This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: June 7th, Pirates Switch Out Hall of Fame Outfielders

Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus the team made a very interesting roster switch on June 7, 1939.

The Transactions

On the same day the Pittsburgh Pirates released one future Hall of Fame player, they signed another. On this date in 1939, Pittsburgh released outfielder Heinie Manush and signed outfielder Chuck Klein. Manush was being used sparingly as a pinch-hitter for the Pirates, a role he took up in the latter part of the previous season. He was 37 years old, in his 17th season in the majors. At the time of this swap, he was 0-for-12 with an RBI and a walk. Klein was three years younger and still playing regularly, but he too was in a sharp decline from his prime. He was hitting .191 with one homer in 25 games at the time of his signing. He had just been released by the Philadelphia Phillies on the previous day.

Manush didn’t know it at the time, but that was the end of his Major League career. He played two seasons in the minors for Toronto of the International League, then spent the next six seasons as a player/manager in the minors, although he saw just 61 games of action over that time. Klein played regularly for the Pirates in the corner outfield spots and did well, hitting .300 with 11 homers and 47 RBIs in 85 games over the rest of the 1939 season. He would be released by the Pirates during the next Spring Training, then signed back with the Phillies, where he spent the last five seasons of his career. Klein finished with a .320 career average, 300 homers and 1,201 RBIs, while Manush hit .330 career with 110 homers and 1,183 RBIs. Manush was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1964. It took Klein another 16 years before he joined him in Cooperstown.

The Players

Virgil Vasquez, pitcher for the 2009 Pirates. He signed as a seventh round pick of the Detroit Tigers in the 2003 amateur draft out of the University of California-Santa Barbara. Three years earlier, he was taken in the same round by the Texas Rangers out of high school. He had a rough debut in pro ball, posting a 6.92 ERA in 53.1 innings over 11 starts for Oneonta in the New York-Penn League. Vasquez went 14-6, 3.47 in 27 starts, with 120 strikeouts in 168.1 innings during his first full season in the minors in 2004 with West Michigan of the Low-A Midwest League. The next year he started at high-A Lakeland of the Florida State League, though he was quickly promoted to Double-A Erie of the Eastern League, where he struggled with a 2-8, 5.27 record in 15 starts. Combined he went 6-9, 4.89 in 130.2 innings over 23 starts. Vasquez pitched much better in his second trial in Double-A in 2006, going 7-12, 3.73 in in 173.2 innings, with 129 strikeouts. He played in the Arizona Fall League after the season and had a 2.81 ERA in 25.2 innings. He earned a Major League promotion in 2007 during a season in which he went 12-5, 3.48 in 25 starts, with 127 strikeouts in 155 innings at Triple-A Toledo of the International League. Vasquez had two spot starts for Detroit during the year, then received a late August recall. He went 0-1, 8.64 in 16.2 innings with the Tigers.

After spending all of 2008 in Toledo, going 12-12, 4.81 in 159 innings over 27 starts, Vasquez was put on waivers, starting a string of waiver pickups that saw him go from the Boston Red Sox to San Diego Padres to Pirates over a three-month stretch. He began the 2009 season in Triple-A with Indianapolis of the International League, joining the Pirates in late June for seven starts in which he went 2-5 with a 6.09 ERA. He went sent down in early August, before returning in September for seven relief appearances. He finished with a 5.84 ERA in 44.2 innings with the Pirates, and he had a 3.93 ERA in 107.2 innings with Indianapolis. Vasquez re-signed with the Pirates for 2010, but before the season started, he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays. He played pro ball until 2017 without making it back to the majors. He spent 2010 in Triple-A with Durham of the International League, though he was also injured for part of the season. The 2011 season saw him spend the season in independent ball with Southern Maryland of the Atlantic League, followed by winter ball in Australia. In 2012, he threw 192.2 innings for South Maryland, followed by another stint in Australian winter ball. He played the entire 2013-14 seasons in the minors for the Minnesota Twins, splitting the year between Double-A and Triple-A each season. The rest of his pro career was winter ball action, mainly spent in Australia, though he also played in Mexico and Venezuela. Between all of his stops, he threw over 1,900 innings in pro ball and he won 115 games. His MLB career consisted of just 61.1 innings, finishing with a 2-6, 6.60 record in ten starts and nine relief outings.

