Posted: Wednesday, December 4, 2002
Born on this date in Pirates history, in 1963, was former shortstop Sammy Khalifa, who played for the Bucs from 1985-1987. Sammy was the everyday shortstop for the 1985 season after getting called up to the majors for the first time on June 25th of that year. As a rookie he would bat .238, with 31 RBI's, in 95 games for a team that finished just 57-104.
The 1986 season Khalifa split time with Rafael Belliard who finally stuck in the majors after playing small parts of the previous 4 years. In the end Belliard got most of the playing time as Sammy struggled with the bat, hitting just .185 with 4 RBI's in 151 at-bats. Sammy also filled in at 2nd base for a few games, while playing 60 games at short and making 10 errors.
At age 23 in 1987 Khalifa would make his last major league experience, appearing in 5 games all at shortstop and batting .176. He retired with a .219 avg over 164 games. He hit just 2 homers in 488 at-bats, both coming in his first year. He played 160 games total at short, with a fielding % of .964, just over league average at the time and compared to all the other NL shortstops during his day he had above average range. His strikeout total was high for a light hitting infielder, striking out every 5.5 at-bats.
Born on this date, in 1871, was Lewis "Snake" Wiltse, better known as the brother of Hooks Wiltse, who went on to have a great career as a pitcher for the Giants going 136-85 over 11 seasons. Snake made his major league debut for the 1901 Bucs team on May 5th. He would go just 1-4 in 7 games despite playing for a team that went 90-49. Wiltsie would be sent to the Philadelphia A's and go 13-5 for them the rest of the season. Quite a difference since they were just a 4th place team and barely .500 when he didn't pitch.
Frank Bowerman (pictured above), born in 1868, played for the Pirates right before the turn of the century. He joined the team from Brooklyn during the 1898 season and played thru till the end of the 1899 season. Bowerman was a catcher/1st baseman who slowly broke into the majors starting in 1895, but did not see significant playing time till he joined the Bucs.
In 1898, Bowerman batted .274 with 29 RBI's over 69 games splitting time with veteran Pops Shriver, who was also in his first year with the Bucs. In 1899, Bowerman played in a career high 109 games, batted .259 and drove in a career high 53 runs. He also set career highs in runs, triples, doubles and hits. He would go to NY the next season where he would spend the next 8 seasons before finishing with the Braves.
Bill Rodgers played briefly for the Bucs during the 1944-45 seasons, appearing in just 2 games the first year and 1 game the 2nd. He did finish with a .400 batting average at age 22, so what if it was just 2-5, he gets to tell everyone he batted 1.000 one year (1-1 in 1945) and retired with a career average of .400, 33 points higher than Ty Cobb!
Rodgers was a left-handed batter/thrower and appeared in one game in right field in 1944. Bill wore #4 in 1945, which is now retired because of Ralph Kiner. Kiner joined the team in 1946, but wasn't the first person after Rodgers to wear the #4. That honor went to Billy Cox who had the number the whole season before switching to the #6 in 1947. Kiner wore 43 his first year with the Bucs. Bill Rodgers is still living and turns 80 today.
Finally, born on this date in 1872 was Emerson "Pink" Hawley who played for the Pirates from 1895-1897. In that 3 year stretch Pink compiled a 71-61 record, winning a career high 31 games during the 1895 season. He also batted .308 with 5HR and 42RBI's in just 57 total games. His win total that year was second in the league to only Cy Young who won 35 games. He finished 2nd in the league in ERA to former Pirates hurler Smilin Al Maul.
Hawley would win 22 games the next season, but be 2nd on his own team in wins behind Frank Killen (see Nov 30th history). In 1897, he would go 18-18 while again leading the team in wins. In '95, he lead the league in games pitched, innings and shutouts for the only time in his career, struck out a career high 142 and had a career low ERA of 3.19. He would end his career winning 167 games in 10 years for 5 teams.