On this date in 1988, Willie Stargell was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot. Willie was named on 352 of the 427 ballots, a total of least 321(75%) were necessary for election. Stargell was the only player voted in that year but four others on the ballot eventually got in, one of them being Bill Mazeroski who finished 7th with 33.5% of the votes. Willie played 21 seasons in a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform, the only team he played for in his career. He was a .282 career hitter with 475 homers and 1540 RBIs. In Pirates history he ranks 3rd in games played, 5th in runs, 7th in hits, 4th in doubles and 1st overall in RBIs, homers and walks.
Players born on this date include:
Rich Loiselle (1972) a relief pitcher who spent his entire big league career with the Pirates, playing for the team from 1996 until 2001. Rich was a 38th round draft pick of the Padres who also played in the Astros organization before the Pirates picked him up in July 1996 in exchange for pitcher Danny Darwin. Loiselle made his major league debut that September and in five games, three of them as a starter, he went 1-0, 3.05 in 20.2 innings. Moved permanently to the bullpen the following season, he became the Pirates closer, saving 29 games while posting a 3.10 ERA in 72 outings. He had another 19 saves in 1998 with a 3.44 ERA but his stats dropped, especially his control and he was removed from the closer role. He pitched just 13 games in 1999 before injuring his elbow which needed surgery and cost him the rest of the season. Loiselle returned in late May 2000 and posted a 5.10 ERA in 40 games. He struggled in 2001, shuttling between Nashville(AAA) and Pittsburgh, finishing with an 11.50 ERA in 18 major league games. Loiselle was let go following the 2001 season then signed a minor league deal with the Devil Rays but failed to make the team and he retired.
Bobby Crosby (1980) Infielder for the 2010 Pirates. Crosby played half of a season for the Pirates before being dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a five player deal. He was signed as a free agent by Pittsburgh in November of 2009 and hit .224 with 11 RBIs in 61 games. He got starts at all four infield spots, seeing his most time at shortstop. Crosby finished the season with Arizona and was released. He didn’t play in 2011 or 2012 and a comeback fell short in 2013 with the Brewers. He was the American League Rookie of the Year in 2004 and spent seven seasons in Oakland before joining the Pirates. Crosby was a first round draft pick out of college in 2001.
Ed Stevens (1925) first baseman who played for the Pirates from 1948 until 1950. Known as Big Ed, he signed his first pro contract with the Dodgers when he was 16 and he hit .271 with 13 homers that season in Class D ball. He made the majors with the Dodgers by age 20 and hit .274 with 32 walks and 29 RBIs in 55 games as a rookie. Stevens played 103 games in 1946, hitting .242 with 10 homers and 60 RBIs. He spent nearly the entire 1947 season in the minors where he hit .290 with 27 homers and 108 RBIs. The Pirates purchased his contract in November 1947 and he would play 128 games for them the next season, hitting .254 with 69 RBIs while leading all NL first baseman in fielding percentage. Stevens played just 67 games in 1949 as his numbers dropped and he lost his starting job. The following year he spent in the minors, getting a brief September call-up which was his last appearance in the majors. He played minor league ball until 1961, hitting over 250 homers during his 16 years down on the farm. After he retired as a player, Stevens scouted for many years,working into the 1980’s.
Tom Kinslow (1866) catcher for the 1895 Pirates. Kinslow had played in the majors as early as 1886 but he got his first real chance in 1890 when the Player’s League was formed. When the league folded after one season he followed his manager from the PL to the NL, staying in the same city to play for the Brooklyn Grooms. In 1892, Kinslow hit .305 with 40 RBIs in 66 games, sounds like a low game total but catchers back then took much more wear and tear than they do now. After a down year at the plate, he returned to form in 1894 to put up very similar numbers to 1892. In 62 games, he hit .305 again with 41 RBIs. In January 1895 the Pirates traded pitcher Ad Gumbert for Kinslow. Gumbert was once a reliable pitcher, but he posted a 6.04 ERA in 1894 one season after a 5.15 ERA. It was a high offense era so the stats weren’t as bad as they sound, he actually had a 26-21 record over that time. The trade didn’t work out well for either team. Gumbert had two losing seasons in Brooklyn and Kinslow lasted just 19 games in which he hit .226 in 62 at-bats. Kinslow played two more seasons in the majors, playing a combined 25 games for three different teams.
Ed Swartwood (1859) Outfielder/ first baseman for the Pittsburgh Alleghenys of the American Association from 1882 until 1884, then he rejoined the franchise in 1892 when they were nicknamed the Pirates and playing in the National League. Ed played Independent ball from 1878 until 1881 when purely by chance he got to play a major league game with the Buffalo Bisons of the NL. Swartwood’s team played an exhibition game against Buffalo on an off-day but after the game two Bisons players had to leave the team for personal reasons. Buffalo signed him for the game and he went 1-for-3 with a walk. He rejoined his minor league team after the game. The American Association was formed for the 1882 season as a rival major league to the NL. Swartwood signed with Pittsburgh and he would hit .329 that first year with 86 runs scored and 18 doubles, leading the AA in each of those last two stats during the league’s inaugural 80 game schedule. He was the first batter in franchise history, batting lead-off on Opening Day. The AA schedule expanded to 98 games the following year and Swartwood would lead the league with 147 hits and a .357 average.
After hitting .288 in 1884, the Alleghenys sold him to the Brooklyn Grays. The moved was made necessary by the fact that Swartwood had said he was going to sign with an NL team so Pittsburgh was forced to sell(or trade) him or lose him for nothing. Swartwood played for the Grays for three seasons, never quite approaching his 1882-83 numbers. He then played two seasons in the minors, reappeared in 1890 in the AA when the league’s talent was watered down due to a new major league in existence, the Player’s League. Despite hitting .327 with 80 walks and 106 runs scored in 1890, he was back in the minors for 1891 when the PL folded. Ed started the 1892 season with the Pirates and hit .238 in 13 games with 13 walks before they released him. He went back to the minors and played there until the end of the 1893 season. He umpired off and on in the minors for the next 10 years before retiring from baseball.
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.