On this date in 1971 the Pittsburgh Pirates traded outfielder Matty Alou along with pitcher George Brunet to the Cardinals in exchange for outfielder Vic Davalillo and pitcher Nelson Briles. Alou was the big piece in the deal, he hit .327 over five seasons with the Pirates, winning a batting title in 1966 and leading the league in doubles and hits in 1969. Alou hit .297 in 1970, the only year under .300 with the Pirates. Brunet was a 35-year-old pitcher who had a 9-7, 4.21 record in 36 games in 1970. The Pirates acquired him mid-season that year from the Senators. Briles was 27 and had a 61-54, 3.42 record in six seasons with the Cardinals which included 19 wins in 1968. Davalillo was a 34-year-old outfielder who hit .311 in limited at-bats with the Cardinals in 1970.
After the deal Davalillo played well for the Pirates receiving slightly more playing time than he did in the last few seasons prior to the trade. He hit .285 with 48 runs scored in 99 games for the Pirates in 1971 then followed it up with a .311 average in 117 games the next season. Briles went 36-28 over his three seasons with the Pirates, winning 14 games in both the 1972-73 seasons. Brunet made just seven relief appearances for the Cardinals in what would be his last season in the majors. Alou hit .315 with a career high 74 RBIs in 1971, then followed it with a .314 average in 1972 before the Cardinals traded him away late in the season. Less than two years later he was released by the Padres, his fourth team in three years, which was the end of his major league career. While Alou’s bat would’ve looked good in Pittsburgh for two more seasons, the Pirates won the 1971 World Series and Briles threw a shutout in game five.
Also on this date, in 1932, the Pirates traded pitcher Bob Osborn and catcher Eddie Phillips to the Kansas City Blues of the American Association in exchange for 23 year old pitcher Bill Swift. This trade worked out great for the Pirates as they gave up a pitcher in Osborn, who at age 28 had only 27 major league wins and 4.32 ERA and a catcher in Phillips, who at age 30 had played only parts of three seasons in the majors and never hit higher than .235 in a season. Swift was in his fourth minor league season in 1930 and had just went 16-7, 4.54 playing in a high offense league. He immediately became a fixture in the Pirates rotation and would go on to pitch 305 games over eight seasons in a Pittsburgh uniform. He had a 91-79 record for the Pirates, winning at least 14 games in a season four times. Osborn never played in the majors again while Phillips played parts of three more seasons, getting into a combined 135 games over that time.
On this date in 1949 the Pirates purchased pitcher Murry Dickson from the St Louis Cardinals for $125,000. He was 32 years old at the time of the deal and had just gone 12-16. 4.14 in 42 games, 29 of them as a starter. In 1946 he had a 15-6, 2.88 record in 47 games, 19 as a starter. For the Pirates he would play five seasons, throwing over 200 innings each year. In 1951 he won 20 games despite leading the league in hits allowed. earned runs allowed and home runs allowed. Overall he had a 66-85, 3.83 record with Pittsburgh, although his won/loss record was hurt by playing for some pretty bad teams over those years.
The only former Pirates player born on this date was pitcher Jason Schmidt (1973) who played for the team from 1996 until 2001. The Pirates acquired Schmidt along with two other players in exchange for Denny Neagle on August 28, 1996. He had a 5-6, 6.45 record in 22 games over two seasons prior to the trade. After the trade he made six starts that season for the Pirates going 2-2, 4.06 in 37.2 innings. He stayed in the rotation to begin the 1997 season and over the next three years(97-99) he made a combined total of 98 starts, posting a 34-34 record with an ERA in the low to mid 4’s each seasons. He made just 11 starts in 2000 before a shoulder injury and subsequent surgery put him out for the season. He returned in 2001 and went 6-6, 4.61 in 14 starts before he was traded to the San Francisco Giants. He would go 78-37 in six years with the Giants before signing a 3 year/ $46,000,000 contract with the Dodgers, who he made just 10 starts for over the life of the deal. He retired after 2009 with a 130-96 career record.
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.