This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: January 7th, Ducky and Kitty

Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including two members of World Series teams

Dick “Ducky” Schofield, infielder for the 1958-65 Pirates. He began his MLB career at age 18 with the Cardinals, spending his first 5 1/2 seasons in St Louis playing sparingly, appearing in just 208 games during that stretch. Schofield was signed under the Bonus Baby rule, which meant that he had to spend his first two full years in the majors from the day that he signed. The Cardinals handed him a $40,000 bonus at 18 years old in June of 1953 and he debuted in the majors weeks later on July 3rd. He played just 88 games over his two full years before the rule requirements were filled, then he was sent to the minors for the rest of 1955 (he returned in late September) and the better part of 1956. He was mostly a bench player in St Louis, picking up just 244 at-bats during his 208 games. The Pirates acquired him on June 15, 1958 along with cash for infielders Gene Freese and Johnny O’Brien. Schofield hit .148 over 26 games with the Pirates during that 1958 season. He saw limited playing time in 1959, getting into 81 games, but receiving only 163 plate appearances in which he hit .234 with 21 runs scored. The Pirates were battling for the NL pennant in 1960 and Schofield was getting very limited playing time until an injury struck the Pirates starting shortstop Dick Groat in early September. Ducky was hitting just .200 at the time (7-for-35), but he stepped into the shortstop position and hit .403 the rest of the way (21 games) to help the Pirates maintain their first place lead and win the pennant. He was back on the bench for the World Series with Groat returning to the lineup, but he managed to get to the plate four times, with a hit and walk to show for it.

Schofield was back to a limited role in 1961, getting just 90 plate appearances over 60 games, and he hit just .192 with two RBIs all year. He did better in 1962, batting .288/.382/.375, though still saw limited time as the backup for three infield spots. The Pirates traded Groat in November 1962 and Schofield became the regular shortstop, playing a career high 138 games in 1963, finishing with a .246 average, 69 walks and 54 runs scored. He hit .246 again in 1964 in the same role, getting into 121 games that year. He was the Pirates shortstop to begin the 1965 season, but a month into the schedule, the Pirates traded him to the San Francisco Giants for infielder Jose Pagan. Schofield was in the majors until 1971, playing a total of 1,321 games over 19 seasons. He spent parts of the 1965-66 seasons with the Giants, then played for the New York Yankees for 25 games in 1966. From there it was the 1966-67 Los Angeles Dodgers, the 1968 Cardinals, the 1969-70 Boston Red Sox, before splitting the 1971 season between the Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers. He was a career .227 hitter with 21 homers, 211 RBIs and 394 runs. For the Pirates in eight seasons, he hit .248 with 107 RBIs and 184 runs in 576 games. Schofield played 660 games at shortstop during his career, 159 at second base and 95 at third base. He also saw brief time at the two corner outfielder spots. His son Dick Schofield played 14 seasons in the majors and his grandson Jayson Werth played 15 seasons. Ducky Schofield turns 86 today.

Kitty Bransfield, first baseman for the NL pennant winning 1901-03 Pirates teams. Bransfield began pro career as a catcher and got into five games for the 1898 Boston Beaneaters during his first season of pro ball. After spending the next two seasons in the minors, the Pirates purchased his contract for the 1901 season in exchange for outfielder Joe Rickert and cash. Bransfield hit .369 in 122 games for Worcester of the Eastern League in 1900, with 17 homers and 40 stolen bases. The Pirates acquired his rights in late August of 1900 and it was announced that he would stay with his Worcester club until the end of the minor league season. He was supposed to join the Pirates on September 25, 1900, but he decided to return home due to a bum leg and some illnesses in his family. Barney Dreyfuss made the mistake of comparing Bransfield to the great Nap Lajoie as a batter, though he did well from the start in the majors so a little less lofty of a comparison would have been appropriate. Bransfield hit .295 during his 1901 rookie season in 139 games, scoring 92 runs while driving in 91. He was also third in the National League with 16 triples. In his second season, he hit .305 with 69 RBIs and  picked up 23 steals for the second straight season. The Pirates won their third straight pennant in 1903, but Kitty (his first name was William) hit just .265 with 57 RBIs in 127 games. He struggled in the World Series, hitting .207 with one RBI in 29 at-bats. He was the Pirates everyday first baseman in 1904, but he average dropped to .223 and he led all NL first baseman in errors. Following the season, he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies along with two other players for minor league first baseman Del Howard and outfielder Otis Clymer. Bransfield spent seven seasons in Philadelphia, before ending his career with three games for the Chicago Cubs in September of 1911. He finished with a .270 average, 637 RBIs and 175 stolen bases over 1,330 big league games. He fell one at-bat short of 5,000 for his career. Bransfield batted .271 with 277 RBIs and 70 stolen bases in 507 games with the Pirates.

