This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: January 14th, Steve Cooke and Manager Billy Meyer

Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates players have been born on this date, as well as a manager who never played for the team, but he did go on to have his jersey retired by the Pirates.

Dovydas Neverauskas, pitcher for the 2017-20 Pirates. The Pirates signed him at 16 years old out of Lithuania for $150,000 in 2009. He worked his way slowly through the minors as a starting pitcher with mediocre results, before he was moved to the bullpen, where he added velocity and became a prospect. He debuted in the Gulf Coast League in 2010, and remained there for his first two seasons. Neverauskas made just six appearances in his first year. He allowed six runs in ten innings, finishing with six strikeouts and a 1.90 WHIP. He went 3-1, 3.24 in 25 innings over two starts and eight relief outings during the 2011 season. He played most of 2012 back in the GCL, while also getting one start at the end of the year in the New York-Penn League with State College. He had a 4.08 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 35.1 innings with the GCL Pirates that year. He gave up one run over four innings with State College. Neverauskas pitched for Jamestown of the New York-Penn League in 2013, where he went 4-4, 4.01, with 39 strikeouts and a 1.27 WHIP in 60.2 innings over 15 starts. His control numbers looked decent with 22 walks, but he hit ten batters and threw 11 wild pitches. He moved up to West Virginia of the Low-A South Atlantic League in 2014, finally making it to full-season ball. He went 6-12, 5.60, with 88 strikeouts and a 1.67 WHIP in 123.2 innings over 26 starts and one relief outing. He made five starts in his 31 appearances during the 2015 season, spending most of the year back with West Virginia, where he had a 3.65 ERA in 49.1 innings. He finished the season strong, posting a 1.62 ERA in 16.2 innings with High-A Bradenton of the Florida State League.

Neverauskas had a 2.57 ERA in 28 innings over 22 games with Altoona of the Double-A Eastern League in 2016. He then put up a 3.60 ERA in 30 innings over 25 games with Indianapolis of the Triple-A International League. He never had great strikeout numbers coming up through the system, but he had 56 strikeouts in 58 innings that year. That performance got him added to the 40-man roster after the season to avoid reaching minor league free agency. On April 24, 2017, Neverauskas became the first player in Major League history who was born on Lithuania. It was just days before Gift Ngoepe became the first player born in Africa to make the majors. Both players would have likely made their debuts in the previous September, but a fight at a bar resulted in their arrests and a team suspension just days before the Triple-A season ended. Neverauskas had a 3.91 ERA in 25.1 innings over 24 appearances during his rookie season. He made just one appearance during his first call-up to the majors, returned for two games in early June, then got called up in early August for the final two months. He put up strong results in a closer role with Indianapolis that season, going 1-2, 2.86 with 13 saves and 46 strikeouts in 50.1 innings. Despite solid rookie results, he wasn’t able to stick with the Pirates for a full season until the shortened 2020 campaign.

Neverauskas made 25 appearances for the Pirates in 2018, which resulted in an 8.00 ERA in 27 innings. He had 2.53 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 46.1 innings with Indianapolis that year. Things went even worse in the majors in 2019, with a 10.13 ERA in 9.1 innings over ten outings. He struggled with Indianapolis in 36 appearances, though he did it with a high strikeout rate. He finished 3-4, 5.02 in 52 innings, with 73 strikeouts. Neverauskas made 17 appearances during the 2020 season, putting up a 7.11 ERA, a 1.79 WHIP and 23 strikeouts in 19 innings. He pitched just once over the final two weeks of the season, then got released in early November so he could sign to play in Japan for 2021. He had a 5.70 ERA in 36.1 innings over 15 appearances in Japan in 2021, finishing with 31 walks and 30 strikeouts. He did not play during the 2022 season. His big league numbers currently sit at a 6.81 ERA, a 1.59 WHIP and 77 strikeouts in 80.2 innings over 76 appearances. He picked up his only career win in his sixth big league appearance.

