This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: September 17th, Sheriff and Wildfire

Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date. Before we get into them, current pitcher James Marvel turns 27 today. He made four starts last September for the Pirates and has been injured for most of this current season.

Sean Burnett, pitcher for the 2004 and 2008-09 Pirates. He was a first round pick out of high school, selecting by the Pirates 19th overall in the 2000 draft. He debuted in the majors and started 13 games for the 2004 Pirates before getting injured (Tommy John surgery), which cost him the entire 2005 season. Burnett went 5-5, 5.02 in 71.2 innings. He didn’t return to the majors until 2008, and by that time he was a reliever. He remained with the Pirates until June 2009, when he was sent to the Washington Nationals as part of the Joel Hanrahan trade. Burnett had a 4.54 ERA in 160.2 innings with the Pirates. He spent five seasons in Washington (not consecutive) and two seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, remaining in the majors until 2016. Burnett signed minor league deals with three different teams during the 2017-19 off-seasons, but he only pitched a total of 27 innings in the minors during that time. He had a career 3.52 ERA in 380 games and 378.1 innings over nine seasons.

Jim Umbricht, pitcher for the 1960 World Series champs. He played three series in Pittsburgh (1959-61), posting a 5.12 ERA in 51 innings. He had a 31-19 record in Triple-A during that same time period. Umbricht made three starts and 14 relief appearances for the 1960 Pirates, posting a 5.09 ERA in 40.2 innings. The Houston Colt .45’s (Astros) took him in the expansion draft after the 1961 season and he pitched well there for two year. Sadly, he developed cancer, and by Opening Day in 1964, he passed away at 33 years old. His jersey number is retired by the Astros. Umbricht was originally signed by the Milwaukee Braves. The Pirates acquired him in a minor league trade during the 1958-59 off-season. He was already 28 years old at the time and had no big league experience. Umbricht spent the 1954-55 seasons serving in the Army, which delayed his climb to the majors.

Bob Dillinger, third baseman for the 1950-51 Pirates. Hit .279 in 70 games for the Pirates, split over his two seasons. Dillinger was acquired via purchase from the Philadelphia Athletics in July of 1950 and he was sold to the Chicago White Sox ten months later. He did well for the 1950 Pirates, hitting .288 in 58 games, but he was batting just .233 through 12 games when they sold him to Chicago in 1951. Dillinger played six years in the majors total and he led the league in stolen bases three times and hits once. He debuted at 27 years old in 1946 with the St Louis Browns. In 1947, he hit .294 with 34 stolen bases and received some MVP support. The 1948 season was his big year, with .321 average, 207 hits, 110 runs scored and 28 steals. He finished 19th in the MVP voting that year. He hit .321 in 1949 and made his only All-Star appearance. So when he joined the Pirates, he was just a year removed from being an All-Star. Dillinger debuted in pro ball in 1939 and missed the 1943-45 seasons serving during WWII. After his final big league game in 1951, he spent another four seasons playing minor league ball. In 1953 for Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League, he hit .366 with 236 hits.

Sheriff Blake, pitcher for the 1920 Pirates. He had 8.10 ERA in six relief appearances for 1920 Pirates as a 20-year-old rookie. Prior to joining the Pirates, he had no prior pro ball experience. After his brief trial in Pittsburgh, he didn’t pitch in the majors until 1924. He was still property of the Pirates until being dealt to Seattle of the Pacific Coast League in December of 1922. Blake was acquired by the Chicago Cubs in December of 1923, and in eight seasons, he put together an 82-9, 3.95 record. The ERA sounds a little high, but the 1929-31 seasons were huge years for offense in baseball. He spent 1932-36 in the minors, then in 1937, he played for both St Louis teams. Blake won 228 games as a pro, playing a total of 21 seasons. His real first name was John.

Whitey Glazner, pitcher for the 1920-23 Pirates. He went 14-5, 2.77 in 234 innings in 1921, which was easily his best season in the majors. Glazner went 27-43 the rest of his career and finished with a 4.21 career ERA. He debuted in the majors in late September of 1920, days after his 27th birthday. He made two appearances for the Pirates that year, before putting together his big 1921 campaign. Glazner saw his numbers slide in 1922, going 11-12, 4.38 in 193 innings, with 26 starts and eight relief appearances. Just 30 games into the 1923 season, he was part of a large trade between the Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies. Glazner had a 3.30 ERA prior to the deal, but he went 7-14, 4.69 in 161.1 innings for the Phillies. He went 7-16, 5.92 in 1924 and then never pitched in the majors again. However, he spent another seven seasons in the minors, winning a total of 95 games. He had 206 wins during his pro career.

Wildfire Schulte,  outfielder for the 1916-17 Pirates He hit .239 in 85 games for Pirates near the end of his 15-year career in the majors. He was acquired in July of 1916 in a three-player deal with the Chicago Cubs. Schulte was hitting .296 with five homers in 72 games at the time of the deal. He batted .254 with no homers in 55 games over the rest of the 1916 season. In 1917, he hit .214 in 30 games, before being lost on waivers to the Philadelphia Phillies in June. In 1911, he became the first player to reach the 20-20-20-20 club, collecting 30 doubles, 21 triples, 21 homers and 23 stolen bases. That feat wasn’t matched again until 1957 by Willie Mays, and it’s only been done four times total in baseball history. Schulte was voted NL MVP that season. He led the league in homers (something he also did in 1910) and RBIs (107). He was a career .270 hitter in 1,806 games, with 92 homers, 233 stolen bases and 793 RBIs. He finished top ten in the NL in slugging percentage four times. His actual first name was Frank.

Otto Krueger, utility fielder for the 1903-04 Pirates. Hit .219 in 166 games for Pirates, seeing time at five different positions. He played 80 games for the 1903 NL champs, seeing most of his time at shortstop and third base. Krueger hit .246 that season and drove in 28 runs. The hitting slipped in 1904. He moved around more, getting 10+ starts at four different positions (RF/LF/SS/3B), so the versatility helped, but his .525 OPS did not. After the season, he was part of a five-player trade with the Philadelphia Phillies. Krueger hit .184 in his only season in Philadelphia, which ended up being his final big league season. He played in the minors until 1912. Before being acquired by the Pirates in an early 1903 trade with the St Louis Cardinals, Krueger led the league in games played in 1901 and errors in 1902. He debuted in 1899 with the worst team in baseball history, the 20-134 Cleveland Spiders.

Dick Padden, second baseman for 1896-98 Pirates. Hit .265 over 323 games with Pittsburgh, then was one of three players dealt to Washington Senators for star second baseman Heinie Reitz. Padden debuted in the majors with the 1896 Pirates. He joined the team in mid-July and hit .242 in 61 games that season. The next season he played 134 games and had a .282 average, with 84 runs scored, 58 RBIs and 18 stolen bases. In 1898, Padden played the same amount of time (128 games) but he saw a decline in his offensive stats. He finished with a .257 average and a .646 OPS. He was below average defensively with the Pirates, but by 1902 he was one of the best defenders in the American League. Padden played a total of nine seasons in the majors, hitting .258 with 132 steals and 423 runs in 874 games.