First Pitch: The Pirates Have Fired Neal Huntington

I was just about to hit publish on an article wondering what to expect in today’s announcement from Bob Nutting when Jason Mackey reported that the Pirates are firing Neal Huntington.

I was looking back at a story from less than a year ago today, when Neal Huntington turned down the Giants and their offer to be president of baseball operations, all to remain in Pittsburgh as the Executive Vice President and General Manager. How much a year has changed things.

I think I can give my instant reaction to the Huntington news with a paragraph from the article I almost published:

The instant reaction to the news about the new team president led to speculation that Huntington could be on the way out. If that were true, then it means the Pirates are way more disorganized than originally thought.

To recap: The Pirates fired Clint Hurdle and kept Neal Huntington, with Bob Nutting saying that Huntington is the right man for the job at the end of September. They parted ways with Frank Coonelly a few weeks later, after negotiating a new TV deal. Meanwhile, Huntington has been overseeing the new manager search.

Now they’re firing Huntington and looking for a new General Manager about a month after this search should have begun. The person doing the search is new to the game and new to the organization, being officially announced today. And who knows what will happen with the manager search now.

This is a needed and warranted change, based on what we’ve seen the last few years from the Pirates. But the fact that there’s now no one left but Bob Nutting, and the Pirates are so disorganized with this process, kind of shows where the disorganization that’s plagued this team the last few years really stems from.




By John Dreker

Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus today is the 31st birthday of Corban Joseph, who played for the Pirates this September. We start with the most famous player first.

Bob Veale, pitcher for the 1962-72 Pirates. While with the Pirates he posted a 119-96, 3.06 record with 1,652 strikeouts. His strikeout total ranks him 2nd all-time in team history, just 30 behind Bob Friend who pitched over 1,600 more innings. His 276 strikeouts in 1965 are the most since the Pirates moved to the NL in 1887. Only Ed Morris had more strikeouts in a single season and he did that three times while the team was still in the American Association from 1884-86. Veale won 16+ games each season from 1964 until 1967. He led the NL in strikeouts in 1964 with 250. He was a two-time All-Star (1965-66).

The next group of players is interesting. Gair Allie, Joe Page and Luis Marquez all spent one season in Pittsburgh, playing for the 1954 Pirates. Allie was with the team all season, while Page and Marquez were never teammates. Page was there on Opening Day and started the season with 5.1 shutout innings. Things quickly went south and he gave up 17 runs over the next 4.1 innings before being released. He was a key bullpen piece for the Yankees during two World Series winning seasons and he was a three-time All-Star. Marquez joined the team mid-season and he went 1-for-9 with four walks in 14 games, seeing time at all three outfield spots. Allie batted .199 over 121 games, as the regular shortstop, who occasionally played third base. None of the three players saw the majors again after 1954. Page was 14 years older than Allie, while Marquez spent some time in the Negro Leagues before signing a minor league deal in 1949.

Percy Jones, pitcher for the 1930 Pirates. He made two starts and seven relief appearances for the Pirates, posting a 6.63 ERA in 19 innings. That ended up being his last season in the majors. Jones had a 53-57, 4.34 record in nine big league seasons, but he’s not as obscure as it sounds. That’s because he was part of a trade for Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby in 1928, and then 17 months later the Pirates acquired him for Hall of Fame pitcher Burleigh Grimes.

Bill Wilson, utility player for the 1890 Alleghenys. He split his time between catching, first base and all three outfield spots, while batting .214 in 83 games. His only other big league experience was two seasons (1897-98) with the Louisville Colonels. Wilson played pro ball until he was 40 years old.

Nate McLouth, outfielder for the 2005-09 Pirates, then returned briefly in 2012. He batted .256 over 515 games with the Pirates, hitting 60 homers and stealing 64 bases in 69 attempts. McLouth had a huge 2008 season, making the All-Star team and winning the Gold Glove. He led the NL with 46 doubles, scored 113 runs, drove in 94 runs and had 26 homers and 23 stolen bases. He was traded to the Atlanta Braves in mid-2009 and failed to approach his previous numbers, bouncing around the majors, including the 2012 Pirates (hit .140 in 34 games) until finishing up his career in 2014.