Steve Cooke, pitcher for the 1992-97 Pirates. He was a 35th round draft pick by the Pirates in 1989 out of the College of Southern Idaho, but he didn’t sign until right before the deadline in 1990, back when teams could draft and follow players. Cooke was originally drafted out of high school in 1988 by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 53rd round. Despite being a late round pick, it took him just over two seasons to work his way up to the majors, where he made his debut in late July of 1992. Cooke made his pro debut in short-season ball with Welland of the New York-Penn League in 1990, where he had a 2.35 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP and 43 strikeouts in 46 innings over 11 starts. He made 22 starts over three levels in 1991, topping out at Double-A Carolina of the Southern League. Half of his starts that year came with Augusta of the Low-A South Atlantic League, while he pitched just two games for Salem of the High-A Carolina League, before moving up again. His combined record that season was 9-7, 2.78 in 129.1 innings, with 103 strikeouts and a 1.23 WHIP. His best results actually came at Double-A, which led to him being ranked as the 52nd best prospect by Baseball America prior to the 1992 season. Cooke split the first half of 1992 between Carolina and Triple-A Buffalo of the American Association, combining to go 8-5, 3.51 in 110.1 innings over 19 starts. He had 90 strikeouts and a 1.36 WHIP. He debuted in the majors on July 28th, and it did not go well, with four runs over two innings of relief work. He did well after that point, finishing with a 2-0, 3.52 record in 23 innings over 11 games for the first place Pirates. All of his work came as a reliever. He didn’t pitch during the postseason that year, but he earned himself a job for 1993.

Cooke made 32 starts during that first full year in the majors in 1993. He went 10-10, 3.89, with 132 strikeouts in 210.2 innings, throwing three complete games and one shutout. He struggled during the strike-shortened 1994 season, going 4-11, 5.02, with a 1.51 WHIP in 134.1 innings. He made 23 starts and two relief appearances that season. He then missed the entire 1995 seasons and half of 1996 due to shoulder surgery. He made 12 starts on rehab for Carolina in 1996, going 1-5, 4.53 in 53.2 innings. His big league time that year was limited to three relief appearances, in which he allowed seven runs over 8.1 innings. Cooke was back in the rotation in 1997, making 32 starts for the Freak Show squad. He had a 9-15, 4.30 record in 167.1 innings, finishing with a 1.56 WHIP and 109 strikeouts. He was released in mid-December of 1997, and he signed with the Cincinnati Reds. He made one start in 1998, throwing six innings with one run allowed on April 2nd (the third game of the season), then missed the rest of the season with elbow problems. Cooke made two rehab starts for Indianapolis of the Triple-A International League that went extremely bad, allowing seven runs in a total of 1.2 innings. He pitched briefly in Triple for the San Diego Padres in 1999, making five relief appearances, in which he allowed ten runs over three innings, while posting a 12:0 BB/SO ratio. He then spent the rest of the 1999 season and all of 2000 with Zion of the independent Western League. He did not do well either season with Zion, going 2-2, 7.99 in eight starts in 1999, followed by a 4-4, 8.44 record in 56 innings over 11 starts and one relief outing in 2000. In his five seasons with the Pirates, he had a 25-36, 4.34 record in 543.2 innings over 87 starts and 16 relief appearances.

Joe Redfield, third baseman for the 1991 Pirates. He was drafted by the New York Mets in 1982, taken in the ninth round out of the University of California. He debuted in pro ball in the short-season New York-Penn League with Little Falls, where he hit .286 in 54 games, with 44 runs, 27 extra-base hits, 57 RBIs, 11 steals (in 12 attempts) and a .903 OPS. Redfield split the 1983 season between Lynchburg of the Class-A Carolina League and Jackson of the Double-A Texas League. He struggled with both teams, combining to hit .201 in 98 games, with 48 runs, 22 extra-base hits, 39 RBIs and a .625 OPS. He spent the entire 1984 season with Lynchburg. That year he hit .269 in 122 games, with 80 runs, 36 extra-base hits, 58 RBIs, 14 steals, 64 walks and a .787 OPS. He ended up playing at three different levels in 1985, seeing time with Lynchburg, Jackson and Triple-A Tidewater of the International League, where he played just four games. He combined to hit .209 in 84 games, with 34 runs, 13 doubles, four homers, ten steals, 49 walks and a .691 OPS. Redfield was in the Mets organization until early 1986. He played 15 games for Jackson that year, before getting traded to the Baltimore Orioles. He spent less than a year with the Orioles in Double-A Charlotte of the Southern League, before they shipped him to the California Angels. He did well during that 1986 season, hitting .295 in 110 games, with 73 runs, 17 doubles, six triples, 14 homers, 52 RBIs, ten steals, 42 walks and an .840 OPS.

