Posted: Saturday, December 28, 2002
On this date in 1953, the Pirates traded Danny O'Connell to the Braves for 6 players and $100,000. The move was made by Branch Rickey and despite seeming one-sided it was an unpopular trade amongst Pirates fans. A fan favorite because of his hustle, Danny hit .294 with 55 RBI's in 149 games in 1953, just his second season with the team. He played for the 1950 team and hit .292 over 79 games his rookie season. He split his playing time between 3b/ss/2b, but later on in his career he would play mainly 2nd base. He missed the 1951 and '52 seasons while serving in the military.
Sid Gordon, who was one of the players acquired for O'Connell, batted .306 in 131 games split between 3rd base and outfield. The next season, Gordon was on the downside of his career and he would last just 16 games in which he hit .170. He moved on to the Giants where at the age of 37, he would finish his 13 year career. He batted .283 with 202 homers and 803 RBI's.
Another player, Sam Jethro lasted just 2 games with the Pirates, going 0-1 and playing one game in right field. It would be the end of his career which was a slight disappointment because he was the 1950 NL rookie of the year, but by 1952 he was just an average player and he didn't even appear in the majors in 1953. The flipside to the story is Jethro was at least 32 (his true age wasn't known, but he was thought to be older than he claimed) when he made the majors and was a long time star in the Negro Leagues before he got his chance in the majors.
The 4 pitchers included in the deal were Curt Raydon who played just one season for the Bucs and not till 1958 when he went 8-4 3.62 over 31 games. Max Surkont pitched 2+ unspectacular seasons for the Bucs, twice finishing with a .333 winning % (1954 9-18 4.41 and 1955 7-14 5.57). In 1956 he pitched just 1 game before moving on to the Cardinals.
Fred Waters pitched parts of 2 seasons for the Bucs (1955-56) and went 2-2 2.89 over 25 games. He had just 1 hit in 21 at-bats in his career, but it was a good one, a bases loaded triple. His 2 seasons with the Bucs was his only major league experience. Larry Lasalle, the last player in the trade, did not play in the majors.
On this date in 1957, the Pirates traded Dee Fondy to the Reds for Ted Kluzewski. Fondy, a first baseman, played part of just one season for the Bucs. He was acquired from the Cubs along with Gene Baker for Dale Long and Lee Walls on May 1, 1957. He batted .313 with 35 RBI's in 95 games for the Pirates that year. Kluzewski, who was once one of the NL's top sluggers, was 33 at the time of the trade and coming off a season of injuries. Ted had 4 straight seasons, 1953-56, where he hit at least .300 with minimum 35 hr's and 100 RBI's each year. With the Pirates he hit .292 over 100 games, but had just 4 homers and 37 RBI's. The next year he hit .262 over 60 games before being sent to the White Sox. His career numbers stand at .298 avg.,279 homers and 1028 RBI's over 15 seasons and 1718 games.
On this date in 1995, the Pirates signed free agent 3rd baseman Charlie Hayes. He wouldn't last the season with the team as on August 30th right before the trading deadline, he was traded to the Yankees for a player to be named later. Hayes hit .248 with 10 HR and 62 RBI's in 128 games for the Pirates. The player to be named later was pitcher Chris Corn who never played in the majors.
Former Bucs players born on this date include Zane Smith, who played for the Pirates from 1990-1994 and again in 1996. He went 1-3 during his 2 postseason appearances with the Bucs in 1990-91, with the win being game 5 of the 1991 NLCS Vs the Braves. Smith had a 47-41 record in his 5+ seasons with the Bucs with his best year being 1991 when he went 16-10 3.20. Smith was acquired on August 7, 1990 from the Expos for Moises Alou. Smith was born in 1960.
John Milner, who played for the Bucs from 1978-1981 and again in 1982, was born on this date in 1949. John, known as "The Hammer", was acquired from the Mets as part of a 4 player trade before the 1978 season. As a left fielder and 1st baseman, he got into 108 games and hit .271 with 38 RBI's. During the 1979 World Series winning season, he hit a career high .276 with 16 hr's and 60 RBI's in just 326 at-bats. After going 0-9 in the NLCS he went 3-9 with a RBI in the W.S.
After hitting .244 with 34 RBI's in limited time in 1980, John made it just 34 games into 1981 with the Bucs before being traded to the Expos to help them in their playoff drive. He came back to the Bucs from the Expos near the end of the 1982 season and finished up his career with them that year. Milner batted .249 with 131 RBI's in his 12 year career. Sadly, Milner passed away in 2000, just a week after his 51st birthday.
Finally, Hank Sweeney, who played his entire ML career in one game for the 1944 Bucs was born on this date in 1915. On October 1st, during a season ending double header vs the Phillies, Sweeney played first base and went 0-2 with a strikeout. Hank, a lefty, would never play in the majors again. The regular first baseman for the Pirates that year, Babe Dahlgren played every game of the season at first base that year and finished all but 7 games with Frank Colman playing the other 6 games.