1, and then the Pirates took the lead on a Honus Wagner single. Without that hit from O’Connor, which was his first MLB hit, Neigbors wouldn’t have been used that day. When they came out on defense for the bottom of the ninth, Neighbors took Clarke’s position in left field and watched Lefty Leifield close out the game with two strikeouts and a grounder to second base. His debut/only game nearly flew under the radar when none of the local papers included him in the boxscore. Just a few papers around the U.S. on April 30th actually mentioned him by name. A short time later, Neighbors was sent to Kansas City, where he remained for the duration of the season. While his minor league stats aren’t complete, the known games (over 1,400) show that he was a .302 hitter in those games. Neighbors debuted in pro ball in 1905 at 24 years old, splitting his first season between Duluth of the Class-D Northern League, and Toledo of the American Association, which was a Class-A League at the time. Neighbors batted .293 in 111 games that season. The 1906 season was spent with Burlington of the Class-D Iowa League, where he hit .320 in 121 games. He was back in A-Ball in 1907, where he hit .267 in 137 games for Memphis of Southern Association. The Pirates drafted him in the Rule 5 draft after the 1907 season, paying $1,000 to acquire his rights. He went to Spring Training with the Pirates in 1908 and made quite an impression early with his skills in another sport, showing off his billiards skills. The early scouting reports said that he had a strong arm and a fine eye at the plate. His Spring Training was immediately slowed by an infection/hospitalization he received from a laceration on his hand, which kept him out of action for a week. Neighbors made the Opening Day roster and accompanied the team on a trip to St Louis to start the season, but when that three-game series ended, five players went from St Louis to Pittsburgh, while the rest of the team went to Cincinnati for three games. He remained with the Pirates for ten days after his lone big league game before being released on May 9th. During his time in Pittsburgh, he was mostly referred to by his first name of Cecil, but Cy was an often used nickname. His bio online doesn’t have what hand he threw with listed, but there’s a photo of him in a Pirates uniform showing that he threw right-handed. The Game On this date in 1956, the Pirates drew 44,932 fans, the largest crowd in Forbes Field history. The Pirates lost 8-3 to the Dodgers, although the game was suspended due to rain in the ninth inning and finished the next day. The paper the next day said that between 8,000 and 10,000 fans were turned away at the gate and one fan died during the game. Here’s the boxscore....
Card of the Day: 1985 Topps Jim Morrison
September 23, 2021
Card of the Day
The 1985 Topps set is one of those sets that I like the Pittsburgh Pirates cards more than the rest of the cards in the set. I’m not talking about being a Pirates fans and those are the players that appeal to me more. I mean that it’s a year that Topps adjusted the front design based on the team that the player represented. Today’s featured player is Jim Morrison, who probably should have been in this series by now. He had a 12-year career in the majors and half of it was spent with the Pirates. I chose the 1985 Topps card for today because of the eye appeal, as you will see below. Here’s the front of the card: This particular scan came from a card that was graded PSA 10, so the actual card looks pack fresh like it did back in 1985, though I’ll note that not every card you pulled from packs would get a PSA 10 grade back then. From the mix-and-match uniform era for the Pirates, this combo is my favorite. The black pants, gold top and black pillbox hat give us the perfect uniform. So right off of the bat, that helps this card. However, these 1985 Topps Pirates all look great because of the front design, with the team colors for the team name in a banner, with the color combo reversed at the bottom for the player name and team position. Next to that is my favorite team logo. That’s where the eye appeal for the entire set comes into play. Not every card in the set has those color combos, and not every team has colors that are great matches for their team because they don’t have two primary colors. Just to show how great the look of this card is on the John scale of baseball cards, I am thinking about getting a copy off of Ebay as I type this sentence. I have the entire 1985 Topps set already, plus a separate Pirates team set, so I have at least two copies of this card. I also have a box of commons (probably around 700 cards), where this could be in the box. I haven’t looked through it in years and it’s kind of buried under a lot of other cards. Yet, I still might buy another before you read this article. As a side note, it’s been since November 1, 2020 that I featured a 1985 Topps card in this series. That’s way too long between posts about this set. The backs of 1985 Topps are a far cry from the front. The off-green and pale red on light gray background doesn’t have a ton of eye appeal. It’s almost like a faded Christmas card. They didn’t include minor league stats here, which would have added seven lines of stats for Morrison, who spent four straight seasons in Triple-A before playing all 162 games during the 1980 season. Players who didn’t have a ton of MLB stats at the time ended up with a trivia question at the bottom. I read the answer before the question, so I’m not sure if I would have got that or not. As I said up top, this scan is from a PSA 10 auction and the asking price is $255. Part of the high cost is the fact that not many people are out there grading common 1985 Topps cards, so there aren’t a lot of PSA 10 Jim Morrison cards out there. The problem with grading those cards is that if it gets anything less than a 10, you won’t get your money back. The perfect example is the PSA 9 currently listed for $10.99+ shipping. When you add in the grading fee plus Ebay fees to sell it, you’re talking about no return on that investment, if it even sells for the asking price. The other way to look at it is that it’s like buying a scratch-off lottery ticket. If you get that 10 grade, you will get a nice return, but if you get anything less, it’s like coming up empty on the scratch-off ticket. Maybe you lose $1-$2 looking for the big payout. Anyway, there are quite a few of these cards on Ebay right now and you can get them for $2-$3 delivered from multiple sellers. There are also a handful of autographed copies, with three of them going for under $10 delivered....
Card of the Day: 1991 Donruss Wally Backman
September 22, 2021
Card of the Day
Today’s Card of the Day comes from the 1991 Donruss set, one of the junk wax era sets that was massively overproduced. This is the first time that we have featured this set here. Wally Backman spent one season with the Pittsburgh Pirates, not even a full year with the team, signing on January 31, 1990 and becoming a free agent on November 5, 1990, but he had a lot of baseball cards due to the timing. Just in general, that time period had numerous sets to choose from, but seeing as he signed in January, he was included in that updated/traded sets put out after the regular sets from 1990 lost their luster. That gave collectors something new without waiting for the 1991 sets to arrive. Since he didn’t sign with a new team right away, all of his 1991 cards pictured him on the Pirates as well. So you may wonder how I settled on the 1991 Donruss set to use for Backman’s first time in this series? It was the photo. Just a strange in action shot that stood out while scrolling through Ebay looking for a choice. Also the logo. It definitely wasn’t the set design, which looks like it was something straight out of Saved By the Bell. For your viewing pleasure and baseball card knowledge gathering needs, here’s a look at the 1991 Donruss card #177 featuring Wally Backman. Here’s the front of the card: There’s the pose/photo I mentioned, which sort of looks like someone just called an impossible combo on Twister, but he’s trying to do it anyway. I’m a big fan of the road jerseys in general but the 1990 home whites look good here and the gold colored wristbands are a nice touch. What I like here is that Donruss put the Pirates logo on the front of the card. That is one of the better (not best) logos for the team in my opinion so I always add bonus points when sets include it. Another nice added bonus in the photo is seeing the same logo on the left sleeve. The card design has a very early 1990’s appeal to kids/teenagers look to it. Donruss just placed random stripes and what not (looks like a colorful petri dish under a microscope) in all different colors around the border. This probably worked in 1991, but it doesn’t have lasting appeal. More like something that people who grew up then look at and say “ugh, I remember that era, what were we thinking”. The 1992 Donruss set design strayed far away from this set. Here’s the back of the card: Donruss was very unoriginal when it came to card backs. They found something that worked for them and they stuck with it. If you’ve seen Donruss backs over the years, you’ll probably recognize this one, or at least think you do. It’s basically the same back they used in 1986 and 1988. It’s sort of the same back they used a lot, but those two years had a very similar blue color. Donruss used a maximum of five years of stats on the back, which worked well for players with 1-5 years of stats, but Backman already had 11 seasons in at this point, so you don’t even get half of his stats. I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the best things about Donruss cards from this era is that little “contract” section below the stats and above the career highlights. I’ve had to reference those a few times when I couldn’t find the contract information for player bios in our daily history articles. It was literally the only place I could find the info in some cases. The price section will be a quick one today. This is a basic common card, where you’re paying about $2 delivered, with the cost being that much to help cover shipping and Ebay fees. There are two autographed copies available, one for $9, one for $18. He’s got a nice autograph, especially compared to the scribblegraphs of current players. The only other auction of note is an unopened rack pack with Backman on the top, as well as a Bob Walk card showing....
