Today is a busy date in Pittsburgh Pirates history. Eight former players born on this date. Before we get into the former players, current shortstop Kevin Newman turns 29 today.
Steve Bieser, outfielder for the 1998 Pirates. He was a 32nd round draft pick in 1989 of the Philadelphia Phillies out of Southeast Missouri State. He spent his first two seasons of minor league ball with Batavia of the short-season New York-Penn League, where he struggled at the plate with mediocre results. He hit .240 in 25 games in 1989, putting up a .698 OPS, with 13 runs and 13 RBIs. He did worse repeating the level in 1990, batting .231 with a .651 OPS in 54 games. He had 36 runs, 11 doubles and 13 steals that year. Bieser had a utility role in 1991 in Low-A Spartanburg of the South Atlantic League, playing everywhere on the field, while hitting .244 with 25 runs, six extra-base hits (all doubles), 31 walks and 17 stolen bases in 60 games. He split the 1992 season between High-A Clearwater of the Florida State League and Double-A Reading of the Eastern League, batting .281 with 53 runs, 11 doubles, nine triples, 45 walks, a .751 OPS and 16 steals in 106 games, putting up better results at the lower level. The next year was split between Reading and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre of the International League. Bieser hit .292 in 79 games, with 24 runs, ten doubles, 23 RBIs and his first homer since his rookie season. The next two years were spent in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and he had nearly identical averages, but much better results in 1995. He had a .268 average in 93 games in 1994, with 42 runs, 13 doubles, 12 steals and a .663 OPS. He hit just one point higher on the average in 95 games in 1995, but he had a .731 OPS thanks to both a better OBP and slugging percentage. He had 37 runs, 19 extra-base hits and 14 steals.
In 1996, Bieser became a free agent and signed a minor league deal with the Montreal Expos. He spent the whole year in Triple-A, where he hit .322/.386/.414, with 63 runs, 29 extra-base hits and 27 steals in 123 games for Ottawa of the International League. He played all three outfielder spots and caught 33 games that year. He signed a minor league deal with the New York Mets in 1997 and struggled in Triple-A, hitting .164/.250/.205 in 41 games with Norfolk of the International League. However, eight years after being drafted, he made his Major League debut with the 1997 Mets, hitting .246/.346/.290 in 81 plate appearances over 47 games, finishing with 16 runs, three doubles and four RBIs. He actually made the Opening Day roster that year and stayed around through the end of June before heading to Norfolk. He played all three outfield spots and went behind the plate for two games during his first taste of the majors. The Pirates signed Bieser as a free agent during the 1997-98 off-season, and sent him to Triple-A Nashville of the Pacific Coast League, where he hit .257/.377/.364 in 84 games, with most of his defensive time spent behind the dish. He was called up in early July and played 13 games that month, all off the bench. Bieser went 3-for-11 with a double and two walks at the plate, getting into two games in the outfield, before returning to the minors. He remained in the Pirates organization until the middle of the 1999 season, splitting his time between Double-A Altoona of the Eastern League and Nashville. Bieser played minor league ball for the rest of 1999 another two seasons with the St Louis Cardinals before retiring, spending that entire time with Memphis of the Pacific Coast League. He played 13 years of pro ball, and played every position multiple times, including six chances on the mound. He hit .250 in 60 big league games, with 18 runs, four doubles and five RBIs. He had just 13 doubles in pro ball and eight of them came during the 1999 season.
Ruben Rodriguez, catcher for the 1986 and 1988 Pirates. He was signed by the Pirates in 1981 as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic at 17 years old. He spent the first seven seasons of his pro career (1982-88) in the Pittsburgh system, twice getting called up to the majors in September. Rodriguez got a very advanced placement from the Pirates in his first year. Still just 17 years old at the beginning of the 1982 season, he was placed in the Low-A South Atlantic League with Greenwood, where he hit .248 with 13 doubles, one homer and a .607 OPS in 69 games. He was moved up to the Advanced-A Carolina League in 1983, and he hit .228 with 14 doubles, four homers, 31 RBIs and a .598 OPS in 79 games for Alexandria. The OPS was low due in part to drawing just six walks all season. The 1984 season saw him spend the entire year with Nashua of the Double-A Eastern League. Rodriguez batted .219 with 26 runs, 13 doubles, four homers, 32 RBIs and a .599 OPS in 87 games. He repeated the level in 1985, though he saw his OPS drop 48 points, as he hit .214 with 16 extra-base hits and 40 RBIs in 104 games. He also played one game for Triple-A Hawaii of the Pacific Coast League that year. He walked 16 times in 372 plate appearances.
