Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including one of their top relief pitchers ever.
Sam Howard, pitcher for the 2020-22 Pirates. He was drafted out of high school in 2011 by the Chicago Cubs in the 48th round. He decided to attend Georgia Southern, where he improved to a third round pick of the Colorado Rockies in 2014. That first season of pro ball was spent in the short-season Pioneer League with Grand Junction. Howard went 1-3, 5.40 in 53.1 innings, with 42 strikeouts and a 1.56 WHIP. He moved up to Asheville of the Low-A South Atlantic League in 2015, where he went 11-9, 3.43 in 134 innings, with 122 strikeouts and a 1.22 WHIP. He split 2016 between Modesto of the High-A California League (11 starts), and Hartford of the Double-A Eastern League (16 starts). He combined to go 9-9, 3.35 in 156 innings, with 140 strikeouts and a 1.33 WHIP. Howard posted much better stats with Modesto that year, despite it being a much better league for hitters. He made nine starts for Hartford in 2017, going 1-3, 2.33 in 46.1 innings, with 40 strikeouts and an 0.88 WHIP. He spent a majority of the year with Albuquerque of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he had a 4-4, 3.89 record and a 1.42 WHIP in 81 innings. He struggled in his 21 starts with Albuquerque in 2018, going 3-8, 5.06 in 96 innings, with 80 strikeouts and a 1.46 WHIP. Howard debuted in the majors in June for one game, then three more games in September. He allowed one earned run over four innings of relief work.
Howard switched to relief full-time in 2019. He spent a majority of the year in Albuquerque, going 4-1, 3.91 in 42 games, with 62 strikeouts and a 1.44 WHIP in 50.1 innings. He pitched another 20 games that year for the Rockies, going 2-0, 6.63 in 19 innings, with 23 strikeouts and a 1.63 WHIP. The Pirates picked him up off of waivers on October 30, 2019. Howard went 2-3, 3.86 in 22 games during the shortened 2020 season, finishing with 27 strikeouts and a 1.24 WHIP in 21 innings. He pitched 54 games for the 2021 Pirates, going 3-4, 5.60 in 45 innings, with 60 strikeouts and a 1.47 WHIP. Despite pitching 54 games, he had two stints on the injured list, as well as a four-game rehab stint in Triple-A with Indianapolis. Howard began the 2022 season on the injured list. By May 13th, he was a member of the Detroit Tigers, after being designated for assignment by the Pirates a week earlier. He allowed two runs over two innings with the Pirates. The Tigers sent him to Toledo of the Triple-A International League, where he remained for the rest of the season. He went 2-1, 3.18 in 34 innings over 40 appearances. Howard became a free agent after the 2022 season, and has yet to sign for the 2023 season.
Eric Bedard, pitcher for the 2012 Pirates. He was a sixth round draft pick of the Baltimore Orioles in 1999, selected out of Norwalk Community College in Connecticut. It’s a school that has produced ten draft picks since 1970 (none since 2000), and Bedard is the only one to make the majors. Despite the college experience, he started his career in the Gulf Coast League in 1999, where he put up a 1.86 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP and 41 strikeouts in 29 innings. He spent the entire 2000 season in Low-A with Delmarva of the South Atlantic League, where he has a 9-4, 3.57 record, a 1.20 WHIP and 131 strikeouts in 111 innings. He missed a small part of the 2001 season, but did well when healthy, putting up a 2.15 ERA over 17 starts in High-A with Frederick of the Carolina League. He had 130 strikeouts and an 0.98 WHIP in 96.1 innings. He also pitched six rehab innings back in the Gulf Coast League. Bedard missed the end of 2002 due to Tommy John surgery. Before he got hurt, he did outstanding with Bowie of the Double-A Eastern League, posting a 1.97 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP in 68.2 innings, with 66 strikeouts. He also had a brief trip to the majors that year, where he made two early season relief appearances, which amounted to him facing a total of four batters. His comeback in 2003 was limited to 19.1 rehab innings over three levels of the minors due to the timing of his surgery and the recovery period. Bedard was healthy for the 2014 season. He spent the year in the majors (except two Triple-A starts), going 6-10, 4.59 in 137.1 innings, with 121 strikeouts and a 1.60 WHIP. He made 24 starts for the Orioles in 2005, compiling a 6-8, 4.00 record, 125 strikeouts and a 1.38 WHIP in 141.2 innings. He missed some brief time that year with a strained knee that he suffered in late May, which resulted in him making two minor league rehab starts.
