This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: February 8th, Cookie and Pie

Six former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date.

Felix Pie, outfielder for the 2013 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Chicago Cubs as an international amateur free agent at 16 years old in 2001 out of the Dominican Republic. After hitting .321 with 33 extra-base hits and 17 steals in 55 games in the Arizona Summer League in 2002, he was ranked among the top 100 prospects in baseball by Baseball America. He remained ranked among the top 100 prospects for five years straight, topping out in the rankings at #27 after the 2005 season. In 2003, he played for Lansing of the Low-A Midwest League, and hit .285 in 124 games, with 72 runs, 22 doubles, nine triples, 19 steals and 41 walks. In 2004, Pie moved up to Daytona of the High-A Florida State League, where he batted .297 in 110 games, with 79 runs, 18 doubles, ten triples, eight homers and 32 steals. His highest prospect ranking was after he hit .304 in Double-A (West Tennessee of the Southern League), with 11 homers and 13 steals in 59 games. He was limited due to an ankle injury that year, but he bounced back to play 141 games for Iowa of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in 2006, hitting .283, with 78 runs, 33 doubles, eight triples, 15 homers and 17 steals. He played winter ball in the Dominican for the first time that off-season, hitting .219 in 32 games, with a .528 OPS. Pie debuted in the majors early in 2007, but he ended up having three different stints and hitting just .215 in 87 games. That was despite tearing up Triple-A whenever he was sent down, batting .362 in 55 games. He saw slightly better stats in the Dominican that winter, batting .244 in 36 games, with a .684 OPS.

In 2008, Pie was limited to 43 big league games and 93 plate appearances, with the rest of the year being spent in Iowa, where he had an .802 OPS in 85 games. He batted .241 with one homer and three steals in his limited big league time that season. The Cubs traded him to the Baltimore Orioles in January of 2009 and he set a career high with 101 games played during that first season with the Orioles. Pie hit .266 with 38 runs, ten doubles and nine homers, though the speed was gone, with just one steal in four attempts. He would set his career bests with 39 runs scored, 31 RBIs, 15 doubles, five triples and a .271 average in 82 games in 2010. He then saw a major drop-off in production in 2011, hitting .220 with no homers and a .545 OPS in 85 games. Pie became a free agent at the end of the season and he signed with the Cleveland Indians, though they released him at the end of Spring Training in 2012. He split the 2012 season between independent ball and the Atlanta Braves Triple-A club, before signing a minor league deal with the Pirates on November 19, 2012. Pie spent most of 2013 with Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League, where he had a .715 OPS in 105 games. He was called up to the Pirates in late August. He played 27 games, though he started only three times. Pie went 4-for-29 at the plate and drove in two runs. After the season, he was dropped from the 40-man roster and he signed to play in Korea. He saw time in China in 2016 and has played in Mexico off an on since then, including the 2021 season. He has played a total of 15 years in winter ball. In six seasons in the big leagues, Pie hit .246 with 132 runs, 17 homers, 99 RBIs and 21 steals in 425 big league games. Including all levels of pro ball over 20 seasons, he has played 1,981 games, with 1,025 runs scored, 171 homers, 908 RBIs and 258 stolen bases.

Bob Oliver, outfielder for the 1965 Pirates. He was signed as an amateur free agent in 1963 at 20 years old and spent three full seasons working his way up from A-ball to get a September look with the Pirates in 1965. He debuted with Gastonia of the Western Carolinas League in 1963, where he hit .281 in 124 games, with 82 runs, 15 doubles, 13 homers and 84 RBIs. In 1964, Oliver played with Kinston of the Class-A Carolina League, hitting .260 in 137 games, with 66 runs, 26 extra-base hits and 73 RBIs. In 1965, he moved up to Asheville of the Double-A Southern League, where he hit .260 in 128 games, with 66 runs, 17 doubles, 15 homers and 71 RBIs, which earned him a brief look with the Pirates. He played three games, all off the bench, going 0-for-2 with a run scored. Oliver returned to the minors for two more seasons before the Pirates traded him to the Minnesota Twins for pitcher Ron Kline on December 2, 1967. Oliver split the 1966 season between Asheville and Columbus of the Triple-A International League, combining to hit .286 in 117 games, with 68 runs, 18 homers and 81 RBIs. During the 1967 season, he spent the entire year with the Pirates new Double-A affiliate, Macon of the Southern League. He batted .285 in 139 games, with 60 runs, 16 doubles, 17 homers and 80 RBIs