Rodriguez split the 1986 season between Nashua and Hawaii, combining to post a .213 average and a .541 OPS in 83 games, with much better results in Triple-A, though the hitter-friendly environment of Hawaii helped his case. Rodriguez played two games for the Pirates in both 1986 and 1988, starting once each year, while coming in as a defensive replacement in the other two games. He went 0-for-3 at the plate in his 1986 cup of coffee. The Triple-A club moved to Vancouver of the PCL during the 1987 season, and he had a .221 average and a .534 OPS in 88 games. Rodriguez got some criticism at the time for basically being a one-tool player, who had a cannon for an arm, but the rest of his defense was mediocre and the stats showed that he couldn’t hit Triple-A pitching. Despite that report, he was added back to the 40-man roster prior to the 1988 season and played most of the year back in Double-A (then Harrisburg of the Eastern League), with 48 games there and 24 for Triple-A Buffalo of the American Association. He put up his best offensive season with the Pirates that year, though the result was still just a .623 OPS in 72 games. He batted .269, but he drew just five walks all season, so his OBP was still below the .300 mark. He went 1-for-5 at the plate and his only Major League hit was an RBI triple off of Scott Sanderson.
During Spring Training of 1989, Rodriguez was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for outfielder Lou Thornton. Rodriguez remained in pro ball until 1995, never making it back to the majors. His time with the Brewers lasted just 12 games in Triple-A. He signed a minor league deal with the Houston Astros for 1990, but never played a regular season game. After a brief stint in the Detroit Tigers system in 1991, he spent the rest of 1991 and the next three years in the minors for the Boston Red Sox. He spent the rest of 1991 in Double-A, split the 1992 season between Double-A and Triple-A, spent all of 1993 in Triple-A, then once again split the season in 1994 between Double-A and Triple-A. His last year of pro ball was spent in Mexico. Rodriguez was a .235 hitter in 741 minor league games, with 211 runs, 237 RBIs and a .590 OPS.
Bill Schuster, shortstop for the 1937 Pirates. He had a five-year big league career, with the large majority of his time coming during the war years (1943-45) while with the Chicago Cubs. Schuster began his pro career in 1935, playing three season in the Class-A New York-Penn League with Scranton (1935-36) and Albany (1937). He debuted at 22 years old and hit .266 with 22 extra-base hits in 133 games. The next year he hit .283 in 138 games, with 76 runs, 27 doubles, nine triples, 68 RBIs, 25 steals and a .704 OPS. That was followed by a .302 average and 28 extra-base hits in 125 games in 1937. The Pirates purchased his contract on August 30, 1936 from Scranton for $2,500 under a working agreement with the team that said they could pick any player off of their roster for that amount. Word at the time was that the choice was between Schuster and pitcher William Gilvary, who never made the majors. Schuster was a late September addition to the 1937 Pirates, making his Major League debut on September 29th as a pinch-runner, and he scored a run. He got into both games of a doubleheader four days later as the starting shortstop, going 3-for-6 at the plate. He was back in the minors the next year, hitting .318 with 17 extra-base hits, 53 walks and an .827 OPS in 102 games for Montreal of the Double-A International League (highest level of the minors at the time), but he did not play in the majors again until September of 1939, returning as a member of the Boston Bees (Braves). Schuster spent the 1939 season with Toronto of the International League, where he hit .263, with 28 extra-base hits in 135 games.
