This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: May 21st, Mace Brown and Sure Shot Dunlap

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date. Before we get into them, current Pirates infielder Rodolfo Castro turns 24 today.

Mace Brown, pitcher for the 1935-41 Pirates. He spent five seasons in the minors prior to the Pirates purchasing his contract in November of 1934 from Kansas City of the Double-A American Association. Brown debuted at 21 years old in 1930, when he split his time between three teams, two Class-C clubs (Shawnee of the Western Association and Greensboro of the Piedmont League) and one club two levels higher in A-Ball (St Joseph of the Western League). He finished the year with a 12-24 record and a 1.76 WHIP in 295 innings. He walked 163 batters that year, which was a number he would never approach again. His full ERA isn’t available for much of his minor league career, but he had an 0-7, 5.55 mark in 60 innings for St Joseph that year, while going 8-6, 5.20 in 135 innings for Greensboro. He pitched with Durham of the Class-C Piedmont League in 1931, where he had an 8-7 record and a 1.67 WHIP in 149 innings over 30 appearances. His ERA isn’t available, but we know that he allowed 5.38 runs per nine innings that year. Brown moved back up to the Western League in 1932 with Des Moines, where he had an 8-10 record and a 1.64 WHIP in 168 innings over 35 games. He allowed 5.57 runs per nine innings that season. He moved up to Kansas City in 1933, where he was one step below the majors. He went 4-16, 4.41 in 194 innings over 33 appearances that year, while finishing with a 1.46 WHIP.

Brown pitched six games for Kansas City in 1934, but he spent most of the season pitching for Tulsa of the Class-A Texas League, where he won 19 games, while posting a 3.53 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP in 242 innings. His limited Kansas City stats show an 0-2 record and a 1.58 WHIP in 26 innings. He was purchased by the Pirates from Kansas City on November 21, 1934. The local papers said that it was on a trial basis, meaning he could be returned to Kansas City if it didn’t work out. One great scouting report in the local papers the next day said that he was a “likely looking prospect” according to Pirates scouts. The Pirates took him to training camp in 1935. He made the team, but he would be used very little during that first year. He made his big league debut on his 26th birthday. Brown had pitched in just seven of the first 84 games of the 1935 season, when he was given a spot start on July 20th during a doubleheader. He would throw a complete game against the Boston Braves that day, winning 14-2. Brown got three more starts over the next ten days, and the results got worse as he went along. He was then moved back to the pen, where he saw limited time through mid-September. He threw one-hit ball over 5.1 innings of relief work on September 16th. Pittsburgh gave him another start to end the year, and he allowed one run in a complete game win over the Cincinnati Reds. He finished the season with a 4-1, 3.59 record in 72.2 innings, with 28 strikeouts and a 1.46 WHIP. Brown had a bigger role in 1936. He received ten starts throughout the year, but he got more work during his 37 relief appearances. He pitched four or more innings in relief 11 times that season, including July 30th, when he threw seven shutout innings in a 5-3 win against the Braves. He threw a total of 165 innings that year, going 10-11, 3.87, with three saves, 56 strikeouts and a 1.41 WHIP. He pitched 50 games in 1937, with 48 of those appearances coming in relief. He had a 7-2, 4.18 record in 107.2 innings, with 60 strikeouts and a 1.43 WHIP. He had seven saves that year, which would’ve led the league, although saves weren’t an official stat back then.

Brown became the first reliever to ever pitch in the All-Star game during the 1938 season. He made 49 relief appearances that season, while leading the league in games pitched. He went 15-9, 3.80 in 132.2 innings, with 55 strikeouts and a 1.50 WHIP. He threw 2+ innings on 32 occasions. His season didn’t have a good ending. Late in the year, he gave up a game-winning homer to the Cubs’ Gabby Hartnett. Referred to as the “Homer in the Gloamin”, it helped the Cubs to the World Series over the Pirates, who were leading the National League in the standings for half of the season. The Pirates still had a chance after that game, but they went 1-4 the rest of the way, losing the pennant by two games. Brown began the 1939 season in his normal relief role, but after 7.2 shutout innings out of the bullpen in early July, he was moved to a starting role. He made a career high 19 starts (to go along with 28 relief appearances) before the year was over, finishing with a 9-13, 3.37 record in 200.1 innings, with seven saves, 71 strikeouts and a 1.42 WHIP. The 1940 season was just the opposite. He began the year as a starter, where he had a 4-6 record, before being moved back to the pen. It was the last full season for Brown in Pittsburgh. He went 10-9, 3.49 over 173 innings, with 17 starts and 31 relief appearances. He had seven saves, a career high 73 strikeouts, and a 1.33 WHIP. Despite pitching four more years in the majors, he did not make another start.