After the trade, Oliver remained in the minors in 1968, playing for Denver of the Pacific Coast League (Triple-A) before getting his big break when the Kansas City Royals selected him in the 1968 Expansion Draft. Denver was a hitter-friendly park and he took advantage, batting .297 in 137 games, with 31 doubles, eight triples and 20 homers. At age 26 in 1969, he played his first full big league season and hit .254 with 43 runs, 13 homers in 118 games. That was a solid rookie season, but he was even better the next year. In 1970, Oliver hit .260 with 24 doubles, 27 homers, 99 RBIs and 83 runs scored. His .760 OPS was 73 points higher than his rookie season. His production slipped in 1971, batting .244 with 22 extra-base hits and just 14 walks in 128 games. The Royals traded him to the California Angels early in the 1972 season after he hit .270 with one homer in 16 games. Oliver would rebound with two solid years in California, hitting 19 homers and driving in 70 runs over 134 games during the rest of the 1972 season. He then following it up with a .265 average and 24 doubles, 18 homers and 89 RBIs in 1973.

Oliver’s numbers dropped off once again in 1974 and he never recovered. The Angels traded him late in the year to the Baltimore Orioles, who sold him to the New York Yankees three months later. He had a .623 OPS in 110 games at the time of the trade to Baltimore, where he went 3-for-20 in nine games. Oliver played his final big league season in 1975, hitting .132 in 18 games for the Yankees. He spent time in the minors with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1976, then back with the Pirates in 1977, where he hit .274 with 17 homers and 85 RBIs for Triple-A Columbus of the International League. Then it was on to Mexico for the 1978 season, though he was with the Chicago White Sox Triple-A affiliate for a small part of that season. He finished his pro career in Mexico in 1979. In 847 big league games, he finished with a .256 average, 293 runs, 102 doubles, 94 homers and 419 RBIs. Oliver recently ran his own baseball academy in California, before passing away in early 2020. He is the father of major league pitcher Darren Oliver, who played 20 seasons in the majors.

Monty Basgall, second baseman for the 1948-49,1951 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1942 and played just one year in the minors before spending the next three seasons serving in the military during WWII. At 20 years old in 1942, he spent the year with Valdosta of the Class-D Georgia-Florida League, where he hit .253 with 22 extra-base hits in 126 games. After he returned in 1946, he played two seasons for Fort Worth of the Double-A Texas League before the Dodgers traded him to the Pirates for infielders Vic Barnhart and Jimmy Bloodworth on December 3, 1947. Basgall batted .226 in 155 games in 1946, with 60 runs, 22 doubles, 45 RBIs and 54 walks. He hit .272 with 75 runs, 38 extra-base hits, 71 RBIs and 66 walks in 153 games in 1947, but Brooklyn was set at second base at that time with Jackie Robinson there. Monty (his first name was Romanus) started the first three games of the season at second base for the Pirates in 1948, but was used very little the rest of the way. He hit .216 with two homers in 51 at-bats over 38 games. He pinch-ran 13 times, which helped lead to him scoring more runs (12) than hits (11). He lost the regular second base job to Danny Murtaugh, who ended up starting 145 games at second that season.

Basgall was the regular second baseman for most of 1949, playing 98 of his 107 games there. He took over in late June for Murtaugh, who was hitting just .186 at the time. Basgall hit .218 in 308 at-bats in 1949, with 25 runs, nine doubles, two homers and 26 RBIs. He spent the entire 1950 season in the minors playing for Indianapolis of the Triple-A American Association, before returning to the Pirates in 1951. He hit .281 in 133 games for Indianapolis, with 29 doubles, 13 homers and 58 RBIs. Basgall batted .209 with a .539 OPS in 55 games for the Pirates in 1951 and spent part of the year back in Indianapolis. He was with the Pirates in April and early May, then again in July and early August. That would end up being  his last season in the majors. He was in the Pirates system until 1958, the last three years as a player/manager for three different teams, then went on to a long career in numerous roles for the Dodgers. On September 26, 1951, the Pirates sold his rights to Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League, which was their Triple-A affiliate at the time. On November 14, 1951 Hollywood returned him to the Pirates. Basgall went to Spring Training with the Pirates in 1952, but when he didn’t make the club, he was put on (and cleared) waivers, then got released back to Hollywood, where he ended up playing the 1952-54 seasons. He played with Seattle of the PCL in 1955, then returned to affiliates of the Pirates as a player-manager with Waco (1956) and Beaumont (1957), both of the Class-B Big State League, then finally with Lincoln of the Class-A Western League.

