This Date in Pirates History: October 20

Born on this date in 1864 was one of the original Pittsburgh Pirates back before they were known as the Pirates, Jocko Fields. He was a member of the 1887 team named the Alleghneys, the first year Pittsburgh fielded a team in the National League. Fields is one of 46 major leaguers who were born in Ireland and three of them played for the 1888 Alleghenys, Fields, William Farmer and Sam Nicholl.

Fields played five season in Pittsburgh

Jocko began his pro career in 1885 and would make his¬†major league debut on May 31, 1887. He played 43 games for that Allegheny team, hitting .268 with 17 RBI’s. He was a versatile player, making appearances at seven different positions, everything except 2B and SS. The following year he struggled both offensively and defensively, hitting just .195 in 45 games while also posting well below average fielding percentages in the outfield and behind the plate. The Pirates stuck with him despite his 1888 season and they were rewarded for it. His defense was still suspect but in 75 games that year he hit a career high .311 which was second highest on the team to Fred Carroll.

When the Player’s League was formed going into the 1890 season the Alleghenys lost most of their team to their new crosstown rivals, the Pittsburgh Burghers. Among the lost players was Fields, who had his best season of his career. He played a career high 126 games, while also setting highs with 101 runs scored, 20 triples, 86 RBI’s and 24 stolen bases. When the PL folded after one season, most players returned to their original club and Fields was no different. His stay with the club in 1891, who were called the Pirates at this point, was a short one. He played just 23 more games before being released. He finished the 1891 season with the Phillies and played one more year in the majors with the New York Giants in 1892. He finished his pro career in the minors in 1896. As a member of the Alleghenys/Pirates he hit .265 in 186 games.

Also born on this date is 2011 Pirates reliever Jose Veras, who turns 33 today. He was signed by the club in January of 2011 after being released by the Marlins. Prior to joining the Pirates he had a career record of 12-9 4.24 in 176 career games, all in relief, over five seasons with the Yankees, Indians and Marlins. He was a non-roster invitee to spring training in 2011 but made the team out of Spring. He went 2-3 3.80 in 2011 while setting career highs in games with 79 and innings with 71 IP. He also tied Chris Resop with the most strikeouts among Pirates relievers with 79. Veras split the 2013 season between the Astros and Tigers.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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There wasn’t much going on for this date so I included links(highlighted in blue above) to some Jocko Fields era stories. I will include these two facts as well. Fields hit just 12 career homers but had two multi-homer games. As I mentioned above, only 46 players born in Ireland have played major league baseball but amazingly only one since 1918, James Cleary in 1945, and he lasted just 1/3 of an inning

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