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First Pitch: Major League Baseball is…
October 18, 2021
Previously on First Pitch… First Pitch: Major League Baseball is Broken First Pitch: Major League Baseball is Thriving What is Major League Baseball? Is it a business, to be evaluated only by the money it makes? Is it a sport, a form of entertainment where only the quality of competition matters? Perhaps a bit of both? If both, how much does one impact the other, and vice-versa? Major League Baseball is a business, selling a sport that you can watch every single night for eight months of the year, spanning from Spring Training through the World Series. Ultimately, MLB is a business, with 30 franchises around the country that each operate as individual businesses with individual owners. ***** Imagine, a trendy themed fast food chain. We’ll call it MLBurgers. If you go to New York or Los Angeles, you’ll find a MLBurgers in each city. They’ve got the best ingredients. They’ve got the best way to combine those ingredients to give you the MLBurger you were looking for when you decided to spend your money at their establishment. You will leave these MLBurgers wanting to come back and eat there again. Everything about the experience was enjoyable. Unfortunately, that’s not the case in every city that has an MLBurgers franchise. About one-in-three MLBurgers franchises don’t pay their employees a fair wage. All of the best employees in the overall company eventually end up with the New York, Los Angeles, Boston, or Chicago markets. Those MLBurgers franchises who don’t pay their employees see constant turnover in staff, and need to rely on exceptional training skills to maintain a quality restaurant. Some of those franchises rarely put forward a good meal. You could go 20 times in a row and get food poisoning 20 straight times in certain locations. On average, you might receive a quality meal worth paying for in three out of ten visits. If this was a real restaurant chain, there’s no way it would survive. In most cities, consumers would turn to a Five Guys franchise, or In-n-Out on the West Coast, due to the lack of quality at MLBurgers. Except this restaurant is designed to survive in 30 markets, even if no one goes to a third of them. The franchises in New York and Los Angeles make more money than they wish to spend on top employees, and end up sharing a lot of their revenues to keep the weaker restaurants in the company afloat. It doesn’t matter if no one chooses to work in these locations. It doesn’t matter that the product is often poor, leading to very few customers. What matters is the presence. MLBurgers works best with 30 locations — although one could argue that 32 locations would be better in many ways. ***** This offseason, the MLB owners will collectively bargain with the MLB Players Association, coming up with a revenue split going forward for the league. That revenue split will ultimately shape the game going forward. It might not be a large restructuring, but expect some sort of change. Within that change is the potential to fix the competitive side of the game. I wrote in a previous article in this series about how MLB: The Business has done extremely well at maximizing their revenues. They’re looking at almost $2 billion per year in national TV deals. Their local TV deals have exploded over the last decade. Their streaming service is thriving, and there are talks that the league could expand the service to allow fans to watch their hometown teams, without cable, for $10-20 per month. So if MLB isn’t getting your eyes on one of the cable networks or the regional networks that are giving them millions per year, then they will get your money each month. Or, you could go the old fashioned way and watch a game in the stadiums, which is now priced at a luxury rate, driving more fans to the TV side. With the revenue that is coming into the game from these TV deals, and the revenue sharing that keeps each team afloat, don’t expect any massive overhauls to the system. Although, this would be the perfect time. ***** MLB has their cable deals locked down through 2028, and most of their local deals extended beyond that point. As we’ve seen in every small market around the game, MLB can get away with putting forward a bad product when they don’t have to worry about money. On the TV side, a bad product is typically a game that would equate to lower ratings. Typically, that’s a game featuring small market teams. But low ratings don’t matter when the deals are already signed. MLB is in a rare period where they can afford to restructure the league and tip the competitive balance back toward small market teams in some way, allowing for a more balanced competitive league. They can market their stars better, and give fans a reason to want to go and see the games live. They can expand the league to 32 teams, and expand the playoff picture in the process, engaging more fan bases each year, while bringing in fans from two additional markets. The way I see it, MLB has over half a decade to experiment with the sport for the better, trying to drive up fan interest along the way. Their biggest potential gains at this point are with the small markets. I mean, how many additional New York or Los Angeles citizens are going to start eating at MLBurgers? The overall customer base would go up if people in places like Pittsburgh and Kansas City didn’t have to fear a lower quality product so frequently. MLB’s main approach so far has been an attempt to shorten the games. A large issue there is the amount of commercial breaks taken. There’s a reason cable networks are paying MLB a collective $2 billion per year, while the local networks are bringing in another estimated $2 billion. Live sports are one of the best ways to sell advertisements. The more a network pays, the more ads they need to sell to recoup the costs and make a profit. So when MLB complains about the time of the game, and installs gimmicks to shorten the play, all they are doing is trying to make up for the expansion in advertisements that their massive contracts created. Eventually, that will catch up to them in a negative way. MLB isn’t dead. It’s not even really dying. But, it is declining. This is the time to fix the sport for the future. It’s not the time to scoff and say that the sport doesn’t need fixing because the business is doing so well in the present. The business is based on the quality of the product. The product is a competitive sport across 30 franchises. MLB is not putting out a good product. How long until that starts to impact the business? PBN Links **Winter Leagues: Quick Update on the Pirates Winter League Action **AFL Recap: Peoria Goes Winless in the First Week of Action **Ten Positives for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2021 – No. 4: The Hometown Kid **Ten Positives for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2021 – No. 5: A Pair of All-Star Starters **Breaking Down the Pirates’ 2021 Year-End Payroll **This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: October 17th, Pirates Win the 1971 and 1979 World Series **Card of the Day: 1953 Topps Mike Sandlock Song of the Day...
First Pitch: Major League Baseball is Thriving
October 17, 2021
If you say that Major League Baseball is a broken sport, you’ll get a lot of responses about how much money the league makes, or anecdotes about high ratings during a recent playoff game. Let’s be clear here: Two things can be true at the same time. Major League Baseball, the sport, is unequivocally broken. Major League Baseball, the business, is thriving. The owners of Major League Baseball deserve credit: In the land of late-stage capitalism, where the only thing that matters is making money, they have been shown to be masters at maximizing revenue. This used to be a game where attendance in the stadium was a massive driver of revenue. Attendance from 2015 to 2019 dropped 7.14%, per the Denver Post. That amounts to 5.2 million fans. If a business lost 5.2 million paying customers in the span of four years, it would be cause for alarm. MLB’s average attendance has declined in all but two years since 2008. This makes a lot of sense, when you consider what has happened in this country since that time. In 2008, we saw a huge recession that continued through 2009, which saw a massive drop in attendance. MLB games are expensive. According to the Fan Cost Index, the average price for a family of four to attend a game is $253. That price has gone up 84% over the last 20 years. Meanwhile, you can buy a big screen TV at Best Buy on Black Friday for less than $200, with a season pass to MLB.tv costing $106. And in today’s busy world, it’s often easier and better to watch at home. With fewer people watching the games in the stadiums, MLB would want to see ratings at home increasing. That hasn’t been the case. Forbes reported in August that MLB regular season ratings were down in 2021 from 2019. Granted, this comes after a pandemic, and viewership is changing. There’s also the possibility that more people are switching to digital streaming, with the rise of MLB.tv. The MLB postseason last year saw record lows, which was a trend shared with a lot of sports leagues. The pandemic, once again, played a role in this. The current postseason numbers have been mixed, but much better results. Still games buried on TBS and FS1 won’t do the numbers that network television drew years ago. MLB traditionally made money from fans in attendance. With fewer in attendance, you’d want more watching the game on TV. That also isn’t happening. There’s so much good content these days. We watch TV to have something to discuss with other people. MLB, and every other sports league, has to compete against the endless offerings from Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Amazon, Apple TV, and so on. There are only so many hours in the day, and how many are going to assign 3-4 hours a day to watch baseball? From that squeeze comes desperate networks looking to find something that can contend in the content wars. It would be easy to write an article about MLB the business also being broken. We could forecast doom from the decline in fans in the stands, or the decline in ratings. But that’s not what matters. Money matters. Prior to the 2020 postseason, MLB announced a new deal with TBS worth $3.75 billion dollars for media rights from 2022-2028. At the start of the 2021 season, MLB reached a deal with ESPN for $3.85 billion for media rights in the same time period. In total, MLB is making an additional $248.6 million per year on their TV deals from 2022-2028 than their previous deals. All around the league, there have been record local TV deals signed over the last decade as well. The biggest advantage MLB has is that they put on a live product every single night in 15 different cities, during a time of the year when no other major sport is played. That makes them ripe for the current streaming wars. The league is taking advantage of this, landing record revenues on the TV front. When they aren’t making money there, they are making money directly from fans for their streaming service. The owners have also made money through investments that are adjacent to the game. Their streaming venture, BAMTech, landed a $600 million deal when Disney purchased controlling interest of the company. MLB has a product. Before the internet and cable TV, that product could mostly only be purchased at the stadium. Cable TV brought a rise to bigger TV deals. The rise of the internet has brought streaming deals. It has also led to streaming wars that led to bigger TV deals. The entire focus of Major League Baseball, the business, is to monetize their product. They’ve been able to do that easily by transitioning from fans in the stadium to fans in front of TV sets or watching on phones. I still contend that the game itself is broken. MLB’s product is one where large market teams have a significant advantage that allows them to perpetually be in contention, while small market teams operate in windows as “flavors of the week”. A few of those teams see the small market version of perpetual contention, which MLB can point to and say “Look, the Rays and A’s can do it, so why can’t every small market team?” Let’s ignore markets for a second though, because once we’re on the internet or on cable and national TV, markets don’t matter. The numbers that evaluate those mediums come from the aggregate of all markets. However, once the playoffs hit, most of the ratings come from the markets of the two teams playing. It makes business sense for MLB to have their biggest markets always in contention. I’m not saying that this is the strict plan of baseball. I am saying that, with the trend of small market teams drawing lower ratings and having fewer people to sell to, MLB as a business would be stupid to adjust the league to reduce the chances that the Yankees or Dodgers will contend every year. If you had a Rays/Reds World Series, you’d be drawing from two metro areas that combine for about 5.5 million people. New York’s metro area is 8.4 million alone. Having the Yankees in a playoff game can reach a city with more people and more potential baseball fans than two small market metro areas. That means more consistent high ratings. That means a product that can be shopped to TV stations trying to compete for eyes. That means bigger and bigger TV deals, both locally and nationally. Major League Baseball, the competitive sport, is broken. It’s not a competition for the big markets until the playoffs hit. The odds, meanwhile, are stacked against the small markets. Major League Baseball, the business, has done a phenomenal job of marketing this broken competitive sport and maximizing their revenues. They’ve been proactive to the changes in how we consume anything, making up for the loss of fans with increases in revenue on the streaming and cable TV fronts. Nothing will change on the competitive side until the business side starts to fail. And with MLB locked in on the TV front through 2028, nothing looks to be changing anytime soon. The best chance would come from the players association negotiating a new deal with the league for a higher split of revenues. However, MLB is a master of using the public against the players. This is a league that looked the other way on steroids, then threw the players under the bus. This is a league that doesn’t pay their minor leaguers, while pushing forward the narrative about how those players are chasing a dream. This is a league that publishes every single accounting dollar that a player could possibly make, while obfuscating the owner revenues. Real quick: Can anyone tell me how much annual revenue the Pittsburgh Pirates make on their current local TV deal? And yet, the instant a player is signed, we know immediately how much money they are being paid, along with every potential dollar they can earn. And when the players threaten to strike, the average person knows exactly how many millions the player makes, while having to trust each MLB owner at their word that they aren’t making a dollar in profit. In other words, I don’t expect the players to accomplish much this offseason, unless they’re willing to go up against MLB using the court of public opinion against them — which will be very strong in the current economic climate. A country that sees a recession literally every decade isn’t going to be open to hearing about millionaires arguing for a pay raise. And the billionaires have managed to hide how much money they are individually making, while still showing that the league is making a lot of money. Major League Baseball, the business, isn’t going anywhere. They are masters at moving with the trend of how people consume products. That’s why it doesn’t matter that Major League Baseball, the game, is broken. Major League Baseball, the business, can still sell a broken product for record revenues. Daily Links **Winter Leagues: Quick Update on the Pirates Winter League Action **Ten Positives for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2021 – No. 5: A Pair of All-Star Starters **Breaking Down the Pirates’ 2021 Year-End Payroll **This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: October 16th, Pirates Win Their First World Series Championship **Card of the Day: 1985 Donruss Brian Harper Song of the Day...
Breaking Down the Pirates’ 2021 Year-End Payroll
October 15, 2021
Do you go to Spotrac for your payroll figures? I wouldn’t, since they are including the salary for He Who Shall Not Be Named. Cot’s Contracts? A great resource for sure, but all they’re doing at the moment is tacking on benefits to the Opening Day figure. Baseball Reference? Let’s just say they have a ton of useful features, but payroll is not one of them. In my humble opinion, if you’re looking for the definitive payroll figure for the Pittsburgh Pirates, you have come to the right place. As always, I don’t care what the Pirates spent on the final number. My goal is to be the most accurate, in-depth, and understandable source available for payroll tracking. It doesn’t matter to me how low or how high the number is, only that it’s as close to accurate as it can be. For anyone who doesn’t remember or may have missed it, I covered the Opening Day payroll using the same ideology when the season started. This will be the starting point for all the following comparisons—I will show where it started, where it ended, and make note of any relevant information regarding in season changes. Major League Salary: Over the season, the biggest changes came at the Trade Deadline, when Tyler Anderson ($691,968), Richard Rodríguez ($394,718), and Clay Holmes ($25,782) were traded, resulting in the respective salary decreases. The outright assignment of Erik González saved $355,645 in major league salary, but those savings were shifted to minor league salary, as the payrate for his guaranteed arbitration contract was the same up or down. Some of the largest salaries were for players either selected or claimed midseason. Todd Frazier ($1,500,000) stood to raise the payroll significantly, but the team had Advance Consent on Frazier, meaning his salary wasn’t guaranteed in the event of his outright assignment and subsequent release, so the team only ended up paying him $177,419. Ben Gamel and Chasen Shreve ($1,500,000 each) also would have resulted in a fair share of increases themselves, but the accompanying moves helped offset those increases. Michael Feliz was designated when Gamel was brought on, trading in a $1,185,484 increase for a $763,441 decrease. As for Shreve, he took the 40-man spot vacated after Frazier was designated, so that’s where his $1,177,419 salary was offset. Major League Salary Starting Total: $51,884,000 Major League Salary Final Total: $50,191,811 Minor League Salary: This aspect of payroll is usually totally ignored by other outlets, or just tacked on as an estimated afterthought, but that’s not representative, as all 40-man salaries are factored in to final payroll figures for the year. This was the first season where I instituted different estimates for split contracts based on service time and options (even though I’m working at retroactively adjusting all my past payrolls using the same process). While the minimum for first contracts is $46,600 and $93,000 for subsequent contracts, I instituted different levels for minor league portions of split contracts: $186,000 for players with between 1.000 and 2.000 years of service and two options remaining, $232,500 for between 1.000 and 2.000 years of service and less than two options, and $279,000 for anyone with service of 2.000 years or more. This still isn’t perfect, but it at least accounts for players that will have higher minor league portions than the minimum, and will account for a slight difference, albeit not material. For example, when I instituted the change towards the end of the season, payroll projections went up $658,086. Not huge, but not insignificant either. As already stated, Erik González being outrighted resulted in a $355,645 increase, which was a large portion of the overall increase for the season. Minor League Salary Starting Total: 1,806,800 Minor League Salary Final Total: $2,246,278 Prorated Signing Bonuses: With the team not acquiring any players on long-term deals, there are no in-season changes here to report. Prorated Signing Bonuses Starting Total: $1,100,000 Prorated Signing Bonuses Final Total: $1,100,000 Prorated Buyouts: Ditto… Prorated Buyouts Starting Total: $850,000 Prorated Buyouts Final Total: $850,000 Option Buyouts: I covered this at the start of the season, but in essence, the buyout for Chris Archer’s subsequent option is accounted for in the year the option would have covered, as opposed to being prorated over the life of a deal like a first option buyout would be. Therefore, his buyout hits in 2021. Obviously, there were no further changes here. Option Buyouts Starting Total: $250,000 Option Buyouts Final Total: $250,000 Performance Bonuses: While there were several announced incentive structures, such as plate appearances for Todd Frazier or innings pitched for Trevor Cahill, the only player to receive a bonus (that I know of) was Bryan Reynolds. As compensation for his All-Star appearance, Reynolds earned an extra $10,000. Performance Bonuses Starting Total: $0 Performance Bonuses Final Total: $10,000 Termination Pay: There were several Pirates that were paid after being released by the team. Most notably among them has to be Gregory Polanco, who earned $2,129,032 after his release. Next in line was Kyle Crick at $305,376. If either player had been selected to the majors by a new team, this payment would have been reduced for the Pirates; however, despite some strong performances after their respective goodbyes, that obviously never happened. This is not the case for the other players on the list. All three of Dustin Fowler, John Nogowski, and Ka’ai Tom show up here, but will also be covered below. Termination Pay Starting Total: $0 Termination Pay Final Total: $2,518,659 Cash Considerations: The only payments the Pirates covered to another team were to the San Diego Padres for Adam Frazier. It seems that in order to receive Tucupita Marcano in return, the Pirates covered enough of Frazier’s salary to ensure that the Fathers were only responsible for the prorated minimum for the rest of the season. Cash Considerations Starting Total: $0 Cash Considerations Final Total: $1,383,524 Credits: As mentioned, all three of Fowler, Nogowski, and Tom were subsequently signed after being released by the team. While none ever made the majors, it stands to reason that the same rules apply for minor league salaries that the Pirates were still responsible for as part of the players’ Termination Pay. So, the prorated share of the minor league minimum is removed from the Pirates’ bill for the three players—a mere $35,500. Finally, here’s to hoping this is the last time I have to cover the practical side of the contract for He Who Shall Not Be Named. This season was the final guaranteed year of the deal, with two club options remaining at $10 million each. The option for 2022 can be bought out for $1 million; however, it has yet to be made clear what exactly happens to that payment. One would hope that the Pirates don’t have to pay it, but they’ve really had to make no decision on the contract up until now—they simply haven’t had to pay it while it sits on the Restricted List. If for some insane reason the payment can’t be voided, the team could, in theory, pick up the option and simply continue to not pay the salary for 2022, at which point it would still be an item on the ledger. Whatever it takes for a payment not to have to be made, obviously. Credits Starting Total: $(8,000,000) Credits Final Total: $(8,035,500) 2021 Opening Day Payroll: $47,890,800 Final 2021 Payroll: $50,514,772 As usual, for the record, I have the Collective Balance Tax figure at $45,314,772. This is what I’ll use for comparison’s sake when the official figures are (hopefully) reported around December. If and when that happens, I’ll probably write something up comparing my total to the official calculation, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. That’s it—that’s the final payroll for your 2021 Pittsburgh Pirates. You can be sure to follow along all offseason while I update my projections in real time, working towards a total for Opening Day 2022. As I’ve said already, I don’t think you should be expecting much to follow along with, but all we can do is wait and see....
First Pitch: Major League Baseball is Broken
October 15, 2021
I’m of the belief that Major League Baseball provides a significant advantage to large market teams. There is a massive advantage in being able to spend more than your opponents. The extra money allows you to patch over mistakes made from bad signings or bad trades. It also allows teams to stockpile depth. Take the Dodgers, for example. They lost top starter Clayton Kershaw for the entire postseason. You might be able to imagine a world where a team like the Pirates could afford to pay Kershaw $31 million a year, and still put a playoff team around him. But, can you envision a world where Kershaw goes down for the postseason on that Pirates roster and they still have a chance to contend? The Dodgers also lost Trevor Bauer for the postseason. They are paying Bauer $40 million this year. The Pirates could have signed a player for $20 million dollars in 2021, and their entire team payroll would be less than what Bauer and Kershaw receive from the Dodgers. The Dodgers entered the NLDS with the following starters: Max Scherzer – $34.5 million (acquired via trade at the deadline) Walker Buehler – $3.75 million Julio Urias – $3.6 million The latter two players are a product of the Dodgers’ development system. The Dodgers added Scherzer and Trea Turner — who is making $13 million this year and has a year of arbitration remaining — sending out their number 1, 4, and 22 ranked prospects, along with another who was just outside of Baseball America’s midseason top 30. Now, let’s imagine that from the Pirates perspective. Sending out three highly rated prospects for a few months of a pitcher who is still owed over $10 million, and a year and a third of a top position player who will almost certainly end up costing over $20 million total. That’s over $30 million committed to one year and two months, while sending out some of the best players in the development system. The Dodgers also had David Price on their NLDS roster, and didn’t even use him. Price has been dealing with injuries, and is being paid $16 million by the Dodgers, with the Red Sox (currently in the ALCS) paying the other half of his contract. Two of the four League Championship Series teams are paying David Price $16 million each, and he didn’t even pitch in the playoffs. This lays out the almost impossible challenge facing the Pirates, and any small market team like them. Perhaps they manage to develop two of their prospects into top of the rotation guys. That puts them on par with Buehler and Urias on the Dodgers. Maybe they trade their farm system for another top starter like Scherzer, when they see the playoffs in their sights. We saw how that worked before with Chris Archer. Even if Archer performed well, they’d be better off long-term with the guys they sent out. Where is their version of Kershaw? Where is their version of Price? Where is their version of Bauer? Those are three guys who the Dodgers had during the regular season, allowing them to reach the postseason. They didn’t even need those three pitchers to reach the NLDS, despite paying them $87 million. That’s higher than the Opening Day payrolls of seven teams in 2021. Two of those teams had winning records. One of them — the Rays — made the playoffs and were eliminated by the Red Sox. There are two stages to winning a World Series. The first is winning during the regular season, which requires an amount of depth to overcome injuries over a 162 game schedule. The second is winning during the playoffs, which requires a different type of depth. When it all comes down to one series, the game becomes all about elite players. Having depth for the regular season is one thing. Having depth of elite players essentially makes the regular season a formality, and puts the focus on the postseason. It allows a team like the Dodgers to lose Bauer, Kershaw, and Price, and still roll out Scherzer, Buehler, and Urias. And if everyone was healthy, which two of those elite starters would have ended up in the bullpen, paired with Kenley Jansen ($20 million), Joe Kelly ($8.8 million), Blake Treinen ($8 million), and Corey Knebel ($5.25 million)? Meanwhile, the Rays won 100 games during the regular season, but had to roll out rookie pitcher Shane Baz in the playoffs, who only had 13.1 innings in the majors prior to his playoff start. Two of their remaining three starters spent more time in the bullpen or as openers this season. If you’re looking for the reason why MLB is unfair to small market teams, that is it. The Dodgers lose three players who are making more than seven teams, and they still can roll out three top of the rotation starters in the division series. The Rays, one of the seven teams mentioned above, manage to win 100 games during the regular season, only to have their playoff fate decided by a rookie and two relievers. I think the Pirates can get back to the playoffs, just as the Rays and other small market teams have done. However, that’s when the real game begins, and the real game is heavily slanted in favor of the Dodgers, Red Sox, and every other team that can heavily outspend the small markets to get that elite playoff depth. MLB is broken. Daily Links **AFL Recap: Ji-Hwan Bae Day! **Ten Positives for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2021 – No. 4: The Hometown Kid **Arizona Fall League Preview: Pirates Have a Talented Group, Though One Prospect Drops Out **This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: October 14th, Al Oliver and Two Big World Series Wins **Card of the Day: 1993 Topps Outfield Prospects/Midre Cummings PBN Updates I’ve been working on some site updates over at Pirates Prospects. More behind the scenes stuff, but it’s held me back from writing. Fortunately, we’ve got all offseason to relive the horrible 2021 season, and look forward to the Pirates’ impossible task ahead. Song of the Day...
First Pitch: Do Small Market Fans Really Care About These Remaining MLB Playoff Teams?
