This Date in Pirates History: September 11

We have six players born on this date, including three players who went to the postseason with the Pirates, one that was traded for a Hall of Famer, one that got dealt for the Pirates all-time batting leader and another that played just one major league game. In his Jolly Roger Rewind, John Fredland looks at a high-scoring walk-off win from the 1982 season.

Don Slaught (1958) Catcher for the Pirates from 1990 until 1995. Prior to joining Pittsburgh, Slaught played eight years in the majors, hitting a combined .269 with 50 homers and 256 RBIs in 756 games. During the 1989 season for the Yankees, he hit .251 with 38 RBIs in 117 games, his second highest games played total during his 16 year career. He was a solid catcher, slightly below average in throwing out runners and early on he had some error troubles, leading AL catchers in 1988 with 11 miscues. On December 4,1989, the Pirates acquired Slaught from the Yankees in exchange for pitchers Jeff Robinson and Willie Smith.

During the Pirates three years of NL East pennants, Slaught was the righty in the L/R platoon behind the plate with Mike Lavalliere. His batting average during his Pirates years was much better than they hoped for, as he compiled a .305 mark in his six seasons in Pittsburgh. He hit .300 his first year and never batted below .288 with the team. He reached .300 in four of his seasons and topped out at .345 in 1992. Don started 179 games during the 1990-92 run of pennants, getting into another 47 games behind the plate from off the bench. In 1993, when the Pirates got rid of Lavalliere, Slaught became the everyday catcher and hit .300 with ten homers and 55 RBIs in 116 games. He missed most of 1995, with shoulder and hamstring injuries, then was allowed to leave via free agency after the season. Slaught played two more seasons in the majors before retiring. With the Pirates he hit .305 in 475 games, with 21 homers and 184 RBIs. In the postseason, he went just 5-for-28 between the 1990-91 games, before breaking out in 1992, hitting .333 with six walks and five RBIs.

Dave Roberts (1944) Pitcher for the 1979-80 Pirates. He had a 13-year career in the majors that saw him go 103-125, 3.78 in 277 starts and 168 relief appearances. Before reaching the Pirates, he was already in the middle of his 11th season and had made the conversion to a relief role. Dave was part of an important trade in Pirates history, the one that brought Bill Madlock to Pittsburgh, from the Giants on June 28,1979. It was a six player deal with three players going each way. Not only did Madlock help with the World Series run, Roberts went 5-2, 3.26 in 21 appearances. He appeared in one playoff game, allowing a walk to the only batter he faced in the NLCS. Dave began the 1980 season with the Pirates, though he was sold to the Mariners after just two appearances. He played in the majors until 1981, lasting with the Mets until May of that season, then pitching briefly in the minors for the Giants, before retiring. While it is true that Roberts didn’t pitch for the Pirates until 1979, he was actually a member of the organization twice before that. He was originally signed by the Phillies, who lost him on waivers to the Pirates in 1964. In 1966, he was taken by the Kansas City Athletics in the Rule V draft, then returned to Pittsburgh in 1967, right before Opening Day. The Pirates then lost him to the Padres in the 1968 Expansion draft, and that is where he made his major league debut during the 1969 season.

Jackie Hernandez (1940) Shortstop for the 1971-73 Pirates. He was a light-hitting, error-prone shortstop for nine seasons in the majors, but during the 1971 postseason, he started ten of the 11 playoff games, helping the Pirates to their fourth WS title. On December 2,1970, the Pirates acquired Hernandez from the Kansas City Royals in a six-player deal, with three players going each way. Jackie was six seasons into his major league career at that point, only once seeing regular playing time, that coming with the expansion Royals team during their first season. He played 145 games in 1969, hitting .222 with 17 RBIs and he led the entire AL in errors. In 1970, before the Pirates received him, he hit .231 in 83 games, with a .563 OPS. For the 1971 Pirates, Hernandez started 65 games at shortstop and occasionally played third base. He hit just .206 with 26 RBIs in 88 games, then in the postseason, he hit .226 (seven singles in 31 AB’s) with two RBIs. As his batting average sank to .188 in 1972, his playing time also diminished, but he still committed 22 errors at shortstop in 68 games. Jackie made just 22 starts in 1973, batting .247 in 78 plate appearances. On January 31, 1974, Hernandez was dealt to the Phillies in exchange for catcher Mike Ryan. He ended up being released by the Phillies and resigned by the Pirates in April, spending the entire 1974 season at AAA. Hernandez played the next two years in the Mexican League before retiring. For the Pirates, he hit .205 in 214 games, with 48 RBIs, and despite stealing 17 bases in 1969, he never stole a base with the Pirates. He was a career .208 hitter in 618 games.