Basgall was a career .215 hitter in 200 Major League games, with 52 runs, four homers and 41 RBIs. He never really hit for high average in the minors, batting .263 in 1,311 minor league games over 13 seasons. He had two seasons with double-digit homers, topping out at 13 in 1950. Modern metrics rate him as slightly above replacement level on defense.

Cookie Cuccurullo, pitcher for the 1943-45 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball at 21 years old in 1939, when he went 14-8, 4.03 in 174 innings for Greeneville of the Class-D Appalachian League. He remained at the same level of play in 1940 and lowered his ERA to 3.53 in 148 innings for Niagara Falls of the Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York League. Despite the better ERA, he saw a rise in his walk rate that continued into the next year. Cuccurullo went from 3.8 walks per nine innings in 1939, to 5.0 in 1940, to 5.6 in 1941. During that 1941 season, he played for Hutchinson of the Class-C Western Association, which had a working agreement with the Pirates. He had an 11-10, 4.43 record in 199 innings that year. After the season, another Pirates affiliated team (Harrisburg of the Class-B Interstate League) purchased him from Hutchinson. Cuccurullo spent the 1942 season pitching for two different teams in the Interstate League (Harrisburg and Lancaster), where he pitched 200 innings and won 13 games. He was then purchased by the Albany Senators of the Class-A Eastern League after the season, which just happened to be another team affiliated with the Pirates. He got his chance in the majors during the war era when Major League jobs opened up for more minor league players. He capitalized on the weaker play on the field by going 20-8, 2.54 in 230 innings in 1943 for Albany. Despite playing three years with teams that had working agreements with the Pirates, Cuccurullo’s contract didn’t officially become their property until September 8, 1943, 25 days before his big league debut. He was allowed to remain with Albany until their playoffs ended, and then he arrived to Pittsburgh on September 17th. The Pirates let him start the last game of that season on October 3rd against the Philadelphia Phillies and he took the loss, allowing seven runs in seven innings.

Cookie (his first name was Arthur) spent the 1944 season in the Pirates bullpen, making just four starts among his 32 appearances. He had a 2-1, 4.06 record in 106.1 innings. He would assume the same role during the following season, although he pitched much less often, while putting up worse results. He made four starts out of 29 total games, pitching a total of 56.2 innings, while posting a 1-3, 5.24 record. He spent all of 1946 in the minors with Hollywood of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, going 7-11, 2.70 in 180 innings, then was traded by the Pirates to the New York Yankees for pitcher Tiny Bonham on October 24, 1946. It was a one-sided deal for the Pirates, as they got three serviceable seasons out of Bonham, while Cuccurullo never pitched in the majors again. Cookie spent the next four years in the minors, playing the 1947 season with Newark of the Triple-A International League, followed by his final three seasons in the Double-A Southern Association, playing for affiliates of the Chicago Cubs and Detroit Tigers. His ERA dropped each year in the minors, going from 2.70 in 1946, to 4.05 in 1947, to 5.04 in 1948 (despite a 14-7 record), down to 6.69 in 1949. His ERA isn’t available for his final season, but he gave up 32 hits and 22 walks in 19 innings that year, so things didn’t go well. His final big league stats during his three seasons in Pittsburgh show a 3-5, 4.55 record in 170 innings over nine starts and 53 relief appearances, finishing with an 81:51 BB/SO ratio.

