This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: November 7th, Stuart, Benson, Ritchie and The Only

Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including a slugger from the 1960 World Series champs. Before we get into the former players, current pitcher Roansy Contreras turns 23 today.

Dick Stuart, first baseman for the 1958-62 Pirates. The Pirates signed Stuart as an amateur free agent before the 1951 season at 18 years old. He batted just .229 with nine doubles and four homers in 66 games during his first year as a pro while playing for Modesto of the Class-C California League. In 1952, he batted .313 with 30 doubles, four triples and 31 homers in 129 games for Billings of the Class-C Pioneer League. He then spent the next two years serving in the Army, though he was able to play plenty of baseball during that time as well, as each base he was stationed at had their own teams. Stuart returned to the Pirates in 1955 and he ended up back with Billings for most of the season, where he hit .309 with 84 runs, 19 doubles, 32 homers and 104 RBIs in 101 games. He also saw brief time that year with New Orleans of the Double-A South Association and Mexico City in the Mexican League, and didn’t perform well in either spot, combining to hit .175 in 20 games. He was assigned to Lincoln of the Class-A Western League in 1956 and had a crazy year, hitting .298 with 131 runs, 25 doubles, 66 homers and 158 RBIs in 141 games. Stuart had 88 walks and 171 strikeouts that season, with the latter number being 31 more than the big league record at the time. The second highest home run total on Lincoln that year was 24, and no one else reached 90 RBIs. Stuart moved up to the Pacific Coast League by the end of the 1957 season. That was another big power year on offense, this time spread out over three levels, including 97 games spent back with Lincoln, 23 with Atlanta of the Southern Association, and 23 with Hollywood of the PCL. Combined that season, he hit .251 with 97 runs, 15 doubles, 45 homers and 122 RBIs in 143 games. He had 84 walks and 180 strikeouts.

Stuart had a .311 average, 61 runs, 14 doubles, 31 homers and 82 RBIs in 80 games for Salt Lake City of the PCL when he was called up to the Pirates in July of 1958. He added another 16 homers and 48 RBIs in 67 games as a rookie with the Pirates, to go along with a .268 average, 38 runs, 12 doubles and five triples. He had a 1.039 OPS in Salt Lake City and an .853 OPS with the Pirates. Stuart did well on offense in 1959, batting .297 in 118 games, with 64 runs scored, 15 doubles, 27 homers, 78 RBIs and a .911 OPS. He saw just slightly more playing time in 1960, when he hit .260 with 48 runs, 17 doubles, 23 homers, 83 RBIs and a .797 OPS in 122 games. He had a rough World Series, going 3-for-20, with three singles and no walks, runs or RBIs. During his 1961 season, which was his best in Pittsburgh, he was named to the All-Star team for the first time (they played two All-Star games that year). He batted .301 in 138 games, with 35 homers, 117 RBIs, and career highs of 83 runs scored, 28 doubles, eight triples and a .925 OPS. He received mild MVP support, finishing 22nd in the voting. Stuart dropped down to .228 average in 114 games in 1962, with 52 runs, 11 doubles, 16 homers and 64 RBIs. His OPS plummeted 240 points compared to the previous season. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox in a four-player deal on November 20, 1962. The deal actually worked out well for the Pirates, despite the offensive numbers for Stuart in Boston.

In his first season in Boston, Stuart hit .261 in 157 games, with 81 runs scored, 25 doubles and an .833 OPS. He set a career high with 42 homers, and he led the American League with 118 RBIs and 319 total bases, while also setting career highs in those two categories. He finished 13th in the MVP voting. In 1964, he batted .279 with 73 runs, 27 doubles, 33 homers, 114 RBIs and an .811 OPS in 156 games. He received mild MVP support for the third time in his career, finishing 28th in the voting that year. He was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in November of 1964 and spent one season there, hitting .234 in 149 games, with 53 runs, 19 doubles, 28 homers and 95 RBIs. The Phillies traded him to the New York Mets in February of 1966, but he was released by the Mets on June 15th and finished the season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Stuart combined to hit .242 with 11 runs, one doubles, seven homers and 22 RBIs in 69 games in 1966. He played in Japan during the 1967-68 seasons before playing one final season in the majors with the California Angels in 1969.

