Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including two members of World Series teams
Dick “Ducky” Schofield, infielder for the 1958-65 Pirates. He began his MLB career at age 18 with the Cardinals, spending his first 5 1/2 seasons in St Louis playing sparingly, appearing in just 208 games during that stretch. Schofield was signed under the Bonus Baby rule, which meant that he had to spend his first two full years in the majors from the day that he signed. The Cardinals handed him a $40,000 bonus at 18 years old in June of 1953 and he debuted in the majors weeks later on July 3rd. He played just 88 games over his two full years before the rule requirements were filled, then he was sent to the minors for the rest of 1955 (he returned in late September) and the better part of 1956. He was mostly a bench player in St Louis, picking up just 244 at-bats during his 208 games. As a rookie, Schofield batted .179 with two homers in 39 at-bats. He would hit just two homers total during the next eight seasons combined. The Cardinals got him into 43 games in 1954, though he batted just seven times all year, with four of those at-bats coming during the first eight games of the season. He ended up scoring 17 runs, as he was used 37 times as a pinch-runner. In his split season in 1955, he went 0-for-4 in 12 games with the Cardinals. The rest of the year was spent with Omaha of the Triple-A American Association, where he batted .273 with 24 extra-base hits in 107 games. Schofield played 108 games for Omaha in 1956, hitting .295 with 60 runs, 37 extra-base hits and 57 RBIs. With the Cardinals that year, he went 3-for-30 in 16 games.
Schofield spent all of 1957 with the Cardinals, where he hit .161 in 65 games, though he batted just 64 times. He started off much better in 1958, batting .213 in 39 games over the first two months. The Pirates acquired him on June 15, 1958 along with cash for infielders Gene Freese and Johnny O’Brien. Schofield hit .148 over 26 games with the Pirates during that 1958 season. He saw limited playing time in 1959, getting into 81 games, but receiving only 163 plate appearances in which he hit .234 with 21 runs scored. The Pirates were battling for the National League pennant in 1960 and Schofield was getting very limited playing time until an injury struck the Pirates starting shortstop Dick Groat in early September. Ducky was hitting just .200 at the time (7-for-35), but he stepped into the shortstop position and hit .403 the rest of the way (21 games) to help the Pirates maintain their first place lead and win the pennant. He was back on the bench for the World Series with Groat returning to the lineup, but he managed to get to the plate four times, with a hit and walk to show for it.
Schofield was back to a limited role in 1961, getting 90 plate appearances over 60 games, and he hit just .192 with two RBIs all year. He did better in 1962, batting .288/.382/.375 in 54 games, though still saw limited time as the backup for three infield spots. The Pirates traded Dick Groat in November of 1962 and Schofield became the regular shortstop, playing a career high 138 games in 1963, finishing with a .246 average, 69 walks and 54 runs scored. He hit .246 again in 1964 in the same role, getting into 121 games that year. That season he hit 22 doubles, five triples and three homers, which were all career highs. He also added 50 runs scored and 54 walks. He was the Pirates shortstop to begin the 1965 season, but a month into the schedule, the Pirates traded him to the San Francisco Giants for infielder Jose Pagan. Schofield was in the majors until 1971, playing a total of 1,321 games over 19 seasons, while moving around a lot after he left Pittsburgh. He spent parts of the 1965-66 seasons with the Giants, then played for the New York Yankees for 25 games in 1966. From there it was the 1966-67 Los Angeles Dodgers, the 1968 Cardinals, the 1969-70 Boston Red Sox, before splitting the 1971 season between the Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers. He also saw some brief minor league time during that 1971 season.
After the trade in 1965, Schofield batted .203 in 101 games for the Giants, with 39 runs scored and 19 RBIs. In 1966, he hit .194 in 56 games between his three stops, combing for a .504 OPS. With the Dodgers in 1967, he batted .216 in 84 games, with 23 runs scored and 31 walks. For the 1968 Cardinals, he hit .220 in 69 games, with 14 runs scored and eight RBIs. The Cardinals went to the World Series that year, but he didn’t get any at-bats in the postseason. For the 1969 Red Sox, Schofield hit .257 in 94 games, with 30 runs scored and 20 RBIs. In 1970, that average dropped down to .187 in 76 games. He made 22 starts that season, split between second base and third base. During his final season split between the Brewers and a third stint with the Cardinals, Schofield hit .182 in 57 games. He was a career .227 hitter with 21 homers, 211 RBIs and 394 runs. For the Pirates in eight seasons, he hit .248 with 107 RBIs and 184 runs in 576 games. Schofield played 660 games at shortstop during his career, 159 at second base and 95 at third base. He also saw brief time at the two corner outfielder spots. His son Dick Schofield played 14 seasons in the majors and his grandson Jayson Werth played 15 seasons. Ducky Schofield turns 87 today.
