This Date in Pirates History: April 23

Fiver former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, four of them were pitchers. Starting with the most recent one first:

Dave Davidson(1984) Pitcher for the 2007 Pirates. He was a 10th round draft pick of the Pirates in 2002. By the end of his third season in the minors, Dave had only reached low-A ball for ten games, and he did not pitch well while there. Things turned around in a big way the next season(2006) when he worked his way from Hickory up to AA Altoona. That year he went 3-2 2.01 in 42 appearances, with 96 strikeouts in 76 innings. Dave spent most of 2007 in AA, getting a brief stop at AAA and a late September recall to the majors. He pitched two games for the Pirates, both were relief appearances in blowout losses. In his debut he allowed four runs in one inning, then ten days later he gave up two runs in his only inning of work. After spending all of 2008 in AA, Davidson was put on waivers early in the 2009 season. He was picked up by the Marlins and sent to AAA. Four weeks later he was recalled and came in to pitch in relief on May 22nd. He faced 11 batters in his only inning, throwing 52 pitches. Dave was put on waivers right after the game and picked up by the Orioles. He was injured at the time though, was returned to the Marlins and had to be placed on the 60 day DL. He was released at the end of the season, did not pitched in 2010 and spent 2011 in Independent ball.

Ron Blackburn(1935) Pitcher for the Pirates during the 1958-59 seasons. He was originally signed by the Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1953. Ron pitched five seasons in the minors before getting his first chance with Pittsburgh. He went 9-13 4.30 in 199 innings for AAA Columbus in 1957. His best season came for the Phoenix Stars of the Arizona-Mexico League in 1955 when he went 16-6 3.48 in 197 innings. Blackburn pitched out of the Pirates bullpen all season in 1958, appearing in 38 games and pitching a total of 68.2 innings. He was in the bullpen again in 1959 until the end of July, making 26 appearances with a 3.65 ERA. On July 31, the Pirates sent him to the minors, calling up Fred Green, who was sent down early in the year after beginning the season with the Pirates. Blackburn never made it back to the majors, spending the next five seasons pitching for the Pirates in the minors. He had an 84-80 4.09 record in 379 minor league games.

Ray Starr(1906) Pitcher for the Pirates during the 1944-45 seasons. On May 27,1944, the Pirates purchased the contract of Starr from the Cincinnati Reds. When Pittsburgh picked him up, he had not pitched yet that season due to a sore arm but they team believed it wasn’t anything serious. Starr ended up pitching 27 games for the Pirates in 1944, twelve of those games came as a starter. He went 6-5 5.02 in 89.2 innings. Ray pitched just four times for the Pirates through the first two months of the 1945 season. He was suspended by the Pirates for leaving the team without permission, then put on waivers, where he was picked up by the Cubs two days later. His major league career didn’t amount to much, but he stuck around long enough to win 251 games in pro ball, 214 during his 15 year minor league career. Ray’s best season in the majors came in 1942 when he went 15-13 2.67 for the Reds.

Connie Walsh(1882) Pitcher for the Pirates on September 16, 1907. He pitched just one inning for the Pirates in his only big league game. That game was a significant one in Pirates history. They lost 5-1 to the Cardinals in the second game of a doubleheader but the starter that day was Babe Adams, making his first start in a Pirates uniform. It was the start of an 18 year career for Adams in Pittsburgh. He pitched the first five innings, allowing four runs, before giving way to Walsh, who finished the game that went just seven innings before being called. Connie faced five batters, allowing one hit, one walk and one run. Walsh had played two seasons in the minors prior to his only major league game and he would return to the minors for another seven seasons before he stopped playing. He also managed for three seasons in the minors, two of them while he was still playing.

Bob Ganley(1875) Right fielder for the 1905-06 Pirates. He spent eight seasons in the minors prior to making his major league debut as a 30 year old with the Pirates on September 1,1905. Ganley hit .316 in 123 games for the Des Moines Underwriters of the Western League during that 1905 season. He hit leadoff and played right field in his first game, going 0-4 but the Pittsburgh Press noted that he looked good at the plate. Ganley would play 32 games for the Pirates that season, hitting .315 with seven RBI’s and no errors in the field. He was the Pirates starting right fielder for the 1906 season, hitting .258 with 41 walks, 63 runs scored and 19 stolen bases in 137 games. On December 31,1906 the Pirates sold his contract to the Washington Senators. Bob would played three years in the American League before returning to the minors to finish his career. After retiring as a player, he managed for two seasons in the minors.

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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 1988…

    Appearing on national television for the first time since September 1985, the first-place Pirates improved their record to 12-4 by beating the Cubs 5-4 at Three Rivers Stadium.

    The Bucs earned the victory in front of an NBC Game of the Week audience by rallying twice against a pair of stylistically disparate Chicago relievers, both of whom would go on to have notably long major league careers.  After Bobby Bonilla’s home run off Al Nipper cut the Cubs’ lead to 2-1 in the sixth inning and Sid Bream followed with a double, Don Zimmer replaced Nipper with 25-year-old lefthander Jamie Moyer, otherwise a regular starting pitcher. 

    Moyer, who would see the threat of snow postpone a scheduled
    start in Pittsburgh twenty-four years
    to the day later, promptly surrendered a home run to R.J. Reynolds for a 3-2
    Pirate advantage.

    Chicago quickly regained the lead with two seven-inning runs off Pirate reliever Jeff Robinson.  Zimmer turned the game over to future Hall of Famer Rich Gossage, who six years later would throw his final major league pitch at age 43.  Gossage retired the Bucs in the seventh.  In the eighth, however, he allowed them to load the bases on a single, an unintentional walk, and an intentional walk.  Mike LaValliere then lined a two-run single into left center for his third hit of the day (and seventh in his last eight at-bats) to put the Pirates back on top.

    Jim Gott, with strong winds swirling stadium concession
    debris around the field, set down the Cubs in order in both the eighth and
    ninth innings to clinch the victory.

    Postgame Quotation That May Trigger Long-Forgotten or Repressed Emotions: “There’s no team in baseball that has better athletes than the Pittsburgh Pirates.  These guys have a chance to be real quality players and I’m glad for their sake and the city’s sake some people got a chance to see them play.  They deserve it.” (Jim Leyland)

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

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PIT/PIT198804230.shtml

    Here’s the AP game story:

    http://tinyurl.com/6qp6o8r