This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: June 17th, The Louisville Slugger (and Briefly a Pirate), Pete Browning

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including one of the best hitters ever. There is also a trade, which involved a player the Pirates had acquired just two days earlier.

The Trade

On this date in 1892, the Pirates traded second baseman Cub Stricker to the Baltimore Orioles for pitcher Adonis Terry. The Pirates had acquired the 33-year-old Stricker just two days earlier from the St Louis Browns for Hall of Fame pitcher James “Pud” Galvin. Cub (first name was John) never actually played for the Pirates. He was hitting .204/.297/.214 in 28 games with the Browns before the deal. Terry was a 27-year-old right-handed pitcher, in his ninth season in the majors. He had a career record of 126-140 at the time of the trade and he had pitched just one game in 1892. Adonis (first name was William) gave up seven runs in his only start that year. He too had just joined the team trading him, signing with the Orioles three days prior. He began the year with Brooklyn, where had spent his first eight seasons in the majors, but he never made a start, getting released on June 10th.

After the trade, Terry pitched well for the Pirates, going 18-7, 2.51 in 240 innings to finish out 1892. He went 12-8, 4.45 in 170 innings in 1893 for Pittsburgh, then made one start for them in 1894, giving up five runs in 2/3 of an inning, before being pulled. After being let go by the Pirates, Terry signed with the Chicago Colts, going 41-40 in four seasons. Stricker hit .264 for the Orioles in 75 games in 1892. He then signed with the Washington Senators for 1893, hitting .179 in 59 games, in what would be his last season in the majors.

The Players

Bennie Daniels, pitcher for the 1957-60 Pirates. He was signed by the Pirates at 19 years old as an amateur free agent in 1951. He spent two years in the minors, prior to missing two seasons due to military service. Daniels pitched in Class-C ball in 1951-52 and had rough results. He posted a 2-4, 4.24 record in 68 innings in his pro debut with Great Falls of the Pioneer League, then came back with a 9-14, 4.83 record in 175 innings with Modesto of the California League. He returned from the military in 1955, and split the season between Billings of the Pioneer League and Lincoln of the Class-A Western League. That year he had a 14-10, 3.47 record, with 143 strikeouts in 218 innings, with better results at the lower level. Playing for Lincoln in 1956, Daniels went 15-3 with a 4.08 ERA in 183 innings, with 121 strikeouts. He moved up to Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League the following year, going 17-8, 2.95 in 31 starts and 229 innings pitched. He had major control problems in the minors, walking 356 batters combined during the 1955-57 seasons, including more walks (121) than strikeouts (116) in 1957. The Pirates gave him one late season start in 1957 and he pitched well, giving up two runs in seven innings, though he took the loss. He began the 1958 season with Pittsburgh, posting an 0-2, 9.95 mark in seven appearances before being sent to the minors, where he had a 14-6, 2.31 record in 160 innings for Columbus of the Triple-A International League. Daniels returned to the Pirates in September of 1958 to make two strong starts (15 IP/3 ER), but again emerged without a victory.

Daniels finally spent a full season in the majors in 1959, making 22 relief appearances and 12 starts for a total of 100.2 innings pitched. He went 7-9 with a 5.45 ERA. He was with the 1960 Pirates through the end of June, going 1-3, 7.81 in 40.1 innings before being sent to Columbus, where he went 4-9, 3.38 in 117 innings. Daniels was one of three players traded to the expansion Washington Senators on December 16, 1960 for All-Star pitcher Bobby Shantz. Pitching for an expansion team opened up full-time work for Daniels and he averaged 164 innings per season for the Senators. He went 12-11, 3.44 in 212 innings in 1961, posting a winning record for a team that finished 61-100. He threw 12 complete games that year, which represented nearly half of his career total. He had a career high 110 strikeouts, the only time he topped the century mark. The next year he went 7-16, 4.85 in 161.1 innings, making 21 starts and 23 relief appearances for a team that went 60-101. Daniels went 5-10, 4.38 in 168.2 innings in 1963, with 24 starts and 11 relief appearances. The Senators were even worse that year, going 56-106. He then had an 8-10, 3.70 record in 163 innings in 1964, making 24 starts and nine relief appearances. Once again, the Senators hit the century mark for losses (62-100). He split his final season in the majors between starting and relief, compiling a 5-13, 4.72 record in 116.1 innings over 18 starts and 15 relief outings. He finished his pro career in the minors in 1966 with Hawaii of the Pacific Coast League. Daniels was 8-16, 5.84 in 175.2 innings during his time with the Pirates. In his nine-year career, he had a 45-76, 4.44 record in 997 innings over 139 starts and 91 relief appearances, with 26 complete games, five shutouts and five saves.

