MLB Top 5: Pittsburgh Pirates Corner Infielders

This is the second article in a series that looks at the five best players at each position for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In this installment are first and third basemen

While the Pirates outfield features the team’s greatest home run hitters, the corner infielders show no shortage of production. Leading the way are three Hall of Famers and a long-time third basemen from the early 1900s.

The Best First and Third Baseman in Pittsburgh Pirates History

First Basemen

Honorable Mentions – William “Kitty” Bransfield was a smooth fielder who was a part of a Pirates team the won the first three National League pennants of the 20th century. He played five games with Boston in 1898 and two years in the minors before joining Pittsburgh and setting career highs with 92 runs, 167 hits, 16 triples and 91 RBIs to go with a .295 average and 23 steals in his first season. However, Bransfield’s numbers declined until he was sent across the state to the Phillies after batting .223 in 1904. He finished his Pirates career with a .271 average, 257 runs, 543 hits and 277 RBIs in 507 games, and he added three runs, six hits and an RBI in the first World Series in 1903. Bransfield ended his career with the Phillies and Cubs in 1911, was a player, manager, umpire and scout at several stops in the eastern part of the U. S. and Canada and was a public playgrounds supervisor and night watchman in his native Worcester, Mass., before passing away in 1947 at age 72.

Charlie Grimm – Before he became a standout for the Cubs, he spent six seasons with the Pirates (1919-24), winning three fielding titles for a team on the verge of contention. Grimm’s best season was 1923, when he hit seven home runs, set career highs with a .345 average, 78 runs, 194 hits and 99 runs batted in and put together a 30-game hitting streak. The fun-loving first baseman was traded to Chicago after posting a .386 average, 301 runs, 812 hits, 117 doubles, 65 triples, 369 RBIs and 1,113 total bases in 770 games. Grimm missed the Pirates’ title in 1925 and was a part of three pennant-winning teams (all losses) in 12 seasons with the Cubs all as a player-manager. He had a 1,287-1,067 record in 19 seasons with the Cubs and Braves, was a coach and executive with Chicago for 20 years and passed away due to cancer in 1983.

George Grantham split his seven-year Pirates career (1925-31) between playing first base (476 games) and second (393). His nickname “Boots” came about because of his poor defense, which led to him being shifted between four spots on the field throughout his 13-year career but was used as a term of endearment by the end thanks to his timely hitting. Grantham came to the Pirates from the Cubs in the Grimm trade and played for two pennant-winning teams, totaling six hits in eight games and helping Pittsburgh win the 1925 World Series. His best offensive season was 1930, when he set career highs with a .324 average, 120 runs, 179 hits, 18 homers and 99 runs batted in while playing second base. Grantham finished his time with the Pirates batting .315 with 625 runs, 992 hits, 191 doubles, 69 triples, 74 home runs, 508 RBIs and 1,543 total bases in 913 games. He played with the Reds and Giants, spent one year in the Pacific Coast League and was a college manager following his playing career. Grantham was a salesman, realtor and a manager at a mine and department store before passing away due to a cerebral hemorrhage in 1954 at age 53.

The emergence of Elbie Fletcher led to Pittsburgh trading longtime starter Gus Suhr to the Phillies. Fletcher started his career with the Bees/Braves franchise and was on the team when Babe Ruth ended his career in Boston. While he was overshadowed by others at the plate, he was adept in the field, especially at digging balls out of the dirt on low throws. Fletcher earned MVP consideration three times with Pittsburgh, including 1940, when he batted .273, set career highs with 16 home runs and 104 RBIs and led the league with 119 walks and a .418 on-base percentage. Three years later, he earned his only All-Star selection after posting a personal-best 154 hits. Fletcher spent two years with the Navy mostly playing baseball in Maryland and Hawaii then played two more seasons with the Pirates, was sent to the minors in 1948 and returned to the Braves for his final season. Following his playing career, he was a broadcaster, salesman and director of recreation in Massachusetts. Fletcher passed away in 1994 at age 77.

