This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: September 10th, Neil Walker, Ted Kluszewski and Hall of Famer George Kelly

On a busy date for Pittsburgh Pirates birthdays, we have a Hall of Fame first baseman, one of the best sluggers of the 1950’s, a player from the 1909 World Series champs, plus a local kid who made good.

Chad Kuhl, pitcher for 2016-18, 2020-21 Pirates. He was a ninth round pick in 2013 out of the University of Delaware. He spent his first season of pro ball with Jamestown of the short-season New York-Penn League, where he went 3-4, 2.11 in 13 starts, with six walks, 33 strikeouts and a 1.07 WHIP in 55.1 innings. Kuhl went to Bradenton of the High-A Florida State League for the 2014 season, where he had a 13-5, 3.46 record in 28 starts, with 100 strikeouts and a 1.19 WHIP in 153.1 innings. He was sent to Altoona of the Double-A Eastern League in 2015, where he posted an 11-5, 2.48 record in 152.2 innings, with 101 strikeouts and a 1.14 WHIP. He began the 2016 season with Indianapolis of the Triple-A International League, putting up a 6-3, 2.37 record in 83.2 innings over 16 starts, with 66 strikeouts and a 1.16 WHIP. The Pirates called him to the majors in late June. He made 14 starts during that rookie season, going 5-4, 4.20 in 70.2 innings, with 53 strikeouts and a 1.32 WHIP. Kuhl spent the entire 2017 season in the majors, making 31 starts that year. He went 8-11, 4.35 in 157.1 innings, with 142 strikeouts and a 1.47 WHIP.

Kuhl made 16 starts in 2018 before a forearm injury shut him down. He tried doing rehab, but it did not work. He ended up having Tommy John surgery, which cost him the entire 2019 season. Before the injury, he had a 5-5, 4.55 record in 85 innings, with 81 strikeouts and a 1.44 WHIP. Kuhl made nine starts and two relief appearances during the shortened 2020 season, going 2-3, 4.27 in 46.1 innings, with 44 strikeouts and a 1.36 WHIP. He missed five weeks early in the 2021 season due to a shoulder injury, which led to some rehab work back in Indianapolis. He split his time evenly between starting and relief, with 28 appearances and 14 starts. He went 5-7, 4.82 in 80.1 innings, with 75 strikeouts and a 1.43 WHIP. The Pirates released Kuhl with one year left before free agency. He signed as a free agent with the Colorado Rockies for 2022, where he went 6-11, 5.72 record in 27 starts, with 110 strikeouts and a 1.55 WHIP over 137 innings. He pitched a complete game shutout on June 27th, which was not only his first career shutout, it was also his first complete game. He signed a free agent deal with the Washington Nationals in February of 2023. He was released in late June after going 0-4, 8.45 in five starts and 11 relief appearances, with 31 strikeouts and a 1.96 WHIP over 38.1 innings. Through late August of 2023, Kuhl has a 31-45, 4.98 record in 615 innings over 116 starts and 27 relief appearances. He had 536 strikeouts and a 1.48 WHIP.

Phillip Evans, utility player for 2020-21 Pirates. He was a 15th round draft pick out of high school by the New York Mets in 2011. He played just nine games his first season, but he ended up spending time with all three short-season teams of the Mets, playing in the Gulf Coast League, the Appalachian League with Kingsport, and the New York-Penn League with Brooklyn. He .294/.351/.412 in 37 plate appearances between those stops. Evans spent the entire 2012 season with Brooklyn, where he hit .252 in 73 games, with 32 runs, 14 extra-base hits, 29 RBIs and a .665 OPS. He moved up to Savannah of the Class-A South Atlantic League in 2013, where he hit .203 in 106 games, with 35 runs, 16 extra-base hits, 25 RBIs and a .531 OPS. Evans played for St Lucie of the High-A Florida State League in 2014. He batted .247 over 111 games that year, with 34 runs, 16 doubles, four homers, 39 RBIs and a .633 OPS. He repeated the level in 2015, when he hit .234 in 77 games, with 19 runs, 14 doubles, no homers, 32 RBIs and a .614 OPS. He did poorly in nine games with St Lucie during the 2016 season, but had a breakout performance that year with Binghamton of the Double-A Eastern League. He hit .335 in 96 games at the upper level, with 50 runs, 30 doubles, eight homers, 39 RBIs and an .859 OPS. He played winter ball in Puerto Rico during the 2016-17 off-season, when he hit .311/.386/.446 in 19 games. Evans spent the majority of the 2017 season at Las Vegas of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, which is a very hitter-friendly park/league. He hit .279 in 127 games, with 58 runs, 26 doubles, 11 homers, 56 RBIs and a .760 OPS. He ended up playing 19 games with the Mets that season, hitting .303/.395/.364 in 38 plate appearances, with four runs, two doubles and an RBI.

