Posted: Tuesday, January 14, 2003
Born on this date in Pirates history in 1892, was manager Billy Meyer, who skippered the team from 1948-1952. The 1947 Pirates were managed by future Hall of Famer Billy Herman, who led them to just a 61-92 record, with Bill Burwell also managing one game and winning for a final team record of 62-92. They ended tied for last in the NL with the Phillies. Meyer led the Pirates to a suprising 4th place finish with an 83-71 record. He won The Sporting News manager of the year award and the team flourished at the gate, settting a franchise record with over 1.5 million customers.
In 1949, however, the team dropped back to 6th finishing 71-83. Besides Ralph Kiner, who hit .310 with 54 homers (franchise record to this day) and 127 RBI's, and Wally Westlake who hit .282/23/104, the team was a dissapointment. They finished last in ERA and even with Westlake and Kiner's high batting average, they hit just .259 as a team. The 1950 season was worse than the previous year as the Bucs finished last going 57-96. They were again hurt by the league worst ERA with a 4.96 team total. Kiner and Westlake both had good years again while Johnny Hopp hit .340 and the double play combo of Danny Murtaugh and rookie Danny O'Connell hit .294 and .292 respectively.
The 1951 season was no better, they finished in 7th (at least it's not last!) with a 64-90 record. The pitching again was horrible, finishing last in ERA and giving up almost a half a run more per game than any other team. Kiner again was the main attraction for the team and besides Gus Bell who drove in 89 runs, no one else on the team drove in more than 47 runs.
As bad as any of the previous seasons were for Meyer, his last season proved to be the worst. In 1952, the Bucs went just 42-112, the 2nd worst record in franchise history (a distant second to the 1890 team which finished 23-113). Meyer would be replaced by Fred Haney who did no better, losing over 100 games his first 2 seasons. Billy finished with a 317-452 record, and did not manage before or after his stint with the Bucs. He was a catcher in the majors in 1913, 1916-17 for the White Sox the 1st year and the A's the last 2 years. He batted .236 career in 113 games.
John Shovlin, who played 2 games for the 1911 Pirates, was born on this date in 1891. John made his ML debut on June 21st with the Bucs that year. He was a middle infielder, but while with the Pirates he only pinch hit one game and pinch ran another. He struck out in his only at-bat, but he scored a run when he pinch ran. John then went on to play in the minors till 1919 when he got his second cup of coffee in the majors. He played parts of 2 seasons with the Browns, playing in 16 games and batting .209.
Art Madison, born in 1871, played 42 games for the 1899 Pirates. He played 2b/ss/3b for the Bucs that year and hit .279 with 19 RBI's in 118 at-bats. His only other appearance in the majors came in 1895 for the Phillies where he hit .353 in 11 games. The 1900 Pirates team was much different from the 1899 version because the league went from 12 to 8 teams. The best players from the Louisville team which folded moved to the Pirates making for a major roster turnaround the next season. It made players like Madison expendable. Among players coming over from Louisville were Hall of Famers Honus Wagner, Fred Clarke, Rube Waddell and also great players like Deacon Phillippe and Tommy Leach.
Hank Gornicki born in 1911 pitched parts of 3 seasons for the Bucs from 1942-43 and then again in 1946. He missed the other 2 seasons while serving in the military. He was 31 at the time he made his debut for the Bucs and had pitched just 5 career games previously. Hank went 5-6 2.57 in 1942. The next year his record dropped to 9-13 3.98, but he finished in the top 10 in the league in games pitched and saves. He was used as both a starter and reliever those 2 years, starting in 33 of his 67 appearances. After the war, he pitched in just 7 more games, all as a reliever and went 0-0 3.55 ending his ML career with a 15-19 3.38 record.
John Newell, born in 1868 played his whole career for the 1891 Pirates, the first year they were actually known by the name Pirates. John played in 5 games for the Bucs going just 2-18 with 2 RBI's. John was a third baseman, but unlike every other 3b you see today he was a lefty. In 13 chances in the field he made 2 errors. Newell made his ML debut July 22nd.
Joe Redfield, born in 1961, did his best impression of John Newell exactly 100 years after Newell played. Joe, like Newell, spent one year with the Pirates, also as a third baseman and he also went 2-18 at-bat. Unlike Newell tho, he wasnt a lefty. Joe played 11 games total, 9 at third base making 1 error in what would be his last ML appearance. He played only 1 other game in his career as a member of the 1988 Angels.
Terry Forster, who pitched over 600 games in the majors during his 16 year career spent one of those seasons with the Bucs. In 1977, he pitched 33 games for the Pirates going 6-4 4.43. He also started his last game in the majors that year eventho he played 9 years after that. Terry was acquired by the Pirates along with Goose Gossage from the White Sox for Richie Zisk and Silvio Martinez. The following season he signed with the Dodgers as their first free agent signing ever.
Finally, Steve Cooke who pitched for the Bucs from 1992-1997 turns 33 today. He made his ML debut on July 28, 1992 and went 2-0 3.52 that year in 11 relief appearances. The next year as a starter, he pitched 32 games, going 10-10 3.89 and led the team in innings and strikeouts. The next season Cooke dropped to 4-11 5.02. Cooke missed all of 1995 and all but 3 games of 1996 with shoulder injuries. He returned in 1997 to go 9-15 4.30 in 32 starts. He was released by the Pirates on Dec 15th and only played 1 more game in the majors, as a member of the Reds in 1998 winning his only start before missing the rest of the season with another elbow injury.