October 13, 2021
It’s hard to care about baseball if you’re not from New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, or another similarly big market. The 2021 postseason comes down to Boston taking on Houston and Atlanta taking on the winner of the Los Angeles/San Francisco matchup tonight. From a league perspective, baseball is doing what it should be doing. The most marketable teams are advancing to the playoffs, where hardcore baseball fans can enjoy the classic battles of the big market teams. It’s Yankees/Red Sox culture, where two massive fan bases get to celebrate that baseball is made for them, while everyone else gets told that this is the baseball that should be celebrated. Who are those fans who actually watch the game with the same intensity when their favorite team is eliminated? I’d have to think gamblers and fantasy players make a big portion of that, which is why every major outlet focuses on those two accessories to sports. But what is MLB doing to its long-term, 30-team fanbase by continuing to allow the league to cater to the top ten? The Atlanta Braves are now the small market team in the playoffs, opening the season with around $150 million in payroll, ranking just inside the top half of the league. The three remaining teams opened the season inside the top ten in payroll, and are names we’ve seen before. Here are the last seven World Series winners: 2014 – San Francisco 2015 – Kansas City 2016 – Chicago Cubs 2017 – Houston 2018 – Boston 2019 – Washington 2020 – Los Angeles Dodgers Three of those teams will remain in the League Championship Series this year. If the Dodgers advance to the World Series, it will be the fourth appearance for them in five years. The Astros would make three in that time span. The Red Sox could have their second appearance in five years. The Giants have won three World Series titles since 2010. The Atlanta Braves would be the only semblance of parity of the remaining teams. The only team remaining that would allow MLB to say, with a straight face, that the league is fair because there have been eight different World Series winners in the last eight years. That doesn’t mean there is parity in the sport. In a league that has 30 teams, you could get that result while still shutting out over a third of teams from real competition. If there was actual parity, the Kansas City Royals wouldn’t be the only exception on that list. The Royals haven’t had a winning season since. Meanwhile, the Dodgers, Astros, Giants, and Red Sox have all won a World Series in the last seven years and all have another shot this year, among their other shots in previous years. MLB has parity for half the league, and parody for the other half. As a fan of small market baseball, I’m just sitting here waiting for the Arizona Fall League. I can’t imagine I’m the only one. Daily Links **Pittsburgh Pirates 2021 Minor League Recaps: Greensboro Grasshoppers **Pittsburgh Pirates 2021 Minor League Recaps: Bradenton Marauders **Ten Positives for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2021 – No. 2: Key Defenders **Hayes, Bednar Named to MLB Pipeline’s All-Rookie Second Team **Which Arbitration Eligible Players Should the Pirates Bring Back? **This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: October 12th, Hall of Famer Joe Cronin and Charlie Morton 1.0 **Card of the Day: 1993 The Sporting News Conlon Collection Erv Brame Song of the Day...
Arizona Fall League Preview: Pirates Have a Talented Group, Though One Prospect Drops Out
October 13, 2021
Arizona Fall League
The Arizona Fall League begins later today with seven prospects from the Pittsburgh Pirates taking part in the league. The Pirates will be on the Peoria Javelinas this year, and this group is loaded with top prospects, though there’s a small change from the original announced group. When the rosters were posted on the AFL site on Monday, pitcher Miguel Yajure was off of the list and Greensboro reliever Bear Bellomy has been named as his replacement. Here’s a preview of what to expect from the league. We will have daily recaps from every game as long as at least one player from the Pirates appears in the game. In all of the years of doing AFL recaps, I can only remember one game that didn’t have at least one Pirates player. This league rarely gets any rain outs. There have been games canceled due to sand storms, but rarely rain. I’ll note that if a game gets canceled, they never make up any games. That being said, it’s a 30-game schedule, and they usually get in all 30 games. There will also be a Fall-Stars game televised on November 13th (it’s an All-Star game, usually picked based on prospect status not results), and a one-game championship game on November 20th, which will also be televised on MLB Network. Our daily recaps will be posted on Pirates Prospects shortly after each game ends. We posted the preview here today because more people check this site, but from now on, head to Pirates Prospects for the recaps and any AFL news. One important note when looking at the schedule in the AFL is the time. The league starts three hours behind Eastern Time, and ends two hours behind due to daylight savings time and Arizona not being one of the places that participates in that yearly ritual. So the 12:35 PM listed game time will be 3:35 PM/2:35 PM for you fine folks in Pittsburgh (a majority of our audience obviously) and the 6:35 PM night games will start at 9:35 PM/8:35 PM. If you plan to follow along, they have GameDay for the games with pitch-by-pitch updates. I don’t know if they have updated the stadiums there since the 2019 season (there was no AFL last year), but in the past there has only been one stadium that offered pitch data and it’s not Peoria, it’s Salt River. Hopefully that has changed, but if not, the Pirates only play three games there. Good news though, today is one of those games, so hopefully 1-2 Pirates pitchers see action. The Pirates are sending pitchers Roansy Contreras, Carmen Mlodzinski and Michael Burrows, three of the top pitching prospects in the entire system. You can read more on them in the link above. Bear Bellomy is a 24-year-old, 28th round pick from 2019. He pitched in Greensboro this year, posting a 4.57 ERA in 67 innings, with an 85:17 SO/BB ratio, a .230 BAA and a 1.13 WHIP. He finished the season in Indianapolis when they were short on pitchers, but that amounted to one scoreless inning. We have mentioned home/road splits favoring hitters for Greensboro and Bellomy was a major victim the other way. He had a 6.49 ERA at home and a 2.51 road ERA, with a .172 BAA and an 0.74 WHIP. I should note that I saw Yajure mentioned in an article from his home country (Venezuela) as a possibility to play winter ball, as long as he gets permission from his team. So it’s possible that we still cover him this off-season, just not in the AFL. He was removed from this league due to a minor back issue that they didn’t want to push so soon. The starters will probably start six games each and usually they are capped at 4 IP/50 pitches, though I don’t know if Burrows, Contreras and Mlodzinski will all be starters in the AFL. They all missed chucks of time during the season, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them put in about 20 innings. The Pirates are sending three batters, Ji-hwan Bae, Nick Gonzales and Canaan Smith-Njigba. Bae and Gonzales are both second basemen, so something has to give there and my guess would be Bae seeing more outfield time. He started playing center field this season, and the AFL would be a great place to get more time. That being said, no one plays all 30 games and there’s a DH, so there will be time available at second base, even if Gonzales is the primary starter. Every team sends coaches there, and the Pirates will be represented by Kieran Mattison, manager of Greensboro this year. They are also sending Tyler Brooks, an athletic trainer for Altoona this year. I think that’s everything I wanted to mention, but if I think of something else I’ll add it to the article. The game recap will be on P2 around 6:30ish today....
First Pitch: Which Arbitration Eligible Players Should the Pirates Bring Back?
October 12, 2021
Twenty seven point nine million dollars. That’s all it would take to sign the entire Pittsburgh Pirates arbitration class of 11 players this year, according to the latest MLBTR projections. Here is the breakdown: Chasen Shreve – $2.3MM Chad Kuhl – $3.0MM Ben Gamel – $2.9MM Wilmer Difo – $1.1MM Colin Moran – $4.0MM Chris Stratton – $2.2MM Steven Brault – $2.2MM Jacob Stallings – $2.6MM Kevin Newman – $2.2MM Michael Perez – $900K Bryan Reynolds – $4.5MM The Pirates can obviously afford to sign the entire class. However, let’s break down who they should sign, and who they might be better off saving money on by passing. The “saving money” comes with the assumption that they’d use that money on better options. Must-Sign Bryan Reynolds – This one is obvious, and you’d hope the Pirates would pursue an extension with Reynolds. Jacob Stallings – Another obvious pick. I’m not sure an extension needs to be pursued here, as Stallings is entering his age 32 season, and Henry Davis is now in the system. Steven Brault – The Pirates have very little pitching, and Brault has been solid when he’s been healthy. Ben Gamel – I’m adding him to the list, as he showed enough production this year as a starter, and the Pirates need corner outfielders. He might not be a long-term solution, but he can help in the short-term, and perhaps be a long-term bench option on a better team. Fringe Options Chris Stratton – The Pirates are short on relievers, and Stratton can cover innings and pitch in late innings. He’s only projected for $2.2 million, and that would tip him closer to a must-sign if I had to make a choice. Chad Kuhl – Kuhl can start and pitch in relief, but is coming off a bad season of both. He’s done better in the past, and that’s what has him projected for $3 million. He’d be worth taking a chance on for one more year, due to the lack of pitching. Kevin Newman – I think the Pirates need to look at other shortstop options, perhaps finally giving Cole Tucker a shot at the position. Newman had strong defense, but didn’t hit. He’d be a good bench option who could start, with the hope that a new hitting coach could unlock the hit tool that once made him a promising prospect. Wilmer Difo – He was worth 0.5 WAR and can play all over the field. He’s also entering his age 30 season. Difo is projected for $1.1 million. The Pirates could probably find a replacement for the minimum with the same production, so my bet is he gets non-tendered. Expensive Bench Options The guys below are your prime non-tender candidates, due to their reduced value off the bench, or their increased cost. Colin Moran – He’s making $4 million and was replacement level. At his best, Moran has been worth half a WAR. The Pirates could use this money toward a better first base option, perhaps even using it to re-sign Yoshi Tsutsugo. Chasen Shreve – I can’t see him getting $2.3 million as a replacement level reliever. He’d be a good option as depth out of Triple-A on a minor league deal, but didn’t show enough in that role to secure a spot on the team next year. Michael Perez – The Pirates should be able to find a defensive catching option who can improve on Perez’s offense at the plate. That’s especially important with Stallings north of 30, needing more time off than your normal catcher. Daily Links **Pittsburgh Pirates 2021 Minor League Recaps: Greensboro Grasshoppers **Pittsburgh Pirates 2021 Minor League Recaps: Bradenton Marauders **Pirates Projected Arbitration Salaries for 2022 **Ten Positives for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2021 – No. 1: Bryan Reynolds **The Biggest Small Market Approach From the Boston Red Sox **Card of the Day: 1977 Kellogg’s Dave Parker **This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: October 11th, Clemente Plays His Final Game Song of the Day...
First Pitch: The Biggest Small Market Approach From the Boston Red Sox
October 11, 2021
The Boston Red Sox traditionally have the biggest small market mentality of all of the big market MLB teams. That doesn’t reflect in their payroll, obviously. The Red Sox are routinely one of the biggest spenders in the game, reflecting the advantage of their market size. But look at the moves they’ve made over the years. Let’s start with the Mookie Betts trade. The Red Sox traded Betts prior to the 2020 season, sending the young star to the Los Angeles Dodgers. This came prior to his age 27 season, with one year remaining before Betts hit free agency. Not wanting to pay the massive price for Betts, the Red Sox dealt him early to reload their team with younger players. They paired Betts with David Price and cash for the remainder of Price’s deal, landing Alex Verdugo, Connor Wong, and Jeter Downs. Verdugo received MVP votes in 2020, and is wrapping up his age 25 season. Wong made his brief debut in the majors this year at the age of 25. Downs was Baseball America’s #71 prospect heading into the 2021 season, and MLB.com’s #49 prospect. He spent the year in Triple-A with a .606 OPS. The Dodgers extended Betts to a 12-year, $365 million deal after the 2020 season. They will have Betts through his age-39 season. Like any deal this long, extending into a player’s late-30s, there’s a risk of a lot of dead money at the end of the deal. That’s not an issue for the Dodgers, who have the most money in the game, and can afford to spend on one of the best players. It shouldn’t matter for the Red Sox, either. It’s not like they can’t afford Betts. That said, you could make the argument that Verdugo, Wong, and Downs — plus the money saved from not signing Betts — can put the Red Sox in a better position to win. This is a move we’ve seen from the Red Sox in the past, and with the Dodgers. In 2012 they dealt Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and Nick Punto to the Dodgers. The prospects that the Red Sox got back didn’t work out, although two of them (Jerry Sands and Ivan De Jesus Jr.) were traded to the Pirates in the deal for Joel Hanrahan and Brock Holt. Beyond the Box Score has a good breakdown of the trade, well after the fact. The Dodgers got 20.7 WAR for $258 million, which is about $12.5 million per win above replacement. The Red Sox got a -1.6 WAR, though they also only spent $700,000. The deal was a salary dump for the Red Sox and a costly way to buy wins for the Dodgers, who can afford it. With the money saved, the Red Sox — led by current Pirates’ General Manager Ben Cherington — signed Shane Victorino, Ryan Dempster, Jonny Gomes, David Ross, Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli, and Koji Uehara, along with acquiring Hanrahan. That group cost half the price of the players the Red Sox sent to Boston, while producing more WAR in one season. That was a huge reason why Boston won the World Series in 2013. Boston traded the bigger names at the time, but landed the more valuable players in the end, even if it wasn’t a direct result of the deal. The Red Sox have also invested heavily in the draft over the years, and were one of few big market teams taking advantage of their ability to spend anything in the draft prior to 2012. Of course, that only extended so far. They passed on Josh Bell in 2011, then threw a fit when he signed with the Pirates. That said, the draft is one of the best areas to get value with players, and the Red Sox have invested heavily. The traditional big market approach is to invest in stars. Big markets are in perpetual win-now mode, so paying for the best players now is a great way to achieve that. The Red Sox operate more like a small market team in this regard, sending out their big names when they get too expensive. Granted, this isn’t universal. Dustin Pedroia, for example, is at the end of his most recent deal with the Red Sox this year. They added Chris Sale in 2016, and extended him in 2019. They kept Xander Bogaerts and extended him through 2026, although at a much lower cost than Betts. The way the Red Sox operate is less like the Yankees and Dodgers, and more like the Rays with money. With a lot of money, compared to Tampa. Boston has a significant advantage here. Money allows teams to make mistakes, which is what you need when you’re dealing with mid-tier players. And they can still afford a few top tier players in the process. It isn’t a good look for MLB that the top players in the league are destined for New York or Los Angeles. This is a good reminder that the small market way of looking for value and reducing every player to $/WAR isn’t exclusively a small market strategy. With big market teams like Boston taking this approach, it just makes the ability to find value even more difficult for some of those small market teams. The Rays continue to be good at the process, even after losing Andrew Friedman to the Dodgers. The hope that Pirates fans should have is that Ben Cherington will maintain his magic and elevate the Pirates’ ability to find value. Daily Links **Winter Leagues: A Look at the Upcoming Coverage **Pirates 3rd Base/Infield Coach Joey Cora Relieved of Duties **How Many Years Should a Rebuild Take For an MLB Team? **This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: October 10th, Andrew McCutchen and a Big Win in the 1960 World Series **Card of the Day: 2017 Donruss Andrew McCutchen Retro PBN Updates Minor league recaps resume this week at Pirates Prospects, while we will start a few organizational recaps over here at No Quarter. Song of the Day...
First Pitch: What is Your MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement Wish List?
October 10, 2021
Quick discussion topic today: What do you want to see from MLB’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement this offseason? My wish list consists of helping the little guys. I’ve written about how MLB needs a salary cap/salary floor/total revenue sharing to even out the playing field for small market teams. An interesting observation from my article the other day about rebuilding times for MLB teams: Look at how many small market teams went on extended losing streaks, starting around 1993-1995 in the years surrounding the last strike. I feel like there was an obvious problem, and MLB patched over a broken leg with a band-aid. Ever since that point, we’ve seen a massive divide in the league that is only getting bigger. I believe that is a massive long-term issue for MLB, rather than their focus on game time. I don’t think any fan really cares about the length of the game, as long as they know their team has a fair chance in the league. As a source for this idea, the NFL has longer games than baseball, and less actual action during those games. You never see the NFL proposing gimmicks to shorten the game time, because people are going to watch regardless. On the player side, I would love to see minor league players getting treated like human beings and paid more than poverty wages. This is just the right thing to do. I’m not even going to argue this from a development perspective. These teams worth billions shouldn’t need incentive to pay their employees a living wage. And the whole “chasing the dream” crap is just a line used to justify exploiting so many people. We’re all chasing dreams. That should never be a reason to pay over a hundred people $10,000 or less per year for a full-time job. What do you want to see from the new CBA this offseason? Daily Links **Winter Leagues: A Look at the Upcoming Coverage **Pirates 3rd Base/Infield Coach Joey Cora Relieved of Duties **Pirates Reportedly Let Go of Joey Cora **This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: October 9th, Starling Marte and Bob Moose **Card of the Day: 1968 Topps Pirates Rookies Bob Moose/Bob Robertson Song of the Day...
Pirates Reportedly Let Go of Joey Cora
October 9, 2021
Buster Olney from ESPN is reporting that the Pittsburgh Pirates have let go of third base coach Joey Cora. In 2016, Cora was named as the manager of the Altoona Curve. One year later, he was promoted to third base coach in the majors, where he has been for the last five seasons. He has also served as the team’s infield coach. The Pirates let go of hitting coach Rick Eckstein during the 2021 season, so there will be at least two new faces on the 2022 coaching staff. Joey Cora, third base coach for Pittsburgh, was let go by the Pirates. — Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) October 9, 2021...
Card of the Day: 1953 Topps Mike Sandlock
October 17, 2021
Card of the Day
Back in 2012, we did a two-part interview on Pirates Prospects with 1953 Pirates catcher Mike Sandlock. At the time he was the oldest living former Pittsburgh Pirates player. That article was one of our most popular history articles because Sandlock was also the oldest living MLB player at one time and a lot of Dodgers fans picked up on the story and passed it around. Sandlock played two seasons for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He passed away at 100 years old in 2016, one of just a few big league players to make it to the century mark. He was born 106 years ago today and he had just one* card while with the Pirates, so today we look at his offering from the 1953 Topps set. Here’s the front of the card: The asterisk up top was there to say that he technically had a second card when Topps issued a set of reprints for this set in 1991. I’m not sure if that counts as a second card or not , but it looks almost exactly the same, except the reprint indicators so people can’t pass them off as real. I’m a big fan of the 1953 set. Topps had some great artwork this year, though Sandlock wasn’t one of their best efforts from that set. However, it’s a cool pose, especially compared to a lot of the other cards being close up shots. I noticed one interesting thing while searching through scans here. The Sandlock card comes with two printing defects that really stand out when you’re scrolling through a lot of them looking for a good scan. I passed on using one scan because I thought the card had paper loss near the top left border. It turns out than a bunch of cards had ink issues, so part of the background is missing in that spot. Another set of cards had that black box off-center in the bottom where his name/team/position is listed and you can see a red box, which is what many of the other teams in the set used. I found a card with both of those minor issues so you can see. Topps is currently producing a set called the Living Set, where they put out two new cards per week and however many cards are bought during that week is how many they print. I’ve been collecting the Pirates cards in the set since the beginning. The design they are using for that set is exactly the same as the 1953 Topps set. One really interesting thing that set does occasionally is use the team logos from that player’s era. The Pirates current Living Set has Ralph Kiner and Honus Wagner included, and they have different team logos than the current players issued in the set. For some reason they didn’t do the same thing with Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente. So far none of the Pirates in the set have the logo you see up top, which was used from 1948 through 1957. The Living Set is a great product, with part of the intrigue from me being that the used the 1953 design, including the artwork. Here’s the back of the card: I’m a big fan of these card backs, even though I prefer full stats for players. I just don’t knock the older sets for not doing it because this is actually an improvement over most sets issued before 1953. I don’t like it when it happens in more recent sets, except when they are using throwback designs. It would be odd if the Living Set used the same front design and not the back, so they stuck with the old reliable. Sandlock was in the minors from 1947 through 1952, so they had to use his minor league stats. He came back when the Pirates needed a catcher for knuckleball pitcher Johnny Lindell. When Lindell was sold to the Philadelphia Phillies, they had no one to handle him, so they acquired Sandlock four months later. If you’re interested in this card, you’ll be happy to know that there are a ton of options on Ebay because the 1953 set is very popular and cards are trading hands constantly. Dealers keep the set stocked in their stores and people are always buying them up and reselling later. There are 147 current auctions and 37 completed auctions over the last three months. A PSA 8 sold for $300 recently, but the prices really drop for lower grades. A PSA 7 went for $78 not long ago. There’s a PSA 7 active now for $82 (plus many $20+ more in that grade). You can go for the nice ones, or if you just want a presentable low grade one, it can be had in the $6-$10 range. I would go a little higher because you’ll get a nicer looking one for around $15-$20. There are two autographed versions in completely different price ranges and the prices aren’t what you would expect when you see them. One is graded/authenticated for $40, with a best offer. Another isn’t graded/authentic at it’s got a $100 price tag....
