This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: June 4th, Tony Pena, Bob Klinger, Larry Demery and the Kiner Deal

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus one major trade of note.

The Trade

On this date in 1953, the Pittsburgh Pirates pulled off one of the most significant trades in team history with the Chicago Cubs. The team gave up All-Star outfielder Ralph Kiner in a deal that involved a total of ten players. The Pirates received six players and $150,000 in the deal. Pittsburgh also gave up catcher Joe Garagiola, outfielder George Metkovich and pitcher Howie Pollet. They got back outfielder Bob Addis, catcher Toby Atwell, third baseman George Freese, outfielder Gene Hermanski, pitcher Bob Schultz and first baseman Preston Ward.

Kiner by far was the best player in the deal, which not only brought a surplus of money to the Pirates, but also cut Kiner’s large salary from the payroll. The Pirates went 42-112 in 1952, and they were on their way to another 100-loss season in 1953. The following is a brief summary of every player before and after the trade, with age (at the time of the deal) in parenthesis.

Kiner (30) Five time All-Star, 301 homers, seven straight home run titles, five straight (1947-51) seasons of 100 runs and 100 RBIs. He played three seasons after the deal, hitting 68 homers and driving in 214 runs. Retired early due to bad back.

Garagiola (27) In his eighth season at the big league level, he hit .273 in 1952, with 27 extra-base hits, 54 RBIs and 50 walks over 118 games. He was batting .233/.341/.384 over 27 games at time of deal. He played 142 games during the 1953-54 seasons after the trade. Hit .272/.336/.360 over 74 games in 1953, followed by a .280/.397/.415 slash line over 200 plate appearances in 1954.

Metkovich (32) In his ninth season in the majors, he was hitting just .146/.255/.264 in 26 games at time of deal. He hit .271 over 125 games in 1952, with 41 runs, 18 doubles, seven homers and 41 RBIs. He hit .234/.326/.355 in 61 games for 1953 Cubs, then batted .276/.352/.358 in 68 games (142 plate appearances) for 1954 Braves

Pollet (31) Two time 20-game winner with St Louis Cardinals (1946 and 1949), who went 13-26 for 1951-52 Pirates. He had a 10.66 ERA and a 2.61 WHIP over 12.2 innings a time of deal. Afterwards, he went 17-19, 4.19 over 300.2 innings in three years with Cubs, before splitting 1956 with Chicago White Sox and Pirates.

Addis (28) Played 204 Major League games over four seasons. He hit .295/.346/.363 in 93 games for the 1952 Cubs, but he was hitting .167/.286/.250 (2-for-12) for 1953 Cubs. After the deal, he pinch-hit three times (0-for-3) and pinch-ran once for Pirates, before finishing his career in the minors.

Atwell (29) All-Star catcher as a rookie in 1952, when he hit .290/.362/.367 in 107 games. He was batting .230/.345/.297 over 24 games at the time of the deal. He played 232 games for Pirates over four seasons, hitting .250 during that time, with 68 runs, 30 extra-base hits, 64 RBIs and 104 walks. He finished his career in 1956 with Milwaukee Braves.

Freese (28) He was a minor leaguer at the time, who had one Major League game with Detroit Tigers in April of 1953. He hit .257 for the 1955 Pirates, with 17 runs, 13 extra-base hits and 22 RBIs in 51 games. His only other big league experience was nine games for 1961 Cubs.

Hermanski (33) He was in his ninth season at the time. He hit .282 over 506 games for Brooklyn Dodgers, then batted .258 in 192 games for Cubs. He was hitting .150/.227/.175 over 18 games at time of deal. He played 41 games for 1953 Pirates, mostly coming off of the bench. He hit .177/.282/.286 over 71 plate appearances during that time, with seven runs, one homer and four RBIs. He played in the minors during the 1954 season, before retiring.

Ward (25) Played in majors in 1948 and 1950, before spending two years in military. He was playing center field and hitting .230/.347/.400 in 33 games for the 1953 Cubs. Ward played 305 games in Pittsburgh over four seasons. He put up a .240 average and 111 RBIs during that time, while mostly playing at first base. He played another 284 games after leaving the Pirates.

Schultz (29) He was 9-11, 4.69 over 163 innings in 53 games during his three seasons with the Cubs. At the time of the trade, he was 0-2, 5.40 in 11.2 innings. He went 0-2, 8.20 in 18.2 innings for 1953 Pirates. He spent 1954 in minors, then was sold to Detroit Tigers in December 1954, where he pitched one game for them in 1955. Sschultz spent 1956 in minors before retiring.