This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History, September 22nd, Murtaugh Comes Up Big Again
September 22, 2021
This Date in Pittsburgh Baseball History
Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players have been born on this date, including a member of the 1990 NL East champs and another that played for the 1960 World Series champs. We also have two games of note. Before we get into them, current Pirates minor leaguer Hunter Owen turns 28 today. He debuted in the majors earlier this year and played three games with the Pirates. Wally Backman, infielder for the 1990 Pirates. He was a first round draft pick of the New York Mets, taken 16th overall in 1977 out of Aloha HS in Oregon. He had a strong debut in the New York-Penn League at 17 years old, hitting .325 with an .844 OPS and 20 steals in 69 games. In 1978, he moved up to Lynchburg of the Carolina League and hit .302 with 74 walks, 42 steals and 86 runs scored in 132 games. He was in Double-A by age 19 in 1979, hitting .282 with 23 steals in 110 games, though with lower walk/power numbers, he had a mediocre .695 OPS. Backman moved up to Triple-A in 1980 and hit .293 with 87 walks and 11 steals in 125 games. He joined the Mets in September and batted .323 in 27 games. Despite that instant big league success, he spent part of 1981 in the minors and he was mostly a bench player during his time with the Mets that year, batting just 42 times in 26 games. He had a bigger role with the 1982 Mets, hitting .272 with 49 walks and 37 runs scored in 96 games. The next year was very similar to 1981, except he saw more Triple-A time. He played 26 games for the 1983 Mets and had a .419 OPS in 45 plate appearances. A switch flipped in 1984 and Backman became a regular in the lineup for three years. He hit .280 with 56 walks, a career high 32 steals and 68 runs scored in 128 games in 1984. The next season saw him play a career high 145 games, while hitting .273 with 30 steals. He set career highs with 77 runs scored, 24 doubles and 38 RBIs. Backman helped the Mets to the 1986 World Series title by hitting .320 during the season and .333 in the World Series. He played 124 games that year and scored 67 runs. He was down to a platoon role in 1987, despite the team and personal success in 1986. Backman hit .250 with a .593 OPS in 94 games in 1987, then followed it up with a .303 average, 41 walks and 44 runs scored in 99 games in 1988. He was traded to the Minnesota Twins in December of 1988 and in his only season with the team, he batted .231 in 87 games, with a .591 OPS and just one stolen base. Backman was signed by the Pirates as a free agent in January of 1990 and he hit .292 in 104 games, with 62 runs scored and 28 RBIs. His .771 OPS that season was a career best. Backman went 1-for-7 with a walk and stolen base in the NLCS. He spent most of his time on defense that year at third base while occasionally starting at second base. In his ten seasons prior to joining the Pirates, he was mostly used at second base. After the season, he became a free agent and signed a two-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. He hit .243 in 94 games in 1991, seeing more time off of the bench than as a starter. He was seldom used in 1992, getting just 55 plate appearances over 42 games. Backman signed with the Atlanta Braves for the 1993 season, but they released him on April 1st. He ended up signing with the Seattle Mariners, though he lasted just ten games before being released in May, which ended his playing career. In his 14-year career he was a .275 hitter, with 482 runs scored, ten homers, 240 RBIs and 117 stolen bases in 1,102 games. He became a minor league manager in 2000 and he’s currently in his 19th season as a manager, working independent ball in 2021. Harry Bright, third baseman for the 1958-60 Pirates. Bright debuted in the majors with the Pirates in 1958, but he put in a lot of work to get to that point. He really had a career worthy of some praise for battling it out to reach his dream. He was originally signed in 1946 by the New York Yankees. His first two years of stats are incomplete, but it’s know that he played Class-C ball in 1946 for Twin Falls of the Pioneer League, followed by splitting the 1947 season between three teams in three different leagues of Class-D ball. He had a .568 OPS in 41 games with Houma of the Evangeline League that season. The Yankees released him during that season and he didn’t play pro ball in 1948. He played Class-D ball in 1949 for Miami of the Kansas-Oklahoma-Missouri League, hitting .286 with 45 extra-base hits and 96 RBIs in 122 games. Bright was in the Chicago Cubs farm system for the 1950-52 seasons, but he never advanced above Class-C, playing for four different teams during those three years. That’s a bit surprising because he hit .397 with 20 homers in 111 games in 1950. He batted .330 with 44 extra-base hits in 109 games in Class-C in 1951, yet he ended up in Class-D ball for the entire 1952 season, where he hit .325 with 51 extra-base hits in 109 games for Janesville of the Wisconsin State League. Bright was in the Chicago White Sox system in 1953 and jumped to Double-A, moving up four levels in one season. He did well too, with a .295 average and a .797 OPS in 140 games for Memphis of the Southern Association. The Detroit Tigers took him in the Rule 5 draft after the 1953 season and he split 1954 between Double-A and Triple-A, combining to hit .304 with 42 extra-base hits in 116 games. He was sold to Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League during the 1955 season, and he stayed there until joining the Pirates. Bright hit .305 with 46 extra-base hits in 120 games for Sacramento in 1955, then batted .284 with 40 extra-base hits in 131 games in 1956. During the 1957 season, he hit .263 with 31 extra-base hits in 146 games. With his stats dropping each season, you would have thought that would put his big league dreams out of reach, but he ended up playing in the majors during each of the next eight years. The Pirates purchased Bright from Sacramento on July 21, 1958 for a price that was said to have exceeded $25,000, which was the cost of drafting a player from the Pacific Coast League at the time. Despite the price and the fact that he left for Pittsburgh right away, he played just 55 games during his first two seasons with the Pirates. Bright played 15 games in 1958, posting a .250 batting average. He matched that .240 average in 1959 when he had 54 plate appearances over 40 games, starting just three games all season, all of them happening in June. He batted 21 times in the final 79 games of the season. He was only used four times during the 1960 season, all coming as a pinch-hitter in September. He spent the rest of the season with Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League, where he hit .313 with 31 doubles, 13 triples, 27 homers and 119 RBIs in 153 games. Bright was part of a four-player deal with the expansion Washington Senators after the 1960 season, one of three players going to Washington for pitcher Bobby Shantz. Bright hit .237 with four homers and 11 RBIs in 59 games for the Pirates. During his time in Pittsburgh, Bright mostly played third base. He remained at third base in 1961 for Washington, but he moved to first base in 1962 and ended up seeing more time there over during his eight-season career than he did at the hot corner. He was with an expansion team, which allowed him to see a decent amount of playing time in 1961. He hit .240 with four homers and 21 RBIs in 72 games that year. He saw even more time in 1962 and responded with what ended up easily being his best season in the majors. He hit .273 with 55 runs scored, 17 homers and 67 RBIs in 113 games. Bright was traded to the Cincinnati Reds over the off-season, then got sold to the New York Yankees after playing just one game in 1963. He hit .236 with seven homers and 23 RBIs in 60 games with the 1963 Yankees. He spent most of the 1964 season in the minors, playing just four games with six at-bats for the Yankees. He was released after the season and signed with the Chicago Cubs, where he hit .280 in 27 games, getting used strictly as a pinch-hitter. Bright saw regular playing time in the minors in 1966, then played sporadically as a manager in the minors over the next five years. He was a career .255 hitter in 336 games, with 32 homers, 126 RBIs and 99 runs scored. He played a total of 20 seasons in the minors and spent 12 years as a minor league manager, including 1952 as a player/manager, six years before he debuted as big league player Ira Flagstead, outfielder for the 1929-30 Pirates. He spent a total of 13 seasons in the majors and was a .290 hitter, who twice led the league in outfield assists. Flagstead didn’t debut in pro ball until he was 23 years old in 1917, but he was in the majors during that first season, playing four games for the Detroit Tigers. He spent the 1918 season with Chattanooga of the Southern Association, where he hit .379 in in 49 games, with his season ending early due to military service during WWI. By 1919, he was with the Tigers full-time. He batted .331 with 30 extra-base hits and 43 runs scored in his first full season in the majors. In 1920, his average dropped to .235 in 110 games, and his OPS fell by 241 points. He rebounded a bit in 1921 by hitting .305 in 85 games, with a .753 OPS, while playing games at six different positions. He was a backup outfielder in 1922, back when Detroit had Hall of Famers Ty Cobb and Harry Heilman, along with star outfielder Bobby Veach, which didn’t leave much playing time for Flagstead. He hit .308 with a .939 OPS that season, but he got into just 44 games. The Tigers traded him early in the 1923 season to the Boston Red Sox, where he was able to play full-time. For the 1923 Red Sox, Flagstead hit .312 with 35 extra-base hits and 55 runs scored in 109 games. He hit .307 in 149 games in 1924, with 35 doubles, 77 walks and 106 runs scored. He set career highs in the latter two categories. He received MVP votes for the first time, finishing 15th in the voting. In 1925, he batted .280 with 38 doubles, 84 runs scored, 61 RBIs and 63 walks. He finished seventh in the MVP voting. The next year, Flagstead hit .299 in 98 games, with 31 doubles and 65 runs scored. Despite the limited play, he still received mild MVP support. In 1927, he hit .285 in 131 games, with a career high 69 RBIs. He had 57 walks and 63 runs scored. He finished 18th in the MVP voting. The 1928 season saw him receive MVP support for the fifth straight season, plus he set a career high with 41 doubles. He hit .290 with 60 walks and 84 runs scored in 140 games. The Pirates acquired him as a waiver pickup from the Washington Senators in July of 1929. The 35-year-old Flagstead started that season with the Red Sox, where he hit .306 in limited time. His time in Washington was brief, hitting .179 in 18 games. For the 1929 Pirates, he batted .280 with six RBIs in 26 games. In 1930, he was a backup on a team that included two Hall of Fame outfielders (the Waners) and Adam Comorosky, who had a season for the ages, reaching extra-base hit marks that no player has ever duplicated. Then there was the veteran Flagstead, who split the backup time between all three spots and he hit .250 with two homers and 21 RBIs in 44 games. He spent 1931 playing in the Pacific Coast League before retiring as a player. In 1,218 big league games, he batted .290 with 40 homers, 456 RBIs and 644 runs scored. He had 467 walks and 288 strikeouts during his career. The Games On this date in 1909, the Pirates won 12-7 over the Boston Doves (Braves) to improve their lead in the National League to ten games, which was their largest lead of the season. It was the Pirates 13th win in a row on their way to 16 straight wins. The top six batters in the Pirates lineup all scored two runs apiece. Honus Wagner had a double and home run, while Dots Miller had three hits. Here’s the boxscore, which notes that just 1,364 people showed up at Forbes Field that day. On this date in 1949, Danny Murtaugh had a big hit off of star pitcher Johnny Sain in a 1-0 victory walking it off in the ninth with an RBI single. It wasn’t the first time that Murtaugh had a big hit against Sain, he was developing a pattern against him at that point. A year earlier he got him with a two-out single in the ninth for a 3-2 win, then a short time later, Murtaugh drove in the only run late in a 1-0 game against Sain. Here are the full details in our Game Rewind article....
