The nation’s birthday is also a popular day for Pittsburgh Pirates birthdays. We have eight former players and one manager. We also have one trade to mention.
On this date in 1905, the Pirates traded shortstop George McBride to the St Louis Cardinals in exchange for infielder Dave Brain. In McBride, the Pirates were giving up a 24-year-old, light-hitting shortstop, just 30 games into his career. They had a pretty good shortstop ahead of him on the depth chart in Honus Wagner and they needed help at third base, which a position that the 26-year-old Brain had played in the majors numerous times.
Brain was the much better hitter in this trade, and as it turned out, McBride was the much better fielder. Brain lasted in Pittsburgh until the end of the season, when he was then included in the trade to get Vic Willis, a move that paid off huge for the Pirates. McBride ended up playing another 14 seasons in the majors. He was strong enough defensively that he received MVP votes in four straight seasons, despite the fact he never batted higher than .235 during that time and hit a total of two homers over those four seasons.
Jared Hughes, pitcher for the 2011-16 Pirates. He was the fourth round pick of the Pirates in the 2006 amateur draft. In six seasons in Pittsburgh, he had a 2.82 ERA in 309.1 innings over 314 appearances. His best season was 2014 when he had a 1.96 ERA in 63.1 innings over 64 appearances. Hughes pitched nearly as well the following year, posting a 2.28 ERA in 67 innings over 76 appearances. Since leaving the Pirates, he has pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies. Career he is 29-24, 2.88 in 519 innings over 524 appearances, all as a reliever. Hughes signed with the Houston Astros for the 2020 season.
Brendan Donnelly, pitcher for the 2010 Pirates. It took him ten years after signing as an amateur to reach the majors, making the 2002 Angels Opening Day roster at 30 years old. Donnelly had a successful five-year stint with Anaheim/Los Angeles, going 23-8, 2.87 in 276 games. The next four years he spent with four different teams, with varying results each year. He pitched well for the 2007 Red Sox, then got bombed with the 2008 Indians, posting an 8.56 ERA in 15 games. The next year he was dominating for the Marlins after pitching half the year in the minors. Donnelly had a 1.78 ERA in 30 games for Florida. He signed with the Pirates as a free agent in January of 2010. He pitched 38 games for the team through the end of July, missing three weeks in May due to an oblique strain. Donnelly never got going with the Pirates, posting a 5.58 ERA in 30.2 innings before he was released. It was a move that ended his pro career. He pitched 386 games in the majors over nine seasons without making a start.
Wayne Nordhagen, left fielder for the Pirates on June 19, 1982. He had an eight-year Major League career, playing a total of 502 games, which included one game for the 1982 Pirates. On June 15, 1982, the Pirates traded Bill Robinson to the Phillies to get Nordhagen. Four days later, he started a game in left field against the Phillies, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs in an 8-3 loss. Six days later, he was traded to the Blue Jays as the player to be named later in a deal that happened on June 22nd, in which the Pirates acquired outfielder Dick Davis. He was a .282 hitter in the majors, with 39 homers and 205 RBIs. He spent the first six years of his career with the Chicago White Sox. The interesting thing about the trade with Davis going to the Pirates was that Nordhagen never played for the Phillies, he was acquired earlier in the day on June 15th by Philadelphia, in a trade that saw the Phillies sent Dick Davis to the Blue Jays to acquire Nordhagen. Within a ten-day stretch, the two players were traded for each other twice, with three teams involved in the deals. The second deal was made because Nordhagen had a back injury that wasn’t disclosed during the first trade.
Jim Minshall, pitcher for the 1974-75 Pirates. He was a second round pick of the Pirates in the 1966 draft. It took him nine seasons to work his way from a recent high school graduate struggling in the Appalachian League, to becoming a Major League pitcher. In 1972, playing his fourth season for Salem of the Carolina League, Minshall went 16-1 with a 3.38 ERA in 26 starts. He finally moved up to Double-A the following year and did not pitch well, mainly due to control problems that saw him walk 91 batters in 135 innings. He returned to Double-A the next year and pitched slightly better, earning a mid-season promotion to Triple-A, where he posted a 2.25 ERA in 20 relief innings. The Pirates called him up in September and he threw 4.1 innings over five appearances without allowing an earned run. Minshall returned to Triple-A in 1975 and pitched great. He had a 1.38 ERA in 45 appearances, striking out 64 batters in 65 innings. He was once again a September call-up, this time getting into just one game, throwing a scoreless inning on September 11th against the Mets in which he struck out two batters. Minshall was back in Triple-A for the 1976 season, which ended up be his last in pro ball. He hung it up after a 5.38 ERA in 77 innings. He finished his Major League career with an 0-1 record, despite a career 0.00 ERA.
