Monday, February 02, 2009


I’ve done more than half of the big league clubs… and it's now February. I can't be complacent.

Time to keep moving.

Hey Pittsburgh fans! Congrats on the Super Bowl win!
Did you know you had a baseball team too?

The Pirates haven’t put a .500 team on the field since 1993. They are the only team to not have a .500 season since the playoffs expanded in 1995… and as I wrote before there is no excuse.

They’ve made terrible draft picks, made horrible trades and have a new stadium and luxury tax revenues coming in.

If the Expos could put a winning product on the field in 2002 and 2003 without an owner, the Pirates can break even once in 16 seasons.

They also went from 1927 to 1960 without a World Series appearance.

So you’d think the pickings were slim for these two rosters.
You’d be wrong.

The Home Grown outfield is so deep that I literally have Hall of Famers on the Bench.
And the Acquired pitching staff includes Cy Young winners, Hall of Famers and people who should be in the Hall of Fame.

I know everyone in Pittsburgh is thinking about the Steelers… but be proud of your baseball team.

At least be proud of your baseball team’s history!

A special Sully Baseball thank you is needed for Brian Vernon who wrote in with his own Home Grown vs. Acquired Team.

I used a lot of his suggestions and disagreed with others... but I love the effort!

As always the rules of the roster can be found here.

Cue up We Are Family!
It’s time to talk Pirates!



Sanguillen was one of the best catchers in the game during the 1970s and came up big in the post season. He got 11 hits in the 7 game 1971 World Series and off the bench in game 2 of the 1979 World Series got the winning hit in the 9th inning.

A fan favorite who runs a barbecue in the new PNC in Pittsburgh, he was the only Pirate not to attend Roberto Clemente's funeral.

Why wasn't he there?
He was with a group of divers looking for Clemente. He didn't believe he was really gone.


My first World Series memories were of sitting in the home of Peggy and Rico Bianchi. They may not be relatives by blood but they are family by every other measure. I sat in their upstairs room in October of 1979 and watched each of the games of the World Series.

The Pirates were down and the Orioles looked too strong... but they kept playing We Are Family and Willie Stargell kept cheering on the team and getting big hits.

And the Pirates had those bad ass flat caps with the stars on them that Willie Stargell awarded. Even though the Pirates were down, they never acted like it.

And when they came back to win the series after being down 3-1, they of course won it on a Willie Stargell homer. And a 7 year old Paul Sullivan started cheering for the Pirates that series because no player seemed cooler than Willie Stargell.

To this day I have a soft spot in my heart for the Pirates because I learned the joy of October baseball by watching them win.


Everyone who has fantasized about baseball has thought about hitting a home run in the bottom of the 9th to win game 7 of the World Series.

I bet a lot of those people also have imagined doing it off of the Yankees.

Have you ever wondered what it REALLY feels like?
Ask Bill Mazeroski. He's the only person to have done it.

I bet it feels good.


The 9 time All Star was considered to be the best shortstop of his day. Offensively there is no denying his greatness as he led the league in batting and in OPS in 1935 and was a .318 career hitter.

He drowned after retiring from baseball and was elected posthumously to the Hall of Fame.


I've heard of Pie Traynor for a long time. I knew he was a Hall of Famer (one of 13 on this list.)

I knew defensively he was considered to be the best third baseman before Brooks Robinson.

I knew he was also a great run producer even though he wasn't a home run hitter.

What I didn't know is why he was called "Pie."
Do you know why?

He liked pies.

You'd think I'd be able to figure that one out!


Look at that skinny kid!

When people hem and haw about Bonds being in the Hall of Fame, his defenders (not just my dad) point out he was the best player in baseball before those allegations came out.

And its true. With all due respect to Terry Pendleton, Bonds should have been the NL MVP in 1991. He was the NL MVP in 1990 and 1992 with the Pirates (and 1993 with the Giants.) For the first half of the 1990s there was no debate of who the best player in the league was.

He had 30 home run power, 40 stolen base speed... was a consistent .300 hitter.
He led the league in OPS each of his last three years in Pittsburgh.
He won the Gold Glove each of his last three years in Pittsburgh.
He led the league in walks and runs his last year in Pittsburgh.

He was as complete an offensive player in the game as anyone of all time.
I guess, allegations or not, some see him in the Hall of Fame.

I'd vote for him. Unlike some of these other juicers, he walked the walk before he ballooned up.

By the way, the Pirates have yet to recover from his leaving the team. Just saying...


