Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus a trade to break down.
On this date in 1957, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded first baseman Dale Long and outfielder Lee Walls to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for first baseman Dee Fondy and infielder Gene Baker. Fondy would be traded to the Cincinnati Reds seven months later for Ted Kluszewski. Baker was an All-Star for the Cubs in 1955 and played well for the Pirates after the trade, but early in 1958 he got injured and missed all of the 1959 season. When he returned in 1960, he was 35 years old and a part-time player on that championship team. The Pirates released him in June the following season. Fondy was a 32-year-old veteran of seven seasons (all with the Cubs) at the time of the trade. He was a .285 career hitter with some pop in his bat, although that disappeared in Pittsburgh. Before being traded to the Reds, he hit .313 with two homers in 95 games for the Pirates.
Lee Walls was just 24 years old when the trade occurred, with one full season in at the Major League level. He ended up playing until 1964, mostly as a bench player, but in 1958 he had an All-Star season, hitting .304 with 24 homers and 72 RBIs for the Cubs. Long was 31 years old and was off to a slow start that 1957 season. After the trade, he went on a tear, finishing with a .305 average and 21 homers for the Cubs. He hit 20 homers and drove in 75 runs in 1958, then his production dropped off, although he did stick around the majors until the 1963 season.
Jose Lind, second baseman for the 1987-92 Pirates. He was signed by the Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1982 at 18 years old out of Puerto Rico. He debuted in the Gulf Coast League in 1983, hitting .301 in 45 games. Lind moved up to Low-A in 1984 and he hit just .207 in 121 games. He stole 17 bases that season, his high mark during his first three years in the minors. In 1985, he played for Prince William of the Carolina League, where he hit .276 in 105 games. Lind didn’t draw many walks or hit for any power during his entire career, but those numbers were very low until his 1986 season in Double-A, playing for Nashua of the Eastern League. He batted .263 with 43 walks, to go along with his first home run as a pro. He also stole 29 bases, to go along with 18 doubles and five triples, which we his high marks in the minors. He began the 1987 season in Triple-A, where he batted .268 with 21 steals and 75 runs scored in 128 games. He was called up to the majors in late August and took over at second base, where he hit .322 in 35 games. Lind scored a career high 82 runs during the 1988 season, to go along with a .262 average, 15 steals and 49 RBIs in 154 games. His batting average dropped to .232 in 1989, but he remained in the lineup full-time (153 games) due to his defense. Lind went 15-for-16 in steals that year. He played 152 games in 1990, hitting .261 with 48 RBIs, 46 runs scored and a career high 28 doubles. His .646 OPS was the best he recorded while in Pittsburgh. The Pirates made the playoffs for the first time since 1979 and he batted .238 with a double, triple and a homer in the NLCS. He drove in a high of 54 runs during the 1991 season, while batting .265 in 150 games. In the playoffs that year, he went 4-for-25 with no walks and four singles.
Lind had his worst season at the plate with the Pirates in 1992, putting up a .544 OPS in 135 games. He won a Gold Glove that year when he led the National League with a .992 fielding percentage, though modern defensive metrics had that year as his fourth best full season with the Pirates. He finished between 1.1 and 1.4 dWAR during the 1988 and 1990-91 seasons, then put up an 0.2 mark during his Gold Glove season. He hit .222 with two doubles, a triple and a homer during the postseason, though he’s remembered more for a ninth inning error that put the tying run on base. While that error hurt, there were still two walks and two hits in the inning that contributed to the loss. Lind was traded to the Kansas City Royals for pitchers Joel Johnston and Dennis Moeller after the 1992 season. In six seasons with the Pirates, he hit .255 in 779 games with 249 RBIs and 292 runs scored. He had a .607 OPS in 20 playoff games. After the trade, he hit .248 with 37 RBIs and 33 runs scored in 136 games in 1993, while leading American League second basemen with a .993 fielding percentage. During the strike-shortened 1994 season, he batted .269 in 85 games, with 31 RBIs, 34 runs scored and nine stolen bases. He hit one homer that season, which was the only homer he hit during his final four seasons in the majors. Lind batted .268 in 29 games in 1995 before he was released by the Royals in July. He signed 12 days later with the California Angels, but he played just 15 games there before being released on August 31st, which ended his big league career. Lind didn’t play pro ball during the 1996-98 seasons, but he began to play independent ball for Bridgeport of the Atlantic League in 1999 and remained there for four seasons as a player (1999-2002) then managed the team during the 2003-05 seasons. He finished his big league career as a .254 hitter in 1,044 games, with 368 runs scored, 324 RBIs and 62 stolen bases. His .988 fielding percentage at second base is the 17th best all-time. His cousin Onix Concepcion played seven years with the Royals and one game with the 1987 Pirates.
