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Sunday, November 27, 2022

This Date in Pirates History: January 11

Plenty of former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date but we will focus on one particular player. Born on this date in 1890 was Hall of Famer Max Carey, who played for the Pirates from 1910 until 1926. Carey spent his first two years in pro ball playing not too far from home for a team in South Bend, Indiana. He hit just .158 his first season there but really broke out the following year as a 20-year-old, hitting .294 and drawing interest from the Pirates who bought his contract on August 15,1910. He didn’t make it to the majors until the very end of the season, making his debut on October 3rd and while he played just two of the last six games, he collected three hits and two walks in those games.

Carey won 10 stolen base crowns with the Pirates

Carey made the Pirates opening day roster in 1911 and never returned to the minors. He hit .258 that rookie season with 77 runs scored and 27 stolen bases in 129 games. It wouldn’t take long for him to establish himself as a star outfielder, although he didn’t play much center field until 1916, spending most of his time in left field. In 1912 he hit .302 with 114 runs scored. In 1913 he led the NL with 99 runs scored and 61 stolen bases, his first of many stolen base crowns. He also led all NL outfielders in putouts for the second straight season and assists for the first time. His stats slipped in 1914, hitting just .243 with 38 steals but he led the NL in games played and triples. He won his second stolen bases crown in 1915 then followed it up with a career high 63 steals in 1916. He also led NL outfielders in putouts and assists in that 1916 season.

Although he had better hitting seasons ahead of him, Carey posted his best average in 1917 since the 1912 season. He hit .296 while winning his fourth stolen base crown and recording a then career high 440 putouts. In 1918 he led the league in steals, walks, putouts and assists. He hit .307 in 66 games during the 1919 season, missing a good portion of the year due to injury. When he returned in 1920 he hit .289 and won his sixth stolen base crown with 52 swipes. He walked 70 times in 1921 and hit a career best .309 but that mark would last just one season. In 1922 Carey hit .329 while leading the NL in walks with 80 and steals with 51. He also had a career high 207 hits that year and led the NL with 449 putouts, a high mark for him up to that point but one he would top in 1923 with 450 putouts. Max scored a career high 140 runs that 1922 season which still stands as the fifth highest single season total in team history.

The 1923 season was another strong one, besides the career high in putouts, he batted .308 with 120 runs scored and 73 walks. He also led the NL in steals for an 8th time and triples for a second time. In 1924 he hit .297 with 49 steals and 113 runs scored then put up his best hitting season ever at age 35 in 1925. He hit .343 that year, hitting a career high 39 doubles and winning his 10th and final stolen base crown. The Pirates would go on to win the WS thanks in part to his .458 average in the seven game series. For Carey, in a Pirates uniform, it would be his last hurrah. He hit just .222 through 86 games in 1926 before he was put on waivers where he was picked up by Brooklyn in August. He finished his career with them in 1929. Before he left, the 1926 Pirates had formed one of the most impressive outfields, at least by name, in team history. They ran three future Hall of Famers out there everyday, Paul Waner, Carey and Kiki Cuyler.

Carey finished his career with 738 stolen bases which still ranks as the 9th highest total all-time. He had a career .285 average with 1545 runs scored, 2665 hits and 1040 walks. Among Pirates all-time records he ranks 4th in games played with 2178,  4th in runs with 1414, tied with Pie Traynor for 4th in hits with 2416, 5th in doubles, 6th in triples, 2nd in walks to Willie Stargell and first in stolen bases with 688. He has the 4th most putouts as an outfielder all-time and 7th most assists. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1961

Other former Pirates players born on this date include:

Warren Morris (1974) second baseman for the Pirates from 1999 until 2001. Morris was a 5th round draft pick of the Texas Rangers who was acquired along with Todd Van Poppel in exchange for Esteban Loaiza in 1998. Morris hit .331 with 19 homers, 17 stolen bases and 103 RBIs at AA in 1998 to earn the starting second base job in 1999. He played 147 games his rookie season, hitting .288 with 15 homers, 73 RBIs and 65 runs scored, earning a third place finish in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. He had a sophomore slump in 2000, hitting .259 with only three homers and 43 RBIs despite getting 25 more plate appearances than the previous season. He performed even worse in 2001 and spent nearly half the season in the minors. He hit .204 in 48 games for the Pirates, who released him during spring training in 2002. He played parts of two more seasons in the majors then finished his career with two seasons in the minors.

