On a busy day of birthdays for former Pittsburgh Pirates players, we have a pinch runner from the last Pirates World Series winner and teammates from the 1948 and 1950 Pirates. In the Jolly Roger Rewind, John Fredland takes a look back at a very long game from the Pirates last winning season. Before we get started with everything else, there is one game from 61 years ago to relive.
On this date in 1951, Cliff Chambers pitched the second complete game no-hitter in team history. In 1907 Nick Maddox pitched the first complete game no-hitter and one year earlier, Lefty Leifield pitched a shortened no-hitter during the second game of a doubleheader. For Chambers, it was not your typical no-hitter. He did not dominate the Boston Braves that day, walking eight hitters while striking out four. He also threw two wild pitches. Boston had baserunners in six different innings. The Pirates won 3-0 that day, with Chambers driving in the third run. Just like with Leifield’s game, Chambers was also pitching the second game of a doubleheader that day.
Alberto Lois (1956) Outfielder/pinch runner for the 1978-79 Pirates. He was a talented player who had questionable desire to play the game according to many. Lois was signed as an 18 year old out of the Dominican Republic and he went right to A-ball, where he hit .260 with 51 walks and 39 stolen bases in 119 games. That season would be the only one in which he played 100 games due to injuries and assorted ailments. He was still able to move up the minor league ladder quickly due to hitting .302 in 1975 in the Carolina League, then improving to .316 the next year, splitting the season between AA and AAA. Lois slipped to .282 in 1977 at AAA and he played only 49 games but the Pirates were still considering him for their 1978 Opening Day roster. He ended up spending the year in the minors and missing half of the season. In September he got called up to the majors for the first time and played just two games through the end of the month without getting a plate appearance. The Pirates were eliminated from the playoffs in the next to last game of the year. The next day, Lois got the start and went 1-4 with a triple. In 1979, he played just 18 minor league games before getting recalled in mid-August. He got into eleven of the last 42 games of the season, all as a pinch runner. He scored six runs and stole one base. Alberto was injured in a car accident during the off-season and never returned to play ball. The Pirates signed him for 1980 and placed him on the DL but an eye injury from the accident left him unable to play again.
Dick Cole (1926) Infielder for the Pirates in 1951 and then from 1953 until 1956. He was originally signed by the Cardinals as an amateur free agent in 1943 but did not make his major league debut until the 1951 season. On June 15, 1951, the Cardinals traded Cole along with four other players(including Joe Garagiola) to the Pirates for Cliff Chambers and Wally Westlake. Cole ended up playing 42 games for the Pirates in 1951, hitting .236 with 11 RBI’s, getting most of his time at second base. He spent all of 1952 in the minors, returning to Pittsburgh in 1953 in a platoon role at shortstop. That year Cole hit a career high .272 in 97 games. That next year he played a career high 138 games, seeing plenty of time at both third base and shortstop. He hit .270 with 40 RBI’s. Cole’s average and playing time dropped each of the next two seasons, hitting .226 in 239 AB’s in 1955 and .212 in 99 AB’s the next year. Right before the 1957 season started, the Pirates traded Cole to the Braves for Jim Pendleton. Dick played 15 games for the Braves, while also playing part of the season in the minors. He then played two more seasons in the minors before retiring.
Earl Turner (1923) Catcher for the 1948 and 1950 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Giants in 1942 and would be serving in the military during WWII before his first seasons was done. He returned to pro ball in 1946 as a member of the Braves organization, spending the year in the minors. In 1947, Earl joined the Pirates organization, spending the year at Albany, where he hit .305 in 94 games. Turner moved up to Indianapolis(AAA) the next year and hit .313 in 85 games. The Pirates called him up in late September for the last week of the season. He came in late as a defensive replacement at catcher one game and pinch hit in another. Earl spent the 1949 season in the minors although he almost played for the Pirates. In the middle of July, the Pirates had two catchers get injured at the same time and they recalled Turner. As he was on the train to Pittsburgh, the Pirates were able to work out a deal for Braves catcher Phil Masi. When Turner got to Pittsburgh, they put him right back on a train to Indianapolis. In 1950, he made the Pirates roster out of Spring Training as their third string catcher. Through 82 team games, he got 13 starts behind the plate, hitting .243 in 74 AB’s. The Pirates sent him to the minors on July 20,1950 after they purchased Bob Dillinger from the Philadelphia A’s. Turner would not return to the majors, finishing his playing career two seasons later in the minors.
