This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: September 15th, Fritz, Elmer and Some Relievers

Six former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including one who was related to a United States President.

Parker Markel, relief pitcher for the 2019 Pirates. He was picked up off of waivers by the Pirates on July 27, 2019, coming over from the Seattle Mariners. Markel made his big league debut that season with the Mariners, pitching 4.2 innings over five appearances. He allowed nine runs on ten hits and four walks. After joining the Pirates, Markel made 15 appearances and threw 17.1 innings. He had a 5.71 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP, with 21 strikeouts. After the season, he was sold to the Los Angeles Angels. He has not pitched in the majors in 2020 as of this writing.  He was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 32nd round in 2009, but didn’t sign until 2010 when the Tampa Bay Rays selected him in the 39th round. After becoming a minor league free agent in 2016, he signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and also pitched independent ball before joining the Mariners.

Rich Robertson, lefty reliever for the 1993-94 Pirates. He was a ninth round pick by the Pirates in the 1990 draft out of Texas A&M. Robertson was drafted 23 rounds later by the San Diego Padres in 1989, but chose not to sign. He was always a starter in the minors (except in 1999), but when he joined the Pirates in both 1993 and 1994, it was in a relief role. Robertson pitched two early season games for Pittsburgh in 1993, making his debut on April 30th. He was then recalled in September, pitching another seven times. He threw a total of nine innings, with six runs allowed. In 1994, he was called up in mid-July and saw more time on the mound, getting extended outings during blowout games. In eight appearances through early August, he threw 15.2 innings, giving up 12 runs on twenty hits and ten walks. The Pirates put him on waivers in November and he was picked up by the Minnesota Twins. Robertson pitched four more years in the majors, two of them as a regular in the Twins rotation. He made 57 starts between the 1996-97 seasons, going 15-29 with an ERA well over 5.00, though he did lead the AL in shutouts (three) that first year. He finished his career in the minors in 2000, briefly making an unsuccessful return to the Pirates system during the 1999 season.

Dennis Moeller, lefty reliever for the 1993 Pirates. The Pirates acquired Moeller from the Kansas City Royals along with pitcher Joel Johnston on November 19, 1992 in exchange for Jose Lind. He pitched ten games in relief for Pittsburgh, getting hit hard in five of those games. Moeller lasted with the Pirates from Opening Day until the end of May, finishing with a 9.92 ERA in 16.1 innings. He was let go after the season and re-signed with the Royals but never made the majors again. Before joining the Pirates, his only Major League experience was five games (four starts) for the 1992 Royals. He went 0-3, 7.00 in 18 innings. The Royals had drafted him the 17th round of the 1986 amateur draft. While Moeller didn’t pick up a win in Kansas City, and his brief time in Pittsburgh went poorly, he was able to pick up his only big league win on April 15, 1993. That day he threw two scoreless innings against the San Diego Padres, as the Pirates won 5-4 in 13 innings.

Dave Pagan, reliever for the Pirates on September 27, 1977. The Pirates acquired Pagan from the Seattle Mariners on July 27, 1977 in exchange for pitcher Rick Honeycutt. Pagan ended up pitching just one Major League game after the trade, while Honeycutt began his Major league career that August and it lasted 21 seasons. Pagan’s one appearance for the Pirates came in the sixth inning of a late-season game the Pirates were losing 7-1 to the Mets. In his first inning, he struck out the side, then punched out the first batter he saw in the seventh inning. Pagan finished the game by retiring five of the last six batters he faced, allowing just a single to Lee Mazzilli. That three inning scoreless appearances ended up being his last game. He remained in the Pirates system until 1979, which was his last year of pro ball. Prior to joining the Pirates, he pitched parts of five seasons (1973-77) in the majors, appearing with the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and the Mariners. Pagan went 4-9, 4.96 in 85 big league games, making 18 starts.

Fritz Ostermueller, lefty pitcher for the 1944-48 Pirates. The Pirates purchased him on June 1, 1944 from Syracuse of the International League. He had been with the Brooklyn Dodgers to start the season, but he was sold to Syracuse after Brooklyn put him on waivers and no one put a claim on him. He refused to report and was put back on the market, where Pittsburgh was able to purchase his contract. Ostermueller was in his 11th season in the majors, with a record standing at 65-73, four times winning at least ten games in a season, the last time coming in 1939. He went right into the Pirates rotation and pitched the best ball of his career over the rest of the 1944 season. Ostermueller went 11-7, 2.73, throwing 204.2 innings. He missed three months of the 1945 season after he was called into service during WWII. He returned to the Pirates in August of 1945, and while that season finished slow, he was back to his 1944 form the next year. Ostermueller went 13-10, 2.84 in 1946, leading the Pirates in wins, as they finished with a 63-91 record that season. The Pirates were just as bad in 1947, but Ostermueller still finished 12-10, again leading the team in wins. At the age of 40 in 1948, he went 8-11, 4.42 in 134.1 innings. The Pirates released him at the end of the season, ending his playing career. He went 49-42, 3.48 in 118 games for the Pirates, finishing his big league career with 114 wins. He also won 110 minor league games.

Elmer Cleveland, third baseman for the 1888 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. On June 16, 1888 the Alleghenys traded third baseman Art Whitney to the New York Giants for Cleveland. Whitney was a holdout that season, so Pittsburgh had to move him or they would’ve ended up getting nothing. In thirty games for the Alleghenys, Cleveland hit .222 with nine RBIs and ten runs scored. His defense was well-below average, making 14 errors. On August 29th, he hit two homers against Mark Baldwin of the Chicago White Stockings, his only two homers while with the team. It was the second and third time he homered off Baldwin that year, with the first one coming in early May, which was also his first Major League homer. The odd part about that success against Baldwin was the fact that Cleveland only hit four career home runs. Cleveland’s time in Pittsburgh ended on September 13, 1888 when he asked for his release so he could go home early for the off-season, starting that he tired from the wear and tear of the season and not able to play up to his full potential. He asked for his release prior to the game that day, played the game, then the Alleghenys released him afterwards, immediately signing local player Pete McShannic to take his place for the final 26 games. He returned to the minors in 1889, playing two seasons before finishing his Major League career in 1891 with the Columbus Solons of the American Association. Cleveland’s only other Major League experience came in 1884 for the Cincinnati Outlaw Reds of the Union Association, a short-lived Major League that was well below the level of competition that the AA or NL provided. He hit .322 that year, with 24 runs scored in 29 games. Elmer was the cousin of U.S. President Grover Cleveland, who was in officer during most of his pro career.