One trade of note and ten former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date.
On this date in 1954 the Pittsburgh Pirates traded starting pitcher Murry Dickson to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for relief pitcher Andy Hansen and infielder Jack Lohrke, along with $70,000 also going to the Pirates in the deal. It was a cost cutting move for the Pirates. They were just 50-104 in 1953 and they finished seventh out of eight NL teams in attendance. Dickson was their win leader in 1953 and he had also won as many as 20 games just two seasons earlier, but he was also one of the higher salary veterans on a team that was far from competing. He was 37 years old at the time of the trade and had led the NL in losses each of the last two seasons. His first year with the Phillies would be no different as he went 10-20, although his ERA was still a respectable 3.78 in 226.1 innings. Dickson pitched until 1959 and won 172 big league games. Neither played acquired by the Pirates played for them in the majors.
Elmer Dessens, pitcher for the Pirates from 1996-98. He was an international amateur free agent signing by the Pirates in 1993 out of Mexico. He pitched two seasons in the Mexican League before the Pirates sent him to Double-A in 1995, where he went 15-8, 2.49 in 27 games. After pitching briefly in the minors to start the 1996 season, he made his Major League debut in late June and went 0-2, 8.28 in 25 innings over 15 games (three as a starter). He returned to the Mexican League for 1997, before making three late season appearances for the Pirates. Dessens spent most of the 1998 season in the Pirates bullpen, posting a 2-6, 5.67 record in 43 games. He was released by the Pirates just prior to Opening Day in 1999. He went 2-8, 6.12 in 103 innings while with the Pirates. After spending the 1999 season playing in Japan, Dessens signed a free agent deal with the Cincinnati Reds. He won 28 games and had a 3.94 ERA over 530.1 innings in three seasons with the Reds. That was followed by parts of two seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks, parts of two years with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and a partial season with the Kansas City Royals (2006), before getting traded back to the Dodgers. Dessens then split the 2007 season between the Milwaukee Brewers and Colorado Rockies, and he posted a 7.15 ERA. He gave up ten runs over four innings with the 2008 Atlanta Braves, then finished his big league career by putting up strong numbers for the 2009-10 New York Mets. He had a 2.71 ERA in 79.2 innings over 81 appearances with the Mets. He pitched 380 Major League games after leaving Pittsburgh and was active up until 2011, spending his final season back in Mexico. Dessens won 28 games with Cincinnati in three years and he had just 24 wins total over his other 11 seasons in the majors.
Odell Jones, pitcher for the 1975, 77-78 and 1981 Pirates. He was an amateur free agent signing in late 1971 at 18 years old. Jones pitched well from the start in the minors, posting an ERA between 3.08 and 3.24 as a starter during his first three seasons, working his way from short-season ball to Double-A during that time. He earned a brief look with the Pirates in September 1975 after going 14-9, 2.68 in 26 Triple-A starts that year. The Pirates used him twice in relief and he allowed just one hit over three shutout innings. Jones spent all of 1976 in Triple-A. In July, a shoulder injury described as a muscle tear, put him out of action, limiting him to 84 innings over 16 starts that eason. He wasn’t doing well at the time either, posting a 4.93 ERA. Despite those poor results, he spent all of 1977 in the majors with the Pirates, going 3-7, 5.08 in 34 games, 15 as a starter. He returned to Triple-A in 1978 to start the year and had a 4.57 ERA in 181 innings before making three late appearances with the Pirates. In December of that year he was part of a six-player trade with the Seattle Mariners. Jones spent all of 1979 in the majors and got roughed up, going 3-11, 6.07 in 118.2 innings, with 19 starts and six relief appearances. The Pirates got him back just prior to the 1980 season in exchange for relief pitcher Larry Anderson. Jones spent 1980 in the minors, posting a 6-7, 4.13 record in 98 innings. In 1981, he split the season between the minors and majors, going 12-6, 3.53 in 23 starts for Triple-A Portland, while making 13 appearances with the Pirates, eight as a starter. He posted a 4-5, 3.31 record in 54.1 innings for Pittsburgh. Back in the minors all of 1982, the Pirates lost him in the Rule 5 draft to the Texas Rangers in December 1982. Jones went 9-12, 4.28 in 174.1 innings during his four seasons in Pittsburgh. He pitched four more seasons in the majors, finishing with a 24-35, 4.42 record in 201 games. Jones did well in relief for the 1983 Rangers, with a 3.09 ERA in 67 innings over 42 outings. He picked up ten saves as well. He had just 13 saves total in the majors. He had a decent season for the Rangers in 1984, then next appeared in the majors with the 1986 Baltimore Orioles and 1988 Milwaukee Brewers. He remained in pro ball until 1992, finishing up with the California Angels in Triple-A. Jones also spent time playing in Mexico. He won a total of 118 minor league games. Jones was featured in our Obscure Pittsburgh Pirates series last year.
