Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus the team made a very interesting roster switch on June 7, 1939.
On the same day the Pirates released one future Hall of Fame player, they signed another. On this date in 1939, Pittsburgh released outfielder Heinie Manush and signed outfielder Chuck Klein. Manush was being used sparingly as a pinch-hitter for the Pirates, a role he took up in the latter part of the previous season. He was 37 years old, in his 17th season in the majors. At the time of this swap, he was 0-for-12 with an RBI and a walk. Klein was three years younger and still playing regularly, but he too was in a sharp decline from his prime. He was hitting .191 with one homer in 25 games at the time of his signing. He had just been released by the Philadelphia Phillies the previous day.
Manush didn’t know it at the time, but that was the end of his Major League career. He played two seasons in the minors for Toronto of the International League, then spent the next six seasons as a player/manager in the minors, although he saw just 61 games of action over that time. Klein played regularly for the Pirates in the corner outfield spots and did well, hitting .300 with 11 homers and 47 RBIs. He would be released by the Pirates during the next Spring Training, signing back with the Phillies, where he spent the last five seasons of his career. Klein finished with a .320 career average, 300 homers and 1,201 RBIs, while Manush hit .330 career with 110 homers and 1,183 RBIs. Manush was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1964. It took Klein another 16 years before he joined him in Cooperstown.
Virgil Vasquez, pitcher for the 2009 Pirates. He signed as a seventh round pick of the Detroit Tigers in the 2003 amateur draft out of the University of California-Santa Barbara. Three years earlier, he was taken in the same round by the Texas Rangers out of high school. He had a rough debut in pro ball, posting a 6.92 ERA in 11 starts in the New York-Penn League. Vasquez went 14-6, 3.47 in 27 starts during his first full season in the minors in 2004, playing in low-A ball. The next year he started at high-A, though he was quickly promoted to Double-A where he struggled, going 2-8, 5.27 in 15 starts. Vasquez pitched much better in his second trial in Double-A in 2006, going 7-12, 3.73 in in 173.2 innings. He played in the Arizona Fall League after the season and had a 2.81 ERA in 25.2 innings. He earned a Major League promotion in 2007 during a season in which he went 12-5, 3.48 in 25 starts at Triple-A. Vasquez had two spot starts during the year, then received a late August recall. He went 0-1, 8.64 in 16.2 innings. After spending all of 2008 in Triple-A for the Tigers (12-12, 4.81 in 27 starts), he was put on waivers, starting a string of waiver pickups that saw him go from the Boston Red Sox to San Diego Padres to Pirates over a three-month stretch. He began the 2009 season in the minors, joining the Pirates in late June for seven starts in which he went 2-5 with a 6.09 ERA. He went sent down in early August, before returning in September for seven relief appearances. He finished with a 5.84 ERA in 44.2 innings with the Pirates. Vasquez re-signed with the Pirates for 2010, but before the season started, he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays. He played pro ball until 2017 without making it back to the majors. He spent 2010 in Triple-A, though he was also injured for part of the season. The 2011 season saw him play winter ball in Australia, followed by spending the season in independent ball. In 2012, he was in Australia again, followed by 192.2 innings with Southern Maryland of the Atlantic League (Indy ball). He played the entire 2013-14 seasons in the minors for the Minnesota Twins, then the rest of his pro career was winter ball action, mainly spent in Australia, though he also played in Mexico and Venezuela. Between all of his stops, he threw over 1,900 innings in pro ball and he won 115 games. His MLB career consisted of just 61.1 innings.
