Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date. Earlier in the day, we covered one of the better outfielders in team history, the all-time home run king, Barry Bonds. That article can be read here. In this article we have the three other players as well as a Jolly Roger Rewind from John Fredland with a lot of scoring from the home team, 111 years ago today.
Joe Oliver (1965) Catcher for the 1999 Pirates. He was originally a second round pick in 1983 by the Reds. Joe made it to the big leagues in 1989 and was already in his 11th season when he joined the 1999 Pirates, his fifth different team in the majors. The Pirates acquired Joe from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays the day before his 34th birthday. They gave up a young outfielder named Jose Guillen in the deal, while also getting back another catcher, Humberto Cota, who stuck around Pittsburgh eight years longer than Oliver. Joe was brought in to replace the injured Jason Kendall, who was out for the entire year with a severe ankle injury. He played 45 games for the Pirates, hitting .201 with one homer and 13 RBI’s. Oliver was just a .247 career hitter, but that average in 1999 turned out to be the lowest of his 13 year career. He also hit 102 homers in the big leagues, seven times reaching double figures, so his offensive output with the Pirates was well off his career norm. He finished with 1076 games in the majors, playing for seven different teams. Joe led NL catchers in fielding in 1990, putouts in 1992 and he hit career highs with 14 homers and 75 RBI’s in 1993, all done while with Reds
Preston Ward (1927) Utility fielder for the Pirates from 1953 until 1956. He originally signed with the Dodgers at the age of 16 in 1944 and he wasn’t overmatched that first season while playing in Class-D ball, batting .250 with 25 extra base hits in 77 games. Ward played six seasons in the Dodgers organization, with his only major league experience coming during the first half of the 1948 season, when he hit .260 with 21 RBI’s in 42 games. Brooklyn sold him to the Cubs after the 1949 season and he played 80 games in Chicago in 1950, before missing the next two years due to military service. Returning in 1953, Ward hit .230 with four homers during his first 33 games of the season. The Pirates acquired Ward from the Cubs in a ten player deal on June 4,1953, with the main piece involved in the trade being Ralph Kiner, who went to Chicago. Preston played first base for the Pirates for the rest of the season, hitting .210 with eight homers in 88 games. He finished that season with one of the best fielding percentages among NL first basemen.
The next season Ward saw time at RF/1B and 3B, batting .269 with 48 RBI’s in 117 games. His time was limited in 1955, getting just 39 starts all season, all but one(RF) at first base. He played in 84 total games, hitting .215 with five homers and 25 RBI’s. He was hitting .333 with 11 RBI’s through his first 16 games in 1956, but on May 15th, the Pirates traded Preston to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for catcher Hank Foiles. He ended up playing in the majors until 1959, ending his career with the Kansas City Athletics. Ward hit .253 with 50 homers and 262 RBI’s in 744 games in the majors and in 305 games for the Pirates, he batted .240 with 21 homers and 111 RBI’s.
Joe Schultz Sr (1893) Infielder for the 1916 Pirates. He made his major league debut at the age of 19 in 1912, after the Braves selected him in the September Rule V draft just a couple weeks earlier. Schultz played parts of two seasons with Boston, getting into a total of 13 games. After playing the entire 1914 season with Rochester of the International League, where he hit .316 with 44 extra base hits in 155 games, Joe would return to the majors in 1915. He spent the beginning of the year with the Dodgers, before ending it with the Cubs. Schultz batted .289 with seven RBI’s in 63 games, spending most of his time at third base. The Pirates purchased his contract from Chicago in January of 1916 and he spent half the year in Pittsburgh. Schultz hit .260 with 22 RBI’s in 77 games, playing 24 games each at second base and third base. He also saw time at both corner outfield spots and even made an appearance at shortstop. Joe finished the season with Los Angeles of the Pacific Coast League, then spent the next two full seasons in the minors as well. He returned to the big leagues in 1919 and this time he was around for seven seasons, spent mostly with the Cardinals. He finished his major league career with a .285 average and 249 RBI’s in 703 games. Schultz played minor league ball in 1926, then was a player/manager for the next season, before retiring from playing. He then managed the next six seasons in the minors.
His family had a rich history in the major leagues. His son Joe Schultz Jr., played nine seasons in the big leagues, the first three(1939-41) with the Pittsburgh Pirates. His cousin Hans Lobert was a star third baseman in the majors, playing 14 years, including the 1903 season as a rookie with the Pirates, the team that went on to play in the first modern day World Series. Joe also had a cousin named Frank Lobert, who played one season in the majors and lived out his life in the city of Pittsburgh.
Jolly Roger Rewind: July 24, 1901
Scoring in all eight innings that they batted, the first-place Pirates rolled to an 11-2 victory over the Reds at Exposition Park.
Ginger Beaumont, who celebrated his twenty-fifth birthday a day earlier, sparked the relentless Bucco attack with four hits—one a triple—in four at-bats, three runs scored, two RBI, and two stolen bases. Claude Ritchey contributed two more triples, and winning pitcher Jesse Tannehill counted another triple among his two hits.
On the mound, Tannehill went the distance, limiting the Reds to two unearned fifth-inning runs.* Tommy Leach, replacing longtime starter Bones Ely at shortstop—at age 38, Ely’s performance had declined significantly—backed Tannehill with a strong defensive game, catching “everything that Ely could have reached and [topping] off the day’s work by making a double play that would have been impossible for Ely.”**
The Pirates maintained a three-game lead on second-place St. Louis. Injured-plagued Cincinnati, who had lost 9-2 at Exposition Park the previous afternoon, fell thirteen and a half games off the pace. “The thing for Pittsburg to avoid in the present series is carelessness,” asserted The Pittsburg Press. “The Reds as they are now made up should not be able to win from the Pirates in a hundred years, but the Pirates cannot afford to throw away any chances.”***
The Pittsburgh Press game story
* The runs, however, were unearned because of Tannehill’s own throwing error on a sacrifice attempt.
** Leach’s solid play notwithstanding, the Press hinted at the Bucs’ future alignment: “The way that Tommy Leach played short yesterday made Fred Clarke hesitate about putting into effect at St. Louis tomorrow his original plan of trying Hans Wagner at short and Leach at third . . . Still, Leach, on account of his speedy handling of bunts, is the logical man for third, and Wagner with his strong arm should fit in nicely at short. If he can’t fill this position it will be the only one on the diamond that he cannot master.”
*** Added the Press: “[Cincinnati owner] John T. Brush has spent more money than any other magnate in trying to get a pennant winner, and he seems as far from the goal as ever. His team now is the weakest in the league, and if there was ever an opportunity for the Pirtes to get even for past knock-downs this is the accepted time. The Reds cost Clarke’s men the championship last season and no quarter should be shown now.”+ posts
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.