Born on this date in 1935 was longtime Pirates pitcher Bob Veale, who played for the team from 1962-72. Veale was signed as a free agent out of college in 1958 and the Pirates sent him to the California League where he struggled with his command, walking 55 batters in 63 innings. He was just as wild his second season but much more effective lowering his ERA by almost two runs from the previous season. He then spent the next three seasons in AAA with Columbus making 77 starts before finally earning a permanent spot on the team. He started the 1962 season in the big leagues but lasted just over a month before being returned Columbus where he made 22 starts. He came back up in late September to make three more appearances.
In 1963 he was used out of the bullpen for most of the season but after an August 14th appearance lowered his season ERA to 0.70, the Pirates moved Veale to the rotation. He would start seven games that year throwing complete game shutouts in two of them and no earned runs in another three starts. In fact, when Veale allowed five earned runs in 3.1 innings to the Dodgers on September 11th, that was more earned runs than he allowed the rest of the entire season(four) in 74.1 innings. Bob was a constant member of the Pirates rotation for the next seven seasons, making 242 starts over that time. In 1964 Veale posted a career high 18 wins and led the NL in both strikeouts and walks.
Veale was a two-time all-star making his first appearance in 1965 when he went 17-12 and struck out a career high 276 batters. He made the team again the next year when he went 16-12 with 229 strikeouts. It was the third straight year he was in the top 3 in the NL in strikeouts. In 1967 he had his best win/loss percentage as a starter when he went 16-8 and that gave him 67 wins over a four year stretch. Veale had three straight losing seasons from 1968-70 despite posting a 2.05 ERA in 1968 and a sub-4.00 ERA each of the other two seasons. In 1971, he was moved to the bullpen and posted a 6-0 record in 37 games despite a 6.99 ERA. That was the only season the Pirates made the playoffs during his stay in Pittsburgh and he made it into just one game, pitching 2/3 of an inning during the Pirates 11-3 game two loss to the Orioles in the World Series.
In 1972, Veale was once again in the Pirates bullpen to start the season but it did not last long. After just five appearances he was sent to the minors where he stayed until the Pirates sold him to the Boston Red Sox on September 2nd. He finished his playing career with the Red Sox following the 1974 season. While with the Pirates he posted a 119-96, 3.06 record with 1,652 strikeouts. His strikeout total ranks him 2nd all-time in team history, just 30 behind Bob Friend who pitched over 1,600 more innings. His 276 strikeouts in 1965 are the most since the Pirates moved to the NL in 1887. Only Ed Morris had more strikeouts in a single season and he did that three times while the team was still in the American Association from 1884-86.
Also born on this date way back in 1867 was Bill Wilson, who played for the worst team in Pittsburgh Pirates history. Wilson played six different positions for the 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys, a team that finished the season 23-113. He wasn’t much of a hitter, batting just .214 with a team leader 50 strikeouts and he wasn’t very good defensively, committing 60 total errors, including 35 behind the plate in just 38 games. It should come as no surprise that Wilson didn’t play in the majors again until 1897 when he was with the Louisville Colonels. While there, he was teammates with two future Pirates Hall of Famers, Fred Clarke and Honus Wagner. Wilson hit his first major league homer that year off a pitcher with a familiar name, Charlie Brown. Wilson also played with the Colonels in 1898, then bounced around the minor leagues until the age of 40.
Other Players Born on This Date Include:
Percy Jones (1899) Pitcher for the 1930 Pirates. Jones had a decent nine-year career, but his time in Pittsburgh was forgettable. He went 0-1, 6.63 in 19 innings, making two starts and nine relief appearances. That proved to be the end of his big league career. Jones came over from the Boston Braves right at the beginning of the season in exchange for Hall of Fame pitcher Burleigh Grimes. Jones went to the minors after pitching for the Pirates , finishing out his career in 1931 for Columbus of the American Association. He pitched his first seven seasons in the majors for the Cubs, posting his best season in 1926, when he went 12-7, 3.09 in 160.1 innings. Jones finished with a 53-57, 4.34 record in 114 starts and 137 relief appearances.
Joe Page (1917) Relief pitcher for the 1954 Pirates. Page was closer for the New York Yankees, well before the role was popular and long before it became a one inning role. He pitched multiple innings many times, surpassing the 100 inning mark in each of his first six seasons, while also occasionally filling in as a starter, something that is unheard of now. During the 1950 season, his stats began to decline and he was released prior to the start of the next season. Page pitched briefly in the minors in 1952, then didn’t play during the 1953 season. He attempted a comeback with the 1954 Pirates that didn’t go so well, and ended his pro career. Page made seven relief appearances, allowing 17 runs(12 earned) in just 9.2 innings. He actually started the year with 5.1 shutout innings over three appearances, but things turned disastrous quick and by the end of May, he was gone. Though not an official stat at the time, Page was the active saves leader(76) when he retired.
Luis Marquez (1925) Outfielder for the 1954 Pirates. Though they both played for the 1954 Pirates, Joe Page(see above) and Marquez were never teammates. Marquez came over from the Chicago Cubs on June 14th in exchange for outfielder Hal Rice. He played 14 games for the Pirates, went to the plate 14 times and saw action at all three outfield positions. Marquez played a total of 99 games in the majors, but he had a long pro career. He played 14 seasons in the minors and three years in the Negro Leagues. He hit .305 in 1799 minor league games, .335 in the Negro Leagues and .182 in the majors. Marquez was taken by the Boston Braves in the 1950 Rule V draft and three years later, The Cubs also picked him up in the draft.
Gair Allie (1931) Shortstop for the 1954 Pirates. October 28th was a popular date for 1954 Pirates to be born. Just like Marquez and Page, Allie played just one season for the Pirates, but unlike the other two, it was his only year in the majors. Allie was signed by the Pirates out of Wake Forest University in 1952. He went to New Orleans of the American Association, where he hit .216 in 155 games. The next season, he played just 32 for New Orleans. In 1954, he made the Pirates Opening Day roster and started 92 games at shortstop and another 18 at third base. Allie hit .199 in 121 games, driving in 30 runs and scoring 38 times. He did draw 56 walks, but also finished third in the NL with 84 strikeouts. After the season, he returned to the minors, where he played until 1961. He was one of the last Pirates players to wear the uniform #8 before Willie Stargell got it and it has since been retired.
One final player to mention briefly, Nate McLouth was born on this date in 1981. He was a 25th round pick of the Pirates in 2000 and played six seasons in Pittsburgh before being traded to the Atlanta Braves. In 515 games in Pittsburgh, he hit .256 with 60 homers, 196 RBIs and 64 stolen bases in 69 tries. In 2008, he led the league with 46 doubles and made the All-Star team, plus won the Gold Glove.
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.