This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: August 21th, Chief Wilson, Rick Reuschel Trade

There have been eight former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including the starting right fielder for the first team in franchise history to win a World Series title. We also have one trade of note, which is where we start.

The Transactions

On this date in 1987, the Pirates traded pitcher Rick Reuschel to the San Francisco Giants for pitchers Jeff Robinson and Scott Medvin. Reuschel was already 38 years old at the time of the deal, playing in his 15th season in the majors. For the Pirates in 1987, he was 8-6, 2.75 in 25 starts, with 170 career wins to his credit. Despite the age and a slow start to his Giants career (4.32 ERA after the deal), Reuschel went on to have two big seasons with San Francisco, going a combined 36-19 between the 1988-89 seasons. He started the 1989 All-Star game at age forty. He played two more years afterwards, getting into just 19 games due to injuries. Medvin pitched 23 games in relief over two seasons with the Pirates before they dealt him to the Mariners in 1990 for Lee Hancock. The Pirates actually lost him in the 1987 Rule 5 draft, but he was returned before the season started. Robinson pitched three years in Pittsburgh, going 20-19, 3.78 in 143 games, with 19 starts and 17 saves. His biggest contribution to the Pirates was likely his inclusion in the deal to the New York Yankees in December of 1989 that brought Don Slaught back to Pittsburgh.

The Players

Chief Wilson, right fielder for the Pirates from 1908 until 1913. His strong hitting off of Pirates minor league pitcher Babe Adams, got him highly recommended to the Pirates by Adams himself and the Pirated acted upon that recommendation by signing Wilson. In 1908, without a game of Major League experience, Wilson became the Pirates starting right fielder to open the season. He was known for his strong arm, which led to 20 outfield assists during his first year. His bat didn’t come around until his second season, which just happened to be the year the Pirates won their first World Series title. Wilson hit .272 with 38 extra-base hits, 17 steals and 64 runs scored in 154 games, leading the league in games played. In the WS against Detroit, he hit just .154 with no walks, but the Pirates still took the series in seven games. In 1911, Chief (known as Owen, though his first name was John) really broke out with the bat, hitting .300 with 58 extra-base hits and a league leading 107 RBIs.

The 1912 season was just as good and forever put his name in the baseball history books. That year he hit 36 triples. It’s a Major League record that still stands 100+ years later, and one that no one has seriously approached since then, with the high being 26 (done twice). On December 12, 1913, the Pirates traded Wilson to the Cardinals in an eight-player deal that didn’t work out at all. He would go on to play three more years in the majors, never quite approaching the numbers he put up during the 1911-12 seasons. In his six seasons in Pittsburgh, Wilson played at least 144 games each year, three times leading all NL outfielders in games played. In 899 games for Pittsburgh, he hit .274 with 427 RBIs and 94 triples. He collected 181 outfield assists during his nine-year career.

Jeff Clement, first baseman for the 2010 and 2012 Pirates. He came over to the Pirates in the Jack Wilson/Ian Snell deal with the Seattle Mariners, which occurred during the 2009 trading deadline. He was a first round pick (third overall pick) in 2005, who was considered to be a top prospect in baseball, though he never reached that high potential. Clement reached the majors in late 2007 and started off with a bang, hitting .375 with two homers in nine games. In 2008, he got an extended look and batted .227 with five homers in 66 games. He spent the entire 2009 season in the minors, despite hitting 21 homers and driving in 90 runs. Clement played 54 games for Pittsburgh in 2010, hitting .201 with seven homers and 12 RBIs. After missing most of the 2011 season, he began the 2012 season in Triple-A, where he put up solid stats. The Pirates called him up in late August and used him often off of the bench. In 23 games, he batted .136 with an RBI. Clement spent the 2013 season in Triple-A for the Minnesota Twins before retiring.

Jesse Chavez, pitcher for the  2008-09 Pirates. He was drafted by the Rangers in the 42nd round in 2002, signing as a  draft-and-follow the following May. The Pirates acquired him at the 2006 trading deadline in exchange for Kip Wells. Chavez made his debut for Pittsburgh at the end of August in 2008, pitching 15 games in relief, with a 0-1, 6.60 record in 15 innings. The Pirates used him often in 2009, with strong results early, but a fall off in the second half. In 73 games, he posted a 4.01 ERA in 67.1 innings. In November 2009, the Pirates traded him to the Tampa Bay Rays for second baseman Aki Iwamura. Chavez was traded a month later to the Atlanta Braves. Since the deal, he has also pitched with the Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays (twice),  Oakland A’s, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, Chicago Cubs and two stints with the Texas Rangers. He was a starter for the 2014-15 and 2017 seasons. Chavez has a career 41-58, 4.49 record in 471 games, with 79 starts and 923.2 innings pitched (as of August 10, 2020). He has a career 3.5 WAR in 13 seasons, with 3.0 of that number coming during the 2018 season.

