This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: December 4th, Pirates Acquire Don Slaught

One of the slower dates for Pittsburgh Pirates born on this day. Just three players and one of them is current, so he doesn’t exactly qualify for a history article. We also have two trades of note. Before we get into all of that, right-handed starting pitcher Joe Musgrove turns 28 today.

The Players

Jerry D’Arcy, outfielder for the 1911 Pirates. He played just two games as a major leaguer, one in center field and one as a pinch-hitter. D’Arcy joined the team in late September and went 0-for-6 at the plate. He went 0-for-5 in the first game, though manager Fred Clarke allowed him to bat with two outs in the ninth and the tying run (which was Clarke) on second base.  D’Arcy grounded out to shortstop. According to the local newspaper, he looked well in the field with some fine catches in his first game, although one of his tougher catches was a ball that right fielder Chief Wilson had lined up for an easy catch and D’Arcy cut in front of him. The report also said that he “Got down the first base line with great alacrity”, which has now been added to my scouting phrase vocabulary.  He was playing for the Gadsden Steel Makers of the Southeastern League at the time the Pirates purchased his contract in mid-August of 1911. That team was a Class D ball club, equal to making the jump from Class-A ball to the majors now.

Despite being announced as purchased on August 18th, D’Arcy didn’t join the Pirates right away. His total time in Pittsburgh was short, reporting to the team on September 21st and he left October 3rd, six days before the season ended. The Pirates allowed five players to leave early, including pitcher Cliff Averett, who never appeared in a big league game. D’Arcy was put on the Pirates reserve list for the 1912 season, but he was released to Indianapolis of the American Association on December 20, 1911. He played pro ball until at least 1916, but his minor league stats are incomplete, likely due to the spelling confusion and numerous players from that era with the same last name..sort of. He was referred to as “Dorsey” during his time in Pittsburgh and there are multiple minor league players from that era who are known only as Dorsey, without any other information. He played for teams from Springfield and Decauter in 1912 and he was in the Texas-Oklahoma League in 1913, so these stats are likely all his from 1913-15. The actual correct spelling of his name was made known to Pirates fans on the day they released him.

Johnny Meador, pitcher for the 1920 Pirates. His entire big league career consisted of two starts and ten relief appearances, all with the Pirates. Meador was 27-years-old at the time, a veteran of five minor league seasons. He was purchased from Galveston of the Texas League on September 25, 1919 after he posted a 17-16 record for a seventh place team. Meador almost didn’t pitch for the Pirates. On April 9, 1920, they decided to send him to Wichita Falls of the Texas League, but there was a disagreement about his contract/services between the two clubs and the Pirates kept him instead. He made his big league debut eight games into the 1920 season. He threw five shutout innings in relief, then didn’t pitch until a week later. He was used just four times in the month of May, four times in June and three times in July. Meador did not fare well in his two starts, allowing a total of 12 runs in 9.1 innings. In relief, he had a 1.67 ERA over 27 innings. His last Major League game in mid-July was also his last game as a pro. On July 23rd, he jumped from the Pirates to Oil City, which played independent ball.

Jumping from organized ball to independent ball usually spelled the end of a player’s career in organized ball and that almost held true for Meador. He stayed in baseball for quite some time after jumping ship in Pittsburgh, playing for multiple teams from 1920-24, including a club from Mount Carmel, PA in 1924. He then applied for reinstatement into pro ball, which was allowed by Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis in late April of 1926. He had to return to the Pirates at that point, and they sent him Columbia of the South Atlantic League, which was a Pirates-backed affiliate at the time. He never pitched for the club due to a sore arm he developed while training. On June 3rd, he was released, officially ending his pro career. Meador spent exactly one year in the Navy during WWI, spending time on the U.S.S. Montana from December 13, 1917 until December 13, 1918.

The Transactions

On this date in 1973 the Pirates traded pitcher Nelson Briles and infielder Fernando Gonzalez to the Kansas City Royals for outfielder Ed Kirkpatrick, utility player Kurt Bevacqua and minor leaguer Winston Cole. This deal basically worked out even for the teams, with Briles and Kirkpatrick as the only two who saw significant time with their new team. Cole never made the majors and Bevacqua ended up back with the Royals mid-1974 in a trade that involved a minor league player and cash. Gonzalez ended up back with the Pirates in 1975, but Kansas City sold him to the New York Yankees just five months after this deal. Briles went 11-13, 4.14 in 215 innings with the Royals over two seasons before he was traded to the Texas Rangers. Kirkpatrick stayed in Pittsburgh through early 1977, though nearly half of his playing time came in 1974 when he put up a .714 OPS in 116 games. He was a bench player during the last 2+ seasons, finishing with a .676 OPS in 309 games for the Pirates.

On this date in 1989 the Pirates traded pitcher Jeff Robinson and minor leaguer Willie Smith to the New York Yankees in exchange for catcher Don Slaught. The trade was a one-sided win for the Pirates, as Slaught spent six seasons in Pittsburgh, including three years in which the Pirates won the NL East. Robinson pitched just one year out of the Yankees bullpen before leaving via free agency and Smith played just one partial season in the majors, which wasn’t until 1994 with the St Louis Cardinals. Slaught hit .305 with 21 homers and 184 RBIs in 475 games for the Pirates. In his 16-year career he accumulated 19.3 WAR, which was split 10.3 in six years with the Pirates and 9.0 over ten seasons elsewhere. Robinson was a reliable reliever who occasionally started. In his three seasons in Pittsburgh, he had a 3.78 ERA in 292.2 innings. He filled a similar role with the Yankees, posting a 3.45 ERA in 88.2 innings. The Pirates got great value out of Smith, who was signed as a non-drafted free agent. He had just a handful of Double-A appearances before the trade, all as a reliever.

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