This Date in Pirates History: June 15- Part Two

Part one of today’s “This Date” article covers nine Pittsburgh Pirates trades. That article can be read here. In part two, we have six former players born on this date. In his Jolly Roger Rewind, John Fredland recaps a game that didn’t happen.

Erik Kratz (1980) Catcher for the 2010 Pirates. He was originally drafted by the Blue Jays in 2002, but didn’t make his major league debut until the 2010 Pirates called him up in July. Kratz had been signed by the Pirates in January 2009 as a minor league free agent, after spending his first seven years in the Toronto system. Erik hit .273 with 11 homers at AAA in 2009, then batted .274 with nine homers in 70 games for Indianapolis in 2010. He was a AAA All-Star selection both seasons, getting his call to the majors during the middle of the second game. With the Pirates, he hit .118 in nine games, going 3-34 at the plate. He left via free agency after the season, signing with the Phillies. Kratz has played briefly in the majors each of the last two years, getting in two games for Philadelphia last year and four games this season, hitting a home run in his last AB. He is currently in AAA.

Bruce Dal Canton (1941) Pitcher for the Pirates from 1967 until 1970. He was already 25 years old when he signed his first pro contract in 1966 with the Pirates. It took less than two full seasons for him to work his way to the majors, debuting as a September 1967 call-up. Bruce pitched 15 games over his first two seasons with the Pirates, posting a 1.98 ERA in 41 innings. In 1969, he made the team out of Spring Training and was a key member out of the bullpen, making 57 appearances with eight wins, five saves and a 3.34 ERA in 86.1 innings. Dal Canton struggled a bit in 1970, with a 4.57 ERA in 84.2 innings, although he did have a 9-4 record. After the season, he was part of a six player deal with the Royals that was covered here. Bruce pitched another seven seasons in the majors, finishing with a 51-49 3.67 record in 316 games, 83 as a starter. With the Pirates he went 20-8 3.57 in 113 games, pitching 212 innings.

Gene Baker (1925) Infielder for the 1957-58 and 1960-61 Pirates. He began his pro career in 1948, playing in the Negro Leagues. Baker made in to the majors in 1953 with the Cubs, playing five seasons there before coming to the Pirates, along with Dee Fondy, in a May 1,1957 deal that sent Dale Long and Lee Walls to Chicago. He was an All-Star during the 1955 season. Baker hit .268 with 180 RBI’s and 220 runs scored in 448 games with the Cubs. He played 111 games for the 1957 Pirates, splitting his time between 2B/SS/3B, hitting .266 with 36 RBI’s and 36 runs scored. Gene played 29 games in 1958 before a knee injury caused him to miss the rest of the year and the entire 1959 season. He returned in 1960, seeing very limited time in a bench role, getting three starts and 33 games total. Baker batted three times in the World Series without a hit. In 1961, he played nine early season games before returning to the minors, where he finished his playing career the next year. Gene coached in the minors during his last two seasons as a player, then coached with the 1963 Pirates before returning to the minors for one more season as a manager.

Bud Stewart (1916) Outfielder for the 1941-42 Pirates. He was a Rule V draft pick of the Pirates in 1940, after spending his first four seasons of pro ball playing in the Pacific Coast League. His last year there, he hit .320 with 50 extra base hits. Bud played 73 games as a rookie in 1941 for the Pirates, hitting .267 with no homers and ten RBI’s in 187 plate appearances. In 1942, he hit .219 with 20 RBI’s in 82 games. That season, Stewart played 16 games in the infield(10 3B/6 2B), the only time he played a position other than outfield in his nine year major league career. Stewart retired for two seasons, then spent part of the 1945 and 1946 seasons serving in the military. He returned to baseball in 1946, playing for the Hollywood Stars of the PCL. He was sold by the Pirates to the Yankees in Spring Training of 1947, spending that entire season in the minors. He finally returned to the majors in 1948, playing six games for the Yankees before they dealt him to the Washington Senators. Bud played until 1954, finishing with a .268 career average and 260 RBI’s in 773 games.

