Pie Traynor, aka Harold Joseph Traynor, his life and baseball accomplishments.
Harold Joseph Traynor was born on November 11, 1899 in Framingham, Massachusetts. Traynor's love of baseball developed early. When Traynor was 8, he used to retrieve foul balls for a team that played near his home. The catcher would reward him by sending him up to his father's grocery store to have something he wanted "on the house." Traynor always asked for a slice of pie and thus earned his nickname of "Pie." By age 10, he was playing sandlot baseball on Boston Commons.
Traynor got a chance to play professional baseball with Portsmouth of the Virginia League in 1920 and was an immediate standout. He secured the position of starting shortstop and averaged at least one hit per game for the 104 games of his first season. The major league scouts began to take note and came to see him play. The Pittsburgh Pirates outbid several other clubs and signed Traynor in August of 1920. Traynor played shortstop in 17 games for the Pirates near the end of the 1920 season. He made 11 hits but also made 12 errors in the field. The Pirates felt Traynor needed more practice so they sent him to Birmingham in the Southern League for the 1921 season. In 131 games there, Traynor batted an impressive .336 but also had 64 errors at shortstop. When the Pirates called Traynor up for 7 games at the end of the 1921 season, they shifted him to third base and made it his regular position. Traynor was an excellent third baseman with a strong arm. He led the league 7 times for putouts, 4 times for double plays, and 3 times for assists.
In his first full season as a Pirate, Traynor drove in 81 runs and batted .282. The next year, he made all-star status with 12 home runs, 101 RBIs, 28 stolen bases, and a batting average of .338. Traynor helped the Pirates win the National League pennant in 1925 by driving in 106 runs and again in 1927. Traynor batted .346 in the 1925 World Series Championship to assist the Pirates in beating the Washington Senators.
Traynor's batting average never dipped below .317 from 1926 until 1930. His best average of .366 came in 1930. He was well known for his skill at handling the bat and never struck out more than 28 times in 17 seasons. Traynor was named manager of the Pirates in 1934 and also played that year. He broke his arm in 1934 and retired earlier than expected. In 1935, he only played in 57 games and by 1937 he quit playing. He served as manager until 1939 and then became a scout for the Pirates.
Traynor was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1948. He was named the major league's outstanding baseman by The Sporting News seven times. He also finished in the top ten for Most Valuable Player voting six times between 1925 and 1933. Traynor is only 1 of 8 Pittsburgh Pirates players to have his number retired.
During his retirement, Traynor ran a sporting goods store with Honus Wagner, coached a while at Duquesne and was an active sportscaster for 33 years. He died on March 16, 1972 and is buried at Homewood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.