Four former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including a Hall of Famer. We also have a game of note. Before we get into that stuff, current Pirates reliever Nick Mears turns 24 today.
Chuck Klein, outfielder for the 1939 Pirates. Klein spent most of his 17 seasons in the majors with the Philadelphia Phillies. He joined the Pirates mid-season in 1939, one day after being released, and hit .300 over 85 games, with 11 homers and 47 RBIs. By 1940, he was back with the Phillies, re-signing with them after the Pirates released him during Spring Training. Klein went on to play five more seasons in the majors, though he was only getting regular at-bats in 1940, when he hit .218 with seven homers in 116 games. He retired with exactly 300 career homers, a rare milestone to reach at the time. He was the NL MVP in 1932 and then backed that performance up with a Triple Crown the following year. He finished second in the MVP voting in 1931 and 1933. From 1929 to 1933, Klein won four home run crowns, led the league in runs scored three times, slugging three times, RBIs twice, hits twice, doubles twice and stolen bases once. He was a career .320 hitter. When the Pirates signed Klein, he replaced outfielder Heinie Manush, who also made the Hall of Fame.
Fred Fussell, lefty pitcher for the 1928-29 Pirates. He was used mainly as a starter in his first season, then switched mainly to relief in 1929. In 199.1 innings with the Pirates, he had a 10-11 record, along with a 4.61 ERA. The Pirates signed him on August 27, 1917, but he remained with his minor league team for the duration of the 1917 season, then reported to the Pirates during the following spring. Fussell was the first signing by scout Bob Tarleton since he was hired by the Pirates. Fussell’s only other big league experience was with the 1922-23 Chicago Cubs, where he put up a 5.38 ERA in 95.1 innings. Fussell spent the 1924-27 seasons in the minors playing for Seattle of the Pacific Coast League and Wichita Falls of the Texas League, one level lower. In 1927, he went 21-8, 3.39 in 244 innings for Wichita Falls. His career was far from over after his final big league game with the Pirates. Fussell played another ten seasons in the minors, last suiting up for Rochester of the International League in 1939 at 43 years old.
Adam DeBus, infielder for the 1917 Pirates. He joined the team mid-season and batted .229 over 38 games. That was his only big league experience. He then enlisted in the military during WWI after playing briefly in 1918. During the 1917 season, he played for a team in Fargo, where he put up solid stats at the plate for the first time in his pro career, which began in 1914. DeBus was signed by the St Louis Cardinals in July and then almost immediately was put on waivers, where the Pirates picked him up and handed him the starting shortstop job. He held the job a little longer due to injuries, but by September 1st he had played his final game for the Pirates. DeBus played semi-pro ball after returning from military service in late 1919. One of the more interesting things about his career is that he was compared very early on to shortstop Art Devlin, who was a strong all-around player for ten seasons, last playing in 1913. They were lofty comparisons, but the most interesting part is that many papers picked up on it late and DeBus had already played his final game before some papers ran with the comparison.
Brickyard Kennedy, pitcher for the 1903 Pirates. In 12 seasons in the majors, he won 187 games. The last nine wins came with the Pirates during their first World Series season. He started and lost game five of the WS. Kennedy got his nickname from the job he held prior to signing pro ball. After playing with the Pirates, he spent the next five seasons in the minors, finishing up with 245 wins as a pro (his first two seasons in the minors are unknown stats, so that number could be much closer to 300). He debuted in the majors in 1892 with Brooklyn and reeled off ten straight seasons with 10+ wins, including four seasons with over 20 wins. He moved on to the New York Giants in 1902 and made just six starts before being released in June. The Pirates signed him as a free agent in January of 1903. Kennedy was a .261 career hitter, who batted over .300 four times, including a .362 average during his time in Pittsburgh.
On this date in 1972, the Pirates defeated the Cincinnati Reds in the opening game of the 1972 NLCS. Steve Blass started and allowed one run over 8.1 innings, while Al Oliver tripled and homered, driving in three runs. Rennie Stennett had two hits and two runs scored. Willie Stargell hit an RBI double in the first inning that put the Pirates up 2-1 at the time. The only run Blass allowed was a first inning homer by Joe Morgan. Here’s the boxscore.