On this date in 1954 the Pittsburgh Pirates traded starting pitcher Murry Dickson to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for relief pitcher Andy Hansen and seldom used infielder Jack Lohrke along with $70,000 also going to the Pirates in the deal. For the Pirates it was a cost cutting move, as they were just 50-104 in 1953 and they finished 7th out of eight NL teams in attendance. Dickson was their win leader in 1953 and he had also won as many as 20 games just two seasons earlier but he was also one of the higher salary veterans on a team that was far from competing. He was 37 at the time of the trade and had also led the NL in losses each of the last two seasons. His first year with the Phillies would be no different as he went 10-20, although his ERA was still a respectable 3.78 in 226.1 innings.
Lohrke had spent the last seven seasons in the majors, but played a total of just 145 games the five seasons prior to the trade. He was a career .242 hitter, but his last four seasons combined he batted below .200 and never had more than 51 plate appearances in any of them. Hansen was a pitch to contact pitcher, recording only 188 strikeouts in 618 innings through the 1953 season. He had a 3.33 ERA over 97 games with the Phillies from 1951-53. After the trade Hansen pitched just three minor league games before retiring. Lohrke played two years in the minors for the Pirates, then four more seasons also in the minors before he retired. Dickson pitched until 1959 in the majors. He went 10-20 in 1954, but followed that with five straight seasons in which he had a winning record.
You could field a team out of the former Pirates players born on this date although some players would be playing out of position. Ten players in all, so to mention all of them, the descriptions with be brief:
Elmer Dessens (1971) pitcher for the Pirates from 1996-98. He was an amateur free agent signing by the Pirates in 1993. He pitched two seasons in the Mexican League before the Pirates sent him to AA in 1995 where he went 15-8, 2.49 in 27 games. After pitching briefly in the minors he made his major league debut in late June 1996 and went 0-2, 8.28 in 15 games, three as a starter. He returned to the Mexican League for 1997, making three late season appearances for the Pirates. Dessens spent most of the 1998 season in the Pirates bullpen, posting a 2-6, 5.67 record in 43 games. He was released by the Pirates just prior to opening day in 1999. He has pitched 380 major league games since leaving Pittsburgh and is still currently active, spending the 2011 season back in the Mexican League
Odell Jones (1953) pitcher for the 1975, 77-78 and 1981 Pirates. He was an amateur free agent signing in late 1971. He earned a brief look in September 1975 after going 14-9, 2.68 in 26 AAA starts that year. Jones spent all of 1976 in AAA then all of 1977 with the Pirates, going 3-7, 5.08 in 34 games, 15 as a starter. He returned to AAA in 1978 to start the year and had a 4.57 ERA in 181 innings before making three late appearances with the Pirates. In December of that year he was part of a six player trade with the Mariners covered here. The Pirates got him back just prior to the 1980 season in exchange for relief pitcher Larry Anderson. He spent 1980 in the minors, then made 13 appearances with the Pirates in 1981, eight as a starter. He posted a 4-5, 3.31 record in 54.1 innings. Back in the minors all of 1982, the Pirates lost him in the rule 5 draft to the Rangers in December 1982. He pitched four more seasons in the majors, finishing with a 24-35, 4.42 record in 201 games. He won a total of 118 minor league games.
Jim Foor (1949) pitcher for the 1973 Pirates. He was a 1st round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers in 1967. At age 21 he had an 11-6, 1.93 record, spending most of the season in AA. Foor made the Tigers opening day roster in 1971 but recorded just three outs in his three relief appearances before being sent back to the minors. He returned to the majors in August 1972 and in seven games he pitched a total of 3.2 innings, allowing at least one baserunner in every appearance. The Pirates acquired him in a November 1972 trade along with another young pitcher named Norm McRae in exchange for minor league outfielder Dick Sharon. Foor made three major league appearances for the Pirates, pitching 1.1 scoreless innings. The Pirates traded him for pitcher Wayne Simpson prior to the 1974 season. He pitched three years in the minors, never appearing in the majors again leaving him with a 12.00 ERA in 13 games. He pitched a total of just six innings and allowed at least one baserunner in every major league game he pitched, 21 of the 40 batters he faced in all reached base.
Ron Brand (1940) catcher for the 1963 Pirates. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Pirates prior to the 1958 season. He played five full minor league seasons, twice hitting over .300 before he got his first chance at the majors. The Pirates called him up in late May 1963, using him as a backup catcher the rest of the season. In 48 games he hit .288 but had just 77 plate appearances, with 24 of them coming during the last week of the season. He spent the entire 1964 season in AAA for them before the Pirates lost him in the November 1964 rule 5 draft to the Houston Colt .45’s. He played seven more seasons in the majors, four for Houston and three for the expansion Montreal Expos. Brand finished as a .239 hitter in 568 career games.
