Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players have been born on this date, including two recent relievers. Also, we have two fairly big trades to discuss. In his Jolly Roger Rewind, John Fredland takes a look at a big day from the man they called Pops.
On this date in 1965, the Pirates traded shortstop Dick Schofield to the San Francisco Giants for Jose Pagan. Schofield was thirty years old at the time, in his 13th season in the majors. He came up with the Cardinals as an 18 year old in 1963 and he had been with the Pirates since 1958, He was batting .229 in 31 games, coming off a season in which he hit .209 in 132 games. He also made the third most errors among NL shortstops in 1964. Pagan was also thirty, and putting up similar numbers, hitting .205 in 28 games. He was in his seventh season in the majors, coming off a year in which he hit .223 in 134 games. Pittsburgh was making room for young shortstop Gene Alley at the time. Despite the fact Pagan had played just shortstop in San Francisco in 1965, he spent most of his time in Pittsburgh at third base that first season. He lasted in the Steel City until 1972, becoming a utility player, getting time at 3B/SS/LF and occasionally at other spots. He hit .263 with a .690 OPS in 625 games with the Pirates. Schofield hit .197 in 112 games for the Giants before they sold him to the Yankees in May of 1966. He stuck around the majors until 1971, playing for six different teams after he left Pittsburgh.
On this date in 1923, the Pirates traded pitcher Whitey Glazner and second baseman Cotton Tierney, plus cash, to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for pitcher Lee Meadows and infielder Johnny Rawlings. Glazner was a 29 year old pitcher, who stood just 5″9 and threw right-handed. He was in his fourth season with the Pirates, posting a 3.30 ERA in 30 innings prior to the trade. In 1921, he had a 14-5 2.77 record in 234 innings, but his 1922 numbers dropped off, down to a 4.38 ERA and a losing(11-12) record. Tierney was also 29, coming off a big season in which he batted .345 with 86 RBI’s in 122 games. In 1923, he was batting .292 in 29 games with 22 RBI’s. Rawlings was thirty years old and had not played yet during the 1923 season. The Phillies had picked him up off waivers from the Giants just 11 days earlier. He hit .282 in 88 games for the Giants in 1922. Meadows was 28 years old and pitching poorly for the Phillies at the time. He had eight seasons of major league experience, seven times winning in double-digits but he also had twice led the NL in losses, mostly due to playing on bad teams.
After the trade, Meadows became a star pitcher for the Pirates, winning 87 games his first five season in Pittsburgh. He helped the Pirates to the World Series in both 1925 and 1927 by posting an identical record of 19-10 both years. Rawlings hit .284 with 45 RBI’s and 53 runs scored in 1923, the stunk around as a backup for three more seasons in Pittsburgh. Glazner did not fare well in his two years in Philadelphia. He went a combined 14-30 with a 5.29 ERA in 318 innings. He never pitched in the majors again after the 1924 season. Cotton hit .317 with 11 homers and 65 RBI’s for the Phillies in 1923, before they traded him in the off-season to the Boston Braves. He played one season there before being traded to Brooklyn in 1925, his last season in the majors. His batting dropped way off, forcing him to the minors to finish his career five years later.
Julian Tavarez (1973) Relief pitcher for the 2003 Pirates. He was originally signed as an amateur free agent in 1990 by the Indians. Tavarez was in the majors by age 20 in 1993, spending his first four seasons in Cleveland. In 1995, he had a 10-2 2.44 record in 57 relief appearances. He was traded to the Giants prior to 1997 in exchange for Matt Williams. Julian pitched in a league leading 89 games during his first year in San Francisco. After pitching a total of 107 games out of the pen between 1998-99, Tavarez moved on to Colorado, where he made 12 starts among his 51 appearances. In his first seven seasons, he had made a total of 12 starts. He pitched for the Cubs in 2001, then the Marlins in 2002, making a total of 55 starts. Tavarez went 31-26 between the 2000-02 seasons, winning at least ten games each year. He signed with the Pirates as a free agent in January of 2003 and was moved back to the bullpen. For Pittsburgh, Julian made 64 appearances, pitching 83.2 innings with a 3.66 ERA and 11 saves. He became a free agent after the season, signing with the Cardinals. Tavarez pitched in the majors until 2009, getting into a total of 828 games, 108 as a starter. He won 88 games, had a 4.46 ERA and pitched a total of 1404.1 innings.
Jose Mesa (1966) Closer for the Pirates during the 2004-05 seasons. By the time Mesa joined the Pirates, he was already 15 seasons into his major league career. At age 38, he had a career record of 70-91 4.32 with 249 saves in 762 games. In 2003, pitching for the Phillies, Mesa went 5-7 6.52 in 61 appearances, saving 24 games. In the two seasons prior, he saved a total of 87 games for the Phillies. In 2004 for the Pirates, Mesa had a 5-2 3.52 record in 70 games, with 43 saves. It was the fourth time in his career he saved at least 40 games. His save total that season ranks second in franchise history to Mike Williams, who had 46 in 2002. Jose returned in 2005 and didn’t do quite as well, losing his closer job by the end of the season. He had a 2-8 4.76 record in 55 games with 27 saves. He actually started the season strong, picking up the save in each of his first twelve appearances of the year. His eighth save of the season, on April 27th against the Astros, was number 300 in his career. Mesa pitched two more years in the majors before retiring. He finished with 1,022 games pitched, which ranks 11th all-time, and 321 saves, which ranks 14th all-time.