This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History, September 21st, Max Butcher and Sam McDowell Lead a Busy Day
September 21, 2021
This Date in Pittsburgh Baseball History
Ten former Pittsburgh Pirates players have been born on this date, including the center fielder from the Pirates first game in the National League. Tom Brown, outfielder for the 1885-87 Alleghenys. Back on April 30,1887, the Pittsburgh Alleghenys played their first game in the National League and Brown was batting second that day while playing center field. He played three years for Pittsburgh, the first two while the team was still in the American Association. Back after the 1884 season, the Alleghenys purchased almost the entire Columbus Buckeyes roster, an American Association team that was folding before the 1885 season. Brown was one of ten players purchased that day and they made up most of the 1885 Opening Day roster, transforming the Alleghenys from a bad team to a mediocre one overnight. Brown was born in Liverpool, England. He debuted in pro ball at 17 years old in 1878, playing in San Francisco, where he remained through the 1882 season. No stats are available from those early years, but Brown went right from San Francisco to Baltimore, where he debuted mid-season during the inaugural season of the American Association with the original Baltimore Orioles. He hit .289 with 23 RBIs and 28 runs scored in 45 games. He became a free agent after the season and signed with Columbus, where he batted .274 with 24 extra-base hits and 69 runs scored in 97 games. Before joining the Alleghenys, Brown had a .690 OPS and 91 runs scored in 107 games in 1884. With the Alleghenys in 1885, Brown hit .307 with 68 RBIs and 81 runs scored in 108 games. In 1886, he hit .285 in 115 games, scoring 106 runs. He struggled with the jump to the NL in 1887, hitting .245 (.591 OPS) in 47 games before being released, which turned out to be a bad decision because some of his best years were still ahead of him. His hitting was getting worse as the season went along and the Alleghenys took on outfielder Ed Beecher to replace him. Once they were satisfied with the work of Beecher, they gave Brown his unconditional release on August 15th. That allowed him to sign right away with any other team, as opposed to the normal ten-day waiting period, where he was still technically with Pittsburgh just in case his services were needed during that time, they still owned his rights. The only catch to his free agency is that all of the National League teams had to pass on him, before he was allowed to sign with an American Association team. As it turned out, that was a moot point, because Brown signed right away with Indianapolis, the team playing the Alleghenys on the day he was released. Finishing out the 1887 season with Indianapolis, Brown hit just .189 in 36 games. He had a solid season in 1888, batting .248 with 62 runs, 49 RBIs and 46 steals in 107 games for the Boston Beaneaters. His average slipped in 1889, it was still the start of some big years ahead in his career. He hit .232 with 59 walks, 63 steals and 93 runs scored in 90 games. It was the first of three straight seasons in which he scored more runs than games played. In 1890, he jumped with most of his teammates to the Boston Reds of the Player’s League, where he hit .280 in 131 games, with 87 walks, 80 steals, 67 RBIs and 149 runs scored. With the Player’s League done after one season, Brown played the 1891 season with the Boston Reds in the American Association. So during that three-year stretch of 1889-1891, he played for Boston in three different leagues. The 1891 season was a magical one for Brown. He scored 177 runs in 1891, which was a record at the time and still stands as the second highest single-season total in MLB history. He also led the league that year with 106 stolen bases, 21 triples and 189 hits, to go along with career highs of 72 RBIs and 30 doubles. The American Association ceased operations after the 1891 season and the National League was the only Major League for the 1892 season. Brown joined the Louisville Colonels in 1982 and hit just .227 in 153 games, though he still contributed with 105 runs scored and 78 stolen bases. He set a Major League record with 712 plate appearances and 660 at-bats that year. The plate appearances record stood until 1898, but the at-bats record wasn’t broken until 1921. In 1893, Brown hit .240 with 56 walks, 66 steals (led the league), and 104 runs scored in 122 games. Offense was up all around baseball in 1894 due to the new pitching rules, but Brown only saw a mild increase. He hit .253 with 45 extra-base hits, 66 steals, 60 walks and 123 runs scored in 130 games. Those sound like decent numbers, but the overall production was well below league average for that season. Brown was traded to the St Louis Browns prior to the 1895 season. He hit .220 with 34 steals and 73 runs scored in 84 games before being released late in the season. He signed with the Washington Senators to finish out the season and remained there until his final big league game in 1898. The move was good for him, as he saw a spike in his average during the 1896-97 seasons. Brown hit 239 in 34 games in 1895 with Washington, then batted .294 with 58 walks, 59 RBIs and 87 runs in 116 games. He had lost a step by that year at 35 years old, but still managed to steal 28 bases. He hit .292 with 52 walks, 45 RBIs, 25 steals and 91 runs scored in 116 games in 1897. His final season lasted just 16 games before playing his last big league game on May 17, 1898. During those final two season in Washington, he managed for parts of both seasons, with his last managerial game coming after his final game as a player. He went to the minors as a player-manager in 1899 and saw sporadic playing/managing time after that point, with his last known pro records coming in 1906. Brown finished his career with 658 stolen bases. The interesting part about that is that they didn’t count steals during his first four seasons, so the total would have been much higher and put him in elite company as far as career totals. As it stands now, he ranks 13th all-time. Brown scored 1,521 runs during his career while playing just 1,791 games. Despite the success, he also led the league in strikeouts five times from 1890 until 1895. He pitched at least once each year from 1882-86, including three appearances with the Alleghenys. In 12 games (one start) he had a 2-2, 5.29 record in 49.1 innings. Sam McDowell, pitcher for the 1975 Pirates. He was a great pitcher during his day, who joined the Pirates at the very end of his career. He was a big lefty who led the league in strikeouts five times. He signed with the Pirates on April 2, 1975 and pitched 14 times for the team before being released in late June. That short stint with the Pirates marked the end of his big league career. McDowell went 2-1, 2.86 in 34.2 innings in Pittsburgh. He finished his 15-year career with 141 wins and 2,453 strikeouts. He was a six-time All-Star, who was born in Pittsburgh and attended Central Catholic HS in town. McDowell turns 79 today. He spent parts/all of five seasons in the minors, but McDowell got to the big leagues before his 19th birthday. He debuted at age 17 in 1960, going 5-6, 3.35 in 104.2 innings, with 100 strikeouts, while pitching for Lakeland of the Class-D Florida State League. He jumped to Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League in 1961, leaping up five levels of the minor league chain in the process. McDowell went 13-10, 4.42 in 175 innings that season, picking up 156 strikeouts. He debuted that September with the Cleveland Indians and made one start in which he threw 6.1 shutout innings. He was back in Salt Lake City for a brief time in 1962, but a majority of his season was spent in Cleveland, where he went 3-7, 6.06 in 87.2 innings, with 70 walks and 70 strikeouts. In 1963, he made 12 minor league starts for Jacksonville of the International League, and he pitched 14 times (12 starts) with the Indians. His big league stats that season show a 3-5, 4.85 record, with 63 strikeouts in 65 innings. The 1964 season was also split between the minors and majors, and McDowell pitched well at each level. With Portland of the Pacific Coast League, he went 8-0, 1.18, with 102 strikeouts in 76 innings. With the Indians, he had an 11-6, 2.70 record in 173.1 innings, with 177 strikeouts. McDowell’s best season was 1965 when he went 17-11, 2.18 with 325 strikeouts in 273 innings. He led the league in ERA and strikeouts that year, though he also topped the league in walks and wild pitches. He was an All-Star for the first time and he received mild MVP support. In 1966, he went 9-8, 2.87 in 194.1 innings, leading the league with five shutouts and 225 strikeouts. He made his second All-Star appearance that year. The 1967 season was a bit of a down year, with a 13-15, 3.85 record in 236.1 innings. He had 236 strikeouts, but also led the league with 101 earned runs allowed, 123 walks and 18 wild pitches. McDowell rebounded nicely in 1968, going 15-14, 1.81 in 269 innings, leading the league with 110 walks and 283 strikeouts. His ERA was the second best in the league that year. He made his third All-Star appearance, which started a string of four straight All-Star games for him. In 1969, McDowell went 18-14, 2.94 in 285 innings, with a league leading 279 strikeouts. He came close to his 1965 success in 1970 with 20 wins and league leading totals of 305 innings and 304 strikeouts (he also led with 131 walks). McDowell finished third in the Cy Young voting that year and he received mild MVP support. In 1971, McDowell began to see some drop-off in his performance, though that year was still a decent season for a 60-102 team. He went 13-17, 3.40 in 214.1 innings, with 192 strikeouts. He set a career high with 153 walks. He was traded to the San Francisco Giants for Gaylord Perry prior to the 1972 season. McDowell went 10-8, 4.33 in 164.1 innings that first season with the Giants. The next year was split between the Giants and New York Yankees. He went 6-10, 4.11 in 135.2 innings, with 18 starts and 16 relief appearances. In the year before he joined the Pirates. McDowell went 1-6, 4.69 in 48 innings over seven starts and six relief outings. The Yankees released him in December, four months before signing with Pittsburgh. He went 141-134, 3.17 in 2,492.1 innings. He ranks 45th all-time in strikeouts and 30th all-time in walks. Max Butcher, pitcher for the Pirates from 1939 until 1945. During his time with the Pirates, he went 67-60, 3.34 in 1,171.2 innings. He had double-digit wins four times during his time with Pittsburgh, topping out at 17 victories in 1941. Butcher was not the best pitcher away from the Pirates. He went 28-46 during the rest of his ten-year career, seeing time with the 1936-38 Brooklyn Dodgers and 1938-39 Philadelphia Phillies. Butcher debuted in pro ball in 1931 at 20 years old when he pitched briefly for two low level teams. In 1932, he played for Beckley of the Class-C Middle Atlantic League, where he went 16-12, 3.29 in 235 innings. He moved up two levels to Atlanta of the Southern Association in 1933, posting a 10-13, 4.67 record in 189 innings that season. Butcher spent most of 1934 struggling with Baltimore of the International League, where he had a 4-9, 6.48 record in 107 innings over 31 appearances. He dropped down a level to Galveston of the Texas League in 1935 and had an incredible season, going 24-11, 2.21 in 317 innings. That led to his first big league shot with the 1936 Dodgers. Butcher went 6-6, 3.96 as a rookie, throwing 147.2 innings over 15 starts and 23 relief appearances. The next year he had an 11-15, 4.27 record in 191.2 innings, making 24 starts and 15 relief appearances. In 1938, he was 5-4, 6.56 in 72.2 innings before