Stuart hit .280 in 125 games in 1967, with 62 runs, 18 doubles, 33 homers and 79 RBIs. His 1968 season didn’t go well, with a .217 average in 83 games, with 28 runs, nine doubles, 16 homers and 40 RBIs. He spent most of 1969 with Phoenix of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he hit .244 in 74 games, with 13 doubles, 12 homers and 42 RBIs. He lasted just 22 games with the Angels that season and hit .157/.204/.255 with one homer. Known just as much for his poor defense as his power, he led the league in errors for seven straight seasons at first base. Despite the strong numbers on offense during his career, he finished with just 7.8 WAR in his ten seasons due to the impact of the defense. Those big numbers on offense in Boston led to just 2.4 WAR in two years. He finished as a .264 hitter in 1,112 games, with 506 runs, 157 doubles, 228 homers and 753 RBIs. He attempted nine stolen bases in his career and he was successful twice.

Kris Benson, pitcher for the Pirates from 1999 until 2004. He was the first overall pick in the 1996 draft out of Clemson University and he debuted in the majors three years later. He signed in mid-August of 1996 and didn’t debut until 1997 when he made ten starts with High-A Lynchburg of the Carolina League and 14 starts for Carolina of the Double-A Southern League. Benson went 8-7, 3.87 in 128 innings, with 138 strikeouts that season between both stops, with significantly better results at the lower level. He had a 2.58 ERA in 59.1 innings with Lynchburg, and a 4.98 ERA in 68.2 innings with Carolina. He spent the entire 1998 season with Nashville of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he went 8-10, 5.37 in 156 innings, with 129 strikeouts. Somewhat surprisingly, he made the Pirates on Opening Day in 1999 and made 63 starts over the next two seasons. He went 11-14, 4.07, with 139 strikeouts in 196.2 innings over 31 starts in 1999. He finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting. He had his best big league season in 2000. Benson threw 217.2 innings that year, putting up a 3.85 ERA and a career high 184 strikeouts, a number that he never approached again in a season. He finished with a 10-12 record, but the team went 69-93 that year.

Benson needed elbow surgery before the 2001 season, which would cost him the entire year. He returned in 2002 to make 25 starts with the Pirates after completing five rehab starts in the minors. He went 9-6, 4.70 in 130.1 innings, with 79 strikeouts. He went 5-9, 4.97 in 105 innings in 2003, when he was limited to just 18 starts due to shoulder issues that ended his season in mid-July. The Pirates traded Benson the following July to the Mets in a five-player deal that brought Jose Bautista and Ty Wigginton to Pittsburgh. Benson had an 8-8, 4.22 record in 132.1 innings over 20 starts prior to the trade. In his five seasons in Pittsburgh, he had a 43-49, 4.26 record in 782 innings over 126 starts.  He finished the season with a 4-4, 4.50 record in 11 starts, compiling 134 strikeouts in 200.1 innings for the entire season. In 2005, he went 10-8, 4.13 in 174.1 innings over 28 starts. Benson was traded to the Baltimore Orioles in January of 2006. In his only season there, he went 11-12, 4.82 in 183 innings over 30 starts. He was still a member of the Orioles in 2007, but he was out for the entire season with shoulder surgery.