Roy Ellam, shortstop for the 1918 Pirates. He spent 21 years playing in the minors, nine of them as a player/manager and then another three years as just a manager. In between all that time in the minors, he had two brief stints in the majors, nine years apart. He played ten September games for the 1909 Cincinnati Reds, then didn’t play in the majors again until the 1918 Pirates traded infielder Gus Getz to Indianapolis of the Double-A American Association in exchange for him. The deal originally happened on July 12th and Indianapolis received cash, plus a player to be named later. The Pirates were able to land Ellam over the St Paul Saints of the American Association, who were discussing a deal with Indianapolis involving veteran third baseman Jap Barbeau, who played for the 1909 World Series winning Pirates. The Pirates sent Getz there three days later on an option, with Indianapolis being able to keep him if he did well during a trial. Ellam had played/managed most of the 1918 season for Nashville of the Class-A Southern Association, getting into just 12 games with Indianapolis before joining the Pirates. He played 26 games for the Pirates between July 13th and August 29th, hitting just .130, though he did draw 17 walks, giving him a .302 OBP. He was never much of a hitter, even in the minors, where he hit .235 over the course of 2,211 games (not including 1907 stats). He lost his starting shortstop spot with the Pirates to Luke Boone on August 14th and played just three games off of the bench over the final 20 games of the season. The 1918 season ended early due to the war, and Ellam’s status with the team was never updated during the off-season. In late February of 1919, he was named as the manager of his former Nashville club. He ended up playing minor league ball until age 44, retiring after the 1930 season.

Ellam’s pro career began in 1907 at 21 years old, playing for the Connellsville Cokers of the Class-D Western Pennsylvania League. He also played for a team in that league that called four different towns home during the 1907 season. It wasn’t rare for teams to switch towns mid-season due to finances back then, but it’s extremely rare to see it happen multiple times in one season. Ellam stayed with Connellsville in 1908, this time as a member of the Class-D Pennsylvania-West Virginia League. He hit .237 with 47 runs and 27 steals in 105 games that year. He jumped from Class D ball, all the way to the majors in 12 months, yet the Pirates were his only other big league club 21 years later when he played his final game. Ellam spent that 1909 season with Birmingham of the Class-A Southern Association, hitting just .196 in 141 games, but in September he got his chance with the Reds and hit .191 with a homer and seven walks in ten games. His only home run in the majors was an inside-the-park homer. The Reds purchased his contract on August 20th, but they let him finish his season in the minors before reporting. He was sold to Kansas City of the American Association in January of 1910, but he ended up back with Birmingham for the 1910 season and stayed there until the end of the 1915 season, when he joined the aforementioned Nashville club of the same league. Ellam batted between .203 and .226 during the 1910-14 stretch in Birmingham, then hit .265, .278 and .294 in the following three seasons. He was out of the pro ranks during the 1923-25 seasons when he served for a time as a scout, then played two years of semi-pro ball in New Jersey, before returning to the minors in 1926 with Lakeland of the Class-D Florida State League. His final games came in 1930 for Montgomery of the Class-B Southeastern League, when he was 44 years old.

Harry Arundel, pitcher for the 1882 Alleghenys. He had an unknown birth date until very recent history uncovered it as February 8, 1855. He debuted in pro ball with one start in the National Association on July 19, 1875 for the Brooklyn Atlantics. He lasted just 2.1 innings and allowed six runs, though just two were earned. He then finished the game in right field and went 0-for-4 at the plate, as Brooklyn lost 23-2 that day. They were in the middle of a 30-game losing streak as the worst team in baseball history, finishing up with a 2-42 record. Arundel next appeared in pro ball in 1877, during the first year of minor league ball. He was playing semi-pro ball in 1875 in Philadelphia and 1876 in Minnesota for the Clipper club of Winona. He played for Janesville of the League Alliance that year, then the Binghamton Cricket of the International Association in 1878. He played semi-pro ball over the next three years, including time with a team in Findlay, Ohio and a club called the White of Cleveland. His next pro experience came with the Pittsburgh Alleghenys during their first year of existence, and also the first year of the American Association. Arundel started 14 of the first 30 games in franchise history, going 4-10, 4.70 in 118.2 innings, with 13 complete games. He finished one of his starts at shortstop. From May 10 through May 30, Pittsburgh played a total of seven games and he started all seven games. He picked up all four of his wins during that stretch. His final game with the team came on July 7th. By August he was playing for a local semi-pro team called the C.S. Brown.

Arudel spent the 1883 season with Grand Rapids of the Northwest League, then he had a wild season in 1884. The record books show him playing with four different minor league teams, and even doing some catching. He could also be found playing for a team called the Oil Citys that year, as well as a brief stop with the Providence Grays for one start on October 10th. This time he pitched a complete game and won 10-2, while going 1-for-3 with a walk, two runs and an RBI. The was the mirror opposite of his first big league game, as Providence finished 84-28 and won the World Series over the New York Metropolitans of the American Association. Arundel finished his pro career in 1885 playing for Oswego of the New York State League and Springfield of the Interstate League.