Bedard established himself as a top pitcher in 2006, going 15-11, 3.76 in 33 starts and 196.1 innings, finishing with 171 strikeouts and a 1.35 WHIP. He finished fifth in the American League Cy Young voting in 2007 by going 13-5, 3.16 in 182 innings over 28 starts. He set a career high with 221 strikeouts that year, which placed him third in the American League. He missed the last five weeks of the season with an oblique injury. Bedard made 230 starts during his career, but only pitched one complete game. It came during the 2007 season, when he threw a two-hit shutout over the Texas Rangers, while racking up 15 strikeouts. He was traded to the Seattle Mariners for five players prior to the 2008 season, and it did not go well for his new team. The Mariners gave up Adam Jones, who was just 22 years old at the time. He spent the next 11 seasons in Baltimore picking up 32.5 WAR. The rest of the group didn’t amount to much (Chris Tillman had 8.7 WAR in ten years for the Orioles), but Bedard was limited by injuries during his four years in Seattle. He made a total of 46 starts for the Mariners, going 15-14, 3.31, while missing the entire 2010 season due to a shoulder injury.
Bedard’s first season with the Mariners was going well until his shoulder began to bother him. Through his start on July 4th (his last of the season), he went 6-4, 3.67 in 81 innings, with 72 strikeouts and a 1.32 WHIP. The 2009 season basically went the same, making 15 starts for the second straight year before his season ended in July due to shoulder surgery. He went 5-3, 2.82 over 83 innings that year, with 90 strikeouts and a 1.19 WHIP. Bedard signed with the Mariners as a free agent for 2010, taking a low salary deal with lots of incentives. He was limited to brief minor league time that year, before another surgery ended his season early. The Mariners re-signed him to a minor league deal in 2011. That contract worked out, as he was healthy for almost the entire season. He went 5-9, 3.62 in 24 starts in 2011, with 125 strikeouts and a 1.28 WHIP in 129.1 innings. Bedard split the season between the Mariners (16 starts) and Boston Red Sox, who acquired him in a July 31st trade that included seven players and three teams. He missed most of July due to a strained knee, then missed time in September due to a strained lat muscle.
The Pirates signed Beard as a free agent in early December of 2011. He went 7-14, 5.01, with 118 strikeouts and a 1.47 WHIP in 125.2 innings over 24 starts, before being released in late August. He would go on to pitch two more seasons in the majors before retiring. He didn’t play the last month of the 2012 season, then signed with the Houston Astros in January of 2013. He had a 4-12, 4.59 record, a 1.48 WHIP and 138 strikeouts in 151 innings for the 2013 Astros. He made 26 starts and six relief appearances that season. He became a free agent, then signed with the Tampa Bay Rays, where he went 4-6, 4.76 in 75.2 innings during the 2014 season, before being released in August. He signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers for 2015, but a Spring Training injury led to him retiring after his third rehab start in the minors in June. Bedard posted a 71-82, 3.99 record over 11 seasons in the majors. He threw a total of 1,303.2 innings, while picking up 1,246 strikeouts.
Kent Tekulve, pitcher for the 1974-85 Pirates. Since his time ended with the Pirates in 1985, he has been sitting in second place on the team’s all-time list of games pitched and saves, trailing only Elroy Face in both categories. Tekulve signed with the Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1969, after a tryout at Forbes Field. It took him seven seasons and 255 minor league appearances before he established himself as a big leaguer. He was a starter during the 1969 season, posting a 1.70 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP and 60 strikeouts in 53 innings with Geneva of the short-season New York-Penn League. He moved up to the Class-A Carolina League the next year, where he switched to relief with Salem. Tekulve pitched well in his new role, posting a 1.94 ERA in 41 appearances, with 75 strikeouts in 79 innings. Despite those stats, he walked 51 batters, leading to a 1.51 WHIP. He remained with Salem for part of 1971, where he saw a slip in his performance. He put up a 3.48 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 75 innings. However, he walked just 31 batters, leading to a slightly improved 1.44 WHIP. He also pitched three scoreless innings for Double-A Waterbury of the Eastern League that season. He pitched most of the 1972 season back in Double-A, as the Pirates affiliate moved to Sherbrooke of the Eastern League. Tekulve went 7-6, 2.63, with nine saves in 31 games. He had 54 strikeouts and a 1.15 WHIP in 72 innings. He also made nine appearances that year with Triple-A Charleston of the International League, where he had a 4.09 ERA and a 10:9 BB/SO ratio in 22 innings.