Redfield was with Midland of the Double-A Texas League in 1987, where he hit .321 in 128 games, with 108 runs, 31 doubles, 30 homers, 108 RBIs, 17 steals, 67 walks and a .998 OPS. He began 1988 in Triple-A with Edmonton of the Pacific Coast League, where he got off to a strong start, which led to his first big league chance. He made his Major League debut on June 4, 1988 with the Angels when they were down multiple players due to injuries. He played just one game over nine days with the team, going 0-for-2, before leaving for a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning. He saw a total of two pitches, hitting fly balls on the first pitch of each at-bat. Redfield was returned to the minors on June 10th. He ended up hitting just three homers during the entire 1988 season, but he received praise for his improved defense at third base, going two full months before he committed his first error. He did well besides the lack of homers, hitting .290 for Edmonton, with 67 runs, 38 doubles, 52 RBIs and a .761 OPS in 118 games. After spending the next two full seasons in the minors, playing in Triple-A for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1989 and the Milwaukee Brewers in 1990, the Pirates signed him as a free agent in December of 1990. Redfield hit just .241 in 123 games with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre of the International League in 1989, finishing with 45 runs, 28 extra-base hits, 49 RBIs, 21 steals and a .674 OPS. He followed that up with a .274 average in 137 games for Denver of the American Association in 1990. That was a much better ballpark for hitters and it showed, as he finished with 87 runs, 23 doubles, ten triples, 17 homers, 71 RBIs, 57 walks and an .807 OPS. His team let him run wild on the bases and he went 34-for-52 in steals that year. He never attempted more than 29 steals in any other season.

The Pirates started Redfield in Triple-A in 1991, playing with Buffalo of the American Association. They called him up to the majors on June 13, 1991, when Jeff King went on the disabled list. In 11 games (five starts) for the Pirates, Redfield hit .111/.273/.111, with one run and four walks. He returned to Triple-A on July 16th, remaining there for the rest of the season. When Redfield was sent down, John Wehner was called to the majors for the first time in his career. Redfield hit .275 in 105 games for Buffalo in 1991, with 60 runs, 21 doubles, six triples, seven homers, 50 RBIs, 21 steals, 54 walks and an .819 OPS. The Pirates re-signed him for the 1992 season, which ended up being his last year in pro ball. That year he batted .224/.324/.332 as a part-time player for Buffalo, getting into 94 games, with most of his time spent at first base and second base. He played for six organizations in his 11-year career, hitting .267 with 674 runs, 209 doubles, 58 triples, 111 homers, 580 RBIs and 170 stolen bases over his 1,173 minor league games. His big league time amounted to hit going 2-for-20 in 12 games.