While Dick Stuart was a talented power hitter, his baserunning and fielding was an adventure. During his five-year run in Pittsburgh (1958-62), he played in both All-Star Games in the 1961 season after posting 35 home runs, 117 RBIs, setting career highs with a .301 average and 83 runs and leading the league with 121 walks. Stuart also ran with his head down, frequently missing signs, and his nicknames of “Dr. Strangeglove” and “The Man with the Iron Glove” were apt, considering he led the league in errors seven straight seasons, including each year with Pittsburgh. He finished his Pirates career with a .273 average, 285 runs, 550 hits, 117 home runs, 390 RBIs and 1,032 total bases in 559 games, and he went 3-for-20 in five games during the 1960 World Series. Stuart spent time with five teams over his final five big-league seasons. He found success in the finance industry after his playing career and died of cancer in 2002 at age 70.

Sid Bream had a solid six-year run with the Pirates (1985-90), but he is best known for one moment against his longest-tenured franchise. Following a brief stint with Los Angeles, he was sent to Pittsburgh in exchange for third baseman Bill Madlock late in the 1985 season. Bream was an integral run producer for the Pirates (.269-57-293 in 643 games) throughout his time with the club, except for 1989 when he missed almost the entire season after tearing cartilage in his right knee. Bream hit a home run in the NLCS loss to the Reds the following year then signed with the Braves as a free agent. His numbers started to decline but he played a key role in the playoffs, helping Atlanta to two straight World Series appearances. Bream’s greatest moment came in Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS, with the first baseman scoring the winning run against his former team in the bottom of the ninth inning.

5. Kevin Young – He was a seventh-round pick of the Pirates in 1990 and had a brief callup with the big-league club two years later. Young was mostly a reserve throughout his first four years with Pittsburgh, but after playing for the Royals in 1996, he returned and became a stellar run producer. Young received MVP consideration in 1997 and had at least 25 home runs and 100 RBIs each of the next two years. His best season was 1999, when he posted a .298-26-106 stat line and set career highs with 103 runs, 174 hits, 41 doubles, 22 steals and 305 total bases.

The 1993 fielding champion finished his 11-year run in Pittsburgh (1992-95 and 97-2003) with 516 runs,975 hits, 229 doubles, 136 homers, 583 RBIs and 1,646 total bases in 1,150 games, and he ranks second in franchise history in home runs by a first baseman and third in games played at the position. Young was released by Pittsburgh in 2003 and never played in the major leagues again. He was one of 11 former Pirates players listed in the Mitchell Report for performance-enhancing drugs, and he was hired as a special assistant in Pittsburgh’s baseball operations department in 2014.

4. Donn Clendenon – While he was best known for being the World Series MVP on the 1969 “Miracle Mets,” he had a stellar first eight seasons with the Pirates (1961-68). Clendenon was the son of a college professor who died when he was a baby, was the stepson of a former Negro League player and was mentored by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. while at Morehouse College. He began his career as the runner-up for the Rookie of the Year Award in 1962 while taking over for Stuart at first base. While he worked at improving on the field, Clendenon was getting involved in the community, helping juvenile delinquents and working towards a law degree. He was a part of the powerful team of the mid-1960s known as the “Lumber Company” and contributed a .299 average along with career highs with 28 home runs and 99 RBIs in 1966.

Clendenon finished his time in Pittsburgh with a .280 average, 442 runs, 986 hits, 149 doubles, 106 home runs, 488 RBIs and 1,559 total bases in 982 games. He was drafted by the Expos in the expansion draft in 1969 and was traded to the Mets in June. Clendenon brought veteran leadership to a young team, hitting 12 home runs in 72 games and three more in the victory over the Orioles. He played three more years, retiring after spending 1972 with the Cardinals, all while working as a consultant to help companies hire and work with minority candidates. Clendenon finished law school and worked as a criminal attorney and addiction counselor (after overcoming his own battle with drugs) until he passed away from leukemia in 2005 at age 70.