Johnny Berardino, second baseman for the Pirates in 1950 and 1952. He looked like a superstar in the making during the 1940-41 seasons with the St Louis Browns, but Berardino missed most of 1942 and all of the 1943-45 seasons while serving in the military during WWII. He had a nice season during his first year back in 1946, but his skills quickly went into decline, though he hung around the majors until the end of the 1952 season. Berardino started his pro career at 20 years old in 1937, when he batted .334 with 23 doubles and 12 homers in 91 games for Johnstown of the Middle Atlantic League (Class-C ball). He moved up to San Antonio of the Texas League in 1938, where he batted .309 with 41 doubles and 13 homers in 141 games. He debuted in the majors in 1939, spending most of the season as the starting second baseman for the Browns. In 126 games, he hit .256 with 34 extra-base hits and 58 RBIs. Berardino saw most of his playing time at shortstop in 1940 and had a strong year at the plate. His average went up just two points (.258), but he hit 31 doubles and 16 homers, while driving in 85 runs. In 1941, he hit .271 with 30 doubles and 89 RBIs. He was doing well in 1942, hitting .284 in 29 games, before joining the Navy in the war effort. Berardino returned to baseball action in 1946 and played 144 games as the Browns starting second baseman. He hit .265 with 29 doubles and 70 runs scored, receiving mild MVP support for the only time in his career. He batted .261 with 22 doubles and 44 walks in 90 games in 1947, setting a personal best with a .358 OBP. That December he was traded to the Cleveland Indians, where they went to the World Series and won it all, but he had a rough year as a backup infielder and didn’t get into a postseason game. Berardino batted .190 in 66 games, though a high walk rate gave him a .328 OBP. He batted just .198 in 50 games in 1949, seeing a majority of his time at third base.
Berardino spent half of the 1950 season in the minors, playing briefly (four games) for the Indians early in the year before they released him in August. The Pirates signed him four days later and he finished the season as their regular second baseman. In 40 games he hit .206 with 12 RBIs. Pittsburgh released Berardino exactly two months after signing him, and then he re-signed with the Browns for the 1951 season. He batted .227 in 39 games that season, though 17 walks boosted him to a .324 OBP. In 1952 he re-signed with the Indians, who would end up trading him to the Pirates in August after he batted .094 in 42 plate appearances over 35 games. Berardino hit .143 in 19 games for Pittsburgh, in what would be his last season in the majors. If you’re keeping track at home, that means his travels in the majors went from the Browns to Indians to Pirates, back to the Browns, Indians and Pirates again in the same order as the first time. He was a .249 career hitter in 912 games, with 387 RBIs and 334 runs scored. His bat kept him in the lineup early in his career, then improved defense kept him in the majors later in his career. He had a -2.1 dWAR in his four seasons before the war, and a 0.7 dWAR during his first five seasons back from the war. He became a famous actor after his baseball career ended, though he did some acting while he was still playing. He was best known for his 33-year role on General Hospital.