Jim Nelson, pitcher for the 1970-71 Pirates. He was a 31st round draft pick out of high school in 1965 by the Pirates. Nelson had troubles in the minors adjusting to new levels. The first time he played High-A ball in 1966, he went 0-5, 7.24, yet dominated in low-A that season, going 9-2, 1.54 in 13 games. The next season he had a 9-0 record in two levels of A-ball, before going to Double-A, where he went 0-5, 6.00 in nine games. The first year he played Triple-A, he went 3-5 5.49 in 18 starts, which followed a 2.23 ERA over 97 innings in his second stint in Double-A. Nelson was called up by the Pirates at the end of May in 1970 and pitched twice in relief before making three straight strong starts. On June 22nd, against the Cardinals, he threw ten inning, tossing a 1-0 shutout. He made seven starts in the month of July, before moving back to the bullpen in August. He had thrown 25 innings over his three June starts, giving up just two earned runs, winning all three games. In July he had three starts in which he couldn’t get through five innings and he allowed 26 runs in 30 innings. Nelson made the Opening Day roster in 1971, pitching 17 games (two as a starter) through the middle of July, before returning to the minors. He was a late cut during Spring Training in 1972, spending the year at Triple-A before retiring from baseball.
Mel Ingram, pinch-runner for the 1929 Pirates. He was a star athlete in four sports at Gonzaga before starting his pro baseball career. From July 24, 1929 until August 28, 1929, Ingram played his entire pro baseball career with the Pittsburgh Pirates. On July 24th, he pinch-ran for catcher Charlie Hargreaves. On August 6th, he pinch-ran for first baseman Earl Sheely in the ninth inning. On August 28th, during the second game of a doubleheader, he pinch-ran for pinch-hitter Erv Brame in the eighth inning and scored a run. He never played in the majors again and never played in the minors. His contract with the team was an odd one by today’s standards. The Pirates signed him on June 18th, with the guarantee that they would release him on September 1st so he could return home to begin work as an athletic director at a local high school. At the time the Pirates signed him, he was playing semi-pro ball for a team named “Price” in the Idaho-Washington League, a league he played in after 1929 as well.
Stump Edington, right fielder for the 1912 Pirates. He had a long minor league career that ended in 1927, but for Edington, his big league career lasted just 15 games for the 1912 Pirates. He was playing for Lexington of the Blue Grass League when the Pirates signed him in mid-June of 1912. Edington paid his own way just to get to the Pirates so he could get a trial with the team, traveling from Kentucky to Pittsburgh for his chance at the majors. The Pirates had two stars in right field, Mike Donlin and Chief Wilson (played CF when Donlin wasn’t injured), so it was of little surprise that Edington didn’t stick around despite hitting .302 with 12 RBIs in his 15 games. His Major League career was over by the middle of July, just after his 21st birthday. Stump (first name was Jacob) batted over .300 numerous times in the minors, spending his last six seasons playing in the Texas League.
Lou Manske, pitcher for the 1906 Pirates. He pitched seven seasons in the minors, going 85-68, twice winning 20+ games in a season. In 1906, he was pitching for Des Moines of the Western League for the second straight year. Manske won exactly 20 games in 1905, then went 23-10 the following season. The Pirates purchased his contract from Des Moines in August of 1906 and he made his Major League debut on August 31st as a starter against the Cardinals. He went five innings, giving up five runs on ten hits and took a no-decision in the eventual 7-5 Pirates victory. Manske would make a relief appearance seven days later, then never pitch in the majors again, finishing his career in 1910 playing for St Joseph of the Western League.
Chuck Tanner, manager for the 1977-85 Pirates. He began his pro career as a player, spending parts of eight seasons in the majors. Tanner was an outfielder, who hit .261 in 396 games. He began managing in the minors in 1963, seven years before his first Major League managerial job with the White Sox. In six years in Chicago, he went 401-414, finishing as high as second place in the standings. In 1976, he took over in Oakland and led them to a second place finish. On November 5, 1976, the Pirates traded Manny Sanguillen and $100,000 to the Oakland A’s in exchange for Tanner. He went on to manage nine seasons in Pittsburgh, leading them to the 1979 World Series victory, as well as three second place finishes. He went 711-685 in Pittsburgh before moving on to Atlanta for his last three seasons of managing. After his managerial days, he held numerous spots in baseball, working five years in the Cleveland Indians front office, before taking a senior adviser to the GM spot with the Pirates in 2007, he last job in baseball before his passing in 2011. Tanner ranks 32nd all-time in managerial wins with 1,352. His son Bruce pitched in the majors and was a pitching coach at one time in the Pirates farm system.