This Date in Pirates History: August 17

There have been four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including one that played just one inning of one game. In his Jolly Roger Rewind, John Fredland covers a doubleheader against the Reds from the 1990 season. Before we get to the former players, one current player has a birthday. Relief pitcher Chad Qualls turns 34 today. He came to the Pirates from the Yankees at the trading deadline two weeks ago, in exchange for Casey McGehee. Chad is in his ninth year in the majors, with his seventh different team. He has a 40-35 3.89 record, with 51 saves in 587 appearances.

Alex Cole (1965) Outfielder for the 1992 Pirates. He was a second round draft pick of the Cardinals in 1985, making it to the big leagues five years later with the Indians. Cole had a big first season with Cleveland after coming up in late July. He hit .300 with 40 stolen bases in just 63 games. He was a regular in center field the next year and hit .295 in 122 games, but the stolen bases really went down, swiping 27 bags while getting caught stealing 17 times. Alex’s 1992 season started off slow and his playing time became very limited going into July. On July 4,1992, the Pirates acquired him in exchange for minor league outfielder Tony Mitchell. Cole mostly played left field and center with the Indians, but after coming over to the Pirates, who had Barry Bonds and Andy Van Slyke in the outfield, he moved over to right field and saw plenty of playing time. In 64 games, he hit .278 with 33 runs scored. In the playoffs, he went 2-10 with three walks and two runs scored. After the season, he was lost to the Rockies in the expansion draft. Cole played four more years in the majors, stealing 30 bases with Colorado in 1993, then hitting .295 with 29 steals for the Twins one year later. His last major league season was 1996, but he played ball until 2001, spending time in the Mexican League and in Independent ball.

Bill Landrum (1957) Closer for the 1989-91 Pirates. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Cubs in 1980 after going undrafted out of college. Before making it to the majors, he went from the Cubs to the Reds to the White Sox, then back to the Reds. Landrum broke into the majors on August 31,1986, pitching ten games for the Reds that year. The next season, he made the Opening Day roster, but started off slow and was back in AAA by early May. He returned in June and ended up pitching 44 games with Cincinnati that year, going 3-2 4.71 in 65 innings. Bill was dealt to the Cubs at the end of Spring Training in 1988. He missed the start of the season, then was sent down in June and was again injured, pitching a total of just 16 games all year. The Pirates signed him as a free agent in January of 1989 and that season ended up being his best year in the majors. In 56 appearances, he had a 1.67 ERA, with a career high 26 saves in 81 innings. The 1990 season was nearly as good, as he helped the Pirates to the playoffs for the first time in 11 years. Landrum went 7-3 2.13 in 54 games, picking up 13 saves. In the postseason he had two scoreless appearances, retiring all six batters he faced.

In 1991, Bill pitched in a career high 61 games, saving 13 games, while posting a 3.18 ERA in 76.1 innings. He pitched once in the playoffs, giving up a run on two hits and two walks in his only inning of work. He was released by the Pirates in 1992 during the middle of Spring Training after they were unable to trade him due to injuries in the past and a $1.7mil salary. Bill signed with the Expos soon afterwards, and really struggled in Montreal. In 18 appearances, he posted a 7.30 ERA, while spending half of the season in AAA. He spent his last season with the Reds in 1993, pitching 18 games with a 3.74 ERA. After a three year layoff, Landrum pitched one more season of pro ball, playing for the Lubbock Crickets, an Independent League team. His father Joe Landrum pitched two season(1950,52) for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Johnny Rawlings (1892) Second baseman for the Pirates from 1923 until 1926. He played the first three years of his pro career out on the west coast, prior to making his major league debut with the 1914 Reds. During that first season, he jumped to the newly formed Federal League(a major league at the time) playing two years for the Kansas City Packers. Rawlings was a light hitting, good glove shortstop at the time, batting .213 and .216 his first two seasons with 17 combined extra base hits. When the Federal League folded after two years, he went to Toledo of the American Association for the 1916 season. Johnny was picked by the Braves in the Rule V draft after the season ended, becoming Boston’s starting second baseman for most of the 1917 season. He led all NL second baseman in fielding percentage and he showed a big improvement in his batting, hitting .256 in 122 games. Rawlings moved to shortstop the next year, and while his defense was strong there, his batting slipped to .207 and his playing time took a hit. He played just 77 games in 1919, then was sold to the Phillies the next year after barely moving from the bench the first two months. The move to Philadelphia and to full-time duty at second base resurrected his career. Johnny played everyday for the Phillies at 2B until the dealt him to the Giants during the middle of the 1921 season. While in New York, he helped them win the 1921 World Series with a .333 average against the Yankees.

