This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: July 7th, Hall of Famer Billy Herman

Six former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date and one transaction of note.

John Buck, catcher for the 2013 Pirates. He was in his tenth year in the majors when the Pirates acquired him from the New York Mets along with Marlon Byrd, in exchange for Vic Black and Dilson Herrera. Buck played just nine games with the Pirates, hitting .333 with eight singles and two RBIs. He became a free agent after the season and played one more year in the majors before retiring during Spring Training of 2015. Buck was a .234 hitter in 1,090 big league games, with 134 homers and 491 RBIs. He was an All-Star during the 2010 season while with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Jerry Dybzinski, shortstop for the 1985 Pirates. He played six seasons in the majors and was a .230 hitter in four of those years. The two exceptions were, 1981 for the Indians when he batted .298 in 67 plate appearances and 1985 when he played for the Pirates. Dybzinski spent three years in Cleveland (1980-82) after being drafted by the Indians three years earlier. He was then traded to the White Sox, where he played for two years prior to being released at the end of Spring Training in 1985. Dybzinski was a typical good-glove no-hit shortstop of the 1980’s, finishing with above average fielding stats, but also had just three career homers to go along with his perennial .230 average. The Pirates signed him ten days after Chicago released him and he was used just once as a starter, going 0-for-3 during an April 21st loss to the Cardinals. Dybzinski was used twice as a pinch-runner and twice as a defensive replacement, before being sent to Triple-A to finish the season. After hitting .199 in 55 minor league games, the Pirates released him. He finished his playing career in the minors the following season.

Chuck Goggin, utility player for the 1972-73 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Dodgers in 1964, before making his way to Pittsburgh in a deal for Jim Bunning five years later. Goggin spent the 1966-67 seasons serving in the military and never made the majors while with Los Angeles. It took three seasons after Pittsburgh acquired him to make his Major League debut. In Triple-A in 1972, he hit .297 with 67 walks and 46 extra-base hits, which earned him a September call-up. The Pirates used him five times (once as a starter) and he went 2-for-7 with a walk. In 1973, Goggin played one game for the Pirates, catching the end of a blowout loss in the second game of a doubleheader. On May 24th, he was sold to the Atlanta Braves, where he hit .289 in 64 games over the the rest of the 1973 season. He played five different positions that year for Atlanta. Despite the solid batting average and versatility, Goggin’s Major League career was over after just two more games for the 1974 Boston Red Sox. He retired after the season and managed in the minors for a few years before retiring from baseball. While serving in the military during the Vietnam War, Goggin was injured in a landmine explosion and had to work his way back through rehab, so it’s impressive that he even had a Major League career.

Red Nonnenkamp, pinch-hitter for the Pirates on September 6, 1933. He spent four seasons in the minors before he got his only chance with the Pirates. He was playing for Tulsa of the Western League in 1932, a team backed by the Pirates both financially and with players. When the owner of the Tulsa team wanted to buy the team outright from Pittsburgh, they worked out a deal in which the Pirates got Nonnenkamp, along with Cy Blanton, who went on the become a star pitcher for the Pirates. In the second game of a doubleheader on September 6, 1933, Nonnenkamp batted for pitcher Bill Swift in the ninth inning of a 9-1 game that the Pirates were losing. He would strike out against Giants pitcher Hal Schumacher. Red (first name was Leo) never played again for the Pirates that season and then returned to the minors until the 1938 Red Sox gave him his second chance at the big leagues. He hit .263 in 154 games during the 1938-40 seasons, then returned to the minors, where he finished his playing career in 1946 after serving in the Navy during WWII.

Billy Herman, second baseman for the 1947 Pirates. By the time he reached the Pirates in 1947, his playing career was basically over. He was acquired by the Pirates from the Boston Braves in a six-player deal on September 30, 1946 and was named manager of the team. It would be his first managerial experience in the majors. Herman played sporadically during the season, getting 11 starts at second base and two at first base, only once playing more than two days in a row. After leading the team to a 61-92 record, Herman stepped aside as the manager on the last day of the season. He went on to become a player/manager in the minors for two seasons, then later managed the Boston Red Sox for three years. As a player, Herman was a .304 career hitter, with 839 RBIs  and 1,163 runs scored in 1, 922 games. Three times he led the league in games played, once in hits, once in doubles and once in triples. He hit over .300 seven times and missed two years during his prime while serving in WWII. Herman was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1975, joining Ralph Kiner and Hank Greenberg as members of that 1947 Pirates team in the Hall.

Art Merewether, pinch-hitter for the Pirates on July 10, 1922. He was a standout college athlete at Brown University, where he was scouted by a former Pirates pitcher and Brown alum, Mike Lynch. The Pirates signed Merewether and would use him just once before sending him to the minors. In the first game of a doubleheader on July 10th in Pittsburgh, the Giants had a 19-2 lead going into the bottom of the ninth. He came up to bat for pitcher Bonnie Hollingsworth, who had just given up three runs in the top of the inning. In his only plate appearance of his big league career, Merewether grounded out to Hall of Fame shortstop Dave Bancroft. The outing was also the last for Hollingsworth in a Pirates uniform. Merewether returned to college (MIT) and due to the different rules of the time, he was allowed to play college ball again. He would go on to play in the minors in 1926 and he played semi-pro ball after leaving school as well, spending time in 1924 with the Lewiston Outlaws of the Inter-State League among his many teams.

The Transaction

On this date in 1990, the Pirates signed pitcher Jerry Reuss as a free agent. The 41-year-old lefty won 61 games over five seasons for the Pirates in the 1970s, but he was at the end of his 22-year career when he returned to Pittsburgh. Reuss would pitch in the minors until September. He made three relief appearances, then got a start in the final game of the season. He finished his career with 220 wins.

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