This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: July 13th, Lee Handley

Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates have been born on July 13th

Lee Handley, third baseman for the 1937-41 and 1944-46 Pirates. He spent his first two seasons of pro ball playing for Toronto of the International League. He was a member of the Reds organization those first two years, that was declared a free agent by the commissioner of baseball, Judge Landis in what was called a violation of the major-minor league agreement. Handley, who had hit .308 in 24 games for the Reds in 1936, became the Pirates everyday second baseman during his first year with the team. In 127 games, he hit .250 with 59 runs scored and 37 RBIs. He also made 35 errors, the second most at the position in the National League. The Pirates moved him to third base the next year and he responded with a .268 average and 91 runs scored, getting some mild MVP support along the way. Handley led all NL third baseman in assists that year.

Over the next three seasons, Handley was the Pirates starting third baseman, batting between .281 and .288 each year. He missed the start of the 1939 season due to a serious beaning during Spring Training. Following the 1941 season, the Pirates were looking to deal Handley. He reported to Spring Training out of condition and was not only sent home with an “ailing arm”, he was suspended by the team for lack of off-season conditioning. The injured arm actually was hurt during an off-season automobile accident. He was sent to Toronto later that season and he was signed by the New York Giants, but could not make their team due to the injury. He was re-signed by the Pirates in September of 1943 and from 1944-46, he played another 254 games with the team. In 1945, he hit .298 in 312 at-bats. He was released by the Pirates at the start of the 1947 season and spent his last year in the majors with the Phillies, who signed him right after the Pirates released him. Handley ended up playing another three years in the minors before retiring. With the Pirates, he hit .269 with 247 RBIs and 391 runs scored in 843 games. During his last season in the majors with the Phillies, he led all NL 3B in fielding percentage with a .975 mark.

Casey Sadler, pitcher for the 2014-15 and 2018 Pirates. He was a 25th round draft pick of the Pirates in 2010. Sadler took just four seasons to make his Major League debut. He had a 7.84 ERA in six relief appearances for the 2014 Pirates. Sadler made one spot start for the 2015 Pirates, allowing two runs over five innings. A short time later, he needed Tommy John surgery and that sidetracked his career. He was able to return to the majors in 2018 for two games with Pittsburgh. Sadler appeared in the majors in 2019 for the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Dodgers, posting a 2.14 ERA in 46.1 innings over 33 appearances. He was traded to the Chicago Cubs in January of 2020.

Ryan Ludwick, outfielder for the 2011 Pirates. The Pirates acquired the nine-year veteran outfielder at the 2011 trading deadline from the Padres. He was hitting .238 with 11 homers and 64 RBIs in 101 games for San Diego. For Pittsburgh, he batted .232 with two homers and 11 RBIs in 38 games, splitting his time between the corner outfield spots. Ludwick became a free agent after the season and signed with the Reds. He spent three seasons in Cincinnati and had a strong 2012, before falling off during his last two years, combining for a -1.5 WAR in 2013-14. He was an All-Star for the Cardinals in 2008, hitting .299 with 37 homers and 113 RBIs. He followed that up with a 22 homer, 97 RBI season for St Louis the next year. Ludwick was a career .260 hitter over 1,065 games, with 154 homers and 587 RBIs.

Clint Sodowsky, relief pitcher for the 1997 Pirates. He was a ninth round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers in 1991, making it to the majors for the first time four years later. In two partial seasons for the Tigers, he made 13 starts, going 3-5 with an 8.50 ERA. Sodowsky was traded to the Pirates in November of 1996 in exchange for pitcher Dan Miceli. After spending the first month of the season in the minors, the Pirates called him up and put him in the bullpen. Sodowsky made 45 appearances for Pittsburgh, pitching a total of 52 innings with a 2-2, 3.63 record and 51 strikeouts. Following the season, he was lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the expansion draft. He pitched in Arizona in 1998, then briefly for the Cardinals in 1999, before returning to the minors, where he pitched another seven seasons without a return trip to the big leagues.

