This Date in Pirates History: August 5

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date and one transaction of note, a trade that involves a player who was traded earlier in his career for one of the players born on this date. In his Jolly Roger Rewind, John Fredland recaps a doubleheader sweep over the Reds that occurred 35 years ago today.

The Transaction

On this date in 1980, the Pirates traded two minor leaguers, outfielder Rick Lancellotti and infielder Luis Salazar, to the San Diego Padres for infielder Kurt Bevacqua and pitcher Mark Lee. Bevacqua had played for the Pirates in 1974, coming over in the Nelson Briles trade(see below). He was being used mostly off the bench by the Padres in 1980, getting 79 plate appearances in 62 games. Lee was 7-5 3.72 in 102 games for the Padres between 1978-79, but he had spent all of 1980 in the minors. Neither Salazar, nor Lancellotti, who were both 24 years old, had played in the majors yet.

After the deal, Lancellotti played just 36 major league games over three seasons, 17 of those games as a member of the 1982 Padres. Salazar played 13 years in the majors, playing for the Padres three different times. He played 1302 major league games, 704 while with San Diego. He was a .261 hitter with 455 RBI’s and 117 stolen bases. Lee was actually a player to be named later, joining the Pirates seven days later. He pitched 16 games for Pittsburgh over two years, going 0-3 3.20 in 25.1 innings. Bevacqua played 51 games for Pittsburgh over two seasons before being released at the end of the 1981 season. The next April, he resigned with the Padres

The Players

Eric Hinske (1977) Outfielder for the 2009 Pirates. He spent seven seasons in the AL East, playing for the Blue Jays, Red Sox and Rays, prior to joining the Pirates in January of 2009 as a free agent. His best season came during his first year, when he hit .279 with 24 homers, 84 RBI’s and 77 walks, winning the AL Rookie of the Year award. In 2008, Eric hit .247 with 20 homers and 60 RBI’s in 133 games for Tampa Bay. His time with the Pirates was not good. He was traded exactly five months after signing, hitting .255 with one homer in 54 games for Pittsburgh. The Pirates dealt him to the Yankees for two minor league players, one turning out to be Eric Fryer, who has played parts of the last two years in Pittsburgh. Hinske has since played with the Braves the last three years, currently the owner of a .251 average with 135 homers and 515 RBI’s in 1313 games. He made it to the postseason each year from 2007 until 2010, despite playing for a different team each year.

John Wasdin (1972) Pitcher for the 2007 Pirates. He was originally a first round draft pick in 1993 of the Oakland A’s, making his major league debut two years later as a starter. He stuck around the majors until 2001, playing in Japan the following season. After one year overseas, he returned to the states, signing a contract with the Pirates. Wasdin went to AAA, where he threw a perfect game in his debut for Nashville on April 7,2003, a game that included 15 strikeouts. Three months later, he was traded to the Blue Jays for minor league outfielder Rich Thompson. After finishing 2003 with Toronto, John then pitched parts of three years for the Rangers(2004-06), going 7-8 5.38 in 55 games. He was resigned by the Pirates in November of 2006, making the 2007 Opening Day roster. He would end up pitching 12 games in relief for Pittsburgh over two separate stints with the team. He had a 5.95 ERA in 19.2 innings in the majors and got hit hard in seven minor league starts. Wasdin pitched two more years, one in the minors and one in Japan, before retiring. He had a 39-39 5.28 record in 328 major league games, 65 as a starter.

Bernie Carbo (1947) Pinch hitter for the 1980 Pirates. He was originally a first round draft pick in 1965 by the Reds, the team he hit two big home runs against in the 1975 World Series. In the 1970 NLCS against the Pirates, Carbo went 0-6 at the plate, following that up with an 0-8 in the World Series. During the 1970 season, he finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting with his .310 average, 21 homers and 94 walks. That ended up being his best season in the majors. By the time Bernie reached the Pirates in 1980, he was being used mainly as a pinch hitter. The Cardinals used him 52 times in 1979, just seven times as a starter. In 1980, they used him 14 times through the end of May, all as a pinch hitter. Bernie was released by the Cardinals in late May, signing with the Pirates on September 1st to be a bat off the bench down the stretch. Pittsburgh ended up finishing that year on a 13-25 run, putting them well out of first place. Carbo went 2-6 at the plate with a walk in his seven pinch hit appearances. It would be his last games in the majors, he finished his career in the minors the next year with the Tigers. Bernie was a .264 hitter with 96 homers in 1010 major league games.