Despite making it to Triple-A for a stretch, he was back in Sherbrooke for the 1973 season. It appears that he was ready for the higher level. Tekulve went 12-4, 1.53 over 57 appearances that season, with 18 saves, 89 strikeouts and a 1.12 WHIP in 94 innings. He spent the 1974 season in Charleston, where he went 6-3, 2.25 in 35 appearances, with seven saves, 38 strikeouts and a 1.18 WHIP in 60 innings. From May 20th until June 10th, he made eight appearances with the Pirates, giving up six runs in nine innings. He didn’t return later in the year when the Pirates were competing for a division title. After his brief stint with the Pirates in 1974, Tekulve was next recalled in late June 1975. That time he was in the majors for good, though that almost didn’t happen with the Pirates. After the 1974 season, the Pirates dropped him from the 40-man roster, which made him eligible for the Rule 5 draft. As it turned out, he was ready for the majors in 1975. He spent the start of the year back in Charleston, where he had a 1.77 ERA and an 0.93 WHIP in 71 innings, while seeing a little bit of work as a starter. He pitched 56 innings over 34 games with the 1975 Pirates, posting a 2.25 ERA, a 1.18 WHIP and five saves. That performance helped the Pirates to the playoffs, where he pitched twice in the NLCS against the Cincinnati Reds. During his first full season in the majors in 1976, Tekulve went 5-3, 2.45 in 102.2 innings over 64 appearances. He picked up nine saves and he had a 1.13 WHIP. That was followed by a 10-1, 3.06 record over 72 games in 1977, when he recorded seven saves. He had a 1.18 WHIP in 103 innings.
Tekulve set team records with 91 appearances and 31 saves in 1978. He pitched 135.1 innings, posting an 8-7, 2.33 record, a career high 77 strikeouts and a 1.26 WHIP. Those numbers earned him votes for the MVP (13th place finish) and Cy Young Award (fifth place). The Pirates won their fifth World Series title in 1979, and Tekulve was a big part of that team. He topped his games pitched record, appearing on the mound 94 times. He tied his saves record with 31, while going 10-8, 2.75, with a 1.18 WHIP in 134.1 innings. He pitched twice in the NLCS and five times in the World Series, saving three games, including recording the final out of game seven. He finished fifth in the Cy Young voting again, while placing eighth in the MVP race. Tekulve posted his highest single season ERA with the Pirates in 1980, but he also managed to make the only All-Star appearance of his career. It wasn’t exactly a bad year though. His 3.39 mark in 93 innings and 78 appearances was still better than the team average that year. He had an 8-12 win/loss record with an odd split, starting the year 5-0, then going 3-12 over the final four months. His WHIP went all the way up to 1.46 that season.
Tekulve lost his closer job during the strike-shortened 1981 season, but he still pitched well. He had a 2.49 ERA, a 1.20 WHIP and three saves in 65 innings over 45 games. He had another big season in 1982, leading the National League with 85 games pitched. He won 12 games that year, saved another 20, while posting a 2.87 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP in 128.2 innings. He was at his best during the 1983 season, putting up a career low 1.64 ERA in 99 innings, while recording seven wins and 18 saves in 76 appearances. Tekulve was strong once again in 1984, putting up a 2.66 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP in 88 innings over 72 appearances. He had 13 saves that season. He remained with the Pirates until April 20, 1985, when he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for reliever Al Holland and a minor league pitcher named Frankie Griffin. Tekulve played another four seasons before retiring in 1989. He allowed seven runs over 3.1 innings during his brief time with the 1985 Pirates.
While he was rarely used in the closing role with the Phillies, Tekulve was still used often. In his four seasons in Philadelphia, he had a 3.01 ERA in 291 appearances and 367.1 innings. After three appearances with the 1985 Pirates, he went 4-10, 2.99, with 14 saves and a 1.27 WHIP in 72.1 innings over 58 appearances with the Phillies. Tekulve had an 11-5, 2.54 record over 110 innings in 1986, with a 1.13 WHIP and four saves and 73 appearances. That was followed by a 6-4, 3.09 record and a 1.19 WHIP over 105 innings in 1987, when he led the league with 90 appearances. He made 70 appearances in 1988, going 3-7, 3.60 in 80 innings, with a 1.36 WHIP. Tekulve became a free agent after the 1988 season, then signed with the Cincinnati Reds at the end of Spring Training in 1989. His last season in the majors was rough, with a 5.02 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP in 52 innings over 37 games. He pitched 1,050 games in his 16-year career, all in relief, and he was second on the all-time list for games pitched to Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm when he retired. Tekulve ranks nine in career games pitched through the end of the 2022 season. He pitched 722 games while with the Pirates picking 158 saves. He had a 70-61, 2.68 record during that time, while throwing a total of 1,017.1 innings. He had a career 94-90, 2.85 record in 1,436.2 innings, with 184 saves. While Tekulve didn’t walk a lot of batters in the majors, he actually did better than his 491:779 BB/SO ratio appears. He issued a total of 179 intentional walks.
