This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: April 11th, Pop, Hank, Turner and Red

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date.

Turner Ward, outfielder for the 1997-99 Pirates. He was drafted in 1986 by the New York Yankees in the 18th round out of the University of South Alabama. Hee made his Major League debut four years later for the Cleveland Indians. Ward had a .281 average, 42 runs, six extra-base hits, 19 RBIs, 31 walks and a .691 OPS in 63 games during his first season of pro ball, while playing for Oneonta of the short-season New York-Penn League. He moved up to the Class-A Florida State League in 1987, where he hit .294 in 130 games for Fort Lauderdale, with 83 runs scored, 24 extra-base hits, 55 RBIs, 64 walks, a .755 OPS and 25 stolen bases in 28 attempts. He advanced to Columbus of the Triple-A International League in 1988, where he batted .251 in 134 games, with 55 runs, 24 doubles, seven homers, 50 RBIs, a .667 OPS and 28 steals in 33 attempts. He was traded to the Indians in the middle of Spring Training in 1989. Ward was limited to 34 minor league games during the 1989 season due to a freak Spring Training injury that happened on the day before Opening Day. He broke multiple bones in his right leg while trying to stop after going after a fly ball. He played four rehab games in the Gulf Coast League, then hit .301/.398/.376 in 30 games for Canton-Akron of the Double-A Eastern League.

Ward put up an .806 OPS during the 1990 season, playing in the hitter-friendly confines of Colorado Springs in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. He hit .299 in 133 games, with 89 runs, 24 doubles, nine triples, six homers, 65 RBIs and 72 walks. He stole 22 bases, but he was caught 15 times. That season earned him a September look in Cleveland. He impressed in his first shot at the majors by batting .348/.388/.500 over 49 plate appearances with the Indians, collecting ten RBIs in 14 games. Ward was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in the middle of the 1991 season. He ended up playing in the majors and minors for both the Indians and Blue Jays that year. During his big league time, he combined to hit .239/.307/.301 over 128 plate appearances, with no homers or steals in 48 games. In 73 minor league games split between Colorado Springs (14 games) and Syracuse of the Triple-A International League (Blue Jays), he combined for a .305 average, 45 runs, 12 doubles, eight homers, 35 RBIs, 53 walks and an .888 OPS. Ward would split the 1992 season between Toronto and Syracuse, spending most of the time in the minors. Once again he excelled in a small sample size in the majors, hitting .345/.424/.552 in 18 games for the Blue Jays, though he didn’t impress in the minors that year, hitting .239/.346/.396 in 81 games for Syracuse, with 41 runs, 22 extra-base hits and 29 RBIs. Ward finally got an extended big league look in 1993 and responded by hitting .192/.287/.311 in 198 plate appearances over 72 games, with 20 runs, ten extra-base hits and 28 RBIs.

Ward was picked up on waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers in November of 1993. In his first seven years in the majors, he had just one season with more than 200 plate appearances, and it came during the strike-shortened 1994 season when he hit for a .232 average, with 55 runs, 26 extra-base hits, 45 RBIs, 52 walks and a .685 OPS in 102 games. He actually did better the next year, but he was limited to 44 games. Ward put up a .264/.338/.395 slash line in 164 plate appearances, with 19 runs, eight extra-base hits and 16 RBIs. He went on the disabled list with a hamstring injury in early June, then again in early July. His return in late July lasted four games before he was done for the year with the same hamstring injury returning. He had 82 plate appearances over 43 games in 1996, finishing with a .179/.309/.328 slash line, along with seven runs, five extra-base hits and ten RBIs. A strained right shoulder kept him out of action for all of June, July and almost all of August. He played just a few rehab games in the minors before he returned to the Brewers on September 1st. The Pirates picked him up on April 22, 1997 as a free agent. He was called up to the majors after hitting .340/.418/.584 in 59 games for Calgary of the Pacific Coast League to start the 1997 season. Ward hit .353 in 71 games for the Pirates, with 33 runs, 16 doubles, seven homers, 33 RBIs and a 1.007 OPS. He played a career high 123 games in 1998, with half (61 games) coming off of the bench. He ended up hitting .262 that year, with 33 runs, 13 doubles, nine homers, a career high 46 RBIs and a .754 OPS. On May 3, 1998, he made a leaping catch at Three Rivers Stadium, in which he went through the right field wall and held on to the ball. He left that game early, but was back in the lineup three days later.