In summary, three of the players the Pirates got back were done with the team before the 1954 season started. Freese played just 51 games, but not until 1955. Ward and Atwell were role players for four seasons. Kiner’s production dropped off a lot after the deal, plus injuries caused him to retire by the end of the 1955 season. The Pirates were trading a high value piece at the time, but his lack of production led to this deal not hurting the Pirates. The Cubs didn’t get much out of the other two position players, while Pollet was a decent pitcher for three seasons for them. The cash/shed salary would allow the Pirates to pay high on some young players, though only a few of those deals worked out. As far as WAR value for the players after the trade, the Pirates gave up 9.5 future WAR (includes Pollet’s 0.5 with 1956 Pirates), while they got back players who were either at 0.0 WAR (two), or slightly under 0.0, adding up to -1.6 WAR.

The Players

Tony Pena, catcher for the 1980-86 Pirates. He was signed as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 1975, shortly after his 18th birthday. Pena  spent most of his first season (1976) in the Gulf Coast League (no stats available other than 33 games played), but he made it to A-Ball before the season ended. Playing for Charleston of the Western Carolinas League, he hit .225/.309/.327 in 14 games that season, with four runs, two doubles, a homer and eight RBIs. He split the 1977 season between the two A-Ball clubs, playing 29 games with Charleston and 84 with Salem of the Carolina League. He hit .262 in 113 games, with 46 runs, 19 doubles, ten homers, 62 RBIs and a .701 OPS. He moved up to Shreveport of the Double-A Texas League in 1978, where he batted just .230 in 104 games, with 36 runs, 14 doubles, eight homers and 42 RBIs. A low walk rate that year resulted in a .259 OBP and a .598 OPS. He repeated Double-A in 1979, as the Pirates affiliate moved to the Eastern League. Pena hit .313 in 134 games for Buffalo that season, with 89 runs, 16 doubles, 34 homers, 97 RBIs and a .910 OPS. He played for Portland of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in 1980, hitting .327 in 124 games, with 57 runs, 46 extra-base hits, 77 RBIs and an .865 OPS. He made the majors in 1980 as a September call-up. He hit .429/.429/.571 in eight games.

Pena was a platoon player for the 1981 Pirates, batting .300 during the strike-shortened season, with 16 runs, 12 extra-base hits, 17 RBIs and a .707 OPS in 66 games. His performance earned him a sixth place finish in the Rookie of the Year voting. He was the full-time starter for the 1982 Pirates, when he batted .296 in 138 games, with 53 runs, 28 doubles (career high), 11 homers, 63 RBIs and a .758 OPS, while making his first All-Star appearance. He threw out 42% of runners that year, and he posted a 1.7 dWAR. That was followed by a strong 1983 season that saw him bat .301 in 151 games, with 52 runs, 22 doubles, 15 homers, 70 RBIs and a .773 OPS. He won his first Gold Glove award, and he finished 12th in the MVP voting. Pena matched his career high with 15 homers in 1984, while setting personal bests with 77 runs scored and 78 RBIs. He batted .286 that year, with 27 doubles, a .758 OPS and a career high of 12 steals, which he would match the next season. He won his second Gold Glove, and he made his second All-Star appearance. He had a 2.5 dWAR that season, tied with his 1985 season for the best defensive numbers of his career.

Pena’s numbers dropped off on offense in 1985, but he picked up his third Gold Glove and third All-Star appearance. That year he batted .249 in 147 games, with 53 runs, 27 doubles, ten homers, 59 RBIs, 12 steals and a .645 OPS that was 113 points lower than the previous year. He rebounded on offense in 1986, finishing with a .288 average in 144 games, while adding 56 runs, 26 doubles, ten homers, 52 RBIs, a .762 OPS and a career high 53 walks. He made his fourth All-Star game that year. The Pirates traded him to the St Louis Cardinals on April 1, 1987 for Andy Van Slyke, Mike Lavalliere and Mike Dunne. Pena played until 1997, though he had just one All-Star appearance and one Gold Glove left over his final 11 seasons. The trade worked out amazingly for the Pirates. While they got great value out of Van Slyke, and Lavalliere was a key player during their playoff run (Dunne also had one strong season), Pena had just 2.3 career WAR after he left Pittsburgh. At the time of the deal, he had put up 22.4 WAR for the Pirates.

