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Card of the Day: 1970 Topps Dave Giusti
November 27, 2020
Card of the Day
Today’s Card of the Day article is our first one for the 1970 Topps set, and the first one featuring Dave Giusti, who turn 81 years old today. He spent the 1970-76 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates. None of his Topps photos really stand out from the others, but all of the other sets that he’s in have been featured here at least once already, so I decided to use his first Pirates card. The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Giusti from the St Louis Cardinals on October 21, 1969, which means that his first card depicting him with the Pirates actually came out before he played for the team. Giusti is card #372 in the set, which makes him the final card in series three. Topps released their earlier cards in series, with a total of seven series and 720 cards in this particular set. Here’s the front: As I said, this card came out before Giusti even put on a Pirates uniform, so Topps had to pull a little bit of their sneaky magic. If they didn’t have a photo of the player with his current team, they usually had an option from older photos. In those cases, they would take a photo of the player without a hat and crop it close so it doesn’t show anything major on the jersey. In some instances, they would just airbrush colors onto the jersey. In some other cases, the color came off of the jersey. What you see here (or don’t see) with Giusti is no proof that he is actually wearing a different team’s jersey, so it passes as a Pirates photo. Here’s the back of the card: I’m a big fan of the back of the 1970 Topps cards because the stats are easy to read, which isn’t always the case with Topps cards. They included eight pitching categories on the back, which was well short of the later cards that expanded to include (for pitchers) hits, earned runs, shutouts, games started, complete games and saves, while dropping the winning percentage category. Since they limited the categories back in 1970, it allowed the print to be bigger, so combined with the dark letters/numbers on a light background, it made it even easier to read. With Giusti, there was enough room to include all of his minor league stats, as well as his seven seasons in the majors. They also had room for a bio section and one of their cartoons. On veteran players, such as Willie Mays, who debuted in 1951, they didn’t have room for the bio or the cartoon. Giusti’s bio notes that he was a very good basketball player, he was a third baseman and an outfielder in college, and he was first signed by Houston in 1961. It also notes the trade to the Pirates after the 1969 season. The cartoon emphatically notes (!) his academic accomplishments in college. If you’re interested in buying this card, it won’t set you back much. There are obviously much more popular choices for him, with his other cards showing him in some staged pitching pose, while actually wearing a Pirates uniform. The late series cards have added value in this set, but the third series has no extra price added. Autographed versions of this card will run you about $12-$15, which is the same price range as one graded PSA 7 (Near Mint). If you just want a common and decent shape is fine, you can get them for $2-$3 delivered, with multiple options available in that range. As a side note, a perfect condition one, which is almost impossible to find, sold on Ebay for $460 back in August. One graded a PSA 9, just one grade lower and likely impossible to tell the difference without thoroughly scrutinizing the card, sold for $24 recently. Quite the difference....
This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: November 27th, Dave Giusti
November 27, 2020
This Date in Pittsburgh Baseball History
Nine former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including a key member of a World Series winning club. Before I get into those, current outfielder Jared Oliva turns 25 today. He debuted with the 2020 Pirates and hit .188 in six games. Dave Giusti, pitcher for the 1970-76 Pirates. In seven seasons in Pittsburgh, he had a 2.94 ERA in 618 innings, with a 47-28 record and 133 saves. During the 1971 playoffs, Giusti pitched a total of 10.2 shutout innings, with 5.1 each in the NLCS and World Series. The Pirates made the playoffs in five of his seven seasons. He played a total of 15 years in the majors, winning exactly 100 games. He turns 81 today. Giusti signed with the expansion Houston Colt .45s in June of 1961 out of Syracuse University. That was ten months before they played their first official game. He was with the team on Opening Day in 1962 and made five starts and 17 relief appearances during his rookie season, posting a 5.62 ERA in 73.2 innings. He spent 1963 in the minors and made just eight relief appearances for the Colt .45s in 1964. Houston changed their name to the Astros in 1965 and Giusti had his big break that season, making 13 starts and 25 relief appearances. The next three years he was in their starting rotation and pitched 210+ innings each year, winning a total of 37 games. After the 1968 season, Giusti was traded to the St Louis Cardinals. Three days later he drafted by the expansion San Diego Padres, but in December, the Padres traded him back to the Cardinals. He spent one year in St Louis before joining the Pirates on October 21, 1969 in a four-player deal, with two players going each way. The Pirates put him in the closer role, though at that time it involved multi-inning work. He averaged 62 appearances and 93 innings per season during his first six years in Pittsburgh. In 1971, he had a 2.93 ERA and led the league with 30 saves. His best year for ERA was 1972 when he put up a 1.93 mark in 74.2 innings, but his best overall year by WAR was 1973, when he had a 2.37 ERA and threw 98.2 innings. He was an All-Star that season and finished seventh in the Cy Young voting. Giusti saw a slide in his results during his final season in Pittsburgh and then he was traded to the Oakland A’s on March 15, 1977 in a nine-player deal that brought Phil Garner to Pittsburgh. He split the 1977 season between the A’s and Chicago Cubs, then was released at the end of the year, which ended his career. He had a 3.89 ERA in 60 appearances, but he moved on from baseball after the season. Giusti had a 3.60 ERA in 1,716.2 innings in the majors. He made 133 starts and 535 relief appearances. Tim Laker, catcher for the 1998-99 Pirates. He batted .364 in 20 games with the Pirates, split over two seasons. He was a .228 hitter over 11 big league seasons, playing a total of 281 games. Laker was drafted in the 49th round by Kansas City Royals in 1987 out of high school, but didn’t sign. He attended Oxnard College and was eligible for the 1988 draft. He moved up 43 rounds in one year, with the Montreal Expos taking him in the sixth round. It took him four years to make the majors, debuting with the Expos in 1992. He was used regular as a late season call-up, getting into 28 games. Laker spent half of the 1993 season in the majors, batting .198 in 43 games. He spent the entire 1994 season in the minors, despite batting .309 with 12 homers in Triple-A. That was followed by spending the entire 1995 season in the majors, where he batted .234 in 64 games. Laker missed the 1996 season due to elbow surgery. The Baltimore Orioles picked him up on waivers in March of 1997 and he played just seven big league games. He played three games with the 1998 Tampa Bay Devil Rays before being released in June. The Pirates signed him two weeks later and he played 14 games in 1998. He was actually released after the season and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who traded him to the Pirates on March 26, 1999. After leaving the Pirates via free agency after the season, he spent time with 2001, 2003-04 Cleveland Indians, then one game for the 2005 Devil Rays, before finishing his big league time back with the Indians in 2006. He played a total of 1,341 minor league games and he hit 147 homers during that time. Randy Milligan, first baseman for the 1988 Pirates. He hit .220 over 40 games with the Pirates, after being acquired in a trade with the New York Mets. Milligan then spent four seasons in Baltimore, where he hit double digit homers each season. In eight years, he had an .810 OPS in 703 games. Back when the draft had a January phase, Milligan was the third overall pick by the Mets in 1981, shortly after his 19th birthday. It took him seven seasons in the minors to make it to New York and he played just three September games off of the bench for the Mets. The Pirates acquired Milligan late in Spring Training of 1988 in a deal that sent Mackey Sasser to New York. He stuck around until late June before he was sent to the minors for the rest of the season. Despite poor production, the Pirates went 14-9 in games that he started. Shortly after the season ended, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for minor league pitcher Pete Blohm. Milligan had an .852 OPS in his first season with the Orioles, then put up a .900 OPS in 1990, hitting 20 homers while drawing 88 walks. He saw a dip in power the next year, but still had decent overall results thanks to 16 homers, 70 RBIs and 84 walks. In 1992, Milligan saw the power drop even more, but still managed to draw 106 walks. He split the 1993 season between the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians, then played his final season in 1994 with the Montreal Expos. In 1996, he attempted a brief comeback in Mexico. In 703 big league games, he had an .810 OPS and more walks (447) than strikeouts (431). Bill Short, lefty pitcher for the 1967 Pirates. He made six relief appearances in his brief time in Pittsburgh, throwing a total of just 2.1 innings. He allowed one run on one hit and one walk. His best season in the majors was as a rookie for the 1960 New York Yankees, when he made ten of his 16 career starts in the majors. He was signed by the Yankees prior to the 1955 season out of high school in New York. Despite the big league time he put in during the 1960 season, he didn’t pitch in the World Series in 1960 and he also didn’t pitch in the majors in 1961. After spending the season in Triple-A Richmond, he was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 1961 Rule 5 draft. Short made five relief appearances in 1962 and allowed seven runs in four innings. He wouldn’t appear in the majors again until 1966. He split that 1966 season as a starter for the Orioles and a reliever for the Boston Red Sox. The Pirates purchased his contract from Boston days after the 1966 season ended. Short pitched in six of the first 20 games of the 1967 season, then was sent to the minors, where he won 14 games and threw 173 innings in a starter role. After the season, he was sold to the New York Mets. He tossed 34 games for the 1968 Mets, then finished his career with the 1969 Cincinnati Reds. As a 5’9″ pitcher, he lived up (or is it down?) to his last name. Bob Schultz, pitcher for the 1953 Pirates. After three seasons with the Chicago Cubs, he went 0-2, 8.20 in two starts and nine relief appearances with the Pirates. He played just one more big league game after that season, giving up three runs over 1.1 innings for the 1955 Detroit Tigers. Schultz served in WWII before signing his first pro deal at 22 years old in 1946. The Cubs picked him up in the minors from the Chicago White Sox system just prior to the 1950 season. He debuted in the majors a year later and made ten starts and seven relief appearances, posting a 3-6, 5.24 record in 77.1 innings. Schultz pitched in more of a relief role in 1952, making five starts and 24 relief appearances. He had a 4.01 ERA in 74 innings. He had a 5.40 ERA through early June when the Pirates acquired him as part of the large return in the Ralph Kiner trade. His 11 appearances in Pittsburgh came between June 7th and July 6th. Schultz spent the rest of 1953 in the minors, then stayed there for the entire 1954 season when he threw 261 innings for New Orleans. After the 1954 season, he was sold to the Detroit Tigers. He remained in baseball through the end of the 1956. He was hampered by control issues during his career, with a 125:67 BB/SO ratio in 183 big league innings. In 1,891 innings as a pro, he walked a total of 1,059 batters. Joe Bush, pitcher for the 1926-27 Pirates. He lasted just 117.1 innings in Pittsburgh, but Bullet Joe had a long career in the majors. He won 196 games over 17 seasons and once led the league with 24 losses, despite a 2.57 ERA. Bush also had a 26-7 record for the 1922 Yankees. That was his only 20-win season, though he had a total of nine seasons with 15+ wins. He was on a World Series winner with three different teams and played in a total of five World Series. His time with the Pirates lasted just under a full year. He was signed from the Washington Senators, who released him days earlier. Bush had 15 years in the majors at the time, which allowed him to become a free agent and negotiate his own transfer from Washington to the Pirates. Players with less time back then would have had a waiver fee attached to them, or had to accept a minor league assignment, unless they were unconditionally released. Bush went 6-6, 3.01 in 110.2 innings over the rest of 1926. In 1927, he made three starts and two relief appearances before being released unconditionally on June 15th. In his three starts, he lasted a total of 1.2 innings. Bush joined the New York Giants and struggled there as well, though he allowed one run in a complete game victory in his debut. He finished his big league career with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1928, then stayed around for three more seasons in the minors, though the last two years were as a player-manager, with much more time spent on the bench. Bush was an outstanding hitter for a pitcher, batting .253 with seven homers and 140 RBIs in 1,239 at-bats. He was used as a pinch-hitter occasionally and also took some turns in the outfield during his career, playing a total of nine games spread over the three positions. As you may have guessed from his nickname, he threw very hard, and he was recognized as having one of the best fastballs of his day. Marty O’Toole, pitcher for the 1911-14 Pirates. Despite a 3.17 ERA in 550.1 innings, he had a 25-35 record with the Pirates. They paid $22,500 to purchase his contract during the 1911 season, which was a huge sum of money at the time. At the time, the reported second highest paid price for a player was $11,000 for Hall of Fame pitcher Rube Marquard in 1908. Despite the price tag, O’Toole was out of the majors by age 25, finishing his career with four years in the minors following his last big league game. O’Toole debuted in the majors in 1908 with the Cincinnati Reds at 19 years old and he finished his career with the 1914 New York Giants, but the bulk of his career came with the Pirates. O’Toole was built up in the newspapers before joining the Pirates. He was purchased on July 22nd, but didn’t report to the team until a month later. The papers presented a game-by-game breakdown of his 1911 minor league season right before his arrival, which included a 15-10 record and 202 strikeouts in 204 innings. The Pirates also purchased his catcher Billy Kelly, who stayed around for three seasons in Pittsburgh. At the time, Kelly was actually being sought by more teams than O’Toole, but both were getting a lot of notice in St Paul of the American Association. After his third big league start (he won and completed all three games) he saw a doctor about an arm injury and believed his season was over. However, he ended up making two more starts after a short time off and pitched poorly in both games, so it was likely a bad decision to return. While the record didn’t show it, he had a strong season in 1912, going 15-17, 2.71 in 275.1 innings. He led the league with six shutouts, but also led the league with 159 walks. That work seemed to take a toll on him and O’Toole dropped down to a 3.30 ERA in 144.1 innings in 1913 and a 4.68 ERA in 94.1 innings in 1914 before he was sold to the Giants in August. He lasted just 34 innings in New York, before finishing his career in the minors. Jim Kane, first baseman for the 1908 Pirates. In his only big league season, he batted .241 with 22 RBIs in 55 games. Kane debuted in pro ball in 1907 with the Utica Pent-Ups of the New York State League at age 25 and he played seven seasons in the Western League after his season with the Pirates, batting .318 in 1,097 games. He was playing amateur ball in his early years and then was in independent ball before joining Utica in late August of 1907 to finish out the season. Kane, a Scranton, PA native, played basketball before and after the 1908 season. His winter team in 1908-09 was in Pittsburgh. He was drafted from Utica on October 19, 1907 under the recommendation of a trusted source of Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss. The Pirates had almost no information on him and none of their scouts saw him play before Spring Training in 1908. The Pirates were weak at first base, so they had four players compete for the job in Spring Training. Kane saw most of his time with the Pirates in June and early July, then played just 11 games after July 8th, with only one start during that stretch. He was with the Pirates for the first seven games of the 1909 season without appearing in a game, before being sent to Omaha on April 23rd. The Pirates retained his rights at that time, though he never returned to the majors. On August 23rd, he was sold to the Boston Doves of the National League. He was supposed to join the Doves at the conclusion of his minor league season, but Omaha played into October and he hit a walk-off homer in the final game of the season, which decided the pennant race (the team Omaha beat lost the pennant by .002 in the winning percentage column). Jack Kading, first baseman for the 1910 Pirates. He played eight games with Pittsburgh and hit .304 with four RBIs. His only other big league experience was three pinch-hit appearances in the Federal League for Chicago in 1914. Kading debuted in pro ball with Eau Claire of the Minnesota-Wisconsin League in 1909. He hit .251 with no homers in 121 games as a 24-year-old. The next season he batted .271 with four homers and 21 doubles in 126 games. He joined the Pirates on September 11, 1910 and was in the starting lineup the next day. He didn’t play again until September 22nd, then started seven games in a row. He didn’t play in any of the final ten games. Kading was left behind to train at Forbes Field during a team road trip east, but a minor injury to Honus Wagner caused the Pirates to send for Kading to join the team in Philadelphia. Wagner played first base when he returned, moving Kading to the bench. During his first day with the Pirates on that road trip, Kading went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a walk. Pirates scout Howard Earl purchased Kading on July 11th for $1,500, though they allowed him to stay with his Eau Claire team until the end of the season. On February 18, 1911, the Pirates released him to Seattle of the Northwestern League. He was the starting first baseman for Chicago of the Federal League in 1913, but when the Federal League gained Major League status in 1914, he lasted just three games with the team. He finished his pro career later that year in the minors. At 6’3″, he was tall for the era and had the nickname “Big John” in the minors....
