This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: November 13th, Gene Garber

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, all of them were pitchers. Starting with the most recent first…

Gene Garber, pitcher for the 1969-70 and 1972 Pirates. He pitched briefly in each of his three seasons in Pittsburgh before being traded to the Kansas City Royals. He won 96 games and picked up 218 saves during his career, all coming after he left Pittsburgh. Garber was selected by the Pirates in the 20th round of the 1965 amateur draft out of high school in Elizabethtown, PA. . He made 137 starts in the minors for the Pirates, but during his Major League career, which spanned 931 games over 19 seasons, he started just nine games total. For the Pirates, Garber went 0-3 5,.61 in 33.2 innings with most of his work coming in 1970, when he pitched 14 games after making the team out of Spring Training. He was sent down to the minors in early June and did not return until 1972. In the minors in 1967 and 1968 he posted back to back seasons with ERA’s of 1.89 and 1.88, pitching a total of 315 innings during those years. He played a total of just 20 games with the Pirates before being traded to the Kansas City Royals for pitcher Jim Rooker following the 1972 season.

Garber picked up 11 saves in his first season with the Royals, then was sold mid-1974 to the Philadelphia Phillies. He remained there until 1978 when he was traded to the Atlanta Braves. The bulk of his big league success came in Atlanta, where he spent ten seasons and accumulated 141 saves. He made 557 appearances and pitched a total of 856 innings. Garber finished his career with the 1987-88 Royals. He ranks 23rd all-time in games pitched and 44th in saves.

Ted Wilks, pitcher for the 1951-52 Pirates. He went 8-10, 3.19 in 155 innings with Pittsburgh. He came over in a seven-player trade with the Cardinals in June of 1951 and was traded to the Cleveland Indians the next August, so his total stay with the team was 14 months. He twice led the NL in games pitched, including his first year in Pittsburgh when he threw 65 games (17 in St Louis, 48 with Pirates). Wilks was used often in relief by the Pirates, pitching 82.2 innings over his 48 games after joining the team in mid-June. He went 3-5, 2.83 with 12 saves. While it wasn’t an official stat at the time, he’s now credited with 13 saves in 1951, which led the NL. In 1952, Wilks pitched 44 games in relief, going 5-5, 3.61 before being traded to the Indians in August to help with their playoff run. After pitching poorly in early 1953, Wilks was sent to the minors where he stayed until he finished his pro career in 1956. His career began in 1938, and he won 20 games for Houston of the Texas League in 1941. As a 28-year-old rookie in 1944, he had a 17-4 record for the Cardinals, leading the league in winning percentage (.810) and WHIP (1.07), which helped him gain mild MVP support (he finished 24th in the voting). In 1949 he went 10-3, while leading the league with 59 appearances and nine saves. Wilks finished 19th in the MVP voting that season.

Jack Hallett, pitcher for the 1942-43, and 1946 Pirates. In between stints with the Pirates, he spent 30 months serving in the Navy during WWII. Hallett went 6-10, 3.06 in 185 innings with the Pirates. He also pitched briefly for the 1940-41 Chicago White Sox and 1948 New York Giants. Hallett pitched parts of two seasons in Chicago, going just 6-6, 6.09 in 24 games. He went 11-16, 2.88 in the minors for Toronto in 1942 before he made his debut with the Pirates on September 12, 1942. Hallett went 11 innings in his debut, a game that ended in an 11-inning tie. He made two more starts before the season ended. In 1943 he started off well posting a 1.70 ERA in 47.2 innings before he put his career on hold to serve in WWII. He missed the entire 1944-45 seasons, returning to the Pirates for 1946 when he went 5-7, 3.29 in 115 innings. Despite the solid season, Hallett spent almost all of 1947-49 in Triple-A, briefly making a two-game return with the Giants, which marked the end of his Major League career. The Pirates cut him on the final day of Spring Training in 1947, sending him to Indianapolis. That November, the Giants selected him in the Rule 5 draft.

Ray Steineder, pitcher for the 1923-24 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Pirates earlier in his career, but he jumped the team to play independent baseball when he found out he would be a bench player, or possibly end up in the minors. Steineder later said that the salary/bonus offered to him to play independent ball was too lucrative to pass up. He was suspended from baseball for his actions, but was reinstated for the 1923 season when he re-signed with the Pirates. Steineder came back in July of 1923 and went 2-0, 4.75 in 55 innings. In limited at-bats he went 7-for-15 at the plate for a .467 average. In 1924 he was used out of the bullpen and struggled badly, making three appearances in which he didn’t retire a single batter. After posting a 13.50 ERA in just 2.2 innings with 11 base runners allowed, the Pirates sold him to the Philadelphia Phillies, where he pitched nine more games. Steineder did not pitch in pro ball before or after his brief 29 game Major League career. The Phillies planned to send him to the minors, but he signed to play semi-pro ball instead. He was opposed to playing in the minors, claiming he would rather play close to home if he wasn’t in the majors.

Pete Meegan, pitcher for the 1885 Alleghenys. Back before Pittsburgh moved to the National League, Meegan was a starting pitcher during the 1885 season in the American Association. In 16 starts, he pitched 14 complete games. He had a 7-8, 3.39 record in 146 innings. His only other big league time was 22 starts for the 1884 Richmond Virginians of the American Association, where he’s the all-time wins leader for the short-lived franchise. Meegan did some umpiring during his career as well, though never in the majors. He started his pro career in the minors in 1881 playing in California, where he spent most of his baseball playing days from 1881-1892. The 1885 Alleghenys were his last Major League team. He was the third pitcher on a team that had Ed “Cannonball” Morris, who is the franchise leader in numerous single-season categories, and Hall of Fame pitcher James “Pud” Galvin.

On July 15, 1885, he shutout Baltimore 5-0 and struck out 15 batters. It was noted back then in multiple papers that it was the highest total on record, though the record was actually 19 at the time, set a year earlier. His pitching hand is unknown and I tried to confirm it, but came up with nothing definitive, but it could be important for team history. There are two photos of Meegan in which he is set up like a right-handed pitcher, and numerous newspapers referred to southpaw pitchers often in articles that included his name, but with all of the press that he got in California at that same time, he never got that tag. Assuming that he is a right-handed pitcher, then his strikeout total in that July 15th game is a Pirates record for right-handed pitchers in a game. Right now the recognized record is 14 by Bob Moose and Jose DeLeon.