Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including the all-time home run king.
Barry Bonds, outfielder for the 1986-92 Pirates. He was the sixth overall draft pick in 1985 and the Pirates had him in the majors by May 30, 1986. Bonds hit just .223 as a rookie in 113 games, but he stole 36 bases and hit 16 homers, while drawing 65 walks. In 1987, he raised his average to .261, though his OBP was a point lower than the previous year. Bonds hit 25 homers and stole 32 bases, while scoring 99 runs. In 1988, he hit for average and drew walks, which showing some power, leading to a .283/.368/.491 slash line. His stolen bases dropped to 17, but he still scored 97 runs. Bonds had a bit of a down year in 1989, seeing his OPS drop for the first time. He batted .248, but still had solid numbers with 96 runs scored, 34 doubles, 19 homers, 32 steals and 93 walks.
The Pirates made the playoffs in 1990, 1991 and 1992 and Bonds was a huge part of that run. He won the NL MVP in 1990 by hitting .301 with 33 homers and 114 RBIs. He added 104 runs scored, 93 walks, 34 doubles and 52 stolen bases, giving him his first 30/30 HR/SB season in the majors. He would repeat that feat four more times, including 1992 with the Pirates and 1996 when he reached the 40/40 mark. He also missed 30/30 twice by finishing with 29 stolen bases. Bonds made his first All-Star team in 1990, while also winning his first Gold Glove and first Silver Slugger awards.
In 1991, Bonds had another MVP season, though the writers gave it to Terry Pendleton, who had a strong season, but didn’t compare well to Bonds. In 153 games, Bonds hit .292/.410/.514, leading the league in OBP and OPS. He drew 107 walks, drove in 116 runs, scored 95 runs and stole 43 bases. He picked up his second Gold Glove and second Silver Slugger awards.
In 1992, Bonds played out his last year before free agency and had an outstanding year. He led the league with 109 runs scored, 127 walks, a .456 OBP and a .624 slugging. He had 34 homers, 39 steals and 103 RBIs. Bonds repeated his 1990 feat with an MVP, All-Star appearance, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. He moved on to San Francisco after the season, where he played out the rest of his 22-year career and made baseball history. Bonds is the all-time leader with 762 homers and 2,558 walks. He had 1,996 RBIs and 2,227 runs scored. He is the only member of the 400 HR/SB club and for good measure, the only member of the 500 HR/SB club as well. He won the MVP award seven times and deserved the award in both 1991 and 2000 as well. He was a 14-time All-Star, 12-time Silver Slugger winner and he has eight Gold Gloves. He’s the single season leader in OPS, home runs and walks. He was intentionally walked 688 times, which is more twice as much as anyone else. In career WAR, he only trails Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson and Cy Young. etc etc etc.
With the Pirates, Bonds hit .275/.380/.503 in 1,104 games. He is fifth on the Pirates all-time home run list with 176 and seventh with 251 steals. His 50.3 WAR is seventh in team history.
Joe Oliver, catcher for the 1999 Pirates. He was originally a second round pick in 1983 by the Reds. Oliver made it to the big leagues in 1989 and was already in his 11th season when he joined the 1999 Pirates, his fifth different team in the majors. The Pirates acquired him from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays the day before his 34th birthday. They gave up a young outfielder named Jose Guillen in the deal, while also getting back another catcher, Humberto Cota, who stuck around Pittsburgh for nine years. Oliver was brought in to replace the injured Jason Kendall, who was out for the entire year with a severe ankle injury. Oliver played 45 games for the Pirates, hitting .201 with one homer and 13 RBIs. He was just a .247 career hitter, but that average in 1999 turned out to be the lowest of his 13-year career. He also hit 102 homers in the big leagues, seven times reaching double figures, so his offensive output with the Pirates was well off his career norm. Oliver finished with 1,076 games in the majors, playing for seven different teams. He led NL catchers in fielding in 1990, putouts in 1992 and he set career highs with 14 homers and 75 RBIs in 1993, all done while with Reds
Preston Ward, utility fielder for the Pirates from 1953 until 1956. He originally signed with the Dodgers at the age of 16 in 1944 and he wasn’t over-matched that first season while playing in Class-D ball, batting .250 with 25 extra-base hits in 77 games. Ward played six seasons in the Dodgers organization, with his only Major League experience coming during the first half of the 1948 season, when he hit .260 with 21 RBIs in 42 games. Brooklyn sold him to the Cubs after the 1949 season and he played 80 games in Chicago in 1950, before missing the next two years due to military service. Returning in 1953, he hit .230 with four homers during his first 33 games of the season. The Pirates acquired Ward from the Cubs in a ten-player deal on June 4, 1953, with the main piece involved in the trade being Ralph Kiner, who went to Chicago. Ward played first base for the Pirates for the rest of the season, hitting .210 with eight homers in 88 games. He finished that season with one of the best fielding percentages among NL first basemen.
The next season Ward saw time at RF/1B/3B, batting .269 with 48 RBIs in 117 games. His time was limited in 1955, getting just 39 starts all season, all but one at first base. He played in 84 total games, hitting .215 with five homers and 25 RBIs. He was hitting .333 with 11 RBIs through his first 16 games in 1956, before the Pirates traded Ward to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for catcher Hank Foiles on May 15th. He ended up playing in the majors until 1959, ending his career with the Kansas City Athletics. Ward hit .253 with 50 homers and 262 RBIs in 744 games in the majors and in 305 games for the Pirates, he batted .240 with 21 homers and 111 RBIs.
Joe Schultz Sr, infielder for the 1916 Pirates. He made his Major League debut at the age of 19 in 1912, after the Braves selected him in the September Rule 5 draft just a couple weeks earlier. Schultz played parts of two seasons with Boston, getting into a total of 13 games. After playing the entire 1914 season with Rochester of the International League, where he hit .316 with 44 extra-base hits in 155 games, Schultz would return to the majors in 1915. He spent the beginning of the year with Brooklyn, before ending it with the Cubs. He batted .289 with seven RBIs in 63 games, spending most of his time at third base. The Pirates purchased his contract from Chicago in January of 1916 and he spent half of the year in Pittsburgh. Schultz hit .260 with 22 RBIs in 77 games, playing 24 games each at second base and third base. He also saw time at both corner outfield spots and even made an appearance at shortstop. He finished the season with Los Angeles of the Pacific Coast League, then spent the next two full seasons in the minors as well. He returned to the big leagues in 1919, and this time he was around for seven seasons, spent mostly with the Cardinals. He finished his Major League career with a .285 average and 249 RBIs in 703 games. Schultz played minor league ball in 1926, then was a player/manager for the next season, before retiring from playing. He then managed the next six seasons in the minors. He also spent three seasons as the Pittsburgh Pirates farm director, which was his job when he passed away in 1941 at 47 years old.
His family had a rich history in the Major Leagues. His son Joe Schultz Jr. played nine seasons in the big leagues, the first three (1939-41) with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was also the manager of the Seattle Pilots during their only season. His cousin Hans Lobert was a star third baseman in the majors. He played 14 years, including the 1903 season as a rookie with the Pirates, the team that went on to play in the first modern day World Series. Joe Sr also had a cousin named Frank Lobert, who played one season in the majors and lived out his life in the city of Pittsburgh.