We have seven former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date. We also have a Game Rewind from a September 8th game highlighted by Roberto Clemente’s hitting.
Gerrit Cole, pitcher for the 2013-17 Pirates. He was the first overall pick by the Pirates in the 2011 draft out of UCLA. The New York Yankees selected him 28th overall three years earlier out of high school. Cole began his pro career in fall ball due to signing late. He had a 3.00 ERA, an 0.93 WHIP and 16 strikeouts in 15 innings over five starts during the 2011 Arizona Fall League season. He started the 2012 season with Bradenton of the High-A Florida State League, then worked his way up to Indianapolis of the Triple-A International League by the end of the year. He finished that season with a combined 9-7, 2.80 record, a 1.20 WHIP and 136 strikeouts in 132 innings over 26 starts. He had a 2.55 ERA in 13 starts with Bradenton, followed by a 2.90 ERA in 12 starts with Altoona of the Eastern League. He gave up three runs in six innings during his lone start with Indianapolis. After making 12 starts with Indianapolis in 2013, he was called up to the majors on June 11th for his big league debut. He had a 5-3, 2.91 record, 47 strikeouts and a 1.06 WHIP in 68 innings with Indianapolis before joining the Pirates. Cole went 10-7, 3.22 in his 19 starts in Pittsburgh, finishing with 100 strikeouts and a 1.17 WHIP over 117.1 innings. He went 11-5, 3.65 over 22 starts during the 2014 season, with a 1.21 WHIP and 138 strikeouts in 138 innings. He missed some time due to an injury in June, then was out for a time in July/August, which led to him making four rehab starts with Indianapolis.
Cole had his best season in Pittsburgh in 2015, during a year when the team won 98 games. He went 19-8, 2.60 in 208 innings, while compiling a 1.09 WHIP. He was an All-Star for the first time, while finishing fourth in the Cy Young voting. He even got mild MVP support, finishing 19th in the voting. He also struck out 202 batters, making him one of just two right-handed pitchers in Pirates history up to the point to reach the 200-strikeout mark. Cole struggled in 2016, before finishing the year on the disabled list due to an elbow injury. He finished with a 7-10, 3.88 record in 116 innings over 21 starts, with 98 strikeouts and his highest career WHIP (1.44). His ERA rose to 4.26 over 203 innings in 2017. He allowed 31 homers that year, which contributed to the higher ERA. He finished with a 12-12 record, 196 strikeouts and a 1.25 WHIP. With two years remaining before free agency, Cole was traded to the Houston Astros on January 13, 2018 for four players. He went 15-5, 2.88 over 201.1 innings in 2018, with 276 strikeouts and a 1.03 WHIP. He was an All-Star for the second time, and he finished fifth in the Cy Young voting. He followed that up with a 20-5, 2.50 record and an 0.89 WHIP over 212.1 innings in 2019, when he piled up 326 strikeouts. He led the league in ERA and strikeouts, which led to a second place finish in the Cy Young voting. He was an All-Star that year, and he received some MVP support, finishing tenth in the voting. Cole went 4-1 during the postseason that year, helping the Astros to a World Series victory, though the team was found guilty of cheating through signal stealing, so that title comes with a major asterisk. That was the first of two major scandals on his record.
Cole signed a large free agent deal with the New York Yankees in 2020 that could run through the 2029 season. His first year was the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, which saw him go 7-3, 2.84 in 73 innings, with 94 strikeouts and an 0.96 WHIP. He finished fourth in the Cy Young voting. He had a 16-8, 3.23 record in 181.1 innings during the 2021 season, with 243 strikeouts and a 1.06 WHIP. He led the American League in wins that season. Cole was one of the main people who admitted to using illegal substances on a baseball when MLB cracked down on pitch doctoring in June of 2021. That cheating likely dated back to his first season in Houston, when he began to show significant spin rate increases on his pitches, followed by his unreal season in 2019 which he improved even more. Despite admitting to cheating, he finished second in the Cy Young voting and 15th in the MVP voting in 2021, while making his fourth All-Star appearance. Cole posted a 13-8, 3.50 record in 200.2 innings, with a 1.02 WHIP and a league leading 257 strikeouts. He had a ninth place finish in the MBP voting, while also making his first All-Star appearance. Through late August of 2023, he had a 12-4, 2.95 record in 28 starts, with 188 strikeouts and a 1.04 WHIP over 174 innings. He made his sixth All-Star appearance in 2023. His career record stands at 142-75, 3.21 in 1,824 innings over 295 starts through late August 2023. He has 2,118 strikeouts and a 1.09 WHIP.
