This Date in Pirates History: December 23

Born on this date in 1871 was one of the best pitchers in Pittsburgh Pirates history, Sam Leever, who played for the team from 1898 to 1910. On the Pirates all-time list for pitchers he ranks fourth in ERA with a 2.47 mark, tied for second in wins with 194, sixth in both innings pitched with 2660.2 IP and games started with 299. He ranks fourth in complete games with 241 and second in shutouts with 39. He won 20 games four times and three times led the National League in winning percentage. For more information on Leever please check out our bio on him which can be read here and the breakdown of his career numbers which can be read here.

Leever went 25-7 in 1903

Also born on this date, in 1882, was Sam Frock, a pitcher for the 1909 Pirates, the first team to win a World Series in franchise history. Frock began his pro career in 1905 pitching in the New England League. In three seasons he went a combined 62-28 before signing with the Boston Doves(Braves) in late August 1907. He went 1-2, 2.97 in five games, three as a starter. Despite the nice major league debut and three strong seasons in the minors, he returned to the minors for the entire 1908 season. For Providence of the Eastern League that year he went 24-14 in 47 games, pitching 325 total innings.

Frock was a seldom used reserve for the 1909 Pirates making just four starts and four relief appearances all season. He went 2-1, 2.48 in 36.1 innings and he did not appear in the postseason, which was won by the Pirates over the Tigers, four games to three. Frock lasted just seven team games into the 1910 before the Pirates traded him and first baseman Bud Sharpe to the Doves for pitcher Kirby White. Boston was a very poor team that year(53-100) and Frock got plenty of time on the mound going 12-19, 3.71, pitching 255.1 innings. He was back in the minors for good just a month into the 1911 season. Sam went just 15-23 in his major league career but he was quite an accomplished minor league pitcher, winning 203 games.

The third pre-war player born on this date, Albert “Cozy” Dolan(1889), was an outfielder/third baseman who played for the Pirates in 1913. He was acquired from the Phillies in late August of 1913 in exchange for Bobby Byrne and Howie Camnitz. The Pirates also received cash in the deal. Dolan was just 23 at the time of the trade and both Camnitz and Byrne were star players on the downside of their careers. In the last 35 games of that 1913 season Dolan hit .203 with 14 stolen bases. Shortly after the season ended, the Pirates traded Dolan in an eight player deal with the Cardinals that was covered here.

Other Pirates birthdays on this date:
Shawn Chacon (1977) Pitcher for the 2006-07 Pittsburgh Pirates. Chacon came to the Pirates in the middle of the 2006 season from the Yankees in exchange for Craig Wilson. He was put in the starting rotation for the Pirates and went 2-3, 5.48 in nine starts. In 2007, Chacon moved to relief, making 60 appearances out of the bullpen, while getting just four starts. He went 5-4, 3.94 and pitched 96 innings. He moved on to the Astros the next year and had an ugly run in with his GM, Ed Wade. Chacon physically assaulted Wade and that basically ended his big league career. He was released in June of 2007 and didn’t played at all the following year. Chacon played Independent ball in 2009 and had a brief stint with the Oakland A’s AAA team, but he never got a real chance to pitch again. He finished with a 45-61, 4.99 record over eight seasons. In 2003, he went 11-8 for the Colorado Rockies.

Rick White (1968) Pitcher for the Pirates from 1994-95 and then again during the 2005 season. White began his 12 year big league career with the Pirates, four seasons after they drafted him in the 15th round of the 1990 amateur draft. He went 4-5, 3.82 during his rookie season in 1994,  pitching a total of 75.1 innings over five starts and 38 relief appearances. The next year he made nine starts and six relief appearances, going 2-3, 4.75 in 55 innings. He spent all of 1996 in the minors, though most of the time was spent on the disabled list. He signed with the Devil Rays in 1997 and first made it back to the majors in 1998. After going 5-5, 5.29 in 55 relief appearances in 2004 with the Indians, the Pirates signed White as a free agent. He went 4-7, 3.72 in 75 innings over 71 appearances, all out of the bullpen. In his career, he went 42-54, 4.45 in 18 starts and 595 relief outings.

Dave May (1943) Pinch-hitter for the 1978 Pirates. May had a nice 12-year career in the majors, but his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates consisted of only five plate appearances, all as a pinch-hitter. May began the 1978 season as a member of the Texas Rangers. Before he played a game for them, he was sold to the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers then sold him to the Pittsburgh Pirates in September and he went 0-for-4 with a walk as a pinch-hitter. That was the end of his career. He played a total of 1252 major league games, hitting .251 with 96 homers and 422 RBIs. His best season came with the Brewers in 1973, when he hit .303 with 25 homers, 93 RBIs and 96 runs scored, while making his only All-Star appearance.

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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