The Pirates held Schuster’s rights until June 15, 1939, which was the trading deadline at the time. They sent him to Boston along with cash (said to be $15,000-$20,000) for first baseman Elbie Fletcher. That second big league trial was even more brief than the first, as he went 0-for-3 in two September games. After spending 3+ years in the Double-A Pacific Coast League, Schuster then spent three years with the Chicago Cubs, where he saw a large majority of his big league time. He played for Seattle in 1940, where he batted .292 with 37 extra-base hits in 176 games. The 1941 season was split between Seattle and Los Angeles. He combined to hit .276 with 71 runs, 25 extra-base hits, 53 RBIs and 25 steals in 136 games. Schuster batted .298 in 179 games for Los Angeles in 1942, with 80 runs, 51 extra-base hits (41 doubles), 78 RBIs, 26 steals and a .764 OPS. In 1943 before he joined the Cubs, he hit .275 in 157 games, with 117 runs, 42 doubles, 67 RBIs, 65 walks and a .733 OPS. He batted .294/.333/.373 in 13 late-season games for the Cubs in 1943, then he was the starting shortstop for a short time in late April to early June of 1944. He ended up playing 60 games that season, hitting .221 with 14 runs, seven doubles, one homer and 14 RBIs in 167 plate appearances. In 1945 he hit .192/.296/.277 in 45 games, getting just 56 plate appearances and 15 starts all season.
Schuster returned to minor league ball from 1946 until 1952, ending his 18-year pro career with over 2,250 games played. Almost his entire time during that seven-year stretch was spent back in the Pacific Coast League, which was bumped up to Triple-A at the time (Double-A was the highest level from 1912-1945). In his first year back in the minors, he returned to Los Angeles and stayed there through mid-1949. He hit .286 in 176 games in 1946, with 89 runs, 42 extra-base hits, 69 RBIs, 26 steals and 68 walks. Schuster had a .262 average in 174 games in 1947, with 84 runs, 38 extra-base hits and 70 RBIs. In 1948, he batted .264 in 151 games, with 85 runs, 39 extra-base hits, 60 RBIs and 69 walks. He hit 11 homers that year, the only time he reached double-digits in homers for a season. He played for Los Angeles, Sacramento and Seattle (all PCL) in 1949, where incomplete stats show him with a .256 average in 163 games. Schuster batted .254 with 64 runs, 33 extra-base hits and a .712 OPS in 135 games in 1950 with Seattle. He saw limited playing time over his final two seasons, mostly spent with Vancouver of the Western International League, which was Class-B in 1951 and Class-A in 1952. He also saw very brief time with Hollywood of the PCL in 1952, which had an affiliation with the Pirates at the time. Schuster played 123 big league games, hitting .234 with 27 runs, 11 doubles, one homer and 17 RBIs.
Homer Blankenship, pitcher for the 1928 Pirates. He began his big league career at 19 years old with the 1922 Chicago White Sox, where he pitched for parts of two season alongside his older brother Ted. Although he has no previous pro experience listed before his big league debut, Homer was pitching for Okmulgee of the Western Association when his contract was purchased by the White Sox on August 17, 1922. His pro career actually started a year earlier with Bonham of the Texas-Oklahoma League., where he played alongside his brother. He pitched four games in relief for Chicago in September and had a 4.85 ERA in 13 innings. The next year he pitched four relief games in June and allowed three earned runs in 4.2 innings. On July 25th he was released to Galveston of the Class-A Texas League. After eight appearances over two seasons with Chicago, Homer (which was his real first name) went three years before he played pro ball again, resurfacing in the Texas League, where he pitched three seasons for Shreveport and Dallas. Blankenship won 43 games over that time and averaged 224 innings pitched per season, leading to a September trial with the 1928 Pirates. Blankenship’s name rarely showed up in print during the 19254-25 seasons, with only a mention that he played for a team in Breckenridge, Texas in early 1924 before returning home.
