This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: September 29th, Star Pitchers Ed “Cannonball” Morris and Gus Weyhing

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players have been born on this date, including a pitcher who is the franchise’s single-season leader in many pitching categories. Before we get into the former players, current pitcher Thomas Hatch turns 29 today.

Ed Morris, pitcher for the Pittsburgh Alleghenys from 1885 until 1889. If you look at Pittsburgh Pirates franchise single-season marks, you will find the name Ed Morris atop many lists. He is the single-season leader in wins, innings pitched, strikeouts, shutouts, games started and complete games. He accomplished something unfathomable by today’s standards. In his five seasons with Pittsburgh, he completed 235 out of 240 starts. Morris began his career playing in California as a 16-year-old in the Pacific League in 1879 with the San Francisco Eagles. The baseball world in California during this time revolved around San Francisco, and they had many strong players who preferred to stay out west. There are no stats available for that first pro season, or his 1881-82 seasons that were spent mostly in San Francisco, playing for the Mystics of the New California League in 1881, and the Nationals of the California League in 1882. He also played for the 1882 Philadelphia Phillies of the League Alliance. Morris attended college out west prior to pitching for Reading of the Interstate Association in 1883, where he put himself on the baseball map with a 16-6, 1.80 record, 140 strikeouts and a 1.03 WHIP over 199.2 innings. He also played for the San Francisco Haverlys of the California League during that 1883 season.  Morris signed with Columbus of the American Association for the 1884 season, where the left-hander nicknamed Cannonball had an amazing rookie season. He had a 34-13, 2.18 record and 302 strikeouts in 429.2 innings pitched. He finished third in the league in ERA, second with an 0.90 WHIP, and sixth in strikeouts. He completed 47 of his 52 starts, including three shutouts. He was never much of a hitter, but he managed to collect eight triples that year.

Columbus folded following the 1884 season, then the Pittsburgh Alleghenys bought most of their roster, overhauling their own team in the process. Morris set some still-standing Pirates franchise records that will never be broken or even approached during the 1885 season. He went 39-24, 2.35 over 63 starts, with 63 complete games and 581 innings pitched. All three of the latter stats are tops on the Pirates franchise single-season lists. He led the league in all three of those categories, as well as shutouts (seven) and strikeouts (298). We posted an in depth Pittsburgh Pirates Seasons article, covering his 1885 campaign. That season was worth 13.3 WAR as a pitcher, and 12.7 WAR overall (poor hitting knocked him down overall), which is the highest single-season WAR in team history for any position. It also ranks as the 25th best season in baseball history.

While the 1885 season is impressive by any standards, his record was even better the following year. Morris had a 41-20, 2.45 record and a 1.03 WHIP in 555.1 innings. He led the league wins, plus set the team record for victories in the process (breaking his own record set the previous year). He also set still-standing club records with 326 strikeouts and 12 shutouts. The latter stat also led the American Association. He started 63 games and completed all 63 starts. Despite repeating those same start/complete game numbers from the previous year, he threw 25.2 more innings during the 1885 season. The difference came from four games of 13+ innings in 1885, followed by five games in 1886 that didn’t go the full nine innings. He finished that year with 10.9 pitching WAR.

The 1887 season was a tough one for Morris, whether it was overwork, or the National League rule about moving around in the pitcher’s box. Pitchers were required that season to stand on the back line of the pitcher’s box, face the batter and not hide the ball before their delivery, which only allowed them one stride now. Before they could deliver from anywhere in the pitcher’s box, and many pitchers would add deception by turning their back to the batters to help hide the ball. Morris had a 14-22, 4.31 record and a 1.40 WHIP, while seeing his strikeouts drop down to 91 over 317.2 innings. He was briefly suspended during the season because he was protesting the rule change that hindered his ability, so he refused to pitch a game. The Pittsburgh front office claimed that he didn’t take care of himself properly, and the new rules didn’t affect him as much as he thought because he would look strong early in games and fade late. He also dealt with a sore arm early in the year, then was suspended and fined for heavy drinking one day in mid-May. The Alleghenys were approached by Indianapolis manager Watch Burnham about trading for Morris around that same time, but apparently the asking price was too high. The Alleghenys tried to sell him to the New York Giants in July of 1887, but it was so unpopular with the fans when the move was announced, that the deal was nixed by Pittsburgh.

