This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: May 23rd, Deacon Phillippe

Two Pittsburgh Pirates trades on this date to cover and five former players born on May 23rd.

The Trades

On this date in 1923, the Pirates traded pitcher Whitey Glazner and second baseman Cotton Tierney, plus cash, to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for pitcher Lee Meadows and infielder Johnny Rawlings. Glazner was a 29-year-old pitcher, who stood just 5’9″ and threw right-handed. He was in his fourth season with the Pirates, posting a 3.30 ERA in 30 innings prior to the trade. In 1921, he had a 14-5, 2.77 record in 234 innings, but his 1922 numbers dropped off, down to a 4.38 ERA and a losing (11-12) record. Tierney was also 29 years old, coming off a big season in which he batted .345 with 86 RBIs in 122 games. In 1923, he was batting .292 in 29 games with 22 RBIs. Rawlings was 30 years old and had not played yet during the 1923 season. The Phillies picked him up off waivers from the New York Giants just 11 days earlier. He hit .282 in 88 games for the Giants in 1922. Meadows was 28 years old and pitching poorly for the Phillies at the time. He had eight seasons of Major League experience, seven times winning in double-digits, but he also had twice led the National League in losses, mostly due to playing on bad teams.

After the trade, Meadows became a star pitcher for the Pirates, winning 87 games his first five season in Pittsburgh. He helped the Pirates to the World Series in both 1925 and 1927 by posting an identical record of 19-10 both years. In between those pennant winning seasons, he led the league with 20 wins. Rawlings hit .284 with 45 RBIs and 53 runs scored in 1923, then stuck around as a backup for three more seasons in Pittsburgh. Glazner did not fare well in his two years in Philadelphia. He went a combined 14-30 with a 5.29 ERA in 318 innings. He never pitched in the majors again after the 1924 season. Tierney hit .317 with 11 homers and 65 RBIs for the Phillies in 1923, before they traded him in the off-season to the Boston Braves. He played one season there before being traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1925, his last season in the majors. His batting dropped way off, forcing him to the minors to finish his career five years later.

On this date in 1963, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded outfielder Bob Skinner to the Cincinnati Reds for outfielder Jerry Lynch. Skinner, at 31 years old, was in his ninth seasons with the Pirates at the time of this trade. He was originally signed by the club in 1951, but missed two years to military service. He was a two-time All-Star, who spent most of his time with the Pirates in left field. In 1962, he hit .302 with a career high of 20 homers. He was hitting .270 with no homers in 34 games at the time of the trade. Lynch began his Major League career in 1954 with the Pirates, playing three seasons in Pittsburgh before he was lost to the Reds in the 1956 Rule 5 draft. He hit .281 with 12 homers and 57 RBIs in 114 games in 1962, but just like Skinner, his 1963 numbers were down from the norm. He was hitting .250 with two homers in 22 games at the time of the deal. Lynch was a year older than Skinner and they both spent a majority of their time playing in left field.

After the deal, Lynch hit .266 with ten homers in 88 games for the 1963 Pirates. He was the regular left fielder in 1964, hitting .273 with 16 homers and 66 RBIs, then moved to a bench role with Pittsburgh for his last two seasons in the majors. The Pirates dealt Skinner at the right time, despite the stats seeming to favor the Reds in this deal. In 1963 for the Reds, he hit .253 with three homers in 72 games. Through 25 games in 1964, he was hitting .220, when the Reds traded him to the St Louis Cardinals for a minor league player and cash. Skinner played parts of three seasons in St Louis, hitting .273 with 47 RBIs in 184 games.

The Players

Deacon Phillippe, pitcher for the Pirates from 1900 until 1911. Phillippe got a later start on his pro career, with just two seasons in the minors prior to making his Major League debut a month shy of his 27th birthday. He played semi-pro ball before debuting with Minneapolis of the Western League during the 1897-98 seasons. His final year before making the majors saw him with 22 games and pitch 363 innings. He played that first season in 1899 with the Louisville Colonels, going 21-17 in a career high of 321 innings. He came to the Pirates in a 19-player deal on December 8, 1899 that also brought Honus Wagner and Fred Clarke to Pittsburgh. Deacon (his first name was Charles) continued his winning ways in Pittsburgh, amassing four straight twenty-win seasons to start his time with the Pirates, with a better winning percentage each year. He went 20-13, 2.84 in 279 innings in 1900. In 1901, he helped the Pirates to their first National League pennant by going 22-12, 2.22 in 296 innings, completing 30 of his 32 starts. His ERA was the second best in the league behind teammate Jesse Tannehill. The Pirates had their best season in history in 1902, finishing 103-36, and Phillippe went 20-9, with a career best 2.05 ERA, which ranked fifth in the league. He took one of those losses on June 22nd when he gave up three runs over 18.2 innings against the Chicago Cubs.

