This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: October 14th, Al Oliver and Two Big World Series Wins Over the Orioles

There have been 11 former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including a key member of the Lumber Company. There are also two games of note.

Al Oliver, outfielder/first baseman for the Pirates from 1968 until 1977. He signed with the Pirates out of high school as a 17-year-old in June of 1964 and made his debut the next year in Gastonia of the Class-A Western Carolinas League, where he hit .309 with 77 runs, 34 extra-base hits, 71 RBIs, 13 steals and a .774 OPS in 123 games. Oliver played for Raleigh in the Class-A Carolina League in 1966 and hit .299 with 66 runs, 39 extra-base hits, 57 RBIs, 17 steals and a .778 OPS in 117 games. He repeated the level to start the next year, but was promoted to Double-A Macon of the Southern League to finish the 1967 season, where he struggled. He combined to bat .262/.297/.358 in 78 games that season, with a .748 OPS for Raleigh and a .549 OPS for Macon. He then went to the Fall Instructional League that off-season, where they used to keep track of stats and play a full schedule with players from all levels of the system. Oliver batted .312/.343/.425 in 47 games during that fall season. Despite hitting just .222 during his time in Double-A in 1967, he was promoted to Triple-A. for the 1968 season. By the end of the year he was in the majors with the Pirates and got into four late-season games, after he hit .315 with 61 runs, 22 doubles, 13 triples, 14 homers, 74 RBIs and an .855 OPS in 132 games for Columbus of the International League. He went 1-for-8 with a single and four strikeouts during his brief time with the Pirates.

Oliver was in the majors to stay in 1969, and he played well, finishing second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting due to his .285 average, 55 runs, 19 doubles, 17 homers, 70 RBIs and a .778 OPS in 129 games. He mainly played first base during his first two full seasons, but from 1971 through 1977 he mostly played center field with the Pirates. Oliver hit .270 with 63 runs, 33 doubles, 12 homers, 83 RBIs and a .740 OPS during the 1970 season. When the Pirates won the World Series in 1971, he helped them get there by hitting .282 with 69 runs, 31 doubles, seven triples, 14 homers, 64 RBIs and a .763 OPS in 143 games. He drove in five runs during the NLCS against the San Francisco Giants, but slumped a bit in the World Series, hitting .211 with two RBIs. In 1972, Oliver topped .300 for the first time (.312), while also making his first All-Star appearance. He had 88 runs, 43 extra-base hits, 89 RBIs and a .789 OPS, helping the Pirates to the postseason, where he hit .250 with a home run. He finished seventh in the NL MVP voting. In 1973, he set his Pirates highs with 20 homers and 99 RBIs, while batting .292 with 90 runs, 38 doubles and a .779 OPS, which gained him mild MVP support that year, finishing 23rd in the voting. In 1974, he set his Pittsburgh highs with 96 runs scored, 198 hits and 11 triples. He batted .321 with 60 extra-base hits, 85 RBIs and an .832 OPS, which led to his second seventh place finish in the MVP voting. Oliver had a rough postseason, hitting .143 with two singles and two walks.

Oliver batted .280 with 90 runs, 39 doubles, eight triples, 18 homers, 84 RBIs and a .763 OPS in 155 games in 1975, giving him his second All-Star season in Pittsburgh. He set a career high (to that point) with his .323 average during the 1976 season, when he had just 29 strikeouts in 121 games. He had 62 runs, 39 extra-base hits and 61 RBIs. His .839 OPS that season was his best in Pittsburgh. He made his third All-Star appearance and he finished 12th in the MVP voting. In 1977, Oliver hit .308, with 75 runs, 29 doubles, 19 homers and 82 RBIs in 154 games. His OPS was just five points below his high with the Pirates set in 1976, and he gained mild MVP support for the fifth time in Pittsburgh, finishing 16th in the voting. He played a total of 1,302 games in a Pirates uniform, and his 1,490 hits during that time ranks him 12th in team history.  His 276 doubles ranks 11th in team history and his 717 RBIs is the 13th highest total. The Pirates dealt Oliver in December of 1977 to the Texas Rangers as part of a four-team trade that brought Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven and outfielder John Milner back to Pittsburgh.

In 1978, Oliver hit .324 with 65 runs, 35 doubles, 14 homers and 89 RBIs in 133 games, which led to a 14th place finish in the American League MVP voting. His .848 OPS set a new person high, but he would top that number later in his career. The next year saw him hit .323 with 69 runs, 44 extra-base hits, 76 RBIs and an .836 OPS in 136 games. His best season in Texas was 1980 when he was an All-Star and won his first Silver Slugger award. He set career highs with 209 hits and 117 RBIs, while tying career highs with 96 runs scored and 43 doubles. He hit .319, with 19 homers in 163 games that year, finishing 11th in the MVP voting. During the strike-shortened 1981 season, Oliver hit .309 with 53 runs, 29 doubles, four homers, 55 RBIs and a .759 OPS in 102 games. That performance earned him an All-Star appearance and a second Silver Slugger award. He also received mild MVP support, finishing 16th in the voting. He was traded to the Montreal Expos at the end of Spring Training in 1982. With the Expos that season, he led the NL in five categories, finishing with a .331 average, 204 hits, 43 doubles, 317 total bases and 109 RBIs. The average and doubles were career highs, as was his 22 homers and .906 OPS. He finished third in the MVP voting that season, won his third Silver Slugger and made his sixth All-Star appearance.

