Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date including one of the lesser known Hall of Famers in team history. We also have two quick game recaps. Before we get into those players, current Pirates Duane Underwood is celebrating his 28th birthday today.
Anthony Alford, outfielder for the 2020-22 Pirates. He was a third round draft pick out of high school in Mississippi in 2012 by the Toronto Blue Jays. He signed quickly and debuted in the Gulf Coast League before his 18th birthday, but he ended up playing just five games. That was followed by six games in the GCL in 2013 and 14 games in 2014 split between Bluefield of the Appalachian League and Lansing of the Midwest League He wasn’t injured, he was allowed to play college football as part of his signing agreement, which he gave up in late 2014 to play baseball full-time. The Blue Jays sent him to Australia of the 2014-15 winter, where he .207 with 34 runs, eight extra-base hits, nine RBIs and 19 walks in 37 games. In 2015, Alford played half of the season with Lansing and the other half with Dunedin of the High-A Florida State League. He combined to hit .298 in 107 games, with 91 runs, 25 doubles, seven triples, four homers, 27 steals and 67 walks, with similar results at each level. In 2016, he played the entire year for Dunedin, hitting .236 in 92 games, with 53 runs, 28 extra-base hits, 44 RBIs, 18 steals and 53 walks. He went to the Arizona Fall League after the season and hit .253 in 23 games, with a .789 OPS.
Alford made quite a jump in 2017. Most of his season was spent with New Hampshire of the Double-A Eastern League, where he .310/.406/.429 in 68 games. He also saw brief time with both Dunedin and Buffalo of the Triple-A International League, while also in his first four big league games, going 1-for-8 with the Blue Jays. He played winter ball in Mexico in 2017-18, batting .352 in 26 games. In 2018, he had a .656 OPS in 105 games with Buffalo, while hitting .105/.191/.105 in 13 games for the Blue Jays. In 2019, he had a .754 OPS in 76 games with Buffalo, along with a .179/.233/.286 slash line in 13 games with the Blue Jays. During the shortened 2020 season, he went 3-for-16 with a homer in 13 games for the Blue Jays before the Pirates picked him up on waiver on August 27, 2020. He played five games for the Pirates before an injury caused him to miss the rest of the season. In 2021, Alford was designated for assignment in April and remained with the Pirates. He hit .307 with a 1.013 OPS in 56 games for Triple-A Indianapolis, while also missing some time due to a back injury. He played 49 games for the Pirates and hit .233/.311/.406, with 14 runs, 11 extra-base hits and 11 RBIs. He began 2022 on the injured list, then did some rehab work, before joining the Pirates for two games. He was designated for assignment again, this time choosing free agency, which led to him signing with Cleveland, where he went to Triple-A Columbus of the International League before being released after eight games so he could sign to play in Korea. Through early July of 2022, his big league stats show a .209 average in 102 games, with 25 runs, seven doubles, eight homers, 20 RBIs and 11 steals. His cousin Demarcus Evans pitched for the 2020-21 Texas Rangers.
John Lamb, pitcher for the 1970-71 and 1973 Pirates. He was signed by the Pirates out of high school in 1964 as an amateur free agent, shortly before his 18th birthday. If he graduated a year later, he would have been part of the first MLB draft. Lamb spent his entire 11-year pro career in the Pirates system, getting three calls to the majors along the way. He did not have a start to his minor league career that made him look like a future Major League player. Playing in the short-season Appalachian League for the Salem Rebels in 1964, Lamb went 1-9, 5.21 in 76 innings, with 49 walks and 58 strikeouts. He had a dramatic turnaround after just one year, posting a 7-5, 3.00 record in 135 innings with Gastonia of the Class-A Western Carolinas League, showing much better control than he displayed his rookie season, with 55 walks and 108 strikeouts. Lamb struggled in 1966, putting up a 5.29 ERA in 80 innings, while splitting the year between Gastonia (61 innings) and Raleigh of the Class-A Carolina League (19 innings). Despite the high ERA, he managed to compile a 6-1 record in his six starts and 20 relief appearances. He then came back with another strong season for Clinton of the Midwest League in 1967, throwing 175 innings with a 10-10, 2.52 record and 135 strikeouts. Lamb threw 14 complete games that season in 21 starts and three were shutouts. Despite those marks in his fourth season of pro ball, he still had two more seasons of A-Ball before finally advancing in the system.
