This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: May 23rd, Deacon Phillippe and Two Noteworthy Trades

Two Pittsburgh Pirates trades on this date to cover and five former players born on May 23rd.

The Trades

On this date in 1923, the Pirates traded pitcher Whitey Glazner and second baseman Cotton Tierney, plus cash, to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for pitcher Lee Meadows and infielder Johnny Rawlings. Glazner was a 29-year-old pitcher, who stood just 5’9″ and threw right-handed. He was in his fourth season with the Pirates, posting a 3.30 ERA in 30 innings prior to the trade. In 1921, he had a 14-5, 2.77 record in 234 innings, but his 1922 numbers dropped off, down to a 4.38 ERA and a losing (11-12) record. Tierney was also 29 years old, coming off a big season in which he batted .345 with 86 RBIs in 122 games. In 1923, he was batting .292 in 29 games with 22 RBIs. Rawlings was 30 years old and had not played yet during the 1923 season. The Phillies picked him up off waivers from the New York Giants just 11 days earlier. He hit .282 in 88 games for the Giants in 1922. Meadows was 28 years old and pitching poorly for the Phillies at the time. He had eight seasons of Major League experience, seven times winning in double-digits, but he also had twice led the National League in losses, mostly due to playing on bad teams.

After the trade, Meadows became a star pitcher for the Pirates, winning 87 games his first five season in Pittsburgh. He helped the Pirates to the World Series in both 1925 and 1927 by posting an identical record of 19-10 both years. In between those pennant winning seasons, he led the league with 20 wins. Rawlings hit .284 with 45 RBIs and 53 runs scored in 1923, then stuck around as a backup for three more seasons in Pittsburgh. Glazner did not fare well in his two years in Philadelphia. He went a combined 14-30 with a 5.29 ERA in 318 innings. He never pitched in the majors again after the 1924 season. Tierney hit .317 with 11 homers and 65 RBIs for the Phillies in 1923, before they traded him in the off-season to the Boston Braves. He played one season there before being traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1925, his last season in the majors. His batting dropped way off, forcing him to the minors to finish his career five years later. The Pirates did much better in this deal, even with a large sum of cash factored in for the time. Meadows put up 15.7 WAR for the Pirates. The two players going to the Phillies combined for 3.2 WAR over the rest of their careers, while Rawlings had 0.8 WAR. So even without Rawlings included, it still would have been a one-sided win for the Pirates.

On this date in 1963, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded outfielder Bob Skinner to the Cincinnati Reds for outfielder Jerry Lynch. Skinner, at 31 years old, was in his ninth seasons with the Pirates at the time of this trade. He was originally signed by the club in 1951, but missed two years to military service. He was a two-time All-Star, who spent most of his time with the Pirates in left field. In 1962, he hit .302 with a career high of 20 homers. He was hitting .270 with no homers in 34 games at the time of the trade. Lynch began his Major League career in 1954 with the Pirates, playing three seasons in Pittsburgh before he was lost to the Reds in the 1956 Rule 5 draft. He hit .281 with 12 homers and 57 RBIs in 114 games in 1962, but just like Skinner, his 1963 numbers were down from the norm. He was hitting .250 with two homers in 22 games at the time of the deal. Lynch was a year older than Skinner and they both spent a majority of their time playing in left field.

After the deal, Lynch hit .266 with ten homers in 88 games for the 1963 Pirates. He was the regular left fielder in 1964, hitting .273 with 16 homers and 66 RBIs, then moved to a bench role with Pittsburgh for his last two seasons in the majors. The Pirates dealt Skinner at the right time, despite the stats seeming to favor the Reds in this deal. In 1963 for the Reds, he hit .253 with three homers in 72 games. Through 25 games in 1964, he was hitting .220, when the Reds traded him to the St Louis Cardinals for a minor league player and cash. Skinner played parts of three seasons in St Louis, hitting .273 with 47 RBIs in 184 games. As far as WAR numbers after the deal, Lynch was actually a -0.2 due to very poor defensive numbers, including a -2.1 dWAR in 1964. Skinner was also below average defensively, but not nearly as bad, giving them the better of the deal overall, as he put up 1.2 WAR total in his final five seasons.

