This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: May 21st, Mace Brown and Sure Shot

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date. Before we get into them, current Pirates infielder Rodolfo Castro turns 23 today.

Mace Brown, pitcher for the 1935-41 Pirates. He spent five seasons in the minors prior to the Pirates purchasing his contract in November of 1934 from Kansas City of the Double-A American Association. Brown debuted at 21 years old in 1930 and split his time between three teams, two Class-C clubs (Shawnee of the Western Association and Greensboro of the Piedmont League) and one club two levels higher in A-Ball (St Joseph of the Western League). He finished the year with a 12-24 record and threw 295 innings. He walked 163 batters that year, which was a number he would never approach again. His full ERA isn’t available for much of his minor league career, but he had an 0-7, 5.55 mark for St Joseph that year. He pitched in Class-C ball in 1931 with Durham of the Piedmont League, where he went 8-7 and pitched 149 innings over 30 appearances. Brown was back up to the Western League in 1932 with Des Moines, where he had an 8-10 record in 168 innings over 35 games. He allowed 5.57 runs per nine innings that season. In 1933, he moved up to Kansas City, where he was 4-16, 4.41 in 194 innings over 33 appearances. Brown pitched 26 innings for Kansas City in 1934, but he spent most of the season pitching for Tulsa of the Class-A Texas League, where he won 19 games and posted a 3.53 ERA in 242 innings. He was purchased by the Pirates from Kansas City on November 21, 1934. The local papers said that it was on a trial basis, meaning he could be returned to Kansas City if it didn’t work out. One great scouting report in the local papers the next day said that he was a “likely looking prospect” according to Pirates scouts.

The Pirates took him to training camp in 1935 and he made the team, but would be used very little that first year. He made his big league debut on his 26th birthday. Brown had pitched in just seven of the first 84 games of the season, when he was given a spot start on July 20th during a doubleheader. He would throw a complete game against the Boston Braves that day, winning 14-2. Over the next ten days, Brown got three more starts and the results got worse as he went along. He was moved back to the pen and saw limited time through mid-September. On the 16th of September, he threw one-hit ball over 5.1 innings of relief work. Pittsburgh gave him another start to end the year and he allowed one run in a complete game win over the Cincinnati Reds. He finished the season with a 4-1, 3.59 record in 72.2 innings. Brown would have a bigger role in 1936, getting ten starts throughout the year, but he got more work during his 37 relief appearances. He pitched four or more innings in relief 11 times that season, including July 30th, when he threw seven shutout innings in a 5-3 win against the Braves. He threw a total of 165 innings that year, winning ten games, while putting up a 3.87 ERA. In 1937, he pitched 50 games, with 48 of those appearances coming in relief. He had a 7-2, 4.18 record in 107.2 innings. He had seven saves that year, which would’ve led the league, although saves weren’t an official stat back then.

In 1938, Brown became the first reliever to ever pitch in the All-Star game. He made 49 relief appearances that season, pitching a total of 132.2 innings. He went 15-9, 3.80 and led the league in games pitched, while throwing 2+ innings on 32 occasions. His season didn’t have a good ending though. Late in the year, he gave up a game-winning homer to the Cubs’ Gabby Hartnett. Referred to as the “Homer in the Gloamin”, it helped the Cubs to the World Series over the Pirates, who were leading the National League for half of the season. The Pirates still had a chance after that game, but they went 1-4 the rest of the way and lost the pennant by two games. In 1939, Brown began the year in his normal relief role, but after 7.2 shutout innings out of the bullpen in early July, he was moved to a starting role. He made a career high 19 starts (to go along with 28 relief appearances) before the year was over, finishing with a 9-13, 3.37 record in 200.1 innings. The 1940 season was just the opposite. He began the year as a starter, before going 4-6 and being moved back to the pen. It was the last full season for Brown in Pittsburgh. He went 10-9, 3.49 and saved seven games, while pitching a total of 173 innings over 17 starts and 31 relief appearances. Despite pitching four more years in the majors, he did not make another start.