Card of the Day: 1912 T207 Turkey Mike Donlin
November 26, 2020
Card of the Day
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Today’s Card of the Day was decided on the day we started this series. It couldn’t be anything other than a T207 Mike Donlin, who went by the nickname “Turkey” during his day because of the way he walked. He was only with the Pittsburgh Pirates for one year (1912) but it was perfect timing to get him into the T207 set and have him pictured in a uniform that they used for just one season. Here’s the front of the card The 1912 Pirates had the word “Pirates” on their uniforms for the first time in franchise history. The team nickname has its origins in 1891, though the club didn’t fully embrace it until 1895, and it wasn’t an official name back then like it is now. The 1911 uniforms had a front pocket with a capital P on the pocket. It buttoned down halfway down the front (top to bottom of course). The jersey was light color (white/home, light gray/road) and the button part down the middle was blue. In 1913, the Pirates went to a jersey similar to the one shown above, except where you see PIRATES, it was solid blue. At the collar, it has a “P” on both sides of the top button. They kept that jersey style for two years, then in 1915, they returned to the 1911 look. The Pirates didn’t have the word “Pirates” on their uniform again until 1933. The T207 set is also referred to as the Brown Background set. Some people really like the set, while other vintage collectors are turned off by the plain look. The set itself also has a bunch of obscure players and it’s missing some major stars of the era such as Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner, so that too keeps it from being widely collected. I personally have about ten cards from the set and like some of the poses offered, though it’s not one of my favorite sets from the era. I also enjoy the back of the cards… Here’s the back I had trouble finding a large/clear scan, so this will have to do. Donlin has three different back options, including a red color one showing an ad at the bottom for Cycle cigarettes. Another shows Broadleaf cigarettes, while a third one has no ad and is referred to as an Anonymous back. The last two backs have a darker print, but all three have the same bio section. If you’re reading that back and seeing it says “one of the greatest hitters the game has ever known”, just know that it’s true. Donlin was not loyal to baseball. He went where the money was, and if he could get more money as an actor, then that’s what he did. If he stuck with baseball, he would be in the Hall of Fame. He was a .333 career hitter in 1,049 games, while missing full seasons at a time. His career ran from 1899 to 1906, 1908, 1911-12 and 1914. If he played that whole time, there is no doubt that he would be in Cooperstown right now. If you’re interested in getting a T207 Donlin, I wouldn’t be concerned about which back you get, though the Cycle is the best looking, and the Broadleaf is much nicer than the Anonymous offering. I say all that just to tell you that the card is very pricey because it is a rare card from the set. While a common card in a PSA 4 grade from the set will run you about $75-$100, a Donlin will go for $1,500+ in that grade. They have made reprints of the set and while they are easy to tell apart from the originals, they do look somewhat similar. That might be a better route, unless you’re serious about the set....
This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: November 26th, Richie Hebner, Bob Walk and Bob Elliott
November 26, 2020
This Date in Pittsburgh Baseball History
Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including a pair of strong third basemen and a current broadcaster for the team. Richie Hebner, third baseman for the 1968-76 and 1982-83 Pirates. In 11 seasons in Pittsburgh, he hit .277 with 128 homers and 520 RBIs in 1,140 games. He batted .301 as a rookie, hit .300 again two years later, then hit 25 homers in 1973. Hebner homered twice during the 1971 NLCS and then added another during the World Series. He hit 203 homers during his 18-year career. He wore #20 when he started with the Pirates, but changed to #3 in 1972 when his number was retired in honor of the great Pie Traynor. The Pirates signed Hebner as a first round draft pick out of high school in 1966. He made the majors by 20 years old in 1968 as a September call-up. He stuck in the majors the next Opening Day and never returned to the minors. Hebner hit .301 in 129 games as a rookie, with eight homers, 47 RBIs and 72 runs scored. His average dropped slightly to .290 in 1970, while playing 120 games. However, he showed more power, improving his slugging percentage by 44 points. That trend continued the next season, with a .271 average in 112 games, but his slugging went up another 23 points and he finished with 17 homers. The Pirates won the World Series that year, but it was actually his worst season (by WAR) during the 1969-74 run. The 1972 season was his best year, with a .300 average and a career best .886 OPS. Hebner set a personal best with his 25 homers in 1973, then set his best in runs scored (97) in 1974. After down years in 1975-76, Hebner was allowed to leave via free agency. He signed with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1977, moved on to the New York Mets in 1979, then to the Detroit Tigers in 1980. The Pirates purchased him from the Tigers during the 1982 season and he hit .300 in 25 games in Pittsburgh that season. Hebner batted .265 with five homers and 26 RBIs in 78 games for the Pirates in 1983. He left via free agency again and signed with the Chicago Cubs, where he spent his final two seasons. Hebner set a career high with 82 RBIs in 1980, despite playing just 104 games. He finished with a .276 average and 890 RBIs in 1,908 games in the majors. Bob Elliott, third baseman/outfielder for the 1939-46 Pirates. He was a three-time All-Star in eight seasons with the Pirates, hitting .292 with 633 RBIs in 1,047 games. They traded him prior to the 1947 season and he went on the win the NL MVP award that season. In his career, Elliott had six seasons with 100+ RBIs and made the All-Star team six times. He was a .289 career hitter with 1,195 RBIs. His best season with the Pirates was 1943 when he hit .315 and drove in 101 runs, though he followed that season up with back-to-back 108 RBI seasons. Elliott had a strange career stat line with his batting average. He batted .292 during each of his first two seasons in the minors. He hit .292 in his first full year with the Pirates, and he hit .292 during his time with the Pirates. As a pro (minors/majors combined) he hit .292 in 2,614 games. The trade of Elliott to the Boston Braves was a huge one at the time. The Pirates were acquiring Hall of Fame second baseman Billy Herman to be a player-manager. The also picked up three other players, while Elliott and Dolph Camelli went to Boston. It did not go well for Pittsburgh. While they were trading the big player in the deal, Elliott was even better after he left. He had 23.4 WAR in eight seasons with Pittsburgh and 25.8 WAR in five seasons with the Braves. Boston moved on from him at the right time, as he lasted just two more seasons in the majors and posted 1.4 WAR over that time. The move out of spacious Forbes Field improved his power numbers. Elliott had 50 homers with the Pirates, topping out at ten in 1944. With the Braves, he hit 101 homers, with three 20+ home run seasons. He was an outfielder during his first three seasons with the Pirates, then moved to third base for three years, before splitting third base and outfield in his final two years. Bob Walk, pitcher for the 1984-93 Pirates. In ten seasons in Pittsburgh, he went 82-61, 3.83 in 1,303 innings. Walk picked up double digit victories in six of his 14 seasons in the majors. He was an All-Star in 1988 when he posted a 2.71 ERA in 212.2 innings. He made three starts and four relief appearances during the 1990-92 NLCS playoffs. Walk has been announcing for the Pirates since he retired following the 1993 season. He was drafted three times out of College of the Canyons in California before he signed as a third round pick of the Philadelphia Phillies in 1976. Walk made the majors in 1980 and was a big part of the Phillies World Series winning team, going 11-7, 4.57 in 27 starts and 151.2 innings. Just before Opening Day in 1981, Walk was traded to the Atlanta Braves even up for veteran outfielder Gary Mathews. He had a 4.85 ERA in 211.1 innings over three seasons in Atlanta before being released during Spring Training in 1984. The Pirates signed him as a free agent eight days later and he remained there for ten seasons, twice re-signing with the club as a free agent. Walk saw just 11 appearances (all starts) total during his first two seasons with the Pirates, before becoming a regular during the 1986 season. He made 15 starts and 29 relief appearances that year, going 7-8, 3.75 in 141.2 innings. He had a similar split role in 1987 and improved his ERA, going 8-2, 3.31 in 117 innings. Walk had his best year in 1988, throwing a career high 212.2 innings, going 12-10, 2.71 in 32 starts. He had a 13-10 record in 1989 and threw 196 innings, but it was quite different from the previous year. He had a 4.41 ERA that season, easily his highest mark during his first nine seasons in Pittsburgh. Walk saw a dip in his work during the 1990-92 playoff run for the Pirates, but he was a solid pitcher each year, posting 3.75, 3.60 and 3.20 ERAs, while averaging 126 innings each year. He had a 26-13 record during that time and he picked up two playoff wins. Walk made 32 starts in 1993 and won 13 games, but he had a 5.68 ERA in 187 innings. Josh Smoker, lefty reliever for the 2018 Pirates. He pitched seven games with Pittsburgh, posting an 11.12 ERA in 5.2 innings. He also made 74 appearances with the 2016-17 New York Mets and one appearance for the 2018 Detroit Tigers. Smoker split 2019 between Triple-A (Dodgers) and independent ball, then didn’t play during the 2020 season. He was a first round draft pick of the Washington Nationals out of high school in 2007. Smoker was a starter in the minors through 2010, then switched to full-time relief in 2011 in High-A. The move paid off with a 2.31 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 50.2 innings during that first season, though it still took him another five years to make it to the majors. That’s because he suffered a torn labrum during the early part of 2012 and missed the entire 2013 season as well. He played independent ball in 2014, then signed with the Mets in 2015, seeing time at three different levels. Smoker debuted in the majors in August of 2016 and pitched 20 games that year. He spent nearly the entire 2017 season in the majors, posting a 5.11 ERA in 54 appearances. The Pirates acquired him in a trade for minor league pitcher Daniel Zamora on January 31, 2018. Smoker was in the majors at the start of the season for two weeks, then again for a shorter stay at the beginning of July. He was lost via waivers to the Tigers on July 28th. He pitched once a month later, then got released in early September. Joe Muir, pitcher for the 1951-52 Pirates. In two seasons, he went 2-5, 5.19 in 52 innings over six starts and 15 relief appearances. The Pirates were his only big league team. He complied a 62-40 record in seven minor league seasons. Muir was a lefty pitcher, who signed at 24 years old in 1947 after serving two years in the Marine Corps. It took him four years to make the majors, though he put up some impressive stats in the lower levels during his first two seasons, while compiling a 28-11 record. He moved up to Triple-A Indianapolis in 1949 and struggled his first time through the league, posting a 4.92 ERA in 139 innings. He improved to 10-10, 3.91 in 205 innings in 1950. Muir made the Pirates Opening Day roster in both 1951 and 1952, though he didn’t last the whole year either season. He was with the team through mid-May of 1951, posting a 2.76 ERA in 16.1 innings. The Pirates recalled him in September after the season ended in Indianapolis, but he didn’t make any appearances. In 1952, he lasted until June, though he had a 6.31 ERA in 36.2 innings. On October 11, 1952, he was part of a five-player trade with Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League. Muir pitched for Hollywood in 1953, then retired from baseball. Bill Warwick, catcher for the 1921 Pirates. He made his big league debut on July 18, 1921 with the Pirates and caught two innings, while going 0-for-1 at the plate. It was also his first game of pro ball. That ended up being his only game for the Pirates. He also played 22 games for the 1925-26 St Louis Cardinals and finished with a .304 average. Warwick’s baseball career lasted from 1921 until 1929. His father-in-law was his manager with the Pirates, George Gibson. Warwick’s real first name was Firman, the only MLB player ever with that name. His baseball career has an interesting twist early on. He was a catcher in high school, who decided to give up the game when he enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania. However, the team needed a catcher and the head coach remembered that Warwick played well in high school, so he was asked to play. He didn’t want to play at first, but once he did, he didn’t regret the decision. Warwick put up big numbers in college, yet still turned down offers to go pro after he graduated. He was playing for a local independent team in 1921 when the club folded, opening the door for an offer from Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss that was too good to turn down, so he signed on July 12th. In Warwick’s only game with the Pirates, the New York Giants faked a steal attempt and he bit, sailing a throw into center field for an error. The runner (George Burns the baseball player) then stole third base. Warwick caught pitcher Drew Radar, who came in at the same time, with New York up 12-1 in the seventh. Rader was a highly touted college pitcher, but that game ended up being his only big league contest. Warwick actually caught a Pirates exhibition game on September 9th, getting the bulk of the work in that contest. He was briefly sent to Birmingham of the Southern Association for two games, but the Pirates recalled him on September 15th for the rest of the season. Warwick was sent to Columbia of the South Atlantic League in in May of 1922, then recalled by the Pirates on September 14th, though he didn’t play for the Pirates during either stint. He was with the Pirates in 1923 after Opening Day, then sent to Flint of the Michigan-Ontario League for the season, which eventually ended his time with the Pirates. Gussie Gannon, lefty pitcher for the 1895 Pirates. He had a six-year minor league career in which he went 55-55, but his MLB career consisted of just one relief appearance. On June 15, 1895, Bill Hart started for the Pirates and got hit hard. The Pirates called upon Gannon to make his Major League debut and the rookie ended up going the last five innings. He allowed four runs (though just one was earned), gave up seven hits, two walks and he failed to strikeout a batter. Gannon struck out both times he batted. He lived until 1966, making him one of the last surviving 19th century major league players. The Pirates signed him on June 5, 1895, ten days before his debut. At the time, he was pitching for a team from Sharon, PA, where he allowed a total of eight hits in his last three starts combined. He was said to be a tall pitcher, who was 19 years old, but he turned out to be 21 years old and 5’11”. Gannon had a strong fastball and some deceiving curves. His signing announcement included the interesting fact that he was a plumber in the off-season. Gannon lasted exactly two weeks with Pittsburgh. His pay was said to be $200 per month and expenses were covered. He finished the 1895 season pitching for Syracuse of the International League on loan from the Pirates. He ended up pitching until 1900 before retiring....
