This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: February 8th, Pie and Cookie

Six former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date.

Felix Pie, outfielder for the 2013 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Chicago Cubs as an international amateur free agent at 16 years old in 2001 out of the Dominican Republic. After hitting .321 in 2002, with 43 runs, 33 extra-base hits, 38 RBIs, 17 steals and a .953 OPS in 55 games in the Arizona Summer League, he was ranked among the top 100 prospects in baseball by Baseball America. He remained ranked among the top 100 prospects for five years straight, topping out in the rankings at #27 after the 2005 season. Pie also played two games for Boise of the short-season Northwest League in 2002, then moved to full-season ball the following season. He played for Lansing of the Low-A Midwest League in 2003, where he hit .285 in 124 games, with 72 runs, 22 doubles, nine triples, 47 RBIs, 19 steals, 41 walks and a .734 OPS. Pie moved up to Daytona of the High-A Florida State League in 2004, where he batted .297 in 110 games, with 79 runs, 18 doubles, ten triples, eight homers, 47 RBIs, 32 steals and a .799 OPS. His highest prospect ranking was after he hit .304 in Double-A with West Tennessee of the Southern League in 2005, finishing with 41 runs, 17 doubles, five triples, 11 homers, 25 RBIs, 13 steals and a .905 OPS in 59 games. He was limited due to an ankle injury that year, but he bounced back to play 141 games for Iowa of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in 2006. He had a .283 average that season, with 78 runs, 33 doubles, eight triples, 15 homers, 57 RBIs, 17 steals and a .792 OPS. He played winter ball in the Dominican for the first time that off-season, hitting .219 in 32 games, with a .528 OPS.

Pie debuted in the majors early in 2007, but he ended up having three different stints with the Cubs that year. He hit .215/.271/.333 in 87 games, with 26 runs, 14 extra-base hits and 20 RBIs. He tore up Triple-A Iowa whenever he was sent down, batting .362/.410/.563 in 55 games. He saw slightly better stats in the Dominican that winter, batting .244 in 36 games, with a .684 OPS. Pie was limited to 43 big league games and 93 plate appearances in 2008, with the rest of the year being spent in Iowa, where he had an .802 OPS in 85 games. He batted .241 in his limited big league time that season, with nine runs, one homer, ten RBIs, three steals and a .637 OPS. The Cubs traded him to the Baltimore Orioles in January of 2009. He set a career high with 101 games played during that first season with the Orioles. Pie posted a .266 average, with 38 runs, ten doubles, nine homers, 29 RBIs and a .763 OPS. His speed was non-existent that season, with just one steal in four attempts. He would set his career bests with a .271 average, 39 runs scored,  15 doubles, five triples and 31 RBIs in 2010. He had a .718 OPS in 82 games that year. He then saw a major drop-off in production in 2011, hitting .220 with no homers and a .545 OPS in 85 games. He drove in seven runs in 175 plate appearances. Pie became a free agent at the end of the season, then signed with the Cleveland Indians, though they released him at the end of Spring Training in 2012. He split the 2012 season between independent ball and the Atlanta Braves Triple-A club, before signing a minor league deal with the Pirates on November 19, 2012. He had a .285 average and a .797 OPS in 96 games with Gwinnett of the International League, while with the Braves. He batted .353/.386/.608 in 13 games with Camden of the independent Atlantic League. Pie had a .253 average and a .702 OPS in 42 games of winter ball in the Dominican during the 2012-13 off-season.

Pie spent most of 2013 with Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League, where he had a .251 average, 53 runs, 29 extra-base hits, 40 RBIs, 38 steals and a .715 OPS in 105 games. He was called up to the Pirates in late August. He played 27 big league games that year, though he started just three times. Pie went 4-for-29 at the plate, with five runs and two RBIs. After the season, he was dropped from the 40-man roster, then signed to play in Korea. He did well overseas, putting up a .326 average, 61 runs, 33 doubles, 17 homers, 92 RBIs and an .897 OPS in 119 games in 2014. He didn’t play during the 2015 regular season, though he returned that off-season to winter ball in the Dominican, where he had a .603 OPS in 32 games. He saw time in China in 2016, but that amounted to five games. He played winter ball after the season, though that was just ten games. Pie then played winter ball in Mexico in 2017-18, putting up a .757 OPS in 17 games. So a full two-year stretch saw him play just 32 games total. He put up big numbers in Mexico in 2018, when the league played a split schedule. He had a 1.046 OPS in 46 games during the first half, then an .814 OPS in 53 games during the second half. That was followed by winter ball in the Dominican, then returning to Mexico in 2019. Pie had a huge season with Leon of the Mexican League, posting a .381 average and a 1.181 OPS in 93 games. He had 22 homers and drove in 80 runs. He didn’t play in 2020 due to the canceled seasons, but he saw winter time in the Dominican before and after that lost season.