Ted Beard, outfielder for the 1948-52 Pirates. He was signed by the Pirates as an amateur free agent in early 1942, playing one season in the minors before spending the next three years serving in the military during the war. He returned to the minors in 1946, where he stayed until the Pirates called him up in September of 1948. He hit .198 in 25 games during his first big league trial, getting 81 at-bats. Beard started the 1949 season in Pittsburgh, but was sent to the minors after batting .083 the first month of the season. He spent most of the 1950 season in the majors and hit .232 in 61 games. On July 16, 1950 he became just the second player ever to hit a ball over the right field roof at Forbes Field. The first was Babe Ruth. Beard was listed at 5’8″, 165 pounds, so it was quite a blast for someone of his stature. He hit a combined .185 over 37 games during the 1951-52 seasons, with similar stats/playing time each year. Early in the 1954 season he was sold to the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League. Following the sale, Beard played just 57 more games in the majors, coming during the 1957-58 seasons for the Chicago White Sox. He put up a 1.013 OPS in 96 games at Indianapolis of the American Association in 1957, which earned him his trip back to the majors after three years in the minors. Beard was hitting just .091 when he returned to the minors for the final time in 1958. He remained in pro ball for two full seasons and a handful of at-bats during the 1961-63 seasons. He also put in two years as a manager in the minors. He had a .284 minor league average in 1,915 games and hit .198 in 194 MLB games, including a .203 average in 137 games for the Pirates.

Al Todd, catcher for the 1936-38 Pirates. He was born on the same exact day as another former Pirates catcher, Cliff Knox (mentioned below). Todd played 11 seasons in the majors, despite the fact that he didn’t make his big league debut until age 30. He played four seasons for the Philadelphia Phillies, batting .318 and .290 in the last two years there, after hitting just .214 over his first two seasons combined. The Pirates traded rookie pitcher Claude Passeau and veteran catcher Earl Grace for Todd on November 21, 1935. The trade went south quickly, as Passeau would go on to win 162 Major League games after leaving Pittsburgh. With the Pirates in 1936 Todd was splitting the catching duties with Tom Padden until an injury in early July caused him (Todd) to miss six weeks. In 76 games that year he hit .273 with 28 RBIs. He would become the everyday catcher in 1937, playing 133 games, while hitting .307 with a career high 86 RBIs. The following season he would again play 133 games, this time hitting .265 with 75 RBIs. After the season, Todd and outfielder Johnny Dickshot were traded to the Boston Bees for catcher Ray Mueller. The second trade worked out better for the Pirates, as Todd saw a decline in his hitting, which led to a drop-off in his production each year until his final year in 1943 with the Chicago Cubs. He posted 0.2 WAR total over his final four seasons as a player. Todd played pro ball until age 44, managed eight seasons (two as a player/manager) in the minors and he also scouted for a few years. For the Pirates, he hit .284 with 17 homers and 189 RBIs in 342 games. His 1937-38 seasons rated as the two best during his 11-year career, compiling 3.8 WAR those years, compared to 0.7 WAR over his other nine years combined.

