This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: June 17th, The Louisville Slugger, Pete Browning

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including one of the best hitters ever. There is also a trade, which involved a player the Pirates had acquired just two days earlier.

The Trade

On this date in 1892, the Pirates traded second baseman Cub Stricker to the Baltimore Orioles for pitcher Adonis Terry. The Pirates had acquired Stricker just two days earlier for Hall of Fame pitcher James “Pud” Galvin. Cub (first name was John) never actually played for the Pirates. Terry was a 27-year-old right-handed pitcher, in his ninth season in the majors. He had a career record of 126-140 at the time of the trade and he had pitched just one game in 1892. Adonis (first name was William) gave up seven runs in his only start that year. He too had just joined the team trading him, signing with the Orioles three days prior. He began the year with Brooklyn, where had spent his first eight seasons in the majors, but he never made a start, getting released on June 10th.

After the trade, Terry pitched well for the Pirates, going 18-7, 2.51 in 240 innings. He went 12-8 in 1893 for Pittsburgh, then made one start for them in 1894, giving up five runs in 2/3 of an inning, before being pulled. After being let go by the Pirates, Terry signed with the Chicago Colts, going 41-40 in four seasons. Stricker hit .264 for the Orioles in 75 games. He then signed with the Washington Senators for 1893, hitting .179 in 59 games, in what would be his last season in the majors.

The Players

Bennie Daniels, pitcher for the 1957-60 Pirates. He was signed by the Pirates at 19 years old as an amateur free agent in 1951. He spent two years in the minors, prior to missing two seasons due to military service. Daniels pitched in Class-C ball in 1951-52 and had rough results. He posted a 2-4, 4.24 record in 68 innings in his pro debut, then came back with a 9-14, 4.83 record in 175 innings. He returned from the military in 1955, winning 14 games and pitched 218 innings in the minors during his first year back. Playing for Lincoln of the Western League in 1956, Daniels went 15-3 with a 4.08 ERA in 183 innings. He moved up to Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League the following year, going 17-8, 2.95 in 31 starts and 229 innings pitched. He had major control problems in the minors, walking 356 batters combined during the 1955-57 seasons. The Pirates gave him one late season start in 1957 and he pitched well, giving up two runs in seven innings, though he took the loss. He began the 1958 season with Pittsburgh, posting an 0-2, 9.95 mark in seven appearances before being sent to the minors, where he had a 14-6, 2.31 record for Columbus of the International League. Daniels returned to the Pirates in September to make two strong starts (15 IP/3 ER), but again emerged without a victory. He finally spent a full season in the majors in 1959, making 22 relief appearances and 12 starts for a total of 100.2 innings. He went 7-9 with a 5.45 ERA. He was with the 1960 Pirates through the end of June, going 1-3, 7.81 in 40.1 innings before being sent to the minors.

Daniels was one of three players traded to the expansion Washington Senators on December 16, 1960 for All-Star pitcher Bobby Shantz. Pitching for an expansion team opened up full-time work for Daniels and he averaged 164 innings per season for the Senators. He went 12-11, 3.44 in 212 innings in 1961, posting a winning record for a team that finished 61-100. The next year he 7-16, 4.85 in 161.1 innings, making 21 starts and 23 relief appearances. Daniels went 5-10, 4.38 in 168.2 innings in 1963, then had an 8-10, 3.70 record in 163 innings in 1964. He split his final season in the majors between starting and relief, compiling a 5-13, 4.72 record in 116.1 innings. He finished his pro career in the minors in 1966. Daniels was 8-16, 5.84 in 175.2 innings with the Pirates. In his nine-year career, he had a 45-76, 4.44 record in 997 innings over 139 starts and 91 relief appearances.

Joe Bowman, pitcher for the 1937-41 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball at 19 years old in 1929, playing briefly for Pueblo of the Class-A Western League. He stayed in the same league in 1930, going 6-4, 4.34 in 85 innings for Omaha. Bowman moved up to Portland of the Pacific Coast League in 1931, where he had an 18-11, 3.80 record in 246 innings. He got his first big league shot with the Philadelphia Athletics at the start of 1932, but he was back in Portland after seven appearances and an 8.18 ERA. In 1933, he went 23-11, 4.17 in 283 innings for Portland, which led to his second big league chance, one that went much better than the first. Bowman went 5-4, 3.61 in 107.1 innings for the 1934 New York Giants. He was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies after the season. Bowman went 7-10, 4.25 in 148.1 innings in 1935, with 17 starts and 16 relief appearances. He had a rough 1936 season playing for a Philadelphia team that finished with a 54-100 record. He went 9-20, 5.04 in 203.2 innings over 28 starts and 12 relief outings.