The Pirates moved Lamb to a relief role in 1968 and he managed to post his career high in wins for a season. He went 12-11, 3.47 in 135 innings over 48 games (three starts), splitting his time between Gastonia and Salem of the Carolina League. He really took to the bullpen in 1969 when he had a 1.95 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 97 innings over 50 appearances for Salem, winning 11 games and picking up 17 saves. After six seasons in A-ball, Lamb finally made it to Double-A with Waterbury of the Eastern League in 1970 and pitched even better than the previous season. He went 5-2, 1.47 in 30 games with 11 saves, and he allowed just 27 hits in 49 innings. He earned a promotion that season to Triple-A Columbus of the International League, though his stay there was brief. After twenty solid innings, in which he gave up just one earned run, Lamb was called up to the majors for the first time in early August of 1970. He pitched 23 games for the Pirates over the last two months, posting a 2.78 ERA in 32.1 innings, with three saves and a 1.11 WHIP. Despite that strong showing, he was back in Triple-A (Charleston of the International League) for the entire 1971 minor league season, before getting a September recall to the Pirates. His 1971 season almost didn’t happen due to an ugly incident during early Spring Training. While facing Dave Cash in late February, Lamb was hit in the head by a line drive. In early April, he had to undergo surgery for blood clots. The Pirates were obviously a strong team in 1971, winning their fourth World Series, so it was tough for a rookie to break into that pitching staff. Lamb had a 2.84 ERA in Charleston that year, with 41 appearances and 57 innings. He pitched just two games in Pittsburgh that season, throwing 4.1 scoreless innings.
Lamb had two strong seasons of Triple-A in a row, with excellent numbers in the majors, but he couldn’t make the Pirates out of Spring Training in 1972, and then pitched poorly in the minors. He was the last pitcher cut during Spring Training, yet never played in the majors that season. He went 5-9, 4.96 in 98 innings over 45 appearances for Charleston. He returned to form in 1973, going 6-0, 1.42 in 31 appearances at Charleston, earning an early July call-up. Lamb pitched 22 games for the Pirates that year, throwing 29.2 innings with a 6.07 ERA and two saves. After spending all of 1974 in the minors with Charleston, posting a 4.29 ERA in 42 innings, he retired from baseball, finishing his Major League career with an 0-2, 4.07 record and five saves in 66.1 innings over 47 games. Until surpassed by Pat Clement in 1986, he held the record for most appearances in a Pirates uniform without a win. Lamb is the cousin of 1963 Pirates pitcher Tom Parsons, making them one of 26 groups of relatives to play for the Pirates. Lamb’s brother Art pitched minor league ball for the Pirates in 1959 and hurt his arm, which forced him to retire. However, he re-signed with the team on the same day his brother signed on June 23, 1964, but never pitched again. Lamb is the brother-in-law of Steve Blass.
Heinie Manush, pinch-hitter for the 1938-39 Pirates. He began playing pro ball in 1920 at 18 years old, seeing a short stint (0-for-9 in six games) with Portland of the Double-A Pacific Coast League. That was an advanced placement for a pro debut at that age, especially considering that it was the highest level of the minors at the time, but Manush wasn’t an ordinary player. He got his real first action in 1921 with Class-B Edmonton of the Western Canada League. He hit .321 with 35 extra-base hits in 83 games. In 1922, he moved up to Class-A Omaha of the Western League, where he batted .376 with 44 doubles, 20 triples and 20 homers in 167 games. Manush joined the Detroit Tigers in 1923 and batted .334 in his rookie season, with 59 runs, 29 extra-base hits and 54 RBIs, posting an .877 OPS in 109 games. He played in an outfield that year that also included Hall of Famers Harry Heilmann and Ty Cobb. Manush batted .289 in 1924 with 84 runs scored, 41 extra-base hits and 68 RBIs, while putting up an .803 OPS in 120 games. He lost his starting job in the middle of 1925 for a short time, but he still ended up batting .302 in 99 games, with 47 runs, 47 RBIs and a .790 OPS. Manush would break out the next season.
