Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including the man who held the single season AB record for 33 years. In his Jolly Roger Rewind, John Fredland covers a big comeback by the Pirates from the 1979 season.
Al Pedrique (1960) Shortstop for the 1987-88 Pirates. He was signed by the Mets in 1978 as an amateur free agent out of Venezuela. For a time, it looked like Al wouldn’t get past AA, spending four seasons there(1981-84) with the Jackson Mets of the Texas League. He finally made it to AAA in 1985, spending two full years there before making the 1987 Mets roster. In five games in New York, one as a starter, Pedrique went 0-6 at the plate, with a walk and run scored. He went back to the minors in early May. The Pirates acquired Pedrique, along with outfielder Scott Little, on May 29,1987 in exchange for veteran infielder Bill Almon. Al joined Pittsburgh the next day and was soon a regular in the lineup, making 68 starts at shortstop over the rest of the season. He played solid defense and hit .301 with 27 RBI’s and 23 runs scored in 88 games for the Pirates that year.
In 1988, he began the year as the Pirates starting shortstop, but he was struggling at the plate and was soon benched, then sent to the minors in early June. Al returned in August, seeing plenty of action at first, but soon took a bench role when his bat failed to come around, and by September he was seldom used. In November, he was released, signing with the Tigers two weeks later. Pedrique played 31 games for the 1989 Tigers, his last stint in the majors. He played minor league ball until 1994, finishing with 1436 games played in the minors. Since retiring as a player, he has managed nine seasons, mostly in the minors, with his only major league experience coming with the 2004 Arizona Diamondbacks, who went 22-61 under him and 51-111 on the season.
Dorn Taylor (1958) Pitcher for the 1987 and 1989 Pirates. He signed with the Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1981 and ended up playing nine seasons in their farm system, and parts of two years in the majors with the club. Taylor put up strong numbers throughout his minor league career, with a 74-60 2.95 record in 245 games, 169 as a starter. He made it to the majors for the first time at the end of April in 1987, making eight starts and six relief appearances for the Pirates. Dorn went 2-3 5.74 in 53.1 innings. In early July he went on the 15-day DL, though he was pitching at AA on a rehab assignment before the 15 days were up. After his rehab, the Pirates sent him to AAA, where he finished the season. Taylor spent all of 1988 back in AAA, where he went 10-8 2.14 in 22 starts. He made the 1989 Opening Day roster, but was back in AAA after just three games in relief. He remained in the minors until September, seeing action in six more games in relief, all one inning outings. Dorn had gone 10-8 2.58 in 25 starts in the minors that season, then he followed it up with a 14-6 2.91 record in 30 games for AAA Buffalo the next year. Taylor was traded to the Orioles on September 5,1990 as the player to be named later in the June 25,1990 deal that saw the Pirates acquire pitcher Jay Tibbs. Dorn pitched four games for Baltimore that season, then never played pro ball again.
Woody Jensen (1907) Left fielder for the Pirates from 1931 until 1939. The lefty hitting/throwing outfielder from Washington spent his entire 738 game major league career with the Pirates. He began pro ball in 1927 after playing college ball at Western Washington University, one of just three major league players that attended that school. Woody was with the Pirates on the bench to start the 1931 season. After five appearances over the first month, he was sent to Newark of the International League, rejoining Pittsburgh in July. That rookie season, Jensen hit .243 with 43 runs scored in 73 games. He made the Pirates Opening Day roster again the next year, though just like the previous season, he was sent back to Newark in May. Woody hit .345 in 118 games in the minors, but didn’t play for the Pirates again until the following season.
Jensen would be a backup outfielder for the 1933 Pirates and for good reason. Their outfield that season had three Hall of Famers starting, Paul and Lloyd Waner, as well as Freddie Lindstrom. Woody held his own when he played though, batting .296 with just two strikeouts in 210 plate appearances. With the same HOF outfield still intact for 1934, Jensen had the same backup role and his filled it well, hitting .290 in 88 games, although those stats come with an asterisks due to his extremely low total of four walks in 294 plate appearances. With the trade of Lindstrom in the off-season, Jensen stepped into the starting spot in 1935 and hit .324 in 143 games with 203 hits, out-hitting both Waner brothers that year. He scored 97 runs and drove in a career high 62 RBI’s.
In 1936, Woody played a career high 153 games, leading the NL in AB’s and plate appearances. He had 54 extra base hits, scored a career high 98 runs and fell just short of his second straight 200 hit season. Jensen had the highest fielding percentage among NL left fielders in 1935, but in each of the next two years, he led the position in errors. In 1937, he began to see a decline in his playing time and by 1938, he was again in the backup role with the emergence of Johnny Rizzo in left field, who set the Pirates single season home run record that year. Jensen played just 12 games for the Pirates in 1939 before they sold him to the Giants in June. He was sent to the International League, spending that year, and the next two seasons in the IL, prior to retiring from baseball.