After just one appearance in 1941, the Pirates sold Brown to the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 22nd. It was a move that surprised fans who thought the Pirates were short on pitching to begin with, especially since they didn’t receive any players back in the deal. The Dodgers made an offer that the Pirates couldn’t refuse, paying a hefty cash price for the 32-year-old reliever. Brown finished the 1941 season in Brooklyn, where he had a 3.16 ERA in 42.2 innings over 24 appearances. He then moved on to the Boston Red Sox in 1942, where he went 9-3, 3.43 in 60.1 innings over 34 games. He had six saves that year. He had a great season in 1943, posting a 2.12 ERA and nine saves in 93.1 innings. His 49 games pitched that season led the league. He spent 1944-45 serving in the Navy, then returned for one more season with the Red Sox before retiring. He had a 2.05 ERA in 1946, though he pitched just 26.1 innings over 18 appearances. Brown pitched a total of 262 games with the Pirates, 55 as a starter. He threw 852.2 innings, winning 55 games (45 losses), saving another 29 and posting a 3.67 ERA. He ranks among the Pirates top 50 pitchers in wins, saves, games pitched and innings. In his four seasons after leaving the Pirates, he made another 125 appearances in which he picked up 21 wins and 19 saves. His career stats show a 76-57, 3.46 record in 1,075.1 innings pitched over 387 games, with 48 saves.

Steve Pegues, outfielder for the 1994-95 Pirates. He was a first round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers in 1987, taken 21st overall out of Pontotoc HS in Mississippi. He spent five seasons in the Tigers organization, eventually getting to Triple-A in his last season, where he struggled at the plate. Pegues debuted in the short-season Appalachian League with Bristol in 1987, where he hit .284 with 36 runs, 13 extra-base hits and 22 steals in 59 games. He moved up to Class-A Fayetteville of the South Atlantic League in 1988 and had a .256 average in 118 games, with 50 runs, 28 extra-base hits and 21 steals, though a low walk rate resulted in a .292 OBP. He repeated Fayetteville at the start of 1989 and batted .309 in 70 games, with a .751 OPS and 16 steals. He moved up that season to the Tigers other Class-A affiliate (Lakeland in the Florida State League), where he posted a .254 average and a .597 OPS in 55 games, while adding 12 more steals to his total. In 1990, Pegues hit .271 in 126 games at Double-A London of the Eastern League, finishing with 48 runs, 35 extra-base hits, 63 RBIs and 17 steals. His walk rate was even lower than in 1988, giving him a .291 OBP, just 20 points higher than his average. He repeated Double-A to start 1991 and hit .301/.341/.417 in 56 games, but after being promoted, his average at Triple-A Toledo of the International League dropped to .225 in 68 games. He also went 12-for-23 in stolen base attempts. Combined that year, he had a .684 OPS in 124 games.

Pegues was picked up by the San Diego Padres on waivers prior to the 1992 and played two years at Triple-A, before he was cut at the end of Spring Training in 1994. He had a .694 OPS over 123 games in 1992, while playing in the high offense environment of Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League. He finished with a .281 OBP due to drawing just seven walks in 401 plate appearances.  In 1993, he had a .352 average through 68 games when his hand was broken by a pitch on July 17th, which ended his season. Less than a week after being cut by the Padres, he signed with the Cincinnati Reds. Pegues was called up to make his Major League debut on July 6th, walking in a pinch-hit appearance. It was an odd start for him, since his main problem in the minors was his inability to take walks. In his minor league career he took 122 walks in 3,661 plate appearances. After 11 games, in which he went 3-for-10 at the plate, Pegues was released by the Reds on July 27th and immediately picked up by the Pirates. He had a .290/.313/.518 slash line in 63 games for Triple-A Indianapolis of the American Association prior to getting his call to the majors.

