Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus two major games of note.
Mike Sandlock, catcher for the 1953 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball in 1938 at 22 years old with Huntington of the Class-D Mountain State League, where he hit .276 with 25 extra-base hits in 116 games. He spent most of 1939 in Class-D ball as well, playing in the Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York League (PONY League), where he hit .300 with 28 extra-base hits in 94 games. He also saw time with Hartford of the Class-A Eastern League that season, then spent the 1940 season in Hartford, where he batted .234 with four doubles and a triple in 49 games. From there, Sandlock spent the 1941 and 1942 seasons with Evansville of the Class-B Three-I League. He batted .324 with 13 extra-base hits in 80 games in 1941, then came back with a .306 average, 27 doubles, 12 triples and four homers in 120 games the next year. Sandlock started his Major League career in 1942 at 26 years old for the Boston Braves, hitting a single in his first at-bat as a late September call-up. He played two games, but that turned out to be his only at-bat that season. He served in WWII in 1943 before returning to baseball for the 1944 season. He batted .100 in 30 at-bats over 30 games for the 1944 Braves, then hit .308 in 35 games for St Paul of the American Association that year after being traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers in August.
Sandlock played two seasons for the Dodgers, hitting .282 with 18 extra-base hits, 17 RBIs and 21 runs score in 80 games in 1945, which turned out to be his best season in the majors. The next year was split between the Dodgers and St Paul. He hit .147 in 19 big league games that year. He then spent the next seven years in the minors, the last two years as a member of the Pirates organization. Sandlock played for Montreal of the International League during the 1947-48 seasons, then saw time with Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League for four seasons, playing at least 90 games each year. He batted .286 with a .671 OPS in 111 games during the 1952 season. On October 11, 1952, Sandlock came to the Pirates in a five-player deal with Hollywood.
Sandlock returned to the majors in 1953 after a seven-year absence, making the Pirates Opening Day roster because of his ability to catcher knuckleball pitcher Johnny Lindell. In his first game back he went 3-for-3, and for the first half of the season he was seeing regular duty behind the plate. He played just two games in September of that year, finishing with a .231 average in 64 games. Sandlock was sold to the Philadelphia Phillies after the 1953 season. The Phillies had acquired Johnny Lindell in August (which is why Sandlock barely played in September) and they wanted Sandlock to be his catcher. However, Sandlock got hurt on a collision at home plate at the end of Spring Training in 1954 and never played for the Phillies. He played that season with San Diego of the Pacific Coast League, hitting .183 in 80 games, before retiring. In his five seasons in the majors, he hit .240 with two homers, 31 RBIs and 34 runs scored in 195 games.
We did a two-part interview with Sandock back in 2012, when he was the oldest living former Pirates player and second oldest living player. He passed away in 2016. Here’s the interview. Part one and Part two.
Chris Tremie, catcher for the 1999 Pirates. He went 1-for-14 in nine games during his short time with the Pirates. His four-season big league career consisted of 22 games over a ten-year time span. He was originally a 41st round draft pick out of high school in 1988 by the Houston Astros, but chose college instead. After four years at the University of Houston, Tremie was drafted in the 39th round by the Chicago White Sox. He played just six games during that first year of pro ball and he went 1-for-16 at the plate in the New York-Penn League. In 1993, he played sparingly at three levels between the Gulf Coast League and High-A, combining to hit .179 with one homer in 65 games. In 1994, Tremie spent the entire year with Double-A Birmingham of the Southern League, hitting .225 in 92 games, with two homers and a .566 OPS. He moved up to Triple-A in 1995 and did worse there, hitting .200 with a .511 OPS, but he still got his first big league shot. It took him just three years from being drafted in the 39th round to debut in the majors, playing his first of ten games for the 1995 White Sox on July 1st. He went 4-for-24 with four singles in his limited time. The entire 1996 season was spent in Triple-A, where he posted a .556 OPS in 70 games.