Joe Bowman, pitcher for the 1937-41 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball at 19 years old in 1929, playing briefly for Pueblo of the Class-A Western League, where he’s credited with 20 innings and 22 walks in seven appearances. He stayed in the same league in 1930, going 6-4, 4.34 in 85 innings for Omaha, while nearly cutting his walk rate in half. Bowman moved up to Portland of the Double-A Pacific Coast League in 1931 (highest level of the minors at the time), where he had an 18-11, 3.80 record in 246 innings. Just two years after averaging more than a walk per inning, he walked just 62 batters that season. He got his first big league shot with the Philadelphia Athletics at the start of 1932, but he was back in Portland after seven appearances and an 8.18 ERA in 11 innings. He went 10-7, 4.20 in 133 innings for Portland that year. In 1933, he went 23-11, 4.17 in 283 innings for Portland, which led to his second big league chance, which went much better than the first. Bowman went 5-4, 3.61 in 107.1 innings for the 1934 New York Giants, making ten starts and 20 relief appearances. He was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies after the season even up for 30-year-old outfielder Kiddo Davis. Bowman went 7-10, 4.25 in 148.1 innings in 1935, with 17 starts and 16 relief appearances. He had a rough 1936 season playing for a Philadelphia team that finished with a 54-100 record. He went 9-20, 5.04 in 203.2 innings over 28 starts and 12 relief outings. Despite the poor record, he set a career high with 80 strikeouts, which he never approached in another season.

Bowman was acquired by the Pirates from the Phillies on April 16, 1937 in exchange for OF/1B Earl Browne. Bowman made 19 starts and 11 relief appearances for the Pirates in 1937, going 8-8, 4.57 in 128 innings, with seven complete games. The next year he pitched out of the bullpen, although during an eight-game stretch in July/August, he pitched at least four innings in every outing. He had a 3-4, 4.65 record in 60 innings in 17 games (one start). He returned to the rotation for 1939, where he put together a 10-14, 4.48 record in 184.2 innings over 27 starts and ten relief appearances. He threw ten complete games that year and his second career shutout. Bowman had a very similar season in 1940 when he had a 9-10 record, with a 4.46 ERA in 187.2 innings. He made 24 starts, eight relief appearances, and he had ten complete games. He was seldom used in 1941, making eight starts and nine relief appearances through early August, when the Pirates tried to trade him to the minors. He was actually pitching well at the time, with a 2.99 ERA in 69.1 innings. The trade was voided and Bowman didn’t pitch the rest of the season.