In his first game in Pittsburgh, Pegues collected three hits, including a game-tying, two-out single in the bottom of the ninth inning, in a game eventually won by the Pirates in ten innings. His rookie season was interrupted by the strike that wiped away the end of the 1994 schedule. He hit .361 in 36 at-bats between his two stops, playing 11 games in Cincinnati and seven in Pittsburgh. All of his games with the Reds were off of the bench, but he saw seven starts during his two weeks with the Pirates before the strike, playing left field five times and center field twice. Pegues spent the entire 1995 season on the Pirates roster, getting into 82 games, including 36 starts. He split his time between the two corner outfield spots and pinch-hitting. He batted .246 with 17 runs, eight doubles, six homers and 16 RBIs in 171 at-bats. The Pirates released him after the season ended. He would end up playing three more years in the minors before retiring, spending time with seven different teams during those last three years. Pegues originally signed with the Seattle Mariners after leaving the Pirates, but he never played a game for them. He spent 1996 in Triple-A for the Atlanta Braves, while also seeing time playing in Mexico. In 1997 he played for the Montreal Expos, Chicago Cubs and an independent team out of Winnipeg. His final season was split between the Colorado Rockies and a stint in China. Pegues finished his big league time with a .266 average in 100 games, with 19 runs, ten doubles, six homers, 18 RBIs, six walks and a .687 OPS. He was the cousin of Dave Clark, who played for the 1993-96 Pirates, making them one of 26 groups of relatives to play for the Pirates. Just ten of those groups have played for the team in the same season.

Ed FitzGerald, catcher for the 1948-53 Pirates. The start of his pro career was delayed when he went straight from college to wartime duty. He signed his first pro contract in 1946 at 22 years old, hitting .329 in 102 games that year split between two teams. The majority of his time spent in the Class-B Western International League with Wenatchee, where he batted .338 with 37 extra-base hits and 50 walks in 91 games. He also saw time with Sacramento of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he hit .263 in 11 games. With Sacramento in 1947, he had a .363 average, 36 extra-base hits, 26 steals and a .926 OPS in 144 games. Many claimed that his defense, especially his arm, was better than his hitting. Pittsburgh purchased his contract on September 8, 1947, and then he made the 1948 club out of Spring Training. The Pirates paid a high cost for their new catcher due to a bidding war with other teams, though the price was never released (see more below). The Pirates paid cash and promised to release four players to Sacramento (one source said five players, though two would be on option), which included pitchers Dewey Soriano, Roger Wolff and Lou Tost.

FitzGerald hit .267 with 31 runs, 13 extra-base hits, 35 RBIs and 32 walks during that rookie season in 1948, starting 66 games behind the plate and coming off the bench another 36 times. The Pirates acquired veteran catcher Clyde McCullough in the 1948-49 off-season, meaning less time for FitzGerald. He would start just 34 games at catcher in 1949, hitting .263 with seven doubles, two homers, 18 RBIs and a .646 OPS in 160 at-bats. He began the year with the Pirates in 1950, but was sent to the minors a month into the season after hitting .067 in 15 at-bats. Shortly after FitzGerald was sent down, the Pirates also sent down Bob Chesnes, another high priced prospect. It was said at the time, that the Pirates had a $200,000 battery in the minors, claiming that each player cost the team $100,000 apiece, though most guessed that the Pirates spent about $40,000 in cash on FitzGerald, so the rest of that value came in the form of players. A later report added even more confusion, saying the deal was $65,000 and three players. After hitting .313 with 20 extra-base hits in 103 games, while playing for Indianapolis of the Triple-A American Association, FitzGerald rejoined the Pirates for the 1951 season. He was the backup to McCullough to begin that year, then went to the third-string role when Pittsburgh acquired Joe Garagiola in June. FitzGerald batted 105 times in 55 games that year (15 starts), hitting .227 with six doubles, 13 RBIs and and .574 OPS.

FitzGerald saw minimal work during the 1952 season, as the Pirates finished 42-112 that season. He played in 51 games, but he batted just 80 times total. He started seven games behind the plate and he made two starts at third base, the only two times he played there in the majors. He batted .233 with a homer and seven RBIs that year. Early in 1953, the Pirates sold him to the Washington Senators. FitzGerald would go on to play in the majors until 1959. After going 2-for-17 in six games for the Pirates, he batted .250 with 16 extra-base hits in 88 games with the Senators to finish out the 1953 season. In 1954, he broke the 100-game barrier for the only time in his career. He batted .289 with 33 runs, 13 doubles, five triples, four homers and 40 RBIs in 115 games. FitzGerald was back down to a platoon role in 1955 when he hit just .237 with eight extra-base hits and a .626 OPS in 74 games.  He set a career high with a .304 average and a .786 OPS in 1956, though his playing time once again dropped, batting 170 times total in 64 games. That drop continued into 1957, with 45 games and 139 plate appearances. He batted .272 with one homer and a .691 OPS.

