This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: February 21st, Jouett, Savage, Lyons

No major transactions on this date, and just three former Pittsburgh Pirates born on February 21st, including a very recent one who didn’t last long.

Tyler Lyons, pitcher for the 2019 Pirates. He was originally drafted in the tenth round in 2009 by the New York Yankees out of Oklahoma State University. Lyons returned to school, where he was selected by the Cardinals in the ninth round in 2010. He debuted in the minors in 2011, going right to High-A Palm Beach of the Florida State League, where he split his time between starting and relief work. He went 9-4, 4.50 in 94 innings over 12 starts and 21 relief appearances, finishing with 79 strikeouts and a 1.30 WHIP. He attended the Arizona Fall League after the season and posted a 4.85 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 29.2 innings. Lyons split the 2012 season between 12 starts for Springfield of the Double-A Texas League, and 15 starts for Memphis of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. He combined to go 9-13, 4.13 in 152.2 innings, with 143 strikeouts and a 1.27 WHIP. He debuted in the majors in late May of 2013, but more of his time that season was spent in Triple-A. He had a 3.32 ERA, 86 strikeouts and a 1.04 WHIP in 100.1 innings with Memphis, and a 2-4, 4.75 record in 53 innings with the Cardinals, making eight starts and four relief appearances. Lyons had a 4.43 ERA in 14 starts for Memphis in 2014, with 75 strikeouts and a 1.38 WHIP in 81.1 innings. He also had an 0-4, 4.42 record in 36.2 innings over 11 games (four starts) with the Cardinals. He spent slightly more time in Memphis in 2015, where he had a 9-5, 3.14 record in 96.2 innings over 17 starts, with 96 strikeouts and a 1.24 WHIP. He went 3-1, 3.75 in 60 innings with St Louis that year, making eight starts and nine relief appearances. He had 60 strikeouts, along with a 1.23 WHIP.

Lyons spent his first full season at the big league level in 2016, when he had a 3.38 ERA, a 1.02 WHIP and 46 strikeouts in 48 innings over 30 appearances, all coming in relief. A knee injury and subsequent surgery ended his season in late July. He pitched well for the Cardinals in 2017, finishing with a 2.83 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP and 68 strikeouts in 54 innings over 50 appearances. He missed the start of the year rehabbing from his knee surgery, then got hurt (lat strain) as soon as he came back to the Cardinals, so his season also included six minor league rehab starts. That was followed by a rough 2018 campaign in which he twice missed time due to an injury (elbow sprain), then finished the year in the minors after being designated for assignment. Lyons had an 8.64 ERA in 16.2 innings over 27 relief appearances for the 2018 Cardinals. He was granted free agency on October 1, 2018, then signed a minor league deal with the Pirates on Christmas Eve, but his big league time in 2019 was extremely brief. He lasted just three relief appearances with the Pirates in early May of 2019, appearing in those games over a four-day stretch. Lyons allowed five runs in four innings before being designated for assignment. He remained with the Pirates in Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League for three months before they released him in August, so he could sign elsewhere. He had a 3.35 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 45.1 innings with Indianapolis. He finished the 2019 season with the New York Yankees, where he had a 4.15 ERA in 8.2 innings over 11 appearances. He pitched one big league game for the Yankees in 2020, allowing four runs in 1.2 innings. He re-signed with the Yankees as a free agent in January of 2021, but he did not pitch during the season, and he didn’t play in 2022. Lyons finished with a 13-12, 4.30 record in 282.2 innings over 162 big league appearances, with 20 starts and three saves to his credit.

Ted Savage, outfielder for the 1963 Pirates. Savage debuted in pro ball at 23 years old in 1960, playing for Williamsport of the Class-A Eastern League. He hit .284 that season, with 83 runs, nine homers, 69 RBIs, 67 walks, 40 stolen bases and a .772 OPS. The next year he moved up to Buffalo of the Triple-A International League, where he established himself as a prospect. He batted .325 in 149 games, with 111 runs, 29 doubles, 24 homers, 31 stolen bases, 96 walks and a .952 OPS, though his 115 strikeouts in the minors during that era should have been a bit of a red flag. Savage had a strong rookie season in 1962 for the Philadelphia Phillies, hitting .266 in 127 games, with 54 runs scored, 20 extra-base hits, 39 RBIs, 40 walks and 16 stolen bases, leading to a .718 OPS and 1.3 WAR. The Pirates acquired him and infielder Poncho Herrera in November of 1962 in exchange for third baseman Don Hoak. Savage was used mainly off of the bench for the 1963 Pirates. He hit well through early May, but his average began to drop, and he made just five starts over the last 94 games of the season. He ended up playing 85 games for the Pirates that year, hitting .195/.268/.322 in 166 plate appearances, with 22 runs, eight extra-base hits and 14 RBIs. He stole just four bases in seven attempts. He spent the entire 1964 season in Triple-A with Columbus of the International League, where hit he .230 in 115 games, with 51 runs, ten homers, 44 RBIs, 26 steals and a .692 OPS. The Pirates traded him after the 1964 season, along with pitcher Earl Francis, to the St Louis Cardinals for two minor leaguers (Ron Cox and Jack Damaska) who never appeared in a game for the Pirates.

