Born on this date in 1935 was Dick “Ducky” Schofield, infielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1958 until 1965. He began his major league career at age 18 with the Cardinals, spending his first 5 1/2 seasons there playing sparingly, appearing in just 208 major league games during that stretch. The Pirates acquired him on June 15, 1958 along with cash for infielders Gene Freese and Johnny O’Brien. Schofield hit .148 over 26 games with the Pirates that 1958 season. He received limited playing time in 1959, getting into 81 games but making only 163 plate appearances in which he hit .234 with 21 runs scored.
The Pirates were battling for the NL pennant in 1960 and Schofield was getting very limited playing time until an injury struck the Pirates starting shortstop(and eventual 1960 NL MVP) Dick Groat in early September. Ducky was hitting just .200 at the time(7 for 35) but he stepped into the shortstop position and hit .403 the rest of the way to help the Pirates maintain their lead and win the pennant. He was back on the bench for the World Series with Groat back but he did manage to get to the plate four times with a hit and walk to show for it.
Dick was back to a limited role in 1961, getting just 90 plate appearances over 60 games and he hit .192 with two RBI’s all year. He hit better in 1962 batting .288 but still saw limited time, which would soon change. The Pirates traded Groat in November 1962 and Schofield became the regular shortstop, playing a career high 138 games, finishing with a .246 average, 69 walks and 54 runs scored. He hit .246 again in 1964 in the same role, getting into 121 games that year. He was the Pirates shortstop to begin the 1965 season but a month into the schedule, the Pirates traded him to the Giants for infielder Jose Pagan. Dick played in the majors until 1971, playing a total of 1321 games over 19 seasons. His son Dick Schofield played 14 seasons in the majors and his grandson is Jayson Werth, outfielder for the Washington Nationals.
Also born on this date, in 1875, was first baseman Kitty Bransfield who played for the NL pennant winning 1901-03 Pirates teams. Bransfield began pro career as a catcher and got into five games for the 1898 Boston Beaneaters. After spending two seasons playing for Worcester of the Eastern League the Pirates purchased his contract for the 1901 season. He hit .295 that rookie year in 139 games, scoring 92 runs while driving in 91. He was third in the NL with 16 triples that year. In his second season he hit .305 with 69 RBI’s and for the second straight season he stole 23 bases. The Pirates won their third straight pennant in 1903 but Kitty hit just .265 with 57 RBI’s in 127 games, a sign of the poor hitting from a corner spot that was yet to come. He struggled in the World Series, hitting .207 with one RBI in 29 at bats. He was the Pirates everyday first baseman in 1904 but he average dropped to .223 and he led all NL first baseman in errors. Following the season he was traded to the Phillies along with two other players for minor league first baseman Del Howard, a deal that was covered here. Bransfield spent five more seasons in the majors, finishing with a .270 average over 1330 games.
Born on this date in 1921 was outfielder Ted Beard who played for the Pirates from 1948 until 1952. He was signed by the Pirates as an amateur free agent in early 1942, spending the season in the minors before spending the next three years serving in the military during the war. He returned to the minors in 1946, where he stayed until the Pirates called him up in September of 1948. He hit .198 in 25 games that last month, getting 81 at bats. Beard started the 1949 season in Pittsburgh but was sent to the minors after batting .083 the first month of the season. He spent most of the 1950 season in the majors and set career highs in most categories including 61 games played and a .232 batting average. On July 16th of that season he became just the second player ever to hit a ball over the right field roof at Forbes Field, the first was Babe Ruth.
Beard saw limited time during the 1951-52 seasons in the majors, hitting a combined .185 over 37 games. Early in the 1954 season he was sold to the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League. Following the sale, Beard played only 57 more games in the majors, coming during the 1957-58 seasons for the White Sox. He was an everyday player in the minors until 1960 but played a handful of games in each of the next three seasons. He had a .284 minor league average in 1915 games and hit .198 in 194 major league games.Ted passed away this past December 30th at age 90.
Also born on this date, in 1902, was catcher Al Todd who played three seasons for the Pirates. He was born on the same day as another former Pirates catcher, Cliff Knox, who is mentioned below. Todd played 11 seasons in the majors despite the fact that he didn’t make his major league debut until age 30. He played four seasons for the Phillies, hitting well in the last two years there, batting .318 and .290 after hitting just .214 over his first two seasons. The Pirates traded rookie pitcher Claude Passeau and veteran catcher Earl Grace for Todd on November 21,1935. Passeau would go on to win 162 major league games following the trade.
While with the Pirates in 1936 Todd was splitting the catching duties with Tom Padden until an injury in early July caused him to miss six weeks. In 76 games that year he hit .273 with 28 RBI’s. Al would become the everyday catcher in 1937, playing 133 games and he had his best season at the plate, hitting .307 with a career high 86 RBI’s. The following season he would again play 133 games, this time hitting .265 with 75 RBI’s. Following the season, Todd and outfielder Johnny Dickshot were traded to the Boston Bees for catcher Ray Mueller in a trade that was covered here. Todd played pro ball until age 44 and he also managed for eight seasons in the minors plus scouted for a few years.
A few other brief birthday mentions:
Leo Murphy(1889) Catcher for the 1915 Pirates. Played 31 games, getting 46 plate appearances in which he went 4-41(.098) with four walks and four RBI’s.That was his only season in the majors. Spent nine seasons in the minors posting a .255 average in 801 games. He later managed for five seasons in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, the league featured in the movie League of Their Own.
Cliff Knox(1902) Catcher for the 1924 Pirates. Played in just six major league games, spending two weeks in the majors beginning on July 1,1924. He started all six games he played behind the plate, going 4-18 with two walks and two RBI’s. He spent 12 seasons in the minors, retiring at age 36 after he hit .326 with 17 homers in 100 games that year.
Jim Pendleton(1924) Utility player for the 1957-58 Pirates. He hit .305(18-59) in 46 games in 1957 while playing five different positions, all three outfield spots, 3B and SS. He played just three games in 1958, all as a pinch hitter, spending most of the year in AAA where he hit .312 in 123 games. He was part of a seven player trade on January 30,1959 that saw the Pirates acquire Harvey Haddix, Smoky Burgess and Don Hoak from the Reds. Pendleton also played in the majors from 1953-56 with the Braves, 1959 for the Reds and 1962 for the Houston Colt 45′s