Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date. Among them the brother of one of the all-time great pitchers, another who had two brothers that played in the majors and then a pitcher who had one forgettable outing while with the Pirates. In his Jolly Roger Rewind, John Fredland recaps a big ninth inning comeback, followed by a victory in extra innings, by the 1965 Pirates.
Before we get into the former players, we have a current player celebrating a birthday. Infielder Jordy Mercer turns 26 today. He was a third round draft pick in 2008 by the Pirates, who made his major league debut this May. Jordy is hitting .208 through 26 games, with one homer and four RBI’s for the Pirates. He has made starts at both shortstop and second base in Pittsburgh, and he played third base numerous times in the minors.
Mike Maddux (1961) Pitcher for the 1995 Pirates. He is the brother of future Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux and often got lost in his shadow, but Mike Maddux ended up pitching 15 seasons in the majors, pitching a total of 472 games split between nine different teams. Mike was drafted out of high school in 1979 by the Reds, choosing not to sign until 1982 when selected in the fifth round by the Phillies. He made his major league debut in 1986 as a starting pitcher, though he made his mark in the majors as a reliever. Maddux spent four years with the Phillies, then made stops with the Dodgers(1990), Padres(1991-92), Mets(1993-94) before signing with the Pirates in April of 2005 as a free agent. His stay with the Pirates was short, eight relief outings, with a 9.00 ERA in nine innings. He was released in mid-May, signing two weeks later with the Red Sox. Mike stayed around until 2000, ending his playing days with the Astros. He had a career record of 39-37 4.05, with 20 saves. He has served as a pitching coach since 2002, first in the minors, then for six seasons with the Brewers(2003-08), prior to taking his current job in 2009 for the Texas Rangers.
Mike Edwards (1952) Second baseman for the 1977 Pirates. He was a seventh round draft pick of the Pirates in 1974 out of the University of California. He finally signed a contract after being drafted three other times, twice by the Angels and once by the Expos. Mike worked his way up the minor league system, making it to AAA during the 1976 season. He hit just .206 with six walks in 62 games during his first trial, but his second year at the level was much more successful. In 1977, Edwards hit .296 with 77 runs scored, 61 RBI’s and he stole 62 bases. His previous stolen base high during his first three years was thirty. The Pirates made him a September call-up, getting Mike into seven games, going hitless in six AB’s. Just before the 1978 season started, he was sent to the Oakland A’s as the player to be named later in a deal for Manny Sanguillen. Edwards saw plenty of playing time with Oakland over the next two season, playing a combined 264 games, with most of his time spent at second base. After batting .233 and leading all AL second baseman in errors for a second consecutive year, he saw very limited time during the 1980 season. He was released by the A’s following the season and didn’t play the next year. In 1982, he played Mexican League baseball, then on to Japan for one season, before finishing his career in 1983 back in Mexico. Mike had a younger brother named Dave Edwards, who played five seasons in the majors, spending time with the Twins and Padres. He also had a twin brother named Marshall, who spent three seasons(1981-83) with the Brewers. Marshall batted and threw lefty, while Mike did both from the right side. The Pirates also had a Mike Edwards(of no relation) on their 2006 ballclub.
Charlie Engle (1903) Infielder for the 1930 Pirates. He broke into pro ball in the majors, playing for the Philadelphia Athletics for two seasons(1925-26). He never got much of a chance with the A’s, playing a total of twenty games over his two years. He then spent the next three seasons playing for Memphis of the Southern Association, serving as the team’s everyday shortstop. The Pirates took him in the October 1929 Rule V draft after he hit .302 in 141 games that season for Memphis. He was the Pirates starting third baseman to begin the 1930 season, then after not playing for 11 days in late May, he took over at shortstop for a month and a half. After being benched again, he started playing second base, seeing sporadic playing time there over the last two months. Engle finished the season hitting .264 with 15 RBI’s and 34 runs scored. He returned to the minors in 1931 and ended up playing 11 more years before the war started. He then ran a team called the Charlie Engle All-Stars for a time, returning to pro ball once the war was over. Charlie was a player/manager in 1946, then managed another three seasons in the minors afterwards.
Eddie Mulligan (1894) Infielder for the 1928 Pirates. He played five seasons in the majors, spread out over a 13 year time period. His pro career spanned 25 years, beginning in 1914 as a teenager. The Cubs signed Mulligan soon after he began playing pro ball, bringing him to the majors at the end of the 1915 season. In 1916, he had a terrible time trying to keep up with the fast pace of major league ball. He hit .153 in 58 games, with 40 errors at shortstop before the Cubs gave up on him. He was traded to the minors, where he spent the rest of the 1916 season and most of 1917 before entering the Army during WWI. When he returned, Eddie played for Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League for two seasons prior to joining the Chicago White Sox. The 1921 season was the best of his major league career, as he hit .251 with 82 runs scored in 151 games for the White Sox, getting 150 starts at third base. He was the replacement that season for Buck Weaver, one of the eight players suspended for throwing the 1919 World Series(Black Sox scandal). Eddie was the starting third baseman for most of the 1922 season as well, hitting .234 in 103 games.