Game Rewind: Pirates at Phillies, July 7, 1923
November 25, 2020
Pirates Game Rewind
On July 7, 1923, Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pie Traynor etched his name into the team record books with an extraordinary hitting feat against the Philadelphia Phillies. The two teams met at the Baker Bowl on that Saturday afternoon. The Pirates were the much better team at the time, holding a 43-26 record. The Phillies were struggling along in last place with a 21-50 record. This game was a mismatch on paper and it played out that way on the field as well. The Pittsburgh lineup that day had Hall of Famers Rabbit Maranville batting lead-off and Max Carey batting second, with fellow Cooperstown inductee Pie Traynor in the fifth spot. Pitcher Lee Meadows, who was off to a 6-6 start, was on the mound for the Bucs. The Phillies lineup didn’t have any future Hall of Famers. They had slugger Cy Williams in the middle of their lineup, which was like having a Hall of Famer at the time. He was in the middle of the second 30+ home run season in NL history, except he finished with 41 homers. It was his third of four home run crowns. The Phillies also had Cotton Tierney in the cleanup spot, a name that should be familiar to Pirates fans for his four seasons in Pittsburgh, including the 1922 season covered here. Finally, the pitcher was another former Pirate, Whitey Glazner, who just happened to be seven weeks removed from the trade that brought his mound opponent to Pittsburgh. Both pitchers likely had something to prove on this date. These teams wasted no time getting on the scoreboard in this contest. The Pirates started with a hit-by-pitch to Max Carey. He moved to third base on a double by Carson Bigbee, then both of them scored on a single to center field by Reb Russell. Pie Traynor walked in his first plate appearance, then Charlie Grimm singled home Russell. Johnny Rawlings followed with a sacrifice fly that scored Traynor. The Pirates were up 4-0 before the Phillies had a chance to bat. In the bottom of the first, lead-off hitter Johnny Mokan (another former Pirate) singled. He would score on a single by Cy Williams, with help from an error. Modern boxscores credit Pie Traynor with the error that caused the run to score, but game recaps from the day say that the error was on right fielder Reb Russell, who made a wild throw to third base trying to cut down Mokan. Either way, it made it 4-1 Pirates. Two straight ground outs brought Williams home to score, with the first one moving him to third base, before Cotton Tierney picked up the RBI. After a long first inning, both teams went down in order in the second. In the third, the Pirates got a walk to Carson Bigbee, a single by Grimm and Traynor reached on an error, but a double play and a strikeout ended the inning. This is another one where the modern play-by-play differs from the game recap from the day. The last out of the top of the third is called an out to the catcher (Baseball-Reference has a fly ball to the catcher). I went with the strikeout recorded in the game recaps. In the bottom of the third, the Phillies tested three different infielders on ground balls and they all passed the test. The Pirates went down in order in the fourth, and then the Phillies had runners on a single and an error, but Lee Meadows struck out the next two batters to end the threat. Whitey Glazner settled down after a rough first against his former teammates, but they got back to hitting him in the fifth. Singles by Carey and Russell put two men on for Pie Traynor, who crushed a home run deep into the left field bleachers to make it 7-2. Charlie Grimm then walked, stole second, and scored on a Walter Schmidt single. Schmidt scored one batter later on a double by Meadows. With the score 9-2, the Phillies went down in the fifth with just a single by Williams and nothing else. Reliever Broadway Jones came on for the sixth inning and walked by Carey and Russell. Traynor singled home Carey, then Russell scored on a sacrifice fly ball Charlie Grimm, making it 11-2. The Phillies went down in order in the sixth and there was nothing doing for the Pirates in the seventh. After the seventh inning stretch, the Phillies mounted a comeback attempt. A single and an error by Maranville put runners on the corners with one out. Johnny Mokan brought in a run with a single, then Curt Walker brought in two runs with a two-out single. It was now 11-5 in favor of the Pirates. In the eighth, Pittsburgh got things going with a walk to Bigbee and a single by Russell. Traynor then came up and hit one to the fence in center field, which gave him a triple and made it 13-5. The next two players made outs to end the inning, so if Traynor wanted to make history, he needed four men to get on base ahead of him in the ninth. After a lead-off walk to Walter Schmidt in the ninth, the Phillies went to reliever Bill Hubbell. He struck out Meadows, then walked the next two batters to load the bases. Carson Bigbee singled to make it 14-5, then a Reb Russell ground out almost prevented Traynor from coming up again. The Phillies got the second out of the inning at second base, but Russell made it safely to first. That set up history, and Traynor came through, doubling to deep left field for the cycle. Back in 1923, the newspapers didn’t have the term cycle, so every time a player hit one, it would lead to a long subheading that said “(Player’s name) collects home run, triple, double and single”. You can bet that the term cycle caught on quickly once it came about. The Pirates closed out their scoring with a two-run double by Charlie Grimm, making it 18-5. Meadows worked around a lead-off single in the ninth to finish out the game. Meadows took the complete game win and due to errors, none of the runs were earned. Glazner was charged with nine earned runs in five innings against his former teammates. Traynor reached base in all six plate appearances, though he didn’t get his first hit until the fifth inning. Charlie Grimm and Reb Russell each had three hits and four RBIs. Russell scored five runs in the game. Maranville in the lead-off spot went 0-for-5, as did Johnny Rawlings batting seventh, yet the Pirates were still able to put up 18 runs. Here’s the boxscore and play-by-play courtesy of Retrosheet.org...
This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: November 25th, Seven Former Players Born on this Date
November 25, 2020
This Date in Pittsburgh Baseball History
Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date Octavio Dotel, relief pitcher for the 2010 Pirates. Went 2-2, 4.28 in 41 appearances, with 21 saves. He played 15 seasons in the majors, making 758 appearances and picking up 109 saves. Dotel played for 13 different teams, although he spent five seasons with the Houston Astros. He was originally signed as an international amateur free agent by the New York Mets at 19 years old in 1993. After one season in the majors as a starting pitcher, he was traded to the Astros in a five-player deal. Dotel was a starter for part of his first season in Houston, then moved to relief for good in July of 2000. By his second relief appearance, he was put in the closer role. He had his best career run during the 2001-03 seasons as a long reliever, average 96 innings per year, with an ERA between 1.85 and 2.66 each year, while picking up a total of 12 saves. The 2004 season started his constant moving around, with his longest stay being the 2008-09 seasons with the Chicago White Sox. The Pirates signed him as a 36-year-old free agent after he had a 3.32 ERA in 62.1 innings over 62 appearances. He remained with the Pirates until July 31, 2010, when he was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers for James McDonald and Andrew Lambo. Dotel would get traded again later that season, finishing the year with the Colorado Rockies. In 2011, he picked up a World Series ring with the St Louis Cardinals, while making five appearances during the World Series and 12 total appearances in the playoffs. In the 2012 playoffs with the Detroit Tigers, he had six appearances without a hit or run. Dotel retired after the 2013 season. Mike Ryan, catcher for the 1974 Pirates. Hit .100 over 15 games with the Pirates, in what ended up being his last big league season. He was a .193 hitter over 636 games and 11 seasons in the majors. Known for his strong arm, he threw out 44% of base runners in his career. Pirates acquired him from the Philadelphia Phillies in an even up trade for Jackie Hernandez on January 31, 1974 and he was released after the season. Ryan was with the Pirates for the entire season, though he started just ten games all year. Manny Sanguillen made 147 starts that season, leaving little time for the three other players who took turns behind the plate in 1974. Ryan managed for two seasons in the minors for the Pirates in 1975-76 and even got into a handful of games each season. He moved onto the Phillies organization as a manager for the 1977-78 seasons. Ryan originally signed as amateur with the Boston Red Sox at 18 years old in 1960. He made the majors in 1964 and remained in Boston through the end of the 1967 season. He was traded to the Phillies, where he played until his trade to the Pirates. Ryan set career highs in nearly every offensive category in 1969 when he batted .204 with 12 homers and 44 RBIs in 133 games. He had just one other season in which he played 100+ games (116 in 1966). Cholly Naranjo, pitcher for the 1956 Pirates. He went 1-2, 4.46 in three starts and 14 relief appearances at 21 years old for the 1956 Pirates, in what turned out to be his only big league time. Naranjo played a total of ten seasons in the minors. He was originally signed by the Washington Senators in 1952, then joined the Pirates two years later in the 1954 minor league draft. Naranjo split the 1955 season between Lincoln of the Western League and Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League, posting a combined 7-14, 4.06 record in 177.1 innings. He began 1956 back in Hollywood, where he went 8-6, 3.05 in 118 innings over 16 starts and three relief appearances. The Pirates called him up on July 4th and he debuted four days later. Naranjo remained with the team through the end of the season, though he didn’t pitch during any of the final 14 games. After the season ended, he played winter ball in his home country of Cuba, along with 11 other players from the Pirates. Naranjo put up solid stats in Triple-A Columbus over the next two seasons, but never pitched for the Pirates again. On April 21, 1959, he was sold to the Cincinnati Reds, who sent them to their farm team in Nashville, where he pitched the next two seasons. Naranjo finished his pro career in 1961. He turns 86 years old today. Jim Waugh, pitcher for the 1952-53 Pirates. He’s one of the youngest players in team history, debuting five months after his 18th birthday. His big league career was done before he turned 20 years old. Waugh went 5-11, 6.43 in 142.2 innings, making 18 starts and 28 relief appearances. He pitched a total of six seasons in the minors for the Pirates and was out of pro ball by age 22. He pitched 137 innings over two levels of the minors in 1951 at 17 years old, then made the Opening Day roster in 1952. While he ended up spending about half of that first season in the minors, he still managed to get in seven starts and ten relief appearances with the Pirates, with most of that time coming in August/September when he returned from three months in the minors. Waugh had a similar split in 1953, pitching five games early in the season before headed to the minors, except this time he returned in early July and remained in Pittsburgh for the rest of the season. He began to suffer from arm soreness in 1953 and it never went away fully, so he retired in early 1957, though he still pitched for a team near his hometown of Lancaster, OH. while he attended college. The Pirates signed Waugh to a $30,000 bonus on June 20, 1951 after he had tryouts with four different teams. Waugh reportedly chose the Pirates because he and his parents were impressed with Branch Rickey’s plan for him, which included arrangements for a college education. Ben Wade, pitcher for the 1955 Pirates. He made one start and ten relief appearances for the Pirates, posting a 3.20 ERA in 28 innings. He had a 19-17 record over five seasons in the majors, seeing time with four clubs. His brother Jake Wade pitched eight seasons in the majors, playing with six different American League clubs back when there were only eight teams in each league. Ben Wade began his pro career in 1940 at 17 years old. He played three seasons in the minors before spending the next three years serving during WWII. From 1946 until 1951, he pitched two big league games (both in relief), debuting early in 1948 for the Chicago Cubs. His next big league appearance came in 1952 for the Brooklyn Dodgers, where he went 11-9, 3.60 in 24 starts and 13 relief appearances, throwing a total of 180 innings. In 1953, he was pitching in relief all season for the Dodgers, going 7-5, 3.79 in 32 appearances. He struggled in 1954 and split the season between the Dodgers and St Louis Cardinals, posting a 7.28 ERA in 68 innings. The Pirates acquired him on January 11, 1955 in a trade for pitcher Paul LaPalme. Wade was with the Pirates through June 15th when he was sent to Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League, where he spent three years. He had an odd salary during his time in Pittsburgh. He got paid $3,500 in 1954, then the Pirates cut his salary 25% in 1955, but if he remained with the club after May 15th, his old salary would kick in again. So for one month, he got the pro-rated $3,500 salary before being sent to the minors. He pitched until 1961 in the minors on the west coast without returning to the majors. Jim Weaver, pitcher for the 1935-37 Pirates. He won 14 games in each of his first two seasons with the Pirates, then went 8-5, 3.20 in 1937. He threw a total of 511.2 innings with Pittsburgh, going 36-21, 3.76 in 62 starts and 47 relief appearances. Weaver spent a total of eight years in the majors, seeing time with six different teams. He debuted in pro ball at 24 years old in 1928 and was in the majors by the end of the season, pitching three games for the Washington Senators. He didn’t pitch in the majors again until 1931, returning with the 1931 New York Yankees for 17 games. He had another three year stretch before he got his third chance in the majors, splitting the 1934 season between the St Louis Browns and Chicago Cubs. He did much better with the Cubs that year, going 11-9, 3.91 in 159 innings. In November of 1934, the Pirates acquired him in a five-player deal that included a lot of big names at the time, with Weaver being the clear fifth player in the deal as far as recognition. The Pirates sent Hall of Famer Freddie Lindstrom and starter Larry French to Chicago for Weaver, Guy Bush and Babe Herman. It was Waver who ended up providing the most value for the Pirates with three solid seasons. He was shipped to the St Louis Browns in January of 1938 in a cash deal. He had a 3.43 ERA in 136.1 innings in 1938, but he played just three more games with the 1939 Cincinnati Reds, before finishing his career in the minors, playing two seasons for Louisville of the American Association. Weaver was known as “Big Jim” during his career because he was 6’6″, 230 pounds (at least). On the 1937 Pirates, the next tallest player was 6’3″, and no one else weighed over 200 pounds, so he earned that nickname. Jimmy Woulfe, outfielder for the 1884 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He began the 1884 season with the Cincinnati Red Stockings, but he was released after hitting .147 in eight games. He was their extra fielder on a 14-man team that included three pitchers and three catchers. The Alleghenys signed him soon after and he batted .113 in 15 games. He debuted with Pittsburgh on July 2nd and made 14 starts in center field. He was taking the place of George “Live Oak” Taylor, who was out due to illness. The local papers praised Woulfe’s defense often, though they never got his name right, spelling it Woulffe. He would play his final game in Pittsburgh on July 23rd, then get released eight days later under his own request, when he wasn’t playing anymore. The interesting part is that Taylor returned from his illness, but he played his final big league game on July 30th, so the Alleghenys lost both of their outfielders. Woulfe had no other big league experience and his time in minor league ball was brief, with only one other known team in 1886, though he played plenty of baseball with amateur teams prior to his big league stint. After being release by Cincinnati, a Philadelphia paper predicted that he would sign with either Washington or Indianapolis....
