Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2002
This is gonna be a long one folks, so you better get some coffee ready while you read this. On this date in 1913, the Pirates made an 8 player trade with the Cardinals, sending second baseman Dots Miller, pitcher Hank Robinson, outfielder Chief Wilson and infielders Art Butler and Cozy Dolan to St Louis in return for 1b Ed Konetchy, pitcher Bob Harmon and 3b Mike Mowrey.
Dots Miller, who was born in the same town as I was and lived in the same neighborhood as my grandfather, played 5 years for the Bucs before the trade including the 1909 W.S championship season. Dots was a rookie during the 1909 season, he played in 151 games as a 22 year old and hit .279 with 87 RBI's. He finished top-10 in the NL that year in doubles, triples, hits and total bases. During the W.S. he batted .300 driving in 4 runs and stealing 3 bases.
In 1913, Dots had 20 triples (2nd in the league) and 20 stolen bases while driving in 90 runs, good for 4th in the NL. Miller moved to 1st base his last 2 years with the Bucs filling a position that saw a new guy acquired almost every year to try and fill it since Kitty Bransfield left in 1904. Miller was a double play combo with HOF'er Honus Wagner, arguably the greatest Pirate ever.
Mike Mowrey played just one season for the Bucs before moving on to the Federal League. A good defensive 3rd baseman, his fielding % was .029 over the league average that year. He played in 79 games batting .254 with 25 RBI's. Mike was a career .256 hitter over 13 seasons.
Bob Harmon pitched 4 seasons for the Bucs, 1914-16 and 1918. His ERA each year was under 3.00, a level he never reached his previous 5 years with the Cardinals. Despite the low ERA with the Pirates, he never posted a winning record, finishing 39-52 with a high of 16 wins in 1915. When Harmon reached the Pirates, he came over with bad control problems, twice leading the league in walks allowed, once in hits. After he joined the Bucs, he was able to cut his walks per inning in half allowing no more than 62 any year and striking out more than he walked 3 of the 4 years, something he didn't do with the Cardinals.
Ed Konetchy, who was the main person the Bucs wanted in the trade, struggled as a Pirate and played just one season for them, as he also moved on to the Federal League the next year. Twice as a Cardinal, Big Ed hit over .300 and 3 times he drove in over 80 runs. As a Pirate though, he hit just .249 with 51 RBI's. He ranks 15th career in triples with 182, but managed just 9 in a park where triples were plentiful during his day. He did steal 20 bases, but that was good for just 4th on the team and the Pirates as a team finished 6th out of 8 in the league.
Hank Robinson was a good left-handed pitcher for the Bucs for 2+ seasons, splitting time between starting and relieving. He went 12-7 2.26 in 1912 and won a career high 14 games in 1913 while finishing 6th in the league in ERA with 2.38. Hank pitched in 81 total games, starting 39, finishing 19 and saving 2. Despite being just 23 at the time of the trade, he would win just 16 more games after leaving the Bucs.
Owen "Chief" Wilson played 6 years for the Bucs as their starting right fielder while occasionally playing some center when needed. He hit exactly .300 twice (1911-12) while driving in 107 and 95 runs in those 2 years. The 107 RBI's lead the league that season. Wilson also twice led the league in games played and never played less than 144 games as a member of the Bucs.
Wilson is best known, however, as the all-time single season leader in triples when he hit an amazing 36 in 1912! He did not reach 15 in any other season in his career. That year he hit 16 more than any other player, setting a record that almost certainly will not be broken and likely won't even be challenged anytime soon.
Chief also had a little pop in his bat, 3 times finishing in the top-5 in homeruns, while reaching double figures 3 years straight (1911-13), an impressive feat during the dead ball era. More on Art Butler and Cozy Dolan in future articles.
On this date in 1928, the Pirates purchased the contract of Larry French from Portland of the PCL. French went on to pitch 6 years for the Bucs, twice winning 18 games while winning 87 total. He was later traded along with future hall of famer Freddie Lindstrom to the Cubs for Babe Herman and 2 other players (For more on French, Lindstrom and this trade check out the Nov. 22nd history in the archived story section).
Speaking of Lindstrom, on this date in 1932, the Pirates made a 3 team deal sending Gus Dugas to the Phillies and pitcher Glenn Spencer to the Giants in return for Lindstrom. Spencer spent parts of 4 seasons with the Pirates, appearing mostly out of the bullpen while occasionally starting. He posted a career high 11 wins in 1931 and finished 23-29 with 8 saves total as a member of the Bucs. He would pitch just 17 games for the Giants in what would be his last ML season.