being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in early August. He finished the season strong for a bad team, going 4-8, 2.93 in 12 starts, with 11 complete games. Butcher got off to a rough start in 1939, posting a 2-13, 5.79 record in 105.2 innings for the Phillies. The Pirates acquired Butcher in an even up deal for aging first baseman Gus Suhr on July 28, 1939. As far as career performance to that point, it was a one-sided deal that favored the Phillies, but it became a one-sided deal in favor of the Pirates by the end. Suhr lasted just 70 games, while Butcher was a solid contributor for the Pirates for seven seasons. He actually pitched very poorly for the 1940 Pirates, so it was lucky that they held on to him. After the trade, he finished off the 1939 season by going 4-4, 3.43 in 86.2 innings. In 1940, Butcher had an 8-9, 6.01 record in 136.1 innings, with 24 starts and 11 relief appearances. That was followed up by a 17-12, 3.05 record in a career high 236 innings. His 19 complete games that season ranked as the fifth highest total in the National League. His record dropped to 5-8 in 1942, but he still had a 2.93 ERA in 150.2 innings. In 1943, Butcher went 10-8, 2.60 in 193.2 innings, with 21 starts and 12 relief appearances. He saw a bit more starting work in 1944 when he went 13-11, 3.12 in 199 innings, with 27 starts and eight relief outings. In his final season in Pittsburgh, Butcher had a 10-8, 3.03 record in 169.1 innings. His time with the Pirates came to an end when he held out of Spring Training in 1946 because the Pirates tried to cut his salary from $11,000 to $8,000 that season. He was released on March 20th and played for two minor league teams that year, which was his last season in pro ball. His final career record stood at 95-106, 3.75 in 1,787.2 innings over 229 starts and 106 relief appearances. He was a major pitch-to-contact pitcher, finishing with 583 walks and just 485 strikeouts. His high strikeout mark with the Pirates was seven in one contest, which he did once. Jason Christiansen, pitcher for the 1995-2000 Pirates. He is known now for being the player who was traded even up to the St Louis Cardinals for Jack Wilson, but he spent six seasons with the Pirates before that deal. Christiansen pitched 278 games (all in relief) for the Pirates, posting a 4.13 ERA in 274.2 innings. He was a non-drafted free agent signing in June of 1991 at 21 years old after going undrafted out of two colleges. He debuted in short-season ball and had a 1.84 ERA in 29.1 innings in 1991. The next year was split between Low-A and High-A, with most of his time at the higher level. He combined to go 4-1, 2.83 in 70 innings over 48 appearances. In 1993, Christiansen spent all but two games at High-A, where he went 1-1, 3.15 in 71.1 innings over 57 games. The 1994 season was split fairly evenly between Double-A and Triple-A, with similar results at both levels. He combined on a 2.24 ERA in 72.1 innings over 62 appearances. He made it to the majors at the start of the 1995 season, pitching 63 games during his rookie year in a season slightly shortened due to the 1994 strike. He had a 4.15 ERA in 56.1 innings. Christiansen stumbled in 1996, posting a 6.70 ERA over 44.1 innings and 33 outings. He actually spent the start of the 1997 season in Double-A, but bounced back in the majors when he got called up in mid-June, posting a 2.94 ERA in 39 games and 33.2 innings pitched. He was even better in 1998, posting a 2.51 ERA in 64.2 innings over 60 outings. He set a high that year in saves, picking up six of his 16 total saves for his career. His stats slipped in 1999, going 2-3, 4.06, with three saves in 37.2 innings and 39 appearances. He struggled even more in 2000 prior to the deal to the Cardinals on July 29th, going 2-8, 4.97 in 38 innings over 44 games. After the trade, he played another five seasons in the majors, mostly spent with the San Francisco Giants, where he had a 4.57 ERA in 126 innings over 187 outings. He finished off 2000 with 5.40 ERA in 21 games with the Cardinals. He was being used as a lefty specialist and he pitched a total of ten innings. In 2001, Christiansen started the year in St Louis and finished with the Giants after a July 31st trade. He had a 4.66 ERA in 30 games before the deal and a 1.59 ERA in 25 appearances after the trade. In 2002, he was limited to just five innings and six appearances. He missed the rest of the year with Tommy John surgery in late May. He was back in the majors almost exactly one year after his surgery, returning on June 4, 2003 to pitch 40 times over the rest of the season. Christiansen had a 5.19 ERA in 26 innings, with no wins, losses or saves. In 2004, he went 4-3, 4.50 in 36 innings, while making 60 appearances. His final season in the majors was split between the Giants and Los Angeles Angels. He went 6-1, 5.36 in 56 games for the 2005 Giants, followed by a 2.45 ERA in 12 appearances for the Angels. That’s a little misleading because he was an extreme lefty specialist in Los Angeles, facing a total of 20 batters in those 12 games. Christiansen had a career 27-26, 4.30 ecord in 528 games and 433.2 innings. Ben Shelton, outfielder for 1993 Pirates. Shelton was second round draft pick out of high school by the Pirates in 1987. He debuted in the Gulf Coast League at 17 years old and hit .286 with 15 extra-base hits and seven steals in 38 games. The next year was split between the Appalachian League and full-season A-Ball, as he combined to hit .211 with 23 extra-base hits, 11 steals, 72 walks. He also had 154 strikeouts in 101 games. Shelton played the entire 1989 season back in A-Ball, playing for Augusta of the South Atlantic League. He batted .246 with 28 extra-base hits, 87 walks and 18 steals in 122 games. He also cut his strikeouts down to 132, while batting 63 more times than the previous year. In 1990, he hit .206 in 109 games at High-A, with ten homers and only one stolen base. The 1991 season was split between High-A and Double-A, with much better results at the lower level, where he had a .944 OPS in 65 games, compared to a .686 OPS in 55 games at Double-A. Shelton spent all of 1992 in Double-A, where he struggled with a .234 average in 115 games, though his 65 walks gave him a .362 OBP and a .724 OPS. He was suspended at the end of the season due to a verbal clash with the coaching staff. He hit .253 in 38 games in Triple-A in 1993 before joining the Pirates on June 16, 1993. The Pirates were down two outfielders when Andy Van Slyke broke his collarbone and Glenn Wilson was designated for assignment. The Pirates added William Pennyfeather and Shelton to the roster at the same time. His stint with the club lasted just over a month, playing his last game on July 25th, before returning to the minors. For the Pirates, he hit .250 in 15 games, with two homers and seven RBIs in 24 at-bats. That ended up being his only big league experience. He was released after the 1993 season and missed 1994 due to off-season knee surgery. He then finished his career in the minors in 1995, playing with the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox. Despite that being his final season, he set a career high with 18 homers, while playing just 100 games. He was a pitcher/first baseman in high school, then played strictly at first base during his first four seasons, before adding outfielder to his resume in 1991. With the Pirates, he played six games in left field and two at first base. Del Lundgren, pitcher for the 1924 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball in 1922 at 22 years old, playing for Salina of the Class-C Southwestern League. He went 9-21, 3.92 in 271 innings that year. He pitched twice for Salina in 1923, then spent the rest of the season with the Flint Vehicles of the Michigan-Ontario League. Despite moving up to Class-B, he had better results, going 18-15, while throwing 266 innings (no ERA available). He was acquired by the Pirates in September of 1923 on a working agreement with Flint. If he didn’t make the Pirates out of Spring Training in 1924, he would have been returned to Flint. He actually worked out with the Pirates at the end of the 1923 season, but didn’t appeared in a game during the final three weeks of the season. While in Pittsburgh, he had a 6.48 ERA in 16.2 innings over seven relief appearances and one start. His lost his lone start on April 27th, giving up four runs in 5.1 innings. He made seven relief outings in May and allowed runs in six of those games. He was sent to the minors after making his last appearance with the Pirates in June during an exhibition game. Pittsburgh sent him to Birmingham, but in early September, he was released outright to a team from Williamsport. Lundgren went on to pitch for the 1926-27 Boston Red Sox and got hit hard, posting a 6.51 ERA in 167.1 innings. He had a 7.55 ERA in 18 appearances in 1926, but saw the majority of his time in 1927 when he went 5-12, 6.27 in 136.1 innings over 17 starts and 13 relief appearances. He went to Nashville of the Southern Association in 1928 and had a 3-14, 6.64 record, but made a remarkable turnaround in 1929 when he had an 18-10, 3.70 record in 243 innings. That was a one-year outlier, as he went 1-6, 7.67 in 61 innings for Minneapolis of the American Association in 1930, which turned out to be his last pro experience. His actual first name is Ebin, but he went by his middle name Delmer, which was often misspelled as Delmar and shortened to Del. Gil Britton, shortstop for the 1913 Pirates. Britton was signed by the Pirates on August 15, 1913 by scout Howard Earle, who recommended him to manager Fred Clarke. At the time, it was said that he would join the Pirates on September 9th, though he showed up for the first time on September 12th. He was hitting .270 at the time of the purchase and was considered one of the top base runners in the Texas League. He finished with a .283 average in 155 games before heading to Pittsburgh. The report said that he could play third base or shortstop. His entire big league career consisted of three games in late September for those 1913 Pirates. Two of those games were during a September 20th doubleheader against Brooklyn. His other game came three days later and was also against Brooklyn. He went 0-for-12 and committed three errors, going 0-for-4 with one error in each game. When he joined the Pirates, manager Fred Clarke said that he was anxious to see him play and he would probably give Honus Wagner off during game two of the doubleheader to see Britton play, but Wagner ended up getting both games off instead. Wagner had a bit of a leg injury and it opened up a chance for the rookie, who was praised for his defensive player by Clarke, despite the errors. Britton was from Kansas, and after the team played a game in St Louis on September 27th, he was allowed to go home for the winter, while the Pirates wrapped up their season in Chicago a week later. He signed with the Pirates for 1914 and it was said that he would compete for the starting third base job with veteran Mike Mowrey. Britton nearly made the team as a backup, but he was sold on April 7th to St Joseph of the Western League. He played a total of nine seasons in pro ball (1909-17), debuting at 17 years old and playing his final game right around his 26th birthday. His first two seasons were spent with Abilene of the Class-D Central Kansas League, where he hit .242 in 1909 and .246 the next season. Most of 1911 was spent in the same league with a team from Clay Center, where he hit .347 in 71 games. The rest of the season was spent two levels higher with Houston of the Texas League, where he put up a .283 average in 27 games. He remained in Houston up until his time with the Pirates. Britton hit .253 with 12 doubles and two triples in 143 games in 1912. While some of his minor league stats are incomplete, he has just three homers to his