Mike Dyer, pitcher for the 1994-95 Pirates. He was a fourth round pick in January 1986 at 19 years old by the Minnesota Twins out of Citrus College. That school has produced 74 draft picks since 1965, with ten making the majors. Dyer with his career 0.5 WAR is the best of the group, which has collectively compiled -1.2 WAR. Dyer debuted in pro ball in the short-season Appalachian League, where he had a 5-7, 3.48 record, a 1.55 WHIP and 62 strikeouts in 72.1 innings with Elizabethton. He moved up to Kenosha the Class-A Midwest League in 1987, where he had a 16-5, 3.07 record in 167 innings, with 163 strikeouts and a 1.25 WHIP. He was at Orlando of the Double-A Southern League in 1988, where he posted an 11-13, 3.99 record in 162.1 innings, with 125 strikeouts and a 1.48 WHIP. Dyer began the 1989 season with Portland of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he went 3-6, 4.43 in 89.1 innings over 15 start. Dyer had a 1.47 WHIP and a 51:63 BB/SO ratio. He made it to the majors by the end of June, where he made 12 starts and four relief appearances for the 1989 Twins. He put up a 4-7, 4.82 record, a 37:37 BB/SO ratio and a 1.56 WHIP in 71 innings. It took another five years before he would pitch another Major League game.
Dyer lasted just two games in Portland in 1990, before shoulder soreness and numbness in his pitching hand kept him out for the entire season. He was out for the entire 1991 season due to surgery performed after rehab failed. He pitched with Portland in 1992, where he went 7-6, 5.06 over 105 innings, with 85 strikeouts and a 1.67 WHIP. He was released by the Twins shortly after the 1992 season ended. He signed a free agent deal with the Chicago Cubs, then pitched in relief with Iowa in the Triple-A American Association for the first two months of 1993. Dyer was released by the Cubs after putting up a 4.81 ERA, a 1.56 WHIP and 20 walks in 24.1 innings with Iowa. He signed with the Cleveland Indians two weeks later, then finished the season with Canton-Akron of the Double-A Eastern League, where he put up a 7-4, 5.55 record, 75 strikeouts and a 1.54 WHIP in 94 innings over 17 starts. Dyer signed as a free agent with the Pirates in January of 1994. He started that 1994 season at Buffalo of the Triple-A American Association, going 3-3, 2.34 in 34.2 innings over 29 games, while compiling 12 saves. Pittsburgh called him up in late June, getting him into 14 games before the 1994 strike ended his season early. He had a 5.87 ERA, a 1.76 WHIP and four saves in 15.1 innings. Dyer was a regular in the bullpen for Pittsburgh when baseball resumed in 1995. He went 4-5, 4.34 in 74.2 innings over 55 appearances, with 53 strikeouts and a 1.49 WHIP. He didn’t pick up any saves.
Dyer was put on waivers near the end of 1996 Spring Training, where he was picked up by the Montreal Expos. His big league career came to a strange ending. He made 70 appearances at age 29 in his final big league season, then pitched just 38 more games of pro ball. He was released at the end of the 1996 season by Montreal, after going 5-5, 4.40 in 75.2 innings, with two saves, 51 strikeouts and a 1.49 WHIP. He was signed by the Colorado Rockies six days after being released. Dyer was the last cut from the Rockies 1997 Spring Training roster, just days before Opening Day. He was signed by the Atlanta Braves a short time later. They sent him to Triple-A, where he pitched until June, before an injury ended his season. He had a 4.87 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP in 40.2 innings over 29 appearances with Richmond of the International League. Dyer pitched just nine more games after that 1997 season, with all of those appearances coming as a member of the 2000 Lehigh Valley Black Diamonds of the independent Atlantic League. He dominated independent ball, finishing with an 0.61 ERA, an 0.89 WHIP and 23 strikeouts in 14.2 innings. His career stats show a 14-18, 4.60 record in 236.2 innings over 13 starts and 142 relief appearances.
