Posted: Sunday, December 1, 2002
On this date in Pirates history in 1965 and 1966, the Pirates made 2 major trades.
First in 1965 the Bucs traded Ozzie Virgil and Joe Gibbon to the Giants for outfielder Matty Alou. Matty, who was coming off a season where he hit just .231, would lead the league in average hitting a career high .342. He would also finish top-10 in the league in hits, triples and stolen bases that year while patrolling center field for the Bucs. More on Alou in a future article (I promise).
The 2 players the Bucs traded didn't pan out as well for the Giants. Ozzie Virgil's Pirate career didn't last long. He played just the 1965 season for them, appearing in 39 games. He batted just 49 times and accumulated 13 hits (.265) with 5 RBI's. He played games at catcher, 2b and 3b. Before joining the Bucs, Ozzie had played just 1 game in the previous 3 seasons (1962, Orioles). He was 32 at the time. He is also the father of former ML catcher Ozzie Virgil Jr. who played from 1980-90.
Joe Gibbon made his ML debut with the 1960 Pirates. He pitched 2 games during the World Series that year, pitching 3 innings with no decision. From 1960 till 1965, Joe combined for a 39-44 record and posted 4 seasons with ERA's under 4.00. His best season was 1961 when he went 13-10 with a 3.32 ERA. He finished 3rd in the league in shutouts, 6th in ERA and 10th in strikeouts.
While with the Giants, Joe became solely a relief pitcher. He was reacquired by the Bucs during the 1969 season. He would go 5-1 in 35 games with the Bucs that year, posting 9 saves and an ERA of just 1.93 . His last year with the Bucs, he didnt do as good, in 41 games. He saved 5 and went 0-1 with an ERA of 4.83. He pitched 2 games during the 1970 NLCS pitching just 1/3 of an inning giving up 1 hit and striking out 1.
On this date in 1966, the Pirates traded Gene Michael and Bob Bailey to the Dodgers for Maury Wills. Maury was a 5 time all-star and 6 time stolen base champ for the Dodgers. He didn't disappoint his first season with the Bucs as he tied his career high by batting .302 and finished 2nd in the league in stolen bases. He also scored 92 runs, 2nd on the team to Clemente that year. Wills was moved to third base while with the Bucs because they didnt want to break up the Mazeroski/Alley double play tandem. He appeared at 3rd sporadically while with the Dodgers.
Wills played just one more year for the Bucs and stole a team high 52 stolen bases while batting .278. At the time, he was 35 years old and the Pirates left him exposed in the expansion draft. Wills was picked up by the Expos. Both seasons with the Pirates Wills finished top-10 in hits and triples.
Gene Michael's career as a Pirate didn't amount to much. He made his ML debut with the Bucs midseason during the 1966 season. He served as a utility infielder and batted just 33 times over 30 games. He batted just .152 but scored 9 runs. Michael was 28 by the time he reached the majors.
Bob Bailey was an average hitting 3rd baseman who made his ML debut as a teenager with the Pirates in 1962. Bailey was the everyday starter from 63-66'. His best year was 1964 when he hit .281, with 11 HRs and 51 RBIs. He also hit .279 with 13 HR's in 1966. Bob was very consistent, hitting between 11 and 13 homers and between 45 and 51 RBI's in each of his 4 full seasons with the Bucs. Bailey would eventually become teammates with Wills on the Expos in 1969.
Former Bucs born on this date include Mike Cvengros (1901). He pitched for the Bucs during the 1927 season, going 2-1 with a 3.35 ERA in 23 games. He appeared in 2 games during the World Series that year, throwing 2 2/3 innings while giving up 1 run with no decisions.
Jake Miller (1895) appeared in 3 games for the Bucs during the 1922 season, getting 1 hit in 11 at-bats. He started all 3 games as a right fielder. It would be his only ML experience.
Paddy Fox (1868) played 13 games for the 1899 Bucs, hitting .244 over 41 at-bats. He played 9 games at 1b and 3 as a catcher. The interesting thing about Fox is his only other ML experience came with Louisville of the American Association 8 years earlier. He played just 6 games then.
Cal McLish pitched 3 games for the Bucs over the 1947-48 seasons. He gave up 7 runs in 6 innings of work in his only time with the Bucs. McLish had one of the more interesting real names in baseball history. His actual full name is Calvin Coolidge Julius Caeser Tuskahoma McLish. Cal turns 77 today.
Finally, born on this date in 1912 was Cookie Lavagetto who joined the Bucs in 1934. He would hit .220 while playing 2nd base. Playing between 2b and 3b in 1935, Cookie would bat .290. In over 3 years with the Bucs, Cookie would play 225 games before joining the Dodgers following the 1936 season.