This Date in Pirates History: December 16

On this date in 1960 the Pittsburgh Pirates traded three players to the Washington Senators for veteran pitcher Bobby Shantz. Just two days prior to the trade the Senators chose Shantz in the expansion draft off the Yankees roster. The Pirates sent pitcher Bennie Daniels, first baseman RC Stevens and utility fielder Harry Bright to Washington in the deal. The Pirates and Senators made a prearranged deal prior to the expansion draft that if Washington took Shantz, the Pirates would share their AL scouting reports with the Senators so they could be better prepared in the draft. The return for Shantz, who had just pitched three times against the Pirates in the World Series, was underwhelming to say the least. Bright was 31 at the time of the trade and had just 76 at-bats over three major league seasons while Stevens had slightly more time in three years with 100 at-bats but only 10 in the last two seasons. Daniels pitched 53 games over four years with the Pirates but had a career 5.84 ERA and an even worse 7.81 ERA in 1960.

Shantz had 12 seasons in the big leagues with a 99-83, 3.49 record at the time of the trade. He won the MVP back in 1952 when he won 24 games. He was a strong fielding pitcher, winning his fourth straight Gold Glove in 1960 despite being used as a reliever the entire season and getting just 17 total chances in the field. He went 5-4, 2.49 with 11 saves in 1960 for the Yankees. After the trade Shantz lasted just one year in Pittsburgh because he was lost to the Houston Colt 45’s in the 1961 expansion draft. He went 6-3, 3.22 in 43 games for the Pirates, six as a starter. He won his fifth straight Gold Glove, handling all 31 chances he had that season cleanly. He actually would end up winning the award in each of his last seven seasons in the majors.

The expansion Senators got good use out of the trade but they still lost 100 games in each of their first four seasons.  Bright played two years in Washington, getting into 185 games, hitting .263 with 88 RBIs. Stevens hit just .129 over 33 games in his only season with the team but Daniels put in five seasons in Washington, pitching 177 games, 115 as a starter. He won a team high 12 games in 1961, posting a 3.44 ERA in 212 innings.

Mueller caught 233 consecutive games for the Reds in the mid- 40’s

Also on this date in 1938 the Pirates traded catcher Al Todd and outfielder Johnny Dickshot along with cash to the Boston Bees for catcher Ray Mueller. Todd was 37 at the time of the trade but had just caught 132 games and hit .265 with 75 RBIs. In 1937 he hit .307 with 86 RBIs. Dickshot was a 29-year-old backup outfielder with 120 games of major league experience, all with the Pirates. Mueller was ten years younger than Todd but he was a .227 hitter in his first four seasons in the majors so the trade seemed to favor the Bees( current day Braves) right off the bat.

After the trade, Todd was traded again, this time to the Dodgers for pitcher Bill Posedel, who would win 15 games for the Bees in 1939. Todd hit .278 with 32 RBIs in 86 games in 1939 and followed it up with  a .255 average and 42 RBIs in 104 games in 1940, his last full season in the majors. Dickshot was sold to the New York Giants before he ever played for the Bees. He lasted just ten games in 1939, spent the next four seasons in the minors before getting a shot with the White Sox in 1944-45. He hit .302 in 130 games in 1945, driving in 58 runs and stealing 18 bases but he was back in the minors by 1946 and out of baseball by 1947.

Mueller split the catching duties with 31-year-old Ray Berres in 1939. Berres was also a light-hitting catcher with minimal major league experience just like Mueller.  During the 1940 season, Berres would get traded to the Bees for future Hall of Famer Al Lopez, another swap of catchers between the two clubs. Mueller hit .233 with 18 RBIs in 86 games for the Pirates in 1939. He played only four major league games in 1940, spending the rest of that season and the entire 1941 season in the minors before the Pirates sold him to the Cardinals. He would have a breakout season in 1943 for the Reds, then catch all 155 games of the 1944 season. He rejoined the Pirates early in 1950 when he was purchased from the Giants and play 67 games that year. Following that 1950 season, he signed with Boston for a second stop there as well.

Players born on this date include:

Fred Crolius (1876) Right fielder for the 1902 Pirates. The 1902 Pirates were the best team in franchise history, finishing with a 103-36 record. They did that despite suffering a massive amount injuries in August. Back when teams regularly kept 15-20 players active, the Pirates had seven players injured. Fred Crolius got his chance to play during this time and he didn’t do the team any favors in his first game. In the fourth inning of a doubleheader on August 22,1902, Crolius collided with second baseman Claude Ritchey and knocked him out of action. Crolius played a total of nine games over a nine day period with the Pirates, hitting .263 with seven RBIs. After his last game on August 30th, he never played another major league game. His only other major league action came during the 1901 season for the Boston Beaneaters, when he hit .240 in 49 games. After his big league career was over, he played three minor league seasons and hit at least .326 each year.

Jeff Granger (1971) Lefty pitcher for the 1997 Pirates. Granger was a 1st round draft pick of the Royals in 1993 and made it to the majors that same season. After pitching parts of three years in the majors with no success, he was dealt to the Pirates in the six player deal that sent Jeff King and Jay Bell to Kansas City. Granger made the Opening Day roster in 1997 and pitched a shutout inning of relief in his Pittsburgh debut, but things went downhill after that. In six of his last eight appearances, he allowed at least one run and in one of the other two games, he allowed a hit and two walks in his one inning of work.  Granger was sent to the minors and never pitched in the majors again, finishing out his career in 2000 when he pitched for four different teams. In 27 games in the big leagues, he finished 0-1, 9.09 in 31.2 innings.

Bill Otey (1886) Lefty pitcher for the 1907 Pirates. In his pro debut with the Pirates on September 27,1907, Otey came close to picking up a complete game win, but finished with a no-decision in a game that was called a tie after 11 innings due to darkness. Otey took a 5-1 lead into the 9th inning against the Boston Doves and couldn’t finish the game off, getting knocked around while picking up just one out. Howie Camnitz came on for the save, but Boston was able to tie the score off him and send it to extra innings. Otey got his only other start nine days later in the second game of a doubleheader, pitching a complete game in a 4-1 loss to the Reds that was called after seven innings. His only other appearance for the Pirates was a one inning relief appearance. Pittsburgh purchased Otey from Norfolk of the Virginia League in September of 1907, after he went 22-10 and threw 327 innings. He returned to the minors in 1908 and later pitched two seasons for the Washington Senators.

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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.

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