Jim Smith, infielder for the 1982 Pirates. He played just one season in the majors after being drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 1976, coming six years later with the Pirates. He was a light-hitting shortstop (career .245 hitter in minors), who spent four full seasons at Triple-A, before making the Pirates 1982 Opening Day roster. He was a sixth round pick out of Long Beach State, who spent his first season with Bluefield of the short-season Appalachian League. He put up a .290 average in 70 games, with 46 runs scored, 20 extra-base hits, 35 RBIs and a .766 OPS. Smith was known for his strong defense, so when he hit well as a rookie in pro ball, that earned him a longer look by the Orioles during Spring Training. It ended up being a one-year peak, as he hit .200 during the 1977 season, with 51 runs, 14 doubles, ten homers, 41 RBIs and a .593 OPS in 125 games. He spent that year with Charlotte of the Double-A Southern League, which was quite a leap in competition from his rookie year. He moved up to Rochester of the Triple-A International League for the 1978 season, when he hit .221 in 102 games, with 37 runs, 11 doubles, five homers, 26 RBIs and a .617 OPS. He remained at Rochester in 1979, hitting .238 during that second season, with 48 runs, 21 extra-base hits, 34 RBIs and a .629 OPS in 130 games. The problem in Baltimore was that the Orioles had Mark Belanger at shortstop. He was one of the greatest defensive players ever, so no one was going to knock him out of his spot unless they provided more than defense. Cal Ripken Jr. soon came along, which left no spot for Smith. He ended up getting loaned to the New York Mets Triple-A affiliate (Tidewater of the International League) for a majority of the 1980 season.
Smith was hobbled by a knee injury early in 1980, which limited him to 89 games total. He played five games with Rochester, then another 84 with Tidewater. He hit .245 between both stops, with 23 runs, 17 doubles, five homers and 34 RBIs. He was sold to the Pirates at the end of Spring Training in 1981. Smith spent all of 1981 at Triple-A for the Pirates, where he hit .251 in 129 games with Portland of the Pacific Coast League. He finished the year with 53 runs, 31 extra-base hits, 51 RBIs and a .705 OPS. He got his Opening Day spot in 1982 after the Pirates traded away backup infielder Vance Law two weeks before the season opener. Smith nearly won the starting shortstop job by out-hitting Dale Berra during Spring Training by 100 points, while also playing much better defense. As it ended up, Smith saw very little playing time for the Pirates, getting into 42 games all year, with just 11 starts at shortstop. He also got into a few games between third base and second, though none were starts. He was the backup for both Dale Berra and Johnny Ray, but Ray ended up starting all 162 games. Smith didn’t play at all between July 4th and August 2nd because Berra went on a hot streak. On August 7th, Smith was able to get two starts due to Berra being sent home due to illness. Smith hit .238/.313/.333 in 52 plate appearances during the 1982 season, with five runs, three extra-base hits and four RBIs. He made seven fielding errors in his limited playing time. He was used 14 times as a pinch-runner, as well as one game as a pinch-hitter.
Smith was dropped from the Pirates 40-man roster on November 5, 1982. The Pirates sent him to the Chicago White Sox later that off-season, then he spent all of 1983 in the minors behind Vance Law on the depth chart. He played 94 games that year for Denver of the Triple-A American Association, where he had a .292 average, with 55 runs, 17 doubles, seven homers, 45 RBIs and an .805 OPS. That ended up being his last year in pro ball at 28 years old. Smith went to Spring Training with the Detroit Tigers in 1984, hoping to win a spot with Alan Trammell injured to start the season, but he was cut in late March. He was literally cut, as a spike wound from runner Herm Winningham put Smith out of action on March 16th, then he was released before returning to action.
