This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: August 3rd, Three Birthdays from the 1987 Pirates

There have been six former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date and three of them played for the 1987 team. In his Jolly Roger Rewind, John Fredland takes a look at a strong pitching performance from Doug Drabek, that came during the 1990 season.

Matt Joyce, outfielder for the 2016 Pirates. He signed as a free agent with the Pirates in Spring Training of 2016. Joyce played the previous year with the Los Angeles Angels, where he hit .174 with five homers in 93 games. That was his eighth season in the majors and it was easily his worst performance at the plate. Joyce started 44 games in the outfield for the Pirates and another four in the DH spot. He played 140 games total, coming off the bench in the other 92 games. He batted .220 with four homers, 15 RBIs and 21 walks in 81 pinch-hitting appearances. Joyce posted an .866 OPS in 293 plate appearances that year. He left via free agency after the season and has played with the Oakland A’s, Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins since then. In 1,311 games over 12 seasons, he has a .243/.343/.432 slash line, with 145 homers and 482 RBIs.

Kevin Elster, shortstop for the 1997 Pirates. He was originally signed as a second round draft pick of the New York Mets in 1984 out of Golden West College. Elster made his first appearance in the majors as a September call-up in 1986, then again in 1987, before he won the Mets starting shortstop job the next season. He held the job until 1992, but he began to miss significant playing time with injuries, including the last 60 games of the 1990 season, and nearly all of the 1992-93 seasons. From the 1992 season through the end of 1995, Elster played just 49 Major League games, so his 1996 season came as quite a surprise. Finally healthy, he played a career high 157 games for the Rangers, hitting .252 with 24 homers and 99 RBIs. The Pirates signed him in December of 1996 as a free agent. Elster was hitting .225 with seven homers and 25 RB’s through 39 games, when he broke his left wrist during a collision at first base on May 16th with Marlins’ pitcher Kurt Abbott. He would not return from that injury that season, marking the end of him brief time in Pittsburgh. Elster re-signed with the Rangers in 1998, didn’t play in 1999, and then finished his career with the 2000 Dodgers. He was a .228 hitter in 940 major league games, hitting 88 homers and driving in 376 runs.

Mackey Sasser, catcher for the 1987 and 1995 Pirates. He was originally a fifth round draft pick in 1984 of the San Francisco Giants. Sasser was called up to the majors in mid-July of 1987, going 0-for-4 in two games with the Giants. The Pirates acquired him on July 31, 1987 in exchange for pitcher Don Robinson.  Sasser went to Triple-A until September, joining the Pirates for the last month of the season, where he hit .217 with two RBIs in 23 at-bats. The Pirates traded Sasser to the Mets on March 26, 1988 in exchange for Randy Milligan. He spent five seasons in New York, batting .283 with 133 RBIs in 420 games. Sasser developed a mental block with the simple task of throwing the ball back to the pitcher after a pitch. He began to double and sometimes triple-clutch before making the throw. The Mets began using him at other positions to get his bat in the lineup, spending time at first base and outfield. Sasser signed with the Seattle Mariners as a free agent in December of 1992, playing 86 games there over parts of two seasons. He was released by Seattle in May of 1994 and signed with the Padres, although he never played in the majors for San Diego. Sasser signed as a free agent with the Pirates in December of 1994. He played 14 games for Pittsburgh in 1995 before being released in mid-May. He finished his playing career in the Mexican League the next season. He was a .267 hitter over his nine-year Major League career.

Sid Bream, first baseman for the 1985-90 Pirates. He was a second round draft pick of the Dodgers in 1981, who played 66 games for Los Angeles over parts of three seasons, before the Pirates acquired him in September of 1985 for Bill Madlock. Bream stepped right in as the team’s starting first baseman, a job he would hold full-time until a 1989 injury caused him to miss all but 19 games of that season. From 1986 until 1988, he played at least 148 games each year, hitting between .264 and .275, with a combined total of 39 homers and 207 RBIs. Twice during that time he led NL first baseman in both assists and errors. He returned healthy in 1990 to have a Sid Bream-like season, batting .270 with 15 homers and 67 RBIs in 147 games. After batting .500 in the NLCS that year, with a homer and three RBIs, he signed as a free agent with the Atlanta Braves. He played three seasons in Atlanta and nothing interesting happened there, before moving on to Houston for the 1994 season, where he hit .344 in limited bench time. In six seasons in Pittsburgh, Bream hit .269 with 57 homers and 293 RBIs in 643 games.

