12/23: JJ SIgns; Salary Cellar; Bah Humbug; Reserve Rebels; Ozzy Hired; Bad Year; HBD Glenn, Roberto, Shawn, Rick, Dave, Cozy, Sam & Schoolmaster
- 1871 – RHP Sam “The Goshen Schoolmaster” Leever was born in Goshen, Ohio. He was a Pirate mainstay on the hill from 1898-1910, compiling a record of 191-100-13 with a 2.47 ERA, spending his entire 13-year career with Pittsburgh. Leever won 20 games or more four times, led the league with seven shutouts in 1903 and started 20+ games for 10 straight seasons. Sadly for Sam, he went 0-2 in the 1903 World Series, trying to pitch through a shoulder injury, and didn’t appear in the 1909 World Series. Sam got his nickname not only because he taught for several years before he made it as a ballplayer, but also because of his serious, schoolmarmish disposition.
|Sam Frock – 1909 Conlon Collection/Detroit Public Library|
- 1882 – RHP Sam Frock was born in Baltimore. Sam spent five years in the majors, serving in 1909-10 as a Bucco. He went 2-1-1/2.58 before being traded to Boston, the club he began his career with, for Kirby White in April of 1910. He won a dozen games for the Doves that year, then tossed just four games covering 16 IP in 1911 to mark the end of his MLB road.
- 1889 – 3B Albert “Cozy” Dolan was born in Chicago. Dolan had a seven-year MLB run and spent 35 games of it with the Pirates in 1913, batting .203. His career ended on a dark note. As a Giants’ coach in 1924, Dolan was implicated in a botched attempt to throw a game during a close pennant race and Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis issued a lifetime ban from baseball on Dolan. His nickname may have been a hand-me-down from Pat “Cozy” Dolan, a baseball contemporary who played from 1895-1906, just prior to our Cozy’s debut.
- 1949 – OF Dave May was born in New Castle, Delaware. He ended his 12-year career by going 0-for-4 in five games as a Bucco in 1978 after the Pirates purchased his contract in mid-September. A journeyman outfielder, May was included in a pair of deals involving a couple of baseball’s big names – in 1974, he was dealt by the Braves to the Brewers in a swap that allowed Henry Aaron to end his career in Milwaukee, and in 1976 he was part of the mega-deal that changed the address of 1974 MVP Jeff Burroughs from the Rangers to Atlanta.
- 1954 – Talk about your bad campaign: The NL announced the official end-of-season stats and Pittsburgh was, well… The Pirates finished last in the NL (53-101, 44 games behind the NY Giants), a sadly consistent position in 1954. They were also in the cellar for hitting (.248, & last in OBP/slugging %, too), pitching (4.92 ERA) and fielding (.971 FA) to hit the trifecta.
|Don Osborn – 1976 Pirates Picture Pack|
- 1957 – Don Osborn was hired away from the Phils’ Miami Marlins AAA club, which he was managing, to become the Pirates organizational pitching coach. He replaced Bill Burwell, who had been bumped upstairs to become the Bucs big league pitching guru, a spot that Osborn would eventually fill off-and-on through 1978 as a member of Danny Murtaugh’s staff.
- 1968 – RHP Rick White was born in Springfield, Ohio. White, a 15th round draft pick of Pittsburgh in 1990, began his 12-year MLB career as a Buc in 1994-95, and made another Steel City stop in 2005. He went 10-15-8 with a 4.03 ERA as a Pirate, who used him as a swingman. He was converted full-time to the bullpen by Tampa Bay in 1998, and worked 12 years in the league.
- 1975 – MLB arbitrator Peter Seitz ruled in favor of pitchers Dave McNally and Andy Messersmith, deciding that MLB players were free agents after playing one year for their team without a contract and dealing a fatal blow to baseball’s reserve clause. MLB appealed the decision to the courts, but Seitz’s ruling was upheld. As a result, the MLB and the MLBPA signed a new agreement in 1976 allowing players with six years experience to become free agents. McNally never got to take advantage of his suit, retiring from baseball (as he had planned prior to the ruling) while Messersmith inked a three-year/$1M deal with the Atlanta Braves.
- 1977 – RHP Shawn Chacon was born in Anchorage, Alaska. Shawn worked in Pittsburgh toward the end of his eight-year career in 2006-07, coming over after a trade with the New York Yankees for Craig Wilson. Chacon went 7-7-1/4.44 as a reliever and starter in the Steel City, making 64 appearances. His MLB days ended on a nasty note when he and Astro’s GM Ed Wade got into a mud-slinging fight and he was waived in 2008, never to return to the show.
|Roberto Perez – 2022 photo Mike Carlson/Getty|
- 1988 – C Roberto Perez was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. He spent the first eight years of his career in Cleveland, earning a rep as a fine defensive backstop with good glove skills, but was just a lifetime .208 hitter. The Pirates signed him to a $5M contract as the heir apparent to Jake Stallings shortly before the 2021-22 lockout. He also came with a notoriety for injury, and played just 21 games before damaging his hammy, which required season-ending surgery.
- 1994 – Merry Christmas, indeed. The players, who struck in August rather than accept a hard salary cap, had their offer of a soft cap with a tax for overspenders rejected by the MLB, which then unilaterally imposed a salary cap and elimination of salary arbitration among other items. It was a mess that even DC intervention couldn’t smooth; federal mediators joined the sessions, ex-President Carter offered to chair the talks, and Congress introduced five different bills to resolve the situation to no avail. It lasted until camp, which all were filled by replacement players, until now-Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayer slapped an injunction on MLB. Under it, the season started late and was played under the terms of the old CBA, with a 144-game schedule and replacement umpires; the MLB men in blue added to the churn by starting the season on strike.
- 1997 – In the first year of the luxury tax, the Pittsburgh Pirates had the lowest payroll of any MLB club at $16.6M. The next lowest club was Detroit at $23.5M. Each payroll had $5.1M in benefits included, so the Pirates paid out just $11.5M in straight salary. That rings about right; the Associated Press had the Bucs Opening Day payroll pegged at just $9,071,667.
|John Jaso – 2017 image/Pirates|
- 2015 – The Bucs signed 1B/OF John Jaso, 32, to a two-year/$8M deal after Jaso hit .286 and produced a .380 OBP/.839 OPS in 70 games with the Tampa Bay Rays. JJ was primarily a catcher and DH in the show until the 2015 campaign, when concussion woes necessitated a switch of positions and he was converted to first base by the Pirates to replace Pedro Alvarez. John played 1B and corner OF while running hot and cold at the plate, posting a 2016-17 slash of .245/.342/.409 in a platoon/bench role before retiring in 2018, preferring to circle the globe rather than the NL Central.
- 2019 – The Pirates announced the hire of coach Glenn Sherlock, 59, to Derek Shelton’s staff. His main focus was on coaching catchers and run prevention. He’s also tasked with game prep and in-game management. He’s worked with the Yankees, D-Backs and Mets, serving as a minor league manager/coach, bullpen coach, bench coach, catching coach, first base coach and third base coach during his 30-year career. Glenn returned to the Mets in 2022 as a bench coach.
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