This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: December 30th, Jim Viox and a Trade of Babes

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus a trade of note.

The Trade

On this date in 1943, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded catcher Babe Phelps to the Philadelphia Phillies for first baseman Babe Dahlgren. Phelps hit .284 in 95 games for the Pirates in 1942, but he did not play during the 1943 season, opting to voluntarily retire because he wasn’t sure that baseball would last during the ongoing war and he didn’t want to leave his off-season job. The Pirates also included cash in this deal, which ended up being all that the Phillies received.  Phelps never did play a game for the Phillies, continuing his voluntary retirement. The Pirates actually agreed to sell Phelps to the Phillies during the  early part of the 1943 season, but Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis wouldn’t allow the sale because Phelps was on the voluntary retired list.

Dahlgren played for six different teams from 1940-43. He settled in Philadelphia in 1943, where he hit .287 with 56 RBIs, 50 walks and a .716 OPS in 136 games. Dahlgren played 158 games for the Pirates in 1944, which at the time was the highest game total in the majors for a single season since 1915. He hit .289 that year, with 67 runs, 28 doubles, 101 RBIs, a .766 OPS and a team leading 12 home runs, earning himself MVP support, finishing 12th in the voting. The following year he hit .250 in 144 games, with 57 runs, 37 extra-base hits and 75 RBIs . The Pirates sold him to the St Louis Browns in the 1945-46 off-season, and he hit just .175/.250/.188 in 28 games for the 1946 Browns before being released, which ended his 12-year big league career. We posted an article here taking an in depth look at his 1944 season.

The Players

Jim Viox, infielder for the 1912-16 Pirates. Viox played three seasons in the minors for Lexington of the Class-D Blue Grass League, before joining the Pirates at the beginning of the 1912 season. At 18 years old in 1909, he hit .242 in 41 games (only available stats). The next year he had a .281 average in 127 games, with 23 doubles and 11 triples. He batted .291 in 112 games during the 1911 season, with 21 doubles, nine triples and four homers. The Pirates purchased his contract on August 22, 1911 from Lexington, though he was allowed to finish the season with his old team. He was called the best shortstop in the league at the time, and one source reported his purchase price to be $600. There was word that he would show up in Pittsburgh after the minor league season ended, but there was no mention of him joining the team that September. The Pirates expected to give the 21-year-old a tryout during Spring Training, and then farm him out to a better minor league team to get more experience. At that time, Class-D was five steps below the majors. Viox had other plans though. He made the team on Opening Day and stayed around for the entire season as a bench player. He played just 33 games that year, hitting .186/.219/.343 in 76 plate appearances, while playing some time at second, third, shortstop and right field.

Viox became the everyday second baseman the next year and did well, hitting .317 (third in National League), with 86 runs, 32 doubles, eight triples, 65 RBIs, 64 walks and an .826 OPS. He became the first Pirates starter other than Honus Wagner to lead the team in batting average since 1902. His numbers slipped 1914, although he still played 143 games that year. He had a .265 average, with 52 runs, 24 extra-base hits, 57 RBIs, 63 walks and a .677 OPS. That OPS was still above average during that deadball era season. He finished 13th in the NL MVP voting during both the 1913 and 1914 seasons. Viox played a career high 150 games in 1915, drawing 75 walks, which was the third highest total in the National League. He batted .256 that year, with 56 runs, 27 extra-base hits, 45 RBIs and a .691 OPS.

Despite the amount of playing time he received in 1915, Viox only lasted until late July of 1916 before he was let go by the Pirates. He was hitting .250/.340/.326 in 43 games, with 17 RBIs and 17 walks. Viox received a $4,000 salary with the Pirates during the 1916 season. At the end of his time in Pittsburgh, he was nursing a sore left hip that was bothering him for some time. He didn’t play during his final three weeks with the Pirates. Viox was transferred to Toronto of the Double-A International League on option on August 13th. He returned to the minors and hit .313 with ten extra-base hits in 42 games to finish out 1916. He then batted .315 with 25 extra-base hits in 92 games with Kansas City of the Double-A American Association in 1917, but he never made it back to the majors.