Glenn Spencer (1905) Pitcher for the Pirates in 1928, then again from 1930 until 1932. He made his debut on Opening Day in 1928, coming into a 12-5 game in the sixth inning, giving up two unearned runs in 2.2 innings. The Pirates had injuries to two of their better pitchers, Lee Meadows and Carmen Hill so a spot was opened up for Spencer. Glenn pitched just four times prior to the return of Meadows in late June, all in relief, throwing a total of 5.2 innings. He finished that season pitching for Columbia in the South Atlantic League, then was moved to Wichita of the Western League to get more experience the next year. Spencer responded with a 24 win season, pitching 252 innings. In 1930, he was back with the Pirates, getting occasional starts but most pitching in relief, closing out 22 games. Glenn pitched 41 times, 30 in relief, going 8-9, 5.40 in 156.2 innings. The ERA sounds extremely high, but it was a booming year for offense in baseball, as the Pirates team finished with a 5.24 ERA.

Spencer would pitch the fourth most innings on the team in both 1930 and 1931, throwing a total of 186.2 innings the second season. That year he made 18 starts and 20 relief appearances, going 11-12, 3.42 for a team that finished four games under the .500 mark. His numbers slipped the next season, down to a 4.97 ERA in 137.2 innings and the Pirates moved him in the off-season. On December 12,1932, he was sent to the Giants as part of a five player, three team deal, that also involved the Phillies. In return, the Pirates got back Hall of Fame 3B/OF Freddie Lindstrom. Spencer ended up pitching just 17 games for the Giants in 1933, then he was traded to the Reds and sent to the minors. His major league career was over at that point, but he pitched another eight seasons of minor league ball before retiring. With the Pirates, he was 23-29, 4.48 in 122 appearances, 42 as a starter.

Frank Moore (1876) Pitcher for the Pirates on June 14, 1905. At 6’4″ back in 1905, Moore was referred to as “the Giant”, yet had the usual nickname of Peggy. He pitched just one game for the Pirates, coming into the game with Pittsburgh down 5-0 in the sixth inning to Hall of Famer(and future Pirates at the time), Vic Willis. He was recruited out of Ohio by Pirates oft-injured catcher, Harry Smith. When Moore went in to make his one appearance, it marked another unusual occurrence, Homer Hillebrand went behind the plate to catch at the same time. Hillebrand was a lefty, making one of his three major league appearances at the position. Frank ended up pitching the last three innings of the game and looked good, allowing two hits, no runs, no walks and he struck out a batter. He ended up playing until 1912, the last year as a player/manager, before retiring as a player and managing two final seasons. Frank spent the last seven years of his baseball career, playing/managing for teams in Ohio, his home state.

Steve Brodie (1868) Center fielder for the 1897-98 Pirates. He was a center fielder with strong defense and some big seasons on offense for the powerhouse Baltimore Orioles teams of the 1890’s. Baltimore won the NL pennant three years in a row(1894-96) and Brodie averaged 106 runs scored and 111 RBIs during those seasons. On defense, he led all outfielder in fielding percentage once and had the second best percentage five times(twice finishing third as well). On November 11, 1896, the Pirates acquired Brodie from the Orioles, along with third baseman Jim Donnelly, for Jake Stenzel, and three other players. In Stenzel, the Pirates were giving up the player with the highest average in team history. While his defense was as strong as ever in Pittsburgh(leading the NL in fielding in 1897), Brodie’s offense left something to be desired, at least compared to his career stats. In 142 games with the Pirates, he hit .283 with 74 RBIs and 62 runs scored.

