Posted: Sunday, December 15, 2002
In what is a historically slow date for the Pirates, it would figure only 2 players were born on this date who played for them and neither spent significant time with the team. So instead, I'll give a description of the team one of them played on during his Pirates days.
William Otey, who played for the Bucs in 1907, was born on this date in 1886. He made his major league debut September 27th of that year. He appeared in just 3 games, starting 2, completing 1 and finishing 0-1 4.41. Otey was a left-handed pitcher and appeared in 21 games for Washington in 1910-11, in what would be his only other ML playing time.
The 1907 Pirates played at Exposition ball park and were managed by future Hall of Famer Fred Clarke, who is the winningest manager in team history and finished a .312 hitter, with 2672 hits and 1619 runs scored. He is also 7th all-time in triples with 220.
The team finished 91-63 in second place, but 17 games behind the Cubs. They outscored their opponents 634-510 and finished 4th in the NL in attendance for the year with just over 319,500 customers. The team led the NL in runs scored, hits, batting average and stolen bases. At the halfway point they were 46-31 and then 45-32 the second half, but lost 8 of their last 11 games. They went 47-29 at home, 44-34 on the road.
Their best opponent to play that season was the Cardinals who they went 20-2 against. The worst team to play was the Phillies whom they went 8-14 against. They had 2 eight game winning streaks, which were the longest on the season and 1 five game losing streak. They threw 24 shutouts and got shutout just 14 times. The biggest win was a 20-5 pounding of the Giants on August 22nd. Their worst loss was the last game of the season when they lost 13-1 to the Reds. They also had 3 games end in ties during the season.
The team leader in average was the greatest player in team history (in my opinion) Honus Wagner who hit .350 which also led the league. Wagner also drove in 82 runs which tied for most with 2b Ed Abbatacchio and those 2 were tied for 2nd most in the league. Tommy Leach, the great centerfielder, scored 102 runs to led the team.He was followed closely by Wagner (98) and Clarke (97). Leach finished just 2 runs behind league leader Spike Shannon of the Giants.
Besides leading the league in average, Wagner also led the league in on base %, slugging %, doubles, total bases, extra base hits and stolen bases when he stole a career high 61.
Other starters on the team were George Gibson who was in his 3rd season and first as the main starting catcher. He played 12 seasons for the Bucs and later managed. Jim Nealon, played 1st base (see yesterdays column for more on him). Alan Storke was the 3rd baseman, it was his first full season and he hit .258 with 39 RBI's in what would be his only season where he was the everyday starter. He played 4 years total for the Bucs. Edward "Goat" Anderson, played his only season with the teamin 1907. He was the main rightfielder for the year, but hit just .206 with 12 RBI's in over 400 at-bats.
Bill Hallman, in his 2nd and last season with the team, was the main backup at all 3 outfield positions, hitting .222 over 92 games. Tom Sheehan, the backup 3b/ss and Eddie Phelps, the backup catcher were the only other players with significant time off the bench. Sheehan was in his 2nd and last season with the team and Phelps played part of 6 seasons with the Bucs never playing in 100 games during any one year. Bill McKechnie, a future Hall of Fame manager, made his playing debut with the Bucs on Sept. 8th, but got into just 3 games. He later managed the Pirates in 1925, the season where they made their 3rd World Series appearance and the 2nd time where they won it all.
As far as the pitching staff goes, they had one of their best staffs start to come into place that year as 7 significant starters pitched for them in 1907. Hall of Famer Vic Willis won 21 games that year (see yesterday's column for more on him), followed closely by Lefty Leifield who won 20. Lefty would win at least 15 games for 6 straight years, with 1907 being the second year of that stretch. Deacon Phillippe won 14 games. During his career he went 189-109, spending 12 of his 13 seasons with the Bucs.
Sam Leever went 14-9 with a 1.66 ERA, the team low for 1907. Leever went 194-100 in his 13 year career, all spent with the Bucs from 1898-1910. Howie Camnitz went 13-8 in his rookie season. He would pitch parts of 9 years for the Bucs going 116-84 overall, not bad for a 5th starter.
Nick Maddox went 5-1 0.83 as a rookie and threw a no-hitter in his 3rd start winning 2-1 over Brooklyn on Sept. 20th. He would pitch 4 seasons total for the Bucs before arm injuries would end his career. Babe Adams who won 194 games in 18 seasons made his Pirates debut but went just 0-2 6.95 in 4 games. He had 11 seasons of double-digit wins, twice winning over 20.
All seven of these guys would provide significant help for the 1909 Pirates, who won 110 games and went on to win the World Series that year, their first W.S. title ever. They combined for a 107-40 record between the 7 of them.
All together, 32 guys played at least one game for the Pirates in 1907. Three who started the season with them would be traded, outfielder Otis Clymer to Washington and pitcher Mike Lynch to New York. Harry Wolter would be traded to the Cardinals after pitching just one game. Bill Duggleby joined the team midseason from the Phillies and he pitched in 9 games for the Bucs going 2-2 2.68.
The only other Pirate born on this date was Fred Crolius who played for the 1902 Pirates team that finished 1st in the NL the year before the World Series started. That team went 103-36. Crolius born in 1876 joined the Bucs from the Braves the previous season. He played in 9 games, all as a right fielder and was 1 of 11 guys to play right field for the Bucs that year, which included Honus Wagner and Fred Clarke. Fred batted .263 with 7 RBI's in 38 at-bats and played flawless defense. It would be his last major league experience and he retired a .244 hitter in 58 games.