After just one appearance in 1941, the Pirates sold Brown to the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 22nd. It was a move that surprised fans, who thought the Pirates were short on pitching to begin with, especially since they didn’t receive any players back in the deal. The Dodgers made an offer that the Pirates couldn’t refuse, paying a hefty cash price for the 32-year-old reliever. Brown finished the 1941 season in Brooklyn, where he had a 3.16 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP in 42.2 innings over 24 appearances. He was actually sold to Los Angeles of the Double-A Pacific Coast League late in the year, pitched six innings over three games for them, then was sold back to Brooklyn. They then sold him to the Boston Red Sox in December of 1941. He went 9-3, 3.43 in 60.1 innings over 34 games for the 1942 Red Sox. He had six saves that year, to go along with a 1.39 WHIP. He had a great season in 1943, posting a 2.12 ERA, a 1.31 WHIP and nine saves in 93.1 innings. His 49 games pitched that season led the league. He spent 1944-45 serving in the Navy, then returned for one more season with the Red Sox before retiring. He had a 2.05 ERA in 1946, though he pitched just 26.1 innings over 18 appearances. He also had a 1.59 WHIP, with a 16:10 BB/SO ratio. Brown pitched a total of 262 games with the Pirates, with 55 of those coming as a starter. He went 55-45, 3.67 in 852.2 innings, with 29 saves, 343 strikeouts and a 1.42 WHIP. He ranks among the Pirates top 50 pitchers in wins, saves, games pitched and innings. He made another 125 appearances in his four seasons after leaving the Pirates, picking up 21 wins and 19 saves. His career stats show a 76-57, 3.46 record in 1,075.1 innings pitched over 387 games, with 48 saves.

Steve Pegues, outfielder for the 1994-95 Pirates. He was a first round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers in 1987, taken 21st overall out of Pontotoc HS in Mississippi. He spent five seasons in the Tigers organization, eventually getting to Triple-A in his last season, where he struggled at the plate. Pegues debuted in the short-season Appalachian League with Bristol in 1987, where he hit .284 in 59 games, with 36 runs, 13 extra-base hits, 23 RBIs, 22 steals and a .704 OPS. He moved up to Fayetteville of the Class-A South Atlantic League in 1988, where he had a .256 average in 118 games, with 50 runs, 28 extra-base hits, 46 RBIs and 21 steals, though a low walk rate resulted in a .292 OBP and a .652 OPS. He repeated Fayetteville at the start of 1989, batting .309 in 70 games, with 35 runs, 18 extra-base hits, 38 RBIs, 16 steals and a .751 OPS. He moved up that season to Lakeland in the Class-A Florida State League (considered to be Advanced-A), where he posted a .254 average and a .597 OPS in 55 games, while adding 24 runs, nine extra-base hits, 15 RBIs and 12 steals to his season total. Pegues hit .271 over 126 games with London of the Double-A Eastern League in 1990, finishing with 48 runs, 35 extra-base hits, 63 RBIs, 17 steals and a .678 OPS. His walk rate was even lower than in 1988, giving him a .291 OBP that was just 20 points higher than his average. He was back in London to start 1991, where he hit .301/.341/.417 in 56 games. After being promoted to Toledo of the Triple-A International League, his slash line dropped to .225/.246/.365 in 68 games. He went 12-for-24 in stolen base attempts between both stop, while finishing with 45 runs, 16 doubles, ten homers, 49 RBIs and a .684 OPS in 124 games.

