This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: July 31st, Tim Wakefield Debuts

A busy day for Pittsburgh Pirates history that includes seven birthdays and 21 trades of note between 1987 and 2015, all listed below. We also have a game of note from 1992.

The Players

J.J. Furmaniak, infielder for the 2005 Pirates. He was originally a 22nd round draft pick in 2000 out of Lewis University by the Padres. He played in the San Diego minor league system until July 28, 2005, when the Pirates acquired him in exchange for David Ross. Furmaniak went to Triple-A Indianapolis, where he hit .288 in 36 games with 21 RBIs and an alarming 4:32 BB/K ratio. The Pirates called him up in September and he hit .192 in 13 games, seeing time at both shortstop and second base. He spent all of 2006 with Indianapolis, hitting just .213 in 114 games, 109 as the team’s shortstop. He became a free agent in October of 2006, signing weeks later with the Oakland A’s. Furmaniak played 16 games with the 2007 A’s, hitting .176 and seeing time at five different positions. He played minor league ball up until 2011, getting into 1,237 games over his 12-year career in the minors.

Mike Bielecki, pitcher for the 1984-87 Pirates. He was a first round draft pick in 1979 by the Pirates. Bielecki worked his way slowly through the minors, reaching Double-A in his fourth season, but he needed to repeat the level the next year. That next season (1983) would be his breakout year. He went 15-7, 3.19 in 25 starts, striking out 143 batters. Jumping to Triple-A in 1984, Bielecki was even better, going 19-3, 2.97 in 28 starts, with 162 strikeouts. He made his Major League debut that September, throwing four scoreless relief appearances. Bielecki made the Opening Day roster the next year, but he struggled through the middle of May, and returned to Triple-A until September. He was finally in the big leagues for a full season in 1986, responding with a 6-11, 4.66 record in 27 starts and four relief outings. Bielecki was back in Triple-A to start the 1987 season. He rejoined the Pirates in late August for eight starts. Just prior to Opening Day in 1988, the Pirates sent him to the Cubs for minor league pitcher Mike Curtis. For the Pirates, the deal looked horrible short-term. By 1989, Bielecki was winning 18 games for the Cubs. However, in his next eight seasons combined, he had a 40-46 record. He jumped around the majors, including three stints with the Atlanta Braves, winding up his 14-year career after the 1997 season with a final line of 70-73, 4.18 in 347 games, 178 as a starter. For the Pirates, Bielecki went 10-17, 4.57 in 55 games.

Frank Brosseau, pitcher for the 1969 and 1971 Pirates. He was a first round draft pick by the Pirates in 1966 out of the University of Minnesota. It was the third time he was drafted, second by the Pirates, who took him five months earlier in the January portion of the amateur draft. He was originally drafted as a hitter, and didn’t make his first appearance on the mound until his third season. It didn’t take long for him to reach the majors after he made the transition. Brosseau went 4-4, 1.88 in 91 innings in 1968 for Gastonia of the Western Carolina League, making ten starts and ten relief appearances. He was still being used as a position player that year, batting a career high .232. He was in Double-A in 1969 and strictly a pitcher at that point, playing for York of the Eastern League, where he went 10-3, 1.90 in 123 innings. Brosseau was a September call-up that year, pitching two games with vastly different results. In his first big league game he gave up two runs on two hits and two walks while recording two outs. His second appearance two weeks later was a scoreless inning in which he struck out two batters.

Brosseau was back in the minors in 1970, going 4-8, 4.65 with Triple-A Columbus in 16 starts and three relief outings. The next season, he began and finished the year in Triple-A, making one appearance for the Pirates in June. That day he threw two scoreless innings in a win over the Cardinals. Brosseau had a 5.31 ERA over 83 innings in the minors that season and did not return to pro ball in 1972.