Benson signed with the Philadelphia Phillies as a free agent in 2008. His actual time with the Phillies was short, as they signed him in late February and he was released in August. He also spent the entire time in the minors, making two starts for Clearwater of the High-A Florida State League and 11 starts for Lehigh Valley of the Triple-A International League. He went 1-6, 5.78 in 67 innings that season. Benson signed with the Texas Rangers on February 21, 2009, and he spent most of his time in the minors that year with Oklahoma City of the Pacific Coast League (and one start for Frisco of the Double-A Texas League). He had an 8.46 ERA in 22.1 innings with Texas over two starts and six relief outings, and he posted a 5.25 ERA in 73.2 minor league innings. In his final big league season, he made three starts for the Diamondbacks and had a 5.14 ERA. He also had an 8.87 ERA in seven starts at Triple-A, though he was pitching for Reno of the Pacific Coast League, which is an extremely hitter-friendly park/league, so it wasn’t quite as bad as that ERA would indicate. Benson finished with a 70-75, 4.42 record in 1,243.2 innings over 200 starts and six relief appearances in his nine big league seasons. He had eight complete games and two shutouts, while recording 806 strikeouts.

Todd Ritchie, pitcher for the 1999 to 2001 Pirates.  He was drafted out of high school in 1990, taken 12th overall in the first round by the Minnesota Twins. It took him seven years to make the majors, debuting shortly after Opening Day in 1997. In his pro debut, he pitched for Elizabethton of the short-season Appalachian League, where he went 5-2, 1.94, with 49 strikeouts in 65 innings over 11 starts. In 1991, Ritchie was 7-6, 3.55, with 101 strikeouts in 116.2 innings for Kenosha of the Class-A Midwest League. The next season saw him go 11-9, 5.06 in 28 starts, with 129 strikeouts in 172.2 innings for Visalia of the High-A California League. He moved up to Double-A Nashville of the Southern League for the 1993-94 seasons. Ritchie pitched just 16 games and 63.2 innings during those two seasons. He had a 3.66 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 46.2 innings in 1993, and 4.24 ERA in four starts in 1994. He missed time due to a shoulder issue in 1993 and arm surgery in 1994, but he also pitched well during the 1993-94 off-season in fall ball, which helped him make up some lost time. At the time, the Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said that Ritchie had the best stuff of any pitcher in their system. In 1995, he was with their new Double-A affiliate, Hardware City of the Eastern League. He went 4-9, 5.73 in 113 innings, recording just 60 strikeouts. In 1996, he struggled with both Hardware City and the Triple-A affiliate in Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League. Ritchie combined to go 3-11, 5.45, with 72 strikeouts in 107.1 innings in 1996, yet he spent all of 1997 in the majors.

Ritchie pitched 42 times in relief that first year in the majors, posting a 4.58 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 74.2 innings. He spent more time back in Salt Lake City than the majors in 1998, then was released days after the season ended. He finished with a 5.63 ERA in 24 innings with the Twins that season, and a 4.15 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 60.2 innings with Salt Lake City. The Pirates signed him as a free agent in December of 1998 and put him right in their rotation. He went 15-9, 3.49 in 172.2 innings in 1999, making 26 starts and two relief appearances. He had two complete games and 107 strikeouts. He struggled a bit in 2000, going 9-8, 4.81 in 187 innings over 31 starts. His first career shutout was his only complete game that season. Ritchie improved slightly in the ERA department in 2001, going 11-15, 4.47 in 207.1 innings over 33 starts, with four complete games and two shutouts. He struck out 124 batters during both the 2000 and 2001 seasons, which set and tied his career high. After the season, he was traded to the White Sox in a five-player deal that brought back Kip Wells and Josh Fogg to Pittsburgh. Ritchie went 35-32, 4.29 in 567 innings over three seasons with the Pirates.

Ritchie did very poorly in his only year in Chicago, going 5-15, 6.06 in 133.2 innings over 23 starts and three relief appearances. He finished his big league career with brief stints for the 2003 Milwaukee Brewers and 2004 Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He had a 5.08 ERA in 28.1 innings over five starts with the Brewers, before shoulder surgery in mid-June ended his season. Ritchie then finished his big league time with a 9.00 ERA in eight innings over two starts and two relief outings with the Devil Rays in 2004. He spent the rest of that season making 20 starts in the minor leagues over three levels (mostly with Durham of the Triple-A International League), posting a 5.69 ERA in 110.2 innings during that time. He didn’t play during the 2005-07 seasons, then made a brief comeback with the Colorado Rockies in 2008, but he lasted just five minor league games, in which he had a 5.56 ERA in 22.2 innings. His final big league totals show a 43-54, 4.71 record in 835.2 innings over 120 starts and 64 relief outings, with seven complete games, three shutouts and 516 strikeouts.

