Posted: Friday, November 15, 2002
On this date in 1966, the great Roberto Clemente was named MVP of the NL narrowly beating out Sandy Koufax 218-208 points. The 31 year old Clemente led the Bucs to 92 wins, good enough for 3rd place, just 3 games behind the 1st place Dodgers. Clemente made the All-Star team and also won the Gold Glove Award in 1966.
As far as stats go, Roberto finished 5th in batting average and the only season from 64-67 that he didn't win the NL crown. He hit .317 for the year, which by the way, equals his career mark. He finished 2nd to Hank Aaron in RBI's with 11 and finished in the top-10 in doubles, triples, runs, at-bats, home runs, total bases and hits.
Oddly enough, he also set a career high in strikeouts in 1966, which was his only MVP season. His best finish besides '66 was 3rd in the voting in '67. He did also set career highs in home runs (29), RBI's, and runs (105).
Four other Bucs received MVP votes in 1966, including Matty Alou (9th place), Gene Alley (11th), Willie Stargell (15th) and Bill Mazeroski (23rd).
Also winning an MVP on this date for the Bucs was shortstop Dick Groat, who won the MVP in the World Series winning season of 1960. Groat received 16 of a possible 22 1st place votes with teammates Don Hoak (5) and Roberto Clemente (1) getting the others. Hoak would finish 2nd in the voting and overall the Pirates would place 5 guys in the top-12.
Groat on the year would make the All-Star team and lead the league in batting average (.325) for the only time in his career. He also finished top-10 in at-bats, hits and doubles. He would set career highs in average and in runs with 85, which he would later equal in 1963. It was the only other season he would finish in the top-10 in MVP voting, finishing 2nd to Sandy Koufax.
Even though he won the MVP, the season wasn't as great as it would seem for Groat because on Sept. 6th he suffered a broken wrist when he was hit by a pitch from Lew Burdette. Groat wouldn't play again till the final weekend of the season and would struggle in the World Series hitting just .214.
The only former Bucs player born on this date was Hector Fajardo, who would pitch just 2 games, starting both and posting an ERA of 9.95. Unbelievably, he wouldn't lose either start.
Fajardo was just 20 at the time he made his debut in 1991. He would be traded right before the trading deadline on Aug 30th along with former 1st round, "can't miss", draft pick Kurt Miller (5th overall pick in the 1990 draft) to the Rangers for 3rd baseman Steve Buechele.
Buechele was brought over to help out the 3rd base situation for the 1st place Bucs who had 4 different guys (Bonilla, King, Wehner and Curtis Wilkerson) start at least 10 games before he came over.
Fajardo would go on to pitch parts of 4 seasons with the Rangers finishing his career with a 5-9 record and an ERA of 6.95. Kurt Miller would never appear in a game for the Rangers, but would eventually play for the Cubs and Marlins for parts of 5 years finishing 2-7 in 44 games with an ERA of 7.48.