Jim Bagby Jr., pitcher for the 1947 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball at 18 years old during the 1935 season. He had a 13-9, 5.00 record and a 1.62 WHIP in 218 innings that season for Charlotte of the Class-B Piedmont League. He then switched teams in the same league to Rocky Mount in 1936, where he had a 9-12, 5.11 record over 169 innings, with 82 strikeouts and a 1.66 WHIP. Bagby pitched for Hazleton of the Class-A New York-Penn League in 1937. He had a 21-8, 2.71 record, 113 strikeouts and a 1.31 WHIP in 239 innings, which led to his first big league job. He spent the first nine years of his career in the American League with the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians. Bagby won 15 games (with 11 losses) as a rookie for Boston in 1938, while posting a 4.21 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP in 198.2 innings. He made 25 starts and 18 relief appearances that year, finishing up with ten complete games and one shutout. His 73 strikeouts that season ended up being his career high. He spent part of 1939 back in the minors, after a poor showing early in the season. He went 5-5, 7.09 in 80 innings for the 1939 Red Sox, with a 1.94 WHIP and a 36:35 BB/SO ratio. He also had a 7-6, 3.54 record and a 1.27 WHIP in 94 innings with Little Rock of the Class-A Southern Association during that 1939 season. Bagby had a 10-16, 4.73 record over 182.2 innings in 1940, with 21 starts, 15 relief appearances, five complete games and one shutout. He had a 1.64 WHIP and an 83:57 BB/SO ratio that year. He was traded to the Indians in a six-player deal on December 12, 1940. Bagby’s time in Cleveland lasted exactly five years, returning to the Red Sox on December 12, 1945 in a much smaller trade. During his first season with the Indians, he went 9-15, 4.04 in 200.2 innings, with 12 complete games, 53 strikeouts and a 1.45 WHIP. He made 27 starts and six relief appearances that year.
Bagby had his best seasons in Cleveland when baseball was watered down due to a large number of Major Leaguers serving in WWII. He won 17 games during both the 1942 and 1943 seasons (34-23 combined record), leading the league in games started each year. He pitched a total of 543.2 innings, leading the league in innings in 1943, while making the AL All-Star squad each year. His 2.96 ERA over 270.2 innings (35 starts and three relief outings) in 1942 was the best of his career. He also had a 1.22 WHIP, though he finished with more walks (64) than strikeouts (54). His 3.10 ERA in 273 innings over 33 starts and three relief appearances during the 1943 season ended up being the second best ERA of his career. Bagby also set career highs with 16 complete games each season. He had a 1.20 WHIP and an 80:70 BB/SO ratio during the 1943 season. He had four shutouts in 1942 and three in 1943. He spent part of the 1944 season in the Merchant Marines, then wasn’t the same pitcher when he came back. He went just 19-22 over the 1944-46 seasons, during a time when the talent in baseball was at it’s lowest. He had a 4-5, 4.33 record and a 1.71 WHIP over 79 innings in 1944, managing to collect just 12 strikeouts total in his ten starts and three relief appearances. That was followed by an 8-11, 3.73 record in 159.1 innings in 1945, when he completed 11 of 19 starts, including three shutouts. He also pitched six times in relief. He had a 1.44 WHIP that year, to go along with a 58:38 BB/SO ratio.
