Posted: Thursday, January 9, 2003
On this date in Pirates history, only one former player was born on Jan 9th, but there was a big trade that took place back in 1918 on this date involving 2 future Hall of Famers. The Braves and Pirates finalized a deal involving 5 players on January 9, 1918. Going to the Braves were 2nd year pitcher Burleigh Grimes who was coming off a 3-16 season, pitcher Al Mamaux and rookie Chuck Ward. The Pirates got in return outfielder Casey Stengel and George Cutshaw.
Casey Stengel, who is best known as the great Yankee manager, was a 27 year old left-handed hitting right fielder, who at the time of the trade, was coming off a season where he hit .257 with 73 RBI's in 150 games. He also had 30 outfield assists and 18 stolen bases for the Dodgers in 1917. In 1918, Stengel started the season off hitting .246 with 12 RBI's and 11 stolen bases in the first 39 games, but he missed significant time due to military service that year. In 1919, with the Pirates, Stengel hit .293 with 43 RBI's as the everyday right fielder before being traded to the Phillies on August 8th for Possum Whitted. Possum would go on to hit .389 in the last 35 games as the Bucs starting 1st baseman.
Stengel, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1966, ended his playing days in 1925 with a .284 avg over 1277 games. Casey went on to manage for 25 seasons starting in Brooklyn in 1934, before going to the Braves in 1938 and then to the Yankees in 1949 where he earned his Hall of Fame credentials. He managed 7 W.S. winning teams and 10 pennant winners in 12 years. He also managed the expansion Mets for 4 years to finish his career. His career win total stands at 1905, 9th most all-time.
George Cutshaw, the other player in the trade would become the Pirates everyday 2nd baseman. He was a 30 year old, 6 year veteran at the time of the trade and he had good speed and a great glove. In 1918, he hit a career high (up till that point) .285 with 68 RBI's and 25 steals. The next year his average would drop to .242, but he would steal 36 bases, good for 2nd in the league and he would post a fielding % of .980, which was 20 points higher than the league average for 2nd baseman. After hitting .252 the next year, Cutshaw would have a career year at the plate, hitting .340 in 1921, but play in just 98 games. The next year, George would go to the Tigers where he finished his career in 1923. A .265 career hitter over 12 seasons, George struck out just 10 times in 1920 in 488 at-bats.
Burleigh Grimes was a late season callup for the 1916 Pirates and he went 2-3 2.36 over 6 games as a 22 year old. The next year, he was a regular starter and went just 3-16 3.53, but the year following the trade to the Dodgers, he would start a string of 14 straight seasons of double digit wins. From 1918 till 1927, Grimes won 177 games, 6 times finishing in the top-5 in the NL in that category, including leading the league with 22 in 1921. Grimes was a spitball pitcher and when he finished his career in 1934 he was the last legal spitballer in the league, as major league baseball outlawed the pitch in 1920, but let anyone using the pitch at the time continue to throw it till they retired.
Prior to the 1928 season, the Pirates reacquired Grimes from the Giants for pitcher Vic Aldridge in what would be a great deal for the Bucs. Aldridge won 4 games for New York while Grimes had perhaps his best season, winning a career high 25 games while leading the NL in innings, games started and complete games. The next year Burleigh would go 17-7 before leaving the team the following offseason because of a salary dispute. He would be sold to the Braves, but he wouldn't be done with the Pirates just yet, as he was claimed off waivers from the Cardinals on May 11th, 1934.
He pitched 8 games for the Pirates in an 11 day span during his 3rd stint, including 4 starts before being sold to the Yankees where he finished his career later that year. Burleigh finished with 270 career wins and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1964.
Al Mamaux made his ML debut as a 19 year old for the 1913 Pirates. He pitched just 1 game that year in relief, but the next season he would show signs of things to come. In 1914, he went 5-2 1.71 in 13 games and that earned him a starting job the next year. The 1915 Pirates finished 8 games under .500, but it was no fault of Al. He went 21-8 2.04 with 152 strikeouts. His win and ERA total were good for 3rd in the league, while he finished 4th in strikeouts. In 1916, Mamaux again won 21 games, while pitching a career high 310 innings with 163 strikeouts, also a career high.
He would slump badly his last year with the Bucs going just 2-11 5.25 over 16 games and would be suspended by the team at one point. Al had won 49 games by the age of 23, but won just 27 games the rest of his career which lasted till 1924.
Chuck Ward, spent just one year for the Pirates, his rookie season, but it was pretty significant in that it marked the first time since 1902 that Honus Wagner wasn't the everyday shortstop for the Bucs. Ward did not do too well as a 22 year old rookie. In 125 games, he hit just .236, while making 52 errors (50 at short in 112 games). He played sparingly the next 5 years appearing in just 111 games for the Dodgers before ending his career.
The only former Bucs player born on this date was pitcher Harley Payne, who played for the 1899 Pirates team and was born in 1868. Payne, in 1895 and 96, won 14 games each year for Brooklyn, but pitched just one game for them in 1898. In 1899, the Pirates finished 3 games over .500 on the season, but finished in next to last place. Payne went 1-3 3.76 in 5 starts for the team in what would end up being his last season in thee majors. Harley, who went by the nickname Lady (a nickname used once in awhile back then for players who didn't drink, smoke or curse unlike most of the players of that era), was a left-handed native of Canada who finished his career 30-36 4.04, but managed to hit .230 and was even used a couple times as an outfielder and a pinch hitter.