Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date and in 1939, the team made a very interesting roster switch. In his Jolly Roger Rewind, John Fredland covers a doubleheader from 1972, with two vastly different results.
On the same day the Pirates released one future Hall of Fame player, they signed another. On this date in 1939, Pittsburgh released outfielder Heinie Manush and signed outfielder Chuck Klein. Manush was being used sparingly as a pinch hitter for the Pirates, a role he took up in the latter part of the previous season. He was 37 years old, in his 17th season in the majors. At the time of this swap, he was 0-12 with an RBI and a walk. Klein was three years younger and still playing regularly, but he too was in a sharp decline from his prime. Chuck was hitting .191 with one homer in 25 games at the time of his signing. He had just been released by the Phillies the previous day.
Manush didn’t know it at the time, but that was the end of his major league career. He played two seasons in the minors for Toronto of the International League, then spent the next six seasons as a player/manager in the minors, although he saw just 61 games of action over that time. Klein played regularly for the Pirates in the corner outfield spots and did well, hitting .300 with 11 homers and 47 RBI’s. He would be released by the Pirates during the next Spring Training, signing back with the Phillies, where he spent the last five seasons of his career. Klein finished with a .320 career average, 300 homers and 1201 RBI’s, while Manush hit .330 career with 110 homers and 1183 RBI’s.
Virgil Vasquez (1982) Pitcher for the 2009 Pirates. He originally signed as a seventh round pick of the Detroit Tigers in the 2003 amateur draft. Three years earlier, he was taken in the same round by the Rangers. Virgil went 14-6 3.47 in 27 starts during his first full season in the minors in 2004, playing in low-A ball. The next year he started at high-A, though he was quickly promoted to AA where he struggled, going 2-8 5.27 in 15 starts. Vasquez pitched much better in his second trial in AA, then in 2007 he earned a major league promotion during a season in which he went 12-5 3.48 in 25 starts at AAA. Virgil had two spot starts during the year, then received a late August recall. He went 0-1 8.64 in 16.2 innings. After spending all of 2008 in AAA for the Tigers(12-12 4.81 in 27 starts) Virgil was put on waivers, starting a string of waiver pickups that saw him go from the Red Sox to Padres to Pirates over a three month stretch. He began the 2009 season in the minors, joining the Pirates in late June for seven starts in which he went 2-5 with a 6.09 ERA. He went sent down in early August, returning in September for seven relief appearances. Vasquez resigned with the Pirates for 2010, but before the season started, he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays. He has been in the minors since 2009, currently playing Independent ball.
Roy Jarvis (1926) Catcher for the 1946-47 Pirates. He played in the minors for one season in the Brooklyn Dodgers system before the Pirates selected him in the November 1944 Rule V draft. Before he could play a game for Pittsburgh, he began serving in the Navy during WWII. Jarvis returned in 1946 to the Pirates, playing just two games all season. The first was a pinch hit appearance on July 7th, then he started behind the plate on the last day of the season. Roy was the Pirates starting catcher at the beginning of 1947, though that lasted just two weeks. Before April would end, he would be back on the bench, getting four more starts all season. He played 18 games, hitting .156 in 51 plate appearances. After the season, Pittsburgh tried to deal him to the Phillies, for what was supposed to be in exchange for “one of three pitchers”, but the deal was called off and Jarvis returned to the Pirates. At the time, Pittsburgh management said they were fine with getting him back, but they thought he needed more seasoning before he would become a steady major league catcher. Jarvis was sent to the minors, playing the 1948 season in the Pittsburgh system. He then around from team to team for the next seven seasons, all spent in the minor leagues, retiring after the 1955 season.