Morris bounced back to have a fine 1888 season, going 29-23, 2.31 over 55 starts, with 54 complete games, five shutouts and a 1.13 WHIP. He struck out 135 batters over 480 innings that season, finishing just behind Hall of Famer John Clarkson for the league lead in innings. Morris led the league in both starts and complete games. The 1889 season turned out to be a disaster for him. He went 6-13, 4.13 in 170 innings over 21 starts, with 18 complete games, 40 strikeouts and a 1.44 WHIP. It was said multiple times that he was out of condition during the season, while at least one paper reported that he lost some zip on his fastball. That spelled the end of his Alleghenys career, because he followed most of his teammates the next season to the newly formed Player’s League, where he played for the Pittsburgh Burghers. Morris was even worse in 1890, going 8-7, 4.86 in 15 starts and three relief appearances, with 25 strikeouts and a 1.48 WHIP over 144.1 innings. He was released mid-season in 1890, then never pitched professionally again. While that year ended up being his last season in baseball, he did umpire a couple of games in the mid-1890’s. Morris finished with a career record of 171-122, 2.82 in 307 starts and four relief appearances, with 1,217 strikeouts and a 1.11 WHIP over 2,678 innings. He went 129-102, 2.81 in 2,104 innings while with the Alleghenys. He ranks ninth all-time in franchise history in wins, eighth in innings pitched and eighth with 890 strikeouts. He’s also third in complete games and seventh in shutouts. He was mildly involved with the Pirates after his career ended. He owned a bar close to the ballpark, and would occasionally get local mentions, such as in 1892 when he threw batting practice in the morning to the team because they were about to face a lefty pitcher that day.

Gus Weyhing, pitcher for the 1895 Pirates. He pitched his only game with the Pirates on May 21, 1895, beating the Washington Nationals that day. He had a tough time that 1895 season, pitching twice for the Philadelphia Phillies, once for the Pirates, then 28 times for the Louisville Colonels, compiling an 8-21, 5.81 record and a 1.74 WHIP over 231 innings. He had a 20.00 ERA in two starts for the Phillies prior to joining the Pirates, then he allowed seven runs in his only game with Pittsburgh (though just one was earned). His offense helped him to victory with ten runs. Weyhing was released immediately after his start by manager Connie Mack, much to the displeasure of fans who thought he pitched well that day.

Weyhing was one of the numerous pitchers who was hurt by the new rules for them that started in 1893. That includes the new pitching distance and the fact the pitchers now had to throw from one spot, which was called a pitcher’s plate, but is basically the same thing as the modern pitching rubber. Prior to the new rule, they could pitch from anywhere inside a pitcher’s box laid out in chalk on the ground. There was no mound at that time. The box was removed in 1893, then the pitcher’s plate was the only marker. The distance added wasn’t as big at it appears, with it going from 50 feet to 60 feet six inches. The pitchers had to be within the box before when they released the ball, and the distance back then was measured from the front of the box to the middle of the plate. The new distance was measured to the back of the plate, and they started at 60’6″ away from that point before striding towards the plate. While it looks like they just added ten feet to the total, the real addition was much smaller once you factor in the stride and the plate difference.

Weyhing was a great pitcher prior to the change, posting a 200-140, 3.34 record by age 26 through the 1893 season. He had a 64-92, 5.07 record after the new rules went into effect, so they likely cost him 300 wins and a place in the Hall of Fame. Weyhing won at least 23 games in each of his first seven seasons, running off four straight 30-win seasons from 1889 to 1892. He ranks 40th all-time in wins, 33rd in innings pitched, 12th in complete games and no one in baseball history has hit more batters. With 277 total hit batters, he has 58 more than the next highest total. No active player is halfway to his total, so that record will stand for a while. He is fifth all-time with 240 career wild pitches.