The Players

Deacon Phillippe, pitcher for the Pirates from 1900 until 1911. Phillippe got a later start on his pro career, with just two seasons in the minors prior to making his Major League debut a month shy of his 27th birthday. He played semi-pro ball before debuting with Minneapolis of the Western League during the 1897-98 seasons. He went 7-12, 3.42 in 163 innings over 18 starts and four relief appearances in 1897. His final year before making the majors saw him win 22 games (with 18 losses) and pitch 363 innings. His ERA isn’t available for 1898, but his 5.38 runs per nine innings mark was much lower than the one he put up in the previous season. Phillippe played that first season in the majors in 1899 with the Louisville Colonels, going 21-17, 3.17, in a career high of 321 innings. He completed 33 of his 38 starts and he tossed two shutouts. He came to the Pirates in a 19-player deal on December 8, 1899 that also brought Honus Wagner and Fred Clarke to Pittsburgh. Deacon (his first name was Charles) continued his winning ways in Pittsburgh, amassing four straight twenty-win seasons to start his time with the Pirates, with a better winning percentage each year. He went 20-13, 2.84 in 279 innings in 1900. He was second in the league in wins, fifth in ERA, and he completed 29 of his 33 starts. In 1901, he helped the Pirates to their first National League pennant by going 22-12, 2.22 in 296 innings, completing 30 of his 32 starts. His ERA was the second best in the league behind teammate Jesse Tannehill, and he finished third in the league in wins. The Pirates had their best season in history in 1902, finishing 103-36, and Phillippe went 20-9, with a career best 2.05 ERA, which ranked fifth in the league. He took one of those losses on June 22nd when he gave up three runs over 18.2 innings against the Chicago Cubs. He completed 29 of 30 games that year and tossed five shutouts. His 122 strikeouts ranked eighth in the league.

In 1903, Phillippe’s record was 25-9, 2.43 in 289.1 innings, leading the Pirates to the first modern day World Series. He threw four shutouts that season and he completed 31 of 33 starts, while also making three relief appearances. He pitched five games during that series for a Pirates pitching staff that was short on able-bodied pitchers at the time. He ended up going 3-2, 3.07 in 44 innings during the World Series. Due to injuries in 1904, he was limited to 166.2 innings, and failed to reach 20 wins for the first time. He went 10-10, 3.24 in 19 starts and two relief appearances, finishing with 17 complete games and three shutouts. Phillippe bounced back with his fifth 20-win season in 1905 for the Pirates. He went 20-13, 2.19 in 279 innings, while throwing 25 complete games and five shutouts. He was fifth in the league in wins and seventh in ERA that year. He was still used often after 1905, but he never approached that inning total again.

For the 1906 Pirates, Phillippe went 15-10, 2.47 in 218.2 innings, making 24 starts and nine relief appearances. He had 19 complete games and three shutouts. He had a very similar 1907 season, going 14-11, 2.61 in 214 innings, with 26 starts and nine relief appearances. He pitched just five games over the first three months of the 1908 season, then didn’t pitch again after July 8th, despite being healthy for most of the year. The results were very poor when he did pitch, giving up 15 runs in 12 innings. Just two days after his final game that season, Phillippe was said to have added a spitball to his pitching repertoire. He was known for his curveballs and strong velocity. There were rumors that he would retire after the 1908 season, but he was back with the Pirates in 1909 and was a useful pitcher, despite seeing limited work for most of the year. He went 8-3, 2.32 in 121.2 innings, with 13 starts and nine relief appearances. In the World Series, he threw six shutout innings over two relief outings. Phillippe saw more bullpen work in 1910 and he went 14-2, 2.29 in 121.2 innings over eight starts and 23 relief appearances. His time in Pittsburgh ended with three appearances in 1911 when he allowed five runs in six innings, though he pitched/managed for the Pittsburgh Federal League team in 1913, one year before the league was considered to be a Major League club. During the 1912 season he managed the Pittsburgh club in the independent United States League.

Phillippe pitched twelve seasons in Pittsburgh without ever posting a losing record. He finished with a career record of 189-109, 2.59 in 2,607 innings. He made 289 starts and 83 relief appearances in his career, finishing with 242 complete games and 27 shutouts. Among Pittsburgh’s franchise leaders, he ranks fifth in ERA (2.50), fifth in wins (168), fifth in complete games (209), sixth in innings (2,286), seventh in shutouts (25) and tenth in strikeouts with 861. His 1.09 WHIP is third best in team history, and he has the lowest walks per nine inning mark in team history. He ranks 20th all-time in ERA for pitchers with at least 2,500 innings pitched.