Oliver had his final All-Star season in 1983 when he hit .300 with 70 runs, 84 RBIs, a .757 OPS and a league leading 38 doubles. He finished 19th in the MVP voting that year, which was the tenth and final time he received MVP support. The Expos traded him to the San Francisco Giants prior to the 1984 season. His stay there was short, as he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in August. He hit .301 with 36 runs, 26 doubles, 48 RBIs and a .714 OPS in 119 games between the two stops. He was traded two more times in the next year, first going to the Los Angeles Dodgers before the 1985 season, then after playing 35 games, he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays, where he finished his career later that season. He batted .252/.286/.357 in 96 games during his final season. Oliver finished his 18-year career with a .303 average in 2,368 games, with 1,189 runs scored, 529 doubles (which ranks 43rd all-time), 219 homers, 1,326 RBIs, and 2,743 hits, which ranks 58th all-time in baseball history. He made seven All-Star games and won three Silver Slugger awards in his career. Despite the strong resume and 43.7 career WAR, he lasted just one season on the Hall of Fame ballot, receiving 4.3% of the votes.

Miguel Del Pozo, pitcher for the 2020 Pirates. He was signed by the Miami Marlins as an international amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2010 at 17 years old. He debuted in the Dominican Summer League in 2011, where he went 3-3, 5.09 in 40.2 innings, with 47 strikeouts. In 2012, Del Pozo moved up to the Gulf Coast League and had a 4.02 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 31.1 innings, while pitching mostly in relief. He struggled with Batavia of the short-season New York-Penn League in 2013, posting a 4.81 ERA in 24.1 innings over 17 relief appearances, though he managed to pick up 36 strikeouts. He also made two appearances for Jupiter of the High-A Florida State League that year, allowing two unearned runs in two innings. In 2014, Del Pozo pitched for Greensboro of the Low-A South Atlantic League, where he went 2-6, 4.91, with 85 strikeouts in 66 innings over 41 relief outings. He returned to Jupiter in 2015, where he had a 4.25 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 59.1 innings over 27 appearances, including five starts. He missed the end of the year due to Tommy John surgery and didn’t return until 2017. Del Pozo was dominant in his return, pitching for four different teams, going from the GCL Marlins to Greensboro, Jupiter and Double-A Jacksonville of the Southern League. He combined to post an 0.70 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 25.2 innings over 22 games. He got some extra work in during the Arizona Fall League, but that did not go well, with 13 runs allowed in 12.1 innings.

Del Pozo was injured early on in 2018, then spent the last three months of the season in Jacksonville, going 5-0, 3.97, with 34 strikeouts in 34 innings over 28 appearances. He signed with the Texas Rangers as a free agent over the off-season, while also pitching 19 times in relief in the Dominican during winter ball, were he had a 4.97 ERA and a 1.89 WHIP in 12.2 innings. He pitched in Triple-A Nashville of the Pacific Coast League for Texas in 2019, until he was sold to the Los Angeles Angels in August. He made his big league debut a short time later and really struggled, with 11 runs allowed in 9.1 innings over 17 relief outings. Between Nashville and a short stay with Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League that season, he had a 2-3, 4.99 record in 40 appearances, with 68 strikeouts in 48.2 innings. The Angels let Del Pozo go after the 2019 season and he signed with the Pirates as a free agent. He was with the team for 11 days during the shortened 2020 season, coming up in late July and getting sent back on August 8th, five days before he was designated for assignment. In 3.2 innings over five appearances with the Pirates, he allowed seven runs in 3.2 innings. Del Pozo became a free agent after the season and signed with the Detroit Tigers. He spent most of 2021 in the minors with Triple-A Toledo, though he was called up four different times before landing on the injured list late in the year. He pitched five games in the majors in 2021, allowing two runs in 5.1 innings. He had a 2.82 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 38.1 innings with Toledo. He remained with Detroit in 2022 and spent the season in Toledo, going 5-2, 3.88 in 53.1 innings over 55 games, with seven saves and 66 strikeouts. He has a 9.82 ERA in 18.1 innings over 27 games during his three partial seasons in the majors.

Kris Johnson, pitcher for the 2013 Pirates. He was a first round draft pick by the Boston Red Sox in 2006, selected 40th overall out of Wichita State. Three years earlier, the Anaheim Angels took him in the 50th round out of high school. Johnson debuted in pro ball with Lowell of the short-season New York-Penn League, where he had an 0.88 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP in 30.2 innings. In his first full season in 2007, he jumped to the high offense environment of Lancaster in the High-A California League, where he went 9-7, 5.56, with 100 strikeouts in 136 innings over 27 starts. In 2008, Johnson went to Portland of the Double-A Eastern League, where he had an 8-9, 3.63 record, with 108 strikeouts in 136.1 innings over 27 starts. He split the 2009 season between Portland (17 innings) and Triple-A Pawtucket of the International League (96.1 innings), struggling at both spots with identical 6.35 ERAs, while throwing a total of 113.1 innings. It showed in his record as well, going 3-13 in Pawtucket and 3-16 overall. He pitched winter ball in the Dominican that 2010-11 off-season, posting a 3.00 ERA in 24 innings, then came back in 2011 and had a horrible time with Pawtucket, posting a 12.63 ERA in 20.2 innings. Johnson was released during the 2011 season and finished the year in independent ball with Kansas City of the American Association, going 6-3, 3.23 in 111.1 innings.

