This Date in Pirates History: May 15

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including the first twenty game winner in franchise history. In his Jolly Roger Rewind, John Fredland takes a look at an amazing performance by the Great One in a losing effort.

Al McBean (1938) Pitcher for the Pirates from 1961 until 1968, then again in 1970. He was signed by the Pirates in 1958 out of the Virgin Islands for a $100 bonus, just the second major leaguer to be signed out of there, with the first one being another Pirates player, Joe Christopher. McBean was in the majors by the middle of the 1961 season, posting a 3.75 ERA in 74.1 innings that rookie season. He made just two starts(and 25 relief appearances) but the following season he was moved into the starting rotation. Al had a good season, going 15-10 3.70, finishing second on the team in wins to Bob Friend. Despite the strong stats, it was said that he wasn’t cut out for starting because he worried too much about his starts the whole previous night prior to the game, sometimes getting no sleep. He was moved to the relief role in 1963 and was used often in that role, topping 85 innings in each of the next five seasons. In 1964, he won eight games, saved 22 and had a 1.91 ERA in 58 games.

In 1968, Al was moved back to the starting role and pitched two shutouts in his first five outings. He began to struggle as the year went on and by late August, after two very poor outings, he was moved back to the bullpen. McBean would be selected by the San Diego Padres that October in the expansion draft. He pitched one game for them before being traded to the Dodgers. After one appearance during the 1970 season, Los Angeles released McBean and he quickly signed back with the Pirates. His second stint with the team lasted less than a month before he was released, following an 8.10 ERA in seven outings. He finished his career playing two more years in the Phillies farm system. In 376 games for the Pirates, 75 as a starter, he had a 3.08 ERA with 65 wins and 59 saves.

Jimmy Wasdell (1914) Outfielder for the 1942-43 Pirates. He was one of four players the Pirates acquired in the Arky Vaughan trade with the Dodgers on December 12,1941. In parts of five seasons in the majors prior to the trade, he had a .270 average with 11 homers and 126 RBI’s in 295 games. In 1942 for the Pirates, Wasdell saw plenty of action at the corner outfield positions, while also getting starts in center field and first base. He hit .259 with 38 RBI’s and a .655 OPS in 122 games. Despite the fact he played less than 100 games in the outfield, he finished second among all NL outfielders in errors committed. Jimmy wasn’t with the Pirates for long in 1943. After four pinch hit appearances in the first week of the season, he was sold to the Phillies. He became a solid player in Philadelphia, playing there for 3 1/2 seasons, with his best season coming in 1945 when he hit .300 with 60 RBI’s. That year, he struck out just eleven times in 541 plate appearances. He lasted in the majors until 1947, getting one AB for the Indians that year before being released. He finished his pro career with three more seasons in the minors. He was a player/manager his last season in the minors, then managed during the 1950 season.

Jimmy Smith (1895) Shortstop for the 1916 Pirates. He was a light-hitting shortstop, who was a native of Pittsburgh, Pa and an alumni of Duquesne University. There have been just eight players in major league history who have also attended that school and six of them played with the Pirates. He spent the first two seasons of his big league career in the Federal League, considered an outlaw major league at the time. After hitting .207 in 128 games in 1915, he was released and signed with the Pirates as a free agent on February 6,1916. He was with Pittsburgh at the beginning of the year, playing shortstop when Honus Wagner played first base but by June, Smith was sent to Toronto of the International League. He hit .222 there in 85 games before returning to the Pirates in September. In a total of 36 games for the Pirates, Smith hit .188 with five RBI’s. He was sent back to Toronto in 1917 after unrealistic salary demands and eventually he was released so he could sign with the New York Giants. Jimmy played in the majors until 1922, getting into 370 games, with a .219 career average.

Harry Salisbury (1855) Pitcher for the 1882 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He attended Brown University from 1877 until 1879, then made his major league debut for the Troy Trojans of the National League after graduating. Salisbury went 4-6 with a 2.22 ERA in ten starts that year for Troy. He had prior pro experience, playing minor league ball in 1877, the first year that organized minor league ball existed. His next known baseball experience came for the 1882 Pittsburgh Alleghenys, when he showed up on the roster one month into the season. The team started the season with a 6-5 record over the entire of May (games played were sporadic due to travel and limited time to draw up the first schedule) and Salisbury made his debut the next day in an 11-4 win. The Alleghenys played 79 games on the year and of the 68 played from June 1st on, Harry started 38 of those games. He also pitched a complete game in all 38 of those games, getting in a total of 338 innings. He is the first twenty game winner in Pirates franchise history. That 1882 season was his last in the majors and he played at least another three years in the minors afterwards. It was said that he had signed an 1883 contract to play for Louisville of the American Association before the 1882 season ended and some noise was made by Pittsburgh management about Harry’s last game in an Alleghenys uniform, a 20-6 loss to Louisville.

Jolly Roger Rewind: May 15, 1967

Tony Perez’s tenth-inning double scored Pete Rose with the winning run in an 8-7 Reds victory over the Pirates at Crosley Field.

The Reds emerged triumphant despite a frenetic effort from Roberto Clemente, who scorched the home team for three home runs and a double, driving in all seven Bucco runs. Clemente’s first salvo came in the first inning, with a two-run homer off Reds starter Milt Pappas. He repeated the feat in the fourth inning to extend the Bucs’ lead to 4-0.

After the Reds rallied with three runs in the sixth off Bob Veale, Clemente restored the lead to 6-3 with a two-run double off Darrell Osteen in the bottom of the seventh. He likewise responded to Cincinnati’s two-run bottom of the seventh uprising with a top-of-the-ninth solo shot off Gerry Arrigo, giving Bucco reliever Juan Pizarro a 7-5 margin going to the last of the ninth.

At this point, Cincinnati settled upon a winning strategy: end the game before Clemente could commit further mayhem. With one out in the ninth, Perez singled for the third of his four hits, and Lee May, playing in the first full season of what would turn out to be a 2071-game, 354-homer career, drove one over the fence to knot the game at 7-7. Arrigo set Bill Mazeroski, Donn Clendenon and Gene Alley down on groundouts in the visitors’ half of the tenth inning, and then Perez’s two-out double drove in Rose to clinch the win.

Clemente’s four-for-five night raised his batting average to .390 and OPS to 1.075. “It was the best game I’ve ever had—in a losing cause, that is,” he observed afterwards. “My best games are when I drive in the winning run.”

Box score and play-by-play

Associated Press game story

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.

Related articles

Latest articles