Evans spent about half of the 2018 season with Las Vegas, where he had a .256/.327/.493 slash line in 62 games, with 34 runs, eight doubles, 14 homers and 39 RBIs. He had two stints with the Mets, but his season ended on August 1st when he fractured his left tibia. He had a .143/.217/.143 slash line in 21 plate appearances over 15 games with the Mets before the injury. The Mets released him in November of 2018, then he signed a month later with the Chicago Cubs. Evans spent the entire 2019 season with Iowa of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, hitting .283 in 130 games, with 79 runs, 30 doubles, 17 homers, 61 RBIs, 57 walks and an .841 OPS. He then had a .543 OPS over 14 winter league games in Mexico during the 2019-20 off-season. He signed a free agent deal with the Pirates during that same off-season, then played 11 games for the 2020 Pirates during the shortened season. He had a .359 average and a .932 OPS in 45 plate appearances, before missing the end of the season with a concussion. Evans made the Opening Day roster for the 2021 Pirates, but his season was interrupted twice by a hamstring injury and a concussion, before he was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. He still ended up playing 76 games for the Pirates that year, finishing up with a .206 average, 23 runs, five doubles, five homers, 16 RBIs and a .611 OPS. Pittsburgh released him after the 2021 season, then he signed a minor league deal with the New York Yankees in March of 2022. He hit .244 in 103 games for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre of the Triple-A International League, with 45 runs, 17 doubles, nine homers, 33 RBIs and a .676 OPS. He signed a minor league deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2023. Through early September, he is hitting .316 over 109 games for Reno of the Pacific Coast League, with 91 runs, 21 doubles, seven homers, 72 RBIs, 81 walks and an .861 OPS. In his four partial big league seasons, he has a .231 average over 121 games, with 34 runs, nine doubles, six homers and 27 RBIs.

Neil Walker, second baseman for the 2009-15 Pirates. He was a first round pick in 2004 out of Pine-Richland HS by the Pirates, drafted as a catcher. He debuted in the rookie level Gulf Coast League, then saw brief time in the short-season New York-Penn League with Williamsport during his first year. He combined to hit .276 in 60 games, with 30 runs, 22 extra-base hits, 27 RBIs and a .738 OPS. He spent most of 2005 with Hickory of the Low-A South Atlantic League, before getting a late promotion to Lynchburg of the High-A Carolina League. Walker hit .298 that season in 129 games, with 82 runs scored, 35 doubles, 12 homers, 80 RBIs and a .769 OPS. He went to the Arizona Fall League after the season, where he hit .265/.315/.388 in 17 games, with eight runs, two homers and five RBIs. He missed a small part of the 2006 season due to injury, but still played 72 games in Lynchburg and ten games at Altoona of the Double-A Eastern League. He also made a second trip to the Arizona Fall League after the season. Walker hit .271 during the season, with 38 runs, 28 extra-base hits, 37 RBIs and a .733 OPS. He had a .290/.306/.391 slash line over 18 games in the fall. He was a catcher for each of his first three seasons, then moved to third base in 2007.  Walker played 117 games for Altoona in 2007, then another 19 games with Indianapolis of the Triple-A International League. He batted .277 between both stops, with 84 runs, 33 doubles, 13 homers, 66 RBIs, 55 walks and a .784 OPS. He put up much better results at the lower level. He played winter ball in Mexico that off-season, where he hit .268 in 38 games, with 18 runs, nine doubles, four homers, 17 RBIs and a .724 OPS.

Walker spent the entire 2008 season in Indianapolis, where he hit .242 in 133 games, with 69 runs, 25 doubles, seven triples, 16 homers, 80 RBIs and a .694 OPS. Another minor injury kept him out of action briefly in 2009, when he played 95 games in Indianapolis and eight rehab games in the Gulf Coast League. His minor league time was followed by a 17-game trial with the Pirates in September. He hit .264/.311/.480 for Indianapolis, with 38 runs, 31 doubles, 14 homers and 69 RBIs. He then had a .194/.275/.222 slash line in 40 plate appearances with the Pirates. Walker played in Venezuela over the 2009-10 winter, where he had an .819 OPS in 34 games. He started the 2010 season at third base in Indianapolis, before moving to second base. He made that switch right before joining the Pirates in late May of 2010. At the time of his promotion, he had a .321 average in 43 games, with 25 runs, 18 doubles, six homers, 26 RBIs, ten steals and a .951 OPS. He wasn’t seeing regular playing time with the Pirates in 2009, but he became the starting second baseman once he returned to the team during the following May. He hit .296 over 110 games as a rookie, with 57 runs, 29 doubles, 12 homers, 66 RBIs and an .811 OPS. That led to him finishing fifth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting. Walker batted .273 during his first full season in 2011, with 76 runs, 36 doubles, 12 homers, 83 RBIs, 54 walks and a .742 OPS in 159 games. He hit .280 during the 2012 season, with 62 runs, 27 doubles, 14 homers, 69 RBIs and a .768 OPS in 129 games. He missed three weeks late in the year with a back injury.

