Nine former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including a pitcher who won over 300 games. We also have one trade of note.
On this date in 1974 the Pittsburgh Pirates traded shortstop Jackie Hernandez to the Philadelphia Phillies for catcher Mike Ryan. Hernandez played three seasons for the Pirates, starting in 1971 when he became the everyday shortstop late in the year and helped lead the team to their fourth World Series title. In three years in Pittsburgh he played 214 games and hit .205 with 48 RBIs. Ryan was 32 years old at the time of the trade, with ten seasons in the majors. He was strong defensively with a great arm, but not much of a hitter. In fact, he had batted below .200 in six of his nine full seasons. After the trade, Ryan played just 15 games in 1974, then became the manager of the Pirates A-ball team in Charleston for the 1975-76 seasons. Hernandez was released before he ever played a game for the Phillies. He re-signed with the Pirates and finished his career that 1974 season in Triple-A, although he did spend the next two seasons playing in Mexico before retiring as a player.
Guillermo Heredia, outfielder for the 2020 Pirates. He signed with the Seattle Mariners at 25 years old in 2016 out of Cuba. Heredia had five full seasons of pro ball at the highest level in his home country before defecting to Mexico in 2015. He signed with the Mariners a year later and began the season in the minors. He played 93 games over Double-A and Triple-A combined before making his big league debut on July 29, 2016. Heredia hit .250 with one homer and a .664 OPS in 45 games as a rookie. After the season, he attended the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .255 with five extra-base hits and nine walks in 14 games. The next year he was a regular in the Seattle outfield. In 123 games, he posted a .652 OPS, with a .249 average, 43 runs, 16 doubles, six homers and 24 RBIs. He established himself as a strong defensive player, splitting his time evenly between center field and left field. Despite a short stint in Triple-A in 2018, Heredia saw a very slight bump in both his games played (125) and OPS (.661) that year, though he was actually seeing less playing time because more of his games came off of the bench. He batted .236 with 29 runs scored, 14 doubles, five homers, 19 RBIs and 32 walks. He played more center field in 2018 and his dWAR went from 0.6 in 2017 to -0.6 in 2018, despite leading all American League center fielders with a 1.000 fielding percentage. He played winter ball in the Dominican after the season and hit .239 in 20 games, with three doubles and two homers.
Heredia was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays prior to the 2019 season and saw his time cut to 89 games and 231 plate appearances, while playing all three outfield spots (mostly center field). He batted .225 with 31 runs scored, 13 doubles, five homers and 20 RBIs. He was granted free agency after the season and he was signed by the Pirates on January 9, 2020. In Pittsburgh, Heredia went 3-for-16 in eight games before first being optioned to the Alternate Training Site in Altoona, which was used for extra players during the shortened 2020 season. He was then designated for assignment in late August, where he was picked up by the New York Mets. In seven games for the 2020 Mets, he went 4-for-18 at the plate with two homers. The Atlanta Braves acquired him via waivers from the Mets in February of 2021 and he hit .220 that year in 120 games, with 46 runs, 26 doubles, five homers and 26 RBIs. He’s a .235 hitter in 517 big league games, with 167 runs, 24 homers and 106 RBIs.
Ted Power, pitcher for the 1990 Pirates. The Pirates signed the nine-year veteran in November 1989 as a free agent. The 35-year-old right-hander went 1-3, 3.66 in 40 relief appearances in 1990. He threw a total of 51.2 innings and recorded seven saves. The Pirates made the playoffs that season and Power pitched three games in the NLCS, including starting game six, which was his only start all year. He would leave via free agency following the season. He pitched a total of 13 years in the majors with a 68-69, 4.00 record in 1,160 innings over 564 games (85 starts), but that 1990 season was his only postseason experience.