Savage played parts of three seasons with the Cardinals, spending most of his time in Triple-A. His time with the Cardinals in 1965 was limited to a .159/.232/.254 slash line in 69 plate appearances over 30 games.  He spent the rest of the year with Jacksonville of the International League, where he hit .252 in 87 games, with 41 runs, 21 extra-base hits, 34 RBIs, 34 steals and a .761 OPS. He put up big stats for Tulsa of the Pacific Coast League in 1966, after the Cardinals switched their Triple-A affiliate. He hit .317 that year in 108 games, with 34 doubles, 18 homers, 80 RBIs, 43 steals, 61 walks and a .977 OPS. He saw even less big league time in 1966, despite the minor league results. He hit .172/.273/.310 in 33 plate appearances over 16 games for the Cardinals. Savage went 1-for-8 with a walk in nine games for St Louis, before he was sold to the Chicago Cubs on May 14th. He finished the year by hitting .218 in 96 games, with 40 runs, 16 extra-base hits, 33 RBIs, 40 walks and a .683 OPS. He played just three games with the 1968 Cubs before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he batted .206 in 61 games, with seven runs, nine extra-base hits, seven RBIs and a .588 OPS. The Dodgers traded him to the Cincinnati Reds right before the 1969 season started.

During his only season in Cincinnati, Savage batted 132 times in 68 games, finishing with a .227 average, 20 runs, nine extra-base hits, 11 RBIs and a .689 OPS. The Reds sold him on April 5, 1970 to the Milwaukee Brewers, an expansion team in their second season. He hit a career high .279 for the 1970 Brewers, with 43 runs, 27 extra-base hits (12 homers), 50 RBIs, 57 walks and an .884 OPS in 114 games. His 343 plate appearances that year were his highest total since his rookie season. That 1970 season was the best of his career (1.8 WAR), but his big league career was over by the end of the 1971 season.  He batted .174/.296/.174 in 33 games in 1971, splitting his time between the Brewers and a another recent expansion team, the Kansas City Royals. He also saw brief minor league time that season, putting up an .884 with Omaha of the Triple-A American Association. Savage finished with a .233 career average in his nine big league seasons, with 202 runs, 34 homers, 163 RBIs and 49 stolen bases over 642 games. He finished his pro career with two seasons in Mexico, where he put up huge numbers for Jalisco in 1972 at age 35. He hit .364 that year in 89 games, with 79 runs, 16 doubles, 18 homers, 65 RBIs, 17 steals, 75 walks and a 1.125 OPS. He did well in his final season too, batting .314 in 106 games, with 59 runs, 12 doubles, 12 homers, 65 RBIs, 74 walks and an .895 OPS. He recently passed away at 85 years old. We featured him in a tribute Card of the Day article shortly afterwards.

Jouett Meekin, pitcher for the 1900 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball in 1889 at 22 years old, playing for St Paul of the Western Association, where he went 13-13, 1.91 in 221 innings, with 96 walks and 122 strikeouts. He debuted in the majors in mid-June of 1891, after going 4-8, 3.51 in his third season with St Paul (no stats are available for the 1890 season). He began his big league career with the Louisville Colonels of the American Association, where he went 9-16, 4.28, with a 1.49 WHIP in 221 innings over 25 starts, with 24 complete games and two shutouts. That gave him a total of 333.2 innings pitched that season between the minors and majors. His 141 strikeouts with Louisville that year ended up being his career high. The American Association closed up shop after the 1891 season, and Meekin moved with Louisville to the National League in 1892. He had a 7-10, 4.03 record and a 1.57 WHIP in 156.1 innings, completing 17 of his 18 starts, before being released. He finished the year with the lowly Washington Senators, where he had a 3-10 record, despite a 3.46 ERA in 112 innings. He had a total of 20 losses that season and 268.1 innings pitched, posting a 126:125 BB/SO ratio. While his ERA went up to 4.96 in 1893, the entire league saw a rise in runs scored, so it isn’t as bad as it sounds. Washington finished in 12th/last place with a 40-89 record that season. Meekin had a 10-15 record. He completed 24 of 28 starts and threw 245 innings, but he was hurt by walks, which resulted in a rough looking 140:91 BB/SO ratio.

