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Monday, December 5, 2022

This Date in Pirates History: February 17

On this date in 1912 the Pittsburgh Pirates traded outfielder Vin Campbell to the Boston Braves for outfielder Mike Donlin. Both players were great hitters but neither were loyal to baseball. Campbell was a businessman, Donlin a vaudeville actor and both would leave baseball for periods of time, or hold out for more money, because they knew they could make better money elsewhere. Donlin would’ve likely been a Hall of Fame player had he not sat out three full seasons in his prime, he was a .333 career hitter in 1049 games. He had batted .316 in 68 games in 1911 while Campbell had hit .312 in 42 games for the Pirates that same season. Both players would end up playing just one season for their new teams, then they both sat out the 1913 season. Donlin hit .316 in 77 games for the 1912 Pirates while Campbell hit .296 and led the league in at-bats for the Braves that season.

Former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date include:

Dave Wissman(1941) outfielder for the 1964 Pirates. He was signed by Pittsburgh as an amateur free agent prior to the 1961 season. Dave batted .333 with ten homers and 20 doubles in 70 games his first season. He moved up a level for 1962 and slumped, hitting .244 in 119 games for the Grand Forks Chiefs of the Northern League. Wissman moved up to AA in 1963 and hit .272 with 11 homers in 134 games. He followed that up with a .255 average and ten homers in 1964 in AAA, earning a September call-up to the Pirates. Dave played 16 games for the Pirates and although didn’t get a start until game 159 on the season, the Pirates started him in left field twice and center field twice during the last four games of the year. While in the minors he spent most of his playing time at third base. Wissman played two more years in AAA for the Pirates, then one season in the Tigers system before retiring. In all six seasons he played in the Pirates system he hit at least ten homers but never more than 14 in a year.

Whammy Douglas(1935) pitcher for the 1957 Pirates. The Pirates signed him as an amateur free agent in 1953 and by the next season, as a 19 year old, he put up a 27-6 2.06 record pitching for the Brunswick Pirates, a D-Level affiliate of Pittsburgh. He made it all the way up to AA in 1955 but remained at the level the entire 1956 season. In AAA in 1957 he went 10-10 2.71 in 20 starts and six relief appearances, earning a promotion to the majors in late July. For the Pirates he went 3-3 3.26 in 11 games, eight as a starter. Back in AAA for 1958, he remained there for the Pirates until the Pirates traded him to the Reds on January 30,1959 in a seven player deal that saw them acquire Harvey Haddix, Smoky Burgess and Don Hoak. For more on this trade, check out the article we posted here, which also included a mention of Vin Campbell, who was born on that same date. Douglas pitched for two seasons in the minors before retiring, briefly making a comeback in 1965 before ending his playing days for good.

Ed Brandt(1905) pitcher for the 1937-38 Pirates. He had a rough start to his career with the Braves in 1928, leading the NL in losses as a rookie, then going on to compile a 21-45 record over his first three seasons. Brandt would turn things around in 1931 and run off a string of four consecutive seasons winning at least 16 games. After struggling in 1935 the Braves traded him to the Dodgers in December of that year and almost exactly one year later the Dodgers shipped him to the Pirates. In two seasons in Pittsburgh he went 16-14 3.23 in 57 games, 38 as a starter. His 11 wins for the 1937 Pirates ranked third on the team. The Pirates released him in 1939 during spring training. He played that season in the minors before retiring as a player. Brandt passed away at the age of 39 after he was hit by a car.

Eddie Phillips(1901) catcher for the 1931 Pirates. He had a 20 year pro career beginning in 1924 when the Boston Braves signed him out of Boston College. Eddie played three games that year for the Braves then it took him five more years to get back to the majors, this time as a member of the Detroit Tigers. After one season there he was back in the minors where he was picked by the Philadelphia Athletics in the September 1930 rule 5 draft. Four months later the Pirates purchased his contract and that 1931 season would end up being the best year of his career. He set personal highs in games played(106), hits(82), home runs(7) and RBI’s with 44. Just over a year after acquiring him, the Pirates traded Phillips along with a pitcher named Bob Osborn, who had just posted a 5.01 ERA in 1931, to the Kansas City Blues of the American Association in exchange for pitcher Bill Swift. The trade was a huge success for the Pirates as Swift spent nine seasons pitching for Pittsburgh, picking up 91 wins along the way. Phillips spent parts of three more seasons in the majors and retired with a .237 average in 312 career games.

Rivington Bisland(1890) shortstop who pinch hit for the Pirates on September 13,1912. He began his minor league career in 1910 and his one game for the Pirates was his major league debut. He got his pinch hit AB during a 6-5 win over the Phillies. Early the next season the Pirates sold him to the Atlanta Crackers, where he played in each of the next three seasons(1913-15). Those first two years after leaving the Pirates he also got brief trials with the 1913 St Louis Browns and 1914 Cleveland Naps(Indians). In 102 career major league AB’s he hit .118 with one extra base hit, a double.

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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.


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