Power was a fifth round draft pick out of Kansas State by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1976. He debuted in High-A after the draft, then spent 2 1/2 seasons in Double-A before reaching Triple-A for the first time in 1979. At 21 years old in 1976, he went 1-3, 4.59 with a 44:58 BB/SO ratio in 51 innings for Lodi of the California League. In 1977 with San Antonio of the Texas League, Power had a 5-3, 3.88 record in 72 innings over 12 starts, with 55 walks and 60 strikeouts. He made 13 starts and 12 relief appearances for San Antonio in 1978, going 6-5, 4.01 in 101 innings, with 75 walks and 97 strikeouts. He did poorly in ten starts with San Antonio in 1979, and only slightly better in Triple-A with Albuquerque of the Pacific Coast League in 17 starts, combining to go 10-6, 4.85 in 165 innings, with 125 walks and 121 strikeouts. Power would spend all of 1980 in Triple-A, as well as parts of the next two seasons. He went 13-7, 4.53 in 155 innings over 26 starts, with the same strikeout rate, but a decent improvement in his walk rate. For Albuquerque during the strike-shortened 1981 season, he went 18-3, 3.56 in 26 starts, with a very slight improvement in his walk rate, but a drop in his strikeouts, going from 6.6 per nine innings in 1980, down to 5.3 in 1981).
Power debuted in the majors in 1981 and pitched a total of 48 innings over two seasons with the Dodgers. He went 1-3, 3.41 in 14.1 innings for a Dodgers team that went on to win the World Series in 1981, then followed that up with a 1-1, 6.68 record in 33.2 innings over four starts and eight relief appearances in 1982. He was traded to the Cincinnati Reds after the 1982 season ended and he spent the next five years there, serving in multiple roles. He had a season where he pitched in long relief, another where he saved 27 games, and another in which he made 34 starts and threw 204 innings. Power did much better in the relief roles than he did as a starter. In 1983, he went 5-6, 4.54 in 111 innings over six starts and 43 relief appearances. During the 1984 season, he led the National League with 78 appearances and he did some closing work, going 9-7, 2.82 in 108.2 innings, with 11 saves. The 1985 season was his year in the closing role, and he went 8-6, 2.70, with 27 saves in 80 innings over 64 games. Power made ten starts and 46 relief appearances in 1986, posting a 10-6, 3.70 record in 129 innings. He moved to a full-time starter for the only time in his career in 1987 and had a 10-13, 4.50 record in 204 innings. His 133 strikeouts that year marked the only time that he crossed the century mark in strikeouts in the majors. On November 6, 1987, he was traded to the Kansas City Royals in a deal that included Danny Jackson, who would later join the Pirates.
Power had a rough 1988 season split between the Royals and Detroit Tigers, which included a 5.91 ERA in 99 innings over 14 starts and 12 relief appearances. He spent the 1989 season with the St Louis Cardinals, before joining the Pirates. He made 15 starts and eight relief appearances that year, going 7-7, 3.71 in 97 innings. Those starts were the last of his big league career. After leaving the Pirates, he played for the 1991 Reds, the 1992-93 Cleveland Indians and the 1993 Seattle Mariners. Power was a full-time reliever for the 1991 Reds, going 5-3, 3.62 in 87 innings over 68 games. His two seasons in Cleveland had vastly different results, with a 2.54 ERA and six saves in 99.1 innings over 64 games in 1992, followed by a 7.20 ERA over 20 innings in 1993. He finished out his career with a 3.91 ERA and 13 saves in 25.1 innings for the 1993 Mariners. He actually finished his pro career with two starts in the independent Heartland League in 1998 at 43 years old, though it wasn’t any attempted comeback. He was working with the Huntington team and tried to help the attendance by putting a former MLB pitcher on the mound and promoting it ahead of time.
