This Date in Pirates History: December 27
Born on this date in 1952 was infielder Craig Reynolds, who played for the 1975-76 Pittsburgh Pirates. He was a first round draft pick of the Pirates in 1971, the 22nd overall pick. He hit .318 that first season the Gulf Coast League but struggled the following year in A-ball playing just 41 games, hitting .240 with no homers. Just one year later he earned a late season promotion to AAA after hitting .287 with 13 homers while playing for Salem of the Carolina League. By 1975 he was a full time shortstop in AAA, hitting .308 through 108 games, earning a major league call-up on August 1st. He played 31 games in Pittsburgh that first year, hitting .244 in 76 at-bats. He returned to AAA for 1976 and didn’t do as well but still got a September look in the majors although it resulted in just seven games and four plate appearances. Following the season the Pirates traded Reynolds, along with infielder Jimmy Sexton to the Mariners in exchange for veteran pitcher Grant Jackson. Reynolds played 15 seasons in the majors, hitting .256 over 1491 games, twice making the All-Star team.
Also born on this date, in 1864, was pitcher Bill Bishop, who pitched for Pittsburgh in 1886-87. He made his major league debut pitching two games for the Alleghenys in 1886 before they left the American Association for the National League the following year. He allowed seven runs in each game he pitched but just six of those total runs were earned. He pitched to a tie in his first game, a game called after nine innings due to darkness. The following season he pitched two games of a three game series against Detroit early in the year and lost bad in each game. The Pirates didn’t use him again for three weeks and when he made his last start for them he lost 18-1 to an Indianapolis team that went just 37-89 that year. He played only two more major league games, both relief appearances for the 1889 Chicago White Stockings. His pro career ended in the minors in 1891. Until recent research confirmed otherwise, Bishop was thought to be five years younger which at the time made him one of the youngest players in major league history.
Going from the first Pirates team in NL history to the worst team in Pirates franchise history, outfielder William “Ducky” Hemp, born on this date in 1862, played for the 1890 Alleghenys, a team that went just 23-113. Hemp played one major league game prior to joining the Alleghenys, an 1887 game for the Louisville Colonels. The game was a late season game and played in St Louis, which is where Ducky was from, so it is likely he was signed just for that day. He played the next two seasons in the minors and also started the 1890 season down there, playing for two different teams before returning to the majors. He got into 21 games for Pittsburgh hitting .235 with nine runs scored. He moved on to the American Association to finish the season with Syracuse then never played in the majors again, ending his pro career after the 1892 season.
Jeff D’Amico (1975) Pitcher for the 2003 Pirates. D’Amico debuted in the major leagues at age 20 with the Milwaukee Brewers. That first season, he went 6-6, 5.44 in 17 starts. After showing some slight improvements the next year, he was injured for all of 1998 and most of the following season. D’Amico made an incredible return in 2000, finishing third in the league with a 2.66 ERA. That was the high point for the 1993 first round draft pick. He played four more years, for four different teams and never approached that one year success. The Pirates signed him as a free agent in January of 2003 and he went 9-16, 4.77 in 29 starts, leading the league in losses. After the season, he left as a free agent, signing with the Cleveland Indians. D’Amico finished with a 45-52, 4.61 career record over eight seasons.
Finally, born on this date in 1912 was pitcher Jim Tobin, who played for the Pirates from 1937 to 1939. He had been in the minors since 1932 and was a member of the Yankees organization when the Pirates purchased him at the start of the 1937 season. As a rookie that year he went 6-3 3.00 in 20 games, eight of them starts, throwing a total of 87 innings. The following year he was thrown into the starting rotation where he went 14-12, 3.47, pitching a total of 241 innings. He was the team leader in wins and his 14 complete games also led the team. He struggled in 1939, posting a 9-9 record with a 4.52 ERA, making just 19 starts. Following the season he was traded to the Boston Bees for pitcher Johnny Lanning. Tobin finished his career with a 105-112 career record over nine seasons. After his major league career was over he returned to the minors for four more seasons. Tobin’s brother Jackie played for the Red Sox in 1945.