3. Gus Suhr – His durability, offensive prowess and friendly demeanor made him a favorite of fans and teammates during an 11-year career, 10 of which were spent with the Pirates (1930-39). After four seasons with the Pacific Coast League’s San Francisco Seals, Suhr came to Pittsburgh and persevered after enduring injury and inconsistency in his first two years. He played in a then-record 822 consecutive games (with the streak ending due to his mother passing away), had 150 or more hits seven times and drove in at least 100 runs on three occasions. Suhr’s best offensive campaign was 1936, when he earned his only All-Star selection after hitting 11 home runs and setting career highs with a .312 average, 111 runs, 182 hits and 118 runs batted in while also winning the fielding title.

Suhr’s skills declined later in his career. He was traded to the Phillies in 1939 but was released early the following year. Suhr finished his time in Pittsburgh with a .278 average, 689 runs, 1,379 hits, 276 doubles, 112 triples, 79 home runs, 789 RBIs (eighth in franchise history), and 2,116 total bases in 1,365 games. He played five seasons in the minor leagues, finishing with San Francisco, then managed in the minors and ran a liquor store. Suhr passed away in 2004 at age 98.

2. Willie Stargell – While he spent his prime years in left field, he still had some power left after moving to first base on a full-time basis in the mid-1970s. Stargell changed positions in 1972 to accommodate former Indians All-Star Vic Davalillo, making the All-Star team and finishing third in the MVP voting after batting .293 with 33 home runs and 112 runs batted in. After dealing with racism throughout his career, he became a leader on a team that was improving in the standings. One of the ways he showed leadership was by giving out “Stargell Stars” to teammates who had good games or moments on the field.

After two more seasons in the outfield, “Pops” returned to being a cornerman in 1975, but his stats declined. In subsequent seasons, he suffered rib and elbow injuries (the latter in a bench-clearing brawl) and missed considerable time in 1977 while his wife suffered a brain aneurysm that left her in a coma for six weeks. Many counted Stargell out, but he rebounded the following year, hitting 28 home runs and earning his seventh All-Star selection. In 1979, both the slugger and his team finally broke through. Stargell was named co-MVP after posting a .281-32-82 stat line and the Pirates overcame several recent playoff misses to win the championship. “Pops” was named MVP of both the NLCS win over the Reds and the World Series against the Orioles, combining for nine runs, 17 hits, six doubles, five home runs and 13 RBIs in 10 postseason games.

Stargell’s playing time and production dropped dramatically over his final three seasons, thanks to recurring knee and hamstring injuries, and he retired in 1982. He coached with the Pirates but was dismissed after he was accused of supplying amphetamines to players in what would become known as the Pittsburgh drug trials. Stargell worked as a coach and minor league hitting instructor with the Braves for a decade before returning to the Pirates in 1997. He finished his time at first base with a .280 average, 384 runs, 763 hits, 147 doubles, 162 homers, 545 RBIs and 1,416 total bases in 769 games. Stargell was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot in 1988. The recipient of the Gehrig, Clemente, Hutch and Ruth awards passed away after having a stroke following gallbladder removal surgery in 2001 at age 61.

1. Jake Beckley – Despite being one of the most productive hitters of the 19th century, he is relatively unknown to modern fans. Beckley was born in Hannibal, Missouri, a town best known for being the birthplace of Samuel Clemens, more commonly known as Mark Twain. The first baseman joined the Alleghenys in 1888 and became a fan favorite thanks to his hitting and stellar defense. Like many players of the time, “Eagle Eye” followed the money and spent a season with Pittsburgh’s entry in the Players League but returned to the newly named Pirates when the upstart league folded after one year.

Beckley slumped in 1892 following the death of his wife but rebounded to hit better than .300 five times with Pittsburgh. His best season was 1894, when he hit seven home runs, drove in 122 runs, stole 21 bases and set career highs with a .345 average, 123 runs and 185 hits. Beckley was a stellar player, but he had his quirks. He started in an era when facial hair was common, but by the time his career ended, he was one of only three players still sporting a mustache in the major leagues. Beckley regularly used the hidden ball trick, illegally tried to cut across the infield when the umpires weren’t looking and flipped the bat around to use the handle when he wanted to bunt, a practice that was legal at the time but has since been outlawed.