Johnson signed with the Pirates over the 2011-12 off-season. He pitched winter ball in the Dominican again, putting up a 1.84 ERA in 14.2 innings. He split the 2012 season between Double-A Altoona of the Eastern League and Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League, combining to go 8-4, 3.19 in 101.2 innings over 13 starts and 22 relief appearances. After dominating in winter ball in the Dominican over the 2012-13 off-season, allowing two earned runs in 27 innings, Johnson went 10-4, 2.39 in 135.2 innings with Indianapolis in 2013, making 21 starts and five relief appearances. The Pirates called him up for one game in August that year, then he returned for three games in September. In one start and three relief appearances with the 2013 Pirates, he went 0-2, 6.10 in 10.1 innings. After the season, he was traded to the Minnesota Twins for pitcher Duke Welker, who was sent to the Twins by the Pirates in a trade made six weeks earlier. Johnson went 10-7, 3.95 in 132 innings over 23 starts for Triple-A Rochester of the International League. The Twins called him up for a spot start on May 1st, in which he threw 4.1 scoreless innings, though he walked six batters. In July, he returned to Minnesota for two more starts that saw him allow seven runs over nine innings. That would be his last big league experience and his last season in the minors as well, though he didn’t retire.

Johnson pitched through the 2020 season, spending his last six years in Japan. He dominated early in his time in Japan, going 14-7, 1.85 in 194.1 innings in 2015, with 150 strikeouts. In 2016, he had a 15-7, 2.15 record, with 141 strikeouts in 180.1 innings. He had a 7-5, 3.52 record over 102.1 innings in 2017, following by an 11-6, 3.15 record and 119 strikeouts in 148.2 innings in 2018. Johnson posted a strong 2019, going 11-8, 2.59, with 132 strikeouts in 156.2 innings. In his final season of pro ball, he had a 2-10, 5.22 record in 91.1 innings. He compiled 125 wins and threw over 2,000 innings over all levels of pro ball. In his brief big league time, he went 0-3, 5.32 in 23.2 innings.

Duaner Sanchez, pitcher for the 2002-03 Pirates. He was signed at 16 years old as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 1996 by the Arizona Diamondbacks. It took him six years to make the majors, then almost immediately after his debut, he was traded to the Pirates for reliever Mike Fetters. Sanchez debuted in the Dominican Summer League, where he played the 1997-98 seasons (no stats available). He moved up to the U.S. in 1999, where he mainly pitched for Missoula of the short-season Pioneer League, though he also had three appearances in High-A with High Desert of the California League. He went 5-3, 3.94 in 77.2 innings as a starting pitcher that season. In 2000, Sanchez spent the season in the Low-A Midwest League with South Bend, where he went 8-9, 3.65 in 165.1 innings over 28 starts. He had 121 strikeouts that season, the only time he topped the century mark in a season. He split the 2001 season between High-A and Double-A. While pitching in the high-offense environment of Lancaster in the California League, he went 2-4, 4.58 in ten starts and 59 innings pitched. He moved up to El Paso of the Texas League and had a 3-7, 6.78 record in 70.1 innings over 13 starts.

Sanchez moved to relief and split 2002 between five teams at three levels, thanks to that mid-season trade to the Pirates. During his big league time that season, Sanchez allowed six runs over six innings with the Diamondbacks. He pitched three times for the Pirates that year, allowing four runs in 2.1 innings. He spent his most time that year in El Paso, where he made 31 appearances, with a 3.03 ERA, 13 saves and 37 strikeouts in 35.2 innings. He also pitched briefly in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League with Tuscon (Diamondback) and Nashville (Pirates). In 2003, Sanchez allowed 11 runs in six innings with the Pirates, giving up 3+ runs in three of his six appearances. He had two separate stints that year, joining the club in late July, then returning in mid-September. The rest of the year was spent in Nashville, where he had a 3.69 ERA in 61 innings. The Pirates lost him via waivers to the Los Angeles Dodgers shortly after the 2013 season ended, which proved to be a bad decision. Sanchez had a 3.38 ERA in 80 innings over 67 appearances with the Dodgers in 2004, spending the entire season in the majors. He made 79 appearances in 2005, posting a 4-7, 3.73 record in 82 innings, with eight saves. After the season, Sanchez was traded to the New York Mets, where he had a 2.60 ERA in 55.1 innings over 49 appearances in 2006. He suffered a shoulder injury in a taxi accident late in the season, which required shoulder surgery. The next season saw him come to Spring Training out of shape, which got him into trouble with the Mets. However, he suffered a broken bone in the same previously injured shoulder late in Spring Training, which required a second surgery and ended his season before it started.

Sanchez returned in 2008 and made 66 appearances for the Mets, posting a 5-1, 4.32 record in 58.1 innings. He was released during Spring Training in 2009 and signed with the San Diego Padres a few days later, but they let him go after he had a 9.00 ERA in 11 innings over 12 appearances at the big league level. That ended up being his final big league time. He pitched winter ball in the Dominican that off-season, throwing shutout ball in 5.2 innings over six appearances, then split the 2010 season between Mexico and independent ball. His pro career ended with a brief stint in indy ball in 2011. He had a 3.55 ERA in 12.2 innings in Mexico, and he went 2-2, 3.76, with 17 saves in 26.1 innings for Sussex of the Canadian-American League. Sanchez allowed five runs in nine innings over nine appearances with Long Island of the Atlantic League in 2011, which was the end of his pro career. His final big league line in seven seasons shows a 19-11, 4.10 record in 288 appearances and 298.2 innings pitched. All eight of his career saves came during the 2005 season.

