Plenty of trades in Pittsburgh Pirates history on this date, including two that involved Hall of Fame players and the same player getting traded in back-to-back years. We also have two birthdays and a rare hitting feat during the 1940’s in John Fredland’s, Jolly Roger Rewind.
1983: Marvell Wynne to the Mets for Junior Ortiz. Wynne was a 23 year old minor leaguer at the time of the deal. He made his debut right after the trade, spending the rest of 1983 and each of the next two seasons manning center field for the Pirates, before he was dealt to the Padres for pitcher Bob Patterson. Ortiz, the 23 year old backup catcher for Pittsburgh, had just 12 games of major league service in at the time. He would hit .236 with no homers and 23 RBI’s in 108 games for New York before returning to the Pirates in the 1984 rule V draft. Also included in this deal were two pitchers, one going each way, neither played in the majors for their new team. The Pirates gave up Arthur Ray, while getting back Steve Senteney.
1982: Eddie Solomon to the White Sox for Jim Morrison. Solomon was a 31 year old starting pitcher, in his third season with the Pirates. He pitched well the first two years but he was struggling in 1982 with a 2-6 6.75 record. Eddie last just three weeks and six relief appearances with the White Sox before they released him, ending his big league career. Morrison was a 29 year old infielder with some pop in his bat. In 1980 he had 15 homers and 40 doubles. At trade time, he was hitting .223 with 7 homers in 51 games. He ended up playing six seasons in Pittsburgh, mostly at third base, with a .274 average, 57 homers and 241 RBI’s in 552 games.
1954: Hal Rice to the Cubs for Luis Marquez. This was the second straight year that Rice got traded of this date. The 30 year old corner outfielder was hitting .173 with 9 RBI’s over 28 games at the time of the trade. Marquez hit .197 with the Braves during his rookie season in 1951, then spent the next two years in the minors. Returning to the majors in 1954, the 28 year old outfielder had one hit in 14 plate appearances, with three stolen bases. After the deal, he also had one hit in 14 plate appearances with the Pirates, although he did take four walks. Luis spent the next nine seasons in the minors without a return trip to the big leagues. Rice hit .153 in 51 games for the Cubs, his last season in the majors.
1953: Pete Castiglione to the Cardinals for Hal Rice. Castiglione was a 32 year old infielder, in his seventh season with the Pirates. He had a .258 average with 24 homers and 147 RBI’s in 473 games for Pittsburgh. He was hitting .208 at the time of the deal and he batted .173 afterwards in limited time for St Louis. His career lasted just five more games in 1954, without him getting an at-bat. Rice was in a platoon role in 1952 and played well, hitting .288 with 45 RBI’s in 98 games. In 1953 however, he had batted just eight times, all as a pinch hitter. Rice batted .311 with 42 RBI’s in 78 games for the Pirates in 1953.
1940: Ray Berres to the Boston Bees for Al Lopez. Berres was a 32 year old catcher, with 288 games of major league experience, 144 with the Dodgers and 144 with the Pirates. His highest average in five seasons was .240 and he had one career homer. After the deal he hit .197 in 205 games for the Braves, before moving on to the New York Giants for four seasons as a seldom used backup catcher. Lopez was 31 years old, in his 12th season in the majors. He had caught over 100 games in a season ten times, and during four of those years he got MVP votes for his work behind the plate and solid hitting. With the Pirates he hit .254 with 196 RBI’s in 656 games. From 1942-44, he led the NL each year in caught stealing percentage, throwing out a high of 66% in 1942. While he had a very solid major league career, Lopez made the Hall of Fame as a manager in 1977. The Braves also got $40,000 cash in this deal.
1917: Doug Baird to the Cardinals for Bob Steele. The 23 year old Steele, had a 6-18 record in two seasons for the Cardinals, despite a decent 3.36 ERA. He was even better with the Pirates, posting a 2.87 ERA, but the Pirates were a bad team and his record stood at 7-14 when he was sold to the Giants in July of 1918. He went just 3-6 with the Giants despite an even lower, 2.74 ERA. His final career record stands at 16-38 with a 3.05 ERA. Baird was a 25 year old third baseman, who batted under .220 in each of his first two seasons, leading the NL in strikeouts as a rookie. In the field, he was slightly below average. At the time of the deal he was hitting .259 in 43 games and he carried that batting over to St Louis, where he hit .253 in 104 games. He played for four different teams over the next three seasons, with his career ending in 1920
1892: Pud Galvin to the St Louis Browns for Cub Stricker. Before Stricker even played a game for the Pirates, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for pitcher Adonis Terry. Galvin was near the end of his Hall of Fame career, winner of 360 games at the time. The 35 year old pitcher was 5-6 2.63 in 12 starts. After the deal, he matched his Pirates record, going 5-6 in 12 starts with the Browns, in what would turn out to be his last season in the majors. His 365 wins at the time were a major league record. Stricker was a tiny(5″3 138) light hitting second baseman with a solid glove. At age 33, he was nearly done as a player, hitting .204 at the time of the deal and he played just 134 games after being dealt the second time. Despite his .239 career average, the speedy Stricker was able to score at least 80 runs a year each season from 1887-1891.
