This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: January 15th, Jeff Banister and One of the Original Alleghenys

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including a man who was in the lineup for the first game in franchise history.

Jeff Banister, pinch-hitter for the 1991 Pirates. He was a 25th round draft pick out of the University of Houston in 1986 by the Pirates. He debuted in pro ball at 22 years old with Watertown of the short-season New York-Penn League in 1986. He hit just .145 in 41 games that first year, with nine runs, eight RBIs, 12 walks, a .402 OPS and all four of his extra-base hits were doubles. While he mostly caught in the minors, he saw games at first base every year, and he played outfield for the only time (three games) during his first pro season. He moved up to Macon of the Class-A South Atlantic League in 1987, where he hit .254 in 101 games, with 35 runs, 20 doubles, six homers, 37 RBIs and a .694 OPS. Banister played for Harrisburg of the Double-A Eastern League in 1988. He hit .259 in 71 games, with six doubles, six homers, 26 RBIs and a .672 OPS. Despite hitting six homers and playing 71 games with a decent average, he finished the year with just nine runs scored. He repeated Harrisburg in 1989, and hit .238 in 102 games, with 48 runs, 13 doubles, 12 homers, 48 RBIs and an 18-point jump in his OPS over the previous season (.690 vs .672). Banister played 101 games with Harrisburg in 1990. He hit .269 that year, with 43 runs, 13 doubles, ten homers, 57 RBIs and a .699 OPS. He also got into 12 games for Triple-A Buffalo of the American Association, putting up an .899 OPS in 29 plate appearances during that brief time.

During his sixth season in the system, Banister got his one moment in the sun for the Pirates on July 23, 1991. The Pirates called him up on July 23rd to replace the injured catcher Don Slaught, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list. At the time, Banister was hitting .266 for Buffalo, with one homer and 11 RBIs in 47 games. In the seventh inning of a 10-3 game on July 23rd against the Atlanta Braves, with the Pirates ahead and at home, Banister came to the plate for his Major League debut, batting for Doug Drabek. With one out and no one on, he hit a 1-1 pitch from veteran Dan Petry between shortstop and third base for his first big league hit, which was a single. Two batters later, he was left stranded at first base and the inning was over. He never played another Major League game. He was optioned back to Buffalo on July 27th when the Pirates recalled catcher Tom Prince. Banister finished the 1991 season hitting .244/.327/.308 in 79 games for Buffalo.

Banister was injured in 1992, missing the entire season due to elbow surgery in February. He then played briefly (eight games) in 1993 with Double-A Carolina of the Southern League, serving mostly as a player/coach, before taking a managerial position in the minors for the Pirates in 1994. He managed four different Pirates affiliates during the 1994-98 seasons. He spent 30+ years with the Pirates system, last serving as a Special Assistant on the Baseball Operations side until being let go during the 2020 shutdown. He was out of baseball until being named as the bench coach of the Arizona Diamondbacks in November of 2021. During the 2015-18 seasons, he was the manager for the Texas Rangers. He won two division titles (2015-16) and the American League Manager of the Year award in 2016. As a player, Banister was lucky to even make it to college ball. He nearly lost his leg in high school due to bone cancer. In college, he was paralyzed for ten days after a home plate collision. He also had multiple knee operations in the minors.