Pie returned to Mexico in 2021, where he had a .297 average and an .832 OPS in 46 games for Campeche. He briefly played in the Dominican over the 2021-22 off-season, then spent the 2022 season at 37 years old, with Kentucky of the independent Atlantic League. He batted .254 in 97 games, with 52 runs, 14 doubles, 13 homers, 48 RBIs and a .761 OPS. He played the 2022-23 winter in Puerto Rico, though he went 1-for-15 in five games. In six seasons in the big leagues, Pie had a  .246 average, with 132 runs, 17 homers, 99 RBIs and 21 steals in 425 big league games. Including all levels of pro ball over 21 seasons, he has played 2,083 games, with 1,077 runs scored, 184 homers, 956 RBIs and 263 stolen bases.

Bob Oliver, outfielder for the 1965 Pirates. He was signed as an amateur free agent in 1963 at 20 years old, then spent three full seasons working his way up from A-ball to get a September look with the Pirates in 1965. He debuted with Gastonia of the Class-A Western Carolinas League in 1963, where he hit .281 in 124 games, with 82 runs, 15 doubles, 13 homers, 84 RBIs and a .734 OPS. Oliver played with Kinston of the Class-A Carolina League in 1964, hitting .260 in 137 games, with 66 runs, 26 extra-base hits, 73 RBIs and a .670 OPS. He moved up to Asheville of the Double-A Southern League in 1965, where he hit .260 in 128 games, with 66 runs, 17 doubles, 15 homers, 71 RBIs and a .714 OPS, which earned him a brief look with the Pirates. He played three games, all off the bench, going 0-for-2 with a run scored. Oliver returned to the minors for two more seasons before the Pirates traded him to the Minnesota Twins for pitcher Ron Kline on December 2, 1967. Oliver split the 1966 season between Asheville and Columbus of the Triple-A International League, combining to hit .286 in 117 games, with 68 runs, 18 homers, 81 RBIs and an .803 OPS. He spent the entire 1967 season with the Pirates new Double-A affiliate, Macon of the Southern League. He batted .285 in 139 games, with 60 runs, 16 doubles, 17 homers, 80 RBIs and a .774 OPS.

Oliver remained in the minors in 1968 after the trade, playing for Denver of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, before getting his big break when the Kansas City Royals selected him in the 1968 Expansion Draft. Denver was a hitter-friendly park and he took advantage, batting .297 in 137 games, with 31 doubles, eight triples, 20 homers, 93 RBIs and an .832 OPS. He played his first full big league season at age 26 in 1969. He hit .254 that year, with 43 runs, 13 homers, 43 RBIs and a .687 OPS in 118 games. That was a solid rookie season, but he was even better the next year. Oliver hit .260 in 1970, with 83 runs, 24 doubles, 27 homers and 99 RBIs in 160 games. His .760 OPS was 73 points higher than his rookie season. His production slipped in 1971, batting .244/.277/.351, with 35 runs, 22 extra-base hits, 52 RBIs and 14 walks in 128 games. The Royals traded him to the California Angels early in the 1972 season, after he hit .270/.292/.381, with one homer and six RBIs in 16 games. Oliver would rebound with two solid years in California, hitting 19 homers and driving in 70 runs over 134 games during the rest of the 1972 season, while posting a .743 OPS. He then following it up with a .265 average in 1973, with 51 runs, 24 doubles, 18 homers, 89 RBIs and a .722 OPS in 151 games.