Blankenship came out of retirement in 1926 to go 17-11, 3.52 in 238 innings over 40 games with Shreveport. In 1927, he went 10-16, 4.97 in 190 innings for Shreveport. Before joining the Pirates, the 1928 season was split between Shreveport and Dallas. He had a 16-13 record that year and threw 244 innings. The Pirates purchased his contract on August 25th from Dallas, but he was allowed to finish out the minor league season before reporting to Pittsburgh. In two starts and three relief outings for the Pirates, he went 0-2, 5.82 in 21.2 innings, losing both of his starts. His final big league outing was a start in the final game of the season in which he allowed six runs over five innings against the sixth place Brooklyn Robins. Blankenship went to Spring Training with the Pirates in 1929, but quickly developed a sore arm, and on March 13th he was sold outright back to Dallas. He returned to the minors for three more seasons without making it back to the big leagues, spending those first two years with Dallas, before winding up his career in the Class-A Western League with two teams in 1931. His work in 1929-30 was extremely limited, with 65 innings in 1929 and his only available stats from 1930 show an 0-1 record for Dallas. Blankenship went 10-12 and pitched 178 innings in his final season of pro ball. He played semi-pro ball during the 1932-33 seasons. He finished his big league career with a 1-3, 5.22 record in 39.2 innings. His brother Ted pitched nine years in the majors, winning 77 games for the White Sox.
Cliff Lee, catcher/outfielder for the 1919-20 Pirates. He spent five seasons in the minors, beginning his career as a 17-year-old in 1914, before making his Major League debut with the 1919 Pirates. Lee played his first four seasons in the Class-D Central Association, where limited stats are available. He was with a team called the Muscatine Buttonmakers during the 1914-15 seasons, hitting .229 in 65 games as a rookie, followed by a .255 average and 35 extra-base hits in 117 games in 1915. The next two seasons were spent with the Marshalltown Ansons (Cap Anson’s hometown team), where he batted .260 in 125 games in 1916 and .269 in 95 games in 1917. He also played part of 1917 with Portland of the Double-A Pacific Coast League, a full four levels higher in the minor league system and the highest level of the minors at the time. He batted .274 with three extra-base hits in 29 games with Portland in 1917. The 1918 season was also spent in Portland, though this time it was in the Pacific Coast International League, which was a Class-B league, where he hit .359 with 17 extra-base hits in 49 games. The Pirates acquired him in the September Rule 5 draft from Portland and he reported to Pittsburgh in 1919 after spending some brief time in the Army.
For two years in Pittsburgh, Lee was a backup catcher, who occasionally played outfield, hitting .213 in 79 games, with 14 runs, four doubles, six triples, no homers and ten RBIs in exactly 200 plate appearances. He hit .196/.237/.286 in 42 games in 1919 and then batted .237/.275/.316 in 37 games in 1920. Before he played a game for the 1921 Pirates, he was taken off waivers by the Philadelphia Phillies, where he spent four seasons as a first baseman/outfielder. Lee had much better success in Philadelphia, where he batted .308 with 22 extra-base hits, 29 RBIs and 31 runs scored in 88 games in 1921. His .764 OPS was 214 points higher than his mark in Pittsburgh, but it was just the start of his improvements. The next year he hit a career best .322, while setting career highs with 29 doubles, 17 homers, 77 RBIs , 65 runs scored, a .912 OPS and 122 games played. In 1923 he batted .321 in 107 games, with 54 runs, 20 doubles, 11 homers and 47 RBIs, leading to an .850 OPS. He saw limited playing time through early June of 1924, putting up a .704 OPS in 21 games, when he was put on waivers by the Phillies. He spent the middle part of the year hitting .382 in 55 games for St Paul of the Double-A American Association. Lee played briefly for the Cincinnati Reds at the end of the 1924 season, getting six at-bats in six games, then spent the next two years with the Cleveland Indians, prior to returning to the minors for four more seasons. He hit .322 with 25 extra-base hits and 42 RBIs in 77 games for the Indians in 1925, but he played just 25 games in 1926 and had a .175 average and a .558 OPS.
At 30 years old in 1927, Lee ended up with Newark of the Double-A International League. He had a strong first season there, then saw his results and playing time drop over the rest of his career. He batted .303 in 1927, with 16 doubles, eight triples and seven homers in 128 games. He dropped down to a .247 average and 18 extra-base hits in 94 games in 1928, then lasted just 18 games and a .175 average in 1929. His final season (1930) was spent with Seattle in the Pacific Coast League, where he hit .296 in 76 games, with 14 doubles and a homer. Lee was a .300 career hitter in 521 Major League games, with 87 doubles, 28 triples, 38 homers, 216 RBIs and 216 runs scored.