Tremie was taken by the Philadelphia Phillies in the Rule 5 draft after the season. He ended up spending the year in Triple-A, before the Phillies sent him to the Texas Rangers at the end of Spring Training in 1998. He next appeared in the majors during that 1998 season, seeing two games with the Rangers. The Pirates signed him as a minor league free agent after the 1998 season. Tremie spent most of the year with Triple-A Nashville, but he saw action with the Pirates in July and one game in August. He was called up with Jason Kendall out for the year with a broken ankle. It looked like Tremie would get more playing time after the July 21st game in which Keith Osik got injured, but instead the Pirates acquired veteran Joe Oliver, who became the regular catcher. From July 22nd until he was sent back to Triple-A on August 15th, Tremie played one game. He was released after the season and would play just one more big league game. In 2004, he was a defensive replacement for the final inning on September 21st for the Houston Astros. He was called up for the final 15 games of the season after Brad Ausmus suffered a concussion. Tremie played a total of 14 seasons in the minors. He spent the 2000 season split between independent ball and the Florida Marlins, then spent his 2001-05 seasons with the Houston Astros, seeing most of that time in Double-A. He hit .146 with an RBI and three runs scored in his 22 big league games. He made four relief appearances in the minors and allowed just one hit.
Mark Johnson, first baseman for the 1995-97 Pirates. Johnson played a total of 428 games over seven years in the majors, three spent with the Pirates, while also seeing action with the 1998 Anaheim Angels and 2000-02 New York Mets. The Pirates originally drafted him in the 42nd round out of Dartmouth College in 1989. He decided to go back to college for his senior year and then the Pirates took him in the 20th round in 1990. Johnson spent most of his first season in pro ball in Low-A, hitting .250 with no homers in 43 games. The next season was split between Low-A and High-A, combining to hit .256 with 17 extra-base hits in 86 games. He was in Double-A for the first of three straight seasons in 1992, playing for Carolina of the Southern League. Johnson hit .232 with 24 extra-base hits and 16 steals in 122 games in 1992. He followed that up with a .233 average, 18 doubles, 14 homers and 66 RBIs in 125 games in 1993. The next year saw him hit .276 with 20 doubles, 23 homers, 85 RBIs and 67 walks in 111 games. It took five full years for him to work his way through the minors, debuting on April 26, 1995, which was actually Opening Day during the strike-shortened season. Johnson hit .208 with 13 homers in 79 games as a rookie, spending a short time in Triple-A (nine games) mid-season. He was with the Pirates for the entire 1996 season and he batted .274 with 24 doubles, 13 homers and an .819 OPS in 127 games. His average and power numbers dropped in 1997 and he split the season between the majors and minors, hitting .215 with four homers in 78 games for the Pirates.
Johnson was lost on waivers in August to the Cincinnati Reds, who held on to him for a year and 13 days before being sent to the Angels, though he was in the minors the entire time with Cincinnati. He got into ten games with the 1998 Angels and went 1-for-14 at the plate. Johnson spent the 1999 season playing in Japan, where he put up an .823 OPS in 125 games, then returned to the U.S. as a free agent signing with the New York Mets. He spent three seasons in New York and saw minor league time each year. He hit .182 in 21 games with the 2000 Mets. The next year saw him hit .254 with six homers and 23 RBIs in 71 games. He was mainly used off of the bench that year, seeing 23 starts all season. He also played outfield 19 times that year, including 12 starts. Johnson played just 18 innings in the outfield during his other six seasons in the majors. In 2002, he had 61 plate appearances in 42 games for the Mets, hitting .137 with one homer and four RBIs. He retired after the 2002 season. He hit .239 with 30 homers, 104 RBIs, 117 runs scored and 124 walks in 284 games with the Pirates. He was a career .232 hitter in 428 games.