Bones Ely (1863) Shortstop for the Pirates from 1896 until 1901. He played one major league game in 1884, then bounced between the minors and majors for the next nine seasons before finding a full-time spot with the 1894 St Louis Browns. He hit .306 that year with 12 homers and 89 RBI’s, in what was a very high offense season due to the pitching distance being changed the previous year and pitchers having trouble adjusting to it. Ely was known more for his solid defense than his bat throughout his career. In 1895, with the split between pitchers and hitters resorting back to near normal standards, Bones(first name was William) hit .259 with one homer and 29 stolen bases, finishing second among NL shortstops in fielding percentage. The Pirates acquired him from the Browns prior to the 1896 season in exchange for shortstop Monte Cross, pitcher Bill Hart and cash. While with Pittsburgh, Ely would finish no lower than fifth in fielding among NL shortstops in any of his five full seasons. The new defensive stat “Defensive WAR” actually ranks him as the best defensive player in all of the NL in both 1898 and 1900, the second season by an extremely large margin over the rest of the pack. Bones played 743 games with the Pirates, hitting .256 with 346 RBI’s and 342 runs scored. In his career, he played 1343 games and had a similar .258 average with 656 runs scored and 657 RBI’s. Over 1238 games played at shortstop, his fielding percentage was 15 points higher than the league average during his time.
For a complete bio on Ely, check out this article we posted here.
Jolly Roger Rewind: June 7, 1972
The games had little in common but their outcomes: the Pirates swept a doubleheader from the Padres at San Diego Stadium, outslugging the home team 12-5 in the opener and outlasting them 1-0 in eighteen innings in the nightcap.
On the Bucs’ first two nights in town, Padres management had postponed games in the face of extremely mild precipitation.* Finally unshackled on the third night, a Bucco offense that would lead the National League in OPS that year began the twinbill by racking up 20 hits against five San Diego pitchers. Willie Stargell started the carnage with a three-run homer off Fred Norman in the first inning and put an exclamation point on the attack with a two-run shot off Mike Caldwell in the eighth. Bob Johnson came out of the bullpen for the first time all season to replace a struggling Nellie Briles with the lead down to 5-4 in the fourth; not only did Johnson pick up the victory with five and a third innings of strong relief, but he also delivered a two-run single in the fifth to give the Bucs some breathing room.
Having treated the small crowd to a wild slugfest in the first game, the teams plunged into an austere struggle in the nightcap. Doc Ellis took the mound almost two years to the day after no-hitting the Padres on the same field, and pitched, arguably, even better than he had in the no-hitter.** Ellis went the first nine innings, allowing just two hits—only one of which left the infield—one walk, which was intentional, and one hit batsman. In a stretch spanning the second to ninth innings, he retired 22 batters in a row.
Padres starter Clay Kirby more than matched Ellis’ excellence, however, with thirteen scoreless innings, limiting the potent Bucco lineup to eight hits and three walks. Knotted after nine, Pirates manager Bill Virdon turned the game over to the bullpen, and Dave Giusti, Ramon Hernandez and Bob Miller continued to post zeros, allowing four hits and two walks over the next eight innings.
Finally, the Bucs broke through in the top of the eighteenth. Al Oliver and Stargell led off with soft singles off Mike Corkins, pitching in his fifth inning of relief. As Richie Hebner struck out, Oliver and Stargell accomplished a double steal. Virdon sent Bill Mazeroski in to pinch-hit for Miller; Padres manager Don Zimmer responded with an intentional walk. Alley followed by drawing a walk to force ahead the go-ahead run.
Three outs from victory, Virdon again turned to Johnson, who set the Padres down quietly in the bottom of the eighteenth. When Corkins, batting for himself, lined to right to end the longest 1-0 game in franchise history and nearly seven and a half hours of baseball, clocks back in Pittsburgh read “4:37 am.”
First game box score and play-by-play:
Second game box score and play-by-play:
Pittsburgh Press game story:
* As Bob Smizik grumbled in the Pittsburgh Press after the second postponement, “In Pittsburgh it can rain half the day and they might play a baseball game at Three Rivers Stadium. In San Diego if there is a cloud in the sky at three in the afternoon they postpone a game.” The rainouts were only the third and fourth home rainouts in the four-year history of the Padres franchise.
** In the course of that no-hitter, Ellis had allowed nine baserunners through walks and hit batsmen.