Heinie Meine, pitcher for the 1929-34 Pirates. Before the age of 33, Meine pitched just one Major League game consisting of four innings on August 16, 1922 for the St Louis Browns. He didn’t debut in pro ball until he was 25 years old in 1921. He had an 8-16, 4.68 record in the Texas League during his first season, while throwing 219 innings. He was actually with the Browns for all of 1922, but only pitched that one game, other than exhibition game appearances. He was back in the Texas League in 1923, then spent the 1924 season pitching for Syracuse of the International League, where he went 17-10, 3.93 in 252 innings. He stayed with Syracuse in 1925 and put up a 10-6 record, though he had an ERA of 4.80 in 137 innings. Meinie pitched for Kansas City of the American Association in 1926, where he went 17-14, 3.73 in 275 innings. He retired in 1927 due to owning a successful business, but decided to return to Kansas City for the 1928 season. Meinie went 7-4, 3.49 in 111 innings that season. On December 8, 1928, the Pirates acquired him for cash and pitcher Les Bartholomew, who pitched six games for the 1928 Pirates. Meine was said to be 28 years old at the time, but he was actually four years older. He made his Pittsburgh debut in relief on May 31, 1929 and allowed a run on three walks in one inning. Nearly two weeks went by before his next outing, one that turned things around for him. He threw three shutout innings in relief, earning a tryout in the rotation. Meine ended up that first season with a 7-6, 4.50 record in 108 innings over 13 starts and nine relief appearances. During the 1930 season, offense in baseball was at its peak.
Heinie (his first name was Henry, which was used more often in print) had a 6-8, 6.14 record that year in 117.1 innings, which sounds horrible, but that ERA was less than a run above the team’s combined ERA. The Pirates weren’t fooled by the high ERA and they stuck with Meine, which paid off. In 1931 he led the National League in wins (19), games started (35) and innings pitched with 284, just ahead of teammate Larry French. Meine pitched two 13-inning complete games that season, both times without recording a single strikeout. In 1932, he went 12-9, 3.86 in 172.1 innings, making 25 starts, with 13 complete games. He had a strong 1933 season, going 15-8, 3.65 in 207.1 innings. He finished second on the team in wins, though that ERA was actually the worst among the team’s five starters. Meinie saw a decline in his work at 38 years old in 1934, which ended up being his final big league season. He had a 7-6, 4.32 record in 106.1 innings. He was bothered by a back injury and an arm injury during the season. On February 5, 1935, he decided to retire. In his career Meine fell just two outs short of 1,000 career innings pitched. He had a 66-50, 3.95 record with Pittsburgh, making 132 starts and completing 60 of them. He was a pitch-to-contact pitcher during an era where strikeout totals were much lower than we see now. Meine had just 199 strikeouts in his career, and his game high for strikeouts was five, which he did three times in his career, all during the 1931 season. His brother Walter tried out with the Pirates in 1930, but did not make the team and never pitched in the majors.
