Busy day for former Pittsburgh Pirates/Alleghenys birthdays. We have seven players in all to cover today, plus a trade to breakdown. Before I start into all of that information, I want to wish a happy 57th birthday to Pirates pitching coach, Ray Searage. He has spent ten seasons coaching in the Pirates system, the last two seasons in his current role.
On this date in 1957, the Pirates traded first basemen Dale Long and outfielder Lee Walls to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for first baseman Dee Fondy and infielder Gene Baker. Fondy would be traded to the Reds seven months later for Ted Kluszewski in a trade covered here. Baker was an all-star for the Cubs in 1955 and played well for the Pirates after the trade but early in 1958 he got injured and missed all of the 1959 season. When he returned in 1960, he was 35 years old and a part-time player on that championship team. The Pirates released him in June the following season. Fondy was a 32 year old veteran of seven seasons, all with the Cubs, at the time of the trade. He was a .285 career hitter with some pop in his bat, although that disappeared in Pittsburgh. Before being traded to the Reds, he hit .313 with two homers in 95 games for the Pirates.
Lee Walls was just 24 when the trade occurred, with one full season in at the major league level. He ended up playing until 1964, mostly as a bench player but in 1958 he had an all-star season, hitting .304 with 24 homers and 72 RBI’s for the Cubs. Long was 31 and had gotten off to a slow start that 1957 season. After the trade, he went on a tear, finishing with a .305 average and 21 homers for the Cubs. He hit 20 homers and drove in 75 runs in 1958, then his production dropped off, although he did stick around the majors until the 1963 season.
Jose Lind (1964) Second baseman for the Pirates from 1987 until 1992. He was signed by the Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1982, making his debut five years later. In six seasons with the team, he hit .255 in 779 games with 249 RBI’s and 292 runs scored. He won a Gold Glove in 1992. For much more information on Lind, check out our December 3rd “This Date” article which is dedicated solely to him, as well as our November 19th article, which details his trade to the Royals following the 1992 season.
Johnny Berardino (1917) Second baseman for the Pirates in 1950 and 1952. He looked like a superstar in the making during the 1940-41 seasons with the St Louis Browns, but Johnny missed most of 1942 and all of the 1943-45 seasons while serving in the military during WWII. He had a good season his first year back but his skills quickly went into decline. He spent half of the 1950 season in the minors, playing briefly for the Indians early in the year before they released him in August. The Pirates signed Berardino four days later and he finished the season as their regular second baseman. In 40 games he hit .206 with 12 RBI’s. Pittsburgh released Johnny exactly two months after signing him and he signed with the Browns for the 1951 season. In 1952 he signed with the Indians, who would end up trading him to the Pirates in August. Berardino hit .143 in 19 games for Pittsburgh in what would be his last season in the majors. If you’re keeping track at home, that means his travels in the majors were from the Browns to Indians to Pirates, back to the Browns, then the Indians, then the Pirates again in the same order. Johnny was a .249 career hitter in 912 games.
Heinie Meine (1896) Pitcher for the Pirates from 1929 until 1934. Before the age of 33, Meine pitched just one major league game, four innings on August 16,1922 for the St Louis Browns. He had retired in 1928 but made a comeback one year later with the Pirates. Heinie made his Pittsburgh debut in relief on May 31, 1929. Nearly two weeks went by before his next outing, one that turned things around for him. He threw three shutout innings in relief, earning a tryout in the rotation. Meine ended up that first season with a 7-6 4.50 record in 108 innings. During the 1930 season, offense in baseball was at its peak. Heinie had a 6.14 ERA that year, which sounds horrible but it was less than a run above the team’s combined ERA. The Pirates weren’t fooled by the high ERA and luckily for them, they stuck with Meine. In 1931 he led the NL in wins with 19, games started with 35 and innings pitched with 284, just ahead of teammate Larry French, who finished second. Twice during that 1931 season, Heinie pitched 13 inning complete games, both times without recording a single strikeout. He pitched three more seasons for the Pirates, finishing over .500 all three years. In his career Meine fell just two outs short of 1000 career innings pitched. He had a 66-50 3.95 record with Pittsburgh, making 132 starts and completing 60 of them. His brother Walter tried out with the Pirates in 1930 but did not make the team and never pitched in the majors.
