This Date in Pirates History: April 7

On this date in 1979 the Pittsburgh Pirates traded pitcher Jerry Reuss to the Los Angeles Dodgers for pitcher Rick Rhoden. Reuss was a 29 year old starting pitcher with ten season in the majors, five with the Pirates, at the time of the trade. He had won 48 games between 1974-76, but his last two seasons with Pittsburgh he went 10-13 in 1977 and then pitched only 82.2 innings in 1978. He had shoulder problems in 1978 and was unhappy about his role for 1979, so he asked for a trade. Rhoden was a 25 year old, with a 42-24 3.40 record in 118 games, 91 as a starter.

Rhoden got off to a slow start with the Pirates, needing shoulder surgery after just one start. He finally came back healthy for an entire season in 1981 and won 72 games over his six full seasons in Pittsburgh. After the 1986 season, the Pirates traded Rhoden to the Yankees in a six player deal that brought a young Doug Drabek back to Pittsburgh. The trade worked out just as well for the Dodgers, as they got 86 wins and 1407 innings pitched out of Reuss. During the 1981 playoffs, he made five starts, the last one being a complete game win over the Yankees during game five of the World Series.

Former Pirates players born on this date include:

Bobby Del Greco (1933) Outfielder for the Pirates in 1952 and 1956. He was a Pittsburgh, Pa native, who signed with the Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1950 as a 17 year old. The next season he hit .302 with 37 doubles in 123 games playing Class C ball for the Hutchinson Elks of the Western Association. The Pirates brought him right up to the majors to start the 1952 season, playing him 90 times in center field that year. He hit .217 with 20 RBI’s, 38 walks and 34 runs scored in 385 plate appearances. Del Greco spent the next three seasons in the minors before making the Pirates Opening Day roster in 1956. He played 14 games prior to being traded to the St Louis Cardinals, along with Dick Littlefield in exchange for Bill Virdon in mid-May. Bobby was a regular for the Cardinals during that 1956 season but during the next three years, he played a total of 40 major league games. He was a regular with the Kansas City A’s and Philadelphia Phillies from 1960-63, playing at least 100 games each season. After spending all of 1964 in the minors, Del Greco got into another eight games with the 1965 Phillies, his last season in the majors. In nine big league seasons, he played 731 games, hitting .229 with 271 runs scored and 169 RBI’s.

Jack Ferry (1887) Pitcher for the Pirates from 1910 until 1913. He was the first graduate of Seton Hall University to play in the major leagues. Jack was purchased by the Pirates in August 1910 from the Jersey City Skeeters of the Eastern League, where he had an 8-11 record in 203 innings, in his second season of pro ball. He made three starts and three relief appearances in 1910 for the Pirates, posting a 2.32 ERA in 31 innings. The 1911 season was his best in the majors. Ferry went 6-4 3.15 in eight starts and 18 relief appearances, pitching a total of 85.2 innings. He pitched just 11 games in 1912 and had control problems, although his record didn’t show that as he went 2-0 3.00 in 39 innings. He walked 23 batters and struck out ten. Jack was used only four times in relief early in 1913 before he was sent to the minors. He never returned to the big leagues, finishing his playing career in 1916. with the Shreveport Gassers of the Texas League. Ferry finished with a 10-6 3.02 record in 47 games for the Pirates. His brother Cy Ferry, pitched two seasons(1904-05) in the majors

Art Weaver (1879) Catcher for the 1903 Pirates. He was purchased by Pittsburgh from the St Louis Cardinals in June of 1903 and would play 11 games behind the plate and five games at first base through the rest of the season. He was with the team until the end of the season but did not participate in the World Series. Art hit .229 in 16 games for the Pirates after hitting .245 in the 16 games he played for the Cardinals during the first two months of the season. He had made his major league debut for St Louis in 1902, hitting .182 in 11 late season games. Weaver’s only other major league experience was 28 games for the 1905 St Louis Browns and 15 games for the 1908 White Sox. He played a total of 11 seasons in the minors, finishing his pro career in 1914.

John Ganzel (1874) First baseman for the 1898 Pirates. Two seasons after making his pro debut in the minors in 1896, John made his major league debut with the 1898 Pirates. His stay with the team wasn’t long, a month into the schedule, he was sold to the Detroit Tigers of the Western League. For Pittsburgh, Ganzel hit .133 in 45 AB’s, although he struck out just one time. He had six singles, four walks and five runs scored. John made it back to the majors in 1900 with the Chicago Orphans(Colts), then played for the 1901 Giants, 1903-04 Highlanders(Yankees) and 1907-08 Reds. Ganzel managed the Reds in 1908, Brooklyn Tip-Tops of the Federal League in 1915 and he spent another 14 seasons managing in the minors. He played his last minor league game at age 44 in 1918 and 21 years later, he managed his last game. He had a brother Charlie, that played 14 seasons in the majors and a nephew named Babe Ganzel, that played two years(1927-28) for the Washington Senators

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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.
  • jfredland

    One of the wildest home openers in Pittsburgh history happened on this date in 2008.  In the first-ever home game for the Coonelly/Huntington era, the Cubs rolled to an early 7-0 lead against Tom Gorzelanny, only to see the Pirates rally to tie the game at 8-8 in the seventh inning.  The Bucs were poised to complete their rally in the bottom on the ninth, when the PNC Park crowd witnessed the following drama, as described by Dejan Kovacevic in the PPG (warning: these paragraphs represent a disturbing confluence of Pirates past, present and future…):

    “After Doug Mientkiewicz was intentionally walked, Bautista put down a surprise bunt up the first-base line toward Derrek Lee, with an eye toward catching the Chicago infield off guard and giving Bixler a chance to score.

    Bixler broke initially, hesitated and went back to the bag. Lee scooped up the ball and tagged Bautista for the easy second out. Luis Rivas grounded out to end the inning, and Bixler was booed loudly by the overflow crowd of 37,491.”

    In the top of the twelfth inning, the Cubs turned five walks and two wild pitches by “struggling Rule 5 draft pick” Evan Meek (per DK) into two runs and an 8-5 victory.  Wondered the scribe, “How much longer can the Pirates carry [Meek], even though he must be returned to the Tampa Bay Rays unless he stays on the roster all season?”

    Here’s the box score, with many names guaranteed to provoke fan reaction (as Cubs seeing action that day included Daryle Ward, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Ronny Cedeno and Jon Lieber…):

    Here’s DK’s PPG story:

  • JohnDreker

    Thanks for reminding me about Bixler’s baserunning that day. Still hard to believe and I watched the replay about 5 times, each time saying same old Pirates…