In 1903, he record was 25-9, 2.43 in 289.1 innings, leading the Pirates to the first modern day World Series. He pitched five games during that series for a Pirates pitching staff that was short on able-bodied pitchers at the time. After a down year in 1904 due to injuries that limited him to 166.1 innings, Phillippe bounced back with his fifth 20-win season in 1905 for the Pirates. He went 20-13, 2.99 in 279 innings, while throwing 25 complete games and five shutouts. He was still used often after 1905, but he never approached that inning total again. For the 1906 Pirates, Phillippe went 15-10, 2.47 in 218.2 innings. He had a very similar 1907 season, going 14-11, 2.61 in 214 innings. He pitched just five games over the first three months of the 1908 season, then didn’t pitch again after July 8th, despite being healthy for most of the year. Just two days after his final game that season, Phillippe was said to have added a spitball to his pitching repertoire. He was known for his curveballs and strong velocity. There were rumors that he would retire after the 1908 season, but he was back with the Pirates in 1909 and was a useful pitcher despite seeing limited work for most of the year. He went 8-3, 2.32 in 121.2 innings, with 13 starts and nine relief appearances. In the World Series, he threw six shutout innings over two relief outings. Phillippe saw more bullpen work in 1910 and he went 14-2, 2.29 in 121.2 innings. His time in Pittsburgh ended with three appearances in 1911, though he pitched/managed for the Pittsburgh Federal League team in 1913, one year before the league was considered to be a Major League club. During the 1912 season he managed the Pittsburgh club in the independent United States League.

Phillippe pitched twelve seasons in Pittsburgh without ever posting a losing record. He finished with a career record of 189-109, 2.59 in 2,607 innings. Among Pittsburgh’s franchise leaders, he ranks fifth in ERA (2.50), fifth in wins (168), fifth in complete games (209), sixth in innings (2,286), seventh in shutouts (25) and tenth in strikeouts with 861. His 1.09 WHIP is third best in team history and he has the lowest walks per nine inning mark in team history.

Vic Black, pitcher for the 2013 Pirates. He was drafted 49th overall by the Pirates in 2009 out of Dallas Baptist University and made it to the majors in four years, despite some injury issues in the minors. He saw seven starts during his first season of pro ball while playing in the New York-Penn League. Black made just 11 starts during the rest of his pro career and nine of those came while playing independent ball in his final season. For the 2009 State College Spikes, he had a 3.45 ERA in 31.1 innings. Shoulder and biceps injuries limited him to just two starts in Low-A in 2010. He began 2011 back in Low-A and was promoted in August to High-A, despite a 5.28 ERA in 22 appearances. He allowed four runs in 6.2 innings for Bradenton after the promotion. In 2012, Black spent the entire year in the Altoona bullpen and did great, posting a 1.65 ERA in 60 innings over 51 appearances. He went to the Arizona Fall League after the season and got hit hard, allowing 15 runs over 10.2 innings. He began the 2013 season in Triple-A, where he had a 2.51 ERA and 17 saves in 46.2 innings. Black was called up to the majors in July of 2013 and gave up two runs over four innings in three relief appearances for the Pirates before he was traded to the New York Mets for outfielder Marlon Byrd in August of 2013. He was originally drafted out of high school by the Mets in 2006, selected out of the 41st round. Black pitched 56 games for the Mets over the 2013-14 seasons, posting a 2.83 ERA in 47.2 innings.  Injuries sidetracked his career and he last played in 2018 in independent ball without making it back to the majors after 2014. He was let go by the Mets after the 2015 season and missed the entire 2016 season due to right shoulder surgery. He was limited to 36.1 innings in the minors for the Mets in 2015 due to a neck injury, and he pitched just 36 innings in the minors for the San Francisco Giants in 2017. Including minors/majors, winter/fall ball and independent ball, he threw a total of 390 innings in his pro career. Black is currently a minor league pitching coach for the Pirates.