“Eagle Eye” spent eight seasons with the Pittsburgh franchise (1888-89 and 91-96), batting .300 with 701 runs, 1,140 hits, 186 doubles, 113 triples (tenth in team history), 43 home runs, 664 RBIs, 138 stolen bases and 1,681 total bases in 930 games. He had at least 90 RBIs in a season five times with the Pirates and he has the strange distinction of belting exactly 19 triples five seasons in a row from 1891-95. Beckley led all National League first basemen in assists four straight years and putouts on three occasions. He spent time with the Giants, Reds and Cardinals before retiring in 1907 with then-records of 244 triples (now fourth on the all-time list) and 2,383 games at first base (which was broken by Eddie Murray in 1994). Beckley still holds the major league record at his position with 23,709 putouts over his 20 seasons.

Beckley played for minor league, semipro and amateur teams for nearly a decade after his major league career ended. He also was a baseball coach at William Jewell College (now a Division II school) and umpired in the Federal League. Beckley also remarried and ran a grain business in Kansas City. He passed away due to heart disease in 1918 at age 50 and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1971.

Third Basemen

Honorable Mentions – Frankie Gustine was an infielder and occasional catcher during his 12-year career, 10 of which was spent with the Pirates (1939-48). After a stint at third base as a rookie, he spent most of his time at second base and shortstop before returning to the “hot corner” for his last two years in Pittsburgh. Gustine was an All-Star in both of those seasons, with 1947 being the best of his career, when he set personal bests with a .297 average, 102 runs, 183 hits, nine home runs and 67 RBIs. He crashed in the second half the following year and was traded to the Cubs. Gustine was claimed by the Athletics on waivers but traded to the Browns before ever playing a game with Philadelphia. Following his retirement in 1950, he owned a popular restaurant in Pittsburgh for 30 years and was a baseball and basketball coach for NAIA school Point Park College. Gustine passed away at age 71 in 1991 after suffering a heart attack.

Don Hoak was nicknamed “Tiger” due to his ferociousness on the field, and he was seen by many as a throwback player due to his effort. After joining the Navy in the waning days of World War II, Hoak lost his father after the tractor he was driving tipped over onto him while he as trying to load it onto a truck. Hoak spent time with the Dodgers, Cubs and Reds, earning his only All-Star selection with Cincinnati before he was traded to Pittsburgh in 1959. During the year, he was a dubious part of history when he committed an error in the 13th inning that ended Harvey Haddix‘s bid at a perfect game. The following season, Hoak finished second to teammate Dick Groat in the MVP voting and had five hits, three runs scored and three RBIs to help the Pirates beat the Yankees in the World Series. He batted a career-best .298 in 1961, but after a down year, he was traded to the Phillies.

Hoak’s playing career ended in 1964, and he served as a scout and coach for the Phillies, as well as an analyst and minor league manager for the Pirates. He was one of what he thought was three candidates for Pittsburgh’s managerial opening after the 1969 season, but former manager Danny Murtaugh re-emerged and took the job. The decision left Hoak depressed and contemplating leaving the Pirates. On the day Murtaugh was announced as manager, he was sitting in his apartment with wife and actress Jill Corey, when he looked outside and saw someone stealing his brother-in-law’s car. Hoak went out to chase the thief but was found slumped over in his car after suffering a heart attack. He passed away a few minutes after arriving at the hospital at age 41.

Jeff King was the top overall pick by the Pirates in the 1986 draft and played around the infield throughout his eight seasons in Pittsburgh (1989-96). Despite back issues that plagued him, he was a productive player on Pirates teams that won three straight division titles in the early 1990s, totaling four runs, eight hits, four doubles and two RBIs in 12 postseason games. King had his best season (a .271-30-111 stat line) then was traded to the Royals after the 1996 season, finishing his time in Pittsburgh with 419 runs, 817 hots, 173 doubles, 99 home runs, 493 RBIs and 1,319 total bases in 894 games. He spent two-plus years in Kansas City as a productive player, but his biggest issue was that he hated playing baseball. King waited until after his major league pension kicked in before retiring in May 1999.