Pittsburgh Pirates Trade History: The San Diego Padres Edition
November 24, 2020
Team Trade History
Earlier today we posted about Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Al Martin, who is celebrating his 53rd birthday today. When he left the Pirates, it was via a trade with the San Diego Padres, making today a perfect day to continue our series covering the Pittsburgh Pirates Trade History. If you’re new to this series, I’ll explain the criteria for being included here. Any trade between the two clubs that included players on both sides, with at least one player who played in the majors, will be mentioned below. That means no waiver pickups, no player purchases or trades involving career minor league players. For the Pirates and Padres, there have been 13 qualified trades since 1969. Starting with the oldest trade first, the two teams hooked up for the first time on March 28, 1969, 11 days before the Padres played their first ever regular season game. The Pirates sent pitcher Tommie Sisk and catcher Chris Cannizzaro to San Diego for veteran infielder Bobby Klaus and outfielder Ron Davis. This trade was a bad start for the Pirates in this relationship. They received a .234 average in 62 games from Davis and nothing from Klaus. Cannizzaro was an All-Star in 1969 and he did much better in 1970, before being traded in a deal that worked out fine for the Padres. Sisk pitched 143 innings for the Padres in 1969 and he did a mediocre job, before being traded. It wasn’t a major loss for the Pirates, but it was a loss none the less. On August 10, 1971, the Pirates made a good trade with the Padres. They got pitcher Bob Miller for pitcher Ed Acosta and outfielder Johnny Jeter. The Padres didn’t do poorly, but the trade helped the Pirates win a World Series. Jeter put up 1.1 WAR in two seasons in San Diego, then was dealt straight up for Vincente Romo (brother of Enrique), who gave the Padres two sold seasons as a reliever. Acosta also had decent results over two seasons, though that ended up being his last time in the majors. Miller gave the Pirates a 1.29 ERA in 16 appearances in 1971, followed by a 2.65 ERA in 36 games the next season. It took nine years for the third trade to happen. The Pirates acquired infielder Kurt Bevacqua and pitcher Mark Lee in exchange for minor league 1B/OF Rick Lancellotti and minor league infielder Luis Salazar. The Pirates were getting the two big league players in the deal and it did not work out. Lancellotti only played 36 big league games over three seasons, so he wasn’t much of a loss. However, Salazar went on to play 1,302 games in the majors over 13 seasons. He spent five years with the Padres, then they used him as part of a deal to acquire Cy Young winner LaMarr Hoyt. Bevacqua had a -0.1 WAR in 51 games over two seasons in Pittsburgh before being released. He then re-signed with the Padres. Lee had a 3.20 ERA in 25.1 innings with the Pirates before he was sold to the Detroit Tigers. The next trade was truly awful for the Pirates and one mistake you never hear about. They gave up pitcher Dave Dravecky for infielder Bobby Mitchell right before Opening Day in 1981. Both players were minor leaguers at the time. Mitchell had three seasons in Triple-A, while Dravecky put up solid results as a 24-year-old starter in Double-A in 1980. Mitchell spent three seasons in Triple-A for the Pirates and put up decent results in 1981, then dropped a bit in the next two years. He never played in the majors, though it is a bit surprising that he never got any big league time at all. Dravecky was a big league starter by 1982 and an All-Star by 1983. A horrific series of arm injuries ruined his baseball career, but not before he put up 14.2 WAR in his six full seasons in the majors. The Pirates could have used those results during that 1982-87 time period. Right before Opening Day in 1986, the Pirates sent outfielder Marvell Wynne to San Diego for pitcher Bob Patterson. The Pirates did well here, getting six years from Patterson, including 169 appearances during the 1990-92 playoff run. Wynne put up a .698 OPS in four seasons with the Padres, and he had -1.1 WAR after leaving Pittsburgh. The Padres did get a little return from him in 1989 when he was dealt to the Chicago Cubs with the aforementioned Luis Salazar. The Pirates acquired catcher Brian Dorsett on August 2, 1991 for minor league pitcher Lynn Carlson. This trade went nowhere for either team. Dorsett had five partial seasons in the majors at the time, including earlier in 1991, but he was in the minors the entire time with the Pirates, lasting through the end of the 1992 season. He ended up playing three more seasons in the majors after leaving the Pirates via free agency. Carlson finished out the season in Low-A and never played again. On March 29, 1997, the Padres traded outfielder Mark Smith and minor league pitcher Hal Garrett for outfielder Trey Beamon and infielder Angel Encarnacion. This trade didn’t amount to much, despite four players in the deal. Garrett lasted one season for the Pirates and never played in the majors. Encarnacion played 11 big league games after the deal. Beamon lasted 71 big league games after the deal, while Smith was the big get here. He hit .249 with 11 homers in 130 games over two seasons before leaving via free agency. Smith is forever etched in Pirates history, despite his limited time with the team. He hit the walk-off homer that won the ten-inning no-hitter by Francisco Cordova and Ricardo Rincon. On February 23, 2000, the Pirates traded outfielder Al Martin (and cash) for minor leaguers Geraldo Padua, Jim Sak and veteran outfielder John Vander Wal. Martin was coming off of a strong 1999 season and this was an uninspiring return for him. However, it worked out fine when he ended up playing just three more seasons in the majors, compiling a total of 1.0 WAR. His offense was solid the first year, but his poor defense dragged down his overall value. Sak and Padua never made it to the majors, but Vander Wal surprised with a career year, hitting .299 with 24 homers and 99 RBIs. He was then traded mid-2000 in a deal with the San Francisco Giants. The Martin trade wasn’t a major win for the Pirates, but they did get the best of the deal. In the middle of 2000, the Pirates traded minor league pitcher Andy Bausher for pitcher Dan Serafini. Bausher wasn’t having success in High-A at 23 years old and he never made the majors, though he did advance to Triple-A. Serafini made 11 starts for the Pirates, going 2-5, 4.91 in 62.1 innings. The 2000 Pirates were bad, so he was basically just filling innings for them, with the hope that he could possibly tap into that upside that earned him a first round pick out of high school. The Pirates released him during the following Spring Training. On July 10, 2001, the Pirates sent outfielder Emil Brown to San Diego for minor league outfielder Shawn Garrett and minor league pitcher Shawn Camp. Two players named Shawn in the deal and the second minor leaguer named Garrett acquired by the Pirates. Those coincidences didn’t help, as Garrett never made the majors and Camp was released via free agency before he reached the big leagues. He went on to have an 11-year career in the majors, though some very rough seasons limited him to 2.0 WAR in his career. Brown played five partial seasons with the Pirates and it didn’t take long for the Padres to move on from him. He had 15 plate appearances in 13 games, then didn’t play in the majors again until 2005. He had a few big seasons at the plate for the Kansas City Royals, though his defensive liabilities limited his value. The big trade between the two franchises happened on August 26, 2003 and involved superstar outfielder Brian Giles for three young players, outfielder Jason Bay, pitcher Oliver Perez and pitcher Corey Stewart. The Pirates were giving up their best player in quite some time, though he only had two full years left on his deal. Giles put up 9.7 WAR in his 2+ seasons before free agency, then he re-signed with the Padres for four years and had 8.1 WAR (and a bigger contract). Bay immediately blossomed for the Pirates, compiling 15.1 WAR in his 5+ seasons before being traded in an even bigger deal in 2008. While Bay for Giles even up would have been enough to give the Pirates the win in this deal, especially considering the cost difference, Perez had a magical 2004 season that thrilled fans. His numbers dropped off quickly and the Pirates flipped him for outfielder Xavier Nady before he value completely dropped off. It was perfect timing, as the New York Mets paid a lot of money for 1.0 WAR from Perez over five seasons. Nady outplayed him in Pittsburgh, then was part of the big trade with the New York Yankees that brought back four players. Stewart was a player to be named later in the deal, who never made the majors. In 2005, the Pirates traded catcher David Ross for infielder JJ Furmaniak. This deal proved to be not much for either team. Ross is well known for his time in baseball, but he compiled just 9.6 WAR in 11+ seasons after the deal (had 0.4 in four years prior), and he only lasted 11 games with the Padres. Furmaniak had him beat, playing 13 games with the Pirates. He was let go after the 2006 season. In November of 2005, the Pirates traded the popular Bobby Hill for minor league pitcher Clayton Hamilton, who never made the majors. I’m not 100% sure why this deal happened, but it didn’t hurt the Pirates because Hill never played in the majors again. I’m sure he would have if he stayed with the Pirates, a perennial 95-loss team at the time. Would have been nice to get more of a return on the Aramis Ramirez deal, but I digress. Since 2005, the two clubs have made just one trade, with the Pirates acquiring outfielder Jaff Decker and pitcher Miles Mikolas for minor league outfielder Alex Dickerson on November 25, 2013. Decker saw limited time over two seasons with the Pirates and Mikolas was flipped for first baseman Chris McGuinness before the calendar hit 2014. Mikolas did poorly in Texas, then went to Japan for three years, before coming back looking like Cy Young…for one year. He led the NL in wins in 2018 and losses in 2019, then missed the first year of his 4 year/$68 M deal with the St Louis Cardinals due to injury. Dickerson battled through injuries before and after the deal. He just had a strong season for the San Francisco Giants, but the Padres had him until mid-2019 and received 0.6 WAR total. There you have it. Most of the deals resulted in nothing. The Pirates won the big trade and the Bob Miller trade helped them win a World Series title, while the deals of Salazar and Dravecky were both one-sided losses. The first trade was also pretty bad. Overall, the teams have been fairly even in the overall trade values here....
