Posted: Thursday, December 5, 2002
On this date in 1927, Pirates outfielder Paul Waner was named NL MVP. He became the first Pirates player to win and only winner until Dick Groat won in 1960. Waner would receive 72 votes, 6 more than the Cardinals Frankie Frisch.
Waner was just 24 at the time and only in his 2nd season. He batted a career high .380 and also set career highs in rbi's (131) and hits (237) while striking out just 14 times in 623 at-bats. He also led the NL in RBI's, hits, triples, total bases and average, while finishing 2nd in doubles and 4th in runs. His hits and rbi totals that year are still team records to this day.
Paul also helped lead the Pirates to the World Series, leading them to a 94-60 record, 1.5 games ahead of the Cardinals. In the field playing along side his brother Lloyd, Paul had 20 assists from right field, almost half the teams total (41). In the W.S. which the Pirates lost to the famous Murderers Row Yankees in 4 games, Paul batted .333 with 3 RBI's and it would be his only career W.S. appearance.
The 1927 Pirates included 5 different Hall of Famers on the team, the Waner brothers, Pie Traynor, Kiki Cuyler and a 20 year old second baseman named Joe Cronin who would be more known as a great shortstop/manager for the Red Sox and Senators. Traynor, L.Waner and pitcher Ray Kremer would all also finish in the top-10 in NL MVP voting in 1927.
On this date in 1936 the Pirates traded Cookie Lavagetto (see Dec. 1st article) and Ralph Birkofer for pitcher Ed Brandt. Birkofer spent 4 years with the Pirates splitting between relief and starting. He went 31-26 over 121 games. He won a career high 11 games in 1934 at age 25, but it was his only losing season with the Bucs (11-12). He was 2 games over .500 each of the other 3 seasons. He played just 11 games for the Dodgers, going 0-2 6.67 in what would be his last ML experience.
Ed Brandt had the unfortunate duty of pitching for some horrible Boston Braves teams and for one year. He played for a 7th place Dodgers team before joining the Bucs. In 1935, he was teammates with Babe Ruth, who was in his last season and future hall of famer Rabbit Maranville. He was also managed by a future Hall of famer Bill McKechnie, but went just 38-115 on the season despite that fact he still won 106 games over 9 seasons.
As a Pirate, he went 11-10 with an ERA of 3.11 his first season as a 32 year old left-handed starter. He was 3rd on the team in wins, innings and second in starts and ERA, while the team finished in 3rd place at 86-68, 10 games behind the Giants. In his last season in the majors in 1938, Ed went 5-4 3.46 for the Bucs over 14 starts and 24 games. He finished his career 121-146, 3.86 in 378 games. His best season was 1931, when he won 18 games, good for 4th most in the NL, finished 3rd in ERA and 10th in MVP voting. The '31 Braves went 46-79 in games where Brandt didn't get a decision, but he went 18-11 that year.
Finally, the only former Bucs player born on this date was Johnny Meador (1892), who was a right-handed pitcher who had a cup of coffee during the 1920 season, playing in 12 games with a record of 0-2 4.21. He had just 5 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings. It would be Meador's only ML experience.
In a sign of the times back in 1920, Meador's 12 games were the 7th most by any pitcher on the staff that year. The 2001 Pirates staff had 18 guys pitch at least 12 games, the 2002 Pirates had 13 guys pitch at least 11 games and even the last playoff team (1992) had 15 guys with double digit games. It just shows you how different the staffs were back then. Even then they were considered different because earlier in the NL some teams went with 2 man staffs and often had just 3 guys pitch significant time during the entire year.