This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: June 7th, Pirates Flip Hall of Fame Outfielders

Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus the team made a very interesting roster switch on June 7, 1939. Before we get into all of that, current Pirates pitcher Vince Velasquez turns 31 today. He signed with the Pirates as a free agent prior to the 2023 season.

The Transactions

On the same day the Pittsburgh Pirates released one future Hall of Fame player, they signed another. On this date in 1939, Pittsburgh released outfielder Heinie Manush and signed outfielder Chuck Klein. Manush was being used sparingly as a pinch-hitter for the Pirates, a role he took up in the latter part of the previous season. He was 37 years old, in his 17th season in the majors. At the time of this swap, he was 0-for-12 for the season, with an RBI and a walk. Klein was three years younger and still playing regularly, but he too was in a sharp decline from his prime. He was hitting .191 at the time of his signing, with one homer in 25 games. He had just been released by the Philadelphia Phillies one day earlier.

Manush didn’t know it at the time, but that was the end of his Major League career. He played two seasons in the minors for Toronto of the Double-A International League, then spent the next six seasons as a player/manager in the minors, although he saw just 61 games of action over that time. Klein played regularly for the Pirates in the corner outfield spots and did well, hitting .300 over the rest of the 1939 season, with 11 homers and 47 RBIs in 85 games. He was released by the Pirates during Spring Training of 1940, then signed back with the Phillies, where he spent the last five seasons of his career. Klein finished with a .320 career average, 300 homers and 1,201 RBIs, while Manush hit .330 during his career, with 110 homers and 1,183 RBIs. Manush was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1964. It took Klein another 16 years before he joined him in Cooperstown.

The Players

Virgil Vasquez, pitcher for the 2009 Pirates. He signed as a seventh round pick of the Detroit Tigers in the 2003 amateur draft out of the University of California-Santa Barbara. Three years earlier, he was taken in the same round by the Texas Rangers out of high school. He had a rough debut in pro ball, posting a 6.92 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP in 53.1 innings over 11 starts for Oneonta of the short-season New York-Penn League. Vasquez went 14-6, 3.47 in 27 starts during the 2004 season, with 120 strikeouts and a 1.13 WHIP in 168.1 innings with West Michigan of the Low-A Midwest League. He started 2005 at Lakeland of the High-A Florida State League, though he was quickly promoted to Erie of the Double-A Eastern League, where he struggled with a 2-8, 5.27 record in 15 starts. Combined he went 6-9, 4.89 in 130.2 innings over 23 starts, with 84 strikeouts and a 1.27 WHIP. Vasquez pitched much better in his second trial at Double-A in 2006, going 7-12, 3.73 in in 173.2 innings, with 129 strikeouts and a 1.29 WHIP. He played in the Arizona Fall League after the season, where he had a 2.81 ERA, 19 strikeouts and an 0.86 WHIP in 25.2 innings. He earned a Major League promotion in 2007, during a season in which he went 12-5, 3.48 in 25 starts, with 127 strikeouts and a 1.11 WHIP over 155 innings for Toledo of the Triple-A International League. Vasquez had two spot starts for Detroit during the year, then received a late August recall for the rest of the season. He went 0-1, 8.64 in 16.2 innings with the Tigers, putting up seven strikeouts and a 1.92 WHIP.

Vasquez spent all of 2008 back in Toledo, going 12-12, 4.81 in 159 innings over 27 starts, with 115 strikeouts and a 1.36 WHIP. He was put on waivers after the season, starting a string of waiver pickups that saw him go from the Boston Red Sox to San Diego Padres to Pirates over a three-month stretch. He began the 2009 season in Triple-A with Indianapolis of the International League, before joining the Pirates in late June for seven starts. He went sent down in early August, before returning in September for seven relief appearances. He finished with a 2-5, 5.84 record, 29 strikeouts and a 1.70 WHIP in 44.2 innings with the 2009 Pirates. He had a 3.93 ERA, 72 strikeouts and a 1.23 WHIP in 107.2 innings with Indianapolis that year. Vasquez re-signed with the Pirates for 2010, but he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays before the season started. He played pro ball until 2017 without making it back to the majors. He spent 2010 in Triple-A with Durham of the International League, though he was also injured for part of the season. He went 7-2, 4.54 in 71.1 innings, with 46 strikeouts and a 1.32 WHIP, which included one rehab start in the rookie level Gulf Coast League. The 2011 season saw him spend the season in independent ball with Southern Maryland of the Atlantic League, followed by winter ball in Australia. He went 8-6, 4.25 over 139.2 innings during the regular season, followed by a 1.64 ERA during his limited winter time.