Dave Wainhouse, pitcher for the 1996-97 Pirates. He was born in Canada and the Montreal Expos selected him in the first round (19th overall) of the 1988 draft at 20 years old out of Washington State University. He debuted in pro ball in 1989, making 13 starts for West Palm Beach for the Class-A Florida State League (league became High-A in 1990), where he had a 4.07 ERA in 66.1 innings, with 26 strikeouts. He made 12 starts for West Palm Beach in 1990, and 16 more for Jacksonville of the Double-A Southern League. Wainhouse combined to go 13-10, 3.34 in 172.1 innings. He had 117 strikeouts, which was nearly double what he struck out in any other season during his 12-year career in pro ball. He moved to relief in 1991 and split the year between Double-A Harrisburg of the Eastern League and Triple-A Indianapolis of the American Association. He had a 3.12 ERA, 59 strikeouts and 12 saves in 80.2 innings over 47 appearances that year. He was in the majors with the Expos by August of 1991, though his stay was short, with two appearances and two runs allowed over 2.2 innings. Wainhouse then spent all of 1992 in Indianapolis, where he had a 4.11 ERA, 37 strikeouts and 21 saves in 46 innings over 44 games. He was traded to the Seattle Mariners after the 1992 season. He made three appearances after making the 1993 Opening Day roster, and he gave up seven runs in 2.1 innings. He was sent to Triple-A Calgary of the Pacific Coast League, where he suffered an arm injury and pitched just 18 innings all season.

Wainhouse was released by the Mariners during Spring Training in 1994 and didn’t play that season.  In 1995, he spent time in the minors with the Toronto Blue Jays and Florida Marlins, combining to go 5-3, 5.77 in 53 innings over 47 appearances. All of his Toronto time came with Syracuse of the Triple-A International League, but a majority of his time with the Marlins came with Double-A Portland of the Eastern League. He then signed with the Pirates as a free agent in January of 1996 and he was sent to Double-A Carolina of the Southern League to start the season. After posting a 3.16 ERA and 25 saves in 51.1 innings, Wainhouse debuted with the Pirates on August 1, 1996 and had a 5.70 ERA in 23.2 innings over 17 appearances that year. He then made the Opening Day roster in 1997 and had an 8.04 ERA in 28 innings over 25 outings before being sent to Triple-A Calgary, where he played four years earlier as a Mariners affiliate. He had a 5.92 ERA in 38 innings with Calgary that year. The Pirates let him go after the 1997 season and he finished his big league time with two years with the Colorado Rockies (1998-99) and St Louis Cardinals (2000), making a total of 38 big league appearances after leaving the Pirates.

Wainhouse had a 4.91 ERA over 11 innings and ten appearances in 1998 with the Rockies. He had three separate stints in the majors that year, seeing time in June, July and September. His minor league time with Colorado Springs of the PCL amounted to 3.60 ERA and four saves in 50 innings. In 1999, he was with the Rockies in May, June/July and September, finishing with a 6.91 ERA in 28.2 innings. Wainhouse did even better than year with Colorado Springs, which was a high offense league/park. He had a 3.19 ERA, 42 strikeouts and 22 saves in 42.1 innings. During his 2000 season in St Louis, all nine of his games came in April. He allowed ten runs over 8.2 innings before heading to Triple-A Memphis of the PCL for the rest of the year. It was a tough season, with a 9.35 big league ERA, and a 6.28 ERA in 43 innings with Memphis. His pro career ended after the 2001 season, which was spent with the Chicago Cubs in Triple-A Iowa of the PCL, where he 4.16 ERA in 75.2 innings. In two seasons in Pittsburgh, he made 42 appearances and posted a 6.97 ERA in 51.2 innings. In seven seasons in the majors, he had a 2-3, 7.37 record in 105 innings over 85 relief appearances. Wainhouse had 101 minor league saves, but failed to get one at the big league level.

