Morning Report: Ten Oldest Living Former Pittsburgh Pirates

I wanted to do this article last week when 1950’s infielder Dick Smith celebrated his 92nd birthday, but I had other articles to get to first. About seven years ago back when Pirates Prospects had a separate blog site, I posted an article on the ten oldest living former Pittsburgh Pirates. It was a popular article back then, but a lot has obviously changed between that list and the one you will see below. Just two players from that original list are still with us today. So to me it’s important to give a hat tip to the former players while they are still around. Here are the ten oldest former Pittsburgh Pirates, along with their birth dates in parenthesis next to their name.

1. Wally Westlake (11/8/1920) – Star outfielder for the 1947-51 Pirates. He batted .281, with 97 homers in 580 games with the Pirates. During the 1949 season, he hit 23 homers and drove in 104 runs, then came back the next year with 24 homers and 95 RBIs. His stats fell off after leaving the Pirates in a 1951 mid-season trade, but he did make one All-Star appearance. He is the fourth oldest living MLB player.
2. Eddie Basinski (11/4/1922) Second baseman for the 1947 Pirates. Hit .199 in 56 games during his only season in Pittsburgh. Played two other seasons in the majors, 1944-45 for the Dodgers. He played nearly 2,000 games during a 15-year minor league career. He is the ninth oldest living MLB player.
3. Ed Fitz Gerald (5/21/1924)  Catcher for the Pirates from 1948 until 1953. He played 102 games during his rookie season in 1948, then appeared in 193 games total over his next five seasons with the Pirates. He had a longer career with the Washington Senators, spending seven seasons there. Fitz Gerald hit .247 with the Pirates.
4. Bobby Shantz (9/26/1925) Spent the 1961 season with the Pirates after facing them during the 1960 World Series. Shantz was a three-time All-Star, an eight-time Gold Glove winner and the 1952 AL MVP. He went 119-99 in his career, while mostly pitching in relief after a few seasons as a starter. With the Pirates, he went 6-3, 3.32 in 89.1 innings, making six starts and 37 relief appearances, while winning his fifth Gold Glove. Pirates lost him to the Houston Colt .45s in the expansion draft.
5. Dick Smith (7/21/1927) Infielder for the Pirates from 1951 until 1955. He never played more than 29 games in a season. Smith hit .134 in 70 games, but he was known as a solid defender at third base, who could also play shortstop and second base. He was in the farm system for the Pirates from 1949 until 1958.
6. Bob Oldis (1/5/1928) Backup catcher for the 1960 World Series champs. He also played in Pittsburgh during the 1961 season. Played 135 MLB games over seven seasons with three teams. Oldis was a late innings defensive replacement during two games (games 4 and 5) of the 1960 World Series.
7. Felipe Montemayor (2/7/1928) Outfielder who played for the Pirates in 1953 and 1955. His MLB career consisted of 64 games, all with Pittsburgh, and he hit .173 with two homers. He played 21 years of pro ball, mostly in his home country of Mexico. He was the first player from Mexico to play for the Pirates.
8. Roy Face (2/20/1928) The most well-known player on this list, Face played 15 seasons with the Pirates, winning 100 games, picking up 186 saves (before they were an official stat) and making 802 appearances. He was an All-Star from 1959 until 1961 and he saved three games during the 1960 World Series. Considering how open the Hall of Fame is now to one inning relievers, Face would probably be a first ballot Hall of Famer with his stats. He pitched 3+ innings of relief 75 times during his career and was called on to make occasional starts.
9. Gail Henley (10/15/1928) Had a brief MLB career as an outfielder for the 1954 Pirates. Hit .300 in 14 early season games. Henley had a long career in pro ball, debuting in 1948 and playing his last game in 1961.
10. Hank Foiles (6/10/1929) Catcher for the 1956-59 Pirates during his 11-year career in the majors. Foiles hit .230 with 27 homers in 345 games with the Pirates.The rest of his career consisted of playing for six teams and 258 games. He was an All-Star in 1957 when he hit .270 with nine homers in 109 games.
Honorary mention goes to the original Frank Thomas (1951-58 Pirates), who missed this list by one day.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 3-0 to the New York Mets on Saturday night. The Pirates will send out Chris Archer for the series finale. He pitched against the St Louis Cardinals in each of his last two starts, going six innings each time. In those 12 innings, he allowed seven runs on 12 hits and four walks, with 14 strikeouts. Archer has a 6.91 ERA in eight road starts. The Mets are countering with veteran lefty Jason Vargas, who has a 3.96 ERA in 88.2 innings, with 76 strikeouts and a 1.25 WHIP. His last start five days against the San Diego Padres was one-hit ball over six shutout innings, with eight strikeouts. Vargas had a 2.68 ERA at home and 5.03 on the road.

The minor league schedule includes the first start back in Indianapolis for Brandon Waddell. In seven starts for Altoona, he had a 2.23 ERA over 36.1 innings, with a 1.05 WHIP and 42 strikeouts. Including his time in Indianapolis earlier this year, he has 79 strikeouts in 66.1 innings. Cody Bolton makes his sixth start for Altoona. His last outing was three runs over three innings in a game that had a long rain delay. His previous start was six shutout innings on one hit.