Mike Gonzalez, pitcher for the 2003-06 Pirates. He was taken by the Pirates in the 30th round of the 1997 draft out of San Jacinto College at 19 years old. They had drafted him in the 16th round a year earlier out of high school, but he didn’t sign. He was known as a reliever in the majors, but he was a starter for much of his minor league career. He split his first season between the Gulf Coast League and Low-A, combining to go 3-1, 2.23 in 48.1 innings. Gonzalez would end up playing at multiple levels for each of his first nine seasons in pro ball. The 1998 season was split between High-A and Low-A, with much better results at the lower level (2.84 ERA compared to 6.67). The 2000 season was similar, with much better results at High-A than Double-A, though he didn’t pitch great at either level, putting together a 4.80 ERA in 138.2 innings. In 2001, Gonzalez again did the High-A/Double-A split, and he pitched better at each level, combining for a 3.51 ERA in 118 innings. He missed a little time in 2002, which required a rehab stint in the GCL, but the rest of the season was spent in Double-A Altoona, where he went 8-4, 3.80 in 85.1 innings over 18 starts.

Shortly before his Major League debut on August 11, 2013, Gonzalez was dealt to the Boston Red Sox, only to be traded back to the Pirates nine days later along with Freddy Sanchez. Injury concerns over other players in the deal led to a second trade between the two clubs. Gonzalez pitched two games in Triple-A for the Red Sox before returning to the Pirates on July 31st. He had his share of trouble during his rookie season, making 16 appearances for a total of 8.1 innings pitched, with a 7.56 ERA and four homers allowed. He began 2004 back in Triple-A, but after 35 strikeouts and a 0.90 ERA in his first 20 innings, he was back with the Pirates in late May. Gonzalez started off with 13 straight scoreless appearances, pitching a total of 47 games (43.1 innings) with a 1.25 ERA. He had another strong season in 2005, pitching 50 innings in 51 appearances, finishing with a 2.70 ERA and three saves. The next year he would take over the closer role, saving a career high of 24 games. After the 2006 season, Gonzalez was dealt to the Atlanta Braves along with minor league infielder Brent Lillibridge for first baseman Adam LaRoche and minor league outfielder Jamie Romak.

Gonzalez was off to a great start with the Braves, posting a 1.59 ERA in 18 appearances, but after his game on May 15th he was placed on the disabled list with an elbow injury. He didn’t return until mid-June of 2008 due to Tommy John surgery. He had a 4.28 ERA in 36 games in 2008, then rebounded with a 2.42 ERA in 74.1 innings over 80 appearances in 2009. Gonzalez signed with the Baltimore Orioles as a free agent for two years at $12,000,000 total. Just three games into the 2010 season, he was placed on the disabled list with a left shoulder strain and didn’t return until late July. He had a 4.01 ERA in 29 appearances, then had a 4.27 ERA in 49 games in 2011 before being traded to the Texas Rangers on August 31st. Gonzalez helped them to the World Series and pitched scoreless ball over his first six postseason games before allowing two runs during a blowout in the World Series. He signed with the Washington Nationals as a free agent after the season and had a 3.03 ERA in 47 appearances. In 2013, he signed with the Milwaukee Brewers and finished his big league career as a lefty specialist, with a 4.68 ERA in 50 innings over 75 appearances that season. He pitched minor league ball for the Nationals in 2014 and he played in Mexico in 2016, during his final season of pro ball. Gonzalez pitched 509 games in his big league career, going 17-24, 3.14 with 56 saves. In 444.1 innings over his 11 seasons, he struck out 511 batters. With the Pirates, he had 2.37 ERA and 183 strikeouts in 155.2 innings.