This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: October 17th, Pirates Win the 1971 and 1979 World Series
October 17, 2021
This Date in Pittsburgh Baseball History
Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus two major games of note. Mike Sandlock, catcher for the 1953 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball in 1938 at 22 years old with Huntington of the Class-D Mountain State League, where he hit .276 with 25 extra-base hits in 116 games. He spent most of 1939 in Class-D ball as well, playing in the Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York League (PONY League), where he hit .300 with 28 extra-base hits in 94 games. He also saw time with Hartford of the Class-A Eastern League that season, then spent the 1940 season in Hartford, where he batted .234 with four doubles and a triple in 49 games. From there, Sandlock spent the 1941 and 1942 seasons with Evansville of the Class-B Three-I League. He batted .324 with 13 extra-base hits in 80 games in 1941, then came back with a .306 average, 27 doubles, 12 triples and four homers in 120 games the next year. Sandlock started his Major League career in 1942 at 26 years old for the Boston Braves, hitting a single in his first at-bat as a late September call-up. He played two games, but that turned out to be his only at-bat that season. He served in WWII in 1943 before returning to baseball for the 1944 season. He batted .100 in 30 at-bats over 30 games for the 1944 Braves, then hit .308 in 35 games for St Paul of the American Association that year after being traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers in August. Sandlock played two seasons for the Dodgers, hitting .282 with 18 extra-base hits, 17 RBIs and 21 runs score in 80 games in 1945, which turned out to be his best season in the majors. The next year was split between the Dodgers and St Paul. He hit .147 in 19 big league games that year. He then spent the next seven years in the minors, the last two years as a member of the Pirates organization. Sandlock played for Montreal of the International League during the 1947-48 seasons, then saw time with Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League for four seasons, playing at least 90 games each year. He batted .286 with a .671 OPS in 111 games during the 1952 season. On October 11, 1952, Sandlock came to the Pirates in a five-player deal with Hollywood. Sandlock returned to the majors in 1953 after a seven-year absence, making the Pirates Opening Day roster because of his ability to catcher knuckleball pitcher Johnny Lindell. In his first game back he went 3-for-3, and for the first half of the season he was seeing regular duty behind the plate. He played just two games in September of that year, finishing with a .231 average in 64 games. Sandlock was sold to the Philadelphia Phillies after the 1953 season. The Phillies had acquired Johnny Lindell in August (which is why Sandlock barely played in September) and they wanted Sandlock to be his catcher. However, Sandlock got hurt on a collision at home plate at the end of Spring Training in 1954 and never played for the Phillies. He played that season with San Diego of the Pacific Coast League, hitting .183 in 80 games, before retiring. In his five seasons in the majors, he hit .240 with two homers, 31 RBIs and 34 runs scored in 195 games. We did a two-part interview with Sandock back in 2012, when he was the oldest living former Pirates player and second oldest living player. He passed away in 2016. Here’s the interview. Part one and Part two. Chris Tremie, catcher for the 1999 Pirates. He went 1-for-14 in nine games during his short time with the Pirates. His four-season big league career consisted of 22 games over a ten-year time span. He was originally a 41st round draft pick out of high school in 1988 by the Houston Astros, but chose college instead. After four years at the University of Houston, Tremie was drafted in the 39th round by the Chicago White Sox. He played just six games during that first year of pro ball and he went 1-for-16 at the plate in the New York-Penn League. In 1993, he played sparingly at three levels between the Gulf Coast League and High-A, combining to hit .179 with one homer in 65 games. In 1994, Tremie spent the entire year with Double-A Birmingham of the Southern League, hitting .225 in 92 games, with two homers and a .566 OPS. He moved up to Triple-A in 1995 and did worse there, hitting .200 with a .511 OPS, but he still got his first big league shot. It took him just three years from being drafted in the 39th round to debut in the majors, playing his first of ten games for the 1995 White Sox on July 1st. He went 4-for-24 with four singles in his limited time. The entire 1996 season was spent in Triple-A, where he posted a .556 OPS in 70 games. Tremie was taken by the Philadelphia Phillies in the Rule 5 draft after the season. He ended up spending the year in Triple-A, before the Phillies sent him to the Texas Rangers at the end of Spring Training in 1998. He next appeared in the majors during that 1998 season, seeing two games with the Rangers. The Pirates signed him as a minor league free agent after the 1998 season. Tremie spent most of the year with Triple-A Nashville, but he saw action with the Pirates in July and one game in August. He was called up with Jason Kendall out for the year with a broken ankle. It looked like Tremie would get more playing time after the July 21st game in which Keith Osik got injured, but instead the Pirates acquired veteran Joe Oliver, who became the regular catcher. From July 22nd until he was sent back to Triple-A on August 15th, Tremie played one game. He was released after the season and would play just one more big league game. In 2004, he was a defensive replacement for the final inning on September 21st for the Houston Astros. He was called up for the final 15 games of the season after Brad Ausmus suffered a concussion. Tremie played a total of 14 seasons in the minors. He spent the 2000 season split between independent ball and the Florida Marlins, then spent his 2001-05 seasons with the Houston Astros, seeing most of that time in Double-A. He hit .146 with an RBI and three runs scored in his 22 big league games. He made four relief appearances in the minors and allowed just one hit. Mark Johnson, first baseman for the 1995-97 Pirates. Johnson played a total of 428 games over seven years in the majors, three spent with the Pirates, while also seeing action with the 1998 Anaheim Angels and 2000-02 New York Mets. The Pirates originally drafted him in the 42nd round out of Dartmouth College in 1989. He decided to go back to college for his senior year and then the Pirates took him in the 20th round in 1990. Johnson spent most of his first season in pro ball in Low-A, hitting .250 with no homers in 43 games. The next season was split between Low-A and High-A, combining to hit .256 with 17 extra-base hits in 86 games. He was in Double-A for the first of three straight seasons in 1992, playing for Carolina of the Southern League. Johnson hit .232 with 24 extra-base hits and 16 steals in 122 games in 1992. He followed that up with a .233 average, 18 doubles, 14 homers and 66 RBIs in 125 games in 1993. The next year saw him hit .276 with 20 doubles, 23 homers, 85 RBIs and 67 walks in 111 games. It took five full years for him to work his way through the minors, debuting on April 26, 1995, which was actually Opening Day during the strike-shortened season. Johnson hit .208 with 13 homers in 79 games as a rookie, spending a short time in Triple-A (nine games) mid-season. He was with the Pirates for the entire 1996 season and he batted .274 with 24 doubles, 13 homers and an .819 OPS in 127 games. His average and power numbers dropped in 1997 and he split the season between the majors and minors, hitting .215 with four homers in 78 games for the Pirates. Johnson was lost on waivers in August to the Cincinnati Reds, who held on to him for a year and 13 days before being sent to the Angels, though he was in the minors the entire time with Cincinnati. He got into ten games with the 1998 Angels and went 1-for-14 at the plate. Johnson spent the 1999 season playing in Japan, where he put up an .823 OPS in 125 games, then returned to the U.S. as a free agent signing with the New York Mets. He spent three seasons in New York and saw minor league time each year. He hit .182 in 21 games with the 2000 Mets. The next year saw him hit .254 with six homers and 23 RBIs in 71 games. He was mainly used off of the bench that year, seeing 23 starts all season. He also played outfield 19 times that year, including 12 starts. Johnson played just 18 innings in the outfield during his other six seasons in the majors. In 2002, he had 61 plate appearances in 42 games for the Mets, hitting .137 with one homer and four RBIs. He retired after the 2002 season. He hit .239 with 30 homers, 104 RBIs, 117 runs scored and 124 walks in 284 games with the Pirates. He was a career .232 hitter in 428 games. Ravelo Manzanillo, reliever for the 1994-95 Pirates. His only other big league time besides his two seasons with the Pirates was two starts for the 1988 Chicago White Sox. Manzanillo originally signed with the Pirates as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 1980, two months before his 17th birthday. He debuted strong in the Gulf Coast League in 1981, posting a 1.13 ERA in 48 innings. He moved up to Greenwood of the South Atlantic League for 1982, where he went 9-9, 4.97 in 157.2 innings, with more walks than strikeouts. From there he pitched for Alexandria of the Carolina League, where he was 7-7, 4.44 in 105.1 innings over 20 starts and two relief outings. The next two seasons were spent in Double-A for Nashua of the Eastern League. Manzanillo went 4-4, 4.24 in 74.1 innings in 1984. The next season saw him go 6-10, 4.67 in 123.1 innings, with 62 strikeouts and 96 walks. He was released by the Pirates in May of 1986 without pitching a game that season, then played in Mexico that year. He was dealing with a shoulder issue during the 1987 season. He signed with the Baltimore Orioles in January of 1987, but they released him in April without seeing a game and he ended up playing center field in an amateur league in New York that summer under an assumed name. Manzanillo signed with the Chicago White Sox prior to the 1988 season and made his two big league appearances in late September, giving up six runs in 9.1 innings. He actually spent that minor league season in A-Ball, making the jump straight to the majors. Manzanillo spent the 1989-90 seasons in the minors for the White Sox. He spent the 1991 season in Triple-A with the Toronto Blue Jays, then played in China in 1992. He played in a summer league in the Dominican in 1993, where Pirates scout Pablo Cruz saw him playing. Cruz was the same scout who signed him in 1980. Manzanillo made the Pirates Opening Day roster in 1994 and appeared in 46 games in relief during the strike-shortened season, going 4-2, 4.14 in 50 innings. He pitched just five big league games early in 1995, giving up three runs in 3.2 innings, before being sent to Triple-A, where he was limited to 12 innings due to injuries. The Pirates released him in October of 1995 and he then bounced around between the minors/independent ball, China, Mexico, and Korea over the next ten seasons before retiring in 2005 at 41 years old. He had a 4.19 ERA in 53.2 innings over 51 appearances with the Pirates. Manzanillo is credited with 140 wins and over 2,000 innings pitched during his career, though some of his foreign league stats are missing. His younger brother Josias Manzanillo celebrated his birthday yesterday. He pitched for the 2001-02 Pirates. Hardy Peterson, catcher for the 1955 and 1957-59 Pirates. He played 66 career Major League games, all with the Pirates. He is more famously known as the general manager of the 1979 Pirates team. He held a front office position with the club from 1968 until 1985, and prior to that, he was a minor league manager for the Pirates for nine seasons. Peterson signed with the Pirates out of Rutgers University in 1950 at 20 years old. He played two seasons in the minors, then spent the 1952-53 seasons serving in the Army during the Korean War. Peterson played for Tallahassee of the Class-D Georgia-Florida League in 1950, hitting .275 with eight extra-base hits in 45 games. He moved up two levels in 1951 to Waco of the Big State League, where he hit .301 with 28 doubles and 12 homers in 148 games. When he returned to the service, he played for New Orleans of the Double-A Southern Association in 1954, hitting .282 with 18 doubles and three homers in 79 games. Peterson began 1955 in the majors, despite missing Spring Training time with a leg injury. After playing one game, he was sent to the minors on May 10th, where he played 12 games with Williamsport of the Class-A Eastern League. Peterson was recalled on May 29th and became the third-string catcher for the Pirates. His season ended early due to a broken arm from a home plate collision on August 25th, which also cost him the 1956 season when he required a later surgery. He returned to the Pirates in July of 1957 after 47 games with Columbus of the International League and played 30 big league games that season, hitting .301 with two homers and 11 RBIs. The rest of his big league career consisted of two early May games in 1958 and two mid-season games in 1959. Peterson played for three Pirates affiliates in the minors during that 1958 season, then played 95 games with Wilson of the Class-B Carolina League in 1959, where he was also the manager. The Pirates called him up on an emergency basis when catcher Hank Foiles was injured. Peterson finished his minor league career in 1960-61 as the player-manager for Burlington of the Three-I League. He batted .273 in 66 big league games, with three homers, 21 RBIs and 17 runs scored. Bert Maxwell, pitcher for the 1906 Pirates. He played four years in the majors, none consecutively, over a nine-year stretch. His only appearance with the Pirates was a start on September 12, 1906 in which he allowed six runs over eight innings. That game was his MLB debut at 19 years old. He spent the 1906 season playing for Montgomery of the Class-A Southern Association, where he posted a 17-15 record in his third season of pro ball. Maxwell debuted in 1904 with Class-D Pine Bluffs of the Cotton States League, where he had a 10-11 record (No ERA’s are available from his early minor league years). He saw some time with Greenville of the same league in 1905, while also playing briefly that year for Galveston of the Class-C South Texas League. So prior to joining the Pirates, he had very little pro time, especially at a high level of competition. The Pirates purchased his contract on August 25, 1906 from Montgomery and it was said at the time that he would report to the team on September 15th after his minor league season was over. The scouting reports said that he had above average velocity on his fastball, good control and his changeup was of tough pitch to hit. Maxwell ended up joining the Pirates early, arriving in Chicago to meet the team on September 6th. In his lone game with the Pirates six days later, the local press noted that he wasn’t much of a hitter, which played out true over his big league career (he was an .075 hitter in the majors). They also mentioned that his slow fielding cost him a run. Maxwell pitched an exhibition game for the Pirates against a local semi-pro team and lost 6-1 on September 17th. On February 9, 1907, the Pirates returned Maxwell to his team in Montgomery, where he put together an 18-19 record that season. After leaving the Pirates, he also pitched in the majors for the 1908 Philadelphia Athletics, 1911 New York Giants and 1914 Brooklyn Tip-Tops of the Federal League. His last game with the A’s did not go well. After pitching just three times in the early part of the season, giving up six runs in seven innings, manager Connie Mack let Maxwell take one for the team on on July 17th against the Detroit Tigers. The game got out of hand early and he was given the ball for the final seven innings to save the bullpen. He allowed 15 runs on 17 hits and seven walks. As a side note, that same day the Pirates were at home celebrating Honus Wagner Day and they got shutout. Maxwell pitched in the Southern Association during a majority of the 1909-11 seasons, broken only by four late season games with the Giants in 1911. In three complete game starts and one relief appearance, he had a 2.90 ERA in 31 innings. He spent 1912-13 with Toronto of the International League, going 32-28 during that time, while throwing 485 innings. Maxwell’s time in the Federal League in 1914 was his last season of pro ball. He went 3-4, 3.28 in 71.1 innings. His real name was James Albert Maxwell, and he was introduced to Pirates fans as “J.A.”, but he was known as Bert. Pop Dillon, first baseman for the 1899-1900 Pirates. When he joined the Pirates in September of 1899 for his big league debut, he already had seven seasons of minor league experience. There are almost no stats available from that time, which began with Bozeman of the Montana State League at 18 years old in 1892. In 1894 he was playing for the Class-A Western Association, which was a high level of play for the time, but it still took five years to make the majors. In 1895 he pitched for two teams, posting a 10-4 record in 108 innings for Ottumwa of the independent Eastern Iowa League, while also going 1-6 for Dubuque of the Western Association. He would pitch 12 games and go 7-2 for Rockford of the Western Association in 1897, but he did almost no pitching after that point. He was purchased for $1,500 by the Pirates on September 4, 1899 from Buffalo of the Western League and played his first big league game four days later. His Buffalo stats aren’t available, but he spent most of that 1899 season with Scranton of the Class-A Atlantic League, where he hit .309 with ten doubles and ten triples in 61 games. Once Dillon joined the Pirates, he was in the lineup for every day for the rest of the 1899 season, batting .256 in 30 games as a rookie. He then went 2-for-18 during his brief time with the Pirates at the beginning of 1900. He hit .237 in his 35 games with the Pirates, with 21 RBIs and 24 runs scored. Dillon was one of the few leftovers from the 1899 team to stay after the Pirates completed the famous 17-player trade with the Louisville Colonels in December of 1899, but he lost his job just five games into the 1900 season when the Pirates bought Duff Cooley from the Philadelphia Phillies and released Dillon. Pop (his real name was Frank) would finish that season with the Detroit Tigers of the American League ( In 1900 the AL was considered a minor league), hitting .291 with 30 extra-base hits and 57 runs scored in 123 games. He was still in Detroit in 1901, where he hit four doubles on the first day of the American League’s existence as a Major League . He batted .288 with 21 extra-base hits, 42 RBIs and 40 runs scored in 74 games that season. Dillon hit .206 with 22 RBIs in 66 games for the Tigers in 1902 before being sold to the Baltimore Orioles (Yankees franchise), where he played just two games before being released. After spending 1903 in the Los Angeles of the Pacific Coast League, where he played 190 games (the team played over 200 games) and hit .364 with 49 doubles and 14 triples, Dillon played his final big league season. For the 1904 Brooklyn Superbas (Dodgers), he hit .258 with 24 extra-base hits, 60 runs scored and 31 RBIs in 135 games. The next 11 seasons were spent back with Los Angeles, where he played over 1,700 games total. He was a .252 career hitter in 312 big league games, with one homer, 116 RBIs and 146 runs scored. His lone home run came four days after his four-double game. He played 21 seasons in the minors and eight of those years he was a player-manager. Dillon is the cousin of Hall of Famer Clark Griffith. George Nicol, pitcher for the 1894 Pirates. Before joining the Pirates, he had previously pitched parts of two seasons in the majors (1890-91), with poor control and moderate success in his five combined starts. He debuted in the American Association late in 1890 for the St Louis Browns at 19 years old, posting a 4.76 ERA in 17 innings over three starts. Those games were his pro debut. In 1891, he spent most of the year in the minors, but got a chance to play for the Chicago Colts (Cubs), where he allowed 20 runs in just 11 innings, though only six of the runs were earned. He had two starts on back-to-back days in late July and faced Hall of Famers Old Hoss Radbourn and Cy Young. Nicol spent the 1892-93 seasons in the minors, where he went a combined 44-33 for three different teams. His 1893 season shows a 1.34 ERA in 388.1 innings split between Erie of the Eastern League and Los Angeles of the California League. The Pirates signed him for the 1894 season and he struggled in his nine appearances, five as a starter. In 46.1 innings, he allowed 58 hits and walked 39 batters, recording just 13 strikeouts. He batted .409 in his nine games with the Pirates. During the season, while still with the Pirates, he pitched for a local semi-pro team. On August 13, 1894, the Pirates traded Nicol to the Louisville Colonels, along with cash, in exchange for pitcher Jock Menefee. Nicol pitched very poorly in two starts for Louisville, but played outfield in 26 games and hit .339 with 19 RBIs. His pitching records in the majors show a 5-7, 7.19 record in 91.1 innings, while he batted .347 in 43 games. While with the Pirates in Spring Training, Nicol’s outfield play was getting rave reviews and they suggested that he could make it as an outfielder if his pitching didn’t work out. The next season he was back in the minors, taking up outfielder full-time, playing until his retirement in 1905 without another trip back to the majors. Despite pitching in the majors in 1894, his minor league records (which are incomplete) show just nine innings of work in 1895 and nothing after that point. The Game On this date in 1971, the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Baltimore Orioles at Memorial Stadium in game seven of the World Series by a 2-1 score to capture their fourth World Series title. Eight years later, they would repeat the feat, almost exactly the same way. Steve Blass threw a complete game in 1971, giving up just one run on an eighth inning ground out from Don Buford. It was the second win by Blass, who also pitched a complete game with one run allowed in game three. The Pirates had lost game six the previous day in extra innings by a 3-2 score. The Pirates scored first in this game in the fourth inning on a solo home run by Roberto Clemente off of Orioles starter Mike Cuellar. It was Clemente’s eighth RBI of the series. He batted .383 in the series and was named World Series MVP. The other Pirates run scored in the eighth inning on a lead-off single by Willie Stargell, followed by a double from Jose Pagan. This title was the first for the Pirates since 1960. In 1979, the Pirates would defeat the Orioles again in the World Series, also in seven games, with both series ending in Baltimore on October 17th. This was a 4-1 win with Jim Bibby, Don Robinson, Grant Jackson and Kent Tekulve combining for the win. The Orioles took a 1-0 lead with a home run by Rich Dauer in the third inning. The Pirates got a two-run homer by Willie Stargell in the sixth inning to take the lead. Omar Moreno singled home a run in the ninth, then Bill Robinson got hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to make it 4-1....
This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: October 16th, Pirates Win Their First World Series Championship
October 16, 2021
This Date in Pittsburgh Baseball History
There have been 12 former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus one major game of note. Edgar Santana, pitcher for the 2017-18 Pirates. He signed very late out of the Dominican Republic because he attended school first, but once he got in the Pirates system, it didn’t take him long to get to the majors. He debuted in the Dominican Summer League at 22 years old in 2014 and had a 3.66 ERA in 19.2 innings over 13 appearances. In 2015, he moved up to the New York-Penn League with Morgantown, then spent a short time with West Virginia of the Low-A South Atlantic League. Santana combined to go 1-0, 3.19 in 42.1 innings over 22 appearances. In 2016, he started at High-A Bradenton, quickly moved to Double-A Altoona, then finished the season with Triple-A Indianapolis. He had an 0.81 ERA in 22.1 innings with Bradenton, a 2.83 ERA in 41.1 innings with Altoona, and a 5.06 ERA in 16 innings in Triple-A. Santana went to the Arizona Fall League after the season and he threw 13.2 shutout innings, with 18 strikeouts. In 2017, he started to Indianapolis, but he had three stints with the Pirates, first coming up in July. In 18 innings over 19 games with the Pirates, he posted a 3.50 ERA. In 2018, he spent the entire year with the Pirates, going 3-4, 3.26 in 66.1 innings over 69 appearances. His career got sidetracked over the next two seasons. He missed 2019 due to Tommy John surgery, and he missed the shortened 2020 season due to a PED suspension. He went to Spring Training with the Pirates in 2021, but they designated him for assignment, then sold him to the Atlanta Braves just after the season started. He spent some time in the minors, but most of the year was spent in Atlanta, where he finished with a 3.59 ERA in 42.2 innings over 41 appearances. Matt Ruebel, pitcher for the 1996-97 Pirates. Ruebel was a third round draft pick of the Pirates in 1991 out of the University of Oklahoma. He had considerable trouble in his first four seasons of pro ball until a breakout year in Double-A in 1995. That 1991 season saw him start in the short-season New York-Penn League, where he had a 1.95 ERA in six starts for Welland. He moved up to the Low-A South Atlantic League, where he finished off the year with a 3.83 ERA in eight starts. In 1992, Ruebel split the season between Augusta and Salem of the High-A Carolina League. He did well in his return trip to Low-A, posting a 5-2, 2.78 record in 64.2 innings, but struggled in Salem, going 1-6, 4.71 in 78.1 innings. In 1993, he once again split between Augusta and Salem, except this time he was mainly pitching in relief. He had a 2.42 ERA in 63.1 innings with Augusta, but he had his issues in Salem again, with a 5.94 ERA in 33.1 innings. Ruebel finally had success in Salem in 1994 when he made 13 starts and eight relief appearances, going 6-6, 3.44 in 86.1 innings. When he got promoted to Carolina of the Double-A Southern League, he made three starts and three relief appearances, finishing with a 6.61 ERA in 16.1 innings. During his breakout season in Carolina in 1995, Ruebel went 13-5, 2.76 in 169.1 innings over 27 starts, with a career best 136 strikeouts. Despite a 4.60 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP in Triple-A Calgary of the Pacific Coast League in 1996, he saw significant time with the Pirates during the season, pitching for a month in mid-May to mid-June, then rejoining the club in late July for the rest of the season. Ruebel matched his Triple-A numbers with a 4.60 ERA. He made seven starts and 19 relief appearances for the Pirates, throwing a total of 58.2 innings. He was with the Pirates for the entire 1997 and things didn’t go well, which led to somewhat limited usage. Ruebel had a 6.32 ERA and a 1.66 WHIP in 44 appearances (all relief). He had a 5.49 ERA in 121.1 innings over 63 relief appearances and seven starts in his two years in Pittsburgh. His only other big league time consisted of 8.2 innings for the 1998 Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He was released after the 1997 season by the Pirates and signed with the Devil Rays. His big league career was over by July of 1998, but he played another two years in pro ball, spending time with three others MLB clubs in the minors. He was with the Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Mets in 1999 and the Montreal Expos in 2000, when he also had a short stint in independent ball. Since retiring as a player, he has become a scout for the Pirates. Josias Manzanillo, pitcher for the 2000-02 Pirates. He played a total of 11 seasons in the majors, seeing time with eight big league clubs. He was signed at 15 years old out of the Dominican Republic by the Boston Red Sox in 1983, back before rules required players to turn 16 before they signed. Boston sent him to the New York-Penn League, which was an advanced placement for any player, but Manzanillo is one of the youngest players in the league’s history. As you might have suspected, he struggled during his first year, posting a 7.98 ERA in 38.1 innings, with more walks than strikeouts. In 1984, he stayed in the same league, putting up a 5.26 ERA in 25.2 innings, with more walks than strikeouts. The Red Sox gave him a third year in the league, though he also saw brief time in Low-A, where he had a lot of trouble recording outs. Between both stops, he had a 5.23 ERA in 51.2 innings, with 54 walks and 53 strikeouts. After three years of poor results, he jumped to the Florida State League in 1986 and went 13-5, 2.27 in 142.2 innings. His progress came to a halt in his second start in Double-A in 1987. A shoulder injury caused him to miss the rest of the season and all of 1988. In 1989, he returned healthy and made 26 starts in Double-A, going 9-10, 3.66 in 147.2 innings. In 1990, Manzanillo split the year between Double-A and Triple-A, combining to go 8-11, 4.54 in 156.2 innings, with 128 strikeouts. His ERA at the lower level was just over two full runs lower. In 1991, he had a 2.90 ERA in seven starts at Double-A, followed by a 5.61 ERA in 102.2 innings back at Triple-A. The Red Sox had him pitch one inning in the majors that year and he allowed two runs. In 1992, Mazanillo became a free agent and signed with the Kansas City Royals, where he spent the entire season in the minors, mostly in Triple-A. In 1993, he signed as a free agent with the Milwaukee Brewers, who traded him to the New York Mets in mid-June. He had a 9.53 ERA in 17 innings with the Brewers and a 3.00 ERA in 12 innings with the Mets. Most of the strike-shortened 1994 season was spent in the majors, where he had a 3-2, 2.66 record and two saves in 47.1 innings over 37 games. Manzanillo got off to a slow start with the 1995 Mets, posting a 7.88 ERA in 16 innings, before placing him on waivers, where he was picked up by the New York Yankees. He finished the year with a 2.08 ERA in 17.1 innings. He played in Taiwan in 1996, then signed with the Seattle Mariners in December of 1996. Manzanillo had a 5.40 ERA with the Mariners in 1997 before being released in July. He signed with the Houston Astros, but he finished the season in the minors. He signed with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for 1998, staying there until he was released in July. The Mets re-signed him, but he ended up spending the entire year in the minors, before seeing big league time again in 1999. The Pirates signed Manzanillo as a free agent after he posted a 5.79 ERA in 12 appearances for the 1999 Mets. He spent