Leo Murphy, catcher for the 1915 Pirates. He played 31 games for Pittsburgh in 1915, getting 46 plate appearances, in which he went 4-for-41 (.098) with four walks and four RBIs. That was Murphy’s only season in the majors. He spent nine seasons in the minors, posting a .255 average in 801 games. He later managed for five seasons in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which was featured in the movie League of Their Own. With the Federal League in existence at the Major League level during the 1914-15 seasons, it opened up extra MLB jobs around baseball. The Pirates acquired Murphy via the Rule 5 draft from Sioux City of the Western League, securing his contract on September 26, 1914, and announcing that he would join the club during Spring Training in 1915. He was in his third season of pro ball in 1914 and he hit .323 in 73 games. The Pirates had veteran George Gibson as their starting catcher in 1915, with Bobby Schang serving as his backup. Murphy was the third-string backstop until late August, when he then split that limited role with a young receiver named Bill Wagner (no relation to Honus) after the Pirates released Schang. After the Pirates acquired highly-touted prospect Walter Schmidt for the 1916 season, they sold Murphy outright to Columbus of the American Association on February 5, 1916. Murphy played regularly over the next three minor league seasons, then saw sporadic time in pro ball, playing his final game in 1928 for Winston-Salem, where he hit .306 in the low-level Piedmont League at 39 years old.

Cliff Knox, catcher for the 1924 Pirates. He played in just six Major League games, all at 22 years old for the 1924 Pirates. He debuted in the majors  on July 1st and played his final game on July 14th. He started all six games he played behind the plate, going 4-for-18 with two walks and two RBIs. The Pirates had two catching injuries at the time and needed him to fill in. Just a week earlier, it was said that he looked good during practices and could do well if they needed to use him in an emergency situation. For a short time, the backup catcher to Knox for the Pirates was their coach, Grover Land, who last caught in the majors nine years earlier and retired from pro ball three years earlier.

Knox attended college in Des Moines and also made his pro debut in the same city, playing briefly for the Western League team in 1922. He was a star athlete in school, who also excelled in basketball and football. Before joining the Pirates, he played some semi-pro baseball in the Mississippi Valley ranks, but he had just 17 games of minor league experience prior to his debut. He actually announced his own signing in the local papers on September 27, 1923, saying that he signed a contract with the Pirates for the 1924 season. Knox actually played for the Pirates two weeks after his final game, catching on July 27, 1924 in an exhibition game against a semi-pro team from Providence, who the Pirates needed ten innings to defeat. Two weeks before his big league debut, he caught during an exhibition game on June 15th in Kingston, NY, in another game that took the Pirates ten innings to win. Knox was with Pittsburgh on Opening Day and remained with the Pirates for the entirety of the season, but the only time he made the news after July was on September 3rd when a foul ball he hit struck teammate Eppie Barnes in the face. He was with the Pirates at the start of their 1925 World Series winning season as well. On April 24th, after not playing in any of the first ten games of the season, Knox was sold outright to Birmingham of the Southern Association, ending his time with the Pirates. It was said at the time that he hurt his throwing arm during Spring Training in 1924 and had yet to fully recover. Despite that claim, he threw out four of six runners who attempted to steal against him with the Pirates. Knox spent 12 seasons in the minors, retiring at age 36 in 1938 after he hit .326 with 17 homers in 100 games that year.

Jim Pendleton, utility player for the 1957-58 Pirates. He hit .305 (18-for-59) in 46 games in 1957 for the Pirates while playing five different positions, including all three outfield spots, third base and shortstop. He played just three games in 1958, all as a pinch-hitter, spending most of the year in Triple-A, where he hit .312 in 123 games. He was part of a seven-player trade on January 30, 1959 that saw the Pirates acquire Harvey Haddix, Smoky Burgess and Don Hoak from the Cincinnati Reds. Pendleton also played in the majors from 1953-56 with the Milwaukee Braves, 1959 for the Reds and 1962 for the Houston Colt .45’s. His best season was his rookie year in 1953 at 29 years old, when he hit .299 in 129 games. During the 1954-59 six-year stretch, Pendleton started just 72 of his 207 big league games. His pro career began in 1948 with the Chicago American Giants of the Negro American League. From there he played three years for St Paul of the American Association as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers system, then got promoted to Montreal of the International League. The Dodgers traded him to the Braves as part of a four-team, five player/cash trade, prior to the 1953 season. The Pirates acquired him on April 3, 1957 in an even up swap for infielder Dick Cole. Pendleton played a total of 16 seasons in pro ball, getting into nearly 1,700 games. He was a .293 hitter over his ten seasons in the minors, compared to a .255 average in 444 big league games.