Larry Elliot, outfielder for the 1962-63 Pirates. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Pirates in 1958. He led his team in homers during his first two seasons of pro ball. He finished with 16 home runs in 1958 for the D-level Clinton Pirates of the Midwest League. He also hit .291 that year in 124 games, with 87 runs, 18 doubles, 82 RBIs, 105 walks and a .906 OPS, though it came with an extremely high for the time total of 129 strikeouts. He then hit 25 homers for the Wilson Tobs of the Class-B Carolina League in 1959. That year he batted .265 in 132 games, with 78 runs, 20 doubles, 85 RBIs, 85 walks and an .850 OPS. Elliot spent almost all of the 1960 season with Savannah of the Class-A South Atlantic League, where his saw a decline in the power. He hit .257 in 119 games, with 56 runs, 20 doubles, nine triples, nine homers and 52 walks, which led to a .753 OPS (97 points lower than his 1959 mark). He also went 0-for-9 in five games for Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League in 1960. He played his first full season at Triple-A in 1961 with Columbus of the International League, hitting .257 in 134 games, with 55 runs, 25 doubles, 16 homers, 67 RBIs, 52 walks and a .775 OPS. He started the 1962 season with the Pirates, but was returned to Columbus after just ten at-bats. Elliot hit a pinch-hit two-run homer in his final at-bat with the Pirates that season. He spent the rest of the season in the minors, where he batted .235 in 134 games, with 73 runs, 15 doubles, 23 homers, 78 RBIs, 76 walks and a .768 OPS. He finished third among Pirates minor leaguers in homers that year, trailing Bob Bailey (28 homers) and a 22-year-old named Willie Stargell, who hit 27 homers that year.
Elliot made the Opening Day roster again in 1963, but that year he was sent to the minors after just four pinch-hit appearances over the first 17 games, with three of those at-bats resulting in strikeouts. He had a .252 average in 124 games with Columbus that year, with 57 runs, 21 doubles, 26 homers, 81 RBIs, 66 walks and an .859 OPS. His contract was purchased by the New York Mets in December of 1963. The Mets were bad at that time, so they offered him a much better opportunity than he could get in Pittsburgh. Elliot played 80 big league games in 1964, hitting .228/.320/.384, with 27 runs, eight doubles, nine homers, 22 RBIs and 28 walks, while seeing most of his playing time in center field. He also played 42 games that season for Buffalo of the International League, where he had a .277 average and a .915 OPS. He spent the entire 1965 season in the minors with San Diego of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he batted .247 in 137 games, with 55 runs, 26 doubles, 14 homers, 48 RBIs and a .727 OPS. He returned to the Mets during the second half of the 1966 season. He played 73 games for Jacksonville of the International League to start the year. Elliot posted a .303 average and an .872 OPS during that time. He hit .246 for the Mets, with 24 runs, 14 doubles, five homers, 32 RBIs and a .718 OPS in 65 games.
Elliot was traded to the Kansas City A’s early in the 1967 season, but never appeared in the majors after 1966. He remained active as a player through the end of the 1969 season, playing for five different teams over his last three seasons. He split the 1967 season between Jacksonville (11 games) and Vancouver of the Pacific Coast League, combining to hit .257 in 121 games, with 43 runs, 22 doubles, three homers, 46 RBIs and a .673 OPS. He split the 1968 season between Vancouver and Seattle of the Pacific Coast League, hitting .232 in 137 games, with 47 runs, 20 doubles, 13 homers, 71 RBIs and 56 walks. Elliot’s final season was divided up between Denver and Iowa of the Triple-A American Association. He had a .281 average in 123 games, with 47 runs, 22 doubles, seven homers, 59 RBIs and 66 walks. He hit 186 homers in his pro career (15 in the majors), yet his first big league hit was a bunt single off of Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry. That hit came in his only start with the Pirates on April 25, 1962, when he played right field in place of Roberto Clemente, who had the day off until pinch-hitting late in the game. Elliot played 157 big league games in four years, with 53 runs, 22 doubles, 15 homers, 56 RBIs and a .236 average.