Despite hitting .282 and leading all second baseman in fielding in 1922, Rawlings was put on waivers, where the Phillies picked him up. He never played for Philadelphia though. On May 22,1923, the Pirates traded Cotton Tierney and Whitey Glazner to the Phillies in exchange for Rawlings and Lee Meadows. For the Pirates, he went right in at second base and batted .284 with 53 runs scored and 45 RBI’s in 119 games. In 1924, Pittsburgh moved Hall of Fame shortstop Rabbit Maranville over to second base. Rawlings lost his job and almost became invisible at the end of the bench. He pinch hit three times all season, as Maranville played nearly every single inning that year. In 1925, the Pirates won the World Series and Johnny was a seldom used bench player again, for most of the year at least. In mid-August, after playing in 15 of the first 107 games, with just two starts, he started 21 games in a row at second base. An injury to left fielder Max Carey, caused a position shuffle that saw second baseman Eddie Moore go to right field, while right fielder Clyde Barnhart went to left field for Carey, leaving a spot open for Rawlings. Unfortunately for Rawlings, he broke his ankle during a slide on September 5th and was out for the year. He played 61 games for the Pirates in 1926, before going to the minors for his last four years of pro ball.

Arch Reilly (1891) Third baseman for the Pirates on June 1,1917. His stay with the Pirates was short. He reported to the team on May 28,1917 after finishing up his job as a college math teacher. Three days later, he came into a 9-1 game in the ninth inning with the Pirates on the losing end against the Phillies. Reilly had one play at third base that he handled cleanly and he never got a chance to bat. Two days later, he played an exhibition game and went 1-4, while starting at third base. The next day he was released, sent to Scranton of the New York State League along with pitcher Marcus Milligan, who never played a game for the Pirates before being sent down. The following year, Milligan was killed in a plane crash at age 22 while training for military service during WWI. Reilly finished the 1917 season in the minors, then returned to one of his alma maters Marshall University to coach three different sports, baseball, basketball and football. Prior to joining the Pirates, Arch played four years of minor league ball, serving as a manager for the 1915 Wheeling Stogies of the Central League.

Jolly Roger Rewind: August 17, 1990

The Pirates opened a weekend series between the divisional front-runners by sweeping the Reds in a doubleheader, 7-1 and 4-3, at Riverfront Stadium.

Entering the night’s play a half game ahead of the second-place Mets, the Bucs extended their lead on strong starts from two young starting pitchers. Twenty-five-year-old right-hander Mike York, recalled from AAA Buffalo for his major-league debut, held Cincinnati scoreless over seven innings in the opener.* York, whose path to the big leagues had detoured through being released by three organizations and overcoming alcoholism, limited the Reds to six hits and walked none.** The Pirates backed York with a steady offensive effort, starting when Wally Backman’s third-inning double off Jose Rijo drove in York, and continuing with customarily strong contributions from Bobby Bonilla (two hits, a home run, a walk three runs scored) and Barry Bonds, (a hit, two walks, two runs scored, two stolen bases).

York’s fellow twenty-five-year-old, John Smiley, took the ball in the nightcap. Smiley spotted the Reds two runs in the top of the first, but settled down to allow only one more run over the next six innings. Three solo home runs off Cincinnati starter Tom Browning—Bonilla in the second inning, Jeff King in the fifth, and Jay Bell in the sixth—eventually brought the Pirates back even at 3-3. In the top of the eighth, John Cangelosi pinch-hit for Rafael Belliard and drew a walk off Tim Layana, and then came around to score the go-ahead run on a sacrifice, wild pitch and Bell’s RBI infield single. Stan Belinda kept the Reds off the scoreboard in the eighth and ninth innings to earn the save.

With the Mets losing in San Francisco, the Bucs ended the night with a two-game advantage over New York. The Reds’ lead over Los Angeles and San Francisco dropped to seven and a half games.***

Game One box score and play-by-play


Game Two box score and play-by-play


The Pittsburgh Press game story


* York’s start was the second impressive major-league debut by a Bucco pitcher in eleven days: on August 6, Randy Tomlin’s first big-league game was a complete-game victory over the Phillies in the first game of a doubleheader. York was the nineteenth Pirates’ pitcher to earn a victory on the season.

** The Pirates had signed York four years earlier on the condition that he work with Sam McDowell, a Pittsburgh native and former pitcher whose own career was plagued by alcoholism. “I’ll always be grateful to the organization—no matter if I’m here one more day or the next 20 years,” York said after the game. “They gave me a chance for a new start, not just in baseball, but in life.”

*** The Bucs went on to sweep the four-game series. Cincinnati answered by coming to Three Rivers Stadium the next weekend and taking three of four from the Pirates.

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