Some consider 1894 to be the best year for offense in all of baseball. Meekin went 33-9, 3.70 for the New York Giants that year, after they acquired him in a four-player/cash trade that February. He finished with the second best ERA and second most wins in the league, while throwing 418 innings and 41 complete games. When most pitchers had trouble adjusting to the new pitching rules during that time which favored hitters, he managed to have his best season. His 11.2 WAR that season trailed only Hall of Famer Amos Rusie among all players. For comparison sake, the Pirates have only had one better season for a pitcher in franchise history. Ed Morris put up 13.3 WAR in 1885, while setting all kinds of single-season franchise records that still stand. Honus Wagner had just one season with more than 11.2 WAR (11.5 in 1908), so Meekin’s season would have ranked as the third best in franchise history if it came with the Pirates. Despite all of those accomplishments that year, he finished with 176 walks, compared to 137 strikeouts, ranking third in the league in both categories.

Meekin went on to win 78 total games over the 1895-98 seasons, all spent with the New York Giants. Playing for a .500 team (66-65) in 1895, he posted a 16-11 record, while putting up a 5.30 ERA in 225.2 innings. He went 26-14, 3.82 in 334.1 innings in 1896, while the rest of the pitchers on the Giants combined for a 38-53 record that season. Meekin then had a 20-11, 3.76 season in 1897, topping 300 innings (303.2) for the fourth time in his career. The Giants were a third place team in 1897 (83-48 record), but they were back down to a .500 club the next year, and it showed in his record. Despite an ERA just 0.01 higher in nearly the same amount of work (320 innings), Meekin went from a 20-11 record in 1897, to a 16-18 record in 1898. He threw 122 complete games during that four-year stretch, finishing all but 19 of his starts. His WHIP improved each year during that stretch as well, going from a high of 1.64 in 1895, down to 1.51, 1.41 and finally 1.37 in 1898. He started off slow in 1899, going 5-11, 4.37 in 148.1 innings over 18 starts, before he was sold in early August to the Boston Beaneaters, who need an extra arm for their pennant run. He would bounce back with them, going 7-6 2.83 in 108 innings over 13 starts, completing 12 of those games. He had an unsightly 70:30 BB/SO ratio with New York that season, before issuing just 23 walks during his time with Boston. That difference resulted in a 1.61 WHIP before the trade, and a 1.24 mark after the deal.

Boston released Meekin a month prior to the start of the 1900 season. He found a job with the Pirates a short time later, signing on April 10th under the recommendation of new manager Fred Clarke. Meekin would make just two starts for Pittsburgh, one in June and one in July, with his opponent in the pitcher’s box being Cy Young in his final big league game. He didn’t report to the Pirates until 13 days after he signed, and he was not ready to pitch at the time, so he worked out at Exposition Park while the team was on the road. Interestingly enough, before he pitched a game for the Pirates, Pittsburgh fans had something to look forward to when Boston manager Hugh Duffy said in the papers that he regretted releasing Meekin, and it should have never happened. Meekin returned home for a short time to get into shape, but on May 3rd he was ordered back to Pittsburgh by the team. News was then quiet until mid-June. The Pirates had him penciled in for a debut on June 16th, but poor weather conditions had Fred Clarke decide to use Jack Chesbro instead. Meekin pitched the next day and allowed solo runs in four of the first five innings, before the Chicago Orphans (Cubs) broke through for four runs in the sixth. Meekin lost 8-1 in his debut.

There was word that Meekin could pitch June 23rd against St Louis, but he ended up not pitching again until July 8th against St Louis. He got hit hard that day, giving up 13 runs over five innings, before being removed in favor of outfielder Tom McCreery, who pitched the final three innings. According to the game recaps, he had very poor velocity and no command of his pitches. Meekin was known as a pitcher who got by with a lot of velocity at his best and not much else, with decent control and a mediocre curve. The papers also estimated that he wouldn’t pitch again in St Louis and that proved to be correct, though an understatement. That one-sided affair would end up being the last Major League game for Meekin. The day after the Pirates said that they still had faith in him and thought he still offered plenty on the mound. However, he was released 15 days later. The Pirates reportedly stayed with him much longer than expected because his contract was set up to pay him only based on games played, so it cost them very little to keep him around for 3 1/2 months. A week after his release, he returned to the Pirates at the request of Fred Clarke, but never pitched, and he wasn’t back for long.

Meekin  played three more seasons of minor league ball after his final big league game before retiring. His stats during those final three years are limited. They show him playing with Louisville/Grand Rapids of the Class-A Western Association in 1901, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. He went 3-3 over seven starts and 55 innings pitched for Memphis of the Class-A Southern Association in 1902. he’s credited with going 10-for-20 at the plate during that time. His final season was spent with Evansville of the Class-B Central League. He finished his major league career with a 152-133, 4.07 record in 2,605.1 innings, with 308 starts, 270 complete games and nine shutouts. He had a 1,056:901 BB/SO ratio. Meekin was an excellent hitter for a pitcher, winding up his career with a .243 average, 163 runs, 69 extra-base hits (including 15 homers) and 131 RBIs in 339 games. He had a .299 average during the 1896 and 1897 seasons. On September 6, 1894, he hit a walk-off two-run inside-the-park home run to defeat the Pirates (who actually went by the name Braves during that season). Meekin’s first name was George, but he went by his middle name Jouett while playing in the majors.