Jim Foor, pitcher for the 1973 Pirates. He was a first round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers in 1967 out of high school, taken 15th overall. While he didn’t fly through the minors, Foor put up some strong stats while working his way up. He had a 2.59 ERA at 18 years old in the Florida State League in 1967, then posted a 1.91 ERA as a reliever in Double-A in 1968. After struggling a little with the switch to a starting role in Double-A in 1969, he had an outstanding 1970 season back at the same level for a third year, putting up a 1.93 ERA in 161 innings. At 22 years old, Foor made the Tigers Opening Day roster in 1971 without any Triple-A experience, but he recorded just three outs in his three relief appearances before being sent back to the minors for the rest of the season, leaving him with an 18.00 big league ERA for the next 16 months. He returned to the majors in August 1972 after posting a 2.94 ERA in 22 starts at Triple-A. He pitched a total of 3.2 innings over seven appearances with the Tigers, this time getting tagged for six runs and a 14.73 ERA. The Pirates acquired him in a November 1972 trade, along with another young pitcher named Norm McRae, in exchange for minor league outfielder Dick Sharon. The Pirates moved Foor to relief and he had a 3.58 ERA in 83 innings at Triple-A Charleston. He made three big league appearances for the Pirates in late September, pitching a total of 1.1 scoreless innings. The Pirates then traded him to the Kansas City Royals for pitcher Wayne Simpson prior to the 1974 season. Foor pitched three years in the minors after the trade, spending one year each with the Royals, St Louis Cardinals and Oakland A’s. He never appeared in the majors again, leaving him with a 12.00 ERA in six innings over 13 big league games.
Ron Brand, catcher for the 1963 Pirates. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Pirates prior to the 1958 season at 18 years old. He played five full minor league seasons, twice hitting over .300, before he got his first chance at the majors. The Pirates called him up in late May of 1963, using him as a backup catcher for the rest of the season. Despite the promotion, he was hitting just .094 in 23 minor league games. Brand came up when backup catcher Elmo Plaskett was sent down, which was actually the end of Plaskett’s big league career. The local papers said that the Pirates sent Plaskett down to the minors to help beef up the lineup for their last place Columbus/Triple-A affiliate. Considering the circumstances, with Brand hitting .094 at the time and the older Plaskett having big league experience, it almost feels like that was the truth. Brand did much better with the bat in the majors, hitting .288 in 46 games for the Pirates, though he had just 77 plate appearances, with 24 of them coming during the last week of the season. He spent the entire 1964 season in Triple-A for Pittsburgh, hitting .273 with six homers in 123 games, before they lost him in the November 1964 Rule 5 draft to the Houston Colt .45’s. He played seven more seasons in the majors and finished as a .239 hitter in 568 career games. Brand spent four years in Houston, hitting .231 over 300 games. He was used often off of the bench, and also saw time at second base, third base and the corner outfield spots. He moved to the expansion Montreal Expos for his final three seasons and added both shortstop and center field to his resume. He had a .247 average in 222 games with the Expos. Brand homered once with the Pirates and twice during his first season in Houston, then went 1,109 plate appearances (the rest of his big league career) without hitting another homer. His two homers in Houston came against Hall of Famer Bob Gibson and Pirates great Bob Veale. He homered 42 times in 848 minor league games. Brand turns 81 today
Ben Guintini, outfielder for the 1946 Pirates. The Pirates took the 26-year-old outfielder in the 1945 Rule 5 draft from the New York Giants after he hit .283 in 109 games for San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League. He started playing pro ball in 1940, then missed two seasons due to the war, before returning in 1944. He was on the Pirates 1946 Opening Day roster and pinch-hit in his first game (team’s fifth game). He flew out to center field in the fourth inning, hitting for pitcher Jim Hopper, who allowed five runs in three frames. Four days later, Guintini went 0-for-2 while playing right field. He started the game, but left after six innings for pinch-hitter Johnny Barrett. The Pirates shipped Guintini back to the PCL after that two-game trial. He spent his final 11 days with the team on the bench, before getting optioned to Hollywood of the PCL, on the same day (May 7th) the Pirates outright released veteran star pitcher Bob Klinger. Guintini broke his toe late in the 1946 season and missed a chance at a September recall. He played in Triple-A for the Pirates in 1947, before they sold him to his old team in San Francisco in April of 1948. He refused to report to their farm club in Indianapolis due to a salary dispute, with Indianapolis saying they wouldn’t give him a raise because his lack of hustle resulted in him hitting into too many double plays. After one down season in San Francisco, he hit .306 with 32 homers and 95 RBIs for Dallas of the Texas League in 1949, which earned him another big league look. In 1950, he got a three-game trial with the Philadelphia A’s at the beginning of the season. He pinch-hit twice and started once in left field. Guintini played the entire game, but it was called after just six innings due to darkness. He was sent to the minors a short time later and remained there until the end of the 1951 season. He played semi-pro ball in 1952, then retired from baseball. He went 0-for-7 in five MLB games.