Ward struggled at the plate in limited playing time during the 1999 season, before the Pirates released him in August. He had a .209 average, with two runs, two extra-base hits (both doubles), eight RBIs and a .542 OPS in 49 games. He spent part of the season with Nashville of the Pacific Coast League, where he had a .292 average and an .821 OPS in 35 games. He also missed time that year due to a knee injury. Ward signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks to finish the 1999 season. He hit .348/.385/.652 in 26 plate appearances over ten games. He then hit a three-run homer during the NLDS against the New York Mets. Ward played parts of two more seasons in the majors, seeing time with the 2000 Diamondbacks and 2001 Philadelphia Phillies, before retiring as a player. He spent more time in the minors during each of those seasons. He hit .173/.241/.250 in 15 games in 2000, after spending the first month of the season in the minors due to a rule at the time that said if a team didn’t offer a free agent player salary arbitration after the season, then that player couldn’t rejoin the team until May 1st of the following season. He tore up Spring Training that year, then put up a 1.156 OPS in 32 games for Tuscon of the Pacific Coast League. He was sent back to Tuscon after his slow start with the Diamondbacks, but a groin injury ended his season just a few days later.

Ward followed that up with a .267/.353/.333 slash line in 17 games with the 2001 Phillies. All 17 of his games came as a pinch-hitter during the months of June and July. He spent the rest of the year with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre of the International League, where he hit .275/.363/.464 in 70 games. He has coached and also managed three years in the minors since retiring, including the 2007 season for the Pirates with their State College affiliate. The St Louis Cardinals hired him as a hitting coach for the 2022 season, a role he has held with the Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers. Ward hit .251 n 12 big league seasons, with 210 runs, 73 doubles, 39 homers and 291 RBIs over 626 games. He batted .281 in 243 games for the Pirates, with 68 runs, 31 doubles, 16 homers and 87 RBIs.

Hank Schenz, infielder for the 1950-51 Pirates. He began his minor league career in 1939 at 20 years old, playing for four years before losing three seasons to military service during WWII. Schenz put up some impressive numbers at the lowest level of the minor league system at the time. He batted .312 in 1939, with 23 doubles, six triples and six homers in 83 games with Salem-Roanoke of the Class-D Virginia League. He then came back with a .328 average over 125 games in 1940 for Tarboro of the Class-D Coastal Plain League. He had 22 doubles, 11 triples and eight homers that year. He moved up to Portsmouth of the Class-B Piedmont League for the 1941-42 seasons, where he had mediocre/similar results each season. Schenz batted .246 over 137 games, with 12 doubles, six triples and no homers. He followed that up in 1942 with a .243 average over 118 games, with 14 doubles, four triples and one homer. After homering 14 times in his first two season combined, he hit one homer in 255 games for Portsmouth. Schenz missed the 1943-45 seasons while serving in the Navy. He played briefly for Los Angeles of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League after returning in 1946, going 0-for-15 at the plate in five games. He had a lot of success one level lower that year, hitting .333 in 138 games for the Tulsa Oilers of the Double-A Texas League, with 102 runs, 44 doubles, seven triples, four homers, 57 RBIs, 32 steals and an .849 OPS. Those stats earned him a late season promotion to the Chicago Cubs. He went 2-for-11 in six September games for the 1946 Cubs. Schenz was with Chicago at the start and finish of the 1947 season, but a majority of the year was spent in the minors. He went 1-for-14 at the plate in seven big league games that season. The rest of the year was spent with Nashville of the Double-A Southern Association, where he batted .331 in 99 games, with 72 runs, 25 doubles, eight triples, 44 RBIs, 16 steals and an .829 OPS.

Schenz spent four seasons with the Cubs, but he only had one full year in the majors. He hit .261 over 96 games in 1948, with 43 runs scored, 17 doubles, 14 RBIs and a .633 OPS. He spent most of his time in the field playing second base. The Cubs traded Schenz to the Brooklyn Dodgers during the 1949 season, then the Pirates purchased his contract from Brooklyn that November. Before the trade to the Dodgers, he was hitting .429/.467/.429 in seven games for the Cubs. He spent the rest of the season with St Paul of the Triple-A American Association, where he hit .345 in 123 games, with 104 runs, 26 doubles, eight triples,  17 homers, 77 RBIs and a .920 OPS. Schenz saw backup playing time at 3B/SS/2B with the 1950 Pirates, getting into a total of 58 games (16 starts), while accumulating 110 plate appearances. He hit .228/.271/.337 that year, with 17 runs, seven extra-base hits and five RBIs. The run total was higher due to numerous pinch-running appearances. He was used often early in 1951 at second base, but he was put on waivers by the end of June, where the New York Giants picked him up. He was hitting .213/.226/.230 in 25 games for the Pirates, before joining New York. The rest of his Major League career consisted of just eight pinch-running appearances with the 1951 Giants. Schenz finished his pro career with four seasons in the minors, the last as a player-manager back with the Tulsa Oilers. The rest of his time was spent in the Pacific Coast League, split between Oakland and Sacramento.

