In the previous article I had mentioned that Frank Killen had two 30 win seasons with the Pirates, and was also the last pitcher to accomplish that feat while with the Pirates. Since they moved to the National League in 1887, they have actually only had one other thirty win season. The 30 win plateau was actually easier to reach the first twenty years of baseball because teams expected a starting pitcher to start every game and if they couldn’t they would find someone else to fill his job. When major league baseball first started in 1871 there was no such thing as a pitching rotation, owners back then didn’t want to pay to have more players on the payroll so most teams had ten guys on their roster, the starting nine and then someone who would fill in if a player got injured. Once teams began to realize the advantage of giving pitchers rests the everyday pitcher disappeared and individual win totals declined.
Before joining the National League, Pittsburgh only had one pitcher win thirty games during their five seasons in the American Association, that man was Ed “Cannonball” Morris. He accomplished that feat three times though, every year from 1884-1886 when he compiled 114 wins including the franchise overall record of 41 in 1886. So who was the other man who won thirty games in a Pittsburgh uniform you ask? That man was a 22 year old righty named Emerson Pink Hawley. He went by his given middle name which was interesting in that the Pirates acquired him for another “color” pitcher, Red Ehret who got his nickname due to his red hair. Ehret pitched three seasons for the Pirates going 53-59 before they sent him along with $3,000 cash to the St. Louis Browns for Hawley on January 17, 1895.
The price the Pirates paid for Hawley seems pretty high when you consider they were giving up a solid, yet unspectacular starting pitcher, plus a decent amount of cash, for him. He had just turned 22 at the time of the trade but had already pitched three seasons. The problem was that his record those three years was 30-58 with a 4.45 ERA and he had just led the National League in losses in 1894. The Pirates must’ve saw something in him to pay that price, perhaps it was the two late season victories in 1894 he had over the Pirates that convinced them he was good. Whatever the reason, the gamble paid off immediately.
Frank Killen missed most of the 1895 season with an arm injury and Hawley stepped up and took charge of the staff getting a majority of the teams starts. The second pitcher while Killen was out was Bill Hart who was a very marginal pitcher who hung around forever. He had a 66-120 record in the majors but as a minor leaguer he pitched from 1885-1910 and won over 250 games. Hart would go just 14-17 for the Pirates despite the fact they were a very good team.
Hawley would start 50 games that year, pitch another 6 in relief and lead the league in innings pitched with 444.1 IP. He would win 31 games that year while posting a 3.18 ERA, both figures were good enough to rank him 2nd in the NL. He also led the league with four shutouts. Pink actually hit .308 that season with 5 homers, tied for second highest total on the team. His 30th win would come on September 23rd by an 11-4 score, the same score as his 31st win just two days later. As a side note, the Pirates won 11-4 the next day as well with a guy named Sam Moran on the mound getting his first major league win. He won his next start just two days later and then never pitched in the majors again.
Pink had two more average seasons with the Pirates, but he was a workhorse, piling up another 689 innings of work in 1896-1897 combined. He was just one game over .500 those years, going 40-39 in 82 starts, 70 of them complete games. The Pirates traded Hawley and star outfielder Mike Smith shortly after the 1897 season ended to the Cincinnati Reds for five players but they definitely got the short end of that deal, at least short-term. Not only did they include $1,500 in the deal but Smith hit .342 in 1898 and Hawley would go 27-11 for the Reds, who would win 92 games while the Pirates would finish under .500 at 72-76.
The five players the Pirates got included Bill Gray who played just one year in Pittsburgh as the everyday 3B. He hit well below average and his defense was average at best as well. Billy Rhines was a veteran pitcher who went 16-20 over two seasons. Ace Stewart was a minor leaguer who played briefly in the majors in 1895 and never appeared in a Pirates uniform. Pop Schriver was a veteran catcher who did decent for three seasons before being sold to the St. Louis Cardinals. The last player was left fielder Jack McCarthy who had two decent seasons before being sold to the Chicago Orphans (Cubs) for $2,000.
Hawley pitched two years for the Reds, played for the Giants in 1900 and for the Milwaukee Brewers of the new American League in 1901 before finishing his career playing off and on in the minors up until 1908. His career major league record was 167-179 3.96 in 344 starts over 10 seasons. He ranks 44th all-time in complete games with 297 and he is 3rd all-time in hit batsmen with 210.