Oliver’s numbers dropped off once again in 1974, and he never recovered. The Angels traded him late in the year to the Baltimore Orioles, who sold him to the New York Yankees three months later. He had a .248 average and a .623 OPS in 110 games at the time of the trade to Baltimore, where he went 3-for-20 in nine games. He finished the year with 23 runs, 20 extra-base hits and 59 RBIs. Oliver played his final big league season in 1975, hitting .132/.154/.158 in 18 games for the Yankees. He spent time in the minors with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1976, putting up a .325 average and an .848 OPS in 96 games with Oklahoma City of the Triple-A American Association. He was then back with the Pirates organization in 1977, where he hit .274 in 126 games, with 54 runs, 25 doubles, 17 homers, 85 RBIs and a .743 OPS for Triple-A Columbus of the International League. Then it was on to Mexico for the 1978 season, though he was with the Chicago White Sox Triple-A affiliate for a small part of that season. He had a .319 average and an .829 OPS in 147 games for Puebla of the Mexican League that season. Oliver batted just .208 in 15 games that year for Iowa of the American Association (White Sox). He finished his pro career in Mexico in 1979, where no stats are available for the season.. In 847 big league games, he finished with a .256 average, 293 runs, 102 doubles, 94 homers and 419 RBIs. Oliver recently ran his own baseball academy in California, before passing away in early 2020. He is the father of major league pitcher Darren Oliver, who played 20 seasons in the majors.

Monty Basgall, second baseman for the 1948-49, 1951 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1942 and played just one year in the minors before spending the next three seasons serving in the military during WWII. At 20 years old in 1942, he spent the year with Valdosta of the Class-D Georgia-Florida League, where he had a .253 average and 22 extra-base hits in 126 games. After he returned from the service in 1946, he played two seasons for Fort Worth of the Double-A Texas League, before the Dodgers traded him to the Pirates for infielders Vic Barnhart and Jimmy Bloodworth on December 3, 1947. Basgall batted .226 in 155 games in 1946, with 60 runs, 22 doubles, 45 RBIs, 54 walks and a .580 OPS. He hit .272 in 1947, with 75 runs, 38 extra-base hits, 71 RBIs, 66 walks and a .702 OPS in 153 games. Brooklyn was set at second base at that time with Jackie Robinson, so Basgall was expendable. Monty (his first name was Romanus) started the first three games of the season at second base for the 1948 Pirates, but he was used very little the rest of the way. He hit .216/.259/.353 over 38 games, with two homers and six RBIs in 54 plate appearances. He pinch-ran 13 times, which helped lead to him scoring more runs (12) than he had hits (11). He lost the regular second base job to Danny Murtaugh, who ended up starting 145 games at second that season.

Basgall was the regular second baseman for most of 1949, playing 98 of his 107 games there. He took over in late June for Murtaugh, who was hitting just .186 at the time. Basgall hit .218/.291/.273 over 344 plate appearances in 1949, with 25 runs, nine doubles, two homers and 26 RBIs. He spent the entire 1950 season in the minors with Indianapolis of the Triple-A American Association, before returning to the Pirates in 1951. He hit .281 in 133 games for Indianapolis, with 63 runs, 29 doubles, 13 homers, 58 RBIs and an .803 OPS. Basgall batted .209/.271/.268 in 55 games for the Pirates in 1951, while spending part of the year back in Indianapolis. He had 15 runs, seven extra-base hits and nine RBIs during his big league time. He was with the Pirates in April and early May, then again in July and early August. That would end up being  his last season in the majors. He had a .255 average and a .712 OPS in 37 games for Indianapolis that season. He was in the Pirates system until 1958, the last three years as a player/manager for three different teams, then went on to a long career in numerous roles for the Dodgers.