Edward Kinsella, pitcher for the 1905 Pirates. At 25 years old in 1905, he went 17-14 in his second season of minor league ball, while playing for a team called the Bloomington Bloomers of the Class-B Three-I League. The Pirates purchased his contract on August 4, 1905 for $1,000. It was said that the Boston Red Sox were also interested in his services at the time. He was allowed to finish the minor league season with Bloomington before reporting to the Pirates. Kinsella debuted with Bloomington in 1904, though the only available stats from that year are 23 games pitched and 54 walks. The 1905 season shows that he walked 146 batters before joining the Pirates, which is a high number regardless of the unknown number of innings pitched. He joined the Pirates on September 14, 1905, then made his big league debut in relief on September 16th, facing seven batters over two scoreless innings. He then made two starts, pitching a 2-2 tie on September 30th, and a 4-1 loss on October 8th. Both games were the second game of a doubleheader, and his second start was the last game of the season. Kinsella did some exhibition work between his debut and his two starts. He pitched a complete game on September 18th in an exhibition game against a team from Newark, Ohio. The Pirates won the game, but he allowed five runs on 12 hits. He threw another complete game in an exhibition against Columbus of the Class-A American Association and won 11-3. While he was facing a minor league team, the American Association was one of the best leagues in the minors (Class-A was the highest level in 1905), and that Columbus team went 100-52 that season, so they were a worthy opponent. After seeing him in his debut, a writer for the Pittsburgh Press said that Kinsella was “a good sized chap, with much speed, good curves, and a plentiful supply of confidence”.

After the 1905 season ended, the Pirates sold Kinsella’s contract, along with the contract of infielder Otto Knabe, in a deal to Toledo of the American Association that was announced on December 15th. Kinsella was working an off-season job that November when he got fired for taking the day off after pay day. His salary for the week in the off-season was reported as $9.60. While he was initially sold to Toledo, he ended up back in the Three-I League, pitching for the Springfield club. He pitched four full seasons in the minors before getting his second and final shot at the majors with the 1910 St Louis Browns. During that 1906-09 stretch, he had three consecutive 21+ win seasons with Portland of the Class-A Pacific Coast League (1907-08) and Portland of the Class-B Northwestern League (1909). There are only limited stats available for his 1906 season with Springfield, where he pitched 22 games.

He threw 370 innings with Portland during the 1907 season. He had a 21-20, 2.29 record that year, with 39 starts and seven relief appearances. He then posted a 21-19 record in 1908, pitching 45 games that year. After his move to the Northwestern League in 1909, he went 23-10 in 45 appearances. Kinsella made five starts and five relief appearances during his one season with the Browns, posting a 1-3, 3.78 record in 50 innings. He registered just ten strikeouts that year. He moved from the majors to Denver of the Class-A Western League for the 1911 season. He had a 12-10 record in 28 appearances. He then went 22-11 for Denver in 1912, while throwing 280 innings. Kinsella played for Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League in 1913 (then a Double-A level), where he went 7-8 in 110.2 innings pitched, while allowing 4.64 runs per nine innings (ERA isn’t available). He finished his career in the minors in 1914, playing for three different teams in his final year, including two clubs in the Class-D Central Association, which was five steps away from the majors at the time. He went 8-9, 4.10 in 149.1 innings for Des Moines of the Western League that year, while his only known stats from his time with Waterloo and the Ottumwa franchise that year shows that he combined for 49 innings and a 3-3 record.

While his minor league stats are incomplete (two full years are missing win/loss records), Kinsella had at least four 20+ win seasons and at least 135 wins. He had the nickname “Rube” since his days in the minors, and he was described as a rural farm boy, who developed as a pitcher while playing for his local amateur team. Despite the mocking nickname, he actually attended Illinois State and played ball during the 1902-03 seasons. He had a brother Bert who was said to be a better pitcher, but he injured his shoulder during the 1905 season and never made anything of his baseball career.

