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12/12 Through the 1940s: Salveson, Lindstrom, French, Kremer, Konetchy Deals; Arky Trade; Mitchell Sold; HBD Bill, Clyde, Hank, Mike, Diamond Joe, Tully & Phenomenal

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  • 1864 – LHP John “Phenomenal” Smith was born in Philadelphia. He made a couple of brief stops in Pittsburgh in 1884 & 1890, compiling a 1-4 record. He was actually born John Francis Gammon, but got his nickname when he struck out 16 batters in a no-hit game in 1885 while pitching for minor league Newark, with no batter hitting the ball out of the infield. Only two runners reached base, one on a walk and one on a dropped third strike – and Smith picked both of them off. Phenomenal played eight years of big league ball, then had a long minor league career as a player/manager until 1905, mostly manning the OF when he took the field. 
  • 1874 – RHP Tom “Tully” Sparks was born in Etna, Georgia. Out of Beloit College, Sparks spent 12 years in the show, with 1899 being his sole Bucco campaign. He was used as a swingman in Pittsburgh and went 8-6/3.86 in 28 outings covering 170 innings. Tully tossed in the MLB until 1910, mostly with the Philadelphia A’s as a good pitcher on a so-so team, and closed out his pro career in 1913. 
  • 1876 - OF “Diamond Joe” Rickert was born in London, Ohio. Joe played long and hard in the minors, from 1896-1915. Pittsburgh noticed him in 1898 when he was a 21-year-old playing for the New Castle Quakers of the Interstate League and gave him a look. He went 1-for-6 in two games. He didn’t impress the Bucs nor the Boston Beaneaters in a later 1901 audition of 16 games. Diamond Joe did put his years of baseball knowledge to use, managing the New Orleans Pelicans and the University of Tulane. 
Mike Mitchell – 1910 Turkey Red
  • 1879 – OF Mike Mitchell was born in Springfield, Ohio. Mike was known for his speed and strong arm, leading the NL in triples and outfield assists early in his career, and played for eight years in the show, closing out in 1913-14 with the Pirates. He hit .250 in a pair of half seasons, being claimed in 1913 off waivers from the Cubs and then lost midway through the next season when he was sold to the Senators. Mitchell retired in 1915 rather than report to the Yankees which had purchased his contract. 1899 – The Pirates sold OF’er Jack McCarthy to the Chicago Orphans for $2,000. McCarthy hit .276 for Cincy in his first two campaigns and .286 as a Pirate from 1898-99. After being sold, he put in eight more big league seasons, finishing his 12-year career with a .287 BA. 
  • 1913 - The Pirates traded P Hank Robinson, OF’ers Chief Wilson & Cozy Dolan and IF’ers Art Butler & Dots Miller to the St Louis Cardinals for P Bob Harmon, 1B Ed Konetchy and 3B Mike Mowrey. The Cards got two or three good seasons out of their new acquisitions, but the Bucs weren’t so lucky. Harmon was keeper, tossing for four seasons and going 39-52 with a 2.60 ERA. But Konetchy and Mowrey both had so-so 1914 seasons for the Pirates, skipped to the outlaw Federal League’s Pittsburgh Rebels in 1915 and then were signed by different clubs in 1916. The deal was a heartbreaker in Pittsburgh; they had been trying to get Konetchy for years, and it was said that manager Fred Clarke even dangled an aging Hans Wagner as bait to get him, but it ended up a one-and-done deal. The trigger was that Konetchy wanted a three-year, $7,500/season contract even after a sub-par .249 campaign (he hit .285 in his remaining seven big league years) and Barney Dreyfuss balked. 
  • 1914 - C Hank (Comolli) Camelli was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Hank spent 1943-46 with the Bucs and during that time he got into 108 games, hitting .229. He finished his big-league time with the Boston Braves and did a spot of minor-league coaching, too. 