Ravelo Manzanillo, reliever for the 1994-95 Pirates. His only other big league time besides his two seasons with the Pirates was two starts for the 1988 Chicago White Sox. Manzanillo originally signed with the Pirates as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 1980, two months before his 17th birthday. He debuted strong in the Gulf Coast League in 1981, posting a 1.13 ERA in 48 innings. He moved up to Greenwood of the South Atlantic League for 1982, where he went 9-9, 4.97 in 157.2 innings, with more walks than strikeouts. From there he pitched for Alexandria of the Carolina League, where he was 7-7, 4.44 in 105.1 innings over 20 starts and two relief outings. The next two seasons were spent in Double-A for Nashua of the Eastern League. Manzanillo went 4-4, 4.24 in 74.1 innings in 1984. The next season saw him go 6-10, 4.67 in 123.1 innings, with 62 strikeouts and 96 walks. He was released by the Pirates in May of 1986 without pitching a game that season, then played in Mexico that year. He was dealing with a shoulder issue during the 1987 season. He signed with the Baltimore Orioles in January of 1987, but they released him in April without seeing a game and he ended up playing center field in an amateur league in New York that summer under an assumed name. Manzanillo signed with the Chicago White Sox prior to the 1988 season and made his two big league appearances in late September, giving up six runs in 9.1 innings. He actually spent that minor league season in A-Ball, making the jump straight to the majors.
Manzanillo spent the 1989-90 seasons in the minors for the White Sox. He spent the 1991 season in Triple-A with the Toronto Blue Jays, then played in China in 1992. He played in a summer league in the Dominican in 1993, where Pirates scout Pablo Cruz saw him playing. Cruz was the same scout who signed him in 1980. Manzanillo made the Pirates Opening Day roster in 1994 and appeared in 46 games in relief during the strike-shortened season, going 4-2, 4.14 in 50 innings. He pitched just five big league games early in 1995, giving up three runs in 3.2 innings, before being sent to Triple-A, where he was limited to 12 innings due to injuries. The Pirates released him in October of 1995 and he then bounced around between the minors/independent ball, China, Mexico, and Korea over the next ten seasons before retiring in 2005 at 41 years old. He had a 4.19 ERA in 53.2 innings over 51 appearances with the Pirates. Manzanillo is credited with 140 wins and over 2,000 innings pitched during his career, though some of his foreign league stats are missing. His younger brother Josias Manzanillo celebrated his birthday yesterday. He pitched for the 2001-02 Pirates.
Hardy Peterson, catcher for the 1955 and 1957-59 Pirates. He played 66 career Major League games, all with the Pirates. He is more famously known as the general manager of the 1979 Pirates team. He held a front office position with the club from 1968 until 1985, and prior to that, he was a minor league manager for the Pirates for nine seasons. Peterson signed with the Pirates out of Rutgers University in 1950 at 20 years old. He played two seasons in the minors, then spent the 1952-53 seasons serving in the Army during the Korean War. Peterson played for Tallahassee of the Class-D Georgia-Florida League in 1950, hitting .275 with eight extra-base hits in 45 games. He moved up two levels in 1951 to Waco of the Big State League, where he hit .301 with 28 doubles and 12 homers in 148 games. When he returned to the service, he played for New Orleans of the Double-A Southern Association in 1954, hitting .282 with 18 doubles and three homers in 79 games.
Peterson began 1955 in the majors, despite missing Spring Training time with a leg injury. After playing one game, he was sent to the minors on May 10th, where he played 12 games with Williamsport of the Class-A Eastern League. Peterson was recalled on May 29th and became the third-string catcher for the Pirates. His season ended early due to a broken arm from a home plate collision on August 25th, which also cost him the 1956 season when he required a later surgery. He returned to the Pirates in July of 1957 after 47 games with Columbus of the International League and played 30 big league games that season, hitting .301 with two homers and 11 RBIs. The rest of his big league career consisted of two early May games in 1958 and two mid-season games in 1959. Peterson played for three Pirates affiliates in the minors during that 1958 season, then played 95 games with Wilson of the Class-B Carolina League in 1959, where he was also the manager. The Pirates called him up on an emergency basis when catcher Hank Foiles was injured. Peterson finished his minor league career in 1960-61 as the player-manager for Burlington of the Three-I League. He batted .273 in 66 big league games, with three homers, 21 RBIs and 17 runs scored.