Babe Dahlgren (1912) First baseman for the 1944-45 Pirates. He already had nine seasons in at the major league level, spending time with seven different teams, by the time the Pirates acquired him from the Phillies on December 30,1943 for catcher Babe Phelps. Dahlgren was coming off a season in which he hit .287 with 56 RBI’s and 55 runs scored, earning his first(and only) All-Star selection. The Phillies had acquired him from the Dodgers in exchange for Lloyd Waner, just prior to the start of that season. Babe had his best season of his 12-year major league career in 1944, hitting .289 with a career high 101 RBI’s. He started every game of the season at first base, 158 total, thanks in part to five ties throughout the season. Dahlgren finished 12th in NL MVP voting, gaining one of the 24 first place votes. In 1945, he hit .250 with 75 RBI’s in 144 games. Babe led NL first baseman in fielding percentage(.996) just one season after leading the league in errors. Right as the 1946 season started, the Pirates sold him to the St Louis Browns, where he finished his career later that year. Dahlgren was a .261 career hitter, with 82 homers and 569 RBI’s in 1137 games.

Peek-A-Boo Veach (1862) First baseman for the 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He came up to the majors in 1884, playing 27 games in the short-lived Union Association. The level of player in that league was considered subpar, as it was considered the third major league of the time behind the National League and American Association. The league was also filled with minor league players, so most quality players dominated like no other see in their career(see Fred Dunlap’s bio here for an example). Veach did not play well in the league despite the low quality of playing, hitting .134 in 27 games and going 3-9 on the mound. He was actually a decent pitcher that season, posting a 2.42 ERA, but his team finished 16-63. Peek-A-Boo(real name was William) next appeared in the majors in 1887, pitching one game for the Louisville Colonels. Three years later, he made his NL debut, playing first base for the Cleveland Spiders. He struggled at the bat, hitting .235 in 64 games. Pittsburgh picked him up in July, giving him eight games at first base. He batted .300 with two homers, five RBI’s and eight walks.

Despite the success, he returned to the minors for good, ending his career in 1897. Veach hit his last major league homer off of Phenomenal Smith, another great nickname of the day, and a player who would join the 1890 Alleghenys shortly after the departure of Veach. There were two explanations of his unique nickname, the first coming from his delivery, where he kept his back to the batter until the last second. The other was from his minor league days, when a manager devised a plan to signal him for pick-off throws that eventually involved someone waving a scorecard in the stands. It was said that Veach looked around the park all the time with runners on base, as the person sending the signal would change as the opposing team figured out who was giving it to him.

Jolly Roger Rewind: June 15, 1976

Weather inhospitable to playing or watching has caused the postponement or cancellation of countless games in the history of Pittsburgh’s baseball franchise. The Pirates-Astros game slated for the Astrodome on this night stands alone, however, as the sole indoor game postponed because of inclement conditions.

The domed roof did its job: the playing surface of the “Eighth Wonder of the World” was perfectly dry. But seven and a half inches of rain, delivered by an all-day thunderstorm, had hit Houston, turning the city’s roads into rivers. The players from both teams arrived at the ballpark without trouble, but Astros officials called the game off at 7:15, 20 minutes before the scheduled first pitch, out of a concern that fans would not be able to make it. Only about 30 spectators were in the Astrodome at the time that the Astros announced the postponement. (Moreover, the umpiring crew failed to reach the stadium; the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette relayed a report that “the car taking the umpires to the dome had stalled in one of the flooded streets.”)

In lieu of playing the game, both teams ate a fried chicken and steak dinner on the infield. Afterwards, the Pirates took their bus trip back to the hotel without incident, and the game was rescheduled as part of an August doubleheader.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story

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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

    Gene Baker was also a long time Pirate scout, I believe.