Andy Tomberlin, outfielder for the 1993 Pirates. He was a non-drafted free agent signing by the Atlanta Braves in 1985 at 18 years old. He debuted in pro ball 1986, and he was a pitcher at the time. He had a respectable 3.61 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 42.1 innings, but he also walked 36 batters. He split that season between Pulaski of the short-season Appalachian League and Sumter of the Class-A South Atlantic League. He spent 1987 season back with Pulaski, where he had a 4-2, 4.43 record in 44.2 innings, with 29 walks and 51 strikeouts. Despite improving both his walk and strikeout rates, Tomberlin moved to hitting in 1988, and it looked to be a smart decision from the start. He split that season between the two A-Ball affiliates of the Braves, Durham of the Carolina League and Burlington of the Midwest League. He combined to hit .315 with 67 runs scored, 38 extra-base hits, 53 RBIs, 23 steals, 71 walks and an .897 OPS in 126 games. Tomberlin spent the entire 1989 season with Durham, where he hit .281 in 119 games, with 63 runs, 13 doubles, 16 homers, 61 RBIs, 35 steals, 54 walks and an .841 OPS. He split the 1990 season between Double-A Greenville of the Southern League and Triple-A Richmond of the International League. In 140 games that year, Tomberlin batted .307 with 67 runs scored, 40 extra-base hits, 56 RBIs, 20 steals, 59 walks and an .820 OPS. He returned to Richmond in 1991 and saw a major drop in the production, putting up a .234 average, 17 extra-base hits and a .636 OPS in 93 games. He returned there for entire 1992 season as well, hitting .271 in 118 games that year, with 69 runs scored, 30 extra-base hits, 47 RBIs and a .749 OPS. After some strong stolen base numbers earlier in his career, he went 12-for-24 in steals that season.

After spending seven seasons in the Braves minor league system, Tomberlin became a free agent and signed with the Pirates in November of 1992. He spent most of the 1993 season in Triple-A with Buffalo of the American Association, where he hit .285 with 41 runs, 11 doubles, 12 homers, 45 RBIs and an .899 OPS in 68 games. Tomberlin debuted with the Pirates on August 12, 1993, and was mainly used off of the bench over the rest of the season. Just six of his 27 games with the Pirates came as a starter, and he was used strictly as a pinch-hitter in September/October, after making four starts in the final week of August. He batted .286/.333/.405 in 45 plate appearances over 27 games with the Pirates. Tomberlin was let go after the season and he signed with the Boston Red Sox. He played 18 games for the 1994 Red Sox, hitting .194/.310/.333 with one homer, which accounted for his only run and RBI that season in the majors. The rest of the year was spent with Pawtucket of the Triple-A International League, where he put up a .333 average and a 1.032 OPS in 54 games.