Walker batted .271 during the 2013 season, with 62 runs, 24 doubles, 16 homers, 53 RBIs and a .757 OPS, while having his best season of his career on defense (0.3 WAR). However, he also missed time with a finger injury and an oblique strain, limiting him to 133 games. He had two hits during the Wild Card game that year against the Cincinnati Reds, but he went 0-for-19 in the NLDS against the St Louis Cardinals. He had the best offensive year of his career in 2014, when he hit .271 over 137 games, with 74 runs, 25 doubles, 23 homers, 76 RBIs and an .809 OPS. That output earned him his only career Silver Slugger award. Walker had a typical Walker year in 2015, batting .269 over 151 games, with 69 runs, 32 doubles, 16 homers, 71 RBIs and a .756 OPS. The Pirates made the 2014-15 Wild Card games, where they lost each year. Walker failed to collect a hit, leaving him 0-for-26 in his last seven playoff games for the Pirates. With one year before he hit free agency, he was traded to the New York Mets for pitcher Jon Niese on December 9, 2015. Walker hit .272 in 836 games for the Pirates, with 405 runs, 174 doubles, 93 homers and 418 RBIs. He hit .282 in 113 games for the 2016 Mets, with career highs of 23 homers and an .823 OPS, to go along with 57 runs, nine doubles and 55 RBIs. He remained with the Mets for the 2017 season, though he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers that August. He combined to hit .265 over 111 games, with 59 runs, 21 doubles, 14 homers, 49 RBIs and a career high 55 walks, leading to an .801 OPS.

Walker signed a one-year deal with the New York Yankees in 2018. He took a utility role that led to him playing five different positions. He finished the year with a .219 average, 48 runs, 12 doubles, 11 homers, 46 RBIs and a .664 OPS in 113 games. He went 1-for-4 over four playoff games that year. He signed a free agent deal with the Miami Marlins in 2019, when he mostly played first base. He hit .261 over 115 games, with 37 runs, 19 doubles, eight homers, 38 RBIs and a .738 OPS. He signed as a free agent with the 2020 Philadelphia Phillies, where he saw sporadic work during the shortened season, hitting .231/.244/.308 in 18 games. Walker retired after the 2020 season with a .267 career average in 1,306 games over 12 seasons. He finished with 611 runs, 238 doubles, 149 homers and 609 RBIs. He is the son of Major League pitcher Tom Walker (1972-77) and the nephew of Chip Lang, pitcher for the 1975-76 Expos. He’s also the brother-in-law of Don Kelly, who played briefly with the Pirates in 2007. Walker has been doing some announcing work for the Pirates since retiring.

Chad Hermansen, outfielder for the 1999-2002 Pirates. He was a first round pick of the 1995 Pirates, selected tenth overall out of high school. He was a highly rated prospect at the time, getting ranked by Baseball America among their top 54 prospects five times from 1996 through 2000. He was always young for the level coming up through the minors, but he struck out a lot and never hit for a high average, so the hype was more potential/tools than just results based. He debuted at 17 years old, splitting his time between the rookie level Gulf Coast League and the short-season New York-Penn League with Erie. Hermansen hit .284 in 68 games that season, with 44 runs, 31 extra-base hits, 42 RBIs and an .848 OPS. He split his time in 1996 between the two A-Ball levels, playing for Augusta of the Low-A South Atlantic League and Lynchburg of the High-A Carolina League. He combined to hit .264 over 128 games, with 81 runs, 22 doubles, six triples, 24 homers, 87 RBIs, 16 steals, 67 walks and an .851 OPS. He spent 1997 in Double-A with Carolina of the Southern League, where he hit .275 over 129 games, with 87 runs, 31 doubles, 20 homers, 70 RBIs and 18 steals. He set a minor league high with 69 walks, but also struck out 136 times. His .851 OPS matched his mark from the previous season. Hermansen spent the entire 1998 season at Nashville of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he hit .258 in 126 games, with 81 runs, 26 doubles, 28 homers, 78 RBIs, 21 steals, 50 walks and an .854 OPS, though he also had 152 strikeouts in 458 at-bats.

Hermansen spent the entire 1999 minor league season at Nashville, hitting .270 in 125 games, with 89 runs, 27 doubles, 32 homers, 97 RBIs, 19 steals and an .851 OPS. He cut down his strikeouts to 119, though he also dropped to 35 walks. He joined the Pirates that September, when he hit .233/.324/.333 in 19 games, with five runs, four extra-base hits and one RBI. Hermansen was with the 2000 Pirates from Opening Day through late May, then returned for a short time in July. The rest of the time was spent in Nashville, where he had a .225 average and a .688 OPS in 78 games. He hit .185 in 33 games for the Pirates, with 12 runs, four doubles, two homers, eight RBIs and a .522 OPS. He had 37 strikeouts in 117 plate appearances. His big league time in 2001 consisted of 22 games, in which he hit .164/.179/.291 over 56 plate appearances, with five runs, one double, two homers and five RBIs. He struck out a total of 172 times that season, with 154 coming while with Nashville. He hit .246 over 123 games for Nashville that year, with 75 runs, 22 doubles, six triples, 17 homers, 63 RBIs, 22 steals and a .751 OPS.