most of 2000 in the majors, putting up a 3.38 ERA in 58.2 innings over 43 appearances. He spent the entire 2001 season in the majors, making 71 appearances. In 79.2 innings, he had a 3.39 ERA and he recorded two saves. Despite the success and usage in 2001, it didn’t carry over into the next season. He spent half of the year in the minors and he was released on August 15th after posting a 7.62 ERA in 13 innings over 13 appearances. He had a 3.75 ERA in 151.1 innings over 127 relief appearances with the Pirates. Manzanillo pitched parts of two more seasons in the majors with the Cincinnati Reds and Florida Marlins, then finished his career with a season in Mexico. He had a 12.66 ERA in 10.2 innings over nine appearances with the Reds in 2003. He actually allowed 20 runs during that short time, but five were unearned. With the 2004 Marlins, Manzanillo went 3-3, 6.12 in 32.1 innings over 26 games. He pitched 267 games (one starts) in the majors, and had a 13-15, 4.71 record and six saves in 342 innings. His brother Ravelo Manzanillo pitched for the 1994-95 Pirates as part of his three-year career in the majors. Ravelo actually started his pro career with the Pirates, then suffered a shoulder injury right around the same time as his brother in 1987. His time with the Pirates came six years after they parted ways with him the first time. Their nephew Jerry Gil played two seasons in the majors, 2004 and 2007. Billy Taylor, pitcher for 2001 Pirates. He didn’t make the majors until he was 32 years old in 1994, then ended up playing seven years in the big leagues. Taylor originally signed out of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College as a second round draft pick in 1980 of the Texas Rangers. That’s a college that produced two big league players through the draft, but hasn’t had a draft pick since 1997.He played 14 seasons before his first shot at the majors, and dealt with a heartbreaking decision 12 years into his career when the Toronto Blue Jays made him a Rule 5 pick, then cut him right before Opening Day. He also had to deal with missing the entire 1995 due to injury after finally making the majors a year earlier. During the 1996-99 seasons, he was the closer for the Oakland A’s, compiling exactly 100 saves in his career. Taylor started in the Gulf Coast League in 1980 at 18 years old, but he made it to A-Ball before the season ended, though his 10.93 ERA in 14 innings showed that he was pushed quickly. He had the same split in 1981, with a 2.72 ERA in the GCL and a 4.64 ERA for Asheville of the South Atlantic League. He pitched for two teams in the Midwest League in 1982, making 37 appearances, with nine starts and 112 innings pitched. In 1983, Taylor spent most of the season with Tulsa of the Double-A Texas League, where he had a 6.87 ERA in 76 innings. He remained in Tulsa for the next 2 1/2 seasons, posting a 3.83 ERA while working mostly in relief in 1984, followed by a 3.47 ERA as a starter in 1985. He split the 1986 season between Tulsa and Oklahoma City of the Triple-A American Association. Taylor combined to go 8-12, 4.34 in 170 innings over 27 starts, with 132 strikeouts. He struggled in Oklahoma City for the next two seasons, with a 5.61 ERA in 168.1 innings in 1987, and a 5.49 ERA in 82 innings in 1988. He became a free agent after the season and signed with the San Diego Padres, where he had a 5.13 ERA in 79 innings of relief work for Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League in 1989. Taylor didn’t sign until August of 1990 and played sparingly in the minors that season for the Atlanta Braves. In 1991, he spent the entire season in Double-A as a closer for the Braves, putting up 22 saves and a 1.51 ERA in 77.1 innings. In 1992, he moved up to Triple-A and 2.28 ERA and 12 saves in 79 innings. The Toronto Blue Jays took him that December in the Rule 5 draft and ended up returning him to the Braves on April 3, 1993. He would spend that entire season in Triple-A, despite a 1.98 ERA and 26 saves. He signed with the Oakland A’s as a free agent for 1994 and won an Opening Day spot. He went 1-3, 3.50 in 46.1 innings over 41 games during that shortened season. He injured his knee at the start of Spring Training in 1995 and missed the entire season. Taylor returned in 1996 to go 6-3, 4.33, with 17 saves in 60.1 innings over 55 games. He improved to 3-4, 3.82, with 23 saves in 73 innings over 72 appearances in 1997. The next year saw him improve yet again, despite a 4-9 record. He had a 3.58 ERA in 73 innings over 70 games, while compiling a career best 33 saves. Taylor had a 3.98 ERA and 26 saves for the A’s through the end of July in 1999 when he was traded to the New York Mets to help their playoff run. He struggled with his new team in a non-closer role, posting an 8.10 ERA in 13.1 innings over 18 appearances. While that ERA was bad, he ended up allowing just one run in his last seven appearances, covering 7.1 innings. Taylor signed with the Colorado Rockies as a free agent in 2000, but they released him during Spring Training. He signed with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays a week later and spent most of the year in Triple-A. He had an 8.56 ERA in 17 appearances with the Devil Rays that season. His only appearance with the Pirates was his last big league game, when he gave up one run over two innings on April 8, 2001. The Pirates signed him as a minor league free agent in February of 2001 and he remained with the club in Triple-A until the end of the season, which ended up being his last season of pro ball. He had a 7.20 ERA with Triple-A Nashville that season. In the majors, he went 16-28, 4.21 in 342.2 innings over 317 appearances, with 100 saves. Taylor pitched 536 games in the minors, making 132 starts and saving 107 games. Brian Harper, outfielder/catcher for the 1982-84 Pirates. As the third-string backup to Tony Pena, he mostly played outfield during his time in Pittsburgh, but he’s better known as being a catcher during his career. Harper was a fourth round draft pick of the California Angels in 1977 out of high school. The Pirates acquired him five years later in a trade for Tim Foli. At the time, he had five games of big league experience, one game in 1979 and four in 1981. Harper debuted in pro ball at 17 years old with Idaho Falls of the Pioneer League, where he .323 and drove in 33 runs in 52 games. In 1978, he hit .293 with Quad City of the Class-A Midwest League. In 129 games, he had 31 doubles, 24 homers, 101 RBIs and 80 runs scored. He moved up to El Paso in the Double-A Texas League in 1979 and hit .315 with 37 doubles, 14 homers, 90 RBIs and 85 runs scored in 132 games. The Angels called him up in September and he appeared in one game as a pinch-hitter. In 1980, Harper repeated El Paso and hit .283 with 38 extra-base hits in 105 games. Harper moved up to Triple-A Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League in 1981 and started playing outfield and first base along with catching, after only catching during the previous four years. It was a extreme park for offense in Salt Lake City, but Harper still did better than you would expect, hitting .350 with 45 doubles, nine triples, 28 homers, 122 RBIs and 99 runs scored in 134 games. He got called up in September and went 3-for-11 in four games. The Pirates acquired him on December 11, 1981 in an even up deal for Tim Foli. Harper spent most of 1982 in Triple-A, seeing 20 games with the Pirates. He hit .276 with two homers in 29 at-bats. He was with the club all season in both 1983 and 1984, though he played just 107 games total, topping out at 140 plate appearances in 1983, when he hit .221 with seven homers. A foot injury kept him out of action early in the 1984 season. He ended up hitting .259 with two homers in 46 games. After the 1984 season, he was part of a disastrous four-player deal with the St Louis Cardinals that saw the Pirates also give up John Tudor and get George Hendrick in return. Harper hit .243 with 11 homers in 127 games with the Pirates. In his only season with the Cardinals Harper hit .250 in 43 games. Most of his time came off of the bench, and he saw playing time at five different spots. He was released at the end of Spring Training in 1986 and signed with the Detroit Tigers three weeks later. He batted .139 in 19 games with the Tigers that season, then got released in Spring Training in 1987. He played briefly for an independent minor league team in 1987, then was purchased by the Oakland A’s, where he hit .235 in 11 big league games, while spending the rest of the year in Triple-A. In 1988, he signed a free agent deal with the Minnesota Twins, which turned his career around. After spending part of the season in Triple-A, Harper played 5 1/2 sold seasons with the Twins. He hit .295 in 60 games in 1988, then batted .325 with 24 doubles and eight homers in 126 games in 1989. He wasn’t much for walking or striking out, with a 13:16 BB/SO ratio in 412 plate appearances that season. Harper hit .294 with 42 doubles,54 RBIs and 61 runs scored in 134 games for the 1990 Twins. Minnesota won the World Series in 1991 and he contributed a .311 average, with 28 doubles, ten homers, 69 RBIs and 54 runs scored in 123 games. He batted .278 in the ALCS and .381 in the World Series. Harper hit .307 with 25 doubles, nine homers and a career best 73 RBIs in 140 games in 1992. He matched that RBI total in 1993 when he hit .304 with 26 doubles and 12 homers in 147 games. He signed a free agent deal with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1994 and batted .291 with 19 extra-base hits and 32 RBIs in 64 games during that strike-shortened season. Harper finished up his career with the 1995 Oakland A’s, retiring after playing just two games. After his playing career ended, he managed for ten seasons in the minors. In 2000, he went to the Seattle Mariners for a coaching job, but got put into a Triple-A game when Tacoma of the Pacific Coast League was short two catchers due to injuries. His son Brett was drafted a month earlier by the New York Mets and ended up playing until 2016 without making the majors. Brian Harper was a .295 hitter, with 63 homers, 428 RBIs and 339 runs scored in 1,001 games during a 16-year career. Len Yochim, pitcher for the 1951 and 1954 Pirates. He signed with Pittsburgh as an 18-year-old in 1947 and won 20 games and pitched 219 innings in the minors during his first season while pitching for New Iberia of the Class-D Evangeline League. The following year the young lefty went 14-4, 3.38 in 141 innings for Albany of the Class-A Eastern League. He moved up to New Orleans of the Double-A Southern Association in 1949, where he had a 5-10, 4.44 record in 142 innings. The 1950 season saw him pitch between three levels, playing for both New Orleans and Albany again, while also seeing time with Class-A Charleston of the South Atlantic League. He had a 2.93 ERA in Charleston, but it went up to 5.94 in Albany, while his time in New Orleans was brief. In 1951, Yochim mostly pitched in Charleston, where he went 11-1, 2.50 in 115 innings. He made his Major League debut in late 1951 and won his first start on September 18th, despite giving up five runs and eight walks. He made one more start ten days later and couldn’t get out of the second inning, getting his first loss. He spent all of the next two seasons in the minors before making the 1954 team out of spring. Yochim was one of the last cuts of the Pirates during Spring Training in 1952, getting optioned back to the minors on April 9th. He went 11-8, 5.09 in 122 innings over 15 starts and 16 relief appearances for New Orleans in 1952. In October of 1952, the Pirates sold Yochim to New Orleans. He remained there in 1953, where he had a 14-14, 3.59 record in 233 innings. On October 6, 1953, the Pirates purchased his contract back from New Orleans. He made the Pirates out of Spring Training in 1954 and was used sparingly, posting a 7.32 ERA in 19.2 innings over ten games before being sent to the minors for good on June 23rd when he was released outright back in New Orleans. In his final big league game four days earlier, he threw four wild pitches in three innings of work. He spent the rest of 1954 and nearly the entire 1955 season in New Orleans. He split his final season (1956) between New Orleans and Atlanta, which was the affiliate of the Milwaukee Braves in the Southern Association at the time. Yochim had a 109-68 record in ten minor league seasons. After his playing days he scouted for the Pirates before eventually moving to a front office job in 1994 with the team. He remained in baseball until 2002. His brother Ray Yochim pitched two seasons for the St Louis Cardinals (1948-49). Ed Bahr, pitcher for the 1946-47 Pirates. He was born in Canada and debuted there in 1938, playing for Vancouver of the Class-B Western International League. He moved down to Class-D ball in 1939, playing for two teams in two different league. Most of his time was spent with Big Spring of the West Texas-New Mexico League, where he went 14-9, 6.36 in 191 innings, with 154 walks. In 1940, Bahr played half of the season with Idaho Falls of the Class-C Pioneer League, and he was back in the Western International League, seeing time with a team from Wenatchee. He combined to go 9-9, 5.05 in 173 innings, with 113 walks. In 1941, he played for Idaho Falls and Augusta of the Class-B South Atlantic League. Bahr had a 5-6 record in 125 innings over 20 games. There’s no ERA available for his Idaho Falls time, but he put up a 3.26 mark in 91 innings for Augusta. He joined the war effort during WWII and missed the entire 1942-44 seasons before being discharged due to a back injury. He returned to baseball in 1945, going 12-9, 4.09 in 185 innings for Kansas City of the American Association. On August 24, 1945, the Pirates purchased him for an undisclosed amount of cash and a player to be named later. Bahr reported to the Pirates on September 11, 1945, but he didn’t appear in a game until 1946. Bahr spent the entire 1946 season with the Pirates, going 8-6, 2.63 in 14 starts and 13 relief appearances, throwing a total of 136.2 innings. He was a bit of a holdout in signing his 1947 contract. Back then players were mailed contracts and if they thought the price wasn’t right, they would return them unsigned, which he did in January before signing a month later. Just a short time into Spring Training, an injury to his left hand (non-throwing) kept him out of action for a short time, but it was just the beginning of minor issues. He had a back injury and a leg injury during warm-ups for his first scheduled spring outing. Bahr started five games through May 20th in 1947, then got switched to long relief/mop-up work. He finished with a 3-5, 4.59 record in 82.1 innings. On July 10, 1947, the Pirates traded three players, including Bahr, to the New York Yankees for pitcher Mel Queen. Despite being a trade, the Pirates retained options on Bahr and pitcher Cal McLish, who were both farmed out to Yankees farm clubs. Bahr went 2-3, 3.05 in 59 innings for Portland of the Pacific Coast League to finish out 1947. The Pirates recalled him at the end of the season and he went to Spring Training with them in 1948. He was optioned to Indianapolis of the American Association on April 9th, and the option was picked up again in September after he went 10-6, 4.20 in 148 innings. On January 29, 1949, Bahr was sold to Indianapolis. He pitched just five games there in 1949, then finished his career with 25 games for St Paul of the American Association in both 1949 and 1950. With the Pirates, he went 11-11, 3.37 in 219 innings over 25 starts and 21 relief appearances, throwing eight complete games. His first name was Edson, one of just two big league players ever with that first name. Walter “Boom-Boom” Beck, pitcher for the 1945 Pirates. He played pro ball for 26 years total, beginning at 19 years old in the majors when he pitched one inning with the 1924 St Louis Browns. He then spent the next two full seasons in the minors before returning to the big leagues in 1927 with the Browns. Most of the 1925 season was spent in Class-D ball, quite a drop from his big league debut. While pitching in the Texas Association, Beck went 13-8, 2.12 in 174 innings. He spent some time two levels higher that season with Bloomington of the Three-I League, where he had a 2.00 WHIP in 29 innings. The 1926 season was spent with Tulsa of the Class-A Western League, where he went 18-17 and threw 304 innings, with 170 walks to his credit. In 1927, he spent most of the year back in Tulsa, while pitching once early in the season for the Browns, once in July, then one more time in October. He was with the Browns for all of 1928, though that amounted to 49 innings over four starts and 12 relief appearances. Beck then went five years before his next big league appearance. Beck went 13-14, 3.54 in 206 innings in 1929 while playing with three different upper level teams. He then started a string of three straight full seasons with Memphis of the Class-A Southern Association, where he went 16-7, 3.83 in 228 innings in 1930. He went 19-12, 3.99 in 275 innings in 1931, then followed it up with 27-6, 3.20 record in 284 innings. That led to him joining the Brooklyn Dodgers, who threw him right into their rotation. In 1933, Beck led the National League with 35 starts, going 12-20, 3.54 in 257 innings. After struggling in 1934, partially due to some lost velocity, he ended up back in the minors to finish the season. He went 2-6, 7.42 in 57 innings for the Dodgers. Beck then had another five-year stretch between big league appearances. He spent the 1935-37 seasons playing for Mission of the Pacific Coast League, where he went 23-18, 4.07 in 354 innings in 1935. He followed that up with an 18-21, 3.73 record in 304 innings, then went 11-22, 4.22 in 226 innings. The 1938 season was split between two PCL clubs, seeing limited work, yet he still ended up back in the majors with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1939. He switched between starting and relief, going 7-14, 4.62 in 181.1 innings over 16 starts and 18 relief outings. Beck had the same role in 1940, making 15 starts and 14 relief outings, going 4-9, 4.31 in 129.1 innings. In 1941, he made seven starts and 27 relief appearances, going 1-9, 4.63 in 95.1 innings. The 1942 season saw him pitch sparingly in relief, posting a 4.75 ERA in 52 innings over 26 games. He spent part of the 1943 season back in the minors after pitching just four times in the first three months of the season. Beck was with the Detroit Tigers in 1944, going 1-2, 3.89 in 74 innings over 28 appearances (two starts). The Tigers released him in Spring Training of 1945 and he signed with the Cincinnati Reds. He stayed there until June 22nd, going 2-4, 3.40 in 47.2 innings. Two days later, the Pirates signed the 40-year-old Beck and released 39-year-old pitcher Ray Starr to make room on the roster. He finished his 12-year career in the majors in Pittsburgh, going 6-1, 2.14 in 63 innings during the 1945 season. During the rest of his career, he had a 32-68 record. Despite the poor overall big league record, he won 199 minor league games over 17 seasons. His final line shows a 38-69, 4.28 record in 1,032.2 innings over 101 starts and 164 relief appearances in the majors. Including his minor league time, he threw over 3,900 innings. After his big league career ended, Beck was a player-manager for four seasons in the minors, then played his final pro season at 45 years old for Toledo of the American Association. His nickname “Boom Boom” came in the middle of his career when he angrily threw a ball that hit off of a tin fence and made a loud noise, which supposedly confused the outfielder (Hack Wilson), who wasn’t paying attention (he couldn’t be blamed, the manager came out to the mound) and threw the ball back in to second base in a hurry. Bill Skiff, catcher for the 1921 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball at 20 years old in 1916, playing his first two seasons for Hartford of the Class-A Eastern League. His available stats are limited, but we know that he hit .226 in 74 games as a rookie in pro ball, then batted .201 in 43 games for Hartford in 1921. In 1918, he played his first of three seasons with Bridgeport of the Eastern League. He’s credit with just 28 games in 1918, though most leagues shut down early that year due to the war, including the majors. In 1919, Skiff batted .304 in 92 games, with 14 doubles, three triples and a homer. The Pirates signed him after he hit .292 in 108 games for Bridgeport in 1920. He was mostly a singles hitter at the time, collecting just 14 extra-base hits all season. Skiff belonged to Little Rock of the Southern Association at the time, but he was a holdout. The Pirates had to compensate Little Rock to acquire him on March 27, 1921. The plan was to have him backup starting catcher Walter Schmidt. With the 1921 Pirates, Skiff hit .289 in 16 games, with 11 RBIs and seven runs scored. All of his games came between May 17th and June 27th. On July 4th, he was sold to Kansas City of the American Association, ending his time with the Pirates. His only other big league experience was six games for the 1926 New York Yankees, when he saw action in May, July and September. Skiff’s time with the Pirates coincided with the team failing to get catcher Tony Brottem from the same Little Rock team before the year, then eventually getting him during the year. The Pirates thought they had acquired Brottem prior to signing Skiff, only to find out that he was awarded to the Washington Senators. So they signed Skiff instead. When Brottem was put on waivers by the Senators, he was claimed by the Pirates, who then dropped Skiff to make room on the active roster. Skiff played minor league ball until 1935, spending four of those seasons with Kansas City and another three years (1927-29) with Newark of the International League. He played in Los Angeles in 1930, then was back in the Eastern League in 1931. He was a player-manager in the Class-B Pioneer League for those final three years, then went on to manage another 11 years, which included six seasons with Seattle of the Pacific Coast League. When Skiff signed with the Pirates, there was some major confusion over his name, which led to large headlines calling him George on the first two days with the team. He was soon being called William/Bill, although one paper gave him the nickname “Babe” right away. Jake Kafora, catcher for the 1913-14 Pirates. He spent just two seasons in the majors, both with Pittsburgh. His 1913 big league time consisted of just one game, and it was the last game of the season. Kafora made his debut on October 5, 1913, going 0-for-1 off of the bench with a run scored and a hit-by-pitch. He joined the Pirates just one day earlier, which seems odd, but the game was in Chicago and he was returning home for the off-season. He was actually a popular semi-pro player in town before his pro debut and there was a large group of friends on hand for the game. He was a seldom used back-up in 1914, mostly finishing games on defense behind the plate. In 21 games, he went to the plate just 25 times, going 3-for-23 with two hit-by-pitches. He was supposed to be the fourth-string catcher, but Sam Brenegan had one of the worst debuts in big league history, quitting in the middle of an inning due to a finger injury. He never played again and Kafora moved up to the third-string spot behind starter George Gibson and backup Bob Coleman, though the Pirates ended up using nine catchers that season. Kafora spent the first year of his pro career in 1911 with El Dorado of the Class-D Kansas State League at 22 years old. There are no stats available for that league. The next two seasons of his pro career were with the Butte Miners of the Class-D Union Association, where he batted .280 in 100 games in 1912. The Pirates signed him after he hit .313 over 105 games during the 1913 season. Scout Chick Fraser, the brother-in-law of Pirates manager Fred Clarke, was responsible for signing him, recommending him because of his offense and defense. Fraser actually pitched against Kafora while they were both playing semi-pro ball, so he knew him well. Kafora’s time with the Pirates ended when he was sold to Omaha of the Western League in January of 1915. The Pirates cut ties because they had seven catchers at the time. He finished his career back with Butte in 1917. He joined the Marines during WWI. He had the nickname Tomatoes, which supposedly came from the fact he ate tomatoes before every game. His actual first name was Frank, and that’s how he was referenced during his time with the Pirates. Jake, which is used most places online, comes from his middle name Jacob. Fred Lake, first baseman for the 1898 Pirates. Lake played five years in the majors between 1891 and 1910. His stay in Pittsburgh was short. He went 1-for-13 with two walks and a run scored in five games in 1898. In his three starts at first base, he handled all 34 chances without an error, which was not a small feat during the 19th century. He was signed on July 19, 1898 when the Pirates were dealing with multiple injuries, and noted when he left the Pirates ten days later that he was not anxious to play first base again. Up to that point he had played a lot of catcher in the minors and briefly in the majors. Three of his seasons in the majors were spent with Boston of the National League, though none were consecutive years. The interesting part about Lake’s big league career was that after the Pirates released the 31-year-old first baseman, he went 12 seasons before he appeared in the majors again. There is an asterisk to his story, in 1910 Lake was the manager of the Boston Doves and he used himself twice as a pinch-hitter and once as a pinch-runner. His last Major League appearance came 19 years after he made his big league debut for that same Boston club, which was called the Beaneaters at the time. He also played for them in 1897 before being traded to the minors even up (with cash) for future Hall of Famer, and one-time Pirates pitcher, Vic Willis. Lake also played 16 games for Louisville in 1894. He played a total of 48 games over his five seasons in the majors, batting .232 with one homer, 16 RBIs and 12 runs scored. His one home run came off of Hall of Fame pitcher Kid Nichols in 1894. Lake managed the Boston Red Sox during the second half of the 1908 season, then led them to an 88-63 record (third place finish) in 1909. The Boston Doves had a 53-100 record in his only season there, which was also his last as a big league manager. Lake played pro ball from 1891 until 1910, with his career starting and ending in the minors. He was a player/manager during the 1901-06 seasons in the New England League, then managed another three seasons after his last managerial gig in the majors. His records show that he played for at least 14 different minor league teams over the years, though many of the stats are incomplete. He played in Lowell of the New England League for five seasons, and spent three years (one full year) with Kansas City of the Western League. Before his time with the Pirates in 1898, he played with Syracuse of the Eastern League, where he hit .203 in 36 games, but right before he joined the Pirates, he was playing amateur ball in the Boston area. In a quote that’s interesting based on what we know now, Lake told the local papers on August 7, 1898, just over a week after he was let go by the Pirates, that he was anxious to get a shot in the majors and would rather retire than return to the minors. One Kansas City paper noted that he was almost the equal to any catcher in the game, when he set his mind to it. George Strief, second baseman for the 1882 Alleghenys. He batted just .199 in 79 games during his one year in Pittsburgh, but he is forever written in team history. Leading off the top of the third inning on May 3, 1882, Strief hit the first home run in franchise history. He played five years in the majors and hit a total of five home runs. He has a bigger claim to fame than his Pittsburgh home run. On June 25, 1885, he set a Major League record that was tied once, but will never be broken, when he collected four triples in one game. He also set a record for most extra-base hits in a game with five. Just 2 1/2 months later, he played his final big league game. Strief began his pro career in the minors in 1877 in the International Association, which is considered to be the first minor league. He batted .213 with two doubles in 21 games. The next season he was with the Pittsburgh Allegheny (no S at the end) of the International Association. From there he played his first big league games with the 1879 Cleveland Blues of the National League. He hit .174 in 71 games, seeing most of his playing time in center field. He was playing semi-pro ball in 1880-81 in Ohio, seeing time with a teams called the Norwalks in 1880 and the Cleveland White Stockings in 1881. After his time with the Alleghenys, Strief played for the St Louis Browns of the American Association, where he hit .225 with nine doubles, one homer, 22 RBIs and 22 runs scored in 82 games, spending most of his time at second base, though he played all three outfield spots. During the 1884 season when the National League and American Association were joined by the Union Association, making three Major Leagues all operating in the same year, Strief managed to play briefly in all three leagues. He was with the Browns for 48 games, then played 15 games each for the Kansas City Cowboys of the Union Association and the Chicago/Pittsburgh (mid-season move) team in the Union Association, before ending up with the Cleveland Blues for eight games. He batted .189 in 86 games that season, with 21 extra-base hits, 20 walks and 35 runs scored. In his final season in the majors, he hit .274/.310/.377 in 44 games for the Philadelphia Athletics of the American Association. He was a career .208 hitter in 362 games, with 144 runs scored, 69 extra-base hits and 64 walks. He went to the minors in 1886 and played his final pro game in 1890. He umpired three games in the National League in 1880 and another 51 games during the 1890 season. The Game On this date in 1909 the Pirates won their first World Series Championship, defeating the Detroit Tigers at Bennett Park by a score of 8-0 in game seven of the series. Babe Adams started the game and won for the third time in the series. The Pirates were led by Honus Wagner, who batted .333 in the series with six stolen bases. Detroit had Ty Cobb on their side and this first meeting between the two hitting stars was a big deal back in the day. Cobb was considered by some as the better hitter. He won three straight batting titles and RBI titles during the 1907-09 seasons, but he failed to live up to the hype, hitting just .231 in the series. Adams allowed six hits and a walk during his shutout win in game seven, and Wagner came through with the big hit of the game, a two-run triple in the sixth inning that he also scored on when the throw got away at third base. Rookie second baseman Dots Miller had two hits and two RBIs in the game. Tommy Leach went 2-for-3 giving him a .360 average for the series. Adams, who went 12-3 1.11 in 1909, also won games one and five in the series....
