We have six former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including one that played for the first team in franchise history and another who was part of a father-son combo in team history. In his Jolly Roger Rewind, John Fredland recaps a record setting game by Roberto Clemente from the 1958 season.
Mike Dyer (1966) Pitcher for the 1994-95 Pirates. He was originally a fourth round pick in 1986 by the Twins. Dyer made it to the majors by 1989, getting 12 starts and four relief appearances for Minnesota. He went 4-7 4.82 in 71 innings, throwing one complete game. It took another five years before he would pitch another major league game. In 1991, he was injured for the entire season and released a short time later by the Twins. He went to the Indians and Cubs organizations, before signing in January of 1994 with the Pirates. Mike started that 1994 season at AAA Buffalo, going 3-3 2.34 in 29 games, compiling 12 saves. Pittsburgh called him up in late June, getting him into 14 games before the 1994 strike ended his season early. He had a 5.87 ERA in 15.1 innings, picking up four saves.
When baseball resumed in 1995, Dyer was a regular in the bullpen for Pittsburgh, making 55 appearances. He went 4-5 4.34 in 74.2 innings, though he didn’t pick up any saves. Near the end of 1996 Spring Training, he was put on waivers for the Pirates, where he was picked up by the Montreal Expos. His big league career came to a strange ending. He pitched 70 games for Montreal in 1996, then was released, getting picked up by the Colorado Rockies. Mike was the last cut from the Rockies Spring Training roster, just days before Opening Day. He was signed by the Braves a short time after and sent to AAA, where he pitched until June, before an injury ended his season. After 1997, Dyer pitched just nine more games, coming as a member of the 2000 Lehigh Valley Black Diamonds, an Independent League team.
Jim Smith (1954) Infielder for the 1982 Pirates. After being drafted by the Orioles in 1976, Smith played just one season in the majors, coming six years later with the Pirates. He was a light-hitting shortstop(career .245 hitter in minors), who spent four full seasons at AAA, before making the Pirates 1982 Opening Day roster. He spent all of 1981 at AAA for the Pirates and made the Pirates roster the next season, only after they traded away backup infielder Vance Law just two weeks before the season opener. Jim saw very very playing time for the Pirates, getting into 42 games all year, 11 as a starter at shortstop. He also got into a few games between third base and second, though none were starts. Jim was the backup for both Dale Berra and Johnny Ray, but Ray ended up starting all 162 games. Smith hit .238 in 52 plate appearances with four RBI’s and made seven fielding errors in his limited time on the field. He was used 14 times as a pinch runner, once as a pinch hitter. The Pirates sent him to the White Sox after the season and he spent all of 1983 in the minors(behind Vance Law on the depth chart), his last year in pro ball.
Jim Bagby Jr (1916) Pitcher for the 1947 Pirates. He spent the first nine years of his career in the American League with the Red Sox and Indians. Bagby won 15 games as a rookie for Boston, then struggled there for two seasons, prior to being dealt to the Indians. He had his best seasons in Cleveland when baseball was watered down due to many major leaguers serving in WWII. Jim won 17 games during both the 1942 and 1943 seasons, leading the league in games started each year. He pitched a total of 543.2 innings, leading the league in IP’s in 1943 and making the AL All-Star squad each year. He then spent part of the 1944 season in the Merchant Marines and wasn’t the same pitcher when he came back. Jim went just 19-22 over the 1944-46 seasons, the time when the talent in baseball was at it’s lowest. He spent that last season back with Boston, who sold him to the Pirates the following February. Bagby was used most in relief during his only season in Pittsburgh, pitching 31 times out of the pen, with six starts. He went 5-4 4.67 in 115.2 innings pitched. It turned out to be his last season in the majors, though he was still with the Pirates organization in the minors the next year. He ended up pitching two more years before retiring, finishing with a 97-96 career major league record. His father Jim Bagby Sr pitched for the 1923 Pirates. The younger Bagby’s claim to fame, is that he was the pitcher on the mound for the last out of the game that ended Joe DiMaggio’s famous 56 game hitting.
Val Picinich (1896) Catcher for the 1933 Pirates. He played 18 seasons in the majors as a catcher, yet never played more than 96 games in a season. In 1037 games, he hit .258, finishing with strange stat line of 26 homers and 26 triples, and 298 RBI’s and 298 runs scored. Val’s best year came during that 96 game season in 1928 with the Reds, when he hit .302 with a career high 35 RBI’s. His career fielding stats were below average, especially his 37% caught stealing rate, which was 7% below league average during his career. Picinich began his last season in the majors(1933) with the Brooklyn Dodgers, playing six games before he was released in mid-May. A month later, he signed on with the Pirates, and finished the year as one of the backups to Earl Grace. Val played 16 games for Pittsburgh, mostly being used during the second game of doubleheaders. He hit .250 with seven RBI’s in his 60 plate appearances. The next season, he caught in the minors, then was a player/manager in 1935, before finishing his career with three more years of minor league managing. For five seasons in Washington, he was the catcher for Walter Johnson, catching 86 of his starts.