Pegues was picked up by the San Diego Padres on waivers prior to the 1992. He played two years in their system at Triple-A, before he was cut at the end of Spring Training in 1994. He had a .263 average and a .694 OPS over 123 games in 1992, while playing in the high offense environment of Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League. He finished with a .281 OBP due to drawing just seven walks in 401 plate appearances. He had 51 runs, 21 doubles, nine homers, 56 RBIs and 12 steals. Pegues had a .352 average and a .930 OPS through 68 games in 1993 when his hand was broken by a pitch on July 17th, which ended his season. He already had the exact same amount of extra-base hits (34) as the previous season in 55 fewer games. He also had one more run (52) and almost as many RBIs (50) as he did in 1992. He signed with the Cincinnati Reds less than a week after being cut by the Padres in 1994. Pegues was called up to make his Major League debut on July 6, 1994, walking in a pinch-hit appearance. It was an odd start for him, since his main problem in the minors was his inability to take walks. He took 122 walks during his minor league career in 3,661 plate appearances. After 11 big league games in which he went 3-for-10 at the plate, Pegues was released by the Reds on July 27th. He was immediately picked up by the Pirates. He had a .290/.313/.518 slash line in 63 games for Indianapolis of the Triple-A American Association prior to getting his call to the majors.

Pegues collected three hits in his first game in Pittsburgh, including a game-tying two-out single in the bottom of the ninth inning, in a game eventually won by the Pirates in ten innings. His rookie season was interrupted by the strike that wiped away the end of the 1994 schedule. He hit .361/.395/.417 in 38 plate appearances between his two stops, playing 11 games in Cincinnati and seven in Pittsburgh. All of his games with the Reds were off of the bench, but he saw seven starts during his two weeks with the Pirates before the strike, playing left field five times and center field twice. Pegues spent the entire 1995 season on the Pirates roster, getting into 82 games, including 36 starts. He split his time between the two corner outfield spots and pinch-hitting. He batted .246/.263/.398 in 179 plate appearances, with 17 runs, eight doubles, six homers and 16 RBIs. The Pirates released him after the 1995 season ended. He would end up playing three more years in the minors before retiring, spending time with seven different teams during those last three years.

Pegues originally signed with the Seattle Mariners after leaving the Pirates, but he never played a game for them. He spent 1996 in Triple-A (Richmond of the International League) for the Atlanta Braves, while also seeing time playing in Mexico (stats are unavailable). He put up big numbers with Richmond, hitting .341/.376/.539 in 52 games. He played for the Ottawa of the International League (Montreal Expos), Iowa of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League (Chicago Cubs) and three games for an independent team out of Winnipeg in the Northern League. He hit .308/.335/.425 in 72 games between the two affiliates stops. His final season was split between the Colorado Rockies and a stint in China. Pegues played 24 games for Colorado Springs of the Pacific Coast League that year, as well as 17 games in Double-A for New Haven of the Eastern League. He combined to hit .314/.336/.448 in 125 plate appearances. He had a .720 OPS over 36 games in China. Pegues finished his big league time with a .266 average in 100 games, with 19 runs, ten doubles, six homers, 18 RBIs, six walks and a .687 OPS. He was the cousin of Dave Clark, who played for the 1993-96 Pirates, making them one of 26 groups of relatives to play for the Pirates. Just ten of those groups have played for the team in the same season.

Ed FitzGerald, catcher for the 1948-53 Pirates. The start of his pro career was delayed when he went straight from college to wartime duty. He signed his first pro contract in 1946 at 22 years old, then hit .329 in 102 games that year split between two teams. The majority of his time spent in the Class-B Western International League with Wenatchee, where he batted .338 in 91 games, with 58 runs, 37 extra-base hits, 48 RBIs, 50 walks and a 1.027 OPS. He also saw time with Sacramento of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he hit .263 in 11 games. He had a .363 average for Sacramento in 1947, with 62 runs, 36 extra-base hits, 49 RBIs, 26 steals and a .926 OPS in 144 games. Many claimed that his defense, especially his arm, was better than his hitting. Pittsburgh purchased his contract on September 8, 1947. He then he made the 1948 club out of Spring Training. The Pirates paid a high cost for their new catcher due to a bidding war with other teams, though the price was never released (see more below). The Pirates paid cash and promised to release four players to Sacramento (one source said five players). That group included pitchers Dewey Soriano, Roger Wolff and Lou Tost.