Terry Forster, relief pitcher for the 1977 Pirates. Forster played six seasons for the Chicago White Sox before they traded him in December of 1976, along with Goose Gossage, to the Pirates in exchange for Richie Zisk and Silvio Martinez. Forster was a second round draft pick in 1970 out of high school, who made it to the majors at 19 years old, just ten months after being drafted. His only minor league time on his way up to the majors consisted of ten games (nine starts) with Appleton of the Class-A Midwest League, where he went 6-1, 1.33 in 54 innings, with 42 strikeouts. He spent all of 1971 with the White Sox, where he had a 3.99 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 49.2 innings over 45 appearances (three starts). He improved to a 2.25 ERA in 62 games during the 1972 season, finishing with 104 strikeouts and a 1.19 WHIP in 100 innings pitched. He was also thrown into the closer role, picking up a career high 29 saves. Forster was used a lot in 1973, making 12 starts and 39 relief appearances. He pitched a total of 172.2 innings (career high), going 6-11, with a 3.23 ERA. He set a career high with 120 strikeouts, and he picked up 16 saves. He led the American League with 24 saves in 1974, while going 7-8, 3.62, with 105 strikeouts in 134.1 innings over 59 games. An arm injury limited him to 37 innings in 1975. He had a 2.06 ERA on May 23rd, but he pitched just two innings after that point, one on July 1st and another on August 17th. He finished 3-3, 2.19, with four saves and 32 strikeouts.

Forster followed up that injury-plagued season with a rough 1976 season, going 2-12, 4.37 in 111.1 innings. He pitched 29 games that year, with 16 of those outings coming as a starter. He had a 4.63 ERA as a starter and a 3.64 ERA in relief. After joining the 1977 Pirates, he went 6-4, 4.43 in 87.1 innings over 33 games (six starts), during his only season in Pittsburgh. He was granted free agency after the season and signed a five-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Injuries limited him to 150 relief appearances over his five seasons in Los Angeles, with only two healthy seasons during that time. Forster was strong in his first year with the Dodgers, going 5-4, 1.93 in 47 appearances, with 65.1 innings pitched and 22 saves in 1978. He had four scoreless postseason appearances, including four shutout innings in the World Series, which the Dodgers lost to the New York Yankees. It was downhill from there due to injuries, with a 5.51 ERA in 16.1 innings in 1979, and a total of 11.2 innings pitched in 1980. He began 1979 on the disabled list with an elbow injury (he had surgery in November of 1978), and didn’t return until late May. Forster went on the disabled list again in early August of 1979 and didn’t return that season due to surgery. He was out until July of 1980, then went back on the disabled list after four appearances, due once again to an elbow injury. He was a bit better during the strike-shortened 1981 season, posting a 4.11 ERA in 30.2 innings over 21 games, but his limited work was due to a lesser role. He pitched well in the playoffs that season, making four scoreless appearances, as the Dodgers won the World Series that year. He was healthy during the final year of his contract in 1982, and put together a 5-6, 3.04 record and three saves in 83 innings over 56 appearances. His final Dodgers stats show an 11-13, 3.04 record in 207 innings, with 27 saves.

Forster pitched in the majors until 1986, playing for the 1983-85 Atlanta Braves and 1986 California Angels, then finished his pro career in the minors the following year. He excelled with the Braves, putting together three strong seasons of middle relief, with occasional work as their closer. Forster had a 3-2, 2.16 record and 13 saves in 79.1 innings over 56 games in 1983. He missed some time in 1984 with shoulder and bicep issues early in the year, but he pitched well when healthy. He had a 2-0, 2.70 record and five saves in 26.2 innings over 25 games.  He went 2-3, 2.28 in 59.1 innings over 46 games in 1985. During his final season in the majors, he had a 3.51 ERA in 41 innings over 41 games with the 1986 Angels. His final season of pro ball was spent with Portland of the Pacific Coast League, where he had a 7.27 ERA in 17.1 innings for the affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. He signed with the Twins on June 15, 1987, but he was released two months later without seeing any big league time. In 16 big league seasons, he went 54-65, 3.23 in 1,105.2 innings over 614 career games (39 starts), with 127 career saves. Forster was a .397 hitter in 86 career plate appearances. He went 9-for-26 at the plate while with the Pirates.

