This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: May 11th, Pirates Pitching Great, Rip Sewell

We have five Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including teammates from the 1990 squad, who were born on the exact same day.

Rip Sewell, pitcher for the 1938-49 Pirates. Among Pirates pitchers in franchise history, Sewell ranks tied for seventh with Ray Kremer with 143 wins. He is also seventh in innings pitched with 2,108.2, tenth in starts (243) and complete games (137), while throwing 20 shutouts, which is also tenth in team history. During the decade of the 1940’s, no National League pitcher won more games than Sewell, who had 133 victories during that span. He is the last pitcher in Pirates history to win 20+ games in a season twice and he did it in back-to-back years. He was the only Pirates pitcher to win 20+ games in the 20-year span from 1931 until 1950. Sewell didn’t win his first big league game until ten days before his 32nd birthday. He pitched just five big league games before joining the Pirates in 1938, all for the 1932 Detroit Tigers. He would pick up double digit win totals for seven straight seasons (1939-45), including back-to-back 21-win seasons in 1943-44. He led the league in wins and complete games (25) in 1943. At age 41 in 1948, he posted a 13-3 record, leading all National League pitchers in winning percentage. Sewell was elected to four All-Star games. His high-arching eephus pitch is still famous to this day and something that he threw often during his career. He came from a baseball family that produced four Major League players, including Hall of Famer Joe Sewell, who was his cousin. Joe had two brothers, Tommy and Luke, who played in the majors, with Luke putting in 20 seasons in the American League, where he was an All-Star and received MVP votes in four season.

Sewell, whose first name was Truett, didn’t start in pro ball until he was 24 years old. He went 17-6 and pitched 172 innings for Raleigh of the Class-C Piedmont League in 1931. He also saw action two levels higher with Nashville of the Class-A Southern Association, where he struggled with 18 runs allowed in 16 innings. He pitched a total of 72 innings in the minors in 1932, split between Toronto of the Double-A International League (highest level of the minors at the time) and Beaumont of the Class-A Texas League. He’s credited with a 5-7, 4.00 record between both stops. He made his big league debut that June, allowing 15 runs in 10.2 innings for the Tigers over five relief appearances. In 1933, Sewell had a rough season with Seattle of the Double-A Pacific Coast League, going 6-17, 5.90 in 151 innings. In 1934, he played his first of two straight seasons in the Double-A American Association and he got hit hard each year. He went 14-12, 6.07 in 218 innings for Toledo in 1934, then 6-20, 8.12 in 194 innings in 1935 with Louisville. It’s hard to believe that part of a very successful career includes such a poor minor league season at 26-28 years old, but Sewell had some great days ahead of him. In 1936, he went 10-10, 4.55 in 188 innings for Buffalo of the International League. He remained in Buffalo for 1937, where he went 16-12, 3.31 in 239 innings. On September 11, 1937, Buffalo sold Sewell to the Pirates for cash and three players, two were on option, and then minor league third baseman Joseph Williams was sent to them outright.

Sewell was a bullpen arm for the 1938 Pirates, as they made a season-long run at the pennant, only to fall just short at the end. He had a 4.23 ERA in 38.1 innings over 17 appearances. He received a bigger role in 1939, though not a full-time rotation spot just yet. Sewell pitched 176.1 innings over 12 starts and 40 relief appearances, putting up a 10-9, 4.08 record. In 1940, he made 23 starts and ten relief appearances, going 16-5, 2.80 in 189.2 innings. He had 14 complete games and two shutouts. That performance earned him mild MVP support, finishing 25th in the voting. He had a rough 1941 season, though he didn’t pitch poorly. Sewell was 14-17, 3.72 in 249 innings, leading the league in losses. He made 32 starts and seven relief appearances in 1941, finishing with 18 complete games, two shutouts and two saves. The Pirates actually had a winning record that year (81-73), and his ERA, was just .09 above league average, so he had some tough luck. He luck got worse after the season. In December of 1941, on the same day that Pearl Harbor was being reported in newspapers around the country, people were getting reports of Sewell being shot in both legs with buckshot during a hunting accident. While they expected a full recovery when it happened, he was still hospitalized for a time.

