This Date in Pirates History: May 8

On this date in Pittsburgh Pirates history, we have four former players born on this date and one major trade from 1940. In his Jolly Roger Rewind, John Fredland takes a look at a near no-hitter for a young Pirates ace. Also if you missed it from last night, part two of the interview with the oldest living Pittsburgh Pirates player is now up. Mike Sandlock had a seventeen year career in pro ball, with his last season in the majors coming with the 1953 Pirates. Part one can be found here.

The Trade

On this date in 1940, the Pirates traded left fielder Johnny Rizzo to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for outfielder Vince DiMaggio. The headlines of the Pittsburgh Press that day declared “Straight swap of players brings strikeout king of majors here.” DiMaggio was the brother of Joe and Dom, star players of their time but Vince was a fine ballplayer as well, a defensive wizard with a strong arm and that’s why the Pirates acquired him. He played two years with the Boston Braves, leading the league in strikeouts each season, before being traded to the Yankees in 1939. They sent him to the minors until a trade in August brought the 26 year old back to the NL with the Reds. He had hit just .111 in ten games with Cincinnati, split between the end of 1939 and the beginning of the 1940 season. Rizzo, as a 25 year old rookie in 1938, hit .301 with 111 RBI’s and set the Pirates single season home run mark with twenty-three round trippers. His numbers took a huge dip in 1939 and he had started off the 1940 season slow, hitting .179 in nine games.

After the trade, Rizzo lasted just over a month with the Reds before they dealt him to the Phillies. In Philadelphia he hit twenty homers in 103 games but that was followed by two down years, three years serving in the military during WWII and four seasons in the minors when he returned. DiMaggio became an all-star player for the Pirates, spending five seasons in Pittsburgh and making two AS teams. The strikeouts were still there, three times he led the NL but he played strong defense in center field and he hit 79 homers in 670 games. He also drove in 100 runs during the 1941 season.

The Players

Jason Davis (1980) Pitcher for the 2008 Pirates. He was originally a 21st round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians in the 1999 draft. Jason made the majors in 2002, spending all or part of six seasons in the big leagues before they traded him in May of 2007 to the Mariners. Davis became a free agent following that season and he signed with Texas, who ended up releasing him at the end of Spring Training. He signed with the Pirates the next day and began the year in the minors. Prior to joining Pittsburgh, he had a major league record of 20-22 with a 4.78 ERA in 130 games, 52 were as a starter. Jason joined the Pirates in late July as a reliever. He eventually got four starts among his 14 total appearances. Davis went 2-4 5.29 in 34 innings. The Pirates resigned him to a minor league contract and he pitched in AAA during the 2009 season. Jason was released following the season, ending his playing career.

Orestes Destrade (1962) First baseman for the 1988 Pirates. He originally signed with the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent in 1981. It took until 1987 before he made his major league debut and he was blocked at first base during that time by all-star Don Mattingly. Destrade had a good walk rate and showed power in the minors, hitting 122 homers before reaching the big leagues. In 1987, he hit .263 in nine September games for the Yankees. The Pirates were able to acquire Orestes at the end of Spring Training in 1988 in exchange for pitcher Hipolito Pena. He began the season in AAA, hitting .271 with 12 homers through 77 games when the Pirates called him up to the majors. He was used mostly in a pinch hitting role, hitting .149 in 36 games. After getting off to a poor start in AAA in 1989, the Pirates sold him to Japan. After four seasons overseas, Orestes returned as the starting first baseman for the 1993 Florida Marlins, in their first year of existence. He hit .255 with twenty homers and 87 RBI’s that year. Destrade played for the Marlins in 1994, then finished his career in Japan.

Bill Powell (1885) Pitcher for the 1909-10 Pirates. After going 20-8 in 1908 for the Springfield Ponies of the Connecticut State League, Powell joined the Pittsburgh Pirates for the 1909 season. He was with the Pirates during the 1909 World Series but never got into a game. He in fact pitched just three games all year and one was as the starter in game three of the regular season. Powell was very wild during that first game, taking the loss to the Reds by giving up three hits in five innings, with five walks, a hit batter and he threw a wild pitch. In an outing nearly a month later, it was said that he had nothing on the mound, as he walked a batter in relief, forcing home a run before serving up a pitch that was hit hard but right at a field. Bill must’ve shown great improvement the next season because he made nine starts and three relief appearances before he was sold to the Kansas City Blues of the American Association in late July. It was said at the time that he was very inconsistent on the mound, wasn’t noted for the effort he put forth but more for his carelessness in the way he played. The paper also noted “his disposition was always against him.”  Powell ended up pitching two more games in the majors, one for the 1912 Cubs and one for the 1913 Reds. His pro career began in 1903 in East Liverpool, Ohio which is where he ended up living after his playing days.

Eddie Boyle (1874) Catcher for the 1896 Pirates. He last caught for the Pirates on September 16,1896 during the first game of a doubleheader. Connie Mack was the manager and he replaced starting catcher Bill Merritt with Boyle late in a blowout loss. The amazing part about that game was the fact that Mack pinch hit for Boyle in the ninth inning of an 11-0 loss. It was not only his last game for the Pirates, it was his last major league game. He played in the minors during 1897 but there is no record of him playing after that season. Eddie had begun the season with the Louisville Colonels, getting into three games before he was traded to the Pirates on May 1st, along with Joe Wright(the guy who pinch hit for him) in exchange for infielder Billy Clingman. Boyle went to the Eastern League for the majority of the year, returning to the Pirates in September. In his first game, he batted ninth and failed to get a hit but he did throw out the legendary Cap Anson, who tested his arm early. In Eddie’s five game major league career, he went 0-14 at the plate, reaching base twice via walks. His brother Jack Boyle, was a catcher in the majors for thirteen seasons.

Jolly Roger Rewind: May 8, 1988

Doug Drabek took a no-hit bid into the ninth inning before settling for a two-hit complete game in a 6-2 victory over the Padres at Three Rivers Stadium.

Striving for the Pirates’ first no-hitter since John Candelaria in August 1976, Drabek held San Diego hitless until pinch-hitter Randy Ready led off the top of the ninth by beating out an infield single to shortstop Al Pedrique. Pedrique, shading the right-handed batter towards third base, made a diving stop of the hard ground ball up the middle, but struggled in transferring the ball to his throwing hand. His hurried throw to first was too late to retire Ready.*

Two batters later, former Pirate Marvell Wynne homered to right field to break up the shutout. Drabek rebounded from any disappointment by setting down the final two batters to finish off the 104-pitch effort against a Padre lineup weakened by injuries to Tony Gwynn and John Kruk.

Earlier, the Bucs had broken open a scoreless duel between Drabek and Jimmy Jones by scoring two runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.

* Immediately after the game, the Pirates announced the demotion of Pedrique, who had gone two-for-four in the game, to Class AAA Buffalo, with Felix Fermin replacing him on the major league roster.

Box score and play-by-play

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette game coverage

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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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