I am guessing the closest thing we can see to Lloyd Waner today would be Dustin Pedroia.

He was short in height and made up for it with being a slap ball hitter and a pain in the neck on the basepaths.

He was a .316 career hitter who was always leading the league in singles... and I bet lots of people grumbled about "Little Poison" seeming like he should be an easy out.

He was elected to the Hall of Fame. Bill James doesn't think he belongs. Bill James likes to rain on a lot of people's parades.


A lot of times when a pair of brothers play in the big leagues, one of the two siblings piles up most of the stats.

Hank Aaron and Tommy Aaron hold the record of most home runs by a pair of brothers. They combined for 768 homers. Hank had 755 of them.

Every once in a while you see a pair of All Star brothers. Sandy and Roberto Alomar. Gaylord and Jim Perry. Joe and Dom DiMaggio. Matty and Felipe Alou.

How often do you see Hall of Fame brothers?

Well Lloyd Waner's brother Paul was Big Poison. He compiled 3,000 hits and was the NL MVP in 1927 when the Pirates won the pennant.

Bill James evidently has no problem with him being in the Hall of Fame.


Ralph Kiner coming off of the bench?
Man this IS a deep line up!

Kiner hit so many homers into the short left field porch that they stopped calling it "Greenberg Gardens" and rechristened it Kiner's Korner.

Anyone who lived in New York knows that was also the name of his awkward Joe Franklin like talk show after Mets games.

Yeah, he sounds like your drunk uncle during the Mets games. But he's a Hall of Famer and one of the most feared sluggers of his day.



Candelaria seemed born to play in New York during the late 1970s. He had that cool New York native of Italian background that seemed to be in vogue in the 70s. That Travolta/Stallone/Pacino quality.

The Mets milked Lee Mazzilli for all he was worth when he was playing in Queens. I'm telling you he would have been a God in New York.

Instead he had to settle for being the best left handed pitcher in the National League not named Steve Carlton. The Candy Man came up big in the playoffs, striking out 14 Reds as a rookie in the 1975 NLCS.

He was a 20 game winner who led the league in ERA in 1977 and was part of the 1979 World Series winners.

He eventually DID play for both the Mets and the Yankees... but alas he was past his prime.


Law was a terrific pitcher his whole career and had several wonderful years in his 16 seasons in Pittsburgh. But he put it all together in 1960.

He won 20 and took home the Cy Young Award for the Pirates, pitching them into the World Series for the first time since 1927.

In the series, he walked the tight rope in a tense game 1, but got the win.

In game 4, he pitched another tight game which he won 3-2. With 2 outs he doubled home the tying run in the 5th inning, helping his own cause.

I wonder if announcers used that expression back then.


The back of Steve Blass' baseball card looks like someone who had their magic potion wore off. Kind of like Ray Milland in It Happens Every Spring when he runs out of wood repellent or the kid from Rookie of the Year when he can't throw a fast ball anymore.

Whatever the reason for "Steve Blass Disease", when Blass was good he was so so good.
He had an 18 win season, a 16 win season, a 19 win Cy Young runner up and threw two complete games wins in the 1971 World Series including the clinching game 7.


I originally didn't have Wilbur Cooper on this list... but credit Hyzdu Headquarters for getting me to see the error of my way.

Cooper had three straight 20+ win seasons for the Pirates. And the two years before that he won 19 games each, so a little more luck he would have had five straight 20 win seasons. One of those years he also saved 3 games... which believe it or not led the league that year.

As a man fascinated by Warren G. Harding, I somehow never knew the future President owned a minor league team. Cooper played on the team. Now according to Hyzdu Headquarters, there is a rumor Harding tipped the Pirates about Cooper.

I don't believe it.
Harding was a Reds fan.


When Dock Ellis passed away, he took with him the truth of whether or not he actually pitched a no hitter on June 12, 1970 while tripping out on LSD.

I'm glad we'll never know for sure.

Isn't the world a little bit more fun knowing that a talented pitcher... one who won 19 games for the 1971 World Champions... could be hallucinating while throwing a no hitter?

I think it is.



Some relievers were intimidating because they threw gas and looked insane (Gossage and Sutter come to mind.)
Some relievers were intimidating because of their unreal confidence (Fingers and Eckersley come to mind.)
And others were intimidating because of how calm they seemed (Mariano Rivera is one of those.)

Then there was Kent Tekulve. He threw from ungodly angles and had glasses thicker than the ones Redd Foxx wore in Harlem Nights.