Del Crandall, catcher for the 1965 Pirates. He already had 14 years in the majors before the Pirates acquired him from the San Francisco Giants for Bob Burda and Bob Priddy on February 11, 1965. Crandall was an outstanding defensive catcher, a four-time Gold Glove winner, despite the fact the award didn’t exist his first six seasons in the majors. He led National League catchers in assists six times, including four years in a row (1957-60). He led in games caught five times, putouts three times, and fielding percentage four times. In a modern stat called Total Zone Runs, which measures the effectiveness of catchers, Crandall ranks eighth all-time, and he was the best in the NL six times. That career stat doesn’t even include his first two seasons, since the stat currently goes back to the 1953 season. Crandall was also named to the National League All-Star team 11 times while with the Boston/Milwaukee Braves. He received MVP support in seven different seasons and finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting in 1949. He wasn’t much of a hitter for average (.254 career), but from 1953 until 1960 he hit at least 15 homers every season, piling up 179 homers during his career. That home run streak ended in 1961 when an arm injury kept him out of action for almost the entire season. Crandall helped the Braves get to the World Series during the 1957-58 seasons, where they played the New York Yankees each year and won the 1957 title. He accomplished all of things during his career despite missing two prime years (1951-52) while serving in the military during the Korean War, and another full year due to injury. Crandall received Hall of Fame votes in 1976-79, but may have fared better on that ballot if he didn’t miss those two full season.
Crandall debuted in pro ball at 18 years old in 1948, spending most of the season with Leavenworth of the Class-C Western Association, where he hit .304 in 134 games, with 81 runs, 27 doubles, 15 homers, 84 RBIs, 31 steals and an .851 OPS. He also saw brief time with Triple-A Milwaukee of the American Association that year. He played 38 games for Evansville of the Class-B Three-I League in 1949, where he had a .351 average, 28 runs, 24 extra-base hits, 36 RBIs and a 1.024 OPS. He debuted in the majors on June 17th, then went on to hit .263 that rookie season, with 21 runs, 15 extra-base hits and 34 RBIs in 67 games. Crandall hit .220 in 79 games during the 1950 season, finishing with 21 runs, 11 doubles, four homers, 37 RBIs and a .567 OPS. He went off to service for the 1951-52 seasons. The Braves moved from Boston to Milwaukee during his first season back. He put up a .759 OPS in 1953, while throwing out more runners than any other catcher in the NL. He hit .272 in 116 games that year, with 55 runs, 13 doubles, 15 homers and 51 RBIs. He made his first All-Star appearance during that season, and he finished 24th in the MVP voting. Crandall hit .242 over 138 games in 1954, with 60 runs, 18 doubles, 21 homers, 64 RBIs, 40 walks and a .731 OPS. He made his second All-Star appearance, and he finished 17th in the MVP voting. He repeated the All-Star/17th in MVP voting combo in 1955, when he hit .236 in 133 games, with 61 runs, 15 doubles, a career high 26 homers, 62 RBIs, 40 walks and a .756 OPS. His fourth straight All-Star appearance in 1956 came with a .238 average in 112 games. He had 37 runs, 14 doubles, 16 homers, 48 RBIs and a .763 OPS. His 1957 season was a slight drop in production, but it was very similar to the previous years, except he didn’t make the All-Star team. He hit .253 in 118 games, with 45 runs, 11 doubles, 15 homers, 46 RBIs and a .718 OPS.
Crandall returned to his All-Star form in 1958, hitting .272 in 131 games, with 50 runs, 23 doubles (career high), 18 homers, 63 RBIs and a career best 48 walks. His .805 OPS was a career best. He won his first Gold Glove, and he finished tenth in the MVP voting. He batted .257 in a career high 150 games during the 1959 season. He had 65 runs, 19 doubles, 21 homers, 72 RBIs and a .741 OPS. He played two All-Star games that year (happened during the 1959-62 seasons), won his second Gold Glove, and he finished 11th in the MVP voting. Crandall hit .294 over 142 games in 1960, setting career highs with 81 runs and 77 RBIs, while adding 14 doubles and 19 homers. He finished with a .764 OPS. He played just 15 games in 1961 due to an arm injury. After April 20th that year, he appeared ten times as a pinch-hitter over the next three months, but didn’t see any time in the field. He returned healthy in 1962 to hit a career best .297 in 107 games, with 35 runs, 23 extra-base hits, 45 RBIs and a .765 OPS. He played in the two All-Star games, won another Gold Glove, and he finished 26th in the MVP voting. His playing time began to drop the next season, failing to reach triple digits in games in any of his final four seasons in the majors. He hit just .201 in 1963, with 18 runs, four doubles, three homers and 28 RBIs in 86 games. After the season, he was part of a six-player trade between Milwaukee and the San Francisco Giants.