Roy Jarvis, catcher for the 1946-47 Pirates. He played in the minors for one season in the Brooklyn Dodgers system before the Pirates selected him in the November 1944 Rule 5 draft. Jarvis actually debuted in pro ball in the majors, though his early season stint in 1944 amounted to one game and one at-bat, in which he struck out. He spent the rest of the year split between two Class-B teams, Trenton of the Interstate League and Newport News of the Piedmont League. He hit .287 with 38 extra-base hits and 48 walks. Before he could play a game for Pittsburgh, he began serving in the Navy during WWII. Jarvis returned in 1946 to the Pirates, and he played just two games all season. That’s partially because he wasn’t let out of the service until mid-June. He was the final Pirates player still in the military after WWII ended. His first game back was a pinch-hit appearance on July 7th. He started behind the plate on the last day of the season in his only other game. He missed time in between due to tonsillitis. He was the Pirates starting catcher at the beginning of 1947, though that lasted just two weeks. He was on the bench before April ended, getting just four more starts all season. He ended up spending just under three months back in the minors before rejoining the Pirates in September, though he got into just one game after returning to the club. He played 18 games for the Pirates in 1947, hitting .156 in 51 plate appearances, with one double and one homer. With Indianapolis of the Triple-A American Association that year, Jarvis hit .231 with six doubles, seven homers, 24 RBIs and a .687 OPS.

After the season, Pittsburgh tried to deal Jarvis to the Philadelphia Phillies, for what was supposed to be in exchange for “one of three pitchers”, but the deal was called off and he returned to the Pirates. At the time, Pittsburgh management said they were fine with getting him back, but they thought he needed more seasoning before he would become a steady Major League catcher. Jarvis was on the Opening Day roster in 1948, but that lasted just six days without getting into a game before he was optioned to Albany of the Class-A Eastern League. Jarvis was available to the Pirates on 24-hour recall, but he never returned. He batted .289 in 120 games for Albany, with 51 runs, 27 doubles, six homers and 54 RBIs. On January 28, 1949, he was one of three players sent to the San Francisco Seals of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in exchange for pitcher Bill Werle. Jarvis jumped around from team-to-team for the next seven seasons, all spent in the minor leagues, retiring after the 1955 season. He played for eight different teams in six different leagues during the 1948-55 seasons. With San Francisco in 1949, he batted .277 in 112 games, with 32 runs, ten doubles, five homers and 42 RBIs. The next year was split between San Francisco and Kansas City of the American Association. He hit .261 in 96 games, with a .738 OPS. Jarvis spent most of the 1951 season with Atlanta of the Double-A Southern Association, hitting .275 in 99 games, with 20 extra-base hits. In 1952, he batted .270 with seven doubles and eight homers in 98 games for Tulsa of the Double-A Texas League. He returned to Atlanta in 1953 and batted .308 in 72 games, with a .912 OPS. He ended up playing with three teams in 1954, including Atlanta and Nashville (Southern Association), then finished his career with Nashville, hitting .242 with seven homers and 21 RBIs in 41 games.

Bones Ely, shortstop for the Pirates from 1896 until 1901. He played one Major League game at 21 years old in 1884 with Buffalo of the National League, then bounced between the minors and majors for the next nine seasons before finding a full-time spot with the 1894 St Louis Browns. Ely was a very skinny (hence his nickname) defense-first player. He split the 1885 season between Youngstown of the Interstate League and Binghamton of the New York State League. He batted just .156 in ten games for the Louisville Colonels of the American Association in 1886, his second big league stint, and his only pro stats from that season. In 1887, he was back in Binghamton, this time playing in the International Association (no stats available). He remained in that league with Syracuse in 1888 and hit .284 in 112 games, with 98 runs, 22 doubles, 11 triples, three homers and 47 steals. In 1889, Ely played for Syracuse in the International League, hitting .244 in 107 games, with 68 runs, 19 doubles, nine triples, five homers and 39 steals. His third stint in the majors went much better, though he was helped out by the influx of big league options in 1890. With the one-year addition of the Player’s League, it opened up many more jobs that season. Ely played 119 games for Syracuse of the American Association in 1890, where he hit .262 with 16 doubles, six triples, 64 RBIs and 72 runs scored. He stole a career high 44 bases that season. It was his third straight season playing in Syracuse and it was a different league each year.