This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: November 24th, Bob Friend and Al Martin
November 24, 2020
This Date in Pittsburgh Baseball History
Nine former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including one of the best pitchers in franchise history. We also have one early transaction of note. Bob Friend, pitcher for the 1951-65 Pirates. He won 191 games in Pittsburgh, including 22 in 1958, and holds the team records for innings pitched (3,480.1), strikeouts (1,682) and games started (477). Unfortunately for Friend, he also suffered through the early 1950s with some of the worst Pirates teams ever, so despite a 3.55 ERA during his time with the team, he lost 218 games. He won 18 games during the 1960 World Series winning season. The Pirates signed Friend at 18 years old in 1949 and it took him just two years to make it to the majors. His entire minor league career consisted of 246 innings in 1950. At age 20 in 1951, he made 22 starts and 12 relief appearances, posting a 4.27 ERA in 149.2 innings. His first four seasons were very similar while playing for those bad 1950s teams. He had a losing record, with an ERA over 4.00, while putting in an average of 170 innings. Things turned around in a big way in 1955 when he led the NL with a 2.83 ERA, while going 14-9 in 200.1 innings. In 1956, he went 17-17, 3.46, leading the NL with 42 games started and 314.1 innings. The next year was somewhat similar, with a 14-19, 3.38, once again leading the league in starts (38) and innings (277). Friend set his career high with 22 wins in 1958, though he also led the league in both hits and earned runs allowed. For a third straight year, he led the NL in games started (38). The Pirates and Friend had a tough year in 1959 when there was high expectations on the team. He led the NL with 19 losses, and his 4.03 ERA was his highest during the 1955-65 time-frame. That ERA dropped to 3.00 in 1960, as he went 18-12 in 275.2 innings. He was an All-Star for the third (and final) year during his career. Over the next five years, Friend won 70 games total and pitched at least 222 innings each year. His 1963 season was extremely impressive, with a 2.34 ERA in 268.2 innings, though his record was barely above the .500 mark (17-16). After the 1965 season, Friend was traded to the New York Yankees for pitcher Pete Mikkelsen and cash. While it was tough seeing him end his career elsewhere, Friend was traded at the right time. He had a 4.55 ERA in 130.2 innings in what ended up being his final season. Al Martin, outfielder for the 1992-99 Pirates. He was a .280 hitter with 107 homers in 897 games over eight seasons with the Pirates.. He hit 24 homers in 1999, then was traded to the San Diego Padres for three players and ended up hitting just 25 more big league homers after the deal. Martin was an eighth round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves out of high school in 1985. He became a minor league free agent in October of 1991 and signed with the Pirates one month later. Martin debuted in the majors briefly in late July in 1992, then returned to the majors in September, playing a total of 12 games. He was a regular during the 1993 season, hitting .281 with 18 homers and 16 stolen bases, which earned him a fifth place finish in the Rookie of the Year voting. He was putting up similar numbers in 1994 before the strike shortened the season. When play resumed in 1995, he put up a .282 average, with 13 homers and 20 steals in 124 games. The 1996 campaign was his best career year, setting highs with 101 runs scored, a .300 average, 38 steals, 40 doubles, 54 walks and 72 RBIs. When the Pirates were making their unlikely playoff run in 1997, Martin helped out by hitting .291 with 13 homers and 23 stolen bases. His .832 OPS was a career best at that point, though he would soon top that mark. The 1998 season was a rough one, with a career worst .239 average and .660 OPS. Martin bounced back in a big way the next year, setting career highs with 24 homers and an .844 OPS, while scoring 97 runs. He was dealt away during the 2000 off-season in a deal that brought back John Vander Wal, who had a huge first season with the Pirates. Martin faded quickly after leaving the Pirates, playing three more seasons, spending time with the Padres, Seattle Mariners and Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He ranks 21st in Pirates history in home runs and 18th in stolen bases (152). Kelvin Marte, pitcher for the 2016 Pirates. His big league career so far has consisted of two September relief appearances for the Pirates in 2016. He threw 3.1 innings, allowing five runs, though they were all unearned. He pitched in Mexico during the 2019 season, then played in Venezuela over the winter. Marte signed with the San Francisco Giants at age 19 in 2007 as an international free agent out of the Dominican. He remained in the Giants minor league system for nine seasons until becoming a free agent after 2015. He spent that last season as a starting pitcher in Double-A, where he had a 2.63 ERA in 130.1 innings. Marte pitched well in the Dominican over the winter, then signed a minor league deal with the Pirates in January of 2016. He spent most of the season in Triple-A Indianapolis, where he had a 3.79 ERA in 34 appearances, four as a starter. The Pirates called him up on August 30th and he pitched back-to-back days on September 3rd/4th, recording one out in his debut, then allowing five runs over three innings in his second game. Two days after his final game, he was designated for assignment and sent to the minors, effectively ending his time with the Pirates. Marte signed as a free agent with the Miami Marlins in December of 2016. Jeff Salazar, outfielder for the 2009 Pirates. After one season in Colorado and two in Arizona, Salazar saw his final big league time with the 2009 Pirates, going 1-for-23 at the plate in 21 games, while seeing time at all three outfield spots. He was a .232 hitter in 168 big league games. He was originally selected in the 35th round of the 2000 draft by the Baltimore Orioles out of Connors State College. He transferred to Oklahoma State, where in 2002 he was drafted in the eighth round by the Colorado Rockies. It took him four years to make the majors as a September call-up in 2006. During Spring Training of 2007, he was selected off of waivers by the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he spent the next two seasons. He hit .239 in 128 games with Arizona, with a majority of his time coming in 2008. The Pirates signed him as a free agent on December 16, 2008, four days after being let go by the Diamondbacks. Salazar spent most of that 2009 season in Triple-A Indianapolis, where he hit .270 with ten homers in 84 games. After leaving the Pirates via free agency, he also spent time with the Rockies, Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Rays before retiring following the 2012 season. Mike Edwards, third baseman for the 2006 Pirates. He played 14 games in Pittsburgh, going 3-for-16 at the plate, in what would end up being his final big league season. He also played 88 games for the 2005 Los Angeles Dodgers and debuted with four games for the 2003 Oakland A’s. Edwards was a ninth round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians in 1995 out of Mechanicsburg Area HS (PA.). It took him eight years to make the majors and he did it with his third organization. He became a free agent after the 2001 season and spent 2002 with the Cincinnati Reds, before moving on to the A’s. He debuted in late September of 2003 and became a free agent after the 2004 season. Edwards signed with the Dodgers in November of 2004 and spent the majority of the 2005 season in the majors, hitting .247 with three homers and 15 RBIs in 258 plate appearances. The Pirates signed him on December 30, 2005 and he saw action with the big league club in late April, late May and late June. Edwards re-signed with the Pirates for 2007, but he was released in late April without appearing in a Major League game. He finished his pro career with the Reds in Triple-A later that season. Ralph Comstock, pitcher for the 1918 Pirates. He went 5-6, 3.00 in 81 innings over eight starts and seven relief appearances with the Pirates. Comstock also played in the majors in 1913 and 1915, including time with the Pittsburgh club of the Federal League (FL), which was considered a Major League at the time. He debuted in pro ball at 19 years old on 1907, playing for the Mount Clemens Bathers of the Southern Michigan League. It took him six years to make it to the majors, no doubt due to a rough start in the minors. He had an 0-7 record in the low levels during the 1908 season. He would win 25 games during the 1911 season and then debut in the majors late in 1913 after picking up 24 wins over two levels in the minors. Comstock went 2-5, 5.37 in 60.1 innings for the 1913 Detroit Tigers. He spent 1914 and part of 1915 pitching for Providence of the International League, while also seeing time with the Boston Red Sox in April of 1915 and the Pittsburgh Rebels (FL) for the last seven weeks of the season. After winning a total of 31 games during the 1916-17 seasons in the minors, Comstock pitched his 15 games with the Pirates between July 3rd and September 1st. He began the year with Birmingham of the Southern Association. The Pirates purchased his contract on June 17th and he reported to the team on July 2nd, then debuted the next day. He was released outright by the Pirates on January 31, 1919, sent back to his club in Birmingham. Comstock didn’t play pro ball in 1919, but he did play with a semi-pro team near his home in Toledo, Ohio. Harry Wolfe, infielder for the 1917 Pirates. He played just three games with Pittsburgh and 12 games total in his big league career. After nine early season games with the 1917 Chicago Cubs, he joined the Pirates and went 0-for-5 at the plate. Wolfe played eight seasons in the minors, debuting at age 23 in 1912. In 1916, he batted .302 in 121 games for Duluth of the Northern League. It was his third season for that team and he gained the attention of the big league clubs. He was taken in the minor league draft by the Cubs, who used him sporadically through early July, giving him just six plate appearances in his nine games, all off of the bench. The Pirates picked him up on waivers on July 7th and his three games happened between July 13th and the 16th. He played second base and went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in his only Major League start on the 14th in game one of a doubleheader. On July 24th, he was released to Richmond of the Central League. He never played for his new team and instead he went to independent ball, which led to a suspension by Major League Baseball. On April 5th, it was announced that the Pirates sold him to Minneapolis of the American Association. His baseball time after that was brief due to his service in WWI. Ed Doheny, pitcher for the 1901-03 Pirates. The Pirates won three consecutive NL titles and Doheny was there for all of them, posting a 38-14, 2.75 record in 487.2 innings. Unfortunately for the Pirates, he had a mental breakdown and wasn’t available during the 1903 World Series, but things got even worse after that. He had a violent incident in October of 1903 that led to him being put in an insane asylum for the final 13 years of his life. Prior to joining the Pirates, Doheny spent seven seasons with the New York Giants, where he went 37-69, 4.26 in 917.1 innings. He was released by the Giants in mid-July of 1901 after they took the loss in eight of his ten appearances. The Pirates signed him on July 25th after releasing veteran shortstop Bones Ely to make roster room. Manager Fred Clarke said that Doheny showed good stuff against them and he figured a change of scenery would help the 27-year-old lefty. Doheny debuted in relief on August 5th in a one-sided game, then he got ten starts over the rest of the season and pitched great, posting a 1.80 ERA in 75 innings. He went 16-4, 2.53 in 188.1 innings for the 1902 Pirates, then had a 16-8, 3.19 record in 222.2 innings during his final season, despite it ending early and being marred by a few incidents with the team during the season. Frank Smith, catcher for the 1884 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He didn’t make the majors until he was 26 years old and then lasted just ten games, all with the 1884 Alleghenys. He went 9-for-36 at the plate with eight singles and a triple. Smith made seven starts at catcher and played one game at each of the three outfield spots. His time with the Alleghenys lasted from August 6th (debut) until October 3rd (final big league game). He was a Canadian-born player, whose pro career lasted just two seasons, though the surname Smith makes it difficult to fully track his career back when newspapers commonly referred to players by last name only. He was playing for the Saginaw Grays on the Northwestern League, but the league disbanded right before he joined the Alleghenys. It was reported on July 26th that he was going to join Toledo of the American Association, along with teammate Jay Faatz, but they both joined Pittsburgh instead. In fact, the Alleghenys also picked up shortstop Tom Forster at Art Whitney from Saginaw as well. The Transaction On this date in 1886, the Alleghenys purchased outfielder Abner Dalrymple from the Chicago White Stockings. He would go on to become the first batter used by the Alleghenys in their first National League game on April 30, 1887 against the White Stockings. Dalrymple won the NL batting title as a rookie in 1878 and he was a reliable player for many years in Chicago, four times leading the league in at-bats. He also led the league in homers in 1885. He had a down year in 1886 and it was a sign of things to come for his time in Pittsburgh. He hit .215 in 149 games over two season with the Alleghenys. He hit just two homers in Pittsburgh and they came in back-to-back at-bats, while playing in Chicago, with the first one tying the score late and the second one ending the game in the tenth....
Card of the Day: 1982 Topps Luis Tiant
November 23, 2020
Card of the Day
Today’s Card of the Day features a player who spent a short time with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but he made a huge mark on the baseball world. Luis Tiant played for the Pirates during the 1981 season. He made nine starts after the players returned from the mid-season strike. He made 21 starts in Triple-A before and during the strike. That was his only season in Pittsburgh. He signed in late February and he was released in early October, so his total time with the team was brief. That resulted in him having just one card with the Pirates (he has a Triple-A card as well). In a previous article, we noted a photobomb by Tiant on Mike Easler’s 1982 Fleer card, but this is the only solo big league card picturing Tiant with the Pirates. Here’s the front: Tiant is pictured here in one of those great mix-and-match uniforms of the era. This combo happens to be my favorite one that they used. Black pants, gold top, black pillbox hat. It was an early Spring Training photo, so he’s also sporting a black long sleeve shirt underneath. Many of the Pirates photos in the 1982 Topps set have guys in jackets, so it must have been a cold day (for Florida) when they took the team photos. All of the Pirates cards in the set have the purple/orange color combo on the front, with the team name in purple and players’ names in orange. Different teams in the set have different colors. The only Pirates cards that don’t play by those rules are the Future Stars card featuring Johnny Ray, the Dave Parker All-Star card, and the In Action cards for Dave Parker and Willie Stargell. Here’s the back The back has Tiant’s complete stats up to that point, with his career dating back to 1964. He had such an interesting career, with that down point in the middle when he won just one game in 1971. He had 21 wins in 1968 and it looked like he bottomed out at 30 years old, but then he came back to put up three more 20+ win seasons. This isn’t quite his entire set of career stats. He finished his big league time with the 1982 California Angels. Tiant played so long as this point that Topps didn’t have room for any minor league stats or one of their player facts at the bottom. Tiant certainly deserves Hall of Fame attention. He seemed to be headed to Cooperstown after picking up 30.9% of the votes during his first year on the ballot. Players who start that high usually eventually make it. His voting total never reached 20% in the 14 ballots that followed. He’s been on three veteran committee ballots since and failed to reach the required votes each time. He ranks 43rd in WAR for pitchers all-time, putting him ahead of many all-time greats. The 1982 Topps set was produced in large quantities so this is a very affordable card. You can pick it up for $2 each and that includes shipping. There are also a handful of autographed copies available (autographed after the card was distributed) and they run about $15 each. A perfect condition card graded PSA 10 recently sold for $24.99 plus shipping, so even the best example out there won’t break the bank for anyone....
