There have been 14 former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including the man who caught the last out of the 1979 World Series.
Omar Moreno, outfielder for the 1975-82 Pirates. He signed as a 16-year-old out of Panama with the Pirates in 1969 and would play 25 games in the Gulf Coast League that year. Moreno spent seven seasons in the minors before making his debut in September 1975. He began the 1976 season in Triple-A, getting some brief big league time in June and July before finally making it to stay in early August. In 1977, he became the regular center fielder. While he hit just .240, he showed his value with his speed, stealing 53 bases, the fourth highest total in the National League. He had a low average again in 1978 (.235), but his speed, along with 81 walks, helped him score 95 runs and steal a league leading 71 bases.
The Pirates won the NL East in 1979 and Moreno was a big part of that team. He set career highs with a .282 average and 110 runs scored. He also led the NL in plate appearances, at-bats, and for the second year in a row, stolen bases (77). In the World Series he hit .333 with 11 hits, helping the Pirates win in seven games over the Baltimore Orioles. In 1980. Moreno led the NL in triples with 13 and also set a career high with 96 steals. He led all NL outfielders in put outs during both the 1979 and 1980 seasons.
Moreno played with the Pirates through the 1982 season before leaving as a free agent to sign with the Houston Astros. He would later play with the New York Yankees (1983-85), Kansas City Royals (1985) and Atlanta Braves (1986) before retiring. He played 944 games for the Pirates, batting .255 with 530 runs and 412 stolen bases. He is the Pirates all-time single season leader in plate appearances with 757 in 1979, and his 1978-80 stolen base totals are the three highest in team history. Only Hall of Famers Max Carey and Honus Wagner have more steals in a Pittsburgh uniform. Moreno ranks 42nd all-time with 487 steals.
Chris Bootcheck, pitcher for the 2009 Pirates. Bootcheck played seven years in the majors and posted a 6.55 ERA in 91 appearances. In his brief time with the Pirates, he had an 11.05 ERA in 13 appearances and 14.1 innings. He was originally drafted out of high school in the 17th round in 1997 by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He decided to attend Auburn, where he moved up to a first round pick in 2000 by the Anaheim Angels. Bootcheck debuted in the majors with the Angels in 2003, making one start and three relief appearances. He spent all of 2004 and most of 2005 in Triple-A, getting two starts and three relief appearances during the latter season. The 2006 season was much the season, though he pitched seven times for the Angels and all in relief. He moved to full-time relief in 2007 and stayed in the majors all season, posting a 4.77 ERA in 77.1 innings over 51 appearances. After a 10.13 ERA in 16 early seasons innings in 2008, he spent the rest of the season in the minors. He was granted free agency after the season and the Pirates signed him two months later. Bootcheck spent the first four months of the season in Triple-A, joining the Pirates in early August. He had rough numbers, though almost all of the damage came in two outings in which he gave up a total of 11 runs in 3.1 innings. The Pirates released him after the season and he spent 2010 in Japan and part of 2011 in Korea. Bootcheck signed with four different MLB teams from 2011-14, but his only big league game was one inning on June 14, 2013 for the New York Yankees.
Rafael Belliard, infielder for 1982-90 Pirates. He signed as an 18-year-old in 1980 and moved through the Pirates system quickly, making his Major League debut in September of 1982 after just 187 minor league games. However, he didn’t stick in the Major Leagues until the 1986 season. Belliard missed most of the 1984 season due to fracturing his left fibula twice. Through the 1985 season he had played just 50 games for the Pirates with a total of 43 plate appearances, but that sporadic play changed in 1986 when he played 117 games between shortstop and second base. In 1988 Belliard played 122 games and amazingly he hit four triples and no doubles or homers on the year. In fact, he didn’t have a single extra-base hit during his first four partial seasons (1982-85) with the Pirates and he ended up with just 26 total extra-base hits in Pittsburgh. Never confused with a power hitter, Belliard hit just one home run in 484 games with the Pirates. On May 5, 1987, Belliard homered off Eric Show for his only homer with the Pirates. Ten years later, while with the Atlanta Braves, he hit his only other career home run. He left the Pirates via free agency after the 1990 season and spent the final eight years of his career playing with the Braves. His cousin Ronnie Belliard played 13 seasons in the majors and had six games with two homers.
Junior Ortiz, catcher for the Pirates from 1982-83, and then again from 1985-89. Ortiz was signed as an amateur free agent in 1977 at 17 years old and spent six seasons working his way through the Pirates system before making his Major League debut on September 20, 1982. He played just seven games in 1982 and five games in the beginning of 1983 before the Pirates traded him to the New York Mets for Marvell Wynne. Following the 1984 season the Pirates took him in the Rule 5 draft, and for the next three years he would serve as Tony Pena’s backup. In 1986 Ortiz hit .336 in 49 games. When Pena was traded on April 1, 1987, Ortiz backed up Mike Lavalliere for two seasons. In 1989, Ortiz got the slight majority of the time behind the plate, batting .217 in 91 games. The Pirates traded Ortiz away just prior to the start of the 1990 season after they acquired Don Slaught. In his seven years in Pittsburgh he hit .264 over 299 games. He played a total of 13 seasons in the majors (1982-94), hitting .256 in 749 games. Ortiz hit five homers in his career, all while he was with the Pirates. He had 745 at-bats for the Pirates and 1,149 while playing elsewhere.