Schenz played 164 games for Oakland in 1952, finishing the year with a .278 average, 82 runs, 29 doubles, 51 RBIs, 18 steals and a .673 OPS. He split 51 games in 1953 between Oakland and Sacramento. He finished with a .288 average, 25 runs, 11 extra-base hits and 18 RBIs. He batted .279 over 165 games in 1954 for Sacramento, with 92 runs, 28 doubles, 11 homers, 61 RBIs and a .711 OPS. His final seasons saw him hit .197 over 18 games with Sacramento, while also putting up a .203/.295/.220 slash line in 51 games with Tulsa. Despite hitting 17 homers in a partial season right before joining the Pirates, he was not much of a power hitter. Schenz hit two homers in 207 big league games, while putting up a total of 51 homers in 1,277 minor league games. He hit .222 in 83 games with the Pirates, and he was a .247 hitter in the majors, with 70 runs, 22 doubles, 24 RBIs, and a .601 OPS.

Red Smith, catcher for the 1917-18 Pirates. Four players have been known by the name Red Smith in Major League baseball. All played during the same era, and one played for the Pirates. Willard Jehu “Red” Smith caught two seasons in the majors, both for Pittsburgh. He began his pro career in 1910, but didn’t make the majors until mid-September 1917, after playing well in his second season with the Birmingham Barons of the Class-A Southern Association. Smith started with the Hopkinsville Hoppers of the Kentucky-Illinois-Tennessee League (more commonly known as the KITTY League for obvious reasons). He spent three years with that club, which was considered to be a Class-D level of play, the lowest level at the time in pro ball. He batted .253 over 53 games at 18 years old in 1910, collecting 12 extra-base hits, which were all doubles. Smith dropped down to a .200 average over 51 games in 1911, when all five of his extra-base hits were doubles. He was with Hopkinsville in 1912, but he also spent part of the year with Cairo of the KITTY League. He hit .181 in 81 games between both stops, with six doubles and three triples. There’s some confusion today about his 1913 season.

Smith’s 1913 stats appear to be credited to someone else, and it may have something to do with Red Smith being such a common name during that time period. The future Pirates player named Red Smith played for Cairo for part of 1912, after going there in a mid-July trade. Then Cairo had a catcher named Red Smith in 1913, who was sold at the end of the year to Nashville of the Southern Association, which is where this Red Smith played in 1914-15. However, the 1913 Cairo catching stats are credited to someone named Daniel Smith. I believe that those 1913 stats are Red Smith’s based on the fact that Cairo’s Smith was receiving plenty of praise for his catching, plus he ended up with Nashville. He also had a .329 average in 102 games, with 18 doubles and 13 triples. The “Daniel Smith” player has no known stats after 1913, which would seem odd for a player who did so well, plus had a new team set up for the next season already. There’s also a note from Nashville in March of 1914 that said that Willard “Red” Smith came over from the KITTY League late last year. All of the dots connect to him playing for Cairo in 1913, and doing well, but the online stats don’t credit him.

Smith spent four straight season playing in the Southern Association, a league which was two levels below the majors (equivalent to Double-A now). He played two years with Nashville (1914-15) and two with Birmingham (1916-17). There are no stats available for 1914, but we know that he hit .249 in 1915, with four doubles and two triples in 71 games. He batted .265 over 85 games in 1916, with five doubles and a home run, which appears to be his first homer as a pro. Smith hit .267 over 89 games for Birmingham in 1917, collecting eight doubles, one triple and four homers. The Pirates purchased his contract as part of a group of five players bought from Birmingham on August 15, 1917, with all five players reporting to the team at the end of the Southern Association season. Smith debuted with the Pirates on September 17th (one day after joining the club), and he caught six games during his first big league trial. He received 24 plate appearances over 11 total games, hitting .143/.250/.191, with one run, one double and two RBIs. He saw limited big league time in 1918, getting into 15 games total, with six of those coming as a starter. He hit .167/.259/.208 over 28 plate appearances, with one run, one double and three RBIs. Smith was actually called into service in late March of 1918. The Pirates sold his contract back to Birmingham on April 2nd, figuring that he wouldn’t play that season. It turned out that he failed the Army exam, then was returned home. He ended up playing for Birmingham until joining the Pirates on July 1st. He debuted for the Pirates on July 3rd, then played his final game on September 1st (the season ended on September 2nd due to WWI). He then joined a wartime job, where he still played some baseball with some Pirates teammates for a team called Westinghouse, which included games played at Forbes Field. On March 27, 1919, his time with the Pirates came to an end when he was sold to Memphis of the Southern Association.