Hank Gornicki, pitcher for the Pirates from 1942-43 and 1946. He made his pro debut in 1936, but didn’t make his big league debut until age 30, when he pitched a total of five games between stops with the St Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs in 1941. Gornicki got into his first pro game at 25 years old, playing at the lowest level for Daytona Beach of the Class-D Florida State League. He had a strong debut though, going 16-9, 2.77, with 167 strikeouts in 234 innings. He played with three different affiliates for the Cardinals in 1937, spending most of the year with Decatur of the Class-B Three-I League, where he pitched in 158 innings and allowed 4.10 runs per nine innings (ERA isn’t available). He won a total of 14 games that year, while throwing 213 innings. He also spent time with Asheville of the Class-B Piedmont League and Columbus of the Double-A American Association (highest level of the minors at the time) during that 1937 season. He then pitched with Asheville for all of 1938, going 17-13, 2.57, with 187 strikeouts and a 1.22 WHIP in 308 innings. He had a 9-0 record and 95 innings pitched for Asheville in 1939, while also pitching part of the year for Rochester of the Double-A International League, where he had a 5.16 ERA in 61 innings. Gornicki was back in Rochester for 1940, when he went 19-10, 3.21 in 244 innings over 36 starts and five relief appearances. His big league time in 1941 was limited to four games during the first month of the schedule with the Cardinals, then one September game with the Cubs. In between, he pitched for Rochester again, where he went 12-9, 2.83, with 96 strikeouts in 181 innings. He combined for a 3.38 ERA in his 13.1 innings of big league time.

Gornicki was taken by the Pirates off of waivers in December of 1941, and he made their Opening Day roster in 1942. He went 5-6, 2.57, with a 1.15 WHIP in 25 games (14 starts) that year, pitching a total of 112 innings. The next year he went 9-13, 3.98 in 147 innings, with 18 starts and 24 relief appearances. He then served in WWII for two full years before returning to baseball during the 1946 season. He posted a 3.55 ERA in 12.2 innings over seven relief appearances for the Pirates that year. He began the season with Hollywood of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, before they returned him to the Pirates on May 19th after just two appearances. He didn’t pitch for the Pirates until June 17th, and he threw a total of just four innings before rosters expanded in September. Gornicki finished his career in the minors, playing the 1947 season in the Class-B Blue State League, where he seven starts for the Gainesville Owls. He went 2-4, 6.11 in 53 innings that season. He was sick during Spring Training in 1947, and he became the first cut of the Pirates when he was sold outright to Indianapolis of the Triple-A American Association on March 10th. His final season of pro ball was 1948, when he allowed 26 runs over 26 innings for Florence of the Class-B Tri-State League. With the Pirates, he went 14-19, 3.38 in 271.2 innings. He had 32 starts and 42 relief appearances, finishing with 11 complete games, three shutouts and six saves.

Billy Meyer, manager for the Pirates from 1948 until 1952. He was a catcher in the majors for three seasons between 1913 and 1917, but spent the majority of his playing days in the minors where he played from 1910 until 1928. Meyer got into one game for the 1913 Chicago White Sox and 112 games for Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics during the 1916-17 seasons. He then played the next 11 seasons for Louisville of the American Association before retiring from playing. He put in over 1,400 minor league games in 17 seasons. He debuted in the majors on September 6, 1913 and singled in his first at-bat, and then it was downhill from there. He got picked off, then threw a ball into center field on a double steal, before being replaced for a pinch-hitter. That turned out to be his only game for Chicago. In his two seasons with Philadelphia, he batted .233 in 112 games, with 15 runs, seven doubles, one homer and 21 RBIs. He saw about equal work and equal results each year, posting a .571 OPS in 50 games in 1916, and a .548 OPS in 62 games in 1917. He threw out 40% of runners during his career, which was slightly below average during his time.

Meyer began working as a player-manager in 1925. He would go on to manage for 20 seasons before the Pirates gave him his first Major League managerial job in 1948. He spent the prior 16 seasons managing affiliates of the New York Yankees. He won the International League title with the Newark Bears in 1945, then managed Kansas City to the best record in the American Association in 1947. He took over a Pittsburgh club that went 62-92 in 1947, and led them to a 21-game turnaround the following year. That resulted in a fourth place finish, just 8.5 games back in the standings. The turnaround was short-lived and the Pirates were much worse by the end of his tenure, going just 42-112 in 1952, his last season at the helm. They dropped below .500 in 1949, then lost 96 games in 1950 and 90 games in 1951. Despite the poor results, Meyer was a very popular manager, especially with the media. He became a scout for the Pirates until a stroke in 1955 left him unable to return to baseball. He passed away in March of 1957. The Pirates retired his #1 uniform number in 1954. He finished with a 317-452 record in the majors as a manager, all spent with the Pirates.

