This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: December 8th, A Very Busy Day for Big Trades

Busy date for trades of note, plus we also have four former Pirates born on this date.

The Trades

On this date in 1899, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Louisville Colonels completed a trade that changed both franchises for history. Louisville owner Barney Dreyfuss became part owner of the Pirates, and under an agreement with his old team, he paid $25,000 and traded six players for his pick of the Louisville roster. That group included Hall of Famers Honus Wagner, Fred Clarke and Rube Waddell, as well as key players for the Pirates in the 1900s in Tommy Leach, Claude Ritchey and Deacon Phillippe. As you would expect with him having the pick of the group, he took the best players. The Louisville club eventually folded and the Pirates actually took possession of all of their signed players who were still on the team at the time, though Louisville saw the writing on the wall and made a few deals before turning over their roster to Pittsburgh. The Pirates would go on to win three straight pennants (1901-03), and four players they acquired were still around for their 1909 World Series title.

I plan to have a much bigger recap of this trade in the future, as there was much more to it than the 12-for-4+cash deal that it is recognized as being today. The original trade as reported by Louisville papers was 13 players going to Pittsburgh, while six were sent to Louisville. The Pirates actually gave up Hall of Fame pitcher Jack Chesbro in the deal, which would have made it a little more tolerable for Louisville if they remained in business (plus $25,000 was a LOT of money back then). However, he ended up going back to Pittsburgh after they folded, and he won 64 games over the next three seasons in Pittsburgh.

On this date in 2005, the Pirates traded lefty starting pitcher Dave Williams to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for first baseman Sean Casey and cash. Casey had already batted over .300 five times in his career to that point. He lasted  just 59 games with the Pirates (he missed a little time due to injury) before being traded to the Detroit Tigers on July 31, 2006 for minor league pitcher Brian Rogers. He hit .296/.377/.408 with 30 runs, 18 extra-base hits and 29 RBIs before the trade to Detroit. The 26-year-old Williams had a 4.25 ERA in 334.1 innings for the Pirates over four seasons. He went 10-11, 4.41 in 138.1 innings in 2005. After the trade, he pitched a total of 73.1 innings in the majors, with nearly half of that time coming for the 2006-07 New York Mets. The Reds got a 7.20 ERA out of him in eight starts before they traded him to the Mets for a minor league player. The Pirates traded Williams at his peak, though the injury to Casey and his lackluster trade return ended up making it just a slight win in their trade column.

On this date in 1977, the Pirates teamed up with the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets and Texas Rangers to complete a four-team, 11-player trade. It was a deal that worked out well for the Pirates, even though they were giving up one of their best hitters. The Pirates traded Al Oliver and Nelson Norman in the deal, while getting back future Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven from the Rangers and outfielder John Milner from the Mets. Blyleven would win 34 games over three seasons in Pittsburgh and add another two wins during the 1979 postseason, helping the Pirates to their fifth World Series title. Milner hit .263 with 34 homers and 149 RBIs in 417 games over five seasons in Pittsburgh, while posting an impressive 150:97 BB/SO ratio. Norman was a minor leaguer at the time. He played just 198 big league games, including a very brief return to Pittsburgh in 1982. Oliver did well in Texas, batting .319 with 49 homers and 337 RBIs in four seasons. Just prior to the deal, Blyleven signed a six-year deal that had deferred payments that earned him money each year through 2003.

On this date in 1948, the Pirates traded infielder Frankie Gustine and pitcher Cal McLish to the Chicago Cubs for pitcher Cliff Chambers and catcher Clyde McCullough. Gustine was an All-Star for three straight seasons prior to the trade, but he played just 85 more big league games after the deal. He played 1,176 games over ten seasons in Pittsburgh. McLish allowed seven runs in six innings over two season with the Pirates. He had a 5-11 record over parts of two seasons with the Cubs, then went five years between Major League appearances. Chambers was a 26-year-old rookie in 1948, going 2-9, 4.43 in 103.2 innings. He threw a no-hitter with the Pirates in 1951, the first one in team history since 1907, but then he was traded shortly afterwards. He went 28-28, 4.33 in 486.1 innings during his time in Pittsburgh. McCullough was 31 years old at the time of the deal, with seven seasons of big league experience and two years missed due to service during the war. He was an All-Star during the 1948 season, but it was also his worst full season in the majors. He played four seasons for the Pirates and he hit a career high .297 in 1951. He had a .710 OPS in 352 games in Pittsburgh. The Pirates easily won this trade, getting solid performances from each player they received, then trading them when they still had value. McCullough was an All-Star in 1953, though he had just 0.3 WAR for the season. He was actually traded back to the Cubs for a large cash amount and a minor league pitcher after the 1952 season.