Vic Black, pitcher for the 2013 Pirates. He was originally drafted out of high school by the New York Mets in 2006, selected out of the 41st round. They would eventually get him too, but not before he debuted in the majors with the Pirates. He went to college instead of signing, where he was drafted 49th overall by the Pirates in 2009 out of Dallas Baptist University. Black made it to the majors in four years, despite some injury issues in the minors that setback his progress. He saw seven starts during his first season of pro ball while playing in the short-season New York-Penn League. Black made just 11 starts during the rest of his pro career and nine of those came while playing independent ball in his final season. For the 2009 State College Spikes, he had a 3.45 ERA in 31.1 innings in 13 games total (six as a reliever). Shoulder and biceps injuries limited him to just two starts in Low-A West Virginia of the South Atlantic League in 2010. His second start on May 22nd lasted just six batters before he left the game, and then he didn’t pitch again all season. He began 2011 back in West Virginia, where he had a 5.28 ERA in 22 appearances before he was promoted in August to High-A Bradenton of the Florida. He allowed four runs in 6.2 innings for Bradenton after the promotion. In 2012, Black spent the entire year in the Altoona bullpen and did great, posting a 1.65 ERA, 13 saves and 85 strikeouts in 60 innings over 51 appearances. He went to the Arizona Fall League after the season and got hit hard, allowing 15 runs over 10.2 innings.

Black began the 2013 season in Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League, where he had a 2.51 ERA and 17 saves in 46.2 innings over 38 games. Black was called up to the majors in July of 2013 and gave up two runs over four innings in three relief appearances for the Pirates before he was traded to the Mets for outfielder Marlon Byrd and catcher John Buck in August of 2013. Black went right to the majors with the Mets and pitched 15 times over the rest of the season, going 3-0, 3.46 in 13 innings, with one save. He spent part of 2014 in Triple-A Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League, where he had a 1.45 ERA in 18.2 innings, despite 17 walks. The rest of the year was spent with the Mets, where he posted a 2-3, 2.60 record in 41 appearances, with 32 strikeouts in 34.2 innings. Injuries then sidetracked his career and he last played in 2018 in independent ball without making it back to the majors after 2014. He was let go by the Mets after the 2015 season and missed the entire 2016 season due to right shoulder surgery. He was limited to 36.1 innings in the minors for the Mets in 2015 due to a neck injury, and he pitched just 36 innings in the minors for the San Francisco Giants in 2017.  The 2018 season was spent with New Jersey of the Canadian-American Association. Including minors/majors, winter/fall ball and independent ball, he threw a total of 390 innings in his pro career. His final big league stats in two season show a 5-3, 2.96 record in 51.2 innings over 59 games. He saved one game for the 2013 Mets. Black is currently a minor league pitching coach for the Pirates.

Mike Gonzalez, pitcher for the 2003-06 Pirates. He was taken by the Pirates in the 30th round of the 1997 draft out of San Jacinto College at 19 years old. They had drafted him in the 17th round a year earlier out of high school, but he didn’t sign. He was known as a reliever in the majors, but he was a starter for much of his minor league career. He split his first season between the Gulf Coast League and Low-A Augusta of the South Atlantic League, combining to go 3-1, 2.23 in 48.1 innings, with 55 strikeouts. Gonzalez would end up playing at multiple levels for each of his first nine seasons in pro ball. The 1998 season was split between Augusta and High-A Lynchburg of the Carolina League, with much better results at the lower level, posting a 2.84 ERA in 50.2 innings, compared to a 6.67 ERA in 28.1 frames. He struck out 94 batters that year in 79 innings. The 2000 season was similar, with much better results at Lynchburg than he had at Double-A Altoona of the Eastern League, though he didn’t pitch great at either level, putting together a 4.80 ERA and 150 strikeouts in 138.2 innings. In 2001, Gonzalez again did the Lynchburg/Altoona split, and he pitched better at each level, combining for a 3.51 ERA in 118 innings. Despite the better results, he had 98 strikeouts, which was the first time he averaged under one strikeout per inning. He missed a little time in 2002, which required a rehab stint in the GCL, but the rest of the season was spent in Altoona, where he went 8-4, 3.80, with 82 strikeouts in 85.1 innings over 18 starts.