credit in pro ball. Danny Cox, relief pitcher for the 1992 Pirates. He was drafted in the 13th round of the 1981 draft out of Troy University by the St Louis Cardinals. His debut in pro ball was strong, with a 9-4, 2.06 record in 109 innings, with ten complete games in 13 starts. The next year was spent in A-Ball, where he had a 2.56 ERA in 84.1 innings. The 1983 season was a crazy ride that started in the Florida State League (A-Ball) and ended in the majors, with stops at Double-A and Triple-A along the way. Cox went 10-5, 2.37 in 129.1 innings in the minors and he made 12 starts for the Cardinals, going 3-6, 3.25 in 83 innings. Most of 1984 was spent in the majors, except for six starts in Triple-A. He went 9-11, 4.03 in 156.1 innings, with 27 starts and two relief appearances. That was just a warm-up for his best season. Cox had a 18-9, 2.88 record in 241 innings for the 1985 Cardinals, helping them to the World Series. He picked up a career high 131 strikeouts that season. He made three starts that postseason and allowed four runs over 20 innings of work, but St Louis still lost to the Kansas City Royals. In 1986, Cox had a nearly identical ERA, but his record suffered along with his team. The Cardinals finished 79-82 that year and he had a 12-13, 2.90 record in 220 innings. He didn’t pitch as well in 1987, but St Louis went back to the World Series. Cox went 11-9, 3.88 in 199.1 innings that year. He did well in the NLCS, with a 2.12 ERA in 17 innings, but the World Series saw him take two losses and post a 7.71 ERA in 11.2 innings. After dealing with an elbow injury during the 1988 season that limited him to a 3.98 ERA in 13 starts, Cox took a 20% pay cut in 1989, though his deal had performances bonuses that could have earned him a total of $800,000 that season. Instead, he ran into trouble with his elbow in an early Spring Training game, then assaulted a cameraman on his way to get the elbow examined. He needed elbow surgery, which cost him the entire 1989 season and limited him to 23 innings of rehab work in the minors in 1990. He signed with the Philadelphia Phillies as a free agent for the 1991 season, and had a 4-6, 4.57 record in 102.1 innings. Cox began the 1992 season as a starter for the Phillies before being released in early June. He had a 5.40 ERA in 38.1 innings at the time. Just 12 days after being released, he signed with the Pirates and pitched 16 games in relief over the rest of the season. In 24.1 innings, he had a 3.33 ERA, with three wins and three saves. In the NLCS that year, he tossed 1.1 scoreless innings over two appearances. Cox left via free agency after the season and signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. He had a solid 1993 season as a reliever, going 7-6, 3.12 in 83.2 innings over 44 appearances. He had tendinitis going into 1994 and was limited to ten appearances, though he had a 1.45 ERA in 18.2 innings. During the 1995 season, Cox posted a 7.40 ERA in 45 innings over 24 games, which turned out to be his final season. In 11 big league seasons, he went 74-75, 3.64 in 1,298 innings, making 174 starts and 104 relief appearances. He had a 3.24 ERA in 58.1 postseason innings. Cox is one of just five players born in England to play in the majors since 1971. Antonio Bastardo, pitcher for the 2015-17 Pirates. He signed with the Philadelphia Phillies as an international free agent at 19 years old in 2005 out of the Dominican Republic. He debuted in the Gulf Coast League in 2006 and had a 3.91 ERA in 23 innings, with 27 strikeouts. The next year was spent as a starter in Low-A, where he went 9-0, 1.87 in 91.2 innings over 15 games. He won his only High-A start that season and pitched briefly in the Dominican winter league that off-season. In 2008, he dominated in five starts in High-A, then had a 3.76 ERA in 67 innings in Double-A. In 2009, Bastardo missed a little time with injury, but still ended up pitching in the majors after playing at four different levels in the minors. He actually debuted in June for five starts, then came back in October for a relief appearance. He went 2-3, 6.46 in 23.2 innings. In 2010, he pitched strictly in relief in the majors, putting up a 4.34 ERA in 18.2 innings over 25 appearances. In 2011, he went 6-1, 2.64 in 64 games, with eight saves and 58 innings pitched. Bastardo made 65 appearances and pitched 52 innings in 2012, going 2-5, 4.33 with one save. Despite the higher ERA and lower inning total, he managed to pick up 81 strikeouts. He posted his best ERA in 2013 when he made 48 appearances and threw 42.2 innings. He went 3-2, 2.32 with two saves. Bastardo saw another dip in his stats in 2014, going 5-7, 3.94 in 64 innings over 67 games. He was acquired by Pittsburgh over the 2014-15 off-season in exchange for pitcher Joely Rodriguez. In 66 appearances for the 2015 Pirates, he went 4-1, 2.98 in 57.1 innings. Bastardo was granted free agency after the season and signed with the New York Mets, where his performance fell off. In 41 appearances, he had a 4.74 ERA in 43.2 innings. He was reacquired by the Pirates in exchange for Jon Niese in July and went on to post a 4.13 ERA over 28 appearances. His 69 appearances that season set a career high. With the 2017 Pirates, Bastardo pitched just nine games and put up a 15.00 ERA in nine innings. He was released in July, which ended his big league career. In nine seasons, he had a 4.01 ERA in 419 appearances and 393 innings, with 470 strikeouts. He had a 4.48 ERA in 90.1 innings over 103 appearances with the Pirates. Between the 2009-11 Phillies and the 2015 Pirates, he made six scoreless appearances in postseason play, though he totaled just 2.2 innings in that time. Zach Phillips, pitcher for the 2016 Pirates. He was a 23rd round draft pick of the Texas Rangers in 2004 out of high school, but he didn’t sign right away. As a draft-and-follow pick, he attended college in 2005 and signed right before the deadline for 2004 picks to sign. Phillips debuted in the majors seven years after being drafted, shortly after the Rangers traded him to the Baltimore Orioles. He debuted in pro ball in short-season ball, posting a 3.93 ERA in 50.1 innings, before getting four innings in Low-A. In 2006 and 2007, he spent the entire year with Clinton of the Low-A Midwest League. Phillips went 5-12, 5.96 in 142 innings in 2006, with 126 strikeouts. The next year saw him improve to 11-7, 2.91 in 151.2 innings, with 157 strikeouts. The 2008 season was spent in High-A, playing in the high-offense California League, where he went 8-9, 5.54 in 144.2 innings. He repeated the level in 2009, but he moved to relief and saw a promotion to Double-A for half of the season. Between the two stops, he had a 1.39 ERA in 77.2 innings over 36 outings. The 2010 season saw him post a 1.08 ERA in Double-A, and a 3.22 ERA in 50.1 innings at Triple-A. Phillips had a 4.43 ERA in 44.2 innings at Triple-A with the Rangers before being dealt to the Orioles. After the deal, he had a 2.63 ERA in 14 games at Triple-A. Phillips pitched ten games with the 2011 Orioles, allowing one run in eight innings. In 2012, he spent most of the year back in Triple-A, where he went six innings over six games, giving up four runs. He was granted free agency after the season and signed with the Miami Marlins, who got him into three games in 2013. In that third big league cup of coffee, he allowed one run in 1.2 innings. Phillips spent the 2014 season in Japan and the 2015 season in the minors with the Chicago White Sox. He was back with Baltimore in 2016, picking in Triple-A with a 4.45 ERA in 60.2 innings over 49 appearances, when the Pirates acquired him for pitcher Kyle Lobstein on August 31st. Phillips joined the Pirates in September and he made eight relief appearances, allowing two runs in 6.2 innings. It ended up being his last big league time, though he is still actively playing in Mexico. He spent part of 2017 in Triple-A for the St Louis Cardinals, then went to Mexico, where he has played four seasons of summer ball and one year of winter ball. Phillips pitched 27 games in the majors, going 0-1, 3.22 in 22.1 innings....
Card of the Day: 1940 Play Ball Max Butcher
September 21, 2021
Card of the Day
Today’s Card of the Day comes from a pitcher who turned his career around with the Pittsburgh Pirates, though the timing of his arrival also helped. Max Butcher played seven seasons for the Pirates, coming to the team from the Philadelphia Phillies in an even up swap for first baseman Gus Suhr. He stayed with the Pirates through the 1945 season, then was released during Spring Training in 1946 when he wouldn’t sign a contract that called for a $3,000 pay cut. He remained with the Pirates during the war years when teams were losing players to service all of the time. Butcher averaged nearly 170 innings per season during that time, and over his final five seasons, he never had higher than a 3.12 ERA. Prior to coming to the Pirates, he had a 28-46 record over four seasons in the majors with the Phillies and Brooklyn Dodgers. He had a 67-60 record with the Pirates, lowering his ERA by more than a full run over his previous totals. Not too long after he joined the Pirates, he was in the 1940 Play Ball set, which we look at in today’s article. Here’s the front of the card: With those off-white borders, 1940 Play Ball cards looked old when they were brand new. They have some great photos of players and it offers a glimpse at some players who didn’t get many cards during their era, as production of baseball cards from any manufacturer came to a near complete halt during the war years. Besides the great black & white photos, I like the simple baseball equipment design on front, with the name in a banner. That equipment wasn’t meant to look old in 1940, but it adds that great old-time baseball feel to these cards. The uniform Butcher is wearing there was the last year for that cursive writing style across the front. In 1940 they switched to the Pirates head logo for two years, then to the more simplistic block letter writing across the front that said Pirates at home and Pittsburgh on the road. Since Butcher joined the Pirates in 1939, even without knowing the year of this set, you could date the photo to that season. For those who don’t know, the Pirates name was written in red, and the hats were blue with a red letter, though that certainly doesn’t appear to be a red “P” on the hat in this photo, so I’m not sure what’s going on there. They had blue hats with yellow letters in 1940, so maybe they tried those out later in the year in 1939. Some of the Pirates in the 1940 Play Ball set actually have photos that were taken with the new uniforms and the hats look the same. Here’s the back of the card: The back has a little bio section that notes the bad luck he has seen on the mound with his win-loss record. Pitching for the Phillies especially hurt him, when he ended up going 4-8 with a 2.93 ERA, pitching for a team that finished 45-105. The Dodgers topped out at 67 wins during his three years with the team. So even though he pitched much better with the Pirates, he was also pitching for a better team. The back here had an advertisement for the upcoming release of new SUPERMAN GUM, with thrilling adventure cards. That 1940 Superman set is very popular now and commons from that set sell for more than commons from this 1940 Play Ball set. If you’re interested in this card, then you might be happy to know that they aren’t THAT rare. There are 11 examples on Ebay right now and nine of them are under $100. The lowest one is $20 and it’s well loved. There’s another under $40 in better condition, and one that is $43, which has a best offer option. The top end is $250 for a PSA 7. Five auctions have closed and three went for less than $20. The highest priced one took a best offer, so I don’t know the exact price, but it was under $85....
