This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: March 23rd, Outfielder Elmer Smith and Pitcher Ray Kremer

Six former Pittsburgh Pirates players have been born on this date, including one of the team’s best pitchers ever.

Ray Kremer, pitcher for the 1924-33 Pirates. He spent his entire ten-year big league career with the Pirates, twice helping them to the World Series. He had two 20-win seasons and twice led the league in ERA. Kremer didn’t get his start in the majors until he was already 29 years old. He was born in Oakland, California, and he played seven straight seasons (1917-23) for his hometown Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League. Before he joined Oakland, Kremer debuted in the Double-A Pacific Coast League with Sacramento at 19 years old in 1914. He had a bit of a rough time in his first season, though the PCL was an advanced placement for a pro debut. Double-A was the highest level of the minors at the time. He went 2-8, 5.20 in 136.2 innings, with a 1.46 WHIP. He dropped down two levels in 1915, playing for Vancouver of the Class-B Northwestern League. He went 7-5, 3.14 in 109 innings, with a 1.19 WHIP. Kremer played for Rochester of the Double-A International League in 1916, after a failed tryout with the New York Giants in Spring Training. He posted a 5.20 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP in limited work that season, throwing 35 innings over nine appearances. He was back in California by late July, after spending some time in a hospital due to what sounds like heat exhaustion, but was described as a nervous breakdown caused by the excessive heat in the east. That was followed by his seven-year run with Oakland. Kremer established himself as a star pitcher and a workhorse on the mound by 1919.

In his first season with Oakland, Kremer went 9-15, 3.29 in 224 innings, finishing with a 1.35 WHIP. The Pacific Coast League shut down early in 1918 due to WWI, and the players were able to get wartime jobs, while also playing baseball on the side. Kremer was having a solid season with Oakland through July (his stats aren’t available for that year, but a search of game recaps turns up strong reports), before he joined the Moore Shipyard team. He was back in Oakland in 1919, where he went 15-23, 3.84 in 298 innings over 49 appearances. His 1.08 WHIP that year was the best of his career at any level. He had a 13-22, 3.02 record and a 1.25 WHIP in 1920, with 321.1 innings pitched over 49 games. Kremer went 16-14, 3.61 in 1921, with a 1.35 WHIP in 294 innings over 48 games pitched. His appearances remained consistent in 1922, pitching 48 times that year, while finishing with a 20-18, 2.78 record and a 1.24 WHIP in 356 innings. In his final season with Oakland before joining the Pirates, he went 25-16, 3.08 in 357 innings pitched, with a 1.26 WHIP.

On December 12, 1923, the Pirates acquired Kremer from Oakland for three players and a large sum of cash. Pittsburgh sent Earl Kunz, Spencer Adams and George Boehler to the Oaks. Boehler was an interesting inclusion in the deal because the Pirates paid a heavy price to acquire him just one year earlier. Kremer was considered to be the best pitcher in the Pacific Coast League at the time, and he wasted no time showing the Pirates that he was ready for the majors. As a 29-year-old rookie in 1924, he went 18-10, 3.19 in 259.1 innings, with a 1.21 WHIP. He led the National League with 41 games pitched (30 were starts) and four shutouts. Kremer put up a 17-8, 3.69 record and a 1.30 WHIP over 214.1 innings in 1925, helping the Pirates to their first National League pennant in 16 years. He pitched well in the World Series, but took the loss in game three. He won game six 3-2 with a complete game, then allowed one run over four innings of game seven, which gave him the victory. The 1925 World Series victories were obviously his career highlights, but his best years of pitching were yet to come.

The Pirates failed to win the National League title in 1926, but Kremer did all he could to get them back to the World Series. He led the league with 20 wins and a 2.61 ERA, while posting a 1.18 WHIP. He had just six losses all year, while pitching 231.1 innings over 37 appearances (26 starts). He tossed 18 complete games, including three shutouts. Those stats earned him a third place finish in the MVP voting. He was never much of a strikeout pitcher, relying on control and soft contact. He struck out 74 batters in 1926, which ended up being his career high. Batters weren’t swinging wildly at air like current day fans are used to seeing, so strikeout totals weren’t high back then. He actually ranked tied for 12th in strikeouts that season, and he was tops among all Pirates pitchers. The Pirates won the National League pennant again in 1927. Kremer helped get them there with another big season. He won his second straight ERA crown with a 2.47 mark. He had a 19-8 record, a career best 1.14 WHIP, and he threw 226 innings over 28 starts and seven relief appearances. He had 18 complete games and three shutouts for the second year in a row. He finished ninth in the NL MVP voting. He started game one of the World Series, where he was hurt by the defense, allowing five runs in five innings, with two of those runs being earned. The Pirates lost the series in four games.