This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: November 23rd, Luis Tiant and Dale Sveum
November 23, 2020
This Date in Pittsburgh Baseball History
Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including one of the all-time great pitchers not in the Hall of Fame. Luis Tiant, pitcher for the 1981 Pirates. He made nine starts for the Pirates, going 2-5, 3.92 in 57.1 innings. Tiant won 229 games during his career, including four season with 20+ victories. He led the AL with a 1.60 ERA in 1968 and a 1.91 ERA in 1972. He ranks 21st all-time with 49 shutouts and 47th all-time with 2,416 strikeouts. The Pirates signed Tiant as a free agent in February of 1981 and he made 21 starts in Triple-A. He joined the Pirates after the player strike ended, debuting on August 13th. The Pirates released Tiant right after the season ended and then he finished his career with the California Angels in 1982. He debuted in the majors in 1964 with the Cleveland Indians and picked up double-digit victories in each of his first five seasons, topping out at 21 wins in 1968. He led the league with a 1.60 ERA that season and also threw nine shutouts. Just one year later, he led the league with 20 losses, then by 1971, he posted a 1-7 record for the Boston Red Sox. Tiant would turn things around in 1972 with 15 wins and a league best 1.91 ERA. From 1972 to 1978, he had a 121-74 record for the Red Sox. He went 3-0 in the playoffs in 1975. Before joining the Pirates, Tiant spent two seasons with the New York Yankees, where he went 21-17. He ranks 66th all-time in wins and 43rd all-time for WAR among pitchers. His highest finish in the Hall of Famer balloting was 30.9% in his first year on the ballot. Jose Gonzalez, outfielder for the 1991 Pirates. He played just 16 games in Pittsburgh, joining them in a July 3, 1991 trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, before being lost on waivers on August 15th to the Cleveland Indians. In eight big league seasons, he hit .213 in 461 games. He was signed out of the Dominican by the Dodgers in 1980 before his 16th birthday. He made it to the majors five years later, though he had just 144 at-bats during his first four seasons combined. Gonzalez finally saw significant time in 1989 when he hit .268 with three homers and 18 RBIs in 95 games. He played 106 games in 1990, though he started just 15 times and only had 99 at-bats all season. He split the 1991 season between the Dodgers, Pirates and Indians, batting .111 in 117 at-bats over 91 games. He went 2-for-20 at the plate for the Pirates with a home run. Gonzalez finished his big league career playing 33 games for the 1992 California Angels. During his big league career, he stole 33 bases in 42 attempts. Following his time with the Angels, he also played briefly in China and spent two partial seasons in independent ball. Dale Sveum, infielder for the 1996-97 and 1999 Pirates. In three seasons with the Pirates, he hit .260 with 16 homers over 187 games. On August 18, 1999, he homered from both sides of the plate, then managed to hit just one more career home run. In 12 seasons in the majors, Sveum was a .236 hitter with 69 homers, including 25 in one season. He was a first round draft pick out of high school by the Milwaukee Brewers in 1982. It took him four years to make his Major League debut and he put together a decent rookie season in 91 games, then hit .252 with 25 homers and 95 RBIs during his first full season in the majors in 1987. He missed all of 1989 with a broken leg suffered late in the 1988 season and never fully regained his pre-injury success. His best season from 1990 through 1999 was for the 1997 Pirates when he hit .261 with 12 homers and 47 RBIs in 126 games. He left the Pirates via free agency after the season and played part of 1998 for the New York Yankees, who won the World Series that season. He was released in August of 1998, signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks and remained there through early May of 1999, though he never played in the majors with them. Eight days after being released, he re-signed with the Pirates and hit .211 in 49 games, mostly off of the bench. That was the end of his big league career. Sveum managed in the minors for the Pirates, taking the helm of the Altoona Curve during the 2001-03 seasons. He also managed in the majors with the 2008 Brewers and 2012-13 Chicago Cubs. Rich Sauveur, pitcher for the 1986 Pirates. He has something in common with a player lower on this list of birthdays (Bubber Jonnard). Sauveur saw MLB action over six seasons in his career, but he had only one set of back-to-back seasons in the majors. He pitched a total of 34 games in the majors between 1986 and 2000. He made three starts for the 1986 Pirates, posting a 6.00 ERA in 12 innings, with no decisions. Those three starts turned out to be the only three starts of his career. The Pirates originally drafted him in the 11th round of the 1983 January draft. He decided to remain in college, but when the Pirates came calling again in June, he signed as a fifth round pick. It took him just three years to make the majors, though he was never able to stick for more than ten games in a season. In his six years, he played for six different teams, seeing action with the 1986 Pirates, 1988 Montreal Expos, 1991 New York Mets, 1992 Kansas City Royals, 1996 Chicago White Sox and 2000 Oakland A’s. He went 0-1, 6.07 in 46 innings in the majors. The Pirates lost him to the Expos in the 1987 Rule 5 draft. He actually came back to Pittsburgh as a free agent signing in December of 1989, though he was cut at the end of Spring Training. He also spent time in the minors with the 1998-99 Pirates. Besides his six big league clubs, he spent time with the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds (twice) and Los Angeles Dodgers. Sauveur certainly earned his big league looks over the years, posting a 2.91 ERA in 1,536.1 innings in the minors. Grady Wilson, shortstop for the 1948 Pirates. His entire big league experience was 12 mid-season games for the 1948 Pirates. He went 1-for-10 at the plate, collecting a double as his only hit. Wilson played a total of 12 seasons in the minors, beginning his career at age 23 in 1946, and playing until 1959. He also had six seasons of managing in the minors, including one season (1957) as a player-manager. He got a late start in pro ball due to his four years of service during WWII. Wilson began his pro career with the Boston Red Sox, but he moved on to the St Louis Cardinals after one season in the 1946 minor league draft. Exactly one year later, the Philadelphia Phillies picked him up in the Rule 5 draft. He never played for the Phillies though. The Pirates purchased his contract for $10,000 on April 5, 1948. He made the Opening Day roster, but he didn’t debut until May 15th in the 22nd game of the season. He had just one more appearance over the next 17 days and that was as a pinch-runner. Wilson played eight games in June and he had two pinch-running appearances in July, playing his final game on the 15th. On July 21st, he was sent to New Orleans. On September 28th, he was released to Indianapolis of the American Association. Bubber Jonnard, catcher for the 1922 Pirates. He played just ten games with the Pirates, hitting .238 with a triple and two RBIs. Jonnard played a total of six seasons in the majors from 1920 until 1935, only once playing in back-to-back seasons. He is one of ten pairs of twins to play in the majors. His brother Claude was a pitcher, who also played a total of six seasons in the majors from 1921 until 1929. Not only were they twins, but they were both given the nickname “Bubber” in the minors, making research confusing for the pair. The Pirates acquired their Bubber (his real first name was Clarence) as a Rule 5 pick on October 15, 1921. A dispute over Bubber’s contract kept him in the majors for all of 1922 with the Pirates. His contract was originally purchased in the draft from Nashville of the Southern Association over the off-season. The Pirates tried to send him to the minors (Memphis) in May, but Nashville blocked the deal, saying that if he was sent to the minors, he had to play for them. An article in early January confirmed this fact and showed that Nashville was already expecting the Pirates to attempt to send him elsewhere to play. Prior to May 1st, the Nashville owner offered to refund the Pirates $1,500 of their original purchase price ($4,000) if they would send Jonnard to them. Owner Barney Dreyfuss refused the offer when Nashville refused a stipulation saying that the Pirates could recall him at any time on a ten-day option. A short time later, the Pirates declared that they were keeping him all season, refusing a return of 75% of their purchase price in the process. Jonnard remained with the Pirates though May 28, 1923 before he was sent to Wichita Falls of the Texas League, where he would spend the next three seasons. Despite being a backup for the 1923 Pirates for the first 36 games of the season, he didn’t play a single game. He also played in the majors with the 1920 Chicago White Sox, 1926-27 and 1935 Philadelphia Phillies and the 1929 St Louis Cardinals. Jesse Petty, pitcher for the 1929-30 Pirates. He had an 11-10, 3.71 record in 184.1 innings for the 1929 Pirates. He went 1-6, 8.27 in 41.1 innings in 1930 before being sold to the Chicago Cubs. The Pirates gave up star shortstop Glenn Wright to acquire him from the Brooklyn Robins (Dodgers) on December 11, 1928 in a deal that had very little chance of paying off for the Pirates. Petty was 34 years old at the time of the deal, with a 54-59, 3.52 in 934.1 innings over four seasons in Brooklyn. His only other experience in the majors was four relief appearances for the 1921 Cleveland Indians. Petty had a sub-3.00 ERA in 1926 and 1927, but he saw it rise to 4.04 in 1928 before the deal. His time with the Pirates started off rough, posting a 5.88 ERA though the end of July. Over the final two months, he had a 2.32 ERA in 112.1 innings, leaving hope for better things in 1930, which obviously didn’t work out. While he did well with the Cubs after being let go (2.97 ERA), he had just 39.1 innings left in his big league career. Petty spent the next five years in the minors before retiring. He compiled a total of 253 wins in pro ball (67 in the majors), including 29 wins for Indianapolis in 1924, which earned him a trip back to the majors with Brooklyn. He pitched over 4,000 innings in pro ball, including 219 innings at 40 years old in 1935. He did all that despite missing approximately two full years during service in WWI. Chief Zimmer, catcher for the 1900-02 Pirates. In three seasons in Pittsburgh, he was a .262 hitter over 193 games, with 73 RBIs. He began his career in 1884 and was one of the games caught leaders early in his career, ranking as high as third all-time well after he retired. He’s second all-time in throwing out runners, with 1,208 caught stealing to his credit. Zimmer was acquired by Pittsburgh in the Honus Wagner trade on December 8, 1899, which changed the face of the Pirates. Zimmer finished the 1899 season in Louisville. Between the 1899 and 1900 seasons, the National League decided to go from 12 teams to eight teams and Louisville was one of the clubs dropped. Hall of Fame owner Barney Dreyfuss was the owner in Louisville and he became the owner in Pittsburgh going into 1900, then traded all of his best players to the Pirates for very little in return. Zimmer was among those players, coming off of a season in which he batted .307 with four homers and 43 RBIs in 95 games. He did well in his first year in Pittsburgh at 39 years old, which made his the oldest player in the league. Zimmer batted .295 in 82 games. His average and playing time dropped in his final two seasons and on March 6, 1903, he was released to the Philadelphia Phillies. He saw sporadic playing time in his final season, though that was his own desire, as he was the manager of the team. Zimmer was a .269 hitter in 1,280 games over 19 big league seasons. His first name was Charles. His nickname came from when he was a manager in the minors of a team named the Indians. Zimmer invented a baseball board game in 1891 that was extremely popular then and is highly collectible today, with five-figure prices if it comes up for sale....
Card of the Day: 1973 Topps Roberto Clemente
November 22, 2020
Card of the Day / Clemente Corner
Today’s Card of the Day is the 1973 Topps Roberto Clemente. It’s considered to be the final card from his playing days, despite the fact that he passed away on December 31, 1972. He was still an active player when these cards were produced. Today is the 66th anniversary of the Pittsburgh Pirates acquiring Clemente in the Rule 5 draft, so he’s the perfect player to feature in our Card of the Day article today. The 1973 Topps set is the last one that Topps issued in series during this era. Clemente was card #50 in the set, so he was include in series one from that set, which was released first and consisted of 132 cards. They would split the 660-card set into five series. Here’s the front: The 1973 Topps card of Clemente was a bit different from all of his other base cards issued by Topps. There are no other action photos of him. All of them are either posed action or portraits. Also, all of the other cards are shot from the front, with Clemente either looking at the camera or just off to the side. Topps issued “in action” cards in 1972, which were separate from the base cards in the set. That particular Clemente still shows a straight on view and it appears to depict him disagreeing with an umpire’s call. That makes the 1973 Topps card unique for Clemente. One of the highlights on this card isn’t noticeable unless you collected cards from that era. For a long time in the middle of his career, Topps went with “Bob” as his first name. They reverted back to Roberto in later years and some fans consider those cards to be more desirable, especially if you factor in the earlier cards, which includes his rookie and the popular 1956 Topps design. Another highlight is something Topps did in 1973. In the bottom right corner they listed the positions of each player and the little man in the corner was in a different pose, depending on the position. While it didn’t get more specific than that, the outfield player seems to fit Clemente well. Here’s the back of the card What I like most about the back of this card is that it has his entire career stats, including his only time in the minors. The reason behind that being true obviously isn’t a good one, but you still have his year-by-year totals for seven different categories. Since Topps went with a vertical layout design on the back, it limited the amount of categories they could include. I actually don’t mind it being limited because the alternative would be smaller print to get more categories. With a player like Clemente being in his 19th year of pro ball, the print was already small to get everything on there. The scan I used is bigger to show details, so you don’t really get a good feel of the small print unless you have the card in hand. The back of 1973 Topps cards included a cartoon fact at the top of the card. In this case, they mention Clemente’s 3,000th hit. For players who were earlier in their careers, the back also included a mini bio section. Someone like Richie Hebner has a nice little write-up, while players like Clemente and Hank Aaron don’t have the room for a bio. If you want to add this card to your collection, there is no shortage of them available on Ebay. If you want to go high grade, a PSA 9 recently sold for $499. You go down just one grade, which is sometimes impossible to tell the difference in condition, a PSA 8 went for $165 on Ebay recently. That’s the low price, but they have gone for as much as $250 in that grade, so patience will pay off. If you don’t want to play with the high rollers, you can find low grade versions that are ungraded and they can go for as little as $10. I’d suggest one that looks a little nicer and pay about $20 for it. You won’t regret the decision. It’s a card that will always hold it’s value and likely go up in the future as earlier cards get priced out of some people’s range....