Vasquez threw 192.2 innings for Southern Maryland in 2012, followed by another stint in Australian winter ball. He had a 10-9, 4.44 record, 120 strikeouts and a 1.27 WHIP for Southern Maryland. That was followed by a 2.77 ERA over nine starts and 61.2 innings in Australia. He played the entire 2013-14 seasons in the minors for the Minnesota Twins, splitting the year between New Britain of the Double-A Eastern League and Rochester of the Triple-A International League each season. Vasquez had a combined 7-10, 3.96 record over 136.1 innings in 2013. He had a rough winter in Venezuela during the 2013-14 off-season, going 0-4, 6.49 in 43 innings. He then went 7-7, 4.13 in 139.1 innings during the 2014 regular season. The rest of his pro career was winter ball action, mainly spent in Australia, though he also played in Mexico. He had a 2.05 ERA over 22 innings during the 2014-15 off-season, with one game in Australia and three in Mexico. Vasquez played for the Melbourne Aces during the final three winters. He went 1-4, 4.70 over 30.2 innings in 2015-16. That was followed by a 3-1, 3.10 record over 29 innings during the 2016-17 off-season. He finished up poorly, allowing four runs over 3.1 innings during his lone start in his final season. Between all of his stops, he had 115 wins and threw over 1,900 innings in pro ball. His MLB career consisted of just 61.1 innings, finishing with a 2-6, 6.60 record in ten starts and nine relief outings, with 36 strikeouts and a 1.76 WHIP.

Roy Jarvis, catcher for the 1946-47 Pirates. He played in the minors for one season in the Brooklyn Dodgers system before the Pirates selected him in the November 1944 Rule 5 draft. Jarvis actually debuted in pro ball in the majors, though his early season stint with the Dodgers in 1944 amounted to one game and one at-bat, in which he struck out. He spent the rest of the year split between two Class-B teams, Trenton of the Interstate League and Newport News of the Piedmont League. He hit a combined .287 over 123 games, with 68 runs, 38 extra-base hits, 64 RBIs, 48 walks and a .778 OPS. Before he could play a game for Pittsburgh, he began serving in the Navy during WWII. Jarvis returned to the Pirates in 1946, then played just two games all season. That’s partially because he wasn’t let out of the service until mid-June. He was the final Pirates player still in the military after WWII ended. His first game back was a pinch-hit appearance on July 7th. He started behind the plate on the last day of the season in his only other game. He missed time in between due to tonsillitis. He was the Pirates starting catcher at the beginning of 1947, though that lasted just two weeks. He was on the bench before April ended, getting just four more starts all season. He ended up spending just under three months back in the minors before rejoining the Pirates in September, though he got into just one game after returning to the club. He played 18 games for the Pirates in 1947, hitting .156/.255/.244 in 51 plate appearances, with four runs, one double, one homer and four RBIs. Jarvis spent the rest of the year with Indianapolis of the Triple-A American Association, where he hit .231 in 59 games, with 23 runs, six doubles, seven homers, 24 RBIs and a .687 OPS.

Pittsburgh tried to deal Jarvis to the Philadelphia Phillies after the 1947 season, for what was supposed to be a trade in exchange for “one of three pitchers”, but the deal was called off and he returned to the Pirates. At the time, Pittsburgh management said they were fine with getting him back, but they thought he needed more seasoning before he would become a steady Major League catcher. Jarvis was on the Opening Day roster in 1948, though that lasted just six days without getting into a game before he was optioned to Albany of the Class-A Eastern League. Jarvis was available to the Pirates on 24-hour recall, but he never returned. He batted .289 in 120 games for Albany, with 51 runs, 27 doubles, six homers, 54 RBIs and a .754 OPS. On January 28, 1949, he was one of three players sent to the San Francisco Seals of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in exchange for pitcher Bill Werle. Jarvis jumped around from team-to-team for the next seven seasons, all spent in the minor leagues, retiring after the 1955 season. He played for eight different teams in six different leagues during the 1948-55 seasons.