FitzGerald hit .267 for the 1948 Pirates, with 31 runs, 13 extra-base hits, 35 RBIs, 32 walks and a .685 OPS in 102 games. He started 66 games behind the plate that year. The Pirates acquired veteran catcher Clyde McCullough in the 1948-49 off-season, meaning less time for FitzGerald. He would start just 34 games in 1949, hitting .263 in 160 at-bats, with 16 runs, seven doubles, two homers, 18 RBIs and a .646 OPS. He began the 1950 season with the Pirates, but was sent to the minors a month into the season, after hitting .067/.067/.133 in 15 at-bats. Shortly after FitzGerald was sent down, the Pirates also sent down Bob Chesnes, another high priced prospect. It was said at the time, that the Pirates had a $200,000 battery in the minors, claiming that each player cost the team $100,000 apiece, though most guessed that the Pirates spent about $40,000 in cash on FitzGerald, so the rest of that value came in the form of players. A later report added even more confusion, saying the deal was $65,000 and three players. He had a .313 average over 103 games for Indianapolis of the Triple-A American Association in 1950, with 43 runs, 20 extra-base hits, 42 RBIs and a .779 OPS. FitzGerald rejoined the Pirates for the 1951 season. He was the backup to McCullough to begin that year, then went to the third-string role when Pittsburgh acquired Joe Garagiola in June. FitzGerald batted 105 times in 55 games that year (15 starts), hitting for a .227/.286/.289 slash line, with eight runs, six doubles and 13 RBIs.

FitzGerald saw minimal work during the 1952 season, as the Pirates finished 42-112 that season. He played in 51 games, but he batted just 80 times total. He started seven games behind the plate, plus he made two starts at third base, which were the only two times he played there in the majors. He batted .233/.300/.288 that year, with four runs, a homer and seven RBIs. The Pirates sold him to the Washington Senators early in the 1953 season. FitzGerald would go on to play in the majors until 1959. After going 2-for-17 in six games for the 1953 Pirates, he had a .250 average and 16 extra-base hits in 88 games with the Senators to finish out the 1953 season. He broke the 100-game barrier for the only time in his career during the 1954 season. He batted .289 in 115 games, with 33 runs, 13 doubles, five triples, four homers, 40 RBIs and a .735 OPS. FitzGerald was back down to a platoon role in 1955, when he had a .237 average, with 28 runs, eight extra-base hits, 19 RBIs and a .626 OPS in 74 games.  He set career highs with a .304 average and a .786 OPS in 1956, though his playing time once again dropped. He batted 170 times total in 64 games that year, finishing with 15 runs, eight doubles, two homers and 12 RBIs. That drop in playing time continued into 1957, when he finished the year with 45 games and 139 plate appearances. He had a .272 average, with 14 runs, eight doubles, one homer, 13 RBIs and a .691 OPS.

FitzGerald saw more time off of the bench in 1958, playing 58 games that year, with 23 starts. He hit .263/.309/.290 in 124 plate appearances, with seven runs, three doubles and 11 RBIs. He was traded to the Cleveland Indians in late May of 1959, then saw a bit more playing time, finishing with his highest at-bat total (191) since 1955. He batted .246 for the year, with 17 runs, 11 extra-base hits, nine RBIs and a .630 OPS in 68 games, including his time with Washington. FitzGerald was released by the Indians a week prior to the 1960 season, which ended his playing career. He then took up a coaching role, ending with two years (1965-66) of managing in the minors. He finished his big league career with a .260 average, 199 runs, 82 doubles, 19 homers and 217 RBIs in 807 games over 12 season. He played 275 of those games while with Pittsburgh, hitting .247 during that time, with 62 runs, 32 extra-base hits and 74 RBIs. Modern metrics consider him to be an average catcher throughout his career, finishing with 0.3 dWAR. He threw out 40% of base runners during his career, twice (1955 and 1959) finishing second in the American League in that category. His .989 fielding percentage in 1953 was the third best in the American League.

