This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: December 16th, Two Trades of Note

Three former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus two trades of note.

The Trades

On this date in 1960 the Pittsburgh Pirates traded three players to the Washington Senators for veteran pitcher Bobby Shantz. Just two days prior to the trade the Senators chose Shantz in the expansion draft off the New York Yankees roster. The Pirates sent pitcher Bennie Daniels, first baseman RC Stevens and utility fielder Harry Bright to Washington in the deal. The Pirates and Senators made a prearranged deal prior to the expansion draft that if Washington took Shantz, the Pirates would share their AL scouting reports with the Senators so they could be better prepared in the draft. After the trade Shantz lasted just one year in Pittsburgh before he was lost to the Houston Colt 45’s in the 1961 expansion draft. He went 6-3, 3.22 in 43 games for the Pirates, six as a starter. He won his fifth straight Gold Glove, handling all 31 chances he had that season without an error. Daniels pitched five years in Washington, going 37-60, 4.14 in 821.1 innings. He actually had a winning record (12-11) during the team’s first season, which is an accomplishment on a team that finished 61-100. Stevens hit .129 in 33 games in 1961, then never played in the majors again. Bright hit .263 with 21 homers in 185 games over two seasons in Washington before being traded.

On this date in 1938 the Pirates traded catcher Al Todd and outfielder Johnny Dickshot along with cash to the Boston Bees for catcher Ray Mueller. Boston got the best of the deal, but not by much. Todd lasted one season and outperformed Mueller, while Dickshot was sold right away to the New York Giants, so Boston just got more cash out of the deal. Mueller hit .233 with 18 RBIs in 86 games for the Pirates in 1939. He played only four Major League games in 1940, spending the rest of that season and the entire 1941 season in the minors, before the Pirates sold him to the St Louis Cardinals. Todd had his two best career seasons with the 1937-38 Pirates, so they were trading him at his peak, though he was already 36 years old at the time. Mueller ended up putting his best career stats together with the Cincinnati Reds during the 1943-44 and 1946 seasons when he compiled 10.2 WAR.

The Players

Fred Crolius, right fielder for the 1902 Pirates. The 1902 Pirates were the best team in franchise history, finishing with a 103-36 record. They did that despite suffering a massive amount of injuries in August. Back when teams regularly kept no more than 15-20 players active, the Pirates had seven players injured. Fred Crolius got his chance to play during this time and he didn’t do the team any favors in his first game. In the fourth inning of a doubleheader on August 22, 1902, Crolius collided with second baseman Claude Ritchey and knocked him out of action. The Pirates were actually approached by Crolius to play to outfield, with the understanding that he was only playing until they were healthy enough for him to leave the team. He was a star athlete, who also excelled at football, but he preferred to run his own business rather than play sports full-time. The local papers said that he could have had a big league job at any point that season if he wanted one. Crolius played a total of nine games over a nine-day period with the Pirates, hitting .263 with seven RBIs. After his last game on August 30th, he never played another MLB game. His only other big league action came during the 1901 season for the Boston Beaneaters, when he hit .240 in 49 games. After his big league career was over, he played three minor league seasons and hit .326+ each year. He was also the manager during those three seasons, so he had no trouble staying in the lineup.

Jeff Granger, lefty pitcher for the 1997 Pirates. Granger was a first round draft pick out of Texas A&M by the Kansas City Royals in 1993 and made it to the majors that same season. He debuted on September 16th and allowed three runs in one inning, in what turned out to be his only game of the season. Granger gave up eight runs over 9.1 innings in 1994, while making two starts for the Royals. Those games ended up being his only two big league starts. He spent all of 1995 in Double-A as a starter and he had a 5.93 ERA in 95.2 innings. He made it back to the majors briefly in 1996, posting a 6.61 ERA in 16.1 innings over 15 relief appearances. After pitching parts of three years in the majors with no success, he was dealt to the Pirates on December 13, 1996 in a six-player deal that sent Jeff King and Jay Bell to Kansas City. Granger made the Opening Day roster in 1997 and pitched a shutout inning of relief in his Pittsburgh debut, but things went downhill after that. He allowed at least one run in six of his last eight appearances. Granger was sent to the minors after his last appearance on April 25th and he never pitched in the majors again, finishing out his career in 2000 when he played for four different teams. In 27 games in the big leagues, he finished 0-1, 9.09 in 31.2 innings. He was originally at 14th round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins out of high school in 1990.

Bill Otey, lefty pitcher for the 1907 Pirates. In his pro debut with the Pirates on September 27, 1907, Otey came close to picking up a complete game win, but finished with a no-decision in a game that was called a tie after 11 innings due to darkness. Otey took a 5-1 lead into the 9th inning against the Boston Doves and couldn’t finish the game off, getting knocked around while picking up just one out. Howie Camnitz came on for the save, but Boston was able to tie the score off him and send it to extra innings. Otey got his only other start nine days later in the second game of a doubleheader, pitching a complete game in a 4-1 loss to the Reds that was called after seven innings. His only other appearance for the Pirates was a one inning relief appearance. Pittsburgh purchased Otey from Norfolk of the Virginia League for $1,500 on August 20, 1907. He joined the Pirates in September after he went 22-10 and threw 327 innings. He had seven starts with three or fewer hits allowed, including one no-hitter. It was his second season in pro ball. In 1906 for Norfolk, he won 19 games as a 19-year-old. Otey returned to the minors in 1908 when the Pirates released him to Rochester on February 22nd. He later pitched two seasons (1910-11) for the Washington Senators, going 1-4, 5.12 in 84.1 innings. He won 96 games in the minors in a career that spanned from 1906 until 1914.