Sewell made 33 starts and seven relief appearances in 1942, putting up nearly the same inning total (248). His luck changed that year, as he went 17-15, 3.41 for a team that finished the season with a 66-81 record. He set a career high with five shutouts. Sewell made back-to-back All-Star appearances in 1943-44, winning 21 games each year. In 1943 he had a career best 2.54 ERA, while leading the league and setting career highs in wins and complete games (25). He had just nine losses on the season, and pitched a total of 265.1 innings. He finished sixth in the MVP voting that year. The next year he had a 3.18 ERA and threw a career best 286 innings. His 21-12 record that year included three shutouts. That led to an 11th place finish in the MVP voting. His workload and results dropped off a bit after that season, but he still had two more All-Star years left. Sewell was never much of a strikeout pitcher, and that was evident by his total of 87 strikeouts in 1944 being his career high.

In 1945, Sewell went 11-9, 4.07 in 188 innings, getting his third straight All-Star selection, though they didn’t play the game that year due to travel restrictions during the war. He completed nine of his 24 starts that year and pitched nine times in relief. He posted a solid 3.68 ERA in 149.1 innings in 1946, though the Pirates were 63-91 and he had an 8-12 record. The All-Star voters recognized his solid work and elected him to the team for the fourth and final time. Sewell completed 11 of his 20 starts and he threw two shutouts. In 1947, he went 6-4, 3.57 in 121 innings, making 12 starts and 12 relief appearances. Sewell went 13-3, 3.48 in 121.1 innings in 1948, leading the league with his .813 winning percentage. He started 17 of his 21 games that year and he threw seven complete games. In his final big league season, he was 6-1, 3.91 in 76 innings over six starts and 22 relief appearances. His first six appearances were starts, then he switched to relief in June and stayed in the bullpen for the rest of the year. He was a .203 hitter in the majors with six homers. During the 1943 season, at 36 years old, he hit .286 and he went 7-for-7 in steals. Sewell was released by the Pirates on October 2, 1949, though they kept him around as a manager in the minors with two of their affiliates during the 1950-51 seasons. His final two games as a pro came during the 1950 season while managing Charleston of the Class-A South Atlantic League. He was at the helm of New Orleans of the Double-A Southern Association in 1951, and put in one more year as a manager in 1954 with Lakeland of the Class-D Florida State League.

Mike Garcia, pitcher for the 1999-2000 Pirates. He was originally drafted out of high school by the Boston Red Sox in the seventh round in 1986, but decided not to sign. He was selected for the second time three years later, this time by the Detroit Tigers in the 55th round out of Riverside Community College. Garcia made it to Double-A with Detroit before being released in 1993. He put up strong stats as a starter in his first three seasons, though the Tigers moved him slowly through the system. He pitched short-season ball in his first year, working as a starter with Niagara Falls of the New York-Penn League, and as a reliever with Bristol of the Appalachian League. Garcia went 5-4, 2.41, with 52 strikeouts in 56 innings between both stops. He spent all of 1990 in Low-A with Fayetteville of the South Atlantic League, where he had a 12-8, 2.55 record in 180.1 innings over 28 starts, finishing with 113 strikeouts, six complete games and two shutouts. He spent all of 1991 in High-A with Lakeland of the Florida State League, putting up a 6-8, 3.13 record and 109 strikeouts in 144 innings. His first attempt at Double-A showed average results, with an 8-8, 3.89 record in 136.2 innings with London of the Eastern League. He was let go the next year after just six relief appearances with London, then finished the year in independent ball, putting up a 2.95 ERA in 16 starts for Rochester of the Northern League. Garcia then signed with the expansion Colorado Rockies for the 1994 season, but he was cut by the end of Spring Training. From 1994 until 1998, he played outside of the U.S., seeing time in Mexico (1994-95) and the Chinese Professional Baseball League (1996-98).