Nelson Briles (1943) Pitcher for the 1971-73 Pirates. The Pirates acquired Briles in a four player deal on January 29,1971, that saw them give up Matty Alou. He had pitched the first six seasons of his career with the Cardinals, going 61-54 3.42 with 16 saves, making 118 starts and 116 relief appearances. Nelson went 14-5 in 1967, leading the NL in winning percentage with a .737 mark. The next year he won 19 games and threw a career high 243.2 innings.  During his first season in Pittsburgh, Briles made 14 starts and 23 relief appearances, going 8-4 3.04 in 136 innings. He pitched just once in the postseason, but it was an impressive outing, throwing a complete game shutout in game five of the World Series. Briles won 14 games in both 1972 and then again in 1973, making a combined 60 starts with over 400 innings pitched. The Pirates traded him to the Royals on December 4,1973 in a deal that included Kurt Bevacqua coming to Pittsburgh. Nelson went on to pitch another five seasons in the majors, finishing his career with the 1978 Orioles. He had a career 129-112 3.44 record, pitching 452 games and throwing over 2100 innings. With the Pirates he went 36-28 with a 2.98 ERA.

Jolly Roger Rewind: August 5, 1977

Less than five weeks after falling ten games from first place in the National League East, the Pirates moved within one game of the top spot by sweeping the Reds, 12-1 and 10-6, in a doubleheader at Riverfront Stadium.

The Bucs had awakened on the morning of July 4 as a slumping fourth-place club, losers of twenty-five of their previous thirty-eight to drop ten full games behind the first-place Cubs.* But they had regained their groove in July, ripping off winning streaks of five games and eight games to move into a four-way race for the division lead.**

Entering the weekend series a distant second in the National League West, the twice-defending World Champion Reds failed to halt the torrid Bucco charge. In the opener, the Pirates battered five Cincinnati pitchers for fifteen hits, rolling to a 10-0 advantage by the top of the third inning. Dave Parker, playing in his hometown, led the way with two home runs—including a three-run, second-inning blast off Fred Norman that became the first homer to reach Riverfront’s right field upper deck—three runs scored, and five RBI. Jerry Reuss zipped through the Reds’ star-studded lineup with a four-hit complete game.

With two outs in the top of the ninth, the Pirates ahead by eleven runs, and Reds manager Sparky Anderson having replaced many of his stars with reserves, the opener appeared ready to pass into the record books without further incident. Veteran Reds lefthander Joe Hoerner, however, had a different idea. Hoerner—who had injured Willie Stargell’s ribs almost two years to the day earlier with a hit batsman—threw a brushback pitch at Bucco shortstop Frank Taveras, and then hit Taveras in the shoulder with a pitch.

Taveras responded by flinging his bat towards the mound. Reds catcher Bill Plummer grabbed Taveras’ arms and Hoerner, who outweighed Taveras by approximately forty-five pounds, punched Taveras in the jaw. Somehow, the fighting did not escalate further, but Bill Robinson, himself returned from the hospital after a first-inning Norman pitch hit him in the head, ran out of the Pirates’ dugout and challenged Hoerner to fight him in the runway.***

Neither Taveras nor Robinson appeared especially intimidated or unsettled in the nightcap. The Reds held a 2-1 lead in the top of the second, but Taveras, batting with the bases loaded, lined a Doug Capilla pitch into the right-field corner. The ball ricocheted around long enough for Taveras to circle the bases with an inside-the-park grand slam—his first major league home run in 1780 plate appearances. In the sixth inning, with the Pirates holding a 7-6 lead, Robinson greeted reliever Jack Billingham with a three-run shot over the left-field fence, giving the Bucs an advantage that they would never relinquish.

The once-slumping Buccos had won twenty-three of thirty-two games and attained their closest approach to first place in the NL East since May 28.

Game One box score and play-by-play


Game Two box score and play-by-play


The Pittsburgh Press game story


* In that morning’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Charley Feeney had observed, histrionically, that “[t]he Pirate negative statistics since they held first place on May 27 are alarming. Frightening! It’s got to make any manager look like he was around 201 years ago when John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence.”

** The July surge occurred despite receiving only infrequent contributions from Willie Stargell, out since July 16 with what would turn out to be a season-ending elbow injury. Stargell had sustained the injury in a bench-clearing brawl with the Phillies on July 8.

*** The Pirates had harsh words for Hoerner afterwards. Allegedly, the forty-year-old relief pitcher, who never threw another major league pitch after this game, had told the media that he “wanted to see how fast Taveras was [trying to get away from the pitch]. He was so fast stealing second with a 7-1 lead.” Later, Hoerner denied making the comment.

Russ Franke reported in The Pittsburgh Press that “[w]hat Pirate Manager Chuck Tanner said about Hoerner burned the ears off the Cincinnati news media. He has never been so angry as he was last night, and his vocabulary wouldn’t have cleared the editors of Hustler magazine.” Some of Tanner’s diatribe did survive the Press’s filter: “He’s no good. He’ll get his some day, but he doesn’t have to worry about anybody throwing at him because he never bats. He’s such a horse [feathers] pitcher that they always take him out for a pinch-hitter. He’s always behind. He didn’t pick on any of our big guys, just the smallest one. . . . Go ahead and print all this. I want everyone to see how rotten I think he is.”




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John Lease

See, my hatred for the Reds has a LONG pre-history. Still hate them, too. The 1977 season was Bill Robinson’s best ever. The collapse of the Cubs that year was pretty impressive.

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