Bagby had a 7-6, 3.71 record, a 1.56 WHIP and a 49:16 BB/SO ratio in 106.2 innings over 11 starts and ten relief appearances during the 1946 season. He spent that last season back with Boston, who then sold him to the Pirates in February of 1947. Bagby was used mostly in relief during his only season in Pittsburgh, pitching 31 times out of the pen, with six starts mixed in as well. He went 5-4, 4.67 in 115.2 innings pitched, with 23 strikeouts and a 1.56 WHIP. That turned out to be his last season in the majors. He was sold to Indianapolis of the Triple-A American Association at the end of the 1947 season. He blamed that sale on a fight he had with Hank Greenberg, which Bagby claimed the latter provoked. Bagby told the local papers that he was done playing in the majors, even though he was just three months short of ten years of service time, which was a highly sought after accomplishment for players that came with post-career benefits. He went 16-9, 4.64 over 227 innings in 1948 with Indianapolis, which had a working agreement with the Pirates. He had a 1.55 WHIP and an 80:54 BB/SO ratio. he played for Atlanta of the Double-A Southern Association during the 1949 season, where he went 10-14, 3.89 in 178 innings, with 52 strikeouts and a 1.51 WHIP. He played semi-pro ball in Canada during the 1950 season, then finished his pro career with Tampa of the Class-B Florida International League in 1951, going 9-1, 2.37 in 114 innings, with 41 strikeouts and a 1.18 WHIP.
Bagby finished with a 97-96, 3.96 career Major League record in 1,666.1 innings over 198 starts and 105 relief appearances. He had a 1.45 WHIP, 83 complete games, 13 shutouts and nine saves. He was not a strikeout pitcher by any means, finishing with 608 walks and 431 strikeouts during his big league time. His father Jim Bagby Sr pitched for the 1923 Pirates, making them one of 26 groups of relatives to play for the Pirates. The elder Bagby won 127 games. Just like his son, the majority of his career was spent with the Indians. The younger Bagby’s claim to fame, is that he was the pitcher on the mound for the last out of the game that ended Joe DiMaggio’s famous 56-game hitting.
Val Picinich, catcher for the 1933 Pirates. He played 18 seasons in the majors as a catcher, yet never played more than 96 games in a season. He was the backstop for Walter Johnson for five seasons in Washington, catching 86 of his starts. Picinich debuted in pro ball in the majors with the Philadelphia A’s in 1916 at 19 years old. He hit just .195/.234/.237 in 40 games during that first season for Connie Mack’s team. He had eight runs, four extra-base hits and five RBIs. He spent the 1917 season with Atlanta of the Class-A Southern Association, before returning to the A’s for two late season games. He had a .263 average and 14 extra-base hits in 96 games with Atlanta, then went 2-for-6 with a walk in his brief time with the A’s. He started 1918 back in Atlanta, after being traded there by the A’s in March. He hit .254 in 35 games for Atlanta, then returned to the majors with the Washington Senators in late May. Picinich hit .230 for the Senators, with 13 runs, six extra-base hits, 12 RBIs and a .564 OPS in 47 games. That season ended early due to the ongoing war. The 1919 season was his first full year in the majors. He batted .274 over 80 games, with 18 runs, 18 extra-base hits, 22 RBIs and a .731 OPS. He hit .203/.259/.346 over 48 games in 1920, with 14 runs, 11 extra-base hits and 14 RBIs. Picinich rebounded a bit on offense in 1921, when he hit .277 in 45 games, with ten runs, nine doubles, 12 RBIs and a 90-point increase to his OPS, putting up a .695 mark. The offense dropped again in 1922, as he finished with a .229 average and a .615 OPS in 76 games. He had 16 runs, 12 doubles and 19 RBIs. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox in a four-player deal on February 10, 1923.
Picinich hit .276 during his first year in Boston, finishing with 33 runs, 21 doubles and 31 RBIs. He set career highs in both runs and doubles with those marks, which he would later tie in both categories. He also set career highs with 46 walks and a .770 OPS. He batted .273 in 69 games during the 1924 season, with 25 runs, ten extra-base hits, 24 RBIs and a decent walk rate that led to a .394 OBP, which was the best of his career. His .760 OPS was the third best of his career, just ten points off of the previous season. Picinich hit .255 during the 1925 season, with 31 runs, 22 extra-base hits and 25 RBIs in 90 games. He tied his career high with 21 doubles, though his .694 OPS was his lowest mark in Boston. Exactly three years after they acquired him, the Red Sox sold Picinich to the Cincinnati Reds. He batted .263 for the 1926 Reds, with 33 runs, 16 doubles, 31 RBIs and a .705 OPS over 89 games. The next year he .254/.345/.335 in 65 games, with 16 runs, eight doubles, no homers and 12 RBIs. His best year with the Reds came during the 1928 season, when he hit .302 in a career high 96 games, with 29 runs, 16 doubles, career highs of seven homers and 35 RBIs, as well as a .763 OPS. He was traded to the Brooklyn Robins (renamed Dodgers in 1932) at the start of the 1929 season for two players, including one-time Pirates catcher Johnny Gooch. Picinich hit .260 during the 1929 season, with 28 runs, 26 extra-base hits, 31 RBIs and a .749 OPS in 93 games. The 1930 season was a huge one for offense all around baseball. He was a backup that year though, playing just 23 games behind Hall of Famer Al Lopez, who was another one-time Pirates catcher. Picinich hit .217/.294/.283 in 52 plate appearances that season, getting just seven starts all year.