In December of 1998, Garcia returned to the states, signing with the Pirates. He had a 3.95 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 23 games and 27.1 innings with Nashville of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in 1999. He was then loaned to a team in the Mexican League, which had a working agreement with the Pirates. He allowed one run in 12 innings, while striking out 20 batters, during his time in Mexico. Scouting reports said that he was hitting 96 MPH, which piqued the interest of the Pirates and earned him a September call-up. He allowed a run in his Major League debut, then followed that with six scoreless appearances, giving him a 1.29 ERA and nine strikeouts in seven innings. Garcia was a late cut during Spring Training of 2000, but he made it back to the majors shortly after the season started. His results were opposite of the previous season with Pittsburgh. He struck out the side during his only inning during his first game back, then struggled the rest of the way. In 11.1 innings over 13 outings, Garcia allowed 21 hits, seven walks and 15 runs. He was sent back to Nashville on May 21st when the Pirates activated Rich Loiselle from the disabled list. Garcia was eventually released before the season ended and he finished the year in Korea.

Pittsburgh re-signed Garcia in January 2001, and he went to Double-A Altoona of the Eastern League, where he dominated the younger competition, allowing one run in 20 innings. He spent part of the season back in Mexico, where he had an 11.45 ERA in 12 appearances. Garcia played pro ball until 2007, moving all over the place to find work. He had an outstanding 2002 season split between Mexico and Triple-A with the Baltimore Orioles, allowing just four runs in 47.1 innings. The 2003 season started in Double-A with the Orioles and ended back in Mexico. He spent the 2004-05 seasons back in the Chinese Professional Baseball League, then split the 2006 season between Mexico and a brief stint in Triple-A with the Chicago Cubs. His pro career ended with one independent league appearance in 2007 in which he faced two batters and both reached base. In his 19-year career, he compiled at least 183 saves (1994-95 stats are unknown). His big league career consisted of a 1-2, 7.36 record in 18.1 innings over 20 appearances.

Mark Huismann, pitcher for the 1990-91 Pirates. He was originally drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1979 out of Colorado State in the 23rd round, but did not sign. The next year he went undrafted and signed with the Kansas City Royals. By 1983, he was in the majors with the Royals, although he only spent one full season (1986) in the majors during his career. Huismann began his career as one of the older players in the Gulf Coast League in 1980, where he pitched well, as you would expect. He had a 2.44 ERA in 59 innings over 28 appearances. The next season was split between Low-A Charleston of the South Atlantic League and High-A Fort Myers of the Florida State League. He combined to go 6-3, 2.22, with 61 strikeouts in 65 innings over 42 games. He allowed one run over 23 innings in Fort Myers in 1982, then put up a 2.14 ERA in 54.2 innings in Double-A with Jacksonville of the Southern League. Combined that year he was 7-5, 1.62, with 12 saves and 81 strikeouts in 77.2 innings over 50 appearances. Huismann pitched 37 games in Jacksonville and 17 more in Triple-A with Omaha of the American Association, before making his mid-August big league debut with the Royals in 1983. He went 6-5, 2.84, with 18 saves in 85.2 innings during that minor league season, with better results at the higher level. Huismann had a 5.58 ERA in 30.2 innings over 13 appearances in his first shot at the majors. He spent five weeks in the middle of 1984 in Omaha, putting up 19 scoreless innings. The rest of the season was spent in the majors, where he had a 6.75 ERA in 13 games before the demotion, then a 2.79 ERA in 48.1 innings after returning to Kansas City.

Huismann was a September call-up in 1985 when the Royals won their first World Series title. He was outstanding in Omaha that season, posting a 2.01 ERA and 33 saves in 89.1 innings over 59 games. He pitched well with the Royals too, posting a 1.93 ERA in 18.2 innings. He made ten appearances for the 1986 Royals before they traded him to the Seattle Mariners on May 21st. In what was his only full season in the majors, he finished with a 3-4, 3.79 record in 97.1 innings over 46 appearances. While in Seattle that year, he made his first start as a pro and allowed six runs in three innings. It was his only start in the majors. The 1987 season was a bit like the previous year, with Huismann getting traded in May, this time to the Cleveland Indians. Between the two stops, he had a 5.04 ERA in 50 innings over 26 appearances, while spending part of the season with Triple-A Buffalo of the American Association (Cleveland’s affiliate). Over the next two seasons, he appeared in just five games in the majors in 1988 with the Detroit Tigers and eight games in 1989 with the Baltimore Orioles. His time with Detroit amounted to 5.1 innings, while the Orioles used him for 11.1 innings.