Tomberlin signed with the 1995 Oakland A’s as a free agent and played 46 big league games that year, hitting .212 with 15 runs, four extra-base hits (all homers), ten RBIs and a .609 OPS. He spent 17 games with Edmonton of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in 1996, and was there for 17 more games in 1997, before the A’s traded him to the New York Mets on May 1, 1997. He played a career high 63 games for the 1996 Mets, batting .258 with 12 runs, four doubles, three homers and ten RBIs. Tomberlin started just five of those 63 games and he batted 76 times all year. He saw brief time with the Mets in 1997, going 2-for-7 in six games to start the season, before a back injury landed him on the disabled list in mid-April. He played just eight more games that season, all rehab games in the lower level of the minors. He finished his big league career with the 1998 Detroit Tigers, where he batted .217 with eight runs, two doubles, two homers and 12 RBIs in 32 games. He had an .864 OPS in 53 minor league games that season, which were split between Toledo (Tigers) and Richmond (Braves) of the International League. Tomberlin put in two more years in the minors before retiring, spending 1999 back with the Mets, before playing a short stint with the Cleveland Indians at Triple-A in 2000. He hit .316 with a .951 OPS in 106 games in 1999, mostly spent with Norfolk of the International League. The 2000 season was brief, as he played 11 games with Buffalo of the International League and had a 1.033 OPS. He injured his knee in early May, had season-ending surgery in early June and became a scout for the Milwaukee Brewers by November, ending his career. He played for five teams over six seasons in the majors, batting .233 in 191 games, with 40 runs scored, 19 extra-base hits (11 homers) and 38 RBIs.

Bill Brubaker, third baseman for the Pirates from 1932 until 1940. He saw very limited time during each of his first four seasons in the majors, playing a total of 18 games for the 1932-35 Pirates, then started full-time in place of Pie Traynor in 1936 and had a big season. Brubaker played his first game for the Pirates a month before his actual debut, playing the second half of an exhibition game on August 8th at third base, replacing Traynor. He was with the Pirates for nearly a month at that time, joining the club on July 12th, shortly after he graduated from the University of California. He didn’t actually sign with the Pirates until September 2nd, so it appears that his was with the Pirates on a tryout basis and they were satisfied with his work. His actual big league debut came on September 8th as a late inning replacement during a one-sided game. His next appearance was 13 days later, when the Pirates decided to put him at third base for the final six games of the season. He did well during that debut, hitting .417/.482/.542 in seven games. In 1933, he played one April game and one September game, both off of the bench, going 0-for-2 at the plate. In between, he spent the year with Toronto of the Double-A International League (highest level of the minors at the time), where he hit .257 with 13 extra-base hits in 92 games. Brubaker hit .291 with 49 extra-base hits in 135 games for Albany of the International League in 1934. He joined the Pirates in September  that year and played three games, going 2-for-6 with a double, RBI and a walk.

Despite success at a high level in 1934, Brubaker was back in the minors in 1935 and did well for Kansas City of the Double-A American Association. In 133 games, he hit .293 with 63 extra-base hits. His time that year with the Pirates came in April/May, where he went 0-for-11 in six games. His defense was considered to be big league ready at the time, and he was even called the best third baseman in the American Association multiple times, but there were questions about his bat playing up in the majors. Brubaker put those questions to rest, at least for one year. His big 1936 season in the majors was truly out of nowhere. He was on the bench for the first 11 games of the season, but got off to a hot streak once he got a chance to play. He was an iron man that season, playing almost every inning of the last 145 games of the season, only leaving two games early, which were both one-sided contests. In one of those games, he went 5-for-5 before leaving in the seventh inning. Brubaker finished with a .289 average, 77 runs scored, 27 doubles, six homers, 102 RBIs and 50 walks, which were all career highs. His .737 OPS was his highest total over a season in which he saw regular work. He never came close to approaching that RBI mark, topping out at 48 during the 1937 season when he was the starting third baseman for most of the year. That year he hit .254 in 120 games, with 57 runs, 30 extra-base hits, 47 walks and a .700 OPS.