Pena batted just .214 during his first season in St Louis, with 40 runs, 13 doubles, five homers, 44 RBIs and a .589 OPS in 114 games. He batted .263 over 149 games in 1988, with 55 runs, 23 doubles, ten homers, 51 RBIs and a .680 OPS. That was his only double-digit home run season after leaving Pittsburgh, where he hit 10+ homers five years in a row (1982-86).  Pena hit .259 in 1989, with 36 runs, 17 doubles, four homers, 37 RBIs and a .655 OPS in 141 games. He made his final All-Star appearance that year. He became a free agent after the 1989 season, then signed with the Boston Red Sox for the next four seasons. He batted .263 in 1990, with 62 runs, 19 doubles, seven homers, 56 RBIs and a .670 OPS in 143 games. The season was worth 1.7 WAR. He received mild MVP support, finishing 21st in the voting. Pena’s batting average dropped to .231 in 1991, when he had a .612 OPS. However, the defense was good enough to earn him a Gold Glove. According to dWAR, his 1.2 mark that season was the best he put up over the final eight years of his career. He had 30 extra-base hits (23 doubles) that year, which was his high mark over his final nine seasons. He had 45 runs, 48 RBIs and eight steals. He stole just five bases total over his final six seasons in the majors.

Pena saw his offense drop each of the next two seasons, finishing with a .589 OPS in 1992, followed by a dismal .502 OPS in 1993. He batted .241 over 133 games games in 1992, with 39 runs, 21 doubles, one homer and 38 RBIs. He hit rock bottom in 1993, when he had a .181 average and 15 extra-base hits in 126 games. He had just 20 runs and 19 RBIs all season. That was his final season as a team’s #1 catcher. Pena played 40 games for the Cleveland Indians during the strike-shortened 1994 season, though he managed a .295 average, to go along with 18 runs, 11 extra-base hits, ten RBIs and a .779 OPS. He batted .262 for the 1995 Indians, with 25 runs, 15 doubles, five homers, 28 RBIs and a .679 OPS in 95 games. His average dropped to .195 over 67 games in 1996, with five extra-base hits and 15 walks leading to a .491 OPS. He had 14 runs and 27 RBIs. His final season was split between the Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros. He hit .174/.255/.221 over 98 plate appearances between both stops, with six runs, four doubles, no homers and ten RBIs in 40 games. Pena was a .260 hitter in 1,988 career games, with 667 runs, 298 doubles, 107 homers and 708 RBIs. He hit .286 in 801 games with the Pirates, finishing with 63 homers and 340 RBIs. He caught 1,950 games during his career, seventh most all-time. Pena led the league in games caught five times, putouts five times and caught stealing three times. While he never won a World Series ring, he was a .338 hitter over 29 postseason games. He came from a great baseball family. His son Francisco Pena caught for parts of five seasons in the majors. His other son Tony was a shortstop for four seasons. His brother Ramon Pena was a pitcher for the 1989 Detroit Tigers.

Bob Klinger, pitcher for the 1938-43 Pirates. His pro career started in 1929 at age 21, but he didn’t debut in the majors until weeks before his 30th birthday. Klinger had a strong first year in pro ball for Shawnee of the Class-C Western Association, finishing the season with a 14-8, 2.79 record and a 1.32 WHIP in 184 innings. He moved up one level to Danville of the Class-B Three-I League in 1930, where he went 12-9, 4.38 in 187 innings, putting up a 1.67 WHIP. Offense was up all around baseball that year, so the ERA jump wasn’t unexpected. However, he had a worse ERA for Danville during the 1931 season, putting up a 4.50 mark in 174 innings, to go along with a slightly improved 1.62 WHIP. Klinger combined for an 8-13 record and a 1.41 WHIP, while pitching a total of 190 innings for four different teams in 1932, including 26 innings back with Danville. Most of his time that season was spent with Elmira of the Class-B New York-Penn League, but he also saw brief time at the highest level of the minors at the time, playing Double-A ball with Rochester of the International League and Columbus of the American Association. Klinger spent the 1933 campaign with Elmira, considered to be Class-A ball that year, where he went 16-12, 3.08 in 234 innings, with a 1.33 WHIP. He moved up to rejoin Columbus in 1934, where he was 15-13, 4.76 in 189 innings, while finishing that year with a 1.54 WHIP. He had a better 1935 season for Columbus, going 14-14, 4.27 in 255 innings, with 34 starts and 15 relief appearances. Despite knocking a half of a run off of his ERA, his WHIP rose to a 1.60 mark. The next year was split between Columbus and Rochester. That season saw him get more relief work. Klinger went 9-9, 4.66 in 168 innings over 43 appearances. That’s the first year that his online stats include strikeouts. He had 76 that year, to go along with a 1.63 WHIP. He played for Sacramento of the Double-A Pacific Coast League in 1937. He had a huge season, going 19-13, 3.77 in 279 innings, with 108 strikeouts and a 1.34 WHIP.