Kremer saw a deep decline in his effectiveness, though that was partially due to offense improving during this stretch. He had a 4.64 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP over 219 innings in 1928, though those numbers were still good enough to compile a 15-13 record on a team that finished 85-67. He went 18-10, 4.26 in 1929, throwing 221.2 innings. The league ERA that year was 4.71, and the Pirates finished 88-65, so his win-loss record was in line with the league/team performance. Kremer won 20 games (with 12 losses) in 1930, while leading the league with 276 innings pitched. Offense peaked that season, so his high 5.02 ERA was actually just five points above league average at the time. His 1.55 WHIP was right at league average. He completed 18 of his league-leading 38 starts that year. He also led the league with 29 homers allowed, which was tough to do in spacious Forbes Field, but more than half of his homers (15) were given up to a group of nine future Hall of Famers. While his 11-15 win-loss record tells a different story, Kremer actually had a strong 1931 season. He posted a 3.33 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP in 230 innings, completing 15 of his 30 starts. He managed to allow just six homers that year. That season was the end of his effectiveness.

Kremer saw limited time in 1932, putting up a 4.29 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP in 56.2 innings, missing time due to neuritis. He was a mop-up pitcher in 1933, posting a 10.35 ERA in 20 innings, before the Pirates let him go in July. They allowed him to get work wherever he wanted by releasing him unconditionally, rather than selling him to a minor league team, which was the normal procedure at the time. He would end up returning to Oakland, where he pitched through the 1934 season. Kremer was basically done as a pitcher altogether, so the drop in competition didn’t help him. He went 1-5, 7.04 in seven starts with Oakland, posting a 1.73 WHIP in 30.2 innings. He returned for 1934, but he lasted just nine innings over two starts and two relief appearances. He claimed in the spring of 1934 that leg issues kept him from pitching well in 1933, and there were no issues with his arm, so he expected to have a big season. However, he was released on April 29th, after proving to be ineffective. Kremer finished his big league career with a 143-85, 3.76 record in 307 games, making 247 starts, while throwing 134 complete games and 14 shutouts. His 143 wins ranks him tied for seventh all-time in Pirates franchise history with Rip Sewell. Kremer also ranks tenth on the team’s all-time list with 1,954.2 innings pitched.

Johnny Logan, third baseman/shortstop for the 1961-63 Pirates. He spent 11 years with the Boston/Milwaukee Braves prior to joining the Pirates during the 1961 season. Logan was a four-time All-Star, with a .270 average in 1,351 games for the Braves. He twice led the National League in games played, once led in doubles and he received MVP votes for six straight seasons from 1952 through 1957. He debuted in the majors with the Boston Braves in 1951, four years after they signed him as an amateur free agent. After a strong debut in pro ball at 21 years old, he took a surprising amount of time to spend a full season in the majors, doing that for the first time in 1953 at 27 years old. His first season in pro ball was 1947 with Evansville of the Class-B Three-I League, where he hit .331 in 127 games, with 95 runs scored, 32 doubles, 13 triples, six homers, 82 RBIs, 14 steals, 55 walks and an .891 OPS. He moved up to Triple-A Milwaukee of the American Association in 1948, then played parts/all of six straight seasons with the team. The first year was split between three teams, also seeing time with Pawtucket of the Class-B New England League, and Dallas of the Double-A Texas League. He combined to hit .290 in 117 games that year, with 61 runs, 26 doubles, four homers, 55 RBIs, 48 walks and a .765 OPS. His best results came during his 45 games with Pawtucket. Logan spent the entire 1949 season with Milwaukee, hitting .287 in 154 games, with 84 runs, 33 extra-base hits, 69 RBIs, 81 walks and a .761 OPS. He batted .296 over 154 games in 1951, with 73 runs, 28 doubles, six homers, 57 RBIs and 42 walks, resulting in a .733 OPS.

Logan was with the Braves on Opening Day in 1951, but a .219 average, with no homers and a .570 OPS in 62 games, earned him a trip back to the minors. He hit .249 in 57 games that year with Milwaukee, with 25 runs, 13 extra-base hits, 25 RBIs and a .708 OPS. He began 1952 back in Milwaukee, putting up a .301/.378/.507 slash line in 42 games, before returning to Boston in June. He would go on to hit .283 in 117 games for the 1952 Braves, with 56 runs, 28 extra-base hits, 42 RBIs and a .702 OPS. On defense, he led National League shortstops with a .972 fielding percentage. He finished 36th in the MVP voting. He put in his first full season at the big league level with the Opening Day shortstop job in 1953, rewarding the Braves for their patience with a strong season. Logan hit .273 in 150 games, with 100 runs, 46 extra-base hits, 73 RBIs and a .724 OPS. He led all National League shortstops in putouts and fielding percentage. He received mild MVP support again, finishing 20th in the voting. The interesting part here is that even though he spent the entire season in the majors, he couldn’t get away from Milwaukee. The Braves moved there in 1953, so Logan actually played 15 straight seasons in the city by the time he moved on to the Pirates in 1961.