On this date in 1947, the Pirates and Brooklyn Dodgers hooked up for a six-player deal with three players from each team involved. The Pirates traded infielders Billy Cox and Gene Mauch, along with pitcher Preacher Roe to the Dodgers for outfielder Dixie Walker and pitchers Hal Gregg and Vic Lombardi. The trade was a major win for the Dodgers. Roe went 93-37 in seven seasons in Brooklyn after going just 34-47 for the Pirates. Cox had the second best career of this group following the trade, putting in seven years with the Dodgers, playing a steady third base for a team that won three National League titles during that stretch. Mauch only played 16 games with the Pirates, but lasted just 12 games with the Dodgers before they lost him via waivers, so he wasn’t much of a loss.

Walker had two good years with the Pirates before he retired, batting .306 in 217 games, though his best years were behind him at that point. He was 37 at the time of the trade, a four-time All-Star who received MVP votes in seven seasons while with the Dodgers, including a second and third place finish. His defense was poor late in his career, so it limited his overall value and playing time. Lombardi went 14-19, 4.60 in 343.1 innings with the Pirates over three seasons. His first year was much better than the last two seasons. Gregg lasted three years with the Pirates as well, though his mound time was much more limited, with 98.1 innings total over that time. The trade wasn’t that bad during the first two years after it was made because the Pirates were getting contributions from all three players, while Mauch provided nothing for the Dodgers. However, as time went along, it got more lopsided each year in favor of Brooklyn. Roe put up 25.1 WAR in seven seasons for the Dodgers, while Cox added 5.3 WAR. The Pirates group accumulated 4.6 WAR.

On this date in 1939 the Pirates traded pitcher Bill Swift to the Boston Bees for pitcher Danny MacFayden. Swift had been with the Pirates since his rookie season in 1932. He won at least 11 games in each of his first five seasons in Pittsburgh, and a total of 91 wins over his eight seasons. MacFayden was a 14-year veteran with 125 career wins at the time of the trade. Despite strong credentials on both sides, neither did much for their new team. Swift won just four more Major League games over his last three seasons, while MacFayden went 5-4 3.55 in 35 games in his only year with the Pirates. He was released following the season and pitched just 15 more Major League games. This was a much more significant deal when it happened, but it turned out to be minor for each team. The two teams actually swapped pitchers two deals earlier, with the Pirates giving up Jim Tobin for Johnny Lanning, in a deal that worked out much better for Boston.

The Players

Jim Pagliaroni, catcher for the 1963-67 Pirates. He signed with the Boston Red Sox right out of high school in 1955 at 17 years old. He was required to remain with the Red Sox because his bonus ($85,000) qualified him for the Bonus Baby rule. The basics of the rule during its existence said that if a player signed for a bonus over a certain amount, he had to remain with the Major League team. It was put in place to keep the teams with the most money from stockpiling all of the prospects. Pagliaroni had just one plate appearance during the 1955 season (a sacrifice fly), then spent the next two years in the Army. When he returned in 1958, he went to the minors for the next 2 1/2 seasons before returning to the Red Sox on August 1, 1960. He split the 1958 season between Class-A Allentown of the Eastern League and Memphis of the Double-A Southern Association. He combined to hit .243 in 94 games, with 38 runs, 13 doubles, ten homers, 43 RBIs and 68 walks. Pagliaroni played his first of two straight seasons in the Pacific Coast League in 1959. That first year he hit .215 with 20 runs, 17 extra-base hits, 33 RBIs and a .685 OPS in 80 games for Vancouver. The next year for Spokane, he batted .292 with 27 runs, five doubles, ten homers, 33 RBIs, 45 walks and a .969 OPS in 57 games, before rejoining the Red Sox . He hit .306/.434/.548 with two homers and nine RBIs in 28 games in 1960 for Boston. He then put together two solid full seasons at the plate before coming to the Pirates.

