Three former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus two transactions from the 1942 season.
Orlando Merced, 1B/RF for the 1990-96 Pirates. He played on three straight NL East championship teams, though his best seasons came with the 1993-96 clubs. He finished second in the 1991 NL Rookie of the Year voting when he hit .275 with ten homers and 50 RBIs in 120 games. Merced hit .283 with 65 homers, 394 RBIs and 396 runs scored in 776 games with the Pirates. He played a total of 13 years in the majors, hitting .277 with 103 homers.
Merced was signed as an amateur free agent by the Pirates in 1985 and he struggled his first two seasons of pro ball before missing most of 1987, getting into just eight games. In 1988-89 he moved from Low-A to Triple-A, hitting .341 in 35 Triple-A games to end the 1989 season. He started 1990 in the minors again, but got a late June call-up to the big leagues. Merced was sent down after one month, then returned for the end of the season. He played in 25 games that year for the Pirates, all of them as a pinch-hitter, batting .208 with one walk and one double.
In 1991 Merced finished second to Jeff Bagwell in the Rookie of the Year voting, getting the only first place vote that Bagwell didn’t receive. He played in 120 games, scored 83 runs, drove in 50 and batted .275 with 64 walks. He went just 2-for-9 in the playoffs that postseason, hitting a home run in game three for his only RBI. The 1992 season saw Merced get into 134 games, with a slight dip in overall production from his rookie year, although he did drive in 60 runs. In the playoffs he struggled again, going 1-for-10 and giving him a .158 average in the playoffs with the Pirates.
Merced hit a career high .313 with 77 walks and 70 RBIs in 1993. He slipped a little during the strike season of 1994, but came back strong in 1995 playing almost everyday and hitting .300 with a career high 83 RBIs. The following season was just as strong, hitting .287 with a career high 17 homers and 80 RBIs. Following the season he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays along with Dan Plesac and Carlos Garcia in exchange for six players, the best among them being Craig Wilson, Jose Silva and Abraham Nunez. Merced hit .283 in a Pirates uniform with 65 homers and 394 RBIs over his 776 games.
After leaving the Pirates, he jumped around a lot to finish his big league career. He spent one season in Toronto, then split the 1998 season between the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Minnesota Twins, playing a total of 72 games. He spent 1999 with the Montreal Expos, played in Japan in 2000, then served as a bench player for the 2001-03 Houston Astros. After his Major League career was over, he played two winters in his native Puerto Rico. Merced hit .277 in 1,391 big league games, with 103 homers and 585 RBIs.
Gary Hargis, pinch-runner for the 1979 Pirates. He played the smallest part on the World Series winning Pirates team, coming into one game as a pinch-runner for Tim Foli in the 13th inning of the next-to-last game of the season. There were two outs at the time and Hargis moved up to second base on a Dave Parker infield single. Willie Stargell then struck out and that was his entire big league career. He lasted eight year in the Pirates system after being drafted in the second round of the 1974 draft. Hargis was actually called up to the Pirates on September 1, 1979, exactly four weeks before his only game. He was one of seven players called up that day and four of them never got into a game that season. Three of them played in the majors at other points, but catcher Harry Saferight spent a month of the bench without a game, and never played a big league game. In Spring Training of 1979, Hargis was the last man cut before Opening Day. In 1980, he was cut four days before Opening Day. An arm injury after a move to the outfield likely cost him a shot at a second chance in the majors that September. After spending all of 1981 in the minors, Hargis vetoed a trade to the Kansas City Royals in April of 1982 and asked for his release instead. He never played pro ball again.
Frenchy Genins, utility player for the 1895 Pirates. He had a long career in pro ball, playing from 1887 until 1909, though he only played 149 games in the majors. The 1895 season in Pittsburgh was his best, as he batted .250, while getting into 73 games. He played every position that year except pitcher and catcher. The Pirates used just four outfielders that entire season and Genins served as the backup for the three starters.
Genins began his pro career at 20 years old in 1887. He spent his first five seasons in the minors, four of those years in Sioux City. He debuted in the majors in 1892 with the St Louis Browns, playing one game. He would then play for the Cincinnati Reds, before returning to St Louis, while also seeing some brief minor league time. Illness kept him out of baseball during the second half of 1892 and he played semi-pro ball in St Louis during the 1893 season. He was better in 1894 and managed to hit .374 in 126 games for Sioux City of the Western League with (get ready for these numbers) 166 runs scored, 67 extra-base hits and 86 stolen bases. The Pirates had him signed to an 1895 contract by November of 1894. They acquired him from Sioux City late in the 1894 season, though he was allowed to stay with his team until the end of their season, which was approximately the same time the season ended in Pittsburgh.
The Pirates sent him to the minors in 1896, first playing for Grand Rapids, before being sent to Columbus of the Western League. He was still with Columbus in 1897 when he was once again purchased by the St Louis Browns. He remained in the minors until 1901, when he got a job with the Cleveland Blues (Indians) in the first year of the American League (as a Major League). Genins batted .228 in 26 games, in what ended up being his final big league time. He remained in the minors until 1909 without another chance. After his playing career, he had a brief attempt at umpiring in the minors. He was dismissed during his first season in 1910, then got run out of the game by angry fans in June of 1911, who tried to drown him in a pond after a series of bad calls (seriously).
On this date in 1942, the Pirates selected pitchers Wally Hebert and Ed Albosta in the Rule 5 draft. Hebert was playing in the minors at the time, nine years removed from a three-season stint with the St Louis Browns. He had quite a comeback season to the majors, going 10-11, 2.98 in 184 innings for the Pirates. Despite the success, he retired after the season. Albosta ended up missing three years due to WWII before he ever played for the Pirates. He returned in 1946 and went 0-6, 6.13 in six starts and 11 relief appearances.