Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date. Also,I take a look back at an interesting pitching match-up on this date from 120 years ago. In his Jolly Roger Rewind, John Fredland talks about a tough loss from twenty-eight years ago today.
Jack Shepard (1931) Catcher for the Pirates from 1953 until 1956. He was heavily recruited while in college at Stanford, deciding to sign with the Pirates because he felt GM Branch Rickey had the team going in the right direction. The Pirates brought Shepard right to the majors and got him into two games before sending him to the minor leagues. He went to Denver of the Western League and hit .324 with nine homers in 84 games. He made the Pirates out of Spring Training the next year and had a strong rookie season platooning with Toby Atwell behind the plate. In 82 games, Shepard hit .304 with 22 RBI’s. The next year, Jack got even more playing time, although his batting was nowhere near as good as his rookie season. He hit .239 in 94 games and managed to have just a .639 OPS. When he was sent to the minors in 1953, it was said that he needed to work on his throwing to make himself a strong major league player. He must’ve taken that to heart, as he threw out 52% of would-be base stealers in 1955. In 1956, Shepard played a career high 100 games, hitting .242 with seven homers and 30 RBI’s. He signed his contract to play for the Pirates in February of 1957 but less than a month later he retired from baseball to pursue a career in business. He managed briefly for the Pirates in the minor leagues in 1959.
Frank Miller (1886) Pitcher for the Pirates from 1916 until 1919. Despite winning twenty games for four straight seasons in the high levels of the minors, Miller didn’t make his major league debut until age 27 with the Chicago White Sox. On July 12,1913, the White Sox gave him one start and he pitched poorly, allowing five runs in 1.2 innings. It was then back to the minors for two more full seasons before he returned to the big leagues with the 1916 Pirates. In his first full season in the majors, he went 7-10 with a 2.29 ERA in 173 innings, getting twenty starts and ten relief appearances. They next year, the Pirates were awful, winning just 51 games. Miller had a decent 3.13 ERA during a down year for offense, but his record was just 10-19 in 28 starts and ten relief outings. His 1918 season was his best overall. Miller had a 2.38 ERA, with a record of 11-8 in 23 starts. The next year, Frank won a career high 13 games and topped the 200 inning mark for the second time. The Pirates sold him to the Boston Braves in March of 1920 but he didn’t play for them until 1922. It was said he retired due to “family and business pressure”. Frank won 11 games for the Braves his first year back, then went 0-3 before he was released in 1923, ending his baseball career.
Jimmy Archer (1883) Catcher for the 1904 Pirates and then again in 1918. He began his pro baseball career in the low levels of the minors in 1903 and by the following year he established himself as a prospect. That second season, he hit .299 in 74 games despite breaking his collarbone during the season. He had a very strong throwing arm and in September of 1904, the Pirates gave him a trial in the majors. He played seven games and impressed but he needed more seasoning so he was sent to Atlanta of the Southern Association for two years. On September 1,1906 he was chosen by the Tigers in the Rule V draft. Archer played 18 games for the Tigers in 1907, then returned to the minors, where he was again taken in the Rule V draft, this time by the Cubs in 1908. He would become a star player for the Cubs, spending nine seasons in Chicago before being released during the 1917 season. The Pirates signed him in 1918 but by age 35, years of catching had worn him down and he was well past his prime. He hit .155 in 24 games before Pittsburgh released him. Jimmy played briefly for Brooklyn, then for the Reds before he decided to call it a career. In 847 major league games, he was a .249 career hitter with 296 RBI’s.
The Pirates took on the Cleveland Spiders on May 13,1892 with Elmer “Mike” Smith on the mound. Smith was just one year away from becoming a star outfielder for the Pirates, but in 1892 he was trying to make a comeback to the majors as a pitcher. He won 34 games as a 19 year old in 1887 but by 1890 he was back in the minors for two full seasons. The Pirates lost 6-1 on this day, although it could actually be considered a win as Smith was hit hard. He would make just 11 more starts before becoming a full-time outfielder and over the next five seasons for the Pirates, he would hit .336 with 152 steals, 558 runs scored and 406 RBI’s. The starter for Cleveland that day was Denton True Young, the papers referred to him as Farmer Young back then but he is more well-known as Cy Young. The Pirates made seven errors during this game. They had two Hall of Famers in their lineup, at first base was Jake Beckley, while catching Smith that day was Connie Mack. Ed Swartwood played right field and batted sixth that day for the Pirates in one of his last major league games. He was the first batter in franchise history ten years earlier and had returned to the team after an eight year absence. Also of note for the Pirates on this day was the announcement that their new college pitcher, Fred Woodcock, would get his first major league start the next day and they hoped for big things from him. There will be much more on him in an upcoming article.
Jolly Roger Rewind: May 13, 1984
In a game that Chuck Tanner called “toughest loss I’ve ever had as a manager,” the Pirates squandered two-run leads in both the ninth and tenth innings and dropped a ten-inning 9-8 decision to the Braves on a Sunday afternoon at Fulton County Stadium.
After the Braves scored two ninth-inning runs off four Bucco relief pitchers to knot the game at 6-6, the Bucs responded with two tenth-inning runs on a Tony Pena RBI single and botched rundown. The lead in hand, Don Robinson, who had come into the game in the ninth and surrendered the tying run on a sacrifice fly, started the bottom of the tenth by retiring the first two Atlanta batters.
Victory appeared imminent, but Robinson walked the next two Braves, Jerry Royster and Gerald Perry. Tanner then called John Candelaria into the game; Candelaria had pitched seven innings in a starting appearance two days before, but had volunteered to work out of the bullpen that day, if needed.
The change was not enough to stop Atlanta. Claudell Washington drove in Royster with a bloop double to right center. Alex Trevino followed by lining a Candelaria pitch into the gap in right center, scoring Perry and Washington to end the game.
The Braves’ rallies concluded a frustrating weekend for the Pirates. Reigning two-time NL MVP Dale Murphy won Friday’s game with a tenth-inning home run off Kent Tekulve, and Atlanta broke an eighth-inning tie on Saturday with the eventual game-winning runs. Sunday’s walk-off loss sank the Bucs’ record to 10-19, the worst winning percentage in the major leagues.
Box score and play-by-play
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette game story