Gus Dugas played parts of 2 seasons for the Pirates in 1930 and 1932 appearing mainly as a rightfielder during his 64 games. He batted .250, going 32-128 as a Pirate. 1932 would be his best season, batting just .237, but hitting career highs in home runs (3) rbi's (12) and doubles, triples, hits, runs and at-bats. He played just 2 partial seasons after the trade, 1 year with Philly, 1 with the Senators and had just 13 hits over 90 at-bats.
Finally for trades, on this date in 1941 the Pirates traded future hall of famer Arky Vaughan to the Dodgers in return for 4 players, pitcher Luke Hamlin, catcher Babe Phelps, 2b Pete Coscarart and outfielder Jimmy Wasdell. Vaughan would play 4 more years, surrounding his 3 years he lost in the military, making the All-Star team once and playing in the 1947 W.S.
Luke Hamlin pitched just the one season with the Pirates, going 4-4 3.94 over 23 games, 16 as a starter. He was 37 at the time of the trade. Wasdell played one full season for the Bucs, playing rf/lf/1b over 122 games. He hit .259 with 38 RBI's in 1942. The next season he played just 4 games, all as a pinch-hitter before moving on to the Phillies. He went 1-2 with 2 walks in those 4 games.
Babe Phelps was a platoon catcher with future HOF'er Al Lopez during his only year with the Bucs. He batted .284 in 95 games, while driving in 41 runs. It would be his last season ending his 11 year career spent mainly with the Dodgers where he was a 3 time all-star. Pete Coscarart played 4 full seasons for the Bucs spending time at shortstop and 2nd base. He played between 123-139 games each year from 1942-45. His best year came in 1944 when he hit .264, driving in 42 runs and scoring 86 times. He finished his ML career in 1946 playing just 3 games for the Pirates. Despite not having much power (28 HR's in 2992 at-bats), he finished top-10 in strikeouts 5 of his 6 full seasons in the bigs and batted just .243 career.
Vaughan's Pirates career which was covered in a past article, but is worth repeating as he batted .300 or better all 10 seasons with the team, 4 times he drove in over 90 runs and 8 times he made the all-star team. He led the NL in batting in 1935 when he hit a career high .385, twice led the league in runs and 3 times in walks while with the Bucs. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1985.
Briefly I'll summarize all the players born on this date, there's 7 but none that spent significant time with the team. First, one of my favorite names from the past, Phenomenal Smith (1864) who appeared briefly for the Bucs during their pitiful 1890 season when they went 23-113 and let everyone who could throw a ball pitch for them. Smith, who's real first name was John, went just 1-3 in 5 starts that year after joining the Bucs from the Phillies mid-season. He finished his career 54-74 by the age 26, pitching mainly in the American Association. He won 25 games for the '87 Baltimore Orioles (AA), but also lost 30 for a team that finished 19 games over .500.
Clyde Kluttz (born 1917) was a platoon catcher with Ed Fitzgerald his only year with the Pirates in 1948. He played in 94 games hitting .221 with 20 RBI's. Clyde was a .268 career hitter over 9 seasons.
Bill Howerton played parts of the 1951 season after coming over from the Cardinals and parts of the '52 season before going to the Giants. He played outfield while occasionally playing 3b with the Bucs and batted .274 11 37 in 80 games with the Pirates in '51 and .320 over 13 games the next year. 1952 would be his last season in the majors. Bill was born in 1921.
Hank Camelli (born 1914) played parts of 4 seasons with the Pirates, but played in just 107 games from 1943-1946. A backup catcher, he batted .296 in 63 games in 1944. He played one year for the Braves following his Pirates career and batted .229 total over 159 games.
Tully Sparks (born 1874) pitched for the 1899 Pirates going 8-6 3.86 over 28 games. It was his only year for the Bucs and he pitched parts of 12 years overall winning 121 games with a career best 22-8 in 1907 for the Phillies.
Joe Rickert played 2 games for the 1898 Pirates. It was his first ML experience and he played just parts of one more year, 1901 for the Braves. He went 1-6 for the Pirates while playing 2 games in right field after joining the team at the very end of the 1898 season (Oct. 12th debut). He would go 10-60 as a Brave in 1901, meaning he batted .167 in both of his ML seasons. Joe was born in 1876
Finally, applaud yourself if you made it this far, is Mike Mitchell, who was a good outfielder for the Reds, but didn't make it to the majors till age 27. He joined the Bucs in 1913 after playing briefly for the Cubs that year and batted .271 over 54 games. The next year he batted just .234 over 76 games before going to the Senators where he finished his career at the end of that season. Mitchell twice led the league in triples and 5 times during his 8 seasons finished top-10 in the NL in triples. He also finished top-10 in RBI's 3 times, hits 3 times and batting average twice.