Ramon Vazquez, infielder for the 2009 Pirates. He came to the Pirates as a free agent in 2009, coming off his best season in the majors, hitting .290, with a .795 OPS for the Texas Rangers. Those numbers came with the huge caveat that Texas is a big-time hitter’s ballpark. In 2007, Vazquez hit eight homers with Texas, one more than he hit during his first six seasons in the majors. When he got to Pittsburgh the numbers regressed back to his normal standards. He signed a two-year contract with the Pirates, but after hitting .230 with one homer in 101 games, he was released after just one year. He played 14+ games at shortstop, second base and third base during his only season with Pittsburgh. Between the 2010-11 seasons, Vazquez played in the minors with five different organizations. He played independent league ball in 2012, followed by winter ball in Puerto Rico, before retiring. In 696 Major League games, he was a .254 hitter with 176 RBIs.

Lou Collier, shortstop for the 1997-98 Pirates. He was a 31st round draft pick in 1992 by the Pirates. The previous year, he was taken in the 56th round by the Houston Astros. Collier averaged over 30 stolen bases a year in the minors in his first three full seasons, though his breakout season came during a year in which he went 12-for-19 in steal attempts at Triple-A. In 1997, he hit .330 with 31 doubles in 112 games for Calgary of the Pacific Coast League. Pittsburgh called him up at the end of June, but he really struggled and was quickly sent back to the minors. He returned in September, finishing the year with a .135 average in 18 games. In 1998, Collier was the starting shortstop for much of the season, batting .246 in 110 games, with 30 runs scored and 36 RBIs. He was put on waivers at the end of the season, where he was picked up by the Milwaukee Brewers. He played in the majors every season from 1999-2004, seeing time with four different teams. He hit .241 in his 315 career games, with just 12 stolen bases, never attempting more than six in a season once he reached the majors. After 2004, he played two years of Korean baseball, before returning to the states (actually played for Triple-A Ottawa) in 2007 for one last season.

Murry Dickson, pitcher for the 1949-53 Pirates. He pitched his first Major League game in 1939, making just one appearances for the St Louis Cardinals. One year later, he pitched another game for St Louis. After spending 1941 in the minors, he pitched the 1942-43 seasons with the Cardinals, then served two years in the military. Six years after he made his Major League debut, Dickson had just 14 career wins, but that all changed when he returned in 1946 from the war effort. That first season back, he went 15-6, 2.88, leading NL pitchers with a .714 winning percentage. That began a string of 11 straight seasons of 10+ wins. His 1948 season was not strong, going 12-16 while leading the league in earned runs and home runs allowed. He was a workhorse pitcher though, taking the ball often as a starter and pitching in relief. The Pirates purchased Dickson from the Cardinals on January 29, 1949 for $125,000.

Pittsburgh was not good at all during his five-season stint with the team, never winning more than 71 games in a year. Dickson however, had a remarkable 1951 season, going 20-16 for a team that finished 64-90 in seventh place. The Pirates lack of support got to him the next two years, leading the NL in losses each season, a total of 40 defeats, with 24 wins to show for his effort. On January 13, 1954, the Pirates traded Dickson to the Philadelphia Phillies for pitcher Andy Hansen, infielder Jack Lohrke and cash. His first season in Philadelphia had to remind him of Pittsburgh, a 3.78 ERA but a 10-20 record was all he could muster, leading the league in losses for a third straight season.  From 1947 until 1956, Dickson pitched at least 200 innings in all ten seasons. He had a 66-85, 3.83 record in 228 games with Pirates, 137 as a starter. In his 18-year career, he went 172-181, 3.66 in 625 games, 338 as a starter.

Cobe Jones, shortstop for the 1928-29 Pirates. He spent the 1928 season playing for Bridgeport of the Eastern League, where he hit .306 in 150 games. He didn’t make his Major League debut until the very last game of the season, the second game of a doubleheader against Brooklyn. He came into the game off the bench, as Brooklyn took a big early lead. Jones went 1-for-2 at the plate with a single, and he handled the only play hit his way. He began the 1929 season with the Pirates, lasting through June, before finishing the season (and his career) in the minors. In 25 games, he started ten times at shortstop, hitting .254 with four RBIs in 64 at-bats. Jones played off-and-on in the minors until 1941, occasionally serving as a player/manager. After retiring as a player, he served as a scout for three different teams. Cobe (full name was Coburn Dyas Jones) was a long-time coach outside of baseball, and it is said that his playing career was cut short by diabetes. He attended two colleges, the University of Colorado, which has produced just six Major League players, and Colorado College, a school that is represented in Major League history by just Jones himself.

Jim Mosolf, pinch-hitter/outfielder for the 1929-31 Pirates. In his second season of pro ball in 1929, he hit .362 with 60 extra-base hits for Wichita of the Western League. He joined the Pirates in September and hit .462 (6-for-13) with two RBIs in eight games. Mosolf was with the Pirates for all of 1930, but he received just six starts (all in right field) all year, batting a total of 60 times in 40 games, with a .333 average, eight walks, 16 runs scored and nine RBIs. Over the off-season, there was talk of moving him to the mound, but he never pitched that next season for the Pirates. He instead held the same role as a pinch-hitter/seldom used outfielder. In 39 games, Mosolf started four times, finishing the year with a .250 average, one homer and eight RBIs. The following February, he was sold to the minors. He returned to the majors for three months with the 1933 Chicago Cubs, before finishing his career in the minors four years later. Mosolf was a career .321 hitter in 1,025 minor league games.