Card of the Day: 1985 Donruss Brian Harper
October 16, 2021
Card of the Day
I’ve featured two cards here from Donruss in 1985, but this is the first regular player card from the 1985 set. I posted once about the Diamond Kings subset, featuring Tony Pena. The other was from the Donruss Action All-Stars set, and the player was Johnny Ray. Today’s featured player isn’t quite on the level of those two players, but he was their teammate in 1984 and today’s his 62nd birthday, so here’s a look at the 1985 Donruss card of Brian Harper. Here’s the front of the card: I like the look of the 1985 Donruss set. It’s probably my second favorite design from the 1981-89 run for Donruss, though it’s well behind the 1987 set. I believe it’s the black border design that does it for me, which you didn’t see a lot during that time. Black and red together is a good combo, though I’m not 100% sure what they were going for with the red lines, but it looks okay if you don’t think about it too much. I could have done without the green/yellow combo for the name/position, but Donruss included the team logo on the front and I’m a very big fan of that particular Pirates logo, so they get extra points. The uniform also works for Harper here, with the black pants, gold jersey and gold batting helmet. One thing I like for his in particular is that they have a batting pose. It seems like he preferred the portrait style shots of him staring off in the distance. He has a lot of cards of him staring just off to the side of the camera. So when you scroll through his cards, this stands out a bit. Here’s the back of the card: While Donruss did a nice job on the front of the 1985 cards, they went with the same boring design on the back that they used too many times, without many color choices during that time. I mentioned that I like the 1987 set better, but the backs are nearly identical between those two years. I guess they thought they found something that worked and it was one of those “don’t change it if it’s not broken” situations, but it was really lazy considering how long they had to come up with a design I was never a big fan of the limited stats setup, but this here was an odd one because instead of adding his 1979 stats, which was literally one game, they just noted that he didn’t play in the majors in 1980. What you see here is 131 of his 132 career games up to this point. Two things of note, and one that I’ve mentioned before. That contract status section is a great resource now because these Donruss cards are sometimes the only place I can find that info while writing up our player bios. The other part is the last three words in the Career Highlights section. Donruss notes that he “has also caught”. Harper is best know for his catching with the Minnesota Twins, helping them to the 1991 World Series victory. However, in his three seasons with the Pirates, he caught a total of ten innings. This is a common card, one that you can get for about $2 delivered on Ebay, with multiple options in that range. There are three different notes here. One is that you can just get the 26-card Pirates team set for just over $6, so you might want to choose that instead. There’s also a PSA 9 for $12 (has a best offer option) plus $4 shipping. Finally, you can get autographed copies for under $10. Harper signs with Bible verses, such as adding “John 3:16” after his signature which is a popular choice for him....
This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: October 15th, Pirates Win Their Second Title
October 15, 2021
This Date in Pittsburgh Baseball History
A total of 11 former Pittsburgh Pirates have been born on this date, plus we have one major game of note. Bob Harmon, Pitcher for the 1914-16 and 1918 Pirates. He came to the Pirates from the St Louis Cardinals as part of an eight-player deal in December of 1913, which did not go well for the Pirates. However, Harmon wasn’t supposed to be the main return piece, but he ended up easily being the best player they got back in the disastrous deal. His pro career began in 1909 at 21 years old and his time in the minors was short. He played for Shreveport of the Texas League that season, where he had a 5-4 record in 94 innings. No ERA is available, but he allowed 3.93 runs per nine innings. He finished the season with the Cardinals, where he went 6-11, 3.68 in 159 innings. In 1910, he had a 13-15, 4.46 record in 236 innings. That win/loss record is actually very impressive considering that the Cardinals finished 63-90 and the league average ERA was 3.02 that season, so he was well below average on a very bad team. In 1911, Harmon improved to 23-16, 3.13 in 348 innings. He tossed 28 complete games, but also led the league in walks for the second straight time, racking up 181 that season. That large win title helped him get mild MVP support, finishing 14th in the voting. In 1912, he had a 18-18, 3.93 record in 268 innings. The Cardinals were 63-90 again that season, and his ERA was 53 points above league average, so his win-loss record once again defied the odds. In 1913, Harmon’s win-loss record finally matched his pitching for a poor team. He went 8-21, 3.92 in 273.1 innings, while leading the league with 291 hits allowed. The Cardinals finished in last place, and the ERA for the league dropped to 3.20 that season. After the 1913 season, the Pirates gave up five players, including Dots Miller and Chief Wilson, in a return that netted them veterans Ed Konetchy, Mike Mowrey and Harmon. They were giving up too much to begin with, but the deal really went south in a hurry when Mowrey was released during the 1914 season and Konetchy jumped to the Federal League after the season. Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss wanted Konetchy for a long time and praised him numerous times before acquiring him, so he paid too much. Dots Miller outplayed Konetchy at first base in 1914 and didn’t skip his team, turning that portion of the deal one-sided. Harmon salvaged the deal a bit by improving with the Pirates. He had a 68-81, 3.78 record in five seasons for the St Louis Cardinals. Harmon had his best season in his first year with Pittsburgh, posting a 2.53 ERA in 245 innings over 30 starts and seven relief outings, though that lower ERA came with a 13-17 record because the Pirates record dropped, while the revitalized Cardinals improved 30 games in the standings thanks to the Pirates. Harmon was just as good the next year with a 2.50 ERA, but again he finished under .500, this time going 16-17 in 32 starts and five relief appearances. He also threw five shutouts. It should be pointed out that the 1912 season was the real decline in offense during the deadball era, with league ERAs dropping to an average of 2.78 in 1914 and 2.75 in 1915, so while Harmon really improved, the rest of the league improved with him. In 1916, Harmon split his time between starting and the bullpen, going 8-11, 2.81 in 172.2 innings. The league ERA was down to 2.61 that season. After sitting out the 1917 season due to a salary dispute, he pitched one more year for the Pirates before retiring, going 2-7, 2.62 in 82.1 innings in 1918, which was a shortened year due to the war. Harmon was 39-52, 2.60 in 769.2 innings over 88 starts and 33 relief appearances for the Pirates. He threw 2,054 innings and had a 3.33 ERA in his nine-year career Mule Watson, pitcher for the 1920 Pirates. He won a total of 50 games over a seven-year big league career, spending time with four different clubs. Watson played pro ball for a total of 12 seasons, starting and finishing with three seasons in the minors. He debuted in pro ball at 19 years old in 1916, playing his first two seasons with Fort Smith of the Class-D Western Association. Limited stats are available from those two years, but they show a 5-3 record in nine games in 1916, and a 12-8 record in 28 games and 221 innings pitched in 1917. The next year saw him move up to Class-B New Haven of the Eastern League, where he went 8-7 in 15 games, throwing 140 innings. That was enough to get him a mid-season gig with the 1918 Philadelphia Athletics, where he went 7-10, 3.37 in 141.2 innings, while throwing three shutouts. He also put in a little time with the war effort, though the war ended not long after he joined in. His big league time in 1919 was limited to two starts and two relief outings early in the year. He posted a 6.91 ERA in 14.1 innings. The rest of the year was split between two minors league teams, where he threw 101 innings back with New Haven, while also making four appearances with Baltimore of the International League. Watson’s time in Pittsburgh consisted of 11.1 innings over five relief appearances. He gave up runs in each of his first four appearances with the Pirates, including six runs over three innings on June 29th. The Pirates acquired him via waivers on May 27, 1920 from the Boston Braves and lost him via waivers back to the Braves on July 8th. He had one scoreless appearance with Boston before joining the Pirates and it came against the Pirates when he threw three no-hit innings in relief. Shortly after returning to Boston, he threw a three-hit 1-0 shutout over Hall of Fame pitcher Grover Alexander and the Chicago Cubs. The Pirates never gave him a chance to start during his six weeks with the club. Watson finished out the 1920 season by going 5-4, 3.77 in 71.2 innings during his second stint with the Braves. In 1921, he went 14-13, 3.85 in 259.1 innings, setting career highs with wins, innings, games pitched (44), starts (31) and complete games (15). The next year saw him go 8-14, 4.70 in 201 innings over 27 starts and 14 relief appearances. Watson finished his big league career as a member of the 1923-24 New York Giants, going to the World Series two years in a row. He had a 5.17 ERA in 31.1 innings with Boston in 1923 before he was part of a four-player deal with the Giants on June 7th. After the deal, he had an 8-5, 3.41 record in 108.1 innings. In 1924, he went 7-4, 3.79 in 16 starts and six relief appearances, throwing a total of 99.1 innings. His final big league appearance came in game three of the 1924 World Series, where he recorded the final two outs to save a 6-4 win. Watson finished with a 50-53, 4.03 record in 124 starts and 54 relief appearances over seven big league seasons, throwing a total of 941.2 innings. He was back in the minors by age 28 in 1925, where he played for four teams in four leagues over three seasons before retiring. His real first name was John. It’s interesting to note that while he was in Pittsburgh, he was only referred to as John, and there was a local outlaw league player at the time who was called Mule Watson. That other Watson was Milt Watson, who pitched in the majors during the 1916-19 seasons. So it appears that the Pirates Watson just picked up the other players nickname later in his career when the other was out of pro ball. Mule Haas, outfielder for the 1925 Pirates. He played a bit part on the Pirates second World Series winning club, going 0-for-3 with a run scored in four late season games. Haas spent the next two years in the minors, then played 11 more seasons in the majors, helping the Philadelphia A’s to three straight World Series appearances (1929-31). He was known as one of the best bunters of his day, leading the league in sacrifice hits six times between 1930 and 1936. The Pirates signed him as an amateur in February of 1923 at 19 years old. He went to Spring Training with them, then was assigned to Williamsport of the New York-Penn League, where he hit .342 in 114 games. Haas was sent to Oklahoma City by the Pirates in 1924, then moved mid-season to Pittsfield of the Eastern League. He batted .293 in 136 games, with 50 extra-base hits. The Pirates sent Haas to Birmingham of the Southern Association in 1925, then recalled him on August 14th, after he hit .316 in 99 games. Despite being with the Pirates for 50 days, he played just four games, including his first and last days with the club. In between he pinch-ran on August 29th and pinch-hit on September 26th. On February 13, 1926, he was released outright to Atlanta of the Southern Association, ending his time with the Pirates. Haas batted .299 with 28 doubles and 18 triples for Atlanta in 1926. The next year in Atlanta he improved to a .323 average in 153 games, with 34 doubles, 19 triples and ten homers. He joined the A’s in 1928 and platooned in the outfield during his first season, hitting .280 with 31 extra-base hits and 41 runs scored in 91 games. In 1929, he hit .313 in 139 games as the starting center field. Somewhat surprisingly in 1929, he set career highs in sacrifice hits (40) in the same season he also set highs in runs scored (115), hits (181), doubles (41), triples (9) and homers (16). In 1930, Haas batted .299 with 33 doubles, 68 RBIs and 91 runs scored in 132 games. It was actually a down year for him, as the 1930 season was a huge year for offense in baseball. In 1931, he hit .323 in 102 games, with 44 extra-base hits and 82 runs scored. The next season saw him hit .305 with 65 RBIs, 62 walks and 91 runs scored in 143 games. Just after the 1932 season ended Haas was sold to the Chicago White Sox, along with Jimmy Dykes and Hall of Famer Al Simmons for $100,000. Haas hit .287 with 33 doubles, 65 walks and 97 runs scored in 146 games for the 1933 White Sox. In 1934, he hit .268 with 54 runs scored in 106 games. His .702 OPS was his lowest mark for a full season. The next season he moved from center field to right field and hit .291 in 92 games, with 40 RBIs and 44 runs scored. In 1936, he batted .284 in 119 games, with 26 doubles, 75 runs scored and 64 walks. That was his last season as a full-time player. In 1937, Haas saw most of his time at first base. He played 54 games and hit just .207, with a .601 OPS. He was released by the White Sox after the season and re-signed with the A’s for his final season in the majors. As a seldom-used bench player, he had a .542 OPS in 93 plate appearances over 40 games. He was a .292 career hitter in 1,168 games, with 706 runs scored, 496 RBIs and 433 walks. He stole just 12 bases (in 28 attempts) during his career. Haas was a player-manager in the minors in 1939, his last season as a player. He also managed in the minors during the 1948-50 seasons. His real first name was George. Don Carlsen, pitcher for the 1951-52 Pirates. He played a total of eight seasons in pro ball, debuting in 1947 at 20 years old with Tulsa of the Double-A Texas League, where he hit 8-7, 3.04 in 151 innings. His only big league experience besides his two seasons with the Pirates was one inning for the 1948 Chicago Cubs. He began that season with the Cubs, but he was let go to the minors after allowing four runs in his only inning of work on April 28th. He pitched the rest of that season for Los Angeles of the Pacific Coast League, where he was 7-6, 5.20 in 116 innings. Carlsen spent all of 1949 with Los Angeles, going 9-8, 4.73 in 135 innings. He nursed an arm injury for much of the 1950 season while still property of the Chicago Cubs, pitching just 16 innings total for Nashville of the Southern Association. He then he moved on to Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League in early 1951. He was traded to New Orleans of the Southern Association in early May, then the Pirates purchased his contract on August 15th and had him starting game one of a doubleheader four days later. He had an 11-3, 3.05 record in 121 innings in the minors that season. Carlsen won both of his first two starts with the Pirates, giving up three earned runs over 21 innings. He lost his next three decisions, giving up 18 runs over 22 innings in September. Carlsen had a 4.19 ERA in 43 innings for the 1951 Pirates, making six starts and one relief appearance. In 1952, he made five early season appearances (one start) for a team that finished up 42-112, allowing a total of 13 runs in ten innings. He spent the rest of that season in the minors, seeing time with New Orleans and Denver of the Class-A Western League. The Pirates traded him to Charleston of the South Atlantic League for catcher Bill Hall on October 13, 1952, but he ended up back in New Orleans for 1953. His final season of pro ball was spent with Williamsport, the Pirates affiliate in the Class-A Eastern League in 1954. He had a 2-4, 5.43 record in 53 innings during his two seasons in Pittsburgh. Bill Henry, Pitcher for the 1968 Pirates. He was a lefty reliever for 16 years in the majors, pitching a total of 527 games for six different teams. He debuted in pro ball in 1948, playing two seasons for the Class-C Clarksdale Planters of the Cotton States League. He went 6-9, 4.58 in 119 innings during his first season, then came back with a 14-14, 3.23 record in 195 innings. Most of the 1950 season was spent in the Class-B Big States League, where he went 11-7, 3.29 in 164 innings. He pitched one game that season for Shreveport of the Double-A Texas League, then remained in Shreveport for the entire 1951 season. Henry had a 12-15, 4.44 record in 229 innings. From there he moved up to the majors with the Boston Red Sox, though he spent most of the year with San Diego of the Pacific Coast League in 1952, where he went 7-9, 3.59 in 123 innings. With Boston, he went 5-4, 3.87 in 76.2 innings. In 1953, he split the season between the Red Sox and Louisville of the Triple-A American Association. In the majors, he was 5-5, 3.26 in 85.2 innings over 12 starts and nine relief outings. The 1954 season was also split between the majors and minors, though he spent a majority of the year with Boston, where he had a 3-7, 4.52 record in 95.2 innings over 13 starts and 11 relief appearances. Henry spent all of 1955 in the majors, though he saw limited action, going 2-4, 3.32 in seven starts and ten relief games, throwing a total of 59.2 innings. The entire 1956 season was spent with San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League, then he dropped down a level to Memphis of the Southern Association in 1957, where he went 14-6, 3.39 in 210 innings. He was traded to the Chicago Cubs system that season. The 1958 season was split between Portland of the Pacific Coast League and the Cubs. Henry went 5-4, 2.88 in 81.1 innings over 44 appearances in his return to the majors. His best season came in 1959 when he had a 9-8, 2.68 record over 134.1 innings for the Cubs. He led the National League with 65 games pitched that year. While it wasn’t an official stat at the time, he picked up 12 saves that season. Henry was involved in a December 1959 trade with the Cincinnati Reds that also included Lee Walls and Frank Thomas, both of whom played for the Pirates earlier in their career. In 1960, he was selected to both All-Star games, back when they played two games per year. He went 1-5, 3.19 in 67.2 innings over 51 games, picking up a career high of 17 saves. Henry went 2-1, 2.19 with 16 saves in 47 games, with 53.1 innings pitched in 1961. He pitched twice during the World Series that year, though he allowed five runs in 2.1 innings. In 1962, Henry had a 4.58 ERA in 37.1 innings over 40 outings. He went 1-3, 4.15 in 47 games in 1963, with 14 saves in 47 appearances. It was his fifth straight season with 11+ saves. He had an outstanding season in limited use in 1964, posting an 0.87 ERA in 52 innings over 37 appearances. He didn’t allow more than one earned run in any appearance, and he didn’t give up an earned run in his last 15 games, totaling 25.2 innings. Henry threw five more scoreless innings to start 1965, then got traded to the San Francisco Giants. He had a 3.64 ERA in 42 innings with the Giants after the deal. In 1966, he had a 2.45 ERA in 22 innings over 35 games. He was released at the end of the season, but ended up re-signing with the Giants right before the 1967 season opened. Henry went 2-0, 2.08 in 21.2 innings over 28 games in 1967. He allowed three runs over five innings in seven appearances with the 1968 Giants. Henry joined the Pirates in the middle of the 1968 season, coming over from the Giants in June in a cash transaction. He pitched ten games for Pittsburgh, throwing a total of 16.2 innings. He had an 8.10 ERA and no record. Henry was released in early August and played just three more Major League games with the 1969 Houston Astros. At the time, he was the oldest player in the National League. Henry finished his career with a 46-50, 3.26 record and 90 saves in 913 innings. He had 527 appearances, with 44 of those games being starts. Gail Henley, outfielder for the 1954 Pirates. His big league career consisted of 14 games and 30 at-bats for the 1954 Pirates. He batted .300 and homered in his first big league start. Henley played 14 seasons in the minors. Henley originally signed with the New York Giants in 1948. He debuted in Class-A ball at 19 years old, hitting .295 with 45 RBIs and 53 runs scored in 64 games for Sioux City of the Western League. The next season was spent in Triple-A, splitting the year between Minneapolis of the American Association and Jersey City of the International League. He combined to hit .275 with 18 homers and 52 RBIs in 106 games. In 1950, Henley split the year between Jersey City and Sioux City, hitting .307 with 25 doubles and 25 homers in 128 games. The 1951 season was split between Sioux City and Minneapolis. He hit .274 with 36 extra-base hits in 100 games that year. In 1952, he played for Tulsa of the Double-A Texas League, where he hit .274 with 43 extra-base hits in 137 games. Henley was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in October of 1952. The Pirates acquired him the very next day in a three-for-one deal that sent Gus Bell to Cincinnati. Henley hit .290 with 47 extra-base hits, 82 RBIs and 98 runs scored in 151 games for New Orleans of the Southern Association in 1953, then made the Pirates Opening Day roster in 1954. He was starting every day for a short time until he ran into a wall and needed ten stitches to close a cut over his left eye. He missed a week, then had just two pinch-hitting appearances before being sent back to New Orleans on May 12th, ending his big league career. Henley was bitter over the decision to send him down, saying that he was doing well and going all out for the team when he got injured and he never got a chance to play again after that. On October 14, 1954, the Pirates traded Henley to Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League as part of the purchase price to acquire outfielder Tom Saffell. He was playing for Pirates affiliates for the next three seasons, starting with Hollywood in 1955, followed by New Orleans for most of 1956, and Columbus of the International League in 1957. Henley spent the 1958-60 seasons with Birmingham of the Southern Association, followed by finishing his career in 1961 playing briefly in Class-D ball. That 1961 season was the start of his minor league managerial career. He managed during 12 season between 1961 and 1983, including three separate stints with Lethbridge of the Pioneer League, which was an affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He turns 93 years old today Red Swanson, pitcher for the 1955-57 Pirates. He was done with his big league career by age 20, after debuting at 18 years old with the 1955 Pirates. Swanson played another six years in the minors after his final big league game. He had a 4.90 ERA in the majors (all spent with the Pirates), making 34 relief appearances and eight starts. Swanson signed as a bonus baby out of high school on August 23, 1955, meaning that he got a large bonus and had to spend his first two full years (from the date of signing) in the majors. He had quite an amateur record before joining the Pirates, going 30-3 in high school, 40-5 in American Legion ball, and 10-3 for a semi-pro team during the summer of 1955. He pitched just once over the final five weeks in 1955, giving up four runs over two innings, then he was used nine times in relief in 1956. He was with the Pirates all season in 1956, with his appearances spread out over five months, and none of them came after August 14th. He pitched just two innings over the final 110 games, finishing the year with 13 runs allowed in 11.2 innings. Despite the limited use in 1956, Swanson made eight starts and 24 relief appearances in 1957, posting a 3.72 ERA in 72.2 innings. Swanson went to Spring Training with the Pirates in 1958, and gained 30 pounds over the off-season, saying that he was coming into camp much stronger. He was cut from big league camp on March 28th and spent most of the season in Triple-A with Columbus of the International League, where he had a 5.02 ERA in 86 innings. He pitched better in A-Ball that year, posting a 3.60 ERA in seven starts for Lincoln of the Western League. On October 1, 1958, Swanson and pitcher Luis Arroyo were traded to Columbus for pitcher Al Jackson. Swanson spent most of 1959 pitching in the Class-A South Atlantic League, where he went 10-7, 3.65 in 147 innings. He remained with Pirates affiliates through the end of his career in 1963. He was a Spring Training invite in 1960, but didn’t come close to making the roster of the World Series champs. In 1962, he nearly made the Pirates Opening Day roster out of Spring Training after getting highly recommended by Don Hoak, who coached him and saw him do well in winter ball in the Dominican over the 1961-62 off-season. Swanson turns 85 years old today. His real first name is Arthur. Mitchell Page, pinch-hitter for the 1984 Pirates. He was originally with the Pirates, but was part of a nine-player deal with the Oakland A’s prior to the 1977 season. The A’s drafted him in the fourth round in 1970 out of Compton Community College, but he passed on signing. Page was drafted in the third round by the Pirates in 1973 out of Cal State Poly. He played just 24 games in A-Ball during the 1973 season, then spent 1974 season with Salem of the Class-A Carolina League, where he hit .296 with 17 homers, 15 steals, 70 walks, 75 RBIs and 80 runs scored in 123 games. In 1975, Page moved up to Shreveport of the Double-A Texas League, where he batted .291 with 24 doubles, 23 homers, 90 RBIs and 23 steals in 122 games. He moved up to Triple-A Columbus of the International League in 1976. That year he hit .294 with 22 homers, 83 RBIs and 23 steals in 126 games. After the season, the Pirates sent six players to the A’s, including Page, Tony Armas, Doc Medich, Doug Bair, Dave Giusti and Rick Langford. The return basically amounted to Phil Garner, as the other two pieces combined to play 77 games with the Pirates. It was a one-sided deal in the favor of the A’s, but it gets lost in the mix because Garner helped the Pirates to the World Series, then got