Hermansen finally got an extended big league look in 2002, when he played 65 games through the end of July, before he was dealt to the Chicago Cubs for Darren Lewis. He hit .206/.272/.381 for the Pirates, with 22 runs, 11 doubles, seven homers, 15 RBIs and seven steals. He then finished that season with the Cubs by hitting .209/.292/.349 in 35 games, with three runs, three doubles, one homer and three RBIs. Hermansen played for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2003, where he hit .160/.222/.220 in 11 games over two stints with the team. He tore up Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League that year, batting .353 in 68 games, with 43 runs, 15 doubles, nine homers, 31 RBIs and a .945 OPS. He played his last Major League season with the 2004 Toronto Blue Jays, where he got into four early season games, going 0-for-7 at the plate. He played in the minors until 2007, finishing with 192 minor league homers. Hermansen didn’t play a lot over his final four seasons of pro ball. After the Blue Jays sent him to the minors, he played 42 games that year for Syracuse of the Triple-A International League. He hit .240/.307/.438 during that time. He played 11 games in Mexico during the 2005 season, putting up a .766 OPS over 41 plate appearances, with five of his six hits going for extra bases. His 2006 season was spent in independent ball with Sioux Falls of the American Association, where he hit .317 over 94 games, with 77 runs, 35 doubles, 19 homers, 72 RBIs and a .979 OPS. He signed with the Florida Marlins for 2007, who sent him mid-season to the New York Mets to finish the year and his career. He spent that entire year in Triple-A, hitting .281 in 116 games, with 56 runs, 19 doubles, 11 homers, 57 RBIs and a .776 OPS. He hit .199 in 139 games for the Pirates, with 44 runs, 19 doubles, 12 homers and 29 RBIs. He was a .195 hitter in 189 big league games, with 49 runs, 23 doubles, 13 homers, 34 RBIs and nine steals.

Bob Garber, pitcher for the 1956 Pirates. He signed with the Pirates as an amateur in 1948. He pitched well in the low levels of the minors for three years, before serving in the military during the Korean War. That caused him to miss all of the 1951-52 seasons. He debuted at 18 years old with Greenville of the Class-D Alabama State League League, going 14-7, 3.48 in 155 innings, with 138 strikeouts and a 1.27 WHIP. He started at Greenville in 1949, then moved up to Class-B Davenport of the Three-I League mid-season. He combined to go 20-11, 2.63 in 240 innings, with 207 strikeouts and a 1.14 WHIP. He moved up to Charleston of the Class-A South Atlantic League, where he had a 15-9, 4.11 record in 219 innings, with 205 strikeouts and a 1.30 WHIP. When he returned to baseball in 1953, Garber pitched for three different teams over three different levels. He put up solid results in Charleston (3.18 ERA in 51 innings), and rough results with New Orleans of the Double-A Southern Association, where he had an 0-3, 6.83 record over 29.1 innings. He also played briefly that year for Waco/Longview of the Class-B Big State League, where limited stats show him with a 1-0 record. He returned to form in 1954, going 19-8, 3.18 for Denver of the Class-A Western League, with a 1.18 WHIP and 173 strikeouts in 221 innings. Garber also pitched three games for New Orleans that season. He moved up to Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League in 1955, which was an Open level of play, though it was basically Triple-A. He won 20 games that year, posting a 2.84 ERA, a 1.16 WHIP and 199 strikeouts in 291.2 innings. He didn’t get his chance to pitch with the Pirates until the following season. Pirates manager Bobby Bragan was asked in August of 1955 if Garber would join the Pirates soon. He said that Hollywood was competing for the playoffs, while the Pirates were in last place, so he would remain in the minors to help with the playoff push.

Garber had a sore arm during Spring Training in 1956, as he competed for a job with the Pirates. It was said that he pitched about 700 total innings over all of 1954-55, when winter ball stats were figured into the mix. He appeared in two games as a reliever for the 1956 Pirates. Both games ended up being suspended, then finished at a later date. The first was in May, when he threw one scoreless inning during a blowout loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on May 13th. He was optioned three days later to Hollywood, where he had an 11-6, 3.77 record, 75 strikeouts and a 1.38 WHIP in 129 innings over 17 starts and seven relief appearances, before rejoining the Pirates. The other big league game he pitched came on September 23rd, when Garber threw the final three innings against the Brooklyn Dodgers. He allowed one run that day on a solo homer. He was pitching when the game was suspended, then finished off the outing the next day. That ended up being his last big league game. He went to Spring Training with the Pirates in 1957, but he was traded along with infielder Spook Jacobs to Hollywood on March 31st, in exchange for catcher Hardy Peterson. Garber pitched at Hollywood in 1957, where he went 10-8, 3.56 in 154 innings over 15 starts and 27 relief outings, finishing with 88 strikeouts and a 1.20 WHIP. He then split his final pro season (1958) between affiliates of the Cincinnati Reds (Seattle) and Chicago Cubs (Portland) organizations in the Pacific Coast League. Garber pitched 51 games that year, posting a 5-10 record and 68 strikeouts in 119 innings. He finished his nine-year pro career with 117 minor league wins. His big league career consisted of him allowing one run on three hits, three walks and three strikeouts in four innings.

