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12/16: Santiago, Candy Man, Shantz, Iron Man Deals; '59 Big Stick Search; '05 Draft; Buc Bucks; Niagara Falls; HBD Jeff, Rick, Steamboat Bill & Fred

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  • 1876 – OF Fred Crolius was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. He went straight from college to Boston in 1902 and got into nine games as a Pirate in 1902, batting .263. His professional career was short-lived; the Bucs sent him back down and Fred was banned from the majors in 1906 after a messy contract dispute with Toronto. But he had a Plan B. Fred was also a star halfback for Dartmouth, and in 1901 he played football for the Homestead Library & Athletic Club, then the following season was a halfback on the Pittsburgh Stars, a member of the first National Football League (and suspected of being financed by baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates). Fred also coached clubs – in 1899, he was the head coach for the Bowdoin College gridders and in 1902, Crolius was the boss man of the WUP (Western University of Pennsylvania, now Pitt) eleven. He then went east and coached Villanova from 1904-11, managing the Wildcat baseball team during the same period (1905-11). 
  • 1886 – LHP William “Steamboat Bill” Otey was born in Dayton, Ohio. He was the ace of the Norfolk Tars of the Virginia League, winning 69 games from 1906-09, but it didn’t carry over to the big leagues. Otey hurled for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1907 (0-1/4.41 in three games) and the Washington Senators in 1910-11, going a combined 1-5 with a 5.01 ERA in 24 games. He finished his career with the hometown Dayton Veterans of the Central League, retiring at age 27 following the 1914 season. 
  • 1938 – The Boston Bees traded catcher Ray Mueller to the Pirates for C Al Todd and OF Johnny Dickshot. Todd had a couple of good seasons left, while Dickshot wouldn’t hit his prime until his last two campaigns in 1944-45 for the White Sox. “Iron Man” Mueller (he picked up his nickname in the early forties after catching 233 consecutive games for the Reds) played 90 games in two years with Pittsburgh as a reserve catcher, hitting .269. Factoid: Mueller was from Pittsburg – Pittsburg, Kansas, a coal mining hub that was named after our fair town. 
Ray Mueller – undated George Burke photo
  • 1956 – Coach Rick Sofield was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He was a #1 draft pick and outfielder for the Twins, worked in the minors (he was the Pirates’ minor league field coordinator in 2002) and managed in college. Sofield was brought back to the Pirate fold by long-time bud Clint Hurdle, managing at West Virginia for a season before joining the big league staff in 2013. After a barrage of ill-advised windmills at third base (he also coached the runners), he was released after the 2016 campaign. Rick, at last check, was the skipper of the Hilton Head Prep School nine in South Carolina. 
  • 1959 – Joe Brown told Jack Herndon of the Post Gazette that he had tried to swing a deal for a power-hitting outfielder with no. He had made offers for Roger Maris, Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew and Rocky Colavito. Brown said all the proposals were straight player deals (the players offered were unnamed), and that the Bucs didn’t sweeten the pot with cash. Of the big boppers he coveted, two were moved – Colavito went from Cleveland to Detroit and Maris from KC to the NYY, while Killebrew and Kaline stayed with Washington and Motown, respectively. 
  • 1960 – The Bucs sent UT Harry Bright, 1B RC Stevens and RHP Bennie Daniels to the expansion Washington Senators (now the Texas Rangers) for veteran curveballer LHP Bobby Shantz. GM Joe Brown told Post Gazette writer Jack Hernon that “Shantz gives the Pirates the finest bullpen in baseball…along with Roy Face, Clem Labine and Fred Green.” Shantz, 35, lasted a year in Pittsburgh before being lost to the Houston Colt .45s in the 1961 expansion draft. He slashed 6-3-2/3.22 in 43 games with the Pirates and continued to toss fairly effectively afterward, lasting until the end of the 1964 season. Shantz won 24 games in 1952 as a starter for the Philadelphia Athletics and was voted the AL MVP, but arm injuries drove him from the rotation to the bullpen. Daniels was a useful swingman in DC for several seasons, Bright had one strong campaign in 1962 for the Sens (.273, 17 HR, 67 RBI) before retiring in 1965, while Stevens hit .129 and was released in June, ending his MLB career. 
Bobby Shantz – 1962 Topps
  • 1969 - The Niagara Falls Pirates were granted a franchise in the New York-Penn League. The short season club remained a Bucco farm until 1977, with guys like Dale Berra, Miguel Dilone, Mike Edwards, Al Holland, Omar Moreno, Ed Ott and Rod Scurry passing through. It lasted until 1988 as a Tigers & White Sox affiliate before the team moved to Jamestown. 
  • 1971 – LHP Jeff Granger was born in San Pedro, California. Granger was a quarterback for Texas A&M and was also a pretty fair pitcher, breaking Roger Clemens Southwest Conference strikeout record. The first-round pick of KC in 1993 had four fairly quick stops in the majors, spending three years with the Royals (18 appearances) and getting his final nine calls as a Bucco in 1997 (0-1/18.00), walking eight and giving up three long balls in five frames. The Pirates sent him down and he spent the next three seasons struggling in the minor leagues for five clubs in four organizations, retiring after a stint with the indie Long Island Ducks. 
  • 1986 - It was good news, bad news for Bucco finances after its first year under the private-public partnership owner model. The good news is that they cut their $9.3M losses in 1985 by a quarter; the bad news was that they still leaked $7M, of which $3M was dead money lost via trades and player releases. Pittsburgh Associates president Mac Prine said “The general consensus is that they (the board members) were very satisfied with the progress made…” 
  • 1992 – After burning his bridges with the Bucs in 1985 and being sent to California via trade, John Candelaria signed a free agent deal worth $760K with the team he started with as a 21-year-old. The reunion didn’t work out very well. It started poorly when he was busted for a DUI while in camp and then was ineffective from the pen during the campaign, slashing 0-3-1/8.24. Candy Man was released in July, ending his 19-year MLB career. Still, he finished his 12 years as a Bucco with a line of 124-87-16/3.17, posting a no-hitter, 20-win campaign and winning an All-Star nod. 
Ronny went & returned – 2005 Upper Deck SP
  • 2002 – The Rule 5 Draft took RHP DJ Carrasco, C Ronny Paulino and RHP Chris Spurling from the Pirates. Carrasco tossed for eight MLB seasons (including 2010 as a Bucco), Spurling for four and Paulino was returned to the club in the spring, going on to catch for eight years in the show, the first four with Pittsburgh (2005-08/.278). They also released LHP Jimmy Anderson after failing to trade him. Anderson got 20 more appearances with three different teams in 2003-04 to finish his career. 
  • 2004 - The Pirates acquired C Benito Santiago and cash (KC paid all but $750K of the $2.2M due Santiago) from the Royals for RHP Leo Nunez (Juan Oviedo). The 30-year-old Oviedo served a 2012 suspension after pitching for seven seasons because of name fraud; he went by Nunez to make it appear he was younger. Santiago, 40, got in six games before his release and never played again. 
  • 2019 - The Pirates signed C Luke Maile to a split, one-year contract worth $900K at the MLB level and $325K for time spent in the minors. Maile was a good glove, bad bat (.198 career BA) backstop who played with both the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays. He never got to show his stuff here; finger surgery cost him the 2020 campaign and then he signed with the Brewers as a FA in the off season. He’s currently a free agent after playing 15 games in Milwaukee in ’21.


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