Ryan Church, outfielder for the 2010 Pirates. He was a 14th round pick of the Cleveland Indians in 2000 out of the University of Nevada, who was traded to the Montreal Expos shortly before his big league debut in 2004. Church debuted strong in the short-season New York-Penn League in 2000, hitting .298 with 51 runs, 31 extra-base hits, 65 RBIs, 11 steals and an .899 OPS in 73 games with Mahoning Valley. In 2001, he split the season between Low-A Columbus of the South Atlantic League (101 games) and Kinston of the High-A Carolina League (24 games), combining to hit .278 with 80 runs, 30 doubles, 22 homers, 91 RBIs, 72 walks and an .890 OPS. In 2002, Church split the year between Kinston and Double-A Akron of the Eastern League, hitting .307 with 69 runs, 29 doubles, 22 homers, 81 RBIs and an .899 OPS in 124 games. He spent all of 2003 in Akron, where he batted .261 with 47 runs, 33 extra-base hits, 52 RBIs and a .754 OPS in 99 games, which was followed by a trip to the Arizona Fall League (no stats available). After being traded to the Expos, he spent half of the 2004 season in Triple-A, hitting .343 with 74 runs, 54 extra-base hits, 78 RBIs and a 1.047 OPS in 98 games with Edmonton of the Pacific Coast League, a great park for hitters. He batted .175/.257/.238 in 30 games for the Expos that season.

Church hit .287 with 41 runs, 14 doubles, nine homers, 42 RBIs and an .820 OPS in 102 games in 2005, the year that the Expos franchise moved to Washington. For the 2006 Nationals, he put up an .891 OPS in 71 games, thanks to a .276 average, 17 doubles and ten homers in 196 at-bats. He had 22 runs and 35 RBIs. He saw his most playing time in 2007, hitting .272 with career highs of 57 runs, 43 doubles, 15 homers and 70 RBIs in 144 games. He had an .813 OPS that season. Church was traded to the New York Mets after that big season, but he didn’t do as well in New York. He played 90 games in 2008, hitting .276 with 54 runs, 14 doubles, 12 homers, 49 RBIs and a .785 OPS, while missing some time in June and July/August, which led to eight rehab games. He was actually played on the disabled list four times that year, missing that time due to a concussion and after effects. He moved on to the Atlanta Braves in a mid-season trade in 2009, combining to bat .273 with 46 runs, 28 doubles, four homers, 43 RBIs and a .722 OPS in 111 games, with slightly better results in the 44 games after the trade, posting a .749 OPS with the Braves. Church signed with the Pirates as a free agent in January of 2010. He hit .182/.240/.312 in 69 games (36 starts) with the Pirates, before being dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks mid-season in a five-player/cash deal. While his time in Pittsburgh was a disaster, he rebounded in Arizona to finish strong, posting an .835 OPS in 35 games. That ended up being his final season in pro ball, as he later said that his 2008 concussion continued to affect his play during the 2009-10 seasons. Church played seven years in the majors and batted .264, with 251 runs, 134 doubles, 56 homers and 267 RBIs in 654 games.

Midre Cummings, outfielder for the Pirates from 1993 until 1997.He is one of 15 players in big league history who were born in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Cummings was a first round pick (29th overall) in 1990 out of high school by the Minnesota Twins. He debuted strong in the Gulf Coast League in 1990, hitting .316 with 28 runs, 28 RBIs, 14 steals and an .826 OPS in 47 games. In 1991, he went to Low-A Kenosha of the Midwest League, where he hit .322 with 59 runs, 28 extra-base hits, 54 RBIs, 28 steals and a .793 OPS in 106 games. The Pirates acquired him from the Twins in March of 1992, along with Denny Neagle, in the John Smiley trade. Cummings spent the 1992 season with Salem of the High-A Carolina League, where he hit .305 with 55 runs, 20 doubles, 14 homers, 75 RBIs, 23 steals and an .838 OPS in 113 games. The 1993 season was split evenly between Double-A Carolina of the Southern League and Triple-A Buffalo of the American Association. Cummings combined to hit .286 with 69 runs, 47 extra-base hits, 47 RBIs, ten steals and a .793 OPS in 123 games, with similar results at each level. He played 13 games for the Pirates that season, hitting .111/.195/.139 in 41 plate appearances.

In the strike-shortened 1994 season, Cummings hit .244/.283/.326 in 23 games with the Pirates, and .311/.360/.454 in 49 games with Buffalo. The Pirates switched Triple-A affiliates in 1995 to Calgary of the Pacific Coast League, where he hit .277/.302/.365 in 45 games. He also played 59 games for the Pirates that year, hitting .243/.303/.342 with two homers and 15 RBIs. In 1996, Cummings played 97 games for Calgary and 24 for the Pirates. He did well in Triple-A that season, batting .304 with 35 extra-base hits, 55 RBIs and a .792 OPS. He hit .224 with three homers and seven RBIs during his big league time. His OBP was three points lower than his average due to no walks and a sacrifice fly. He spent the entire 1997 season in the majors, but not all of it was in Pittsburgh. With the 1997 Pirates, he hit .189/.252/.368 in 52 games. Cummings didn’t have any success in Pittsburgh, but things changed instantly for him after being picked up mid-season off of waivers by the Philadelphia Phillies. He batted .303/.369/.433 in 52 games with the Phillies, and he also played strong defense, leading to 1.8 WAR. Despite playing well, he was released prior to 1998 and signed with the Boston Red Sox, where he put up an .856 OPS as a bench player in 67 games during the 1998 season. Even with two solid showings in a row, the rest of his career in the majors amounted to a total of 320 at-bats spread out over five seasons and five teams.