Bowman would spend the next two years (1942-43) in the minors, returning to the big leagues in 1944 with the Boston Red Sox. It’s a surprise that he even made it back after his first season with St Paul of the Double-A American Association (one step from the majors at the time). He went 3-12, 6.28 in 96 innings over 13 starts and 15 relief appearances. In 1943, he put together a 9-12 record in 159 innings, splitting the year between St Paul and Louisville of the same league. He was used often in 1944 by the Red Sox, back when MLB was short on quality players due to many players serving in WWII. Bowman went 12-8, 4.81 in 168.1 innings that season, with ten complete games in 24 starts. He made three starts for the Red Sox in 1945, going 0-2, 9.26 in 11.2 innings, before they lost him on waivers to the Cincinnati Reds. He went 11-13, 3.59 in 185.2 innings over four months with the Reds, who ended up releasing him during Spring Training in 1946. Bowman went to the minors that season, where he spent his final five years of pro ball playing for a different team each year (he did not play in 1950, but returned in 1951). He also served as a manager during the 1947-51 seasons. He had a 77-96, 4.40 record in 1,465.2 innings over 298 Major League games, with 184 starts and 114 relief appearances. He threw 74 complete games, while finishing with five shutouts and five saves. With the Pirates, he went 33-38, 4.35 in 629.2 innings over 134 games, 78 as a starter.

Zeb Terry, shortstop for the 1919 Pirates. He was a star at Stanford University for four years before making his pro debut in 1914, playing in the Double-A Pacific Coast League, which was the highest level at the time. Terry spent two seasons with Los Angeles, hitting .271 with two extra-base hits in 35 games his first year, then batting .264 with 30 extra-base hits in 191 games (they played over 200 that year in the PCL) in 1915. His slugging percentage that year was .321, just seven points higher than 1914. Terry wasn’t a great hitter, but he was strong defensively, which earned him a long look with the 1916 Chicago White Sox, despite batting just .190 with 20 runs, 12 extra-base hits, 17 RBIs and 33 walks in 94 games. Modern metrics credit him with 1.1 dWAR for that season. He played briefly for the White Sox in 1917, going 0-for-1 with two walks in two games, then returned to the PCL with Los Angeles until the league shutdown early in 1918 due to the war. Terry got into 150 games with Los Angeles in 1917, hitting .252 with 13 doubles, three triples and a .289 slugging percentage. In 1918, he batted .263 in 93 games, with 47 runs, 12 doubles, four triples and 17 steals. Terry signed on with the Boston Braves to finish the 1918 season, hitting .305 in 28 games, with a .722 OPS that was 84 points higher than league average during that deadball era season. He joined the war effort after the season, but before his training was over, the war had ended.

The Braves and Pirates had both put in claims for Terry for the 1919 season, with Pittsburgh coming out on top in the dispute. He was on the bench to start the year, before taking over the starting shortstop spot from Howdy Caton early in the season. Terry played 129 games in 1919, hitting .227 with 46 runs, 12 doubles, six triples, no homers, 27 RBIs and 12 steals. He led all National League shortstops with his .960 fielding percentage. His 2.0 dWAR that season was the fourth best total for all players in the NL. The Pirates sold him to the Chicago Cubs in January of 1920, and the man he beat out for shortstop (Howdy Caton), took over the position for the 1920 season. Terry batted .280 with 26 doubles, nine triples, 52 RBIs and 56 runs scored in 133 games in 1920, while putting up 1.3 dWAR, which was seventh best in the NL. He had 44 walks that year, with 22 strikeouts. The next year he hit .275 with 59 runs scored, 18 doubles, two homers and 45 RBIs in 123 games. His final big league season was 1922, when he batted .286 in 131 games, with 56 runs, 24 doubles and a career best 67 RBIs. He retired after the season to take up real estate on the west coast. He finished with a .260 average in 640 big league games, with 254 runs scored, 116 extra-base hits and 216 RBIs. Terry hit two big league homers, both at the Polo Grounds in 1921, the second one being an inside-the-park home run. His full first name was Zebulon, one of two big league players with that name.