Jock Menefee, pitcher for the 1892 and 1894-95 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball in 1890 at 22 years old with Erie of the New York-Penn League. There are no stats from that season, but during the 1891 season with Erie, he went 8-7 in 19 games pitched and he hit .204 with 30 runs scored, eight doubles and 12 steals in 64 games, mostly playing right field. Jock (his first name was John) served parts of those two seasons as the team’s manager. He made his Major League debut with the Pirates during the 1892 season as a right fielder for the final inning on August 17th, one day after he joined the team. After Doggie Miller (who was playing with a bad leg that caused him to limp) needed to leave the game, Menefee took his spot and caught a fly ball to help the Pirates secure a 3-1 win. He debuted in pitcher’s box on August 22nd and pitched poorly, during what turned out to be his only pitching appearance that season. The Pirates were losing 7-1 to Brooklyn with one out in the fourth inning, when Menefee was called on to relieve starter Red Ehret. Menefee gave up an inherited run in the fourth, and then nine runs of his own over the rest of the game on ten hits and two walks. His current records say he gave up six runs over four innings, but every play-by-play from the day, including one with a detailed batter-by-batter recap of the fourth inning, has him allowing nine runs in 5.2 innings. Before joining the Pirates, he was playing for Wilkes-Barre of the Class-B Pennsylvania State League. His Wilkes-Barre team folded the day after his lone big league pitching appearance, while he remained with the Pirates for the rest of the season. Menefee was scheduled to pitch an exhibition game for the Pirates in Jamestown on September 6th, but a doubleheader with the Washington Senators got rained out on the 5th, so the exhibition game was canceled and the doubleheader moved to the 6th. He was released before September ended without working again.

Menefee pitched part of the 1893 season in the majors with Louisville. Before joining them in late July, he went 16-5, 1.57 in 183 innings with Johnstown of the Pennsylvania State League. He actually began that year with Chattanooga of the Class-B Southern Association, where he had a 1-3 record while pitching to his brother Tom Menefee, who played from 1890 to 1904 without making the majors. Jock then had an 8-7, 4.24 record in 129.1 innings over 15 starts for Louisville. He had an 8-17, 4.29 record in 211.2 innings with Louisville in 1894, before the Pirates reacquired him in exchange for pitcher George Nicol and cash in August. Menefee went 5-8, 5.40 in 13 starts with the Pirates to finish that 1894 season. He pitched poorly in two games (one start) early in 1895, allowing eight runs in 1.2 innings, before being released by the Pirates, then played that season for Franklin of the Class-C Iron and Oil League. He played for Kansas City of the Western League in 1896-97. There are no records available for 1896. He hit .221 in 131 games in 1897, with 71 runs, 22 extra-base hits and 37 steals. His pitching stats from that year just show 17 innings pitched, as almost all of his time was spent in the outfield. He started one game for the New York Giants in 1898 that didn’t go well, as he took the extra-innings loss with eight runs over 9.1 frames. He then played for Wichita of the Kansas State League in 1898, and for Minneapolis of the Class-A Western League in 1899, though no stats are available for either league.

Beginning in 1900, Menefee spent four full seasons in the Chicago Orphans/Cubs starting rotation. He went 9-4, 3.85 in 117 innings over 13 starts and three relief appearances in 1900. He had an 8-12, 3.80 record in 182.1 innings during the 1901 season, with 19 complete games in 20 starts. His best season was when he went 12-10, 2.42 in 197.1 innings in 1902. He had an 11-3 complete game loss to the Pirates that year in which he allowed just one earned run. Just 12 days later, he threw a shutout against the Pirates, in a season that many consider to be their best year ever. Menefee went 8-10, 3.00 in 147 innings over 20 games in 1903, with 17 starts and 13 complete games. That was the end of his big league career. He played three seasons of pro ball after that point, finishing up at 40 years old with McKeesport of the Class-C Ohio-Pennsylvania League. He played for Johnstown of the independent Pennsylvania League in 1904. He’s credited with hitting .200 in 16 games for McKeesport in 1907, when the team was in the Class-D Pennsylvania-Ohio-Maryland League. He finished off his time with an 8-8 record for McKeesport in 1908, though he hit just .127 in 17 games. He was a decent enough hitter/fielder that he played 82 games in the field during his Major League career at six different positions other than pitcher. Over nine seasons in the majors, he went 58-70, 3.81 in 1,111.1 innings over 139 games, with 125 starts, 111 complete games and six shutouts. He was a .222 hitter during his career, with 74 runs and 57 RBIs in 221 games.