Kitty Bransfield, first baseman for the 1901-04 Pirates, including the National League pennant winning 1901-03 teams. Bransfield began pro career as a catcher and got into five games for the 1898 Boston Beaneaters during his first season of pro ball. He had just 34 games of experience in the Class-B New England League before making his big league debut in August, though he was already 23 years old at the time and had plenty of semi-pro ball experience. In 1899, he played for Class-A Worcester of the Eastern League and hit .315 with 36 extra-base hits in 89 games. He returned to Worcester for 1900 and hit .369 in 122 games, with 17 homers and 40 stolen bases. He was property of Boston still in 1899, but they sold his rights to Worcester, who switched him to first base. After spending two full seasons in the minors, the Pirates purchased his contract for the 1901 season in exchange for outfielder Joe Rickert and cash. Bransfield The Pirates acquired his rights in late August of 1900 and it was announced that he would stay with his Worcester club until the end of the minor league season. He was supposed to join the Pirates on September 25, 1900, but he decided to return home due to a bum leg and some illnesses in his family. Barney Dreyfuss made the mistake of comparing Bransfield to the great Nap Lajoie as a batter, though he did well from the start in the majors so a little less lofty of a comparison would have been appropriate. A local Pittsburgh paper went the other way when talking about him, saying he was unlikely to make it with the Pirates because he failed in two shots with Boston.
Bransfield hit .295 during his 1901 rookie season in 139 games, scoring 92 runs while driving in 91. He was also third in the National League with 16 triples, while hitting 26 doubles and stealing 23 bases. In his second season in Pittsburgh, he hit .305 in 102 games, with 49 runs, 29 extra-base hits 69 RBIs and 23 steals for the second straight season. The Pirates won their third straight pennant in 1903, but Kitty (his first name was William) hit just .265 with 57 RBIs in 127 games. He had a .733 OPS as a rookie and a .730 mark as a sophomore, but his 1903 OPS dropped down to a ..665 mark. He struggled in the World Series, hitting .207 with one RBI in 29 at-bats. He was the Pirates everyday first baseman in 1904, but he average dropped to .223 and he led all NL first baseman in errors. His OPS drop from 1902 to 1903 paled in comparison to the drop this season, as low power/walk numbers led to a .549 OPS. Following the season, he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies along with two other players for minor league first baseman Del Howard and outfielder Otis Clymer.
Bransfield spent seven seasons in Philadelphia, before ending his career with three games for the Chicago Cubs in September of 1911. For the 1905 Phillies, he hit .259 in 151 games, with 55 runs scored, 35 extra-base hits, 27 steals and a career high 76 RBIs. Bransfield batted .275 in 140 games in 1906, with 47 runs, 34 extra-base hits and 60 RBIs. He missed some time in 1907 with a mid-season knee injury, playing 94 games, while hitting .233 with a .550 OPS. He bounced back in 1908, batting .304 with 53 runs, 35 extra-base hits, 71 RBIs and a career high 30 steals in 144 games. His .730 OPS was the ninth best in the league. In 1909, Bransfield hit .292 in 140 games, with 47 runs, 34 extra-base hits and 59 RBIs. He saw a drop off in production in 1910 at age 35, hitting .239 in 123 games, with 39 runs and 52 RBIs. His final season saw him hit .283, but he played just 26 games. He played a year of minor league ball before retiring as a player. He was a player-manager for Montreal of the International League in 1912, then stayed on for two more years as a manager. He later managed for four more seasons in the minors. Bransfield finished with a .270 average, 637 RBIs and 175 stolen bases over 1,330 big league games. He fell one at-bat short of 5,000 for his career.
Bransfield batted .271 with 277 RBIs and 70 stolen bases in 507 games with the Pirates. After his departure in 1904, the newspapers constantly reminded local fans that the Pirates let him go, as no one held down first base in Pittsburgh for many years. In fact, no one started more than two Opening Days at first base for the Pirates until Charlie Grimm started his streak of five straight years in 1920. Despite the praise, Bransfield put up a career 10.2 WAR in his 12 seasons, with an average of 0.8 WAR per season with the Phillies over seven years. His replacements were worse during that time, but not by much, as they combined for 2.5 WAR in those seven seasons.