Cummings was released by the Red Sox at the end of Spring Training in 1999 and then signed with the Twins six weeks later. He played just 16 big league games that season, hitting .263/.310/.342 with one homer. Some of his minor league season was spent down in Double-A (New Britain of the Eastern League), with the majority at Salt Lake City of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. He had a combined .336 average, 78 runs, 26 doubles, 15 homers, 83 RBIs and a .967 OPS. During the 2000 season, Cummings batted .276 with 28 runs, ten doubles, four homers and 22 RBIs for the Twins, then was traded late in the year back to the Red Sox. He hit .280/.419/.280 in 21 games that year with Boston, though he had just 31 plate appearances. He became a free agent after the season and signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks for 2001. He was a small part of that World Series winning team, going 6-for-20 at the plate in 20 games, with a double and an RBI. It was another season with no walks, giving him a lower OBP (.286) than batting average (.300). Cummings was a pinch-runner during the postseason and scored three runs. The rest of the season was spent with Tuscon of the Pacific Coast League, where he hit .331 in 77 games, with 37 extra-base hits and a .927 OPS.

Cummings signed a minor league deal with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2002, but he played just 11 games all year with Indianapolis of the Triple-A International League due to shoulder surgery in April. The entire 2003 season was spent in Triple-A with the Chicago Cubs, where he hit .255 with 22 doubles, 19 homers, 54 RBIs and a .798 OPS for Iowa of the Pacific Coast League. In 2004, he batted .278/.361/.463 with two homers and seven RBIs in 22 games for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. In 2005, he played his final two big league games with the Baltimore Orioles, going 0-for-2 at the plate. He played the rest of the year with Ottawa of the International League, where he hit .284 in 74 games, with 39 runs, 14 doubles, 12 homers and 40 RBIs. Cummings played briefly in China in 2006, going 3-for-14 with a homer, in what was his final season in pro ball. He played 172 games over his five seasons in Pittsburgh, batting .217/.265/.338 in 501 at-bats. Cummings played for seven teams over his 11 years in the majors, batting .257 in 460 games, with 136 runs, 60 doubles, 22 homers and 124 RBIs. He stole 75 bases during his first four seasons in the minors, but he attempted just 15 steals during his entire time in the majors.

Tom Cheney, pitcher for the 1960-61 Pirates. He’s the holder of a major big league record that often gets overlooked whenever the discussion arises. Cheney was signed by the St Louis Cardinals in 1952 at 17 years old, and he debuted in the majors five years later at 22 years old. He debuted in pro ball with Albany of the Class-D Georgia-Florida League, where he spent his first two seasons, although that 1952 season consisted of just one game in which he allowed one run and recorded one out. In 1953, he went 9-12, 3.61, with 122 strikeouts in 172 innings, splitting his time between starting and relief. Cheney moved up to Fresno of the Class-C California League in 1954, where he had a 12-11, 3.86 record in 203 innings, with 207 strikeouts. The next year was spent in A-Ball, with Columbus of the South Atlantic League. He went 14-12, 3.25 in 227 innings, with 153 strikeouts. He pitched one game for Omaha of the Triple-A American Association that season, then spent the next two full years there. In 1956, Cheney went 10-5, 2.93, with 122 strikeouts in 169 innings. That was followed by a 14-8, 2.62 record and 175 strikeouts in 182 innings in 1957. He began that season in the majors, but he was sent down after throwing a total of nine innings over three starts and a relief appearance. His control got him in trouble during that first big league stint, as he allowed five runs on six hits and ten strikeouts, along with 15 walks. He missed the 1958 season due to military service, then returned in 1959 to pitch 11 big league games (two starts), posting a 6.94 ERA and 11 walks in 11.2 innings. The rest of the season was spent back in Omaha, where he went 6-5, 4.38 in 76 innings.

The Pirates acquired Cheney from the St Louis Cardinals in December of 1959, along with Gino Cimoli, in exchange for pitcher Ron Kline. Half of the 1960 season was spent making 15 starts in Triple-A with Columbus of the International League, but he saw plenty of big league action as well. He went 4-8, 3.16, with 115 strikeouts in 111 innings with Columbus. Cheney also had a 3.98 ERA in 52 innings over eight starts and three relief appearances for the World Series champs. He pitched three postseason games that year, allowing two runs over four innings. He lasted just one game with the 1961 Pirates, allowing five runs (four earned) without recording an out. He went 6-2, 3.20 in 59 innings with Columbus, with 59 strikeouts. In June, he was traded to the Washington Senators for pitcher Tom Sturdivant. Cheney finished out the 1961 season with a 1-3, 8.80 record in 29.2 innings over seven starts and three relief outings for Washington. He did much better in his 23 starts and 14 relief appearances in 1962, posting a 7-9, 3.17 record in 173.1 innings, with 147 strikeouts. There was one major highlight to that season.