Conner Loeprich makes his second start for Bradenton. He allowed one run over six innings in his debut, picking up six strikeouts. His previous career long was five innings, set earlier this year with Greensboro in a spot start. Will Kobos gets the start for Greensboro. Despite a 6.05 ERA with Morgantown, his last start was five shutout innings eight days ago. Jose Maldonado gets the start for Bristol. He had a 2.45 ERA in his first three starts combined, but since then he’s be unable to get through three innings, giving up a total of 11 runs over seven innings in his last three outings. The GCL Pirates and both DSL Pirates are off on Sundays.

MLB: Pittsburgh (46-58) @ Mets (49-55) 1:10 PM
Probable starter: Chris Archer (5.40 ERA, 112:47 SO/BB, 96.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (53-51) @ Rochester (51-54) 1:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Brandon Waddell (8.70 ERA, 37:25 SO/BB, 30.0 IP)

AA: Altoona (52-51) vs Richmond (39-64) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Cody Bolton (5.79 ERA, 17:8 SO/BB, 23.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (57-47) vs St Lucie (57-48) 1:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Conner Loeprich (1.50 ERA, 6:1 SO/BB, 6.0 IP)

Low-A: Greensboro (63-41) vs Kannapolis (45-59) 4:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Will Kobos (NR)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (21-19) @ State College (22-20) 6:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD

Rookie: Bristol (18-19) vs Elizabethton (20-17) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Jose Maldonado (6.23 ERA, 21:12 SO/BB, 21.2 IP)

GCL: Pirates (10-16) vs Braves (10-14) 12:00 PM 7/29 (season preview)

DSL: Pirates1 (23-25) vs Rangers1 (38-10) 10:30 AM 7/29 (season preview)

DSL: Pirates2 (40-8) vs Mariners (20-27) 10:30 AM 7/29 (season preview)

HIGHLIGHTS

From Altoona, for the second day in a row only one highlight was posted, but this was a good one. Robbie Glendinning went 2-for-2 with two walks on Friday. Included in that line was his 13th home run of the season, a three-run shot

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

7/27: Pirates claim Parker Markel off waivers from Seattle Mariners.

7/27: Angel German activated from suspended list.

7/27: Daniel Amaral sent to GCL Pirates on rehab

7/26: Pirates sign Lewys Guzman, Jose Vasquez, Pedro Figuereo, Juan Santos

7/26: Osvaldo Bido promoted to Bradenton. Noe Toribio promoted to Greensboro. Trey McGough promoted to Morgantown. Lizardy Dicent assigned to Bristol on rehab.

7/25: Pirates recall Alex McRae. Luis Escobar optioned to Indianapolis.

7/25: Will Kobos promoted to Greensboro.

7/24: Keone Kela added to Pirates roster. Clay Holmes placed on injured list.

7/24: Angel German suspended by Altoona.

7/23: Brandon Waddell promoted to Indianapolis. Nicholas Economos promoted to Altoona. Conner Loeprich promoted to Bradenton. Winston Nicacio promoted to Greensboro. Oliver Garcia promoted to Morgantown. Miguel Peralta released.

7/23: Luis Nova placed on Greensboro injured list. Nick Mears placed on Bradenton injured list.

7/23: Tyler Lyons placed on paternity list. Eric Wood placed on temporary inactive list.

7/22: Saul de la Cruz promoted to Bristol. Wilger Camacho sent to GCL Pirates.

7/22: Elvis Escobar assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.

7/20: Michael Gretler placed on injured list. Victor Ngoepe promoted to Greensboro.

7/19: Jerrick Suiter placed on Altoona injured list. Bralin Jackson activated from injured list.

7/18: Mike LoPresti promoted to Greensboro.

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus two trades of note. We start with the players and two of them were born on this date in 1867 and they both pitched for the 1890 team, which was the worst in franchise history. Duke Esper and Bill Day couldn’t help a team that went 23-113, as they combined to go 0-8 in their eight starts. Esper also pitched for the Pirates in 1892 and went 2-0 in three starts for a much better team. The other player born on this date is Carmelo Martinez, who joined the Pirates 100 years after the other two players. He was with two pennant winners during the 1990-91 seasons He didn’t last long with the Pirates, who acquired him at the end of August 1990 and traded him away the following May.

The trades on this date include first baseman Gus Suhr for pitcher Max Butcher, which was a one-sided deal as far as career stats, with Suhr being one of the best first baseman in team history. In 1939, he was near the end of his career and the Pirates shipped him to the Phillies for Butcher. The Pirates got 67 wins out of Butcher during his time in Pittsburgh, while Suhr played just 70 games before he was released.

The other trade on this date was in 2000, when the Pirates dealt outfielder Wil Cordero to the Indians for infielder Enrique Wilson and outfielder Alex Ramirez. Wilson didn’t stay long, as he was dealt to the Yankees the following season for Damaso Marte. Ramirez struggled in his time in Pittsburgh and was sold to Japan that off-season. Between the majors, minors and Japan, he hit 505 career homers.

One game of note and it’s from the 2001 season, when the Pirates trailed 8-2 to the Astros in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and no one on base. They managed to score seven runs, capping it off with a walk-off grand slam from Brian Giles. The Pirates had five hits, a walk and a hit by pitch. Here is the boxscore from that game and a description can be found in the link above.

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