And yet he did the job. After going 10-1 over 103 innings as Rich Gossage's set up man. Goose went to the Bronx Zoo and Tekulve became a 30 save man. And he got 3 saves and 10 strikeouts in the 1979 World Series... including the Game 7 clincher.

And all the while hitters weren't a 100% sure where he was throwing and if he could see them.

A borderline Hall of Famer for me!


The submariner was one of Jim Leyland's most reliable reliever during the 1990-1991-1992 division titles.
Of course Pittsburgh fans don't remember that.
Most Pirate fans remember him serving up Francisco Cabrera's pennant winning single that they still haven't recovered from.

His career was derailed by MS.


The Caveman contended for the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year in 1978 as a starter.
In the 1979 NLCS he saved game 1 and won game 2 and game 2 of the World Series out of the pen.

He not only was a solid starter and a good reliever but also a darn good hitter.
On the last day of the 1984 season, Robinson batted third and started in left field. He singled in a run and finished the season batting .290.
A lot of All Stars wouldn't mind an average like that!


McBean was the first big leaguer from the Virgin Islands and he was a terrific reliever in his day.
He was also an awesome character.

He was a wild fashion plate of a dresser.
He crawled across the foul line to make fans cheer.
He'd throw underhand pitches.

He was that thing that we don't have enough of... someone who is FUN and knows it.
Sadly he missed both the 1960 and 1971 World Series.

For more about McBean, read this great write up.


Take a good look at the Mad Capper, Pirates fans.
Savor the fact that you have a solid closer on your team.

Cheer him on in 2009 as he continues putting up solid numbers for the Pirates.
He went 9-1 with a sub 4.00 his rookie year in 2006.
He saved 18 games in 2007 and 21 games in 2008.

He has terrific control and doesn't let up many homers.

Enjoy his time in Pittsburgh. We all know if he asks for a raise, he is as good as gone and will end up on some other teams "Acquired" team.



I couldn't remember if he was home grown or not. In fact I thought for sure he was acquired because I remembered his baseball card listed White Sox before the Pirates.

But it turned out he was drafted and developed by the Pirates and swiped away by the White Sox in the Rule 5 Draft.
I have no idea if there is a Rule 1, 2, 3 or 4 draft, but basically that's the strange draft where teams can swipe a player from another organization not placed on the 40 man roster. The one proviso is they need to stay on the big league roster the whole season or else they have to return him to the original team. You following?

It turns out the White Sox found a good player in Bonilla. But for whatever reason he didn't fit in with a not exactly competitive White Sox team, so they traded him back to the Pirates.

And in the process they got an All Star RBI producer and MVP candidate.
As it turned out he was an MVP because of how close he batted to Barry Bonds. So maybe he wouldn't have put up those numbers in Chitown.


Let's say you were an All American basketball player at Duke. Where would you think your pro sports career would take you?
If you said "The NBA" then you are right when you right when talking about Dick Groat.

The first Duke basketball player to have his uniform retired went on to play for the Fort Wayne Pistons. For most people, that would be enough.

Not for Groat. He made the Pirates, won a batting title, was the 1960 MVP the same year the Pirates won the World Series, made 5 All Star Games and finished with two World Series rings (the 1960 Pirates and the 1964 Cardinals.)

I would not call Groat an underachiever!


How deep is the Pirates home grown outfield?
Dave Parker couldn't crack the starting line up. I support Parker's Hall of Fame push, but Kiner and both Waners are already in the Hall of Fame.

When I was growing up, Dave Parker was simply the best hitter in the National League. If he wasn't the MVP (like he was in 1978) then he was in the conversation (finishing 3rd in 1975 and 1975, finishing second in 1985 and 5th in 1986 with the Reds.) He won back to back batting titles in 77 and 78, led the NL in OPS in 78. He was a 100 RBI man and even stole 20 bases for the 1979 World Champs, batting .345 in the World Series.

Plus the Cobra was a bad ass who would sneak cigarettes in the dug out. In other words he was a good role model.


There was a student at Concordia College named Maximillian George Carnarius who played on the baseball team. He was an amateur and would lose his place in the college if he played professionally.

Meanwhile in the same Indiana town there was a minor league player named Max Carey. He was a tremendous player who caught the eyes of scouts. Carey went to the Pirates and made an impact right away. A great fielder and prolific base stealer, he was Pittsburgh's answer to Ty Cobb.

He later retired, became a manager in the Women's League and in 1961, Max Carey was elected to the Hall of Fame.