Viox batted .212 with a .587 OPS in 50 games for Kansas City during the war-shortened 1918 season, then hurt his slim chances to ever return to the majors in 1919 when he refused to report to his minor league team, which got him suspended for the entire season. When he returned to pro ball in 1920, he was down in Class-B ball with Portsmouth of the Virginia League, where he spent three full seasons. Viox hit .302 in 1920, with 23 doubles and three homers in 88 games. He played 123 games during the 1921 season, hitting for a .370 average, with 31 doubles, two triples and 12 homers. His 1922 stats aren’t available, but he played that season with Portsmouth. Viox was the teams manager for those three seasons as well, and he was in charge of the team when the Pirates purchased Pie Traynor, who played his first year of pro ball in 1920. Viox returned to the upper levels for the 1923-24 seasons after Louisville of the American Association purchased his contact. He saw limited time during those two years. He hit .330 with eight extra-base hits in 31 games in 1923, and he batted .317 in ten games in 1924. He managed in the minors during part of 1924 with Lexington of the Blue Ridge League, and then in 1925 with Rocky Mount of the Virginia League. He was a player-manager for a brief time in 1928 for Raleigh of the Class-C Piedmont League, where he hit .542 in 14 games. Viox had a .273 average in 506 career Major League games, with 214 runs scored, 107 extra-base hits, 190 RBIs and 222 walks. Six of his seven career homers were inside-the-park home runs.

Ovid Nicholson, left fielder for the 1912 Pirates. He had just finished his third season in the minors when the Pirates called him up in mid-September 1912 to make his Major League debut. It turned out to be a very brief big league career. At 21 years old in 1910, he debuted in pro ball with Great Bend of the Class-D Kansas State League, where he hit .254 with 11 doubles and six triples in 92 games. Nicholson spent the 1911 season with Frankfort of the Class-D Blue Grass League, where he batted .313 with 24 extra-base hits in 117 games. The Pirates acquired him via the Rule 5 draft from Frankfort  in early September of 1911, and announced that he would be with the team during the following spring. However, on January 25, 1912, he was sold outright to Springfield of the Class-B Central League. He ended up back in Frankfort for the 1912 season and stole 112 (some sources say 116) bases, before rejoining the Pirates in September. He’s also credited with playing for Great Bend of the Class-D Central Kansas League that season. Nicholson was hitting .350 shortly before the season ended. Pittsburgh purchased him back from Frankfort on August 21st and expected him to join the team sooner, but Frankfort made the playoffs and kept him until the end of the season. Nicholson debuted on September 17th and played six games over a ten-day stretch, hitting .455 in 11 at-bats with three RBIs. He played four games in left field and two off the bench. On December 14, 1912, he was released to Louisville of the Double-A American Association, ending his time with the Pirates.

The word from the Pirates was that Nicholson was too small and inexperienced to play in the majors at the time. He was listed at 5’9″, 155 pounds. He returned to the minors where he finished out his playing days in 1917, though he did see brief action in 1926 as a player/manager. He later coached and managed in the minors, last taking the helm in 1935. He played just 32 games with Louisville in 1913, which was one step below the majors at the time (there was no Triple-A level until 1946). The rest of his pro career was spent in Class-A (1913-16) and Class-B (1916-17 and 1926). Nicholson spent most of the 1913 season with Wichita of the Western League, where he hit .315 in 82 games, with 19 extra-base hits. He also saw time that year with Nashville of the Southern Association (no stats available). During the 1914 season with Wichita, he hit .305 in 154 games, with 100 runs scored, 32 extra-base hits, 60 steals and 64 walks. He split 1915 between Wichita and St Joseph of the Western League, combining to hit .294 in 117 games, with 15 extra-base hits. Nicholson hit .146 in 11 games with Chattanooga of the Southern Association in 1916, then spent the rest of the year with Hannibal of the Class-B Three-I League, where he hit .275 in 102 games. He remained in that league in 1917 with Quincy, hitting .262 with nine doubles and three triples in 66 games. He managed a team in Ludington, Michigan during the 1920 and 1926 seasons. While no stats are available, he’s credited with playing during the 1926 season. It looks like he had a nine-year layoff between playing, but he actually played semi-pro ball during that down time. He is the only player in Major League history with the name Ovid.

