This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: September 12th, Smoky Burgess Moves On to Chicago

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date and one transaction of note.

Franquelis Osoria, relief pitcher for the 2007-08 Pirates. He was originally signed out of the Dominican Republic as an amateur free agent in 1999 by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He made it to the majors in 2005 and had his best season, posting a career-low 3.94 ERA in 24 appearances, covering 29.2 innings. Osoria struggled badly with the Dodgers the next year, with a 7.13 ERA in his 12 outings. That December, the Pirates picked him up off waivers. He was pitching well at Triple-A until being recalled in early August. He pitched 25 times for the Pirates in 2007, compiling a 4.76 ERA in 28.1 innings. In each of his first three seasons in the majors, he finished with an 0-2 record. In 2008, Osoria pitched a career high 43 games, and while he had a 4-3 record to break his odd win/loss streak, he did not pitch well, finishing with a 6.08 ERA in 60.2 innings. He was released by the Pirates after the season, then signed with the Kansas City Royals a couple of months later, although he never pitched in pro ball again.

Mike Roesler, pitcher for the 1990 Pirates. He was originally drafted in the 17th round of the 1985 amateur draft by the Cincinnati Reds. He was a starter his first two years in the Reds system, then moved to relief in 1987, which helped him get to the majors two years later. The Reds called him up in August of 1989, using him 17 times out of the bullpen. Roesler was 0-1, 3.96 in 25 innings over the last two months of the season. The Pirates acquired him on April 3, 1990 along with infielder Jeff Richardson, in exchange for outfielder Billy Hatcher. During the first three weeks of the 1990 seasons, teams were allowed to carry 27 players on their roster due to the shortened Spring Training, which was caused by a lockout. Roesler and Tom Prince both made the team because of the new rule. In those three weeks before being sent back down on April 29th (day before rosters reduced to 25), he made five relief appearances, giving up two runs in six innings of work. He never returned to the majors after being sent down. He was in the Pirates system until late in the 1992 season, before finishing year with the Kansas City Royals Triple-A club. Roesler then finished his career the next season in the Kansas City system.

Trench Davis, center fielder for the 1985-86 Pirates. He was signed by the Pirates in 1980 as a non-drafted amateur free agent. As a 20-year-old in 1981, the Pirates sent him to full-season ball with Greenwood of the South Atlantic League, where he put up strong numbers. He hit .298 with 73 RBIs, 70 runs scored and 31 stolen bases in 141 games. Davis was moved up to Triple-A the next year, skipping two levels and still performed well, hitting .268 with 80 runs scored and 42 stolen bases in 141 games. Despite that performance, he still ended up spending half of the next season in Double-A. From the time he joined Triple-A Hawaii in the Pacific Coast League in 1983, Davis would spend 3 1/2 seasons with the team without getting much of a shot at the majors. He played two June 1985 games in center field, then returned the next season for 15 more games in May. In his 17 Pirates games, he hit .133 with an RBI and no walks, giving him a lower OBP than average due to one sacrifice fly. Davis became a free agent after the 1986 season and signed with the Atlanta Braves shortly after hitting the market. He played his last six Major League games with the Braves in 1987, getting three pinch-hit appearances and three pinch-running spots. Davis went to Mexico to play in 1988, finishing his playing career there four years later.

George Freese, third baseman for the 1955 Pirates. He was a member of four different organizations before joining the Pirates, playing just one Major League game prior to his trade to Pittsburgh. Freese was originally signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1948, staying with them until the St Louis Browns took him in the December 1952 Rule 5 draft. From there he was purchased by the Detroit Tigers in early April of 1953, then sold to the Chicago Cubs a month later. The Pirates acquired him from the Cubs on June 4, 1953 in the Ralph Kiner deal. He would remain in the minors until Opening Day in 1955, when he made the Pirates as a bench player. Sid Gordon was at third base to begin the year, but quickly lost the starting job due to a poor start. Freese would start every game for the Pirates from April 24th until June 12th at third base.

Two days after his last game, he was sent to the Pirates farm team in Hollywood, while the Pirates got back Cuban pitcher Lino Donoso. At the same time, the Pirates also got back twin infielders Johnny and Eddie O’Brien. They had been serving in the Army prior to the season and were working their way back into shape, prior to rejoining the team. Freese finished with a .257 average and 22 RBIs in 51 games. After the season ended, the Pirates lost him to the Cubs in the 1955 Minor League draft. He would go six seasons before he played in the majors again, making his last nine appearances with the 1961 Cubs. He then began to manage in the minors, the first three years as a player/manager, followed by another nine seasons as a manager. George is the brother of Pirates infielder Gene Freese.

The Transaction

On this date in 1964, catcher Smoky Burgess was selected off waivers by the Chicago White Sox, ending his six-year career with the Pirates. Burgess is known as one of the best pinch-hitters in baseball history, but he was an All-Star during the 1959-61 and 1964 seasons. Burgess hit .296/.352/.445 in 586 games with the Pirates. He had 164 walks and 92 strikeouts during his time in Pittsburgh.