Spades Wood, pitcher for the 1930-31 Pirates. He went 22-3, 2.65 in the minors for Wichita of the Western League in 1930, earning an August call-up to the Pirates, which resulted in a 4-3, 5.12 record in nine games. The ERA wasn’t that good, though two things stand out about it. The 1930 season was one of the highest offense years in baseball history, so a lot of pitchers got hit hard that season. The second thing that stands out is the fact Wood threw two complete game shutouts. Those shutouts came in his second and third career starts and both were the first game of a doubleheader. Wood was seldom used the following year, pitching 15 games spread out over the entire season. He went 2-6, 6.15 in 64 innings in what would be his last MLB season. He was still Pirates property for the next two seasons in the minors and he pitched pro ball until 1934. His shot at coming back to the majors in 1932 was hampered by an appendicitis operation that limited him to 70 innings on the season. He competed for an Opening Day spot in 1933, but was sent first to Kansas City of the American Association, then back to his 1932 team (Tulsa of the Texas League) on May 30th. His real first name was Charles. A story printed in the August 17, 1930 edition of the Bristol Herald Courier said he drew a perfect hand of 13 spades while playing a card game at Wofford College with friends, but when the story got out, they were found to be playing cards on a Sunday, which got them kicked out of school. That led to his minor league baseball career, which led into him pitching so well in the minors over two seasons that he was purchased by the Pirates. Wood was called to the majors on August 12, 1930 when pitcher Leon Chagnon was sent to Wichita for more seasoning.
Fred Schulte, outfielder for the 1936-37 Pirates. Schulte was 35 years old and already had nine seasons in at the Major League level when the Pirates purchased him for $8,000 from the Washington Senators in January 1936. He hit .294 or better in six of those seasons, but was coming off a down year in 1935 in which he hit .265 and saw his playing time diminish. While he was never a power hitter, his .698 OPS in 1935 was the lowest of his career, so all signs pointed to him being on the downside of his career. He mostly played center field for the Pirates in 1936, getting plenty of pinch-hitting appearances as well. He hit .261 with 17 RBIs in 74 games that year. Much of his playing time came earlier in the year when starting center fielder Lloyd Waner got off to a very slow start. When Waner started hitting later in the season, Schulte saw less playing time. He got some time in right field in August, but barely played in September. He hit .310 during the first half of the season, and batted .217 during the second half. Schulte was almost glued to the bench for all of 1937, playing 29 games spread out over the entire year, with just two starts. He hit .100 in what would be his final season in the majors. The Pirates released him at the end of the season. He played pro ball until 1944 and also managed during three seasons in the minors, two as a player/manager. Smith played full seasons for the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association in 1925-26, before debuting in the majors in 1927. After playing 11 years in the majors, he returned to that same Milwaukee team for the 1938-39 seasons. He was a .291 career hitter in 1,179 big league games, hitting .300+ three times. He also had two seasons in which he scored 100+ runs (1931-32 for the St Louis Browns). Smith led all American League center fielders in assists in 1928, and led all AL outfielders in fielding percentage in 1929 and put outs in 1933.
Edward “Goat” Anderson, outfielder for the 1907 Pirates. He replaced star center fielder Ginger Beaumont after Beaumont was traded to the Boston Doves during the 1906 off-season. Anderson played the first four seasons of his pro career for South Bend of the Central League. He hit .315 in 1906 and gained the interest of Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss, who signed him in early January at the same time they released veteran catcher Henie Peitz. The 27-year-old Anderson hit .206 with 12 RBIs in 510 plate appearances during his only season in the majors. While those numbers look awful, he did manage to take 80 walks, steal 27 bases and score 73 runs, though Beaumont led the National League in hits that year, so Anderson couldn’t quite fill the big shoes left for him in Pittsburgh. The Pirates used Anderson mostly in right field, where he played 89 games. He also saw time in center field (26 games), as well as a handful of starts at second base, and a few (literally) innings in left field. Anderson played ten total seasons in the minors, six after the Pirates released him on January 4, 1908 to Rochester of the Eastern League. There were reports in the papers that Anderson received a lot of help from the official scorers in South Bend when he batted .315 in 1906 and his lack of hitting with the Pirates showed that to be true. Those reports said that he would have a tough time ever making it back to the majors and that turned out to be true, even if the reports were based on speculation. He never hit higher than .257 in any of his other nine minor league seasons and his slightly incomplete minor league career line shows just three homers total in 1,022+ games. His only home run in the majors was an inside-the-park homer off of Chicago Cubs star pitcher Ed Reulbach. Anderson holds the Pirates rookie record for walks.