Brandy Davis, outfielder for the 1952-53 Pirates. The Pirates signed him out of Duke University in 1951 at 23 years old. It didn’t take long for Davis to make the majors. He spent all of 1951 in the minors, splitting his time between three different teams. He combined to hit .313 in 130 games, with 127 runs, 23 doubles, five triples, 16 homers, 76 RBIs, 82 steals, 75 walks and an .887 OPS. A majority of that season was spent with Bartlesville of the Class-D Kansas-Oklahoma-Missouri League, where he hit .342/.441/.550 in 87 games. He also saw 17 games with Hutchinson of the Class-C Western Association, plus 26 games with New Orleans of the Double-A Southern Association. Davis made the Pirates 1952 Opening Day roster, despite most of his first season being spent in the lowest level of the minors. He would be sent to the minors in early June of 1952, going to Waco of the Class-B Big State League. He hit .307 in 66 games for Waco, with 51 runs, 21 extra-base hits, 22 RBIs, 15 steals and an .811 OPS, before returning to the Pirates for the rest of the season in early August. Brandy (real name was Robert Brandon Davis) started 21 of the 55 games he played that season for the Pirates, seeing time at all three outfield spots. He hit .179/.264/.211 in 108 plate appearances, with 14 runs, two extra-base hits, one RBI and nine steals. He had a .214 average before being sent down, with six singles and six walks in 28 at-bats. He then hit .164 after he returned. Davis went to Spring Training with the Pirates in 1953, but he was among a group of cuts eight days before Opening Day. He spent 1953 with New Orleans, where he hit .272 over 136 games, with 86 runs, 25 doubles, four homers, 48 RBIs, 36 steals, 67 walks and a .709 OPS. He came back to the Pirates as a September call-up in 1953, then hit .205/.205/.256 in 39 plate appearances over 12 games. That ended up being his last big league experience.

Davis went to Spring Training again in 1954, but he was cut right before the season opener on April 13th. He was called back on April 26th after ten games with Charleston of the Triple-A American Association, only to be optioned to Burlington-Graham of the Class-B Carolina League six days later without playing for the Pirates. He hit .288 in 106 games that season, with 55 runs, 14 doubles, four triples, no homers, 25 steals, 59 walks and a .733 OPS. Davis played for Pirates affiliates until 1956, while remaining in the minors until 1960. He finished with a .292 minor league average in 911 games. He went down to Williamsport of the Class-A Eastern League for the 1955-56 seasons, where he batted .278/.386/.395 over 127 games in 1955, with 105 runs, 31 extra-base hits, 45 RBIs, 30 steals and 82 walks. He hit .272/.380/.350 in 139 games during the 1956 season, with 80 runs, 29 extra-base hits, 28 RBIs, 28 steals and 88 walks. Davis played just one game in 1957 for Augusta of the South Atlantic League, missing the rest of the year due to a fractured wrist. He then moved down in competition for his last three seasons, playing for Columbus of the Class-D Alabama-Florida League in 1958, Great Falls of the Class-C Pioneer League in 1959, and Orlando of the Class-D Florida State League in 1960. He batted .343 over 112 games in 1958, with 100 runs, 28 extra-base hits, 45 RBIs, 26 steals, 86 walks and a .914 OPS. Those were strong stats, but he was six levels from the majors at the time. Davis hit .255/.359/.327 over 47 games during the 1959 season. He finished up with a .286/.409/.338 slash line over 46 games during his final season. He was a player/manager during those last three seasons. He also had three others years of managerial experience after he retired. Davis batted .187 in 67 big league games, with 19 runs, three doubles, three RBIs and nine steals.

