Six former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date.
Donald Veal, pitcher for the 2009 Pirates. He was a Rule 5 draft pick of the Pirates in 2008, who pitched 19 times for the 2009 Pirates. He had a 7.16 ERA in 16.1 innings, with 20 walks and 16 strikeouts during his time in Pittsburgh. Veal was a hard-throwing minor leaguer for the Chicago Cubs, who always had control issues. When he was selected by the Pirates, he had made it as far as Double-A for two full seasons, where he pitched 275.2 innings as a starter. After the 2009 season, the Pirates sent him to the Arizona Fall League, where he worked as a starter. He was still with the Pirates in 2010-11, but he was injured for part of that time and never made it back to the majors. After leaving the Pirates via free agency after the 2011 season, he signed with the Chicago White Sox and pitched three years in their bullpen, posting a 4.10 ERA in 81 appearances. He then pitched briefly for the 2015 Atlanta Braves before finishing his pro career in the minors.
Jody Gerut, outfielder for the 2005 Pirates. He played four games for the Pirates after they acquired him at the 2005 trade deadline from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Matt Lawton. He hit .222 and drove in two runs. Gerut began that season with the Cleveland Indians, his third year in the majors. He was dealt to the Cubs just 13 days before the Pirates acquired him. Gerut had knee surgery before the 2005 season and he injured his knee in his fourth game with the Pirates. He appeared to be fine in Spring Training in 2006, but then he complained about the knee injury again when the Pirates tried to send him to Triple-A to begin the season. It caused a grievance between the two sides, which resulted in Gerut agreeing to go to Extended Spring Training. A month later, it was decided that he needed surgery and that put him out for the season. He was released by the Pirates during Spring Training in 2007. In 2008, he signed with the San Diego Padres and hit .296 with 14 homers in 100 games. He saw a dip in his production in 2009, splitting the year between the Padres and Milwaukee Brewers. He played briefly for the Brewers in 2010, then retired. Gerut hit 22 homers as a rookie for the 2003 Indians.
Roger Mason, relief pitcher for the 1991-92 NL East champs. Had a 3.82 ERA in 117.2 innings over 89 appearances with the Pirates, helping them to two postseason appearances. Mason originally signed with the Detroit Tigers as a non-drafted free agent out of college in 1980. It took four years before he made his debut, and it was with the 1984 World Series winning Tigers. Right before Opening Day in 1985, he was traded to the San Francisco Giants. He remained there for three seasons (four years) before becoming a free agent after the 1988 season. Mason pitched just two big league games during the 1988-90 seasons (1989 Houston Astros). That 1990 season was spent at Triple-A for the Pirates. In 1991, he split the year between Triple-A and the majors, making a total of 15 starts and 43 relief appearances. His 3.03 ERA in 29.2 innings with the Pirates earned him a 1992 spot, and he went on to make 65 relief appearances, posting a 4.09 ERA in 88 innings. During the two postseasons with the Pirates, he threw a total of 7.2 scoreless innings. Mason was released after the 1992 and played for the San Diego Padres, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies over his final two years (1993-94) in the majors.
Ken Brett, starter for the 1974-75 NL East champs. Brett had a 3.30 ERA and won 13 games for the 1974 Pirates. The next year, he had a 9-5 record and a 3.36 ERA over 118 innings. In the playoffs, he pitched 2.1 innings in relief each year, allowing two runs in 1974 and throwing shutout ball in 1975. After the 1975 season, he was traded to the New York Yankees in the disastrous Doc Medich deal, which including Dock Ellis and a young Willie Randolph also going to New York. Brett was traded shortly after joining the Yankees, but he had a strong season with the Chicago White Sox and continued on to pitch five more years in the majors. The Pirates originally acquired Brett from the Philadelphia Phillies in a straight up deal for Dave Cash after the 1973 season. In his 14-year career, which started with the 1967 Boston Red Sox, Brett posted an 85-89, 3.93 record in 184 starts and 163 relief appearances. He pitched a total of 1,526.1 innings in the majors. He is the brother of Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett. They were teammates on the Royals in 1980-81.
Harvey Haddix, pitcher for the 1959-63 Pirates. He won 45 games for the Pirates and 136 games during his 14-year career, though he is best known for a game he didn’t win. Haddix threw 12 perfect innings against the Braves on May 26, 1959, but he lost the game in the 13th inning. The boxscore can be found here. He joined the Pirates in a seven-player deal with the Cincinnati Reds prior to the 1959 season. Haddix was a three-time All-Star for the 1953-55 St Louis Cardinals, winning 50 games and throwing 700+ innings during that stretch. In 1958 for the Reds, he went 8-7, 3.52 in 184 innings and won his first of three straight Gold Glove awards. His best season with the Pirates was 1959 when he had a 3.13 ERA in 224.1 innings. He went 11-10, 3.97 in 172.1 innings for the 1960 champs. Haddix won game five of the series as a starter and he was the winning pitcher in the epic game seven victory. After a 4.10 ERA in 156 innings in 1961, and a 4.20 mark in 141.1 innings in 1962, Haddix moved to the bullpen in 1963. He excelled in the role, posting a 3.34 ERA in 70 innings over 45 appearances. He was traded to the Baltimore Orioles following the 1963 season and spent his last two year of pro ball in the Baltimore bullpen. After retiring as a player, he returned to the Pirates as a coach, first in the minors, then years later as the big league pitching coach, returning to Pittsburgh in 1979 for six years.
Heinie Groh, third baseman for the 1927 Pirates. Signed mid-season, he played the last 14 games of his 16-year career with the Pirates. Groh started a stretch of games at third base in July, then only played two games over the final two months of the season. He debuted with the Pirates just hours after he signed a contract on July 2nd. He was a superb fielding third baseman, who could also hit, batting .292 in his career. Twice led league in OBP, twice in doubles, once in runs and once in hits. Groh was a key contributor on four teams that went to the World Series and he also got an at-bat in the 1927 series with the Pirates. He compiled 48.1 WAR during his career, putting up positive WAR numbers on both offense and defense during each of his 12 full seasons in the majors. When the New York Giants won the 1922 World Series, he hit .474 in the postseason and scored four runs in the five-game series. He led the league in OPS (.823) in 1919, pushing the Cincinnati Reds to a title. In 1918, he led the league in doubles, runs scored and OBP. Groh never came close to getting elected to the Hall of Fame, but he did get votes in eight different years. His brother Lew Groh played for the 1919 Philadelphia Athletics.