Ely was in the National League with the Brooklyn Grooms (Dodgers) in 1891, where he hit .153 in 31 games.  He spent the rest of the year with St Paul/Duluth of the Western Association, where he batted .288 with 34 extra-base hits in 93 games. By 1892, only the National League existed at the big league level and that made big league jobs much harder to come by, especially for marginal players. Ely spent the season in the minors with two teams, combining to hit .253 with 24 extra-base hits in 88 games for Toledo of the Western League and Memphis of the Southern Association. He hit .299 with 16 doubles and 19 homers in 91 games for Atlanta of the Southern Association in 1893, the same year he joined the St Louis Browns. Ely batted .253 in 44 games for the Browns, with 25 runs and seven extra-base hits, which included six triples. He then had a big season in 1894. That year he hit .306 with 20 doubles, 12 triples, 12 homers, 89 RBIs and 23 steals in 127 games, in what was a very high offense season due to the pitching distance being changed the previous year and pitchers having trouble adjusting to it. He had zero home runs during his first five seasons (205 games) in the majors, then hit exactly half of his career homers in one year. Ely was known more for his solid defense than his bat throughout his entire career, so his .807 OPS this season was just a blip. His second best OPS was a .689 mark that he achieved with the Pirates. In 1895, with the split between pitchers and hitters starting to return back to near normal standards, Bones (first name was William) hit .259 with 68 runs, 16 doubles, one homer and 29 stolen bases in 118 games, finishing second among NL shortstops in fielding percentage. His OPS dropped 211 points over the previous season.

The Pirates acquired Ely from the Browns prior to the 1896 season in exchange for shortstop Monte Cross, pitcher Bill Hart and cash. While with Pittsburgh, Ely would finish no lower than fifth in fielding among NL shortstops in any of his five full seasons. Defensive WAR actually ranks him as the best defensive player in all of the NL in both 1898 and 1900, with an extremely large margin over the rest of the pack during the latter season. He hit .285 with 27 extra-base hits, 77 RBIs, 18 steals and 85 runs scored in 128 games in 1896. He followed that up with a .283 average, 20 doubles, eight triples, 74 RBIs, ten steals and 63 runs scored in 133 games in 1897. His average dropped down to .212 in a career high 148 games in 1898, while his OPS came in at a .517 mark. He had 21 extra-base hits and 24 walks in 556 plate appearances. Ely rebounded in 1899 with a .278 average, 18 doubles, six triples, 72 RBIs, 67 runs scored and a .665 OPS.

The Pirates added a ton of talent with the massive trade (19 players and cash) between them at Louisville, which brought in Honus Wagner, Fred Clarke, Deacon Phillippe, Claude Ritchey and many others. Ely was one of the few players who kept his job with the Pirates, playing shortstop over Wagner, who didn’t move to his familiar position until after Ely left. In addition to his huge season on defense in 1900, Ely hit .244 with 51 RBIs and 60 runs scored. He had just 12 extra-base hits all season and a low walk rate, leading to a .554 OPS. His last season in Pittsburgh was 1901 and he split it between the Pirates and Philadelphia Athletics, hitting .212/.232/.265 in 110 games that season. He was released after his final game on July 20th, with Fred Clarke noting his declining skills at the plate and the willingness to give Tommie Leach more playing time, which turned out to be a great decision. Ely signed with the Athletics within two weeks of being let go by the Pirates. He finished his MLB career in 1902 with the Washington Senators, where he hit .262 and drove in 62 runs in 105 games. At 40 years old in 1903, he finished his pro career playing in San Francisco. Bones played 743 games with the Pirates, hitting .256 with 346 RBIs and 342 runs scored. In his career, he played 1,343 games and had a similar .258 average with 656 runs scored, 149 doubles, 68 triples, 24 homers, 657 RBIs and 169 steals. Over 1,238 games played at shortstop, his fielding percentage was 15 points higher than the league average during his time.

The Game

On this date in 1972, the Pirates won the first game of a doubleheader over the San Diego Padres by a 12-5 score. That was followed up by one of the longest games in team history. The Pirates won 1-0 in 18 innings. Gene Alley drew a bases loaded walk to score the only run. Dock Ellis tossed nine shutout innings to start the game, then four relievers combined to throw nine more shutout frames. Here’s the boxscore, which shows a 4:27 game time and 7,371 fans in attendance, though the number was much lower by the end.

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