Rich Aude, first baseman for the 1993 and 1995-96 Pirates. He was drafted by the Pirates in the second round of the 1989 draft. Aude made his Major League debut four years later as a September call-up after batting .300 with 22 homers and 89 RBIs during the 1993 season, which he split between Double-A and Triple-A. In 13 games for the Pirates, he hit .115 with four RBIs. Aude spent the entire strike-shortened 1994 season in Triple-A, then made the Pirates Opening Day roster the next season. He was seeing limited playing time and was on an 0-for-13 streak when the Pirates sent him back to Triple-A in early July. He came back up in September that year, then in 1996 he was called up for a two-week stretch during the month of May, in what would turn out to be his last big league season. He was a .225 hitter, with two homers and 24 RBIs in 62 games for the Pirates. Aude played minor league ball until 1999, playing 1,090 games on the farm, hitting .282 with 122 homers and 646 RBIs.

Frank Bork, lefty pitcher for the 1964 Pirates. He signed with the Pirates in 1960 and spent his entire eight-year pro career as a member of the Pirates organization. Bork went 9-10, 3.50 in 28 starts in 1963 for Triple-A Columbus, earning a spot on the Pirates Opening Day roster the following season. He was sent back to Triple-A after one month, then returned to the big leagues at the end of July. Bork pitched mostly out of the bullpen, making two starts and 31 relief appearances. He went 2-2, 4.07 with two saves in 42 innings. Bork was fighting for a job during Spring Training in 1965 and didn’t make the team. One of his last outings during spring was three innings against the Senators in which he was touched up for four runs, albeit with six strikeouts. After spending all of 1965 and 1966 in the minors, Bork was a late September call-up in 1966, but never got into a game. His promotion to the majors was delayed due to Triple-A Columbus making the International League playoffs. He retired after the 1967 season, finishing his minor league career with a 64-58, 3.46 record in 197 games.

Jiggs Donahue, catcher for the 1900-01 Pirates. He was signed by the Pirates in September of 1900 after catching full-time for Dayton of the Interstate League. It was his fourth season in the minors and first chance at the majors. The amazing thing about Jiggs (first name was John) being a full-time catcher is the fact he threw left-handed and was good enough at the spot to get a trial in the big leagues. His debut with the Pirates was in right field on September 10, 1900, replacing an injured Honus Wagner in the lineup. Donahue made his debut behind the plate later in the season, playing just three of the final 26 games, including the last game of the season. In that final contest, he hit a bases clearing triple during a five-run rally that came up short in a game called due to darkness. Jiggs was a defensive substitute in two games for the 1901 Pirates, each time failing to get a plate appearance. He was let go in July and he signed with the Milwaukee Brewers of the American League. Donahue played for the St Louis Browns in 1902, then spent 1903 in the minors before returning with the 1904 Chicago White Sox. He would return as a first baseman, playing five full seasons with the team, helping them to a World Series win during the 1906 season. He is one of just four left-handed catchers in the history of the Pirates franchise

John O’Brien, second baseman for the 1899 Pirates. He bounced around the majors and minors before joining the Pirates during the 1899 season, playing six years in the majors with five different teams over a nine-season (1891-99) time-frame. The Pirates purchased the second baseman from the Baltimore Orioles in mid-June 1899, after he hit .193 with 17 RBIs in 39 games over the first two months of the season. For Pittsburgh, he played 79 games (all at second base) and batted .226 with 33 RBIs and 26 runs scored. In December, he was sent to the Louisville Colonels in the 16-player deal often referred to as the Honus Wagner trade, which brought a ton of talent to Pittsburgh while giving up almost nothing. When Louisville folded shortly after that deal was made, O’Brien was given back to the Pirates, who released him before he could play another game for the team. That move ended his big league career. He returned to the minors in 1900, in what ended up as his final season of pro ball. O’Brien was a career .254 hitter in 501 Major League games.