Mike Mansell, left fielder for the 1882-84 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He started his minor league career at 19 years old with Syracuse of the League Alliance in 1877 (the first season of minor league ball), and stayed with the team as they first moved to the International Association in 1878, then the National League in 1879. Stats aren’t available from his first two seasons, but his team was a bit over-matched in the move to the big league level. Syracuse did very poorly that season, finishing 22-48-1, and Mansell struggled along with his team. He hit .215 in 65 games, with 24 runs, seven extra-base hits, 13 RBIs and a .491 OPS, serving as their everyday left fielder. He showed great range (best in the league according to Range Factor), but he also committed 29 errors. Well not an awful total back before gloves, and during a time when official scorers were ruthless, it was still the fourth most in the league for all outfielders. He played with the Cincinnati Reds in 1880, a franchise in the National League that pre-dates the current Reds franchise, which started in the American Association in 1882. Mansell did even worse at the plate during his second big league season, finishing with a .193 average, 22 runs, ten extra-base hits, 12 RBIs and .487 OPS. His fielding that year wasn’t great either, with 25 errors in 53 games, all of them coming in left field. That current Cincinnati Reds franchise was joined by the Pittsburgh Alleghenys in 1882, during the first year of the American Association. Mansell. spent the 1881 season in the minors with Washington/Albany of the Eastern Championship League (no stats available, but see fun fact below). He was the starting left fielder for Pittsburgh in their first year, playing all 79 games. He batted cleanup on Opening Day. He hit .277 that year, while leading the league in both doubles (16) and triples (16). He also had 59 runs scored, while posting a .720 OPS. It was quite a turnaround at the plate for the for 24-year-old.

Mansell batted .257 for Pittsburgh in 1883, with 12 doubles, 13 triples, three homers, 25 walks, and he scored 90 runs in just 96 games. The Alleghenys suffered through a tough season that year, finishing with a 31-67 record. Mansell struggled with the 1884 Alleghenys, then was dropped on June 13th (along with backup infielder John Peters) after posting a .140 average and a .434 OPS through 27 games. The team had a 30-78 record on the season, going 20-57 after releasing the two players. Mansell’s home run on June 5th was the first of the season for the team. They ended up getting just one more all year, when Charlie Eden hit one one August 27th. Mansell played for two other American Association teams in 1884 before before returning to the minors to finish his career in 1892. After leaving the Alleghenys in 1884, he hit .200 in 20 games with the Philadelphia Athletics, and then finished up with the Richmond Virginians, who joined the league late in the year to help finish out the schedule after the Washington Nationals folded in early August. In 29 games with Richmond, Mansell put up a .301 average and a .770 OPS. He was a .239 hitter in 371 big league games, with 237 runs scored and 42 triples, compared to 41 doubles. Over those final eight seasons of pro ball (1885-92), he played for eight different teams in six different leagues.

Mansell spent the 1885 season with Cleveland of the Eastern League and Oswego of the New York State League. He had a .198 average in 28 games for Cleveland, though he managed to score 24 runs. No stats are available for Oswego. He batted .251 in 93 games for Waterbury of the Eastern League in 1886, finishing with 59 runs, 16 doubles and three triples. The 1887 season was spent with Hamilton of the International Association and no stats are available. He played 48 games for Hamilton and 52 for Toronto of the same league in 1888. He combined for a .237 average, 53 runs, 11 doubles, four triples and 70 steals. Mansell played for Newark of the Atlantic League in 1889-90. No stats are available for 1889, but we know that he .241 in 108 games in 1890, with 60 runs, seven doubles, nine triples and 41 steals. He played for Providence of the Class-A Eastern Association in 1891, hitting .258 in 74 games, with 53 runs, 20 extra-base hits and 26 steals. His final season was spent with the Syracuse/Utica franchise of the Eastern League. Mansell hit .216 in 36 games, with 19 runs, three doubles, a triple and six stolen bases. His brother Tom played five seasons in the majors between 1879 and 1884,  and his brother John played one year (1882) with the Philadelphia Athletics. All three played outfield together in the minors with Albany in 1881. Tom also played one game for Syracuse in 1879 with Mike.

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