Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including a player who was around for just one game, and a shortstop for the first team in franchise history to win an NL pennant. We also have one trade of note and John Fredland, in his Jolly Roger Rewind, takes a look at an extra innings affair from 35 years ago against the Cubs.
On this date in 1971, the Pirates traded pitcher Ed Acosta and outfielder Johnny Jeter to the San Diego Padres in exchange for pitcher Bob Miller. Jeter was 26 at the time, coming off a season in which he served as a backup outfielder for the Pirates, hitting .238 with 12 RBI’s and 27 runs scored in 85 games. He had also played briefly for the Pirates in 1969, but in 1971, he had spent the entire year in AAA for the Pirates, hitting .324 with 36 steals and 17 homers in 138 games. Acosta was a 27 year old, tall righty, with only three games of major league experience, those coming with the 1970 Pirates. He was also in AAA in 1971 for the Pirates, with a 12-11 2.72 record in 26 starts and one relief appearance. Miller was a 32 year old righty reliever, in his 14th season in the majors. He was pitching well for the Padres, who had picked him up early in the season for the Cubs.
After going 7-3 1.41 with seven saves in 38 appearances for San Diego, Bob went 1-2 1.29 with three saves in 16 outings for the Pirates. He pitched 7.2 innings in the postseason, and while he was credited with the loss in game six of the World Series, the Pirates still went on to win their fourth WS title that year. Miller also spent the entire 1972 season with the Pirates and put up strong stats in a bullpen role. Jeter hit .320 over the last month of the 1971 season, then hit .221 with an 18/92 BB/K ratio the next year as the Padres center fielder. He was traded to the White Sox after the 1972 season and played 95 games over his last two years in the majors. Acosta also performed well right after the deal, then had his problems in his only full season in San Diego, just like Jeter. Unlike Jeter, Ed never played in the majors after 1972, finishing his career with two seasons in the minors. He was 6-9 3.87 in 54 games for the Padres, eight as a starter.
Bob Porterfield (1923) Pitcher for the 1958-59 Pirates. For the first three and a half years of his major league career, Bob was a seldom used pitcher for the Yankees, going 8-9 5.06 in 40 appearances. In the middle of 1951, he was traded to the Washington Senators, where he became an All-Star pitcher for a brief time. In five seasons with Washington, he went 67-64 in 146 games, 138 as a starter. He was an All-Star selection in 1954, but his best season by far was in 1953, when he led the American League with 22 wins and nine shutouts. Porterfield was traded to the Red Sox in November of 1955, and in Boston he struggled, seeing a decline in his time on the mound. The Pirates purchased his contract in early May of 1958 after he pitched just twice in relief that year for the Red Sox. For the Pirates that season, he pitched 37 times, six of those as a starter, going 4-6 3.27 with five saves in 87.2 innings. Bob began the 1959 season with the Pirates, throwing 5.1 innings over the first month of the season before he was released. He was picked up by the Cubs and got hit hard there in four appearances over a five week stretch. Porterfield was put on waivers, where the Pirates picked him up and used him in a relief role the rest of the season. He pitched 36 innings over 30 appearances, in what would end up as his last season in the majors. Bob went on to pitch two more years in the minors before retiring. He finished with an 87-97 3.79 record in 318 major league games, 193 as a starter.
Elmer Jacobs (1892) Pitcher for the 1916-18 Pirates. He had a successful career as a minor league pitcher, but that strong pitching that led to 220 minor league wins over 13 seasons, never translated to good numbers in the majors. Elmer was still able to last nine years in the big leagues, finishing with a 50-81 record. He began his career in the 1912, pitching two years of minor league ball prior to spending the 1914 season with the Phillies. It was back to the minors in 1915, spending the entire year with Albany of the New York State League. In December of 1915, the Pirates purchased his contract from the Phillies. Jacobs would switch between starting and relieving for Pittsburgh in 1916, being used 17 times in each role. He had a 6-10 2.94 record, and while it sounds like a strong ERA, it was actually just the fifth best on the team and 18 points higher than the combined team ERA(which ranked the Pirates sixth in the NL). The 1917 Pirates were one of the worst teams in franchise history. They went 51-103 while scoring only 464 runs all year. Elmer would pitch often that season, making 25 starts and 13 relief appearances for a combined total of 227.1 innings. His 2.81 ERA ranked third on the team, but due to the lack of run support, his record stood at just 6-19 when the season was over.
In 1918, Jacobs struggled early, unable to get through five innings in any of his first four starts. The Pirates traded him to the Phillies on June 20,1918 in exchange for pitcher Erskine Mayer. Jacobs would pitch well for Philadelphia, going 9-5 2.41 in 123 innings. It would end up being his only winning season in the big leagues. He split the next year between Phillies and Cardinals, then spent all of 1920 with St Louis. After three years in the minors, he returned with the 1924-25 Cubs. In 1927, the White Sox gave him his last chance in the majors. Elmer spent the last five years of his pro career in the minors, spending the first four seasons playing for the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League.