Pagliaroni played 120 games in 1961, hitting .242 with 50 runs, 17 doubles, 16 homers, 58 RBIs, 55 walks and a .757 OPS. He followed that up in 1962 with a .258 average in 90 games, finishing with 39 runs, 14 doubles, 11 homers, 37 RBIs and a .797 OPS. On November 20, 1962, the Pirates gave up slugging first baseman Dick Stuart and pitcher Jack Lamabe in a four-player deal with the Red Sox. They acquired Pagliaroni and pitcher Don Schwall. Pagliaroni spent five full seasons with the Pirates, accumulating 10.3 WAR over that stretch. He batted .230 in 92 games during the 1963 season, with 27 runs, five doubles, 11 homers, 26 RBIs and a .711 OPS. He hit .295 in 97 games in 1964, with 33 runs, 25 extra-base hits, 36 RBIs, 41 walks and a career best .836 OPS. His best season came in 1965 when he played a career high 134 games. He hit .268 with 42 runs scored, 15 doubles, 17 homers, 65 RBIs, 41 walks and a .769 OPS. Both his home run and RBI totals were career highs. He reached double figures in homers for six straight seasons (1961-66). Pagliaroni batted .235 in 123 games in 1966, with a career high 20 doubles, to go along with 37 runs, 11 homers, 49 RBIs, 50 walks and a .706 OPS.

During his final season in Pittsburgh, Pagliaroni was relegated to a backup role behind Jerry May. Late in the season, rookie Manny Sanguillen emerged from the minors and played regularly. Pagliaroni played his final Pirates game in early August, then finished out his time in Pittsburgh on the disabled list with a neck injury. He played 44 games that season, hitting .200/.314/.230 with no homers, nine RBIs and just four runs scored.

Pagliaroni was sold to the Oakland Athletics after the 1967 season. He finished out his 11 year big league career two seasons later with the Seattle Pilots, during their only season in existence. His sale price to the Oakland A’s was $75,000 total, though he needed to make the team for the Pirates to get the full amount. He did and was doing great until a broken hand caused him to miss nearly two full months in the middle of the season. He also missed more than a month in 1969 due to a broken finger, which limited his playing time in his final year to 54 games. Pagliaroni batted .246 with 19 runs, six homers, 20 RBIs and a .687 OPS in 66 games in 1968. That was followed by a split season between the A’s (14 games) and the Pilots (40 games). He batted .241 with 11 runs, five doubles, six homers, 16 RBIs and a .750 OPS in his final season. He was released after the season and retired. He played 490 games for the Pirates, hitting .254 with 143 runs, 53 doubles, 49 homers and 185 RBIs. Pagliaroni hit .252 over 849 big league games, with 269 runs scored, 98 doubles, 90 homers and 326 RBIs. He had just four career steals. His defense was above average, finishing with 3.4 dWAR according to modern metrics. He didn’t make many errors, but he was also below average at throwing out runners, finishing with a 33% success rate, five points below league average at the time.

Jack Rowe, shortstop for the 1889 Alleghenys. He was a star player back in the day before joining the Alleghenys late in his career. He has no minor league stats from the early part of his career, but we know that he played for Milwaukee of the League Alliance in 1877 at 20 years old. That was the first season of recognized minor league ball. He was playing for the Peoria Reds in 1878, a semi-pro team where he formed the catching part of the battery with his brother Dave Rowe (more on him below). Before making his big league debut in 1879, Jack Rowe played for Rockford of the Northwestern League. He debuted in the majors with Buffalo of the National League in September of 1879 and made a great first impression, hitting .353 in eight games, with eight runs scored and eight RBIs. He batted .252 in 79 games for Buffalo in 1880, with 43 runs scored, 17 extra-base hits, 36 RBIs and a career low .593 OPS. Rowe hit .333 in 64 games during the 1881 season, finishing with 30 runs scored, 11 doubles, 11 triples and 43 RBIs. He walked just once all season, but still set a career high with his .816 OPS. He hit .266 in 75 games in 1882, with 43 runs, 20 extra-base hits, 42 RBIs and a .648 OPS. He didn’t strike out once all season in 320 at-bats, which is made even more impressive by the fact that his team led the league in strikeouts, despite having a full-time player who didn’t contribute to that stat.