Ben Guitini (1919) outfielder for the 1946 Pirates. The Pirates took the 26 year old outfielder in the 1945 rule 5 draft from the Giants after he hit .283 in 109 games for San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League. He started pro ball in 1940, missed two seasons due to the war, returning in 1944. He was on the 1946 opening day roster and pinch hit in his first game, the fifth game of the season for the team. Four days later he went 0-2 while playing right field. The Pirates shipped him back to the PCL after that two game trial. He played in AAA for them in 1947 before they sold him to his old team in San Francisco. He was a 1949 rule 5 draft pick of the Phillies and they used him in just three games before returning him to the minors. He played for five different teams between the 1950-51 seasons as he finished his career in the minors. He went 0-7 in the majors at the plate.
Spades Wood (1909) pitcher for the 1930-31 Pirates. He went 22-3, 2.65 in the minors for the Pirates in 1930, earning an August call-up which resulted in a 4-3, 5.12 record in nine games. The ERA wasn’t that good, though two things stand out about it. The 1930 season was one of the highest offense years in baseball history, so a lot of pitchers got hit hard that season. The second thing that stands out is the fact Wood threw two complete game shutouts. Those shutouts came in his second and third career starts and both were the first game of a doubleheader. Wood was seldom used the following year, pitching 15 games spread out over the entire season. He went 2-6, 6.15 in 64 innings in what would be his last major league season. He was still Pirates property for the next two seasons in the minors and he pitched pro ball until 1934.
Fred Schulte (1901) outfielder for the 1936-37 Pirates. Fred had nine seasons in already when the Pirates purchased him for $8,000 from the Senators in January 1936. He had hit .294 or better in six of those seasons but was coming off a down year in which he hit .265 and saw his playing time diminish. He mostly played CF for the Pirates in 1936, getting plenty of PH appearances as well. He hit .261 with 17 RBIs in 74 games that year. He was almost glued to the bench in 1937, playing 29 games spread out over the entire year with just two starts. He hit .100 in what would be his final season in the majors. He played pro ball until 1944 and also managed during three seasons in the minors. Fred was a .291 career hitter in 1179 games.
Edward “Goat” Anderson (1880) outfielder for the 1907 Pirates. He replaced Ginger Beaumont after he was traded to the Braves during the offseason. The 27-year-old Anderson hit .206 with 12 RBIs in 510 plate appearances during his only season in the majors. He did manage to take 80 walks, steal 27 bases and score 73 runs but Beaumont led the NL in hits that year. Anderson played 10 total seasons in the minors, six after the Pirates released him prior to the 1908 season. He never hit higher than .249 in any of those six seasons
Jud Smith (1869) third baseman for the 1896 and 1901 Pirates. Smith spent a long time as a player in pro ball (1887-1909), but he played just 103 major league games spread out of four seasons, and even the seasons were spread out. He hit .196 playing for two different teams in 1893, then next appeared with the 1896 Pirates where he hit .343 in 10 games. Two years later he hit .303 in 66 games for the Washington Senators but still couldn’t hold a major league job. The end of the 1901 season saw him play six games and hit .143 for the first place Pirates, the first team in franchise history to win the pennant.
Al Krumm (1865) Pitcher for the Pittsburgh Alleghenys on May 17,1889. Krumm had a brief minor league career and an even shorter big league career. He spent two seasons in the Tri-State League and had just one tough outing for the Alleghenys. Going up against the New York Giants in his major league debut, Krumm had some wildness, issuing ten walks (some newspapers from the time say nine) and that helped the Giants to an 11-7 victory. He was signed by Pittsburgh on May 15th when injuries to Pud Galvin, Ed Morris and Pete Conway left three of their four starting pitchers unable to play. Following his only game, it sounded like Krumm would get a second chance, as a front office member told the local paper that they were satisfied with his showing against New York and they would keep him around for the time being. He was even announced as the probably starter for May 21st, though Harry Staley ended up pitching instead. Pittsburgh then had a rainout and also signed a local kid named Alex Beam and a 17-year-old named Andy Dunning. Both of those pitchers got two starts without any success and due to their presence, Krumm never pitched again.
Krumm was with the team working out and felt so good about his control getting better, that he offered to buy a hat for any opposing player than was able to draw a walk off him in his next start. Obviously the hat makers in Pittsburgh were never able to profit from that claim. Krumm was again listed as the probable for May 29th, but that game ended up being the second start from Alex Beam instead. The final straw for Krumm’s career was a natural disaster, the Johnstown flood. It occurred on May 31, 1889 and kept the Alleghenys from returning home from a road trip. It also caused them to play just one game over a six-day stretch. When they finally resumed play, both Pud Galvin and Ed Morris returned to the team and the services of the young players were no longer needed.
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.