Ted Beard, outfielder for the 1948-52 Pirates. He was signed by the Pirates as an amateur free agent in early 1942, playing one season in the minors before spending the next three years serving in the military during the war. In 100 games in 1942, split between two lower level teams, he hit .243 with 26 extra-base hits. He returned to the minors in 1946, where he stayed until the Pirates called him up in September of 1948. Beard played that 1946 season with York of the Class-B Interstate League, a league that he played 20 games in four years earlier. He batted .328 in 125 games for York, with 127 runs scored, 24 doubles, 13 triples, 12 homers, 75 RBIs and 121 walks. In 1947, he spent a large majority of the year back with York, though he also saw time with Albany of the Class-A Eastern League and Indianapolis of the Triple-A American Association. With York that year, he batted .326 in 123 games, with 99 runs, 53 extra-base hits, 81 RBIs, 33 steals and 112 walks. Beard spent the 1948 season with Indianapolis, where he hit .301 in 142 games, with 131 runs scored, 31 doubles, 17 triples, 85 RBIs and 128 walks. He got called up to the Pirates in September and hit .198 in 25 games during his first big league trial, getting 81 at-bats.
Beard started the 1949 season in Pittsburgh, but was sent to the minors after batting .083 the first month of the season. Once again he did well in Indianapolis, posting an .879 OPS in 125 games. He spent most of the 1950 season in the majors and hit .232 in 61 games, with 32 runs, 12 extra-base hits and 12 RBIs. On July 16, 1950 he became just the second player ever to hit a ball over the right field roof at Forbes Field. The first was Babe Ruth. Beard was listed at 5’8″, 165 pounds, so it was quite a blast for someone of his stature. He hit a combined .185 over 37 games during the 1951-52 seasons, with similar stats/playing time each year. He spent a majority of the 1951 season in Indianapolis, then played most of the 1952 season with Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League. Beard ended up spending all of 1953 with Hollywood, where he hit .286 in 134 games, with 91 runs, 49 extra-base hits, 60 RBIs and 64 walks. Early in the 1954 season he was sold to the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League. He batted .300 in 160 games that year, with 104 runs scored, 51 extra-base hits, 30 steals and 99 walks.
Following the sale to San Francisco, Beard played just 57 more games in the majors, coming during the 1957-58 seasons for the Chicago White Sox. He spent the entire 1955 season with San Francisco, then returned to Indianapolis in 1956. He put up a 1.013 OPS in 96 games at Indianapolis in 1957, which earned him his trip back to the majors after three years in the minors. He joined Chicago in late July and hit .205 in 38 games, with a .572 OPS. Beard was hitting just .091 in 19 games for the White Sox when he returned to the minors for the final time in 1958. He remained in pro ball for two full seasons and a handful of at-bats during the 1961-63 seasons, spending all of that time with Indianapolis. He also put in two years as a manager in the minors. He played over 2,000 games in pro ball, but he put in just 194 big league games over seven seasons. He had a .203 average in 137 games for the Pirates, and he finished with a .198 average, with 80 runs scored and 35 RBIs in the majors.
Al Todd, catcher for the 1936-38 Pirates. He was born on the same exact day as another former Pirates catcher, Cliff Knox (mentioned below). Todd played 11 seasons in the majors, despite the fact that he didn’t make his big league debut until age 30. He didn’t start pro ball until 1928 at 26 years old, beginning his career in the Class-D Blue Ridge League, where he hit .314 with a .797 OPS for Hanover. Most of 1929 was spent with Class-C Fort Smith of the Western Association, where he batted .320 with 31 extra-base hits in 86 games. He played briefly for Evansville of the Class-B Three-I League that season, then spent the entire year in that league in 1930, seeing time with both Evansville and Bloomington. Full stats aren’t available from that year, but he’s credited with a .287 average and 22 extra-base hits in 79 games. In 1931, he spent the year with Dallas of the Class-A Texas League, where he hit .276 with 24 extra-base hits in 118 games, which led to him getting his first big league shot. Todd played the next four seasons for the Philadelphia Phillies, batting nearly 100 points higher over his final two seasons compared to his first two years.
In 1932, Todd batted .229 in 33 games as a rookie, getting just 75 plate appearances all season. He saw a bit more time in 1933 when he hit .206 in 73 games, with a very low .475 OPS due to just four extra-base hits (all doubles) and four walks all season. He broke out as a hitter in 1934 and it led to more than twice as many plate appearances over the previous season. Todd hit .318 in 91 games, with 22 doubles, four homers and 41 RBIs. He batted .290 in 107 games in 1935, with 40 runs scored, 24 extra-base hits and 42 RBIs. The Pirates traded rookie pitcher Claude Passeau and veteran catcher Earl Grace for Todd on November 21, 1935. While Todd was a solid performer in Pittsburgh, the trade went south quickly, as Passeau would go on to win 162 Major League games after leaving Pittsburgh.