Weyhing’s career started with a losing season in the minors in 1886 at 19 years old, going 13-18 for Charleston of the Class-B Southern Association. He put up that record despite being credited with an 0.76 ERA, an 0.99 WHIP and 190 strikeouts in 298 innings. The Philadelphia Athletics of the American Association made him a regular starter in 1887, and he became an instant workhorse. He went 26-28, 4.27 in 466.1 innings as a rookie, completing 53 of his 55 starts, including two shutouts. He was fifth in the league in innings, fourth with 193 strikeouts and fourth in complete games, while posting a 1.36 WHIP. Weyhing followed that up with a 26-18, 2.25 record and a 1.05 WHIP over 404 innings in 1888. He led the league with 42 hit batters and 56 wild pitches. He completed 45 of his 47 starts, while throwing three shutouts. He had 204 strikeouts, which ranked fifth in the league. He was 30-21, 2.95 over 449 innings in 1889. He had a 1.32 WHIP, 50 complete games, four shutouts and 213 strikeouts, which was third best in the league. He completed 148 out of 155 starts during his first three seasons in the majors.

Weyhing made the jump to the Player’s League when the new league came around in 1890, just like many of the other star players from the day. He put up his second straight 30-win season with the Brooklyn Ward’s Wonders, going 30-16, 3.60 in 390 innings. He had 177 strikeouts that season, which was third best in the league. He also walked 179 batters, which led to a 1.53 WHIP. Many player returned to their old team when the Player’s League ceased to exist after just one season, except his team change was a bit different. The Athletics from his previous seasons were dropped from the American Association after the 1890 season, so the Philadelphia club from the Player’s League took their place. He was still with the Philadelphia Athletics in the American Association, it just wasn’t the same team. The change didn’t matter to Weyhing’s pitching, as he went 31-20, 3.18 in 450 innings, while completing all 51 of his starts. He had a 1.31 WHIP and a career high 219 strikeouts that season, which was third best in the league. He tossed three shutouts, giving him his fourth straight season with 3+ shutouts.

The American Association closed up shop after the 1891 season, so Weyhing joined the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League. He reeled off his fourth straight 30+ win season, going 32-21, 2.66 in 469.2 innings. He had 49 starts and ten relief appearances that season, finishing with 46 complete games, six shutouts, a 1.23 WHIP and 202 strikeouts, which was the third best total in the league. His workload dropped in 1893 with the previously mentioned pitching rule changes, while his ERA rose sharply, as it did for many pitchers. He still went 23-16, but it came with a 4.74 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP in 345.1 innings. His strikeouts went from 202 in 1892, down to 101 in 1893, though that latter total was his career high over his final eight seasons in the majors. He went 16-14, 5.71 over 279 innings in 1894, with that ERA/record showing just how much the new rules helped offense. He completed 26 of 36 starts, while also throwing four times in relief. He had 83 strikeouts and a 1.79 WHIP. After his rough 1895 season (covered above), he pitched briefly for Louisville during the 1896 season, going 2-3, 6.64 in five starts, with nine strikeouts and a 1.83 WHIP over 42 innings. Weyhing played minor league ball for the rest of 1896 and all of 1897, spending the rest of 1896 with Rochester of the Class-A Eastern League, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. He spent the 1897 season with Dallas of the Class-C Texas League (no stats available from these two seasons).

Weyhing returned to the majors in 1898 with the Washington Senators. He went 15-26, 4.51 in 361 innings, while completing 39 of his 42 starts. He had 92 strikeouts and a 1.42 WHIP. That was followed by a 17-21, 4.54 season in 334.2 innings, when he completed 34 of his 38 starts, including two shutouts. He had 96 strikeouts and a 1.46 WHIP. His big league career was basically over at that point, as he played for four different teams (St Louis Cardinals, Brooklyn Superbas, Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Blues) during the 1900-01 seasons, but he pitched a total of 18 games. He went 6-6, 4.47 over 94.2 innings for the Cardinals and Superbas in 1900, finishing with 14 strikeouts and a 1.76 WHIP. Weyhing lost his only start with the 1901 Reds, while allowing 11 runs over 11.1 in his two games with the Blues (later known as the Indians). Most of the 1901 season was spent with Louisvile/Grand Rapids of the Class-A Western Association, where he had a 14-6 record over 20 games pitched. He pitched for Memphis of the Class-A Southern Association during the 1902 season, posting an 8-10, 3.72 record and a 1.23 WHIP in 162 innings. Weyhing also pitched for Kansas City of the American Association that year, where he went 3-4, 5.20 in 64 innings over seven starts. He pitched for Little Rock and Atlanta of the Southern Association during the 1903 season, combining for an 11-13 record over 224 innings pitched. He came back with Galveston of the Class-C Texas League in 1910 for three games, going 0-2, 4.20 in 15 innings. He also played briefly for Tulsa of the Class-C Western Association that year (no stats available).

