This Date in Pirates History: February 3

On this date in 1975 former Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Billy Herman was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee. He is joined that year by manager Bucky Harris, Cleveland Indians star Earl Averill, Negro Leaguer Judy Johnson and also Pirates outfielder Ralph Kiner, who was elected earlier by the baseball writers. Billy was the Pirates manager in 1947, staying with the team until the last day of the season when he was replaced by Bill Burwell, who managed his only career game that day. He actually didn’t play much, getting into 15 games throughout the entire season. Herman was a career .304 hitter over 15 seasons and he was elected to ten straight all-star games from 1934-43. He becomes the third member of the 1947 Pirates to be elected to the Hall of Fame. Along with Kiner, the other one was Hank Greenberg who had been elected 19 years earlier and just like Herman, Greenberg played with the Pirates for just the 1947 season.

Coleman won 23 games in 1973 for the Tigers

Only two former Pirates players born on this date starting with a member of the last World Series team in franchise history, pitcher Joe Coleman, who was born in 1947. He was in his 15th year in the majors, yet just 32 years old, when the Pirates picked him up as a free agent on May 8,1979. He started that season with the Giants but was released after throwing five scoreless appearances out of the bullpen. Joe had a career record of  142-135 in 474 games(340 as a starter) prior to joining the Pirates but had not won in double figures since 1975. While with the Pirates he initially went to the minors for the first time since 1967, then was called up in late July and pitched ten games in relief, posting a 6.10 ERA.

That 1979 season would be the end of his major league career but he pitched three more seasons in the minors before retiring. He managed one season in the minors(1983) and has worked various baseball jobs in the majors and minors since. He was the third overall draft pick in the first ever major league amateur draft in 1965. Coleman is the son of Joe Coleman who pitched for ten seasons in the majors between 1942 and 1955. He is the father of current Cubs pitcher Casey Coleman, who has spent parts of the last two seasons in the majors, making them one of the few three generation families in major league history and the only one to include only pitchers.

The other player born on this date was Freddie Toliver (1961) who pitched for the 1993 Pirates. He pitched in the majors for four different teams between 1984 and 1989. That last season he pitched very poorly, posting an ERA over 7.00 with both the Twins and Padres. Toliver would then spend each of the next three seasons in the minors, being sent as low as High-A ball to work his way back to the majors.  The Pirates purchased his contract from an independent minor league team on July 23,1992 and sent him to AA where he worked out of the bullpen for the rest of the season. He began the 1993 season in the minors but in late May, he was called up to the Pirates for a five week stretch that saw him mostly work mop-up duties in long relief. He had a 3.74 ERA in 21.2 innings before being sent back down. He retired following that season but briefly made a comeback in 1998 pitching in Independent ball. He had a career record of 10-16, 4.73 in 78 major league games, 37 of them as a starter.

We also have a player from the Pittsburgh Alleghenys of the American Association, who were the Pirates three years before they moved to the National League and seven years before the Pirates nickname came around. George “Live Oak” Taylor played center field for the 1884 Alleghenys. He had played previous in the majors with Brooklyn in 1877 and Troy two years later, both National League teams. In 1884, there were three major leagues, the NL, AA and the Union Association. The American Association also expanded to 12 teams from eight, so there were a lot of extra major league jobs and watered down talent. It allowed Taylor to return to the majors, where he hit .211 in 41 games and scored 22 runs. He was a left fielder originally, but struggled in center field with Pittsburgh, making 19 errors, giving him a fielding percentage well below league average. Taylor played some minor league ball after his big league career was done, but he didn’t live long after his playing days, passing away from Consumption in 1888 and the age of thirty-seven. He was a .218 career hitter in 67 major league games.

John Dreker

Author: 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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  • Lee Young

    ahhhh..the memories.

  • http://twitter.com/jlease717 John Lease

    Joe Coleman had 4 straight years pitching 280 innings a year, and that pretty much finished him.  He also pitched BP for the Pirates in 1979, but he was clearly done by then.