Lew Moren, pitcher for the 1903-04 Pirates. A lifelong native of Pittsburgh and a graduate of Duquesne University, he made his Major League and pro debut with the Pirates on September 21, 1903 as a starting pitcher. He was pitching with a local semi-pro team from Millville that season. His debut was the second game of a doubleheader against Brooklyn, at home, with the Pirates already wrapping up the 1903 pennant days earlier. Moren gave up seven runs in six innings, but it was said that he still pitched well and looked like a good pitcher for the future. Not long after that debut, he was back with Millville to finish their season. On October 16, 1903 the Pirates signed Moren for the following season, with manager Fred Clarke requesting that Moren’s father be present for the signature because he didn’t want to sign the 20-year-old without his father’s consent. The scouting reports at the end of Spring Training in 1904 spoke highly of Moren, saying that he only lacked experience and strength, otherwise he had good control, a nice fastball and he threw some good curves. The local newspaper must’ve really liked him, because in an early season 1904 game, in which Moren came in to relieve for Deacon Phillippe, The Pittsburgh Press said “he pitched remarkably well” despite giving up six runs in four innings. The Pirates did not agree with the praise given to Moren and he never pitched again in Pittsburgh. Those two outings were his only games with the Pirates.
The Pirates released Moren to the Baltimore Orioles of the Eastern League in mid-May of 1904, but the Orioles released him almost immediately without ever seeing him pitch, with the announcement of his release coming the day after he joined the team. Moren spent the next two years in the minors before coming back to the majors with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1907 for four seasons. He went 17-14 in 33 games for Atlanta of the Class-A Southern Association in 1905 (highest level of the minors at the time) and 16-13 in 251 innings over 34 appearances for Jersey City of the Class-A Eastern League in 1906. With the Phillies in 1907, he went 11-18, 2.54 in 255 innings. He completed 21 of his 31 starts and had three shutouts. While that 2.54 ERA sounds great, it was actually just above league average during that deadball era season. In 1908, he was 8-9, 2.92 in 154 innings, with four shutouts. He made 16 starts and 12 relief appearances that season. The 1909 season was his best in the majors. Moren had a 16-15, 2.65 record in 257.2 innings, with a career high of 110 strikeouts. He completed 19 of 31 starts, and he also pitched nine times in relief. He was 13-14, 3.55 in 205.1 innings in 1910. While that ERA went up 90 points in just one season, the league average ERA went up 43 points, so offense was up that season in the National League. He went 48-57 over his six years in the majors, posting a 2.95 ERA in 882 innings, with 105 starts, 36 relief appearances, 62 complete games and ten shutouts. Moren had arm troubles and never pitched again after 1910 at any level, although he attempted a comeback with the 1914 Phillies.
Paddy O’Connor, catcher for the Pirates from 1908 until 1910. He was a veteran of seven minor league seasons prior to joining the Pirates in 1908. He spent the previous six years playing for the Springfield Ponies of the Connecticut State League, after debuting with Bristol of the same league at 21 years old in 1901. Halfway through his time in Springfield, the league went from a Class-D level of play to Class-B, after starting as Class-F for the 1901 season. He was a consistent hitter during that time, though the available stats are very limited. His highest average was .274 in Springfield, and he never went below the .248 mark. O’Connor’s debut season with Bristol has no stats available. He played 61 games with Springfield in 1902, finishing with a .268 average and 17 extra-base hits. He hit .265 with 22 doubles and five triples in 103 games in 1903. That was followed by a .248 average in 110 games in 1904. There are no stats available for 1905. O’Connor hit .271 over 99 games in 1906, with 25 doubles, eight triples and four homers. Before joining the Pirates, he hit .274 in 75 games in 1907. He almost left Springfield that year because he was getting better offers to play independent ball. At the time, he was called “the famous catcher and outfielder of the Springfield team”.