George Spriggs (1937) Outfielder for the Pirates from 1965 until 1967. He was signed by the Pirates as an amateur in 1963, making his debut in A-ball, playing for the Reno Silver Sox of the California League. George hit .319 that first season in 133 games. The next year he moved up to AA Asheville, where he hit .322 with 16 homers and 96 runs scored. By 1965, Spriggs was in AAA and although he hit just .240 in 136 games, he was a September call-up of the Pirates. He stole 66 bases that season in AAA so when he arrived in Pittsburgh, he was used mostly as a pinch runner, scoring five runs in nine games, getting only two plate appearances. George returned to AAA Columbus the next year, hitting .300 with 15 homers, 34 stolen bases and 91 runs scored. He was a September recall again, this time getting seven pinch hit appearances. In 1967, he made the Pirates out of Spring Training. He was used mostly off the bench, getting nine total starts, five of which came in early May. Spriggs was sent down in late June and did not return. In the off-season, he was taken by the Red Sox in the Rule V draft. He next played in the majors for the 1969-70 Royals, before finishing his career in the minors in 1972. His son Geno played two seasons in the Pirates minor league system before he tragically died from injuries suffered in an auto accident at the age of twenty in 1988.
Hoke Warner (1894) Infielder for the 1916-17 and 1919 Pirates. He played four years in the minors before getting his first chance with the 1916 Pirates in August of that season. Warner opened his Pirates career on August 21,1916, batting lead-off in both games of a doubleheader and playing third base. His fielding was good that day but at the plate he collected just one single, although it came off of Grover Alexander, a pitcher who would win 373 career games and go on to the Hall of Fame. Warner would play 44 games that rookie season, hitting .238 with 16 RBI’s. He played three games in 1917 for the Pirates before serving in the military during WWI, finally returning during the 1919 season. Hoke played another six games for Pittsburgh in 1919, plus he also spent some time in the minors, hitting .250 in 27 games for the Kansas City Blues of the American Association. Warner next played for the 1921 Cubs, getting into 14 games, in what is his only known pro experience after the 1919 season. Chicago purchased his contract from Kansas City in January of 1921 but there is no record of him playing for the Blues during the 1920 season.
Tom McCarthy (1884) Pitched two games for the 1908 Pirates. He made his major league debut with the Reds on May 10,1908, starting the second game of a doubleheader. Tom allowed five runs in 3.2 innings, taking the loss in an 8-7 game. Shortly after that game and before he could pitch again for Cincinnati, the Pirates purchased his contract. On May 30/31, the Pirates played two doubleheaders and McCarthy got the start in the fourth game in two days. He won 13-3, in what would turn out to be his only start for the Pirates. On June 18,1908 he was traded to the Boston Doves, along with pitcher Harley Young, in exchange for veteran pitcher Irv Young. The veteran Young was supposed to help the Pirates with their pennant run but McCarthy ended up being the best pitcher of the group during the duration of the 1908 season. Tom would go 7-3 with a 1.63 ERA in 94 innings for the Doves. The next season however, he was unable to pick up a win through the middle of July and he was sent to the minors. McCarthy never returned to the majors, finishing his career in the minors in 1911.
Jolly Roger Rewind: May 22, 1968
Willie Stargell slugged three home runs—missing a major league record-tying fourth by the slimmest of margins—and drove in seven runs to rally the Pirates to a 13-6 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Stargell started his spree with a first-inning opposite-field home run of Chicago starter Joe Niekro. The Cubs, however, struck back with five runs over the second and third innings to roll to a 5-1 advantage and chase Bucco starter/future Hall of Famer/future U.S. Senator Jim Bunning.
With a potential sixth consecutive defeat looming, the Bucs kick-started their comeback in the fourth with a second Stargell home run. This one, a solo shot against Niekro, was a near clone of his first homer, landing in almost the same spot in the left field seats.
The blast awakened the slumbering Bucco offense and triggered a streak of five straight innings of turning the numbers on the visitors’ line of Wrigley’s scoreboard. In the fifth inning, the Pirates surged ahead to stay with four more runs. Stargell was again in the middle of the hit parade, singling to drive in Matty Alou with the tying run and, after stealing second, scoring the go-ahead run on Donn Clendenon’s single.
The Bucs led 7-5 an inning later when Stargell came to bat with two runners on. This time, his high fly ball to left, in the words of the Pittsburgh Press, “landed on top of the iron pipe on the left field fence and, instead of bouncing over for a home run, fell back onto the field.” Stargell settled for a two-run double, his fourth hit of the game.
This vexing intersection of physics and chance merely delayed Stargell’s admission into the three-homer club: in the eighth inning, he drove a 3-2 pitch from Charley Hartenstein into the seats in left-center for a two-run blast. Both Stargell and many members of the small congregation of paying eyewitnesses hoped that he would get the opportunity for a fourth homer in the ninth inning, but the Cubs retired the Pirates with the 28-year-old left fielder in the on-deck circle. Still, Stargell finished with the only seven-RBI game of his storied career, as well as equaling career-bests in hits (five) and home runs in a game.
Overshadowed by Stargell’s blitzkrieg was a superlative performance by Bucco reliever Dave Wickersham. Tommy Sisk recorded the victory by replacing Bunning in the third, recording five outs, and having the good fortune to be replaced for a pinch-hitter in the inning that the Pirates took the lead. Wickersham then closed out the Cubs with five innings of one-run—none earned—pitching, receiving credit for one of only four five-inning saves in franchise history. He also contributed a two-run single in the top of the seventh.
Box score and play-by-play
Pittsburgh Press game story