Six former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus one game of note.
Andrew McCutchen, center fielder for the 2009-17 Pirates. In his nine seasons in Pittsburgh, he hit .291 with 203 homers, 814 runs scored, 725 RBIs and 171 stolen bases. He was the 2013 NL MVP, a four-time Silver Slugger winner and a five-time All-Star. He ranks fourth in team history in homers, ninth in doubles, tenth in total bases, seventh in walks and seventh in extra-base hits. The Pirates drafted McCutchen in the first round in 2005, selecting him tenth overall out of Fort Meade HS. He shot through the lower levels of their system, reaching Double-A by the end of his first full season in pro ball. The Pirates then moved him slowly from there, letting him play a total of 201 games at Triple-A split over three seasons. McCutchen debuted on June 4, 2009 and he batted .286 with 12 homers and 22 stolen bases as a rookie.
In 2010, he repeated that .286 average, this time with 16 homers and 33 stolen bases in 154 games. McCutchen had his first All-Star season in 2011, hitting just .259, though it came with 34 doubles, 23 homers, 89 RBIs, 87 runs, 89 walks and 23 steals. He put together a big year in 2012, which led to a third place finish in the MVP voting. McCutchen hit for a career best .953 OPS, while leading the league with 194 hits. He set career highs with a .327 average, 31 homers, 96 RBIs and 107 runs scored. The MVP award came in 2013, when he led the Pirates to their first postseason/winning season since 1992. He hit .317 with 21 homers, 27 steals, 97 runs and 84 RBIs. Despite the 2013 season being his MVP year, McCutchen was better in 2012 and 2014, when he again finished fourth in the MVP voting. He led the NL with a .952 OPS in 2014, and his .410 OBP was also tops in the league. In 2015, he “only” finished fifth in the MVP voting. He set a career best with 98 walks and tied his previous RBI high of 96, set three years earlier. After a down year in 2016, McCutchen bounced back with 28 homers, 88 RBIs and 94 runs scored in 2017.
McCutchen was traded after the 2017 season and he has played for the San Francisco Giants, New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies since then. Career in 1,617 games, he is a .285 hitter, with 243 homers, 191 steals, 853 RBIs and 943 runs scored. He has a career 44.4 WAR, with 40.4 coming with the Pirates.
Gene Tenace, C/1B for the 1983 Pirates. In the last season of his 15-year career, Tenace hit .177 in 53 games for the Pirates. In 1,555 games, he hit 201 homers and twice led the league in walks. He was a 1975 All-Star and the 1972 World Series MVP. Tenace never hit for average during his career, but he made up for it with power and huge walk totals. He had six seasons with over 100 walks, twice leading the league. During that 1972 World Series, he hit four homers and drove in nine runs against the Cincinnati Reds, who defeated the Pirates in the NLCS. The part that made his series performance even more impressive is that he hit .225 with five homers during the regular season. That postseason performance carried over into 1973 when he started a string of four straight 20+ homer seasons. However, that postseason success in 1972 didn’t carry over into other playoff action during his career. Tenace hit just .127 with no homers in his last 29 playoff games. The Pirates signed him as a free agent shortly after the 1982 season ended and the released him right before Opening Day in 1984, which ended his pro career.
Myrl Brown, pitcher for the 1922 Pirates. He made it to the majors at age 27 and only lasted one season, debuting in August and throwing his final game 32 days later. Brown posted a 3-1, 5.97 record in 34.2 innings with the Pirates. He pitched in the minors from 1919 until 1928, saving his best performances for late in his career. Brown went 20-9, 3.00 in 1926 for Springfield of the Eastern League, then backed up that performance with a 22-9, 2.45 record in 1927. He joined the Pirates after going 15-11, 3.51 in 195 innings for Reading in 1922. Before Reading sold Brown to Pittsburgh, it was said that they also received offers from the Brooklyn Robins (Dodgers), New York (doesn’t specify Giants or Yankees) and the St Louis Cardinals, but the Pirates cash offer was the best. It was later announced that they paid $20,000 to acquire him, which at the time was a record for a player purchase from the International League. The scouting report on Brown said that he got the best of hitters by having an assortment of pitches, changing speeds and his delivery, occasionally throwing sidearm. The Pirates released him in July of 1923 after he suffered a Spring Training arm injury.