Meanwhile I wonder what happened to that Maximillian George Carnarius fellow... who looked and sounded and played exactly like Max Carey? I hope he never played a game professionally. That wouldn't have been sportsman like.


I am a big Tony Pena fan and almost put him in this spot. But Jason Kendall was a better offensive player and gave the Pirates more seasons.

He was a consistent .300 hitter who never struck out. He also gets on base by any means (he's the Pirates all time leader in hit by pitches) and has decent speed (stealing 20 bases in 2000). How many catchers lead off? Not many.

So all due respect to Pena (and no doubt I will get responses from people who think this pick was wrong) I am giving this spot to the three time All Star Kendall.


Still don't believe the Pirates had a deep team?
I wanted to find room for Omar Moreno, Al Oliver or Tony Pena.

But how could I leave off Cuyler? Another Hall of Famer?

A great run producer, three times he hit 100 RBI and yet he never hit 20 homers in a season. A career .321 hitter, he finished second to Rogers Hornsby for the MVP in 1925.

And in game 2 of the 1925 World Series, he hit the two run homer in the 8th inning to give the Pirates the win.

He supposedly got the nickname Kiki because he stuttered and had trouble pronouncing his own last name.
It was a different less sensitive time!

Man that is a lot of talent on a team that have had extended dry spells.

But wait! Where is the most famous Pirate of all time?
Where is the second most famous Pirate of all time?

Was I trying to hard to uncover the Kiki Cuylers and Al McBeans of the world that I forgot some of the biggest names?

Au contraire.

Read on...



Before the 1959 season, the Pirates made a trade getting Burgess (who had been a 2 time All Star) Harvey Haddix (a three time All Star) and Don Hoak (another All Star) from Cincinnati. It was a good haul.

Each one of those players are on the All Time Acquired Team.
Burgess was the starting catcher for the 1960 World Champs and made 4 more All Star teams in the Pirates uniform. He batted .333 in the 1960 World Series, getting 2 hits including a double in the Pirates game 5 win.

What did the Pirates give up in the trade? Well Frank Thomas was a good player (not the Big Hurt... the other one.) The other players didn't amount to much. But one of them was Whammy Douglas. It must have been tough to let go of a player named "Whammy."


I originally had Sid Bream here, but I changed my mind.

Grantham was primarily a second baseman, but he switched to first base in 1925. He batted .326 and had an OPS of .906 that year, helping the Pirates win the NL Pennant and the 1925 World Series.

So I give "Boots" Grantham his due here. Besides, it would be cruel to honor the guy who scored the winning run on Francisco Cabrera's hit in a Pirates post!


If Charlie O Finley didn't break the A's up in the late 1970s, Garner would have been part of the great Oakland dynasty of 77-78 and 79.

Instead he was dealt off to Pittsburgh.

He may have missed the World Series run in Oakland, but he made the most of it when the Pirates won the division in 1979.
In the NLCS he batted .417 with an OPS of 1.295 including a home run in game 1.
In the World Series he batted an even .500 with an OPS of 1.238. In game 7 he doubled in the 9th and scored a key insurance run

Maybe it was fitting a player named "Scrap Iron" would star in Steel Town!


Go through your garage and look in those old shoe boxes of baseball cards.
Flip past all of the doubles you have of Toby Harrah and Mike Hargrove and see if you have this card of Honus Wagner.

The greatest hitting shortstop of all time, the 8 time batting champ (and 8 time OPS champ for your sabermetric fans) and hero of the 1909 World Series championship for the Pirates, didn't like that his likeness was placed on a card used to sell tobacco. So he forbid any more printing of his card.

Wayne Gretzky (yes, that one) bought one for $451,000. One was sold in 2007 for $2.8 million. Now I'm not sure if in this economy people are still throwing around millions for a baseball card... but if you find one in your garage, you are best logging onto ebay.


Sometimes where a player plays on the field affects how they hit in the lineup. Don't ask me why.
I know enough people in the field of psychology, so maybe they can show be the connection.

But when Bill Madlock was a third baseman for the Cubs, he was a two time batting champ and an All Star.
When the Giants turned him into a second baseman, his average dropped 30 points and he was miserable. (He was still a .300 hitter, but a miserable .300 hitter.)
The Pirates traded for him then put him back at third base and he won two more batting titles.

Plus he batted .375 with a .900 OPS in the 1979 World Series.

Why couldn't he do that at second base?
The brain is a very complicated organ.