He returned to the minors in 1923, spending the next five seasons playing for the San Francisco Seals of the PCL, where he played an average of 175 games per year. The Pirates sent infielder Hal Rhyne to the Seals in 1928 and picked up Mulligan, who saw very little time with the team, especially after May. After starting a few games at second base in mid-May, Mulligan replaced a sick Pie Traynor for a few games at the end of the month. Once the calendar hit June though, Eddie began every game on the bench and never played in the field again all season. He made eight appearances as a pinch hitter and six as a pinch runner, finishing with a .233 average and four runs scored in 27 games. Mulligan returned to the PCL, where he spent the next ten seasons, before ending his career in 1939 as a player/manager for the Salt Lake City Bees of the Pioneer League. He is a member of the PCL Hall of Fame and was an accomplished soccer player as a youth, playing as a pro before he baseball career began.
Dave Wright (1875) Pitcher for the Pirates on July 22,1895. On July 15,1895, the Pirates played an exhibition game against Wheeling of the Interstate League. On the mound for the first time wearing a Pirates uniform, was 19 year old Dave Wright, who was booed unmercifully by the Wheeling fans because he beat their team earlier in the year while playing for the Twin City Hustlers of that same league. The Pirates won 9-6 and the scouting report on Wright was that he had good size and an above average curveball with good control. It was also said that he had much to learn, but he was young and willing to listen and put in the work. The Pirates had a five day break in the NL schedule in mid-July 1895, but they didn’t take time off, they played exhibition games instead to make extra money. Wright got another chance to pitch in front of the Pirates, before he pitched in a game that counted. At that same time, Pittsburgh also picked up pitcher Brownie Foreman, giving both new hurlers a trial.
There were calls from the Pittsburgh crowd for Wright to make his first appearance on July 20th, after the Pirates went up big early on the Phillies. Star pitcher Pink Hawley ended up finishing that game he started and Wright would have to wait two more days before his big league debut. Hawley ended up starting the next game(after an off day) and he got hit hard, going seven innings against the Baltimore Orioles before he was pulled in favor of Wright. Making his major league debut against a team right in the middle of their three year run of NL pennants, Dave got hit around hard, giving up six runs in his first inning. He pitched a scoreless ninth, but the damage was done, his ERA with the Pirates forever stands at 27.00 in his one game.
Wright made it back to the majors two years later, pitching one game for the Chicago Colts(Cubs). He faced the Pirates in Pittsburgh and gave up 14 runs on 17 hits and two walks in seven innings. You may wonder why manager Cap Anson would leave him in so long for such a beating and the answer is simple, to pick up the 15-14 win in the shortened game. Wright actually had a 15-5 lead after five and a half innings, allowing five runs in the six and four in the seventh before the game was ended early. Dave never played in the majors again, retiring after a poor showing during the 1898 season in the minors.
Jolly Roger Rewind: August 27, 1965
Andre Rodgers’ eleventh-inning single off Mike Cuellar scored Al McBean from second base, capping a comeback from a six-run deficit and giving the Pirates their seventh win in a row, 10-9 over the Astros at Forbes Field.
With the score tied 9-9, Bob Bailey led off the bottom of the eleventh with a single against Cuellar, the sixth Astros’ pitcher of the night. McBean, himself the sixth Pirate pitcher to see action, attempted to sacrifice Bailey to second, but Cuellar pounced on the ball and threw to second for the forceout. The Houston left-hander then wild-pitched McBean to second with Roberto Clemente batting, causing Astros’ manager Lum Harris to call for an intentional walk. Rodgers followed by lining Cuellar’s pitch down the left-field line to drive in McBean with the winning run.
The Pirates had entered the bottom of the ninth trailing 9-3, but rallied for six runs off Houston starter Turk Farrell and four relievers to tie the game. Bill Mazeroski started the inning with a lead-off single; after Farrell struck out Jim Pagliaroni for the first out, six consecutive Bucs reached base safely. Rodgers, the final batter in this sequence, pinch-hit for Willie Stargell against left-hander Danny Coombs and dropped a single into center field to drive in two runs and cut the margin to 9-8. Donn Clendenon followed with a sacrifice fly off Jim Owens to score Clemente and force extra innings.
But for a brilliant defensive play by Clemente in the eighth inning, the six-run ninth-inning rally would have been insufficient. The Astros, seeking to increase a 4-3 lead against Don Schwall, had runners on first and second with none out. With Bob Lillis batting, the Pirates employed a bunt defense in which third baseman Bailey and first baseman Clendenon charged towards the plate, and Mazeroski and shortstop Gene Alley moved, respectively, to cover first and third. Lillis, however, crossed up the defense by pushing the ball towards the vacated shortstop position. As the ball bounced freely towards the outfield, Rusty Staub scored from second and Walt Bond attempted to go from first to third.
But Clemente hustled in from right field, picked up the ball near second, and threw to Alley to catch Bond. The Astros still managed to score two more runs in the eighth and another two off Elroy Face in the ninth, but Clemente’s play—which Bucco manager Harry Walker called “the doggondest play I ever saw”—helped to keep the game close enough for the Bucs’ improbable comeback.
Twelve days earlier, the Pirates had trailed first-place Los Angeles by ten games in the National League pennant race, but the Bucs—although in fourth place—now stood only four and a half games behind the Dodgers.
Box score and play-by-play
The Pittsburgh Press game story