Crandall was on the downside of his career by the time the Pirates traded for him, just shy of his 35th birthday at the time. He played just 69 games in 1964 for the Giants, hitting .231/.309/.328 over 219 plate appearances, with 12 runs, eight doubles, three homers and 11 RBIs. His offensive numbers slipped even more during his only season with the Pirates. He hit .214/.289/.271 over 57 plate appearances, with 11 runs, two doubles, two homers and ten RBIs in 60 games. He made just one error all season, and he threw out 57% of would be base stealers. Pittsburgh released him following the season, then he finished his big league playing career the next year with the Cleveland Indians, where he hit .232/.320/.361, with ten runs, two doubles, four homers and eight RBIs in 50 games. He played a handful of games during the 1969-70 seasons as a player-manager in the minors with Albuquerque of the Double-A Texas League. Crandall spent 17 years as a manager in the pros, six in the big leagues. Four of those big league years were back in Milwaukee (for the Brewers) where he played 11 years during his career. He also managed the 1983-84 Seattle Mariners. He had a 271-338 record in the majors. He finished his big league career with a .254 average in 1,573 games, with 585 runs, 179 doubles, 179 homers and 657 RBIs.
Harry Shuman, pitcher for the 1942-43 Pirates. He began his minor league career in 1936 at 21 years old after attending Temple University. His first year saw him get brief action with both York and Williamsport of the Class-A New York-Penn League (no stats are available). He dropped down a level to Richmond of the Class-B Piedmont League in 1937, where he had a 4-7 record and a 1.56 WHIP in 119 innings of work. His ERA isn’t available, but it’s known that he allowed 5.75 runs per nine innings. Two years after his pro debut, he began a string of five straight seasons with at least 11 wins, topping out with 18 victories for the Harrisburg Senators of the Class-B Interstate League in 1941. While that win streak sounds like a solid stat, Shuman spent half of the 1938 season with Milford of the Class-D Eastern Shore League, three levels lower than where he started his pro career. He went 8-6, 4.59 in 102 innings for Milford, while spending the rest of the year back in Richmond, where he had a 3-6, 6.24 record in 98 innings. He had 132 strikeouts and a 1.49 WHIP in 200 innings that season. He played the entire 1939 season with Richmond, going 17-12 in 228 innings over 48 games, allowing 4.86 runs per nine innings, while posting a 1.43 WHIP. Shuman dropped down to the Class-C Canadian-American League in 1940, where he went 11-7, 3.74, with a 1.36 WHIP in 149 innings for Gloversville-Johnstown. His 1941 season in Harrisburg was the breakthrough he needed. He went 18-6, 2.24 in 237 innings, with a 1.19 WHIP. On September 10, 1941, it was announced that Shuman would join the Pirates as soon as the season was over for Harrisburg. He joined the Pirates after the Interstate League playoffs ended, then spent the last 12 days of the season (Sept. 17-28) on the bench without an appearance.
Shuman went 12-11, 3.18 over 170 innings for Toronto of the Double-A International League in 1942 (highest level of the minors at the time), before earning a September look with the Pirates. The Pirates only gave him a tryout in 1941, so when he went from Harrisburg to Toronto, it was actually a player sale between the two minor league clubs. The Pirates purchased his contract from Toronto on September 2, 1942, along with two of his teammates, Burgess Whitehead and Jim Russell. In his big league debut on September 14, 1942, Shuman tossed two shutout innings at the Polo Grounds against the New York Giants, allowing just one runner (a walk). That ended up being his only appearance that season. He was used in a mop-up role in Pittsburgh during the 1943 season, making 11 relief appearances (all in losses) between Opening Day and July 10th, many of them being one-sided games. In his final game, the Pirates lost 23-6 to the Brooklyn Dodgers, who scored ten runs in the first, then another ten runs in the fourth inning. Shuman came on with one out in the first and allowed four runs of his own before being removed after recording just one out. He was loaned to Toronto for the last half of the 1943 season on July 21st, in exchange for infielder Al Rubeling. Shuman went 4-3, 2.06 in 48 innings with Toronto, mostly working in relief.
Shuman was still a member of the Pirates for the first three months of 1944, but did not pitch because he decided to work in a war plant during WWII. He was put on waivers, where he was picked up by the Philadelphia Phillies on July 21st. He pitched 18 games for Philadelphia in 1944, all relief appearances, posting a 4.05 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP over 26.2 innings. That would be his last season in the majors. The Phillies attempted to trade him to Oakland of the Pacific Coast League on November 22, 1944, but the deal fell through, so they released him instead in April of 1945. He pitched some semi-pro ball that year, and then played briefly in the minors in 1946 before retiring, finishing up with Wilmington of the Interstate League, where he had a 1-0 record in 12 innings over three appearances. His big league time amounted to a 0-0, 4.44 record in 50.2 innings over 30 appearances, with a 1.50 WHIP and a 20:10 BB/SO ratio.
