This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: August 1st, Milt May

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus one manager.

Freddy Garcia, corner Infielder/outfielder for the 1995, and 1997-99 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Blue Jays as an amateur free agent in 1991, three years before the Pirates picked him up as a 1994 Rule 5 draft pick. With the Pirates for all of 1995, Garcia played third base and left field, hitting .140 with one RBI in 42 games, batting a total of 66 times. The Pirates sent him to the minors in 1996, where he played the entire year in High-A ball at Lynchburg. Garcia hit .306 with 21 homers and 86 RBIs that season. He split the 1997 minor league season between Double-A and Triple-A, hitting .275 with 24 homers. He had two stints with the Pirates in 1997, one in late May until early June, then again in September. He was back in Triple-A in 1998, where he hit 22 homers in 88 games. Garcia began that year with the Pirates, but was sent down after hitting .167 through the end of April. He returned in August and hit well, finishing with a .256 average and nine homers in 55 games. He remained with the Pirates through September of 1999, when he was dealt to the Braves. While with Pittsburgh, he was playing both corner infield positions, and both corner outfield spots, hitting .231 with six homers in 55 games. He played just two games for Atlanta, homering in one of his three plate appearances. Garcia played minor league ball with the Red Sox in 2000, before finishing his playing career in Japan. With the Pirates, he hit .221 with 18 homers in 173 games.

Milt May, catcher for the Pirates from 1970-73 and 1983-84. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 11th round of the 1968 draft. May worked his way quickly through the minors, making it to Triple-A by age 19, where he hit .280 with 21 homers and 86 RBIs in 111 games. He was a September call-up that year and never returned to the minors. May was the backup catcher to Manny Sanguillen in 1971-72, then with the tragic passing of Roberto Clemente, Sanguillen moved to the outfield for most of the first half of the 1973 season, with May seeing full-time action behind the plate. That season, he hit .269 with 31 RBIs in 111 games. May was traded to the Houston Astros on October 31, 1973 in exchange for pitcher Jerry Reuss. From 1974 until 1983, he played for the Astros, Tigers, White Sox and Giants, six times playing over 100 games in a season. An ankle injury in 1976 cost him nearly the entire season (played just six games). May was reacquired by the Pirates on August 19, 1983 from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for catcher Steve Nicosia. May was the backup to Tony Pena until the end of the 1984 season, when he called it quits. He played in a total of 1,192 Major League games, hitting .263 with 77 homers and 443 RBIs. He caught 1,034 games in his career. Milt’s father Pinky May was an All-Star third baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Pep Rambert, pitcher for the 1939-40 Pirates. He had a long career in the minors, seeing action with numerous teams, but his Major League career consisted of just a handful of games over two seasons with the Pirates. Rambert was an outfielder for most of his career, though he did pitch 260 games in the minors and made it to the majors as a pitcher. He was in his third season of pro ball in 1939, playing for Knoxville of the Southern Association, where he went 11-8 ,4.82 in 153 innings. The Pirates called him up at the end of September and got him into two relief outings. He had his troubles in those games, allowing two runs in each, giving up seven hits and a walk in 3.2 innings total. Pep (first name was Elmer) returned to the minors in 1940, moving up to play for Syracuse of the International League, where he had a 3.77 ERA in 160 innings. He returned to Pittsburgh again in September, this time pitch twice in relief without allowing a run. On September 29th, the Pirates let Rambert start the last game of the season again the Reds. He allowed three runs through the first four innings, then ran into a wall, giving up five runs without recording an out in the fifth inning. For Pep, that game would mark the end of his Major League career. He was sold to Brooklyn the following January. From 1941 until his retirement in 1952, Rambert bounced around the minors, missing two years during the war. For five of those seasons, he served as a player/manager.

Roy Sanders, pitcher for the 1918 Pirates. He was one of two Major League pitchers in 1918 named Roy Sanders. The other was pitching for the New York Yankees at the time. The Roy Sanders who played for the Pirates, spent the first three years (1915-17) of his pro career pitching for the Kansas City Blues of the American Association. He went 47-44 in 137 games, winning twenty games during the 1916 season. Sanders began the 1917 season with the Reds, but didn’t last long, making just two starts. Control problems did him in, as he issued ten walks during his debut and another six over eight innings in his second game, a 2-0 loss. Both of his pitching performances that year were against the Pirates, who must’ve been impressed with him despite the lack of control. In August of that season, he was acquired from Kansas City by the Pirates for a player to be named later. Sanders never pitched for the Pirates over the last month of the 1917 season. In 1918, he was used often, pitching 14 times in relief and 14 times as a starter during a season that was shortened due to the ongoing war. Sanders went 7-9, 2.60 in 156 innings that year. While his ERA was good, it ranked him fourth on the team, as they finished with the second best pitching in the NL. Sanders never returned to the Pirates (he was a holdout in 1919) or pro baseball, choosing instead to play semi-pro ball back home in Kansas City.

The Manager

Pete Mackanin, manager of the 2005 Pirates. After playing nine seasons in the majors, Mackanin became a minor league manager and coach. He managed two seasons in the minors for the Pirates, helping Lynchburg to the 2002 Carolina League title. He became the bench coach for the Pirates in 2003 and took over the managerial position from Lloyd McClendon in September of 2005. Mackanin went 12-14 to finish the season, then was replaced by Jim Tracy for the 2006 season. He managed the GCL Pirates in 2006, before moving on to big league managerial jobs with the 2007 Reds and 2015-17 Phillies.