The Pirates took Klinger in the Rule 5 draft in October of 1937, then he hit the ground running in Pittsburgh. He burst onto the scene in 1938 with a 12-5, 2.99 record in 159.1 innings, making 21 starts and seven relief appearances. He had 58 strikeouts, a 1.22 WHIP, ten complete games and his first career shutout. He didn’t have a great follow up season in 1939, when he had a 14-17, 4.36 record in 225 innings, spread over 33 starts and four relief outings. He led the National League in losses that season, playing for a Pirates team that slipped to a 68-85 record. He had 64 strikeouts, a 1.48 WHIP, ten complete games and two shutouts. That was followed by another down year in 1940, which he split between 22 starts and 17 relief outings.He was 8-13, 5.39 in 142 innings, with 48 strikeouts and a 1.75 WHIP. During an era when pitchers still often completed their starts, he had just three complete games that year. Klinger bounced back the next three seasons, improving his ERA each year. He dropped it to 3.93 in 1941 when he had a 9-4 record, 36 strikeouts and a 1.35 WHIP over 116.2 innings, while seeing more relief work (26 appearances) than starts (nine). He knocked that ERA down to 3.24 in 1942, despite an 8-11 record. That was partially due to the Pirates finishing 66-81. He pitched 152.2 innings that year, while making 19 starts and 18 relief appearances. He had 58 strikeouts and a 1.28 WHIP. Klinger had a career best 2.72 ERA in 1943, when he pitched 195 innings over 25 starts and eight relief outings. He set career highs with 65 strikeouts, 14 complete games and three shutouts. His 1.25 WHIP was his best since his rookie season.

Klinger lost the next two years to service during the war, then he was released shortly after the 1946 season started. They played 18 regular season games without him getting into a contest, before he was released on May 7th. It was said that the Pirates did him a favor by giving him his unconditional release, so he could pick where he wanted to go. He finished his career with two seasons for the Boston Red Sox. He put up a 2.37 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP over 57 innings in 1946. That was followed by a 3.86 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP over 47 innings in 1947. He pitched almost strictly in relief with Boston, pitching 28 times each year, with one start in those 56 games. Though not an official stat at the time, he led the league with nine saves in 1947. An interesting side note to him signing with Boston is that they went to the World Series, which gave him a nice bonus when they divided up the player shares. That was mentioned as a possibility by the local papers in Pittsburgh right after he signed, nearly five months before the World Series started. Klinger finished his career with three seasons in the minors. He went 0-3, 3.06 in 50 innings for Houston of the Double-A Texas League during the 1948 season. He also pitched 16 games for Oakland of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League (only stat available is games pitched). He pitched 32 games in 1949 with Indianapolis of the Triple-A American Association, which had a working agreement with the Pirates. He finished up at age 42 by pitching 12 relief innings for Jersey City of the Triple-A International League. In six seasons with the Pirates, he went 62-58, 3.74 in 990.2 innings over 129 starts and 80 relief outings, finishing with 48 complete games and seven shutouts. He won at least 115 minor league games (a few stats are missing) and pitched over 3,000 innings of pro ball.