This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History, September 20th, Two No-Hitters and Jason Bay
September 20, 2021
This Date in Pittsburgh Baseball History
Six former Pirates born on this date, plus two games of note. Jason Bay, left fielder for the 2003-08 Pirates. He was the first Rookie of the Year in team history (2004) and he remains the only one to this day. In 719 games in Pittsburgh, he had an .890 OPS, which ranks as the seventh best in team history. Bay was an All-Star during the 2005-06 seasons. He was drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 22nd round of the 2000 draft out of Gonzaga. He debuted that season in the New York-Penn League, where he hit .304 with two homers and 17 steals in 35 games. The next year was split between 87 games in Low-A and 38 games in High-A. He combined to hit .315 with 14 homers, 25 steals and 66 walks in 125 games. Late in Spring Training in 2002, he was traded to the New York Mets. His stay there was four months before being included in a five-player trade with the San Diego Padres. Bay played 69 games in High-A and 57 in Double-A that season, combining to hit .283 with 21 doubles, 17 homers, 39 steals and 62 walks. The Pirates acquired Bay from the Padres as one of three players they received in the Brian Giles deal in late August of 2003. Prior to joining the Pirates, Bay had played 91 games in Triple-A and he got into three big league games. After the deal, he briefly played at Triple-A for the Pirates, then joined the big league squad for 27 games in which he hit .291 with three homers and 18 walks. As a rookie in 2004, he batted .282 with 26 homers and 82 RBIs, leading to the Rookie of the Year award. He actually missed the entire first month due to an off-season surgery. Bay played all 162 games in 2005, hitting .306 with 110 runs scored, 44 doubles, 32 homers, 101 RBIs and 21 steals in 22 attempts. That led to his first of back-to-back All-Star game appearances. He was just as good in 2006, batting .286 with 35 homers, 109 RBIs, 101 runs scored and 102 walks. Bay slumped in 2007, batting .247 with 21 homers and 84 RBIs, posting a -0.3 WAR during the season. He had knee surgery after the 2006 season and it seemed to affect him for most of that year. Bay was part of the six-player deal between the Pirates, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers in July of 2008. He was the only piece given up by the Pirates, who received four players in the deal. At the time of the trade, he was hitting .282 with 22 homers in 106 games. Bay had one full year left before free agency and he did well on his remaining deal with Boston. He hit .293 with 21 extra-base hits in 49 games for the 2008 Red Sox, then hit three homers and drove in nine runs in 11 postseason games. He hit .267 during the 2009 season, with career highs of 36 homers and 119 RBIs, to go along with 94 walks and 103 runs scored. That year he finished seventh in the American League MVP voting, made the All-Star team and won the Silver Slugger award for the only time in his career. He signed a free agent deal with the New York Mets for 2010, but injuries limited his production. Bay batted .259 with 32 extra-base hits and 47 RBIs in 95 games in 2010. He followed that up with a .245 average, 12 homers, 57 RBIs and 59 runs scored in 123 games in 2011. He really struggled in his final season in New York, batting .165 with eight homers in 70 games. Bay didn’t run a lot in New York, but he managed to go 26-for-28 in steals with the Mets. Bay finished his career with the Seattle Mariners in 2013, hitting .204 with 11 homers in 68 games. He was a career .266 hitter in 1,278 games, with 222 homers, 737 runs scored and 754 RBIs. He stole 95 bases in 112 attempts. Steve Lombardozzi, pinch-hitter for the 2015 Pirates. He was a 19th round pick of the Washington Nationals out of St Petersburg College in 2008, who made it to the majors just three years later at 22 years old. Lombardozzi played his first season in the Gulf Coast League, where his .693 OPS in 48 games was a production of a .283 average and a high walk rate, though he showed no power. In Low-A in 2009, he hit .296 with 62 walks, 16 steals and 36 extra-base hits in 128 games. The next year was mostly spent in High-A, though he played 27 games in Double-A and had better results at the higher level. Lombardozzi combined to hit .294 with 52 extra-base hits, 90 runs scored and 24 steals in 137 games. After the season, he was sent to the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .293 in 21 games. He had an .820 OPS in 65 games at Double-A in 2011, followed by a .762 OPS in 69 games at Triple-A. He actually hit one point higher at Triple-A (.310 vs .309), but showed more power at the lower level. His season ended with a .194 average over 13 September games with the Nationals. Lombardozzi was a regular in 2012-13, hitting .273 with three homers and 27 RBIs in 126 games the first year, followed by a .259 average, 22 RBIs and 25 runs scored in 118 games in 2013. Lombardozzi spent three seasons in Washington, hitting .264 with five homers and 50 RBIs in 257 games. Most of his playing time was spent at second base, though he also added some left field, shortstop and third base. He was traded to the Detroit Tigers after the 2013 season, but ended up with the Baltimore Orioles prior to the start of 2014. He batted .288 in 20 games with the Orioles, though it came with a low OPS due to no homers or walks. The Pirates purchased his contract just before Spring Training in 2015 and he spent most of the year in the minors. Lombardozzi played 12 games for the Pirates, 11 as a pinch-hitter and one as a pinch-runner. He went 0-for-10 with a walk and a run scored. He was released after the season and from 2016-19, he played with four different organizations, plus had a stint in winter ball. His only big league experience during that four-year stint was two games for the 2017 Miami Marlins. He didn’t play in 2020, although he played winter ball in Mexico during the 2019-20 off-season. He currently plays independent ball with Long Island of the Atlantic League. His big league stats show a .260 average with five homers, 52 RBIs and 75 runs scored in 291 games. His father, also named Steve Lombardozzi, played six seasons in the majors. Randy Kramer, pitcher for the 1988-90 Pirates. He was drafted three times before he signed with the Texas Rangers as a first round pick (tenth overall) in June of 1982 out of San Jose City College. The San Diego Padres took him in 26th round out of high school in 1978. In January of 1982, the Houston Astros selected him in the second round. Kramer pitched just two games in relief during his first season, then spent 1983 in A-Ball, playing in the Midwest League, where he had a 6-8, 5.16 record in 26 starts. He struggled in the Carolina League (A-Ball) in 1984, so once the short-season teams started, he was demoted to Tri-Cities of the Northwest League. He combined to go 7-14, 6.90 in 137 innings that season. In 1985, Kramer was back with Salem in the Carolina League and he did poorly, but the Rangers stuck with him. He went 7-11, 6.71 in 115.1 innings over 24 starts and one relief outing. He switched to relief in 1986 and pitched 25 games in the Carolina League, posting a 4.78 ERA in 43.1 innings, and he had 26 games in Double-A, where he had a 5.08 ERA in 39 innings. Two years before making his big league debut, he was traded to the Pirates in late 1986 for pitcher Jeff Zaske. Kramer spent the 1987 season struggling in both Double-A and Triple-A. He combined for a 7.62 ERA in 67.1 innings over 35 appearances. After pitching poor for four years in a row, he had an incredible turnaround in 1988. That season he went 10-8, 3.18 in 198.1 innings over 28 starts with Triple-A Buffalo. Kramer would debut in the majors in September of 1988, making one start and four relief appearances. He had a 5.40 ERA in ten innings. He started 1989 off strong in Triple-A and was called up for the duration of the big league season in late April. He made 15 starts and 20 relief appearances for the Pirates that year, going 5-9, 3.96 in 111.1 innings, with two saves. For the 1990 Pirates, he went 0-1, 4.91 in 25.2 innings, making two starts and ten relief appearances. Kramer was traded to the Chicago Cubs late in the 1990 season for minor league pitcher Greg Kallevig, who never played another game after the deal. Kramer played ten games for the Cubs, posting a 3.98 ERA in 20.1 innings, then spent all of 1991 in the minors, seeing time with the Atlanta Braves and Seattle Mariners. He capped off his big league career with four starts for the 1992 Mariners,finishing with a 7.71 ERA in 16.1 innings. He spent 1993 at Triple-A for the Florida Marlins, and he saw brief time at Triple-A for the Montreal Expos in 1994, before spending part of that final season in China. He started 18 games and pitched 34 times in relief over his three seasons in Pittsburgh, going 6-12, 4.22 in 147 innings. Dennis Ribant, pitcher for the 1967 Pirates. He was signed by the Milwaukee Braves at 19 years old in 1961. His first season of pro ball was outstanding, with an impressive 17-2, 1.86 record in Class-D ball, while also posting a 4-2, 1.17 record in 54 innings with Austin of the Double-A Texas League. He had a total of 201 strikeouts in 209 innings. Ribant spent part of 1962 back in Austin, as well as playing briefly for Louisville of the Triple-A American Association. He combined to go 11-12, 5.04 in 168 innings. In 1963, he played for two different Triple-A teams, spending most of the season with Denver of the Pacific Coast League. He went 15-10, 5.07 in 181 innings. Ribant played in Triple-A in 1964 until an early August trade sent him to the New York Mets. He went right to the majors, where he went 1-5, 5.15 in 57.2 innings, with seven starts and seven relief appearances. He split the 1965 season between Triple-A and the Mets. In the majors that year, he had a 3.82 ERA. He spent the entire 1966 season in the majors, where he went 11-9, 3.20 in 188.1 innings. Ribant was acquired by the Pirates in a four-player deal from the New York Mets over the 1966-67 off-season. While with the Pirates, Ribant made 22 starts and 16 relief appearances during his only season in Pittsburgh. He went 9-8, 4.08 in 172 innings that year. The Pirates traded Ribant to the Detroit Tigers for veteran pitcher Dave Wickersham following the 1967 season. He pitched for four different big league teams during the 1968-69 seasons, splitting 1968 between the Tigers and Chicago White Sox, followed by one game for the 1969 St Louis Cardinals, then seven more games with the Cincinnati Reds. His 1968-69 seasons both had large splits. With the Tigers he had a 2.22 ERA in 24.1 innings, then that ERA shot up to 6.03 in 31.1 innings with the White Sox. He allowed two runs in 1.1 innings with the Cardinals, then gave up just one run with the Reds. Ribant would be reacquired by the Pirates from the Reds for pitcher Bo Belinsky prior to the 1970 season, but he never played in the majors after 1969. He spent his final four seasons in Triple-A before retiring. In his six years in the majors, he went 24-29, 3.87 in 518.2 innings over 56 starts and 93 relief appearances. He turns 80 years old today. Vic Lombardi, pitched for the Pirates from 1948 until 1950. He debuted in pro ball in 1941 at 18 years old, spending most of the year with the Class-D Johnstown Johnnies of the Pennsylvania State Association. He had a 12-3, 1.85 record in 136 innings with the Johnnies. The 1942 season was split between Santa Barbara of the Class-C California League and Durham of the Class-B Piedmont League. He combined to go 13-5, 2.79 in 168 innings, with better results at the higher level. Lombardi lost the 1943-44 seasons while serving during WWII, but when he returned he went right to the majors. He began his big league career with the 1945 Brooklyn Dodgers, going 10-11, 3.31 in 203.2 innings over 24 starts and 14 relief appearances. He followed that up with 13-10, 2.89 record in 1946, making 25 starts and 16 relief appearances, while throwing a total of 193 innings. The next year saw similar results in a little less work. Lombardi went 12-11, 2.99 in 174.2 innings over 20 starts and 13 relief appearances. After the 1947 season, he was traded to the Pirates in a six-player deal that turned out poorly when pitcher Preacher Roe became a star in Brooklyn. Lombardi won ten games during the 1948 season for the Pirates, but his ERA slipped to 3.70 in 163 innings. The Pirates used him similar to how he was worked in Brooklyn, seeing his share of starts and relief games. He made 17 starts and 21 relief performances in 1948, then had 12 starts and 22 relief games for the 1949 Pirates. He had a 5-5, 4.57 record in 134 innings during that 1949 season. Lombardi mostly pitched out of the bullpen in 1950, where he had an 0-5, 6.60 record in 76.1 innings. That ended up being his final season in the majors. The Pirates cut his $8,000 salary 25% prior to the 1951 season due to his poor performance. That was the maximum amount that teams were allowed to cut salaries one year to the next. He was a holdout during Spring Training, then got sent to Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League for the 1951 season. On September 27, 1951, the Pirates sold his contract to Hollywood. In his three seasons in Pittsburgh, Lombardi made 31 starts and 80 relief appearances with Pittsburgh, posting a 4.60 ERA over 373.1 innings. He was small for a pitcher, standing in at 5’7″, 158 pounds. Despite never pitching in the majors after 1950, his pro career was far from over. He pitched for another nine seasons, spending most of his time in the Pacific Coast League. Red Juelich, infielder for the 1939 Pirates. Despite being just 22 years old in 1939, he already had four seasons of minor league ball before joining the Pirates. He debuted in 1935 with Lincoln of the Class-D Nebraska State League at 18 years old. He hit .282 with 28 extra-base hits in 105 games that season. The next year he moved to Martinsville of the Class-D Bi-State League, where he batted .295 with 39 extra-base hits in 110 games. Juelich moved up four levels to Rochester of the International League, where he spent the 1937-38 seasons. He hit .309 with 32 extra-base hits in 142 games during his first year in Rochester, then batted .262 with 33 extra-base hits, 93 runs scored, 60 RBIs and 69 walks in 156 games in 1958. He was acquired by the Pirates as a Rule 5 draft pick on October 4, 1938. He was set to fight for a job during Spring Training, but he impressed manager Pie Traynor so much early on that local papers on March 13th already declared that he was guaranteed to have an Opening Day spot. He hit .239 in 17 games during his only season in the majors. Despite that low game total, he was with the Pirates for the entire year and he played just six games before September 9th, two as a pinch-hitter, two as a pinch-runner and two starts at third base. Juelich saw regular action at second base over an 11-game stretch, then sat out ten straight games, before playing one inning at third base on September 27th, which ended up being his final big league game. Red (real first name was John, but he mostly went by Jack while in baseball) played a total of seven years in the minors. After his one season in the majors, he finished his pro career with three years playing in Syracuse of the International League. The Pirates sent him to Syracuse on Christmas Eve in 1939 as part of a package (four players and cash) to acquire 6’9″ pitcher Johnny Gee. During that three-year stretch, he never hit higher than .239 in a season and he hit just one homer total. The Games On this date in 1969, Bob Moose no-hit the New York Mets, the team that went on to win the World Series. You can find the boxscore here, complete with play-by-play. Moose walked three batters in the game. It’s amazing when you look at the two lineups and think that the Mets were somehow the better team at the time. Exactly 62 years earlier, rookie Nick Maddox threw the first nine-inning no-hitter in team history, defeating Brooklyn by a 2-1 score. The record books list this as the first no-hitter in team history, but that’s only due to a change made many years later that didn’t count shortened games as official no-hitters. I’m not sure what else to call an official complete game with no hits (they called them “no-hitters” for a very long time), but the Pirates had one by Lefty Leifield in 1906 and another by Howie Camnitz less than a month before Maddox pitched his game. So technically it’s the third no-hitter in franchise history. Maddox walked three batters, hit another and the Pirates committed two errors, which helped lead to the Brooklyn run. It was just his third big league start....