Billy Kelly, catcher for the 1911-13 Pirates. He began his pro career in 1904 at 18 years old and didn’t make his Major League debut until early in the 1910 season. He debuted with Sioux City of the Western League, which was a rather advanced placement for a young player in his first season. Not only that, Kelly was a regular that year, hitting .253 in 122 games. He moved down a level in 1905, playing 86 games for Evansville of Central League (almost no stats are available from the league that season). Kelly remained in the Central League in 1906-07 with the Springfield club. He hit .249 with 17 extra-base hits (no homers) in 110 games in 1906, then batted .259 in 86 games the next year. He played for two other Central League clubs in 1908, then moved in 1909 to the Three-I League, which was considered the same level of play as the Central League at the time (Class-B). Kelly played just two early season games for the 1910 St Louis Cardinals before returning to the minors until late in the 1911 season. He was with St Paul of the American Association for most of 1910 and all of 1911. The Pirates purchased him from St Paul on August 10, 1911, 2 1/2 weeks after they paid a record price for pitching phenom Marty O’Toole. While O’Toole’s price of $22,500 was more than twice as much as any other previous purchase price for a player, the $12,500 that owner Barney Dreyfuss ended up paying for Kelly would have also been a record if not for his St Paul teammate’s price 18 days earlier. It was said that the only reason the Pirates paid a heavy price for Kelly was due to the fact he was the only catcher on the St Paul team that could catch for O’Toole, and the two were best friends, though Dreyfuss said that he originally intended to buy Kelly first, assuming that O’Toole was out of his price range. Pittsburgh had a great defensive catcher in George Gibson and a capable backup in Mike Simon, but the deal was made anyway to keep O’Toole comfortable on the mound. Kelly joined the Pirates on August 25th, with his arrival delayed a bit due to a minor finger injury that was fine by the time he reached Pittsburgh. He got into six games over the final six weeks of the season, though he started just once, catching for O’Toole on August 30th. His other five games were pinch-hitting appearances. As it turned out, his finger injury wasn’t healed and that kept him from playing. In 1912, Kelly hit .318 in 48 games (mostly as the catcher for O’Toole), but his average was an empty one. He drew just two walks all year and he was a singles hitter, finishing with a .722 OPS. He played 48 games again in 1913 and hit .268, once again drawing just two walks all season, this time with a .644 OPS. After the 1913 season, Kelly returned to the minors, playing four years for Toronto of the International League before his pro career ended. The Pirates sold his contract off on November 13, 1913 to Toronto. He finished up hitting .293 with 20 RBIs in 102 games while with Pittsburgh.
George McQuillan, pitcher for the 1913-15 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball in 1905 at 20 years old, playing his first two seasons for Jersey City of the Eastern League. McQuillan had a 15-9 record in 1906, while throwing 224 innings. That helped him get an early season look in 1907 for the Philadelphia Phillies, though he spent most of the season back in the Eastern League, winning 19 games for Providence. He pitched one game for the Phillies in May, then returned in late September and tossed three straight shutouts before giving up his first run in a 4-1 victory over the Pirates. McQuillan stuck in the majors after that impressive performance and he had a strong first full season. He went 23-17, 1.53 in 359.2 innings, finishing third in the National League in ERA. He had a losing record in 1909 (13-16), despite a 2.14 ERA in 247.2 innings. He followed that up by going 9-6, 1.60 in 152.1 innings, completing 13 of his 17 starts.
During his first four seasons in the majors, he had a 49-39 record for the Phillies with a 1.69 ERA. Despite the great ERA, Philadelphia traded him to the Cincinnati Reds prior to 1911, and then Cincinnati gave up on him quickly after he began the season poorly, going 2-6, 4.68 in 77 innings. He was not known for keeping himself in the best of shape during his playing days. He was traded to the minor leagues in the middle of the 1911 season. He initially struggled during his first year after being demoted, then saw better results each of the next two season. The Pirates acquired him during the middle of the 1913 season from the Columbus Senators of the American Association for relief pitcher Jack Ferry and other considerations. In the end, the Pirates also had to give up pitcher Eddie Eayrs and outfielder Fred Kommers to get McQuillan. While with Columbus in 1913, McQuillan had a 12-4 record in 21 games. He threw 307 innings during the 1912 season and posted a 17-18 record. While with the Pirates in the second half of 1913, McQuillan went 8-6, 3.43 in 141.2 innings.