John Shovlin, infielder for the Pirates in 1911. He started his minor league career in 1910, playing for Erie of the Class-C Ohio-Pennsylvania League, before the Pirates bought his contract in June 1911. He started off slow at the plate, hitting .228 in 123 games, with 23 doubles, one triple and no homers during that 1910 season. Shovlin hit .288 for Erie in 1911, with 34 runs, seven doubles, one triple and 20 stolen bases in 49 games. The Pirates paid Erie $2,500 for his contract on June 15, 1911. They had him report days later to Pittsburgh, joining the club at Forbes Field for a game against the Brooklyn Dodgers on the 19th of June. The Pirates had three infielders unavailable that day, making Shovlin the only backup infielder. He lasted just two games in the majors that year, one as a pinch-hitter and one as a pinch-runner, before the Pirates sent him back to the minors. He struck out in his only at-bat with Pittsburgh, batting for the pitcher in the eighth inning of a 14-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs on June 21st. His pinch-running appearance came five days later. When the Pirates went on a short road trip after their home game on June 28th, Shovlin was left behind to train at Forbes Field with five other players. After not playing in three home games on July 4-5, he was again left behind when the team went on a 17-day eastern road trip. On July 24th, Shovlin was told to join the Pirates for an exhibition game against his former Erie teammates. He started at shortstop that day, with Honus Wagner moving to first base. After the game, the Pirates sent him to Waterbury of the Class-B Connecticut State League for $1,000, though they held an option to recall him by August 20th. He batted just .187 in 42 games for Waterbury, collecting four doubles and a triple. He was sent to Indianapolis after the season. They sent him to Springfield, who then turned him over to Newark of the Class-D Ohio State League, all prior to the 1912 season.

It took eight years in the minors, playing for six different teams at four different levels, before Shovlin got another chance in the majors with the St Louis Browns. The 1912 season season was spent with Newark, which was quite the drop off in talent from being in the majors just nine months earlier. He batted .294 that year, with 29 doubles, four triples and a homer in 135 games. He stayed in the same league with a team from Chillicothe in 1913, hitting .291 in 134 games, with 30 doubles, five triples and 19 homers. Most of 1914 was spent back with Chillicothe, where he hit .285 in 106 games, with 20 doubles, seven triples and 13 homers. He spent part of the 1914 season with Columbus of the Double-A American Association, a jump of four levels. Shovlin hit .228/.279/.404 in 17 games with Columbus, where he stayed for the entire 1915 season. That second year he hit .245 in 138 games, with 50 runs, 15 doubles, 12 triples, 54 walks and a .672 OPS. He spent the 1916 season with two teams (Springfield and Grand Rapids) of the Class-B Central League, then returned to Columbus for the 1917-19 seasons. His only available stats from 1916 show a combined .254 average over 130 games. He hit .269 in 139 games with Columbus in 1917, collecting 26 doubles and seven triples. During the war-shortened 1918 season, Shovlin batted .226/.288/.300 in 257 plate appearances, with 22 runs, ten doubles and two homers in 65 games. Before joining the Browns in September of 1919, he hit .294 in 136 games for Columbus, with 25 doubles, 13 triples and two homers.