On September 26, 1951, the Pirates sold Basgall’s rights to Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League, which was their Triple-A affiliate at the time. On November 14, 1951, Hollywood returned him to the Pirates. Basgall went to Spring Training with the Pirates in 1952, but when he didn’t make the club, he was put on (and cleared) waivers, then got released back to Hollywood, where he ended up playing the 1952-54 seasons. He hit .279 in 149 games during the 1952 season, with 80 runs, 22 doubles, eight homers, 63 RBIs and a .677 OPS. He batted .249 in 1953, with 63 runs, 28 doubles, ten homers, 77 RBIs, 59 walks and a .682 OPS in 162 games. Basgall hit .252 during his final season in Hollywood, with 57 runs, 23 extra-base hits, 59 RBIs, 55 walks and a .654 OPS. He played with Seattle of the Pacific Coast League in 1955, hitting .245 in 132 games, with 50 runs, 25 doubles, eight homers, 42 RBIs and a .668 OPS. He then returned to affiliates of the Pirates as a player-manager with Waco (1956) and Beaumont (1957), both of the Class-B Big State League, then finally with Lincoln of the Class-A Western League in 1958. Basgall did well with the drop in competition, as you would expect. He had a .325 average and an .862 OPS in 54 games with Waco. He posted a .338 average and an .872 OPS in 36 games for Beaumont. His playing time was limited to ten at-bats over six games with Lincoln. Basgall was a career .215 hitter in 200 Major League games, with 52 runs, 15 doubles, four homers and 41 RBIs. He never really hit for high average in the minors, batting .263 in 1,311 minor league games over 13 seasons. He had two seasons with double-digit homers, topping out at 13 in 1950. Modern metrics rate him as slightly above replacement level on defense.

Cookie Cuccurullo, pitcher for the 1943-45 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball at 21 years old in 1939, when he went 14-8, 4.03 in 174 innings for Greeneville of the Class-D Appalachian League. He remained at the same level of play in 1940, and lowered his ERA to 3.53 in 148 innings for Niagara Falls of the Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York League. He had a 9-10 record. Despite the better ERA, he saw a rise in his walk rate that continued into the next year. Cuccurullo went from 3.8 walks per nine innings in 1939, to 5.0 in 1940, to 5.6 in 1941. He spent the 1941 season with Hutchinson of the Class-C Western Association, which had a working agreement with the Pirates. He had an 11-10, 4.43 record in 199 innings that year. After the season, another Pirates affiliated team (Harrisburg of the Class-B Interstate League) purchased him from Hutchinson. Cuccurullo spent the 1942 season pitching for two different teams in the Interstate League (Harrisburg and Lancaster), where he pitched 200 innings and won 13 games. He was then purchased by the Albany Senators of the Class-A Eastern League after the season, which was another team affiliated with the Pirates. He got his chance in the majors during the war era when Major League jobs opened up for more minor league players. He capitalized on the weaker play on the field by going 20-8, 2.54, with 144 strikeouts over 230 innings in 1943 for Albany. Despite playing three years with teams that had working agreements with the Pirates, Cuccurullo’s contract didn’t officially become their property until September 8, 1943, which was 25 days before his big league debut. He was allowed to remain with Albany until their playoffs ended, then he arrived to Pittsburgh on September 17th. The Pirates let him start the last game of that season on October 3rd against the Philadelphia Phillies. He took the loss, allowing seven runs in seven innings.

Cookie (his first name was Arthur) spent the 1944 season in the Pirates bullpen, making just four starts among his 32 appearances. He had a 2-1, 4.06 record in 106.1 innings, with 31 strikeouts and a 1.45 WHIP. He would assume the same role during the following season, although he pitched much less often, while putting up worse results. He started in four of his 29 appearances, pitching a total of 56.2 innings, while posting a 1-3, 5.24 record and a 1.80 WHIP. He spent all of 1946 in the minors with Hollywood of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, going 7-11, 2.70, with 102 strikeouts in 180 innings. He was then traded by the Pirates to the New York Yankees for pitcher Tiny Bonham on October 24, 1946. It was a one-sided deal for the Pirates, as they got three serviceable seasons out of Bonham, while Cuccurullo never pitched in the majors again. Cookie spent the next four years in the minors, playing the 1947 season with Newark of the Triple-A International League, followed by his final three seasons in the Double-A Southern Association, playing for affiliates of the Chicago Cubs and Detroit Tigers. His ERA rose each year in the minors, going from 2.70 in 1946, all the way up to 6.69 in 1949. He was with Newark for all of 1947, going 3-6, 4.05 in 91 innings. He played for Nashville of the Southern Association during the 1948-49 seasons. Cuccurullo went 14-7, 5.04 in 166 innings during the 1948 season. He followed that up with a 6-11, 6.69 record in 109 innings, with a 1.90 WHIP. His ERA isn’t available for his final season with Little Rock of the Southern Association, but he gave up 32 hits and 22 walks in 19 innings that year, so things didn’t go well. His final big league stats during his three seasons in Pittsburgh show a 3-5, 4.55 record in 170 innings over nine starts and 53 relief appearances, finishing with an 81:51 BB/SO ratio. His nickname was given to him early on by friend, and was just an easier way to say his last name. He actually got the nickname “Ace” in the minors at one point and hated it enough that he asked people to stop using it.