Rosie Rosebraugh (1875) Lefty pitcher for the 1898-99 Pirates. He played two years in the minors for the Dayton Old Soldiers of the Interstate League, before joining the 1898 Pirates in September. During that 1898 season, he went 23-11 for Dayton, then made his Pirates debut on September 21,1898, with one inning of relief work. He started his first game for the Pirates six days later and took a tough 5-4 loss. His second(and last) start of the season came 11 days later and the Pirates gave him no support on offense or defense in an 8-1 loss. He finished that first year 0-2 3.32 in four games, two of them complete games. In 1899, he made two starts, but lasted just six innings total. The Pirates lost both games, one was credited to Rosebraugh.
He pitched the rest of the season back in the Interstate League for the Mansfield Haymakers, the same league and team he finished his baseball career with the next year. It is possible that he played in 1901 with New Orleans of the Southern Association. An unknown player for that team was listed as “E. Rosebrough”. Rosie’s last name was constantly misspelled during his career and his real first name was Eli. He also went by the nickname “Zeke”. He was highly regarded before coming to the Pirates, a pitcher with good speed, but little control. He once struck out eight batters and walked eight in the same game. He threw a no-hitter as well. His life came to a tragic ending at age 54, the victim of a self-inflicted gun shot.
Russ McKelvy (1854) Right fielder for the Pittsburgh Alleghenys on August 24,1882. He began his pro career in 1877, playing in Pittsburgh for the first minor league team in baseball history. He was an outfielder for the Pittsburgh Allegheny(no S) of the International Association. Russ played every game, hitting .200 in 19 games with eight runs scored. The pitcher for that team was Pirates’ great, Jim “Pud” Galvin, who made all but one start for Pittsburgh, with McKelvy getting the other starting assignment. The next year, Russ moved on to the majors, playing for the Indianapolis Blues. He was one of five players on that team to lead the NL with 63 games played. He hit .225 with a team high 36 RBI’s, hitting two of the team’s three homers on the season. McKelvy started 62 games in center field and one as a pitcher.
His playing career records are spotty after 1878, except for his one game in right field for the 1882 Alleghenys. He went 0-for-4 without a play in the field, as Pittsburgh moved to 27-31 on the season with a 7-2 win over the St Louis Brown Stockings. There is a player known only as “McKelvy”, that played for the 1883 Pittsburgh Enterprise of the Western Interstate League. That is likely Russ, as no other player with the last name McKelvy has ever played minor/major league ball. After his playing days, he moved to Omaha, where he became a wealthy businessman later in life. Russ was referred to as “the famous ballplayer” in a Sporting Life article from 1894.
Jolly Roger Rewind: September 8, 1958
Roberto Clemente tied a post-1900 major-league record with three triples*, leading the Pirates to a 4-1 victory over the Reds at Forbes Field.
Clemente started his triples spree in the fourth inning with a leadoff three-bagger to deep left field against Cincinnati starter Tom Acker. Acker, however, struck out Dick Stuart and Bob Skinner and retired Frank Thomas on a fly ball to strand Clemente.
An inning later, the twenty-four-year-old Bucs’ right fielder capped a three-run rally—started with a two-out double by Bucco eighth-place hitter Bill Hall—by tripling home Bill Virdon. Reds’ second baseman Johnny Temple’s relay throw gunned down Clemente’s bid to stretch the triple into an inside-the-park home run.
Clemente’s final triple came with two outs in the eighth against reliever Willard Schmidt.** This time, Stuart came through with an RBI single to extend the Pirates’ lead to 4-1.
Rookie Curt Raydon improved his record to 8-4 by pitching into the seventh, allowing four hits and one unearned run. Raydon also kept the fourth-inning rally alive with his first major-league hit in thirty-six at-bats, a single past first baseman George Crowe. After two Stuart errors allowed Cincinnati to load the bases with none out in the seventh, Don Gross relieved Raydon, traded a run for two outs on Walt Dropo’s double-play grounder, and then retired the Reds in order the rest of the way to secure the victory.
At the end of the action, the Pirates stood two wins away from clinching their first winning season in a decade. The Bucs, who had finished either seventh or eighth in the eight-team National League in each of the previous eight seasons, occupied second place in the National League for the thirty-first consecutive day.
Box score and play-by-play
* Two nineteenth-century players recorded four triples in a game: George Strief of the Philadelphia Athletics of the American Association against the Brooklyn Grays in June 1885 and Bill Joyce of the New York Giants against the Pirates at Exposition Park in May 1897.
** “First two [triples] I hit, [were] fast balls,” Clemente told the Associated Press afterwards. “Then I hit curve.”