This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: December 27th, Dee, Ducky and Bishop

Six former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date.

Craig Reynolds, infielder for the 1975-76 Pirates. He was a first round draft pick of the Pirates in 1971, the 22nd overall pick. He hit .318 over 48 games that first season the Gulf Coast League, collecting 26 runs, eight doubles and 16 RBIs, leading to a .737 OPS. He struggled the following year in A-ball, hitting .240 with no homers and a .596 OPS in 41 games for Gastonia of the Western Carolinas League. From that low point, he ended up earning a late-season promotion to Triple-A in 1973 after hitting .287 in 138 games, with 75 runs, 18 doubles, 13 homers, 86 RBIs, 14 steals and a .741 OPS, while playing for Salem of the Class-A Carolina League. He finished the season by going 3-for-14 in four games for Charleston of the International League. Reynolds split the 1974 season between Double-A Thetford Mines of the Eastern League and Triple-A Charleston. In 100 games that season, he hit .299 with 43 runs, 12 doubles, six homers, 34 RBIs and a .746 OPS, putting up slightly better results at the upper level. He was a full-time shortstop with Charleston in 1975, hitting .308/.342/.417 through 108 games, when he earned a Major League call-up on August 1st. He had 51 runs, 22 doubles, six homers and 42 RBIs for Charleston. He played 31 games in Pittsburgh that first year, hitting .224/.253/.263 in 79 plate appearances. He returned to Charleston for 1976, hitting .290 in 126 games, with 57 runs, 21 extra-base hits (18 doubles), 47 RBIs and a .679 OPS. Reynolds was a September call-up, though he saw very little time. He went 1-for-4 in seven games, connecting on his first career homer.

The Pirates traded Reynolds to the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Grant Jackson after the 1976 season. The deal worked out for both teams. He took over the starting shortstop position for the expansion Mariners in 1977, hitting .248 in 135 games, with 41 runs, 19 extra-base hits, 28 RBIs and a .596 OPS. Those stats weren’t impressive by any means, but Reynolds became an All-Star during the 1978 season. He hit .292 in 148 games that season, with 57 runs, 28 extra-base hits, 44 RBIs and a .710 OPS, posting a career best 3.7 WAR on offense. The Mariners sold high on him, trading him to the Houston Astros on December 8, 1978 for starting pitcher Floyd Bannister. That trade worked out well for both clubs, with each player making an All-Star appearance with their new teams. Reynolds stayed in Houston through the 1989 season, playing 1,170 games over 11 seasons with the Astros. He was an All-Star during the 1979 season, hitting .265 in 146 games, with 63 runs scored, 20 doubles, nine triples, 39 RBIs, a .625 OPS, and a career high 12 steals. He led the league with 34 sacrifice hits. Reynolds batted just .226 in 137 games during the 1980 season, finishing with a lowly .566 OPS, though he kept his job with a solid defensive season. He scored 34 runs, while collecting 18 extra-base hits and 28 RBIs. He bounced back a bit during the strike-shortened 1981 season, putting up a .260 average in 87 games, with 43 runs, ten doubles, 31 RBIs, a .688 OPS, and a league leading/career high 12 triples. He also led the league with 18 sacrifice hits.

Reynolds batted .254/.321/.348 in 134 plate appearances over 54 games in 1982. He missed time due to vertigo, and he served in a bench role from mid-June to the end of the season. He batted just .214/.260/.276 in 65 games during the 1983 season, with limited plate appearances (104), while he was being used as more of a utility infielder. His best overall season during his career was 1984 when he had 3.1 WAR as the everyday shortstop. In 146 games that year, he had a .260 average, with 61 runs scored, 32 extra-base hits and a career high 60 RBIs. He also led the league in sacrifice hits (16) for a third time. He had a higher OPS in 1985 (.686 vs .651 in 1984), batting .272 with 43 runs, 30 extra-base hits and 32 RBIs, but he played 107 games and had better defense in 1984, so the WAR total didn’t quite stack up to the previous year. Reynolds hit .249 in 114 games during the 1986 season, finishing with 32 runs, 16 extra-base hits, 41 RBIs and a .623 OPS. He mostly played shortstop, but he saw time at six positions that season, a total he would match in 1989.

