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Monday, November 28, 2022

This Date in Pirates History: February 8

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date. Starting with Felix Pie, who played for the 2013 Pirates. Pie was signed to a minor league deal during the off-season and was called up to the Pirates in late August. He played 27 games, so he was used often, though he started only three times. Pie went 4-for-29 at the plate and drove in two runs. After the season, he was dropped from the 40-man roster and he signed to play in Korea. In six seasons in the big leagues, he has a .246/.295/.369 line in 425 games.

Bob Oliver (1943) outfielder for the 1965 Pirates. He was signed as an amateur free agent in 1963 and spent three full seasons working his way up from A ball to get a brief September look with the Pirates in 1965. He played three games, all off the bench, going 0-2 with a run scored. Oliver returned to the minors for two more seasons before the Pirates traded him to the Minnesota Twins for pitcher Ron Kline. He would go on to play seven more seasons in the majors, 847 total games and hit .256 with 94 homers and 419 RBIs. Oliver now runs his own baseball academy in California. He is the father of major league pitcher Darren Oliver, who just retired after 20 seasons.

Monty Basgall (1922) second baseman for the 1948-49,1951 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1942 and played just one year in the minors before spending the next three seasons serving in the military during WWII. He played two seasons for Fort Worth of the Texas League before the Dodgers traded him to the Pirates for infielders Vic Barnhart and Jimmy Bloodworth. Monty started the first three games of the season at second base for the Pirates in 1948 but was used very little the rest of the way and even made a couple trips back to the minors during the season. He was the regular second baseman for most of 1949, playing 98 games there and hitting .218 with 26 RBIs. He spent the entire 1950 season in the minors before returning to the Pirates in 1951 in what would be his last season in the majors. He was a career .215 hitter in 200 major league games. He was in the Pirates system until 1958, the last three years as a player/manager, then went on to a long career in numerous roles for the Dodgers.

Cookie Cuccurullo (1918) pitcher for the 1943-45 Pirates. He got his chance in the majors during the war era when major league jobs opened up for more minor league players. He capitalized on the weaker play on the field by going 20-8 2.54 in 1943 for the Albany Senators of the Eastern League. The Pirates let him pitch the last game of that season and he took the loss, allowing seven runs in seven innings. Cookie spent the 1944 season in the Pirates bullpen, making just four starts among his 32 appearances. He had a 2-1, 4.06 record in 106.1 innings. He would assume the same role the following season although he pitched much less with poorer results. He again made four starts, this time throwing 29 total games but pitching just 56.2 innings and had a 1-3, 5.24 record. He spent all of 1946 in the minors, then was traded by the Pirates to the Yankees for pitcher Tiny Bonham. It was a one-sided deal for the Pirates as they got three serviceable seasons out of Bonham while Cuccurullo never pitched in the majors again.

Roy Ellam (1886) shortstop for the 1918 Pirates. He spent 17 years playing in the minors, nine of them as a player/manager and another three years as just a manager. In between all that time in the minors, he had two brief stints in the majors, nine years apart. He played ten September games for the 1909 Reds, then didn’t play in the majors again until the Pirates traded infielder Gus Getz to an independent minor league team from Indianapolis in exchange for him. Ellam played 26 games for the Pirates, hitting just .130 but he did draw 17 walks, giving him a .302 OBP. He was never much of a hitter, even in the minors, where he hit .231 over the course of 1885 games. He ended up playing minor league ball until age 44, retiring after the 1930 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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