Originally written on Pirates Prospects  |  Last updated 11/17/14

Born on this date in 1935 was longtime Pirates pitcher Bob Veale, who played for the team from 1962-72. Veale was signed as a free agent out of college in 1958 and the Pirates sent him to the California League where he struggled with his command, walking 55 batters in 63 innings. He was just as wild his second season but much more effective lowering his ERA by almost two runs from the previous season. He then spent the next three seasons in AAA with Columbus making 77 starts before finally earning a permanent spot on the team. He started the 1962 season in the big leagues but lasted just over a month before being returned Columbus where he made 22 starts. He came back up in late September to make three more appearances. 

Veale led the NL in walks four times

In 1963 he was used out of the bullpen for most of the season but after an August 14th appearance lowered his season ERA to 0.70, the Pirates moved Veale to the rotation. He would start seven games that year throwing complete game shutouts in two of them and no earned runs in another three starts. In fact, when Veale allowed five earned runs in 3.1 innings to the Dodgers on September 11th, that was more earned runs than he allowed the rest of the entire season(four) in 74.1 innings. Bob was a constant member of the Pirates rotation for the next seven seasons, making 242 starts over that time. In 1964 Veale posted a career high 18 wins and led the NL in both strikeouts and walks.

Veale was a two time all-star making his first appearance in 1965 when he went 17-12 and struck out a career high 276 batters. He made the team again the next year when he went 16-12 with 229 strikeouts. It was the third straight year he was in the top 3 in the NL in strikeouts. In 1967 he had his best win/loss percentage as a starter when he went 16-8 and that gave him 67 wins over a four year stretch. Veale had three straight losing seasons from 1968-70 despite posting a 2.05 ERA in 1968 and a sub-4.00 ERA each of the other two seasons. In 1971 he was moved to the bullpen and posted a 6-0 record in 37 games despite a 6.99 ERA. That was the only season the Pirates made the playoffs during his stay in Pittsburgh and he made it into just one game, pitching 2/3 of an inning during the Pirates 11-3 game two loss to the Orioles in the World Series.

In 1972 Veale was once again in the Pirates bullpen to start the season but it did not last long. After just five appearances he was sent to the minors where he stayed until the Pirates sold him to the Boston Red Sox on September 2nd. He finished his playing career with the Red Sox following the 1974 season. While with the Pirates he posted a 119-96 3.06 record with 1652 strikeouts. His strikeout total ranks him 2nd all-time in team history, just 30 behind Bob Friend who pitched over 1600 more innings. His 276 strikeouts in 1965 is the highest total since the Pirates moved to the NL in 1887. Only Ed Morris had more strikeouts in a single season and he did that three times while the team was still in the American Association from 1884-86.

Also born on this date way back in 1867 was Bill Wilson, who played for the worst team in Pittsburgh Pirates history. Wilson played 6 different positions for the 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys, a team that finished the season 23-113. He wasn’t much of a hitter, batting just .214 with a team leader 50 strikeouts and he wasn’t very good defensively, committing 60 total errors including 35 behind the plate in just 38 games. It should come to no surprise that Wilson didn’t play in the majors again until 1897 when he was with the Louisville Colonels where he was teammates with two Pirates future Hall of Famers, Fred Clarke and Honus Wagner. Wilson hit his first major league homer that year off a pitcher with a familiar name, Charlie Brown. He played with the Colonels in 1898 then bounced around the minor leagues until the age of 40.

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