Logan started all 308 games at shortstop for the Braves during the 1954-55 seasons. He put up a .275 average and a .712 OPS in 1954, finishing with 66 runs, 32 extra-base hits, 66 RBIs and 51 walks, while leading shortstops in assists for the first time, and fielding percentage for a third straight time. He finished 18th in the MVP voting. It was a strong season, but his best was on the horizon. Logan became an All-Star for the first time in 1955 by hitting .297 in 154 games, with 95 runs scored, 13 homers, 83 RBIs, 58 walks, and a league leading 37 doubles. His .802 OPS that year would end up being the best of his 13-year career. Those stats helped him to an 11th place finish in the MVP voting. He followed that up by batting .281 in 1956, with a career best 15 homers, while leading the league with 31 sacrifice hits. In 148 games that year, he had 69 runs scored, 27 doubles, 46 RBIs and 46 walks. He finished 30th in the MVP voting. Logan wasn’t selected for the All-Star game that year, but he made it each of the next three years, even though he saw a significant drop-off in his production in the middle of that stretch.

The Braves won the World Series in 1957, and Logan homered in game two, helping Milwaukee to a 4-2 win. During the regular season, he put up a .720 OPS in 129 games, finishing with a .273 average, 59 runs scored, 36 extra-base hits and 49 RBIs. He received MVP votes for the final time in his career, finishing 25th in the voting. The 1958 season was a rough one, though Milwaukee made it back to the World Series. Logan saw his batting average dip to .226 in 145 games, leaving him with a .620 OPS. He scored 54 runs, with 20 doubles, 11 homers and 53 RBIs. Despite his big postseason homer in 1957, he batted just .154/.241/.269 in 60 World Series plate appearances. He rebounded on offense in 1959, hitting .291 in 138 games, with 59 runs, 17 doubles, 13 homers, 50 RBIs and 57 walks. His .780 OPS was the second best of his career, but it ended up being a one-year return to previous standards. Logan had a .643 OPS in 136 games in 1960, which was the last year he played 100+ games in a season. He hit .245 that year, with 52 runs, 25 extra-base hits, 42 RBIs and 43 walks.

Logan was hitting just .105/.150/.158 through 18 games when the Pirates acquired him on June 15, 1961, in an even up trade for outfielder Gino Cimoli. Logan was mostly used as a backup during his time with the Pirates, playing 152 games over his 2 1/2 seasons in Pittsburgh. He played just 27 games over the rest of the 1961 season with the Pirates, splitting his limited time in the field between third base and shortstop. He batted .231/.286/.308 in 56 plate appearances, with five runs and five RBIs. He only played third base during the 1962 season, before switching back to shortstop for his final season.  He hit .300 in 1962, finishing with a .723 OPS in 44 games, though he only received 90 plate appearances all season. Logan hit .232 over 81 games in 1963, with 15 runs scored, nine RBIs and 23 walks in 209 plate appearances. He then moved on to Japan for one unsuccessful season in 1964, before retiring as a player. He had a .189 average and a .532 OPS in his one season overseas. Logan was a .268 hitter in 1,503 career games over 13 seasons in the majors. He finished with 651 runs, 216 doubles, 41 triples, 93 homers, 547 RBis and 452 walks. He had a career 14.0 WAR on defense, which ranks as the 137th best total in big league history. He hit .249 with the Pirates, while collecting one homer, which was a grand slam on July 16, 1962. That homer came with the Pirates trailing 2-1 at the time.