Shovlin played 16 games in St Louis between the 1919-20 seasons. He started all nine of his games at second base in 1919, then played all seven of his games in 1920 off of the bench. He batted .214/.298/.214 for the Browns, with six runs, nine hits (all singles) and three RBIs in 49 plate appearances. He didn’t play any pro ball again until the 1928 season, when he returned to play for a team in Binghamton, NY for four more seasons. During that time away from pro ball, he was playing in outlaw leagues, which earned him a spot on MLB’s ineligible list. His big league career actually ended when he made the jump mid-season to an outlaw team. Despite not starting any games in 1920, he played four days in a row off of the bench before jumping the team after that fourth game. His last MLB at-bat resulted in a single and the game-winning run scored in a 5-4 win in ten innings. When he returned to pro ball in 1928, Binghamton was playing in the Class-B New York-Penn League. His contract had to be purchased from the St Louis Browns, who held his rights the entire time he was suspended from baseball. He hit .255 over 126 games in 1928, with 18 doubles, eight triples and four homers. Shovlin had a .334 average in 1929, with 27 doubles, 11 triples and six homers in 132 games. He batted .328 over 116 games in 1930, with 24 doubles, six triples and 12 homers. He split his final season in 1931 between Binghamton and Wilkes-Barre of the same league. He hit .258 that year, with 14 extra-base hits. Shovlin was born in the small Pennsylvania town of Drifton, where he played for an amateur team for two years before beginning his pro career. His name showed up in the local Pittsburgh papers as “Shovelin” during his short time with the team.

Art Madison, infielder for the 1899 Pirates. He was one of the four players sent to the Louisville Colonels in the 19-player Honus Wagner trade following the 1899 season, which helped turn the Pirates into a powerhouse club during the first decade of the 1900s. Madison made his Major League debut with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1895, at the end of his first season in pro ball at 24 years old. He debuted that season in the Class-B New York State League, seeing time with Albany and Johnstown (no stats available). In 11 September games with the Phillies, he had a .353/.371/.441 slash line, with six runs, three doubles, eight RBIs and four stolen bases. Despite the brief success, he spent the next three full seasons in the minors. The 1896 season was spent in Philadelphia, though he was playing minor league ball that year in the Class-A Atlantic League and the Class-B Pennsylvania State League. Madison batted .333 between both stops, with 47 runs, nine doubles, seven triples and ten steals in 65 games. He was with Lancaster of the Atlantic League during the 1897-98 seasons. The 1898 stats are unavailable, but we know that he batted .255 in 121 games in 1897, with 71 runs scored, 21 doubles, 11 triples and 21 steals. The Pirates picked Madison up without seeing him any time recently. Owner William Kerr said that he remembered him from his Philadelphia days and he was following him  through the boxscores all season in 1898. He then noticed his stats dropped off significantly late in the season. When asked about it, Kerr was told by an opposing manager (from the Atlantic League) that Madison’s wife died in August and he was no good as a player after that happened.

Madison signed with the Pirates on October 11, 1898. He joined the club in March of 1899 to get ready for the season. He hit .271 in 42 games that year, with 20 runs, six extra-base hits, 19 RBIs and a .694 OPS. He played 19 games at second base and 15 at shortstop. He played his final game of the season on August 22nd. He came down with malaria and was hospitalized within a week of that last game. Madison was involved in the Wagner trade in December of 1899, going to Louisville in the deal. The Louisville team folded shortly after the deal and his contract was returned to the Pirates. Just six days after being returned, the Pirates sold him to Indianapolis of the Class-A American League, which was still considered to be a minor league at the time. It was also the highest level of the minors at the time. With a roster loaded with talent from the trade, the Pirates had no room for Madison on the bench. He batted .265 in 98 games for Indianapolis in 1900, with 51 runs scored and 18 extra-base hits. He played five more seasons in the minors before retiring. Madison played 105 games in 1901, splitting his time between Syracuse and Toronto of the Class-A Eastern League. He hit .255 that year, with 11 doubles and two triples. He stayed in the same league with Worcester for the 1902 season, where hit .275 in 56 games, with six doubles and three triples. He played the 1903 season with Worcester and Rochester (also Eastern League), putting up a .254 average, with 43 runs, 12 doubles, seven triples and nine steals. Madison then had a .333 average and seven extra-base hits in 35 games with Rochester in 1904. His final two seasons were spent with the Utica Pent-Ups, playing in the Class-B New York State League. He had a .216 average in 109 games in 1905, followed by a .140 average over 25 games in 1906, with all 12 of his hits being singles.