Bert Maxwell, pitcher for the 1906 Pirates. He played four years in the majors, none consecutively, over a nine-year stretch. His only appearance with the Pirates was a start on September 12, 1906 in which he allowed six runs over eight innings. That game was his MLB debut at 19 years old. He spent the 1906 season playing for Montgomery of the Class-A Southern Association, where he posted a 17-15 record in his third season of pro ball. Maxwell debuted in 1904 with Class-D Pine Bluffs of the Cotton States League, where he had a 10-11 record (No ERA’s are available from his early minor league years). He saw some time with Greenville of the same league in 1905, while also playing briefly that year for Galveston of the Class-C South Texas League. So prior to joining the Pirates, he had very little pro time, especially at a high level of competition. The Pirates purchased his contract on August 25, 1906 from Montgomery and it was said at the time that he would report to the team on September 15th after his minor league season was over. The scouting reports said that he had above average velocity on his fastball, good control and his changeup was of tough pitch to hit.
Maxwell ended up joining the Pirates early, arriving in Chicago to meet the team on September 6th. In his lone game with the Pirates six days later, the local press noted that he wasn’t much of a hitter, which played out true over his big league career (he was an .075 hitter in the majors). They also mentioned that his slow fielding cost him a run. Maxwell pitched an exhibition game for the Pirates against a local semi-pro team and lost 6-1 on September 17th. On February 9, 1907, the Pirates returned Maxwell to his team in Montgomery, where he put together an 18-19 record that season. After leaving the Pirates, he also pitched in the majors for the 1908 Philadelphia Athletics, 1911 New York Giants and 1914 Brooklyn Tip-Tops of the Federal League. His last game with the A’s did not go well. After pitching just three times in the early part of the season, giving up six runs in seven innings, manager Connie Mack let Maxwell take one for the team on on July 17th against the Detroit Tigers. The game got out of hand early and he was given the ball for the final seven innings to save the bullpen. He allowed 15 runs on 17 hits and seven walks. As a side note, that same day the Pirates were at home celebrating Honus Wagner Day and they got shutout.
Maxwell pitched in the Southern Association during a majority of the 1909-11 seasons, broken only by four late season games with the Giants in 1911. In three complete game starts and one relief appearance, he had a 2.90 ERA in 31 innings. He spent 1912-13 with Toronto of the International League, going 32-28 during that time, while throwing 485 innings. Maxwell’s time in the Federal League in 1914 was his last season of pro ball. He went 3-4, 3.28 in 71.1 innings. His real name was James Albert Maxwell, and he was introduced to Pirates fans as “J.A.”, but he was known as Bert.
Pop Dillon, first baseman for the 1899-1900 Pirates. When he joined the Pirates in September of 1899 for his big league debut, he already had seven seasons of minor league experience. There are almost no stats available from that time, which began with Bozeman of the Montana State League at 18 years old in 1892. In 1894 he was playing for the Class-A Western Association, which was a high level of play for the time, but it still took five years to make the majors. In 1895 he pitched for two teams, posting a 10-4 record in 108 innings for Ottumwa of the independent Eastern Iowa League, while also going 1-6 for Dubuque of the Western Association. He would pitch 12 games and go 7-2 for Rockford of the Western Association in 1897, but he did almost no pitching after that point. He was purchased for $1,500 by the Pirates on September 4, 1899 from Buffalo of the Western League and played his first big league game four days later. His Buffalo stats aren’t available, but he spent most of that 1899 season with Scranton of the Class-A Atlantic League, where he hit .309 with ten doubles and ten triples in 61 games. Once Dillon joined the Pirates, he was in the lineup for every day for the rest of the 1899 season, batting .256 in 30 games as a rookie. He then went 2-for-18 during his brief time with the Pirates at the beginning of 1900. He hit .237 in his 35 games with the Pirates, with 21 RBIs and 24 runs scored.