Ken Gables, pitcher for the 1945-47 Pirates. He spent his entire big league career with the Pirates. He debuted in pro ball in 1938, but his first big season came in 1942 for Binghamton of the Class-A Eastern League at 23 years old. He is credited with two seasons of pro ball before 1942, though not stats are available from either team and he actually played three years. Gables played for Paducah of the Class-D Kentucky-Illinois-Tennessee League (KITTY League). In 1940, he was with Twin Falls of the Class-C Pioneer League. He played for Carthage of the Western Association and also saw time in semi-pro ball in 1941. It appears that Gables stats with Carthage are currently being credited to a long-time minor league player named Glen Gabler, who was active until 1940 in pro ball, then played semi-pro in 1941. If the stats for Gabler are actually his (which appears to be correct through my research), then Gables had a 5-4, 3.53 record in 74 innings.
With Binghamton in 1942, Gables went 9-9, 3.17 in 159 innings over 19 starts and eight relief appearances. He spent the 1943 season serving in the military during WWII. He returned in 1944 and played for Kansas City of the Double-A American Association, where he allowed 29 runs in 19 innings. His career quickly turned around with a move across country. The Pirates acquired him from Oakland of the Pacific Coast League on September 8, 1944 in exchange for cash and a player to be named later. He had a 6.10 ERA over 93 innings that season, but his ERA dropped to 4.99 in 74 innings with Oakland. While that still wasn’t a strong number, it was a big improvement and the Pirates had multiple scouts recommend signing him after first-hand views. He didn’t join the Pirates until Spring Training of 1945. His rookie season in the majors was his best, going 11-7, 4.15 in 138.2 innings over 16 starts and 13 relief appearances. He was one of five Pirates starters to win at least ten games that year. Gables didn’t make his first start until July 15th during a doubleheader, which he won 15-3 over Brooklyn and pitched a complete game. His longest outing over the first three months of the season was five innings. From July 22nd to August 26th, he had four complete game starts with one run allowed, posting a 2.41 ERA over 74.1 innings during that stretch.
Gables mostly pitched in relief in 1946, posting a 5.27 ERA in 100.2 innings over seven starts and 25 relief appearances. He had a 4.08 ERA at Forbes Field that year, and a 6.26 ERA on the road. He had a similar half-season split, posting a 6.57 ERA during the first half of the year, followed by a 4.01 ERA in the second half. Gables pitched just once during the 1947 season, giving up two runs and recording just one out on April 20th, in what turned out to be his final big league game at 28 years old. He was sent to the minors on May 5th, where he split the rest of the season between Atlanta of the Double-A Southern Association and Indianapolis of the Triple-A American Association. He went 8-11, 4.70 in 155 innings that year, with similar results at both levels. Following the 1947 season, he was traded along with two other players and cash to San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League in exchange for pitching prospect Bob Chesnes. Gables had a 13-11, 4.69 record in 62 big league games, 23 as a starter. He spent a total of ten seasons in the minors and compiled a 68-96, 4.01 record in 350 games (that doesn’t include the Carthage stats from 1941). His last seven years were spent in the Pacific Coast League, where he had a run of three straight seasons (1951-53) with 205+ innings pitched each year. His previous high for innings pitched was the 159 he threw during his rookie year in pro ball. His final five years were spent with Sacramento, where he had some rough run support. In 1952, he had a 9-11 record, despite a 2.52 ERA. In 1953, he went 9-17, 3.01 in 230 innings.
Donald Songer, pitcher for the 1924-27 Pirates. He pitched a total of 49 games for the Pirates, 16 as a starter, over four seasons. He was a member of two Pittsburgh clubs that went to the World Series, but did not participate in either postseason. He debuted in pro ball in 1920 at 21 years old, starting off at a high level. He played for Kansas City of the Double-A American Association that season, which was the highest level of minor league play at the time. He pitched 14 games and had a 3-2 record (available stats are limited). In 1921, Songer pitched twice for Kansas City, but the majority of the season was spent with Augusta of the Class-B South Atlantic League, where he went 12-18, 3.82 in 245 innings. The next year he dropped down a level to Class-C, playing for the Enid Harvesters of the Western Association. He absolutely dominated the easier competition, posting a 31-4 record in 336 innings. His ERA isn’t available for that year, but we know he allowed 1.98 runs per nine innings.
