Pirates History

This Date in Pirates History: March 15 The Players

This Date in Pirates History: March 15 The Players
John Dreker

The first part of today’s “This Date” article can be found here. It covers the Mike Easler trade of 1979 and the nine player deal between the A’s and Pirates that brought Phil Garner to the Pirates but sent a whole lot of talent the other way. Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including one that went on to become one of the more popular announcers in team history.

Steven Jackson(1982) Pitcher for the 2009-10 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks after being selected in the tenth round of the amateur draft. It was the third time and third different team that drafted him. Arizona sent him to the Yankees, along with Ross Ohlendorf, as part of the trade for Randy Johnson in 2007. The Pirates picked Steven up off waivers on May 18,2009 after he posted a 1.88 ERA in 14.1 innings at AAA for the Yankees. Jackson made his major league debut two weeks later, ending up with 40 relief appearances for the Pirates before the season was over. He had a 2-3 3.14 record in 43 innings. In 2010 he bounced between AAA and the majors, getting called up four different times during the season. In 11 appearances, he had an 8.74 ERA, with 11.1 innings pitched. The Pirates let him leave after the 2010 season and he signed with the Dodgers in March 2011. Los Angeles released him two months later, then he signed on with the Reds, who traded him back to the Pirates one month later. He had a 5.86 ERA in 39 minor league games last year, pitching for four different teams. He was not resigned for 2012.

Nellie King(1928) Pitcher for the 1954-57 Pirates. He was originally signed by the St Louis Cardinals in 1946, joining the Pirates farm system two years later. He went 20-13 3.14 in 284 innings his first year with the Pirates, spending his season at Class D ball. Moving up two levels the next year, he had 16 wins and a 2.25 ERA in 214 innings. After a 1950 season that saw him reach AA, King spent all of 1951-52 serving in the military. When he returned, he went to a relief role, pitching 50 games in A ball, posting a 2.00 ERA and a 15-3 record. Nellie started the 1954 season with the Pirates but after four games he returned to the minors where he won 16 games. He began the 1955 season with the Pirates and pitched well, with a 2.98 ERA in 54.1 innings but again, he finished the season in the minors. King would finally play an entire major league season in 1956, throwing 38 games and 60 innings, all in relief.  He injured his arm during that 1956 season, and although he pitched all of 1957 with the Pirates as well, he was forced to retire due to the injury following that year. After his playing days, he became a radio announcer for the Pirates, from 1967 until 1975.

Whitey Wietelmann(1919) Infielder for the 1947 Pirates. He played eight seasons with the Boston Braves prior to coming to Pittsburgh in a six player deal on September 30, 1946. Included in that deal was future Hall of Fame second baseman Billy Herman, who finished his career in 1947 with the Pirates as a player/manager. Also included, going to Boston was Bob Elliott, who drove in over 100 runs three times with Pittsburgh. He would go on to win the NL MVP his first season in Boston and finish his career with six all-star appearances and six 100 RBI seasons. Whitey wasn’t much of a hitter, his highest batting average was .271 in 1945 and his average prior to coming to the Pirates was .232, with just six homers in 532 games. In 1946 he hit .205 in 44 games, receiving only 92 plate appearances all season. Whitey played 48 games for the Pirates, seeing time at all four infield positions(shortstop was the position he played most during his career). He batted .234 with seven RBI’s in 128 AB’s that year. That would be his last season in the majors but his playing days were far from done. He played another nine years in the minors before finally retiring.

Fred Bennett(1902) Outfielder for the 1931 Pirates. Prior to joining Pittsburgh, he had just seven games of major league experience, all off the bench for the 1928 St Louis Browns. Fred was a great minor league hitter, that never got a full chance in the majors. His lowest batting average over his first six seasons in the minors was .345, coming in each of his first two seasons. The 1930 season that earned him an opening day job the following year with the Pirates was actually well below his norm. Playing for Milwaukee of the American Association, he hit .302 in 92 games that year. He also hit only four homers after hitting 153 combined over the previous five seasons. For the Pirates, he sat the bench almost all of April and May before getting more time in June. He ended up playing 32 games before being released to the minors in July. Bennett hit .281 with seven RBI’s and seven walks in 97 plate appearances, in what would be his last season in the majors. He played minor league ball until 1939, finished with a career .342 average over 1369 games.

Bill Hallman(1876) Outfielder for the 1906-07 Pirates. He had played two previous seasons in the majors prior to joining the Pirates, 1901 for the Milwaukee Brewers and 1903 for the Chicago White Sox. Bill began the 1906 season in the minors, playing for the Louisville Colonels of the American Association. In 147 games that year he had a .343 batting average, with 196 hits. The Pirates purchased his contract in August and over the last 23 games, he hit .270 with 15 walks and 12 runs scored. In 1907 he split his playing time over all three outfielder positions, getting into 94 total games. He hit .222 with 21 stolen bases and 33 walks. The following season he returned to the American Association for the Kansas City Blues, starting a stretch of seven more years in the minors before he retired as a player. Hallman played a total of 18 years in the minors. He batted .235 in his 319 major league games. His uncle, also named Bill Hallman, played 14 seasons in the majors and had a pro career that stretched from 1886 until 1909.

Pirates History
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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