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Friday, March 24 2023 @ 12:36 am UTC
This Day in Pirate History - 2/3   
By 81omar_moreno

On this date in Pirates History in 1975, Billy Herman,who finished his career as a member of the 1947 Bucs,was elected to the Hall of Fame. He was acquired from the Braves along with Whitey Wietelman, Stan Wentzel and Elmer Singleton in exchange for Bob Elliot. Despite the seeming one-sidedness of this trade it was actually a bad trade on the part of the Bucs. Wentzel never played for the Bucs, while Weitelman had one unspectacular year as a backup infielder. Singleton pitched 2 years, as a reliever, but was below average at best.

Herman, who was obviously the main key to the trade for the Pirates, was immediately named manager and for a time he also played, but after 15 games (10 at second base) and an arm injury, he was hitting just .213 and he ended his playing career. As a manager, Herman didn't fair so well, but didn't have great players behind him besides Ralph Kiner and Hank Greenberg, who also finished his HOF career as a member of the Bucs for one season in 1947. The Pirates finished 62-92 on the season, and Herman lasted up till the last game of the year, with Bill Burwell (a former Pirate player) managing the last game. The Pirates won the last game and moved into a 7th place tie with the Phillies.

Bob Elliot (who was featured in the Nov 26th article) was a 29 year old 4 time all-star 3rd baseman / outfielder and in his 5 years with the Braves he would earn 3 more All-Star appearances. Elliot also helped the Braves to just their 2nd World Series appearance, and first since the 1914 Miracle Braves (It should be noted that the Boston franchise, the current Atlanta Braves, won 8 pennants prior to the first modern day World Series that started in 1903). Bob averaged 20 HR's and 93 RBI's while never batting below .280 with the Braves. Billy Herman himself, told the Pirates owner that they gave up too much for Elliot and he proved to be right.

Herman's career started in 1931 with the Cubs and in 10 seasons with them he hit over .300 seven times. He made 10 straight All-Star appearances from 1934-43 with the last 3 coming as a member of the Dodgers. Herman missed all of 1944-45 while serving in the military, but hit .298 in 122 games the year he returned. In his career he hit .304 with 2345 hits in 1922 games. He also appeared in 4 World Series, but was on the losing end of all of them, including 3 times being swept by the Yankees (1932, 38 Cubs / 1941 Dodgers). Billy batted .242 in 18 total W.S. games.

Only 2 former Pirates players born on this date. First Joe Coleman, who was born in 1947, spent the last of his 15 seasons with the Pirates in the World Championship season of 1979. He started the year with the Giants, giving up no runs in 5 relief appearances. While with the Pirates he pitched in 10 games posting no record and a 6.10 ERA. In his career he had a 142-135 record, made one All-Star appearance and twice won 20 games (from 1971-73 he won 62 games total, while striking out 660 batters). Despite his fairly successful major league career, Coleman had just a 9-32 minor league record.

Finally, Fred Toliver finished his 7 year career as a member of the 1993 Pirates. He had not appeared in the majors since 1989 while he was with the Padres, who traded him to the Yankees on July 22, but Toliver didn't report to them till Sept 27th and never actually played for NY. Born in 1961, the righty reliever pitched in 12 games for the Pirates and went 1-0 3.74 in 21 2/3 innings. The Pirates went through 24 pitchers that season, just one year after winning their 3rd straight NL East title. Toliver was 10-16 4.73 career in 79 games spent with 5 teams with the majority of his career coming with the Phillies (3 seasons), but he pitched more games in 1 1/2 years for the Twins.

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