He was acquired by the Pirates from the Phillies on April 16, 1937 in exchange for OF/1B Earl Browne. Bowman made 19 starts and 11 relief appearances for the Pirates in 1937, going 8-8, 4.57 in 128 innings. The next year he pitched out of the bullpen, although during an eight appearance stretch in July/August, he pitched at least four innings in every outing. He had a 3-4, 4.65 record in 60 innings. He returned to the rotation for 1939, where he put together a 10-14, 4.48 record in 184.2 innings. Bowman had a very similar season in 1940 when he had a 9-10 record. He had a 4.46 ERA in 187.2 innings. He was seldom used in 1941, making eight starts and nine relief appearances through early August, when the Pirates tried to trade him to the minors. He was actually pitching well at the time, with a 2.99 ERA in 69.1 innings. The trade was voided and Bowman didn’t pitch the rest of the season. He would spend the next two years in the minors, returning to the big leagues in 1944 with the Boston Red Sox. He was used often in 1944 when MLB was short on quality players due to many players serving in WWII. Bowman went 12-8, 4.81 in 168.1 innings that season. He pitched three games for the Red Sox in 1945 before they lost him on waivers to the Cincinnati Reds. He went 11-13, 3.59 in 185.2 innings in four months with the Reds, who ended up releasing him during Spring Training in 1946. Bowman went to the minors that season, where he spent his final four years of pro ball playing for four different teams. He had a 77-96, 4.40 record in 1,465.2 innings over 298 Major League games, with 184 starts and 114 relief appearances. With the Pirates, he went 33-38, 4.35 in 629.2 innings over 134 games, 78 as a starter.

Zeb Terry, shortstop for the 1919 Pirates. He was a star at Stanford University for four years before making his pro debut in 1914, playing in the Pacific Coast League. Terry spent two seasons with Los Angeles, hitting .271 in 35 games his first year, then batting .264 in 191 games (they played over 200 that year in the PCL) in 1915. Terry wasn’t a great hitter, but he was strong defensively, which earned him a long look with the 1916 Chicago White Sox despite batting just .190 with 17 RBIs in 94 games. Modern metrics credit him with 1.1 dWAR for that season. He played briefly for the White Sox in 1917, then returned to the PCL with Los Angeles until the league shutdown early in 1918 due to the war. Terry signed on with the Boston Braves to finish the 1918 season, hitting .305 in 28 games. He joined the war effort after the season, but before his training was over, the war had ended. The Braves and Pirates had both put in claims for Terry for the 1919 season, with Pittsburgh coming out on top in the dispute. He was on the bench to start the year, quickly taking over the starting shortstop spot from Howdy Caton. Terry played 129 games in 1919, hitting .227 with no homers, 46 runs scored and 27 RBIs. He led all National League shortstops with his .960 fielding percentage. His 2.0 dWAR that season was the fourth best total for all players in the NL. The Pirates sold him to the Chicago Cubs in January of 1920. He batted .280 with 52 RBIs and 56 runs scored in 133 games in 1920, while putting up 1.3 dWAR, seventh best in the NL. The next year he hit .275 with 59 runs scored in 123 games. His final big league season was 1922, when he batted .286 in 131 games, with a career best 67 RBIs. He retired after the season, finishing with a .260 average in 640 big league games, with 254 runs scored and 216 RBIs. Terry hit two big league homers, both at the Polo Grounds in 1921, the second one being an inside-the-park home run. His full first name was Zebulon, one of two big league players with that name.

Pete Browning, outfielder for the 1891 Pirates. One of the best hitters to ever play for the Pirates, wasn’t exactly at his best while with the team. He played 50 games for the 1891 Pirates, hitting .291 with 28 RBIs. The numbers don’t sound bad, but for Browning, it was well off his standards. The official word from the Pirates was that he was released due to indifferent play in the field and at the plate. He had played all but one game on the year, and in his last game he collected two hits and scored two runs. He was scheduled to return to Louisville to play, but he went on the play for the Cincinnati Reds in the second half of that 1891 season, batting .343 in 55 games. The year before joining the Pirates, Browning won the only batting title in Player’s League history with his .373 mark. He also had 75 walks, a league leading 40 doubles, 93 RBIs, and 112 runs scored in 118 games for the Cleveland Infants that year, so needless to say, the expectations were high for the 30-year-old Browning.

He began his career playing for the Louisville Colonels of the American Association in 1882. He didn’t play his first minor league game until 1894 when his career was basically done in the majors. Browning was a 21-year-old infielder during his first year in the majors and he was a hitting star from the start. He led the American Association with a .378 average, .430 OBP and .510 slugging percentage. He moved around on defense in 1883, adding outfield to the mix. He batted .338 with 95 runs scored in 84 games (98-game schedule). He played 103 games in 1884 and hit .336 with 45 extra-base hits and 101 runs scored. Browning won his second batting title in 1885 with a .362 mark and a league leading 174 hits in 112 games. He scored 98 runs, drove in 73, and he had 53 extra-base hits. He continued to chug along with a .340 average in 1886, then had his best season in 1887. Browning batted .402 that year, yet he didn’t win the batting title. In 134 games, he had 137 runs scored, 35 doubles, 16 triples, 118 RBIs and 103 stolen bases. He missed time during the 1888 season and his numbers fell off greatly, then dropped even more in 1889. He batted .313 in 1888, for by a .256 average in 83 games in 1889. After his third batting title in 1890 and he split season with the Pirates, Browning batted .292 in 104 games in 1892, seeing time with the Reds and Colonels. He rebounded briefly with a .355 average in 57 games for Louisville in 1893, but his 1894 season was limited to three games, two for the St Louis Browns and one for the Brooklyn Grooms. He went 2-for-2 with a walk in his final big league game.

Disease and alcoholism wreaked havoc with Browning’s body, forcing him out of the majors by 1894 at 33 years old. He played briefly in the minors in 1896, but his career was basically over at that point. He batted .341 in his career over 1,183 games, collecting 1,646 hits and scoring 954 runs. His batting average is the 13th highest in baseball history. He was the original Louisville Slugger for whom the current day bat company is named.