Vic Davalillo, first baseman/outfielder for the 1971-73 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Reds in 1958, though he never played for Cincinnati. By the time he reached the Pirates, Davalillo had spent eight years in the majors, playing for the Indians, Angels and Cardinals.  He was an All-Star in 1965 when he hit .301 for the Indians, and a year earlier he won the Gold Glove award for his outstanding play in center field. The Pirates acquired him from St Louis in a four-player deal on January 29, 1971 after he hit .311 in 111 games in 1970, mostly playing off the bench. The Pirates used Davalillo during that World Series winning season at all three outfield spots as well as seeing time at first base. He hit .285 in 99 games, scoring 48 runs and adding 33 RBIs. He played three WS games, going 1-for-3 with a run scored. In 1972, he saw plenty of playing time at both corner outfield positions. In 117 games, he hit .318 with 59 runs scored and 14 steals in 15 attempts. Davalillo had his problems at the plate in 1973, batting just .181 in limited time through the end of July. On his 37th birthday, the Pirates sold him to the Oakland A’s. He played in Oakland until 1974, then went to the Mexican League to play, coming back in 1977 to be a bench player for four seasons with the Dodgers. He was a .279 hitter in 1458 major league games. His brother Pompeyo “Yo-Yo” Davalillo played in the majors with the 1953 Washington Senators.

Elmer Riddle, pitcher for the 1948-49 Pirates. He had a great start to his career, but an arm injury sidelined him in his prime and derailed a possibly great career. In his first full season in the majors, playing for the 1941 Reds, Riddle went 19-4, leading the NL with a 2.24 ERA. Two years later, he led the NL with 21 wins. In 1944, four games into the season, he began to experience arm troubles, causing him to the rest of the year. He pitched 29.2 innings in 1945, posting an 8.19 ERA. Riddle took off from baseball in 1946, returning briefly to the Reds the following year, where he had a similar record to two years earlier, with an 8.31 ERA in 30.1 innings. The Pirates acquired him off waivers in the off-season, and he made a strong comeback in 1948, going 12-10, 3.49 in 191 innings. His second stint of success was short-lived. In 1949, a leg injury limited his effectiveness and after a 1-8, 5.33 season, he returned to the minors, where he played until the end of the 1952 campaign. Riddle finished with 65 Major League wins, 40 of them coming during his two big years with the Reds. His brother Johnny Riddle was a catcher in the majors for seven years, spending time as Elmer’s teammate in Cincinnati and in 1948 with the Pirates.

Erv Kantlehner, pitcher for the 1914-16 Pirates. He made his pro debut as a 19-year-old in 1912, pitching for 14 games Victoria of the Northwestern League. The next year, he put himself on the baseball map, going 23-16 in 49 appearances, with a total of 337 innings pitched. Pittsburgh signed him, and in his Major League debut on April 17, 1914, Kantlehner threw a four-hit shutout, albeit with seven walks, including three in the first inning. Despite that solid first outing, he made just four more starts, working out of the bullpen in his other six games. He went 3-2, 3.09 in 67 innings during his rookie year. He was used in a similar role in 1915, just pitching more often that the previous year. Kantlehner made 18 starts and 11 relief appearances in his sophomore season, with a 5-12 record, despite a strong 2.24 ERA. His record slipped even further down in 1916 with the sixth place Pirates. In 21 starts and 16 relief outings, he went 5-15 3.16 in 165 innings. He was sold to the Phillies in September of 1916, and ended up pitching his last three Major League games with Philadelphia that year. Kantlehner returned to the minors in 1917, pitching three more seasons before retiring. His Major League ERA in three seasons was 2.84, yet his record stood at 13-29 when he was done.

Joe Sugden, catcher for the 1893-97 Pirates. He played two years of minor league ball in Charleston, SC  before making his Major League debut with the 1893 Pirates. Joining the team in July, Sugden hit .261 in 27 games with 20 runs scored, splitting time behind the plate with the great Connie Mack.  The 1894 season was an extremely high offense year in baseball due to the pitcher’s box (pre-mound days) being moved back to it’s current distance, and pitchers having trouble adjusting to it at first. Sugden was the backup to Mack, playing 39 games with a .331 average and a 14:2 BB/K ratio. The league batting declined slowly over the next couple years and he showed a similar regression in his batting. He hit .304 in 1895 and followed it with a .296 season. Early in that 1895 season, Sugden hit his third career homer(his first came off Cy Young the previous year). He would play the rest of that year and another nine full seasons in the majors without hitting another home run. Sugden platooned with Bill Merritt for the better part of three seasons in Pittsburgh, the last occurring in 1897 when he hit just .222 in 84 games.