Nelson Norman, infielder for the 1982 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1975 out of the Dominican Republic at 16 years old. Before he could play a game for Pittsburgh, he was part of a four-team, eleven-player deal. The trade occurred on December 8, 1977, and it sent him and Al Oliver to the Texas Rangers, while bringing John Milner and Bert Blyleven to Pittsburgh. Before the deal, Norman played in the Gulf Coast League at 17 years old in 1975, where he hit .262 in 51 games. His OPS was just .591 due to low power/walk totals. In 1976, he played for Charleston in the Western Carolinas League, where he hit .278 in 128 games, with a .633 OPS. The 1977 season was split between Double-A and Triple-A. He combined to hit .248 across the two levels, with 18 doubles. After the deal, Norman played parts of four seasons in Texas. He debuted in the majors three days before his 20th birthday in 1978. He was up with the Rangers for two weeks, then returned in September. He played 23 games and hit .265, while making eight starts at shortstop and two at third base. The 1979 season was his only full year in the majors. He hit .222 that year in 147 games, with 36 runs scored and 21 RBIs.  He started 115 games that season, all of them at shortstop. Norman played 17 games with the Rangers through early May in 1980 and he hit .219 in 32 at-bats. He was sent to Triple-A on May 6th, but after 28 games, a knee injury ended his season early. He spent almost the entire 1981 season in the minors, coming up for just seven games in late September. He would return to the Pirates in a trade for pitcher Victor Cruz just prior to the start of the 1982 season. Norman played for Triple-A Portland that year, hitting .270 with 52 RBIs in 134 games. He was a September call-up, getting into three games, including a start at shortstop on the last day of the season. He spent the next two years in the minors for the Pirates, before moving on to the Baltimore Orioles for one year, then four years in the Montreal Expos organization. Norman made it back to the majors for one game in April of 1987. The Expos gave him a start at shortstop on April 29th and he went 0-for-4 with an error. He was with the team for a total of eight days while they dealt with some injuries. He went back to the minors on May 3rd and played until 1989 without another chance. While in the Pirates minor league system from 1982 until 1984, he had an amazing 198:66 BB/SO ratio. After retiring as a player, he became a minor league manager for seven seasons between 1992 and 2014, spending three of those years as the GCL manager for the Expos.

Bill Miller, right fielder for the 1902 Pirates. He was a 23-year-old outfielder with no prior pro experience when he manned right field for the Pirates on August 23, 1902 against the Brooklyn Superbas at Exposition Park. The Pirates had suffered numerous injuries and were in need of a player just to have enough healthy position players on the team, so they weren’t forced to use a pitcher in the outfield. Tommy Leach recommended Miller, who joined the team on very short notice. The Pittsburgh Press noted that he tried hard but had plenty of trouble in the field, including once coming in on a ball that was well over his head. At the plate, he collected a sixth inning single that drove in two runs to make it a 5-2 deficit at that point. Three innings later, the Pirates had closed within one run, down 9-8 with two outs and a man on second base. Miller came up to bat only because no one else was on the bench that could hit for him. He would strike out, in what turned out to be a tough ending to his Major League career. The paper claimed he was too nervous to show what he could do. The “large” crowd of 5,000 fans apparently unnerved him. The Pirates played a doubleheader the next day and pitcher Jesse Tannehill was in the outfield for both games. He ended up collecting four hits over those two games. The outcomes of those games weren’t a big deal at that point because the Pirates had a 20-game lead for the pennant with 38 games left in the season. Even with numerous injuries to finish out the season, they won the division by 27 games.

Miller has no other known pro experience, but he supposedly did according to Tommy Leach, who said that he played well in the Southern Leagues. He was born in Germany, and he was the third of four German-born players in Pirates history. Miller, who is listed as being 6’2″, 170 pounds, was described by the local paper as being a “tall angular fellow, who is about as thick as a good-sized broomstick”. That same paper said that he was evidently a football player, though it’s unknown if they were trying to say that he should try another sport because their assessment of his day was brutal. According to The Pittsburgh Gazette, Miller had two strikeouts, two soft ground outs and what was said to be a lucky hit, while they noted that he didn’t have any putouts or assists, but he should have because two balls hit his way should have been caught. The Pittsburgh Press noted that he had long flowing locks which made him look out of place. Their assessment was that he was brought to the team in short notice and had no time to visit a barber shop. The August 30th issue of The Sporting Life twice mentioned that he was signed for the balance of the season and also noted the Southern League connection, while saying that he recently returned home to Cleveland because the southern climate didn’t agree with him.