Jensen hit .285 with the Pirates, driving in 235 RBI’s and scoring 392 runs. He put the ball in play as much as any player at the time, drawing only 69 walks and striking out an even 100 times in 2869 plate appearances. His 696 AB’s during the 1936 season was a major league record until 1969 when the Pirates Matty Alou recorded 698 AB’s, although Alou had the benefit of the expanded schedule, which went into effect during the 1961 season.
Walter Barbare (1891) Infielder for the 1919-20 Pirates. He spent parts of three years in the majors with the Indians(1914-16), getting into 105 games, with a .214 average and no homers over that time. Walter then spent all of 1917, and most of 1918 in the minors, seeing three weeks of action in July of 1918 with the Boston Red Sox. The Pirates picked him up that off-season and gave him extended work at third base in 1919, getting 77 starts. Barbare responded with a .273 average, with 34 runs and 34 RBI’s in 85 total games. The next season he saw time at SS/2B/3B, hitting .274 in 57 games. His runs(9) and RBI(12) totals that year were especially low for a player with 199 plate appearances and a decent average. On January 23,1921, the Pirates traded Barbare, along with Hall of Fame manager(player at that time) Billy Southworth and Fred Nicholson, plus cash, to the Boston Braves in exchange for Hall of Fame shortstop Rabbit Maranville. Walter had a big first season in Boston, hitting .302 in 134 games, but his average fell off to .231 that next year and by 1923 he was in the minors to finish off his playing career with three more seasons. During his last year as a player, he also managed for the first of four seasons in the minors, then went on to umpire before retiring.
Jolly Roger Rewind: August 11, 1979
In one of their signature victories of the 1979 campaign, the Pirates overcame an 8-0 deficit to defeat the Phillies 14-11 at Veterans Stadium.
A week earlier, the Bucs had swept a five-game series from Philadelphia at Three Rivers Stadium to surge into first place and drop the thrice-defending National League East champions to fourth place, eight games back. But the immediate aftermath had been less glorious: two one-sided losses in three games in Chicago and a hard-fought doubleheader split with the Phillies in Friday’s series opener, with the final out coming shortly before 2 am.
Back on the field on Saturday afternoon, just over twelve hours after the doubleheader ended, the Phillies—perhaps inspired by Debby Boone’s rendition of the national anthem*—seemed hell-bent on further exposing the Pirates as unready for the big time. Three extra-base hits in the second inning and a Greg Luzinski two-run homer in the third knocked Jim Rooker out of the game in favor of Joe Coleman. Before Coleman could retire the side in the third frame, the Phillies had extended their advantage to eight runs.
Still trailing 8-0 in the top of the fifth, the Pirates appeared near to conceding the game when Chuck Tanner allowed Coleman to bat—and strike out—with none on and one out against Phillies starter Dickie Noles. Omar Moreno, however, followed with a solo home run, and the onslaught began. A single, a walk and Willie Stargell’s RBI single caused Phillies manager Danny Ozark to replace Noles with Kevin Saucier. But Saucier, who pitched in his third consecutive contest, could not quash the rally. After RBI hits by John Milner, Bill Madlock and Ed Ott, the score was 8-5 and Ozark had to call on Rawly Eastwick to get the elusive final out.
Eastwick held the Bucs off the scoreboard in the sixth, but Dave Parker’s leadoff home run in the seventh resumed the attack. With two outs, Madlock and Ott singled, and Phil Garner’s two-run double down the left-field line drew the Pirates even at 8-8. Ozark brought in Tug McGraw—who had surrendered a game-winning grand slam to Milner six days earlier—and pinch-hitter Mike Easler, inserted by Tanner in an unconventional lefty-versus-lefty move, came through with an RBI single for a 9-8 lead.
McGraw recorded two quick outs in the eighth, but the Pirates loaded the bases on hits by Stargell and Milner and an intentional walk of Madlock. Ott followed by crushing a McGraw pitch high over the right field fence for his first career grand slam and a 13-8 Bucco lead. The Bucs added a fourteenth consecutive run when Stargell’s single drove in Moreno in the top of of the ninth; of the fourteen Pirate runs, all but one scored with two outs.**
Kent Tekulve had pitched in both games of the previous night’s doubleheader, but Tanner brought him back to close out the final three frames. After two scoreless innings from Tekulve, the Phillies finally broke through for three runs in the bottom of the ninth, and sent up Mike Schmidt as the tying run with two outs. Moreno tracked down Schmidt’s fly ball on the warning track to end the game.
“We showed the people around the country what we’re made of today,” Parker said afterwards.
Box score and play-by-play
Reading Eagle game story
* Two years earlier, Boone, the daughter of Pat Boone, had topped the Billboard charts for a then-record ten weeks with “You Light Up My Life.”
** Of the twenty-three Bucco hits, seventeen came after two outs.
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.
Once again, there is a hidden gem in the linked newspaper article. Fifth paragraph is Pete Rose making a joke about betting in the dugout!
That was a great Pirate win all right. Pirates need some of that mojo right now.
Ask and ye shall receive–with Clint Barmes in the Ed Ott role… 🙂