While Ke’Bryan Hayes may eventually end up on this list if he stays healthy, Aramis Ramirez showed promise as a young slugger with the Pirates before finding greater success with the Cubs and Brewers. After part-time callups his first three seasons, he broke out in 2001, batting .300 with 34 home runs, 112 RBIs and a career-high 181 hits. Ramirez fell off a bit the following year but rebounded in 2003 before the Pirates, looking to cut payroll, traded him to the Cubs. In seven seasons with Pittsburgh (1998-2003 and ’15), he had 240 runs, 590 hits, 130 doubles, 82 home runs and 349 RBIs in 615 games. Ramirez hit at least 25 home runs seven times and drove in at least 100 on four occasions with the Cubs and did the same in his first year with the Brewers. After three All-Star selections and a silver slugger, he returned to the Pirates following a trade in 2013. Ramirez retired after the season and was inducted into the Cubs Hall of Fame in 2024.

5B. Richie Hebner – His father was a cemetery supervisor, and he got his “Gravedigger” nickname for his job in the offseason. Hebner was a standout in hockey and baseball but chose the Pirates over the NHL’s Boston Bruins after Pittsburgh chose him in the first round of the 1966 draft. He was in the Marine Corps reserves throughout the early part of his career and made his major league debut with a two-game call-up at the end of the 1968 season. Hebner was a solid, dependable player during his 11 seasons in Pittsburgh (1968-76 and 82-83), batting .300 or better twice. His best offensive season was 1974, when he earned MVP consideration after batting .291 with 18 home runs and 68 RBIs and setting career highs with 97 runs and 160 hits.

After two subpar seasons, Hebner became one of the first players to register for free agency in 1976. He spent time with the Phillies, Mets and Tigers before he was waived and signed back with the Pirates as a utility player. Hebner finished his career by playing two seasons with the Cubs retiring after he was released in 1986. He finished his time with the Pirates batting .277 with 569 runs, 1,079 hits, 180 doubles, 128 homers, 520 RBIs and 1,721 total bases in 1,140 games. Hebner also appeared in 21 postseason contests with Pittsburgh, winning a title in 1971 and totaling 10 runs, 21 hits, five doubles, four home runs and 15 RBIs. Following his playing career, he dug graves for 20 years, drove a hearse, ran a tavern, coached American Legion ball and managed in the minor leagues.

5A. Bill Madlock – He was raised by his grandmother and married while he was still in high school. After a September callup with the Rangers in 1973, he was traded to the Cubs for future Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins. Madlock finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting, was an All-Star and earned MVP votes twice during his three years with Chicago and had solid numbers with San Francisco before he was traded to Pittsburgh in 1979. He and the Pirates caught fire in the final three months after the trade, winning the division and later the championship. Madlock had 12 hits, including a home run, and drove in five runs in 10 playoff games.

Madlock’s time in Pittsburgh included two batting titles (giving him four overall), two All-Star selections, several injuries and a suspension. Two down years led to a trade to the Dodgers in 1985. “Mad Dog” finished his Pirates’ career with a .297 average, 392 runs, 870 hits, 155 doubles, 68 home runs, 390 RBIs and 1,253 total bases in 801 games. Injuries followed him to Los Angeles, and he finished his major league career with Detroit in 1987. Madlock spent one year playing in Japan, had trouble with the IRS, was a coach with the Tigers and in independent leagues, worked in the commissioner’s office and helped young players at the Vegas Valley Batter’s Box training facility in Las Vegas.

4. Bob Elliott – Although he was better known for his time with the Braves, he excelled with the Pirates, earning four All-Star selections in eight seasons (1939-46). Elliott came up as an outfielder but switched to third base when other players began leaving for military service in 1942. He wasn’t the slickest of fielders at his new position, but he overcame some growing pains (including several head injuries due to bad hops on ground balls) to lead the league three times in assists and twice in double plays. At the plate, Elliott was a durable and productive hitter, amassing three straight seasons with at least 80 runs scored, 150 hits and 100 RBIs.