I originally forgot to put Clarke on the list, but enough angry Pirate fans pointed this out to me.

Yup, it's another Hall of Famer. And along with Honus Wagner, he was part of the exodus of stars who came to Pittsburgh when the Louisville Colonels were folded. Imagine that! An era when superstars went TO Pittsburgh!!!

He was a batting title contender who actually had the best OPS in the league for the 1903 NL Champs. Nobody knew what OPS was back then.

Clarke was the player manager during the great run at the beginning of the 20th century, losing the first ever World Series to Boston.
Later he managed the Pirates to the 1909 World Series and penciled himself into the line up... homering twice in the series and getting on base four times in the Game 7 finale via walks.

No doubt the manager never gave him the "swing away" sign.


When Tony Pena, the only All Star on the Pirates, was dealt off before the 1987 season I am sure a lot of Pirate fans were upset.

Well not only did they get Spanky LaValliere in the deal but they also picked up an All Star Centerfielder in the deal.
Van Slyke didn't put up the gaudy numbers of Bonds nor Bonilla, but he was a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger All Star and the spark plug of the team.

Plus he is the inspiration for my favorite Pirates website... Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke?


Branch Rickey and Clyde Sukeforth were both instrumental for breaking the color line in Major League baseball. Rickey began the process of finding the right black player. Sukeforth scouted Robinson. Rickey signed Robinson. Sukeforth was his first manager in Brooklyn (while Durocher was serving a suspension.)

So they brought the first African American hero to the bigs. They also brought the biggest Latino baseball hero to Pittsburgh. When Rickey left Brooklyn for Pittsburgh, he had his eye on his old talent. Sukeforth informed him that the manager of the minor league team that Clemente played for wasn't using him.

So at the Rule 5 draft (remember that) the Pirates picked up Roberto Clemente.
Exactly 3,000 hits, two World Series titles (including one Clemente won nearly by himself) and the best outfield arm maybe in history later, it's safe to say Rickey and Sukeforth had an eye for extraordinary players of high character.

I wondered if the Dodgers ever fired that manager who benched Roberto Clemente.


I originally didn't have Giles on this list. A Pirates fan had to remind me of him.
I guess I underrated him, but I am not alone.

This 2004 article from lists him as one of the most underrated athletes in a major sport then and pointed out he had better numbers than many players, including revered star Bernie Williams.

He put up solid numbers in his time in Pittsburgh after coming over from the Indians (where he played in the 1997 World Series.) He made a pair of All Star teams, was in the top 10 of OPS in five straight years and drove in 100+ runs in three of his four full seasons in Pittsburgh (driving in 95 the other year.)

I apologize Mr Giles for overlooking you once again!



I've already made my case clear for Bert Blyleven and why he should be in the Hall of Fame.
For those of you who haven't read it, it's here.

He has everything but the 300 wins. And that's nitpicking.

If post season glory is part of the equation, then Blyleven had one of the brightest highlights of his career in a Pirates uniform.

After two nailbiting extra inning wins in the 1979 NLCS against the super talented Reds, Blyleven shut down Cincy in the clincher. The Pirates gave him a big lead and the Reds didn't have a chance. Blyleven went the distance, letting up only one run, walking none and struck out Cesar Geronimo looking to clinch the pennant.

He was mobbed by his teammates who probably thought they were congratulating a Hall of Famer.
They should be right!


The Yankees of the mid 1980s had a wonderful habit of trading away talented young players in exchange for established veterans. As I said in my Orioles entry, George looked at Scott McGregor and said "Who the heck is that?" and traded him off.

Same thing happened with Doug Drabek. The team was desperate for young pitching and they had a talented young stud in the form of Drabek. But George never heard of him but he HAD heard of Rick Rhoden.

Well, Rhoden came over to the Yankees and broke down and Drabek became the ace of the Pirates when they went on their playoff run in the early 1990s. Drabek won a Cy Young award and came one Francisco Cabrera single from being the game 7 winner in 1992.

During that time the Yankees were in last place with no decent young pitching. Rick Rhoden had been long dealt away.
Those were fun times for Yankee haters.


Sewell was an OK big league pitcher when his toe was shot during an off season hunting trip. He couldn't land on his foot properly and had to develop new mechanics.

What he developed was an incredibly slow pitch that arced 25 feet up into the air. A teammate called it the Eephus Pitch. Eephus is not a real word and evidently that wasn't a real pitch.

