Harold Joseph "Pie" Traynor (November 11, 1898 – March 16, 1972) was an American professional baseball player, manager, scout and radio broadcaster. He played his entire Major League Baseball (MLB) career (1920–37) as a third baseman with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1948.
Following the Second World War, Traynor was often cited as the greatest third baseman in MLB history. In recent years his reputation has diminished, with the modern-era careers of third basemen such as Eddie Mathews, Brooks Robinson, Mike Schmidt and George Brett moving to the forefront in the memories of baseball fans.
|Born: November 11, 1898|
|Died: March 16, 1972 (aged 73)|
|September 15, 1920, for the Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Last MLB appearance|
|August 14, 1937, for the Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Runs batted in||1,273|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Member of the National|
|Baseball Hall of Fame|
|Vote||76.9% (fifth ballot)|
Traynor was born in Framingham, Massachusetts, to parents who had emigrated from Canada. He received his nickname as a child in Somerville, Massachusetts, because he frequented a grocery store and often asked for pie. The store owner called him "Pie Face", which was later shortened to Pie by his friends.
Traynor began his professional baseball career in 1920 as a shortstop for the Portsmouth Truckers of the Virginia League. He was asked by a Boston Braves scout to work out with the team at Braves Field, but the scout forgot to tell Braves manager George Stallings. Stallings ran Traynor off the field, telling him not to return. Traynor made his major league debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates at the age of 21 on September 15, 1920, appearing in 17 games that season. He appeared in 10 games for the Pirates in 1921, but spent the majority of the season playing for the Birmingham Barons. He posted a .336 batting average in 131 games for the Barons, but he committed 64 errors as a shortstop.
Traynor became the Pirates' regular third baseman in 1922, hitting for a .282 batting average with 81 runs batted in. Following the advice of Rogers Hornsby, he began using a heavier bat in 1923 and blossomed into one of the best hitters in the National League (NL) . He hit above .300 for the first time with a .338 batting average along with 12 home runs and 101 runs batted in. With tutoring provided by teammate Rabbit Maranville, his defense also began to improve, leading National League third basemen in putouts and assists.
In 1925, Traynor posted a .320 average with six home runs, 106 runs batted in and led the league in fielding percentage as the Pirates won the NL pennant by 8 1⁄2 games over the New York Giants. In the 1925 World Series, he hit .346 including a home run off future Hall of Fame pitcher Walter Johnson as the Pirates defeated the Washington Senators in a seven-game series. Traynor ended the season eighth in Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award balloting. His 41 double plays in 1925 set an NL record for third basemen that stood for 25 years.
The Pirates won the pennant again in 1927 with Traynor hitting .342 with five home runs and 106 runs batted in, but they lost to the New York Yankees in the 1927 World Series. In November of that year, members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America selected him as the third baseman for the 1927 all-star major league team. Traynor hit .337 and produced a career-high 124 runs batted in during the 1928 season despite hitting only three home runs and finished in sixth place in the NL MVP Award balloting. He continued to be a cornerstone for the Pirates, posting a .356 batting average in 1929.
Traynor hit for a career-high .366 average in 1930. A different baseball was used in MLB in 1931, and Traynor's batting average decreased to .298. Despite the decline in his average, Traynor supported the use of the new ball, saying that the 1930 ball had caused too large of an advantage for hitters and had led to lopsided games that had ultimately decreased interest in the sport. In 1933 MLB held its inaugural All-Star Game and, Traynor was selected as a reserve player for the NL team.
Traynor's last full season was in 1934 when he hit over .300 for the ninth time in ten seasons, and was named as the starting third baseman for the NL in the 1934 All-Star Game. During the 1934 season, his throwing arm was injured in a play at home plate and his defense began to suffer as a result. Traynor played his final game on August 14, 1937.
In a 17-year major league career, Traynor played in 1,941 games, accumulating 2,416 hits in 7,559 at bats for a .320 career batting average along with 58 home runs, 1,273 runs batted in and an on-base percentage of .362. He retired with a .946 fielding percentage. Traynor reached a high of 12 home runs in 1923; he had higher numbers of doubles and triples, hitting 371 doubles and 164 triples lifetime and leading the league in triples in 1923, with 19. He hit over .300 ten times and had over 100 runs batted in (RBI) in a season seven times. Among major league third basemen, his seven seasons with more than 100 runs batted in is second only to the nine seasons by Mike Schmidt. Chipper Jones is the only other third baseman in history to match Traynor's five consecutive seasons with more than 100 runs batted in. He had 208 hits in 1923, and was the last Pirate infielder with 200 or more hits until shortstop Jack Wilson, who had 201 hits in 2004. He struck out only 278 times in his career.