Billy Kelly (1886) Catcher for the Pirates from 1911 until 1913. He began his pro career in 1904 and didn’t make his major league debut until early in the 1910 season. Kelly played just two games for the 1910 St Louis Cardinals before returning to the minors until late in the 1911 season. The Pirates purchased him, along with pitcher Marty O’Toole from St Paul in mid-August, 1911 but only O’Toole reported right away. It was said that the only reason the Pirates paid a heavy price for Kelly was due to the fact he was the only catcher on the St Paul team that could catch for O’Toole. Pittsburgh had a great defensive catcher in George Gibson and a capable backup in Mike Simon but the deal was made anyway to keep O’Toole comfortable on the mound. In 1912, Kelly hit .318 in 48 games(mostly as the catcher for O’Toole), but his average was an empty one, he drew just two walks all year and was a singles hitter. Billy played 48 games again in 1913 and hit .268, drawing just two walks again all season. After the 1913 season, Kelly returned to the minors, playing four years for Toronto of the International League before his pro career ended. He finished up hitting .293 with 20 RBI’s in 102 games while with Pittsburgh.
George McQuillan (1885) Pitcher for the Pirates from 1913 until 1915. He played five seasons in the majors(1907-11) before being traded to the minor leagues in the middle of the 1911 season. Two years later the Pirates acquired him from the Columbus Senators of the American Association for relief pitcher Jack Ferry and other considerations. While with Columbus that year, McQuillan had a 12-4 record in 21 games. During his first four seasons in the majors, George had a 49-39 record for the Phillies with a 1.69 ERA. Despite the great ERA for Philadelphia, they traded him to the Reds prior to 1911 and Cincinnati gave up on him quickly after he began the season poorly. He was not known for keeping himself in the best of shape during his playing days. While with the Pirates in the second half of 1913, he went 8-6 3.43 in 141.2 innings.
The 1914 Pirates were a very weak team on offense, and the pitchers suffered from the lack of run support. McQuillan had a 2.98 ERA that year but his record was just 13-17 and he wasn’t the biggest victim of the lack of offense. Only Wilbur Cooper, among the regular pitchers, had a winning record and he was just one game over .500 with a 2.13 ERA.The 1915 season went the same for George, he had a record of 8-10 with a 2.84 ERA through the middle of August. The Pirates placed him on waivers, where he was picked up by the Phillies. He pitched with Philadelphia in 1916, then appeared for five games with the Cleveland Indians during the 1918 season, his last in the majors. McQuillan finished with a major league record of 85-89 despite an ERA of just 2.38 in 1576.1 innings. He ended up pitching in the minors until 1926, finishing with 165 wins in his 15 minor league seasons.
Bill White (1860) Shortstop for the 1884 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He began his pro career in 1883, playing one game for the Philadelphia Quakers(Phillies) and a handful of minor league games. The next season he was the Alleghenys regular shortstop for most of the year. White hit .227 with ten triples and 25 runs scored in 74 games. His defense was subpar with a fielding percentage well below the league average. After spending all of 1885 in the minors, he returned to the American Association with the Louisville Colonels and played much better. Not only did he hit better during the 1886-87 seasons, his fielding was league average for the time. He struggled in 1888, then ended up playing the next six seasons in the minors. White also managed for three years in the minors, all for teams from Wheeling, West Virginia but the teams played in three different leagues and the years he managed were spread out over a ten year period.
Tom Forster (1859) Shortstop for the 1884 Alleghenys. Exactly one year before Bill White was born, another shortstop for that 1884 Pittsburgh team was also born. Forster began his major league career in August of 1882 with the Detroit Wolverines of the National League. That year he hit just .092 in 21 games for Detroit so it was of little surprise that he spent the entire 1883 season back in the minors. His manager during that season was Art Whitney, who was also his teammate in 1884 for the Saginaw Greys of the Northwestern League. Both players joined the Alleghenys during the 1884 season, along with another teammate from 1884 named Jay Faatz. Forster played 35 games for Pittsburgh, 28 as a shortstop. He hit just .222 and had a .525 OPS but he played strong defense, well above league average. Tom played another two years in the majors with the New York Metropolitans of the American Association. He was their second baseman and still had trouble hitting but was good defensively. Forster ended up playing another four seasons in the minors, finishing his pro career in 1890 with Hartford of the Atlantic Association.