This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: September 16th, Willie Stargell Debuts

Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a significant debut of note.

Michael Martinez, utility player for the 2014 Pirates. In the middle of his seven-year big league career split with five different teams, Martinez spent one season with the Pirates. He was signed as a minor league free agent in December of 2013 and left via free agency right after the 2014 season ended. He spent most of the year in Triple-A, but he also played 26 games for the Pirates. Martinez hit .128 in Pittsburgh, going 5-for-39 with a double, two RBIs and four walks. In 294 big league games, he finished with a .194/.243/.261 slash line. He played every position except catcher and first base during his career. For the Pirates, he played all three outfield spots and second base. Martinez was still active during the 2019 season, playing independent ball and then winter ball in the his country (Dominican Republic).

Brandon Moss, outfielder for the 2008-10 Pirates. He was an eighth round pick out of high school in 2002 by the Boston Red Sox. Moss made his debut in 2008 and by the middle of 2008 he was traded to the Pirates in the Jason Bay deal. Moss hit .291 with two homers in 49 games for the Red Sox. He played 45 games for the Pirates during his first season, hitting .222, with six homers and 23 RBIs. Moss was the starting right fielder for most of the 2009 season. He hit .236 in 133 games, with seven homers and 41 RBIs. In 2010, he was down in Triple-A most of the year, where he hit 22 homers and drove in 96 runs. He played just 17 games for the Pirates, putting up a .154 average. After the season, he was released. Moss signed with the Philadelphia Phillies and barely played in 2011. He split the 2012 season between Triple-A and the Oakland A’s, but he managed to hit .291 with 21 homers in 84 big league games. Moss showed power each of the next four seasons, though it came with a low average and poor defense.  He wound up his career in 2017, hitting 160 homers in 1,016 Major League games. He hit 145 homers over his final six seasons. Despite the power, his final career WAR finished at 5.0 in 11 seasons.

John Ericks, pitcher for the 1995-97 Pirates. He was a first round pick of the St Louis Cardinals in the 1988 draft. He was a top 100 prospect in baseball prior to the 1990 and 1991 seasons, but he hit a real stumbling block at Double-A. The Cardinals released him after the 1992 season and he signed a minor league deal that winter with the Pirates. Ericks was injured during the entire 1993 season. He returned in 1994 and split his season between High-A and Double-A, making 16 starts and 12 relief appearances. By the following June, he was making his big league debut. In 18 starts and one relief outing for the 1995 Pirates, he went 3-9, 4.58 in 106 innings. Ericks pitched mostly in relief in 1996, splitting the season between the majors and Triple-A. For the Pirates, he went 4-5, 4.79 in 46.2 innings. The 1997 season was more of the same, though he also spent time on the disabled list. He pitched very poorly in the minors, but he had success in his ten relief appearances with the Pirates, allowing two runs over 9.1 innings. Ericks was released after the season and he signed with the Cleveland Indians for 1998, but he never pitched in pro ball again. He had a 4.78 ERA in 162 innings, making 22 starts and 35 relief appearances.

Scott Medvin, reliever for the 1988-89 Pirates. He was originally signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Detroit Tigers in 1983. Medvin was traded to the San Francisco Giants in 1985, who then traded him to the Pirates two years later in a deal for Rick Reuschel. He made his big league debut with the Pirates in May of 1988. While he didn’t stick in the majors, Medvin had 17 appearances that season, going 3-0, 4.88 in 27.2 innings. He saw less time in Pittsburgh in 1989, making five April appearances before being sent to the minors for the rest of the season. He was selected in the Rule 5 draft by the Houston Astros during the 1989-90 off-season, but he was returned to the Pirates before the season. Pittsburgh then traded him to the Seattle Mariners to acquire pitcher Lee Hancock. Medvin pitched five times for Seattle, in what ended up being his last Major League action. He spent his last three seasons playing pro ball in Mexico. In 23 appearances with Pirates, he had a 5.03 ERA in 34 innings.

Mark Parent, catcher for the 1995 Pirates. He was a waiver pickup from the Chicago Cubs after the 1994 season and was returned to them during the 1995 season. In between he played 69 games for the Pirates. Parent hit .232 with 15 homers and 33 RBIs. He played 13 years in the majors total, seeing time with seven different teams. Parent hit 18 homers total during the strike-shortened 1995 season and never hit more than nine in any other season. He finished as a .214 hitter, with 53 homers and 168 RBIs in 474 games. He was originally signed by the San Diego Padres as a fourth round draft pick out of high school in 1979. It took him seven years before he debuted in the majors and he played sporadically in the minors through the 1993 season, finally sticking in the majors for good in 1994.

Chuck Brinkman, catcher for the 1974 Pirates. He was purchased from Chicago White Sox in July of 1974 and went 1-for-7 in four games. Those turned out to be his last games in the big leagues. The Pirates needed a catcher to replace the injured Mike Ryan, who was serving as the backup to Manny Sanguillen. Brinkman didn’t make his first appearance until 18 days after being acquired. After Ryan returned in August, Brinkman was sent to Triple-A, where he played the final 12 games of his pro career. The Pirates tried to trade him to the Minnesota Twins in the off-season, but he decided to retire instead. Brinkman was a 1966 draft pick of the White Sox. He spent six years in the majors with Chicago (1969-74), playing a career high 63 games during the 1973 season. He was a career .172 hitter in 149 games, with one homer and 12 RBIs. He was a solid defensive catcher, who made 81 starts and was used as a defensive replacement 66 times. His brother Ed Brinkman played 15 years in the majors and was also known more for defense than his bat.

Con Dempsey, pitcher for the 1951 Pirates. The Pirates purchased the 28-year-old Dempsey from the San Francisco Seals (PCL) following the 1950 season. He was returned to San Francisco in early May of 1951 after he posted a 9.00 ERA in two starts and one relief appearance. He actually pitched well in the relief outing, throwing two shutout innings. That ended up being his only big league experience.  According to reports, Dempsey was a sidearm pitcher and Pirates GM Branch Rickey tried to get him to throw overhand instead, which didn’t work. Dempsey began his pro career in Salt Lake City in 1947 and ended it in Oakland in 1953. In between he pitched for years for San Francisco. He won 16 games in his first season, then followed it up with 16 wins in 1948 and 17 wins in 1949. He also got a trial with the Philadelphia Phillies, which didn’t pan out. Before playing pro ball, he served four years in the Navy during WWII and was a highly decorated soldier.

Sam Moran, pitcher for the 1895 Pirates. He was a 24-year-old, lefty-throwing rookie, who joined the Pirates in August of 1895. Moran started his pro career in Altoona in 1893 and played the following two seasons for Nashville of the Southern Association. He struggled in his late-season trial with the Pirates, but they gave him plenty of chances to show his stuff over that last month of the season. His first start came two days after his debut in relief. On August 30th, during the second game of a doubleheader, Moran faced the powerhouse Baltimore Orioles team, winners of three straight NL pennants (1894-96). He got no support on offense and was defeated 10-0. Moran made six starts and four relief appearances that season for the Pirates, going 2-4, 7.47 in 62.2 innings, with 78 hits allowed and 51 walks. That turned out to be his only big league experience. He was back in the minors in 1896 and 1897. He passed away at 26 years old in August 1897 from chronic nephritis (kidney failure).

The Game

Our first ever Game Rewind article covered the Major League debut of the great Willie Stargell, which happened on this date in 1962. You can read the full recap here. Stargell had a chance to win the game, coming up with Bill Mazeroski on second base and a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the tenth inning. He struck out for the second out, before Smoky Burgess hit a walk-off homer.