Cy Slapnicka, pitcher for the 1918 Pirates. He pitched 15 seasons in the minors, winning at least 146 games, yet got just two brief trials in the majors. He debuted in pro ball at 20 years old. His pro career lasted from 1906 until 1923, playing that final season as a player/manager, after a two-year layoff from the pro ranks. His career totals are incomplete, with stats missing from his first two years in pro ball (1906-07). At one point he had 167 wins to his credit in the minors, which were likely originally part of the 1906-07 stats, so that’s why it says “at least 146” wins up top. His main claim to fame came after his playing career was over, when he signed Bob Feller for the Cleveland Indians. He spent his first two seasons in pro ball with Marshalltown of the Class-D Iowa League of Professional Baseball Clubs. He also saw time in 1907 with Burlington of that same league. Slapnicka played briefly for the Rockford Wolverines of the Class-D Wisconsin-Illinois League in 1908, while also seeing time that year with Joplin of the Class-C Western Association, where he had a 1-5 record in 11 appearances. No records are available, but he also played for two other teams that year, seeing time with Burlington in the Central Association and Galesburg in the Illinois-Missouri League, which were both Class-D levels. Slapnicka played for Hannibal of the Central Association in 1909, where he had a 3-1 record in five games. He also saw time with Newton of the Class-D Kansas State League, where he has no pitching records available, but he hit .249 in 49 games.

Slapnicka continued to move around in 1910, though he settled into a familiar place for a time this year. He played for Muscatine of the Class-D Northern Association that year, though no stats are available. He also returned to Rockford, where he earned his first big league shot eventually. He went 10-2 for Rockford in 29 appearances in 1910. Slapnicka appeared briefly with Toledo of the Class-A American Association in 1911, which was the highest level of the minors until Double-A came along in 1912. However, most of his season was spent right back in Rockford, where he had a breakout performance. The Wisconsin-Illinois League was reclassified by that time to a Class-C level. He went 26-7 in 55 games for Rockford in 1911,  which helped get him two late season starts and a relief appearance for the Chicago Cubs. He went 0-2, 3.38 in 24 innings during his first big league trial. It was then another seven seasons before the Pirates came calling in 1918 for his second big league stint, which lasted a little longer that his first.

Slapnicka has something in common with the aforementioned Johnny Logan. They both played six straight seasons for Milwaukee of the American Association (1912-17 for Slapnicka). Slapnicka went 12-13 in 44 appearances in 1912, posting a 108:109 BB/SO ratio and a 1.31 WHIP in 254.2 innings. He won 25 games (against 14 losses) during the 1913 season, when he had a 113:129 BB/SO ratio and a 1.32 WHIP, while pitching 321 innings.  His work on the mound was somewhat limited in 1914, when he went 8-9, 3.85 in 156.2 innings, with 82 walks, 62 strikeouts and a 1.51 WHIP. He was suspended for a time late in the year due to a fight. He made the news early in the year when his team tried to prevent him from doing a balancing act performance on stage, which they said was too dangerous. Slapnicka went 14-15 in 308.2 innings over 45 appearances during the 1915 season, finishing with a 110:115 BB/SO ratio and a 1.44 WHIP. He’s credited with a 1.25 ERA that year, though it seems kind of low, since he allowed 5.37 runs per nine innings that year. When he had a 3.85 ERA in 1914, it came with 5.29 runs allowed per nine innings. He had a 9-12 record and a 1.36 WHIP in 235 innings over 36 games during the 1916 season. In his final season with Milwaukee, he went 10-10, 4.07 in 197 innings over 34 games, winding up with a 1.39 WHIP. Milwaukee traded him to Birmingham of the Class-A Southern Association on February 4, 1918, in a deal for Doc Johnston, who played first base for the 1915-16 Pirates.

Slapnicka went 8-5 in 137 innings over 17 appearances with Birmingham, where he had a 1.11 WHIP and a 42:39 BB/SO ratio. The Pirates received his services in 1918 because the Southern Association was shutting down early that year due to WWI. On June 17th, the Pirates purchased Slapnicka, along with pitcher Ralph Comstock and outfielder (and Hall of Fame manager) Billy Southworth from Birmingham. Slapnicka and his teammates joined the Pirates on July 1st, then he debuted on July 2nd. It was so long since he pitched for the Cubs that many sources were reporting that his first Pirates game was his big league debut. He played his final game on August 8th, giving up eight runs in a complete game loss to the Philadelphia Phillies during the second game of a doubleheader. He made six mid-season starts and one relief appearance for the Pirates, finishing with a 1-4, 4.74 record in 49.1 innings. He had 22 walks and just three strikeouts. When the big league season ended on September 2nd (early finish due to the war), he got a job at a local war plant, which had a semi-pro team that he played for as well. On January 31, 1919, the Pirates released Slapnicka (and Ralph Comstock) outright back to Birmingham, ending his time with the team. That was also the end of his Major League career. He pitched two more seasons in the minors before taking over various front office/scouting roles throughout the years, which he did until retiring for good in 1961. He had a 9-13, 3.17 record and a 1.36 WHIP over 179 innings for Birmingham in 1919. Slapnicka had a 7-8, 3.26 record and a 1.21 WHIP in 127 innings for Cedar Rapids of the Class-B Three-I League during his final season in 1920.