Jarvis batted .277 over  112 games for San Francisco in 1949, with 32 runs, ten doubles, five homers, 42 RBIs and a .698 OPS. The next year was split between San Francisco and Kansas City of the American Association. He hit .261 in 96 games, with 37 runs, 19 extra-base hits, 28 RBIs and a .738 OPS. Jarvis spent most of the 1951 season with Atlanta of the Double-A Southern Association, hitting .275 in 99 games, with 35 runs, 20 extra-base hits, 34 RBIs and a .742 OPS. He also played two games with Louisville of the American Association. He batted .270 in 1952, with seven doubles and eight homers in 98 games for Tulsa of the Double-A Texas League. He returned to Atlanta in 1953, where he batted .308 in 72 games, with 28 runs, 11 doubles, eight homers, 38 RBIs and a .912 OPS. He ended up playing with three teams in 1954, including Atlanta and Nashville (Southern Association), as well as 15 games for Richmond of the Triple-A International League. He batted .282 over 74 games between all three stops, with 28 runs, 15 doubles, nine homers and 40 RBIs. Jarvis finished his career with Nashville, hitting .242 during the 1955 season, with 16 runs, six doubles, seven homers, 21 RBIs and a .902 OPS in 41 games.

Bones Ely, shortstop for the Pirates from 1896 until 1901. He played one Major League game at 21 years old in 1884 with Buffalo of the National League, then bounced between the minors and majors for the next nine seasons, before finding a full-time spot with the 1894 St Louis Browns. Ely was a very skinny (hence his nickname) defense-first player. He was a pitcher in that first game, which went as poorly as you could imagine. He allowed 15 runs in five innings, though only eight were earned. He split the 1885 season between Youngstown of the Interstate League and Binghamton of the New York State League (no stats available). The scouting reports said that he was a strong all-around player, with his fielding, pitching and hitting all having big league potential. He batted just .156/.206/.156 over ten games for the 1886 Louisville Colonels of the American Association, his second big league stint, and his only pro stats from that season. He had a rough time in pitchers box, going 0-4, 5.32 in 44 innings. He was back in Binghamton in 1887, this time playing in the International Association (no stats available, though he was still pitching at the time). He remained in the International Association with Syracuse in 1888, where he hit .284 in 112 games, with 98 runs, 22 doubles, 11 triples, three homers and 47 steals. Ely played for Syracuse in the International League during the 1889 season, hitting .244 in 107 games, with 68 runs, 19 doubles, nine triples, five homers and 39 steals. He pitched just once that season, then his only two pitching appearances after 1889 were mop-up relief outings in the majors.

Ely’s third stint in the majors went much better, though he was helped out by the influx of big league options in 1890. With the one-year addition of the Player’s League, it opened up many more jobs that season. He played 119 games for Syracuse of the American Association in 1890, where he had a .262 average, with 72 runs, 16 doubles, six triples, 64 RBIs and a .627 OPS. He stole a career high 44 bases that season. It was his third straight season playing in Syracuse, and it was a different league each year. Ely was in the National League with the Brooklyn Grooms (Dodgers) in 1891, where he hit .153/.203/.171 in 31 games.  He spent the rest of the year with St Paul/Duluth of the Western Association, where he batted .288 in 93 games, with 34 extra-base hits. Only the National League existed at the big league level by the start of the 1892 season, and that made big league jobs much harder to come by, especially for marginal players. Ely spent the season in the minors with two teams, combining to put up a .253 average and 24 extra-base hits in 88 games for Toledo of the Class-A Western League (highest level of the minors at the time) and Memphis of the Class-B Southern Association. He hit .299 in 1893, with 16 doubles and 19 homers in 91 games for Atlanta of the Southern Association. That was the same year he joined the St Louis Browns and finally stayed in the majors. Ely batted .253/.318/.326 in 44 games for the Browns, with 25 runs, 16 RBIs and a .644 OPS. He had seven extra-base hits, which included six triples. He then had a big season in 1894. That year he hit .306 in 127 games, with 85 runs, 20 doubles, 12 triples, 12 homers, 89 RBIs, 23 steals and an .807 OPS. That was a very high offense season due to the pitching distance and some rules for pitchers being changed in 1893, with pitchers collectively having trouble adjusting to it. He had zero home runs during his first five seasons (205 games) in the majors, then hit exactly half of his career homers in one year.

