This Date in Pirates History: October 31

On this date in 1973 the Pittsburgh Pirates traded catcher Milt May to the Houston Astros in exchange for pitcher Jerry Reuss. May had been drafted by the Pirates in the 11th round of the amateur draft in 1968 and he made his major league debut on September 8, 1970. He was used as a pinch hitter five times that September, his only five appearances. In 1971 he made the opening day roster and was the backup to Manny Sanguillen all season. May played in 49 games, hit .278 with 6 homers and drove in 25 runs in just 126 at bats. In the playoffs he drove in the go ahead run in the 7th inning of game four to tie up the series.

Reuss won 61 games for the Pirates

Milt reprised the same role the next season and played slightly more, getting into 57 games. He wasn’t as productive as 1971, despite hitting .281 he drove in just 14 runs and did not hit a homer in 139 AB’s. When Roberto Clemente passed during the off-season the Pirates moved Sanguillen to his spot in right field and made May the starting catcher. That lasted until mid-June when Sanguillen moved back behind the plate thus moving May to the bench despite the fact he was hitting .283 at the time. He finished the year hitting .269 in 101 games. May would finish his career with the Pirates in 1984 after being reacquired the previous August.

Reuss was a 24 year old lefty coming off a 16-13 3.74 season with an NL leading 40 starts. He made his debut with the 1969 Cardinals, joined the Astros in 1972 and had a 47-48 career record at the time of the trade. In his first season in Pittsburgh he posted his best record up to that point, going 16-11 while also posting a career low 3.50 ERA. In the playoffs he lost two games in the NLCS to the Dodgers including the elimination game. He did pitch well in game one, allowing just one run in 7 innings but the Pirates were shutout by Don Sutton.

In 1975 Jerry had his best season in a Pirates uniform with an 18-11 record and again set a career low with his 2.54 ERA. He was elected to his first all-star game as well. The Pirates made the playoffs again and Reuss again started game one with much different results than the previous year. Against the Reds this time, he gave up 4 runs in just 2.2 innings giving him three losses in his only three playoff starts with the Pirates. Reuss pitched well again in 1976 going 14-9 but struggled in 1977 going 10-13 while posting his first ERA over 4.00 with the Pirates. He had shoulder troubles in 1978 and over the off-season he was traded to the Dodgers for Rick Rhoden, a trade that worked out well for both teams. Like Milt May, Reuss would finish his career in a Pirates uniform, rejoining the team in 1990.

Born on this date in 1874 was Pirates catcher Harry Smith who played for the team from 1902-07. He was originally acquired in a trade for Heinie Reitz during the end of the 1900 season but before he could play a game in a Pirates uniform he jumped to the Philadelphia Athletics of the newly formed American League. After one season in the AL he returned to the Pirates where he would be the backup catcher for three seasons. After 1904 Smith spent three more years in Pittsburgh but he played just 20 games total. He was with the Pirates in early 1908 until they sold him to Boston(NL) in June. He played three years in the majors with Boston, one as a player/manager, before spending seven seasons in the minors, five as a manager. While with the Pirates he hit .202 in 178 games. Smith is one of just 34 players born in England to play in the majors with only five of them playing more games in the majors than Smith and none since 1909.

Finally, born on this date in 1862 was Hardie Henderson, who pitched for the 1888 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He was the team’s third starter at the beginning of the year along with Ed “Cannonball” Morris and Pud Galvin. Henderson won his first game but the Alleghenys would lose his next four starts and he was dropped from the team. The Pirates went with just two starters for a month, although once they went to outfielder/ first baseman Al Maul for a start. That was the end of Henderson’s major league career, one that saw him go 81-121 in six seasons. In 1884, Hardie went 27-23 2.62 with 346 strikeouts for the Baltimore Orioles of the American Association. He began his career one season earlier with very little success, going 10-33, 4.19 in 43 starts, though he did stick around to finish 39 of those games. His major league pitching debut was not one he would like to remember. On May 3,1883, pitching for the Philadelphia Quakers(Phillies), he lost 24-6 to the Providence Grays. Henderson pitched the entire game, allowed 19 earned runs and 26 hits. It would be his last game for the Quakers, who also gave him a start in left field one day earlier.

Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

Share This Article

John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

This Date in Pirates History: October 30

Next Story »

This Date in Pirates History: November 1

Latest Analysis

  • Keller Supak Hinsz

    Even With the New Draft Rules, the Pirates Are Still Loading Up on Projectable Pitchers

    8 hours ago

    From 2008-2011, the Pittsburgh Pirates spent a lot of resources on projectable pitchers out of high school. So far, this approach has led to breakout performances from ...

    Read More
  • Josh Bell made the move to first base over the off-season. (Photo credit: David Hague)

    Why Should You Care About Prospects?

    2 days ago

    Yesterday I had a shorter day than usual. The Pirates had cuts at the MLB level, and a road game. The day was shortened at Pirate City, ...

    Read More
  • Gregory Polanco

    Q&A: Trading Prospects For Rentals, Polanco Concerns, Meadows vs Appel

    3 days ago

    I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was ...

    Read More
  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    4 days ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    6 days ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    7 days ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    1 week ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow 2

    What the Stats Don’t Tell You About Tyler Glasnow

    1 week ago

    The stat line for Tyler Glasnow’s start at Pirate City yesterday looked great: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run ...

    Read More
  • JaCoby Jones Josh Bell

    JaCoby Jones Did Fine in the Move to Shortstop, But Needs to Cut Down on Strikeouts

    2 weeks ago

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted JaCoby Jones as an outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft, then surprised everyone the following year when they moved him ...

    Read More
  • Cody Dickson is a lefty with the upside of a middle of the rotation starter. (Photo Credit: Mark Olson)

    The Mental Adjustment that Led to Cody Dickson’s Dominant 2014 Second Half

    2 weeks ago

    Trusting his stuff and not trying to do too much — that has been the key for left-handed pitcher Cody Dickson so far in his professional baseball ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles