Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including a catcher for the 1971 World Series winning squad. John Fredland recaps a big day for “Pops”, during the 1970 season, in his Jolly Roger Rewind. Before I get to the former players, there is a former manager celebrating a birthday today. Pete Mackanin turns 61 today. He managed the 2005 Pirates during the last 26 games of the season, after Lloyd McClendon was fired. Pete went 12-14 during his brief stay with the team. Prior to that he was the Pirates bench coach. Since then, Mackanin has managed one other season in the majors, 2007 with the Reds for 80 games.
Freddy Garcia (1972) Corner Infielder/outfielder for the 1995, and 1997-99 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Blue Jays as an amateur free agent in 1991, three years before the Pirates picked him up as a 1994 Rule V draft pick. With the Pirates for all of 1995, Garcia played third base and left field, hitting .140 with one RBI in 42 games, batting a total of 66 times. The Pirates sent him to the minors in 1996, where he played the entire year in High-A ball at Lynchburg. Garcia hit .306 with 21 homers and 86 RBI’s that year. He split the 1997 minor league season between AA and AAA, hitting .275 with 24 homers. Freddy had two stints with the Pirates, one in late May until early June, then again in September. He was back in AAA in 1998, where he hit 22 homers in 88 games. Garcia began that year with the Pirates, but was sent down after hitting .167 through the end of April. He returned in August and hit well, finishing with a .256 average and nine homers in 55 games. Freddy remained with the Pirates through September of 1999, when he was dealt to the Braves. While with Pittsburgh, he was playing both corner infield positions, and both corner outfield spots, hitting .231 with six homers in 55 games. He played just two games for Atlanta, homering in one of his three plate appearances. Freddy played minor league ball with the Red Sox in 2000, before finishing his playing career in Japan.
Milt May (1950) Catcher for the Pirates from 1970-73 and 1983-84. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 11th round of the 1968 draft. May worked his way quickly through the minors, making it to AAA by age 19, where he hit .280 with 21 homers and 86 RBI’s in 111 games. Milt was a September call-up that year, never returning to the minors. He was the backup catcher to Manny Sanguillen in 1971-72, then with the tragic passing of Roberto Clemente, Sanguillen moved to the outfield for most of the first half of the season, with May seeing full-time action behind the plate. That season, he hit .269 with 31 RBI’s in 111 games. May was traded to the Houston Astros on October 31,1973 in exchange for pitcher Jerry Reuss. From 1974 until 1983, he played for the Astros, Tigers, White Sox and Giants, six times playing over 100 games in a season. An ankle injury in 1976 cost him nearly the entire season, playing just six games. May was reacquired by the Pirates on August 19,1983 in exchange for catcher Steve Nicosia. He was the backup to Tony Pena until the end of the 1984 season, when he called it quits. May played in a total of 1192 major league games, hitting .263 with 77 homers and 443 RBI’s. He caught 1,034 games in his career. Milt’s father Pinky May, was an All-Star third baseman for the Phillies.
Pep Rambert (1916) Pitcher for the 1939-40 Pirates. He had a long career in the minors, seeing action with numerous teams, but his major league career consisted of just a handful of games over two seasons with the Pirates. Rambert was an outfielder for most of his career, though he did pitch 260 games in the minors and made it to the majors as a pitcher. He was in his third season of pro ball in 1939, playing for Knoxville of the Southern Association, where he went 11-8 4.82 in 153 innings. The Pirates called him up at the end of September and got him into two relief outings. He had his troubles in those games, allowing two runs in each, giving up seven hits and a walk in 3.2 innings total. Pep returned to the minors in 1940, moving up to play for Syracuse of the International League, where he had a 3.77 ERA in 160 innings. He returned to Pittsburgh again in September, this time pitch twice in relief without allowing a run. On September 29th, the Pirates let Rambert start the last game of the season again the Reds. He allowed three runs through the first four innings, then ran into a wall, giving up five runs without recording an out in the fifth inning. For Pep, that game would mark the end of his major league career. He was sold to Brooklyn the following January. From 1941 until his retirement in 1952, Rambert bounced around the minors, missing two years during the war. For five of those seasons, he served as a player/manager.
Roy Sanders (1892) Pitcher for the 1918 Pirates. He was one of two major league pitchers in 1918 named Roy Sanders, the other was pitching for the Yankees at the time. The Roy that played for the Pirates, spent the first three years(1915-17) of his pro career pitching for the Kansas City Blues of the American Association. He went 47-44 in 137 games, winning twenty games during the 1916 season. Roy began the 1917 season with the Reds, but didn’t last long, making two starts. Control problems did him in, as he issued ten walks during his debut and another six over eight innings in his second game, a 2-0 loss. Both of his pitching performances that year were against the Pirates, who must’ve been impressed with him despite the lack of control. In August of that season, he was acquired from Kansas City by the Pirates for a player to be named later. Sanders never pitched for the Pirates over the last month of the 1917 season. In 1918, he was used often, pitching 14 times in relief and 14 times as a starter during the season that was shortened due to the ongoing war. Sanders went 7-9 2.60 in 156 innings that year. While his ERA was good, it ranked him fourth on the team, as they finished with the second best pitching in the NL. Sanders never returned to the Pirates(he was a holdout) or pro baseball, choosing instead to play semi-pro ball back home in Kansas City.
Jolly Roger Rewind: August 1, 1970
Willie Stargell’s three doubles and two home runs led a twenty-two-hit, fourteen-extra-base-hit attack, spearheading the Pirates to a 20-10 victory over the Braves at Fulton County Stadium.
Before an NBC Saturday afternoon Game of the Week crowd, the Pirates rolled to a 9-3 advantage by the top of the second, took their foot off the pedal for several innings, and then gave the Fulton County Stadium scoreboard some practice for the upcoming football season with a seven-run seventh and three-run ninth. Their offensive honor roll was long. Stargell equaled a major-league record with five extra-base hits in a game* and drove in six runs. Bob Robertson added another five hits and scored four runs. The Bucs’ fourteen extra-base hits set a National League record.** In the course of four Julio Navarro pitches in the seventh inning, Robertson, Stargell and Jose Pagan connected on back-to-back-to-back home runs.
The Bucco pitchers held up their end of the bargain, barely. Danny Murtaugh pulled starter Bruce Dal Canton after allowing four runs in two innings. Orlando Pena took over and labored through the next four innings to record his first victory in four years; Pena did, however, surrender six more runs—including Hank Aaron and Rico Carty’s back-to-back-homer bottom-of-the-seventh retort to Robertson, Stargell and Pagan’s top-of-the-frame slugging display—in the process. Murtaugh then reluctantly turned to Dave Giusti to cover the final nine outs.
With the win, the Pirates remained one-half game behind the first-place Mets in the NL East race.
Box score and play-by-play
The Pittsburgh Press game story
* Currently, Stargell is one of only seven players to accomplish the feat, with Josh Hamilton in 2012 (four home runs, one double) the most recent.
** The 1986 Cubs and 1999 Reds would subsequently record fifteen extra-base hits in a contest.