Ted Kluszewski, first baseman for the 1958-59 Pirates. He started his Major League career in 1947 with the Cincinnati Reds. He amassed a .302 average, 251 homers and 886 RBIs in 11 seasons with Cincinnati. Kluszewski was a four time All-Star from 1953-56, collecting at least 35 homers and 100 RBIs each season. He debuted in pro ball in 1946 at 21 years old, playing for Columbia of the Class-A South Atlantic League. It didn’t take him long to make the majors. He debuted with a .352 average, 59 runs, 40 extra-base hits, 87 RBIs and a .964 OPS in 90 games. He hit .377 for Memphis of the Southern Association in 1947, with 80 runs, 48 extra-base hits, 68 RBIs and a .963 OPS over 115 games. He got a look with the Reds that year, though he went 1-for-10 in nine games. That was still enough to keep him in the majors for the rest of his career. Kluszewski hit .274 during the 1948 season, with 49 runs, 23 doubles, 12 homers, 57 RBIs and a .758 OPS in 113 games. He hit over .300 in 1949 for the first of seven times in the majors. He hit .309 in 136 games that year, with 63 runs, 26 doubles, eight homers, 68 RBIs and a .743 OPS. He finally grew into his power in 1950, when he hit .307 over 134 games, with 76 runs, 37 doubles, 25 homers, 111 RBIs and an .863 OPS. That showing earned him mild MVP support, with an 18th place finish in the voting. Hee dropped off significantly during the 1951 season. Kluszewski hit .259 that year, with 74 runs, 35 doubles, 13 homers, 77 RBIs and a .688 OPS in 154 games. The high average returned in 1952, but the big power was still one year away. He hit .320 in 1952, with 62 runs, 24 doubles, 11 triples, 16 homers, 86 RBIs and an .892 OPS over 135 games, which led to a 17th place finish in the MVP voting.

Kluszewski broke out in a big way in 1953, then put together an incredible four-year run. He batted .316 over 149 games that year, with 97 runs, 25 doubles, 40 homers, 108 RBIs and a .950 OPS. That performance helped him to a seventh place finish in the MVP voting, as well as his first All-Star appearance. He led the National League in homer (49) and RBIs (149) during the 1954 season. His .326 average was the fifth highest mark in the league. All three of those totals were career highs, as were his 78 walks and his 1.049 OPS. He also had 104 runs, 187 hits and 28 doubles in 149 games. He made his second straight All-Star appearance that year, while finishing second in the MVP voting behind Willie Mays. Kluszewski hit .314 in 1955, with a career high 116 runs, 25 doubles, 47 homers, 113 RBIs, 66 walks, a .967 OPS over 153 games. His 192 hits were a career high total that led the National League. He finished sixth in the MVP voting that season, while also making his third All-Star appearance. During his fourth straight All-Star year in 1956, he hit .302 over 138 games, with 91 runs, 14 doubles, 35 homers, 102 RBIs and an .898 OPS. He had mild MVP support that year, finishing 14th in the voting. The amazing part of his 1953-56 streak of 35 home run seasons, was the fact he had more home runs than strikeouts in all four seasons, piling up 171 homers and 140 strikeouts during that stretch.

Kluszewski began to suffer back problems that really limited his power before coming to Pittsburgh. It showed in his 1957 stats, when he hit .268 in 69 games, with 12 runs, seven doubles, six homers, 21 RBIs and a .765 OPS. The Pirates acquired Kluszewski from the Reds on December 28, 1957, in exchange for first baseman Dee Fondy. Pittsburgh didn’t get the power hitting first baseman they hoped to get in that deal. Kluszewski played 160 games for the Pirates over two seasons, hitting .284 during that time, with 40 runs, 23 doubles, six homers and 54 RBIs. He was able to hit .292 over 100 games during the 1958 season, but his .408 slugging percentage was well below his career mark. He finished that year with 29 runs, 13 doubles, four triples, four homers, 37 RBIs and a .751 OPS. The Pirates traded him to the Chicago White Sox on August 25, 1959, in exchange for outfielder Harry Simpson and minor leaguer Robert Sagers. Prior to the trade, Kluszewski was hitting .262/.291/.410 in 60 games for the Pirates. He batted .297/.351/.396 for the 1959 White Sox, with 11 runs, two doubles, two homers and ten RBIs in 31 games. Kluszewski played with the White Sox until 1960. He batted .293 that year, with 20 runs, nine doubles, five homers, 39 RBIs and a .789 OPS in 81 games. He then finished his big league career with the 1961 Los Angeles Angels, an expansion team in their first season. He hit 15 homers in 1961, more than he had hit the previous three seasons combined. He had a .243 average in 107 games, with 32 runs, 12 doubles, 39 RBIs and a .764 OPS. He was willing to play in a limited role during the 1962 season for some selected teams at a strong salary, but no one jumped on that offer. He hit .298 over his 15-year career, with 848 runs, 290 doubles, 279 homers, 1,028 RBIs and an .850 OPS in 1,718 games. Even with poor defensive numbers every season, his career was worth 31.4 WAR.

George Kelly, first baseman for the 1917 Pirates. He saw limited time with the New York Giants for parts of three years before the Pirates purchased his contract in early August of 1917. He had a total of 240 minor league games before joining the Giants. He debuted at 18 years old, then spent parts of two seasons in the Class-B Northwestern League. His minor league stats are incomplete, but he’s credited with hitting .250 over 141 games in 1914, with 45 runs, 22 doubles, two triples, seven homers and eight steals. Kelly split that season between Spokane and Victoria. He then played the 1915 season with Victoria, before debuting with the Giants in mid-August. He was hitting .296 before heading to New York, with 33 doubles, six triples and five homers in 99 games. He played 18 big league games that season, hitting .158/.180/.237 in 40 plate appearances. The entire 1916 season was spent on the bench with the Giants, where he hit .158/.220/.211 in 84 plate appearances over 49 games, with four runs, three extra-base hits and three RBIs.

