This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: June 16th, Kevin Young Turns 51

Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a trade of note.

The Players

Kevin Young, first baseman for the 1992-95 and 1997-2003 Pirates. He was a seventh round draft pick of the Pirates in 1990 out of the University of Southern Mississippi. He made it to Double-A by the middle of 1991, hitting .342 in 75 games. Young hit .314 in 137 games at Triple-A in 1992, earning a ten-game trial with the Pirates. He was the Opening Day first baseman in 1993, playing 141 games that year. He spent three years with the Pirates, but was never able to hit well. His highest OPS during the 1993-95 seasons, was .649 during that last year. He had over 800 plate appearances with only 13 homers to show for it. Pittsburgh released him at the end of Spring Training in 1996 and he signed on with the Royals six days later. Young hit .242 with eight homers in 55 games for Kansas City, then was released in the off-season.

Pittsburgh re-signed Young at the end of Spring Training in 1997, almost one year to the day they released him. He started the year as a bench player, but began to see regular time in the middle of May. He played first base mainly, although he also saw time at third base and the corner outfield spots. An early August injury cost him six weeks of the season. Young finished with a .300 average, hitting 18 homers and driving in 74 runs in 97 games. The next year he moved into the starting first base role, a spot he would hold for the next five years. He had two strong back-to-back years in 1998-99, driving in a total of 214 runs, with 53 homers and 81 doubles. In 1999, he also scored 103 runs, while stealing 22 bases. Young led all NL first baseman in putouts during both of these seasons.

His numbers began to slowly decline in 2000, though he still drove in 88 runs in 132 games. He would hit .242 with 14 homers and 65 RBIs in 2001, then down to 51 RBIs over 146 games the next year. Young was batting .202 with seven RBIs through the end of June in 2003, when the Pirates released him. He finished his career in Pittsburgh with a .259 average, 136 homers and 583 RBIs in 1,150 games. He ranks 24th in team history in games played, 17th with 229 doubles, 18th in extra-base hits, 11th in homers and 18th in RBIs. He has been a coach/special assistant with the Pirates since 2014.

Arquimedes Caminero, pitcher for the 2015-16 Pirates. The Pirates purchased the hard-throwing right-hander from the Miami Marlins prior to the start of the 2015 season. Caminero had originally signed with the Marlins (then called Florida) back in 2005 and he had just 19 games of big league experience. For the 2015 Pirates, he made 73 relief appearances, going 5-1, 3.62 in 74.2 innings, with 73 strikeouts. In 2016, Caminero had a 3.51 ERA through 39 games and 41 innings, when he was traded to the Seattle Mariners for two minor league pitchers (Jake Brentz and Pedro Vasquez). While he is still an active player, he has not pitched in the majors since 2016.

Chris Gomez, infielder for the 2008 Pirates. He already had 15 seasons in at the Major League level when the Pirates signed him as a free agent in December of 2007. Gomez had split the 2007 season between the Orioles and Indians, hitting .297 in 92 games, playing all four infield positions. With the Pirates, he played 90 games, getting multiple starts at all four infield spots. He hit .273 in 200 plate appearances, with a .655 OPS and 26 runs scored. After the season, he was granted free agency, signing with the Orioles. Baltimore cut him at the end of Spring Training, ending his 16-year Major League career. Gomez was a .262 career hitter, with 487 RBIs and 517 runs scored in 1,515 games, spending time with eight different teams.

Max Surkont, pitcher for the 1954-56 Pirates. He spent five years in the minors, then three years serving in the military during WWII, before returning for three more years in the minors. Eleven years after his pro debut, Surkont made the majors with the 1949 White Sox. He returned to the minors to start 1950, getting his big break in August of 1950 when the Boston Braves purchased him from Chicago. He spent four years with the Braves, going 40-36, 3.90 in 105 games, 92 as a starter. Surkont was acquired by the Pirates on December 26, 1953 as one of six players (and cash) they got in return for infielder Danny O’Connell. He went into the rotation of a team that would lose 195 games over the 1954-55 seasons. Surkont went 9-18, 4.41 in 208.1 innings his first season in Pittsburgh, then followed it up with a 7-14, 5.57 record over 166.1 innings the next year. On May 5, 1956, the Pirates traded him to the Cardinals in exchange for pitcher Luis Arroyo. Surkont had made just one relief appearance for the 1956 Pirates. He would go on to pitch five games for the Cardinals, who sold him to the Red Sox a month later. After spending two months in the minors, he was purchased by the Giants. He pitched 13 games in New York, ending his Major League career in May of 1957.