The Pirates released Brodie on June 11, 1898 despite the fact he was playing well at the time. The reason was due to finances, cuts had to be made to team spending and Brodie, along with third string catcher Morgan Murphy, were both released outright. The Pirates went with a smaller roster and Steve was free to sign with any other team. He ended up signing back with Baltimore, where he hit .306 in 23 games in 1898, then batted .309 with 87 RBIs in 1899, the last year of the Baltimore NL franchise. When Baltimore became a major league city again in 1901 in the AL, Steve reappeared in the majors, playing two more seasons. His 12-year big league career was over, but his minor league career lasted another eight seasons, before finally retiring in 1910. He was a .303 major league hitter in 1,438 games, with 900 RBIs, 289 stolen bases and 886 runs scored.

Jolly Roger Rewind: September 11, 1982

Bill Madlock led off the ninth inning with a walkoff home run off Ron Reed, giving the Pirates a 10-9 victory over the Phillies at Three Rivers Stadium.

Coming on the veteran reliever Reed’s only pitch of the night, a chest-high slider, Madlock’s blast over the left-center wall gave the Bucs the ultimate upper hand in a slugfest that evoked memories of the teams’ epic struggles of the previous decade. The intrastate rivals combined for thirty-three hits, and spent the evening swapping leads and rallies.

Before Philadelphia could record their sixth out of the game, starter Mike Krukow had abdicated the mound in favor of Ed Farmer, and the Pirates enjoyed a 6-0 advantage. The Phillies answered by turning to some familiar names to produce eight runs against Larry McWilliams, Enrique Romo and Rod Scurry over the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Garry Maddox’s fourth-inning double drove in former Bucco Bill Robinson to put the Phillies on the scoreboard in the fourth, Mike Schmidt’s three-run blast off McWilliams cut the lead to 6-4 in the fifth, and Pete Rose’s two-run single off Scurry in the sixth gave the visitors the lead.

In the bottom of the seventh, however, Sister Sledge replaced McFadden & Whitehead on the jukebox, as the Pirates conjured the spirit of their own recent past. Dave Parker, in action for the first time since injuring his thumb on July 28, pinch-hit for Lee Lacy and drove Porfi Altamirano’s pitch off the glove of diving right fielder George Vukovich for a triple. One out later, Philadelphia manager Pat Corrales called on long-time Bucco foe Tug McGraw. McGraw retired Jason Thompson on a pop-up, but Mike Easler singled home Parker to cut the gap to 8-7.

Tony Pena followed with an infield single. With two on and two out, Chuck Tanner went to his bench and sent up Willie Stargell, playing out the final three weeks of his storied career, to pinch-hit for Johnny Ray. Much as Tanner had turned to left-handed pinch-hitters Easler and John Milner to get big hits against the lefty McGraw in the summer of ’79, the strategy paid off handsomely, as Stargell sliced a double to left to drive in two runs and put the Bucs back ahead.*

Philadelphia did not quit. Manny Sarmiento had kept the Phillies off the scoreboard in the seventh and eighth innings, and Tanner sent him back out for the ninth. Three batters in, the Phillies had two runners on and one out, and Tanner summoned Kent Tekulve in hopes of recording the final two outs. Tekulve induced Maddox to ground into a forceout, but Manny Trillo singled off Dale Berra’s glove to deadlock the game.

Once Madlock untied matters for good a few minutes later, the contest had something else in common with its 1970s antecedents: pennant race impact. The combination of Philadelphia’s loss and St. Louis’ win over New York knocked the Phillies out of first place in the National League East and put the Cardinals in the top spot by half a game. The Pirates continued to hang within striking distance; they now stood in fourth place, but only four and a half games out of first.

Box score and play-by-play

The Pittsburgh Press game story

* This pinch-hit double represented Stargell’s last big hit in a twenty-one-year career of countless memorable moments.

  • I remember Dave Roberts warming up in game 7 of the World Series, and his great game against the Padres when Winfield gave him the ‘choke’ sign was a game for the ages.