Dave Johnson, pitcher for the 1987 Pirates. He debuted in the majors with the Pirates, posting a 9.95 ERA in 6.1 innings over five relief appearances. He pitched another four seasons in the majors over the next six years, spending three seasons with the Baltimore Orioles (1989-91) and one year with the Detroit Tigers (1993). Johnson finished with a 22-25, 5.11 record in 57 starts and 20 relief appearances, throwing a total of 368 innings. He was a fifth round draft pick in 1981 by the Toronto Blue Jays out of Baltimore Community College, but he didn’t sign. The Pirates were then able to sign him as an amateur free agent in 1982. Johnson spent seven seasons in the Pirates system, though his big league time lasted just over two weeks in May/June of 1987. He was left go via free agency after the 1988 season. His son Steve Johnson pitched four seasons in the majors. Both father and son spent three seasons with the Orioles.
Reggie Walton, outfielder for the 1982 Pirates. He batted .200 in 13 games for the Pirates, in what ended up being his last big league experience. Walton played 56 games over three big league seasons during his 12-year pro career. He was a second round pick of the San Francisco Giants in the 1972 draft. He was released by the Giants prior to the 1977 season without making it to the majors. Walton signed with the Seattle Mariners eight months later after spending 1977 playing in Mexico, but he was released in April and returned to Mexico for the 1978 season. The Mariners decided to purchase his contract in October of 1978 and he spent the entire 1979 season in Triple-A, where he hit .322 in 122 games. Walton would debut in the majors the following June, batting .277 with two homers in 31 games. He saw brief time in 1981, batting just seven times in 12 games. The Pirates purchased his contract in early April of 1982 and he spent nearly a month in the majors, joining the club in mid-May and playing his final big league game on June 6th. He remained in the Pirates system through the end of 1983 before retiring.
Johnny Jeter, outfielder for the 1969-70 Pirates. He hit .310 during a brief trial as a rookie in 1969, then batted .238 in 85 games the following year, seeing most of his time in left field. Jeter spent 1971 in the minors before being traded to the San Diego Padres for Bob Miller in August. Besides his time with the Pirates, he also played for the 1971-72 Padres, 1973 Chicago White Sox and 1974 Cleveland Indians. Jeter was a .244 hitter over six seasons in the majors, finishing with a low average despite batting over .300 in three of those seasons. He hit .240 or less in each of his other three years, which also happened to be the three years he saw the most playing time. The Pirates originally signed him as a non-drafted free agent in 1964. He was taken by the Baltimore Orioles in the 1964 first-year draft on November 30, 1964, but he returned to the Pirates during the following March as a waiver pickup. He turns 76 today. His son Shawn Jeter played for the 1992 Chicago White Sox.
Bill Bell, pitcher for the 1952 and 1955 Pirates. He debuted at 18 years old, posting a 4.60 ERA in 15.2 innings over one start and three relief appearances. His only other big league appearance was one early season relief outing for the 1955 Pirates. Bell played seven years in the minors after signing at 17 years old in 1951. He received a five-figure bonus, which didn’t happen often prior to 1951. Despite walking more than a batter per inning in the minors, Bell was given a September trial in 1952 and he walked 13 batters in 15.2 innings. He was drafted into the Army during the off-season and missed the next two seasons during the Korean War. When he returned in 1955, he lasted just one game with the Pirates before being sent to the minors. The walk rate only got slightly better over the years in the minors, where he stayed until retiring in 1959. Bell passed away tragically at age 28 in 1962 due to a car accident, which put him in a coma for the final eight months of his life.
Cal Hogue, pitcher for the 1952-54 Pirates. He saw regular time as a rookie with the Pirates in 1952, then didn’t play much during the next two seasons, making three appearances each year. Hogue had 4.91 ERA in 113.2 innings with the Pirates, which was his entire big league career. He spent ten seasons in the minors over a 13-year period. He originally signed as a 17-year-old in 1945 with the St Louis Browns, but they released him after a knee injury. He was then signed by the Pirates and spent three seasons in their system until voluntarily retiring from the game for one year. He said that his limited usage in Low-A ball in 1950 caused him to leave the game. Despite missing the entire 1951 season, he returned in 1952 and jumped to Triple-A. It took just three months for him to earn a trip to the majors, where he went 1-8, 4.84 in 83.2 innings for a team that finished 42-112. The Pirates were only slightly better the next two years, but he saw limited time. Hogue was with the 1953 Pirates in April and late September, and the 1954 club in April only. He spent all of 1955 in the minors, retired, then returned for a brief stint in Triple-A in 1957, plus a short time playing in Mexico. He retired for good following the 1957 season. Branch Rickey said that he had a Major League fastball and a great curve.