Rowe batted .278 in 87 games for Buffalo in 1883, finishing with 65 runs scored, 26 extra-base hits, 38 RBIs and a .678 OPS. A third Major League was added in 1884 (Union Association), which watered down the talent in the National League a bit, and many players saw better stats that season. Rowe hit .315 in 93 games, with 85 runs scored, 14 doubles, a career high 14 triples, 61 RBIs and an .802 OPS. He had a sold 1885 season, batting .290 in 98 games, with 62 runs, 28 doubles, eight triples, 51 RBIs and a .720 OPS. He was part of a package of players sold to the Detroit Wolverines after the 1885 season. In his first year in Detroit, Rowe hit .303 in 111 games, with 97 runs scored, 36 extra-base hits, 87 RBIs and a .765 OPS. He was a big part of Detroit’s 1887 National League championship team. He hit .318 with 135 runs, 46 extra-base hits, 96 RBIs, 22 steals and an .813 OPS that was just shy of his career best. He set career highs with runs, RBIs and doubles (30) that season. Rowe saw a significant decline in his stats in 1888, finishing with a .271 average and a 134 point drop in his OPS. He still contributed 62 runs and 74 RBIs in 105 games, so it was by no means a bad season.

Pittsburgh purchased Rowe shortly after the 1888 season ended from the Detroit Wolverines as part of a package deal that included young star pitcher Pete Conway. He held out for the beginning of the 1889 season along with Hall of Famer Deacon White, who was also acquired from the Wolverines over the off-season. Rowe managed Buffalo of the International League during that time that he was holding out. Both players insisted that they were to be paid part of their purchase price (which amounted to $1,250 each) before they joined the Alleghenys. Rowe debuted with Pittsburgh on July 8th (same day as White) and he played 75 of the final 77 games of the season at shortstop. He batted .259 in his only season in Pittsburgh, collecting 57 runs, 19 extra-base hits, 32 RBIs and a .654 OPS. When the Player’s League formed in 1890, both White and Rowe jumped from the Alleghenys to the Buffalo club in the PL. He played 125 games and hit .250 with 77 runs, 31 extra-base hits and 76 RBIs, but it ended up being his last season in the majors. He played for Lincoln of the Western League in 1891 and Buffalo of the Eastern League in 1892-93 to finish out his pro career. He managed Buffalo during the 1896-98 seasons. His Lincoln stats show a .283 average in 93 games, with 68 runs and 29 extra-base hits. He batted .308 with 17 runs in 18 games for Buffalo in 1892, then finished up with a .349 average and 113 runs in 110 games in 1893.

Rowe hit .286 career in 12 seasons, scoring 764 runs and driving in 644 runs in 1,044 games. He had 202 doubles, 88 triples and 28 homers. He was an excellent defensive player, mostly playing catcher early in his career, before moving full-time to shortstop in 1886. Rowe led all catchers in fielding percentage in 1884, then led all shortstops in fielding percentage in 1890, making him the Player’s League all-time leader in that category. His brother Dave spent seven seasons in the majors as a player, two of those spent as a player/manager. They were teammates in 1879 with their minor league team in Rockford, then again in 1891 with Lincoln.

Kid Camp, pitcher for the 1892 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball in 1890 with Seattle of the Pacific Northwest League at 20 years old. He’s credited with a 12-9, 0.94 record in 181 innings. Camp pitched 459.1 innings for Seattle in 1891, while posting a 31-20, 1.23 record. He completed 46 of 52 starts that year. He made his debut in the majors for the 1892 Pirates, getting one start and three relief appearances before returning to minor league ball in Seattle. Camp pitched 21 innings with Pittsburgh, allowing 23 runs (16 earned), finishing with a 0-1, 6.26 record. According to reports, he was pitching with both hands in games, though he was a natural right-handed pitcher who had an unorthodox delivery and relied up his fastball, but he threw a whole mix of pitches to keep batters guessing.