John Newell, third baseman for the 1891 Pirates. He started his pro career in the minors in 1889, playing for four different teams before the Pirates bought his contract from Portland of the New England League on July 19, 1891. He debuted in the Middle States League at 21 years old in 1889, where he saw time with teams from Lancaster and York (no stats available). He spent the 1890 season with Wilmington of the Atlantic Association, which was his hometown team, and a club he would later play for in another league. Newell batted .248 in 71 games during the 1890 season, with 28 runs, nine doubles, three triples and 27 steals. His stats for Portland in 1891 are unavailable from before he joined the Pirates, but Pittsburgh received good scouting reports, and it was said that he played a fine all-around game. One local paper noted that he was brought along to be a substitute player, which was the 19th century way of saying he would be a bench player. It was stated that he was in his fourth season of pro ball, but that was slightly off, as his first season in 1888 was spent with Wilmington, and they weren’t at the pro level that year. He practiced with the Pirates after arriving on July 21st. The local media was impressed, though his throws from third base left something to be desired, and there was an odd twist to what they wrote about him.

Newell made his Major League debut on July 22nd, then ten days later he played his last Major League game. When he joined the club, regular third baseman Charlie Reilly moved out to left field. Reilly was back at third base the next day and Newell didn’t play again until the 27th, with Reilly moving out to center field. Newell got praise for his play at third base on the 28th, then the next day he made a play on a hard grounder down the line that was the defensive highlight of the day. Unfortunately for Newell, he also made a wild throw that resulted in an error that cost the Pirates four runs. At the same time, Reilly made a bad play in the outfield that was also costly. The local newspaper said that Newell looked like a ballplayer and could handle himself in the field, though he made a lot of high throws. The twist I mentioned from his first day with the team is that all of his throws in fielding practice were coming in low, so he appeared to do the total opposite once he got into games. It was also noted that he threw the ball sidearm across the diamond. He hit .111/.158/.111 in five games for the Pirates, with one run and two RBIs. He made two errors in 13 total chances. On August 20, 1891, he was released and returned to the minors. The local papers noted that he still had rough edges and needed another season in the minors before he’d be ready for the big leagues. He did not play during his final 19 days with the Pirates, with the ax falling after he was left home while the team went on a road trip.

Newell bounced around the minors for seven more seasons before retiring. He split 1892 between Toledo of the Class-A Western League (highest level of the minors at the time) and New Orleans of the Class-B Southern Association. He combined to hit .231 in 85 games, with 45 runs, 13 doubles, one homer and 28 steals. His online stats credit him with 20 triples in 32 games for New Orleans, but that has to be a mistake because no one else on the team had more than six triples all season. Newell was with Memphis of the Southern Association in 1893, where he hit .314 in 47 games, with 46 runs and 12 extra-base hits. He played for Sioux City of the Western League in 1894, hitting .333 in 68 games, with 93 runs, 19 doubles, 11 triples, ten homers and 44 steals. That was a high year for offense all around baseball due to new pitching rules that heavily favored hitters. Newell played for Indianapolis of the Western League in 1895. He hit .360 in 121 games that season, with 140 runs, 32 doubles, 20 triples, 13 homers and 50 steal. He peaked during the 1896 season, when he hit .413 in 118 games, with 154 runs, 38 doubles, 25 triples, nine homers and 74 stolen bases for Wilmington of the Class-A Atlantic League.  Newell played for four teams in 1897, getting into 42 games for Grand Rapids of the Western League, and a total of 70 games split between Reading, Hartford and Peterson of the Atlantic League. Only the Grand Rapids stats are available. They show a .332 average and 41 runs in 42 games. Newell finished up with Reading in 1898 (no stats available). He and Joe Redfield (mentioned above) played third base for the Pirates 100 years apart, and they each went 2-for-18 at the plate while with the team.