Jermaine Allensworth (1972) outfielder for the Pirates from 1996 until 1998. He was a first round draft pick of the Pirates in 1993, selected 34th overall. He hit well that first season in short-season A-ball, batting .308 with 18 steals in 67 games. He was moved to AA the following season but struggled with the big jump in levels. Repeating the level in 1995 resulted in better numbers and a mid-season promotion to AAA. He had a combined .291 average with 26 steals and 83 runs scored between the two levels. Allensworth broke out in 1996 at AAA hitting .330 with 25 steals and 77 runs scored in just 95 games, which earned him a promotion to the big leagues in late July. He hit .262 with 11 steals and 31 RBIs in 61 games for the Pirates that season. He started the 1997 season in the majors and was playing CF everyday until a broken hand in May cost him six weeks of the season. He would hit .255 in 108 games that year. The 1998 season saw him hit .309 through 69 games before the Pirates traded him to the Royals for a minor league pitcher named Manuel Bernal, who never actually pitched for the Pirates organization but he did spend 12 seasons in the Mexican League. Jermaine would be shipped to the Mets before the season was over and he finished his major league career there in 1999. He played minor league and Independent ball until 2008.

Lloyd McClendon (1959) a utility player for the Pirates from 1990 until 1994 and then manager of the team from 2001 until 2005. The Pirates acquired him late in the 1990 season for a player to be named later. It was his 4th season in the majors and he was hitting just .159 at the time of the trade. He was a part-time player, used as a corner outfielder, first baseman, pinch hitter and he was the teams emergency catcher during his four full season with the Pirates. In 1991 he hit .288 with seven homers in 163 at-bats , pinch-hitting 40 times that season. He hit .253 during the 1992 regular season but in the playoffs he went 8-11 with four walks and four RBIs although the Pirates still lost the series. His average and then playing time dropped the next two seasons before the Pirates allowed him to leave via free agency. He signed with the Indians organization and finished his playing career in AAA in 1995. McClendon the manager had a 336-446 record during his tenure with the Pirates, finishing as high as fourth place(twice) and topping out at 75 wins. He currently manages for the Tigers in AAA.

Mickey Keliher (1890) first baseman for the 1911-12 Pirates and a teammate of Carey who was born on the same day. Mickey began his pro career in 1910 hitting .225 in 25 games. The following year he broke out for Petersburg of the Virginia League, hitting .323 in 122 games which earned him a September look with the Pirates. He did not make a great impression in his three games, going 0-for-7 with five strikeouts and he also made an error. The next season he was with the Pirates early on but the only playing time he received was two pinch running appearances, one leading to the only run he scored in the majors. He then spent a total of 16 seasons over an 18 year span playing in the minors, never getting another chance in the majors despite topping the .300 mark numerous times. He was a player-manager his last three seasons in the minors, hitting .313 in 1929, but unfortunately he passed away the next year at age 40.

Silver King (1868) a pitcher for the 1891 Pirates. King was a big time signing for the Pirates who had just finished 23-113 in 1890. With the Player’s League folding, the players who left for the league after the 1889 season all returned to their original team. King on the other hand was one of the handful of players who didn’t and signed with the Pirates instead for a $5,000 contract. He was a young star player, who by age 22 had already won 143 major league games. Pittsburgh did not get the kind of production from him they had hoped for, he went just 14-29, leading the NL in losses. Before the season could end they released him. He won 22 games in 1892 for the Giants but when the pitching distance was changed in 1893 to the current distance they still use today, King had a tough time adjusting, he was a sidearm pitcher with a lot of deception in his delivery. He would end up winning just 24 major league games after the age of 24.

Bill Niles (1867) third baseman for the 1895 Pirates. Bill was a light hitting third baseman who started his minor league career in 1889. He bounced around the minors, playing for six different teams before getting his only shot in the majors at age 28. The Pirates used him in 11 games and he hit .216 with five walks, two steals and no runs batted in.Niles was used in May, then sent out to a minor league team named the Franklin Braves of the Iron and Oil League. He was recalled by the Pirates, along with pitcher Jock Menefee on July 20th, taking the place(briefly) of the light-hitting Billy Clingman at third base. Bill actually put a pretty good showing in at third base during his brief time with his .930 fielding percentage which was 58 points above league average at the time at the position. He returned to the minors for good in August of 1895 and hung around as a player until 1900.

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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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