This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: November 22nd, the Pirates Acquire Roberto Clemente
November 22, 2020
Clemente Corner / This Date in Pittsburgh Baseball History
Four former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, and the second biggest transaction in team history behind the deal that brought in Honus Wagner and company in 1899. The Transaction On this date in 1954, the Pirates selected 20-year-old outfielder Roberto Clemente with the first overall pick in the Rule 5 draft, taking him from the Brooklyn Dodgers. It’s considered to be the best Rule 5 pick in baseball history, but at the time most of the press put emphasis on the MLB players selected in that draft because he was an unknown player. Clemente batted .255 in 124 games as a rookie in 1955. Prior to his selection by the Pirates, he had one year of pro experience, playing for Montreal of the International League, where he hit .257 in 87 games. Many scouts saw him play more often in winter ball in Puerto Rico, so his overall abilities were known around the baseball inner circles, even if his game was still rough around the edges during his first season in Pittsburgh. Clemente of course went on to huge things in his Hall of Fame career, spent all with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Players Dick Bartell, shortstop for the 1927-30 Pirates. In four seasons in Pittsburgh, he hit .308 with 168 RBIs in 348 games. He went on to play a total of 18 years in the majors, collecting 2,165 hits and scoring 1,130 runs, while receiving MVP votes in six seasons. He also missed two years serving during WWII, which may have cost him a chance at the Hall of Fame. He was still an effective player going into 1944-45, and while he was getting up there in age, the talent level in the league was dropping due to all of the players serving in the war. He finished his career with 40.5 WAR according to Baseball-Reference. Bartell had six seasons in which he was among the top four defensive players (by dWAR) in the National League. He signed with the Pirates at 19 years old prior to the 1927 season and he needed just one year in the minors to convince them that he was big league ready. He debuted with one game in 1927, then hit .305 in 72 games during the 1928 season. Bartell saw regular time in 1929 and responded with a .302 average and 55 extra-base hits. Bartell then put up a career best .845 OPS in 129 games during the 1930 season. Despite his success, the Pirates sent him to the Philadelphia Phillies on November 5, 1930 for infielder Tommy Thevenow and pitcher Claude Willoughby. The Pirates wanted to improve their defense and add depth to their pitching. It turned out to be a disaster for the Pirates, as Willoughby lasted 25.2 innings before being released, while Thevenow saw a slip in his defense after his first year and his bat was very weak. The Pirates got -2.4 WAR from their return, while Bartell had 35.9 WAR left in his career. He was also outplaying Thevenow on defense by their second seasons with their new team. We posted an in depth article on Bartell’s time with the Pirates here. Mike Benjamin, infielder for the 1999-2000 and 2002 Pirates. In three seasons in Pittsburgh (he was injured for all of 2001), he batted .239 in 311 games and played five different positions. He was a career .229 hitter, but his defense kept him around for 13 seasons in the majors. In 1985, Benjamin passed on signing as a seventh round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins while attending Cerritos College. Two years later after he transferred to Arizona State, he was a third round pick of the San Francisco Giants. It took him just two years to make the majors, though he had a very little bench role in 1989, batting six times in 14 games. He was in San Francisco for seven seasons, though he high for at-bats was 186 during that time and he had four seasons with fewer than 100 plate appearances. Benjamin played 35 games for the 1996 Phillies and 49 games for the 1997 Boston Red Sox, before he got his first real shot at playing full-time. At 32 years old in 1998, he played 124 games for the Red Sox, hitting .272 with four homers and 39 RBIs, which were all career highs. The Pirates signed Benjamin for two years at $700,000 a year in November of 1998, then traded Tony Womack to make room at second base. It was a move that paid off for both players. Womack went on to win a World Series ring, while Benjamin played full-time (when healthy) and put up the better stats (2.4 WAR vs 0.8 WAR for Womack in 1999-2000 combined). The Pirates got better production for 1/3 of the cost. The Pirates signed Benjamin to a two-year extension in August of 2000, but only got one year out of him. In 2001, Benjamin had an elbow injury when he came to Spring Training and tried to play through it, but he was shut down just before Opening Day and he had surgery in May, which cost him the entire season. He played 108 games in his final season, but he made just 23 starts and received 130 plate appearances. He retired after the 2002 season and he has recently managed for four season for the Arizona Diamondbacks. John Morlan, pitcher for the 1973-74 Pirates. In seven starts and 42 relief appearances, he had a 4.16 ERA in 106 innings with the Pirates, which ended up being his entire big league career. Morlan was drafted four times before he signed, including twice in the first round by the Pirates. He was first drafted out of high school in 1965 by the Cleveland Indians in the eighth round. Two years later at Ohio University, the Pirates took him 12th overall, but could not reach an agreement to sign. The Cleveland Indians selected him in the fourth round in 1968, then the Pirates took him fifth overall in the amateur free agent draft over the 1968-69 off-season (called the January Secondary draft) and signed him to a deal for 1969. He was an outfielder at the time. After two years of poor results at the plate in the lower levels, he switched to pitching in 1971. After 62 innings in High-A in 1972, he skipped over Double-A in 1973 and it took him just three months to reach the majors. Morlan went 2-2, 3.95 in seven starts and three relief appearances for the 1973 Pirates. He spent the entire 1974 season in the majors, making 39 relief appearances, posting a 4.29 ERA in 65 innings. Morlan spent the next three years in Triple-A and saw a huge drop in his effectiveness, finishing with 13 runs over five innings in his final season. Walt Tauscher, pitcher for the 1928 Pirates. In 17 appearances as a 26-year-old rookie in 1928, he had a 4.91 ERA in 29.1 innings. His only other big league experience was six relief appearances for the 1931 Washington Senators. In 23 seasons in the minors between 1924 and 1948, he won 263 games. The Pirates purchased Tauscher from Williamsport of the New York-Penn League on August 18, 1926 at the same time they also purchased his teammate Adam Comorosky, who went on to big things in the majors. Tauscher remained with Williamsport through the end of their season. He was with the Pirates for Spring Training in 1927 and had some strong moments, but they sent him to Columbia of the South Atlantic League, where he went 12-19, 3.04 in 287 innings. He actually made the Opening Day roster, but didn’t pitch in a game before being shipping out on April 23rd, nine games into the season. Tauscher also returned on September 7th and didn’t appear in any of the final 26 games. He was with the Pirates for all of 1928, but often went 2+ weeks in a row without making an appearance. Tauscher was often used in mop up roles, with the Pirates losing 15 of his 17 appearances. He pitched the final two innings of a one-sided win on August 3rd. He went to Spring Training in 1929, but he was released to Dallas of the Texas League on April 8, 1929, ending his time with the Pirates as a player. Tauscher was a manager in the minors for five seasons, including four years (1948-51) in the Pirates system....
Game Rewind: Pirates vs Hornell, July 17, 1944
November 21, 2020
Pirates Game Rewind
On July 17, 1944, the Pittsburgh Pirates were in Hornell, New York to take on the local team. The Hornell Maples played in the Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York League, better known as the PONY League. They were considered to be a Class D team, affiliated with the Pirates. At that time, Class D would be the equivalent of short-season ball today, with the average age of the players being 19 years old on that particular team. The 1944 Hornell Maples didn’t produce a single future Major League player, but they did get a chance to play the Pittsburgh Pirates right in the middle of the regular season. The Pirates played a Sunday doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs in which a total of two runs were scored. Those games were at Wrigley Field. The Pirates then traveled to Hornell on their Monday off-day for an exhibition game, before heading to the Polo Grounds for a contest against the New York Giants on Tuesday. By car now, that trip would be about five hours, though the Pirates made that particular trip by train. They left Hornell after midnight, while the Tuesday game in New York was at night. The trip got a little more interesting the next day, as they went right to Philadelphia. That means that the Pirates played five games in four different towns over four days. What’s even better, the Pirates were in second place at the time. The Pirates used a total of 20 players in this game, with the big name being Hall of Famer Lloyd Waner in center field. This was one month after he rejoined the Pirates, signing as a free agent after being released by the Brooklyn Dodgers. Waner played 42 games for the Pirates over the 1944-45 seasons without getting a single start. The Pirates also used Al Lopez, the Hall of Fame manager, who had a nice career as a player as well. The other big names would be Rip Sewell and Vince DiMaggio, who both played later in the contest. Sewell won 21 games in 1943 and would repeat that feat in 1944. The most familiar name not playing was Bob Elliott, who had to meet with draft board doctors and was away from the Pirates for three days. There was also one name in the lineup that would be unfamiliar to most. The second left fielder used by the Pirates in this game was Jake Flowers. Even the best of you Pittsburgh Pirates historians are probably drawing a blank. If I’m being honest, I would have been too about a few weeks ago before his name came up in research, though I knew him from collecting old cards. I just didn’t know of his association with the Pirates until recently. He was a coach for the team during the war years, joining the Pirates four years after he played his final minor league game. That was also eight years after he played his final big league game. In this particular game in 1944, he was 42 years old and 12 years removed from his final MLB game. He was a solid role player over ten seasons in the majors, hitting .256 in 583 games, with a career 2.3 WAR. As mentioned, the average age on Hornell’s roster was 19 years old, but the middle infield really brought down that average. Shortstop Harry Repanske and second baseman Cyril Shade were both said to be 16 years old at the time. Combined, they were ten years younger than Jake Flowers. There’s no play-by-play available for this game, but there was one good reason to write up this recap. The 1,800 fans saw the Pirates beat up on the team referred to as the “Baby Bucs”, winning 20-5. The Pirates had 22 hits in the game, including the sole reason I decided to do more research into the contest (I had a lot of free time). Jake Flowers went 1-for-5 in the game with a home run. His last homer with a Major League club came 13 years earlier. Frankie Gustine also hit a home run. Flowers came into the game early in left field, then moved to third base to finish the contest. He replaced pitcher Cookie Cuccurullo in left field after he collected two doubles in two trips to the plate. Lee Handley started at third base and went 2-for-4 before his day ended. When he left, Flowers moved to third base and Jim Russell finished the game in left field. The Pirates played a few other exhibition games during the 1944 season, but Flowers didn’t partake in any of those contests. Johnny Barrett started in center field, went 2-for-2, then left for the veteran Lloyd Waner to get some playing time. Waner had a 1-for-3 game. The Pirates got three hits from outfielder Frank Colman, while Babe Dahlgren, Al Rubeling and Gustine each had two hits. Al Lopez didn’t get an at-bat, while Vince DiMaggio was used as a pinch-hitter. He reached on a walk, stole a base and scored a run. The Pirates drew a total of 12 walks and 14 different players scored at least one run. On the pitching side, Ray Starr got the win with one run over four innings. Rip Sewell followed and showed off his famous eephus pitch to the local folks. Xavier Resigno took a turn on the mound as well, before Joe Vitelli gave up four runs in the bottom of the ninth. Vitelli was 36 years old, with three Major League pitching appearances to his credit at the time. He was a former minor league pitcher, who was hired by the Pirates as a batting practice pitcher and then forced into action when injuries left them short-handed. He pitched four times in relief in the majors, all in one-sided losses. Here’s a clipping of the boxscore...
