This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: October 11th, Clemente’s Final Game

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus two games of note.

Ty Wigginton, infielder for the 2004-05 Pirates. He played 12 years in the majors, seeing time with eight different teams. He hit .237 with 12 homers in 115 games for the Pirates, and was a .261 hitter with 169 homers in 1,362 career games. Wigginton was drafted out of college by the New York Mets in the 17th round in 1998, and debuted in the majors four years later. He hit .255 with 11 homers, 12 stolen bases and 71 RBIs as the Mets everyday third baseman in 2003, his first full season in the majors. He was batting .285 with 12 homers in 86 games when the Pirates acquired him in the five-player deal at the 2004 trading deadline, which sent Kris Benson to New York. Wigginton was given the third base job and his average dipped to .220 in Pittsburgh, with five homers in 58 games. He spent half of the 2005 season in Triple-A, while batting .258 with seven homers in 57 games for the Pirates. Wigginton was released after the season and he signed with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He ended up also spending time with the Houston Astros, Baltimore Orioles, Philadelphia Phillies, Colorado Rockies and St Louis Cardinals.

Shane Youman, pitcher for the 2006-07 Pirates. He was a 43rd round draft pick, who made the majors five years later and went 3-7, 5.13 in 79 innings over 11 starts and ten relief appearances. The Pirates drafted him out of LSU in 2001, four years after he was taken by the Los Angeles Dodgers out of high school in the 45th round. Youman debuted with the Pirates in September of 2006 and posted a solid 2.91 ERA in 21.2 innings, though his ten walks and five strikeouts both sent up red flags. During the 2007 season, he joined the club in early July and remained in the majors throughout the rest of the season. His first seven appearances were as a starter and he posted a 5.18 ERA. In mid-August, he had a string of four straight relief appearances, giving up seven runs in 8.1 innings. He got his final big league start on September 1st and surrendered eight runs in two innings. Over the final 29 days of the season, he had four relief appearances and he threw seven shutout innings on two hits and one walk. The Pirates lost him via waivers to the Philadelphia Phillies after the 2007 season, though he never pitched in the majors again. Youman pitched through the winter of 2016-17, spending time in China, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Korea, Mexico, the Dominican and independent ball in the U.S. He played for 15 seasons total, plus five years of winter ball.

Wayne Osborne, pitcher for the 1935 Pirates. He lasted just two early season games for the Pirates, twice coming on for short relief stints in April during one-sided losses. He actually played a third game as a pinch-runner on April 29th, which ended up being his final game in Pittsburgh. Osborne pitched four seasons in the Pacific Coast League before making his pro debut with the Pirates, and he went on to play another nine seasons in the PCL afterwards. He also pitched briefly for the Boston Braves in 1936, going 1-1, 5.85 in five games, three as a starter. In his Pirates debut on April 18, 1935, Osborne was called on to get the team out of the sixth, already trailing 8-2 with two outs. He needed just one pitch to retire the side, then was pinch-hit for in the bottom of the inning. In his second and final outing, he allowed one run on one hit in one inning of work. Osborne won 131 games in his minor league career.

The interesting part about Osborne is that he was missing part of his right thumb and part of the right middle finger due to a firecracker incident as a child. He had the nickname “four-finger” and often got comparisons to Hall of Famer Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown. He said that the unique grip he used helped him develop a curveball that he used often, mostly because he didn’t throw hard. The Pirates actually purchased him from his PCL team (Mission Reds) on July 27, 1934, but they let him play out the season in the PCL, before joining the Pirates during the following spring. He was released shortly after his pinch-running appearance and was back with his Mission club on May 7, 1935.

Buttercup Dickerson, outfielder for the 1883 Alleghenys. His real name was Lewis Pessano, and many people don’t know it, but he was the first Italian-American baseball player in the majors leagues…..possibly. Another former Pirates player, Ed Abbaticchio, who made his debut in 1897 (which was 19 years after Dickerson’s first season) is sometimes  identified as the first Italian baseball player because Dickerson’s Italian heritage has been questioned. Despite the surname (sometimes spelled Pisano), research that included interviews with his direct descendants has said that his last name actually is Dickerson, and the Pessano name came as a tribute to the doctor that delivered him. In what may be an ironic twist, Buttercup is actually in the Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame. The nickname came from the famous Gilbert & Sullivan play, which came out in 1878. It started showing up in print while Dickerson was on the 1879 Cincinnati Reds and it was often written as “Sweet little Buttercup” or just “Little Buttercup”.

Whatever the story is on his heritage, he was still an interesting player in baseball history. Dickerson, just 23 years old at the time, was blacklisted from the National League after the 1881 season along with nine other players for questionable play or actions on or off the field. Many of the players were accused of throwing games for money, but Dickerson was banned for “chronic drunkenness”. When he was reinstated in 1883, he joined the Alleghenys, while they were still in the American Association. He actually signed with both Boston and Pittsburgh, but he was awarded to the Alleghenys on February 17th. Dickerson hit .249 over 85 games in 1883 while playing five different positions for a team that finished with a 31-67 record. He played just seven seasons in the majors, but he managed to play for eight different teams in three different Major Leagues. He batted .300 in three seasons yet was still out of the majors by age 26. He played five more seasons in the minors after his big league days were over, retiring in 1890.

The Games

On this date in 1972, the Pirates lost game five of the NLCS to the Cincinnati Reds by a 4-3 score. Not only was it the end to their season, it was also the end of a baseball career. This was the last game played by the great Roberto Clemente, who died in a plane crash less than three months later. Clemente went 1-for-3 with a walk in the game. He collected his last career hit in the first inning, a single to center field off Don Gullett. In his last plate appearance he was intentionally walked. Roberto played his entire 18-year career with the Pirates, made 15 All-Star teams and collected 3,000 hits while batting .317 over 2,433 games.

On this date in 1909, the Pirates defeated the Detroit Tigers in game three of the World Series by an 8-6 score. The game was played in front of 18,277 fans at Bennett Park in Detroit, and with the victory the Pirates took a 2-1 lead in the series. Honus Wagner went 3-for-5 with two RBIs, while Ty Cobb collected two hits and drove in two runs of his own. The Pirates were led by pitcher Nick Maddox, who threw a complete game with just one of those six runs allowed being an earned run. Detroit’s starter Ed Summers  lasted just six batters, as his defense made three errors behind him, leading to five unearned runs and just one out recorded.