This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: October 20th, Jocko Fields

October 20th is a light day for Pirates history. Only two former players born on this date and no major trades or transactions. I’ve included the two biggest transactions below..

Jocko Fields, catcher/outfielder for the 1887-89 and 1891 Alleghenys. Fields is one of 47 Major Leaguers who were born in Ireland, and three of them played for the 1888 Alleghenys, Fields, William Farmer and Sam Nicholl. Jocko (first name was John) began his pro career in 1885 with Jersey City of the Eastern League, and he would make his Major League debut on May 31, 1887. He played 43 games for that Allegheny team, hitting .268 with 17 RBIs. Fields was a versatile player, making appearances at seven different positions, playing everything except second base and shortstop. The following year he struggled both offensively and defensively, hitting just .195 in 45 games while also posting well below average fielding percentages in the outfield and behind the plate. The Pirates stuck with him despite his 1888 season and they were rewarded for it. His defense was still suspect, but in 75 games in 1889 he hit a career high .311, which was second highest on the team to Fred Carroll.

When the Player’s League was formed going into the 1890 season, the Alleghenys lost most of their team to their new crosstown rivals, the Pittsburgh Burghers. Among the lost players was Fields, who had the best season of his career. He played a career high 126 games, while also setting highs with 101 runs scored, 20 triples, 86 RBIs and 24 stolen bases. When the PL folded after one season, most players returned to their original 1889 club, and Fields was no different. His stay with the Pittsburgh club in 1891 was a short one. He played just 23 more games before being released. He finished the 1891 season with the Philadelphia Phillies, then played one more year in the majors with the New York Giants in 1892. He finished his pro career in the minors in 1896. As a member of the Alleghenys/Pirates he hit .265 in 186 games, with three homers and 80 RBIs.

Jose Veras, pitcher for the 2011 Pirates. During his one season in Pittsburgh, he posted a 3.80 ERA and set career highs with 79 appearances and 71 innings pitched. He played nine years in the majors, with all 440 appearances coming as a reliever. He picked up 27 career saves, with 21 of them coming during the 2013 season. Veras originally signed with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic at 17 years old in 1998. It took him eight years to make the majors with the 2006 New York Yankees, coming after he also spent time in the Texas Rangers. Veras played with three teams over his first five years in the majors, though he never spent an entire season in the majors until his year with the Pirates. He played for eight teams in nine big league seasons, which doesn’t include his time with the Devil Rays, Rangers, or the Atlanta Braves, who signed him as a free agent during Spring Training of 2016. The Pirates signed him as a free agent in January of 2011 and traded him to the Milwaukee Brewers in December of 2011 for Casey McGehee.

The Transactions

On this date in 1970, the Pirates completed an earlier trade for pitcher Jim “Mudcat” Grant by sending outfielder Angel Mangual to the Oakland A’s. Mangual played six September games off of the bench for the Pirates in 1969, then spent the entire 1970 season in the minors. He would end up playing six seasons for the A’s, mostly as a bench player, helping them to three consecutive World Series titles. Grant pitched well for the 1971 World Series champs, but was sold back to the A’s late in the season and missed out on the World Series title.

On this date in 1977, pitcher Terry Forster became a free agent. The Pirates acquired him as part of a four-player deal with the Chicago White Sox that included Hall of Famer Goose Gossage and outfielder Richie Zisk. In his one season with the Pirates, Forster had a 6-4, 4.43 record in 87.1 innings.