1876 – RHP Roscoe Miller was born in Greenville, Indiana. Roscoe started out on fire, winning 23 games for Detroit as a rookie. He stumbled along for the next couple of years but seemed to have righted the ship with the Pirates in 1904, going 7-7, 3.35. But bad luck intervened. Miller was riding with 14 other Pirates in a carriage when the rear wheel collapsed. Several players were hurt when the carriage folded and was dragged on its side by the horses, including Miller, who injured his wrist badly in the accident. That would become his last MLB season, although he spent five years in the minors afterward. Roscoe had a boatload of nicknames, with Rubberlegs, Roxy and Ross among them. “Ross” and “Roxy” are plays on Roscoe, and he was dubbed “Rubberlegs” after moving from Detroit to New York to Pittsburgh in a 14-month span.
1896 – C Mike Wilson was born in Edge Hill, Pennsylvania. Mike’s entire MLB career consisted of five appearances behind the dish and an 0-for-4 career hitting line in 1921 for Pittsburgh. He is notable, though, as one of the early two-sport players who suited up for the Pirates, as he spent four winters playing pro football.
Ginger Beaumont (photo via Racine Heritage Museum)
1898 – Pittsburgh traded IF Bill Gray and P Bill Hart to Milwaukee of the Western League for OF Ginger Beaumont. Gray wouldn’t play in the majors again while Hart tossed one more big league campaign. Beaumont spent eight of his 12 MLB seasons as a Pirate, hitting .321 over that span, winning the NL batting title once and leading the league in hits three times.
1934 – UT Andre Rodgers was born in Nassau, Bahamas. He was with the Bucs from 1965-67, batting .257 over that time, playing all four infield spots and seeing action in left field, too. Rodgers was the first Bahamian to play in the major leagues. A talented cricket player who paid his own way for a tryout with the Giants in 1954, he finally cracked the majors in 1957 and played 11 big league seasons, finishing with a .249 BA.
1936 – The Pirates signed 23 year old IF Lee “Jeep” Handley as a free agent. He was a dependable sometimes starter, sometimes bench player for the Bucs over eight seasons (1937-46, with two years off for WW2), averaging 105 games per year and hitting .269. It’s been speculated (by the Uniontown Morning Herald of 1938) that he got his nickname in 1936 as a Cincinnati Reds rookie when he apparently reminded the veterans of a new Popeye cartoon strip character, “Jeep.” As Popeye said when gifted with Jeep: “Well, blow me down! A baby puppy!”
Lee “Jeep” Handley 1940 (photo The Sporting News Collection hologram)
1963 – Win some, lose some… The Pirates lost OF Bobby Tolan to the Cards in the first-year player draft. Tolan ended up with a solid 13 year career with a .265 lifetime BA and even made a late stop back to his original Bucco club in 1977. Pittsburgh claimed LHP Luke Walker from Boston in the same draft, and Luke spent 8-of-9 MLB seasons with the Pirates, going 40-42-9, 3.42 in 243 games (100 starts) as a sort of an all-around pitching handyman.
1967 – GM Joe Brown worked out a pair of deals, trading minor league 1B/OF Bob Oliver to the Minnesota Twins for 35 year-old reliever Ronnie Kline and selling C Jim Pagliaroni, who had offseason neck surgery, to the KC Athletics.