This Date in Pirates History: November 3

On this date in 1856 one of the winningest pitchers to ever put on a Pittsburgh uniform was born. Jim McCormick only played one season in Pittsburgh, for the 1887 Alleghenys, but only three pitchers who have won more career games than him, have also put on a Pirates uniform. Those pitchers are Pud Galvin, Bert Blyleven and Burleigh Grimes. In fact, McCormick’s 265 career wins still ranks him 39th all-time despite the fact he played just 10 seasons in the majors. He is also one of just eight players born in Great Britian to ever play in the majors.

McCormick twice won 40 games in a season

 

McCormick made his major league debut in 1878 for the Indianapolis Blues, a one year franchise in the NL that finished in 5th place(out of 6 teams) that year. He went just 5-8 that year making his final win total that much more impressive. The next year he was on a poor hitting team called the Cleveland Blues, a team that finished last in hitting. He started 60 of the teams 82 games, completing all but one start, and despite a 2.42 ERA, he had a 20-40 record. His 1880 season is one of the best pitching seasons ever, still on the Blues, he posted a 1.85 ERA and won an NL leading 45 games. He also made 74 starts, completing 72 and he led the NL with 657.2 innings pitched. His totals in each of those last three categories ranks him in the top 4 all-time for single seasons. He led his league in wins in 1883 and ERA in both 1883 and 84.

The year prior to joining the Pirates, he played for the Chicago White Stockings(Cubs) and went 31-11 with a 2.82 ERA. The White Stockings decided to trade him right before the start of the 1887 season to the Pittsburgh Alleghenys, a team brand new to the NL that year. In exchange, they got cash and pitcher George Van Haltren, who Pittsburgh not only unloaded twice, but he turned out to be one of the best 19th century hitters not in the Hall of Fame yet. McCormick struggled his only season in Pittsburgh going 13-23 with what was easily his highest season ERA at 4.30. Despite the poor record he was offered a job for the 1888 season with Pittsburgh, albeit at a lesser salary. He refused, and walked away from baseball at age 30, just 35 wins short of the magical 300 mark that gets you into the Hall of Fame. Of course, he had no way of knowing that at the time and very little publicity went along with milestones back then.

Also on this date in 1866, another Pirates pitcher was born named Harry Staley, who has a direct connection to McCormick. Staley helped fill the opening in the rotation left by the retirement of McCormick. Harry played for the team from 1888-89 when they were the Alleghenys and 1891 when they took on the name Pirates. The Alleghenys bought him from a minor league team named the St Louis Whites in June of 1888 after he posted a 1.76 ERA in 20 starts. He made another 24 starts in the majors that year, completing all of them, with a 12-12 2.69 record. The following season he posted a 3.51 ERA during a higher offense year, finishing 6th in the NL in ERA. In 1890, almost the entire Alleghenys team, along with most of the better players around baseball, jumped to the newly formed Player’s League for the season. The league folded after one year and all players were put back on their original rosters from 1889 as long as the team reserved them. Staley pitched well upon his return but was released in May with a 4-5 record. He pitched in the majors until 1895 and finished with 136 career wins, 37 of them came with the Pirates.

Finally, one of my favorite baseball names was born on this date in 1898, Homer Summa who played for the 1920 Pirates. Homer was his given name but that didn’t make him a home run hitter in the majors, hitting just 18 round trippers in 3001 at-bats. Homer struggled his rookie year in the minors in 1919, hitting just .192 over 113 games. He had a complete turnaround the next season, hitting .351 for a team from Norfolk and earning himself a shot at the majors. He made his major league debut on September 13, 1920 for the Pirates, two days before Pie Traynor made his major league debut. Summa hit .318 in his 10 games with the Pirates, going 7-for-22 with three walks. He was returned to the minors for 1921 and then signed with the Cleveland Indians the next season. He played seven seasons in Cleveland, hitting .303 in 768 games. After two years spent with the Philadelphia A’s, he retired from the majors with a .302 average. He went on the play in the Pacific Coast League for four seasons and he had a .318 career minor league average.

Other Pirates players born on this date include, Fred Hayner(1871) who appeared in one game as an 18-year-old  for the 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. Len Gilmore(1917) pitched one game for the Pirates in 1944 and set two team records that game.

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: November 2

Next Story »

This Date in Pirates History: November 4

Latest Analysis

  • Arquimedes Caminero

    Breaking Down the Final Pirates Roster Battles After Today’s Cuts

    23 hours ago

    With less than a week remaining in camp, the Pittsburgh Pirates made their latest round of cuts this morning, sending three relievers to minor league camp, including ...

    Read More
  • Keller Supak Hinsz

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

    3 days 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?

    4 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

    5 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

    6 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

    1 week 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

    1 week 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

    2 weeks 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
  • Browse More Articles

    More