Roy Ellam, shortstop for the 1918 Pirates. He spent 21 years playing in the minors, nine of them as a player/manager, and then another three years as just a manager. In between all that time in the minors, he had two brief stints in the majors, nine years apart. He played ten September games for the 1909 Cincinnati Reds, then didn’t play in the majors again until the 1918 Pirates traded infielder Gus Getz to Indianapolis of the Double-A American Association to land Ellam. The deal originally happened on July 12th, when Indianapolis received cash, plus a player to be named later. The Pirates were able to land Ellam over the St Paul Saints of the American Association, who were discussing a deal with Indianapolis involving veteran third baseman Jap Barbeau, who played for the 1909 World Series winning Pirates. The Pirates sent Getz to Indianapolis on an option on July 15th, with Indianapolis being able to keep him if he did well during a trial. Ellam had played/managed most of the 1918 season for Nashville of the Class-A Southern Association, getting into just 12 games with Indianapolis before joining the Pirates. He played 26 games for the Pirates between July 13th and August 29th, hitting just .130, though he did draw 17 walks, giving him a .302 OBP. He had nine runs, two extra-base hits and two RBIs during his brief time in Pittsburgh. He was never much of a hitter, even in the minors, where he hit .235 over the course of 2,211 games (not including 1907 stats). He lost his starting shortstop spot with the Pirates to Luke Boone on August 14th, then played just three games off of the bench over the final 20 games of the season. The 1918 season ended early due to the war, and Ellam’s status with the team was never updated during the off-season. In late February of 1919, he was named as the manager of his former Nashville club. He ended up playing minor league ball until age 44, retiring after the 1930 season.

Ellam’s pro career began in 1907 at 21 years old, playing for the Connellsville Cokers of the Class-D Western Pennsylvania League. He also played for a team in that league that started in LaTrobe and called four different towns home during the 1907 season. It wasn’t rare for teams to switch towns mid-season due to finances back then, but it’s extremely rare to see it happen multiple times in one season. No stats are available for that season, and most of his minor league time has limited stats. Ellam stayed with Connellsville in 1908, this time as a member of the Class-D Pennsylvania-West Virginia League. He hit .237 that year, with 47 runs and 27 steals in 105 games. He jumped from Class-D ball, all the way to the majors in 12 months, yet the Pirates were his only other big league club 21 years later when he played his final game. Ellam spent that 1909 season with Birmingham of the Class-A Southern Association (highest level of the minors until 1912), hitting just .196 in 141 games. He still got his chance with the Reds that September, hitting .191/.393/.429, with four runs, a triple, a homer, four RBIs and seven walks in ten games. His only home run in the majors was an inside-the-park homer. The Reds purchased his contract on August 20th, but they let him finish his season in the minors before reporting. He was sold to Kansas City of the American Association in January of 1910, but he ended up back with Birmingham for the 1910 season, then stayed there until the end of the 1915 season, when he joined the aforementioned Nashville club of the same league.

Ellam batted .203 over 110 games in 1910. He had a .219 average in 90 games during the 1911 season, followed by a .226 average over 129 games in 1912. Birmingham was at the top of the minor league ladder until the Double-A level was created in 1912. The league remained classified as Class-A at that point. Ellam had a .205 average over 123 games in 1913, with 39 runs, 19 extra-base hits and 14 steals. He hit .226 in 1914, with 67 runs, 19 doubles, 13 triples, ten homers and 13 steals in 157 games. He batted .265 over 161 games in 1915, with 26 doubles, 14 triples and four homers.  He moved to Nashville in 1916, where he hit .278 in 138 games, with 25 extra-base hits. He had a .294 average and 25 extra-base hits in 117 games during the 1917 season. Ellem batted .202 in 70 games with Nashville in 1918, then hit .297/.490/.351 in 12 games with Indianapolis, before joining the Pirates. After leaving Pittsburgh, he hit .203 for Nashville in 1919, with 23 extra-base hits in 105 games. His 1920 stats show a .222 average in 156 games, with 40 extra-base hits, including 30 doubles. He played for Galveston of the Class-A Texas League in 1921, hitting .225 in 128 games, with 23 extra-base hits. Ellem was back in the Southern League in 1922, where he hit .242 in 71 games with Mobile, collecting 16 doubles and four triples.

Ellam was out of the pro ranks during the 1923-25 seasons, when he served for a time as a scout, then played two years of semi-pro ball in New Jersey, before returning to the minors in 1926 with Lakeland of the Class-D Florida State League. He hit .260 over 107 games that year, with 27 extra-base hits. His last four years were spent in the Class-B Southeastern League. He played for St Augustine/Waycross in 1927, hitting .252 in 119 games, with 24 extra-base hits. Ellem played for Tampa in 1928, batting .268 in 100 games, with 14 extra-base hits, which included 12 doubles. He moved to Montgomery in 1929, where he played just 26 games that year, finishing with a .255 average and one double, which was his only extra-base hit. His final games came in 1930 for Montgomery, when he was 44 years old. He had a .246 average and seven extra-base hits in 46 games.

Harry Arundel, pitcher for the 1882 Alleghenys. He had an unknown birth date until very recent history uncovered it as February 8, 1855. He debuted in pro ball with one start in the National Association on July 19, 1875 for the Brooklyn Atlantics. He lasted just 2.1 innings and allowed six runs, though just two were earned. He then finished the game in right field and went 0-for-4 at the plate, as Brooklyn lost 23-2 that day. They were in the middle of a 30-game losing streak as the worst team in baseball history, finishing up with a 2-42 record. Arundel next appeared in pro ball in 1877, during the first year of minor league ball. He was playing semi-pro ball in 1875 in Philadelphia, and 1876 in Minnesota for the Clipper club of Winona. He played for Janesville of the League Alliance in 1877, then the Binghamton Cricket of the International Association in 1878 (no stats available for either season). He played semi-pro ball over the next three years, including time with a team in Findlay, Ohio, and a club called the White of Cleveland. His next pro experience came with the Pittsburgh Alleghenys during their first year of existence, which was also the first year of the American Association. Arundel started 14 of the first 30 games in franchise history, going 4-10, 4.70 in 118.2 innings, with 13 complete games. He finished one of his starts at shortstop. Pittsburgh played a total of seven games from May 10th through May 30th, and he started all seven games. He picked up all four of his wins during that stretch. His final game with the team came on July 7th. He was playing for a local semi-pro team called the C.H. Kellys on July 25th, and he was with another local semi-pro team called the C.S. Browns just three days later.

Arudel spent the 1883 season with Grand Rapids of the Northwest League (no stats available), then he had a wild season in 1884. The record books show him playing with four different minor league teams that year. He could also be found playing for a local team called the Oil City of the Iron and Oil League that year, which doesn’t show up in his records. He was first signed to play for Cleveland of the American Association, where he took part in at least one Spring Training game, but never played a regular season game for the team. He then went to Franklin of the Iron and Oil League, to Oil City, to the Liberty Stars of the same league, where he was signed to do some catching work. He then won his only start for Milwaukee of the Northwestern League, giving up five runs (all unearned) in a complete game victory. From there he pitched eight games for St Paul of the same league, going 2-6, 1.65 in 71 innings, though a large majority of the runs allowed were unearned that year. His season topped off with a brief stop back in the majors, playing with the Providence Grays of the National League for one start on October 10th. This time he pitched a complete game and won 11-2, while going 1-for-3 with a walk, two runs and an RBI. The was the mirror opposite of his first big league game, as Providence finished 84-28 and won the World Series over the New York Metropolitans of the American Association. Arundel was pitching in place of Old Hoss Radbourn, who set a big league record with 60 wins that year. Radbourn was too sore to pitch the October 10th game. Arundel finished his pro career in 1885 playing for Oswego of the New York State League and Springfield of the Interstate League, where no stats are available.