Gonzalez was pitching strictly in relief in 2003, and he also missed a little time early in the season, resulting in him making brief stops at Lynchburg and Altoona, before heading to Nashville of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. Shortly before his Major League debut on August 11, 2003, Gonzalez was dealt to the Boston Red Sox, only to be traded back to the Pirates nine days later along with Freddy Sanchez. Injury concerns over other players in the deal led to a second trade between the two clubs. He pitched two games in Triple-A for the Red Sox before returning to the Pirates on July 31st. Combined between all four minor league stops, he had a 3.46 ERA, four saves and 31 strikeouts in 26 innings. Gonzalez had his share of trouble during his rookie season in Pittsburgh, making 16 appearances for a total of 8.1 innings pitched, with a 7.56 ERA and four homers allowed. He began 2004 back in Nashville, but after 35 strikeouts and a 0.90 ERA in his first 20 innings, he was back with the Pirates in late May. Gonzalez started off with 13 straight scoreless appearances for the Pirates. He ended up pitching a total of 47 games (43.1 innings) with a 1.25 ERA, 55 strikeouts and one save. He had another strong season in 2005, pitching 50 innings in 51 appearances, finishing with a 2.70 ERA, 58 strikeouts and three saves. The next year he would take over the closer role, saving a career high of 24 games. He went 3-4, 2.71 that season, with 64 strikeouts in 54 innings/54 games. After the 2006 season, Gonzalez was dealt to the Atlanta Braves along with minor league infielder Brent Lillibridge for first baseman Adam LaRoche and minor league outfielder Jamie Romak.

Gonzalez was off to a great start with the Braves, posting a 1.59 ERA in 18 appearances, but after his game on May 15, 2007 he was placed on the disabled list with an elbow injury. He didn’t return until mid-June of 2008 due to Tommy John surgery. He had a 4.28 ERA and 14 saves in 33.2 innings over 36 games in 2008, then rebounded with a 2.42 ERA in 74.1 innings over 80 appearances in 2009. He had ten saves and 90 strikeouts that last year with Atlanta. Gonzalez signed with the Baltimore Orioles as a free agent for two years at $12,000,000 total. Just three games into the 2010 season, he was placed on the disabled list with a left shoulder strain and didn’t return until late July. He had a 4.01 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 24.2 innings over 29 appearances in 2010. He then had a 4.27 ERA in 46.1 innings over 49 games in 2011 before being traded to the Texas Rangers on August 31st. Gonzalez had a 5.14 ERA in seven innings over seven games after the deal. He helped them get to the World Series by pitching scoreless ball over his first six postseason games before allowing two runs during a blowout in the World Series.

Gonzalez signed with the Washington Nationals as a free agent after the 2011 season and had a 3.03 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 35.2 innings over 47 appearances. In 2013, he signed with the Milwaukee Brewers and finished his big league career as a lefty specialist, ending it with a 4.68 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 50 innings over 75 appearances that season. He pitched minor league ball for the Nationals in 2014 and he played in Mexico in 2016, during his final season of pro ball. Gonzalez pitched 509 games in his big league career, going 17-24, 3.14 with 56 saves. In 444.1 innings over his 11 seasons, he struck out 511 batters. With the Pirates, he had 7-9, 2.37 record, 28 saves and 183 strikeouts in 155.2 innings.

Nelson Norman, infielder for the 1982 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1975 out of the Dominican Republic at 16 years old. Before he could play a game for Pittsburgh, he was part of a four-team, eleven-player deal. The trade occurred on December 8, 1977, and it sent him and Al Oliver to the Texas Rangers, while bringing John Milner and Bert Blyleven to Pittsburgh. Before the deal, Norman played in the Gulf Coast League at 17 years old in 1975, where he hit .262 with 19 runs and 13 RBIs in 51 games. His OPS was just .591 due to low power/walk totals. In 1976, he played for Charleston in the Class-A Western Carolinas League, where he hit .278 in 128 games, with 88 runs, 18 extra-base hits, 48 RBIs and a .633 OPS. The 1977 season was split between Double-A Shreveport of the Texas League and Triple-A Columbus International League. He combined to hit .248 across the two levels, with 40 runs, 18 doubles, two triples, no homers and 31 RBIs in 122 games. After the deal, Norman played parts of four seasons in Texas. He debuted in the majors three days before his 20th birthday in 1978. He was up with the Rangers for two weeks, then returned in September. He batted .284 with 82 runs, 26 extra-base hits, 76 RBIs, 17 stolen bases, 51 walks and a .715 OPS in 122 games for Tuscon of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. He played 23 games for the Rangers that year and hit .265, while making eight starts at shortstop and two at third base.