Danny Moeller, outfielder for the 1907-08 Pirates. He had a rough debut in pro ball in 1905 at age 20, batting just .229 in 57 games for Burlington of the Class-D Iowa League of Professional Baseball Clubs. Moeller got on track quickly, batting .340 in 28 games for Troy of the Class-B New York State League in 1906. After hitting .333 in 77 games for Troy in 1907, the Pirates brought the 22-year-old outfielder to the majors for the first time, giving him an 11-game trial at the end of the year.  The local papers on September 22nd noted that Moeller, who debuted two days later, was heavily sought after by the Boston Red Sox, but the Pirates ended up securing him instead. They also mentioned that he wasn’t playing recently due to injury, but he was ready to go once he got to Pittsburgh. He batted lead-off and faced the all-time great Christy Mathewson in his first game. Moeller collected an infield single in his third at-bat, finishing the day 1-for-4. He hit .286/.348/.357 in 46 plate appearances, helping him earn a spot on the 1908 team. He had great speed, but he also struck out a lot, especially during a time when the 100-strikeout mark in a season was an almost unheard of feat. He had trouble putting the bat on the ball with the 1908 Pirates, so he could not properly utilize his speed. He hit just .193/.254/.239 in 36 games that year, with 14 runs, four extra-base hits, nine RBIs and four steals. He had just 19 at-bats in the final 118 games of the season, last seeing regular work on June 3rd. Moeller went to Spring Training with the 1909 Pirates, and he was still around for nine days after Opening Day, before being released to Jersey City of the Class-A Eastern League, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. He would spend the next three seasons in the minors before returning to the big leagues in 1912 with the Washington Senators. He hit .219/.280/.272 in 47 games for the Pirates.

Moeller played 152 games for Jersey City in 1909, putting up a .247 average, with six doubles, seven triples and seven homers. He played 158 games in 1910, which were split between Jersey City and Rochester of the Eastern League. His stats are incomplete, but they show a .269 average, with 15 doubles, 14 triples and six homers. He spent the entire 1911 season with Rochester, hitting .289 in 101 games, with 14 doubles, 12 triples and three homers. Moeller scored at least 83 runs in each of his first three seasons in Washington, while stealing a total of 118 bases. On the flip side, he twice led the AL in strikeouts, topping the 100 mark both times. He hit .276 over 132 games in 1912, with 90 runs, 26 doubles, ten triples, six homers, 46 RBIs, 30 steals, 52 walks and a .745 OPS. He received MVP support for the only time in his career that season, finishing 21st in the voting. He followed that up by hitting .236 over 153 games in 1913, with 88 runs scored, 15 doubles, ten triples, five homers, 42 RBIs and a .643 OPS, along with career highs of 62 steals and 72 walks. Moeller batted .250 over 151 games in 1914, with 83 runs, 19 doubles, ten triples, 45 RBIs, 71 walks and a .665 OPS. He stole 26 bases that year, but that came with 25 caught stealing, which helps explain the drop-off in steals from the previous year. His average dropped to .226 in 118 games in 1915. He scored 65 runs that year, with 11 doubles, ten triples, 32 steals (in 42 attempts), 59 walks and a .630 OPS. That was his fourth straight season with exactly ten triples. He finished with one triple in each of his other three big league seasons.

Moeller remained with the Senators through mid-August of 1916, when he was part of a four-player trade with the Cleveland Indians, which included a young outfielder named Elmer Smith (no relation to the Pirates Elmer Smith, who shares a birthday with Moeller). At the time of the deal, Moeller was hitting .246/.335/.300 in 78 games, with 30 runs, ten extra-base hits, 23 RBIs, 13 steals and 30 walks. His big league career came to an end later that season after he hit .067/.200/.067 in 25 games for the Indians. He returned to the minors in 1917 with Des Moines of the Class-A Western League, then retired after the 1921 season, though he only played about half of that time. He retired prior to 1917 and got a job in real estate, but he joined Des Moines mid-season when they had injury issues. Moeller had a .287 average and four doubles in 30 games that year. He didn’t play at all in 1918 or 1919, but returned to Des Moines for the 1920-21 seasons, after starting the 1920 season as the player/manager for Oklahoma City of the Western League. He batted .291 over 117 games in 1920, with 18 doubles, three triples and four homers. He finished up his pro career with a .284 average in 1921, finishing with 30 doubles, seven triples and six homers in 144 games. He managed Hastings of the Nebraska State League for part of the 1922 season. Moeller hit .243 in 704 Major League games with 379 runs, 83 doubles, 43 triples, 15 homers, 192 RBIs, 302 walks and 171 stolen bases.