Randy Tomlin (1966) Pitcher for the Pirates from 1990 until 1994. The Pirates drafted him in the 18th round of the 1988 draft out of Liberty University. Randy shot through the Pirates minor league system, winning 30 games, with an ERA well below 3.00, making it to the majors 26 months after being drafted. He went 4-4 2.55 in 12 starts for the Pirates in 1990. The following year he made 27 starts for the NL East champs, going 8-7 with a 2.98 ERA in 175 innings. Randy started game four of the NLCS, giving up two first inning runs before shutting down the Braves for the next five innings. He won a career high 14 games in 1992, as the Pirates won their third straight division title. Tomlin pitched 208.2 innings, making 33 starts. In the playoffs, he pitched twice in relief. Randy made just 18 starts in 1993, missing all of June and September, requiring elbow surgery the second time he got hurt. His record fell to 4-8 4.85 in 98.1 innings. He spent half of the strike-shortened 1994 season in the minors, going 0-3 3.92 while he was with the Pirates. He made four starts and six relief appearances but got in just 20.1 innings pitched. The Pirates let him go following the 1994 season. He pitched for the Orioles, then Giants in Spring Training in 1995 but didn’t pitch again until 1996, ending his career in 1997 without making it back to the majors.
Mark Lee (1953) Pitcher for the 1980-81 Pirates. He was a 13th round draft pick of the 1976 Padres. Lee made it to the majors in two seasons, going 5-1 3.28 in 56 appearances as a rookie for the Padres in 1978, pitching a total of 85 innings. His ERA dropped to 4.29 in 46 games the next season and by the start of 1980 he was back in AAA. The Pirates acquired him as the player to be named later in an early August trade during that 1980 season. The original deal saw the Pirates get Kurt Bevacqua for Luis Salazar and Rick Lancellotti. Mark would get a September call-up to Pittsburgh, making four appearances out of the bullpen. He was also a September recall in 1981, posting a 2.75 ERA in 12 games for the Pirates. During Spring Training in 1982, Lee was sold to the Tigers. He spent that entire season in AAA before retiring from baseball.
Jolly Roger Rewind: June 14, 1949
Wally Westlake capped a cycle with a two-run, two-out walk-off double in the bottom of the ninth inning, rallying the Pirates to a 4-3 victory over the Boston Braves at Forbes Field.
With the Braves leading 3-2 and one out in the ninth, Pete Castiglione singled off losing pitcher Nels Potter. Dino Restelli, playing in his first major league game after a much-heralded acquisition from the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League, drew a walk.* Ralph Kiner grounded to shortstop Alvin Dark, but Restelli’s hard slide into second broke up the double play and kept the Pirates alive. Westlake—whom the Braves had unsuccessfully attempted to obtain in a trade**—made the most of this opportunity by lining the ball to left field; when Marv Rickert failed to make the diving catch, Castiglione and Kiner scored to end the game.***
The twenty-eight-year-old centerfielder’s impact extended beyond the game-winning hit: Westlake’s batting and fielding bore almost sole responsibility for the Buccos even having a chance to win at the end. His cycle started humbly, with a single in his second plate appearance. After the Braves broke a scoreless tie with two runs sixth-inning runs off Bucs starter Bob Chesnes, Westlake short-circuited the visitors’ hopes for a bigger inning by throwing out Bob Elliott at third on a single to center. He then partially answered the runs in the bottom of the inning by tripling to the exit gate in right-center and scoring on an Ed Stevens sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Boston extended their lead with a run in the top of the eighth, but Westlake again countered by homering into the Pirate bullpen off starter Bob Hall to reduce the margin to one run and set the stage for his own bottom-of-the-ninth heroics.
Westlake’s clutch hit allowed Ernie “Tiny” Bonham to parlay a scoreless inning of relief work into his first victory of the season.**** It also allowed the Pirates to leap over the Cubs and move out of last place in the National League standings.
* True to his phenom billing, Restelli hit two home runs the next day and seven in his first twelve major league games. He could not, however, sustain the early success: Restelli returned to the minor leagues the next season and played his final major league game in 1951.
** Lester J. Biederman’s coverage in the Pittsburgh Press reported that “the Braves’ brain trust tried as hard as it could to wrangle Westlake into a Boston uniform. They offered the Pirates the pick of any one of five players, but Manager Bill Meyer shook his head and said no quite emphatically.”
*** Biederman noted that “Kiner never ran as fast as he did from first base to the plate, beating the relay as the loyal customers whooped it up.”
**** Westlake and Bonham, Biederman observed, “are neighbors in Sacramento and room together on the road.” Sadly, Bonham was diagnosed with intestinal cancer on September 8 and died one week later at age 36.
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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.