Jud Smith, third baseman for the 1896 and 1901 Pirates. Smith spent a long time as a player in pro ball (1887-1909), but he played just 103 Major League games spread out of four seasons, and even those seasons were spread out. He hit .196 playing for the Cincinnati Reds (17 games) and St Louis Browns (four games) in 1893, then next appeared in the majors with the 1896 Pirates in June, where he hit .343 in ten games. He was replacing an injured Denny Lyons at third base. When Lyons returned from injury, Smith lost his spot with the team. He joined the team/debuted on June 8th and left for his old team in Toronto of the Eastern League on June 20th, so he was around for just 12 days. Two years later he hit .303 in 66 games for the Washington Senators, but still couldn’t hold a Major League job. The end of the 1901 season saw him play six games and hit .143 for the first place Pirates, the first team in franchise history to win the pennant. He was brought to the team on September 6th as an emergency player in case any injuries occurred. Smith spent the year playing in the Eastern League, where he hit .264 in 98 games. He started at first base for the Pirates on September 11th, then moved to third base for five games played between September 13th and 15th. Despite the five-day stint, he ended up playing in three different cities, including two home games. A leg injury to third baseman Tommy Leach during that September 11th game, helped Smith get into the next five games. In fact, his start at first base was the only game Kitty Bransfield missed during the 1901 season, so his entire time with the Pirates over two seasons only happened just by chance. In late September, two weeks after his final big league game, Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss left Smith off the Reserved List for 1902, saying that he had plenty of good players lined up for the following season and Smith wouldn’t be needed. Smith has a laundry list of minor league stops through his 21 seasons of pro ball, though he managed to play six full seasons for Los Angeles of the Pacific Coast League from 1903-05 and 1907-09. In between, he played for two other west coast clubs. He played for 16 other minor league teams over the years, making multiple stops in a few cities. His minor league stats aren’t 100% complete, but they show that he played at least 2,180 games in pro ball.
Al Krumm, pitcher for the Pittsburgh Alleghenys on May 17, 1889. Krumm had a brief minor league career and an even shorter big league career. He spent two seasons in the Tri-State League and had just one tough outing for the Alleghenys. He was signed on May 16, 1889 and given a train ticket to New York for a start the very next day. He was a local mill worker in town, who pitched for a strong amateur team in town. He faced the best amateur team (the East End Athletics) in town just days earlier and held them to two hits over seven innings. There were reportedly multiple suitors lined up to sign him at the time, including two local minor league teams. Going up against the New York Giants in his major league debut, Krumm had some wildness, issuing ten walks (some newspapers from the time say nine) and that helped the Giants to an 11-7 victory. He was signed by Pittsburgh on May 15th when injuries to Pud Galvin, Ed Morris and Pete Conway left three of their four starting pitchers unable to play. Following his only game, it sounded like Krumm would get a second chance, as a front office member told the local paper that they were satisfied with his showing against New York and they would keep him around for the time being. He was even announced as the probably starter for May 21st, though Harry Staley ended up pitching instead. Pittsburgh then had a rain out and also signed a local kid named Alex Beam and a 17-year-old named Andy Dunning. Both of those pitchers got two starts without any success, and due to their presence, Krumm never pitched again.
Krumm was with the team working out and felt so good about his control getting better, that he offered to buy a hat for any opposing player than was able to draw a walk off him in his next start. Obviously the hat makers in Pittsburgh were never able to profit from that claim. Krumm was again listed as the probable for May 29th, but that game ended up being the second start from Alex Beam instead. The final straw for Krumm’s career was a natural disaster, the Johnstown flood. It occurred on May 31, 1889 and kept the Alleghenys from returning home from a road trip. It also caused them to play just one game over a six-day stretch. Krumm and Beam were scheduled for a doubleheader against Indianapolis on June 5th, but rain wiped away both games. Prior to the game, the Alleghenys manager Horace Phillips said that Krumm would be left behind while the rest of the team made a road trip, but he was instructed to report to Recreation Park each day and practice. When they finally resumed play, both Pud Galvin and Ed Morris returned to the team and the services of the young players were no longer needed. Krumm signed with Dayton of the Tri-State League after leaving the Alleghenys, but his time there was so short that his contract and release were both in the same transaction announcement, which newspapers picked up occasionally throughout the year. His two transactions were announced on August 19th, with no specific dates, though from research I figured out that he was at least there between July 17th and August 2nd. There was word in April of 1890 that he was wanted by a minor league team in Canton, OH., but he was playing for a local team (Homestead) in Pittsburgh during the season. In 1891, Krumm pitched for an amateur team from McKeesport.