This Date in Pirates History: December 8

There have been so many trades on this date in Pittsburgh Pirates history that I decided, instead of concentrating on one specific one and skipping some due to time, I would cut down the summaries and include them all, while posting links to old articles for more information wherever applicable. The biggest trade on this date, and also the biggest in team history occurred on this date in 1899 and received an article of its very own. In a 16 player deal with the Louisville Colonels, the Pirates gave up four players and cash in return for Honus Wagner, Fred Clarke, Rube Waddell, Tommy Leach, Deacon Phillippe, Claude Ritchey and six other players. One of the players they gave up was returned before the start of the new season, that being Jack Chesbro. Wagner, Clarke, Waddell and Chesbro are all in the Hall of Fame while Deacon Phillippe has stats that rank him up there with many HOF pitchers of that era. A full wrap-up of this deal can be read here

Wagner led the Pirates to four NL titles

Going with the most recent trades first now, in 2005 the Pirates traded pitcher Dave Williams to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for first baseman Sean Casey and cash. Casey had batted over .300 five times in his career to that point. With the Pirates he lasted just 59 games before being traded to the Tigers. He hit .296 with 29 RBI’s.

On this date in 1977 the Pirates teamed up with the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets and Texas Rangers to complete a four team, 11 player trade. The Pirates gave up Al Oliver and Nelson Norman in the deal while getting back future Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven from the Rangers and outfielder John Milner from the Mets. Blyleven would win 34 games over three seasons in Pittsburgh and another two wins during the 1979 postseason, helping the Pirates to their 5th World Series title. Milner hit .263 with 34 homers and 149 RBI’s in 417 games over five seasons in Pittsburgh. He had an impressive 150 walks compared to just 97 strikeouts during that time. The Pirates traded him to the Expos in late August 1981 for Willie Montanez, who was also involved in the 1977 trade, only to get Milner back as a free agent less than a year later. A write-up of Al Oliver can be read here

On this date in 1948 the Pirates traded infielder Frankie Gustine and pitcher Cal McLish to the Chicago Cubs for pitcher Cliff Chambers and catcher Clyde McCullough. Gustine was an all-star for three straight seasons leading up to the trade but he played just 85 more games in the majors after the trade. He played 1176 games over ten seasons in Pittsburgh. McLish had a 5-11 record over parts of two seasons with the Cubs then went five years between major league appearances. Chambers threw a no-hitter with the Pirates in 1951, the first in team history since 1907. McCullough played three seasons for the Pirates and he hit a career high .297 in 1951. A write-up of McLish and his interesting name can be found here.

One year earlier than the above trade, the Pirates and Brooklyn Dodgers hooked up for a six player deal with three players from each team involved. The Pirates traded infielders Billy Cox and Gene Mauch, along with pitcher Preacher Roe to the Dodgers for outfielder Dixie Walker and pitchers Hal Gregg and Vic Lombardi. The trade was a win for the Dodgers, Roe went 93-37 in seven seasons in Brooklyn after going just 34-47 for the Pirates. Cox had the second best career following the trade playing seven years for the Dodgers. Walker had two good years with the Pirates before he retired, batting .306 in 217 games but his best years were behind him at that point. He was 37 at the time of the trade, a four time all-star who received MVP votes in seven seasons while with the Dodgers including a 2nd and 3rd place finish.

Finally, on this date in 1939 the Pirates traded long-time pitcher Bill Swift to the Boston Bees for pitcher Danny MacFayden. Swift had been with the Pirates since his rookie season in 1932. He won at least 11 games in each of his first five seasons in Pittsburgh and a total of 91 wins over his eight seasons. MacFayden was a 14 year veteran with 125 career wins at the time of the trade. Despite strong credentials on both sides, neither did much for their new team. Swift won just four more major league games over his last three seasons while MacFayden went 5-4 3.55 in 35 games in his only year with the Pirates. He was released following the season and pitched just 15 more major league games.

A few quick birthday mentions as well. Catcher Jim Pagliaroni, born in 1937 played five seasons for the Pirates after coming over from the Red Sox in the Dick Stuart trade mentioned here. He played 490 games for the Pirates, hitting .254 with 49 homers and 185 RBIs. His best season came in 1965 when he played a career high 134 games. He hit 17 homers that season and drove in 65 runs, both career highs. He reached double figures in homers for six straight seasons. After the 1967 season, Pagliaroni was sold to the Oakland Athletics. He finished out his 11 year big league career, two seasons later with the Seattle Pilots, during their only season in existence.

Also Jack Rowe, who played for the 1889 Alleghenys, was born on this date in 1856. He was a star player of his day, four times batting over .300 and he helped lead the 1887 Detroit Wolverines to an NL title. He was one of five players from that Detroit team that played for the 1889 Pittsburgh team, including two future Hall of Famers, Ned Hanlon and Deacon White. Rowe batted .259 in 75 games for the Alleghenys, spending all of his time at shortstop, where his fielding percentage was slightly above average, though his range was below average, mirroring his entire career Rowe wrapped up his major league career in 1890 playing for Buffalo of the Player’s League. He had began his major league career 11 seasons earlier in the same town, playing for the Buffalo Bisons of the National League. Rowe went on to play three more years in the minors, the last two in Buffalo, before taking up managing for that same team from 1896-98. He hit .286 career, scoring 764 runs and driving in 644 runs in 1044 games. His brother Dave spent seven seasons in the majors as a player, two as a player/manager.

Kid Camp (1869) Pitcher for the 1892 Pirates. In 1891, Camp pitched 459.1 innings for Seattle of the Pacific Northwestern League. The next season, he made his debut in the majors for the Pirates, getting one start and three relief appearances before returning to minor league ball. Camp pitched 21 innings, allowing 23 runs(16 earned), finishing with a 0-1, 6.26 record. His only start came on June 2nd, during a 7-4 loss in New York to the Giants. Camp had one other brief trial in the majors, going 0-1, 6.55 in three games(two starts) for the 1894 Chicago Colts(Cubs). That 1894 season would be his last in pro ball under unfortunate circumstances. At the age of 25, Camp passed away a month prior to the 1895 season. His brother Lew Camp pitched three seasons in the majors, the last in 1894 as a teammate of Kid.

Charlie Wacker (1883) Pitcher for the Pirates on April 28, 1909. In his only appearance for the Pirates, and his only big league game period, Wacker threw two innings in relief, giving up two unearned runs on two hits and a walk. He came in during the seventh inning of an 8-2 loss to the Cardinals and finished the game for the Pirates. The local paper said Wacker had “all kinds of speed and fair control” on the mound. The 25-year-old, 5’9″ lefty, got his big league chance after going 27-8 in 1908 for Evansville of the Central League. He returned to the minors soon after his one game and played until 1911, finishing with a 76-54 record over five minor league seasons, which does not include his 1907 stats for Evansville, as they are incomplete.

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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