This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: July 5th, Goose Gossage

There have been four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including a Hall of Fame pitcher.

The Players

Goose Gossage, relief pitcher for the 1977 Pirates. He came up to the majors in 1972 with the White Sox and during his first three seasons, he wasn’t the dominating pitcher he was later in his career. Gossage went 11-11, 4.93 with three saves in 95 games from 1972-74. He broke out during the 1975 season, leading the AL with 26 saves and he posted a 1.84 ERA in 141.2 innings of relief work. The White Sox moved him to a starting role in 1976 and he did not do well, especially after June, although he was named to the All-Star team for the second time. Goose went 9-17, 3.94 in 224 innings, throwing 15 complete games. On December 10, 1976, the Pirates traded away outfielder Richie Zisk in a four-player deal to acquire Gossage. He moved back to a bullpen role and pitched outstanding for Pittsburgh, posting a 1.62 ERA in 72 appearances, with 11 wins and 26 saves. Gossage made the All-Star team for the third straight year and he set a career high with 151 strikeouts (in 133 innings). He became a free agent after the season, signing a six-year deal with the Yankees. Goose ended up pitching 22 seasons in the majors, playing for nine different teams over that time. He finished with nine All-Star selections, 124 wins, 310 saves and 3.01 ERA in 1,002 appearances. Gossage was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008, his ninth time on the ballot. We covered his one season with the Pirates in full detail here.

Beals Becker, outfielder for the 1908 Pirates. He came up to the majors in 1908 as an outfielder, but in 1906 Becker won 25 games on the mound while playing for Wichita of the Western Association. His hitting became more valuable than his pitching the following year for Wichita, going 5-5 on the mound while batting .310 in 97 games. He was signed by the Pirates for 1908 and he made the Opening Day roster. In limited action for Pittsburgh, Becker batted .154 with no RBIs in twenty games, with 17 of those games as a right fielder. He was soon sent to Little Rock of the Southern Association, where he hit .305 in 53 games. The Pirates sold him to the Boston Doves on August 18, 1908, while the two teams were playing each other in Pittsburgh. Becker went on to play seven more years in the majors, twice batting over .300. He finished his career with a .276 average, 292 RBIs and 367 runs scored in 876 games. His big league career was over by 1915, but he was far from done as a player, hanging around until 1925 in the minor leagues.

Ward Miller, outfielder for the 1909 Pirates. He spent three years in class-D ball, the lowest level of the minors and didn’t hit well until the third season (1908) when he really broke out while playing for Wausau of the Wisconsin-Illinois League. That year he batted .382 in 124 games, an average that was 128 points higher than the next best regular on the team. The Pirates signed him for the 1909 season and he played center field 14 times through the end of May. He was hitting .143 at that point, when Pittsburgh decided to deal him to the Reds for outfielder/pitcher Kid Durbin and cash considerations (If Miller was doing well after 30 days, the Reds would pay the Pirates). Miller ended up hitting .310 over the rest of the season, then stuck around Cincinnati one more year before returning to the minors for the 1911 season. After hitting .332 for Montreal of the Eastern League, Miller returned to the majors in 1912 with the Cubs. He played two years in Chicago, followed by two years in the Federal League for the St Louis Terriers. He then spent his last two seasons with the St Louis Browns. It was back to the minors in 1918 for Miller, where he played three more years before retiring. He was a .278 career hitter in 769 games, with 322 runs scored and 221 RBIs.

Harvey Cushman, pitcher for the 1902 Pirates. At the end of the 1902 season, the Pirates played 13 doubleheaders over the last 53 days. The team had a 76-26 record going into play on August 24th, when Cushman would make his Major League debut. Over a 13-day stretch, the team went 10-5 with four of those losses coming while he was on the mound. Those would be the only four games of his Major League career. He played two more seasons of pro ball after 1902, spending them with Des Moines of the Western League. In his first Major League game, he lost 9-4 and pitched a complete game, despite the fact he gave up all nine runs in the third inning. The catcher for Cushman once the game got out of hand was Mike Hopkins. During the time Cushman got his two-week trial, the Pirates were battling injuries and both Hopkins and an outfielder named Bill Miller were amateurs who played their only game in pro ball at this time, Miller on August 23rd and Hopkins on the 24th. Things got so bad with injuries that pitcher Jesse Tannehill was in left field during both games of the doubleheader played on the 24th, yet Pittsburgh still finished with a 103-36 record that season.

There was also an All-Star closer born on this date, who is still technically with the team. I didn’t forget him, just wished we could. That is all.

We did a Game Rewind article on a July 5, 1923 contest between the Pirates and New York Yankees. Yes the date is correct and you can assume who starred in that game.

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