Three former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus one trade of note.
On this date in 1935, the Pirates traded pitcher Jack Salveson to the Chicago White Sox for outfielder Bud Hafey. The Pirates were getting a 22-year-old with only two games of Major League experience, both as a pinch-runner. Despite the young age, Hafey actually had five seasons in at the minor league level already. He played four season in the Pacific Coast League, making his debut at age 17 with the Mission Reds. At the time of the deal, he was in the International League, where he was hitting .230 with six homers in 25 games. Salveson was even younger than Hafey, 21 years old, with parts of three seasons in at the majors. He went 3-3, 3.65 in 69 innings for the 1933-34 Giants, before coming to the Pirates in December of 1934 in exchange for veteran pitcher Leon Chagnon. At the time of the deal, Salveson had pitched five games in relief for the Pirates, allowing 12 runs in seven innings.
After the deal, Salveson pitched 20 games for the White Sox, posting a 1-2, 4.86 record in 66.2 innings. He then went to the minors for seven seasons, returning to the big leagues finally in 1943 for the Indians. He got a wartime job and missed the 1944 season, returning to the Indians during the middle of the 1945 season. Salveson only won nine Major League games, but he was a much better pitcher than that fact would indicate. He spent 18 seasons pitching in the minors, playing the last 15 in the Pacific Coast League, where he won 204 games. Many star players of the day, especially ones that were from the west coast, chose to play in the PCL over the Major Leagues, which never expanded west of the St Louis during the early years of the league. Some of the better players actually made more money in the PCL, so they never left the league, making it a close second talent-wise to the majors.
Hafey played two years for the Pirates and his bat never came around. He hit .222 with ten homers in 97 games before being traded traded in December of 1937 to the Cardinals. The Pirates got him back the next July, although he was in the minors until being dealt to the Reds for three players the following July. He played his last 24 big league games during that 1939 season. He got into 123 major league games total, which was 45 more than his brother Tom, but well short of what his cousin Chick Hafey accomplished en route to his Hall of Fame career.
Dave Parker, outfielder for the 1973-83 Pirates. He was a seven-time All-Star during his 19-year Major League career. He also won three Gold Glove awards, three Silver Sluggers, and he was named the National League MVP in 1978. In 1977, he led the NL with 215 hits, 44 doubles and a .338 average. With a .334 average in 1978, he won back-to-back batting crowns.
Parker was drafted in the 14th round out of high school by the Pirates in 1970. He debuted in the majors three years later and was a star in Pittsburgh by 1975 when he hit .308 with 25 homers and 101 RBIs. From 1975-79, he batted over .300 all five years and hit a total of 114 home runs. During the 1979 season, he set career highs with 109 runs scored and 45 doubles, while also stealing 20 bases in 24 attempts. That’s to go along with a .310 average, 25 homers and 94 RBIs. Parker then batted .333 in the NLCS and .345 during the World Series.
Parker finished his career with a .290 average, 339 homers and 1,493 RBIs, to go along with 526 doubles, 2,712 hits and 1,272 runs scored. Despite the strong stats and numerous awards and recognitions during his career, Parker never garnered serious Hall of Fame consideration. The highest he finished was with 24.5% of the votes his second year on the ballot, well below the 75% needed to gain induction. While with Pittsburgh, he hit .305 with 166 homers and 758 RBIs in 1,301 games. He is sixth in team history in homers, ninth in slugging and tenth in RBIs.
Bill Virdon, outfielder for the 1956-65 and 1968 Pirates. After winning the Rookie of the Year award in 1955, the St Louis Cardinals traded Virdon to the Pirates just 24 games into the 1956 season. He would bat .334 over the final 133 games of the season with the Pirates. For ten straight seasons, he served as the everyday center fielder for the Pirates, playing strong defense, combined with a decent bat.
Virdon hit .264 in 120 games during the 1960 season, then batted .241 with five RBIs during the World Series. In 1962 he led the NL with ten triples and won his only Gold Glove award. He also set a career high with 82 runs scored that season. He took up coach after his playing days, though his last six games in 1968 came after he began his coaching career. Virdon had a 163-128 record as the Pirates manager during the 1972-73 seasons. He also served as a bench coach with the Pirates in the 1980s and has served to this day as a special instructor during Spring Training. He turns 89 today.
Virdon spent a total of 12 seasons in the majors, playing 1,583 games. He was a career .267 hitter with 735 runs scored, 1,596 hits and 502 RBIs. He is 11th all-time on the Pirates games played list with 1,415, four games ahead of Hall of Fame shortstop Arky Vaughan, and one spot behind Hall of Fame outfielder Fred Clarke. He managed 1,918 major league games, going to the playoffs three times and winning 995 games.
Julio Gotay, infielder for the 1963-64 Pirates. He came to the Pirates in the November 1962 trade that sent Dick Groat to the St Louis Cardinals. Gotay had signed with St Louis in 1957 and made the majors three years later. He played just 13 games with the Cardinals between 1960-61, before playing full-time in 1962, when he hit .255 with 27 RBIs and 47 runs scored in 127 games. The Pirates also acquired pitcher Don Cardwell in the deal for Groat, while giving up reliever Diomedes Olivo.
Gotay would be on the Pirates bench to start 1963, and that is where he stayed for the better part of the first month, as Dick Schofield and Bill Mazeroski manned the middle infield positions everyday. In May, Gotay was sent to the minors, where he hit .250 in thirty games. He would hit well in Spring Training during the 1964 season, but he received just three pinch-hit at-bats during the regular season before being sent to the minors again. Early in 1965, the Pirates traded him to the Angels for outfielder Bob Perry. While Perry never played in the majors again, Gotay played parts of five more seasons in the big leagues, the last four with the Houston Astros. He finished his Major League career with a .260 average and 106 runs scored in 389 games, spread out over ten seasons. He spent his last three years of pro ball in the minors, playing a total of 998 games down on the farm.