FitzGerald saw more time off of the bench in 1958, playing 58 games, with 23 starts. He hit .263 with seven runs, three doubles and 11 RBIs that year. He was traded to the Cleveland Indians in late May of 1959 and saw a bit more playing time, finishing with his highest at-bat total since 1955. He batted .246 with 11 extra-base hits in 68 games that year, including his time with Washington. FitzGerald was released by the Indians a week prior to the 1960 season, which ended his playing career. He then took up a coaching role, ending with two years (1965-66) of managing in the minors. He finished with a .260 average, 199 runs, 82 doubles, 19 homers and 217 RBIs in 807 Major League games over 12 season. He played 275 of those games while with Pittsburgh, hitting .247 with 62 runs, 32 extra-base hits and 74 RBIs during that time. Modern metrics consider him to be an average catcher throughout his career, finishing with 0.3 dWAR. He threw out 40% of base runners during his career, twice (1955 and 1959) finishing second in the American League in that category. His .989 fielding percentage in 1953 was the third best in the AL.

Fred Dunlap, second baseman for the 1888-1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys, and manager for the 1889 team. He was a strong fielding second baseman, considered to be a star during his time. He played three years of minor league ball, including the first season of the minors in 1877, before making it to the majors shortly before his 21st birthday. He debuted at 18 years old with Auburn of the League Alliance, then spent the 1878 season with Hornellsville of the International Association in 1878. In 1879, Dunlap hit .259 with 53 runs scored in 51 games for Albany of the National Association. As a big league rookie in 1880, playing for the Cleveland Blues, he led the National League in doubles and led all second basemen in assists with 290, while finishing third in the league fielding percentage. He batted .276 in 85 games (shortened schedules back then), with 61 runs, 27 doubles, nine triples, four homers and 30 RBIs. The next year he hit .325 with 60 runs scored, 32 extra-base hits and 24 RBIs in 80 games. His .802 OPS was the sixth best in the league that year. In 1882, he became the player/manager of Cleveland and hit .280 with 68 runs scored, 23 extra-base hits and 28 RBIs in 84 games, leading the league again in assists (297) for second basemen, while getting the most total chances. Dunlap hit .326 with 81 runs, 34 doubles, four homers and 37 RBIs in 93 games in 1883. His .813 OPS was the ninth best mark in the league.

Dunlap moved to the newly-formed Union Association in 1884, one of the few star players to make that move. The UA was considered a Major League, but the play was not on par with either the American Association or the National League. Dunlap became the instant star of the league, once again taking the player/manager role, finishing with a league leading .412 average, while scoring 160 runs in 101 games. His 1.069 OPS led the league and it was the highest OPS in 12 years, dating back to the National Association.  He also led all UA second basemen in putouts, assists and fielding percentage. His team won the UA title with a 94-19 record, going 66-16 under Dunlap. When the league folded after one year, his St. Louis Maroons team joined the National League. Dunlap saw his numbers drop back down to normal levels, posting a .270 average, 70 runs, 18 extra-base hits and a  .667 OPS in 106 games, which was 61 points higher than the league OPS that season. Midway through the 1886 season, he was sold to the Detroit Wolverines. Between the two stops, Dunlap batted .274 in a career high 122 games (71 with St Louis), with 35 extra-base hits, 69 RBIs and 85 runs scored. That was the first year that stolen base totals are available, and he was credited with 20 that season. He missed the middle part of the 1887 season due to a broken leg, which also kept him out of action for a time during the late stages of the year as well, as he likely returned to action too soon. He would go on to hit .265 with 60 runs scored, 28 extra-base hits, 45 RBIs and 15 steals in 65 games for Detroit that year, helping them to the World Series, which was then played between the winner of the American Association and the National League. Detroit won the series, which lasted 15 games, although Dunlap hit just .150 in 40 at-bats.