While pitching for Oklahoma City of the Class-A Western League in 1923, Songer had an 18-9 record and threw 233 innings. The league was clearly high offense that year judging by his record, as he allowed 6.18 runs per nine innings. The 1924 season back in Oklahoma City would help launch his big league career. He would win 22 games and throw 295 innings that season, while allowing 4.85 runs per nine innings. On August 15, 1924, it was noted by the team’s local paper that Pirates scout Chick Fraser was in attendance and he had to be impressed by Songer allowing two runs over a 10-inning complete game victory. Four weeks later on September 13th, the Pirates acquired Songer and pitcher Joe Brown from Oklahoma City in exchange for pitcher Buckshot May and a pile of cash. Fraser noted that day to the local Pittsburgh press that Songer was the best pitching prospect he saw all summer.
Songer joined the Pirates days after being acquired in the trade and pitched four games that September, allowing seven runs in 9.1 innings, though six runs came in one outing. In 1925, he made eight relief appearances during the first five weeks of the season, then didn’t pitch after May 19th. However, he started an exhibition game for the Pirates on June 3rd, before being optioned back to Oklahoma City exactly one week later. The Pirates were able to recall him with five days notice first, though he never returned that season. He had a 10-9 record and a 1.39 WHIP in 146 innings over 30 appearances for Oklahoma City that season. Most of his playing time with the Pirates came during the 1926 season when he made 15 starts and 20 relief appearances. He had a 7-8, 3.13 record that year in 126.1 innings. After his solid 1926 season, the Pirates sold him to the Giants on May 9, 1927, which turned out to be a smart move long-term, though he was solid after the deal. Before being sold, he made two relief appearances for Pittsburgh and allowed ten runs over 4.2 innings. He finished his Major League career later that season, throwing another 22 games for New York, where he had a 2.86 ERA in 50.1 innings. With the Pirates, he finished 7-9, 3.55 in 152 innings. He had 67 walks and 35 strikeouts during that time. Songer played two years in the minors after his final big league game before retiring. He struggled through limited time with Toronto of the Double-A International League in 1928, then he finished his career in 1929 with Tulsa of the Class-A Western League, where he allowed nearly a run per inning (ERAs aren’t available for the league). Songer won a total of 99 games over eight minor league seasons.
Stuffy Stewart, second baseman for the 1922 Pirates. He played parts of eight big league seasons over a 14-year span. His pro career began in 1915 at age 21, playing 71 games split between two teams in the Class-D Florida-Alabama League. Despite being five levels away from the majors that year, he made his big league debut in September of 1916. Stewart played the majority of that 1916 season with Jacksonville of the Class-C South Atlantic League, so his jump to the majors that year was a huge one, the equivalent now of going right from Low-A to the majors. That season he hit .267 with 20 extra-base hits in 110 games for Jacksonville. Stewart played a total of 22 games for the St Louis Cardinals during the 1916-17 seasons, then didn’t play in the majors again until joining the 1922 Pirates. He went 3-for-26 at the plate during his two partial seasons with the Cardinals, starting four of his 22 games. The rest of the 1917 season was spent with Denver of the Class-A Western League. Stewart didn’t play in 1918 due to a contract holdout, which was then followed by spending the next three seasons in the minors. He was actually traded by the Cardinals to the Philadelphia Phillies in January of 1919, though he never played in Philadelphia. He ended up playing the 1919 season with Sanford of the Class-D Florida State League, where he hit .298 in 68 games.