Traynor was considered the best fielding third baseman of his era, leading the National League in fielding percentage once, assists and double plays three times and putouts seven times. His 2,289 putouts ranks him fifth all-time among third basemen. His 1,863 games played at third base was a major league record that stood until 1960 when it was surpassed by Eddie Yost. Traynor is the only MLB player to steal home plate in an All-Star Game. Traynor finished in the top ten in voting for the NL's MVP Award six times during his career.
Traynor became the Pirates' player-manager during the 1934 season. He retired as an active player after the 1937 season, but continued as the Pirates' manager. He almost won another pennant as a manager in 1938, as the Pirates led the NL for most of the season before faltering to the Chicago Cubs in the famous "Homer in the Gloamin'" game at Wrigley Field. The loss of the pennant devastated Traynor. He seemed to lose confidence in his team, and after a sixth-place finish in 1939, he resigned after five seasons as the manager of the Pirates.
|Pie Traynor's number 20 was retired by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1972.|
After spending time as a scout for the Pirates, Traynor eventually took a job as a sports director for a Pittsburgh radio station in 1944. His radio broadcasts became popular with Pittsburgh sports fans and he remained at the job for 21 years. Traynor retired from broadcasting in 1965. In 1948, Traynor was selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, being the first third baseman to be chosen by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. In 1969, as part of the observance of the centennial of professional baseball, Traynor was named the third baseman on MLB's all-time team. In 1971, he threw out the first pitch of Game 3 of the 1971 World Series at Three Rivers Stadium. He died in 1972 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, not long after the Pirates moved into Three Rivers Stadium and retired his uniform number 20. Traynor was buried in Homewood Cemetery in Pittsburgh.
In 1999, he ranked number 70 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. Baseball historian Bill James ranked Traynor 15th all-time among third baseman in his Historical Baseball Abstract.
| Hitting for the cycle
July 7, 1923
Baby Doll Jacobson
The 1925 Pittsburgh Pirates finished first in the National League with a record of 95–58. They defeated the Washington Senators four games to three to win their second World Series championship.
The Pirates had three future Hall of Famers in their starting lineup: Max Carey, Kiki Cuyler, and Pie Traynor.1927 Pittsburgh Pirates season
The 1927 Pittsburgh Pirates season was a season in American baseball. That year, the Pirates won the National League pennant, which was their second in three years and their last until 1960. The team included five future Hall of Famers: Paul Waner, Lloyd Waner, Pie Traynor, Kiki Cuyler, and 20-year-old rookie Joe Cronin (who played just 12 games).
In the World Series, however, Pittsburgh was no match for the New York Yankees. They were swept in four games.1933 Pittsburgh Pirates season
The 1933 Pittsburgh Pirates season was the 52nd season of the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise; the 47th in the National League. The Pirates finished second in the league standings with a record of 87–67.1934 Major League Baseball All-Star Game
The 1934 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the second playing of the mid-summer classic between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was held on July 10 at the Polo Grounds in Manhattan, the home of the New York Giants of the National League. The game resulted in the American League defeating the National League 9–7.
The game is well known among baseball historians for the performance of NL starting pitcher Carl Hubbell. After allowing the first two batters to reach base on a single and a base on balls, Hubbell struck out five of the game's best hitters – Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin – in succession, setting a longstanding All-Star Game record for consecutive strikeouts.1934 Pittsburgh Pirates season
The 1934 Pittsburgh Pirates season was the 53rd season of the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise; the 48th in the National League. The Pirates finished fifth in the league standings with a record of 74–76.1935 Pittsburgh Pirates season
The 1935 Pittsburgh Pirates season was a season in American baseball which involved the Pirates finishing fourth in the National League.
The roster featured five future Hall of Famers: player-manager Pie Traynor, pitcher Waite Hoyt, shortstop Arky Vaughan, center fielder Lloyd Waner, and right fielder Paul Waner.1937 Pittsburgh Pirates season
The 1937 Pittsburgh Pirates season was the 56th season of the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise; the 51st in the National League. The Pirates finished third in the league standings with a record of 86–68.1938 Chicago Cubs season
The 1938 Chicago Cubs season was the 67th season of the Chicago Cubs franchise, the 63rd in the National League and the 23rd at Wrigley Field. The Cubs finished first in the National League with a record of 89–63. The team was swept four games to none by the New York Yankees in the 1938 World Series.