traded to the Houston Astros in a good deal for Johnny Ray. Page hit .307 in 145 games as a rookie in 1977, with 85 runs scored, 28 doubles, eight triples, 21 homers, 75 RBIs, 78 walks and 42 stolen bases, finishing second in the Rookie of the Year voting to Eddie Murray, despite a 6.1 to 3.2 advantage in WAR. Page never approached those stats during the rest of his career. In 1978, he hit .285 with 25 doubles, 17 homers and 70 RBIs in 147 games. He stole 23 bases, but he was caught 19 times, after getting caught just five times in the previous season. He stolen base success rate was even worse in 1979 when he went 17-for-33 in steals. Page moved from left field to the DH role, where he hit .247 in 133 games that season, seeing a drop of 157 points in his OPS. In 1980, he was a full-time DH, though he didn’t play every day. In 110 games, he hit .244 with 17 homers, 51 RBIs and 14 steals (in 21 attempts). During the strike-shortened 1981 season, Page played just 34 games, and he had a .141 average, with four homers. His average bounced back in 1982 in limited time, hitting .256 with four homers in 31 games. In 1983, he had 92 plate appearances spread out throughout the season, along with some pinch-running appearances. In 57 games, he batted .241 and drove in just one run. The Pirates signed Page as a free agent in May of 1984, two months after the A’s released him during Spring Training. He was with the 1984 Pirates in August and September, and all 16 of his appearances came as a pinch-hitter, with no time spent in the field. He went 4-for-12 with three walks in 16 games for the Pirates. Page was with the Pirates through the end of 1985, though he spent almost all of his two years with the team in Triple-A, where he had the odd stat line of going 39-for-151 (.258 average) in each season. He finished his eight-year big league career as a .266 hitter, with 294 runs scored, 72 homers, 259 RBIs and 104 steals in 673 games. Carlos Garcia, infielder for the 1990-96 Pirates. He was signed by the Pirates as an international free agent at 19 years old out of Venezuela in 1987. While he was a member of three straight playoff teams (1990-92) to start his career, a large majority of his time with the Pirates came during the following four seasons. In fact, he was still eligible for the Rookie of the Year award in 1993. He debuted in pro ball in Low-A, playing for Macon of the South Atlantic League, where he hit .255 with 20 extra-base hits and 20 steals in 110 games. In 1988, he spent half of the year in the same league with Augusta, then saw 62 games with Salem of the Carolina League, one step higher. He combined to hit .283 with 29 extra-base hits, 19 steals and 73 RBIs in 135 games. In 1989, Garcia split the year between Salem and Double-A Harrisburg of the Eastern League. He batted .283 that season in 135 games, with 73 runs scored, 36 extra-base hits, 25 steals and 74 RBIs. In 1990, his year was split between Harrisburg and Triple-A Buffalo of the American Association. He hit .271 with 33 extra-base hits and 19 steals in 128 games. The Pirates gave him four at-bats in four late season games. In 1991, he batted .266 with 34 extra-base hits for Buffalo, while playing one July game and 11 September games for the Pirates. He batted .250 with two triples and an RBI. Garcia hit .303 with 28 doubles, nine triples, 13 homers and 21 steals for Buffalo, while playing for the Pirates in May/June and September. He hit .205 in 22 games, with a .426 OPS. Garcia played a total of 38 games for the 1990-92 Pirates and appeared in one playoff game, going 0-for-1 off the bench in game two of the 1992 NLCS. As a rookie, he hit .269 with 77 runs scored, 25 doubles, 12 homers and 18 stolen bases in 141 games during the 1993 season. He finished ninth in the Rookie of the Year voting. His offensive stats weren’t strong in 1994, but his 0.9 dWAR helped earn him his All-Star spot. In fact, Garcia had a career -1.1 dWAR, never coming close to approaching his success on defense in 1994. During that strike-shortened season, he hit .277 with 23 extra-base hits, 18 steals and 49 runs scored in 98 games. Garcia played 104 games in 1995, hitting .294 with 24 doubles, six homers and 50 RBIs. He played three infield spots in 1996 (not first base), hitting .285 with 28 extra-base hits, 66 runs scored and 16 steals in 101 games. The Pirates traded him to the Toronto Blue Jays in a nine-player deal after the 1996 season in which they received six young players back in exchange for three veterans, which also included Orlando Merced and Dan Plesac. Garcia hit .220 in 103 games with the 1997 Blue Jays, with 23 extra-base hits, 23 RBIs and 11 stolen bases. He became a free agent and signed with the Cleveland Indians, though they released him near the end of Spring Training in 1998. He signed with the Anaheim Angels five days later and hit .143 in 19 games, while spending half of the year in Triple-A. He signed with the San Diego Padres in 1999, but he was limited to six big league games at the start of the season. He finished the year in Triple-A, then spent the 2000-01 seasons in Triple-A with the New York Yankees before retiring. Garcia was a .278 hitter in 482 games with the Pirates, with 30 homers, 60 steals, 174 RBIs and 240 runs scored. He had a career 3.4 WAR with the Pirates, and he was below replacement level with each of his other three teams, leaving him at 1.0 WAR for his career. Mendy Lopez, infielder for the 2001-02 Pirates. He signed with the Kansas City Royals as an international free agent from the Dominican in 1992 at 18 years old. His first two seasons were spent in the Dominican Summer League, before moving to the Gulf Coast League in 1994, where he hit .362 with 50 RBIs, 19 steals and 56 runs scored in 59 games. In 1995, he jumped to the High-A Carolina League and batted .271 with 29 doubles, 18 steals and a .689 OPS in 130 games. Lopez was promoted to Double-A in 1996, where he hit .281 with 31 extra-base hits and 14 steals in 93 games for Wichita of the Texas League. Most of 1997 was spent back in Wichita, with a 17-game stint in Triple-A as well. He combined to bat .232 with 27 extra-base hits and 62 runs scored in 118 games. He played 60 games for Triple-A Omaha of the Pacific Coast League and hit just .179, but that didn’t stop him from getting promoted. After six seasons in the minors, he debuted in the majors with the 1998 Royals, hitting .243 with 13 extra-base hits and 18 runs scored in 74 games, while making 66 starts at shortstop. Lopez was injured for part of the 1999 season, limiting him to 64 minor league games and seven big league contests. The Royals released him in December of 1999 and he signed with the Florida Marlins for the 2000 season. Lopez spent most of 2000 in the minors. He played just four games in the majors and they came in four consecutive days from July 29th to August 1st. He signed with the Houston Astros in 2001, and played ten games between June 30th and August 7th before he was acquired by the Pirates off of waivers. Lopez played 22 games for the 2001 Pirates, seeing time at second base, third base and shortstop. He hit .233 with four RBIs in 48 plate appearances. He became a free agent after the 2001 season, then re-signed with the Pirates on a minor league deal. He saw just three late April pinch-hit appearances in 2002, striking out in all three at-bats. The rest of the year was spent in Triple-A Nashville of the Pacific Coast League, where he hit .252 with 11 homers and 72 RBIs in 101 games. The Pirates released him after the 2002 season and he returned to the Royals for his final two big league seasons. In 2003, he played six positions for the Royals, getting 100 plate appearances over 52 games, hitting .277 with three homers and 11 RBIs. He played just 18 big league games at the start of 2004 and hit .105 in 38 at-bats. Lopez was done with the majors at that point, but he played pro ball until 2013. He played in Korea in 2004 and didn’t play in 2005, then started a string of summer/winter ball in Mexico and the Dominican until his career ended. In 2015, he became a DSL manager for the Pirates and has remained in the system since. He batted .242 with six homers and 40 RBIs in 190 big league games. Juan Cruz, relief pitcher for the 2012 Pirates. He was signed as an international free agent by the Chicago Cubs out of the Dominican at 18 years old in 1997. He made it to the majors within four years as a starter, then moved to relief the next season. Cruz saw some starting time (15 games) with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2006, then never started again. He debuted in pro ball in the Arizona Summer League in 1998, where he had a 6.10 ERA in 41.1 innings. That’s not the type of start that you expect from someone who played 12 seasons in the majors. In 1999, he had a 5.94 ERA in 80.1 innings for Eugene of the short-season Northwest League. Cruz moved up to Low-A for 17 starts in 2000, then seven more starts in High-A. He combined to go 8-5, 3.27 in 140.1 innings, with 160 strikeouts. In 2001, he made 23 starts for West Tennessee of the Double-A Southern League. He went 9-6, 4.01 in 121.1 innings, with 137 strikeouts. From there it was eight starts for the Cubs, where he finished off the 2001 season with 3-1, 3.22 record in 44.1 innings. Cruz spent the entire 2002 season in the majors, making nine starts and 36 relief appearances. He went 3-11, 3.98 in 97.1 innings. He did great in nine starts at Triple-A in 2003, but his big league time amounted to 2-7, 6.05 record in 61 innings over six starts and 19 relief outings. The Cubs traded him to the Atlanta Braves in a four-player deal at the end of Spring Training in 2004. He spent the entire year in the majors, going 6-2, 2.75 in 50 relief appearances, throwing 72 innings. In December of 2004, he was traded to the Oakland A’s as part of the large return for Tim Hudson. Cruz went 0-3, 7.44 in 32.2 innings over 28 games with the 2005 A’s. He spent part of that season in the minors, as he also did during each of the next three seasons. The A’s traded him to the Diamondbacks at the end of Spring Training in 2006. He went 5-6, 4.18 in 94.2 innings with Arizona that season, with 15 starts and 16 relief outings. Cruz did well with the 2007-08 Diamondbacks once he was back in a full-time relief role. He went 6-1, 3.10 in 63 innings over 53 games in 2007. That was followed by a 4-0, 2.61 record in 51.2 innings over 57 outings in 2008. Cruz became a free agent after the 2008 season and signed with the Kansas City Royals. He went 3-4, 5.72 in 50.1 innings over 46 appearances in 2009. The Royals released him in 2010 after just five outings, in which he allowed two runs in 5.1 innings. He signed with the Tampa Bay Rays prior to the 2011 season, where he posted a 5-0, 3.88 record in 48.2 innings over 56 games. The Pirates signed him as a free agent in February of 2012 and he was released at the end of August. He was injured for a short time in July/August, then returned to pitch six times in eight days to end his big league career. He had a 2.78 ERA in 43 games for the Pirates, yet it still ended up being the final season of his 12-year career. His only other pitching experience after the Pirates came in the Dominican winter league, where he made seven scoreless appearances over two seasons. Cruz had a 38-36, 4.05 record, with 659 strikeouts in 655 innings over 447 games (38 starts), seeing time with seven different teams. The Game On this date in 1925 the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Washington Senators by a 9-7 score at Forbes Field in game seven of the World Series to win their second championship. To win the series they had to defeat the great Walter Johnson, who had already won games one and four of the series. The lineups for this game included seven total future Hall of Famers. The Senators had Johnson, Goose Goslin, Sam Rice and Bucky Harris, while the Pirates had Kiki Cuyler, Pie Traynor and Max Carey. Vic Aldridge started the game for the Pirates. He won games two and five over another future Hall of Famer, Stan Coveleski. On this day however, he did not have his best stuff. He lasted just six batters and four of them would score, putting the Pirates in an early hole. Johnny Morrison relieved him to finish out the first inning. The Pirates got on the board in the third inning when Morrison scored on an Eddie Moore double. Moore would score the second run on a Max Carey single, and Carey would score two batters later on a Clyde Barnhart single to make it 4-3 after three innings. The Senators scored two runs in the fourth to chase Morrison and take a three-run lead. The Pirates then went to Ray Kremer, who had won game six just two days earlier, and the move paid off. Pittsburgh would score a solo run in the fifth inning when Cuyler drove home Carey with their fourth run of the game to pull them within two. The score would stay 6-4 until the bottom of the seventh inning. Eddie Moore reached on an error and was driven home by a double from Carey to make it a one-run game. With two outs, Pie Traynor came to the plate and hit a ball into right field that got away from the fielder, Joe Harris. Carey scored to tie the game, but Traynor was cut down at home plate to keep the score tied going into the eighth inning. In the top of the eighth inning with one out, Senators shortstop Roger Peckinpaugh hit a solo home run to left field to put his team up by one. Despite struggling, the Senators stuck with their ace to try to shut down the Pirates for just two more innings, but Pittsburgh had other ideas. The first two batters were retired before catcher Earl Smith hit a double. Pitcher Emil Yde pinch-ran for him and Carson Bigbee batted for Kremer. Bigbee hit a double to tie the game. Johnson walked the next batter and then got a ground ball to Peckinpaugh, who botched the throw to second base for the force and gave the Pirates a chance with the bases loaded and Kiki Cuyler up at bat. Cuyler sent a long drive to right field, which went for a ground rule double and put the Pirates up by two. Red Oldham came in for the ninth inning and retired three Hall of Famers in a row, Rice, Harris and Goslin, to end the game and give Pittsburgh their second World Series title....
Card of the Day: 1995 Donruss Studio Carlos Garcia
October 15, 2021
Card of the Day
Carlos Garcia played seven seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates (1990-96) and he turns 54 years old today. This is his second appearance in our Card of the Day series. The first one was over a year ago when we looked at his 1993 Pinnacle card, which has a great pose. Today’s card is here because it has a very interesting design. It’s not an original idea, but it’s an idea that you wouldn’t normally associate with baseball cards. This is the first time that we are looking at the 1995 Donruss Studio set here. Here’s the front of the card: Donruss set up their 1995 Studio line like they were credit cards. It’s a nice idea to do once. I’m not 100% sure it wasn’t done any other time, but I like the idea. This would actually make a nice looking credit card design, with the National League symbol in the background of a gray card. The card expiration date is replaced by his birth date. I don’t know if credit cards still do this (mine doesn’t), but they used to have a spot where they tell you how long the person has been a member of that credit card company. Donruss replaced that with the date that players debuted in the majors. There is a stat line on the front here (average, homers and RBIs), which replace the credit card number section. There’s also a hologram on front that has a Pirates symbol. Whether you like the design here or not, you have to give them credit for trying it out. Personally, I think it worked well. Here’s the back of the card: The back of the card has two things similar to a credit card. That’s the area for the authorized signature, which has a facsimile autograph of Garcia, and the black strip up top where you swipe the card. Don’t try swiping one of these cards at the store, they will not work and the cashier won’t appreciate the humor. A nice added touch is that you can see the imprint of the front information backwards on the back of the card, which gives you that authentic credit card feel. As you can see, they didn’t go all out here with information, but you get an extra photo of Garcia and part of someone else who almost(?) collided with him on a pop up. All they have for stats is five categories and just the career stats, no season stats. The only bio notes they included are about his birth place and why he wore #13. A lot of players from Venezuela wore #13 as a tribute to Dave Concepcion. Garcia actually wore #51 during his first three partial seasons with the Pirates, who then went 21 years without a playoff appearance when he switched to #13. I’m not saying that there’s a correlation, but it’s hard to overlook. This isn’t an easy card to find, but it’s still a common card when you find it. There’s one auction of note. Someone has six of them available for 99 cents, which is a typical price for single common cards on Ebay, but the $3.50 shipping cost is a lot for one card. However, this is six cards in one auction, so if you want to share them with your friends, go ahead and buy that lot. There’s one seller who has one for $2 delivered, and another who has a solo card for the same price as the six-card lot (99 cent plus $3.50 shipping). Happy Collecting!...
This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: October 14th, Al Oliver and Two Big World Series Wins
October 14, 2021
This Date in Pittsburgh Baseball History
There have been 11 former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including a key member of the Lumber Company. There are also two games of note. Al Oliver, outfielder/first baseman for the Pirates from 1968 until 1977. He signed with the Pirates out of high school as a 17-year-old in June of 1964 and made his debut the next year in Gastonia, where he hit .309 with 34 extra-base hits and 13 steals in 123 games. Oliver played for Raleigh in the Carolina League in 1966 and hit .299 with 39 extra-base hits and 17 steals in 117 games. He repeated the level to start the next year, but was promoted to Double-A to finish the 1967 season, where he struggled. He combined to bat .262 in 78 games that season, though after the year he went to the Fall Instructional League, where they used to keep track of stats and play a full schedule with players from all levels of the system. Oliver batted .312 in 47 games during that fall season. Despite hitting just .222 during his time in Double-A in 1967, he was promoted to Triple-A. for the 1968 season. By the end of the year he was in the majors with the Pirates and got into four late-season games, after he hit .315 with 22 doubles, 13 triples and 14 homers in 132 games for Columbus of the International League. Oliver was in the majors to stay in 1969, and he played well, finishing second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting due to his .285 average, 17 homers and 70 RBIs in 129 games. He mainly played first base during his first two full seasons, but from 1971 through 1977 he mostly played center field with the Pirates. Oliver hit .270 with 33 doubles, 12 homers and 83 RBIs during the 1970 season. When the Pirates won the World Series in 1971, he helped them get there by hitting .282 with 31 doubles, seven triples, 14 homers, 64 RBIs and 69 runs scored in 143 games. He drove in five runs during the NLCS against the San Francisco Giants, but slumped a bit in the World Series, hitting .211 with two RBIs. In 1972, Oliver topped .300 for the first time (.312), while also making his first All-Star appearance. He had 43 extra-base hits, 89 RBIs and 88 runs scored, helping the Pirates to the postseason, where he hit .250 with a home run. He finished seventh in the NL MVP voting. In 1973, he set his Pirates highs with 20 homers and 99 RBIs, while batting .292 with 38 doubles and 90 runs scored, which gained him mild MVP support that year. In 1974, he set his Pittsburgh highs with 96 runs scored, 198 hits and 11 triples. He batted .321 with 60 extra-base hits and 85 RBIs, which led to his second seventh place finish in the MVP voting. Oliver had a rough postseason, hitting .143 with two singles and two walks. Oliver batted .280 with 39 doubles, eight triples, 18 homers, 84 RBIs and 90 runs scored in 155 games in 1975, giving him his second All-Star season in Pittsburgh. He set a career high (to that point) with his .323 average during the 1976 season, when he had just 29 strikeouts in 121 games. His .839 OPS that season was his best in Pittsburgh. He made his third All-Star appearance and he finished 12th in the MVP voting. In 1977, Oliver hit .308 in 1977, with 29 doubles, 19 homers, 82 RBIs and 75 runs scored in 154 games. His OPS was just five points below his high with the Pirates and he gained mild MVP support for the fifth time in Pittsburgh. He played a total of 1,302 games in a Pirates uniform, and his 1,490 hits during that time ranks him 12th in team history. His 276 doubles ranks 11th in team history and his 717 RBIs is the 13th highest total. The Pirates dealt Oliver in December of 1977 to the Texas Rangers as part of a four-team trade that brought Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven and outfielder John Milner back to Pittsburgh. In 1978, Oliver hit .324 with 35 doubles, 14 homers, 89 RBIs and 65 runs scored in 133 games, which led to a 14th place finish in the American League MVP voting. His .848 OPS set a new person high, but he would top that number later in his career. The next year saw him hit .323 with 44 extra-base hits, 76 RBIs and 69 runs scored in 136 games. His best season in Texas was 1980 when he was an All-Star and won his first Silver Slugger award. He set career highs with 209 hits and 117 RBIs, while tying career highs with 96 runs scored and 43 doubles. He hit .319, with 19 homers in 163 games that year. During the strike-shortened 1981 season, Oliver hit .309 with 29 doubles, 55 RBIs and 53 runs scored in 102 games. That performance earned him an All-Star appearance and a second Silver Slugger award. He also received mild MVP support. At the end of Spring Training in 1982, he was traded to the Montreal Expos. With the Expos that season, he led the NL with a .331 average, with 204 hits, 43 doubles and 109 RBIs. The average and doubles were career highs, as was his 22 homers and .906 OPS. He finished third in the MVP voting that season, won his third Silver Slugger and made his sixth All-Star appearance. Oliver had his final All-Star season in 1983 when he hit .300 with 84 RBIs, 70 runs scored and a league leading 38 doubles. He finished 19th in the MVP voting. The Expos traded him to the San Francisco Giants prior to the 1984 season. His stay there was short, as he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in August. He hit .301 with 26 doubles and 48 RBIs in 119 games between the two stops. He was traded two more times in the next year, first going to the Los Angeles Dodgers before the 1985 season, then after playing 35 games, he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays, where he finished his career later that season. He batted .252 in 96 games during his final season. Oliver finished his 18-year career with a .303 average in 2,368 games, with 529 doubles (which ranks 43rd all-time), 219 homers, 1,326 RBIs, 1,189 runs scored and 2,743 hits, which ranks 58th all-time in baseball history. He made seven All-Star games and won three Silver Slugger awards in his career. Miguel Del Pozo, pitcher for the 2020 Pirates. He was signed by the Miami Marlins as an international amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2010 at 17 years old. He debuted in the Dominican Summer League in 2011, where he went 3-3, 5.09 in 40.2 innings, with 47 strikeouts. In 2012, Del Pozo moved up to the Gulf Coast League and had a 4.02 ERA in 31.1 innings, while pitching mostly in relief. He struggled with Batavia of the New York-Penn League in 2013, posting a 4.81 ERA in 24.1 innings over 17 relief appearances. In 2014, he pitched for Greensboro of the Low-A South Atlantic League, where he went 2-6, 4.91 in 66 innings over 41 relief outings. He moved up to the Florida State League (High-A) in 2015, where he had a 4.25 ERA in 59.1 innings over 27 appearances, including five starts. He missed the end of the year due to Tommy John surgery and didn’t return until 2017. Del Pozo was dominant in his return, pitching for four different teams, ranging from the rookie level to Double-A. He combined to post an 0.70 ERA in 25.2 innings over 22 games. He got some extra work in during the Arizona Fall League, but that did not go well, with 13 runs allowed in 12.1 innings. In 2018, he was injured early on, then spent the last three months of the season in Double-A, going 5-0, 3.97 in 34 innings over 28 appearances. He signed with the Texas Rangers as a free agent over the off-season, while also pitched 19 times in relief in the Dominican during winter ball. In 2019, he lasted in Triple-A for Texas until he was sold to the Los Angeles Angels in August. He made his big league debut a short time later and really struggled, with 11 runs allowed in 9.1 innings over 17 relief outings. The Angels let Del Pozo go after the 2019 season and he signed with the Pirates as a free agent. He was with the team for 11 days during the shortened 2020 season, coming up in late July and getting sent back on August 8th, five days before he was designated for assignment. In 3.2 innings over five appearances with the Pirates, he allowed seven runs in 3.2 innings. Del Pozo became a free agent after the season and signed with the Detroit Tigers. He spent most of 2021 in the minors, though he was called up four different times before landing on the injured list late in the year. He pitched five games in the majors in 2021, allowing two runs in 5.1 innings. He has a 9.82 ERA in 18.1 innings over 27 games. Kris Johnson, pitcher for the 2013 Pirates. He was a first round draft pick by the Boston Red Sox in 2006, selected 40th overall out of Wichita State. Three years earlier, the Anaheim Angels took him in the 50th round out of high school. Johnson debuted in pro ball with Lowell of the New York-Penn League, where he had an 0.88 ERA in 30.2 innings. In his first full season in 2007, he jumped to the high offense environment of Lancaster in the High-A California League, where he went 9-7, 5.56 in 136 innings over 27 starts. In 2008, Johnson went to Portland of the Double-A Eastern League, where he had an 8-9, 3.63 record