Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date and they combined for less than thirty games played with the Pirates. There are still some interesting stories to tell with this group. We have a Hall of Fame second baseman, as well as a player who was traded for a Hall of Famer, plus two guys that had their entire major league career consist of just one pinch-hit AB. In his Jolly Roger Rewind, John Fredland takes a look at an extra inning game played just three days before one of our one game players from today, played his only game.
Jerry Dybzinski (1955) Shortstop for the 1985 Pirates. He played six seasons in the majors and was a .230 hitter in four of those years. The two exceptions were, 1981 for the Indians when he batted .298 in 67 plate appearances and 1985 when he played for the Pirates. Jerry spent three years in Cleveland(1980-82) after being drafted by the team three years earlier. He was then traded to the White Sox, where he played for two years prior to being released in 1985 at the end of Spring Training. Dybzinski was a typical good glove no-hit shortstop of the 1980′s, finishing with above average fielding stats but also had just three career homers to go along with his perennial .230 average. The Pirates signed him ten days after Chicago released him and he was used just once as a starter, going 0-3 during an April 21st loss to the Cardinals. Jerry was used twice as a pinch-runner and twice as a defensive replacement, before being sent to AAA to finish the season. After hitting .199 in 55 AAA games, the Pirates released him. He finished his playing career in the minors the next season.
Chuck Goggin (1945) Utility player for the 1972-73 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Dodgers in 1964, making his way to Pittsburgh in a deal for Jim Bunning five years later. Chuck spent the 1966-67 seasons serving in the military and never made the majors while with Los Angeles. It took three seasons after Pittsburgh acquired him for Goggin to make his major league debut. In AAA in 1972, he hit .297 with 67 walks and 46 extra base hits, earning a September call-up. The Pirates used him five times, once as a starter, and he went 2-7 with a walk at the plate. In 1973, Chuck played one game for the Pirates, catching the end of a blowout loss in the second game of a doubleheader. On May 24th, he was sold to the Atlanta Braves, where he hit .289 in 64 games over the the rest of the 1973 season. He played five different positions that year for Atlanta. Despite the good average and versatility, Goggin’s major league career was over after just two more games off the bench for the 1974 Red Sox. He retired after the season and managed in the minors for a few years before retiring from baseball. While serving in the military during the Vietnam War, Chuck was injured in a land mine explosion and worked his way back through rehab to have a major league career.
Red Nonnenkamp (1911) Pinch hitter for the Pirates on September 6,1933. He spent four seasons in the minors before he got his only chance with the Pirates. He was playing for Tulsa of the Western League in 1932, a team back both financially and with players, by the Pirates. When the owner of the Tulsa team wanted to buy the team outright from Pittsburgh, they worked out a deal in which the Pirates got Nonnenkamp, along with Cy Blanton, a star pitcher for the team during the second half of the decade. In the second game of a doubleheader on September 6,1933, Nonnenkamp batted for pitcher Billy Swift in the ninth inning of a 9-1 game the Pirates were losing. He would strike out against Giants’ pitcher Hal Schumacher. Red never played again for the Pirates that season and then returned to the minors until the 1938 Red Sox gave him his second chance at the big leagues. He hit .263 in 154 games during the 1938-40 seasons, then returned to the minors, finishing his playing career in 1946 after serving in the Navy during WWII.
Billy Herman (1909) Second baseman for the 1947 Pirates. By the time he reached the Pirates in 1947, his playing career was basically over. He was acquired by the Pirates from the Boston Braves in a six player deal on September 30,1946 and was named manager of the team, his first managerial experience in the majors. Herman played sporadically during the season, getting 11 starts at second base and two at first base, only once playing more than two days in a row. After leading the team to a 61-92 record, Herman stepped aside as the manager on the last day of the season. He went on to become a player/manager in the minors for two seasons, then later managed the Boston Red Sox for three years. As a player, Herman was a .304 career hitter, with 839 RBI’s and 1163 runs scored in 1922 games. Three times he led the league in games played, once in hits, once in doubles and one time in triples. He hit over .300 seven times and missed two years during his prime while serving in WWII. Billy was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1975, joining Ralph Kiner and Hank Greenberg as members of that 1947 Pirates team in the Hall.
