This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: September 7th, Gorkys Hernandez and Four Players from the Early 1900’s

There have been five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date. Later this morning I’ll add a September 7th Game Rewind so this date has some more meat to it next year.

Gorkys Hernandez, outfielder for the 2012 and 2015 Pirates. He was originally signed as an amateur free agent in 2005 by the Detroit Tigers. Shortly after the 2007 season ended, he was traded to the Atlanta Braves, along with Jair Jurrjens in exchange for Edgar Renteria. Hernandez was a top-100 rated prospect prior to both the 2008 and 2009 seasons. In June of 2009, he was dealt to the Pirates, along with Jeff Locke and Charlie Morton, in the Nate McLouth deal. Hernandez was hitting .316 in 52 games at Double-A at the time of the trade. His production fell off after the deal at Altoona, so he repeated the level during the next season. He moved up to Triple-A in 2011, putting together a solid season when factoring in his above average defense. He did not get the call to the majors until 2012 though, making his debut on May 21st. In 25 games for the Pirates, he made two starts, getting a total of 26 plate appearances. He hit .083 with two runs, two RBIs and two stolen bases. On July 31st, he was sent to the Miami Marlins in a deal for Gaby Sanchez. He saw 45 games with the Marlins in 2012, then didn’t return to the majors until he was back with the Pirates in 2015 as a minor league free agent. Hernandez went 0-for-5 in eight games.

Hernandez saw brief time with the San Francisco Giants in 2016, then he was a regular in their lineup during the 2017-18 seasons. He managed to go the entire 2017 season without a homer in 128 games, then hit 15 home runs during the 2018 season. In 2019, Hernandez saw sporadic time with the Boston Red Sox. He signed with the Chicago White Sox in 2020, but he was released before the delayed season started.

Fred Blackwell, catcher for the 1917-19 Pirates. He played four seasons in the minors before getting his first big league shot as a September call-up for the 1917 Pirates. He didn’t earn that spot with his bat, hitting just .162 with four extra base hits (all doubles) in 76 games for Newark of the International League. Blackwell caught three of the last seven games of the season for the Pirates. In 1918, the regular season was shortened due to the ongoing war. Starting catcher Walter Schmidt ended up catching 105 of the team’s 126 games that year. Blackwell played just eight games as the third-string receiver behind Schmidt and veteran Jimmy Archer. He would see his most time in 1919, when he was the backup catcher along with Cliff Lee. Early in the year, Blackwell wasn’t with the team, replaced by veteran Jeff Sweeney, who was gone after hitting .095 in 17 games. An early season injury to Schmidt, caused the Pirates to bring Blackwell back to the team. When Schmidt returned, Sweeney was the player who was released. Blackwell hit .215 in 24 games, getting twenty starts behind the plate. His Major League career was over at that point, and he played just one more season in the minors.

John Flynn, first baseman for the 1910-11 Pirates. After winning the 1909 World Series, the Pirates got rid of their starting first baseman Bill Abstein, who played 137 regular season games and all seven WS games. Abstein made too many mental errors for the Pirates liking, so after the 1909 season ended, Pittsburgh purchased the contracts of Flynn for $4,000 from St Paul of the American Association. They also added first baseman Bud Sharpe, who was taken in the Rule 5 draft. Both men battled it out for the starting first base job, with Flynn eventually winning it after the season started. Prior to joining the Pirates, Flynn played four seasons of minor league ball, with 1909 being his best year. He was strong with the bat, and serviceable in the field. For the 1910 Pirates, he hit .274 in 96 games, with six homers, 52 RBIs and 32 runs scored. His 22 errors ranked as the third highest total among NL first baseman. In 1911, Pittsburgh picked up minor league veteran Newt Hunter to play first base and Flynn lost his starting spot. He hit .203 in 33 games with no homers, before being sold back to his St Paul minor league team in August. He would play one more season in the majors, 1912 for the Senators, getting cut after he batted just .169 in twenty games. Flynn played another nine seasons in the minors after his last Major League game, retiring after the 1921 season with nearly 1,500 minor league games played. He also managed for five seasons in the minors.

Charlie Case, pitcher for the 1904-06 Pirates. He made his Major League debut with the 1901 Cincinnati Reds, making three starts after joining the team in July. He threw three complete games, but allowed 34 hits and 21 runs in his 27 innings. Case went to the minors until 1904, when the Pirates purchased his contract in July. He made 17 starts and a relief appearance for Pittsburgh that year, going 10-5, 2.94 in 141 innings, with three shutouts. In 1905, he made 24 starts and seven relief appearances, throwing a total of 217 innings, while again throwing three shutouts. His record that year was only 11-11, yet the team won 96 games and he had the second best ERA among regulars. Teammate Sam Leever went 20-5 with an ERA 13 points higher, while Mike Lynch had a 3.79 ERA, yet managed to finish with a 17-8 record. The Pirates had a deeper pitching staff in 1906 with the additions of Vic Willis and Lefty Leifield, so after two poor starts, Case was sent to the minors, where he finished his career. He still had plenty of strong pitching left in his arm, but never got another chance in the majors. From 1906 until 1914, he went 122-119, winning in double digits (with a high of 19 victories) in all but his last season.

Ed Poole, pitcher/outfielder for the 1900-02 Pirates. His major league debut on October 5, 1900 for the Pirates was not a good first impression. Manager Fred Clarke started the game in left field and got hurt running out a hit. Poole came in for him and by the fourth inning, he was back on the bench. In that inning he made a throwing error and dropped an easy fly ball. He was known more for his pitching at that point, winner of twenty games for Wheeling of the Interstate League in 1900 before joining the Pirates. He also hit .257 in 78 total games, 37 as a pitcher. His second game for the Pirates was a complete 180 over the first. A week after his debut, he came in to pitch after Deacon Phillippe got hit hard early. Poole allowed just one run over seven innings, while also hitting a home run and a triple, driving in three runs, for a 10-6 victory.

Poole was put on the reserve list for 1901 and he remained with the Pirates all season. He started ten games and pitched twice in relief, going 5-4, 3.60 in 80 innings. He played a total of 26 games, seeing action at all three outfield positions, as well as one game each at second base and third base. Poole hit .205 in 78 at-bats, with a home run and four RBIs. He played just one game for the 1902 Pirates before he was sold to the Cincinnati Reds. On May 14, 1902, he pitched eight innings in relief during a 10-5 loss, giving up four runs, though just one was earned. Hall of Fame pitcher Jack Chesbro made the start, allowing six runs in the first before he was pulled. Poole would go on to make 16 starts for the Reds that year, going 12-4, 2.15 with 16 complete games. He pitched for the Reds again in 1903, and then Brooklyn in 1904, posting a losing record each year. He returned to the minors in 1905, playing another four years before he retired from pro ball.