Posted: Friday, January 3, 2003
Since there isn't much Pirates history for this date, I'm going to do something a little different. First, I'll get to the 2 birthdays and one free agent signing.
Born on this date in 1977 was pitcher Brian O'Connor, who pitched 6 games for the 2000 Pirates team. Brian, a left-handed pitcher, was an 11th round draft pick by the Bucs in the 1995 draft. He immediately signed and joined the Bucs rookie league team, appearing in 14 games that season. He progressed about one level each year before making the majors midseason 2000, after going 12-4 in double-A.
In his 6 major league games, 1 as a starter, he went 0-0 5.11 in 12+ innings. Brian would be sent to triple-A late season 2000 and spent all of 2001 with Nashville. In 2002, he played most of the season in double-A Altoona, while making a brief stop in Nashville again. He wore #58 with the Bucs.
Turning 41 today is Jay Tibbs who finished his 7 year career as a member of the Pirates in 1990. Coming over midseason from the Orioles, Jay went 1-0 2.57 in 5 relief appearances. Though the Pirates made the playoffs that year, Jay did not appear in the postseason. During his career, spent mostly as a starter, he went 39-54 4.20 over 158 games. He also played for the Expos and Reds and wore #30 with the Bucs.
On this date in 1993, the Pirates signed free agent outfielder Lonnie Smith to a contract. He would last with the team till just Sept. 8th before being traded to the Orioles. While with the Bucs he batted .286 with 24 RBI's in 94 games. He was 37 at the time and despite having 360 steals coming into the season he stole just 9 bases with the Bucs. Lonnie was also covered in the Dec. 22nd history.
Since today's date is 1/4 and like I said it was slow, I figured I'd give a brief history on all the Bucs who have worn #14 while with the team. The Pirates started wearing uniform numbers during the 1932 season. The first player to wear 14 was Dave Barbee, a part-time outfielder who spent his only full season in the majors with the Pirates that year. In 1933, the number went to outfielder Adam Comorosky, who was in his 8th and final season with the Bucs. In 1934, Wally Roettger, another outfielder wore #14 in his only season with the Bucs. It was also the end of his 9 year career.
Babe Herman, who played just 26 of his 1552 career games with the Bucs, wore #14 during the 1935 season. Herman was a .324 career hitter. In 1936-37, Fred Schulte became the 1st guy to wear the number more than one season. He was a .291 hitter during his 11th year career and believe it or not, he was also an outfielder. In 1938, for the first time, no one wore the number during the season, but in 1939 it would be worn by 2 future Hall of Famers at different points during the year. Both Chuck Klein and Heinie Manush wore the number during their short stints with the team that year.
Ray "iron man" Mueller wore the number in 1940, but played just 4 games with them that season. He had been with the team since the previous season and would later play with them during the 1950 season, but didn't wear #14 that year. Ray, a catcher, was also the first non-outfielder to wear the number. Bud Stewart wore the number during his first 2 ML seasons in 1941-42. Another outfielder, he would not appear in the majors again till 1948, but became a regular for the Senators for 3 years. Johnny Wyrostek would wear #14 during his only full season with the Bucs in 1943.
Frankie Zak, a shortstop who played from 1944-46, became the first guy to wear the number over 3 seasons. Despite playing just 87 games his rookie year, he made the All-Star team. He would play just 36 games over the next 2 seasons. In 1947, Gene Woodling wore #14 during his only year with the team. Another outfielder, he would go on to play in 5 World Series with the Yankees and hit .318 over 85 at-bats in the postseason. Max West, a one time all-star finished his career in 1948 wearing #14 for the Bucs.He hit just .178 over 87 games.
In 1949, Dino Restelli and Wally Judnich both wore the number. Restelli batted .250 with 40 RBI's over 72 games, while Judnich played just 10 games. Both were outfielders. From 1950-52, George Strickland had the honor of wearing #14. A rookie in 1950, he was a middle infielder who played with the Bucs till being traded to the Indians midseason 1952. In 1953, Pete Naton, a 1st baseman, wore the #14 during his 6 game stint, his only big league experience. Felipe Montemayor also wore the number that year and wore the number again in 1955 after spending all of 1954 in the minors. He was a backup outfielder who hit .173 during his 64 game career.
Outfielder Jerry Lynch wore the number in 1954 and 56, while John Powers wore the number part of 1955, part of 1956 and all of 1957-58. Powers, like so many #14's before him, was a backup outfielder during his Pirates career.
Rocky Nelson, a first baseman was the first player to wear the number during the postseason. He had #14 from 1959-61 and he hit a big home run during game 7 of the 1960 series to help the Bucs win. In 1962, Jim Marshall who played 55 games and Larry Elliot who played just 4, wore the number at some point that season. The following year Ted Savage, another backup outfielder, wore #14 while hitting .195 over 85 games.
In 1964, the man who had the most success with #14 took over the number. Gene Alley, an All-Star shortstop, wore the number from 64 till 1967 when he gave the number up to Jim Bunning who joined the team. Bunning became the 3rd and so far last future Hall of Famer to wear the number for the Bucs. After Bunning left in 1969, Johnny Jeter wore the number till the end of the season. Alley would then take back #14 till he left in 1973. Art Howe and Kurt Bevaqua would both wear it in 1974 and Howe would keep it during the next season.
Catcher Ed Ott would wear #14 from 1976-80 with Willie Montanez taking it the next 2 seasons. After another catcher, Milt May wore the number in 1983 and 84 no Pirate would wear the number till 1987, marking the first seasons since 1938 nobody wore the number. Since then, Mike Diaz wore the number in 87-88, Ken Oberkfell took the number after Diaz left in 88 and Obie would wear it in 1989 till he left. Tom Prince took over the number and didn't give it up till he left in 1993.
Brian Hunter wore it in 1994 followed by Mark Parent in 1995. For both of them, it would be their only seasons with the Bucs. Next to wear #14 would be Freddy Garcia in 1998 and 99, followed by Tike Redman who wore it during the 2000 season.
Finally, ending on a low note, the last person to wear #14 and he might be the last ever with the team to wear it because of what he did, was Derek Bell, who wore it during his memorable 2001 season.