This Date in Pirates History: March 23

Six former Pittsburgh Pirates players have been born on this date. If you missed the feature article on one of them from this morning, Pirates pitching great, Ray Kremer, that one can be viewed here. As for the other players born on this date, we start with the most recent one first:

Johnny Logan (1927) Third baseman/shortstop for the 1961-63 Pirates. He spent 11 years with the Braves prior to joining the Pirates during the 1961 season in a trade for outfielder Gino Cimoli. Logan was a four time all-star with a .270 average in 1351 games for the Braves. While with the Pirates he was mostly used as a backup, playing 152 games over his 2 1/2 seasons in Pittsburgh. In 1962 he hit .300 in 44 games but still received just 90 plate appearances. In 1963 he hit .232 in 81 games, then moved on to Japan for one unsuccessful season in 1964 before retiring as a player. He twice led the NL in games played, once led in doubles and six straight seasons from 1952-57 he received MVP votes.

Cy Slapnicka (1886) Pitcher for the 1918 Pirates. He pitched 15 seasons in the minors, winning a total of 167 games, yet got just two brief trials in the majors. In 1911, after going 26-7 for the Rockford Wolverines of the Wisconsin-Illinois League, he got two late season starts for the Chicago Cubs. It was then another seven seasons before the Pirates came calling in 1918. He made six starts and finished with a 1-4 4.74 record in 49.1 innings. That was the end of his major league career. Cy pitched two more seasons in the minors and later managed one year before retiring from baseball.

Danny Moeller (1885) Outfielder for the 1907-08 Pirates. After hitting .333 in 77 games for Troy of the New York State League, the Pirates brought the 22 year old outfielder to the majors for the first time, giving him an 11 game trial at the end of the year. He hit .286 in 42 AB’s and earned a spot on the 1908 team. Moeller had great speed but he also struck out a lot, especially during a time when the 100 strikeout mark in a season was almost unheard of. With the Pirates in 1908 he had trouble putting the bat on the ball and could not properly utilize his speed. Danny hit just .193 in 36 games that year. He would spend the next three seasons in the minors before returning to the big leagues in 1912 with the Washington Senators. Moeller would score at least 83 runs in each of his first three seasons in Washington and he stole a total of 118 bases but his twice led the AL in strikeouts, topping the 100 mark both times. He hit .243 in 704 major league games with 171 stolen bases. He played minor league ball until 1921.

Mike Smith (1868) Outfielder for the 1892-97 Pirates. He began his major league career as a 18 year old pitcher in 1886 and one year later he won 34 games and led the American Association(the second major league at the time) with a 2.94 ERA. Just two years later his pitching career was nearly over and he returned to the minors for the 1890-91 seasons, where he began to play outfield. The Pirates signed him for 1892 and while he did occasionally pitch that year with success, he became a star outfielder for the team by the 1893 season. He would hit over .300 each of the next five seasons and score a combined total of 558 runs. Smith also stole at least 22 bases and walked at least 55 times in all six full seasons in Pittsburgh. For more on Smith, check out this article about the star-studded Pirates outfield from 1893-96 and this article about his 1897 trade to the Reds. He rejoined the Pirates briefly as a free agent in 1901 and he retired with a .310 lifetime average and 75 wins as a pitcher.

Farmer Weaver (1865) Catcher/shortstop for the 1894 Pirates.He had spent seven seasons with the Louisville Colonels prior to joining the Pirates at the end of the 1894 season. He was mainly used as an outfielder during his career, occasionally catching but prior to joining Pittsburgh, he had played just two games at shortstop. He hit well in his 30 games for the Pirates,14 as a catcher, 12 as a shortstop, batting .348 with 24 RBI’s but during the next spring, he was released, ending his major league career. Weaver played in the minors until 1910, when he was 45 years old.

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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.

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