This Day in Pirate History - 12/7

Monday, December 07 2009 @ 05:53 am UTC

Contributed by: Staff

Posted: Saturday, December 7, 2002

By 81omar_moreno

On this date in Pirates history there's no trades or signings, but lots of former Bucs born on this date, so I'll give a brief description of all of them.

First, one of the more colorful players in baseball history appeared briefly for the Bucs in 1969. Bo Belinsky, born in 1936, pitched 8 games for the Bucs that season, starting 3 and going 0-3 4.58. Belinsky was traded after the season to the Reds for pitcher Dennis Ribant. Ribant was a former Bucs player who did not pitch in the majors after the trade. Belinsky was known more for his off-field antics, appearing in tv shows and dating many famous actresses at the time. He did, however, get off to a great start in the majors going 5-0 and throwing a no-hitter just a month into his career in 1962, but it pretty much went downhill from there.

Johnny Gee, born in 1915, pitched for the Pirates from 1939, 1941, 1943-44. At the time, he was the tallest player ever, standing 6"9'. He was bought by the Pirates from Syracuse of the International League in the middle of the 1939 season and made his ML debut a month and a half later. Playing parts of 4 seasons, he pitched just 25 games going 5-8. Despite being so tall, he wasn't much of a strikeout pitcher, as his 1943 stats would indicate. He threw 82 innings, walked 27 and struck out just 18. Johnny was sold to the Giants during the 1944 season, where he finished his career 2 years later.

Bobby Schang, born in 1886, played for the Bucs in 1914-1915. His brother Wally was one of the best catchers during his playing days, but unfortunately Bobby's career didn't go as well. He appeared in just 82 games total batting .188. As a Pirates catcher, he went 31-160 at the plate in 67 games with just 5 RBI's. He caught 55 games for the Bucs and did not appear at any other position during his career.

Vinnie Smith, born in 1915, was another Bucs catcher with a short career. He played for the Bucs in 1941 and batted .303 with 5 RBI's in 9 games. Smith then spent the next 4 years serving in the military during WW2. He reappeared briefly in 1946 for the Bucs, but batted just .190 in 7 games in what would be his last ML appearance. He caught all 16 games he appeared in.

Deacon White, born way back in 1847, played for the Bucs in 1889, his 19th season in the majors. At age 42 he platooned at third base with Bill Kuehne for the Bucs and hit .253 with 26 RBI's in 55 games. A career .312 hitter with over 2000 hits, he is one of the best 19th century players not enshrined in the Hall of Fame already.

Tony Piet, born in 1906, started his ML career with the Pirates in 1931 and stayed with them till 1933. He hit .299 as a rookie and in 1932 he set career highs in hits, homeruns, rbi's, doubles and games. In his last season with the Pirates he batted .323 and finished 3rd in the league in hitting. He was a fine fielding second baseman during his Bucs days, but eventually switched to 3rd base later in his career. He was traded with pitcher Adam Comorosky to the Reds for pitcher Red Lucas after the 1933 season. Tony changed his name from Pietruszka to Piet to make it easier on the sportswriters of the day.

Hal Smith, born in 1930 on this date, was a member of the 1960 World Championship Pirates team. He platooned at catcher with Smoky Burgess and batted .295 11 HR 45 RBI in 77 games that year. During the W.S he went 3-8 with 3 RBI's in 3 games and hit a pinch hit home run in game 7 to put the Bucs up 9-7 in the 8th inning. The next season Hal struggled, hitting just .223 in 67 games again platooning with Burgess. He would go on to play for the expansion Houston Colt 45's the next season.

Finally, Don Cardwell born in 1935, pitched 4 seasons for the Bucs from 1963-1966. He spent most of the 1964 and '66 seasons injured, but when he was healthy in 1963 13-15 despite an ERA of just 3.07 and then in 1965 he went 13-10 3.18. He finished his career with the Pirates going 33-33, in 106 games and over 14 seasons he won 102 games.