This Date in Pirates History: August 21

There have been seven former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, of which, we start of with the starting right fielder for the first team in franchise history to win a World Series title. We also have one trade of note and in his Jolly Roger Rewind, John Fredland recaps a record-setting game from the 1963 season. Before we get to the former Pirates born on this date, we have a current player, one that is at AAA Indianapolis at this time. First baseman Jeff Clement turns 29 today. He came over to the Pirates in the Jack Wilson/Ian Snell deal with the Mariners, that occurred during the 2009 trading deadline. Clement played 54 games for Pittsburgh in 2010, hitting .201 with seven homers and 12 RBI’s. After missing most of last season, he has seen regular action in AAA this season at DH/1B, batting .283 in 110 games, with 16 homers and 57 RBI’s at this moment.

The Transactions

On this date in 1987, the Pirates traded pitcher Rick Reuschel to the Giants for two pitchers, Jeff Robinson and Scott Medvin. Reuschel was already 38 years old at the time of the deal, in his 15th season in the majors. For the Pirates in 1987, he was 8-6 2.75 in 25 starts, with 170 career wins to his credit. Despite the age and a slow start to his Giants career(4.32 ERA after the deal), Reuschel went on to have two big seasons with San Francisco, going a combined 36-19 between the 1988-89 seasons. He started the 1989 All-Star game at age forty. He played two more years afterwards, getting into just 19 games due to injuries. Medvin pitched 23 games in relief over two seasons with the Pirates before they dealt him to the Mariners in 1990 for Lee Hancock. The Pirates actually lost him in the 1987 Rule V draft, but he was returned before the season started. Robinson pitched three years in Pittsburgh, going 20-19 3.78 in 143 games, with 19 starts and 17 saves. His biggest contribution to the Pirates was likely his inclusion in the deal to the Yankees in December of 1989 that brought Don Slaught back to Pittsburgh.

The Players

Chief Wilson (1883) Right fielder for the Pirates from 1908 until 1913. His strong hitting off of Pirates minor league pitcher Babe Adams, got him highly recommended to the Pirates by Adams himself and the Pirated acted upon that recommendation by signing Wilson. In 1908, without a game of major league experience, Wilson became the Pirates starting right fielder to open the season. He was known for his strong arm, which led to 20 outfield assists his first year. His bat didn’t come around until his second season, which just happened to be the year the Pirates won their first World Series title. Wilson hit .272 with 38 extra base hits, 17 steals and 64 runs scored in 154 games, leading the league in games played. In the WS against Detroit, he hit just .154 with no walks, but the Pirates still took the series in seven games. In 1911, Chief(known as Owen, though his first name was John) really broke out with the bat, hitting .300 with 58 extra base hits and a league leading 107 RBI’s.

The 1912 season was just as good and forever put his name in the baseball history books. That year he hit 36 triples, a record that still stands 100 years later, and one that no one has seriously approached since then, with the high being 26, done twice. On December 12,1913, the Pirates traded Wilson to the Cardinals in an eight player deal. He would go on to play three more years in the majors, never quite approaching the numbers he put up during the 1911-12 seasons. In his six seasons in Pittsburgh, Wilson played at least 144 games each year, three times leading all NL outfielders in games played. In 899 games for Pittsburgh, he hit .274 with 427 RBI’s and 94 triples. He collected 181 outfield assists during his nine year career.