Weyhing finished with 4,337 innings pitched, which ranks 33rd all-time. He ranks 12th all-time with 449 complete games. He had a final career record of 264-232, 3.88 in 540 games, with 505 starts and 28 shutouts. He had 1,667 strikeouts and a 1.42 WHIP. He won at least 303 games over his pro career, not including the few partial seasons of missing stats. He’s credited with 37.8 career WAR, though that number is lower due to his poor hitting. He had a career .420 OPS over 1,980 plate appearances. His career pitching WAR is a much healthier 47.7 mark, which puts him just outside the top 100 all-time for pitchers. His brother John Weyhing pitched in the majors during the 1889-90 seasons. He passed away of tuberculosis at age 20 in 1890, exactly two months after his final big league game.

Hunky Shaw, pinch-hitter for the Pirates on May 16, 1908. Shaw played just one game for the Pirates. It came as a pinch-hitter for star pitcher Sam Leever, after he allowed four runs in the first three innings. Shaw batted in the bottom of the third inning and struck out. That was his only big league appearance. The write-up for the game talked more about what he did before the game started. Shaw gave an acrobatics exhibition for the crowd, as they had to wait around a bit due to a rain delay prior to first pitch. He played a total of 14 years in the minors, though they weren’t consecutive. He debuted in 1904, while playing his final game 20 years later.

Shaw played for three teams in 1904 at 19 years old, with extremely limited stats available from that time. He played one game at the highest level of the minors with Portland of the Class-A Pacific Coast League. He also saw time with Roseburg of the Class-D Oregon State League, as well as a stint in the Class-D Southwest Washington League with a team called the Hoquiam Perfect Gentlemen. He doesn’t have any 1905 stats, but it’s known that he was playing college ball during the spring, then decided to continue playing baseball near his school (University of Washington) instead of returning home. Shaw played for Tacoma of the Class-B Northwestern League in 1906, where he had a .276 average and 17 extra-base hits in 83 games. The Pirates acquired him after he put up a .278 average and 41 extra-base hits over 150 games for Tacoma in 1907. He was a Rule 5 selection, taken from St Paul of the American Association. He did not play for that team, though they held his rights. The Pirates wanted to purchase Shaw from Tacoma earlier, and even agreed to a deal for $1,500 to purchase him. Tacoma backed out and sent him to St Paul, where they thought he would escape the Rule 5 draft. The Pirates selected him for a cost of $1,000, saving money from their original offer.

After his one game in the majors, Shaw was sent to McKeesport of the Class-C Ohio-Pennsylvania League after his one game in the majors. He was then sent to Jersey City of the Class-A Eastern League, where he hit .236 in 59 games, with 27 runs, six extra-base hits and 12 steals. He actually umpired a local amateur game before that McKeesport assignment. It was said that Shaw didn’t play hard in McKeesport (no stats available), so they were quick to get rid of him. He was said to be a good batter with an average glove, but he impressed more with the mitt during Spring Training in 1908. He missed some spring time with tonsillitis, so the Pirates didn’t really get a full look at him. He still made the team as a utility fielder, but his stay obviously didn’t last long. He was on the reserve roster over the 1908-09 off-season, before the Pirates released him to Providence of the Eastern League on February 20, 1909. He had a .250 average and four extra-base hits in 30 games for Providence during the 1909 season. He also had a .321 average and 20 extra-base hits in 89 games with Worcester of the Class-B New England League that year.