Jim Gott, relief pitcher for the 1987-89 and 1995 Pirates. He was originally a draft pick of the 1977 St Louis Cardinals, who made his debut as a starting pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays five seasons later. Gott started for most of his first four seasons in the majors, compiling a 28-40, 4.31 record. After 1985 however, he would make just five more starts over the last ten years of his career, none with Pittsburgh. The Pirates acquired Gott off waivers from the Giants on his 28th birthday. After posting a 4.50 ERA in San Francisco during that 1987 season, he finished strong in Pittsburgh as the team’s closer, with a 1.45 ERA and 13 saves in 25 games. In 1988, he saved 34 games, going 6-6, 3.49 in 67 games. He dealt with elbow pain in Spring Training of 1989 and his season lasted just one game before he was shut down. Gott became a free agent at the end of 1989, signing with the Dodgers, where he spent five seasons. He occasionally closed in Los Angeles, going 19-22, 2.99 in 272 games, while picking up 38 saves. He had a 5.94 ERA in 37 games during his last season with the Dodgers. Gott signed with the Pirates as a free agent the next April and was ineffective most of the year, with a 2-4, 6.03 record and three saves in 25 games. That would mark the end of his 14-year big league career, leaving him with a 56-74, 3.87 record in 554 games.

Gus Getz, third baseman for the 1918 Pirates. He was a native of Pittsburgh, who began his pro career in 1908 with McKeesport of the Ohio-Pa. League. In August of 1909, the Boston Doves purchased his rights. Getz played in 40 of the last 51 games of the season, hitting .223 with nine RBIs, while getting most of his time in at third base. The Doves finished with a 45-108 record that season. The next year, he saw time at all three outfield spots and three infield positions (all but first base), hitting .194 with seven RBIs in 54 games. In November, Boston sold him to the minors, where he spent the next three seasons. Getz was a light-hitting infielder, who liked to put the ball in play. In 307 plate appearances with Boston, he had three extra base hits, seven walks and twenty strikeouts. He would improve on the power numbers slightly, but over his seven-year Major League career, he walked just 24 times in 1,172 plate appearances, with 56 strikeouts. Getz hit just two homers in his career, and amazingly they came just eight days apart. They both came against Philadelphia, one at home and one on the road..

Getz returned to the majors with the 1914 with the Brooklyn Robins, where he stayed for three seasons. In 1915, Getz had his best season, hitting .258 with 46 RBIs in 130 games. It was the only season he played more than 55 games in a big league season. After hitting .219 over 40 games in 1916, he began to get moved around the majors and minors quickly. The Reds took him off waivers in April of 1917, though he was soon sent to Newark of the Eastern League. He was signed by the Cleveland Indians for the 1918, but he lasted just one month, hitting .133 in six games. The Pirates picked him up off waivers in early May, then played him seven times in two months, all off the bench. He went 2-for-10 at the plate, and played parts of two games at third base. On July 16, 1918, the Pirates traded Getz to Indianapolis of the American Association for shortstop Roy Ellam. Getz played in the minors off and on until 1927, managing for two years (1927-28) as well, before retiring from baseball.

The Game

On this date in 1990, Doug Drabek threw a one-hitter over the Philadelphia Phillies, losing the chance for history with two outs in the ninth. It was the best game pitched by Drabek during his 1990 NL Cy Young winning season. The hit was collected by Sil Campusano, who started the game on the bench and he hadn’t collected a hit since July 5th. Here’s a full game recap of the 11-0 victory.