Smith’s minor league records include big spaces with no information, which is likely due to the name confusion, though he could have been playing independent/semi-pro ball as well. He is listed as playing in 1919, 1923 and 1926-28, but he never made it back to the majors. He played 47 games for Memphis in 1919, finishing the year with a .294 average and six extra-base hits. He has no stats for 1920, but I was able to track him down to playing for Joplin of the Class-A Western League in 1921, after they acquired him in a trade made with Memphis. Smith had a .200 average in 69 games, with seven doubles and two triples. He’s credited with catching for Toledo of the American Association in 1923, but I was unable to confirm that it’s the same player. A 1924 article about his career has no mention of his playing after 1921. His 1926 stats that say he played for Denver of the Western Association belong to a catcher named Zeke Smith, who was with Denver in 1925. I’ve been unable to confirm that he played 1927-28 for Quincy of the Three-I League, but it would have been his first season of play in six years. Red Smith finished with a .156 average in 26 games for the Pirates, with two runs, two doubles, five RBIs and six walks.

Pop Corkhill, outfielder for the 1891-92 Pirates. Before joining Pittsburgh, he was a star outfielder for a brief time in the majors, posting three straight 90+ RBI seasons for the Cincinnati Red Stockings of the American Association from 1886-1888. Corkhill debuted in pro ball at a late age, playing his first season at 24 years old with Philadelphia of the League Alliance in 1882 (no stats available). After one  minor league season, he debuted in the majors with Cincinnati in 1883. Most of his rookie season was spent in right field. He hit .216 in 88 games, with 53 runs, 20 extra-base hits, 46 RBIs and a .524 OPS. Corkhill batted .274 over 110 games in 1884, with 85 runs, 13 doubles, 11 triples, four homers, 70 RBIs and a .668 OPS. He led the American Association with 112 games played in 1885, though he saw a drop in his production with a .594 OPS. He hit .252 that year, with 64 runs, 19 extra-base hits and 53 RBIs. The OPS was low due to hitting just one homer, while drawing seven walks all season. While he became a big run producer in 1886, he managed to do that despite a .637 OPS. Corkhill led the Red Stockings with 97 RBIs. He improved his walk rate, breaking the .300 OPS mark (.302) for the first time in his career. He hit .265 in 129 games, with 81 runs, nine doubles, seven triples and five homers. He also stole 23 bases that year (stolen bases totals are unavailable for his first three seasons)

Corkhill drove in 97 runs again during the 1887 season, which tied for the team lead in Cincinnati. He also put up a career best .311 average, the only time during his ten-year career in which he batted over .285 in a season. He had 79 runs scored, 19 doubles, 11 triples, five homers, 30 stolen bases and a .747 OPS. Corkhill spent most of 1888 with Cincinnati, who sold him to the Brooklyn Bridegrooms in late September. He batted .271 in 118 games for Cincinnati, then hit .380/.429/.563 in 19 games for Brooklyn. He combined for 85 runs, 29 extra-base hits, 93 RBIs, 30 steals and a .681 OPS. He had 15 doubles and a career high 12 triples that year. He batted .250 over 138 games in 1889, setting career highs with 21 doubles, eight homers and 42 walks. He also added 91 runs, nine triples, 78 RBIs, 22 steals and a .675 OPS, helping the Bridegrooms take the American Association title. The team moved to the National League for the 1890 season, and Corkhill remained with Brooklyn. While the team finished in first place again, he hit just .226/.279/.279 in 51 games, before being released in August. The 1891 season saw him play for three different teams in two different leagues, with the third team that year being the Pirates. He batted .209/.268/.269 in 83 games for Philadelphia of the American Association. He then played one game for the Cincinnati Reds (his old team, which had moved to the National League by then). He was signed by the Pirates on August 14th, with 45 games left in the season. Corkhill got into 41 games with Pittsburgh to finish out the 1891 season. He had a .228 average, with 16 runs, five extra-base hits, 20 RBIs, seven steals and a .578 OPS, while playing center field in all but one game for the Pirates.

Corkhill saw time in center and right field for the 1892 Pirates, playing strong defense, but hitting only .184/.229/.219, with 23 runs and 25 RBIs in 68 games. That would end up be his last season in the majors. The Pirates acquired future Hall of Fame outfielder Joe Kelley from the minors in early July, though he didn’t debut until July 27th. Corkhill played his final game on July 12th, but he wasn’t released until Kelley debuted. Pop (his first name was John) was a career .254 hitter, with 650 runs, 110 doubles, 80 triples, 31 homers and 631 RBIs in 1,086 games. He was one of the top outfielders of his day, five times leading the league in fielding percentage. His 224 outfield assists rank him 35th all-time still to this day. His career WAR on offense actually finished below replacement level (-2.1), but due to his defense, he finished with a career 5.1 WAR. He pitched every year during a five-year stretch from 1884 through 1888, posting an overall 4.62 ERA in 62.1 innings.