The team is known for the season of pitcher Dizzy Dean. While pitching for the NL in the 1937 All-Star Game, Dean suffered a big toe fracture. Coming back too soon from the injury, Dean changed his pitching motion to avoid landing too hard on his sore toe enough to affect his mechanics. As a result, he hurt his arm, losing his great fastball. By 1938, Dean's arm was largely gone. Cubs scout Clarence "Pants" Rowland was tasked with the unenviable job of obeying owner Philip K. Wrigley's direct order to buy a washed-up Dean's contract at any cost. Rowland signed the ragged righty for $185,000, one of the most expensive loss-leader contracts in baseball history. Dean still helped the Cubs win the 1938 pennant.
On July 20, Wrigley named 37-year-old Gabby Hartnett as the team's player-manager, replacing Charlie Grimm. When Hartnett took over, the Cubs were in third place, six games behind the first place Pittsburgh Pirates who were led by Pie Traynor. By September 27, with one week left in the season, the Cubs had battled back to within a game and a half game of the Pirates in the National League standings as the two teams met for a crucial three-game series. Dean pitched the opening game of the series and with his ailing arm, relied more on his experience and grit to defeat the Pirates by a score of 2 to 1. Dean would later call it the greatest outing of his career. The Cubs cut the Pirates' lead to a half game and set the stage for one of baseball's most memorable moments.On September 28, the two teams met for the second game of the series, where Hartnett experienced the highlight of his career. With darkness descending on the lightless Wrigley Field and the score tied at 5 runs apiece, the umpires ruled that the ninth inning would be the last to be played. The entire game would have to be replayed the following day if the score remained tied. Hartnett came to bat with two out in the bottom of the ninth inning. With a count of 0 balls and 2 strikes, Hartnett connected on a Mace Brown pitch, launching the ball into the darkness, before it eventually landed in the left-center field bleachers. The stadium erupted into pandemonium as players and fans stormed the field to escort Hartnett around the bases. Hartnett's walk-off home run became immortalized as the Homer in the Gloamin'. The Cubs were now in first place, culminating an impressive 19-3-1 record in September, and the pennant would be clinched three days later.It would be 50 years before lights were installed at Wrigley Field.1948 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting
Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 1948 followed the same procedures as 1947.
The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) voted by mail to select from players retired less than 25 years, with provision for a runoff in case of no winner. It elected two people on the first ballot, Herb Pennock and Pie Traynor.
Old Timers Committee, with
jurisdiction over earlier players, met on no schedule and not this year.
Criticism continued that earlier players, as well as managers and other non-playing candidates, were being overlooked.Bill Bradley (baseball)
William Joseph Bradley (February 13, 1878 – March 11, 1954) was a third baseman and manager in Major League Baseball. He recognized as one of the best third basemen in baseball prior to 1950, along with Jimmy Collins and Pie Traynor. He led American League third basemen in fielding four times, setting a league record of seven putouts in one game in both 1901 and 1909. Bill Bradley was the first Cleveland baseball player to hit for the cycle on September 24, 1903. In 1902 he hit home runs in four straight games and finished the year with a .340 batting average.
Bradley made his professional debut on August 26, 1899 with the Chicago Orphans. After playing for two seasons in Chicago, Bradley moved to Cleveland to play for the newly formed American League. He spent the next decade with the Cleveland franchise, his best season coming in 1902 when he had a batting average of .340, 12 triples, and 11 home runs. After the 1910 season, Bradley spent three seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League before returning to the Federal League in 1914, playing for the Brooklyn Tip-Tops that year and the Kansas City Packers the following year.
After finishing his playing and managing career in the Federal League, Bill Bradley was a scout for the Cleveland Indians. He was elected to the Indians' Hall of Fame shortly after his death in 1954. Bradley died in Cleveland at the age of 76 due to pneumonia. He was laid to rest at Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio.Bob Elliott (baseball)
Robert Irving Elliott (November 26, 1916 – May 4, 1966) was an American third baseman and right fielder in Major League Baseball who played most of his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Boston Braves. He also briefly managed and coached in the Majors. Born in San Francisco, California, the right-handed batting and throwing Elliott stood 6 feet (1.8 m) tall and weighed 185 pounds (84 kg).
Elliott contributed some of the happiest memories to the Braves' final Boston years, winning the 1947 National League Most Valuable Player Award and earning the nickname "Mr. Team." The following season, his power hitting helped lift Boston to its second National League pennant of the 20th century, the team's first in 34 years, and last before relocating to Milwaukee. He was the second Major League third baseman to have five seasons of 100 runs batted in, joining Pie Traynor, and retired with the highest career slugging percentage (.440) of any NL third baseman. He also led the National League in assists three times and in putouts and double plays twice each, and ended his career among the NL leaders in games (8th, 1262), assists (7th, 2547), total chances (10th, 4113) and double plays (4th, 231) at third base.Buckshot May
William Herbert "Buckshot" May (December 13, 1899 – March 15, 1984) was a Major League Baseball pitcher who appeared in one game for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1924. The 24-year-old right-hander stood 6'2" and weighed 169 lbs.
