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This Date in Pirates History: June 18


Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born today, all three had brief careers in the majors due to three different circumstances, one of them being a tragic ending at a young age. We also have one trade the Pirates made to help with a pennant run and in his Jolly Roger Rewind, John Fredland covers a game from the 1960 season, with a great comeback from the Pirates.

The Trade

On this date in 1908, the Pirates traded pitchers Tom McCarthy and Harley Young to the Boston Doves for pitcher Irv Young. The Pirates were looking to add to their rotation to make a pennant run and Irv Young was a veteran pitcher that the lowly Boston Doves were willing to move. Irv had a 50-78 3.15 record in 142 games, 126 as a starter, over his four seasons with Boston. In each of his first two seasons, the 30 year old lefty led the NL in innings pitched. McCarthy and Harley Young were both young inexperienced pitchers that the Pirates thought highly of, but neither were ready to pitch regularly for a pennant contender. Manager Fred Clarke said at the time of the deal that Irv would step into a regular spot in the rotation.

After the deal, Irv pitched well for the Pirates, but he didn’t last long in the rotation. He didn’t make a start during the last month and a half of the season. Young finished with a 4-3 2.01 record in seven starts and nine relief appearances. The Pirates actually went 32-10 after his last start, so his presence wasn’t missed in the rotation. After the season, the Pirates sold Irv to a minor league team. The other Young made just six more major league appearances, two as a start. The 1908 season was his only in the majors, finishing with an 0-3 career record. He was also sold to the minors prior to the 1909 season. Tom McCarthy was thought to be the lesser of the two pitchers that Boston received but he outpitched both Youngs after the trade, at least that first year. He went 7-3 1.63 in 94 innings in 1908, then dropped to 0-5 in 1909 before finishing his career in the minors.

The Players

Ron Necciai (1932) Pitcher for the 1952 Pirates. The young fireballer joined the 1952 Bristol Twins of the Appalachian League after two unimpressive seasons to start his pro career. What he did in his short time with Bristol, which was a Class-D team(lowest level of the minors), proved to Pittsburgh that he was not only ready to move up two levels in the minors, he was also given a trial with the Pirates at the end of the year. He made two starts and four relief appearances for Bristol, pitching a total of 42.2 innings. Necciai allowed just ten hits and two earned runs for an 0.42 ERA. The most impressive part was his strikeouts, which are broken down below:

1st outing: 9 IP 20 K
2nd: 9 IP 19 K
3rd: 4 IP 11 K
4th: 9 IP 27 K
5th: 2.2 IP 8 K
6th: 9 IP 24 K

Necciai was moved up to the Carolina League, where he had a 1.57 ERA in 126 innings. On August 7,1952 the Pirates called him up to the majors and gave him his first big league start three days later. Ron was not sharp that day, giving up seven runs on 11 hits in six innings. Unbelievably, he pitched three innings the next day and struck out five of the ten batters he faced, with the only runner allowed, reaching base on a dropped third strike. Necciai had some rough outings the rest on the way, winning just once and until his last start, he was barely striking out anyone. On the last day of the season, he allowed two runs over seven innings, striking out eight batters.

The next year he was inducted into the Army before the season started. He was discharged after a short time due to stomach ulcers, which had been bothering him for awhile. Ron didn’t return to baseball until the 1954 season and in Spring Training he came down with a sore arm. He left the team and said he was quitting baseball. The Pirates still held his rights and released him to Waco of the Big State League, a Class-B team. Before he pitched for them, he was acquired by the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League. In 1955, Ron pitched three times for the Stars before being returned to Waco, where he made the last two appearances of his career. A rotator cuff injury ended his promising baseball career with 1-6 7.08 record in 54.2 innings in the majors. Ron turns 80 years old today.