After a down year in 1946, Elliott was traded to Boston, finishing his career in Pittsburgh with a .292 average, 552 runs, 1,142 hits, 213 doubles, 68 triples, 50 home runs, 633 RBIs and 1,641 total bases in 1,047 games. He made an immediate impact with his new team, winning the National League MVP Award in 1947 and helping the Braves reach the World Series the following year. Elliott made three All-Star teams in five years in Boston, and he also played for the Giants, Browns and White Sox before retiring in 1953. He played and managed with the minor league San Diego Padres and spent one year managing the Kansas City Athletics. Elliott coached for the Angels during their 1961 expansion year then worked for a beer distributor. He suffered a ruptured windpipe in 1966 and died after undergoing surgery to stop the hemorrhaging at age 49.

3. Bobby Bonilla – Growing up in a tough neighborhood in the South Bronx, Bonilla used baseball as his way out. He broke his leg while in the minor league with the Pirates and he was selected by the White Sox in the Rule 5 draft in 1985. Bonilla jumped from Class A to the majors the following year, and when manager Jim Leyland was fired by Chicago and hired in Pittsburgh, he traded for the young slugger. Bonilla honed his skills playing in Puerto Rico during the winter and became a breakout player with the Pirates, earning four All-Star selections and three silver sluggers during his six seasons with the franchise (1986-91). He hit .300 in 1987 and made his first All-Star team after posting a .274-24-100 stat line the following year.

However, Bonilla’s two best seasons came after he moved to right field in 1990. That first year, he was the runner-up in the MVP voting after batting .280 with career-best totals of 32 home runs, 120 RBIs, 112 runs and 175 hits. In his final season with Pittsburgh in 1991, he finished third after posting a .302-18-100 stat line and leading the league with 44 doubles. The “Double-B” pairing of Bonilla and Barry Bonds came to an end, with Bonilla signing with the Mets after the season and Bonds heading to the Giants the following year. He finished his Pirates career with a .284 average, 483 runs, 868 hits, 191 doubles, 114 home runs, 500 RBIs and 1,471 total bases in 843 games.

The return to his hometown did not go how he thought it would. Despite earning two more All-Star selections, Bonilla struggled at times. As the highest-paid player in baseball at the time, he was held to a higher standard, especially by the New York fans, and the boos became so loud he had to wear earplugs. “Bobby Bo” rebounded for three solid years before he was traded to the Orioles in 1995. He signed with the Marlins in 1997 and was a key piece of the team’s improbable run to the championship that season. Bonilla was traded to the Dodgers (for Gary Sheffield) the following year, returned to the Mets in 1999 and finished his career with one year each with the Braves and Cardinals, retiring after the 2001 season.

Bonilla is best known for his massive contract, which was bought out by the Mets so they could A) fill holes they had at several other positions and B) help recuperate funds they had lost during the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. As a result, every July 1 (nicknamed “Bobby Bonilla Day” by the New York media), he will be paid nearly $1.2 million. Bonilla also has made cameos in several television shows, appeared in the 1993 movie Rookie of the Year and supports the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy.

2. Tommy Leach – A look at his number would suggest he was a power hitter in the Deadball Era, but he just was aware of his surroundings during his 19-year career, 14 of which was spent with the Pirates (1900-12 and ’18). Opposing outfielders underestimated his size (5-foot-6, 150 pounds), but “Wee” Tommy Leach made them pay, driving the ball over their heads for extra-base hits. Of his 63 career home runs, 49 were of the inside-the-park variety. His family moved to Cleveland when he was young, and he was neighbors with Ed Delahanty and his four brothers who all played in the major leagues.

Leach had a tryout with the Giants before latching on with the Louisville Colonels in 1898. He was part of a huge trade with the Pirates and became one of the team’s stars during their early years of dominance. Leach led the league with 22 triples and six home runs in 1902, and he was a part of Pittsburgh’s four pennant-winning teams in the first decade of the 20th century. Despite losing to the Boston Americans (later Red Sox) in the first World Series in 1903, he totaled three runs, nine hits, eight RBIs and four triples, which is still a major league record. After a pair of average seasons, Leach sustained two broken ribs in a collision with Jake Beckley at home plate in a 1906 game against Cincinnati. The injury affected his throwing and prompted a move to center field.