Card of the Day: 1909 E95 Nick Maddox
September 20, 2021
Card of the Day
Today’s Pittsburgh Pirates Card of the Day comes from a small, but very popular set from 1909. The E95 set contains just 25 cards, but there are some all-time greats in the set. It includes Hall of Famers Honus Wagner and Vic Willis, who were both on Pittsburgh at the time. There’s also a few other Cooperstown residents, including Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Chief Bender, Sam Crawford, Eddie Plank, Johnny Evers, Frank Chance and Eddie Collins. It includes four Pirates, with Wagner and Willis being joined by Tommy Leach and today’s Card of the Day subject, Nick Maddox. Here’s the front of the card: This card doesn’t have the best artwork, especially not compared to the other cards in this set. A lot of the cards are portrait style and those tend to be very popular. The Honus Wagner card is a batting pose. There are a few pitchers who have similar poses. If you notice on him left sleeve, you can see a very small part of the iconic “PBC” interlocking logo that they only used during the 1908-09 seasons. Maddox had an outstanding run to start his career, but his big league career was done by 1910. I chose him today because he threw a no-hitter on this date in 1907 in his third career start. By the end of the 1909 season, he had a career record of 41-17. He finished with 43 career wins. So the timing of this set being released was perfect for his inclusion. He was likely a very popular card to find at the time these were first being distributed, but by 1911, the only people clamoring for his cards would be the fine folks in Kansas City, who saw him win 22 games that year for their minor league team. Maddox was done with baseball by 1914. Here’s the back of the card: The back has a checklist for the entire set, complete with the player’s names and team name. What you see here that you don’t see often with older cards is a numbered checklist. This Nick Maddox card is card #2 in the set. In a large majority of the sets you see from this era, if there’s a number listed with the card, it was assigned at a much later date when the sets were all cataloged and given random set names like “E95”, which just tells you that it’s an early candy card (E being for early, while 95 was randomly assigned). You’ll notice on the back that teams were mentioned only by city and league, except for the Philadelphia Athletics for some reason. They are called the Athletics American. Pittsburgh was still spelled without the H at the end during this time. At the bottom is a small ad for the Philadelphia Caramel Company. Usually these old backs from this era were one big advertisement, so that’s another major difference from most cards produced during this era. If you’re interested in this card, there are multiple options on Ebay right now, but only two of them are going for under $100. Under closed auctions, an SGC 40 (PSA 3 equivalent) ended for $79. That’s the only sold one in the last three months. For active auctions, the lowest two prices are $89 for an SGC 20 and an ungraded one is $79. That one is in decent shape, so it might be the best price for an active auction. After that, the cards range from $110, all the way up to someone asking $1,560 for a PSA 5. If you wanted one that nice, I’d suggest the SGC 50 (PSA 4) for $200....
This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History, September 19th, Stuffy McInnis Helps the 1925 Pennant Run
September 19, 2021
This Date in Pittsburgh Baseball History
Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date. John Jaso, first baseman for the 2016-17 Pirates. He began his Major League career as a catcher, but concussion issues limited him to first base and some outfield by the time he joined the Pirates for his final two seasons in the majors. Jaso was a 12th round pick of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2003 out of Southwestern College, who debuted in the majors five years later. He debuted in pro ball at 19 years old and spent his first two seasons in the short-season New York-Penn League. Jaso hit .227 with two homers in 47 games in 2003, then batted .302 with 21 extra-base hits in 57 games in 2004. The next year he moved up to the Low-A Midwest League, where he hit .307 with 25 doubles and 14 homers in 92 games. He was in High-A in 2006, hitting .309 with 22 doubles and ten homers in 95 games. His slow climb continued in 2007 at Double-A, where he had a .316 average, 24 doubles, 12 homers and 71 RBIs in 109 games. Jaso went to the Arizona Fall League after the season and hit .256 in 13 games. In 2008, he started the year in Double-A, hitting .271 with 22 extra-base hits in 78 games. He also posted an .820 OPS in 31 games at Triple-A, then debuted with the Rays in the majors, where he played five games. In 2009, Jaso spent the entire season in Triple-A. He hit .266 with five homers and a .727 OPS in 104 games. He began the 2010 season in Triple-A, but that lasted just three games before rejoining the Rays. In 109 big league games that year, he hit .263 with five homers and 44 RBIs, finishing fifth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting. He hit .224 with five homers in 89 games in 2011, then he was traded to the Seattle Mariners on November 27, 2011. During the 2012 season, he hit .276 with 19 doubles, ten homers and a career high 50 RBIs in 104 games. After one year in Seattle, he was part of a three-team/five-player trade that sent him to the Oakland A’s, where he spent two seasons. In 2013, Jaso hit .271 with three homers and 21 RBIs in 70 games. The next year he played 99 games, hitting .264 with 18 doubles, nine homers and 40 RBIs. He returned to his roots in 2015, getting dealt to the Rays in a five-player deal. That was a one-year stint this time. He batted .286 with 17 doubles and five homers in 70 games. He became a free agent after the season and signed a two-year deal with the Pirates. Jaso played a career high 132 games in 2016, hitting .268, with eight homers and 42 RBIs. In 2017, he slumped down to a .211 average in 126 games, though he tied a career high with ten homers. He came off the bench in 73 of those 126 games. He ended up retiring after the 2017 season. In nine years in the majors, Jaso was a .258 hitter in 808 career games, with 143 doubles, 55 homers, 281 RBIs and 295 runs scored. Robinzon Diaz, catcher for the 2008-09 Pirates. He was the player the Pirates got back for Jose Bautista in 2008 when the latter was dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays. Diaz didn’t have big shoes to fill at the time because Bautista didn’t break out until 2010, but he’s now known as the piece in a one-sided deal. He did well in his brief time with the Pirates, which made it surprising when he was let go after the 2009 season. Diaz hit .289 in 43 games for the Pirates, posting a 0.7 WAR. He saw most of his time with the 2009 club, which ended up being his last season in the majors. Diaz last played pro ball during the winter of 2017. He finished 15-year career with a .295 minor league average in 1,049 games. Before joining the Pirates, his big league career consisted of one game for the 2008 Blue Jays. Diaz was originally signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2000 at 17 years old. He played his first season in 2001 in the Dominican Summer League, then came to the U.S. in 2002, playing most of that year in the short-season Pioneer League, though Toronto bumped him up to High-A for ten games. In 2003, Diaz was still in short-season ball, but he made it look like a bad decision to hold him back, batting .374 with 20 doubles and 44 RBIs in 48 games in the Appalachian League. In 2004, he spent the season in Low-A, where he hit .287 in 105 games, with a .702 OPS. He returned to the High-A Florida State League in 2005, three years after he first played at the level. He matched his .702 OPS from the previous year, doing it this time in 100 games, with .294 average and 65 RBIs. In 2006, Diaz repeated High-A and posted a .306 average and a .724 OPS in 104 games. He played winter ball in the Dominican for the first time that year, something that he would do every winter for the next ten years as well. In 2007, Diaz spent most of the year in Double-A, with a brief bump to Triple-A as well. He had success at both levels, combining to hit .320 in 93 games. Diaz didn’t draw many walks (or strikeout) and he was never a home run hitter, but he could always hit for average. His 2008 season saw him play for six teams throughout the year. He didn’t play much before the trade to the Pirates due to an injury. He played over three levels in the minors with the Blue Jays, plus he had one game with Toronto on April 23rd as the DH. He went to Triple-A with the Pirates for five games, then got called up in September, where he caught one game and pinch-hit in another. He sprained his ankle and was unable to play again before the season ended. He was able to play 32 games of winter ball during that 2008-09 off-season, then split the 2009 season between Triple-A and the majors. He had a .663 OPS in 41 games for the Pirates, which was slightly better than the .657 OPS he had in 44 games at Indianapolis. The Pirates let him go on November 30, 2009 and he signed nine days later with the Detroit Tigers. After spending all of 2010 in Triple-A for the Tigers, Diaz ended up playing in the minors for the Texas Rangers (2011-12), Los Angeles Angels (2012) and Milwaukee Brewers (2013-15). He spent the summer of 2016 in Mexico, then wound up his career that winter in the Dominican. Over all levels of play, he was a .290 hitter in 1,374 games. Ray Sadler,left fielder for the 2005 Pirates. Sadler was signed by the Chicago Cubs as a 30th round draft pick in 1999 out of Hill College in Texas. He had a long career in pro ball, but his entire big league career was limited to three games for the 2005 Pirates, which came between May 8th and May 11th that season. He started those three games in left field and he went 2-for-8 at the plate, hitting a solo homer off of Noah Lowry. Sadler debuted in pro ball in 2000 at 19 years old. He was a draft and follow player, back when teams could draft players one year and sign them right before the following year’s draft. He played in the Arizona Summer League in 2000, hitting .339 in 42 games. In 2001, he played A-Ball for Lansing of the Midwest League, where he hit .341 with 40 extra-base hits and 18 steals in 94 games. In 2002, Sadler played 112 games in High-A, batting .286 with 43 extra-base hits, 81 runs scored