Art Merewether (1902) Pinch hitter for the Pirates on July 10,1922. He was a standout college athlete at Brown University, where he was scouted by a former Pirates pitcher and Brown alum, Mike Lynch. The Pirates signed Merewether and would use him just once before sending him to the minors. In the first game of a doubleheader on July 10th in Pittsburgh, the Giants had a 19-2 lead going into the bottom of the ninth. Art came up to bat for pitcher Bonnie Hollingsworth, who had just given up three runs in the top of the inning. In his only plate appearance of his big league career, Merewether grounded out to Hall of Fame shortstop Dave Bancroft. The outing was also the last for Hollingsworth in a Pirates uniform.Art returned to college(MIT) and due to the different rules of the time, he was allowed to play college ball again. He would go on to play in the minors in 1926 and he played semi-pro ball after leaving school as well, spending time in 1924 with the Lewiston Outlaws of the Inter-State League among his many teams.
Jolly Roger Rewind: July 7, 1922
George “High Pockets” Kelly’s second home run of the game, a two-run, inside-the-park shot to right field, gave the first-place New York Giants a 9-8 victory over the Pirates in eighteen innings at Forbes Field.
With the game deadlocked 7-7 ever since Charley Grimm’s RBI single capped a two-run Bucco rally in the bottom of the ninth, Ross Youngs led off the top of the eighteenth with a single off Johnny Morrison, pitching in his tenth inning of relief. Kelly, whose ninth-inning home run had been the sole Giants tally off Morrison, followed with what The (Pittsburgh) Gazette Times described as “an ordinary hit to right field.” Pirates right fielder Ray Rohwer misplayed the ball, however, and it bounced over his head, allowing both Youngs and Kelly to circle the bases.* The Bucs fought back in the bottom of the eighteenth when Grimm doubled home Clyde Barnhart with two outs, but left fielder Emil “Irish” Meusel ended the game by gunning down Grimm’s attempt to stretch the hit into a triple.
The finish eclipsed a tremendous performance by Pirates center fielder Max Carey. The thirty-two-year-old team captain batted nine times and reached base all nine. He had six hits, including a double, and drew three walks. Carey also stole three bases, including a steal of home in the second inning to give the Bucs a 3-2 lead, and scored three runs.**
Bucco catcher Johnny Gooch, appearing in his first full major league season, added another six hits of his own, while catching all eighteen innings.***
Ultimately, the Pirates, who fell to their fifth consecutive loss, were hindered by sloppy play. Seven errors led to three unearned runs, and the Giants threw out four runners on the bases during extra innings. Complained The Pittsburgh Press: “Minor league stuff cropped up again yesterday. As long as the bush leaguers in the Pittsburgh lineup kept their hands off the ball the Corsairs had a chance for victory. but they gummed up the proceedings so often and failed when opportunities offered that the splendid work of other players went for naught. . . . The coaching at third base was also off-color, several runners being permitted to take unnecessary chances which worked to the benefit of the opposing club.”****
* The local newspapers were unsparing in their criticism of Rohwer’s play. The Gazette Times observed that the second-year outfielder “seemed to feel the effects of the strenuous competition.” The Pittsburgh Press noted that he “made two miscues and was much of a bum on the basepaths.”
** Gushed The Gazette Times: “Carey had to be seen to be appreciated. Scoops never has had anything like the full measure of recognition that he deserves, but the thousands who watched him yesterday will go a long time before they see anything to equal the Pirate captain. A great feature of his play was seen in the fact that everything he did was for the collective interest of the club.” The effort increased Carey’s on-base percentage from .398 to .414.
*** The Gazette Times offered high praise for Gooch: “Johnny Gooch was a big hero of the afternoon. The brilliant youngster was caked with mud that hung to his perspiring body. His face was black from the dirt and grim and his every move gave indication of the way he was working to win.”
**** The bumbling notwithstanding, The Gazette Times deemed the four-hour, nineteen-minute marathon an instant classic, referring to it as a game that “many fans will regard as the greatest battle ever staged at Forbes Field.”
Pittsburgh Press game story
(Pittsburgh) Gazette Times game story