In 1926, Manush won the American League batting title with a .378 mark. He had 95 runs scored, 35 doubles eight triples, 86 RBIs and 14 homers, which would stand as his career high for the latter category. His .985 OPS was a personal best at the time, but it would be topped. He finished fifth in the MVP voting that season. In 1927, Manush saw an 80 point drop to his batting average, though he still hit .298 with 31 doubles, 18 triples, six homers, 90 RBIs and 101 runs scored in 151 games. He had perhaps his best season in 1928 after being traded to the St Louis Browns. He hit .378 again, which was good for second in the AL that year, one point behind Hall of Famer Goose Goslin. Manush led the league with 241 hits and 47 doubles. That hit total is the 11th highest for a season in baseball history. He scored 104 runs and picked up 108 RBIs in 154 games. He also added 20 triples, 13 homers and 16 steals, which was his career high. He had a .901 OPS.
In 1929, Manush batted .355 in 142 games, and led the league with 45 doubles. He had his second 200+ hit season, along with 81 RBIs and 85 runs scored. In the middle of the 1930 season, he was traded to the Washington Senators for the aforementioned Goose Goslin. Manush batted .350 with 94 RBIs and 100 runs scored in 137 games. He set a career high with 49 doubles, though it wasn’t enough to lead the league. He also added 12 triples and nine homers, leading to a .915 OPS, which was his third straight season with a .900+ OPS. He batted .307 in 146 games in 1931, finishing with 41 doubles, 11 triples, six homers, 70 RBIs and 110 runs scored. He followed that up with a .342 average and a .903 OPS in 149 games in 1932, while tying his career high with 14 homers. He set career bests that year with 121 runs scored and 116 RBIs, while adding 41 doubles, 14 triples and 214 hits. That season earned him a third place finish in the MVP voting. He would finish third again in the MVP voting 1933 when he hit .336 with 115 runs scored, 32 doubles, 95 RBIs and an .831 OPS. He led the AL that year with 221 hits and 17 triples.
Manush made his only All-Star appearance in 1934, though the game didn’t exist during his first ten seasons in the majors. He hit .349 that season, with 88 runs, 42 doubles, 11 triples, 11 homers, 89 RBIs and a .915 OPS in 137 games. That All-Star game was made famous by Carl Hubbell striking out five of the game’s all-time greats in a row. That streak by Hubbell started after issuing a walk to Manush. He started the downside of his career in 1935, though he had one strong season left. He hit .273 with 68 runs, 39 extra-base hits and 56 RBIs in 119 games that year, which was his last year with the Senators. In 1936, Manush was traded to the Boston Red Sox, who released him at the end of the season after he hit .291 in 82 games, with 45 RBIs, 43 runs scored and a .700 OPS. He signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers for 1937, and in his first year in the National League, he batted .333 in 132 games, with 36 extra-base hits, 73 RBIs and 57 runs scored.
Manush was in his 16th season in the majors in 1938, when the Pirates signed him on August 30th. He began the year with the Dodgers, but he was sent to Toronto of the Double-A International League a month into the season after hitting .235/.304/.333 in 17 games. It was the first time since 1922 that Manush had played in the minors and he did well, hitting .311/.403/.455 in 81 games. The Pirates signed him to serve as a pinch-hitter and emergency outfielder over the last month of the season, as they tried to make a run at the National League pennant. He pinch-hit 15 times that year, collecting four hits, two walks and four RBIs. Heinie (first name was Henry) served a similar role at the beginning of the 1939, though he had no success, going 0-for-12 with a walk. On June 7, 1939, the Pirates decided to get rid of Manush when they had a chance to sign Chuck Klein. The move was unique in that they were getting rid of one future Hall of Famer to pick up another. In was the end of the Major League career for Manush, though he wasn’t done in baseball. He finished the 1939 season in the minors back with Toronto, then managed for the next six seasons down on the farm, playing at least one game all six years. During his 17-year career in the big leagues, Manush hit .330 with 1,288 runs, 491 doubles, 160 triples, 110 homers and 1,183 RBIs in 2,008 games. Only 16 players in Major League history have played as many seasons as Manush and hit for a higher average. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1964 by the Veteran’s Committee. His older brother Frank Manush played for the 1908 Philadelphia Athletics, making his MLB debut 15 years before the younger Manush.