and 30 stolen bases. He moved up to Double-A for ten games, which did not go well, going 2-for-30 at the plate. He did much better at Double-A in 2003, hitting .291 with 42 extra-base hits and 17 steals in 112 games. Sadler was acquired by the Pirates August 17, 2003 in a trade for Randall Simon. He finished off the 2003 season in Double-A Altoona, batting .264 in 14 games. In 2004, Sadler spent the entire season in Altoona. He hit .268 with 25 doubles, 20 homers and 16 steals in 120 games. He split the 2005 season between Double-A and Triple-A, combining to hit .252 with 26 doubles and 15 homers in 131 games. Sadler was called up to the Pirates from Altoona on May 8th when Craig Wilson went on the disabled list. He was sent down on May 13th when the Pirates acquired outfielder Michael Restovich. On September 16th, Sadler was designated for assignment and reassigned to Indianapolis. He struggled through the 2006 season, spending most of the year in Double-A, with just over a month in Triple-A. He hit .220 with 17 homers in 122 games that year. He was let go after the 2006 season via minor league free agency, and signed with the Houston Astros, where he spent the 2007-08 seasons playing 171 games in Double-A and 93 in Triple-A. He lasted 16 games with the Astros in Triple-A in 2009, before finishing the season in the Tampa Bay Rays system. Sadler spent 2010-15 playing independent ball, finishing up his career ten seasons after his only three Major League games. He played 16 years of pro ball, four years of winter ball and even played in the Italy version of the big leagues. He played 1,611 games in the minors/indy ball, hitting 245 homers, while driving in 952 runs. His cousin Donnie Sadler played eight years in the majors. Stuffy McInnis, first baseman for the 1925-26 Pirates. He is probably the best mid-season pick-up in franchise history. The Pirates signed him two months into the 1925 season and all he did was hit .368 in 59 games, helping them to win their second World Series title. The championship was his fourth World Series title overall. He was a role player with the 1926 Pirates, batting .299 in 47 games. McInnis had a terrific 19-year career that saw him bat .307, with 1,063 RBIs, 871 runs scored and 2,405 hits. He’s also third all-time in sacrifice hits with 383, which is a lot of at-bats to give away for the good of the team. McInnis struck out 251 times in 8,642 career plate appearances, including just one strikeout for the 1925 Pirates. He batted over .300 in 12 seasons. He received MVP votes during each of the 1911-14 seasons with the Philadelphia Athletics, finishing as high as seventh twice. McInnis received mild Hall of Fame support, accumulating votes in seven years between 1937 and 1951. Stuffy (his first name was John) was also a sure-handed first baseman during an era in which great defense at first base was a lot more important than now. For 11 straight seasons, he finished first or second in fielding percentage at first base. Somehow he is a -4.3 career for defensive WAR, despite being widely regarded as being great defensively and he has the range/numbers to back it up. McInnis debuted in pro ball in 1908 at 17 years old, hitting .301 in 51 games for Haverhill of the Class-B New England League. He was in the majors by the next season. Debuting six months after his 18th birthday, He was a deep bench player for the 1909 Philadelphia A’s, hitting .239 in 19 games. He saw just a little more time in 1910, hitting .301 in 38 games, while playing four different positions. He’s known as a great first baseman, but he debuted as a shortstop. McInnis became a regular in 1911 and he responded by hitting .321 with 33 extra-base hits, 77 RBIs, 76 runs scored and 23 steals in 126 games. In 1912, he had his best season on offense. He set career highs with his .327 average, 101 RBIs, 27 steals, 49 walks, 13 triples and 83 runs scored. McInnis was nearly as good in 1913, hitting .324 with 30 doubles, 90 RBIs and 79 runs scored in 148 games. He had a rough World Series, going 2-for-17 at the plate, but the A’s still took the title. They returned in 1914 and he went 2-for-14 at the plate in the World Series. During the regular season, he hit .314 with 95 RBIs and 74 runs scored, although low walk and extra-base numbers left him with a .709 OPS. That was still above average during the deadball era, but a large drop-off from his previous two seasons. In 1915, McInnis hit .314 for the second straight season. He played 114 games, with 18 extra-base hits and 14 walks, which caused another slight dip in the OPS, down to .699 that season. During the 1916-17 seasons, McInnis put up matching .693 OPS numbers each year. It was the heart of the deadball era though, so that number was 48 points about average in 1916 and 55 points above average in 1917. McInnis was traded to the Boston Red Sox in January of 1918 and had a below average season at the plate, but Boston won the World Series. He hit .250 with five singles and an RBI in the Series. During the regular season, he batted .272 with 16 extra-base hits, 56 RBIs and 40 runs scored in 117 games. He rebounded in 1919 with a .305 average and 59 RBIs in 120 games, then followed it up with a .297 average and 71 RBIs in 148 games in 1920. McInnis hit .307 with 31 doubles, ten triples, 76 RBIs and 71 runs scored in 1921. He batted 644 times that year and he had just nine strikeouts. He was traded to the Cleveland Indians in December of 1921 for three players. In his only season with Cleveland, he hit .305 with 78 RBIs and 58 runs scored in 152 games. That year he struck out just five times in 582 plate appearances. McInnis was released by Cleveland prior to the 1923 season and he quickly signed with the Boston Braves. He hit .315 that year with 34 extra-base hits and 95 RBIs, while leading the league with 154 games played. In 1924, he batted .291 with 59 RBIs and 57 runs scored in 146 games. Boston released him on April 13, 1925 and he signed with the Pirates on May 29th. After his two seasons in Pittsburgh, McInnis took up managing. He was at the helm of the 1927 Philadelphia Phillies and even recorded his final big league at-bat that season. He was a player-manager in the minors in 1928 and he appeared very briefly in the minors in 1937 at 46 years old....
Card of the Day: 2010 Topps Gold Robinzon Diaz
September 19, 2021
Card of the Day
Believe it or not, this is the first card from 2010 that I have used in this Card of the Day series. I have no idea how that has happened. It’s not like we don’t write about the players from that team in the daily history articles. I do bios for every former Pittsburgh Pirates player and there’s no one left from 2010, so they all have bios. Since I usually match up the Card of the Day to the history article, then it seems unlikely that I missed a whole year after 18 months…yet here we are. Robinzon Diaz doesn’t bring up great memories for Pirates fans because he was the player they received back in the Jose Bautista deal. That’s not his fault though, so we can cover him here in this article without animosity. I have actually wondered why the Pirates didn’t try to get more out of him. He wasn’t a bad hitter during his time with the Pirates and they weren’t exactly any good at the time, so it feels like they could have got more from him at an attempt to soften the blow of a bad trade. It would have never been close to even, but the guy had 0.7 WAR in his 43 games with the Pirates and then they just let him go at the end of the 2009 season. For his Card of the Day debut, here’s a look at his 2010 Topps card, with a little twist. I added the Gold version, which is much tougher to find than his regular base card in the set. Here’s the front of the card: I like the 2010 Topps design. It’s not great by any means, but it’s not bad. That “like” for the set design ends when you get to the name. Topps had this delusional idea one day that people liked when the names were hard to read, so they can up with ways to accommodate those fictional people. This isn’t their worst case of making it hard to read the names, but it is pretty bad. Remember that the scan here is bigger than the actual card (unless you’re reading on your phone I guess), so it’s easier to read here. One other odd thing here is that little “c” in the corner. I didn’t know what that was until I looked at another card and saw “3B”. I’ll just say that I don’t even remember seeing another set try to hide the player’s position like that. Usually it’s next to the name, in the same writing, or written out in full (as in “catcher”). Topps really adds a lot of bonus points here with the “PITTSBURGH PIRATES” logo displayed prominently on the front. Now that is a great looking logo, and with the gold border version here, it looks even better. Here’s the back of the card: As you can see on the bottom left corner of the back, this card is numbered to 2010, and this is #498 in that series. This card has his complete minor and major league stats, or at least that’s what they claim. He played in the Dominican Summer League in 2001, so those stats are missing. As I noted up top, they got rid of Diaz after the 2009 season, so it’s lucky that he even made it on this card. Topps clearly had these ready to go before December 1st, so he remained as a member of the Pirates in the set. The strange thing is that he was a free agent for exactly nine days before being signed by the Detroit Tigers on December 9th, so he already had a new team before anyone was getting this card in packs. I really like the back design here. They didn’t go all fancy with the stats section, which makes everything easy to read. They added a second photo for Diaz, and they added the Pirates logo fairly big on the back. That’s not my favorite logo for the Pirates (not even close), and it pales in comparison to the one on front, but I still like it. If you’re interested in the gold version of this card, there are actually eight copies for sale on Ebay right now. The cheapest one is under $2, then after that the others are all around $4-$5 due mostly to the shipping charge. That’s really not much different than the base card if you would rather have that instead (or if you want both). There’s also a black border version that is very difficult to find (one on Ebay right now) and a red border version, which has two copies on Ebay right now. Both are around $5 shipped. The final copy of note is an autographed base card, which has a $5 price tag, along with a make-an-offer option....
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