Newt Halliday (1896) First baseman for the Pirates on August 19, 1916. He was playing in the Kentucky-Illinois-Tennessee League(referred to as the KITTY League) in 1916 when the league folded midway through their season. Halliday was signed by the Pirates in August and was on the bench during a doubleheader on August 19,1916, when backup infielder Joe Schultz pinch-hit for first baseman Doc Johnston in the bottom of the fifth inning of game two. Schultz remained in the game and went to play second base, while Halliday entered the game as the first baseman. Newt handled all four chances he had in the field without an error, and his only AB, which came with one out and no one on in the eighth inning, resulted in a strikeout. It was said about him in the local paper the next day that “he is a big rangy youth, who handles himself nicely on the bag”. Halliday never got into another game that season and by the next year he was enlisted in the U.S. Navy during WWI. During his training, he contracted Tuberculosis and became very ill by March of 1918. By early April he had also come down with pneumonia and on April 6,1918 at the age of 21, he passed away. His early death makes him one of the youngest major leaguers to pass away, surpassed by as few as three players, all from the 19th century.

Ben Shaw (1893) First baseman/Catcher for the 1917-18 Pirates. Shaw was a college graduate with two years in the minors when he made the Pirates Opening Day roster in 1917 as their emergency catcher/ backup first baseman. He was picked up off waivers from the Yankees just three weeks before the season started. It was said that he could fill the first base starting job in an acceptable manner if Bill Hinchman was unable to handle the job. The scouting report on him was that he was a promising catcher and a natural hitter. At the time of his acquisition, the Pirates had two catchers that were unsigned, both holding out for more money. As it turned out, the Pirates signed both holdouts and Shaw was returned to the minors after just two pinch hit AB’s. He went to Omaha of the Western League to finish the season, where he hit .313 in 102 games. Ben returned to the majors in 1918, taking up the role he was slated for the prior season. He played 21 games, getting five starts, and he hit .194 with two RBI’s and five runs scored in 40 plate appearances. That 1918 season was his last as a player in pro ball, although he later managed in the minors. A salary dispute with the Pirates caused him to jump to Outlaw baseball, which got him blacklisted from pro ball until 1925, when he was reinstated.

Jolly Roger Rewind: June 18, 1960

With Los Angeles’ Danny McDevitt one strike away from a three-hit shutout, the Pirates rallied for three ninth-inning runs to tie the game, and then pushed across a run in the tenth for a 4-3 victory over the Dodgers at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

McDevitt appeared to have the first-place Bucs right where he wanted them when he started the ninth by retiring Roberto Clemente and Dick Stuart on ground balls and then got ahead of Gino Cimoli with a 1-2 count. But Cimoli beat out an infield single to shortstop Maury Willis, keeping the inning alive and allowing the Pirates to turn to their winning hand: a pair of catchers.

First was that day’s starting receiver, Hal Smith. Like Cimoli, Smith fell behind McDevitt 1-2, but he lined the lefthander’s next pitch into the leftfield stands for a two-run homer to cut the deficit to one run.

Don Hoak followed with a single, and Bill Mazeroski drew a walk. Having reached the pitcher’s spot in the lineup, Danny Murtaugh sent up pinch-hitter Gene Baker. Walter Alston countered by calling in righthanded reliever Larry Sherry to face the righthanded-batting Baker. Murtaugh responded by replacing Baker with lefty-swinging Smokey Burgess.
Burgess promptly became the second Pirate catcher with a clutch hit in the inning by lining a single to left to score Hoak with the tying run.

The game moved to extra frames, and Sherry remained on the mound in the top of the tenth. Roberto Clemente led off the inning with an infield single. One out later, Cimoli drew a walk. Smith then came through with his second big hit in as many innings, a ground-ball single past Willis’ glove that brought Clemente home with the go-ahead tally.

By holding the Dodgers scoreless in the ninth and tenth innings, Elroy Face earned his fifth consecutive victory. The Pirates maintained a four-game advantage over the second-place Giants; this represented the largest lead for any first place team in the National League since the 1958 season.

Box score and play-by-play

John Dreker
John Dreker
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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