in 136.1 innings over 27 starts. He split the 2009 season between Double-A and Triple-A, struggling at both spots, putting up identical 6.35 ERAs, while throwing a total of 113.1 innings. He pitched winter ball in the Dominican, then came back in 2011 and had a horrible time with Triple-A Pawtucket, posting a 12.63 ERA in 20.2 innings. Johnson was released during the 2011 season and finished the year in independent ball. He signed with the Pirates over the 2011-12 off-season when he once again pitched winter ball in the Dominican. He split the 2012 season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, combining to go 8-4, 3.19 in 101.2 innings over 13 starts and 22 relief appearances. After dominating in winter ball in the Dominican over the 2012-13 off-season, allowing two earned runs in 27 innings, Johnson went 10-4, 2.39 in 135.2 innings at Triple-A in 2013. The Pirates called him up for one game in August, then he returned for three games in September. In one start and three relief appearances with the 2013 Pirates, he went 0-2, 6.10 in 10.1 innings. After the season, he was traded to the Minnesota Twins for pitcher Duke Welker, who was sent to the Twins by the Pirates in an earlier trade. Johnson went 10-7, 3.95 in 23 starts for Triple-A Rochester of the International League. The Twins called him up for a spot start on May 1st, in which he threw 4.1 scoreless innings, though he walked six batters. In July, he returned to Minnesota for two more starts that saw him allow seven runs over nine innings. That would be his last big league experience and his last season in the minors as well, though he didn’t retire. Johnson pitched through the 2020 season, spending his last six years in Japan. He compiled 125 wins and threw over 2,000 innings over all levels of pro ball. Duaner Sanchez, pitcher for the 2002-03 Pirates. He was signed at 16 years old as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 1996 by the Arizona Diamondbacks. It took him six years to make the majors, then almost immediately after his debut, he was traded to the Pirates for reliever Mike Fetters. Sanchez debuted in the Dominican Summer League, where he played the 1997-98 seasons (no stats available). He moved up to the U.S. in 1999, where he mainly pitched for Missoula of the short-season Pioneer League, though he also had three appearances in High-A. He went 5-3, 3.94 in 77.2 innings as a starting pitcher. In 2000, Sanchez spent the season in the Low-A Midwest League, where he went 8-9, 3.65 in 165.1 innings over 28 starts. He split the 2001 season between High-A and Double-A, pitching in the high-offense environment of Lancaster in the California League, he went 2-4, 4.58 in ten starts. He moved up to El Paso of the Texas League and had a 3-7, 6.78 record in 70.1 innings over 13 starts. He moved to relief and split 2002 between five teams at three levels thanks to that mid-season trade to the Pirates. Sanchez allowed six runs over six innings prior to the trade with the Diamondbacks. He pitched three times in 2002 for the Pirates, allowing four runs in 2.1 innings. He spent his most time that year in Double-A, where he made 31 appearances. In 2003, Sanchez allowed 11 runs in six innings, giving up 3+ runs in three of his appearances. He had two separate stints that year, joining the club in late July, then returning in mid-September. The rest of the year was spent in Triple-A, where he had a 3.69 ERA in 61 innings. The Pirates lost him via waivers to the Los Angeles Dodgers shortly after the 2013 season ended, which proved to be a bad decision. Sanchez had a 3.38 ERA in 80 innings over 67 appearances with the Dodgers in 2004. He made 79 appearances in 2005, posting a 4-7, 3.73 record in 82 innings, with eight saves. After the season, Sanchez was traded to the New York Mets, where he had a 2.60 ERA in 55.1 innings over 49 appearances in 2006. He suffered a shoulder injury in a taxi accident late in the season, which required shoulder surgery. The next season saw him come to Spring Training out of shape, which got him into trouble with the Mets. However, late in Spring Training, he suffered a broken bone in the same shoulder, which required a second surgery and ended his season before it started. Sanchez returned in 2008 and made 66 appearances for the Mets, posting a 5-1, 4.32 record in 58.1 innings. He was released during Spring Training in 2009 and signed with the San Diego Padres a few days later, but they let him go after he had a 9.00 ERA in 12 appearances. That ended up being his final big league time. He pitched winter ball in the Dominican that off-season, then split the 2010 season between Mexico and independent ball. His pro career ended with a brief stint in indy ball in 2011. His final big league line in seven seasons shows a 19-11, 4.10 record in 288 appearances and 298.2 innings pitched. All eight of his career saves came during the 2005 season. Ryan Church, outfielder for the 2010 Pirates. He was a 14th round pick of the Cleveland Indians in 2000 of of the University of Nevada, who was traded to the Montreal Expos shortly before his big league debut in 2004. Church debuted strong in the short-season New York-Penn League in 2000, hitting .298 with 31 extra-base hits and 11 steals in 73 games. In 2001, he split the season between Low-A Columbus of the South Atlantic League (101 games) and Kinston of the High-A Carolina League (24 games), combining to hit .278 with 30 doubles, 22 homers, 72 walks and 80 runs scored. In 2002, Church split the year between Kinston and Double-A Akron of the Eastern League, hitting .307 with 29 doubles, 22 homers and 81 RBIs in 124 games. He spent all of 2003 in Akron, where he batted .261 with 33 extra-base hits in 99 games, which was followed by a trip to the Arizona Fall League. After being traded to the Expos, he spent half of the 2004 season in Triple-A, hitting .343 with 54 extra-base hits in 98 games with Edmonton of the Pacific Coast League, a great park for hitters. He batted .175 in 30 games for the Expos that season. Church hit .287 with nine homers, 42 RBIs and 41 runs scored in 102 games in 2005 when the Expos franchise moved to Washington. For the 2006 Nationals, he put up an .891 OPS in 71 games, thanks to a .276 average, 17 doubles and ten homers in 196 at-bats. He saw his most playing time in 2007, hitting .272 with career highs of 43 doubles, 15 homers and 70 RBIs in 144 games. Church was traded to the New York Mets after that big season, but he didn’t do as well in New York. He played 90 games in 2008, hitting .276 with 14 doubles, 12 homers, 49 RBIs and 54 runs scored. He moved on to the Atlanta Braves in a mid-season trade in 2009, combining to bat .273 with 28 doubles, four homers and 43 RBIs in 111 games, with slightly better results in 44 games after the trade. Church signed with the Pirates as a free agent in January of 2010. He hit .182 in 69 games (36 starts) with the Pirates, before being dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks mid-season in a five-player/cash deal. While his time in Pittsburgh was a disaster, he rebounded in Arizona to finish strong, posting an .835 OPS in 35 games. That ended up being his final season in pro ball. Church played seven years in the majors and batted .264, with 56 homers, 267 RBIs and 251 runs scored in 654 games. Midre Cummings, outfielder for the Pirates from 1993 until 1997.He is one of 15 players in big league history who were born in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Cummings was a first round pick in 1990 out of high school by the Minnesota Twins. He debuted strong in the Gulf Coast League in 1990, hitting .316 with 14 steals in 47 games. In 1991, he went to Low-A Kenosha of the Midwest League, where he hit .322 with 28 extra-base hits and 28 steals in 106 games. The Pirates acquired him from the Twins in March of 1992, along with Denny Neagle, in the John Smiley trade. Cummings spent the 1992 season with Salem of the High-A Carolina League, where he hit .305 with 20 doubles, 14 homers, 75 RBIs and 23 steals in 113 games. The 1993 season was split evenly between Double-A Carolina of the Southern League and Triple-A Buffalo of the American Association. Cummings combined to hit .286 with 47 extra-base hits and ten steals in 123 games, with similar results at each level. He played 13 games for the Pirates that season, hitting .111 in 36 at-bats. In the strike-shortened 1994 season, Cummings hit .244 in 23 games with the Pirates, and .311 in 49 games with Calgary of the Pacific Coast League, after an affiliation switch. He played 45 games for Calgary in 1995 and 59 games for the Pirates, where he hit .243 with two homers and 15 RBIs. In 1996, Cummings played 97 games for Calgary and 24 for the Pirates. He hit .224 with three homers during his big league time, though his OBP was .221 due to no walks and a sacrifice fly. He spent the entire 1997 season in the majors, just not all in Pittsburgh. With the 1997 Pirates, he hit .189 in 52 games. Cummings didn’t have any success in Pittsburgh, but things changed instantly for him after being picked up mid-1997 off waivers from the Philadelphia Phillies. In 63 games, he batted .302 and played strong defense, leading to 1.8 WAR. Despite playing well, he was released prior to 1998 and signed with the Boston Red Sox, where he put up an .856 OPS as a bench player in 67 games. Even with two solid showings in a row, the rest of his career in the majors amounted to a total of 320 at-bats spread out over five seasons and five teams. In 1999, Cummings was released at the end of Spring Training and then signed with the Minnesota Twins six weeks later. He played just 16 big league games that season, hitting .263 with one homer. During the 2000 season, he batted .276 with ten doubles and four homers for the Twins, then was traded late in the year back to the Red Sox. He hit .280 in 21 games, though he had just 31 plate appearances. He became a free agent after the season and signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks for 2001. He was a small part of that World Series winning team, going 6-for-20 at the plate in 20 games. Cummings was a pinch-runner during the postseason and scored three runs. In 2002, he signed a minor league deal with the Milwaukee Brewers, but he played just 11 games all year due to shoulder surgery in April. The entire 2003 season was spent in Triple-A with the Chicago Cubs. In 2004, he batted .278 with two homers in 22 games for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. In 2005, he played his final two big league games with the Baltimore Orioles. Cummings played briefly in China in 2006, his final season in pro ball. He played 172 games over his five seasons in Pittsburgh, batting .217 in 501 at-bats. Cummings played for seven teams over his 11 years in the majors, batting .257 in 460 games, with 22 homers, 124 RBIs and 136 runs scored. He stole 75 bases during his first four seasons in the minors, but he attempted just 15 steals during his entire time in the majors. Tom Cheney, pitcher for the 1960-61 Pirates. He’s the holder of a major big league record that often gets overlooked whenever the discussion arises. Cheney was signed by the St Louis Cardinals in 1952 at 17 years old, and he debuted in the majors five years later at 22 years old. He debuted in pro ball with Albany of the Class-D Georgia-Florida League, where he spent his first two seasons, although that 1952 season consisted of just one game. In 1953, he went 9-12, 3.61 in 172 innings, splitting his time between starting and relief. Cheney moved up to Fresno of the Class-C California League in 1954, where he had a 12-11, 3.86 record in 203 innings, with 207 strikeouts. The next year was spent in A-Ball, with Columbus of the South Atlantic League. He went 14-12, 3.25 in 227 innings, with 153 strikeouts. He pitched one game for Omaha of the Triple-A American Association that season, then spent the next two full years there. In 1956, Cheney went 10-5, 2.93 in 169 innings. That was followed by a 14-8, 2.62 record and 175 strikeouts in 182 innings in 1957. He began that season in the majors, but he was sent down after throwing a total of nine innings over three starts and a relief appearance. He missed the 1958 season due to military service, then returned in 1959 to pitch 11 big league games, posting a 6.94 ERA in 11.2 innings. The Pirates acquired Cheney from the St Louis Cardinals in December of 1959, along with Gino Cimoli, in exchange for pitcher Ron Kline. Half of the 1960 season was spent making 15 starts in Triple-A, but Cheney also had a 3.98 ERA in 52 innings over eight starts and three relief appearances for the World Series champs. He pitched three postseason games that year, allowing two runs over four innings. In 1961, he lasted just one game, allowing five runs (four earned) without recording an out. In June, he was traded to the Washington Senators for pitcher Tom Sturdivant. Cheney finished out the 1961 season with a 1-3, 8.80 record in seven starts and three relief outings for Washington. He did much better in 1962, posting a 7-9, 3.17 record in 173.1 innings, with 147 strikeouts. There was one major highlight to that season. Cheney pitched one of the best games in baseball history on September 12, 1962 for the Senators against the Baltimore Orioles. He allowed just one run over a 16-inning complete game and set a still-standing single game MLB record with 21 strikeouts. In 1963, he went 8-9, 2.71 in 136.1 innings, allowing just 99 hits all year. He had a quick drop-off in 1964, going 13, 3.70 in 48.2 innings over six starts and nine relief outings. He injured his elbow in 1963, but pitched through it for a time in 1964 until he could go any longer. The injury forced him to miss the end of that season and all of 1965. Cheney returned in 1966 to pitched three games for the Senators, before finishing out his career later that year in the minors. He had a career 19-29, 3.77 record in 466 innings over 71 starts and 44 relief appearances in his eight seasons in the majors. Ken Heintzelman, pitcher for the 1937-42 and 1946-47 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball at 19 years old in 1935, spending his first season with McKeesport of the Class-D Pennsylvania State League, where he went 10-11, 3.00 in 195 innings. He remained in the same league, playing for Jeannette, where he improved to 20-8, 3.07 in 243 innings. Stats aren’t available online for strikeouts during this time, but a local story credited him with 229 for the season. He also got the nickname “Cannonball” which was put on Ed Morris, who is the Pirates franchise record holder in numerous single-season pitching categories. Heintzelman joined the Pirates at the end of the 1936 season, but never got into a game. He went to Spring Training with the Pirates in 1937, and received a lot of praise for his work, but he was still sent down once the season started. After posting a 4-16, 4.08 record in 205 innings, spent mostly with Knoxville of the Southern Association, Heintzelman rejoined the Pirates in September and got into one game, making a start on the last day of the season. He made the Opening Day roster in 1938, though he pitched just once in relief before being sent to Montreal of the International League for the rest of the season. Heintzelman finally made the Pirates in 1939. He was used in a mop-up role that year, pitching 35.2 innings over 17 games (two starts), while posting a 5.05 ERA. He saw regular use in 1940, making 16 starts and 23 relief appearances. He went 8-8, 4.47 in 165 innings. His best season for the Pirates was 1941 when he had an 11-11, 3.44 record in 196 innings. He pitched 35 games, 24 as a starter, with 13 complete games. Heintzelman’s stats slipped in 1942 to 8-11, 4.57 in 130 innings, with 18 starts, nine relief outings and three shutouts. Part of the struggle came from an arm injury, which ended his season a few weeks early. He would spend the next three seasons in the Army before returning to the Pirates in 1946. In his first year back, he went 8-12, 3.77 in 157.2 innings, with 24 starts and eight relief appearances. He started off 1947 by allowing 11 runs over his first four innings before he was sold to the Philadelphia Phillies on May 9th. After the sale he went 7-10, 4.04 in 136 innings. In 1948, he had a 6-11, 4.29 record in 130 innings, with 16 starts and 11 relief outings. In 1949, Heintzelman had his best season. He went 17-10, 3.02 in 250 innings. It was the only season as a starter that he didn’t switch between starting and relief during his career. He had one relief outing and 32 starts, with career highs of 15 complete games and a National League leading five shutouts. He finished ninth in the MVP voting. The Phillies made it to the World Series in 1950, though Heintzelman had a down year, going 3-9, 4.09 in 125.1 innings over 17 starts and six relief outings. He went 6-12, 4.18 in 118.1 innings in 1951 when he made 12 starts and 23 relief outings. His final season in the majors was 1952, and he was in a relief role, going 1-3, 3.16 in 42.2 innings over 23 games. While he was done in the majors at 36 years old, he pitched another three seasons in the minors, pitching for Baltimore (1953) and Richmond (1954-55) of the International League. Heintzelman went 37-43, 4.14 in 699.1 innings over 86 starts and 68 relief appearances with the Pirates. He had a 40-55, 3.75 record in Philadelphia, with 97 starts, 68 relief appearances and 802.1 innings pitched. You can read much more on Heintzelman in our in depth Obscure Pittsburgh Pirates article. Hugh Casey, pitcher for the 1949 Pirates. He spent three seasons in the minors right out of high school before the Chicago Cubs purchased his contract for the 1935 season. He pitched 13 games in Chicago, then returned to the minors, where he stayed until the Brooklyn Dodgers made him a Rule 5 pick after the 1938 season. Casey debuted in pro ball at 18 years old in 1932, playing for Atlanta of the Southern Association, a Class-A team which was a bit advanced for a first-year player out of high school. He had a 5.77 ERA in 53 innings. He moved down one level to Charlotte of the Piedmont League, where he went 19-9 and pitched 239 innings. He returned to Atlanta in 1934 and had an 8-6, 4.90 record in 156 innings. The entire 1935 season was spent with the Cubs, with 13 relief appearances spread throughout the year. He had a 3.86 ERA in 25.2 innings. From there, Casey spent 1936 with Los Angeles of the Pacific Coast League, then the 1937-38 seasons were spent in the Southern Association, where he went 14-13, 2.56 in 236 innings with Birmingham in 1937 and 13-14, 3.37 in 291 innings with Memphis in 1938. Casey joined Brooklyn in 1939 and had a full-time role right away, going 15-10, 2.93 in 227.1 innings over 25 starts and 15 relief outings. He pitched more in relief the next season, posting an 11-8, 3.62 record in 154 innings over ten starts and 34 relief appearances. In 1941, Casey started 18 times and pitched in relief 27 times. He went 14-11, 3.89 in 162 innings. That was followed by a 6-3, 2.25 record in 112 innings in 1942 when he pitched 48 times in relief and made two spot starts. While not a stat at the time, he is retroactively credited with a league leading 13 saves. Casey spent the 1943-45 seasons serving in the military. He returned in 1946 to go 11-5, 1.99 in 99.2 innings over 46 games. In 1947, he had a 10-4, 3.99 record in 76.2 innings over 46 games. Despite his workload dropping and his ERA doubling, he finished 12th in the National League MVP voting. In 1948, he saw limited work due to poor results, with a 3-0 record, despite an 8.00 ERA in 36 innings. He was released by Brooklyn shortly after the season ended and signed right away with the Pirates as a free agent. Casey went 4-1, 4.66 in 38.2 innings before the Pirates released him in early August. He finished his nine-year big league career with the New York Yankees later that season, giving up ten runs in 7.2 innings over four appearances. In his career, he went 75-42, 3.45 in 939.2 innings, making 56 starts and 287 relief appearances. His pro career ended where it started, spending the 1950 season back with Atlanta of the Southern Association. Ona Dodd, infielder for the 1912 Pirates. The Pirates signed Dodd after his first season of pro ball in 1911, though he had previous experience for semi-pro and independent teams. The Pirates acquired him through the Rule 5 draft on September 1, 1911, back when big league teams paid a fee to acquire minor league players at the end of each season. He was with the Pirates during Spring Training in 1912 and made a strong impression, but was still shipped to the minors on April 7th, which still left the Pirates with eight infielders at the time. He was originally released on option to Indianapolis of the American Association, but he ended up going elsewhere two weeks later. Dodd played for Wheeling of the Class-B Central League during the early parts of the 1912 season, where he hit .343 in 90 games. He was recalled by the Pirates and rejoined the team on July 25th. In what turned out to be his only big league experience, he went 0-for-9 with a walk and an RBI in five games for the Pirates, seeing all of his time at second base. His online stats show time at third base, but he never played there. Dodd debuted with the Pirates on July 26th and played his final game on August 14th. In his second (and last) start at second base on July 27th, it was said that he hit the ball well all three times, and even accounted for an RBI on a ground out in the fifth inning. His final three games were off of the bench, including a pinch-running appearance on July 31st. He was released by the Pirates on September 28th to Columbus of the American Association, eight days before the regular season ended. He had two footnotes in September during his time with the Pirates. On September 3rd, he went home on an off-day and got caught in a flood and couldn’t get back to the team right away. A week later, the Pirates went on a road trip and he was one of five players left at Forbes Field to practice, which was done often back then to save on travel costs. Dodd played a total of eight seasons in the minors, debuting in 1911 at 24 years old in the Texas League, where he hit .246 with 43 extra-base hits in 144 games for Waco. He spent seven of his eight minor league seasons in the Texas League (all except 1912), playing for four different teams. Most of his minor league stats are incomplete, but the ones that are available show that he hit about .280 each season with a decent amount of doubles. Norm Baker, pitcher for the 1883 Alleghenys. He debuted in the majors in late May of 1883 at the age of 20 and made three starts for Pittsburgh, going 0-2, 3.32 in 19 innings. Just four days before his big league debut, he was pitching amateur ball for a team called the Hartville club from Philadelphia. In his debut for the Alleghenys on May 21st in Philadelphia, he dueled Bobby Mathews, a 297-game winner, to a 1-1 tie through seven innings. In the eighth, Pittsburgh committed two errors, which led to three runs being scored. and a 4-1 loss for Baker. He was thrown out there again the very next day against the same Philadelphia Athletics club and lost 9-1. Short on pitching, the Alleghenys took Baker with them to Baltimore and threw him out there for a third straight game on May 24th. He lasted just one inning in the pitcher’s box before being sent to left field to finish the game. He allowed three runs, but the Alleghenys still won 16-4. Some reports only credit him with 18 innings with Pittsburgh (8 IP debut, 9 IP second game, 1 IP final), which would change his ERA with the team. His final game with the Alleghenys came on May 30th when he started in center field that was shortened to five innings due to rain. On June 1st, he was given a chance to show what he had against a strong minor league team that was playing in Pittsburgh at the time, called the Enterprise, which played in the Western Interstate League. Unfortunately, both game recaps said little more than a small crowd watched a 13-5 (or 14-5) Alleghenys win, with little interest in the outcome. This was the only home game for Baker. Baker had two other stints in the big leagues, pitching for Louisville in 1885 and Baltimore in 1890. He jumped around a lot during his pro career, not playing a full season with just one team until 1891. He debuted in pro ball during his season with the Alleghenys, also seeing time that year with Johnstown of the Western International League. In 1884, he played for Springfield of the Ohio State League and Oil City of the Iron & Oil Association. Half of the 1885 season was spent with Nashville of the Southern League, where he’s credited with a 10-4, 0.58 record in 14 complete games. He allowed 52 runs, but just eight of those runs are considered to be earned runs. Baker also played for Louisville of the American Association that year, where he went 13-12, 3.40 in 217 innings, completing all of his 24 starts. In 1886, Baker went 17-8, 1.48 in 230.2 innings with Nashville, while also seeing brief time with Rochester of the International League, where he allowed two earned runs in 35 innings. He has no stats available for the 1887-89 seasons, but records show him playing each season with two teams, playing with four teams total including two partial seasons with Stockton of the California League, and two seasons in Newark, NJ, with teams in two different leagues. In 1890, he was with Baltimore of the Atlantic League, where he had a 29-10 record. In late August, the Brooklyn Gladiators of the American Association folded and Baltimore took their place in the league to finish out the last 38 games of the schedule. Baker pitched just twice, going 1-1, 3.71 in 17 innings, in what ended up being his last big league action. He pitched for Omaha of the Western Association in 1891 and then finished his pro career with Minneapolis of the Western League during the 1894-95 seasons. In his three big league seasons, he went 14-15, 3.42 in 253 innings. The Games The Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Baltimore Orioles in game five of the World Series on this date in both 1971 and 1979. On this date in 1971, they took a 3-2 lead in the series on a 4-0 shutout by Nelson Briles, who allowed just two hits. Bob Robertson homered and Gene Clines scored two runs. In 1979, the Pirates started their comeback from down 3-1 in the series on this date by winning 7-1, getting strong starting pitcher from Jim Rooker and excellent relief work by Bert Blyleven. Bill Madlock had four hits and Tim Foli drove in three runs....