Reynolds batted .254 in 1987, with 35 runs, 17 doubles, four homers, 28 RBIs and a .651 OPS in 135 games. He took up a bench role in 1988, batting .255 in 78 games, with 20 runs, seven doubles, one homer, 14 RBIs, and a .607 OPS. He started just 33 games all year, but he made at least five starts at all four infield spots. In his final season in 1989, he hit .201/.274/.254 in 101 games, and once again saw starts at all four infield spots. He finished that season with 16 runs, four doubles, two homers and 14 RBIs.  Reynolds played a total of 15 seasons in the majors, hitting .256 over 1,491 games, with 480 runs scored, 250 extra-base hits, 377 RBIs and 124 sacrifice hits. He finished with a career 13.1 WAR. His actual first name is Gordon. He went by his middle name. He wore #18 when he first came up to the majors, but switched to #12 during that first season in 1975, and kept the number for the rest of his career.

Bill Bishop, pitcher for Pittsburgh in 1886-87. Before signing with Pittsburgh, he played briefly in pro ball with Richmond of the Virginia State League in 1886, where he signed in June. before that, it was said that he made a name for himself by playing for some strong amateur teams in Pittsburgh (he was born in Adamsburg, Pa.). In early September of 1886, there was word that the Alleghenys would give a trial to Bishop, who was called “a member of the Steubenville club”, which was a semi-pro team. He made his big league with the 1886 Alleghenys, pitching two late-season games. He allowed seven runs in each game, but just six of those runs total were earned. He pitched to a tie in his first game on September 13th, which was called after nine innings due to darkness. The report from his first game makes you wonder how he actually got more chances. Bishop was said to be extremely wild and very poor with his fielding. The boxscore shows eight walks, five wild pitches and he committed four errors in five chances. His second start came seven days later in New York, and he allowed five runs in the first inning. In a game called after eight innings, he managed to hold New York to just two runs over the final seven frames, taking a 7-5 loss. The local newspapers said that he would pitch again on September 25th against the Philadelphia Athletics, but Pud Galvin and Ed Morris combined to start all of the final 17 games of the season.

Pittsburgh moved to the National League for the 1887 season, and Bishop pitched two games of a three-game series against Detroit early in the year. He lost badly in each game, going down 10-3 on May 9th, and lost 18-2 just two days later. Ed Morris was scheduled to pitch both games. There was a big controversy over him not playing, with Pittsburgh President William Nimick calling him a coward for not wanting to pitch against Detroit. As a side note, Detroit would win the National League title in 1887. Morris rejoined the rotation shortly after, and the Alleghenys didn’t use Bishop again for another five weeks. He lost 18-1 in his next start on June 18th to an Indianapolis team that had a 37-89 record that year. That turned out to be his final game with the Alleghenys.

Just one day before his final game, the Alleghenys turned down an offer from a minor league team in Wheeling to purchase Bishop. All five of his starts with Pittsburgh came in road games. The day after his last start, manager Horace Phillips announced to the papers that Bishop was a “failure” and he would be released. Numerous times it was said that he lost all of his nerve during big league games, but looked confident at all other times. He played only two more MLB games, both relief appearances for the 1889 Chicago White Stockings, in which he allowed 13 runs over three innings. His pro career ended in the minors in 1891. From 1887 through 1889, he played for a total of eight different teams, plus he had two stints with the same team. After he was released by the Alleghenys, he went nearly a month before settling on his next job, pitching for Lowell  of the New England League, where he went 3-3, 2.45 in 55 innings over six starts. His salary that he requested from Lowell (and received) was $200 per month, with $100 advanced money. He finished that 1887 season with Milwaukee of the Northwestern League, going 1-1, 3.00 in two complete game starts.

Despite a 9.96 ERA in 47 big league innings, Bishop actually had some minor league success. He went 9-2, 1.00 in 90 innings during the 1888 season for Syracuse of the International Association. He also had a 2.45 ERA in 180 innings for London that season. He’s credited online with an 0-9 record, which is clearly a mistake, since he completed 18 games. He also had a 13-11, 2.97 record in 212 innings during the 1889 season, splitting the year between Utica of the New York State League (157 innings) Syracuse of the International League (39 innings) and Buffalo of the International League (16 innings). Bishop played for Mansfield of the Tri-State League and Oneonta of the New York State League in 1890, though no stats are available for either team. His detailed obituary said that he won 27 of his 36 games pitched for Mansfield that season. His final pro season came in 1891, when he made seven starts and played ten games total for Olean of the New York State League. Until recent research confirmed otherwise, Bishop was thought to be five years younger, which at the time made him one of the youngest players in Major League history, but instead of debuting at 16 years old, he was actual 21 at the time. He became a Pittsburgh policeman after his baseball career was over.