Ely was known more for his solid defense than his bat throughout his entire career, so his .807 OPS this season was just a blip. His second best OPS was a .689 mark that he achieved with the Pirates. The split between pitchers and hitters starting to return back to near normal standards in 1895. Bones (first name was William) hit .259 over 118 games that year, with 68 runs, 16 doubles, one homer, 47 RBIs, 29 stolen bases and a .596 OPS. He finished second among National League shortstops in fielding percentage. The Pirates acquired Ely from the Browns prior to the 1896 season in exchange for shortstop Monte Cross, pitcher Bill Hart and cash. Ely would finish no lower than fifth in fielding among National League shortstops in any of his five full seasons in Pittsburgh. Defensive WAR actually ranks him as the best defensive player in all of the National League in both 1898 and 1900, with an extremely large margin over the rest of the pack during the latter season. He hit .285 in 1896, with 85 runs, 27 extra-base hits, 77 RBIs, 18 steals and a .689 OPS in 128 games. He followed that up with a .283 average, 63 runs, 20 doubles, eight triples, 74 RBIs, ten steals and a .682 OPS over 133 games in 1897. His average dropped down to .212 in in 1898, while his OPS came in at a .517 mark. He had 49 runs, 21 extra-base hits, 44 RBIs and 24 walks in 556 plate appearances over 148 games, which was his career high. Ely rebounded in 1899, finishing the year with a .278 average, 67 runs, 18 doubles, six triples, 72 RBIs and a .665 OPS in 139 games.

The Pirates added a ton of talent with the massive trade (19 players and cash) between them at Louisville, which brought in Honus Wagner, Fred Clarke, Deacon Phillippe, Claude Ritchey and many others. Ely was one of the few players who kept his job with the Pirates, playing shortstop over Wagner, who didn’t move to his familiar position until after Ely left. In addition to his huge season on defense in 1900, Ely hit .244 in 130 games, with 60 runs and 51 RBIs. He had just 12 extra-base hits all season and a low walk rate, leading to a .554 OPS. His last season in Pittsburgh was 1901. He split the year between the Pirates and Philadelphia Athletics, hitting .212/.232/.265 in 110 games that season, with 29 runs, 17 extra-base hits and 44 RBIs. He was released by the Pirates after his final game on July 20th, with Fred Clarke noting his declining skills at the plate and the team’s willingness to give Tommie Leach more playing time, which turned out to be a great decision. Ely signed with the Athletics within two weeks of being let go by the Pirates. He finished his MLB career in 1902 with the Washington Senators, where he hit .262 in 105 games, with 39 runs, 14 extra-base hits, 62 RBIs and a .611 OPS. He finished his pro career playing for San Francisco of the Class-A Pacific National League at 40 years old during the 1903 season. Bones played 743 games with the Pirates, hitting .256 during that time, with 342 runs and 346 RBIs. He played 1,343 big league games, finishing with a .258 average, 656 runs scored, 149 doubles, 68 triples, 24 homers, 657 RBIs and 169 steals. Over 1,238 games played at shortstop, his fielding percentage was 15 points higher than the league average during his time.

The Game

On this date in 1972, the Pirates won the first game of a doubleheader over the San Diego Padres by a 12-5 score. That was followed up by one of the longest games in team history. The Pirates won 1-0 in 18 innings. Gene Alley drew a bases loaded walk to score the only run. Dock Ellis tossed nine shutout innings to start the game, then four relievers combined to throw nine more shutout frames. Here’s the boxscore, which shows a 4:27 game time and 7,371 fans in attendance, though the number was much lower by the end.