Stewart played for Birmingham of the Southern Association during the 1920-21 seasons, hitting just .241 with 23 extra-base hits in 129 games in 1920, before crushing the ball at a .323 clip in 154 games in 1921, when he had 23 doubles, 15 triples and three homers. He was purchased by the Pirates on September 15, 1921, and was among a large group of minor league players added that day. Despite just over two weeks still being left on the 1921 schedule, Stewart did not join the Pirates until Spring Training in 1922. He started the first three games of the 1922 season at second base for the Pirates, going 2-for-13 with two errors, before losing his starting job to Cotton Tierney. He got his chance at second base late in Spring Training, when Pie Traynor was moved off second base and sent to third base. Manager George Gibson sent Stewart to second base that same day and the rest is history. On April 22nd (seven days after his final game with the Pirates), Stewart was sent back to his Birmingham team, with word that the Pirates and Birmingham manager Carlton Molesworth couldn’t come to an agreement on his purchase price, so instead he was optioned back to the minors, where he would remain the rest of the season. The Brooklyn Robins took him in the Rule 5 draft once the season was over, though his stay there lasted just four games in 1923 before being sent back to Birmingham. His hit his only big league homer at the Polo Grounds in his next to last game with Brooklyn. During the 1923-24 seasons, Stewart managed for Birmingham, before returning to the majors with the 1925 Washington Senators, a club that lost to the Pirates in the World Series that year (Stewart didn’t participate in the postseason). He played three seasons with Washington, mostly serving as a backup at second base and third base.
Stewart joined the 1925 Senators after hitting .304 with 44 extra-base hits in 137 games for Birmingham earlier that year. He batted .353 in seven September/October games for the Senators. In 1926, he batted 73 times in 62 games, with a .270 average, 27 runs scored, nine RBIs and eight steals. He actually scored more runs than combined hits/walks/HBP that year, thanks in part to numerous pinch-running appearances. In 1927, Stewart hit .240 in 56 games and he received 140 plate appearances, which was almost half of his big league total (289) over eight seasons. He was back in Birmingham for all of 1928 and hit .318 with 38 extra-base hits in 152 games that year. He returned to the majors for his final stint in 1929 with the Senators, where he received seven plate appearances in 22 games and he scored ten runs. He then finished his career out in the minors, playing his final games in 1932, seeing time with five different teams in four leagues during those final three seasons. Stewart hit .238 in 176 Major League games, with 74 runs scored, 18 RBIs and 21 stolen bases. Of those 176 career games, just 50 were as a starter. He played 15 seasons in the minors and collected over 1,700 hits. He batted .300 six different times, though he also finished seasons with a .297, .298 and .299 average. His real first name was John.
Jimmy Zinn, pitcher for the 1920-22 Pirates. Zinn debuted in pro ball in 1915 at 20 years old and spent his first five seasons in the minors before getting a September 1919 trial with the Philadelphia Athletics. He pitched four of those years for Waco of the Class-B Texas League, though he missed most of 1918 and half of 1919 while serving in the military during WWI. His 1915 season was spent with Fort Smith of the Class-D Western Association, where he went 12-3, 1.61 in 190 innings. With Waco in 1916, he went 11-5, 1.95 in 129 innings. He threw 227 innings in 1917, finishing up with a 14-8, 2.30 record. His time in Waco in 1918-19 seasons was limited to 96 innings, with a 4.50 ERA in 1918 and a 1.60 ERA in 62 innings before joining the Athletics in 1919. His first big league trial was a little rough, with a 6.31 ERA in 25.2 innings over three starts and two relief outings. Zinn spent the 1920 season in the minors with Wichita Falls of the Texas League, where he went 18-10, 2.20 in 262 innings. He was purchased by the Pirates, along with outfielder Johnny Mokan, on August 20, 1920 and both were to report to Pittsburgh at the end of his minor league season a few weeks later. However, on September 2nd, the Pirates requested that Zinn report to them immediately and he was allowed to leave early. Zinn made three starts and three relief appearances for the Pirates that September, going 1-1, 3.48 in 31 innings. During the second game of a doubleheader on October 2nd, Zinn started in right field and went 1-for-3 with a run scored. The game was limited to six innings and played in 61 minutes, called on account of darkness. He pitched the first game of that doubleheader and lost 7-3, with all seven runs (five earned) scoring in the seventh inning, yet he stayed in to complete the contest.