Bob Chesnes (1921) Pitcher for the Pirates from 1948 until 1950. Pittsburgh paid a heavy price to get Chesnes from the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League. It cost them three players and $100,000 in cash. A month before the trade he was nursing a sore arm and shortly after the deal he underwent minor elbow surgery but the Pirates were obviously still high on him. It was said at the time that even if he didn’t make it as a pitcher, he would be able to play shortstop in the majors and hit well. Chesnes went 22-8 2.32 in 233 innings for the Seals in 1947 and he carried that success over to the majors in his first season. In the 1948 season, Bob went 14-6 for the fourth place Pirates, with a 3.57 ERA in 194.1 innings. In 1949 he really struggled, at one point taking the loss in nine straight starts. He showed glimpses of the pitcher he was during the previous season but he also had some extremely poor starts. In 1950, Chesnes was again pitching poorly when the Pirates decided to send him to the minors. He would return to pitch just one more game, a late season start in which he gave up four runs in one inning before being pulled. Bob played in the minors briefly during the 1951 season and was still in the Pirates plans late in 1951 but never played pro ball again. He was used 26 times as a pinch hitter during his brief major league career and had a .256 lifetime average
Luke Boone (1890) Shortstop for the 1918 Pirates. He was a native of Pittsburgh,Pa who had a long career in pro ball. He played 20 seasons in the minors, managed for five years(four as a player/manager) and spent another two full seasons in the majors. Playing for the Yankees from 1913-16(full-time in 1914-15) he got into 288 games around the infield(SS/2B/3B) and hit .210 with 95 runs scored. In 1917, Boone spent the season with Toledo of the American Association, where he hit .235 in 111 games. He began the 1918 season back at Toledo before joining the Pirates in early August. He started off hitting strong with a .350 batting average through his first twelve games but he finished the season with a 4-47 streak that dropped his average to .198 and ended his major league career. He was still active in the minors 17 years later without getting another big league shot. Boone collected over 2200 hits during his pro career.
Ed Karger (1883) Pitcher for the 1906 Pirates. He pitched one year in the minors before signing with the Pirates for the 1906 season. Karger went 24-8 in 1905 for Houston of the South Texas League. In two starts and four relief appearances for Pittsburgh in 1906, Karger had a 1.93 ERA in 28 innings. During his second start, which happened eleven games into the season, he was pulled after just five innings by Fred Clarke despite giving up only three runs on three hits and three walks. The newspapers said he was still pitching well at the time he was taken out. The crowd was relentless in their displeasure for Clarke’s move and they let him know about it every chance they got. The boos got worse as the Pirates new pitcher, Mike Lynch, started getting hit hard and the team lost by six runs that day. Karger was moved to a relief role after that game. The Pirates traded him to the Cardinals on June 3,1906 for pitcher Chappie MacFarland, who won just one major league game after the trade. Karger went on to win another 46 games after the trade and even though he was 19 games under .500 for his career, he still had a lifetime 2.79 ERA.
Jolly Roger Rewind: May 6, 1992
Jose Lind’s sixteenth-inning single drove in Don Slaught with the winning run as the Pirates outlasted the Braves 4-3 at Three Rivers Stadium, in a rematch of the previous October’s National League Championship Series.
Twice down to their final out in the 5:06 struggle, the Bucs had tied the game in the ninth inning on Cecil Espy’s RBI single and again in the thirteenth inning when Mark Lemke and David Justice allowed Jay Bell’s fly ball to fall between them for an RBI single. The winning run came when Slaught tripled in front of a diving Ron Gant and scored on Lind’s hit over a drawn-in outfield.
After removing starter Randy Tomlin from the game with one out in the fourth inning, Jim Leyland leveraged outstanding work from a parade of journeyman relief pitchers. Paul Miller (2.2 innings), Dennis Lamp (two innings), Roger Mason (three innings), Jerry Don Gleaton (two innings) and eventual winner Bob Patterson (two innings in his third appearance in three nights) combined to allow only one unearned run—when Slaught’s attempt to catch Otis Nixon stealing third base sailed into left field in the thirteenth inning—on four hits.
(The Pittsburgh Press’s game story featured a picture of Barry Bonds embracing a beaming Lind after the game-winning hit, captioned “Barry Bonds greets Jose Lind with a howl of triumph after Lind’s game-winning single in the 16th inning scores Don Slaught.” For a visual depiction of the pure joy often generated by the August 1987-October 1992-vintage Pirates, look no further.)
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