Posted: Friday, January 17, 2003
Another slow day as far as birthdays and trades go, so I'm going to make another exception and include a story on the Pittsburgh representative in the Federal League. A second major league that was formed in 1914 and lasted 2 seasons. The Pittsburgh team was named the Rebels after its manager Rebel Oakes. A player on one of those teams was named Doc Kerr, a catcher for the 1914 Rebels and he was born on this date in 1882. Kerr played both seasons the FL existed, and that would be his only ML experience. While with the Rebels he hit .239 in 42 games, 18 as a catcher, 24 as a pinch hitter.
The Rebels, who were originally named the Stogies (the same name used by Pittsburgh's team in the Union Association during the 1884 season), played their home games in Exposition Park which was the home of the Pirates from 1891 till Forbes Field was built in 1909. They changed the team name after Rebel Oakes was hired as the manager, 11 games into their first season. Oakes managed the team for the rest of its brief history, leading them to first a 7th, then a 3rd place finish.
Although many Hall of Famers played in the Federal League,none played for the Rebels. The most notable players for them include former Pirates great, Howie Camnitz, who pitched for the Bucs from 1904-1913 winning 116 games. They also had Davy Jones, a longtime outfielder for the Tigers and Frank Delehanty, who had 5 brothers play in the majors including Hall of Famer Ed Delehanty. Frank Allen won 23 games for them in 1915 and Elmer Knetzer won 20 games in 1914 to lead the team. Rebel Oakes and Ed Lennox led the team with .312 averages in 1914 and Ed Konetchy led them in 1915 with a .314 avg.
The Federal League folded before the 1916 season and many of the players who jumped to the league could not get back in the majors because they were unofficially "blackballed". Rebel Oakes, was still a great player and still in his prime, but never played again because of how vigorously he recruited players for the FL. Players like Kerr lost their job because they weren't good enough to play in the NL now that all the players were again in one league.
Milt Scott played for the Pittsburgh Alleghenys of the American Association in 1885. Born in 1866, he was just 19 when he joined the Alleghenys midseason from the Detroit Wolverines of the National League, but he was in his 3rd season already. He had batted .247 with 50 RBI's in 110 games in 1884 and was hitting .264 after 38 games when he joined Pittsburgh in 1885. A first baseman, he hit .248 in 55 games for the Alleghenys and drove in 18 runs. He made just 9 errors in the field, I say "just" because his fielding % was 20 points higher than the league average. Milt played only one more season, ending his career at the ripe old age of 20.
Jack Merson, who turns 81 today made his Pirates debut on September 14, 1951 as a 29 year old rookie. He batted .360 in 13 games and drove in 14 runs earning himself a job with the team the next season. In 1952 he was the Pirates starting second baseman, playing a little more than half of the teams games there. He also made 27 appearances at third base. In 111 games he hit .246 with 38 RBI's. Jack quickly dropped off the map as next season he played just one game for the Red Sox (going 0-4 with an error) and that would be the end of his career.
Finally, Jeff Tabaka who made his ML debut with the Pirates in 1994 and played for them again in 1998 turns 39 today. Jeff, a lefty reliever pitched 5 games, giving up 8 runs in 4 innings before joining the Padres to finish the season in 1994. He rejoined the Bucs in 1998 and pitched well, going 2-2 3.07 in 33 games, all in relief. He spent all of 1999 on the disabled list before being released by the Pirates. He last played for the Cardinals during 2001. His career totals stand at 6-5 4.31 in 139 games over 6 years