Elmer “Mike” Smith, outfielder for the 1892-97 Pirates. He began his Major League career as an 18-year-old pitcher in 1886, the same year that he debuted in pro ball. Smith was a popular player throughout his career in Pittsburgh because he was born and lived in town (technically he’s still there, in his eternal resting place at Union Dale Cemetery). The Alleghenys missed out on signing him, but that didn’t directly hurt them at the time because he was playing in a different league for his first three full season in the majors. At 16 years old in 1884, Smith was pitching for a local amateur team in Pittsburgh. He was recommended to the owner and manager of the Alleghenys, who passed on giving him a trial because they thought he wasn’t good enough to pitch in the majors at the time. It was something that was brought up by the team as a deep regret when they finally signed him to play in 1892. Before his big league debut in 1886, he hit .351 in ten games for Nashville of the Class-B Southern Association, while going 4-4, 0.89 in 71 innings on the mound. Playing for the Cincinnati Red Stockings of the American Association that year, he went 4-4, 3.72 in 72.2 innings over nine September starts, while putting up a .286 batting average.  Smith could have provided the 1887 Alleghenys some help in the pitching department during their first year in the National League. He went 34-17, 2.94 in 447.1 innings for the Red Stockings, leading the American Association in ERA. He completed 49 of 52 starts, three of those games being shutouts. He had a 1.18 WHIP, as well as 176 strikeouts, which ranked fifth in the league. He also batted .253 that year, with 26 runs and 23 RBIs. He was just as good the next year, posting a 2.74 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP in 348.1 innings, while winning 22 games. He completed 37 of 40 starts and tossed five shutouts. His hitting slipped a bit in 1888, finishing with a .225/.329/.271 slash line, but it picked up the next year, which was a sign of things to come.

Smith couldn’t keep up that early pace, and his pitching career was nearly over by age 21, after going 9-12, 4.88 in 203 innings in 1889, with 104 strikeouts and a 1.74 WHIP. However, he had a .277 average that year, to go along with a .757 OPS that was 70 points above league average for all hitters. He returned to the minors for the 1890-91 seasons, where he began to play outfield. Smith did a solid job at the plate during his time in Cincinnati, but he was a much better hitter after concentrating on the outfield in the minors. Smith’s arm was said to be gone at the time, but he was quoted as saying that he didn’t pitch in the minors because a minor league manager would work him to death if they knew he could still pitch. There were some thoughts going into 1892 that he could still pitch effectively. He played those 1890-91 seasons for Kansas City of the Western Association. His 1890 stats aren’t available, but we know he hit .314 over 120 games in 1891, with 115 runs, 17 doubles, 13 triples, 12 homers and 18 steals. He also went 1-4, 4.20 in 60 innings, with a 2.05 WHIP. The Pirates signed him for the 1892 season on December 29, 1891, despite the fact that Kansas City claimed to own his rights. National League President Nick Young ruled in mid-January that his contract with Pittsburgh was legal.

While he occasionally pitched with success in 1892, Smith became a star outfielder for the team by the 1893 season. He batted .274 over 138 games in 1892, with 86 runs, 16 doubles, 14 triples, 63 RBIs, 82 walks and a .759 OPS. He went 6-7, 3.63, with a 1.48 WHIP in 134 innings that year, then pitched just two more games in relief over the rest of his career. He batted .346 in 1893, setting a career high with 107 RBIs and 23 triples (fifth highest total in franchise history), while adding 121 runs scored and 26 stolen bases. He had 77 walks against 23 strikeouts. His .960 OPS would stand as his career best for one season, though it still ranks as the 26th best in franchise history. The 1894 season was a huge year for offense in baseball, and Smith got better along with the rest of the league. He hit .357 that year, while setting a career high with a .979 OPS, which is tied for the 19th best single-season OPS mark in franchise history. He had 58 extra-base hits, 34 steals, 68 walks (with just 12 strikeouts), while scoring 128 runs (11th highest season total in franchise history) in 126 games. Offense began to drop in 1895, but Smith dropped quicker than most. He still hit .302 that season, and he scored 89 runs in 125 games, but he finished with a .768 OPS. That mark was still slightly above league average, but it was a significant drop (211 points) from his career year. He finished with 15 doubles, 12 triples, 81 RBIs and 34 steals. That down season was followed up by a great 1896 campaign, which saw him hit for a .362 average, with 121 runs, 41 extra-base hits, 74 walks, 94 RBIs and a .954 OPS in 122 games. He also topped 30 steals for the third straight season. That batting average is the tenth best single season mark in team history (his .357 average in 1894 ranks 13th). His .454 OBP ranks tied for fourth best in a single season for the Pirates. His two 121-run seasons rank as the 18th highest season total in team history. Smith had another solid year in 1897, batting .310 in 123 games, with 99 runs, 19 doubles, 17 triples, six homers, 54 RBIs, 25 steals, 70 walks and an .871 OPS in 123 games.