Picinich saw very limited playing time during the 1931-32 seasons as well. He played 88 games during that three-year stretch (1930-32), making a total 29 starts. He had a combined total of 175 plate appearances, seeing his most work in 1932 when he batted 74 times. He hit .267/.327/.422 in 1931, with five runs, five extra-base hits and four RBIs over 24 games. That was followed by a .257/.297/.386 slash line in 1932, when he had eight runs, six doubles, a homer and 11 RBIs in 41 games. Picinich began his last season in the majors (1933) with the Dodgers, playing six games before he was released in mid-May. He signed on with the Pirates a month later, then finished the year as one of the backups to Earl Grace. Picinich played 16 games for Pittsburgh, mostly being used during the second game of doubleheaders. He hit .250/.316/.385 in his 60 plate appearances, with six runs, four doubles, one homer and seven RBIs. He played 16 games for Jersey City of the Double-A International League between his time with the Dodgers and Pirates. He caught with Toronto and Baltimore of the International League during the 1934 season, though that amounted to a total of 13 games. He was then a player/manager in 1935 with Charleston of the Class-C Middle Atlantic League, before finishing his career with three more years of minor league managing. He’s credited with going 4-for-41 over 20 games during that final season. His career fielding stats were below average, especially his 37% caught stealing rate, which was seven points below league average during his career. He hit .258 in 1,037 career games over 18 seasons, finishing with strange stat line of 26 homers and 26 triples, and 298 RBIs and 298 runs scored. He also added 166 doubles.
Rosie Rosebraugh, lefty pitcher for the 1898-99 Pirates. He played two years in the minors for the Dayton Old Soldiers of the Class-B Interstate League, before joining the Pirates in September of 1898. No records are available for his 1897 season, but we know he went 23-11 in 35 games for Dayton during the 1898 season. His contract was purchased by the Pirates on September 8th, though he was allowed to stay with Dayton for a short time longer. His final game with the team came on September 18th, in which he won 4-1 in the first game of a doubleheader. He said goodbye to his teammates before the second game started, then headed to Pittsburgh. He pitched 20 innings during a doubleheader four weeks earlier, in which he won one game and tied the second. Rosebraugh made his Pirates debut on September 21, 1898, with one inning of relief work. He started his first game for the Pirates six days later, when he took a tough 5-4 loss. His second (and last) start of the season came 11 days later. The Pirates gave him no support on offense or defense in an 8-1 loss. He finished that first year 0-2, 3.32 in 21.2 innings over four games, two of them complete games. He made two starts for the 1899 Pirates, but he lasted just six innings total. The Pirates lost both games, with one defeat credited to Rosebraugh. His final big league stats show an 0-3, 4.55 record in 27.2 innings, with eight strikeouts and a 1.77 WHIP.