Shaw  went to Spring Training with the 1910 Chicago White Sox, but they released him on April 4, 1910 to San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League. He ended up playing seven seasons (1910-16) on the west coast. He had a .281 average and 28 extra-base hits over 155 games for San Francisco in 1910. He then batted .252 for San Francisco during the 1911 season, with 18 extra-base hits in 120 games. Shaw played for Spokane and Seattle of the Class-B Northwestern League during the 1912 season. While that seems like a drop of one level from 1911, it was actually a drop of two levels because Double-A was introduced in 1912. He combined for a .281 average and 25 extra-base hits in 156 games that season. He hit .257 for Seattle during the 1913 season, with 22 extra-base hits in 141 games. The 1914 season saw him put up a .244 average, 84 runs, 30 extra-base hits and 16 steals for Vancouver of the Northwestern League. He returned to Seattle for the next two seasons, where he had a .292 average, 20 doubles and five triples over 148 games in 1915. He then hit .243 over 126 games in 1916 (extra-base hit stats are unavailable). Seattle released him in April of 1917, then he didn’t play pro ball again until 1923. He saw time with four different teams in the Class-D Nebraska State League during that 1923 season, while also managing the Hastings club. He combined for a .303 average, 19 doubles and five triples over 108 games that year, while playing for Hastings, Fairbury, Beatrice and Grand Island. He played/managed for Emporia of the Southwestern League in 1924, where he hit .302 in 121 games. During that five-year layoff (1918-1922), he had some semi-pro ball time spread out over the years. His real first name was Royal. His winter job at the time saw him work as an undertaker. His obituary notes that he legally changed his name to Hunky because no one knew him by any other name. However, he was known as Royal Shaw during his time with the Pirates.

Paul Giel, pitcher for the 1960 Pirates. He played parts of six seasons in the majors, while taking two years (1956-57) off in the middle of his career to serve in the military. Giel made his pro debut in the majors out of the University of Minnesota. He finished his career seven years later in the majors, playing a total of just 41 minor league games spread out over the 1958-60 seasons. He was a star football player in college at the University of Minnesota, who chose the pro baseball path. It was reported that he received as much as $50,000 to sign. He debuted in the majors on July 10, 1954. He pitched six games in relief for the New York Giants that season, giving up four runs over 4.1 innings. He had a 4-4, 3.39 record, 47 strikeouts and a 1.46 WHIP in 82.1 innings over 34 appearances (two starts) during the 1955 season. He returned to the Giants after his two years in the military, as they moved to San Francisco for the 1958 season. He had a 4-5, 4.70 record and a 1.57 WHIP in 92 innings that season, with nine starts and 20 relief appearances. His 55 strikeouts that year set a career high. He pitched his first minor league games early during that season, posting a 3-0, 2.77 record, 19 strikeouts and a 1.21 WHIP in 39 innings over five starts for Phoenix of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League.

The Pirates acquired Giel as a waiver pickup from the San Francisco Giants just prior to the 1959 season. He played parts of two years for the Pirates (1959-60), throwing a total of 40.2 innings over 20 relief appearances. He had a 7.30 ERA during that time, though he did substantially better in 1960. Most of 1959 was spent with Columbus of the Triple-A International League, where he had a 4.75 ERA, a 1.73 WHIP and 47 strikeouts in 91 innings, splitting his time between 11 starts and 11 relief appearances. Giel had a 14.09 ERA and a 3.00 WHIP in his 7.2 innings with the 1959 Pirates. He made his first appearance on April 27th, and his final one on May 11th. He started (and won) an exhibition game against St Paul of the Triple-A American Association on May 18th. He was optioned to Columbus two days later. Giel followed up that shaky debut with the Pirates by posting a 5.73 ERA, a 1.52 WHIP and 21 strikeouts in 33 innings over 16 appearances during the 1960 season. He completely switched up his pitches that season, going from a fastball/curveball pitcher to a fastball/slider/changeup/screwball pitcher. His last game with the Pirates that season came on July 8th, so he wasn’t around for the World Series. The rest of his season was spent with Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League, where he went 0-3, 4.08 in 53 innings over nine starts and five relief appearances, finishing with 33 strikeouts and a 1.40 WHIP. Giel was sold to the expansion Minnesota Twins prior to the 1961 season. He struggled during his time there, posting a 9.78 ERA and a 2.12 WHIP in 19.1 innings over 12 games. He was traded to the Kansas City A’s mid-season. He pitched one game there, then retired the next day, after giving up seven runs in 1.2 innings. In his big league career, he had an 11-9, 5.39 record in 240.1 innings over 11 starts and 91 relief appearances, with 145 strikeouts and a 1.65 WHIP.