Earl Browne, first baseman/outfielder for the 1935-36 Pirates. He started his pro career at the age of 17 in 1928, playing eight seasons in the minors before getting his first shot in the big leagues in September 1935 with the Pirates. He started as a pitcher, but switched to the outfield in 1933. He had some success as a pitcher, including a big second year in pro ball. During his first season, he saw brief time with Louisville of the Double-A American Association. That was the highest level of the minors at the time, so it was a very advanced level for a 17-year-old. His limited records show that he lost his only start, and that he played a total of three games. He also saw time with Louisville in 1929, though a large majority of the year was spent with Dayton of the Class-B Central League, where he went 17-8, 4.10 in 226 innings. He threw 254 innings total on the year. Browne showed some potential with the bat that season, putting up a .289 average and 15 extra-base hits in 149 at-bats. He pitched much worse during the 1930 season, while seeing the same playing time split between the same two clubs. He went 10-16, 5.97 in 206 innings with Dayton, then lost his only decision with Louisville. He may have considered his move to the outfield at this point, because while his pitching wasn’t as good that year, he batted .313 in 147 at-bats in 1930, with six doubles and four homers.
Browne actually moved down a level in 1931, playing Class-C ball with the Huntington Boosters of the Middle Atlantic League. He went 14-7, 3.67 in 162 innings, with a 1.28 WHIP. He batted .295 that year in 70 games, occasionally picking up at-bats when he wasn’t pitching. He split the 1932 season between Little Rock of the Class-A Southern Association (99 innings) and Asheville of the Piedmont League (49 innings). After an 8-7, 4.44 record and a 1.50 WHIP in 148 innings that year, Browne made the move off of the mound. He pitched just one game after 1932, and that appearance didn’t even happen until the 1945 season. Browne had a .323 average and 45 extra-base hits in 139 games for Little Rock in 1933. He didn’t hit as well in 1934, putting up a .257 average and 49 extra-base hits in 155 games, but he still got picked up by the Pirates that September 18th under an agreement with the Little Rock club. The papers said that his slump (which they quoted as a .280 batting average) was to be blamed on Browne having “domestic difficulties” during the season. He attended Spring Training with the 1935 Pirates, but he was returned to the minors prior to the season. He would bounce back in a big way that year, which led to his Major League shot. He hit .345 that season for Little Rock, with 26 doubles, 19 triples and 13 homers in 140 games. He was called up to Pittsburgh on September 4th. He played nine games during his first big league trial, hitting .250/.294/.311 in 36 plate appearances, with six runs scored and six RBIs.
Browne attended Spring Training again, trying to win the first base job from Gus Suhr, but he was sent to the minors after the third game of the regular season. He played for Minneapolis of the American Association that year, where he had a .328 average, with 39 doubles, 11 triples and 35 homers in 155 games. That performance earned him another September promotion. He hit .304/.333/.522 over eight games for the Pirates in his second big league trial. Pittsburgh traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for pitcher Joe Bowman just four days prior to Opening Day in 1937. Browne ended up playing 105 games that season for the Phillies, finishing with .292 average, 42 runs, 19 doubles, six homers, 52 RBIs and a .763 OPS. He was an everyday starter early in the 1938 season, before he was released outright to Columbus of the American Association on May 26th as part of a two-for-one trade. At the time of the deal, he had a .257 average, four doubles and eight RBIs in 21 games. He played another 12 seasons without returning to the majors. Browne played over 2,100 minor league games, with over 2,300 hits and 189 homers. He also managed for five seasons in the minors, the last three as a player/manager, playing his final game at 38 years old.
Browne played 116 games for Columbus in 1938 after the trade from the Phillies. He had a .305 average, with 79 runs, 23 doubles, six triples, 17 homers, 98 RBIs and an .865 OPS. He spent all of 1939 with Columbus, hitting .268 in 116 games, with 49 runs, 28 extra-base hits, 62 RBIs and a .754 OPS. He played for New Orleans of the Class-A Southern Association in 1940, where he hit .274 in 153 games, with 16 doubles, 15 triples and 14 homers. The 1941 season was spent with Chattanooga of the Southern Association. Browne batted .275 that year in 152 games, with 24 doubles, seven triples and 12 homers. Most of 1942 was spent with Atlanta of the Southern Association. He also played 11 games back in Louisville for the first time in 12 years, then stayed there for the next three seasons. He had a .289 average over 141 games in 1942, with 31 extra-base hits. Browne batted .271 over 144 games for Louisville in 1943, collecting 62 runs, 39 extra-base hits and 46 RBIs, while posting a .706 OPS. He had a .312 average in 1944, with 90 runs, 30 doubles, six triples, seven homers, 99 RBIs and an .805 OPS. He batted .273 over 146 games in 1945, with 72 runs, 28 extra-base hits, 83 RBIs and a .702 OPS. He dropped down four levels of play in 1946, where he was the player-manager for Owensboro of the Class-D Kentucky-Illinois-Tennessee League. He was a monster at the plate against the young competition, hitting .429/.512/.677 in 92 games, with 84 runs, 18 doubles, 21 homers and 104 RBIs. That was followed by a .424 average over 107 games in 1947, with 100 runs, 37 doubles and 93 RBIs. Browne played a total of 17 games during the 1948-49 seasons for Hartford of the Class-A Eastern League. His name was often listed as James Earl back then, but research has the two names flipped now. His nickname was “Brownie” while with the Pirates.
