Posted: Friday, December 20, 2002
On this date in 1904 the Pirates traded Moose McCormick, Otto Krueger and Kitty Bransfield to the Phillies for Del Howard (picured on right). Del was 26 at the time but had not made his ML debut yet. He hit .292 with 63 RBI's and 19 stolen bases as the starting firstbaseman his rookie season. Howard also pitched once, throwing 6 innings without giving up an earned run. Despite the successful first season he is traded the next offseason to the Braves for future Hall of Famer Vic Willis.
Otto Krueger played 2 seasons for the Bucs and was a member of the 1903 NL champs. He played ss, 3b, 2b, rf and lf in his 2 seasons with the team and got into 166 games total. He batted .246 with 28 RBI's in 1903, but didn't get into any postseason games. In 1904, his average dropped to .194 and he drove in 26 runs over 268 at-bats.
Moose McCormick played just part of one season for the Pirates after coming over from the Giants in a 3 team trade that sent Harry Sebring to the Reds and Mike Donlin from the Reds to the Giants. As a Pirate he hit .290 in 66 games split between right field and left field. He did not play in the majors for the Phillies till 1908 and even then lasted just 11 games before he was traded back to the Giants.
Kitty Bransfield played 4 years for the Bucs as the starting 1st baseman from 1901-1904. He was a member of 3 straight NL championship teams. He batted .207 in the W.S. vs Boston in 1903. He batted .295 with 91 RBI's his rookie year, then hit .305 his sophomore season before dropping to .265 then all the way down to .223 in 1904. Bransfield was among league leaders in doubles, triples and rbi's in each of his first 2 years. More on Kitty in an upcoming article.
Players born on this date include Jimmy Williams (pictured on right), born in 1876, who played for the Bucs in 1899 and 1900. He had an incredible rookie season, batting .355 with 116 RBI's in 1899. He also had 27 triples, which led the league and stole 26 bases while playing 152 games at 3rd base. He dropped off to just .264 his next year over 106 games. He would then go to the AL to play for the Baltimore Orioles, who are now the New York Yankees (the franchise moved before the 1903 season). Williams set an NL record that still stands with 671 total chances at 3b in 1899.
Jose DeLeon, who pitched for the Pirates from 1983 till being traded in 1986, was born on this date in 1960. He had a strong rookie season, going 7-3 2.83 in 15 starts with 118 strikeouts in 108 innings. The next season he dropped to 7-13 3.74, but finished 7th in the league in strikeouts with 153. In 1985, he had one of the worst seasons record wise a pitcher could have finishing 2-19 4.70 on the season. On the bright, side he was moved to the bullpen where he did get 3 saves and had 149 strikeouts on the season in 162 innings, the 3rd highest ratio in the NL.
On July 23rd, 1986 DeLeon was traded to the White Sox for Bobby Bonilla, who rejoined the Bucs after being taken by the White Sox in the rule 5 draft. Jose finished 17-38 for the Pirates over 85 games.
Joe Wilhoit, born on this date in 1885, made a brief stop with the Bucs mid-season 1917 between stints with the Braves then Giants. Joe, an outfielder, didnt make it to the majors till the age of 30. While with the Pirates, he played just 9 games, had 10 at-bats with 2 hits, both singles. He also played 1st base for the only time in his career while he was with the Bucs. He played just 4 seasons and batted .257 career.
Paul Moskau, who pitched for the 1982 Pirates, is celebrating his 49th birthday today. He joined the Bucs from the Reds. He was 28 at the time of the trade and was converted to a full-time reliever the previous seasons after starting the majority of his games the previous 5 seasons. As a Pirate he started 5 games and pitched in 13 total, going 1-3 4.37. It would be his only losing season in his 7 year career. Paul also missed some time during the season with a shoulder injury. He played for the Cubs the next season.
Virgil "Spud" Davis, born in 1920, spent the last 4 years of his 16 year career with the Pirates as a backup catcher. He joined the Bucs in 1940 and hit .326 in 99 games. It was the 9th time he batted .300 in his career. The next year he hit just .252 in 57 games. After 2 years out of the majors, he came back in 1944 during the war when teams were short players and hit .301 in limited time. He finished his career the next season, playing in 23 games and batting .242 for a career average of .308 over 1458 games.
Spud also managed the Pirates for 3 games at the end of the 1946 season in place of future Hall of Famer Frankie Frisch. He went 1-2 in those 3 games at the helm. He was replaced by another future HOF'er Billy Herman who took over in 1947. While with the Pirates, he was a backup catcher to HOF'er Al Lopez and also backed up Ernie Lombardi while he was with the Reds, another future HOF'er.
Finally, Branch Rickey was born on this date in 1881.He would be the GM for the Pirates from Nov 1950 till October 1955. The Pirates struggled during his time as GM and Rickey did not help them as they lost at least 90 games each year and 3 times they lost over 100 games. The combined 5 year record during his stay was 269-501.
Luckily for Rickey he had made his name years earlier, first with the Cardinals, then with the Dodgers and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1967.