The Pirates dealt him to the St Louis Cardinals in the off-season for veteran catcher Morgan Murphy. That move, along with his switching of teams in 1899, would put him on two of the worst teams ever. Sugden played for the 1898 Cardinals, who went 39-111, then moved to the Cleveland Spiders for 1899, a team that went 20-134,making them the worst team in baseball history. He played his last Major League game on May 18, 1912 for the Detroit Tigers, a famous game in baseball history and his first big league game in seven seasons. In short, Ty Cobb had been suspended at that time and his Tiger teammates refused to play that day unless Cobb played. The Tigers had a bunch of sandlot players ready to play just in case, to go along with two coaches who played that day as well, Deacon McGuire and Sugden. The Tigers ended up losing 24-2 and he went 1-for-4, while playing first base. Cobb’s suspension was reduced and things were back to normal the next day, officially ending Sugden’s playing career.

Pirates transactions at the July 31st trading deadline since 2015

2015: Pirates trade Jose Tabata to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Mike Morse and cash.

2015: Pirates acquire JA Happ from the Seattle Mariners for minor league pitcher Adrian Sampson.

2012: Pirates trade 1B/3B Casey McGehee to the New York Yankees for Chad Qualls

2012: Pirates trade Gorkys Hernandez and a draft pick to the Marlins for Gaby Sanchez and minor league pitcher Kyle Kaminska

2011: Acquire Ryan Ludwick from the Padres.

2010: Closer Otavio Dotel is dealt to the Dodgers for starting pitcher James McDonald and minor league outfielder Andrew Lambo

2010: Lefty specialist Javier Lopez is traded to the Giants for outfielder John Bowker and pitcher Joe Martinez

2009: Reliever D.J. Carrasco, shortstop Bobby Crosby and outfielder Ryan Church are sent to the Diamondbacks for catcher Chris Snyder and minor league shortstop Pedro Ciriaco.

2008: Jason Bay is sent to the Red Sox as part of a three-way deal with the Dodgers, that saw the Pirates acquire third baseman Andy LaRoche, outfielder Brandon Moss, relief pitcher Craig Hansen and minor league starter Bryan Morris.

2007: Pirates obtain pitcher Matt Morris from the Giants in exchange for outfielder Rajai Davis and minor league pitcher Stephen MacFarland.

2006: Pirates sent Sean Casey to the Tigers for minor league pitcher Brian Rogers. In a separate deal, they trade outfielder/first baseman Craig Wilson to the Yankees in exchange for pitcher Shawn Chacon.

2006: Pittsburgh sends pitchers Oliver Perez and Roberto Hernandez to the Mets for outfielder Xavier Nady. The Pirates also traded pitcher Kip Wells to the Rangers for minor league pitcher Jesse Chavez.

2005: Pirates ship outfielder Matt Lawton to the Cubs. In return they get outfielder Jody Gerut and cash.

2003: Pitchers Anastacio Martinez, Brandon Lyons and Jeff Suppan, all get sent to the Red Sox for infielder Freddy Sanchez and reliever Mike Gonzalez.

2002: Pirates give up outfielder Chad Hermansen to get outfielder Darren Lewis from the Cubs. Lewis retired instead of reporting to the Pirates.

2001: Pirates send closer Mike Williams to the Astros for pitcher Tony McKnight.

2001: Pitcher Terry Mulholland is sent to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for reliever Mike Fetters and minor league pitcher Adrian Burnside.

1993: Reliever Stan Belinda is sent to the Kansas City Royals for pitchers Jon Lieber and Dan Miceli.

1987: Pirates sent pitcher Don Robinson to the Giants for catcher Mackey Sasser and cash.

The Game

On this date in 1992, Tim Wakefield made his Major League debut against the St Louis Cardinals and threw 146 pitches in a 3-2 victory. Wakefield went the distance and both runs were unearned. He allowed six hits and walked five batters, while picking up ten strikeouts. He also threw three wild pitches, with catcher Don Slaught having some trouble with the knuckleball. Barry Bonds provided the offense with his 20th homer of the season. Here’s the boxscore and play-by-play from Baseball-Reference.

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