Cheney pitched one of the best games in baseball history on September 12, 1962 for the Senators against the Baltimore Orioles. He allowed just one run over a 16-inning complete game, and he set a still-standing single game MLB record with 21 strikeouts. In 21 starts and two relief appearances in 1963, he went 8-9, 2.71 in 136.1 innings, allowing just 99 hits all year. He had a quick drop-off in 1964, going 1-3, 3.70 in 48.2 innings over six starts and nine relief outings. He injured his elbow in 1963, but pitched through it for a time in 1964 until he could go any longer. The injury forced him to miss the end of that season and all of 1965. Cheney returned in 1966 to pitched three games for the Senators, giving up four runs over 5.1 innings, before finishing out his career later that year in the minors. He had a 3.91 ERA in 46 innings with York of the Double-A Eastern League that year, but he had a meltdown during his Triple-A time with San Diego of the Pacific Coast League, allowing 21 runs in seven innings. He had a career 19-29, 3.77 record in 466 innings over 71 starts and 44 relief appearances in his eight seasons in the majors. He tossed 13 complete games, including eight shutouts.

Ken Heintzelman, pitcher for the 1937-42 and 1946-47 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball at 19 years old in 1935, spending his first season with McKeesport of the Class-D Pennsylvania State League, where he went 10-11, 3.00 in 195 innings. He remained in the same league, playing for Jeannette, where he improved to 20-8, 3.07 in 243 innings, with 229 strikeouts for the season. He also got the nickname “Cannonball” which also was put on Ed Morris, who is the Pirates franchise record holder in numerous single-season pitching categories. Heintzelman joined the Pirates at the end of the 1936 season, but never got into a game. He went to Spring Training with the Pirates in 1937, and received a lot of praise for his work, but he was still sent down once the season started. He had a 4-16, 3.95 record and 115 strikeouts in 198 innings with Knoxville of the Class-A Southern Association, while also pitching three games for Montreal of the Double-A International League, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. Heintzelman rejoined the Pirates in September of 1937 and got into one game, making a start on the last day of the season. He got the win by allowing three runs (two earned) in a complete game against the Cincinnati Reds. He made the Opening Day roster in 1938, though he pitched just once in relief before being sent to Montreal for the rest of the season. He gave up two runs in two innings for the Pirates, and he went 4-5, 5.48 in 69 innings with Montreal, walking 65 batters during that time.

Heintzelman finally stuck with the Pirates in 1939. He was used in a mop-up role that year, pitching 35.2 innings over 17 games (two starts), while posting a 5.05 ERA. He saw regular use in 1940, making 16 starts and 23 relief appearances. He went 8-8, 4.47 in 165 innings, finishing with five complete games, two shutouts and three saves. His best season for the Pirates was 1941 when he had an 11-11, 3.44 record in 196 innings. He pitched 35 games, 24 as a starter, with 13 complete games and two shutouts. He set a career high with 81 strikeouts, though that came with 83 walks. Heintzelman’s stats slipped in 1942 to 8-11, 4.57 in 130 innings, with 18 starts, nine relief outings and three shutouts. Part of the struggle came from an arm injury, which ended his season a few weeks early. He would spend the next three seasons in the Army during WWII before returning to the Pirates in 1946. In his first year back, he went 8-12, 3.77 in 157.2 innings, with 24 starts and eight relief appearances. Heintzelman had six complete games and two shutouts. He started off 1947 by allowing 11 runs over his first four innings (one start and one relief outing) before he was sold to the Philadelphia Phillies on May 9th. After the sale he went 7-10, 4.04 in 136 innings over 19 starts and five relief appearances. In 1948, he had a 6-11, 4.29 record in 130 innings, with 16 starts and 11 relief outings. He had two shutouts and two saves that season.

Heintzelman had his best season in 1949. He went 17-10, 3.02 in 250 innings. It was the only season as a starter that he didn’t switch between starting and relief during his career. He had one relief outing and 32 starts, with career highs of 15 complete games and a National League leading five shutouts. He finished ninth in the MVP voting. The Phillies made it to the World Series in 1950, though Heintzelman had a down year, going 3-9, 4.09 in 125.1 innings over 17 starts and six relief outings. He went 6-12, 4.18 in 118.1 innings in 1951 when he made 12 starts and 23 relief outings. His final season in the majors was 1952, and he was in a relief role, going 1-3, 3.16 in 42.2 innings over 23 games (one starts). While he was done in the majors at 36 years old, he pitched another three seasons in the minors, pitching for Baltimore (1953) and Richmond (1954-55) of the International League. Pitching mostly in relief, he went 5-4, 3.32 in 111 innings for Baltimore. He had a 7-7, 3.90 record in 97 innings in 1954, then went 1-4 in 18 appearances in his final season. Heintzelman went 37-43, 4.14 in 699.1 innings over 86 starts and 68 relief appearances with the Pirates. He had a 40-55, 3.75 record in Philadelphia, with 97 starts, 68 relief appearances and 802.1 innings pitched. You can read much more on Heintzelman in our in depth Obscure Pittsburgh Pirates article.