Homer Hillebrand, pitcher/catcher for the 1905-06 and 1908 Pirates. He was a two-way player who not only pitched 18 games for the Pirates (11 as a starter), but he also played first base, corner outfield and even caught three games. The three games caught are an interesting footnote in baseball history, because Homer threw lefty, one of four lefty catchers in Pittsburgh Pirates history. He went 8-4, 2.51 in 114.2 innings and batted .237 in 131 at-bats in his 47 career games. Despite the solid all-around stats, he pitched with an injured arm most of his career. He rested it the entire 1907 season, and then after pitching just one inning in 1908, he decided to retire. Homer and his brother Art were well-known athletes at Princeton University for baseball and football. Neither played during the 1904 season, despite agreeing to play for the Washington Senators. At the time, they said that they only agreed to play for Washington if they decided to play. The Pirates tried and failed to sign Art Hillebrand, who is in the College Football Hall of Fame. The Pirates were able to sign Homer in March of 1905.
Ad Gumbert, pitcher for the 1893-94 Pirate, and a lifelong resident of Pittsburgh. Gumbert began his Major League career in 1888 with the Chicago White Stockings. He spent four seasons in Chicago over a five-year period, jumping to the Player’s League in 1890, like most established players of the era did at that time. Gumbert won 23 games in the PL, then came back to the NL and went 17-11 in 1891 and 22-19 the next season. On June 27, 1893, the Pirates traded a young minor league pitcher named Bert Abbey to the White Stockings (by then called the Colts) in exchange for Gumbert, who had not played yet that season. He immediately joined the Pirates and made twenty starts the rest of the season, going 11-7, though his ERA was 5.15 over 162.2 innings.
The next season Gumbert struggled even more, but it was partially due to the new longer pitching distance that gave the batters a bigger advantage, raising offensive numbers across the league. Gumbert went 15-14, 6.04 in 271 innings, throwing 26 complete games. Before the 1895 season, the Pirates traded him to the Brooklyn Grooms for catcher Tom Kinslow. Gumbert played two more years in the majors before retiring, finishing with a 123-102 record. He wasn’t much of a strikeout pitcher during his time, walking 635 batters over his career, compared to 548 strikeouts. Gumbert was a strong hitter, who occasionally played outfield. He finished his career with a .275 average and 15 homers. His brother Billy Gumbert pitched for the Pirates/Alleghenys in 1890 and 1892, while their great-nephew Harry Gumbert pitched for the 1949-50 Pirates, giving the family the odd trio of three pitchers who each spent two seasons with the Pirates.
Dave Anderson, lefty pitcher for the 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. Someone had to pitch for the worst team in franchise history and Anderson was called on to make 13 starts for the 23-113 ball club that year. Anderson completed all 13 starts he made, finishing with a 2-11, 4.67 record. His first game with the team was a 1-0 loss to Hall of Famer Mickey Welch. Anderson also took the loss later in the year to another Hall of Famer pitching for New York, Jesse Burkett. Known as one of the best hitters of his time, Burkett had a 3-10 record as a pitcher that season, before the Giants decided he was better suited for the outfield, where he hit .338 career and won three batting titles. Prior to joining Pittsburgh during the 1890 season, Anderson had played two years with the Philadelphia Phillies (nicknamed the Quakers in 1889). He made a total of eight appearances for them, four as a starter, including a loss to the Alleghenys on May 28th of that 1890 season. He did not pitch in the majors again after the 1890 season, though he played at least one more year in the minors. He has no known baseball stats after 22 years old or prior to his big league debut, and he passed away at age 28 in Chester, PA.
On this date in 1960, the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the New York Yankees in game five of the World Series by a score of 5-2 in front of 62,753 fans at Yankee Stadium. With the win the Pirates took a 3 games to 2 lead in the series. Harvey Haddix, who won 11 games for the Pirates in 1960, started the game and went 6.1 IP allowing just two runs on five hits with six strikeouts against the powerhouse Yankees lineup. Elroy Face followed him with 2.2 scoreless innings to finish the game. He allowed just one baserunner, an 8th inning walk to Mickey Mantle. The Pirates scored four of their runs early, knocking two Yankees pitchers out before the third inning was over.
In the second inning, a one-out ground ball by Don Hoak to shortstop, with Smoky Burgess on second base and Gino Cimoli on third, turned into a run when Yankees third baseman Gil McDougald couldn’t handle the throw from shortstop Tony Kubek. That put runners on second and third again, and both of them would score on a Bill Mazeroski double to make it a 3-0 game. It also chased Yankees starter, Art Ditmar. One inning later, Roberto Clemente singled to drive in Dick Groat, who doubled ahead of Clemente. Don Hoak drove in the Pirates fifth run in the ninth inning with a single that scored pinch-runner Joe Christopher. The series would return to Pittsburgh for game six two days later.