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Monday, January 30 2023 @ 08:54 am UTC
This Day in Pirate History - 2/18   
By 81omar_moreno

Lots of interesting players born on this date in Pirates history, so I hope you have a few extra minutes to read today. First off, Bruce Kison, who pitched for 2 World Championship winning Pirates teams, was born on this date in 1950. A tall lanky right hander, he was the Pirates 6th round draft pick in the 1968 draft. He had a 30-9 record in 4 minor league seasons before making his ML debut on July 4th, 1971 and he would go 6-5 3.40 in 18 games on the season. In the NLCS he came in during game 4 after Steve Blass struggled vs the Giants, and Kison would pitch 4 2/3 innings of shutout baseball and get credit for the win. In the W.S. he pitched 2 games, throwing 6 1/3 scoreless innings and picking up a win in game 4, replacing Luke Walker in the 1st after he struggled.

In 1972 after missing the beginning of the year with an injury, Kison went 9-7 3.26 in 32 games, 18 as a starter. He also compiled a career high 3 saves. In the NLCS he continued his scoreless streak,pitching 2 1/3 innings without a run vs the Reds. The 1973 season was a tough one for Kison, twice visiting the DL with a sore arm and spending most of the rest of the year in the minors.In 1974 he regained his form, going 9-8 3.49 in 40 games, 18 as a starter. He won game 3 of the NLCS (the Bucs only win in that series) and again did not give up a run. Up to that point in 6 postseason games he was 4-0 0.00 in 20 innings, giving up just 6 hits, with 14 strikeouts.

In 1975 Kison again put up impressive numbers, posting a 3.23 ERA with 12 wins on the year. His scoreless postseason streak ended,giving up 1 run as he pitched the last 2 innings of the Pirates 6-1 loss to the Reds in game 2. Bruce won a career high 14 games in 1976 and posted a career low 3.08 ERA, but had his worst season the next year going 9-10 4.90 in 1977. He did however set career highs that year in starts (32), innings (193, equaled the year before) and strikeouts (122).

In 1978 Kison missed a month and a half with a hand injury and would go just 6-6 3.19 on the season in 28 games, 11 as a starter. Bruce's final season with the Bucs would result in another World Series ring. He would go 13-7 3.19 (2nd year in a row with that ERA) finishing 2nd on the team wins, one behind John Candelaria. He got the opening game start in the W.S. that year, but lasted just 1/3 of an inning, giving up 4 earned runs and taking the loss. In the offseason Bruce became a free agent and signed with the Angels for whom he played 5 years before finishing with the Red Sox for one year in 1985. Career he went 115-88 3.66 in 15 seasons.

Also born on this date was Manny Mota, who played outfield for the Bucs for 6 years from 1963-68. He played all 3 outfield positions, occasionally infield, even catching once, but made his name as one of the best pinch hitters of all-time. Born in 1938 Manny joined the Bucs from the Giants on April 2nd,1963 in exchange for Howie Goss. In 1963 Manny hit .270 in 59 games, and for the next 5 seasons he would play at least 111 games each year, but never batting more than 349 times. The Pirates 4th outfielder during his 6 years, Manny's best seasons with the Bucs came in 1966 when he hit a career high .332 with 46 RBI's and the next season when he hit .321 with a career high 56 RBI's.

He was selected by the Expos in the Expansion draft on October 14, 1968, but was traded 31 games into the 1969 season to the Dodgers and he would go on to play regularly for them till 1979, making 2 brief appearances in 1980 and 1982 to finish his career. In his 20 year career, he hit .304 in 1536 games, with 150 of his hits coming as a pinch hitter, a record that stood till 2001 when Lenny Harris passed him on Ocotober 6th. Mota broke the pinch hit record of Smoky Burgess who was a catcher for the Bucs from 1959-1964. Although not known as a great fielder, Manny did not make an error after the 1972 season.

Sherry Smith who played for the 1911-12 Pirates was born on this date in 1891. The lefty pitcher made his ML debut on May 11,1911 and didn't fare too well, giving up 4 runs in 2/3 of an inning. The Bucs would end up losing that game 19-10 to the Phillies. That would be his only appearance on the season. The next year he appeared in 3 games, all in relief, throwing 4 innings total and saving one game. After spending 2 years in the minors, Sherry reappeared with the Dodgers and won 14 games. He would win another 100 games over the next 11 seasons (5 1/2 with the Dodgers, 5 1/2 with Cleveland). He pitched 17 innings in the 1920 W.S. while with Brooklyn against his future team, the Indians, and he gave up just 1 earned run in 2 complete games. He won game 3 (2-1 score), but lost game 6 by a 1-0 score.

Bob Miller pitched for the World Series winning 1971 Pirates team and was born in 1939 on this date. He was acquired from the Padres on August 10, 1971 in exchange for Johnny Jeter and Ed Acosta. Bob, a righty reliever was in his 14th season already and had pitched almost 550 games. He finished the year going 1-2 1.29 with 3 saves in 16 games for the Bucs. He pitched 3 innings during the Bucs 9-4 win in game 3 of the NLCS. In the W.S. he pitched in 3 games, throwing 4 2/3 innings and he took the loss in game 6 after coming in during the 10th inning. The Pirates won the series the next day though by a 2-1 score in Baltimore.

In 1972 Miller went 5-2 2.65 in 36 games with 3 saves. In the NLCS in game 4, he pitched the last inning during the Bucs 7-1 loss,his only appearance during that series. During the following offseason he was released. He pitched for 3 teams during the next 2 seasons before retiring. Career, for 10 different teams he went 69-81 3.37 in 694 games, 99 as a starter and he saved 51 games.

Dal Maxvill, who played for the 1973-74 Pirates, turns 64 today. He was acquired off waivers from the A's on July 7, 1973 and would hit .189 with 17 RBI's as the Bucs everyday shortstop to finish the season. The next year Maxvill lasted just 8 games before being released by the Bucs on April 20th. In 14 seasons, spent mostly with the Cardinals, Dal hit .217 with 252 RBI's over 1423 games. An above average fielder, he finished with a .973 fielding % and won the NL gold glove in 1968. He also appeared on 3 W.S. winning teams, but hit just .114 in 70 postseason at-bats.

Luis Arroyo who pitched for the Bucs in 1956-57 and then later against them in the 1960 W.S. was born on this date in 1927. He had gone 11-8 4.19 his rookie season in 1955 for the Cardinals and was an All-Star. The lefty throwing starter joined the Bucs on May 5, 1956 in exchange for pitcher Max Surkont and was moved almost exclusively to the bullpen. He went 3-3 4.71 in 18 games for the Pirates his first year. The next season, he had a 3-11 4.68 record, but was the top lefty out of the bullpen for the Pirates.He pitched 54 games, occasionally starting and he struck out a career high 101 batters.

After 1 season in Cincinnati, he joined the Yankees and became one of their top pitchers out of the pen. In 1961 he went 15-5 2.19 with 29 saves in 65 games (led league in both games and saves) and received his 2nd all-star selection. He suffered a sore arm the next year and by 1963 his career was over.

Finally, Cal Neeman a light hitting catcher who played for the 1962 Pirates was born on this date in 1929. As a backup for Smoky Burgess, along with Don Leppert, Cal played 24 games for the Bucs and hit just .180 (9-50). He would finish his 7 year career the next season appearing briefly for the Indians and Senators.In 376 games, he hit .224 for 5 teams, with most of his games coming as a member of the Cubs.

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