On May 9, 1924, May came in to pitch the top of the 9th inning in a home game against the Boston Braves at Forbes Field. He pitched a scoreless inning, with one strikeout, but the Pirates lost 10-7. His lifetime ERA stands at 0.00.
His manager was future Hall of Famer Bill McKechnie. Other notable teammates who would one day be members of the Baseball Hall of Fame were Max Carey, Kiki Cuyler, Rabbit Maranville, and Pie Traynor.
May died in his hometown of Bakersfield, California at the age of 84.Freddie Lindstrom
Frederick Charles Lindstrom (November 21, 1905 – October 4, 1981) was a National League baseball player with the New York Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs and Brooklyn Dodgers from 1924 until 1936. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976.
At the age of 23, Lindstrom hit .358 for the Giants and was named The Sporting News Major League All Star team's third baseman ahead of Pittsburgh's Harold "Pie" Traynor. Two years later, he repeated the honor while scoring 127 runs and batting .379, second only to Rogers Hornsby among right-handed batters in National League history.In 1930, Giants manager John McGraw ranked Lindstrom ninth among the top 20 players of the previous quarter century. Babe Ruth picked him as his NL all-star third baseman over Traynor for the decade leading up to the first inter-league All Star game in 1933. Modern-day statistics guru Bill James, who rates Lindstrom No. 43 on his all-time third basemen list, placed him among the top three under-21 players at that position and called the 1927 Giant infield of Lindstrom, Hornsby, Travis Jackson and Bill Terry the decade's best.
From his rookie season in 1924 through 1930 as a Giants third baseman, a span of seven years during which he batted .328 and played brilliantly in the field, Lindstrom seemed headed for a place among the game's all-time greatest players. "Those hands of his (Lindstrom's) are the talk of the baseball world. Sensational playing places him among greatest in game," wrote sports writer Pat Robinson of the New York Daily News in the spring of 1929, after Lindstrom finished second the previous year to St. Louis Cardinal first baseman Jim Bottomley in the National League's Most Valuable Player balloting. "The best third sacker in the National League, one of the greatest third basemen the game has ever produced," gushed William Hennigan in the New York World. "Lindstrom hit peaks of third basing never before attained during the final month of last season," added Ken Smith in the New York Evening Graphic. "An outstanding individual of the game, another Hornsby, Wagner, Cobb, or Speaker, this kid, ace fielder, hitter, thinker and runner." Joe Foley, in This Sporting Life, echoed a common theme among baseball writers during that stretch of Lindstrom's career when he named his perfect team: "Sisler on first, Lajoie at second, Wagner at short, Lindstrom at third, Ruth, Speaker and Cobb in the outfield, Kling catching and Brown, Walsh, Bender and Mathewson taking turns pitching." In 1931, injuries including a chronic bad back and broken leg, brought about his switch to the outfield where for several years he remained an above-average but no longer All Star player until his retirement after 13 seasons in 1936.Homewood Cemetery
Homewood Cemetery is a historic cemetery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. It is located in Point Breeze and is bordered by Frick Park, the neighborhood of Squirrel Hill, and the smaller Smithfield Cemetery.
It was established in 1878 from William Wilkins' 650-acre (2.6 km2) estate, Homewood.Howdy Groskloss
Howard Hoffman "Howdy" Groskloss (April 10, 1906 – July 15, 2006) was an American professional baseball player. He played all or part of three seasons in Major League Baseball for the Pittsburgh Pirates (1930–32), primarily as a second baseman. Groskloss batted and threw right-handed.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of an opera singer, Groskloss graduated from Amherst College in 1930 and later attended Yale University while playing for the Pirates. In 1937, he became a doctor and practiced as a gynecologist in Miami, Florida for more than 25 years. He also was a flight surgeon in the Navy during World War II.
Groskloss was 24 years old when he broke into the big leagues with Pittsburgh. Among his teammates were Pie Traynor, Arky Vaughan, Gus Suhr, and the brothers Lloyd and Paul Waner. In a three-season career, Groskloss posted a .261 batting average with 21 RBI and 14 runs in 72 games.
Groskloss died in Vero Beach, Florida, at the age of 100. At the time of his death, he was recognized as the oldest living former major league player. He was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Miami, Florida.Percy Dawson (baseball)
Henry "Percy" Dawson served in many roles in professional baseball.
