One major trade made on this date, one transaction, and two former Pittsburgh Pirates were born on January 9th.
On this date in 1918, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Brooklyn Robins hooked up for a five-player deal that saw two future Hall of Famers change teams. The Pirates sent future HOF pitcher Burleigh Grimes along with fellow pitcher Al Mamaux and shortstop Chuck Ward to the Robins in exchange for second baseman George Cutshaw and outfielder Casey Stengel, the future HOF manager.
Cutshaw was 31 years old at the time of the trade. He was a veteran of six major league seasons, all with Brooklyn. He played 845 games during that time, and was a .260 hitter with 350 runs scored, 360 RBIs and 166 stolen bases. He was a strong fielder, who had led all National League second basemen in assists every year from 1914-16, and in putouts every season from 1913-16. He finished second in both categories in 1917, and third in fielding percentage that year. Stengel had also spent his first six seasons with Brooklyn, but he was just 27 years old. He started his first two years as a center fielder, then mainly played right field the last four seasons. He was a .272 hitter in 676 games, with 292 RBIs and 77 stolen bases. During the 1917 season, he had a .257 average, with career highs of 69 runs scored, 73 RBIs and 60 walks.
Ward was a 23-year-old rookie in 1917 for the Pirates. He took over at shortstop for the Pirates after Honus Wagner moved to first base for his final season in 1917. Ward hit .236 in 125 games, with 25 runs, 15 extra-base hits and 43 RBIs. That was below average offense for the deadball era, but he also made 50 errors at shortstop that season. Mamaux had a horrible season in 1917, going 2-11, 5.25 in 85.2 innings, with 50 walks and 22 strikeouts. The silver lining was that he was just 23 years old at the time of the deal, and he had a combined 42-23 record during the previous two seasons, winning 21 games each year. Grimes also had a poor season in 1917, finishing the year with a 3-16 record, though he had a 3.53 ERA in 194 innings. That ERA was still 83 points above league average at the time. He was 24 years old at the time of the deal, and had made his debut in September 1916. The Pirates were giving up a lot of youth in the deal, but they were doing it with the hopes of improving on their dismal 1917 season, one in which they went 51-103.
Ward ended up playing five seasons in Brooklyn as a seldom used backup, getting only 111 games in during his time there. He hit .217/.266/.257 in 391 plate appearances. Mamaux never had seasons quite like his two big years in Pittsburgh. He was 26-30, 3.07 in 541.2 innings over six seasons in Brooklyn, although he did win 22 games total during the 1919-20 seasons, while posting a 2.67 ERA over 390 innings. Grimes was the key to the deal for Brooklyn, swinging the trade in their favor. He played nine seasons in Brooklyn, winning 158 games, including four times winning at least 20 in a season. Stengel lasted two years in Pittsburgh, playing 128 games, in which he hit .280/.358/.395, with 56 runs and 55 RBIs. He was traded to the Phillies during the 1919 season for outfielder Possum Whitted. Cutshaw played four seasons in Pittsburgh, giving them strong defense at second base and two good seasons at the plate. He hit .285 with 68 RBIs in 1918, and even though he played just 98 games in 1921, he had a .340 average and 53 RBIs. The Pirates lost this deal, though they would get Grimes back in 1928 for a small price, and he won a league leading 25 games that year. He followed that up with a 17-7 season in 1929. He also returned to Pittsburgh for a third tour of duty, finishing his career with the team in 1934.
As far as WAR goes for their new teams, the Pirates received 10.5 from their combo (plus they had some trade value afterwards), while the Robins received 28.7 from their trio.
On this date in 1987, the Pittsburgh Pirates signed 19-year-old infielder Carlos Garcia as an amateur free agent out of Venezuela. It took him just three years to make the majors, and he played a small bit part on all three playoff teams during the 1990-92 run. However, he got his real first chance to play full-time in 1993, and then he was an All-Star during the 1994 season. His best years at the plate were his 1995-96 seasons, which led to the Pirates trading him away near his peak value. He was sent to the Toronto Blue Jays in a nine-player deal, which turned out to be great timing for the Pirates. He put up -2.5 WAR over the next three seasons in the majors, playing a total of 128 games during that time, before his big league career was over. While in Pittsburgh, he batted .278 in 482 games, with 240 runs scored, 174 RBIs, 60 steals, and he was about league average on defense according to modern metrics. He was worth 3.5 WAR during his time with the Pirates, with a high of 1.4 WAR during the 1993 season.
Harley Payne, pitcher for the 1899 Pirates. Payne had three previous seasons of MLB experience prior to joining the Pirates, all with Brooklyn. He started his pro career in 1890 and spent his first six season in the minors, playing for ten different teams. He played for five of those teams during his first two years of pro ball, seeing time in five different leagues. Almost no stats are available from those first two seasons, likely because he didn’t stick around long enough at any place. His 1890 season was split between Jamestown of the New York-Penn League and Youngstown of the Tri-State League. He played for Marinette of the Wisconsin State League, Peoria of the Northwestern League and Kansas City of the Western League. His only available stats from his first two seasons show an 0-2, 9.00 record in eight innings with Kansas City. Payne was with Kansas City again in 1892, this time in the Class-A Western League, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. He went 13-4, 2.42 in 190 innings, with 26 games pitched, 20 starts and 15 complete games. He played for Albany of the Eastern League in 1893, where he put up a 17-22, 3.87 record in 337 innings, and he’s credited with completing all 38 of his starts (he also pitched three times in relief). Complete stats are missing from 1894, when he split his season between two Eastern League clubs, playing for Syracuse and the Binghamton/Allentown club. He played a total of 52 games and managed to hit .330 with 16 extra-base hits, during what was a big year for offense all around baseball due to new pitching rules at the time. His only pitching stats from that year show that he pitched ten games for Binghamton/Allentown.