Kelly barely played for the 1917 Giants before joining the Pirates, going 0-for-5 in nine games. He also spent part of that season in the minors, where he had a .300 average and 19 extra-base hits in 32 games for Rochester of the Double-A International League, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. Pittsburgh was having injury problems at the time of his acquistion. They needed the 21-year-old Kelly to fill in for Honus Wagner at first base. They also had two other injuries that created a need for a new player. Kelly was at the end of the bench for the Giants when they were at Forbes Field for a five-game series, so he ended up fitting their need. He went 2-for-23 in eight starts at first base for Pittsburgh, with a triple and nine strikeouts. Kelly was sent back to the Giants when Wagner was ready to play again. Despite returning him to New York right away, the Pirates had been high on Kelly for quite some time. The decision to return him ended up being a bad one, as Kelly went on to have a Hall of Fame career. He averaged 100 RBIs per season from 1920 until 1925, while twice leading the league. He batted over .300 every season from 1921 through 1926.

Kelly’s success in New York didn’t come right away after leaving the Pirates. He was barely used after he got returned to New York in 1917, going 0-for-3 in two games to finish out the season. He then spent the 1918 season in the military due to WWI. He went back to Rochester when he returned in 1919, where he hit .346 in 103 games, with 72 runs, 50 extra-base hits and 23 steals. He rejoined the Giants in August of 1919. He hit .290/.315/.411 over 32 games for the 1919 Giants, with 12 runs, nine extra-base hits and 14 RBIs. That led to a full-time job in 1920 at first base. Kelly led the league with 155 games played and 92 strikeouts during that 1920 season. However, he also led the league with 94 RBIs. He had a .266 average that year, with 69 runs, 22 doubles, 11 triples, 11 homers and a .717 OPS. The Giants started a four-year run of World Series appearances in 1921, in which they picked up titles during the 1921-22 seasons. He contributed greatly to those teams, starting when he hit .308 in 149 games during the 1921 season, with 95 runs, 42 doubles, nine triples, a league leading 23 homers and 122 RBIs. His .884 OPS was the seventh best in the league. He batted .328 in 1922, with 96 runs, 33 doubles, eight triples, 17 homers, 107 RBIs and an .860 OPS over 151 games. Kelly hit .307 during the 1923 season, with 82 runs, 23 doubles, 16 homers, 103 RBIs and an .814 OPS in 145 games. He hit .324 during the final year of that pennant run, finishing the season with 91 runs, 37 doubles, nine triples, 21 homers, a league leading 136 RBIs, and a career best .902 OPS. He finished sixth in the MVP voting that year. What’s most interesting about that RBI total is that it would be a Pirates single-season record. Despite the regular season success over four years, he put up a .580 OPS in 26 World Series games during that same time.

Kelly hit .309 in 147 games during the 1925 season, with 87 runs, 29 doubles, 20 homers, 99 RBIs and an .821 OPS. That led to his best finish in the MVP voting (third place). He hit .303 in 136 games during the 1926 season, with 70 runs, 24 doubles, 13 homers, 80 RBIs and a .797 OPS. He received mild MVP support, finishing 23rd in the voting. The Giants traded him to the Cincinnati Reds in February of 1927, in a deal for fellow Hall of Famer Edd Rousch. Kelly hit .270/.308/.446 in 1927, though he played just 61 games due to a late May appendicitis operation that kept him out of action until August. He hit .296 in 1928, with 46 runs, 43 extra-base hits, 58 RBIs and a .780 OPS over 116 games. He played 147 games in 1929, when he put up a .293 average, 73 runs, 45 doubles, nine triples, five homers, 103 RBIs and a .760 OPS. Kelly was released by the Reds in 1930, then went to the minors with Minneapolis of the Double-A American Association, before joining the Chicago Cubs later in the year. It was said that the Reds released him because they were making a youth movement, so the 34-year-old Kelly didn’t fit their plans. They also noted that they tried to trade him and put him through waivers with no takers. Despite the release/demotion, he finished the big league season with a .308 average and a .768 OPS in 90 games. His 1930 stats for Minneapolis shows a .361 average and 16 extra-base hits in 34 games. He played with Minneapolis in 1931, when he hit .320 in 155 games, with 34 doubles, two triples and 20 homers. He then returned to the majors for 64 games with the 1932 Brooklyn Robins, which ended up being his last season in the majors. Kelly had a .243 average, 23 runs, 14 extra-base hits, 22 RBIs and a .673 OPS for Brooklyn.