Roy Jarvis, catcher for the 1946-47 Pirates. He played in the minors for one season in the Brooklyn Dodgers system before the Pirates selected him in the November 1944 Rule 5 draft. Jarvis actually debuted in pro ball in the majors, though his early season stint in 1944 amounted to one game and one at-bat, in which he struck out. He spent the rest of the year split between two Class-B teams, Trenton of the Interstate League and Newport News of the Piedmont League. He hit .287 with 38 extra-base hits and 48 walks. Before he could play a game for Pittsburgh, he began serving in the Navy during WWII. Jarvis returned in 1946 to the Pirates, and he played just two games all season. That’s partially because he wasn’t let out of the service until mid-June. He was the final Pirates player still in the military after WWII ended. His first game back was a pinch-hit appearance on July 7th. He started behind the plate on the last day of the season in his only other game. He missed time in between during to tonsillitis. He was the Pirates starting catcher at the beginning of 1947, though that lasted just two weeks. He was on the bench before April ended, getting just four more starts all season. He ended up spending just under three months back in the minors before rejoining the Pirates in September, though he got into just one game after returning to the club. He played 18 games for the Pirates in 1947, hitting .156 in 51 plate appearances. After the season, Pittsburgh tried to deal him to the Philadelphia Phillies, for what was supposed to be in exchange for “one of three pitchers”, but the deal was called off and Jarvis returned to the Pirates. At the time, Pittsburgh management said they were fine with getting him back, but they thought he needed more seasoning before he would become a steady Major League catcher. He was on the Opening Day roster in 1948, but that lasted just six days without getting into a game before he was optioned to Albany of the Eastern League. Jarvis was available to the Pirates on 24-hour recall, but he never returned. On January 28, 1949, he was one of three players sent to the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League in exchange for pitcher Bill Werle. Jarvis jumped around from team-to-team for the next seven seasons, all spent in the minor leagues, retiring after the 1955 season. He played for eight different teams in six different leagues during the 1948-55 seasons
Bones Ely, shortstop for the Pirates from 1896 until 1901. He played one Major League game at 21 years old in 1884, then bounced between the minors and majors for the next nine seasons before finding a full-time spot with the 1894 St Louis Browns. Ely was a very skinny (hence his nickname) defense-first player. He batted just .156 in ten games for the Louisville Colonels of the American Association in 1886, his second big league stint. His third stint went much better, though he was helped out by the influx of big league options in 1890. With the one-year addition of the Player’s League, it opened up many more jobs that season. Ely played 119 games for Syracuse of the American Association in 1890, where he hit .262 with 64 RBIs and 72 runs scored. He stole a career high 44 bases that season. The next season he was in the National League with the Brooklyn Grooms (Dodgers), where he hit .153 in 31 games. By 1892, only the National League existed at the big league level and that made big league jobs much harder to come by, especially for marginal players. Ely spent the season in the minors with two different teams. He hit .299 in 91 games for Atlanta of the Southern Association in 1893, the same year he joined the St Louis Browns. Ely batted .253 in 44 games for the Browns, then had a big season in 1894. He hit .306 that year with 12 homers and 89 RBIs, in what was a very high offense season due to the pitching distance being changed the previous year and pitchers having trouble adjusting to it. He had zero home runs during his first five seasons (205 games) in the majors, then hit exactly half of his career homers in one year. Ely was known more for his solid defense than his bat throughout his entire career, so his .807 OPS this season was just a blip. His second best OPS was a .689 mark that he achieved with the Pirates. In 1895, with the split between pitchers and hitters starting to return back to near normal standards, Bones (first name was William) hit .259 with one homer and 29 stolen bases, finishing second among NL shortstops in fielding percentage.
The Pirates acquired Ely from the Browns prior to the 1896 season in exchange for shortstop Monte Cross, pitcher Bill Hart and cash. While with Pittsburgh, Ely would finish no lower than fifth in fielding among NL shortstops in any of his five full seasons. Defensive WAR actually ranks him as the best defensive player in all of the NL in both 1898 and 1900, with an extremely large margin over the rest of the pack during the latter season. He hit .285 with 77 RBIs and 85 runs scored in 128 games in 1896. He followed that up with a .283 average, 74 RBIs and 63 runs scored in 1897. His average dropped down to .212 in 148 games in 1898, while his OPS came in at a .517 mark. Ely rebounded in 1899 with a .278 average, 72 RBIs and 67 runs scored. The Pirates added a ton of talent with the massive trade between them at Louisville, which brought in Honus Wagner, Fred Clarke, Deacon Phillippe, Claude Ritchey and many others. Ely was one of the few players who kept his job, playing shortstop over Wagner, who didn’t move to his familiar position until after Ely left. In addition to his huge season on defense in 1900, Ely hit .244 with 51 RBIs and 60 runs scored. He had just 12 extra-base hits all season and a low walk rate, leading to a .554 OPS. His last season in Pittsburgh was 1901 and he split it between the Pirates and Philadelphia Athletics, hitting .212 in 110 games that season. He was released after his final game on July 20th, with Fred Clarke noting his declining skills at the plate and the willingness to give Tommie Leach more playing time, which turned out to be a great decision. Ely signed with the Athletics within two weeks of being let go by the Pirates. He finished his MLB career in 1902 with the Washington Senators, where he hit .262 and drove in 62 runs in 105 games. At 40 years old in 1903, he finished his pro career playing in San Francisco.
Bones played 743 games with the Pirates, hitting .256 with 346 RBIs and 342 runs scored. In his career, he played 1,343 games and had a similar .258 average with 656 runs scored and 657 RBIs. Over 1,238 games played at shortstop, his fielding percentage was 15 points higher than the league average during his time.
On this date in 1972, the Pirates won the first game of a doubleheader over the San Diego Padres by a 12-5 score. That was followed up by one of the longest games in team history. The Pirates won 1-0 in 18 innings. Gene Alley drew a bases loaded walk to score the only run. Dock Ellis tossed nine shutout innings to start the game, then four relievers combined to throw nine more shutout frames. Here’s the boxscore, which shows a 4:27 game time and 7,371 fans in attendance, though the number was much lower by the end.