Hugh Casey, pitcher for the 1949 Pirates. He spent three seasons in the minors right out of high school before the Chicago Cubs purchased his contract for the 1935 season. He pitched 13 games in Chicago, then returned to the minors, where he stayed until the Brooklyn Dodgers made him a Rule 5 pick after the 1938 season. Casey debuted in pro ball at 18 years old in 1932, playing for Atlanta of the Southern Association, a Class-A team which was a bit advanced for a first-year player out of high school. He had a 5.77 ERA in 53 innings. He moved down to Charlotte of the Class-B Piedmont League, where he went 19-9 and pitched 239 innings. His ERA isn’t available, but he allowed 3.46 runs per nine innings. He returned to Atlanta in 1934 and had an 8-6, 4.90 record in 156 innings. The entire 1935 season was spent with the Cubs, with 13 relief appearances spread throughout the year. He had a 3.86 ERA in 25.2 innings. From there, Casey spent 1936 with Los Angeles of the Double-A Pacific Coast League (highest level of the minors at the time), where he went5-8, 4.92 in 106 innings. He then spent the 1937-38 seasons back in the Southern Association, where he went 14-13, 2.56 in 236 innings with Birmingham in 1937 and 13-14, 3.37 in 291 innings with Memphis in 1938. Casey joined Brooklyn in 1939 and had a full-time role right away, going 15-10, 2.93 in 227.1 innings over 25 starts and 15 relief outings. He threw 15 complete games that year, which was more than half of his big league total. He had 79 strikeouts, which ended up being his career high. He pitched more in relief the next season, posting an 11-8, 3.62 record in 154 innings over ten starts and 34 relief appearances. He had three career shutouts and two of them came during that 1940 season.

Casey started 18 times and pitched in relief 27 times during the 1941 season. He went 14-11, 3.89 in 162 innings. That was followed by a 6-3, 2.25 record in 112 innings in 1942, when he pitched 48 times in relief and made two spot starts. While not a stat at the time, he is retroactively credited with a league leading 13 saves. Casey spent the 1943-45 seasons serving in the military during WWII. He returned in 1946 to go 11-5, 1.99 in 99.2 innings over 46 games, making one start, which ended up being his only career start after WWII. In 1947, he had a 10-4, 3.99 record in 76.2 innings over 46 games. Despite his workload dropping and his ERA doubling from the previous season, he finished 12th in the National League MVP voting. He saw limited work in 1948 due to poor results, finishing with a 3-0 record, despite an 8.00 ERA in 36 innings over 22 games. He was released by Brooklyn shortly after the season ended and signed right away with the Pirates as a free agent. Casey went 4-1, 4.66 in 38.2 innings over 33 appearances before the Pirates released him in early August of 1949. He finished his nine-year big league career with the New York Yankees later that season, giving up ten runs in 7.2 innings over four appearances. In his career, he went 75-42, 3.45 in 939.2 innings, making 56 starts and 287 relief appearances. His pro career ended where it started, spending the 1950 season back with Atlanta of the Southern Association, where he went 10-4, 3.86 in 97 innings.

Ona Dodd, infielder for the 1912 Pirates. The Pirates signed Dodd after his first season of pro ball in 1911, though he had previous experience for semi-pro and independent teams. Dodd debuted that year at 24 years old, playing in the Class-B Texas League, where he hit .246 with 43 extra-base hits in 144 games for Waco. The Pirates acquired him through the Rule 5 draft on September 1, 1911, back when big league teams paid a fee to acquire minor league players at the end of each season. He was with the Pirates during Spring Training in 1912 and made a strong impression, but he was shipped to the minors on April 7th, which still left the Pirates with eight infielders at the time. He was originally released on option to Indianapolis of the Double-A American Association (highest level of the minors at the time), but he ended up going elsewhere two weeks later. Dodd played for Wheeling of the Class-B Central League during the early parts of the 1912 season, where he hit .343, with 30 doubles, eight triples and four homers in 90 games. He was recalled by the Pirates and rejoined the team on July 25th. In what turned out to be his only big league experience, he went 0-for-9 with a walk and an RBI in five games for the Pirates, seeing all of his time at second base. His online stats show time at third base, but he never played there.

Dodd debuted with the Pirates on July 26th and played his final game on August 14th. In his second (and last) start at second base on July 27th, it was said that he hit the ball well all three times, and even accounted for an RBI on a ground out in the fifth inning. His final three games were off of the bench, including a pinch-running appearance on July 31st. He was released by the Pirates on September 28th to Columbus of the American Association, eight days before the regular season ended. He had two footnotes in September during his time with the Pirates. On September 3rd, he went home on an off-day and got caught in a flood and couldn’t get back to the team right away. A week later, the Pirates went on a road trip and he was one of five players left at Forbes Field to practice, which was done often back then to save on travel costs. Dodd returned to Waco for part of the 1913 season, but he also played in Columbus with a Class-B team in the Interstate League, two levels lower than the American Association, where he also saw some time. He batted .271 with four extra-base hits in 17 games for Waco, while his Columbus stats are unavailable. He still belonged to Columbus of the American Association at the close of the 1913 season and they sold him to San Antonio of the Texas League, but he never played there.

