This Date in Pirates History: December 11
On this date in 1975 the Pittsburgh Pirates traded pitchers Ken Brett, Dock Ellis and rookie second baseman Willie Randolph to the New York Yankees for pitcher Doc Medich. Ellis went 96-80 in eight seasons in Pittsburgh, he was 30 at the time of the trade and went just 8-9 with a career high 3.79 ERA in 1975. Brett went 22-14 over two seasons in Pittsburgh, he was just 27 at the time but had already played parts of nine seasons in the majors. Randolph was just 21 at the time and he hit .164 in 30 games for the Pirates in 1975 although he did hit .339 in 91 AAA games that year. Medich had a 49-40, 3.40 record with the Yankees, he was 27 and had just gone 16-16, 3.50 while pitching over 270 innings for the second straight season.
Medich went 8-11, 3.52 for Pittsburgh in 179 innings in his only season there. He was traded away the next spring in a nine player deal with the A’s that ended up as poorly as this trade for the Pirates. Ellis went 17-8 3.19 for the Yankees, who would trade him early the next season. Brett was traded almost immediately after the season started, netting the Yankees a DH in Carlos May. Brett went on to outpitch Medich’s stats in Chicago despite missing the first month in the Yankees bullpen pitching just two games. Randolph was obviously where this trade became one-sided although both pitchers were better than Medich individually in 1976. Randolph spent 13 seasons in New York, making five all-star teams while picking up 1731 hits and another 1005 walks. He also scored 1027 runs while stealing 251 bases and playing solid defense at second base. He had exactly 2200 hits after leaving Pittsburgh.
On this date in 1928 the Pirates traded star shortstop Glenn Wright to Brooklyn for veteran pitcher Jesse Petty and infielder Harry Riconda. Wright had spent his first five seasons in Pittsburgh, driving in 111 runs his rookie season, then topping that with 121 RBIs the following year for the 1925 Pirates team that won the World Series. In 1927 the Pirates went back to the WS and Wright helped get them there with his 105 RBIs. He hit over .300 in three seasons and in 1928 he hit .310 with 66 RBIs in 108 games. Petty had a 54-59 record with Brooklyn over four seasons but had a respectable 3.52 ERA to go along with it. Riconda was 31 at the time, a light hitting backup infielder who had just four seasons of major league experience and in 1928 he played a career high 92 games but had just a .224 average.
The trade could’ve gone down as much worse for the Pirates but Wright suffered injuries in 1929 and 1931 that really cut down his career. He drove in a career high 126 runs in 1930 but over his other four seasons in Brooklyn he played just 299 games and drove in a combined 116 runs. Petty did okay his first season in Pittsburgh going 11-10, 3.71 but the next season he was just 1-6, 8.27 in ten games before the Pirates sold him to the Cubs, where he ended his career that 1930 season. Riconda barely played with the Pirates, spending most of the year in the minors although in his eight games he hit .467, while also batting .320 in the minors. The Pirates let him go that season and he was taken by the Reds in the rule V draft for 1930. He played just one game in Cincinnati, his last major league game.
Also on this date in 1906, the Pirates traded center fielder Ginger Beaumont, pitcher Patsy Flaherty and second baseman Claude Ritchey to the Boston Beaneaters for second baseman Ed Abbaticchio. This trade goes down as one of the worst the Pirates made. Beaumont was a star center fielder who had a poor season in 1906 and a leg injury that slowed him down but he was still a very good player who could still hit. Ritchey was the Pirates second baseman for seven seasons, he was 33 at the time but was still strong on defense, played 150 games each of the last three seasons and was a decent hitter. Flaherty won 23 games in the minors in 1906 and prior to that he had a 29-19 record with the Pirates in 1904-05. Abbaticchio sat out the entire 1906 season and prior to that was a decent hitting shortstop but he did nothing spectacular and at age 30 after sitting out a full season he likely wasn’t going to get any better.
Beaumont bounced back from his poor season and led the NL in hits for the fourth time in his career, while hitting .322 with 25 stolen bases. He played just three full seasons in Boston and did not approach those numbers in his other two years but the Pirates definitely sold low on him and his replacement in Pittsburgh, Goat Anderson, hit just .206 in 127 games. Abbaticchio as it turned out, did have a good season in 1907 driving in 82 runs and stealing 37 bases but he also led the league in errors at 2B while Ritchey led the league in fielding percentage there. Ritchey played three seasons in Boston before retiring and while the Pirates definitely upgrade on offense at 2B, the league back in 1907 relied a lot more on strong infield defense than they do today. The ball was put in play a lot more, baserunners were more aggressive and bunting was done numerous times a game so infielders were well worked on defense. Flaherty pitched two seasons in Boston, had just a 24-33 record but he was on some bad teams, even with three strong additions from this trade, so his record was a little misleading. Abbaticchio played with the Pirates until 1910 when they sold him back to Boston, he was a member of the 1909 WS winning team but played just 36 games that year. In 332 games with Pittsburgh he hit .253 with 159 RBIs and 59 stolen bases.
Briefly I’ll mention a couple important birthdays on this date. Pirates shortstop Jay Bell, who played for the team from 1989 to 1996, was born on this date in 1965. For three seasons Bell was a light hitting shortstop for the Indians so when the Pirates got him as a player to be named later in a 1988 trade it wasn’t a big deal. He ended up playing eight seasons at shortstop in Pittsburgh, playing 1106 games and he was part of three NL East pennant winning teams during his time. He batted .269 with 623 runs scored in Pittsburgh. He won a gold glove, a silver slugger award and was named to the NL all-star team in 1993. The Pirates traded him to the Royals along with Jeff King on December 13,1996 so I will go more in depth into Bell on Tuesday.
Art Wilson (1885) Catcher for the 1916 Pirates. Wilson had a nice major league career that spanned 14 seasons. He was most used as a backup, though he got some good time in during his two years in the Federal League, a major league that existed during the 1914-15 seasons. The Pirates purchased his contract from Chicago of the Federal League and in 53 games with Pittsburgh, he hit .258 with 12 RBIs. In late-July, Wilson was traded in a four player deal with the Chicago Cubs. In 812 major league games, he batted .261 with 226 RBIs. He threw out 44% of base runners during his career. Wilson finished his career as a manager in the minors. You can read full details of his 1916 trade to the Cubs here.
Finally, on this date in 1930, two former Pirates players were born, twin brothers Johnny and Eddie O’Brien. They were bonus baby signings in 1953 and went right to the Pirates, skipping the minors. They both served in the military during the 1954 season and returned to play with the Pirates until 1958 when Eddie was sent to the minors and Johnny was traded to the Cardinals along with Gene Freese for Dick Schofield. They each started as middle infielders and both made appearances on the mound in three different seasons. Eddie was a career .236 hitter in 231 games while Johnny hit .260 in 283 games for the Pirates. In 1957 he pitched 16 games and appeared in another 18 games while hitting .314 and posting a 6.08 ERA