Born on this date in 1856 was James “Pud” Galvin, the winningest pitcher to ever suit up for the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise. He joined the team having already won 222 games by the age of 28 and by the time he retired following the 1893 season he would be the major league leader in wins, a record he would hold until he was passed by Cy Young in 1903. Pittsburgh, while still in the American Association at the time, purchased Galvin from the Buffalo Bisons of the National League on July 13, 1885. He went just 3-7 that first year for the Alleghenys and the team went 13-26 from August 1st until the end of the season. The next year Galvin was back in form, winning 29 games and pitching 434 innings. He helped Pittsburgh to a 80-57 record, which in turn helped lead to their invitation to join the National League the following season.
With the Alleghenys in 1887 Galvin went 28-21, pitching 440 innings and finishing seventh in the league in ERA with a 3.21 mark. He lowered his ERA to 2.63 in 1888 but the record suffered with poor run support as he went 23-25 in 50 starts, 49 complete games(one tie) and six of them shutouts. He won his 300th career game on September 4, 1888 over the Indianapolis Hoosiers, winning 5-4. Galvin won 23 games for Pittsburgh in 1889 then moved on to the newly formed Player’s League with most of his teammates, playing for the Pittsburgh Burghers that year. When the league folded he returned to the Pirates(team named changed for 1891) where he went 15-14, 2.88 in 33 games. He pitched well early for the Pirates in 1892, but was traded after just 10 games to St Louis for Cub Stricker, who was traded by the Pirates for pitcher Adonis Terry before Stricker could play one game for Pittsburgh.
Galvin won 365 career games, a number made more impressive by the fact he played for some bad teams during his career. He retired at age 35, despite posting a 2.92 ERA his last season and he didn’t play in the majors from 1876-78, even though he had a 1.16 ERA in eight games during his rookie season of 1875. He still ranks second all-time in innings pitched and complete games(both to Cy Young), two spots on the all-time list he will likely never be passed on. Galvin spent the 1877 season playing for the Pittsburgh Allegheny(no S at the end) of the International League. He also played in four different major leagues, one of the few players to do that, the National Association, the NL, American Association and the Player’s League. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1965
Also born on this date, in 1869, was pitcher Alex Jones, who made just one start for the 1889 Alleghenys. He won the game while striking out ten batters and he was just 19 years old at the time, but never got another shot with the Alleghenys. The September 25, 1889 game he pitched for Pittsburgh against the Washington Nationals was his pro debut. Jones was a local kid that they signed just for that game. The Nationals had trouble with the 5″9 lefty, but still scored five runs(three earned) in their loss that day. Jones next played pro ball for his hometown team in Bradford, Pa during the 1891 season. There is no record of him playing pro ball in 1890. He next played in the majors in 1892, splitting his season between the Louisville Colonels and Washington Senators. Despite a 3.42 ERA that season, his record was just 5-14 in 22 games. He played off and on in pro ball until 1907, but his major league career after 1892 consisted of a complete game win for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1894 and two games for the 1903 Detroit Tigers
Born this this date in 1898 was Earl Kunz, a pitcher for the 1923 Pirates. Kunz was a west coast kid his whole life, he grew up there, went to school there and played all but one season of his pro career in the Pacific Coast League. That one season was for the Pirates in 1923. He didn’t pitch particularly well his first three seasons in the minors, going 32-41 with an ERA over 4.00, but he did pitch over 300 innings in 1922, so the Pirates gave him a try for the following season. He only started two games for the Pirates, one was an early season complete game loss and the other game he failed to retire a batter before he was pulled. They used him 19 times out of the pen and it was mostly mop-up work, as the Pirates lost 15 of those games. His last major league game was on July 30th and he returned to the PCL where he finished out his pro career in 1930 with a 109-128 minor league record. He went 1-2, 5.52 in 45.2 innings for the Pirates.
Other birthdays on this date include:
Gene Lamont(1946) who managed the Pirates from 1997-2000 winning 79 games his first season and 78 in 1999. He finished 295-352 in Pittsburgh. He led them to a second place finish in 1997 and finished in third place two years later. Lamont managed four seasons with the Chicago White Sox prior to taking over in Pittsburgh and he had two first place finished with the White Sox. He was a catcher for parts of five seasons in the majors with the Detroit Tigers.
Infielder Rich Renteria, who played 10 games for the 1986 Pirates was born on this date in 1961. He was a first round draft pick by Pittsburgh in the 1980 amateur draft. Renteria went 3-for-12 at the plate for the Pirates, driving in one run. He played just one game in the field, getting a start at third base. Renteria also played two years in the majors with the Seattle Mariners and another two years for the Florida Marlins. He finished with a .237 average and 41 RBIs over 184 career games.
Outfielder Scott Bullett was born on this date in 1968, he played 11 games for the 1991 Pirates and another 23 for the team in 1993, finishing with a .186 average in 59 at-bats. Bullett played two full seasons in the majors with the Chicago Cubs, batting .241 over 213 games. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Pirates in 1988. Just before the 1994 season started, the Pirates traded Bullett to the Cubs in exchange for minor league pitcher Travis Willis.
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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.