Posted: Thursday, January 2, 2003
Born on this date in Pirates history is one of my favorites from my early days, Bill Madlock. Mad Dog was born in 1951 and joined the Pirates on June 28th, 1979 in trade along with Len Randle from the Giants in exchange for pitchers Ed Whitson, Al Holland and Fred Breining. Over the last 85 games, Madlock hit .328 with 44 RBI's. After hitting .250 with 2 RBI's in the NLCS, Bill hit .375 with 3 RBI's in the Pirates 7 game World Series victory over the Orioles.
In 1980, Bill dropped off to a .277 avg. over 137 games, with 53 RBI's and on top of that he got suspended for poking an umpire in the face with his glove after a bad call. The suspension would last 15 days. In 1981, Bill had a great year, leading the NL in avg. with a .341 mark, he made the All-Star team and drove in 45 runs over 82 games during the strike shortened season. In 1982, Madlock hit .319 with career highs in HR's (19), RBI's (95) and runs scored (92). That year he finished 2nd in the NL in hitting to former Pirate Al Oliver.
In 1983, Madlock would win his last batting crown, hitting .323 and he made the All-Star team for the 3rd and final time. Bill dropped off significantly the next season, hitting just .253 and after struggling in 1985 the Pirates would trade him to the Dodgers for Cecil Espy, Sid Bream and RJ Reynolds. Mad Dog finished his 15 year career in 1987 as a .305 hitter with 860 career RBI's and 2008 hits over 1806 games.
Other former Bucs born on this date include Sam Crane, born in 1854 who played for the 1890 Pirates team. Crane had not played in the majors since 1887 and he started the year with the Giants before joining the Bucs for 22 games. He would play 15 games at 2nd base, 7 at short and make an appearance in right field during one of those games. He batted .195 with 3 RBI's before going back to the Giants for 2 more games, which would mark the end of his career. He batted .203 total over 373 games in 7 seasons.
Born in 1892 was pitcher George Boehler, who pitched 10 games for the 1923 Pirates. George started 3 games, completing 1 and finished with a 1-3 6.04 record. He had just 12 strikeouts as opposed to 26 walks, walking almost a batter per inning. On the bright side he went 3-10 at bat (.300) and did not make an error in the field. George played in parts of 9 years, but appeared in just 61 games total and finished 6-12 4.71 for 4 teams.
Jesse Altenburg, born in 1893, played parts of 2 seasons for the Bucs from 1916-17. A backup outfielder, Jesse was a lefty batter, but threw right handed. He made his ML debut on Sept. 19, 1916 and hit .429 (6-14) over 8 games. The next year he would play just 11 games, hitting .176 in what would be his last ML experience. He played games at all 3 outfield positions during his short career, with no errors in 9 total chances. He had a double and triple his first year with no RBI's, but in his 2nd season he drove in 3 with no extra base hits.
Born in 1894, just a year after Altenburg, was his teammate Bill Wagner, who played for the Bucs from 1914-1917. A backup catcher, Wagner got into just 8 games his first 2 seasons and went 0-6 at the plate. In 1916, he got into 19 games, hitting .237 while catching in 15 of those games. The 1917 season would be Wagner's best, as he got into 53 games, with some of the time being spent at 1st base, along with catching 37 games. He hit .205 with a career high 9 RBI's. The next season, his last, he would be a member of the Braves and play sparingly. He finished a .207 hitter over 93 games.
Ed Wolfe, who played 3 games for the 1952 Pirates was born on this date in 1929. A big right-handed pitcher, he would appear in 3 games, all in relief and give up 3 runs in 3 2/3 innings with no record and an ERA of 7.36. Ed made his debut on April 19th and wore #34 while with the Pirates, his only big league team.
Finally, on this date in 1888 the Pirates signed second baseman Fred "sure shot" Dunlap to a $5,000 contract and a $2,000 bonus, making him the highest paid player at the time. Dunlap was sold to Pittsburgh from Detroit and he would play 2+ seasons for the Bucs hitting .262 in 82 games his first year, and .235 with 65 RBI's his 2nd. He also served as an interim manager during midseason 1889, going 7-10 before being replaced by future HOF'er Ned Hanlon. Dulap played just 17 games for the 1890 Pirates, before going to the Players League. He was more known for his glove, leading the league in various fielding categories, but he also hit .292 over his career and batted .412 during the 1884 season, .52 points higher than the runner-up.