Todd was splitting the catching duties with Tom Padden in 1936 until an injury in early July caused him (Todd) to miss six weeks. In 76 games that year he hit .273 with 28 RBIs. He would become the everyday catcher in 1937, playing 133 games, while hitting .307 with 51 runs scored and a career high 86 RBIs. He had 18 doubles that year, while setting career highs with ten triples and eight homers. The following season he would again play 133 games, this time hitting .265 with 52 runs (career high), 33 extra-base hits, and 75 RBIs. After the season, Todd and outfielder Johnny Dickshot were traded to the Boston Bees for catcher Ray Mueller. The second trade worked out better for the Pirates, as Todd saw a decline in his hitting, which led to a drop-off in his production each year until his final year in 1943 with the Chicago Cubs. He posted 0.2 WAR total over his final four seasons as a player. He had a .278 batting average, ten doubles and five homers in 86 games during his only season with Brooklyn. He was traded to the Cubs for two players after the 1939 season. For the 1940 Cubs, he hit .255 with 31 runs, 21 extra-base hits and 42 RBIs in 104 games. He played just 27 games total during the 1941 and 1943 seasons. The entire 1942 season was spent with Los Angeles of the Pacific Coast League.
Todd played pro ball until age 44, managed eight seasons (two as a player/manager) in the minors and he also scouted for a few years. For the Pirates, he hit .284 with 131 runs scored, 17 homers and 189 RBIs in 342 games. His 1937-38 seasons rated as the two best during his 11-year career, compiling 3.8 WAR those years, compared to 0.7 WAR over his other nine years combined. He hit 29 triples in his career, and 22 came while with the Pirates (14 at Forbes Field).
Leo Murphy, catcher for the 1915 Pirates. He played 31 games for Pittsburgh in 1915, getting 46 plate appearances in which he went 4-for-41 (.098) with four walks and four RBIs. That was Murphy’s only season in the majors. He spent nine seasons in the minors, posting a .255 average in 801 games. He later managed for five seasons in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which was featured in the movie League of Their Own. His pro career began in 1912 with Columbus of the Double-A American Association, where he was a batterymate with Wilbur Cooper, the Pirates all-time leader in wins. Murphy hit .169 in 27 games that year, with one extra-base hit (a double). For Columbus in 1913, he batted .304 in 40 games, with five doubles and one triple. The Pirates acquired Murphy via the Rule 5 draft from Sioux City of the Class-A Western League, securing his contract on September 26, 1914, and announcing that he would join the club during Spring Training in 1915. He hit .323 with 41 runs scored, 15 doubles, three triples and two homers in 73 games that year.
With the Federal League in existence at the Major League level during the 1914-15 seasons, it opened up extra MLB jobs around baseball. The Pirates had veteran George Gibson as their starting catcher in 1915, with Bobby Schang serving as his backup. Murphy was the third-string backstop until late August, when he then split that limited role with a young receiver named Bill Wagner (no relation to Honus) after the Pirates released Schang. After the Pirates acquired highly-touted prospect Walter Schmidt for the 1916 season, they sold Murphy outright to Columbus on February 5, 1916. Murphy played the next three minor league seasons between Columbus (1916) and Milwaukee of the American Association (1917-18), then saw sporadic time in pro ball, playing his final game in 1928 for Winston-Salem, where he hit .306 in the low-level Piedmont League at 39 years old. Murphy is credited with four homers in pro ball, while playing exactly 500 games.
Cliff Knox, catcher for the 1924 Pirates. He attended college in Des Moines and also made his pro debut in the same city, playing briefly for the Western League team in 1922. He was a star athlete in school, who also excelled in basketball and football. Before joining the Pirates, he played some semi-pro baseball in the Mississippi Valley ranks, but he had just 17 games of minor league experience prior to his debut. He actually announced his own signing in the local papers on September 27, 1923, saying that he signed a contract with the Pirates for the 1924 season. He played in just six Major League games, all at 22 years old for the 1924 Pirates. He debuted in the majors on July 1st and played his final game on July 14th. He started all six games he played behind the plate, going 4-for-18 with two walks and two RBIs. The Pirates had two catching injuries at the time and needed him to fill in. Just a week earlier, it was said that he looked good during practices and could do well if they needed to use him in an emergency situation. For a short time, the backup catcher to Knox for the Pirates was their coach, Grover Land, who last caught in the majors nine years earlier and retired from pro ball three years earlier.