Fred Dunlap, second baseman for the 1888-1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys, and manager for the 1889 team. He was a strong fielding second baseman, considered to be a star during his time. He played three years of minor league ball, including the first season that the minors existed in 1877, before making it to the majors shortly before his 21st birthday. He debuted at 18 years old with Auburn of the League Alliance, then spent the 1878 season with Hornellsville of the International Association in 1878 (no stats are available for either season). Dunlap hit .259 in 1879, with 53 runs scored in 51 games for Albany of the National Association. As a big league rookie for the Cleveland Blues in 1880, he led the National League in doubles and led all second basemen in assists with 290, while finishing third in the league fielding percentage. He batted .276 in 85 games (shortened schedules back then), with 61 runs, 27 doubles, nine triples, four homers, 30 RBIs and a .719 OPS. He hit .325 in 1881, with 60 runs scored, 32 extra-base hits and 24 RBIs in 80 games. His .802 OPS was the sixth best in the league that year. He became the player/manager of Cleveland during the 1882 season, when he hit .280 in 84 games, with 68 runs scored, 23 extra-base hits, 28 RBIs and a .677 OPS. He led the league again in assists (297) for second basemen, while getting the most total chances. Dunlap hit .326 in 1883, with 81 runs, 34 doubles, four homers and 37 RBIs in 93 games. His .813 OPS was the ninth best mark in the league.

Dunlap moved to the newly-formed Union Association in 1884. He was one of the few star players to make that move. The Union Association is considered to be a Major League, but the play was not on par with either the American Association or the National League. Dunlap became the instant star of the league, once again taking the player/manager role. He finished the year with a league leading .412 average, while scoring 160 runs in 101 games. His 1.069 OPS led the league, and it was the highest OPS in 12 years, dating back to the National Association, the 1871-75 Major League that preceded the National League.  He also led all Union Association second basemen in putouts, assists and fielding percentage. His team won the league title with a 94-19 record, going 66-16 under Dunlap. When the league folded after one year, his St. Louis Maroons team joined the National League. Dunlap saw his numbers drop back down to normal levels, posting a .270 average, 70 runs, 18 extra-base hits, 25 RBIs and a  .667 OPS in 106 games. While it was a significant drop, that OPS was 61 points higher than the league OPS that season. He was sold to the Detroit Wolverines of the National League midway through the 1886 season. Dunlap batted .274 between the two stops, playing in a career high 122 games (71 with St Louis). He finished with 85 runs, 35 extra-base hits, 69 RBIs and a .722 OPS. That was the first year that stolen base totals are available during his career. He was credited with 20 that season. He missed the middle part of the 1887 season due to a broken leg, which also kept him out of action for a time during the late stages of the year as well, as he likely returned to action too soon. He hit .265 that year, with 60 runs scored, 28 extra-base hits, 45 RBIs, 15 steals and a .768 OPS in 65 games for Detroit. That performance helped them to the World Series, which was then played between the winner of the American Association and the National League back then. Detroit won the series, which lasted 15 games, although Dunlap hit just .150 in 40 at-bats.

Shortly after the series ended, Pittsburgh purchased Dunlap’s contract for a large sum (at least $4,000). They then paid him $7,000 for the season, which was the highest salary of the day. Just two weeks before he was sold to Pittsburgh, there were reports that the New York Giants had purchased him, though that rumor was denied almost immediately. He was named the team captain by the Alleghenys, who had high hopes for him during the 1888 season. After a slow start for Pittsburgh, he suffered a broken jaw that happened during pre-game practice in early July, which put him out for a good portion of the season. Dunlap hit .262 that year, with 41 runs, 17 extra-base hits, 36 RBIs, 24 steals and a .636 OPS, while playing 82 out of a possible 139 games. He played 121 games in 1889, while leading the league with a career high .950 fielding percentage. His offense slumped though, all the way down to a .235 average and a .599 OPS, though he had 59 runs, 19 doubles, 65 RBIs 21 steals and 46 walks, so he was still an above average player when including his solid defense. He took over the manager position in late July when Horace Phillips was forced to leave due to his declining health. Dunlap only lasted 17 games (7-10), before handing the reins over to center fielder Ned Hanlon. That move started a Hall of Fame managerial career for Hanlon.