William “Ducky” Hemp, outfielder for the 1890 Alleghenys. On a team that went 23-113, he was one of the few Opening Day roster players who had previous MLB experience and it wasn’t much. Hemp played one Major League game prior to joining the Alleghenys, an 1887 game for the Louisville Colonels of the American Association. The game was a late season game and played in St Louis, which is where Ducky was from, so it is likely he was signed just for that day (signed is a technical term, since one-day players rarely signed contracts back then). He went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk in his big league debut. Prior to his big league debut, he played nine games for Memphis of the Southern League in 1885, and 45 games split between Wichita and Lincoln of the Western League in 1887. He hit .206 with seven singles for Memphis. Hemp had a .365 average in 1887, with 46 runs and 19 extra-base hits. He played the 1888-89 seasons in the minors. His 1888 season was split between two teams in Dallas, seeing time in the Texas-Southern League and the Texas League. Only the Texas-Southern League has stats available for Hemp, and they show a .226 average in 27 games, with 16 runs and seven extra-base hits. He then hit .253 in 1889, with 89 runs, 39 extra-base hits and 21 steals for Evansville of the Central Interstate League.

Hemp made the Opening Day roster for the 1890 Alleghenys. He got into 21 games for Pittsburgh, hitting .235/.311/.284 with nine runs, two triples and four RBIs, before being released on June 4th. The team was going on a road trip after going 9-24 to start the season, and Hemp was one of two players who didn’t board the train with his teammates to head to Louisville. The Alleghenys played a lot of exhibition games during Spring Training that year, and Hemp was consistently mentioned as one of the best hitters during the spring, so there were some high hopes for his success. Hemp moved on to the American Association to play nine games with Syracuse in August of 1890. He batted .152/.177/.182 in 34 plate appearance, then he never played in the majors again. He ended his pro career after the 1892 season, though he played a bit of semi-pro ball after that year. Hemp played with four different teams over his final two seasons of pro ball, though one of those teams played in two leagues, so you could say five teams. He has no 1891 stats available for when he played with Green Bay of the Wisconsin State League, and Peoria and Terre Haute of the Northwestern League. He was in the Illinois-Iowa League in 1892, splitting his time between Terre Haute and the Rock Island/Moline franchise. Hemp is credited with hitting .279 in 77 games that season, finishing with 56 runs, seven doubles and 45 steals.

A newspaper article announcing the 1890 Alleghenys, listed Hemp as being 5’6 1/2″ and weighing 146 pounds. His age was also reportedly 24 years old, but later research determined that he was three years older. An article from before his Pittsburgh debut called him the fastest sprinter in the league. He hit .214 and stole four bases in his 31 big league games. His nickname, which was used often during his career, first appears in print during his time in semi-pro ball in 1886. There was no reason given, but that nickname has been used for other players and it had to do with their running style, though he was also called “little Ducky” at times. He did some pitching during the 1887 season, but there are no other records of him pitching any other years.

Jim Dee, shortstop for the 1884 Alleghenys. He was a very popular amateur player in Buffalo, playing for a team called the Travelers before and after his time in Pittsburgh. He was just 19 years old when he made his big league debut on July 30, 1884, and his entire big league career lasted 18 days, though he signed with the team on July 25th, so he got paid a bit longer. Dee hit .125 in 12 games, going 5-for-40 with one walk. He failed to score a run during his career and all five hits were singles. During his first game, he made a “marvelous” catch that was considered the highlight of the game, though the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted that “his bat failed entirely”, which was a sign of things to come. He struck out in every at-bat that first day. His final game was on August 16th, and the Alleghenys went 1-11 during his time with the team. After a Sunday off-day on August 17th, Horace Phillips took over the managerial reins and brought three players with him from Saginaw. One of those players was Tom Forster, who took over at shortstop. Dee was immediately released by his new manager, while Forster played in each of the team’s final 35 games.