Kelly played for Jersey City of the International League for part of 1932, where he had a .294 average, ten doubles and six homers in 21 games. He saw some brief time with Oakland of the Double-A Pacific Coast League in 1933 before retiring. He had a .232 average, five doubles and a homer in 21 games that year. Kelly was a career .297 hitter in 1,622 games, with 819 runs, 337 doubles, 76 triples, 148 homers and 1,020 RBIs. His home run total doesn’t sound like a lot, but when he was six seasons into his big league career, the all-time home run record was 138 at the time. He was a fine fielding first baseman, leading the league in assists three times, putouts three times, range four times and fielding percentage twice. Kelly pitched for the only time in his career after being returned to the Giants late in 1917, throwing five shutout innings in a win over the Philadelphia Phillies. He came from a big baseball family with Major League ties. His uncle was Bill Lange, a .330 career hitter in seven seasons during the 1890’s. George’s brother Ren Kelly pitched for the 1923 Athletics, and his cousin Rich Chiles played six years in the majors during the 1970’s. We posted a full article here on Kelly’s time with the Pirates. His nickname “High Pockets” came from the fact that he was 6’4″ back in the 1920’s, when not many players reached that height.

Kid Durbin, pinch-runner for the Pirates on June 30, 1909. When the Pirates traded for Durbin on May 28, 1909, they sent pitcher Ward Miller to the Cincinnati Reds in a deal that included the stipulation that said if Miller played good for the Reds, Cincinnati would send money back to the Pirates. As it turned out, all Pittsburgh received from the player part of the deal was one pinch-running appearance by Durbin. During the first game ever at Forbes Field on June 30, 1909, the Pirates trailed 3-2 in the ninth inning. Catcher George Gibson walked to start the inning, then he was replaced on the bases by Durbin, who was sacrificed to second base. He moved to third base on an infield error, but that is where he would stay, as a shallow fly ball and ground out to shortstop ended the game. Not only did Durbin not play for the Pirates again, he never played in the majors again. He was sold to Scranton of the Class-B New York State League on July 7, 1909.

Durbin debuted in pro ball at 17 years old in 1904, in what did not look like the start of a career that would lead to three seasons in the majors. He had a .194 average in 33 games, while playing for Fort Scott of the Class-C Missouri Valley League. His offense was actually better than his 5-26 record as a pitcher that same season. He spent the majority of the 1905 season with Joplin of the Class-C Western Association, where he had a 13-18 record in 293 innings (no batting stats are available). He also saw brief time with St Joseph of the Class-A Western League, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. He remained in Joplin for 1906, where he had a .277 average and two extra-base hits in 58 games, while posting an incredible 32-8 record as a pitcher. The Chicago Cubs drafted him from Joplin in September of 1906, then he debuted in the majors in 1907. Kid (first name was Blaine) played two years with the Cubs, seeing very limited playing time (25 games combined, five as a pitcher). He had a 5.40 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP in 16.2 innings for the 1907 Cubs, while hitting.333/.368/.333 over 19 plate appearances. He received three starts in the outfield. He played 14 games total in 1908, all of them coming in June/July, though he was healthy and with the team for the entire season. When the Cubs won the World Series that year, he received just a 1/3 share of the prize money. which amount to $500. He started eight games in the outfield that year, hitting .250/.323/.286 in 32 plate appearances. He did not pitch that season.

Durbin was traded to the Reds in January of 1909. They used him six times as a pinch-hitter before the trade to the Pirates. He played in the minors until 1912 before he retired. The Cubs won the World Series in each of his first two seasons and the Pirates won during his third year. That means that he was a member of three World Series winning teams in his three-year career, though he never played a postseason game. Durbin put up a .219 average in 66 games for Scranton after being let go by the Pirates. He played semi-pro ball in the Kansas-Oklahoma area for multiple teams during the 1910 season, including a club from Fort Scott, where his pro career started. He returned to pro ball and pitching in 1911, going a combined 15-18 for Omaha and Topeka of the Class-A Western League. He had a .245 average, four doubles and two triples in 67 games that year. He was just 25 years old during his final season of pro ball in 1912, which was spent with the Oakland Oaks of the Double-A Pacific Coast League. He went 4-5, 2.61 in 100 innings, while putting up a .293 average in 15 games. Durbin played semi-pro ball in Kansas and California in 1913. He remained out west in 1914, then went to Oklahoma to play semi-pro ball in 1915-16 before retiring. He had the nickname “Danny Dreamer” while in Chicago. For some unknown reason, Baseball-Reference dropped any reference to his “Kid” nickname from their page. That nickname was used quite often in his career, so it should at least be mentioned on his page.

The Game

On this date in 1934, the Pirates had a lineup with six future Hall of Famers. Lloyd Waner, Freddie Lindstrom, Paul Waner, Arky Vaughan and Pie Traynor were batting in the top five spots, while Waite Hoyt was on the mound. There was a seventh Hall of Famer who came into the game later for the Pirates, and he picked up a significant achievement for his career. Here’s the Game Rewind with all of the details.