Born on this date in 1944 was Pirates pitcher Jim Bibby, who was with the team from 1978-1983. Prior to joining Pittsburgh, Bibby had just a 60-69 career record at the age of 33 but he turned that record around while in a Pirates uniform. He was signed as a free agent on March 15, 1978 after going 12-13 3.57 while with the Indians in 1977. He had won as many as 19 games in a season while with the Rangers in 1974 when he made 41 starts. In 1978 he started the year in the Pirates bullpen but 40 games into the season he moved into the starter role and threw a complete game his first start. He remained in that role until late in the season, throwing a shutout in his last start before moving back to the pen after a 10 day layoff. He finished 8-7 3.53 in 34 games that year but his best was yet to come.
In 1979 Bibby again started as a member of the bullpen, this time lasting in that role for half the season. When he was moved to the starting role for good on July 10th he had a 3-2 record going into that game, seven starts later he had a 9-2 record. He ran into a few rough starts although his record still ended at 12-4 2.81 and he finished the year with two complete games in which he allowed just one total run and struck out 18 batters. He started three postseason games, two in the World Series and while he didn’t get any decisions he did pitch well and the Pirates went on to win their 5th championship.
In 1980 Bibby had his best overall season going 19-6 3.32 in 34 starts. He made his only career all-star appearance, finished third in the Cy Young voting and for the 2nd straight season he led the NL in win/loss percentage. Bibby made just 14 starts during the strike shortened 1981 season going 6-3 2.50, his lowest season ERA. Unfortunately for Bibby, he tore his rotator cuff and missed all of the 1982 season. He pitched very poorly when he returned in 1983 and the Pirates let him go following the conclusion of the season. He pitched briefly in the majors and minors in 1984 before retiring. He finished with a 50-32 record in a Pirates uniform
Also born on this date in 1863 was a Pirates pitcher named Mark “Fido” Baldwin who was with the team from 1891-1893. Baldwin was a Pittsburgh native who attended college at Penn St. The Pirates got him after the Player’s League folded following the 1890 season, he was supposed to return to his 1889 team (Columbus of the American Association) but he signed with the Pirates instead, a move that set off a series of lawsuits he dealt with for years. He had led the PL in wins, strikeouts, starts, complete games, walks and innings pitchedin 1890. He had a blazing fastball, some say the best of his era and he was a hard worker on the mound, throwing over 1000 innings in 1889-90 combined.
In his two full seasons in Pittsburgh he was still a workhorse, pitching a combined 878 innings and while he pitched well, his record during that time was just 47-55 mostly due to a bad Pirates team in 1891. He retired following the 1892 season when he didn’t like his contract he was offered but returned to the Pirates by spring training. He had troubles off and on during the 1892 season and despite allowing him to return, the Pirates released him after just one start in 1893. He finished the year with the Giants and then played two more years in the minors before retiring for good.
Finally, born on this date in was Pirates outfielder Solly Hofman, who had two stints with the team. He was a member of the 1903 Pirates, the first NL team to play in the World Series and then he rejoined the team in 1912 for parts of two seasons. He played just three games with the team in 1903 making his major league debut on July 28th. He went 0-2 and scored a run during those three appearances off the bench. He was sent to the minors, where the Cubs were able to sign him in 1904. He stayed in Chicago until May 30, 1912 when the Cubs traded him back to Pittsburgh in a 4 player deal that included Tommy Leach, who was in his 13th season with the Pirates. Hofman was seldom used by the Pirates playing just 17 games in 1912 and 28 games in 1913 before they sent him to the minors. He was a good player with the Cubs, played good defense all over the field making at least 25 appearances at seven different positions(everything but pitcher and catcher). With the Pirates however, he hit just .246 with no homers in his 48 games.
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.