He was a minor league baseball team owner, heading the Richmond Colts and Portsmouth Truckers, and scout for the New York Yankees, signing – among others – pitcher Jim Coates. He also served as the head of the Yankees' farm system in the Virginia area.He also managed Richmond in 1925, leading them to a league championship.
While owner of Portsmouth, Dawson was involved in a dispute with the Boston Red Sox over future Hall of Fame third baseman Pie Traynor. Red Sox owner Ed Barrow convinced Traynor to join Portsmouth, saying that if the third baseman performed well there, he would join the Red Sox, as the Boston team and Portsmouth had a gentleman's agreement, wherein Portsmouth served as something of a farm team for the Red Sox.
However, the Truckers were still an independent team and, despite the informal agreement, were able to do anything they wished with Traynor, including selling him to another team. In September 1920, they sold him to the Pittsburgh Pirates, infuriating Burrow. "I hit the ceiling. I grabbed the phone and called Dawson and called him everything I could think of", Burrow said. Washington Senators owner Clark Griffith, too, was unhappy, claiming he thought his team would gain access to Traynor.Stan Hack
Stanley Camfield Hack (December 6, 1909 – December 15, 1979), nicknamed "Smiling Stan", was an American third baseman and manager in Major League Baseball who played his entire career for the Chicago Cubs and was the National League's top third baseman in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Usually a leadoff hitter, he batted .301 lifetime, scored 100 runs seven times and led the NL in hits and stolen bases twice each. His 1092 walks ranked fourth in NL history when he retired, and remain a franchise record; he also hit .348 over four World Series. His .394 career on-base percentage was the highest by a 20th-century third baseman until Wade Boggs exceeded it in the late 1980s, and was the top NL mark until 2001. Hack led the NL in putouts five times, in double plays three times and in assists and fielding percentage twice each. At the end of his career he ranked second in major league history to Pie Traynor in games (1836) at third base, second in NL history to Traynor in putouts (1944), assists (3494) and total chances (5684), and third in NL history in double plays (255).Tom Padden
Thomas Francis Padden (October 6, 1908 – June 10, 1973) was an American professional baseball player and manager. The catcher appeared in 399 Major League games during the 1930s and 1940s, 379 of them with the Pittsburgh Pirates (1932–1937). He also appeared for the Philadelphia Phillies (17 games in 1943), and Washington Senators (three games, also in 1943) during the World War II manpower shortage. A native of Manchester, New Hampshire, he stood 5 feet 8¼ inches (1.73 m) tall and weighed 170 pounds (77 kg).
Padden attended The College of the Holy Cross and graduated from Saint Anselm College. He began his professional baseball career in 1928 with his hometown Manchester Blue Sox. He made his Major League debut on May 29, 1932, for the Pirates in a road game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. His two best seasons were 1934, when he batted .321 in 82 games, and 1935, in which he had career-highs of 97 games played, 302 at bats, and 35 runs scored.
Career totals include a batting average of .272, 318 hits, including 40 doubles and two home runs, a .345 on-base percentage, 110 runs batted in, and 122 runs scored. His two home runs came off Al Smith of the New York Giants on August 26, 1935, and Al Hollingsworth of the Cincinnati Reds on August 7, 1936. He was an average defensive catcher for his era, with a lifetime fielding percentage of .977. Notable Pirate teammates who were future Hall of Famers were Burleigh Grimes, Waite Hoyt, Freddie Lindstrom, Pie Traynor, Arky Vaughan, Lloyd Waner, and Paul Waner.
Padden spent the 1948 season as manager of his hometown Manchester Yankees of the Class B New England League, an affiliate of the New York Yankees. In 1949 he managed the Galt Terriers of the Inter-County League in southern Ontario. He also played occasionally. He managed the Terriers to a first-place finish, but his team lost to the Brantford Red Sox in seven games in the league's playoff semifinals.
He died in Manchester at the age of 64 of a ruptured pancreas. He is buried in Saint Joseph Cemetery, Bedford, New Hampshire.Virginia League
The Virginia League was a minor league baseball affiliation which operated in Virginia and North Carolina from 1906 to 1928. It was classified as a "C" league from 1906 to 1919 and as a "B" league from 1920 to 1928.
The most famous alumni to come out of the league were World War II hero, General Frank A. Armstrong (the highest-ranking military officer to have played professional baseball), and Hall of Fame members Rick Ferrell, Chief Bender, Pie Traynor, and Hack Wilson. Chief Bender, Art Devlin, Gabby Street and Zinn Beck served as managers in the league.
Italics denotes players who have been voted in but not yet inducted.