After the 1897 season, the Pirates made an unpopular trade, giving up Smith and pitcher Pink Hawley (along with cash) for five players. The trade didn’t go well short-term, but neither Smith nor Hawley were effective for long in Cincinnati, while the Pirates got a little value from their return. Smith hit .342 during the 1898 season for the Reds, with 79 runs, 21 doubles, ten triples, 66 RBIs, 69 walks and an .858 OPS in 123 games. He batted .294 over 88 games in 1899, with 65 runs, 20 extra-base hits, 24 RBIs, 47 walks and a .757 OPS. He then split the 1900 season between the Reds and New York Giants, putting up a .265 average, 61 runs, 27 extra-base hits, 52 RBIs, 19 steals and a .706 OPS in 114 games. He rejoined the Pirates briefly as a free agent at the beginning of the 1901, going 0-for-4 with two walks in four games. He finished the season and his big league career with the Boston Beaneaters later that year, hitting .175/.254/.246 in 16 games. He played another five seasons in the minors before his pro career came to an end. Smith hit over .300 in each of his final three seasons of pro ball, though he was playing three levels below the majors in the New York State League at the time. He played for Kansas City of the independent American Association in 1902, where he batted .308 in 111 games, with 34 extra-base hits. Smith played for three teams in the American Association in 1903, which was then a Class-A league, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. In 106 games split between Minneapolis, Columbus and Kansas City, he finished with a .284 average, 74 runs, 31 extra-base hits and 12 steals.

Smith split the 1904 season between Kansas City, Ilion of the New York State League and Johnstown of the independent Pennsylvania League (no stats available for Johnstown). He hit .296 in 12 games with Kansas City, while batting .326 over 110 games with Ilion, collecting 19 extra-base hits. He hit .329 over 114 games for Wilkes-Barre of the New York State League in 1905, finishing with 25 doubles, seven triples and four homers. His final season was spent with Binghamton of the New York State League. He had a .313 average and 25 extra-base hits in 119 games that year. Smith retired with a .310 lifetime average over 14 big league seasons, with 913 runs scored, 197 doubles, 136 triples, 37 homers, 665 RBIs, 639 walks and 223 steals in 1,237 games. As a pitcher, he went 75-57, 3.35 in 1,210.1 innings over 149 appearances, with 136 starts, 122 complete games and nine shutouts. His .398 career OBP ranks 67th best in baseball history.  His .325 average with the Pirates is the sixth best in team history, and his .415 OBP is tied with Arky Vaughan as the third best in franchise history. His .881 OPS in the 11th best in Pirates history. He also ranks 12th in team history with 99 triples, and 14th with 174 steals. He was known for many years recently by the nickname “Mike”, but it is a name that has only a handful of references over the years (almost all in 1901), and 99.9% of his mentions called him Elmer.

Farmer Weaver, catcher/shortstop for the 1894 Pirates. He had spent seven seasons with the Louisville Colonels prior to joining the Pirates at the end of the 1894 season. He was mainly used as an outfielder during his career, occasionally catching, but prior to joining Pittsburgh he had played just two games at shortstop. He debuted in pro ball in 1886 with Topeka of the Western League (no stats available), then played for Wichita of the same league in 1887, where he hit .132 in 15 games, with two doubles and a run scored. Despite almost no success or records indicating his was a good player, it was quoted prior to the 1888 season that he was the best all-around player in his league. His 1888 stats show a .296 average in 20 games for San Antonio of the Texas-Southern League, though he spent most of the year playing for Austin of the Texas League, where it was said that he was among the league’s best hitters (no stats available). Weaver debuted in the majors at 23 years old in mid-September of 1888, after spending three seasons in the minors. He batted .250/.276/.277 for Louisville, with 12 runs, two extra-base hits, eight RBIs and 12 steals in 26 games during his first big league trial. That was enough to earn a full-time spot in 1889. He responded with a .291 average in 124 games, 62 runs, 23 extra-base hits, 21 steals, 60 RBIs and a .700 OPS. He was even better in 1890, though the American Association was watered down that year due to the emergence of the Player’s League, which created a large amount of new big league jobs. Weaver hit .289 that year, with 101 runs scored, 27 doubles, nine triples, three homers, 67 RBIs, 45 stolen bases and a .719 OPS in 130 games.