The 1979 season was Norman’s only full year in the majors. He hit .222 that year in 147 games, with 36 runs scored, 12 extra-base hits, 21 RBIs and a .526 OPS. He started 115 games that season, all of them at shortstop. Norman played 17 games with the Rangers through early May in 1980 and he hit .219 in 32 at-bats. He was sent to Triple-A on May 6th, but after 28 games, a knee injury ended his season early. He spent almost the entire 1981 season in the minors with Wichita of the Triple-A American Association, coming up to Texas for just seven games in late September. He would return to the Pirates in a trade for pitcher Victor Cruz just prior to the start of the 1982 season. Norman played for Triple-A Portland that year, hitting .270 with 58 runs, 12 extra-base hits and 52 RBIs in 134 games. He was a September call-up for the Pirates, getting into three games, including a start at shortstop on the last day of the season. He went 0-for-3 at the plate.

Norman spent the next two years (1983-84) in the minors for the Pirates, before moving on to the Baltimore Orioles for one year, then four years in the Montreal Expos organization. He dropped down to Double-A in 1983, playing for Lynn of the Eastern League, where he hit .268 in 122 games, with 77 runs, 23 extra-base hits, 53 RBIs and 85 walks. In 1984, he was back in Triple-A with Hawaii of the Pacific Coast League. He hit .287 that year in 73 games, with a .726 OPS. He batted just .186 in Triple-A with the Orioles in 1985, then dropped down to Double-A again in 1986. He hit .289 in 122 games, with a .715 OPS. Norman made it back to the majors for one game in April of 1987. The Expos gave him a start at shortstop on April 29th and he went 0-for-4 with an error. He was with the team for a total of eight days while they dealt with some injuries. He went back to the minors on May 3rd and played until 1989 without another chance at the big league level. While in the Pirates minor league system from 1982 until 1984, he had an amazing 198:66 BB/SO ratio. After retiring as a player, he became a minor league manager for seven seasons between 1992 and 2014, spending three of those years as the GCL manager for the Expos. Norman hit .221 in 198 Major League games, with 42 runs, 12 doubles, three triples, no homers and 25 RBIs.

Bill Miller, right fielder for the 1902 Pirates. He was a 23-year-old outfielder with no prior pro experience when he manned right field for the Pirates on August 23, 1902 against the Brooklyn Superbas at Exposition Park. The Pirates had suffered numerous injuries and were in need of a player just to have enough healthy position players on the team, so they weren’t forced to use a pitcher in the outfield. Tommy Leach recommended Miller, who joined the team on very short notice. The Pittsburgh Press noted that he tried hard but had plenty of trouble in the field, including once coming in on a ball that was well over his head. At the plate, he collected a sixth inning single that drove in two runs to make it a 5-2 deficit at that point. Three innings later, the Pirates had closed within one run, down 9-8 with two outs and a man on second base. Miller came up to bat only because no one else was on the bench that could hit for him. He would strike out, in what turned out to be a tough ending to his Major League career. The paper claimed he was too nervous to show what he could do. The “large” crowd of 5,000 fans apparently unnerved him. The Pirates played a doubleheader the next day and pitcher Jesse Tannehill was in the outfield for both games. He ended up collecting four hits over those two games. The outcomes of those games weren’t a big deal at that point because the Pirates had a 20-game lead for the pennant with 38 games left in the season. Even with numerous injuries to finish out the season, they won the division by 27 games.

Miller has no other known pro experience, but he supposedly did according to Tommy Leach, who said that he played well in the Southern Leagues. He was born in Germany, and he was the third of four German-born players in Pirates history. Miller, who is listed as being 6’2″, 170 pounds, was described by the local paper as being a “tall angular fellow, who is about as thick as a good-sized broomstick”. That same paper said that he was evidently a football player, though it’s unknown if they were trying to say that he should try another sport because their assessment of his day was brutal. According to The Pittsburgh Gazette, Miller had two strikeouts, two soft ground outs and what was said to be a lucky hit, while they noted that he didn’t have any putouts or assists, but he should have because two balls hit his way should have been caught. The Pittsburgh Press noted that he had long flowing locks which made him look out of place. Their assessment was that he was brought to the team in short notice and had no time to visit a barber shop. The August 30th issue of The Sporting Life twice mentioned that he was signed for the balance of the season and also noted the Southern League connection, while saying that he recently returned home to Cleveland because the southern climate didn’t agree with him. The part about signing for the rest of the season turned out to not be true. As noted in the The Pittsburgh Gazette, his strikeout in the ninth not only ended the game, it also ended his connection with the team.