12/4: Sluggo, Spanky, Alou, Brandt Deals; Waner MVP; AVS-GG; TRS Trim; Thomas Trade Spadework; HBD Big Joe, Ted, Johnny & Jerry
- 1885 – OF Jerry D’Arcy was born in Oakland, California. As a 25-year-old, he played two games in two weeks for the 1911 Pirates. He started one, pinch-hit in the other and went 0-for-6 in his only MLB stint. Not much info on him was left behind, other than he played minor league/indie ball from 1911-16, minus his Bucco time. In fact, the local papers listed him as “Dorsey” rather than “D’Arcy” while he was here, so even back in the day he was a man of mystery.
|1920 Press Headline|
- 1892 – RHP Johnny Meador was born in Madison, North Carolina. After a good season at Galveston in the Texas League, the Bucs brought him up in 1920. He went 0-2/4.21, and perhaps saw the handwriting on the wall when he left the team in July to play for independent Oil City, getting a $2,000 bonus for jumping ship and a two-year contract for $3,000 annually. C Cliff Lee was rumored to join him, causing the Pirates to give Lee a mid-season raise (he had leverage beyond Oil City’s offer; he was also the only healthy catcher on the roster at the time) and sending owner Barney Dreyfuss into a tizzy, threatening to sue the outlaw OC club for raiding his team. Meador, although reinstated years later, never returned to MLB after switching leagues due to a sore arm.
- 1925 – LHP/OF Ted Toles was born in Newton Falls, Ohio, near Warren. His pro baseball career began in 1946 with the Pittsburgh Crawfords and after a brief Negro League career, he played for the minor league affiliates of the Cleveland Indians (including a stop with the New Castle Indians in 1951), New York Yankees and Philadelphia Athletics. Ted also toured with the Jackie Robinson All-Stars with Robinson, Lary Doby, Satchel Paige and teammate Willie Pope when they barnstormed against different MLB all-star teams during the offseason. Toles was one of the last remaining links to the Negro Leagues and was featured in the book “Living on Borrowed Time: The Life and Times of Negro League Player Ted Toles Jr.” before passing away in April of 2016.
- 1927 – OF Paul “Big Poison” Waner finished ahead of the Card’s Fordham Flash, Frankie Frisch, for NL MVP honors by 72 votes to 66; Rogers Hornsby made it a three-man race with 54 votes. In his second year in the show, Waner hit .380, tops in the National League, led the league with 131 RBI, scored 114 runs and banged out a MLB-best 237 hits to lead Pittsburgh to the senior circuit title. He entered the Hall of Fame in 1952, and when Lloyd later joined him, the sibs became the second brother act in the Hall after Harry and George Wright.
|Ed Brandt – 1937 Retro Image Archive photo|
- 1936 – The Brooklyn Dodgers traded LHP Ed Brandt to the Pirates for IF Cookie Lavagetto and LHP Ralph “Lefty” Birkofer. Brandt lasted two years with the Bucs as a swingman, going 16-14/3.23 before he retired at age 34 after 11 MLB campaigns. He tied a Bucco mark held by several by winning three 1-0 games in 1937, a record no Pirate has matched since. Lavagetto started for the next five years, hitting .275 for Brooklyn and making four All-Star teams before losing four years to the Second World War. Lefty made 11 appearances for the Dodgers in 1937, his last year of MLB ball.
- 1957 – The Pirates search for a third baseman led to national rumors flying in Colorado Springs, host of the winter meetings, of a Frank Thomas-for-Ken Boyer deal with the Cardinals. The trade never came to be, but where there’s smoke, there’s fire – Thomas was the main piece of the package that pried Don Hoak from the Reds exactly one year later.
- 1958 – Persistence is often the key to a successful deal. GM Joe Brown announced that a proposed swap of Cincinnati’s 3B Dick Hoak, C Smoky Burgess, LHP Harvey Haddix and RHP Tom Acker for 3B/OF Frank Thomas and RHP Bennie Daniels had fizzled, even with some other names (C Ed Bailey of the Reds & RHP Curt Raydon of the Bucs) and trade configurations to reshuffle the deck. But less than two months later the deal was consummated, with the main players pretty much the same: Hoak, Burgess and Haddix were sent to Pittsburgh for Thomas w/RHP Whammy Douglas, utilityman Jim Pendleton and OF John Powers as the new add ons. Brown also had another proposal that never came to fruition during the winter meetings. He tried to pry LHP Johnny Antonelli loose from San Francisco, but the Giants wanted RHP’s ElRoy Face & Vern Law as the return package, and so there was no continuation of those talks.
- 1965 – GM Joe Brown left Miami Beach and the winter baseball meetings with new additions OF Matty Alou, acquired by trade, and C Jesse Gonder & OF Dave Roberts, acquired by draft. As the cherry on top, Brown and the City were awarded the 1966 meetings, scheduled for December 1st-3rd at the Hilton Hotel, the successful culmination of a Pirate lobbying effort that began in 1964.
|Dave Roberts – 1966 Topps|
- 1973 – The Pirates traded P Nelson Briles and IF Fernando Gonzalez to the KC Royals for UT Ed “Spanky” Kirkpatrick, IF Kurt Bevacqua and prospect 1B Winston Cole. Briles lasted five more seasons, but posted an ERA under four just once in that span while none of the others became everyday contributors, though Spanky hung around with the Bucs until 1977, batting .236 over that time.
- 1974 – The Bucs brought in the fences at TRS, moving the foul lines in by five feet to 335’ and the outfield gaps by 10, making them 375’. Danny Murtaugh claimed it was to make the Stadium more consistent with other parks, and the new distances did match the dimensions of five other NL ballyards during the era of cookie-cutter stadiums.
- 1989 – The Pirates picked up C Don Slaught from the Yankees for RHPs Jeff Robinson and farmhand Willie Smith after New York had first turned down a reported package of RHP Randy Kramer and C Tom Prince. Slaught would form a platoon tandem with Spanky LaValliere through 1992, and remained with the Bucs until 1996 after being injured during most of the 1995 campaign, hitting .305 during his Pittsburgh tenure. Sluggo played for seven clubs in his 16-year career; a catcher with a .283 lifetime BA has an awfully long shelf life in MLB. Robinson tossed for three more seasons in the AL, while Smith threw seven frames in 1994 during his only taste of the show.
- 1990 – CF Andy Van Slyke won his second straight Gold Glove and LF Barry Bonds earned his first. Barry’s dad Bobby had won GG’s in the seventies, and they became the first father-and-son team to be honored with the award.
|Andy Van Slyke – 1990 Topps|
- 1992 – RHP Joe Musgrove was born in El Cajon, California. He was taken out of high school in the first round (46th overall) of the 2011 draft and was sent to the Astros in 2012 as part of the JA Happ trade. He debuted in 2016 for Houston and a year later he was plugged into the rotation but had a rough go. Joe went on the DL with arm soreness, returned and was sent to the pen, where he excelled, winning a World Series game. The Bucs got Musgrove in 2018 as a part of the Gerrit Cole trade with the ‘Stros, and after missing time with a sore shoulder, he joined the starting five in late May, posting a 6-9/4.06 line. In 2019, he led the team with personal bests in wins, IP and starts (11-12/4.44/170 IP/31 starts) and posted a 3.86 ERA in 2020 despite missing time with a triceps injury. Big Joe was dealt to San Diego in 2021, netting five players in return.
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