This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: November 21st, Hall of Famer Freddie Lindstrom
November 21, 2020
This Date in Pittsburgh Baseball History
Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including a Hall of Famer. Freddie Lindstrom, outfielder for the 1933-34 Pirates. He was a star third baseman for the New York Giants for nine years before coming to the Pirates. A bad back caused him to switch to the outfield in 1931 and he remained there for the rest of his career. While in Pittsburgh, they had an entire outfield that would go on to the Hall of Fame, with Lindstrom and the Waner brothers. He batted .302 in 235 games with the Pirates and he was a .311 career hitter over 1,438 games. He hit .310 during the 1933 season in 138 games, but dropped down to a .290 average in 97 games in 1934. Lindstrom missed time early with a finger injury that season, then missed more time in July with a broken finger. He was hitting .340 on July 12th, but he batted just .257 over the final 56 games of the regular season. He retired from baseball at age 30 and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1976. The Pirates acquired Lindstrom in a three-team deal with the Giants and Philadelphia Phillies, which included a total of five players. After his two seasons in Pittsburgh, he was sent to the Chicago Cubs in another five-player deal, this time with three players returning to the Pirates. During the 1928 season, he led the NL with 231 hits and finished second in the MVP voting after hitting .358 with 62 extra-base hits, 107 RBIs and 15 stolen bases. Lindstrom had an even better season in 1930 (though so did a lot of players) when he batted .379 and drove in 106 runs, while scoring 127 runs. From 1926-30, he averaged 105 runs scored per season. At 18 years old in 1924, he hit .333 during the World Series. He debuted in pro ball at 16 years old in 1922 and he finished his career with three seasons of managing in the minors. Lindstrom’s son Charlie Lindstrom made it to the majors with the 1958 Chicago White Sox. Brian Meadows, pitcher for 2002-05 Pirates. He was a starter his first season in Pittsburgh, then moved to relief, where he made a total of 160 appearances for the Pirates. Meadows went 8-12, 4.20 in 291.2 innings in Pittsburgh. He pitched a total of nine years in the majors, seeing time with four other clubs. He picked up double digit victories in each of his first three seasons. Meadows was a third round draft pick out of high school in 1994 by the Florida Marlins. He debuted in the majors in 1998 and spent his first two seasons in Florida, where he made 31 starts each year, going 22-28, 5.41 in 352.2 innings. He made 32 starts in 2000, splitting the seasons between the San Diego Padres (22 starts) and Kansas City Royals. Meadows remained in Kansas City for 2001, though he had a 6.97 ERA in ten starts. He was granted free agency after the season and signed with the Minnesota Twins. Meadows was cut at the end of Spring Training in 2002, then signed with the Pirates just two days later. Despite a 1-6 record in 2002, he had a 3.88 ERA in 11 starts. He had a 4.72 ERA in 2003, throwing 76.2 innings over seven starts and 27 relief appearances. He was full-time relief in 2004 and responded with his best season, posting a 3.58 ERA in 78 innings over 68 appearances. He saw his ERA rise exactly one full run in similar work in 2005, before the Pirates parted ways at the end of the season. He was signed and cut by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the spring of 2006, then finished his big league career with the 2006 Tampa Bay Devil Rays. In his career, he went 47-62, 5.05 in 122 starts and 214 relief appearances. Bill Almon, utility fielder for the 1985-87 Pirates. He played seven positions during his time with the Pirates, seeing time everywhere except pitcher and catcher. In 209 games, he was a .246 hitter with 13 homers and 57 RBIs. He spent 15 years in the majors after being drafted first overall in the 1974 draft out of Brown University by the San Diego Padres. Almon hit .254, with 36 homers and 128 steals over 1,236 career games. The Padres originally drafted him in the 11th round in 1971, but he chose the college route, which paid off well. He played just 39 minor league games before making his big league debut in September of 1974. The first overall pick seemed to be warranted in his first taste of the majors, as he hit .316 in 16 games, just three months after he was drafted. However, he didn’t stick in the majors until 1977, when he put up a .639 OPS in 155 games as the everyday shortstop. Almon saw his playing time drop each of the next two seasons, before he split 1980 with the Montreal Expos and New York Mets, playing just 66 games total. He moved on to the Chicago White Sox for 1981-82 and Oakland A’s in 1983-84 before joining the Pirates as a free agent signing. In Oakland, he began to play a utility role, which would carry over to Pittsburgh. Almon did well in limited time in 1985, hitting .270 in 88 games. He saw a significant drop in his average over the next two seasons and he was traded to the Mets on May 29, 1987 for Scott Little and Al Pedrique. Almon finished up his pro career with a brief stint for the 1988 Philadelphia Phillies. Darryl Patterson, pitcher for the 1974 Pirates. In 21 innings over 14 relief appearances with the Pirates, he had a 7.29 ERA. He debuted in the majors by posting a 2.12 ERA for the World Series winning Detroit Tigers in 1968. Patterson had a 7-1 record for the 1970 Tigers, yet he finished his career with an 11-9 record over five seasons in the majors. The Los Angeles Dodgers signed him as an amateur free agent in 1964, a year before the current amateur draft system started. The Dodgers lost him later that season in the First Year draft to the Tigers. It took him four years to make the majors, debuting with the Tigers in April of 1968. After his strong rookie season, he was limited to 22.1 innings in 1969 due to spending time in the Army reserves. Despite the 7-1 record in 1970, he had a 4.85 ERA in 78 innings. He split the 1971 season between the Tigers, Oakland A’s and St Louis Cardinals, posting a 4.97 ERA in 41.2 innings total. He spent 1972 in the minors for the A’s, joined the Pirates system in 1973, which was spent at Triple-A. He was also in Triple-A to start 1974, but he was called up on June 14th to replace young Kent Tekulve on the roster when he was sent back to the minors. In mid-July, the Pirates and Cincinnati Reds had a brawl and Patterson received bite wounds from Reds pitcher Pedro Borbon. Patterson was sent down for a time in August, but returned to the Pirates on September 5th and he made one appearance during his final month in the majors. He finished his career in the minors in 1975 with the Pirates. Billy Clingman, third baseman for the 1895 Pirates. Prior to the start of the 1895 season, the Pirates picked up Clingman in the Rule 5 Draft from the Milwaukee Brewers of the Western League. He hit .332 in 1894 with Milwaukee, collecting 40 extra base hits, 32 stolen bases and he scored 128 runs in 126 games. That was a huge year for offense all around baseball, but those were still above average numbers. For the 1895 Pirates, Clingman hit .256 in 107 games, with no homers, 45 RBIs and 69 runs scored. His defense was slightly above average that year, though later in his career he was known for his strong glove. In 1897 he led all NL third baseman in fielding percentage, and four years later he led all AL shortstops in the same category, while also leading in assists. Clingman was dealt to the Louisville Colonels on May 2, 1896 for catcher Eddie Boyle and outfielder Joe Wright. He was with the Pirates for the first 11 games of the 1896 season, but he failed to get into a game. Clingman still had seven more seasons ahead of him in the majors after the trade, including four seasons in Louisville (1896-99), and one year each with the 1900 Chicago Orphans (Cubs), the 1901 Washington Senators and the 1903 Cleveland Naps (Indians). Prior to joining the Pirates, he had played seven games for the Cincinnati Reds in 1890 and one game for Cincinnati of the American Association in 1891. Alex Beam, pitcher for the 1889 Alleghenys. His big league career started on May 25, 1889 and ended four days later. Beam only pitched twice for the Alleghenys due to major control issues. In two complete game starts, he walked a total of 15 batters (disputed number) while recording just one strikeout. Beam was a strong pitcher from the area and the Alleghenys scooped him up so Hall of Fame manager Harry Wright couldn’t pick him up for his own Philadelphia Phillies team. Beam’s big league debut was a successful 3-1 win over Washington, despite issuing nine walks (some sources say eight walks) and only picking up one strikeout. His second start was a double failure for the 19-year-old pitcher. He faced Harry Wright’s club and got battered, losing 15-4. He’s credited with nine walks in this game and 17 walks total by most sources from the day. Not only was that his last game with Pittsburgh, it also left a bad impression with Wright. It was said in multiple reports that he threw a lot of off-speed pitches early, but after the Phillies put up 11 runs, he looked much better throwing only fastballs. Beam was supposed to pitch for the Alleghenys on June 5th, but the game was rained out with numerous friends and family in attendance to watch the game. The Alleghenys went on a three-city road trip the next day and he wasn’t with the team (it was common practice to leave some players behind due to travel costs). Beam pitched minor league ball until 1892. He saw time with a minor league team in Altoona in 1890, doing more work in the outfield than in the pitcher’s box. He was small for a pitcher by today’s standards, standing in at 5’9″, 155 pounds. Henry Youngman, infielder for the 1890 Alleghenys. The 1890 Pittsburgh club was the worst in team history and it isn’t even close. They went 23-113, and used numerous players for a short time to get through the season. It was during a time when teams regularly used 15-20 players over a full season, but the Alleghenys used 46 players that year. Youngman had a decent minor league career between 1888 and 1899, but his brief time in the majors was unsuccessful. In 13 games split between third base and second base, he hit .128 and made 16 errors. Not surprisingly, that was his only chance in the majors. Perhaps the most surprising part was his big league debut, in which he had two hits and his defense at third base was praised. The team actually expected good things from him after a strong showing in Spring Training. Youngman made the 1890 Opening Day roster and his final game came on May 23rd. Local papers speculated about his release in early May, saying that team president J. Palmer O’Neil was looking for a regular shortstop and Youngman would likely be the man to go when that happened. The Alleghenys actually cut star infielder Fred Dunlap first and it was noted that his salary of $3,500 was too much, while Youngman was doing comparable work for $1,050 for the season. Youngman was one of three players released by the Alleghenys on June 1st after they completed a 33-day road trip....
Game Rewind: Pirates vs Giants, August 5, 1905
November 20, 2020
Pirates Game Rewind
On August 5, 1905, a record-breaking crowd at Exposition Park saw the Pittsburgh Pirates win a game in which they scored five runs and the New York Giants also scored five runs. The game had plenty of excitement, but nothing close to what happened in the bottom of the ninth inning. It was a Saturday afternoon in Allegheny City (current day Pittsburgh). The 60-35 second place Pirates were hosting the 69-27 first place Giants. The Giants won the first game of the four-game series, while the Pirates won games two and three. The fourth game saw the great Christy Mathewson take the mound versus Charlie Case, who isn’t well known now, but he had a nice run with the Pirates at this time. Case had a 2.59 ERA in 216 innings in 1905. The Pirates had Hall of Famers Fred Clarke batting second and Honus Wagner batting in the cleanup spot. The Giants didn’t have any future Hall of Famers (yet), but Bill Dahlen is one of the best shortstops ever and center fielder Mike Donlin was an outstanding hitter who cost himself a chance at the Hall of Fame because he would leave baseball for more lucrative offerings. On paper, knowing what we know today, the Pirates had the hitting advantage, while the Giants had the pitching advantage, but overall they matched up very well. The game started at 3:00 PM with 18,383 fans in attendance. It was said that the park was already overflowing onto the field by 2:00 PM and ticket sales were stopped prior to the game, so an even bigger crowd would have been in attendance in the park could have handled it. The Pirates got the scoring started right away in this game. Lead-off hitter Otis Clymer laid down a bunt base hit. Fred Clarke followed with a single to center field that put runners on the corners. Tommy Leach then hit a ball into right field that went into the overflow crowd (see below), which resulted in a ground rule double and a 1-0 lead. Honus Wagner followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0. Del Howard then grounded out. Leach moved to third base on Wagner’s sac fly, then scored on the Howard ground out, giving the Pirates a 3-0 lead after one inning. The Pittsburgh Press attempted to show a photo of the crowd, but it did not come out well. While it’s not a great photo, you can still see the crowd in the actual outfield and down the lines in foul territory. There were ropes set up around the field to keep the crowds from moving around. In the top of the second inning, the Pirates lost veteran catcher Heinie Peitz to an injury when Bill Dahlen was hit by a pitch and the ball caromed off of him, hitting Peitz in the hand, causing a large cut. Peitz actually finished the inning behind the plate, but couldn’t hit in the bottom of the second and left for rookie catcher George Gibson, who had just nine game of MLB experience prior to this game. Gibson would go on to catch over 1,000 games for the Pirates. In the bottom of the second, Claude Ritchey singled and moved to second on a wild pitch by Mathewson. Gibson walked, then Charlie Case moved the runners up with a sacrifice bunt. The next play was a strange one. Otis Clymer grounded out to second base and the throw came home to cut down Ritchey. With the throw going home and another runner headed towards third, Clymer tried to sneak into second base and the throw from the catcher went into center field, allowing Gibson to score the Pirates fourth run. The score remained the same until the top of the sixth inning. Case gave up a lead-off single to Frank Bowerman, then he hit Christy Mathewson with a pitch. A ground out by George Browne moved the lead runner to third base, then Bowerman scored on a sacrifice fly by Mike Donlin. The Giants ran into the final out when Browne tried to go to second base on Donlin’s fly, but Wagner cut off the throw from Clarke and pegged out Browne. Your typical 7-6-4 double play. The Pirates got that run back in the bottom of the sixth. Del Howard singled, moved to second base on a sacrifice by Dave Brain, then he scored on a ground rule double to center field by Claude Ritchey. The four-run lead didn’t last long. A bad hop single allowed the first batter to reach in the top of the seventh, and then it fell apart from there. Dave Brain muffed a grounder to third base, then Bill Dahlen made it 5-2 with a double. A single by Art Devlin scored two runs, then a walk, sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly off of the bat of Christy Mathewson, made it a 5-5 game. That was the end of the scoring for the day, but far from the end of the game. After the Giants went down in the ninth, Ritchey led off the bottom of the ninth with a double. George Gibson then hit a grounder back to Mathewson, who decided to try to get the out at third base. The runner was called safe and the Giants as a team erupted at the call. The home plate umpire (George Bausewine) made the call on the play, while the base umpire (Bob Emslie) turned his attention towards first base as soon as the ball was put in play. Manager John McGraw pleaded with Emslie to reverse the call, but he had his back to the play, and Bausewine was sure of what he saw. Back in the day, it wasn’t odd to see teams argue with the umpire for extended times, so there was a rule in place that the team had to be ready to play within five minutes or the game would be called. The umpires would have a stopwatch and declare at some point that the team had five minutes to continue the game. Bausewine gave the Giants the warning and they refused to stop arguing, so he called the game a 9-0 forfeit win for the Pirates. Despite the score “change”, the stats still counted just the same, so any boxscore you see from the day shows a 5-5 score and win for the Pirates. Once the game was called, the local fans celebrated by storming the field and the Giants needed a police escort to leave the park safely. It was reported that Art Devlin’s protest to Emslie got so heated and insulting that the umpire hauled off and slugged him with a powerful right hand. The umpire then calmly turned around and continued to walk off the field. Devlin was the one who was covering third base on the disputed play. The winning pitcher in this game was Deacon Phillippe, who came on to handle the final two innings for the Pirates. Ritchey went 3-for-3 with a sacrifice, while Tommy Leach had two hits and a walk. Honus Wagner went 0-for-4, though he did pick up an RBI. Fred Clarke went 1-for-4 with a run scored. Even with the bickering at the end, the game took just 1:50 to play. Here’s the boxscore courtesy of Baseball-Reference....
This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: November 27th, Dave Giusti
Yesterday at 9:00 am
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