Pete Coscarart, infielder for the 1942-46 Pirates. He spent four seasons in the minors before making his debut with the 1938 Brooklyn Dodgers, getting into 32 games, with a .152 average. Coscarart had a strong second season, finishing with a .277 average and 59 runs scored in 119 games, gaining some MVP votes along the way. In 1940, he made his only All-Star appearance, although his batting average was just .237 in 143 games played. The next year his batting really dropped off and he was forced to the bench, getting only nine starts all year. He was acquired from the Dodgers on December 12, 1941 as part of the return for Hall of Fame shortstop Arky Vaughan. Coscarart immediately became the starting shortstop, hitting .228 with 57 runs scored in 133 games. He moved to second base the next year, playing 133 games again. He batted .242 with 48 RBIs, while scoring 57 runs for a second straight year. The 1944 season was his best in Pittsburgh, scoring a career high 89 runs, with a .264 batting average. Coscarart hit .242 in 1945 and posted a .699 OPS, his best while with the Pirates. After playing just three games over the first month of the 1946 season, he returned to the minors, where he finished his career in 1950. His brother Joe was a Major League infielder for two seasons with the Boston Braves.

Fritz Mollwitz, first baseman for the 1917-1919 Pirates. He began his pro career in 1910, playing for Green Bay of the Wisconsin-Illinois League up until making his Major League debut in September of 1913 with the Chicago Cubs. Early in 1914, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds, where he would have his best season. In 1915, Mollwitz played a career high 153 games, leading all NL first baseman in fielding percentage and in putouts. He drove in a career high 51 runs, but it was his glove that kept him around. In the middle of 1916, he was sold back to the Cubs, who in turn sold him to Kansas City of the American Association during the next spring. Pittsburgh picked him up from KC in August, after he hit .303 through 123 games. Mollwitz batted .257 in 36 games for the Pirates in 1917, driving in 12 runs. The 1918 season was his only full year in Pittsburgh. He played 119 games, hitting .269 with 45 RBIs. He finished third in the NL among first baseman in assists, putouts and fielding percentage. He was with the Pirates through the beginning of August in 1919, leading the league in fielding percentage that year, but having a horrible season at the plate. Mollwitz was hitting .173 through 56 games played, when the Pirates sold him to the St Louis Cardinals. His Major League career ended that year, though he played seven more seasons in the minors, the last as a player/manager. Mollwitz was a .241 career hitter in 534 big league games. In 1,907 Major League plate appearances, he hit just one homer, which was an inside-the-park home run.

Ralph Capron, pinch-runner for the Pirates on April 25, 1912. He was a star football and baseball player at the University of Minnesota, the first player from that school to make the majors. His one appearance for the Pirates was his Major League debut, coming in with two outs in the ninth to pinch-run for Alex McCarthy. Pittsburgh was down 1-0 at home, when McCarthy singled to keep the game alive. Ham Hyatt came in to hit for George Gibson, and Capron came in to run for McCarthy. Hyatt struck out and Capron never left first base. It was said that the crowd was anxious to see him run because he was known for his great speed. Capron was sent to the minors for the rest of the year, returning in 1913 to the big leagues with the Phillies. He pinch-ran once, while scoring a run and playing left field in the other game. He went 0-for-1 at the plate, his only big league at-bat. Capron played briefly in the minors in 1914 before retiring from baseball. He also played pro football briefly in 1920.

Marr Phillips, shortstop for the 1885 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He had a minor league career that spanned from the first year of organized minor league ball in 1877, until 1899. Over that 22-year stretch, Phillips played 198 Major League games, with the majority of them coming in 1884 and 1890, which were the two seasons that three separate Major Leagues were all playing at the same time. He hit well for most of his time in the minors and he had a strong hands at shortstop (literally hands, fielders didn’t wear gloves during the early part of his career, except for catchers). Phillips was a Pittsburgh native, born there and passed away there at age 70 in 1928. He played just four games for his hometown team. He began the 1885 season with Detroit of the National League. After hitting .209 in 33 games, he was let go. He hooked on with the Alleghenys (while they were still in the American Association) and started four games at shortstop, going 4-for-15 at the plate with two RBIs. An arm injury, that was said to have left him nearly disabled, ended his time with Pittsburgh. His next (and last) Major League time came with the 1890 Rochester Broncos of the American Association. In 64 games, he had a .206 average and 34 RBIs, leading all AA shortstops in fielding percentage with a .918 mark, 33 points above the league average.

The Trade

On this date in 1888, the Pittsburgh Alleghenys acquired third baseman Elmer Cleveland from the New York Giants in exchange for third baseman Art Whitney. Cleveland had been in the minors for three seasons, after making his Major League debut in the Union Association in 1884. The 25-year-old had played just nine games with New York prior to the trade. Whitney was 30 years old at the time, a veteran of four seasons with Pittsburgh, dating back to the American Association days. He was holding out at the time, after batting .260 with 51 RBIs in 1887. He also led all third baseman in fielding percentage for a second straight season. After the trade, Cleveland played just 30 games for Pittsburgh, hitting .222, with well below average fielding at third base. He would go back to the minors, returning briefly to the big leagues in 1891 with the Columbus Solons of the AA for one last season. The trade didn’t end up hurting the Alleghenys, who had no choice but to move the hold out. Whitney hit just .218 with New York over two seasons and his defense wasn’t up to the standards of his previous two seasons. In the four seasons he played after the trade, his highest average was .220 in 1888.