This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: August 19th, The Nicosia-For-May Trade

Three Pittsburgh Pirates trades of note occurred on this date and three former players were born on this date.

The Transactions

On this date in 1909, the Pirates traded infielders Alan Storke and Jap Barbeau to the St Louis Cardinals for third baseman Bobby Byrne. The Pirates were trying to get stronger at third base for a run at their second World Series appearance. Neither Barbeau, the incumbent starter, nor his replacement Byrne, were strong hitters. Byrne was much more steady on defense and was said to handle the bat better and have decent speed. Storke was a backup infielder for the last four seasons with the team, though he did see extensive playing time during the 1907 season. He did well after the trade with the Cardinals, then was sent to the Cincinnati Reds in the off-season. Storke never played for the Reds. He had to have lung surgery in March of 1910 and he died during the operation. Byrne became a much better hitter after the deal, and by 1910 he led the NL in hits and doubles. Before the deal, he had a .223 average in three years with the Cardinals. He helped the Pirates to their first WS title in 1909, with his solid defense and five runs scored during the series. He remained in Pittsburgh through the middle of the 1913 season. Barbeau played better with St Louis in 1909, but his Major League career would soon be over, lasting just seven games in the 1910 season before going to the minors to finish his career nine seasons later.

On this date in 1983, the Pirates traded catcher Steve Nicosia to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for catcher Milt May. Nicosia was unhappy since Spring Training with his playing time, serving as the backup to Tony Pena. He was hitting just .130 at the time of the trade, with his only RBI on year coming via a solo home run. Nicosia had played just 21 games at that point. May was a former Pittsburgh Pirates catcher, though he had been traded away ten years earlier for Jerry Reuss . Shortly before the deal, the 33-year-old May caught his 1,000 major league game. He remained with the Pirates through the end of 1984, taking over Nicosia’s backup role, before retiring. After the deal, Nicosia hit .333 in limited time for the Giants. The next season, while still in San Francisco, he batted .303 over 48 games, serving as the backup for Bob Brenly. The Pirates also received cash in the deal.

On this date in 1988, Pittsburgh sent first baseman/outfielder Mike Diaz,to the Chicago White Sox for outfielder Gary Redus. The 28-year-old Diaz was a versatile player, who could also catch if needed. He hit for power during his first two seasons with the Pirates, but that power had disappeared, and his season average was down to .230 in limited time. After the deal, he played 40 games with the White Sox, which ended up being the last games he played in the majors. He went to Japan in 1989 and finished his career there three years later. Redus was a 31-year-old in his seventh season. He was a good outfielder, with above average speed and a decent hitter. He struggled in 1988 after the trade and became a free agent. The Pirates quickly re-signed him and made him a platoon player. He saw most of his time at first base and occasionally played all three outfield spots (not at the same time). Redus was with the team through the NL East pennant run from 1990-92, before he moved on to Texas for his last two years. He hit .255 with 24 homers, 69 stolen bases and 157 runs scored in 398 games for the Pirates.

The Players

Britt Reames, pitcher for the 2006 Pirates. He was drafted by the St Louis Cardinals in 1995, though his career got sidetracked early by Tommy John surgery, which cost him all of the 1997-98 seasons. Prior to that, he looked like a potential future star, going 15-7, 1.90 in 1996, with 167 strikeouts in 161 innings at High-A ball. Despite missing two years and never playing above A-ball before 1999, Reames made it to the majors in 2000 for seven starts and a relief appearances for St Louis, and he pitched well. The Cardinals sent him to the Montreal Expos in the off-season and he never got going there in three seasons, seeing minor league time each year. After spending all of 2004 in the minors with the Oakland A’s, Reames got into a couple mid-season games in 2005 for Oakland. The Pirates signed him as a free agent in November of 2005, and he spent most of the 2006 season with Triple-A Indianapolis, where he was primarily a starter. Pittsburgh called him up in August, giving him six relief appearances over a 12-day span. In his last game, he allowed five runs in 1.2 innings. He left via free agency after the season and never played again.

Terry Harper, outfielder for the 1987 Pirates. He was drafted out of high school in 16th round of the 1973 amateur draft by the Atlanta Braves. It took Harper seven years to make his Major League debut, and another five years before he saw full-time work in the majors. After playing 229 games over his first five seasons, Harper played 138 games in 1985 for the Braves, batting .264 with 17 homers and 72 RBIs. He saw much less time the next season, then Atlanta traded him in January of 1987 to the Detroit Tigers. Harper slumped in the American League, hitting .203 through 31 games, getting just 74 plate appearances. On June 26, 1987, he was dealt to the Pirates in exchange for two minor league players. Harper did well back in the National League, hitting .288 in 36 games, getting nine starts at each corner outfield spot. After the season, he signed to play in Japan, ending his Major League career. He lasted just ten games in Japan. Harper was a .253 hitter in 540 big league games.

Ike McAuley, shortstop for the 1914-16 Pirates. He played two seasons for Waterloo of the Central Association (1913-14) to start his pro career, showing a huge improvement the second year. He batted .184 over 127 games his first season, then raised his average to .300 the next year, getting the attention of the Pirates. His arrival in the big leagues was delayed over a week due to his minor league team being in the pennant race. McAuley played his first big league game on September 10, 1914 at shortstop, with Honus Wagner moving over to third base for the new kid. He collected a hit, but also made an error and struck out twice. In 15 games split between 2B/3B/SS, he hit .125 with three singles, no RBIs or walks, and eight strikeouts. Over the next two seasons in Pittsburgh, McAuley played just nine games, all at shortstop, spending the better part of those two years in the minors. He went a combined 4-for-23 at the plate in 1915-16, with one run batted in during his three partial seasons with Pittsburgh. The Pirates lost him on waivers in 1917 to the St Louis Cardinals, where he played three games before returning to the minors. McAuley next (and last) played in the majors in 1925, getting into 37 games with the Chicago Cubs. He played minor league ball until 1927, getting into nearly 2,000 games down on the farm. Right before the start of the 1928 season, McAuley passed away from pneumonia at 36 years old.

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