Zinn was with the Pirates for all of 1921 and he went 7-6, 3.68 in 127.1 innings, making nine starts and 23 relief appearances. On May 30th, he threw his only shutout for the Pirates in a 13-0 win over the Chicago Cubs. Zinn had a 1.68 ERA in 9.2 innings over five early-season relief appearances in 1922 before the Pirates released him outright to Kansas City of the American Association on June 2nd. It was said at the time that the Pirates had an abundance of quality pitchers and no innings for Zinn. At the time of his release, they had eight other pitchers on the roster. He spent seven seasons with Kansas City, winning at least 14 games each year, with three 20-win seasons. In 1923 he put together a 27-6, 3.94 record in 297 innings. He also won 24 games in 1927 and 23 games in 1928. He would get one more Major League chance in 1929 with the Cleveland Indians based off of that 1928 success, which also included a 3.48 ERA in 323 innings. He went 4-6, 5.04 in 105.1 innings over 18 games (11 starts) with the Indians. That was the end of his big league career, though his baseball career was far from over. Zinn pitched another nine seasons in the minors, retiring after the 1939 season with 295 minor league wins to go along with his 13 major league wins. He spent 5 1/2 seasons with San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League, where he had two 20-win seasons and three years with 300+ innings. He pitched until age 44, the last three years as a player/manager in Class-D ball (1937-38 with El Paso of the Arizona-Texas League, 1919 with Sioux City of the Western League), though he threw just 64 innings total during that time. He managed a total of eight seasons in the minors. He was a .283 hitter in 76 big league games and he hit over .300 during seven straight minor league seasons, topping out at a .366 mark in 1926. His known minor league stats show a .307 career average. He threw 4,578 innings in pro ball, a total topped just 21 times in the majors.
Jot Goar, pitcher for the 1896 Pirates. He made his MLB debut three games into the 1896 season with the Pirates in relief. He would pitch only three games that year, all in relief, losing one. In 13.1 innings, he gave up 36 hits, eight walks, hit a batter and allowed 33 runs. His 16.88 ERA with the Pirates is the second highest in team history for any pitcher with more than five innings pitched. He only pitched one other game in the majors, a two-inning relief appearance for the Reds on May 1, 1898. The Pirates purchased Goar for $3,500 on September 5, 1895 from Terre-Haute of the Class-A Western League, after he had a 3.38 ERA in 288 innings during the 1895 season. Before he played a game for the Pirates, a newspaper in Cincinnati circulated an unfounded rumor that he was going to retire, which caused a lot of confusion back then when teams had to either write letters or travel to visit players in the off-season. Goar refuted those rumors and said that he was ready to show Pittsburgh fans that he belonged with the team, though he also mentioned that their hopes might be too high due to the praise he received after the signing, and they should save their judgement for after they see him pitch.
One of Goar’s relief appearances for the Pirates was on May 20th, when he pitched the last six innings of a 25-6 loss to Brooklyn in Pittsburgh. The Pirates manager Connie Mack told Goar to lob the ball over the plate, allowing the Brooklyn hitters to pile up runs. The reason was that the game was already 6-0 Brooklyn and it started to downpour. The Pirates were trying to stall, hoping for the game to be called before five innings were played and the game was official. The move backfired when the weather cleared and by the end of the fifth, they were already down 17-0. So while he pitched poorly with the Pirates, he wasn’t half as bad as the numbers indicate. In mid-June of 1896, the Pirates loaned out Goar to Grand Rapids of the Western League, where they also sent three other players, so it was acting as a minor league affiliate at the time. His time with the Pirates ended in January of 1897 when he was sold to Indianapolis of the Western League for $1,000.