O’Connor was taken by the Pirates in the September 1907 Rule 5 draft, and he played his first game with the team in 1908. He had a finger injury in September of 1907 that prevented him from catching. He was a backup catcher to George Gibson for three years in Pittsburgh, during a time when Gibson played 145 games per year and the schedule was 154 games long. The team also carried a third catcher named Mike Simon, so playing time for O’Connor was sporadic at best. In his three seasons with the Pirates, he played 27 games total, getting 38 plate appearances and only two starts. Most of that limited time was as a pinch-hitter, spending just eight games behind the plate, catching a total of 41 innings. Paddy (first name was Patrick) batted once during the 1909 World Series, striking out in his only chance. O’Connor was sick during Spring Training in 1911 with the flu. On April 1, 1911 he was sold to Kansas City of the Class-A American Association, where he spent the 1911-13 seasons. The league was the highest level of the time in 1911, then became Double-A in 1912, which wasn’t a level of the minors prior to that season. It was said that he asked to be sold east to be near his home, but the only team interested was Boston (National League), and they refused to pay the $1,500 waiver fee for his rights. At the same time, there was word that O’Connor tried to get out of Pittsburgh before the 1910 season, but there were no takers. His reason was that he wasn’t getting any playing time.
O’Connor saw regular playing time in Kansas City, starting over 100 games behind the plate all three seasons. He hit .262 with 16 doubles and three triples in 108 games in 1911. The next year he batted .237 with 16 doubles and four triples in 110 games. In 1913, he hit .235 in 115 games, with eight doubles and eight triples. After three seasons in Kansas City, O’Connor came back to the majors with the 1914 St Louis Cardinals. He didn’t get much of a chance to play that year either, going 0-for-9 in ten games spread throughout the entire season. O’Connor returned to Pittsburgh in 1915 as a member of the Rebels, playing in the Federal League, which was considered a Major League at the time. He hit .228 with 15 runs, ten doubles and 16 RBIs in 70 games during that season, the only consistent playing time he saw in the majors. He played off and on in the minors until 1921, while playing one more Major League game with the 1918 New York Yankees, where he was serving as a coach that season and 1919 as well. He was a manager in the Eastern League with Albany in 1921-22 and Hartford in 1923-25 and 1928. O’Connor batted .225 in 108 big league games, with 17 runs, 11 doubles, one triple and 21 RBIs.
Jake Beckley, first baseman for the 1888-89 Pittsburgh Alleghenys, and the 1891-96 Pirates. In his eight seasons with the Pirates franchise, Beckley hit .300 in 930 games, with 664 RBIs and 701 runs scored. Five times he drove in 96 or more runs and six times he scored over 90 runs. Beckley scored 123 runs during the 1894 season, which ranks as the 15th highest season total in team history. Beckley’s 19 triples in 1895 is tied for 15th best in team history, tied with 13 other seasons, including Jake Beckley in 1891, 1892, 1893 and 1894. Yes, he finished with 19 triples in five straight seasons. His 122 RBIs in 1894 ranks ninth best in franchise history. He also has two other top 50 seasons (111 in 1895 and 106 in 1893). Beckley held the top three spots on the team’s single season hit-by-pitch list until Jason Kendall was hit 20 times in 2001. Beckley held those three top spots for 106 years. He was the Pirates career home run leader from mid-1892 through late 1908 until being topped by Honus Wagner.
Beckley’s pro career started with Leavenworth of the Western League at 18 years old in 1886. Stats aren’t available for that season, but it’s known that he had an outstanding 1887 season split between Leavenworth and Lincoln (also the Western League). Beckley hit .420 in 109 games, with 33 doubles, 26 triples and 16 homers, along with an incredible total of 163 runs scored. He started the 1888 season with the St Louis Whites of the Class-A Western Association, but he quickly joined Pittsburgh when they purchased him and teammate Harry Staley for $4,500 in mid-June. Beckley batted .319 with 33 runs, 20 extra-base hits and 17 steals in 38 games with St Louis. He took over first base full-time as soon as he joined Pittsburgh and hit .343 in 71 games as a rookie with the Alleghenys in 1888. He had 35 runs, 18 extra-base hits, 20 steals and a .780 OPS. In his first full season in the majors, Beckley batted .301 in 123 games, with 91 runs scored, 24 doubles, ten triples, nine homers and 97 RBIs. Like most of his teammates, he jumped to the Player’s League for the 1890 season and he stands as the league’s all-time leader with 22 triples. He hit .323 with 110 runs scored, 69 extra-base hits, 123 RBIs and a .909 OPS in 124 games.