Payne remained in the Eastern League in 1895 and played for two more teams (Toronto and Rochester), giving him time with five teams in the same league over three seasons. He went 10-11, 3.39 in 175 innings. He also played some outfield and put up strong numbers as a hitter, batting .349 in 78 games, with 42 runs and 18 extra-base hits. Payne made his big league debut in 1896. He had a 14-16, 3.39 record in 241.2 innings for a bad Brooklyn team. His ERA actually ranked him eighth in the National League, so his record was more indicative of being on a tenth place team (12 teams in the NL that year). He pitched 34 games, with 28 starts and 24 complete games. His hitting didn’t carry over from the minors, as he batted .214/.280/.276 in 111 plate appearances. He followed up that rookie season with a 14-17, 4.63 record in 1897, as Brooklyn moved up to seventh place in the NL. He tossed 280 innings over 40 games, with 38 starts and 30 complete games. Payne made just one start all season in 1898, which he won 9-8, pitching a complete game and going 3-for-4 with three RBIs. He was out for most of the year due to his health.
Payne was signed by the Pirates in late October of 1898, though he was a late arrival to the team during Spring Training the next year. It took him a little time to get into game shape, making his debut in the 17th game of the year on May 6th. The team had a 4-10 record going into the game, but they won in 11 innings over the Louisville Colonels. It was said by the local papers that the 4,000 fans in attendance at Exposition Park showed a lot of appreciation for manager Bill Watkins over his signing of Payne. A week later, Payne pitched for a second time and took the loss against the Cincinnat Reds. He pitched four innings, with the local paper saying that he retired from the mound after four innings on his own request. He lost a rough one two weeks later when the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Pirates 6-5 in ten innings. Errors and misplays accounted for five of the six runs allowed. He made his final start a week later on June 8th in a loss to the Baltimore Orioles. He gave up four runs in the first inning before being removed. That was the end to his Major League career, finishing 30-36, 4.04 in 557 innings over 80 games, 72 as a starter. The Pirates officially released him on June 16th after they played the final game of a series in Cleveland, not far from his home in Ohio. It was said by manager Patsy Donovan that Payne had been under the weather for two weeks and wasn’t in shape to play anymore.
Payne went on to pitch in the minors for Omaha of the Western League in 1901, and Evansville of the Three-I League during the 1901-02 seasons before retiring. That latter league was Class-D in 1901 and Class-B in 1902. Those last two years are attributed to a player named “William Payne” online, but I was able to track him down and match up the records to Harley Payne. His stats are very limited from those two seasons, with only the Evansville stats from 1901 available. He hit .407 in 14 games that season, while appearing in seven games as a pitcher.
Ed Spurney, shortstop for the 1891 Pirates. His entire big league career lasted three games spread out over four days when he was 19 years old. From June 26, 1891 until June 29, 1891, Spurney went 2-for-9 with a double, two runs and two walks for the Pirates. He played all three games at shortstop and he committed one error in nine chances. His only other known pro experience was playing for three minor league teams over the 1890-91 season, so his pro baseball career appeared to end as a teenager. In 1892-93, he was playing baseball for the University of Michigan, and also for an amateur team called the Cleveland Athletic Club. He graduated from Michigan as a law student in 1893 and passed the Ohio bar exam. By 1895 he was a successful lawyer. Spurney debuted in pro ball with Jamestown of the New York-Penn League in 1890. During that season, the Pirates got a look at him in an exhibition game played on April 15th versus Jamestown. Prior to going the pro route, he played amateur/semi-pro ball with the Akron Base Ball Club and the Erie Drummers in 1889 at 17 years old. He started the 1891 season with Evansville of the Northwestern League, splitting time between second base and shortstop, before being picked up by the Pirates on June 26th. After he was let go, he joined Ottumwa of the Illinois-Iowa League, where he batted .216 with two doubles and two homers in 36 games. Those stats with Ottumwa are his only known minor league stats.
Spurney was from Cleveland, and he debuted with Pittsburgh in his hometown during a 14-5 loss against the Spiders. He collected a double and scored a run. The next day the Pirates traveled to Chicago and he made the trip. The local Chicago papers spoke highly of him after the game, with one saying “The Cleveland boy made quite a favorable impression”. The Chicago Inter Ocean heaped praise upon him saying that his play at shortstop “was sharp and clever, and he showed up well at the bat, too”. That was a little better than the hometown report from the previous day that simply said “he did not do bad”. Two days later, manager Ned Hanlon pulled Spurney in the fourth inning, replacing him with utility fielder Jocko Fields. The local paper said no reason was given. Whatever reason Hanlon had to remove him, it ended up being the end of his big league career. He was sent home the next day and started playing a short time later with Ottumwa. There was a report that Evansville released him due to a lame arm, so they may have something to do with his big league departure.