Larry Demery, pitcher for the 1974-77 Pirates. He was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 22nd round of the 1971 amateur draft out of high school in California, although he chose not to sign. The Pirates took him 15 rounds earlier the next year in the January draft out of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and they were able to get him signed. Demery made 24 starts in A-ball as a 19-year-old in 1972, compiling a 10-6, 3.91 record and 137 strikeouts in 145 innings with Gastonia of the Western Carolinas League. He had a 1.60 WHIP due to 119 walks. He moved up to Salem of the Carolina League for the 1973 season, where he improved his ERA to 2.82 in 182 innings. He had a 12-11 record, with 169 strikeouts and a 1.39 WHIP. That earned him a late promotion to Charleston of the Triple-A International League for one start in which he allowed three runs over eight innings, while striking out 12 batters. It took just six starts and a 4-2, 2.81 record over 48 innings with Charleston in 1974, before the Pirates decided he was ready for the big leagues. Demery made 15 starts and four relief appearances, as the Pirates went to the postseason during his rookie year. He had a 6-6, 4.25 record in 95.1 innings, with a 1.53 WHIP and a 51:51 SO/BB ratio. He was hit hard in his two playoff appearances, allowing four runs in one inning of work. He was used mostly out of the bullpen in 1975, posting a 2.90 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP in 114.2 innings over 45 games. He cut down his walk rate, finishing with a 59:43 SO/BB ratio. He picked up four saves, which ended up being more than half of his career total. He had playoff troubles again that year, this time allowing four runs in two innings.

Demery had his best season in 1976, going 10-7, 3.17 in 145 innings, with 72 strikeouts and a 1.25 WHIP. He made 15 starts and 21 relief appearances, finishing with four complete games, one shutout and two saves. He started off poorly in 1977, then won three straight starts in May, before a string of five bad outings. He finished the year in the bullpen, making his last start in mid-June. He ended up with a 6-5, 5.08 record, a 1.63 WHIP and a 35:47 SO/BB ratio in 90.1 innings over eight starts and 31 relief appearances. He was put on waivers in March of 1978, where he was picked up by the Toronto Blue Jays, who immediately returned him to the Pirates when it was discovered he was injured. Demery was put back on waivers with no takers, then returned to the minors instead. He had asked to be traded during the 1977 season, and again in the spring of 1978, because he wanted a chance to work as a starting pitcher. He stuck around for three more seasons, but pitched a total of just nine games and 23 innings in the minors, without making it back to the majors. He started the 1978 season on the Major League disabled list with a sore shoulder. Knee surgery cost him most of 1979, and the same knee bothered him during spring of 1980. His four starts in 1978 resulted in a 10.50 ERA over 12 innings, split between Columbus of the International League and Shreveport of the Double-A Texas League. His brief 1979 time was spent with Salem of the Class-A Carolina League. He retired after two games with Savannah of the Double-A Southern League in 1980. Demery finished with a record of 29-23, 3.72 in 445.1 innings over his four seasons with the Pirates. He had 46 starts, 95 relief appearances, seven complete games, one shutout and seven saves.

Herb Kelly, pitcher for the 1914-15 Pirates. He played minor league ball in 1911, then spent three years attending Notre Dame as the baseball team’s captain, before returning to pro baseball with the 1914 Pirates. He played for Johnson City of the Class-D Appalachian League in 1911, where he posted a 17-10 record and a 1.13 WHIP over 228 innings. Kelly was announced as signed by the Pirates on June 13, 1914, then joined the roster on June 18th, but he didn’t make his Major League debut until September 25th. He was on the losing end of a 3-2 score against Brooklyn during that first game. Kelly was asked to start four days earlier, but couldn’t loosen up his arm. It was said at the time that he was going to be a great pitcher someday, possessing the arsenal, strong nerves and talent to be a star in the league. Kelly pitched three times in relief over the next week, then started the last game of the season, which was a 4-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. He finished the season with an 0-2, 2.45 record and a 1.21 WHIP in 25.2 innings, showing good control with only seven walks, but he paired that with just six strikeouts.

Kelly made the Opening Day roster in 1915, but he didn’t last long. Before he pitched a game, he was optioned to the minors on May 6th, 22 days after Opening Day. He pitched for Atlanta of the Class-A Southern Association in 1915, where he posted a 12-12 record and a 1.07 WHIP in 212 innings, before returning to the Pirates late in the season. It was said that he was pitching great, but his win/loss record was due to the poor play of his teammates. He pitched one game for Atlanta in which he went nine no-hit innings with the only runner reaching on an error. That was before losing in the tenth when he gave up an RBI single after an error and a walk. He lost a total of four games in which he allowed 1-2 hits. After rejoining the Pirates on August 30th, Kelly made four relief appearances and one start. He lost that only start, dropping a 7-1 decision to the St Louis Cardinals, although he did pick up his only Major League win in relief that year. He had a 4.09 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP in 11 innings during his second big league trial. He was released by the Pirates on March 6, 1916. Kelly returned to the minors for two more seasons before his pro career was over. He had an 8-13, 2.78 record and a 1.28 WHIP over 220 innings for Portland of the Double-A Pacific Coast League in 1916. He then had a 12-6 record and a 1.11 WHIP over 164 innings for New Orleans of the Class-A Southern Association in 1917. He was found playing semi-pro ball in Pittsburgh for a team called the Graybers in 1919. He only batted 11 times in the majors, but impressed the local scribes on one occasion when he ran out a triple on a ball he hit off of the fence in left field, then scored on a sacrifice fly. He had a 2.95 ERA in 36.2 innings with the Pirates.