When the Alleghenys and the Pittsburgh Player’s League team formed a brand new consolidated club for the 1891 season, Beckley was back at first base, where he hit .292 with 94 runs scored, 20 doubles, 19 triples and 79 RBIs in 133 games. The schedule expanded in 1892 and he played 151 games. He average plummeted to .236, but he was still a threat with runners on base, collecting 96 RBIs. He had 50 extra-base hits, scored 102 runs and stole 30 bases. His .669 OPS was the lowest mark of the first 18 years of his 20-year career, and the only time he finished under .700 during that time. In 1893, Beckley rebounded with a .303 average in 131 games. He had 106 runs, 56 extra-base hits, 108 RBIs and an .846 OPS. The 1894 season was a huge year for offense in baseball and Beckley was among the better hitters that season, batting .345 in 132 games, with 62 extra-base hits, and setting career highs with 123 runs scored, 122 RBIs and a .934 OPS. He followed that up with a .328 average in 1895, with 104 runs, 55 extra-base hits, 111 RBIs and an .865 OPS. That season was the last time he reached 100 runs or RBIs in a season, though a majority of his remaining years were during the deadball era.
Beckley got off to a bit of a slow start in 1895, batting .253/.349/.373 in the first 59 games of the season. On July 25, 1896, the Pirates traded him to the New York Giants in exchange for first baseman Harry Davis and cash, in what was a very unpopular deal. Beckley batted .302 with 38 RBIs and 37 runs scored in 46 games with the 1896 Giants. Just like the Pirates, the Giants made the unwise decision of letting go of him, though they didn’t get anything back. He was released in May of 1897 and signed with the Cincinnati Reds days later. After hitting .250/.301/.412 in 17 games in New York, he batted .345 with 76 RBIs and 76 runs scored in 97 games with the 1897 Reds. He finished the year with an .865 OPS. Beckley hit .294 in 118 games with the Reds in 1898, with 86 runs scored, 36 extra-base hits and 72 RBIs. He hit .333 in 135 games in 1899, with 87 runs, 27 doubles, 16 triples, 99 RBIs and an .856 OPS. He raised that average to .341 in 1900, with 98 runs, 26 doubles, ten triples, 94 RBIs, 23 steals and an .822 OPS in 141 games.
Beckley batted .307 in 1901, with 78 runs, 36 doubles, 13 triples, 79 RBIs and a .776 OPS. His RBI and runs scored totals dropped over the next few years, but that was more of a product of the deadball era than his own production. Beckley batted .330 in 129 games in 1902, with 82 runs, 35 extra-base hits, 69 RBIs and 15 steals in 129 games. His .804 OPS that year was the fifth best in the league and his highest finish in that category. He then hit .327 in 120 games in 1903, finishing with 85 runs, 41 extra-base hits, 81 RBIs, 23 steals and an .831 OPS. After being sold to the St Louis Cardinals, he hit .325 in 142 games in 1904, with 72 runs, 32 extra-base hits, 67 RBIs and a .778 OPS. Beckley played three more years with the Cardinals, but never approached those totals, as age and the deadball era did him in. He was still an above average hitter in the league when he batted .286 with 31 extra-base hits in 134 games in 1905. His .702 OPS was 55 points above league average. He played just 87 games in 1906, batting .247 with 29 runs, 22 extra-base hits and 44 RBIs. He played just 32 games in his final year and hit .209 before being released in June. He ended up batting .365 in 100 games with Kansas City of the American Association that season.
Beckley finished his career with 2,934 hits, 1,603 runs, 1,581 RBIs and a .308 average. He had 473 doubles, 87 homers and 315 steals. His 244 career triples ranks fourth all-time, and no first baseman in baseball history has recorded more putouts. Beckley has 2,056 more putouts than the second highest total all-time at first base. In fact, he’s the Major League all-time leader in putouts, regardless of position. He played five seasons in the minors after his Major League career was over, adding more than 600 hits to his resume, which doesn’t include a 234-hit season in 1887 prior to making the majors. As a pro, he had at least 3,840 hits (three seasons have missing stats), with 998 going for extra bases. Beckley was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971 by the Veteran’s Committee.