Dee was a Pennsylvania native (born in Safe Harbor), who played for eight minor league teams between the 1887-88 seasons, with six of them being teams in the Keystone State. He played in four different leagues during that 1887 season, with most of the time spent with Bradford of the Pennsylvania State League, where he hit .393 with 22 extra-base hits in 46 games. He also hit .156 in 12 games with Zanesville of the Ohio State League, played six games with Sunbury of the Central Pennsylvania League, and saw an unknown amount of time with Scranton of the International Association. His online records are missing time with Canandaigua of the New York State League in 1888. He’s shown that year batting .239 with 17 runs, ten extra-base hits and 14 steals in 28 games for Albany of the International Association. He also saw an unknown amount of time that season with Shamokin and Mount Carmel of the Central Pennsylvania League.

The next year Dee signed to play semi-pro ball in Batavia for his manager from Canandaigua, but by July there was word that he was back in Buffalo “playing good ball” for the Travelers. He remained with that club for the 1890-91 seasons. There are no pro records of him playing in 1885-86 or before he joined the Alleghenys, so it appears that he was playing amateur ball that entire time in Buffalo. He passed away in 1897 at 32 years old under suspicious circumstances, with his body found buried in grain in the hold of a steamer. He was buried in the town that the boat arrived in (Gladstone, Michigan) without his family knowing of his passing until nearly a month later. His listed death date (August 28th) is off by at least one day, but likely much more than one, as he was found on the 27th. His family said that they were receiving letters nearly every day, and the last one sent to them was from August 15th.

Jeff D’Amico, pitcher for the 2003 Pirates. He was a 1993 first round draft pick, who was taken 23rd overall by the Milwaukee Brewers out of Northeast HS in Florida. Injuries pushed back his pro debut until 1995. He had a stress fracture in his leg that limited his work as a senior in high school, plus lengthy bonus negotiations led to him getting a late start in 1993. He came up with a shoulder injury before he could get into a game that season, then an elbow injury sidelined him for 1994. He went right to Class-A ball with Beloit of the Midwest League in 1995, where he had a 13-3, 2.39 record in 132 innings, with 119 strikeouts. He went to Double-A El Paso to start the 1996 season, but he got a quick push to the majors. After going 5-4, 3.19, with a 76:13 SO/BB ratio in 96 innings for El Paso, he joined the Brewers for the rest of the season. D’Amico debuted in the majors on June 28, 1996 at age 20, which made him the youngest player in the majors at that point. He went 6-6, 5.44 in 86 innings over 17 starts, and he was kept on what was called “a rigid pitch count”. After showing some slight improvements the next year, going 9-7, 4.71 in 135.2 innings over 23 starts, he was injured for all of 1998 and most of the following season due to shoulder surgery. He missed nearly two months in the middle of the 1997 season due to shoulder soreness, but he did outstanding in a rehab start with Beloit, throwing three no-hit innings on seven strikeouts, then finished off the season in the majors. He made a total of four minor league starts and pitched one big league inning in 1999. Two starts with Beloit resulted in eight shutout innings, but his one start in Double-A and one in Triple-A combined saw him allow 13 earned runs in 5.1 innings.

D’Amico made an incredible return in 2000, finishing third in the National League with a 2.66 ERA, while going 12-7 in 162.1 innings over 23 starts. He set a career high with 101 strikeouts. He also made six starts that year for Indianapolis of the Triple-A International League, going from a total of 14.1 innings in 1998-99, to 193.2 innings the next season. That was the high point for D’Amico, who played four more years, seeing time with four different teams, and never approached that one-year success. He spent 2001 with the Brewers, compiling a 2-4, 6.08 record in 47.1 innings over ten starts, while missing four months of the season due to a nerve surgery on his right arm. He was then traded to the New York Mets in the 2001-02 off-season, in a deal that also included the Colorado Rockies, and a total of 11 players moving to new teams. D’Amico went 6-10, 4.94 in 145.2 innings over 22 starts and seven relief appearances, during his only season in New York. The Pirates signed him as a free agent in January of 2003. He went 9-16, 4.77 in 29 starts during his only season in Pittsburgh, leading the league in losses. He set a career high with 175.1 innings. He reached 100 strikeouts for the third time in the majors that year, but he never topped 101 strikeouts in a season. D’Amico left as a free agent after the season, signing with the Cleveland Indians, where he was done after seven starts and a 7.63 ERA. He was released in late June and never played again. He made three starts with Buffalo of the International League that year and had a 10.45 ERA in 10.1 innings. D’Amico finished with a 45-52, 4.61 career record in 784 innings over eight seasons. He threw five complete games in his career and four were shutouts. During the 2000 season, the Kansas City Royals also had a pitcher named Jeff D’Amico.