Rosebraugh pitched the rest of the 1899 season back in the Interstate League for the Mansfield Haymakers, That’s the same team he finished his baseball career with during the 1900 season. The Pirates loaned him to Mansfield on July 9, 1899. They had the option to bring him back at any time, but he never returned. He played for three teams in the Interstate League during the 1900 season, seeing time with Dayton, Mansfield and the Youngstown/Marion franchise. It is possible that he played in 1901 with New Orleans of the Southern Association, though if it was him, he was suspended by the team in mid-May. An unknown player for that team was listed as “E. Rosebrough”. Rosie’s last name was constantly misspelled during his career, plus his real first name was Eli and his middle name was Ethelbert. He also went by the nickname “Zeke”. He got married a few months later, so that may have had something to do with his baseball career ending at that time. He was highly regarded before coming to the Pirates as a pitcher with good speed, but little control. He once struck out eight batters and walked eight in the same game. He threw a no-hitter as well. While there are no 1897 records for him, he was undefeated into June according to one paper. His life came to a tragic ending at age 54, the victim of a self-inflicted gun shot.
Russ McKelvy, right fielder for the Pittsburgh Alleghenys on August 24, 1882. He began his pro career in 1877, playing in Pittsburgh for the first minor league team in baseball history. He was an outfielder that year for the Pittsburgh Allegheny (no “s” at the end) of the International Association. McKelvy played every game that season, hitting .200 in 19 games, with eight runs scored, a double and a triple. The pitcher for that team was Pirates’ great, Jim “Pud” Galvin, who made all but one start for Pittsburgh, with McKelvy getting the other starting assignment. McKelvy tossed a complete game win that day, with three runs allowed on six hits. Before joining the pro ranks, he played for a team called the Alleghenies in Pittsburgh during the 1876 season. That club defeated the St Louis Brown Stockings of the National League on September 19th at Union Park in Pittsburgh by a 4-3 score, with McKelvy hitting a home run. St Louis had a 42-18 record at the time, so it was quite the unbelievable upset. He moved on to the majors during the 1878 season, playing that year for the Indianapolis Blues of the National League. He was one of five players on that team to lead the league with 63 games played. He hit .225/.240/.289 over 258 plate appearances, with 33 runs, nine extra-base hits, and a team high 36 RBIs (not a stat at the time). He hit two of the team’s three homers on the season. He started 62 games in center field and one as a pitcher. He also pitched three times in relief, finishing the year 0-2, 2.16 in 25 innings. He was the catcher and team captain for a semi-pro team in Salt Lake City called the Deserets in 1879.
McKelvy’s playing career records are spotty after 1878, except for his one game in right field for the 1882 Alleghenys. He went 0-for-4 without a play in the field on August 24th, as Pittsburgh moved to 27-31 on the season with a 7-2 win over the St Louis Brown Stockings. Oddly enough, he batted fourth in the lineup during his only game, though lineups back then had a habit of staying the same, so a substitute just hit wherever the person he was replacing hit. McKelvy umpired a game between the Alleghenys and Cincinnati Red Stockings in May of 1882, when Cincinnati refused to use the originally scheduled umpire due to past experiences. McKelvy also did some umpire work around the Pittsburgh area in 1881.
There are two players named McKelvy who played for a Pittsburgh amateur team named the “CH Kelleys” in 1882, both shortly after Russ played his one game for the Alleghenys. You would assume that one of them was Russ (he had nine siblings, so there may have been multiple players in his family). McKelvy was playing for a local team called the Braddocks in June of 1882. He soon moved to Omaha, where he became a wealthy businessman late in life. He was found playing semi-pro ball there in 1883 with a team called the Union Pacifics. It was said that he turned down an offer to play for the St Louis Browns of the American Association that year. There is a player known only as “McKelvy”, who played for the 1883 Pittsburgh Enterprise of the Western Interstate League, but he was playing there at the same time as Russ played in Omaha, so that person is likely the second McKelvy from the CH Kelleys team. Russ was referred to as “the famous ballplayer” in a Sporting Life article from 1894. He was apparently very fast, as a 1879 article notes that he won an amateur 100-yard dash race. His obituary noted that he was a star baseball player at Allegheny College from 1873 to 1875, while also saying that he was thought to be the inventor of the curveball.
On this date in 1958, the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Cincinnati Reds by a 4-1 score. Roberto Clemente tied a team record that day by collecting three triples. That also stands as the post-1900 record for triples in a game, which was topped just twice before 1900. Here’s a Game Rewind article detailing the win over the Reds and Clemente’s feat.