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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

This Date in Pirates History: December 30

On this date in 1943 the Pittsburgh Pirates traded catcher Babe Phelps to the Philadelphia Phillies for first baseman Babe Dahlgren. Phelps hit .284 in 95 games for the Pirates in 1942 but he did not play during the 1943 season. The Pirates also included cash in the deal. Dahlgren played for six different teams from 1940-43, hitting .287 with 50 walks and 56 RBIs in 136 games in 1943. Phelps never did play a game for the Phillies so all they got out of the deal was the cash. Dahlgren played 158 games for the Pirates in 1944, the highest game total in a single season since 1915. He hit .289 that year with 101 RBIs and a team leading 12 home runs, earning himself MVP support, finishing 12th in the voting. The following year he hit .250 with 75 RBIs in 144 games. The Pirates sold him to the Browns in the off-season and he hit just .175 in 28 games before being released, which ended his 12-year career.

Viox got NL MVP votes in both 1913 and 1914

Born on this date in 1890 was Jim Viox who was an infielder for the Pirates from 1912 to 1916.  Viox played three seasons in the minors for Lexington of the Blue Grass League before joining the Pirates at the beginning of the 1912 season. He played just 33 games that year, hitting .186 while playing some time at 2B/SS/3B/RF. He became the everyday second baseman the next year and did well, hitting .317( 3rd in NL)  with 86 runs and 65 RBIs. He became the first Pirates starter, other than Honus Wagner, to lead the team in batting average since 1902.

In 1914 his numbers slipped although he played 143 games, six more than the previous experience. He hit .265 with 63 walks and 57 RBIs. Viox played a career high 150 games in 1915, drawing 75 walks, the third highest total in the National League. Despite the amount of playing time he received in 1915 he only lasted until late July of 1916 before he was let go by the Pirates. He returned to the minors and hit .313 in 42 games in 1916, then .315 in 92 games the following year but never made it back to the majors. He finished his playing career in 1924 and also managed six seasons in the minors. Viox had a .273 average in 506 career major league games.

Also born on this date, in 1888, was Ovid Nicholson, who was a teammate of Viox on the 1912 Pirates team. Ovid just finished his third season in the minors when the Pirates called him up in mid-September 1912 to make his major league debut. He played six games over a ten day stretch, hitting .455 in 11 at-bats with three RBIs. He played four games in left field and two off the bench. Nicholson returned to the minors where he finished out his playing days in 1917. He later coached and managed in the minors, last taking the helm in 1935. He is the only player in major league history with the name Ovid.

Finally, one recent player born on this date in 1985. Sean Gallagher was picked up from the Padres on July 7, 2010 and finished the season in the Pirates bullpen. He posted a 6.03 ERA in 34.1 innings for the Pirates after posting a 5.40 ERA in 15 games for the Padres. He pitched for Indianapolis(AAA) in 2011 and went 5-12, 5.11 in 29 games, 23 as a starter. He signed with the Reds for the 2012 season.

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John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.


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