Brubaker lost the starting third base job two weeks into the 1938 season, and he became a seldom used bench player at that point. He hit .295 with 19 runs, eight extra-base hits and 18 RBIs in 45 games in 1938. His .767 OPS was a career best, but he only batted 123 times that year. The next year he saw work at second base and third base, while hitting .232 in 100 games, with 41 runs scored, 23 doubles, seven homers, 43 RBIs and a .662 OPS. He was back on the bench in 1940, making 19 starts all year, with 14 coming in June at third base. He batted just .192/.267/.256 in 38 games. The Pirates sold him to the St Louis Cardinals after the 1940 season and he spent the next two full seasons in the minors, seeing time with four different clubs, including parts of the 1942-43 seasons with Albany of the Eastern League. Brubaker batted .241 with 12 extra-base hits in 76 games in 1941, splitting the year between Indianapolis of the American Association and New Orleans of the Class-A Southern Association. He played one game with Syracuse of the Double-A International League in 1942, then played the rest of the year with Albany, where he hit .249 with 18 extra-base hits in 92 games. He saw his only Major League time outside of Pittsburgh  with the 1943 Boston Braves, playing 13 games in what ended up being his last year of pro ball. It was said that he was hampered by a bad back during his final season in pro ball. He had a 1.055 OPS in 21 plate appearances with the Braves, and a .957 OPS in 12 games with Albany that year. With the Pirates, he hit .262 in 466 games, with 205 runs scored, 85 doubles, ten triples, 22 homers and 204 RBIs. His grandson Dennis Rasmussen pitched 12 seasons in the majors.

Ed Mensor, outfielder for the 1912-14 Pirates. He was active in pro ball from 1910 until 1919, returning for a brief time in 1921, with most of his minor league action coming on the west coast (he was a native of Oregon). Mensor’s career began with Portland of the Class-A Pacific Coast League (highest level of the minors at the time), where he hit .323 with five extra-base hits in 19 games in 1910. He was with Portland for the next two seasons as well, though they were playing in the Class-B Northwestern League at the time. In 1911, he .287 in 135 games, with 19 doubles and four triples. He began the 1912 season with Portland, hitting .301 with ten doubles and five triples in 55 games before joining the Pirates on July 8th when his contract was purchased for $3,000. He was scouted by George Van Haltren, a star player with Hall of Fame credentials, who had two stints as a player with the Pirates. The Pirates noted from the start that Mensor would be used as an extra outfielder, with his best tools being above average speed, patience at the plate and a very strong arm. He failed to hit a single home run in his three seasons before making the majors. Mensor was a backup for three seasons in Pittsburgh, playing all three outfield spots and even a few games in the infield in 1913.  His best seasons was his rookie year in 1912 when he hit .263 in 39 games, with 19 runs, ten stolen bases, 23 walks and a .735 OPS. In 1913, he batted just .179 in 49 games, with a lowly .489 OPS. He had one extra-base hit (a double) and four walks in 67 plate appearances. In 44 games in 1914, he hit .202 with 15 runs and one homer, which was an inside-the-park home run and the first homer of his pro career. He is credited with one more pro home run, which he hit three years later in the minors. He had a .653 OPS that season, thanks to 22 walks in his brief time.

Mensor’s online stats credit him with playing 18 games for Pendleton of the Western Tri-State League in 1914, but that was actually his brother Jimmy. During Spring Training of 1915, Ed Mensor was the first player cut by the Pirates. On March 11th, they sold his contract to Columbus of the Double-A American Association. On his way out to his new team, Mensor’s last words to reports were “I will be back in the Major League again”. That did not come to fruition. He spent most of 1915 playing for Newark of the International League, where he hit .219 in 112 games. In 1916, he returned to the west coast, playing for Spokane of the Northwestern League, where he batted .308 in 114 games. Mensor spent the next two seasons playing for Oakland of the Double-A Pacific Coast League, where he batted .225 with 20 extra-base hits in 171 games in 1917. His time was brief in 1918, as he quit in early May and went on to play semi-pro ball later that year, while also serving in a managerial role. Oakland still held his rights, but he refused to report in 1919, and ended up playing for Victoria of the Class-B Western International League. He played semi-pro ball in Merced, California in 1920, then returned to pro ball in 1921 for 73 games with Calgary of the Class-B Western Canada League, where he hit .270 with 14 extra-base hits. He hit .221 with 43 runs scored, one homer, eight RBIs and 14 steals in 127 games in the majors, all spent with the Pirates. Mensor is one of the smaller players in big league history, listed at 5’6″, 145 pounds, though it appears that he was lighter at times. An article in 1912 called him the smallest player in baseball and listed his weight at 125 pounds. He had the nickname Midget as a player, which wasn’t uncommon for the smallest players at the time.

