This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: January 9th, Hall of Fame Trade with Brooklyn

One major trade made on this date and two former Pittsburgh Pirates were born on January 9th.

The Trade

On this date in 1918 the Pittsburgh Pirates and Brooklyn Robins hooked up for a five-player deal that saw two future Hall of Famers change teams. The Pirates sent future HOF pitcher Burleigh Grimes along with fellow pitcher Al Mamaux and shortstop Chuck Ward to the Robins in exchange for second baseman George Cutshaw and outfielder Casey Stengel, the future HOF manager.

Cutshaw was 31 years old at the time of the trade and a veteran of six major league seasons, all with Brooklyn. He played 845 games during that time and was a .260 hitter with 350 runs scored, 360 RBIs and 166 stolen bases. He was a strong fielder who had led all NL second baseman in assists every year from 1914-16 and in putouts every season from 1913-16. In 1917 he finished second in both categories and third in fielding percentage. Stengel had also spent his first six seasons with Brooklyn, but he was just 27 years old. He started his first two years as a center fielder, then mainly played right field the last four seasons. He was a .272 hitter in 676 games with 292 RBIs and 77 stolen bases. During the 1917 season, he hit .257 with career highs with 69 runs scored, 73 RBIs and 60 walks.

Ward was a 23-year-old rookie in 1917 for the Pirates. He took over at shortstop for the Pirates after Honus Wagner moved to first base for his final season in 1917. In 125 games, Ward hit .236 with 43 RBIs, but made 50 errors at shortstop. Mamaux had a horrible season in 1917, going 2-11, 5.25, but he was just 23 years old at the time and had a combined 42-23 record the previous two seasons, winning 21 games each year. Grimes also had a poor season in 1917, finishing the year with a 3-16 record. He was 24 years old at the time of the deal and had made his debut in September 1916. The Pirates were giving up a lot of youth in the deal, but they were doing it with the hopes of improving on their dismal 1917 season in which they went 51-103.

Ward ended up playing five seasons in Brooklyn as a seldom used backup, getting only 111 games in during his time there. He hit .217 in 346 at-bats. Mamaux never had seasons quite like his two big years in Pittsburgh. He was 26-30 in six seasons in Brooklyn, although he did win 22 games total during the 1919-20 seasons with a 2.67 ERA. Grimes was the key to the deal for Brooklyn, swinging the trade in their favor. He played nine seasons in Brooklyn winning 158 games, four times winning at least 20 in a season. Stengel lasted two years in Pittsburgh, playing 128 games in which he hit .280 with 55 RBIs. He was traded to the Phillies during the 1919 season for outfielder Possum Whitted. Cutshaw played four seasons in Pittsburgh, giving them strong defense at second base and two good seasons at the plate. He hit .285 with 68 RBIs in 1918, and even though he played just 98 games in 1921, he hit .340 with 53 RBIs. The Pirates lost this deal, though they would get Grimes back in 1928 and he won a league leading 25 games that year. He followed that up with a 17-7 season in 1929. He also returned for a third tour of duty, finishing his career with the team in 1934.

The Players

Harley Payne, pitcher for the 1899 Pirates. Payne had three previous seasons of MLB experience prior to joining the Pirates, all with Brooklyn. He started his pro career in 1890 and spent his first six season in the minors, playing for nine different teams. He made his big league debut in 1896 and had a 14-16, 3.39 record for a bad Brooklyn team. His ERA actually ranked him eighth in the National League, so his record was more indicative of being on a tenth place team (12 teams in the NL that year). He followed up that rookie season with a 14-17, 4.63 record in 1897 as Brooklyn moved up to seventh place in the NL. Payne made just one start all season in 1898, which he won 9-8, pitching a complete game and going 3-for-4 with three RBIs. He was out for most of the year due to his health. He was signed by the Pirates in late October of 1898, though he was a late arrival to the team during Spring Training the next year. It took him a little time to get into game shape, making his debut in the 17th game of the year on May 6th. The team had a 4-10 record going into the game, but they won in 11 innings over the Louisville Colonels. It was said by the local papers that the 4,000 fans in attendance at Exposition Park showed a lot of appreciation for manager Bill Watkins over his signing of Payne. A week later, Payne pitched for a second time and took the loss against the Reds. He pitched four innings, with the local paper saying that he retired from the mound after four innings on his own request. He lost a rough one two weeks later when the Phillies beat the Pirates 6-5 in ten innings. Errors and misplays accounted for five of the six runs allowed. He made his final start a week later on June 8th in a loss to the Baltimore Orioles. He gave up four runs in the first inning before being removed. That was the end to his Major League (and pro) career, finishing 30-36, 4.04 in 80 games, 72 as a starter. The Pirates officially released him on June 16th after they played the final game of a series in Cleveland, not far from his home in Ohio. It was said by manager Patsy Donovan that Payne had been under the weather for two weeks and wasn’t in shape to play anymore.

Ed Spurney, shortstop for the 1891 Pirates. His entire big league career lasted three games spread out over four days when he was 19 years old. From June 26, 1891 until June 29th, Spurney went 2-for-9 with a double, two runs and two walks. He played all three games at shortstop and he committed one error in nine chances. His only other known pro experience was playing for three minor league teams over the 1890-91 season, so his pro baseball career appeared to end as a teenager. In 1892-93, he was playing baseball for the University of Michigan and an amateur team called the Cleveland Athletic Club. He graduated from Michigan as a law student in 1893 and passed the Ohio bar exam. By 1895 he was a successful lawyer.

Spurney debuted in pro ball with Jamestown of the New York-Penn League in 1890. During that season, the Pirates got a look at him in an exhibition game played on April 15th versus Jamestown. Prior to that he played amateur/semi-pro ball with the Akron Base Ball Club and the Erie Drummers in 1889 at 17 years old.  He started the 1891 season with Evansville of the Northwestern League, splitting time between second base and shortstop, before being picked up by the Pirates on June 26th. After he was let go, he joined Ottumwa of the Illinois-Iowa League. Spurney was from Cleveland and he debuted with Pittsburgh in his hometown during a 14-5 loss against the Spiders. He collected a double and scored a run. The next day the Pirates traveled to Chicago and he made the trip. The local Chicago papers spoke highly of him after the game, with one saying “The Cleveland boy made quite a favorable impression”. The Chicago Inter Ocean heaped praise upon him saying that his play at shortstop “was sharp and clever, and he showed up well at the bat, too”. That was a little better than the hometown report from the previous day that simply said “he did not do bad”. Two days later, manager Ned Hanlon pulled Spurney in the fourth inning, replacing him with utility fielder Jocko Fields. The local paper said no reason was given. Whatever reason Hanlon had to remove him, it ended up being the end of his big league career. He was sent home the next day and started playing a short time later with Ottumwa. There was a report that Evansville released him due to a lame arm, so they may have something to do with his big league departure.