Posted: Monday, December 23, 2002
Five former Pirates players were born on this date with the most prolific one being Frank Taveras, who played shortstop for the Bucs from 1971-1979. He made just one appearance during the 1971 season as a pinch runner on Sept. 25th. He would appear in 4 games in 1972 before spending the whole 1973 season in the minors with Charleston of the International League.
In his official rookie season, 1974, Taveras hit .246 in 126 games with 13 stolen bases. Frank appeared in 2 games during the NLCS vs. the Dodgers, going 0-2 with a stolen base. He would struggle the next season hitting .212 in 134 games and 1-7 in the Pirates 3 game sweep vs the Reds in the NLCS that postseason. In 1976, Taveras had his breakout season hitting .258, while scoring 76 runs and stealing 58 bases, 3rd in the NL. He had 134 hits that season, but just 14 were extra base hits, with 0 homers.
In 1977, Frank led the NL in stolen bases with 70, establishing a career high. He also had a career high 10 triples which was good for 5th in the NL. In his last full-season with the Bucs in 1978, Frank hit .278 with 38 RBI's, scoring 81 runs and stealing 46 bases good for 2nd in the league to teammate Omar Moreno. Eleven games into the 1979 season, the Bucs traded Taveras to the Mets for Tim Foli and pitcher Greg Fields. He would play 164 games that year combined, 2nd most all-time and one of 5 guys to accomplish this feat. He finished with exactly 300 stolen bases career, 206 as a Pirate and 9th most in team history.
Tim Drummond, born on this date in 1964, was a rookie pitcher for the 1987 Pirates. He was a late season callup, making his ML debut Sept. 12th. All together, he appeared in 6 games that season going 0-0 4.50, He threw 6 innings total giving up 3 runs total while striking out 5. He also got 1 at-bat (which would be his only career at-bat) and he struck out. Tim also pitched for the Twins from 1989-90 after being acquired in a trade with the Mets for Frank Viola. Drummond went 3-5 4.29 career over 49 games.
Del Howard, born on this date in 1877, was acquired for 3 players on Dec 20,1904 (see Dec 20th article for details on the trade). Howard made his ML debut with the Pirates in 1905 and played 1st base (90 games) and occasionally played right field while batting .292 with 63 RBI's over 123 games. His 63 RBI's .292 avg, 19 stolen bases and 56 runs scored would all be career highs during his 5 year career. Despite the good numbers Howard would be traded the next offseason along with Vive Lindaman and Dave Brain for future Hall of Fame pitcher Vic Willis (after you check the Dec. 20th article check out the Dec. 15 article for details on this trade). Del Howard was born on Dec 24th and also passed away on Dec 24th, which was his 79th birthday.
Victor Cruz, born on this date in 1957, pitched 22 games for the 1981 Pirates. He was acquired on Dec 9th, 1980 from the Indians along with Bob Owchinko, Gary Alexander and Rafael Vazquez for Bert Blyleven and Manny Sanguillen. Cruz went 1-1 2.65 in 22 relief appearances and saved one game for the Pirates in his only season with the team. Victor had a career record of 18-23 3.09 over 5 seasons. He wore #49 while with the Bucs.
Finally, Lloyd Johnson played his whole major league career in one game for the 1934 Pirates. On April 21st during the 4th game of that season, he made his ML debut throwing one inning in relief during an 8-3 loss to the Reds. A big left-handed pitcher, Lloyd gave up one hit and no runs in what would be his last ML game. Johnson wore #50 and was born on this date in 1910.