Knox actually played for the Pirates two weeks after his final official game, catching on July 27, 1924 in an exhibition game against a semi-pro team from Providence, who the Pirates needed ten innings to defeat. Two weeks before his big league debut, he caught during an exhibition game on June 15th in Kingston, NY, in another game that took the Pirates ten innings to win. Knox was with Pittsburgh on Opening Day and remained with the Pirates for the entirety of the season, but the only time he made the news after July was on September 3rd when a foul ball he hit struck teammate Eppie Barnes in the face. Knox was with the Pirates at the start of their 1925 World Series winning season as well. On April 24th, after not playing in any of the first ten games of the season, he was sold outright to Birmingham of the Class-A Southern Association, ending his time with the Pirates. It was said at the time that he hurt his throwing arm during Spring Training in 1924 and had yet to fully recover. Despite that claim, he threw out four of six runners who attempted to steal against him with the Pirates. He batted .268 with 16 extra-base hits in 92 games with Birmingham in 1925. Knox spent a total 12 seasons in the minors, retiring at age 36 in 1938 after he hit .326 with 17 homers in 100 games that year. He hit well later in his career, batting at least .293 in each of his last eight seasons. However, that stat alone is a little misleading because he was in Class-D ball for three of those seasons and another three years were spent in Class-B ball, both a large drop from the big league level. His six games with the Pirates were his only pro games above A-Ball.
Knox’s stats online are missing his 1928-30 stats, which are attributed to a player named “Knox” without a first name, but I was able to track down the connection. He played for Spartanburg of the South Atlantic League at the end of 1928, remained there to start 1929, then played for Macon (1929) and Augusta (1930), both of the South Atlantic League. His 1927 stats are also blank and I was able to track him down to Portland of the New England League. He began the year as the third-string catcher for the Boston Red Sox, but didn’t play any games before he was shipped to the minors on May 17th, a full five weeks after Opening Day.
Jim Pendleton, utility player for the 1957-58 Pirates. His pro career began in 1948 with the Chicago American Giants of the Negro American League, which now counts as his big league debut. He hit .327 with eight runs and eight RBIs in 12 games that year. From there he played three years for St Paul of the Triple-A American Association as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers system, then moved to Montreal of the International League. During the 1949 season, he hit .274 with 83 runs scored, 20 extra-base hits, 41 RBIs and 27 steals for St Paul. In 1950, Pendleton hit .299 in 145 games, with 105 runs scored, 25 doubles, 19 triples, ten homers, 98 RBIs and 25 steals. That was followed in 1951 by a .301 average in 143 games, with 116 runs scored, 18 doubles, 13 triples, 21 homers and 79 RBIs. In his season in Montreal, he hit .291 in 151 games, with 87 runs scored, 24 doubles, 14 triples, 11 homers and 92 RBIs. The Dodgers traded him to the Milwaukee Braves as part of a four-team, five player/cash trade, prior to the 1953 season. His best season in his nine-year big league career was his rookie year in 1953 at 29 years old, when he hit .299 in 129 games, with 48 runs scored and 23 extra-base hits.
Pendleton hit .220 with one homer and 16 RBIs in 1954, showing a 283-point drop in his OPS from his .785 rookie mark. Most of the 1955 season was spent with Toledo of the American Association. He played just eight games for the Braves, going 0-for-10 at the plate. The 1956 season was similar, with most of the year spent with Wichita of the American Association. Pendleton played 14 games for the Braves that year and once again failed to collect a hit, going 0-for-11 with a walk. The Pirates acquired him on April 3, 1957 in an even up swap for infielder Dick Cole. Pendlton hit .305 (18-for-59) in 46 games in 1957 for the Pirates while playing five different positions, including all three outfield spots, third base and shortstop. He played just three games in 1958, all as a pinch-hitter, spending most of the year in Triple-A, where he hit .312 in 123 games. He was part of a seven-player trade on January 30, 1959 that saw the Pirates acquire Harvey Haddix, Smoky Burgess and Don Hoak from the Cincinnati Reds.
Pendleton batted 123 times in 65 games in 1959, hitting .257 with three homers and nine RBIs. In 1960 and 1961, he spent the entire time in the International League, playing for the Havana/Jersey City club. He returned to the majors for one final season with the expansion Houston Colt .45’s in 1962. He batted .246 with 22 extra-base hits, 30 runs scored and 36 RBIs in 117 games. The next year he was back in the minors for his final season of pro ball. Pendleton played a total of 16 seasons in pro ball, getting into nearly 1,700 games. He was a .293 hitter over his ten seasons in the minors, with 121 homers, 732 runs and 692 RBIs. He had a .259 average in 456 big league games, with 128 runs and 105 RBIs.