Card of the Day: 1993 Topps Outfield Prospects/Midre Cummings
October 14, 2021
Card of the Day
Today’s Card of the Day features four players, one of them being a former Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder who was born on this date 50 years ago. Midre Cummings in one of just 15 players in big league history who were born in the U.S. Virgin Islands. That list was a bit smaller when he made his debut back in 1993. Topps featured Cummings on a card with three other top outfield prospects in baseball. As you will see in the breakdown of their careers below, this wasn’t one of those cards that Topps hit on with their choices. Cummings was a top prospect for the Pirates at the time, so it wasn’t a surprise to see him on a top prospects card that was specific to his position. Here’s the front of the card: I’ve said many times here that I prefer action poses (even staged action) over portrait style poses, but I can break that down even more by saying that what you see here with the two players on the top row is even lower on my list. They are baseball players on a baseball card. That should lead to something related to baseball on their card. If you just looked at those photos and nothing else, you probably wouldn’t immediately guess that they played baseball. The bottom two are much better. I give these particular cards a pass on the portrait rule because there isn’t a lot of room for each player when you feature four on one card, but they still need to look like baseball players. This card is actually the gold version of the base card, which is tougher to find. You can see the gold trim around the photos, the ToppsGold logo at the bottom, and “Top Prospects” written in gold lettering at the top. I like the setup here with the stack of baseball bats in the background. Definitely works well with the way they have the players displayed. I’ll get into the players themselves after we look at the back. Here’s the back of the card: As you can see on the back, there isn’t much to go on here as far as scouting the players. You basically just have their age to look at, but even that doesn’t do much without any stats. Cummings is the youngest player so we will look at him first. Cummings played 11 seasons in the majors, though he barely played any full seasons. I’m really hesitant to call this selection a miss by Topps, even though he fell well short of star status at any point. On the other hand, how many baseball players in the minors right now would sign up for a .703 OPS over 460 games and 11 seasons in the majors? Considering that a large majority of them will fall well short of that mark, I bet that you would get some agreeing to that deal every day of the week. I think Cummings is the low end of what you should expect from a player on one of these cards, so I don’t consider him a miss. Since we started with the youngest, I’ll continue to go in that order with Ryan Freeburg. This would be a miss, and I also say that because he was an odd choice from the start. He was a fifth round pick in 1992 who didn’t have much of a debut. Nothing bad, but also nothing to warrant a Topps top prospect card. He played just three years of pro ball and he topped out in High-A. Tracy Sanders was an interesting choice. In 1992, he was 22 years old in Double-A. He hit 21 homers and walked 77 times, but he didn’t hit for average, struck out a lot for the era, and he didn’t have speed. In fact, he had just 11 doubles in 114 games, so it wasn’t great power, but it was good. He played another eight years and didn’t make the majors. In fact, the name might be familiar to some of the older fans of prospect watching because three of his last four seasons were spent in the Pirates system. He hit 22 homers for Double-A Carolina in 1998, then went to Korea and hit 40 homers in 1999, then came back to the Pirates in 2000 and played at three levels in his final year of pro ball. The last player is Matt Mieske, and he ended up as the best player on the card, though he didn’t play as many years in the majors as Cummings. He had a peak and then a valley in his last season. He played 663 big league games, hitting .256 with 56 homers and 226 RBIs. Due to poor defense, he was actually a replacement level player during his time, finishing with 0.1 career WAR, which is lower than Cummings. I’d still take the 663 games played if I had the choice between the two careers. As with Cummings, Mieske would qualify as an acceptable outcome for one of these picks. Unfortunately, for a card to be collectible you need a star, not two decent bench player types and two misses. There isn’t much to say with the price here. There are about 30 auctions for this card on Ebay, with most of them being the regular base card, though you can get the gold version for the same price. Many of them are going for right around $2 delivered. The only one of note is one that is graded PSA 9, which is selling for $16.75 delivered. That’s the only graded one for sale. Only two cards have sold in the last three months on Ebay and one had a blank back, which was a printing error. It didn’t have any extra value, though it sold quickly, so the seller may have undersold his card....
Card of the Day: 1961 Topps Mazeroski’s Homer Wins It!
October 13, 2021
Card of the Day
Today’s Card of the Day comes from the 1961 Topps set and it celebrates one of the greatest moments in baseball history, when Bill Mazeroski homered in the ninth inning of game seven of the 1960 World Series, leading the Pittsburgh Pirates over the New York Yankees. That iconic home run occurred 61 years ago today, so naturally we needed to feature Bill Mazeroski for today’s Card of the Day article. However, I took it one step further by finding the card from Topps to celebrate the actual moment. It’s from a subset of the 1961 set that highlighted the entire 1960 World Series. This is card #312, which is the next to last one in the subset, and it’s titled “Mazeroski’s Homer Wins It”. Here’s the front of the card: We have all seen the home run by Mazeroski and there are multiple choices for the best picture from that moment. The actual swing would be a good one, but there are two angles for it that are both famous, the TV shot from behind the pitcher, and the one from behind home plate that catches the ball just off of the bat. You also have the shot near second base, which the Pirates turned into a statue. If you want to be cruel to the New York Yankees fans, the shot of Yogi Berra watching the ball go over the wall is also iconic. There’s the scene as Mazeroski rounds third base as well. I’m sure you can picture in your mind all of those moments I just described. The other one you don’t have to picture in your mind is what you see above, as his teammates (and some non-teammates) wait for him at home plate. They had plenty of choices, but I think this one is the best for this card because of all of the teammates, especially since they are identifiable by the jersey numbers if you have a roster handy. Here’s the back of the card: The back has a full rundown of the scoring plays from game seven. That’s what you get with the other cards in this series as well. Early in this Card of the Day series, I featured the card for game #4 of the 1960 World Series, which the Pirates won 3-2. You can check that out to see another great photo from this subset. With only five runs, there was a lot less information on that card. The one is packed from the exciting game seven, which saw 19 runs scored. This really wasn’t a high scoring game until late, as they went into the eighth inning with a 5-4 game, then things got really wild for two innings. This game was long before my time, but I couldn’t imagine the stress of watching it live, then the actual home run must have been amazing. If you’re interested in this card, then go check out Ebay, where you will find this card in a variety of grades. There aren’t really a lot of them on Ebay right now, which is a bit surprising. The lowest priced one is $16, and then the price goes all the way up to $450 (with a best offer option) for a PSA 8. A PSA 6 is for sale for $125, and that too has a best offer option. There’s also one autographed by Mazeroski, which is $205. Every auction among the closed ones are over $10, except two people listed buy it now auctions for $5 delivered. I’m guessing those auctions didn’t last long because people are willing to pay 3x that amount in low/mid grade....
This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: October 13th, Mazeroski Wins the World Series
October 13, 2021
This Date in Pittsburgh Baseball History
Six former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus one game of note that might be the most memorable game in baseball history. The Game On this date in 1960 the Pittsburgh Pirates won game seven of the World Series at Forbes Field by a 10-9 score over the New York Yankees on a walk-off home run from Bill Mazeroski. The win gave the Pirates their third World Series title overall and first one in 35 years. The Pirates took an early 2-0 lead in the game on a home run by Rocky Nelson in the first inning. In the second, Bill Virdon added two more runs with a single that scored Don Hoak and Mazeroski. Vernon Law shutout the Yankees for the first four innings before allowing a solo homer to Moose Skowron leading off the fifth inning. The Yankees scored four runs in the sixth to take the lead on an RBI single from Mickey Mantle and a three-run homer by Yogi Berra. In the eighth inning the scoring started to pile up, with two more runs for the Yankees, followed by a five spot for the Pirates in the bottom of the inning. A three-run homer by Hal Smith made the score 9-7 going into the ninth. A one-out single by Mantle off of Harvey Haddix brought the Yankees within one run, and then a heads up base running play by Mantle helped tie the score. A hard ground out by Yogi Berra to first base could’ve ended the game, but when Rocky Nelson touched the bag first before making the throw to second base, Mantle slid back into first, while the tying run scored. That set up the bottom of the ninth for Mazeroski. With Ralph Terry on the mound and Mazeroski leading off the bottom of the ninth inning of the tied game, the first pitch thrown was called a ball. That next pitch from Terry was swung at by Mazeroski, who sent a long drive over the left field wall, ending the series and giving the Pirates the title. It remains to this day the only game seven series-ending homer in World Series history. The Players Rube Waddell, pitcher for the 1900-01 Pirates He began his pro career with the Louisville Colonels in 1897 and pitched just 12 games over three years with the club. The Pirates actually brought him in for a tryout in 1897, but he never pitched for them. Instead, he debuted a month later with two appearances for Louisville, allowing five earned runs in 14 innings. Waddell spent the entire 1898 season in the minors, going 4-4 in 71 innings for Detroit of the Western League, though he left the team mid-season due to a fine that upset him. He won 26 games in the minors in 1899, splitting the season between two Western League clubs. At the end of the season, he saw another ten games of action with Louisville, where he went 7-2. 3.08 in 79 innings. Rube (first name was George) was shipped to the Pirates in December of 1899 as part of a 17-player deal that also saw three other Hall of Famers included, Jack Chesbro (going to Louisville), Fred Clarke and Honus Wagner. Waddell made 22 starts and seven relief appearances for the Pirates in 1900, and despite an 8-13 record he led the National League with a 2.37 ERA. He had 130 strikeouts in 208.2 innings. Waddell was a tough player for anyone to handle, as he was easily distracted and would often show up late or not at all on his days to pitch, but his talent was undeniable. The Pirates suspended him during the 1900 season, but he was so good that they decided to put up with him for as long as they could. In 1901 he made two early season starts, pitched poorly and then they decided they had enough, selling him to the Chicago Colts (Cubs). He gave up 12 runs in 7.2 innings with the Pirates, then had a 14-14, 2.81 record in 243.2 innings with the Colts, recording a total of 172 strikeouts on the season. Waddell pitched a lot in 1902, beginning the season on the west coast with Los Angeles of the California League, where he went 11-8, 2.42 in 167.1 innings. He would land with the Philadelphia Athletics in late June of 1902, where Connie Mack got the best out of him. In six seasons under Mack he won 131 games, posted a 1.97 ERA and led the league in strikeouts every year from 1902 to 1907. Waddell didn’t debut with Philadelphia until June 26, 1902, but he still managed to finish with a 24-7, 2.05 record in 276.1 innings, giving him over 440 innings for the season. He had 210 strikeouts to lead the league for the first of six straight seasons. In 1903, he went 21-6, 2.44 in 324 innings, with 302 strikeouts. Not only was he the first to 200 strikeouts in the American League, he reached 300 before anyone else could reach the 200 mark. He was even better in 1904, going 25-19, 1.62 in 383 innings, with 349 strikeouts. His strikeout total that season was an American League record until topped by Nolan Ryan 69 years later. He missed winning the ERA crown (not an official stat at the time) by three points to Hall of Famer Addie Joss. In 1905, Waddell won the pitching triple crown with 27 wins (ten losses), a 1.48 ERA and 287 strikeouts. He threw 328.2 innings. The A’s had a winning record in 1906, but Waddell finished 15-17, despite a 2.21 ERA in 272.2 innings. His strikeout total dropped to 196, but it was still enough to lead the league. In 1907, he went 19-13, 2.15 in 284.2 innings, with 232 strikeouts. Prior to the 1908 season, Philadelphia sold Waddell to the St Louis Browns. He went 19-14, 1.89 during his first season in St Louis, with 232 strikeouts in 285.2 innings. He finished second in strikeouts, 27 behind Hall of Famer Ed Walsh, who threw 178.1 more innings that season. Waddell went 11-14, 2.37 in 220.1 innings in 1909, while playing for a team that had a 61-89 record. He pitched just 33 innings for the Browns in 1910, his last season in the majors. He went to the minors that year, where he played until 1913. He became sick and passed away on April 1, 1914 at 37 years old. He finished with a 193-143, 2.16 record in 2,961.1 innings, completing 261 of his 340 starts, while throwing 50 shutouts. He struck out 2,316 batters. His ERA ranks 11th all-time for pitchers with 1,000+ innings, one spot ahead of Walter Johnson. Waddell was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1946 by the Old Timers Committee. Bob Bailey, third baseman for the 1962-66 Pirates. He played 17 years in the majors, starting at age 19 with the Pirates. The Pirates signed Bailey the day after he graduated high school, giving him a six-figure bonus in the $125,000-$175,000 range, outbidding numerous other teams in the process. He started immediately in Low-A ball in 1961, playing for Asheville of the South Atlantic League, where he hit just .220 in 75 games, though he had nine homers and 64 walks, giving him an .810 OPS. He then jumped to Triple-A Columbus of the International League in his first full season in the minors in 1962. There he hit 28 homers, scored 109 runs and picked up 108 RBIs, before joining the Pirates in September. He hit just .167 in 14 games, but he was in the majors for good at that point. By age 20, Bailey was the everyday third baseman for the Pirates, playing 154 games as a rookie in 1963. He hit .228 with 12 homers, 45 RBIs, ten steals, 58 walks and 60 runs scored that season. He batted .281 in 1964, with 26 doubles, 11 homers, 51 RBIs, ten steals and 73 runs scored in 143 games. He saw less time at third base, playing 36 games in left field, while also making two starts each at shortstop and right field. Bailey saw time in left field in 1965 and 1966, though his main position was still third base. That trend continued throughout his career. He ended playing 1,194 games at third base and 408 in left field. He batted .256 in 159 games in 1965, with 11 homers, 49 RBIs, ten steals (in 24 attempts) and 70 walks, while setting career highs with 87 runs scored and 28 doubles. Bailey hit .279 with 13 homers in 126 games in 1966, putting up an .807 OPS, which was easily his best mark in Pittsburgh. He was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers (along with Gene Michael) for Maury Wills on December 1, 1966. Bailey didn’t have any success with the Dodgers, hitting .227 during both the 1967 and 1968 seasons, while playing more of a platoon role, getting into 221 games total. He his a total of 12 homers and drove in 67 runs during those two seasons. He was sold to the expansion Montreal Expos shortly after the 1968 season ended. In his first year in Montreal, Bailey hit .265 with nine homers and 53 RBIs in 111 games. He broke out in a big way the next year, hitting .287 in 131 games, with a career high 28 homers, to go along with 77 runs, 84 RBIs and 72 walks. He fell short of qualifying for league leaders, but his 1.004 OPS would have been the third best in the league that season. In 1971, Bailey hit .251 in 157 games, with 65 runs scored, 21 doubles, 14 homers, 83 RBIs, a career best 13 steals, and 97 walks. In 1972, he saw his average drop to .233 in 143 games, finishing with 16 homers, 57 RBIs, 55 runs scored and 59 walks. He bounced back in 1973, hitting .277 with 25 doubles, 26 homers and a career high 86 RBIs. He also scored 77 runs and walked 88 times. In 1974, Bailey drew a career high 100 walks. He batted .280 in 152 games, with 69 runs scored, 20 doubles, 20 homers and 73 RBIs. Bailey became a part-time player in 1975, hitting .273 with five homers and 30 RBIs in 106 games in his last season in Montreal. He was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in the off-season, where he hit .298 with six homers and 23 RBIs in 69 games, helping the team to a World Series victory, though he didn’t play in the postseason. In 1977, he was traded to the Boston Red Sox late in the season, after playing just 49 games over the first five months of the schedule. Bailey hit .247 with two homers, getting into just two games after the trade. He was a bench player for the Red Sox in 1978, hitting .191 in 43 games, in what was his last season in the majors. He was a career .257 hitter, with 189 homers, 773 RBIs, 772 runs scored and 852 walks. With the Pirates, he hit .257 with 47 homers, 197 RBIs and 277 runs scored. Frank Smykal, shortstop for the 1916 Pirates. His big league career consisted of six late season games with the 1916 Pirates. He hit .300, walked three times and was hit by a pitch, giving him a .500 OBP. Smykal played a total of seven seasons in the minors. His time with the Pirates was actually the end of his pro career. He joined the Army shortly after his final game, then later became a doctor in Chicago until his passing in 1950. The Pirates gave him a trial while both Honus Wagner and Alex McCarthy were injured, leaving them short two infielders. Smykal was said to be a solid fielder, with a bat that left something to be desired. He started four straight games, playing a doubleheader on his first day in the majors. Smykal started the next two days, then was used as a ninth inning defensive replacement on September 2nd. That was followed by his final game eight days later, in which he came into the game late and started a rally that saw the Pirates win with sixth runs in the ninth. That last game came on September 10th in Chicago, and one week later he was in the lineup for a semi-pro team called Garden City in the Chicago area, where he lived and went to school. He was said to be with the Pirates on a trial basis, so he may have never actually signed with the team. Smykal debuted in pro ball at 20 years old in 1910, playing for two different teams in the Class-D Minnesota-Wisconsin League, which switched to a Class-C level of play in 1911, when Smykal spent part of the year there with the team from Eau Claire. The rest of his second season was spent with Lexington of the Class-D Blue Grass League. He had better results as the lower level, combining to hit .223 with eight doubles and two triples in 47 games. After spending the 1912 season with Grand Forks of the Class-C Central International League (no stats available), he moved on to Ottawa of the Canadian League (Class-C) in 1913. While there, he hit .195 with six doubles, four triples and 13 steals in 69 games. The Canadian League was reclassified as Class-B in 1914. Smykal hit .244 with 13 extra-base hits and 17 steals in 97 games for Ottawa that season. He also spent part of 1914 in the Class-B Central League, where he hit .222 with two homers in 19 games. While portions of his career minor league stats are missing, he is credited with just three homers in his entire pro career. Smykal spent all of 1915 back in Ottawa, hitting .282 with 17 doubles, six triples and a homer in 107 games. Before joining the Pirates, he played 58 games for Warren of the Class-D Interstate League and ten games for Chattanooga of the Class-A Southern Association. There was no Triple-A at the time, so including his time in Pittsburgh, he had just 16 games played over the top three levels of baseball in his entire career. It’s interesting to note that he was thought to be “too slow for the Southern Association” (early baseball lingo for not being good enough) early in 1916, but Pirates scouts who saw them there thought he was worth giving a shot. While in Warren in 1916, he got in some hot water for attempting to start a player strike. When the Interstate League folded in August, Smykal joined the Pirates to practice with the team, before being put in when the injuries piled up and there wasn’t a suitable shortstop to fill in. Xavier Rescigno, pitcher for the 1943-45 Pirates. He played his entire big league career with the Pirates, debuting after his 30th birthday. Rescigno played eight years in the minors before his big league debut. His pro debut came in 1935 at 22 years old, when he split the season between one start at Binghamton of the Class-A New York-Penn League and 63 innings with Akron of the Class-C Middle Atlantic League. He went 2-4, 4.29 with Akron. In 1936, Rescigno spent the entire season with Akron, going 14-12, 4.05 in 211 innings. He split the 1937 season between three teams, with the majority of his time coming at Smith Falls of the Class-C Canadian-American League, where he went 16-7, 1.56 in 195.2 innings. In 1938, he played part of the year back in Binghamton, this time in the Eastern League. His also saw time with Newark of the International League, one step from the majors. Rescigno played in the same two leagues in 1939, just with different teams, seeing time with Montreal (International League) and Elmira. He combined to go 12-7, 2.97 in 203 innings. The next year was split between two poor outings for Montreal and a solid season for a third Eastern League team (Albany). He went 12-8, 3.25 in 166 innings for Albany, where he played for the next two seasons. In 1941, Rescigno went 12-10, 3.55 in 180 innings. He had a breakout year in 1942, going 23-6, 1.76 in 251 innings. On August 31, 1942, the Pirates purchased Rescigno’s contract from Albany, along with pitcher Russ Bauers, infielder James Cullinane and outfielder Ralph Kiner. Those were three players going in different directions, with Bauers already playing his last name in Pittsburgh in 1941, Kiner didn’t debut until 1946, and Cullinane never played in the majors. Rescigno was said to have a good fastball and a better than average curve. His best season in the majors was his rookie season in 1943 when he had a 2.98 ERA in 132.2 innings, making 14 starts and 23 relief appearances. Despite the strong ERA, he had a 6-9 record. His ERA went up to 4.35 in 124 innings in 1944, but he managed to end with a 10-8 record. He made just six starts that season, though he also appeared in 42 games in relief. He finished second in the National League with his 48 pitching appearances. Rescingo pitched 44 times (one start) in 1945, good for sixth most in the league. However, he finished with a 3-5, 5.72 record in 78.2 innings. His big league career was over at that point, especially with all of the players returning to baseball from the war in 1946, but he still played another six seasons of pro ball before retiring. The Pirates optioned him to Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League in December of 1945, but he was never recalled, ending his time with the Pirates. Rescingo won 150 games in the minors, including 50 wins over the 1946-49 seasons in the PCL with Hollywood (1946-47) and San Diego (1948-49). He went 19-22, 4.13 in 335.1 innings over 21 starts and 108 relief appearances. Dick Barone, shortstop for the 1960 Pirates. His pro career began in 1951 at 18 years old when he hit .255 with 37 extra-base hits in 137 games for Great Falls of the Class-C Pioneer League. He stayed in the same league in 1952, playing 123 games for Billings, where he hit .243 with 28 extra-base hits. He was drafted into the Army and missed the 1953-54 seasons. When he returned to baseball in 1955, he was with Williamsport of the Class-A Eastern League, an affiliate of the Pirates. The Pirates acquired him that year from the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League for two players and cash. Barone hit .264 in 130 games in 1955, with 35 extra-base hits, 79 runs scored and 76 walks. He was with the Pirates during the spring in 1956, but spent the season with New Orleans of the Southern Association, where he hit .270 with 36 extra-base hits and 96 runs scored in 151 games. He was with the Pirates again in Spring Training in 1957, then spent the regular season with Columbus of the International League, where he hit just .182 in 95 games. He was originally sent to Columbus on option, but he was traded to Columbus at the end of the season. Three months later, Columbus traded him to Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League. Barone batted .218 with 51 runs scored and 45 RBIs in 145 games in 1958. Barone improved the next season with Salt Lake City, hitting .250 with 20 doubles, 12 homers, 11 steals and 78 runs scored in 138 games. After the 1959 season, the Pirates traded infielder Harry Bright to Salt Lake City to reacquire Barone. He reported back to Columbus in 1960 and hit .204 with 27 extra-base hits in 143 games. As a late season call-up for the World Series champions, he went 0-for-6 in three games. That turned out to be his only big league time. Barone debuted with the Pirates on September 22, 1960 as a pinch-runner. He got his lone start five days later and put in some overtime, going 0-for-5 in 13 innings before leaving for pinch-hitter Smoky Burgess. Three days later, Barone came in during the eighth inning of a one-sided loss and got his final big league at-bat. On October 15th, two days after the World Series ended, Barone was sent to Salt Lake City in exchange for pitcher Tom Parsons. Six weeks later, Barone was sold to the San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League, officially ending his time with the Pirates. He played with San Diego in 1961, then finished his career with Hawaii of the PCL in 1962. When the Pirates split up the World Series shares in late October of 1960, Barone was awarded a $250 cash split. A full share paid $8,417. Hayden Penn, pitcher for the 2010 Pirates. The Baltimore Orioles drafted him in the fifth round in 2002 out of high school and he was in the majors just three years later. He signed too late to debut in 2002, so his first pro games came in 2003 when he made one start in the Gulf Coast League and another 11 for Bluefield of the Appalachian League. He combined to go 1-4, 4.20 in 55.2 innings. In 2004, Penn went 13-6, 3.81 in 137 innings, with 122 strikeouts. He split that season between three levels, starting in Low-A and finishing with four starts in Double-A. In 2005, he went 7-6, 3.83 in 110.1 innings, with 120 strikeouts for Double-A Bowie of the Eastern League. He went right from there to the majors in late May and stayed with Baltimore for five weeks before returning to the minors. He came back to make one September start for the Orioles, who gave him eight big league starts total before his 21st birthday. Penn went 3-2, 6.34 in 38.1 innings during his first season in the majors. He had a 2.26 ERA in 14 starts at Triple-A in 2006, and got another six with the Orioles, which had disastrous results. Penn had a 15.10 ERA and a 2.59 WHIP in 19.2 innings. Penn had a bone chip removed from his right elbow in 2007, which limited him to ten minor league starts. He made up time in the Arizona Fall League, though things didn’t go well, with a 6.45 ERA in seven starts. The entire 2008 season was spent in Triple-A with Norfolk of the International League, where he had a 4.79 ERA in 99.2 innings. Penn next appeared in the majors in 2009 with the Florida Marlins, where he had a 7.77 ERA in 22 innings over 16 appearances. The Marlins acquired him on an April 1st trade and he spent most of the year in Triple-A. The Pirates selected him off waivers from the Marlins right before Opening Day in 2010. He pitched three early season games for the Pirates, giving up eight runs in 2.1 innings. That ended up being his final big league time. He was sent to the minors following his three games in Pittsburgh, then they released him in July. Penn went on to pitch parts of three years in Japan, before finishing his pro career in independent ball in 2013. Penn finished with a 9.51 ERA in 82.1 innings in the majors, picking up more walks (57) than strikeouts (53)....