This Date in Pirates History: February 21

Only two former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date and each of them played their best days elsewhere. No trades of any kind either so this won’t be much but I will make it up to you later with an interesting history article of some kind later tonight.

 

Ted Savage(1937) outfielder for the 1963 Pirates. He had a strong rookie season in 1962 for the Phillies, hitting .266 with 54 runs scored and 16 stolen bases in 127 games. That November the Pirates acquired him, along with infielder Poncho Herrera in exchange for third baseman Don Hoak. That trade was recapped here.  Savage was used mainly off the bench for the Pirates, after hitting well early and getting a handful of starts in early May, his average and playing time dropped, getting just five starts the last 94 games of the season. He ended up playing 85 games, hitting .195 in 166 plate appearances. Ted would spend the entire 1964 season in the minors for the Pirates, where hit he .229 in 115 games with ten homers and 26 steals. After the season ended the Pirates traded him, along with pitcher Earl Francis to the St Louis Cardinals for two minor leaguers. The trade didn’t work out for either team, the Pirates got nothing on the major league level out of the two players they acquired, Francis pitched just two games for the Cardinals and while Savage played parts of three seasons with the Cardinals, he hit .160 over 55 games and batted under .200 each partial season.

Savage went on to play four more seasons in the majors, playing for five different teams. In 1970 he had an unexpected strong year out of nowhere for the Milwaukee Brewers. In 114 games he hit a career high .279 with 12 homers, 50 RBI’s and 57 walks. It must’ve been one of those seasons where everything came together because by the end of the 1971 season his baseball career was over. Savage finished with a .233 career average over nine seasons and 642 games.

Jouett Meekin(1867) pitcher for the 1900 Pirates. Meekin goes against what happened to most pitchers in the 1890’s. Baseball decided to move the mound back to it’s current distance of 60 feet 6 inches in 1893, prior to that the pitchers threw from inside a box painted on the ground, with the front of it being 50 feet from home plate. If you’ve ever heard the expression, a batter hit one back through the box as a description for a ball hit right by the pitcher, that is where it came from. Most pitchers who pitched prior to 1893 had trouble adjusting to the new distance and the fact they had to pitch from one spot instead of wherever they wanted to stand in the box. Some chose back then to start from the back and get momentum up as they came towards home plate, some stood all the way to the left or right of the box depending on who they were facing. If a pitcher wasn’t that good prior to 1893 then he most certainly wouldn’t be better after the new rules were in place but Meekin was the opposite. He had a 19-36 record with an ERA just over 4.00 his first two seasons and while his ERA went up to 4.96 in 1893, the entire league saw a rise in runs scored. For more information on the 1893 season, check out the article we posted last April about the Pirates and their amazing offensive season. By 1894, which some consider the best year for offense in all of baseball, he was 33-9 with a 3.70 ERA, the second best ERA and win total in the league.

Meekin went on to win 78 total games over the 1895-98 seasons, all spent with the New York Giants. He started off slow in 1899 and was sold to the Boston Beaneaters, who need an extra arm for their pennant run. He would bounce back with them, in 13 starts he went 7-6 2.83, completing 12 games. A month prior to the start of the 1900 season Boston released Meekin, who found a job with the Pirates shortly there after. He would make just two starts for Pittsburgh, one in June that he lost 8-1 and another one in July that he lost 17-3, with his opponent on the mound being Cy Young, in what would end up being the last major league game for Meekin. Jouett played two more seasons of minor league ball before retiring. He finished his major league career with a 152-133 record.

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