The Only Nolan, pitcher for the 1883 Alleghenys. He wasn’t the best pitcher out there, but he thought he was at times. Edward Nolan is forever known as “The Only Nolan” with the most widely accepted origin of the name being that he had a desire to be the only pitcher for his team. Research for this article has uncovered a story printed four days after his big league debut for Indianapolis that states that the team owner had very large photographs of Nolan and his catcher Silver Flint printed up and hung in store windows all around town. The photo for Nolan was labeled “The Only Nolan” and he gained instant fame from it, but not in a good way. The press thought that he was undeserving of the name and started throwing about “The Only” nicknames for everyone else as a joke. It apparently stuck with him, still to this day. The original story was baed on the fact that for the first 22 games of the 1878 season, he was the only pitcher used by his team, but it’s unlikely that he could request such a thing at such a young age, and with just one season of minor league experience to his credit. He first played pro ball with the League Alliance team in Indianapolis in 1877 (recognized as the first minor league). That Indianapolis team joined the National League during the following season.

He had a pro career that spanned ten years, with five seasons in the majors for five teams. Back when pitchers finished what they started and their win/loss record told a better story, he went 23-52, including losses in all seven starts for the 1883 Alleghenys. Nolan had a lot of trouble with staying out of trouble during his career. He was suspended during his rookie season with Indianapolis, suspected of throwing a game in June. Then he refused to pitch a game in August. He claimed that his brother had died, but there was no proof of that happening. He finished with a 13-22, 2.57 record in 347 innings for Indianapolis. The league expelled him and he played the next two years in California, joining the San Francisco Knickerbockers of the Pacific League in 1879, and the San Francisco Bay City of the California League in 1880. San Francisco was the center of west coast baseball at that time and all of the teams in those two leagues he played in were based in San Francisco. Nolan quickly gained a bad reputation early in his career for hitting batters that he didn’t want to face, or as the papers put it, “batters who made him nervous”.

Nolan returned to the majors in 1881 with Cleveland and he went 8-14, 3.05 in 180 innings. He also umpired two games late in the season. He played 14 games in the outfield for Cleveland, and nine more at third base, finishing with a .244 average in 41 games. He was out of baseball in 1882 and ran a saloon in his hometown, then came back in November of 1882 to sign with Pittsburgh. His time with the Alleghenys was very brief. On May 16th, he was fined $10 by manager Al Pratt for not going to bed on time. According to the papers, he thought that was ridiculous and decided to give the team a better reason to fine him. He went out drinking and put the drinks on the team’s tab, which earned him a suspension. He would return to the team in June, but only for two final games before being released. He had a 4.25 ERA in 55 innings with Pittsburgh, to go along with that 0-7 record. Despite all of his troubles, he still found big league jobs in 1884 with Wilmington of the Union Association (a league that lasted just one year) and the Philadelphia Quakers (NL) in 1885. Wilmington actually began the year as a a minor league team in the Eastern League, where he had a 19-5, 1.42 record in 203 innings. They were asked to join the Union Association in mid-August to finish out the schedule for a team that folded, but they did so poorly that they folded too. Nolan went 1-4, 2.93 in 40 innings during that brief time. He went 1-5, 4.17 in 54 innings for Philadelphia in 1885 to finish out his big league time. He played his final season in the minors in 1886, seeing time with Jersey City of the Eastern League and Savannah of the Class-B Southern Association, where he went 4-2, 2.17 in 54 innings over six complete games. Nolan went 1-2, 3.60 in 25 innings during his brief time with Jersey City. He was a .240 hitter in the majors. Nolan had a strong 2.98 ERA in 676 big league innings, despite that awful 23-52 career record. He completed 74 of his 78 career starts.

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