Jesse Chavez (1983) He was drafted by the Rangers in the 42nd round in 2002, signing as a  draft-and-follow the following May. The Pirates acquired him at the 2006 trading deadline in exchange for Kip Wells. Jesse made his debut for Pittsburgh at the end of August in 2008, pitching 15 games in relief, with a 0-1 6.60 record in 15 innings. The Pirates used him often in 2009, with strong results early, but a fall off in the second half. In 73 games, he posted a 4.01 ERA in 67.1 innings. In November 2009, the Pirates traded him for the disaster known as Aki Iwamura. Chavez was traded a month later to the Braves. Since the deal, he has also pitched with the Royals and Blue Jays with no success at any of his three stops. He has a career 7-11 5.74 record in 152 games

Ramon Vazquez (1976) Infielder for the 2009 Pirates. He came to the Pirates as a free agent in 2009, coming off his best season in the majors, hitting .290, with a .795 OPS for the Rangers. Those numbers came with the huge caveat that Texas is a big-time hitter’s ballpark. In 2007, Ramon hit eight homers with Texas, one more than he hit during his first six seasons in the majors. Predictably, when he got to Pittsburgh, the numbers regressed back to his normal standards. He signed a two year contract with the Pirates, but after hitting .230 with one homer in 101 games, he was released after just one year. Ramon played at least 14 games at SS,2B and 3B during his only season with Pittsburgh. Between the 2010-11 seasons, Ramon played in the minors with five different organizations. He has played Independent League ball this season. In 696 major league games, he is a .254 hitter with 176 RBI’s.

Lou Collier (1973) Shortstop for the 1997-98 Pirates. He was a 31st round draft pick in 1992 by the Pirates. The previous year, he was taken in the 56th round by the Astros, but did not sign. Lou averaged over 30 stolen bases a year in the minors in his first three full seasons, though his breakout season came during a year in which he went 12 for 19 in steal attempts at AAA. In 1997, he hit .330 with 31 doubles in 112 games for Calgary of the Pacific Coast League. Pittsburgh called him up at the end of June, but he really struggled and was quickly sent back to the minors. He returned in September, finishing with a .135 average in 18 games. In 1998, Lou was the starting shortstop for much of the season, batting .246 in 110 games, with 30 runs scored and 36 RBI’s. He was put on waivers at the end of the season, where he was picked up by the Brewers. Collier played in the majors every season from 1999-2004, seeing time with four different teams. He hit .241 in his 315 game career, with just 12 stolen bases, never attempting more than six in a season once he reached the majors. After 2004, he played two years of Korean baseball, before returning to the states(actually played for AAA Ottawa) in 2007 for one last season.

Murry Dickson (1916) Pitcher for the Pirates from 1949 until 1953. He pitched his first major league game in 1939, just one appearances for the Cardinals. One year later, he pitched another game for St Louis. After spending 1941 in the minors, he pitched the 1942-43 seasons with the Cardinals, then served two years in the military. Six years after he made his major league debut, Murry had 14 career wins, but that all changed when he returned in 1946 from the war effort. That first season back, he went 15-6 2.88, leading NL pitchers with a .714 winning percentage. That began a string of 11 straight seasons that he won in double digits. His 1948 season was not strong, going 12-16 while leading the league in earned runs and home runs allowed. He was a workhorse pitcher though, taking the ball often as a starter and pitching in relief. The Pirates purchased Murry from the Cardinals on January 29,1949 for $125k.

Pittsburgh was not good during his five season stint with the team, never winning more than 71 games in a year. Dickson however, had a remarkable 1951 season, going 20-16 for a team that finished 64-90 in seventh place. The Pirates lack of support got to him the next two years, leading the NL in losses each season, a total of 40 defeats, with 24 wins to show for his effort. On January 13,1954, the Pirates traded Dickson to the Phillies for pitcher Andy Hansen, infielder Jack Lohrke and cash. His first season in Philadelphia had to remind him of Pittsburgh, a 3.78 ERA but a 10-20 record was all he could muster, leading the league in losses for a third straight season.  From 1947 until 1956, Murry pitched at least 200 innings all ten seasons. He had a 66-85 3.83 record in 228 games with Pirates, 137 as a starter. In his 18 year career, he went 172-181 3.66 in 625 games, 338 as a starter.