The Pirates had an interesting financial matter arise with Camp. They gave him an advance on his salary, which wasn’t rare back then, but he wasn’t with the Pirates long enough to earn the amount that they already paid out. He was sold back to Seattle on June 22, 1982. As of December of 1892, they were still looking to collect $117 from Seattle, as they assumed his debt to the Pirates when he was released and sent back to his old team. What is more interesting is that the Pirates signed Camp away from Seattle, despite the fact that he was put on Seattle’s reserve list in October of 1891. He was signed in mid-February by Russ McKelvy, who played one game for the Pirates (1882 Alleghenys), and was now a scout for the team. The Pirates excuse for signing a reserved player amounted to saying that if they didn’t sign him, some other MLB team would have instead. He went 9-4, 1.62 in 13 starts and 117 innings with Seattle in 1892, while also seeing time with Oakland of the Class-B California League, where he had a 1-3 record in four complete game starts. Online records say that allowed 41 runs with Oakland, but just seven were earned. Camp played for Augusta of the Class-B Southern Association in 1893, where he had a 12-13 record and completed 24 of his 25 starts.

Camp had one other brief trial in the majors, going 0-1, 6.55 in three games (two starts) for the 1894 Chicago Colts (Cubs). He also spent time that year with Indianapolis and Sioux City of the Western League, though the latter team used him for just one inning. He went 2-6, 4.16 in 71.1 innings with Indianapolis. That 1894 season would be his last in pro ball under unfortunate circumstances. At the age of 25, Camp passed away from consumption (tuberculosis) a month prior to the 1895 season. His brother Lew Camp pitched three seasons in the majors, the last in 1894 as a teammate of Kid (his real name was Winfield Scott Camp). His nickname appears to come from a comparison to Hall of Fame pitcher Kid Nichols, who starred in the minors in Omaha, which was Camp’s hometown, though it may also have something to do with playing alongside his brother during his first season. The local papers in 1890 called him “Win” Camp at times, Young Camp and also Kid. He was the youngest player on his team. He won a long distance throwing contest while in the minors in 1890, where he threw the ball 386 feet in the air.

Charlie Wacker, pitcher for the Pirates on April 28, 1909. He debuted in pro ball with Evansville of the Class-B Central League in 1906. He had a 17-17 record and threw 282 innings that season. His 1907 season with Evansville was interrupted in late May due to an emergency appendectomy. Local newspapers even ran with a story that said that he was unlikely to survive. He didn’t return to the team until two months later and still needed to get into condition. His only stats available for that season show a 2-5 record. Despite the rough 1907 season, things turned around for him quickly in 1908, and that led to much better things for a brief time. The 25-year-old, 5’9″ lefty, got his big league chance after going 27-8 in 1908 for Evansville. His ERA isn’t available for that year, but it’s known that in 291 innings over 37 games, he allowed 2.35 runs per nine innings. He was originally with the Cincinnati Reds during Spring Training in 1909, but he didn’t make the team and got put on waivers. The Pirates claimed him on April 8th and he joined the club on April 14th. In his only appearance for the Pirates, Wacker threw two innings in relief, giving up two unearned runs on two hits and a walk. He came in during the seventh inning of an 8-2 loss to the St Louis Cardinals in the 12th game of the season and he finished the game for the Pirates. That ended up being his entire big league career. Part of his brief time with the Pirates was spent at home after the birth of his son, though one paper reported it as him tending to his ill mother and another said his ill wife. An interview cleared up that the baby was the reason he was home for the better part of a week in early May.

Just days after he returned to the Pirates from his excused absence, Wacker was sent to Milwaukee of the Class-A American Association (highest level of the minors at the time) on May 19th. He was subject to recall at the end of the season, but he never returned to the Pirates. He went 7-7 in 153 innings over 25 games with Milwaukee in 1909. In February of 1910, he was sold to Dayton of the Central League for $650 (which went to Milwaukee). He had a 12-9 record in 1910 and pitched 210 innings. He gave up 2.87 runs per nine innings that season. He played minor league ball until 1911, playing with both Dayton and Fort Wayne (also of the Central League), going 13-13 in 203 innings during his final season. He finished with a 76-54 record over five seasons in the minors. He had a minor league contract for a team from Springfield in 1912, but he refused to report, and eventually bought his release so he could pitch closer to home. He played semi-pro ball back in Evansville in 1912 for two different teams, and did some local mound work in 1913-14 as well. Wacker went by his middle name James (or Jimmy) in the minors, but he was referred to by his first name (Charles or Charlie) with the Reds and Pirates, which is why you will find him sometimes listed as Jimmy. He had the nickname “Demon” in the minors.