1960 Revisited - April 13

Sunday, June 27 2010 @ 12:36 am UTC

Contributed by: Bobster

By Bobster

April 13, 1960-An off day was scheduled after opening day, in case a rain make up was necessary. The starting rotation in 1959 had been Friend, Law, Haddix and Ron Kline, with Witt and Daniels handling most of the spot start duties. But Kline was traded in December 1959 for outfielder Gino Cimoli and minor league pitcher Tom Cheney. Kline had been a workhorse for the Pirates, starting between 29 and 39 games every year from 1956 to 1959. The 1960 Pirates did not have a ready replacement for Kline. They would begin the season with Friend, Law, Haddix and a combination of Bennie Daniels, rookie Jim Umbricht and rookie Joe Gibbon in the rotation. The Pirates hoped that one among Daniels, Umbrich and Gibbon would seize the opportunity and run with it to solidify the 4-man rotation, with the other two available as spot starters. With 4-man rotations and nearly 20 doubleheaders a year, spot starters played a large role.

If not, the Bucs could look to the farm system for alternatives. The AAA Columbus Jets, managed by Cal Ermer (who would eventually mange the Twins), had lefty Al Jackson, 24, who had gone 15-4 with a 2.33 ERA for them in 1959. Tom Cheney, the power pitcher obtained in the Ron Kline deal, was currently at Columbus. Another power pitcher at Columbus was lefty Bob Veale, who was both overpowering and overwhelmingly wild in his first season at the AAA level. Righthander Earl Francis was another possibility at Columbus. The AAA Jets also featured a 41-year old lefty reliever in Diomedes Olivo. Olivo had signed with the Pirate organization in March 1960 after a great career in the Dominican Republic.

Even at age 41, Olivo dominated AAA batters. The best overall prospect at Columbus was secondbaseman Julian Javier. But with Mazeroski playing second for the Pirates, Javier did not appear to have a future with Pittsburgh. The Pirates had another AAA team in Salt Lake City, managed by Larry Shepard. The top starter for the Bees was 20-year old righty Tom Parsons. The Bees also had slugging first base prospect R.C. Stevens, 25. The other top hitter for Salt Lake City was veteran minor leaguer Harry Bright, 30, who had spent the 1959 season with the Pirates as a pinch hitter and utility infielder-outfielder.