Jim Tobin, pitcher for the 1937-39 Pirates. He had been in the minors since 1932, spending the 1933-36 seasons as a member of the New York Yankees organization, when the Pirates purchased his contract on April 14, 1937. He debuted with Bisbee of the Class-D Arizona-Texas League, where he went 9-2, 6.13 in 119 innings. That win/loss record and ERA look wrong together, but it was a high offense league. Tobin pitched most of the 1933 season with Wheeling of the Class-C Middle Atlantic League, though he also saw decent time with Binghamton of the Class-A New York-Penn League. He went 16-10, 3.81 in 196 innings, with similar effectiveness in both spots. He stayed with Binghamton for the entire 1934 season, where he posted a 15-10, 3.98 record in 192 innings. He moved up to Oakland of the Pacific Coast League in 1935, where he had an 11-8, 4.14 record in 152 innings. Tobin also spent the 1936 season playing for Oakland, going 16-8, 4.38 in 230 innings, before joining the Pirates during the following spring. He had 110 strikeouts that season, the only year in which his strikeout total is available during the 1932-36 seasons.

As a rookie for the 1937 Pirates, Tobin went 6-3, 3.00 in 20 games, eight of them starts, throwing a total of 87 innings. The Pirates gave him sporadic use until the final four weeks of the season when he pitched six complete games over a 24-day stretch. He went 5-1, 1.33 in those games. The following year he was put in the starting rotation full-time, where he went 14-12, 3.47, pitching a total of 241 innings, which was the ninth most in the National League that season. He was the team leader in wins, and his 14 complete games also led the team. He struggled in 1939, posting a 9-9, 4.52 record in 145.1 innings, making 19 starts and six relief appearances. On December 6, 1939, he was traded to the Boston Bees for pitcher Johnny Lanning. Tobin saw limited use in 1940, but as the league became watered down with players being lost due to war service, he began to see even more playing time. He went 7-3, 3.83 in 96.1 innings over 11 starts and four relief appearances during his first season in Boston. He followed that up with a 12-12, 3.10 record in 238 innings in 1941, with 26 starts, seven relief outings, 20 complete games and three shutouts.

He led the league with 287.1 innings pitched and 28 complete games in 1942. However, he also led the league in losses. Boston was a cellar dweller at the time and he had a 12-21, 3.97 record that season. He had 96 walks and 71 strikeouts that season. On May 13, 1942, he tied an MLB record and set a National League record for pitchers by hitting three homers in the same game. He had a terrific 1943 season, posting a 2.66 ERA in 250 innings, while also hitting .280 in 113 plate appearances. The Braves went 68-85, so his 14-14 record was strong for the team that year. He completed 24 of his 30 starts that season. Tobin was a workhorse in 1944, making 36 starts and ten relief appearances, while piling up 299.1 innings pitched. He did a great job too, posting a 3.01 ERA, though the Braves went 65-89, so his record stood at 18-19 that season. He had 28 complete games, five shutouts, three saves (not an official stat at the time) and he set a personal best with 83 strikeouts. He was traded to the Detroit Tigers during the 1945 season, and then helped them to a World Series title, in what ended up being his final big league season. Tobin was 9-14, 3.84 in 196.2 innings prior to the trade. He went 4-5, 3.55 in 58.1 innings over six starts and eight relief appearances with the Tigers. He pitched late in game one, allowing two runs over three innings in a 9-0 loss. He finished his career with a 105-112, 3.44 career record over nine seasons, finishing with exactly 1,900 innings pitched over 227 starts and 60 relief appearances. He had 156 complete games and 12 shutouts.

After Tobin’s MLB career was over, he returned to the minors for four more seasons. He was released by Detroit to Dallas of the Texas League prior to the 1946 season. They sold him to Seattle of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. He played for Seattle and San Francisco (also of the PCL) in 1946, going 10-10 in 157 innings. He retired until August of 1948, when he returned to the Pacific Coast League with Oakland. He helped them to a pennant over the final six weeks of the season. Tobin was a knuckleball pitcher, so the time off didn’t effect him as much at 35 years old. He pitched for Oakland again early in 1949, and played semi-pro ball during the latter half of the season. He was pitching semi-pro ball in early 1950 until Memphis of the Class-A Southern Association coaxed him out of retirement one last time to help their pennant chase over the final five weeks of the season. He had a 1-2 record and 18 innings pitched in 12 appearances. Tobin’s brother Jackie Tobin played for the Red Sox in 1945.

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