Pat Kilhullen (1890) Catcher for the Pirates on June 10,1914. He was in his third season of minor league ball when the Pirates came calling, putting him into his only major league game on June 10,1914. Pat was with a team from Fitchburg, Mass. of the New England League, when he joined the Pirates as they played in Boston that day. They gave him a tryout pre-game, then inserted him into the lineup in the eighth inning, with the score well out of hand. Kilhullen batted once and was robbed of a hit on a nice play up the middle by Hall of Fame shortstop Rabbit Maranville. The one day scouting report on him by The Pittsburgh Press, was that he was a sturdy kid, who handled himself well, crowded the plate and had a strong throwing arm. The trial given to Kilhullen ended up being just that, a trial, because the asking price for his release from the Fitchburg ballclub turned out to be too high. When the Pirates left Boston, Kilhullen returned to his old team. He ended up playing minor league ball until 1922, when his career and life ended that October due to smallpox.
Truck Eagan (1877) Shortstop for the 1901 Pirates. He hit over 100 homers in the minors over 14 seasons, during an era when the major league record for homers was 138 by Roger Connor. Truck’s career home run total is missing three full years of data, but he hit at least 105 homers during his minor league playing days. He spent most of his pro career playing on the west coast, but he played his entire major league career in two cities well to the east, Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Eagan’s stint in the major leagues lasted just one month, making his debut with the Pirates on May 1,1901, and playing his last game on May 30th with the Cleveland Blues(Indians). Truck(his first name was Charles) played three games at shortstop for the Pirates, and one game off the bench, while regular shortstop Bones Ely missed a week of action early in the season. When Ely returned on May 7th, it marked the end of Eagan’s time with the Pirates. A few weeks later, he played four games for the Blues at second base. Truck finished with a .133 major league average, with seven strikeouts in 31 plate appearances. He collected one single and two RBI’s while with Pittsburgh.
Jolly Roger Rewind: August 10, 1977
Ed Ott’s eighteenth-inning sacrifice fly of Pete Broberg scored Phil Garner with the winning run, giving the Pirates a 2-1 victory over the Cubs at Three Rivers Stadium.
With the game deadlocked 1-1 ever since Jerry Morales’ sixth-inning solo shot off John Candelaria, Garner drew a one-out walk and Dave Parker singled Garner to third. Cubs’ manager Herman Franks ordered an intentional walk of Bill Robinson to load the bases for Ken Macha. Chuck Tanner replaced Macha with pinch-hitter Ed Ott, who hit a shallow fly ball to center. Garner tested Morales’ arm, and the gamble paid off when he beat the weak, off-line throw home to end the game at 12:37 am, nearly five hours after the first pitch.
Both teams had relied on stellar relief efforts to extend the game that far. For the Pirates, Rich Gossage followed Candelaria’s seven-inning start with four scoreless innings. After Kent Tekulve retired the Cubs in order in the thirteenth inning, Grant Jackson contributed five more scoreless frames. Larry Demery kept the Cubs off the scoreboard in the top of the eighteenth to earn the victory.
On Chicago’s side, Willie Hernandez threw three and two thirds scoreless innings and Paul Reuschel held the Bucs scoreless for the next six innings. From the seventh to the fourteenth innings, Hernandez and Reuschel combined to retire twenty Buccos in a row.
A second-inning Pirate baserunning blunder may also have contributed to the game’s length. Al Oliver hit an apparent one-out double, but first base umpire Bruce Froemming, upon the Cubs’ appeal, called Oliver out for missing first base. Oliver charged at Froemming to argue the call; when first base coach Al Monchak attempted to intervene, Oliver pushed Monchak into Froemming, leading to Oliver’s ejection.** Not only did the Bucs lose their left fielder, but Fernando Gonzalez followed with a single that most likely would have driven in Oliver from second base.
The win improved the Pirates’ home record to 40-15. The Bucs trailed first-place Philadelphia by three and a half games in the National League East race. The Cubs, who had held an eight-and-a-half game lead in the division on June 28, lost for the twenty-fifth time in their last forty-three games, and now trailed the Phillies by two games.*
Box score and play-by-play
Beaver County Times game story
* After starting the season 47-22, the 1977 Cubs would go 34-59 the rest of the way to finish with a .500 record.
** Oliver received a four-game suspension for his behavior. (The Pirates were already playing shorthanded with Frank Taveras serving a five-game suspension for throwing his bat at Cincinnati’s Joe Hoerner five days earlier.)
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