Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date including the only player to hit a home run into the water beyond right field on a fly during a game. In his Jolly Roger Rewind, John Fredland recaps a come-from-behind victory over the Cubs, that happened 21 years ago today.
Daryle Ward (1975) First baseman for the 2004-05 Pirates. He was signed as a 15th round draft pick in 1994 by the Tigers. Ward is the son of long-time major league outfielder Gary Ward. Daryle was traded to the Astros in 1996 and made his big league debut in May of 1998 for Houston. He would spend five seasons there before being traded to the Dodgers in January of 2003. Ward hit .269 with 49 homers and 188 RBI’s in 418 games for the Astros. In his only season with Los Angeles, he struggled badly, hitting .183 with no homers in 52 games. The Pirates signed him in January of 2004 as a free agent, starting him off in AAA. Ward was called up in early May and he started off quickly, batting .380 with six homers during his first two weeks with the team. His production dropped off and he missed time due to a thumb injury, finishing with a .249 average, 15 homers and 57 RBI’s in 79 games.
In 2005, Ward was the everyday first baseman for the Pirates, hitting .260 with 12 homers and 63 RBI’s in 133 games. He was let go after the season, signing with the Nationals for 2006. Daryle played three seasons after leaving the Pirates, seeing time with Washington, the Braves and the Cubs, getting a total of 342 AB’s over that time. He finished his career with .263 average, 90 homers and 379 RBI’s in 948 games. On July 6,2002, while with the Astros, Ward became the only player, during a game, to hit a ball on the fly into the water behind the right field stands, a feat that still stands alone to this day.
Lee Hancock (1967) Lefty pitcher for the 1995-96 Pirates. He was a fourth round draft pick by the Mariners in 1988, spending just shy of two years in their system before the Pirates acquired him on May 18,1990 for pitcher Scott Medvin. Despite starting that 1990 season in AA, and getting a brief call-up to AAA, Lee didn’t make the majors until September of 1995. He began his career as a starter, but by 1994, he began to pitch more in relief. For the 1995 Pirates, Lee had a 1.93 ERA in 14 innings, spread out over 11 appearances. He made the Pirates Opening Day roster in 1996, pitching 13 times out of the bullpen before a few rough outings in May got him sent back to the minors. The Pirates cut ties with him in July and by the end of next season, he was out of baseball, never making it back to the majors. He finished with an 0-0 record in 24 appearances
Elmo Plaskett (1938) Catcher for the 1962-63 Pirates. He signed with the Pirates in 1957, after scout Howie Haak saw him during a tryout on the tiny island of St Croix. Along with Al McBean and Joe Christopher, the Pirates signed three future major league players from the Virgin Islands during the 1955-58 time frame. Plaskett spent six full seasons in the minors before getting his first big league shot in 1962 as a September call-up. That year he hit .350 with 27 homers and 96 RBI’s in 134 games for Asheville of the South Atlantic League. For the Pirates, he hit .286 in seven games with a three-run home run to his credit. Elmo made the Pirates Opening Day roster in 1963, lasting six weeks before he was returned to the minors. He played minor league ball until 1969 but never made it back to the majors. In 1963 for the Pirates, he hit .143(3-21) in ten games. He played in the Pittsburgh farm system until May of 1967.
Hank Behrman (1921) Pitcher for the 1947 Pirates. He was one of five players the Brooklyn Dodgers sent to the Pirates on May 3,1947 for Al Gionfriddo and $100k in cash. Hank spent six weeks with the Pirates before he was returned to the Dodgers. The trade came with an agreement that Pittsburgh could send players back if they weren’t performing well. With the return of Behrman to Brooklyn, the Pirates recouped some of the money from the deal, with reports being as much as half of the original price returned. Hank had gone 11-5 2.93 over 150.1 innings during his rookie season in 1946, but prior to coming to the Pirates in 1947, he had pitched only twice in relief, allowing four runs in 3.2 innings. With Pittsburgh, he went 0-2, allowing 26 runs in 24.2 innings. Behrman was with Brooklyn through the end of the 1948 season, pitching mostly out of the bullpen. He finished his big league career with the Giants in 1949, then played another four seasons in the minors before retiring. He ended up with a 24-17 4.40 record in 174 major league games.
Jackie Hayes (1861) Catcher for the 1883-84 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He had a strong rookie season in 1882, playing center field and backup catcher for the Worcester Ruby Legs of the National League. Jackie hit .270 with 54 RBI’s in 78 games(the team played 84 games that season). Worcester folded after the 1882 season and Hayes signed on with the Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He caught in 62 of the team’s 98 games, hitting .262 with 41 runs scored and a team leading three homers. Jackie spent half of the 1884 season with the Alleghenys before moving on to another American Association team, the Brooklyn Atlantics, to finish the season. He remained in the majors as a part-time player over the next three seasons despite batting under .200 each year. After spending the next two years in the minors, Hayes made it back to the majors in 1890 when there were three major leagues operating at the same time. He played 12 games for the Brooklyn Ward’s Wonders of the Player’s League that season, batting .190 and starting games at four different positions. He would finish his playing career three years later in the minors. Hayes hit .253 in 118 games for Pittsburgh.
Jolly Roger Rewind: June 27, 1991
Frank Castillo, making his major-league debut, shut out the first-place Pirates on three hits through the first eight innings, but the Bucs rallied for four runs in the bottom of the ninth to edge the Cubs 4-3 at Three Rivers Stadium.
The twenty-two-year-old righthander, recalled from AAA Iowa that day to replace injured Danny Jackson, faced three batters over the minimum through eight frames. But Orlando Merced and Jay Bell started the ninth with singles.
At that point, Cubs manager Jim Essian decided to play the percentages by bringing in lefthander Paul Assenmacher to face Andy Van Slyke, who had batted .123 against lefties prior to this game. Van Slyke, however, crossed up the strategy by lining a 1-2 pitch into left centerfield for an RBI single. Bobby Bonilla followed with a sacrifice fly, driving in Bell to cut the deficit to 3-2.
Barry Bonds entered the game with only one hit in twenty career at-bats against Assenmacher, who had been part of Chicago’s massive bullpen collapse in an April 21 game at Three Rivers*, but he worked a walk on a 3-2 pitch to move the tying run into scoring position. With Gary Varsho due up, Jim Leyland decided to pinch-hit one former Cub for another, and Lloyd McClendon came through with a game-tying RBI single.
Leyland went to the bench again to bat Don Slaught for Mike LaValliere; Essian responded by calling for righthander Heathcliff Slocumb. Slocumb’s first six pitches were balls, walking Slaught to load the bases and falling behind Jose Lind 2-0. The rookie reliever, who had also pitched in the Cubs’ April 21 collapse, recovered to strike out Lind for the second out.
The Bucs had reached pitcher Vicente Palacios’ spot in the batting order, and Leyland opted for his third pinch-hitter of the inning, Mitch Webster. Slocumb’s first pitch to Webster ended the drama by bouncing in the dirt and into the Pirates’ dugout, allowing Bonds to come home with the winning run.
* In that game, five Cubs relievers had combined to squander two five-run leads in a 13-12 Pirates victory in eleven innings.
Box score and play-by-play
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette game story