Pete Browning, outfielder for the 1891 Pirates. One of the best hitters to ever play for the Pirates wasn’t exactly at his best while with the team. He played 50 games for the 1891 Pirates, hitting .291 with 28 RBIs. The numbers don’t sound bad, but for Browning, it was well off his standards. He began his career playing for the Louisville Colonels of the American Association in 1882. He didn’t play his first minor league game until 1894 when his career was basically done in the majors. Browning was a 21-year-old infielder during his first year in the majors, and he was a hitting star from the start. He led the American Association with a .378 average, .430 OBP and .510 slugging percentage as a rookie. His team played 79 games that year and he played in 69, finishing with 67 runs and 25 extra-base hits (RBI numbers for that league aren’t available for 1882-83, and steals weren’t counted until 1886). Browning moved around on defense in 1883, adding outfield to the mix. He batted .338 (second in the league) with 95 runs scored in 84 games (98-game schedule). He added 28 extra-base hits and 23 walks. He played 103 games in 1884 and hit .336 with 45 extra-base hits, 47 RBIs and 101 runs scored. He finished third in hitting that season. Browning won his second batting title in 1885 with a .362 mark and a league leading 174 hits in 112 games. He scored 98 runs, drove in 73, and he had 53 extra-base hits. He led the league with a .393 OBP, a .923 OPS and 255 total bases. He also played strictly in the outfield that season, and from that point on in his career. His walk totals look low early in his career, but that’s due to needing eight balls for a walk during his first two seasons, down to six in 1884 and five in 1885, before going down to the standard four in 1888.

Browning continued to chug along with a .340 average in 1886, which was second best in the league. In 112 games, he had 86 runs, 37 extra-base hits, 68 RBIs and 26 steals. He then had his best season in 1887. He batted .402 that year, yet he didn’t win the batting title, finishing second to Tip O’Neill, who put up an incredible .435 average. In 134 games, Browning had 137 runs scored, 220 hits, 35 doubles, 16 triples, 118 RBIs and 103 stolen bases. His 1.101 OPS was second best in the league. He missed time during the 1888 season and his numbers fell off greatly, then dropped even more in 1889. He batted .313 in 99 games in 1888, with 58 runs, 33 extra-base hits, 72 RBIs and 36 stolen bases. That was followed by a .256 average in 83 games in 1889, when he finished with a .691 OPS that was easily the worst of his career. He was suspended for the last two months of that season due to excessive drinking. Browning was one of numerous star players who jumped to the Player’s League for the 1890 season. Playing for the Cleveland Infants, he batted .373, which gave him his third batting title and made him the Player’s League all-time leader in batting, since the league was done after one season. In 118 games played, he had 112 runs scored, a league leading 40 doubles, 93 RBIs, 35 steals and a career high 75 walks.

Browning joined Pittsburgh in early April of 1891 after he name was thrown about all off-season as to where he would end up. Pittsburgh sent him a contract a month earlier, but he delayed in signing it due to wanting part of the money up front. Browning had an .805 OPS during his time in Pittsburgh, which was well above the league average (.667) at the time, but he was still let go early. The official word from the Pirates was that he was released due to indifferent play in the field and at the plate. He had played all but one game on the year, and in his last game he collected two hits and scored two runs. He was scheduled to return to Louisville to play out the year, but he went on the play for the Cincinnati Reds in the second half of that 1891 season, batting .343 in 55 games, with an .830 OPS.  Browning’s 1892 season was a down year, split between the Reds and Louisville. He combined to hit .292 in 104 games, with 57 runs, 24 extra-base hits and 56 RBIs. He rebounded briefly with a .355 average and a .912 OPS in 57 games for Louisville in 1893, but his 1894 season was limited to three games, two for the St Louis Browns and one for the Brooklyn Grooms. He went 2-for-2 with a walk in his final big league game.

Disease and alcoholism wreaked havoc with Browning’s body, forcing him out of the majors by 1894 at 33 years old. He played briefly in the minors in 1894 and 1896, but he was a shell of his former self by that final season. He batted .341 in his 13-year big league career over 1,183 games, collecting 1,646 hits, 295 doubles and scoring 954 runs. His batting average is the 11th highest in baseball history for players with over 5,000 plate appearances. He was the original Louisville Slugger for whom the current day bat company is named. He has a career 40.4 WAR, despite below average defensive numbers during his career.

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