Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus the team made a very interesting roster switch on June 7, 1939.
On the same day the Pirates released one future Hall of Fame player, they signed another. On this date in 1939, Pittsburgh released outfielder Heinie Manush and signed outfielder Chuck Klein. Manush was being used sparingly as a pinch-hitter for the Pirates, a role he took up in the latter part of the previous season. He was 37 years old, in his 17th season in the majors. At the time of this swap, he was 0-for-12 with an RBI and a walk. Klein was three years younger and still playing regularly, but he too was in a sharp decline from his prime. He was hitting .191 with one homer in 25 games at the time of his signing. He had just been released by the Phillies the previous day.
Manush didn’t know it at the time, but that was the end of his Major League career. He played two seasons in the minors for Toronto of the International League, then spent the next six seasons as a player/manager in the minors, although he saw just 61 games of action over that time. Klein played regularly for the Pirates in the corner outfield spots and did well, hitting .300 with 11 homers and 47 RBIs. He would be released by the Pirates during the next Spring Training, signing back with the Phillies, where he spent the last five seasons of his career. Klein finished with a .320 career average, 300 homers and 1,201 RBIs, while Manush hit .330 career with 110 homers and 1,183 RBIs. Manush was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1964. It took Klein another 16 years before he joined him in Cooperstown.
Virgil Vasquez, pitcher for the 2009 Pirates. He originally signed as a seventh round pick of the Detroit Tigers in the 2003 amateur draft. Three years earlier, he was taken in the same round by the Rangers. Vasquez went 14-6, 3.47 in 27 starts during his first full season in the minors in 2004, playing in low-A ball. The next year he started at high-A, though he was quickly promoted to Double-A where he struggled, going 2-8, 5.27 in 15 starts. Vasquez pitched much better in his second trial in Double-A, then in 2007 he earned a Major League promotion during a season in which he went 12-5, 3.48 in 25 starts at Triple-A.
Vasquez had two spot starts during the year, then received a late August recall. He went 0-1, 8.64 in 16.2 innings. After spending all of 2008 in Triple-A for the Tigers (12-12, 4.81 in 27 starts), he was put on waivers, starting a string of waiver pickups that saw him go from the Red Sox to Padres to Pirates over a three-month stretch. He began the 2009 season in the minors, joining the Pirates in late June for seven starts in which he went 2-5 with a 6.09 ERA. He went sent down in early August, returning in September for seven relief appearances. Vasquez resigned with the Pirates for 2010, but before the season started, he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays. He played pro ball until 2017 without making it back to the majors.
Roy Jarvis, catcher for the 1946-47 Pirates. He played in the minors for one season in the Brooklyn Dodgers system before the Pirates selected him in the November 1944 Rule 5 draft. Before he could play a game for Pittsburgh, he began serving in the Navy during WWII. Jarvis returned in 1946 to the Pirates, playing just two games all season. The first was a pinch-hit appearance on July 7th, then he started behind the plate on the last day of the season. He was the Pirates starting catcher at the beginning of 1947, though that lasted just two weeks. Before April would end, he would be back on the bench, getting four more starts all season. He played 18 games, hitting .156 in 51 plate appearances. After the season, Pittsburgh tried to deal him to the Phillies, for what was supposed to be in exchange for “one of three pitchers”, but the deal was called off and Jarvis returned to the Pirates. At the time, Pittsburgh management said they were fine with getting him back, but they thought he needed more seasoning before he would become a steady Major League catcher. Jarvis was sent to the minors, playing the 1948 season in the Pittsburgh system. He then jumped around from team-to-team for the next seven seasons, all spent in the minor leagues, retiring after the 1955 season.
Bones Ely, shortstop for the Pirates from 1896 until 1901. He played one Major League game in 1884, then bounced between the minors and majors for the next nine seasons before finding a full-time spot with the 1894 St Louis Browns. He hit .306 that year with 12 homers and 89 RBIs, in what was a very high offense season due to the pitching distance being changed the previous year and pitchers having trouble adjusting to it. Ely was known more for his solid defense than his bat throughout his career. In 1895, with the split between pitchers and hitters returning back to near normal standards, Bones (first name was William) hit .259 with one homer and 29 stolen bases, finishing second among NL shortstops in fielding percentage.
The Pirates acquired him from the Browns prior to the 1896 season in exchange for shortstop Monte Cross, pitcher Bill Hart and cash. While with Pittsburgh, Ely would finish no lower than fifth in fielding among NL shortstops in any of his five full seasons. Defensive WAR actually ranks him as the best defensive player in all of the NL in both 1898 and 1900, the second season by an extremely large margin over the rest of the pack. Bones played 743 games with the Pirates, hitting .256 with 346 RBIs and 342 runs scored. In his career, he played 1,343 games and had a similar .258 average with 656 runs scored and 657 RBIs. Over 1,238 games played at shortstop, his fielding percentage was 15 points higher than the league average during his time.
On this date in 1972, the Pirates won the first game of a doubleheader over the San Diego Padres by a 12-5 score. That was followed up by one of the longest games in team history. The Pirates won 1-0 in 18 innings. Gene Alley drew a bases loaded walk to score the only run. Dock Ellis tossed nine shutout innings to start the game, then four relievers combined to throw nine more shutout frames. Here’s the boxscore, which shows a 4:27 game time and 7,371 fans in attendance, though the number was much lower by the end.