The 1914 Pirates were a very weak team on offense, and the pitchers suffered from the lack of run support. McQuillan had a 2.98 ERA that year, but his record was just 13-17, and he wasn’t even the biggest victim of the lack of offense. Only Wilbur Cooper, among the regular pitchers, had a winning record and he was just one game over .500 with a 2.13 ERA. The 1915 season went the same for McQuillan. He had a record of 8-10 with a 2.84 ERA through the middle of August. The Pirates placed him on waivers, where he was picked up by the Phillies. He went 4-3, 2.12 in 63.2 innings to finish out the season. He pitched mostly in relief with Philadelphia in 1916, going 1-7, 2.76 in 62 innings, then appeared for five games with the Cleveland Indians during the 1918 season, which ended up being his last in the majors. McQuillan finished with a Major League record of 85-89, despite an ERA of 2.38 in 1,576.1 innings. With the Pirates he was 29-33, 3.06 in 550 innings. He ended up pitching in the minors until 1926, finishing with 165 wins in his 15 minor league seasons. He was a player-manager during the 1921 and 1926 seasons.
Bill White, shortstop for the 1884 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He began his pro career in 1883, playing one game for the Philadelphia Quakers (Phillies) and a handful of minor league games for Pottsville of the Interstate League. The addition of the Union Association as a Major League in 1884, along with the expansion of the American Association from eight teams to 12 teams, opened up many more big league jobs. That season White was the Alleghenys regular shortstop for most of the early part of the year, playing 60 games there, along with ten games at third base and four in right field. He hit .227 with ten triples and 25 runs scored in 74 games before being let go shortly after Horace Phillips took over as the new manager and brought new players with him. The change didn’t help, as the team finished with a 30-78 record, including a 9-25 mark after White’s last game. White’s defense was subpar with a fielding percentage well below the league average. After spending all of 1885 in the minors, he returned to the American Association with the Louisville Colonels and played much better. Not only did he hit better during the 1886-87 seasons, his fielding was league average for the time. White batted .257 in 135 games in 1886, with 96 runs scored and 66 RBIs. He hit .252 in 132 games in 1887, with 79 RBIs, 41 steals and 85 runs scored. He struggled in 1888, splitting the year between Louisville and the St Louis Browns (American Association). He hit .218 in 125 games, though he managed to compile 60 RBIs and 66 runs scored. His numbers were much better before the mid-season move, hitting just .175 in 76 games for the Browns. After the down year, White ended up playing the next six seasons in the minors. He also managed for three years in the minors, all for teams from Wheeling, West Virginia, but the teams played in three different leagues and the years he managed were spread out over a ten-year period. White was quite the traveler during his final years as a player, playing for teams in Denver, Minneapolis, Portland(Oregon), Augusta (Georgia), Butte (Montana) and Bangor, Maine.
Tom Forster, shortstop for the 1884 Alleghenys. Born exactly one year before Bill White, both played shortstop for that 1884 Pittsburgh team, though they were barely teammates. Forster began his pro career in 1881, playing for three different teams in the Eastern Championship Association. His Major League career began in August of 1882 with the Detroit Wolverines of the National League. That year he hit just .092 in 21 games for Detroit, so no one was surprised that he spent the entire 1883 season back in the minors. His manager during that 1883 season was Art Whitney, who was also his teammate in 1884 for the Saginaw Greys of the Northwestern League. Both players joined the Alleghenys during the 1884 season, along with another teammate from 1884 named Jay Faatz, when manager Horace Phillips took over mid-August. Forster played the final 35 games of the season for Pittsburgh, 28 as a shortstop, six at third base and one at second base. He hit just .222 and had a .525 OPS, but he played strong defense while at shortstop, with an .897 fielding percentage that was well above league average (which was .862 at the time). He played another two years in the majors with the New York Metropolitans of the American Association, though neither time was a full season. He was their second baseman both years and still had trouble hitting, but he was decent defensively, especially when he played shortstop. He hit .221 in 57 games in 1885, then put up a .195 average in 67 games in 1886. Forster hit one home run in his big league career over 719 plate appearances. He ended up playing another four seasons in the minors after his final big league game, finishing his pro career in 1890 with Hartford of the Atlantic Association. He was a .197 hitter over his big league career, then batted .305 in 114 games with Milwaukee of the Northwestern League.