John Richmond, shortstop for the 1885 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He debuted in pro ball in 1875, playing for his hometown Philadelphia Athletics in the National Association at 20 years old. During the final season of the first recognized Major League (National Associated existed from 1871-1875), Richmond hit .200/.206/.216 in 29 games, but he managed to score 29 runs and pick up 12 RBIs. He played all three outfield spots, second base and even caught three games. He was out of a pro job in 1876 when the National League was the only level of professional ball, but he returned to pro ball in 1877 in the League Alliance (the first professional minor league system), playing for the Binghamton Cricket. He played for Utica of the International Association in 1878 (no stats available for 1877-78), then returned to the majors in 1879 with the Syracuse Stars of the National League for their only season as a big league franchise. Richmond hit .213 that year, with 31 runs, eight doubles, four triples, one homer, 23 RBIs and a .512 OPS in 62 games, splitting most of his time between shortstop and center field. He would switch between shortstop and center field during the next two years in a limited role while playing for the Boston Red Stockings of the National League. Part of the 1880 season was spent in the minors with Baltimore and Rochester of the National Association, combining to hit .299 in 24 games, with 18 runs, five doubles and three triples. He also played 32 big league games with Boston, hitting .248/.260/.287, with 12 runs, three doubles, a triple and nine RBIs. Richmond hit .276 in 27 games for Boston in 1881, finishing with 13 runs, five extra-base hits, 12 RBIs and a .685 OPS. He also saw some minor league time that year with Philadelphia of the Eastern Championship Association.
Richmond split the 1882 season between the Cleveland Blues of the National League and the Philadelphia Athletics of the brand new American Association. He didn’t hit in either place, batting a combined .176 in 59 games, with 20 runs, 12 extra-base hits, 15 RBIs and a .509 OPS. He saw his best big league time with the Columbus Buckeyes of the American Association during the 1883-84 seasons. Richmond played 197 of the team’s 207 games during those two years. He batted .283 over 92 games in 1883, with 63 runs, seven doubles, eight triples and 25 walks, leading to a .670 OPS. He hit .251 in 105 games during the 1884 season, with 57 runs, 23 extra-base hits and 35 walks, putting up a .658 OPS. Almost all of his playing time during those two seasons came at shortstop. Modern metrics credit him with 3.4 WAR during each of those two seasons, with defense well above average for the league. Columbus sold off nine of their players to the Alleghenys after the 1884 season, including Richmond. The 1885 Alleghenys were basically the Columbus Buckeyes in 1885, with only three Pittsburgh holdovers from the previous season. Richmond hit .206/.262/.252 in 34 games for Pittsburgh, with 14 runs, two doubles, two triples and 12 RBIs. He played 23 games at shortstop, eight in center field and three in right field. His game on July 10th was his final big league game, ending his eight-year career with a .238 average in 440 games, with 239 runs, 45 doubles, 28 triples, five homers and a .588 OPS. He was released by the Alleghenys on July 16th.
Richmond finished the 1885 season in the minors with Memphis of the Southern League, where he had a .195 average, three runs and three doubles in 11 games. He played his final pro game in 1887, seeing time with three different teams in three leagues during his final two seasons. He played 34 games for Charleston of the Class-B Southern Association in 1886, where he had a .212 average, 15 runs and three extra-base hits. Richmond also played 18 games that season for Oswego of the International League. He batted .200 during that brief time, with ten runs and a triple. He finished up with nine games for Waterbury of the Eastern League, where he went 12-for-36 (.333 average), with six runs and two doubles. While he wasn’t a power guy, his home run victims are an impressive group. He homered twice against 297-game winner Bobby Mathews. He hit one against 234-game winner Tommy Bond. Another came against Dave Foutz, who had a 147-66 career record. The last was versus Hardie Henderson, who was in the middle of a 27-win/6.4 WAR season when Richmond tagged him.