Ken Macha, utility player for the 1974 and 1977-78 Pirates. Macha was a sixth round pick of the Pirates out of the University of Pitt in 1972. They drafted him as a catcher, but he ended up playing just four Major League games behind the plate. In fact, he played just one game at catcher in each of four different seasons, while playing a total of six innings in those games. He debuted in pro ball with Salem of the Class-A Carolina League, where he hit .254 over 62 games, with 20 runs, seven doubles, eight homers, 33 RBIs and a .792 OPS. He moved up to Sherbrooke of the Double-A Eastern League in 1973, where he batted .267 over 106 games, with 40 runs, 15 doubles, 12 homers, 52 RBIs and a .777 OPS. The next year was mostly spent back in the Eastern League. Macha hit .345 over 117 games for Thetford Mines, with 87 runs, 21 doubles, 22 homers, 100 RBIs, 22 steals and a 1.024 OPS. He also played 21 games for Charleston of the Triple-A International League that year, hitting .185/.280/.323 over 75 plate appearances, with six runs, three doubles, two homers and ten RBIs. The Pirates gave him a look in September of 1974, when he went 3-for-5 at the plate in five games. He spent the entire 1975-76 seasons with Charleston. Macha hit .268 over 138 games in 1975, with 63 runs, 21 doubles, 14 homers, 63 RBIs, 65 walks and a .761 OPS. He followed that up by posting a .301 average during the 1976 season, with 68 runs, 29 doubles, 14 homers, 77 RBIs, 55 walks and an .840 OPS in 126 games.

The 1977-78 seasons were split between Columbus of the International League and the majors, with Macha seeing his most playing time with the Pirates in 1977. He hit .274/.317/.316 over 35 games that year, while seeing time at all four corner positions. Despite picking up 26 hits and six walks, he scored just two runs that year. He had a .335 average, 51 runs, 18 doubles, 11 homers, 64 RBIs and a .976 OPS in 76 games with Columbus that season. He batted .212/.354/.269 for the 1978 Pirates, with five runs, two extra-base hits and five RBIs in 29 games. Macha dropped down to a .752 OPS in 65 games for Columbus that season, finishing the year with a .262 average, 34 runs, ten doubles, six homers and 34 RBIs. He hit .263/.339/.316 in 171 plate appearances over 69 games during his three seasons with the Pirates, while seeing time at five different positions. The Pirates lost him to the Montreal Expos in the Rule 5 draft after the 1978 season. Macha split the 1979 season between Denver of the Triple-A American Association and the majors. He saw limited use with the Expos, batting 40 times in 25 games. He finished with a .278/.333/.417 slash line during his big league time, while playing just 31 games for Denver. He hit .290/.361/.383 for the 1980 Expos, with ten runs, five doubles, one homer and eight RBIs in 120 plate appearances spread over 49 games.

Macha was purchased by the Toronto Blue Jays in January of 1981. He batted .200/.266/.224 in 94 plate appearances over 37 games during that strike-shortened season. He had four runs, two doubles and six RBIs. He signed to play in Japan after the 1981 season, then spent his final four years of pro ball overseas with Chunichi. He put up a .311 average, 57 runs, 20 doubles, 23 homers, 76 RBIs and an .877 OPS over 130 games in 1982. He batted .283 over 111 games during the 1983 season, with 40 runs, 16 doubles, 15 homers, 45 RBIs and a .784 OPS. He hit .316 over 130 games in 1984, with 72 runs, 25 doubles, 31 homers, 93 RBIs and a .969 OPS. He hit .301 over 102 games during his final season of pro ball, with 46 runs, 20 doubles, 13 homers, 54 RBIs and an .859 OPS. Macha had a .258 average, 30 runs, 16 doubles, one homer and 35 RBIs in 180 big league games over six seasons. Despite hitting just one big league homer, he hit a total of 172 homers in pro ball. After his playing days were over, he managed for six seasons in the majors and four years in the minors. He had a 368-280 big league record, split between the 2003-06 Oakland A’s and the 2009-10 Milwaukee Brewers. He had two first place finishes, two second place finishes and two third place finishes. Macha is the cousin of Hall of Fame pitcher Hal Newhouser.