Goar had a somewhat brief pro career on record, going from 1895-1900, though he actually started in 1890 at 20 years old under the name Gore in most game recaps, pitching in the Indiana State League for a team from Muncie. He was called Kid Gore and he had a 15-strikeout game on May 2nd, though by the end of the month, a sore arm ended his season early. Goar played for teams in Muncie in 1891-94, and even had a 17-strikeout game on July 16, 1892. In 1893, the local papers started calling him Jot instead of Kid. He pitched three years in the Western League (1895-97) and spent the 1900 season with Indianapolis of the American League, which was considered to be a minor league level at that time (Class-A). After being sold off by the Pirates, he was with Indianapolis for all of 1897 and pitched great there, going 25-9, 1.39 in 310 innings. His one game with the 1898 Reds is his only pro game on record from the 1898-99 seasons. He went home in May due to a sore arm (a sore wrist was also mentioned as an issue) and then it was announced a month later that he was done for the season due to illness. He was playing some semi-pro ball in mid/late 1899 in his hometown of New Lisbon, Indiana before joining the American League for his final season. That 1900 season was his last pro experience and he put together a 7-2 record in 83 innings over ten starts. There’s no ERA available for the time, but he’s credited with allowing 5.31 runs per nine innings. He retired into business and a post office career in 1901. His real first name was Joshua. We posted a memorabilia article on Goar, who was featured on a pin during his time with the Pirates.
Al Buckenberger, manager for the 1892-94 Pirates. He began his career as a player-manager in the minors for four years, debuted in pro ball at 23 years old in 1884 with Terre Haute of the Northwestern League. He played second base for Toledo of the Western League in 1885, while also seeing some time in semi-pro ball. Buckenberger played for the Guelph Maple Leafs in 1886, then took over as the player-manager for Kalamazoo of the Ohio State League. That year he batted .301 in 72 games, with 71 runs scored. In 1888, he moved on to Wheeling of the Tri-State League in his last year as a player-manager. Buckenberger got his first big league job in 1889, guiding the Columbus Solons of the American Association to a 60-77 record. He was the first of three managers used by Columbus in 1890, leading them to a 38-42 record. In 1891 before joining the Pirates, he managed for Sioux Falls of the Western Association. He was named the manager of the Pirates in late October of 1891 and managed the club through May 20th to a 15-14 record. Tom Burns signed with the Pirates as a player-manager and took over for Buckenberger, who remained on with the team, helping to run the club. On June 1, 1892, it was announced that Buckenberger was taking over running the Pirates from owner William Temple, with one paper saying he would become team president, though he was still referred to as “manager” in the local papers. Burns didn’t last long with the Pirates, as it was said that he was too lenient with the players, not as good of a player as before, and he made some poor managerial decisions. Burns is credited now with a 27-32-1 record, but his actual record was 24-30-1, as he gave up the managerial spot before his final game with the team. Buckenberger took over on July 25th and would turn the team around, finishing with a 41-29 record the rest of the way. In 1893 he led the team to their best finish since joining the National League in 1887, going 81-48, which was good enough for second place, five games behind Brooklyn. The team’s .628 winning percentage that year is the sixth best in franchise history. However, the team record the next year was a disappointing 53-55 after a doubleheader on September 1st, when he lost his job to the team’s catcher, Connie Mack. For Mack, it was the start of a 53-year career as a manager.
A few weeks after his release, there was talk that Buckenberger was approached to manage a Pittsburgh team in a new league that could form in 1895 and rival the National League, much like the Player’s League did four years earlier. That rumor apparently led to his departure from the Pirates. That new league never formed and he managed the 1895 St Louis Browns (Cardinals) instead. Buckenberger lasted just 50 games, posting a 16-34 record with the Browns. He spent the 1896-1901 seasons managing in the Class-A Eastern League, taking the helm of three different teams during that time. In 1902, he returned as a big league manager with the Boston Beaneaters (current day Atlanta Braves), and had a successful first season in a year dominated by the Pirates. Buckenberger led Boston to a 73-63 record that year. When the Pirates went to the World Series in 1903, he had a 58-80 record. In his final season in Boston, the team finished with a 55-98 record. He then managed Rochester of the Eastern League for the 1905-07 seasons (1906 is missing from his online stats, but he was there). He went 190-146 at the helm of Pittsburgh in three season (online stats say 187-144, but they are missing the five games mistakenly credited to Burns in 1892). In nine big league seasons, he had a 491-541 record (also adding the five missing games). The Pirates went by the team nickname “Braves” during the entire 1894 season (it appeared infrequently during the 1893 season as well, and lasted into Spring Training in 1895), and they were often called Buck’s Braves by the local papers.
