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This Day in Pirate History - 12/21   
Posted: Saturday, December 21, 2002

By 81omar_moreno

On this date in 1935, the Pirates traded catcher Earl Grace and pitcher Claude Passeau to the Phillies for catcher Al Todd. Al, who was projected to be the Pirates everyday starter, hit .273 in 76 games his first year with the team but missed time with a broken finger. The next year however, he had his best season in the majors. He hit .307 with 86 RBI's in 133 games. He also finished 6th in the league in triples with 10.

In 1938, Al hit .265 with 75 RBI's in 133 games. That would be his last season with the Bucs. He was 37 at the time and the Bucs decided to go with a platoon of Ray Berres and Ray Mueller the next seasons. That combo didn't work and both of those players were eventually traded, with both of them playing for the Braves and Giants later in their career. Al Lopez eventually joined the team in 1940 and held down the catcher position for the next 6+ seasons.

Al Todd went the whole 1937 season without a single passed ball in 128 games caught, a record at the time.He would play in 863 games career and hit .276 over 11 seasons.
Claude Passeau pitched just 1 games for the Pirates in 1935. He started on Sept 29th in game 2 of a doubleheader and the last game of the season. He threw 3 innings and gave up 4 earned runs before getting pulled and he took the lose, as the Reds won 9-6. Claude would have a successful career after the trade, winning 162 games over the next 12 seasons and 5 times he made the all-star team.

Earl Grace was a platoon catcher for the Pirates from 1931-35. He was an average hitter, but was known as a great fielder. He will be covered in depth in a future article.

Former players born on this date include John Hope who pitched parts of 4 seasons for the Pirates from 1993-1996. After a late season callup he went just 0-2 4.03 in 7 starts in 1993, which was his rookie season. The next 2 year he appeared out of the bullpen for the Bucs and struggled in both chances he got, first posting an ERA of 5.79 over 9 games, then in 1995 he gave up 8 runs,over 3 games, in 2 1/3 innings for an ERA of 30.86.

The next season would be Hope's last hope to make it in the majors, but in 4 starts and 5 games he posted an ERA of 6.98 and lost 3 games. He would win his only game that year and finish with a record of 1-5 5.99 career over 24 games. John was born in 1970.

Warren "Doc" Gill, born on this date in 1878, played his whole career for the 1908 Pirates. After coming up to the big leagues on Aug. 26th of that year, he played 27 games and hit .224 with 14 RBI's over 76 at-bats. The team went 32-11 the rest of the season after he joined the team, but couldn't pull off the division. They instead finishing tied for 2nd with the Giants and just 1 game behind the Cubs in one of the closest pennant races ever. Warren also played 25 games at 1st base without making an error.

Pete Scott, who played for the 1928 Pirates, was born on this date in 1898. Pete got into 60 games that year for the Bucs, split between left field (29 games) right field (13) and 1st base (8). He hit .311 and drove in 33 runs, while scoring 33 times in his limited play.

He was injured during that season when he ran into the outfield wall at Forbes Field and suffered a career ending head injury. Scott was acquired from the Cubs in a trade that sent future Hall of Famer Kiki Cuyler to Chicago. Pete played in the same outfield with the Waner brothers during his brief stay with the Bucs.

Danny Kravitz was a part-time catcher who started his career with the Bucs in 1956 and played with them till being traded to the A's in 1960. He finished his career that year. He played in just 156 games those 5 seasons for the Bucs with his best season coming in 1959 when he hit .253 with 21 RBI's in 52 games. Danny, who was left-handed hitter, batted .236 career and was used occasionally as a pinch hitter. He turns 72 today.

Bill Werle, born in 1920, was a left-handed pitcher who started his career with the 1949 Pirates. Known by the nickname "Bugs", he went 12-13 4.24 for the 6th place Bucs. The next year the Pirates were a very bad team and Werle suffered along with them. He went 8-16 4.60 and was used as a closer pitching 26 of his 48 games in relief, saving 8 to lead the team.

The next season he was used as a reliever, occasionally as a closer and he went 8-6 with 6 saves for a team that lost 90 games. He was second in wins and saves that year on the team.He also set a then team record with 59 games pitched. The next season he lasted just 5 games with the Pirates before moving on to the Cardinals for former all-star pitcher George Munger whose career was basically over by that point because of arm troubles.

Finally, saving one of my favorite for last. Born on this date was all-star, gold glove winning centerfielder Andy Van Slyke who turns 42 today. Andy played for the Bucs from 1987-1994, made 3 all-star teams and won 5 gold gloves. He was a member of 3 straight playoff teams, but struggled going 17-78 with 9 RBI's total and the Bucs lost all 3 series.

Andy finished 4th in the NL in MVP voting in 1988 when he hit .288 with 25 HR's 100 RBI's, scored 101 runs and stole 30 bases while leading the league in triples with 15. In 1992 he finished second in the league in batting average, hitting .324. He scored a career high 103 runs. He also set career highs in hits (199) and doubles (45) and again finished 4th in the MVP voting. Andy had double digits in home runs and steals all but 1 of his 8 seasons with the Bucs. He struggled badly in 1989, hitting .237 with 9 homeruns, caused mostly by a rib injury on April 16th that bothered him most of the year.

Andy was acquired along with Mike Lavalliere and Mike Dunne from the Cardinals for Tony Pena. After missing significant time in 1993 with a shoulder injury and struggling during the strike shortened 1994 season, Andy signed with the Orioles before the 1995 season before finishing his career later that year with the Phillies. He was a .274 career hitter over 1658 games in 13 seasons.

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