Posted: Sunday, December 29, 2002
On this date in Pirates history in 1943, the Bucs traded veteran catcher Babe Phelps and cash to the Phillies for 1st baseman Babe Dahlgren. Phelps played just one season for the Pirates in 1942 and would never play for the Phillies. He batted .284 with 41 RBI's in 95 games and ended his 11 year career as a .310 hitter over 726 games.
Dahlgren was 32 years old at the time and coming off his only career all-star season. Babe would be the everyday 1st baseman and have perhaps his best season as he hit .289 with 101 RBI's, both career highs. In 1944, he would hit .250 with 75 RBI's in 144 games. That would be his last season with the Pirates and he would only appear briefly for the Browns the next season before retiring. He hit .261 career over 1137 games. Dahlgren might be best known as the replacement for Lou Gehrig when he ended his 2130 consecutive game streak.
Only 2 former players born on this date in Pirates history. First, Jim Viox who played 2nd base for the Bucs from 1912-1916 was born on this date in 1890. Viox made his ML debut on May 9th during a 6-5 loss to the Brooklyn Dodgers. That season he played shortstop/ 3rdbase/ 2ndbase and outfield during his 33 games. He hit .186 over 70 at-bats with 7 RBI's.
The next season Viox was the everyday 2nd base, while occasionally playing some shortstop to cover for his double play partner, Honus Wagner, when he needed a rest. Jim had his best season hitting .317 with 65 RBI's, scored 86 runs and stole 14 bases, all career highs. In 1914, Viox would play 138 games at 2nd base while batting .265 with 57 RBI's. He also committed a career high 42 errors, but his fielding % was just .010 off the league average.
The 1915 season would be Jim's last full season in the majors. He played a career high 150 games while batting .256 with 56 RBIs and 73 walks which placed him 3rd in the NL behind Gaavy Cravath (one of the NL's premier homerun hitters in the 1910's) and future Hall of Famer David Bancroft. In 1916, Viox would play just 43 games, split between 2nd base and third. He hit .250 with 17 RBI's. That year the Pirates would have 6 different guys play at least 23 games at 2nd base, but not one played more than 31. Viox was just 25 at the time but never played in the majors again and he retired with a .273 avg over 506 games.
Ovid Nicholson was born on this date in 1888 and was a teammate of Jim Viox in 1912, Ovid's only season in the majors. As far as I can tell, he's also the only guy named Ovid to play in the majors. Nicholson was brought to the majors mid September and made his ML debut on the 17th during a 7-3 loss in Brooklyn. The Bucs were 83-54 at the time, but still only in 3rd place, 12 games behind the Giants.
Ovid did pretty well in his short stay in the majors, hitting .455 over 6 games with 3 RBI's. He played flawless left field in 4 games and he actually played in place of future Hall of Famer Max Carey, who moved over to center to finish the season. Carey was 22 at the time and was in his 2nd full season, but first as a left fielder. Max will be covered in depth in an upcoming article.