When the Player’s League formed in 1890, Dunlap was one of the few star players not to jump to the new league. He was one of four 1889 Alleghenys players who remained with Pittsburgh, but he wasn’t around for too long. He was released early in the year, after hitting .172/.264/.219 through 17 games. Dunlap was a holdout in spring that year. He didn’t join the team until more than two weeks into Spring Training, but he was hitting in the cleanup spot on Opening Day. When he was released by Pittsburgh on May 14th, it was said that he was tough to get along with, and the Alleghenys also had a much cheaper second baseman (Henry Youngman) who was getting paid just $1,050 for the season, compared to the $3,500 being paid to the struggling Dunlap (one source said $3,700). Dunlap went on to play one game in the Player’s League that year with the New York Giants (not an original name), signing with them nine days after being cut by Pittsburgh. He played one game, then said that his contract wasn’t satisfactory, and he wanted to assurance that the Player’s League would be around still in 1891, which he didn’t get from the team owners. He signed with the Washington Statesman of the American Association for the 1891 season. Dunlap broke his leg for a second time just eight games into his stay there, ending his baseball career. He had a .675 OPS through 31 plate appearances that year. He finished his 12-year career as a .292 hitter in 965 games, with 759 runs scored, 224 doubles, 53 triples, 41 homers and 366 RBIs (doesn’t include the 1884 season due to missing RBI stats). Four times he led second basemen in fielding percentage and assists, while twice he led in putouts. He reportedly had the nickname “Sure Shot Fred” for his strong/accurate arm, though the first mention of it in print came 30 years after his final game, and the second mention happened another 29 years later.

Fred Clement, shortstop for the 1890 Alleghenys. He might be the worst player in Pirates franchise history, or the team just gave up on him too soon. The 1890 Alleghenys are the worst team in franchise history. They gave numerous trials to players during the season, some out of necessity due to a lack of players. There were times when they had 11-12 active players on the roster. In late June of 1890, the Alleghenys visited Philadelphia for a series against the Phillies. On June 23rd, Pittsburgh used siblings Harry and John Gilbert as their double play combo in a doubleheader. That was their only day in the majors. Pitcher Sumner Bowman also debuted that day, but he would stick around through the 1891 season in the majors. The next day there was a 23-year-old named Fred Clement at shortstop for the Alleghenys. He was a local kid, who was also a dentist. He played a little bit of minor league ball in 1889 for Wilmington of the Middle States League, though no stats are available. Pittsburgh owner J. Palmer O’Neil hired a man named James Randall to be a scout for the team, and the latter recommended Clement, who did so poorly that he was removed after two innings.

Clement went 0-for-1 at the plate and committed three errors before being replaced at shortstop by Tun Berger, who was in center field. The center fielder who replaced Berger was Sumner Bowman, the pitcher. The score was 6-0 at that point, and his throwing error and two missed grounders were responsible for most of that damage. Modern numbers credit Clement with five innings played, but numerous sources from the day mention two innings. That lower total would make sense, because if he played five innings, he would have batted more than once. That was it for Clement in pro baseball. Two big league innings, three errors, one out at the plate. One interesting note is that he was called “Clements” in the Philadelphia papers, which made sure to note that he wasn’t related to their star catcher Jack Clements, who is the greatest left-handed catcher in baseball history. A Pittsburgh paper called him “BF Clements”, but his real name was Frederick Garwood Clement, and he lived out life in the Philadelphia area, sadly passing away on Christmas Day in 1930, just two months after his wife had passed. An 1895 article notes that he was the “effective catcher” of the local Oxford team in Philadelphia for some years. He got mention that day because he umpired a game that involved Oxford, and he was praised for his knowledge of the rules of the game.