Shortly after the series ended, Pittsburgh purchased Dunlap’s contract for a large sum (at least $4,000) and then paid him $7,000 for the season, the highest salary of the day. Just two weeks before he went to Pittsburgh, there were reports that the New York Giants had purchased him, though that rumor was denied almost immediately. He was named the team captain by the Alleghenys, who had high hopes for him during the 1888 season. After a slow start for Pittsburgh, he again suffered an injury that put him out for a portion of the season, suffering a broken jaw that happened during pre-game practice in early July. Dunlap hit .262 that season, with 41 runs, 17 extra-base hits, 36 RBIs and 24 steals, while playing 82 out of a possible 139 games. In 1889, he played in 121 games, leading the league with a career high .950 fielding percentage. His offense slumped though, all the way down to a .235 average at the plate, though he had 59 runs, 19 doubles, 65 RBIs 21 steals and 46 walks, so he was still an above average player, including his solid defense. In late July, he took over the manager position when Horace Phillips was forced to leave due to his declining health. Dunlap only lasted 17 games (7-10) before handing the reins over to center fielder Ned Hanlon, in the process, starting a Hall of Fame managerial career for Hanlon.

When the Player’s League formed in 1890, Dunlap was one of the few star players not to jump to the new league. He was one of four 1889 Alleghenys players who remained with Pittsburgh, but he wasn’t around for too long. Early in the year, after hitting .172 through 17 games, he was released. Dunlap was a holdout in spring and didn’t join the team until more than two weeks into Spring Training, but on Opening Day he was hitting in the cleanup spot. When he was released by Pittsburgh on May 14th, it was said that he was tough to get along with, and the Alleghenys also had a much cheaper second baseman (Henry Youngman) who was getting paid just $1,050 for the season, compared to the $3,500 being paid to the struggling Dunlap (one source said $3,700). Dunlap went on to play one game in the PL that year with the New York Giants (not an original name), signing with them nine days after being cut by Pittsburgh. He played one game, then said that his contract wasn’t satisfactory and he wanted to assurance that the PL would be around still in 1891, which he didn’t get from the team owners. He signed with the Washington Statesman of the American Association for the 1891 season. Just eight games into his stay there, Dunlap broke his leg for a second time, ending his baseball career. He finished his 12-year career as a .292 hitter in 965 games with 759 runs scored, 224 doubles, 53 triples, 41 homers and 366 RBIs (doesn’t include the 1884 season due to missing RBI stats). Four times he led second basemen in fielding percentage and assists, while twice he led in putouts. He reportedly had the nickname “Sure Shot Fred” for his strong/accurate arm, though the first mention of it in print came 30 years after his final game and the second mention happened another 29 years later.

Fred Clement, shortstop for the 1890 Alleghenys. He might be the worst player in Pirates franchise history, or the team just gave up on him too soon. The 1890 Alleghenys are the worst team in franchise history. They gave numerous trials to players during the season, some out of necessity due to a lack of players. There were times when they had 11-12 active players on the roster. In late June, the Alleghenys visited Philadelphia for a series against the Phillies. On June 23rd, Pittsburgh used siblings Harry and John Gilbert as their double play combo in a doubleheader. That was their only day in the majors. Pitcher Sumner Bowman also debuted that day, but he would stick around through the 1891 season in the majors. The next day there was a 23-year-old named Fred Clement at shortstop for the Alleghenys. He was a local kid, who was also a dentist. He played a little bit of minor league ball in 1889 for Wilmington of the Middle States League, though no stats are available. Pittsburgh owner J. Palmer O’Neil hired a man named James Randall to be a scout for the team and the latter recommended Clement, who did so poorly that he was removed after two innings.

Clement went 0-for-1 at the plate and committed three errors before being replaced at shortstop by Tun Berger, who was in center field. The center fielder who replaced Berger was Sumner Bowman, the pitcher. The score was 6-0 at that point and his throwing error and two missed grounders were responsible for most of that damage. Modern numbers credit Clement with five innings played, but numerous sources from the day mention two innings, which would make sense because if he played five innings, he would have batted more than once. That was it for Clement in pro baseball. Two big league innings, three errors, one out at the plate. One interesting note is that he was called “Clements” in the Philadelphia papers, which made sure to note that he wasn’t related to their star catcher Jack Clements, who is the greatest left-handed catcher in baseball history. A Pittsburgh paper called him “BF Clements”, but his real name was Frederick Garwood Clement, and he lived out life in the Philadelphia area, sadly passing away on Christmas Day in 1930, just two months after his wife had passed. An 1895 article notes that he was the “effective catcher” of the local Oxford team in Philadelphia for some years. He got mention that day because he umpired a game that involved Oxford, and he was praised for his knowledge of the rules of the game.