After the Player’s League ended following the 1890 season, the demise of the American Association wasn’t far behind. That league ended in 1891, when Weaver hit .282 in 133 games, with 74 runs, 33 extra-base hits, 53 RBIs, 30 steals and a .693 OPS. Louisville moved to the National League for 1892. Weaver batted .254 in 138 games that year, with 58 runs, 19 extra-base hits, 57 RBIs and 30 steals. His .611 OPS was the lowest full-season mark during his career. Offense around baseball saw an uptick during the 1893-95 seasons due to new rules that pitchers took some time to adjust to, leading to big numbers at the plate across baseball. Weaver batted .292 over 106 games in 1893, with 79 runs, 26 extra-base hits, 49 RBIs and 17 steals. His .724 OPS that year was a career best, though it was still 12 points below league average. The 1894 season was one of the best for offense around baseball all-time, but he had big issues that year, which ended his time in Louisville during the middle of the season. Weaver had a .221 average, 19 runs, ten extra-base hits, 24 RBIs and a .544 OPS in 64 games prior to joining the Pirates. He was released by the Colonels in August, then debuted with the Pirates on August 23rd, collecting three hits in his first game. He hit well in his 30 games for the Pirates, playing 14 games as a catcher and 12 as a shortstop, while batting .348/.405/.444 over 130 plate appearances, with 16 runs, nine extra-base hits and 24 RBIs, while striking out just once. He got the starting shortstop job for a brief time when starter Jack Glasscock was injured, then his (Glasscock’s) replacement, 21-year-old Gene DeMontreville, failed to impress in a two-game trial. Despite those hitting numbers with the Pirates, Weaver was released during the next spring, which ended his Major League career.

Weaver played in the minors until 1910, when he was 45 years old, serving his final two years as a player-manager. He hit .341 with Milwaukee of the Class-A Western League in 1895, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. He had 113 runs in 124 games, with 38 doubles, seven triples, six homers and 28 steals. He was with Milwaukee again in 1896, though minor league stats are unavailable for that year. That was followed by a .342 average for Milwaukee in 1897, with 105 runs, 25 doubles, nine triples and 28 steals in 138 games. Waver dropped down to a .283 average over 133 games with Milwaukee in 1898, with 27 extra-base hits (24 doubles) and 38 steals. His 1899 stats with Milwaukee are unavailable. He played for four teams during the 1900 season, including Cleveland of the American League, one year before that league moved up to Major League status. He hit .268 over 11 games for Cleveland, scoring 13 runs during that abbreviated time. His 1900 stats are unavailable for his time with Syracuse of the Class-A Eastern League, and Denver of the Western League, which was reclassified to Class-B in 1900. Weaver played for Lagoon and Salt Lake City of the Inter-Mountain League in 1901. Only his Lagoon stats are available, which show a .261 average and four extra-base hits in 22 games. His 1902 season was similar, with him playing for three teams that year, and limited stats for only one of those teams being available. Weaver hit .275 in 14 games for Butte of the Pacific Northwest League in 1902. He also played with Walla Walla of the Class-D Inland Empire League, and he was back in Lagoon, playing in the independent Utah State League.

Weaver split the 1903 season between San Francisco and the Portland/Salt Lake City team of the Class-A Pacific National League. He batted .299 that year in 133 games, with 29 doubles, three triples and four homers. At 39 years old in 1904, Weaver batted .334 while playing for Boise of the Class-B Pacific National League (the league was reclassified for 1904). He hit .260 in 97 games for Vancouver of the Class-B Northwestern League in 1905, collecting 21 extra-base hits, with 20 of those being doubles. He has stats/teams missing from 1906-08 because he played semi-pro ball during that time. His last two seasons were spent in the Class-D Kansas State League. He played 18 games for the Strong City-Cottonwood team in 1909, hitting .308 in 52 at-bats. He played for three teams during his final season, seeing time with Larned, Great Bend and Lyons. He combined to hit .257 in 44 games, with three extra-base hits. Weaver was still active in baseball until a three-year prison sentence in late 1911 ended his pro career, though he apparently starred for the prison baseball team during his stay. He was a .278 hitter in 751 big league games, with 421 runs, 114 doubles, 38 triples, nine homers, 342 RBIs and 162 stolen bases. His first name was William. He also went by the nickname Buck, which he got in the minors due to his all-around prowess, as a comparison to the star big league catcher, Buck Ewing. The “Farmer” nickname caught on in 1890 after a news story about his farm animals in his local paper had the headline Farmer Bill Weaver.

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