Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date including a pitcher for the Pirates first World Series team. In his Jolly Roger Rewind, John Fredland takes a look at a high scoring game from another Pirates team that went to the World Series.
Brant Brown (1971) Outfielder for the 1999 Pirates. He was originally a third round pick of the Cubs in the 1992 draft. Brown made his major league debut in June of 1996, hitting .304 in 29 games for Chicago that year. He split the next season between AAA and the majors, hitting .301 with 16 homers in the minors and .234 with 5 homers for the Cubs. During his first two seasons, he played more first base than outfield. In 1998, he played his first full season at the major league level, batting .291 with an .850 OPS in 124 games. On December 14,1998, the Pirates traded pitcher Jon Lieber to the Cubs in exchange for Brown. He started 85 games for the Pirates in 1999, getting into another 45 off the bench. His numbers fell well off from the previous year, hitting .232, with just 22 walks and 114 strikeouts in 371 AB’s. Almost exactly a year to the date they acquired him, the Pirates traded Brant to the Florida Marlins for outfielder Bruce Aven. He would spend the next season splitting the year between the Marlins and the Cubs, hitting just .173 in 95 games. That 2000 season would be his last in the majors. Brant would spend 2001 in AAA, then returned to baseball in 2003 for one last season, playing Independent ball.
Dave Tomlin (1949) Left-handed pitcher for the 1983 and 1985 Pirates. He was originally a 27th round draft pick of the Reds in the 1967 amateur draft. It took Tomlin five seasons to reach the majors, getting in three relief appearances in September of 1972. He split the 1973 season between the minors and majors, then got traded to the Padres in the off-season. Dave spent four seasons in San Diego, pitching a total of 239 games, with a 10-7 3.28 record and six saves in 315.2 innings. The Reds reacquired him for the 1978 season, then saw him post a 9-1 record despite a 5.78 ERA. He lasted in Cincinnati through September of 1980 when he was released. Tomlin spent all of 1981 in the minors for the Blue Jays, then resigned with the Reds in April of 1982. His third time with the team lasted less than five months before he was sold to the Expos. Dave pitched one game in the majors for the Expos that September, allowing one run in two innings.
Tomlin was in AAA for the Expos through August of 1983, posting a 4-1 3.61 record in 41 relief appearances. He contract was sold to the Pirates on August 2,1983 and he would pitch four innings over five games for Pittsburgh before the year was through. After spending all of 1984 in AAA, Dave made another appearance for the Pirates on August 9,1985, during a 7-2 loss to the Expos. He was sent back to the minors, then granted free agency after the season. He pitched one last year in the majors, with the 1986 Expos, before finishing his career in the minors the next season. Tomlin finished his career with a 25-12 record in 409 games, with 12 saves and a 3.82 ERA. Since retiring as a player, he has been a minor league pitching coach in three different organizations and he is currently a coach for the Red Sox in the Gulf Coast League.
Gus Thompson (1877) Pitcher for the 1903 Pirates. He played ball at two different colleges before making his pro debut in 1902, playing for the Helena Senators of the Pacific Northwest League. Thompson is one of just two major league players who attended Grinnell College in Iowa. He also played for the University of Iowa. In 1903, Helena moved to Class-A ball(one level higher than year prior), playing in the Pacific National League. Thompson went 13-15 in 31 games, earning a trial with the first place Pirates at the end of the year. The Pirates also signed his catcher from that season with Helena, Fred Carisch. Both Thompson and Carisch sat on the Pirates bench for a week and observed the team, before making their debut on August 31st as the starting battery against the St Louis Cardinals. Thompson pitched well in the 9-6 win, that saw four Pirates errors behind him, made up for with five runs in the 9th for a come from behind win. Gus would make three more starts and a relief appearance before the season was over, finishing with a 2-2 3.56 record in 43 innings. That would be his only season with the Pirates but his last game in a Pirates uniform was during game five of the 1903 World Series, when he pitched the last two innings of a blowout loss.
Gus returned to the minors in 1904, going 20-17 for the Boise Fruit Pickers of the Pacific National League. He would return to the majors in 1906 with the Cardinals, going 2-11 4.28 in 12 starts and five relief appearances. The Cardinals as a team went 52-98 in 1906, but Thompson was easily the worst pitcher among the six guys on the team that pitched at least 100 innings. The highest ERA among the rest of that group was 3.02 from Fred Beebe, who had the unfortunate experience of starting that season with the Cubs, a team that won 116 games, before being traded to the lowly Cardinals. Thompson pitched another four seasons in the minors before retiring from baseball. He won 21 games in 1908, then went 26-8 for Seattle of the Northwest League the following season.
Jolly Roger Rewind: June 22, 1925
The Pirates parlayed two big innings into their highest run output of the twentieth century*, crushing the Cardinals 24-6 at Sportsman’s Park.
Two days earlier, the Bucs had routed the Brooklyn Robins 21-5 at Forbes Field. A travel day followed, but the downtime did not cool the Bucco bats. Max Carey led off the first with his first of two hits in the inning, a single against Cardinals starter Flint Rhem, and Kiki Cuyler followed with a long home run to leftfield.** Three batters later, a single by Clyde Barnhart and walks to Pie Traynor and Glenn Wright had loaded the bases for George Grantham, who drove the ball into the rightfield seats for a grand slam and 6-0 lead. Before St. Louis could retire the side in the first frame, the Pirates had two more runs and Johnny Stuart had replaced Rhem.
Stuart settled matters down over the next five innings, allowing the Cardinals to creep within 11-6 through six innings.*** But the Bucs reopened the floodgates in the seventh when Barnhart increased the lead to 14-6 with a three-run bases-loaded double. And they posted a bookend to their eight-run first an inning later by battering Stuart—who wound up pitching the final eight and a third innings—for another ten runs. The eighth-inning uprising featured Carey’s second two-hit inning of the game and a grand slam by Traynor, the Pirates’ second bases-loaded home run of the afternoon.
Overall, the Pirates swatted six home runs—including two by Grantham—and benefitted from seven St. Louis errors. The Pittsburgh Press summed up the afternoon: “The first setto at Sportsmen’s Park here yesterday wasn’t a ball game—it was a slaughter, with the Pirates on the butchering end.” The victory gave the Pirates 19 wins in their past 25 games, and kept them a game and a half behind the first-place New York Giants.
(Pittsburgh) Gazette Times game story
* The all-time franchise record for runs in a game came thirty-one years earlier, in a 27-11 victory over the Boston Beaneaters.
** Of Cuyler’s blast, the Gazette Times reported that it “would have cleared the left field wall in Pittsburgh. The ball hit the scoreboard on the fly and the marking board rests atop the back field of left field.”
*** St. Louis had been playing considerably better since replacing manager Branch Rickey with player-manager Rogers Hornsby during a doubleheader in Pittsburgh almost four weeks earlier; the Cardinals entered the game with 15 wins in the last 20 games.