This Date in Pirates History: April 20

On this date in 1985, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded longtime reliever Kent Tekulve, to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for pitcher Al Holland and minor league pitcher Frankie Griffin. Tekulve was 38 years old and had pitched just three games for the Pirates in 1985, allowing seven runs in 3.1 innings. He had pitched well in 1984, posting a 2.66 ERA in 72 games. Holland was originally signed by the Pirates and pitched two games for the team during the 1977 season. He was 32 years old and had pitched 68 games for the Phillies in 1984, compiling 29 saves and a 5-10 record in 98.1 innings. Griffin was a 25 year old minor league reliever who had a 1.60 ERA in 38 games at AA.

Holland would end up pitching a total of 58.1 innings for the Pirates over 38 relief appearances. He went 1-3 with four saves and a 3.38 ERA. He would be traded to the Angels in a six player deal on August 2,1985 that also sent George Hendrick and John Candelaria to California. Griffin never made it above AA in his only season with the Pirates, which was also the final year of his career. Tekulve would end up pitching four seasons for the Phillies, appearing in 291 games with a 3.01 ERA. He won 24 games, saved 25 and twice pitched over 100 innings in a season. In 1987 he led the NL with 90 games pitched.

Former Pirates players born on this date include:

Chris Duffy(1980) Outfielder for the Pirates from 2005 until 2007. He was an 8th round draft pick of the Pirates in 2001. Duffy hit .317 in short-season ball that first year, then jumped to high-A ball for 2002, where he hit .301 with ten homers and 22 stolen bases. Chris spent the next two seasons at Altoona, scoring 84 runs in each season while stealing a total of 64 bases. In 2004, he batted .309 in 113 games. He made the Pirates out of Spring Training in 2005 but was quickly sent down to AAA. He was hitting .308 with 55 runs scored, 27 extra base hits and 17 steals through 77 games with Indianapolis when he was recalled in mid-July. Duffy had his average up to .341 with 22 runs scored through 39 games, when he got injured in late August. The next season he started off real slow but the Pirates stuck with him through mid-May before sending him down. He was briefly suspended by the team for not reporting to AAA but he eventually did and hit great with Indianapolis, earning a recall on August 1st. Duffy finished the season strong and was 26 of 27 in stolen base attempts with the Pirates. He was the starting center fielder through the end of June in 2008, batting .249 with 13 steals in 70 games before injuries and surgery ended his season. After playing just 30 games over the 2008 season in the minors, Duffy was released. He has since played 19 games for the 2009 Brewers and has not played pro ball since 2010.

Mike Mowrey(1884) Third baseman for the 1914 Pirates. He already had nine seasons in the majors when the Pirates traded for him on December 12,1913. It was an eight player deal made with the St Louis Cardinals that sent Dots Miller and Chief Wilson to St Louis and provided very little return for the Pirates. Mowrey was Pittsburgh’s regular third baseman for half of the 1914 season, hitting .254 with 25 RBI’s in 79 games. Injuries kept him out of the lineup the other half of the year. His strength was defense, where he led all NL 3B in fielding percentage that season. Prior to the start of 1915, Mowrey jumped from the Pirates to the Pittsburgh representative in the Federal League, the Rebels. After the league folded, he returned to the NL with the Brooklyn Robins for two seasons. He went on to be a player-manager for four seasons in the minors from 1920-23, then one more year of only managing, before ending his baseball career. Mike was a career .256 hitter in 1276 major league games.

Steamer Flanagan(1881) Outfielder for the 1905 Pirates. The day before his major league debut(9/25/1905) Flanagan started an exhibition game for the Pirates in right field and did well, collecting two hits and scoring two runs against Columbus of the American Association. He was used as a pinch hitter in his first major league game, batting for Deacon Phillippe and against Christy Mathewson, who retired him on a line drive. He sat the next few games as the Pirates had a slim chance to get back into the pennant race but once they were eliminated with a week left in the season he began to start in center field. The newspapers were impressed with his play in the field and said he ran the bases awkward but he was very quick. Flanagan hit .280 with seven runs scored in seven games(five as a starter) and he was flawless in the field in his 19 chances but it wasn’t enough to keep him around on a strong Pirates team for the next season. He ended up playing a total of ten seasons in the minors, never returning to the majors again.

Sam Nicholl(1869) Outfielder for the 1888 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He hit .331 in 92 games as an 18 year old for Wheeling of the Ohio State League in 1887. He played for Wheeling again the next season as the team moved to the Tri-State League. His manager that season was Al Buckenberger, the Pirates manager from 1892-1894. When the Alleghenys came calling in early October of 1888, they signed Nicholl and teammate Henry Yaik. Nicholl made his debut on October 5th, while Yaik played the two previous days, then never played in the majors again. The Alleghenys had five players out with injuries late in the season and only a 16 man roster, forcing Nicholl into full-time duty the last week of the season. He hit just .045 in eight games as the center fielder. During the next April he was still with Pittsburgh and they said they expected better things from him because he was slowed by a hand injury at the end of last season and had trouble batting. It never worked out though, Sam made the team out of Spring Training but never played a game before being released just over a week into the season. He returned to the minors, playing another ten seasons before he retired, with his only other major league experience coming during the 1890 season when he played 14 games for the Columbus Solons of the American Association. While with Pittsburgh, he went by the last name “Nichols”.

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About John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.
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    On this date in 1987…

    Mike Diaz’s tie-breaking pinch-hit three-run homer off Doug Sisk in the bottom of the seventh inning lifted the Pirates to a 9-6 victory over the Mets at Three Rivers Stadium.   With the victory, the Pirates to snapped a fifteen-game losing streak against the defending World Champions, equalled their 1986 win total against Davey Johnson’s club, and foreshadowed two playoff-hope-damaging see-saw Bucco victories to come that September.

    The path to victory was not linear.  The Pirates had rolled to a 5-2 lead behind home runs by Johnny Ray and Sid Bream, but starting pitcher Rick Reuschel, less than a month shy of this 38th birthday, jammed his left knee sliding in to second base on a sixth-inning double.  Jim Leyland entrusted the lead to two young relievers in the top of the seventh, but neither was effective: John Smiley surrendered a solo home run to Met rookie Dave Magadan, and Barry Jones allowed a three-run shot to Gary Carter.  When the fans rose for “Take Me Out To The Ballgame,” the Mets had a 6-5 lead.

    New York’s lead barely lasted beyond “one, two, three strikes you’re out, at the old ballgame”: Bream opened the bottom of the seventh by taking Randy Myers deep to tie the game.  Myers rebounded to retire the next two batters, but then walked Mike LaValliere and Bill Almon.  Johnson called in Sisk from the bullpen, setting the stage for Diaz’s blast into the left field seats.

    Leyland turned the lead over to another young reliever, Logan Easley, and he picked up four strikeouts in two scoreless innings to close out the Mets and earn his first major league victory.

    Here’s the box score and play-by-play:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PIT/PIT198704200.shtml

    Here’s the Pittsburgh Press’ game story:

    http://tinyurl.com/d8hscqz