In part two of today’s this date article, we have five more former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date. Earlier in the day we covered the other two players, Bill Robinson and Jason Kendall. In his Jolly Roger Rewind, John Fredland takes a look back at a game from Bill Robinson on his birthday in 1979.
Howie Pollet (1921) Pitcher for the Pirates from 1951 until 1953, then again in 1956. He was part of two big trades in Pirates history. Pollet came to the Pirates in the seven player deal on June 15,1951 with the Cardinals, that saw Wally Westlake and Cliff Chambers go to St Louis for five players. Two years later, Howie would be sent to the Cubs in the ten player Ralph Kiner trade. While with St Louis, Pollet won 97 games over nine seasons, all while missing two years due to WWII service. With the Pirates in 1951, he went 6-10 5.04 in 21 starts. The next year he got 30 starts, pitching 214 innings. He went 7-16 with a 4.12 ERA for a team that went 42-112 that year. Before the trade in 1953, Howie was 1-1 with a 10.66 ERA in 12.2 innings. He would return to the Pirates in July of 1956 as a free agent, after the White Sox released him. He went 0-4 3.09 in 19 relief appearances, in what would be his last season in the majors. Howie won twenty games in the minors in 1940 and 1941, then he accomplished that feat in the majors in 1946 and 1949.
Elmer Singleton (1918) Pitcher for the 1947-48 Pirates. He originally signed with the Yankees in 1940, but he didn’t make his major league debut until 1945 with the Boston Braves. Elmer spent two seasons with Boston, going 1-5 4.31 in 22 games, seven as a starter. The Pirates acquired him in a six player deal with the Braves just as the 1946 season was ending. Singleton was used mostly out of the pen in 1947 for the Pirates, making 36 appearances, three as a starter. He went 2-2 6.31 in 67 innings. He had a similar role in 1948, going 4-6 4.97 in 38 outings, five as a starter, with 92.1 innings pitched. Just before the start of the 1949 season, the Pirates sold Elmer to San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League.. He would pitch 21 games for the 1950 Washington Senators, then spend six seasons in the minors, before returning to the big leagues at the age of 39 in 1957, pitching parts of three years with the Cubs. Singleton went 11-17 in 145 major league games and 184-186 in twenty minor league seasons.
Deb Garms (1907) Third baseman/outfielder for the 1940-41 Pirates. He played five seasons in the minors before making his major league debut with the St Louis Browns in August of 1932. Garms spent four seasons with the Browns, hitting .298 with 63 RBI’s in 213 games. Deb spent the 1936 season in the minors before being selected in the September Rule V draft by the Boston Bees. He played three years with Boston, hitting .290 in 374 games, including a .315 average during the 1938 season. The Pirates purchased his contract in March of 1940, just in time for him to have his best season. Garms would hit a league leading .355 that season, although the batting title came with some controversy. Deb had just 385 plate appearances all year, which many people thought shouldn’t be enough to win the batting title, but the NL President at the time Ford Frick, declared that Garms just had to play 100 games to be considered the batting champ and he played 103 games. He would see his playing time drop the next year as his average fell to .264 in 83 games. In December of 1941, the Pirates sold him to the Cardinals. Garms played in the minors in 1942, then reappeared with St Louis for three more seasons as a part-time player. His average went from .201 in 1944 up to .336 the following season. Garms was released in December of 1945 and finished his career in 1946 in the minors. In 1010 major league games, he was a .293 career hitter.
Babe Herman (1903) Outfielder for the 1935 Pirates. He started his major league career with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1926 and for seven seasons there, he was one of the best hitters the franchise has ever seen. Herman batted .339 overall in Brooklyn, with a .381 average in 1929 and a .393 mark the next year. Babe would be dealt to the Reds in 1932, then sent to the Cubs the next year. In 1934, while still with Chicago, he hit .304 with 14 homers and 84 RBI’s in 125 games. He came to the Pirates in a November of 1934 trade that saw Pittsburgh give up future Hall of Famer Freddie Lindstrom. Herman’s stay in Pittsburgh didn’t last long, he would be sold to the Reds in June after playing just 26 games with a .235 average and seven RBI’s. He began to hit as soon as he got to Cincinnati, batting .335 with 58 RBI’s in 92 games with the Reds that year. Babe played one more year for the Reds, then part of 1937 for the Tigers before going to the minors. From 1937 until 1944, he batted at least .307 every season. After an eight year absence from the majors, Herman returned with the Dodgers in 1945 as a pinch-hitter, playing 37 games off the bench, in what would be his last season as a player. He was a career .324 hitter in 1552 games, with 997 RBI’s and 882 runs scored.
Elmer Ponder (1893) Pitcher for the Pirates in 1917, then again from 1919 until 1921. He pitched five years in the minors before getting his first chance with the 1917 Pirates. Ponder went 19-16 in 266 innings for Birmingham of the Southern Association that season, then got the call in September from the Pirates along with numerous teammates. In his major league debut on September 18th, Elmer allowed just one run over eight innings but picked up the loss. Four days later he made sure he wouldn’t lose, throwing a two-hit shutout over the Giants. He would miss the 1918 season serving in the military during WWI. He was an aviator during the war, earning a medal for bravery after being injured. He returned to baseball in July of 1919, pitching nine games over the second half of the season. Ponder made 23 starts and ten relief appearances during the 1920 season for the Pirates, going 11-15 2.62 in 196 innings. He was seeing limited action through the first day of July in 1921, when the Pirates traded him to the Cubs for Dave Robertson. He was with Chicago through January of 1922, before being dealt to Los Angeles of the Pacific Coast League. Ponder played in the minors until 1928 without playing in the majors again.
Jolly Roger Rewind: June 26, 1979
Bill Robinson celebrated his thirty-sixth birthday by hitting a go-ahead home run in the seventh inning and making a lead-saving catch in the eighth frame, as the Pirates defeated the Mets 2-1 at Shea Stadium.
In game three of an unusual five-game home-and-home series between the National League East foes, Robinson broke a 1-1 tie with his sixteenth home run off New York starter Tom Hausman. The Mets threatened to get the run back in the bottom of the eighth, but Robinson, running with his back to the infield, tracked down Joel Youngblood’s drive to left field a step or two in front of the fence to strand Doug Flynn on second and end the rally.
Robinson’s catch was part of a furious Bucco defensive effort over the last two innings to preserve Bert Blyleven’s fifth consecutive victory. The Pirates narrowly missed turning a triple play earlier in the eighth inning: with Flynn on first and Steve Henderson on second, Elliott Maddox grounded to Tim Foli, who tagged Henderson going past and then completed the apparent triple play short-to-second-to-first, but second base umpire Charlie Williams ruled that Rennie Stennett was not on the bag when he received Foli’s throw. After Robinson sent the Bucs into the ninth with the lead, the two outs that clinched the win came when John Milner gathered Richie Hebner’s grounder, stepped on first, and threw to Foli for a tag out on Lee Mazzilli.
Blyleven put the Pirates in position to win with a stellar starting effort: six baserunners in eight innings, with eight strikeouts. Grant Jackson recorded the last three outs for his eighth save.
Box score and play-by-play
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette game story