Cobe Jones (1907) Shortstop for the 1928-29 Pirates. He spent the 1928 season playing for Bridgeport of the Eastern League, where he hit .306 in 150 games. Cobe didn’t make his major league debut until the very last game of the season, the second game of a doubleheader against Brooklyn. He came into the game off the bench, as Brooklyn took a big early lead. Jones went 1-2 at the plate with a single, and he handled the only play hit his way. He began the 1929 season with the Pirates, lasting through June, before finishing the season(and his career) in the minors. In 25 games, he started ten times at shortstop, hitting .254 with four RBI’s in 64 AB’s. Cobe played off-and-on in the minors until 1941, occasionally serving as a player/manager. After retiring as a player, he served as a scout for three different teams. Cobe was a long-time coach outside of baseball, and it is said that his playing career was cut short by diabetes. He attended two colleges, the University of Colorado, which has produced just five major league players, and Colorado College, a school that is represented in major league history by just Jones himself.

Jim Mosolf (1905) Pinch hitter/outfielder for the 1929-31 Pirates. In his second season of pro ball in 1929, Jim hit .362 with 60 extra base hits for Wichita of the Western League. He joined the Pirates in September and hit .462(6-13) with two RBI’s in eight games. He was with the Pirates for all of 1930, but he received just six starts(all in right field) all year, batting a total of 60 times in 40 games, with a .333 average, eight walks, 16 runs scored and nine RBI’s. Over the off-season, there was talk of moving him to the mound, but he never pitched that season for the Pirates. He instead held the same role as a pinch-hitter/seldom used outfielder. In 39 games, Jim started four times, finishing the year with a .250 average, one homer and eight RBI’s. The following February, Mosolf was sold to the minors. He returned to the majors for three months with the 1933 Cubs, before finishing his career in the minors four years later. Jim was a career .321 hitter in 1025 minor league games.

Jolly Roger Rewind: August 21, 1963

Jerry Lynch set a new major-league career record for pinch-hit home runs with a ninth-inning homer off Lindy McDaniel, giving the Pirates a 7-6 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Batting for winning pitcher Al McBean, the thirty-three-year-old Lynch led off the top of the ninth by driving McDaniel’s 3-1 fastball into the bleachers in right center. The pinch-hit home run gave Lynch fifteen in his ten-year major-league career, breaking a tie with previous record-holder George Crowe, who had retired two seasons earlier.* It was Lynch’s second pinch-hit homer off McDaniel in thirty-one days; on July 21 at Forbes Field, Lynch had tied the game in the ninth inning with a three-run shot.

Lynch’s blast gave the Bucs the upper hand in a sloppy contest, until then distinguished by the exchange of three consecutive three-run innings between the top of the sixth and top of the seventh. The Cubs’ sixth-inning triumvirate, turning a 3-2 deficit into a 5-3 advantage, came with the assistance of a milestone considerably less positive than Lynch’s: Harvey Haddix, who replaced reliever Tommy Sisk with two on and one out, tied a National League record by throwing three wild pitches in the inning. Three Pirate relief pitchers—Sisk, Haddix and McBean—either put eventual tying or go-ahead runs on base or allowed inherited runners to score to tie the game or put the Cubs in the lead.

Elroy Face finally closed out Chicago in the ninth inning, recording his fourteenth save with his twelfth consecutive scoreless appearance. McBean’s record improved to 13-3 with the victory.

Box score and play-by-play

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette game story

* Lynch retired in 1966 with eighteen career pinch-hit homers. His record lasted until Cliff Johnson broke it in 1984. Matt Stairs currently holds the major-league record with twenty-three pinch-hit home runs.

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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.
  • http://twitter.com/jlease717 John Lease

    Aki, a fat, chain smoking, disaster.

    • JohnDreker

      He is one of the few people I didn’t write a bio for on his bday, refused to relive his time here. Wanted to skip some others like Eric Hinske and Oliver Perez, but I wrote them anyway. Not for Aki…I mentioned it and said something to the effect that “we don’t need to relive that disaster”