Dodd joined Beaumont of the Texas League during the 1914 season and remained there through the middle of the 1917 season. He is credited with hitting .280 in 126 games in 1914, with 70 runs, 27 extra-base hits and 18 steals. That year he set a minor league record with 75 sacrifice hits. In 1915, he batted .273 in 142 games, with 32 extra-base hits, including 28 doubles. He played 142 games in 1916 as well, finishing with a .288 average, 22 doubles, eight triples and two homers. The 1917 season was split between Beaumont and Fort Worth of the Texas League. Dodd hit .256 in 166 games that season, with 21 doubles, ten triples and three homers. His final season in 1918 was spent with Houston of the Texas League, where he had a .246 average, ten doubles and a triple in 87 games.

Norm Baker, pitcher for the 1883 Alleghenys. He debuted in the majors in late May of 1883 at the age of 20 and made three starts for Pittsburgh, going 0-2, 3.32 in 19 innings. Just four days before his big league debut, he was pitching amateur ball for a team called the Hartville club from Philadelphia. In his debut for the Alleghenys on May 21st in Philadelphia, he dueled Bobby Mathews, a 297-game winner,  to a 1-1 tie through seven innings. In the eighth, Pittsburgh committed two errors, which led to three runs being scored. and a 4-1 loss for Baker. He was thrown out there again the very next day against the same Philadelphia Athletics club and lost 9-1. Short on pitching, the Alleghenys took Baker with them to Baltimore and threw him out there for a third straight game on May 24th. He lasted just one inning in the pitcher’s box before being sent to left field to finish the game. He allowed three runs, but the Alleghenys still won 16-4. Some reports only credit him with 18 innings with Pittsburgh (8 IP debut, 9 IP second game, 1 IP final), which would change his ERA with the team. His final game with the Alleghenys came on May 30th when he started in center field in a game that was shortened to five innings due to rain. On June 1st, he was given a chance to show what he had against a strong minor league team that was playing in Pittsburgh at the time, called the Enterprise, which played in the Western Interstate League. Unfortunately, both game recaps said little more than a small crowd watched a 13-5 (or 14-5) Alleghenys win, with little interest in the outcome. This was the only home game for Baker.

Baker had two other stints in the big leagues, pitching for Louisville in 1885 and Baltimore in 1890. He jumped around a lot during his pro career, not playing a full season with just one team until 1891. He debuted in pro ball during his season with the Alleghenys, also seeing time that year with Johnstown of the Western International League. In 1884, he played for Springfield of the Ohio State League and Oil City of the Iron & Oil Association (no stats are available from his first two minor league seasons). Half of the 1885 season was spent with Nashville of the Southern League, where he’s credited with a 10-4, 0.58 record in 14 complete games. He allowed 52 runs, but just eight of those runs are considered to be earned runs. Baker also played for Louisville of the American Association that year, where he went 13-12, 3.40 in 217 innings, completing all of his 24 starts. He was released in late July, with some stories in later years saying that he was blacklisted for throwing games, though he remained in pro ball so that seems unlikely that he was ever officially blacklisted. In 1886, Baker went 17-8, 1.48 in 230.2 innings with Nashville (then a Class-B team), while also seeing brief time with Rochester of the International League, where he allowed two earned runs in 35 innings, but still lost three of his four starts. He has no stats available for the 1887-89 seasons, but records show him playing each season with two teams. He played with four teams total, including Rochester and Toronto of the International Association in 1887. In both the 1888 and 1889 seasons, he played for Stockton of the California League, and a team from Newark, NJ. Those Newark teams were in two different leagues (Atlantic Association and Central League).

In 1890, Baker was with Baltimore of the Atlantic League, where he had a 29-10 record, while completing 38 of his 39 starts (innings and ERA aren’t available). In late August of 1890, the Brooklyn Gladiators of the American Association folded and Baltimore took their place in the league to finish out the last 38 games of the schedule. Baker pitched just twice, going 1-1, 3.71 in 17 innings, in what ended up being his last big league action. He pitched for Omaha of the Western Association in 1891, going 7-10, 3.25 in 141.1 innings. He played for and managed Fremont of the Class-B Nebraska State League in 1892, but no stats are available for that league. He took a job as an umpire in the Southern League in 1893, after doing some umpiring work at the end of the 1892 season. He then finished his pro career with Minneapolis of the Western League during the 1894-95 seasons, going 11-6, 3.87 in 155.2 innings in 1894, while putting up a 1-1 record in 21 innings over four games in 1895.  In his three big league seasons, he went 14-15, 3.42 in 253 innings, completing 28 of his 29 starts, while tossing one shutout and pitching once in relief. As a strange side note, a former teammate who took up singing said that Baker had the deepest and most melodious bass voice he has ever heard. He also once had an off-season job stitching baseballs in a factory for Al Reach. Baker has no record of his throwing hand, which almost certainly means he threw right-handed, because lefty pitchers were constantly referred to as being left-handed or southpaws during his time. He was a spitball pitcher before it became a fashionable pitch.

The Games

The Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Baltimore Orioles in game five of the World Series on this date in both 1971 and 1979. On this date in 1971, they took a 3-2 lead in the series on a 4-0 shutout by Nelson Briles, who allowed just two hits. Bob Robertson homered and Gene Clines scored two runs. Here’s that boxscore and play-by-play. In 1979, the Pirates started their comeback from down 3-1 in the series on this date by winning 7-1, getting strong starting pitcher from Jim Rooker, and excellent relief work by Bert Blyleven. Bill Madlock had four hits and Tim Foli drove in three runs. Here’s that boxscore and play-by-play.

MORE FROM THIS SECTION

Menu