Pete McClanahan, pinch-hitter for the 1931 Pirates. In seven games for the Pirates, he batted .500 with two walks in six plate appearances without getting into a game on defense. That ended up being his only big league experience in eight seasons as an outfielder in pro ball. He did well in Spring Training for the 1931 Pirates, making a late-spring push for a roster spot with homers in both games of a doubleheader on April 5th. McClanahan played his final big league game on May 28th, then was sold the next day to the Fort Worth Panthers of the Texas League. The Pirates originally purchased him from Shreveport of the Texas League on September 12, 1930, though he didn’t join the Pirates until the following spring. McClanahan debuted in pro ball briefly in 1926 and played his final game in 1933. He missed part of the 1929 season with a broken ankle, then quit baseball after the third game of the 1932 season due to another broken ankle. At the time he said that he didn’t need the money and two broken legs were too much for him. He played in 1933 according to Baseball-Reference, though no stats are available and his local paper said that he was out of baseball in April of 1933.
Heinie Smith, second baseman from Pittsburgh, who played for the 1899 Pirates. Smith played two seasons with the Louisville Colonels prior to joining the Pirates at the end of the 1899 season. An injury to starting second baseman Heinie Reitz opened up a spot for Smith to play every day with the Pirates. He hit .283 with 12 RBIs and nine runs scored in the last 15 games of the season. The Pirates were actually six games under .500 when he joined the team and finished three games over the mark, with a late season 11-2 (plus two ties) run with Smith in the lineup. He returned to the minors in 1900 and then return to the majors with the 1901-02 New York Giants (he was a player/manager in 1902) and 1903 Detroit Tigers. Even though his Major League career was over, he was far from done as a player. He played in the minors until he was 42, finishing up his career in 1914. Smith played 16 seasons total in the minors, compiling over 2,000 career games as a pro, plus he managed for nine seasons. In the majors, he was a .237 hitter, with three homers and 54 steals in 313 games.
Phil Routcliffe, outfielder for the 1890 Alleghenys. His only big league game was April 21, 1890. He went 1-for-4, with a run scored, RBI and a stolen base, while making all three plays in left field. He played seven seasons of minor league ball, retiring after the 1892 season. Routcliffe was signed prior to the 1890 season to help fill the void of Pittsburgh players leaving to join the newly-formed Player’s League. The Alleghenys were able to sign him despite a minor league team from Hamilton also claiming he signed for the 1890 season. In reality, he did sign with both teams, but Pittsburgh had his rights because Hamilton didn’t get his contract signed before a set deadline, nullifying the deal and making him a free agent able to sign with the Alleghenys. Routcliffe made the Opening Day roster and played in the second game of the season, then sat on the bench for the next four games. When the team left for their first road trip, Routcliffe was released, ending his big league career at 19 years old.
Jay Faatz, first baseman for the 1884 Alleghenys. He made his big league debut late in August with the 1884 Alleghenys, finishing the season as their everyday first baseman. He hit .241 in 29 games that year. Faatz played three more years in the majors (1888-90), seeing time in three different leagues. He played for the 1888 Cleveland Blues of the American Association, the 1889 Cleveland Spiders in the NL, and the Buffalo Bisons of the Player’s League, where he served as the player-manager to finish out the season. In the minors, Faatz would also see time as the player-manager for Syracuse in 1892 and 1894, and just as a manager in 1896, leading New Castle (PA,) of the Interstate League. He career in pro ball began in 1882 for an independent team, and then he spent two seasons with the Saginaw Greys of the Northwestern League before joining Pittsburgh.
Bill Kuehne, infielder for the Alleghenys from 1885 until 1889. He is one of 41 Major League players born in Germany and ranks second in most statistical categories to Glenn Hubbard among players in that group. Kuehne started his big league career as a member of the 1883-84 Columbus Buckeyes of the American Association, a short-lived franchise that produced the manager and five players who would make up a large part of the 1887 Pittsburgh Alleghenys in their first year in the National League. Kuehne joined Pittsburgh in 1885 and stayed with the team through the rest of their time in the American Association. When the Alleghenys jumped to the NL for 1887, Kuehne remained with the team. Although he wasn’t in the Opening Day lineup, he played 102 games that season and posted a .299 batting average.
In 1888, Kuehne was in the lineup every day for the Alleghenys, playing all 138 games, which led the NL. The team is actually credited with 139 games that season, but one game was forfeited and credited as a win for Pittsburgh. Kuehne was a regular again in 1889, but when the Player’s League was formed, he jumped to the PL and played with the Pittsburgh Burghers, along with most of his 1889 Alleghenys teammates. When the Player’s League folded after one season he was returned to the Alleghenys, though they cut him before Opening Day. Kuehne played two more seasons in the majors, finishing his career with a .232 average in 1,085 big league games. He hit .240 with ten homers and 92 steals in 558 games with the Alleghenys.