The Pirates signed Huismann in March of 1990 as a free agent after he was released by the Orioles. For the Pirates in 1990, he made just two appearances in June, giving up five runs in one inning, then throwing two shutout innings the other game. The rest of the time was spent in Buffalo (switched to a Pirates affiliate in 1988), where he had a 2.61 ERA in 76 innings over 49 appearances. In 1991, he was called up early in the season when the Pirates sent down third-string catcher Tom Prince and expanded the bullpen to six pitchers. Huismann pitched five games, allowing runs in three of them. In another game, he gave up a hit to the only batter he faced. He was sent back to Buffalo in May, then Pittsburgh released him in June. Huismann signed quickly with the Royals, although he pitched in Triple-A until the end of 1992 without making it back to the majors. After making a total of five starts in his first 12 seasons of pro ball, the Royals had him make 17 starts for Omaha in 1992. He finished his big league career with 13-11, 4.40 record and 11 saves in 296.1 innings over 152 games. He is one of just five players from Colorado State University to make the majors, and four of them have been pitchers.

Walt Terrell, pitcher for the 1990 Pirates. He was originally drafted by the New York Mets in the 15th round of the 1979 amateur draft, but decided to returning to Morehead State for another season. He was drafted in the 33rd round (and signed) by the Texas Rangers in 1980. Terrell had a 1.42 ERA in 38 innings in the Gulf Coast League after signing. He also pitched eight innings in Low-A (Asheville of the South Atlantic League) that year and gave up nine runs. In 1981, he went 15-7, 3.10 in 174 innings while pitching at Double-A Tulsa of the Texas League, where he threw five complete games and had three shutouts. Just before Opening Day in 1982, the Mets acquired him from the Rangers, along with Ron Darling, in exchange for Lee Mazzilli. Terrell put up a 3.96 ERA in 138.2 innings at Triple-A with Tidewater of the International League that year, then received three late-season starts with the Mets, in which he went 0-3, 3.43 in 21 innings. He went 10-1, 3.22 in 12 starts at Tidewater in 1982 before joining the Mets for the rest of the season. He made 20 big league starts that year, going 8-8, 3.57 in 133.2 innings, finishing with four complete games and two shutouts. He spent the entire 1984 season in the majors and made 33 starts, going 11-12, 3.52 in 215 innings. Terrell was dealt to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for third baseman Howard Johnson on December 7, 1984 and both players did much better for their new teams.

In Detroit, Terrell would win at least 15 games over the next three seasons, going a combined 47-32 in 102 starts. He went 15-10, 3.85 in 229 innings over 34 starts in 1985, finishing with 130 strikeouts and a career best three shutouts. His ERA went up to 4.56 in 217.1 innings in 1986, but the Tigers were a good team and he finished with a 15-12 record. His upped his personal high to nine complete games that season and he tossed two shutouts. Terrell won a career high 17 games in 1987 (with ten losses), while also setting personal bests with 244.2 innings and 143 strikeouts. He had a 4.05 ERA in 35 starts that year and threw ten complete games. His record fell to just 7-16 in 1988, but he had a better ERA (3.97) than each of his two previous seasons. It’s not like he was on a bad team though, as the Tigers won 88 games that season. His ERA that year was exactly league average as well, so he clearly pitched in some bad luck that season. Terrell set his career high with 11 complete games that year, which also marked the fourth straight season in which he set a personal high in that category. He tossed just 14 complete games over his final four seasons.

Terrell was traded to the San Diego Padres on October 28, 1988, where he went 5-13, 4.01 in 19 starts in 1989, before being dealt to the New York Yankees in July. After a 5.20 ERA in 13 starts for New York, he left via free agency, signing with the Pirates just 16 days later. He had a few decent starts in Pittsburgh, but for the most part, he was far from his best days in Detroit. After 16 starts with the Pirates, Terrell was released, finishing 2-7 with a 5.88 ERA in 82.2 innings. He re-signed with the Tigers, pitching there through the end of the 1992 season with mixed results. He went 6-4, 4.54 in 75.1 innings over the rest of 1990, then had a 12-14, 4.24 season in 1991, while throwing 218.2 innings. He led the league with 257 hits allowed that year. Terrell was 7-10, 5.20 in 136.2 innings in 1992, splitting his time between starting (14 games) and relief (22 games). He finished his career with a 111-124, 4.22 record over 1,986.2 innings, making 294 starts and 27 relief appearances. He threw 56 complete games during his career and he had 14 shutouts. Terrell hit three homers during his career, all for the 1983 Mets, and all in August. In fact, he hit two homers in the same game and they came in back-to-back innings against Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins.