Harry Cassady, right fielder for the 1904 Pirates. He attended Illinois Wesleyan University and was the first player from that school to make the majors. It would be 22 years before the next would make it. Only 11 Major Leaguers have attended that school, and none of them have played since 1977. Cassady began his pro career in 1902, playing three years for Class-B Bloomington of the Three-I League before joining the Pirates in August of 1904 for his Major League debut. Bloomington was in the same town as his college and Cassady was from nearby Bellflower, IL., so his baseball career didn’t take him far from home until he joined the Pirates. He saw limited time during his first minor league season, hitting .314 in 24 games. The next year he batted .277 in 95 games (available stats are limited). Before joining the Pirates, he had a .289 average in 353 at-bats. His purchase from Bloomington for $800 was orchestrated by Pirates scout Frank Haller on August 5, 1904, after an owner from an opposing team in the Three-I League recommended him to the Pirates. In a sign of the times, the Pirates also went under the recommendation of their own pitcher, Charlie Case, who faced Cassady in the minors.
In his first game on August 8th, Cassady (called Cassidy by the papers) batted lead-off and played right field, going 2-for-5 with two runs scored in a 15-5 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. His arrival couldn’t have come at a better time, as the Pirates had the rear axle break off of their coach on the way to the park and two players were injured, leaving them with 12 healthy players for the game. The next day the Pirates acquired outfielder Moose McCormick from the Giants, and he would soon move to right field in place of Cassady, while utility player Otto Krueger played left field. At the time, Hall of Fame outfielder and team manager Fred Clarke was out injured. Cassady played each of his first six days with the team, then sat out a few games. The scouting reports on his arm and speed both were favorable, and Clarke was working hard with him on his defense. He played another six games between August 19th and 25th. The Pirates seemed high on him according to the local papers, but days later the Pirates began playing a rookie out of college named Lew “Bull” Smith. On September 1st, after not playing for a week, the Pirates loaned Cassady to a team from Youngstown, OH and he never returned to Pittsburgh. He played 12 games for the Pirates, all in right field, hitting .205 with three RBIs and eight runs scored.
The Pirates planned to keep Cassady for 1905 according to reports, but he was supposedly tricked into signing a deal in early March with the rival American League by Washington Senators manager Jake Stahl, who saw him play over the off-season. It was reported that Stahl told him the Pirates had no claim over his services and he was free to sign a better deal. When word got back to Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss, he immediately released Cassady, saying that he had been trying to give him away all winter, so he was free to go elsewhere. He played regularly for the Senators at the very beginning of the 1905 season, though he ended up playing just ten games over the first two months before they let him go under his own request. He was hitting .133 at the time. After that, he spent the rest of his 13-year pro career in the minors. He played for both Kansas City and Toledo of the Class-A American Association over the rest of 1905. He was with Kansas City for all of 1906, hitting .273 with 31 extra-base hits in 133 games. He saw brief time with Kansas City as well, but Cassady spent the majority of that year, plus all of his last seven seasons of pro ball (1908-14) playing for the Denver Grizzlies of the Class-A Western League. He average 159 games played during those seven years and his lowest batting average during that time was the .280 mark he put up in 1910. He batted .333 with 47 extra-base hits in 1911, and he went out on a high note three years later, batting .303 in 154 games during his final season at 33 years old.
On this date in 2002, Adam Hyzdu hit two homers and drove in seven runs in a 15-6 win over the St Louis Cardinals. Coming into the game, Hyzdu had two homers and seven RBIs for the Pirates in 2002, so he doubled both stats in one day. Here’s the boxscore and play-by-play for the game.
On this date in 1959, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Kansas City A’s played the annual Hall of Fame game in Cooperstown, NY. The game ended in a 5-5 tie in the sixth inning, while the A’s were batting with the bases loaded. Bill Mazeroski homered twice in the game. Here is our Game Rewind article.
We also posted a Game Rewind from July 20, 1901 in which the Pirates piled on runs, partially due to an unlikely source, whose time in Pittsburgh was about to run out.