Here's the amazing part. People couldn't hit it. It was like the slow pitch Bugs Bunny threw to the Gashouse Gorillas. The timing was all messed up. Ted Williams homered off an Eephus in the 1946 All Star Game. It was the only time someone homered off of an Eephus... and Williams knew it was coming.

He became a 20 game winner... he became an MVP candidate... he became a 4 time All Star. He went a combined 19-4 in his final 2 seasons.

Most people when they use the expression "shot in the foot" mean it to be a negative thing!


In the first ever World Series, the Pirates played the Boston Pilgrims (now the Red Sox) in what was then a best of 9 series. The Pirates lost but you can't blame Phillipe. He threw a complete game victory in game 1... and two days later threw a complete game victory in game 3... and three days later threw a complete game loss in game 4... and 4 days later threw another hard luck complete game loss in game 7...and another complete game loss in game 8.

He threw 44 innings in 13 days! How bad was that bullpen that they couldn't give their work horse an inning or two off?

He also pitched in the 1909 World Series, which the Pirates won. He pitched out of the bullpen. Probably seemed like a trip to the spa compared to the 1903 Series!


Adams took the Deacon Phillipe role in the 1909 World Series for the Pirates. He threw 3 complete game victories including a masterful 6 hit shutout in game 7 to clinch the first ever World Series title for the Pirates. He held Ty Cobb to an 0-4 performances that game... Cobb's last ever World Series appearance.

Adams showed a lot of durability as he pitched in and out of injuries and wound up pitching an inning in the 1925 World Series, making him the only player to play in both of the first two Series victories for the Pirates.



Gossage's Hall of Fame plaque mentions his trademark mustache as if that was one of the qualifications of putting him in the Hall. I think it had more to do with his stuff and gaudy numbers.

After the White Sox tried to turn him into a starter (!!!) Goose was dealt to Pittsburgh where he made his third straight All Star appearance.

He won 11, saved 26 and posted a 1.62 ERA and 151 strikeouts in 133 innings during his only year in Pittsburgh.
And just to show you what a different age it was, he posted a 4 innings, 1 hit, no run, no walk and 5 strikeout save on September 17 in Montreal.

Can you imagine a manager letting his closer throw 4 innings in a game?
Gossage could handle it!

And he didn't even need a mustache.


Another Rule 5 pick up, Face was a reliable reliever before reliable relievers were fashionable. After flopping badly as a starter he was moved to the pen, and started compiling double digit save totals.

Then he won his last 5 decisions of 1958.... and his first 17 decisions of 1959.
The guy won 22 decisions in a row! I don't care if they were all vulture wins or not... 22-0 is 22-0!
He finished 1959 18-1.

I'm sure Bill James will tell me why he sucked that year.

He saved 3 games in the 1960 World Series but got smacked around in game 7. But not to worry... Mazeroski had his back.


Giusti was a .500 pitcher with Houston and St. Louis and there was no reason to think the Pirates were getting anything more than that when he came over in 1970.

Manager Danny Murtaugh thought the Palm Baller would be better suited in the bullpen. He was right.
Guisti was second in the NL is saves in 1970 and led the league in 1971 for the World Champs. He pitched 2 1/3 innings in game 4 to clinch the pennant against the Giants.

He made the 1973 All Star team and made the top 10 in Cy Young votes three times.

Good call, Danny Murtaugh.


They didn't give out "Comeback Player of the Year" in the 1930s, but if they did no doubt future Hall of Famer Waite Hoyt would have won it in 1934. The former Yankee star had been floating around between the Tigers, A's, Dodgers and Giants with little success when he was unemployed and scooped up by the Pirates in 1933.

In 1934 he had his best season in 6 years, going 15-6 with 5 saves and a 2.93 ERA over 190 2/3 innings. He was used primarily as a reliever and earned some points in the MVP vote.

When a Hall of Famer has a good season in Pittsburgh, trust me, I will honor him on this list!


Why is Red Oldham on this list instead of say Jim Gott, Mike Williams or Grant Jackson? Oldham was hardly a star pitcher and had bouts of wildness so bad that when he pitched for Detroit, Ty Cobb wrestled the ball out of his hand on the mound before removing him from the game!

I’ll tell you why he is here. I’ve always leaned towards players who performed well in October and Oldham came up big in 1925. He fought his way back to the bigs after a few years in the minors and made the 1925 pennant winning Pirates.

In the World Series he didn’t throw a pitch in the first six games. But in the seventh game, the Pirates pulled off a three run two out rally to take the lead. The Pirates were three outs from the World Series title and also being the first team to come back from a 3-1 series deficit.