Gene Hermanski, outfielder for the 1953 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Philadelphia A’s in 1939, but made his big league debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1943. During his first three seasons of pro ball, he spent the entire time playing for Class-D clubs, the lowest level of the minors at the time. Hermanski had mediocre results during his first two seasons before breaking out with Olean of the Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York League (PONY League). In 1939, he played 66 games for Kinston of the Coastal Plain League and ten games for Federalsburg of the Eastern Shore League. He combined to hit .244 with 14 extra-base hits, with better results in Kinston. In 1940, he played for the same two teams, plus saw time with Pocomoke City of the Eastern Shore League. His combined stats, which are incomplete in some categories, show a .299 average and 35 extra-base hits. In his season with Olean, he batted .341 in 105 games, with 22 doubles, seven triples and eight homers. Hermanski joined the Navy in 1942 and then returned to the minors in 1943, playing a few games for Durham of the Piedmont League before joining the Dodgers for 18 games. He batted .300 with 11 walks and 12 RBIs during his short time with the Dodgers, but after a doubleheader on August 29th, he was back in the Navy. He missed all of the 1944 and 1945 seasons while in the service before returning to baseball.

Hermanski was back with  the Dodgers in 1946 and remained there until a June 1951 trade sent him to the Chicago Cubs. He was a bench player his first season back, hitting just .200 with no homers and a .567 OPS in 64 games. He earned a bit more playing time the next year by hitting .275 with 36 runs, seven homers and 35 RBIs in 79 games. He put up a 28:7 BB/SO ratio that year in 225 plate appearances. Hermanski was the starting right fielder for most of 1948, when he batted .290 and set career highs with 22 doubles, seven triples, 15 homers, 60 RBIs, 15 steals, 64 walks and 63 runs scored. However, his .883 OPS that year was not his career high. He batted .299 with 48 runs, eight homers, 42 RBIs and 47 walks in 87 games in 1949, finishing with a .918 OPS. He saw most of his time in left field, but he lost some playing time as Duke Snider emerged as a star player. In 1950, Hermanski hit .298 with 36 runs, 17 doubles, seven homers, 34 RBIs and 36 walks in 94 games, with 64 starts in left field and two in right field. Despite losing playing time, he still had a solid .831 OPS. He played 31 games with the Dodgers in 1951 before his trade to the Cubs. He was hitting .250 with one homer and a .671 OPS before the trade. After the deal, he hit .281 with 16 extra-base hits and 35 walks in 75 games with Chicago, seeing time as their regular right fielder.

Hermanski hit .255 with 28 runs, ten extra-base hits and 34 RBIs in 99 games during his first full season with the Cubs in 1952. He was batting .150 through 18 games played in the 1953 season, when the Cubs sent him and five other players (plus cash) to the Pirates in the famous Ralph Kiner deal. For Pittsburgh, Hermanski played 41 games, mostly off the bench. He started six games in right field and four games in left field. He hit .177 with one homer and four RBIs over 62 at-bats, in what would turn out to be his last season in the majors. The Pirates took him to Spring Training in 1954 and expected him to bounce back, since he was just 32 years old at the time, but they asked waivers on him on April 14th and he was given his release. Just days later, he signed with the Oakland Oaks of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. Hermanski spent the entire 1954 season playing in the Pacific Coast League before retiring, hitting .270 with 11 homers, 48 RBIs and a .769 OPS. He had a career average of .272 in nine big league seasons, with 533 hits, 85 doubles, 46 homers, 259 RBIs, 289 walks and 276 runs scored in 739 games. He was below average defensively, but his offensive numbers led him to a career 11.0 WAR.