Bob Ferguson, Utility fielder for the 1884 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He was a star baseball player before the first Major League was organized in 1871, beginning his amateur career at least eight years earlier. Ferguson was 26 years old before the National Association was formed in 1871, and 31 years old before the National League first played a game. In fact, the schedules were so short during the era he played in, that he played 824 Major League games over 14 seasons and twice led the league in games played. His big league totals, not surprisingly, don’t look like those of a star player, but the man they nicknamed “Death to Flying Things” was one of the best fielders of his time (he mostly played third base) and he could handle the bat too. He is regarded by most as the first switch-hitter in baseball, a lifetime .265 hitter with 357 RBIs and 544 runs scored.
Playing for the 1871 New York Mutuals of the National Association in the first year of big league ball, Ferguson led the league with 33 games played. He hit .241 with 30 runs and 25 RBIs. In 1872, he played for the Brooklyn Atlantics for the first of three straight seasons. He hit .280 with 33 runs and 19 RBIs in 37 games. In 1873, he hit .259 in 51 games, with 36 runs and 25 RBIs. He played 56 games during the 1874 season and hit .261 with 34 runs and 19 RBIs. Ferguson had just four extra-base hits (all doubles) in 245 at-bats. During the final season of the National Association, he played for the Hartford Dark Blues, where he hit .240 in 85 games, with 65 runs, ten doubles, four triples and 43 RBIs. Hartford was an original member of the National League in 1876 and Ferguson stayed there for two years. He batted .265 in 69 games in 1876, with 48 runs scored and 32 RBIs. In 58 games in 1877, he hit .256 with 40 runs scored and 35 RBIs. His best season at the plate was 1878 for the Chicago White Stockings, when he hit .351, with 44 runs and 39 RBIs in 61 games. That ended up being his only .300+ season in the majors. He led the league with a .375 OBP that season.
In 1879, Ferguson moved on to the Troy Trojans for the first of four seasons. He hit .252 with 18 runs in 30 games that first year. In 1880, he played 82 games and hit .262 with 55 runs scored and 24 walks, which led the National League. In 1881, he led the league with 85 games played. He batted .283 that year with 56 runs, 13 doubles, five triples, 35 RBIs and a career high of 29 walks. In his final season with Troy, he batted .257 in 81 games, with 44 runs and a career best 15 doubles, as well as 32 RBIs and 23 walks. Before joining the Alleghenys for his final season in the majors, Ferguson spent the 1883 season with the Philadelphia Quakers (Phillies). That year he played a career high 86 games and hit .258 with 39 runs, 11 extra-base hits and 27 RBIs.
By the time he joined the Alleghenys, Ferguson was at the end of his career, already 39 years old, and the oldest player in the majors at the time. He played ten games for Pittsburgh, seeing time at four different spots. He hit just .146, with six singles in 41 at-bats. He played his final game on July 1st and he was relieved of his managerial duties on July 16th, officially ending his big league playing career. He managed for parts or all of 16 seasons in the majors, including an 11-31 record as the second of five managers the 1884 Alleghenys had that season. His big league managerial record stands at 417-516, and his best finish was third place in three of his seasons. He played every position in the majors except left field, though most of his time was spent at third base earlier in his big league career and second base later. The only home run Ferguson hit in his Major League career came off another great nickname in baseball history, Ed “The Only” Nolan, who it was said that he always wanted to be the only starting pitcher for the team he was on, though my own extensive research debunked that nickname origin story. Ferguson’s nickname came from his ability to catch fly balls back before any type of gloves were worn. With a birth date on January 31, 1845, he has the earliest date of birth for any player in Pirates history.