Sean Gallagher, pitcher for the 2010 Pirates. He was a 12th round draft pick of the Chicago Cubs in 2004 at 18 years old out of high school in Florida. At one point before his big league debut, he was considered to be a top 100 prospect in baseball. Gallagher debuted in pro ball in the rookie level Arizona League, where he went 1-2, 3.12 in 34.1 innings, with 44 strikeouts. He spent all but one game of the 2005 season with Peoria of the Low-A Midwest League, where he had a 14-5, 2.71 record in 146 innings, with 139 strikeouts. He made one start for Daytona of the High-A Florida State League and allowed one run in five innings. Gallagher went 4-0, 2.30 in 13 starts for Daytona in 2006, then moved up to Double-A West Tennessee of the Southern League for the rest of the year, where he had a 7-5, 2.71 record in 15 starts. He had 171 strikeouts in 164.2 innings that year. He opened 2007 in Tennessee (team name changed/same league), going 7-2, 3.39 in 61 innings over 11 starts. He played his first big league game in June of 2007 at 21 years old, but he spent most of the rest of the season in Triple-A, with Iowa of the Pacific Coast League. He had a combined 10-3, 3.10 record and 91 strikeouts in 101.2 innings in the minors. Gallagher allowed 15 runs in 14.2 innings with the Cubs that year, while posting a 2.11 WHIP. He attended the Arizona Fall League after the season and allowed two runs in 16 innings. He remained with the Cubs through the middle of the 2008 season, when he was traded to the Oakland A’s as part of a deal to acquire Rich Harden.

Gallagher pitched 58.2 innings for the Cubs in 2008, and another 56.2 innings with the A’s. He combined to go 5-7, 5.15 in 115.1 innings, with 107 strikeouts. He made 21 big league starts in 2008, but had just two other starts over his other three seasons in the majors. He spent just over a full year in Oakland, before being dealt to the San Diego Padres on July 28, 2009. Gallagher missed a little bit of time in 2009, and also played at Triple-A for both the A’s and Padres. During his big league time, he had an 8.16 ERA in 14.1 innings with the A’s, and he made eight scoreless appearances for the Padres, though that amounted to 5.1 innings. He played with ball in Venezuela over the 2009-10 off-season, posting a 5.33 ERA in six starts, then split the early part of 2010 between Triple-A Portland of the Pacific Coast League and the majors. Gallagher was purchased by the Pirates from the Padres on July 7, 2010, and he finished the season in the Pirates bullpen. He had a 6.03 ERA in 34.1 innings over 31 appearances for the Pirates, after posting a 5.40 ERA in 15 games for the Padres earlier in the season. Gallagher pitched for the Pirates in Triple-A with Indianapolis of the International League in 2011, where he went 5-12, 5.11 in 132 innings over 29 games (23 starts). He became a free agent after the season signed with the Cincinnati Reds for 2012, then ended up playing pro ball until 2016, seeing time with the Colorado Rockies, as well as playing winter/summer ball in Mexico, winter ball in Venezuela and four years in independent ball. However, his time with the 2010 Pirates ended up being his last big league action. He had a 10-10, 5.64 record in 91 games (23 starts), with 207.1 innings pitched over four seasons in the majors.