While he was at that spot, Leach had a stellar season in 1909, scoring in a career-best and league-high 126 runs, rapping 153 hits and driving in 43 runs to help the Pirates get to the top of the baseball world once again. He batted .360 with eight runs, nine hits, four doubles and two RBIs to help Pittsburgh win its first world championship, beating Detroit in seven games. Leach had a solid campaign the following year but after two injury-plagued seasons, he was traded to the Cubs. He also spent time with the Reds and played in the minor leagues for two years before retiring for a brief final run with the Pirates when several players were participating in the war effort in 1918.

Leach finished his run in Pittsburgh ranked fifth in franchise history in stolen bases (271, including seven seasons with 20 or more), seventh in triples (139) and ninth in games (1,574) and runs (1,009). He batted .271 with 1,603 hits, 192 doubles, 43 home runs, 565 RBIs and 2,202 total bases. Leach was a two-time fielding champion as an outfielder. He led third basemen in assists twice and center fielders in putouts and double plays twice each. Leach was a minor league manager for several years and spent seven seasons as a scout with the Boston Braves. He bought citrus property in Florida and lived there until his death at age 91 in 1969, the last surviving player from the 1903 World Series.

1. Harold “Pie” Traynor – As a youth, he worked as a messenger boy and played baseball in the Boston area, getting his nickname for his favorite post-game snack at the corner store. Traynor joined the Pirates in 1920 and became a full-time player, moving around the infield for a bit before settling at third base. He was fantastic at the “hot corner,” charging bunts, making backhand stops and making quick (but occasionally errant) throws across the diamond. The 1925 fielding champion led the league in putouts seven times, double plays four times and assists three times during his 17-year career spent entirely with the Pirates (1920-35 and ’37).

Traynor had arguably his best season at the plate in 1923, when he batted .338 with 108 runs, 101 RBIs, set career highs with 208 hits, 12 home runs and 28 stolen bases and led the league with 19 triples. Throughout his time in Pittsburgh, he had at least 150 hits 12 times, scored 80 or more runs 11 times, hit .300 or better 10 times, drove in at least 100 runs on seven occasions and finished in the top 10 of the MVP voting six times. Traynor also played for two pennant-winning clubs and was selected for the first two All-Star Games. In the 1925 World Series victory against Washington, he batted .346, had nine hits, including a home run, and drove in four runs to help Pittsburgh win its second championship. Two years later Traynor, like many of his teammates, was held in check, managing just three hits in 15 at-bats as the Pirates were swept by the Yankees. However, one of those hits was a single that broke up a no-hit bid by Herb Pennock in the eighth inning of Game 3.

Following his All-Star seasons, Traynor’s playing career began to wind down. He was named player-manager in 1934 and stayed on the roster as a reserve the following year. Traynor decided to sit for the entire 1936 season, and he played just five games the following year when injuries struck the team before retiring. Traynor ended his time in Pittsburgh ranked fourth in franchise history in triples (164) and RBIs (1,273), tied for fourth in hits (2,416), fifth in total bases (3,289), sixth in runs (1,183) and doubles (371), seventh in games (1,941) and ninth in average (.320) to go with 58 home runs and 158 stolen bases. He led the Pirates to four winning seasons and a 457-406 record in six seasons as a manager (1934-39), but a combination of being too nice and too nervous led to his ousting. Traynor was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1948 and spent his time as a scout, factory worker and radio broadcaster. He passed away due to complications from emphysema in 1972 at age 73.