  • 1917 – C Clyde Kluttz was born in Rockwell, North Carolina. Clyde spent 1947-48 with the Pirates with a .258 BA, hitting well in his first season and not so well in the next. He had a nine-year career in the show, afterward becoming a longtime scout with the Kansas City Athletics and New York Yankees. He was later director of player development of the Baltimore Orioles, serving the Birds from 1976 until he passed away three years later. 
Bill Howerton – 1952 Topps
  • 1921 – OF Bill Howerton was born in Lompoc, California. He spent four years in the majors, joining the Pirates in 1951 as part of a big swap with the Cards. Bill hit .279 as a Bucco, leaving the club in May of 1952 to join the NY Giants. He closed out his big league career there and then spent a couple of seasons in the PCL until retiring to become a trucker. 
  • 1923 – The Pirates traded IF Spencer Adams, along with pitchers Earl Kunz and George Boehler plus $20K, to the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League in exchange for RHP Remy “Ray” Kremer. Kremer had been a PCL ace for several years, and the Cubs and Bucs were in a battle for his services, even though he would be 31 for the 1924 campaign. The start was bumpy – as often happened, the player and team disputed if the sale cost went to the seller only or should be shared – but Kremer became a Pirate lifer, pitching from 1924-33 with a 143-85-9 slate and 3.76 ERA. The workhorse went 200+ IP, won double-digit games (hitting 20 wins twice) for eight straight years (1921-34) and was the NL ERA leader twice. The Frenchman went 2-2 with a 3.12 ERA in 1925 & 1927 World Series games and was the hero in ‘25, winning games six and seven, the former as a starter and the finale with 4-⅓ scoreless IP from the pen. He spent much of 1933-34 with Oakland before retiring; he became a mailman. Fun fact: Kremer didn’t pitch in the majors until he was 31. He spent eight years in the PCL (1916-23) and was considered by the east coast/heartland-based big league clubs to be a warm weather pitcher (he often had problems with rheumatism, making California a better clime for him). The newspapers called him the “Frenchman” because of his ancestry, and he also went by “Wiz”/”Bush Wiz” as a nod to his long and impressive minor-league career. 
  • 1928 – The Pirates bought LHP Larry French from Portland of the Pacific Coast League. From 1929-34, the knuckleballer went 87-83 with a 3.50 ERA for Pittsburgh and won 197 games in a 14-year MLB career. French, like a lot of players, joined the Navy in 1942. Unlike most, he became a career swabbie, retiring in 1969 with the rank of Captain. 
Freddie Lindstrom – 1933 DeLong
  • 1932 – Giant CF Freddie Lindstrom ended up a Bucco in a three-way deal. New York sent CF Chick Fullis to the Phillies, Pittsburgh sent RHP Glenn Spencer to the Giants and OF Gus Dugas to Philadelphia, who shipped OF Kiddo Davis to New York. Lindstrom hit .302 in two seasons at Pittsburgh, playing with Lloyd and Paul Waner. For the cost of two reserves, the Bucs got two years of a Hall-of-Famer. 
  • 1934 - The Pirates sent RHP Leon Chagnon to the New York Giants for 21-year-old righty Jack Salveson. Salveson never developed and was flipped to the White Sox after five forgettable outings; following the ‘35 campaign, he reappeared in the majors for two more seasons during the war years. Chagnon had worked five years for the Bucs (19-14-2/4.61), but 1935 would be his last big league hurrah. 
  • 1941 – The Bucs traded SS Arky Vaughan to the Brooklyn Dodgers for IF Pete Coscarart, RHP Luke Hamlin, C Babe Phelps and OF/1B Jimmy Wasdell. Only reserve infielder Coscarart stuck with the team past 1942. In 10 seasons, Hall of Famer Vaughan hit .324 for Pittsburgh. He later had a couple of strong seasons for Brooklyn, then left the team and worked his ranch for three years because of, according to baseball lore, a dispute with manager Leo Durocher (although his family said he ran the spread because his brother Glenn was drafted and there was no one else to do the job.) Whatever the reason, he didn’t return to baseball until 1947, after Durocher was suspended for gambling.


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