Gallagher went 10-9, 4.92 in 139 innings over 26 starts for Louisville of the International League in 2012. He returned to Venezuela for the winter, where he had a 5.27 ERA in 27.1 innings. He played for Colorado Springs of the Pacific Coast League and Tulsa of the Double-A Texas League during the 2013 season for the Rockies. He combined to go 6-8, 3.95 in 114 innings, with much better results at the lower level. Gallagher also made four starts for Sugar Land of the independent Atlantic League in 2013, posting a 2.05 ERA in 22 innings. He spent half of 2014 in Mexico, where he went 2-4, 3.74 in 55.1 innings. He was back in Sugar Land for the rest of 2014, going 3-4, 4.98 in 68.2 innings. His entire 2015 season was spent in Sugar Land, where he compiled a 6-9, 3.51 record and 128 strikeouts in 159 innings. He struggled in brief time in Venezuela over the winter, then put in his final season with Sugar Land in 2016, going 10-8, 3.79 in 154.1 innings. His pro career ended with two poor starts in the Mexican winter league during the 2016-17 off-season.

Tyler Anderson, pitcher for the 2021 Pirates. He was originally a 50th round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins in 2008, but he decided to go to college, which paid off for him. Three years later he was a first round pick of the Colorado Rockies out of the University of Oregon, selected 20th overall. He debuted in pro ball in 2012 with Low-A Asheville of the South Atlantic League, where he had a 12-3, 2.47 record in 120.1 innings over 20 starts, with 28 walks and 81 strikeouts. He was out for nearly half of the 2013 season, finishing up with three rehab starts in short-season ball and 13 starts for High-A Modesto of the California League, where he had a 3-2, 4.10 record in 74.2 innings. He had 76 strikeouts in 89.2 innings that season. Anderson had an impressive season with Tulsa of the Double-A Texas League in 2014, going 7-4, 1.98, with 106 strikeouts in 118.1 innings over 23 starts. However, he suffered a stress fracture in his pitching elbow, which cost him the entire 2015 season. A similar injury cost him time in 2013. He returned healthy in 2016 and ran through the minors in what amounted to rehab starts. Anderson pitched one game in High-A, two in Double-A, then did so well in Triple-A Albuquerque of the Pacific Coast League that he made the majors after three starts. He had a 2.64 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 30.2 innings that season. Debuting with the Rockies on June 16th, he went 5-6, 3.54 in 19 starts, with 99 strikeouts in 114.1 innings.

Anderson missed some brief time in 2017, and also spent a short time back in Albuquerque, where he made two starts and two relief appearances. He finished the big league season with a 6-6, 4.81 record, with 81 strikeouts in 86 innings over 15 starts and two relief appearances. He was in the Colorado rotation for all of 2018, going 7-9, 4.55 in 176 innings over 32 starts. He had 164 strikeouts, though he also led the league with 30 home runs allowed. His 2019 season was limited to five starts due to a knee injury that required surgery in June. He was 0-3, 11.76 at the time, though he managed to strike out 23 batters in 20.2 innings. The Rockies put him on waivers after the season, where he was picked up by the San Francisco Giants. Anderson went 4-3, 4.37 in 59.2 innings over 11 starts and two relief appearances during the shortened 2020 season. He became a free agent after the season and signed with the Pirates. He remained in Pittsburgh through the 2021 trading deadline when he was shipped to the Seattle Mariners for prospects. Anderson went 5-8, 4.35, with 86 strikeouts in 103.1 innings over 18 starts in Pittsburgh. After the deal, he had a 2-3, 4.81 record in 63.2 innings over 13 starts, finishing the year with 134 strikeouts. He became a free agent at the end of the season and signed a three-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He had a big first season in Los Angeles, going 15-5, 2.57, with 138 strikeouts in 178.2 innings over 28 starts and two relief outings. He made his first All-Star appearance in 2022. Through seven seasons in the majors, he has a 44-43, 4.16 record in 802.1 inning.