This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: July 15th, Donn Clendenon and Enrique Romo

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date.

Donn Clendenon, first baseman for the 1961-68 Pirates. He signed with the Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1957 and spent his first two seasons in the low minors, where he put up mediocre stats. Clendenon broke out in 1959, hitting a combined .358 with 62 extra-base hits between two stops. He moved up to A-ball the next season and hit .335 with 28 homers and 109 RBIs for Savannah of the South Atlantic League. Clendenon moved to Triple-A in 1961, where he hit .290 with 22 homers in 147 games. The Pirates called him up in September and he batted .314 in nine games in the outfield. He saw limited time for most of 1962 with the Pirates, getting most of his playing time at the end of the year and playing more first base than outfield. Despite playing just 80 games (21 off the bench), he finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting, due in part to his .302 average.

Clendenon became the starting first baseman in 1963 and hit .275 with 15 homers and 57 RBIs in 154 games. He led the NL with 136 strikeouts, but also had the most putouts and assists among NL first baseman. Clendenon cut back the strikeouts the next year, while hitting .282 with 12 homers and 64 RBIs in 133 games. His next season he set many career highs, including games played (162), runs scored (89), hits (184), doubles (32) and triples (14) while batting .301 with 96 RBIs. Except for runs scored, he ranked in the NL top ten in all of those categories. That season also marked the start of a three-year stretch in which he led NL first baseman in errors each year. The following year was the best of his career. He finished with a .299 average, and set career highs with 28 homers, 98 RBIs and an .878 OPS. Clendenon’s numbers began to drop off in 1967, and then in 1968, considered to be the “year of the pitcher”, he struck out 163 times. That was a team record that stood until surpassed by Craig Wilson in 2004.

Clendenon was lost to the Montreal Expos in the 1968 expansion draft. He played just 38 games there before moving on to the New York Mets, where he picked up a World Series ring. He played two more years in New York, before finishing his career with the 1972 St Louis Cardinals. With the Pirates, he hit .280 with 106 homers and 488 RBIs in 982 games.

Anthony Claggett, pitcher for the Pirates on October 3, 2009. He was originally an 11th round pick of the Tigers in 2005, going to the Yankees in a trade the following year. Claggett spent the 2009 season pitching mostly in relief at Triple-A for New York, going 7-7, 3.07 in 82 innings. He was called up twice during the season and he really took one for the team during his first appearance. In a 22-4 loss to the Indians, he threw 60 pitches over 1.2 innings, allowing eight earned runs. His next outing was slightly better, giving up only two runs in his one inning of work. The Yankees put him on waivers in late September and the Pirates picked him up on September 24th. Claggett got into one game with the Pirates, giving up a home run in his only inning of work against the Cincinnati Reds on October 3rd. He was with the Pirates organization for two more years in the minors before being released. He then pitched independent ball until 2015 before retiring.

Enrique Romo, relief pitcher for the 1979-82 Pirates. He pitched in Mexico until age 29, when the expansion Seattle Mariners signed him to his first contract. Romo skipped over minor league ball in the states, spending six years in the majors before returning to Mexico. He threw 114 games over two seasons for the Mariners, pitching over 100 innings each season. The Pirates acquired him on December 5, 1978 in a six-player deal. Romo immediately became a key member of the bullpen and manager Chuck Tanner used him often. He made 84 appearances in 1979, going 10-5, 2.99 with five saves in 129.1 innings. His games pitched total that season in the sixth highest mark in team history. He pitched twice in each postseason series and overall did not pitch well, allowing 13 base runners in five innings of work, although he didn’t allow a run in either NLCS appearance. Romo would get his share of work again during the 1980 season, pitching 123.2 innings over 74 relief outings.

During the strike-shortened 1981 season, he missed some time in late August/early September and pitched poorly when he came back during the last two weeks, watching his 3.86 ERA rise to 4.54 to end the year. Romo went 9-3 in 45 games for the 1982 Pirates, but he was fined at the end of the year because he didn’t want to pitch the last week of the season. He was upset over the fine and failed to report to Spring Training the next year. The Pirates tried to trade him with no takers and he was finally placed on the voluntarily retired list, ending his Major League career. He pitched 236 games over four season with the Pirates, going 25-16, 3.56 in 381.1 innings.

Don Bosch, Center fielder for the 1966 Pirates. The Pirates signed him as a 17-year-old in 1960, sending him to the lowest level of the minors, where he hit .210 in 63 games. His climb through the farm system was slow, with his first real sign of big league potential showing in 1963, when he hit .332 in 114 games while playing in the Carolina League. The switch-hitting Bosch then spent the next two years at Double-A, before moving up to Triple-A for the 1966 season. That year he hit .283 with 11 homers, 17 stolen bases and 72 walks. The Pirates called him up in September and he made his debut on the 19th as a pinch-runner. Three days later, he was a defensive replacement for Matty Alou in center field during a 14-1 loss to the Braves. After another two days on the bench, Bosch pinch-hit for pitcher Tommie Sisk, in what would be his last game with the Pirates. That December, he would be traded to the Mets along with Don Cardwell for Dennis Ribant and Gary Kolb. Bosch played two years with the Mets and one with the Expos without much success at the plate. He hit .164 with 13 RBIs in 146 career games. He spent the 1970 season in the minors before ending his playing career.

Red Oldham, pitcher for the 1925-26 Pirates. He had 172 minor league victories over 15 seasons and won another 39 games over seven Major League seasons. Oldham made his Major League debut with the Tigers in 1914, pitching 26 games over two seasons. He was in the minors the next two years, then served in the Army during WWI. He returned to the minors in 1919, before coming back to the Tigers for three more seasons. From 1920-22, Oldham pitched over 210 innings each season, going a combined 29-40 with a high of 11 wins during the 1921 season. He was suspended from baseball for a short time after failing to report to the Tigers in 1924. For a short time he pitched in the minors under an assumed name. Red (first name was John) was still in the minors in 1925 when the Pirates decided that they needed another lefty on their pitching staff. From the middle of August until the end of the season, he pitched 11 times, four as a starter, with three complete games. Oldham went 3-2, 3.91 in 53 innings.

The Pirates went to the World Series that year and had a hard-fought seven game series against the Washington Senators. Oldham didn’t get to pitch during the first six games and it looked like he wouldn’t pitch game seven either. The Pirates trailed 7-6 going into the bottom of the eighth at home. Against the greatest pitcher ever, Walter Johnson, Pittsburgh scored three runs to take a 9-7 lead. Red was surprisingly called in to finish the game, and he did just that. He struck out two Hall of Famers, Sam Rice and Goose Goslin, to secure the victory and second title for the Pirates franchise. The next year he was a bullpen arm for Pittsburgh until July, when he was sent to the minors, in a move that ended his Major League career. Oldham pitched another five years before retiring following the 1931 season.