For whatever reason, Oldham got the call to face three future Hall of Famers: Sam Rice, Bucky Harris and Goose Goslin. He got them in order and got the save.

You stare down three Hall of Famers to clinch a World Series? Then you are good enough to be on this list!



When the Pirates traded off Phil Garner, they got Johnny Ray in the haul from Houston and he was quite a pick up. He narrowly lost the 1982 Rookie of the Year to Steve Sax (the two had nearly identical numbers) and became a Silver Slugger and a .300+ hitter for the Pirates during some lean years.

One of the toughest players to strikeout in his day he also turned more than 100 double plays in 1983 and 1987.

The emergence of Jose Lind made him expendable, but they got hosed by the Angels in one of Syd Thrift's rare lousy trades.


My friend and one time colleague Kevin Hench was really really angry when the Red Sox traded Freddy Sanchez for Scott Sauerbeck in 2003.

He wasn't much of a fan of either Todd Walker nor Damian Jackson at second base and felt Sanchez should have been given a shot... and not dealt for a questionable lefty reliever.

I thought Hench was overreacting as we've been known to disagree more than a few times about the Red Sox.
Turns out Hench was right. Sauerbeck was worthless for the Red Sox and a nonentitiy in the post season.

Sanchez fit in perfectly in Pittsburgh, making a pair of All Star teams and winning a batting title in 2006.

You were right, Hench.


As a Red Sox fan I would like to thank the Pittsburgh Pirates for developing Jason Bay on the major league level. He was an Expos, Mets and Padres prospect but he came over to Pittsburgh when Brian Giles asked for more than the minimum wage and was dealt.

Bay won the Rookie of the Year in 2004 and made a pair of All Star games. He hit for a good average, had a good slugging percentage, drew a lot of walks and played hard every day.

Well, Bay asked for more than minimum wage and now he finds himself in Boston where he shone in 11 post season games with a .341 average, a 1.103 OPS, 3 homers and scored the Division Series winning run.

I look forward to seeing how Andy LaRoche, Brandon Moss and Craig Hansen develop in Pittsburgh... before THEY are dealt off!


The Alou brothers were best known playing for the San Francisco Giants, but actually Matty's best years were with Pittsburgh.
He came over before the 1966 season and became a regular, hitting .342, 111 points higher than the year before, and good enough to win the NL Batting title.

He led the league in hits and doubles in 1969 and compiled good stolen base numbers along the way and made a pair of All Star teams.

I guess some people just need to get out of their brother's shadow!


Oh Ed Ott, this spot was almost yours. But I have to give it to Spanky LaValliere. He came over from St. Louis in the Tony Pena trade and had to fill his popular shoes.

He did it with his bat (hitting over .300) he did calling a good game, he did it with defense (he won a Gold Glove his first year in Pittsburgh) and he did it by being a prototype stocky blue collar worker behind the plate.

How could you NOT love a guy known as Spanky???


I am mainly putting Harvey Haddix in here because I've always been fascinated by his mind boggling, jaw dropping loss on May 26, 1959.

For those of you who don't know, Haddix had a perfect game through 9 innings against the Braves, but Lew Burdette had shut out the Pirates over as many innings. So Haddix threw a perfect 10th, and 11th and 12th... and yet the Pirates still couldn't score off of Burdette. Finally Haddix let a runner reach on an error and Joe Adock won the game and Haddix got credited with the loss.

First read about that game when I was 9 years old, and it borderline broke my heart. I felt mad at the Pirates for not scoring.
For the record the Pirates for a runner to third in the third and ninth.

I can't imagine how mad I'd be if I were Haddix.
And I also remember looking up Haddix in the Baseball Encyclopedia and felt happy when I found out he pitched in the 1960 World Series for the Pirates.

Even then, I felt a World Series ring cured all ills.
And frankly in the end I think losing that game is better for his legacy. If he threw a perfect game, who would remember it?
But losing a perfect game in the 13th? That's one for the ages.


Any team that can put a Hall of Fame at almost every position, is tough to pick against.

But the acquired team has Wagner's bat, Sewell's pitch, Goose in the pen and the heart of Clemente.

They'd be able to get Harvey Haddix a run or two!!



Another one down.

That's the Pirates

And the Diamondbacks
And the Mariners
And the Nationals
And the Angels
And The Padres
And The Twins
And The Orioles
And the A's
And the Astros
And the Giants
And the Rockies
And the Mets
And the Rangers
And the Marlins
And the Yankees
And the Red Sox

13 to go...