Dillon was one of the few leftovers from the 1899 team to stay after the Pirates completed the famous 17-player trade with the Louisville Colonels in December of 1899, but he lost his job just five games into the 1900 season when the Pirates bought Duff Cooley from the Philadelphia Phillies and released Dillon. Pop (his real name was Frank) would finish that season with the Detroit Tigers of the American League ( In 1900 the AL was considered a minor league), hitting .291 with 30 extra-base hits and 57 runs scored in 123 games. He was still in Detroit in 1901, where he hit four doubles on the first day of the American League’s existence as a Major League . He batted .288 with 21 extra-base hits, 42 RBIs and 40 runs scored in 74 games that season. Dillon hit .206 with 22 RBIs in 66 games for the Tigers in 1902 before being sold to the Baltimore Orioles (Yankees franchise), where he played just two games before being released. After spending 1903 in the Los Angeles of the Pacific Coast League, where he played 190 games (the team played over 200 games) and hit .364 with 49 doubles and 14 triples, Dillon played his final big league season. For the 1904 Brooklyn Superbas (Dodgers), he hit .258 with 24 extra-base hits, 60 runs scored and 31 RBIs in 135 games. The next 11 seasons were spent back with Los Angeles, where he played over 1,700 games total. He was a .252 career hitter in 312 big league games, with one homer, 116 RBIs and 146 runs scored. His lone home run came four days after his four-double game. He played 21 seasons in the minors and eight of those years he was a player-manager. Dillon is the cousin of Hall of Famer Clark Griffith.
George Nicol, pitcher for the 1894 Pirates. Before joining the Pirates, he had previously pitched parts of two seasons in the majors (1890-91), with poor control and moderate success in his five combined starts. He debuted in the American Association late in 1890 for the St Louis Browns at 19 years old, posting a 4.76 ERA in 17 innings over three starts. Those games were his pro debut. In 1891, he spent most of the year in the minors, but got a chance to play for the Chicago Colts (Cubs), where he allowed 20 runs in just 11 innings, though only six of the runs were earned. He had two starts on back-to-back days in late July and faced Hall of Famers Old Hoss Radbourn and Cy Young. Nicol spent the 1892-93 seasons in the minors, where he went a combined 44-33 for three different teams. His 1893 season shows a 1.34 ERA in 388.1 innings split between Erie of the Eastern League and Los Angeles of the California League. The Pirates signed him for the 1894 season and he struggled in his nine appearances, five as a starter. In 46.1 innings, he allowed 58 hits and walked 39 batters, recording just 13 strikeouts. He batted .409 in his nine games with the Pirates. During the season, while still with the Pirates, he pitched for a local semi-pro team. On August 13, 1894, the Pirates traded Nicol to the Louisville Colonels, along with cash, in exchange for pitcher Jock Menefee. Nicol pitched very poorly in two starts for Louisville, but played outfield in 26 games and hit .339 with 19 RBIs. His pitching records in the majors show a 5-7, 7.19 record in 91.1 innings, while he batted .347 in 43 games.
While with the Pirates in Spring Training, Nicol’s outfield play was getting rave reviews and they suggested that he could make it as an outfielder if his pitching didn’t work out. The next season he was back in the minors, taking up outfielder full-time, playing until his retirement in 1905 without another trip back to the majors. Despite pitching in the majors in 1894, his minor league records (which are incomplete) show just nine innings of work in 1895 and nothing after that point.
On this date in 1971, the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Baltimore Orioles at Memorial Stadium in game seven of the World Series by a 2-1 score to capture their fourth World Series title. Eight years later, they would repeat the feat, almost exactly the same way. Steve Blass threw a complete game in 1971, giving up just one run on an eighth inning ground out from Don Buford. It was the second win by Blass, who also pitched a complete game with one run allowed in game three. The Pirates had lost game six the previous day in extra innings by a 3-2 score.
The Pirates scored first in this game in the fourth inning on a solo home run by Roberto Clemente off of Orioles starter Mike Cuellar. It was Clemente’s eighth RBI of the series. He batted .383 in the series and was named World Series MVP. The other Pirates run scored in the eighth inning on a lead-off single by Willie Stargell, followed by a double from Jose Pagan. This title was the first for the Pirates since 1960.
In 1979, the Pirates would defeat the Orioles again in the World Series, also in seven games, with both series ending in Baltimore on October 17th. This was a 4-1 win with Jim Bibby, Don Robinson, Grant Jackson and Kent Tekulve combining for the win. The Orioles took a 1-0 lead with a home run by Rich Dauer in the third inning. The Pirates got a two-run homer by Willie Stargell in the sixth inning to take the lead. Omar Moreno singled home a run in the ninth, then Bill Robinson got hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to make it 4-1.