Born on this date in 1932 was Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Dick Stuart, who played for the team from 1958-62. He was signed by the Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1951 and as a 19 year old in 1952 he hit .313 with 31 homers for Billings, a class C team. He spent the next two years serving in the military. He returned to Billings when he rejoined the Pirates in 1955 and hit 32 homers his first year back but his best was yet to come. The next year playing for Lincoln in the Western League he would hit 66 homers in 141 games, the 4th highest total in minor league history. It took a 45 homer season in 1957 and 31 homers in the first 80 games at AAA in 1958 before Stuart got a chance at the majors.
For the Pirates, Stuart provided the team with instant offense that came with a price, he was horrible on defense, even at 1B where he would lead the NL in errors each of his five seasons in Pittsburgh. He hit 117 homers and drove in 390 runs with the Pirates in 559 games but also made 90 errors at 1B during that time. When the Pirates won the World Series in 1960 Stuart hit 23 homers and drove in 83 runs but during the series he went just 3-20 with no runs or RBI’s. In 1961 he made the all-star team by hitting .301 with 35 homers and 117 RBI’s. Following a down year in 1962 the Pirates traded Stuart to the Boston Red Sox when he hit 75 homers and 232 RBI’s his first two years. Stuart had one more good season for the Phillies in 1965, was released by the Mets and Dodgers in 1966 and had a brief stay with the Angels in 1969 where he ended his major league career.
Also born on this date in 1910 was longtime Pirates third baseman, Bill Brubaker.He was with the Pirates from 1932-40 but he played over 50 games only three times during those nine seasons. When he first joined the team he was blocked by future Hall of Famer Pie Traynor so his first four seasons were all cups of coffee. When he finally got a regular job in 1936 he hit .289 with 50 walks and drove in 102 runs, second on the team to Gus Suhr. He hit .254 in 1937 and his RBI total slipped to just 48. He started off well in 1938 but got hurt and ended up playing just 45 games. The next year he went back and forth between 3B and 2B hitting .232 in 100 games. In 1940 he was a bench player, starting just 18 games all year despite the fact he started every game during a two week stretch in June. Brubaker played in the minors for 1941-42 and most of 1943, spending three weeks with the Boston Braves in June/July,his last major league experience. Bill hit .262 in 466 games with the Pirates. His grandson Dennis Rasmussen played 12 seasons in the majors.
Born on this date in 1885 was Ed Mensor, who played his entire major league career with the Pirates from 1912-14. He didn’t start his pro career until age 24 and spent his first three seasons playing for a minor league team in Portland,Oregon. The Pirates called him up to the majors in July 1912 and played him part time in the outfield. He hit .263 with 23 walks and 10 steals in 99 AB’s although he had just one run batted in. The following season he was seldom used off the bench, getting just 56 at bats all year hitting .179 and again he drove in just one run. He was with the Pirates for most of 1914 hitting .202 in 44 games. He played in the minors through 1918, returning again in 1921 for one final season. He had a .221 average in 127 games for the Pirates.
Finally, born on this date in 1857 was pitcher Ed Nolan, who played for the Pittsburgh Alleghenys in 1883 and who also had one of the cooler nicknames all-time, he was known as The Only Nolan.The origin of his nickname has a few stories attached to it with the most likely being that he liked being the only pitcher for teams back when some teams only carried one or two pitchers. It in no way implies how good of a pitcher he has as he finished his career with a 23-52 record. He first pitched in the majors in 1878 then didn’t reappear in the big leagues until 1881. He signed with the Alleghenys for the 1883 season after serving a one year suspension and he lasted just seven starts before being released following a 23-10 loss in his last start. His entire pro career was plagued by discipline and drinking problems so it was a bit of a surprise that after he retired he became a police officer.
I’lI also mention that two recent Pirates pitchers also celebrate a birthday today. First overall pick in the entire 1996 draft Kris Benson, turns 39 today while his teammate for three season,Todd Ritchie, turns 42 today. Benson went 43-49, 4.26 in 126 starts for the Pirates, while Ritchie was 35-32, 4.29 in 92 games.
Two other former Pirates born on this date were Andy Tomberlin (1966) and Dave Wainhouse(1967). Tomberlin played outfield for the 1993 Pirates, hitting .286 in 27 games. Wainhouse pitched 42 games in relief for the 1996-97 Pirates, going 1-1, 6.97 in 51.2 innings.
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.
Just curious, what year is that Dick Stuart baseball card from? If my memory serves me correctly, it looks a lot like my 1952 Topps Vernon Law card.
1960 Topps. 1952 Topps have the one photo of the player with their name/team in a white box near the bottom