George Yeager, catcher for the 1901 Pirates. He began his pro career in the minors in 1894, playing in the Class-B New England League for his first three seasons, seeing time with the Brockton club in 1894, before playing the rest of his time with Pawtucket. Stats aren’t available for the first two years. He hit .345 over 98 games in 1896, with 113 runs, 27 doubles, 24 homers and 36 steals. In September of 1896, Yeager got a trial with the Boston Beaneaters (current day Atlanta Braves). He went 1-for-5 in two games. He would play parts of four seasons in Boston, before spending the end of 1899 and all of 1900 back in the minors. He hit .242 over 30 games in 1897, with 20 runs, seven extra-base hits, 15 RBIs and a .684 OPS. He also saw brief time (11 games) that season with Pawtucket of the Class-A Eastern League, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. Yeager saw a majority of his playing time in Boston during the 1898 season, when he batted .267 in 68 games, with 37 runs, 13 doubles, three homers, 24 RBIs and a .703 OPS. He played a total of 35 games for Boston during his other three seasons combined. He went 1-for-8 with a walk during his brief big league time in 1899. Yeager did well back in the minors during that 1899 season, hitting .316 in 90 games for Worcester of the Eastern League, with 61 runs, 26 doubles, 12 triples, five homers and 11 steals. He was in the Class-A American League in 1900, the only year that the league was considered to be a minor league. He played for Milwaukee that year, a team managed by Connie Mack. Yeager hit .388 in 25 games, with seven doubles and a triple during his brief time with the team. An injury ended his season early.

When the American League gained Major League status in 1901, Yeager was a member of the Cleveland Blues. He spent the first four months of the 1901 season with the team, hitting .223 in 39 games, with 13 runs, five doubles, 14 RBIs and a .509 OPS. He was released in late July of 1901, then picked up by Pittsburgh a week later. He played 26 games for the Pirates over the last two months of the season, with 20 of those games behind the plate, four at third base and one across the diamond. He hit .264/.302/.308 during that time, with nine runs, three extra-base hits and ten RBIs in 100 plate appearances. Barney Dreyfuss announced on October 15, 1901 that the Pirates signed 18 of their 19 players for the following season, with the lone exception being Yeager, who was given his release. Yeager signed with the New York Giants in February of 1902. After being released by the Giants in July of 1902, he finished his big league career with the Baltimore Orioles (current day New York Yankees) later that season. He batted .184/.225/.211 in 11 games for the Orioles, while hitting .204/.277/.241 in 39 games for the Giants. He combined for a .497 OPS in 164 plate appearances that season.

Yeager returned to the minors in 1902, where he played seven more full seasons before retiring, seeing time with six different teams. He finished the 1902 season with Minneapolis of the American Association, where he hit .328 in 35 games. He remained there in 1903, when he batted .310 over 106 games, with 60 runs, 19 doubles, six homers and ten steals. The American Association was an independent minor league in 1902, then switched to Class-A in 1903. His stats slipped off a little with Columbus of the American Association in 1904, where he had a .249 average and 27 extra-base hits in 123 games. He then jumped around to three teams in 1905, seeing time with Montgomery of the Class-A Southern Association, as well as playing for Toledo and St Paul of the American Association. His limited stats from that year show that he hit .244 over 42 games with Montgomery, while playing a total of 17 games with the two American Association teams. Yeager returned to Minneapolis in 1906, where he hit .193 in 78 games, with ten doubles and two triples. From there he played for Des Moines of the Class-A Western League in 1907-08. He had a .286 average over 95 games in 1907, with 36 runs and eight steals. He batted .212 over 54 games in 1908, with 12 runs and six steals. Yeager finished up at 36 years old with St Paul of the American Association in 1909, where he hit .233 in 34 games, with seven runs, two doubles and four steals. He was a .238 career hitter in 218 big league games, with 90 runs, 25 doubles, six triples, five homers and 73 RBIs.