  1. Anonymous6:41 PM

    Hey Sully! Terrific job on the blog. Make sure to check out The 'Burgh Blues.

  2. Anonymous6:51 PM

    This was an entry I enjoyed reading. The Pirates are one of those teams that I kinda, sorta follow...and wish would win more often! They have such a rich history.

    In my opinion, Andy Van Slyke is one of the most underrated outfielders.

  3. Anonymous3:44 AM

    I used to love "The Lumber Company." what a shame they can even contend these days. The chasm between what they used to be and what they are now may be the biggest in all of sport.

  4. Anonymous10:46 PM

    How can you leave Brian Giles off of the "acquired" team? As good as Bay is, Giles was better for 3 or 4 years.

  5. You are right.
    I corrected it

  6. What no Benny Distefano? Where's Cecilio Guante? Just kidding. Great post. I enjoyed reading it.

  7. If I could have squeezed Gary Redus on there I would have

  8. If you're looking at overall numbers and production, Giles would get the nod as top acquired Pinch-hitter. But if you're looking at pure pinch-hitting, the nod should go to Craig Wilson. He was clutch in that role and has the franchise's all-time record for most pinch-hits.

  9. Anonymous3:05 PM

    Disagree on a bunch of starters. The biggest issues, for me:

    *Fred Carroll is, by far, the best acquired catcher in team history, and he didn't even make the bench? He could really rake, and he had a great backstory - kept a pet monkey in the clubhouse, which was buried under home plate in the team's stadium when it died.

    *Fred Clarke was at least twice the first baseman that Bream was, and he did it in a career that was more than twice as long. And he managed the team for seventeen years, and led it to its first WS trophy...

    *No Sam Leever, Wilbur Cooper, or Jack Chesbro in the homegrown rotation? No Vic Willis or Jesse Tannehill in the acquired one? I know that all the deadball guys start to blend together after a while, but it was the most dominant era in the franchise's history.

    Regardless, it was interesting to see your work, so thanks for posting even though I disagree.

  10. Anonymous5:04 PM

    Surprised no had pointed this out yet, but Pittsburgh was not misspelled on the Wagner card, at one point the h was dropped then was put back. The Wagner card just happened to be during the h-less period...

  11. Anonymous8:00 PM

    Stan Belinda was not reliable. In 1992 he allowed 18/28 inherited runners to score. Leyland brought him in to Game 7 with the bases loaded. Jim Leyland is a moron.

    Fred Clarke has to make the team.

    Otherwise, great read.


  12. Anonymous12:20 PM

    no oliver perez?

  13. If I put Oliver Perez who should I dump?

    Not Blyleven.
    Not Drabek.

    So Rip Sewell, Deacon Phillippe or Babe Adams would be on the chopping block

    Sorry, Perez doesn't trump any of them for me

  14. Your charitable assistance is needed!

    I am writing to tell you about a fun loving baseball opportunity for charitable minded baseball lovers in Pittsburgh.

    On May 15 - our nonprofit, Community Human Services, is holding a "Take Me Out to the Baseball Game" Fundraiser to raise funds for low-income kids to attend an 8 week summer day camp this year.

    Each person that pays the $50 admission fee will receive free food, a drink (alcoholic in nature) and access to a fantastic auction at UGLY's restaurant on the Northside from 5 PM to 7 PM.

    After socializing, each participant will walk across the street and watch the ball game, in the left grand stand, at PNC Park to watch the Pirates beat the Rockies.

    This fun evening filled with food, drink, socializing and ball game...will pay for one very low income child to attend one week of summer camp at CHS. It's a win-win-win situation all the way around!

    More information about this fundraiser is online at You can purchase your tickets there too.

    Your help in spreading the word would be greatly appreciated! Please let me know if this is something you would want to help with. THANK YOU!

    Diane McMahon
    Development Director
    Community Human Services
    Cell: 412-735-3169

  15. Jerryg5:53 PM

    Hey, I know I"m late on this, but I think your home grown OF is wrong. If I were managing that team, I'd be putting Dave Parker in and taking Lloyd Waner out. Maybe put Bonds in CF. Just because Lloyd is a HOF doesn't mean he's better than Parker.

  16. Anonymous7:10 PM

    I know this site presents quality based posts and other stuff, is there any other web page which provides these things
    in quality?

    Also visit my homepage :: diets that Work