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1954 Pittsburgh Pirates 1954 Pittsburgh Pirates

Preseason review of the 1954 Pittsburgh Pirates players

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Baseball Historian Keep in mind some of the players who once were stars, were by the time 1954 rolled around - aging veterans no longer capable of playing up to their younger days. And some of the ballplayers were in their first few seasons in the majors and hadn't as yet played up to their potential.

From our old copy of the "1954 Street and Smith's Yearbook" Actual Wording of article as follows: Baseball History "There's nothing but trouble ahead for the Pirates in '54. Last year, they peddled the long-time Forbes Field favorite, Ralph Kiner. Pressed for cash after a $325,000 deficit in 1953, the Pirates sent another star, Danny O'Connell, to the Milwaukee Braves for six players and financial balm estimated as high as $100,000. Though owned by wealthy people, including John Galbreath and Bing Crosby, the Pirates aren't throwing money around.

For Danny O'Connell, Branch Rickey obtained three veterans and three rookies. The established players were Pitcher Max Surkont, outfielder Sid Gordon, ticketed for third base, and Sam Jethroe, an outfielder Rickey originally sold to the Braves. The freshmen pitchers are Larry Lassalle, a southpaw who won 19 and lost 5 for Jacksonville; Fred Waters, 10-10 lefty at Lincoln, Neb.; and Curtis Raydon, also from Jacksonville. Rickey called it a long range deal. Fred Haney, his manager, wasn't quoted.

Another estimated $80,000 came rolling in when the tailenders dispatched 37-year-old Pitcher Murry Dickson to the Phillies, who also gave up an infielder and a pitcher in the transaction. With O'Connell and Dickson gone, the only remaining Pirate standout, unless 1954 proves otherwise, is Frank Thomas, powerful right-handed hitting outfielder who may be the club's new Ralph Kiner. Frank Thomas, a rookie last year, belted 30 homers - seven more than Kiner accomplished in his first season. Because the Pirates hit only 99 homers, Greenberg Gardens, which slashed the left field target by 30 feet, is coming down. Most important new Pirate may be Gerald Lynch, 6-1, 180-pound outfielder drafted from Kansas City (minors) after he had led the Piedmont League at Norfolk in six batting categories, including 133 runs batted in and a .333 average.

Among the veteran outfielders, in addition to Frank Thomas, are Cal Abrams and Hal Rice. Preston Ward and Paul Smith will be pressed at first base by Dale Long, who hit 35 homers with Hollywood last year and was voted the Pacific Coast League's most valuable player.

Pitching help may come from George O'Donnell, 20-21 at Hollywood, and Nelson King, relief specialist from Denver, who had a 2.00 ERA while submitting a 15-3 record. Vern Law, 6-9 in 1951, comes back from military service apparently cured of a sore arm. If so, he could be a winner. The Pirates lost 112 games in 1952 and were whipped 104 times last year, a sad commentary on a club which has an all-time league record of 4,432 victories against 3,841 defeats." - Archives

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