Upcoming Stories

Pittsburgh Pirates Catchers and Managers
Pittsburgh Pirates First and Third Basemen
Pittsburgh Pirates Second Basemen and Shortstops – coming soon
Pittsburgh Pirates Outfielders – coming soon
Pittsburgh Pirates Pitchers – coming soon

Previous Series

A look back at the Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies Catchers and Managers
Philadelphia Phillies First and Third Basemen
Philadelphia Phillies Second Basemen and Shortstops
Philadelphia Phillies Outfielders
Philadelphia Phillies Pitchers

A look back at the Oakland Athletics

Oakland Athletics Catchers and Managers
Oakland Athletics First and Third Basemen
Oakland Athletics Second Basemen and Shortstops
Oakland Athletics Outfielders and Designated Hitters
Oakland Athletics Pitchers

A look back at the New York Yankees

New York Yankees Catchers and Managers
New York Yankees First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
New York Yankees Second Basemen and Shortstops
New York Yankees Outfielders
New York Yankees Pitchers

A look back at the New York Mets

New York Mets Catchers and Managers
New York Mets First and Third Basemen
New York Mets Second Basemen and Shortstops
New York Mets Outfielders
New York Mets Pitchers

A look back at the Minnesota Twins

Minnesota Twins Catchers and Managers
Minnesota Twins First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Minnesota Twins Second Basemen and Shortstops
Minnesota Twins Outfielders
Minnesota Twins Pitchers

A look back at the Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers Catchers and Managers
Milwaukee Brewers First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Milwaukee Brewers Second Basemen and Shortstops
Milwaukee Brewers Outfielders
Milwaukee Brewers Pitchers

A look back at the Miami Marlins

Miami Marlins Catchers and Managers
Miami Marlins First and Third Basemen
Miami Marlins Second Basemen and Shortstops
Miami Marlins Outfielders
Miami Marlins Pitchers

A look back at the Los Angeles Dodgers

A look back at the Los Angeles Angels

Los Angeles Angels Catchers and Managers
Los Angeles Angels First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Los Angeles Angels Second Basemen and Shortstops
Los Angeles Angels Outfielders
Los Angeles Angels Pitchers

A look back at the Kansas City Royals

Kansas City Royals Catchers and Managers
Kansas City Royals First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Kansas City Royals Second Basemen and Shortstops
Kansas City Royals Outfielders
Kansas City Royals Pitchers

A look back at the Houston Astros

Houston Astros Catchers and Managers
Houston Astros First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Houston Astros Second Basemen and Shortstops
Houston Astros Outfielders
Houston Astros Pitchers

A look back at the Detroit Tigers

Detroit Tigers Catchers and Managers
Detroit Tigers First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Detroit Tigers Second Basemen and Shortstops
Detroit Tigers Outfielders
Detroit Tigers Pitchers

A look back at the Colorado Rockies

Colorado Rockies Catchers and Managers
Colorado Rockies First and Third Basemen
Colorado Rockies Second Basemen and Shortstops
Colorado Rockies Outfielders
Colorado Rockies Pitchers

A look back at the Cleveland Guardians

Cleveland Guardians Catchers and Managers
Cleveland Guardians First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Cleveland Guardians Second Basemen and Shortstops
Cleveland Guardians Outfielders
Cleveland Guardians Pitchers

A look back at the Cincinnati Reds

A look back at the Chicago White Sox

Chicago Cubs Catchers and Managers
Chicago Cubs First and Third Basemen
Chicago Cubs Second Basemen and Shortstops
Chicago Cubs Outfielders
Chicago Cubs Pitchers

A look back at the Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox Catchers and Managers
Boston Red Sox First and Third Basemen
Boston Red Sox Second Basemen and Shortstops
Boston Red Sox Outfielders and Designated Hitters
Boston Red Sox Pitchers

A look back at the Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Orioles Catchers and Managers
Baltimore Orioles First and Third Basemen
Baltimore Orioles Second Basemen and Shortstops
Baltimore Orioles Outfielders and Designated Hitters
Baltimore Orioles Pitchers

A look back at the Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Braves Catchers and Managers
Atlanta Braves First and Third Basemen
Atlanta Braves Second Basemen and Shortstops
Atlanta Braves Outfielders
Atlanta Braves Pitchers

A look back at the Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona Diamondbacks Catchers and Managers
Arizona Diamondbacks First and Third Basemen
Arizona Diamondbacks Second Basemen and Shortstops
Arizona Diamondbacks Outfielders
Arizona Diamondbacks Pitchers

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