Seven Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including a member of the no-hitter club, two players from the 1909 World Series champs and one from the 1925 World Series team.
Nick Maddox, pitcher for the 1907-10 Pirates. He had a brief big league career, but he made it memorable. He pitched a shutout in his Major League debut on September 13, 1907, won his second start just three days later, and then exactly a week after his debut he threw a no-hitter over the Brooklyn Dodgers, winning 2-1. The Pirates had two no-hitters prior that went fewer than nine innings, but Maddox is the first no-hitter recognized by MLB in team history. He finished his rookie season 5-1, 0.83 in six starts, all complete games. The following season he established himself as a star, going 23-8, 2.28 for the second place Pirates. Maddox had a 13-8, 2.21 record in 203.1 innings for the 1909 champs. He tossed a complete game victory in game three of the World Series. Injuries curtailed his 1910 season and then he was sold to a minors, where he spent his final four seasons of pro ball. Maddox was in his second season of pro ball with Wheeling of the Central League, prior to joining the Pirates. The Pirates took him in the Rule 5 draft on September 1, 1906 and sent him to Wheeling for more seasoning. On August 22, 1907, he threw a no-hitter over Terre Haute. Exactly two weeks later, and just eight days before his big league debut, he threw a two-hit shutout. Before he could make another start, he was told to report to the Pirates, joining the club three days before his debut. Maddox mainly threw a fastball and changeup, saying that his curveball was just a third pitch that he showed batters occasionally so they knew he had one.
Scott Sauerbeck, reliever for the 1999-2003 Pirates. He went 19-15, 3.56 in 341 games with the Pirates, all as a reliever, with 319 strikeouts in 308.2 innings. He picked up five saves in Pittsburgh and threw at least 65 times in each of his first four seasons. Sauerbeck was a 23rd round draft pick of the New York Mets out of Miami of Ohio. After playing five seasons in the minors for the Mets, he was selected by the Pirates in the December 1998 Rule 5 draft. He was 27 years old at the time, but that didn’t take away from his outstanding rookie season. Sauerbeck posted a 2.00 ERA in 65 appearances, throwing a total of 67.2 innings. Despite the low ERA, he didn’t have the best control, and that would haunt him in the following seasons. He had a 4.04 ERA in 2000, with 61 walks in 75.2 innings. His walk rate dropped a little in 2001, but it was still high. That season he posted a 5.60 ERA in 62.2 innings. His best season happened in 2002 when he dramatically cut his walk rate. He posted a 2.30 ERA in 78 appearances, with 70 strikeouts in 62.2 innings. The Pirates traded him to the Boston Red Sox during the middle of the 2003 season and he struggled in the American League (6.48) before missing all of 2004 due to shoulder surgery. He played with the Cleveland Indians in 2005-06, before finishing his big league career with the 2006 Oakland A’s. He spent his last two seasons of pro ball in the minors.
Red Witt, pitcher for the Pirates from 1957-61. He went 1-2, 4.20 in six starts and four relief appearances during the 1960 season when the Pirates won their third World Series title. In five seasons in Pittsburgh, he was 10-13, 3.93 in 34 starts and 19 relief appearances. Witt had one outstanding season and the other five years combined were below average. In 1958, he made 15 starts and three relief appearances. He posted a 9-2 record, with a 1.61 ERA in 106 innings. That’s the fourth best single-season ERA among qualified pitchers in franchise history. He compiled a 4.0 WAR that season, then finished his six-year career with a total of 1.3 WAR. The Pirates acquired Witt (his actual first name was George) from the Brooklyn Dodgers as a minor league selection in the November 1954 Rule 5 draft. He was originally signed as an amateur free agent by the Dodgers in 1950 and he spent six seasons in the minors before his big league debut. Witt spent the 1951 season serving in the Marines. After spending his first five big league seasons with the Pirates, he was sold to the Los Angeles Angels shortly after the 1961 season ended. Witt split his final Major League season between the Angels and Houston Colt .45’s, before finishing his career in the minors in 1963.
Fred Brickell, outfielder for the 1926-30 Pirates. He hit .312 with 80 RBIs in 265 games while in Pittsburgh, playing alongside Hall of Famers Paul and Lloyd Waner. Brickell burst onto the scene at 19 years old as a late season addition from Wichita of the Western League. The Pirates paid at least $15,000 to acquire him, plus the promise to loan two players to Wichita in the future. He hit .345 in 24 games in 1926 after joining the Pirates in August. He was a backup during the 1927 season when the Pirates went to their fourth World Series. Brickell was 0-for-2 with a run scored in the series. He had his best season in 1928 when he hit .322 with 41 RBIs in 202 at-bats. The Pirates traded him near the end of the 1930 season to the Philadelphia Phillies for outfielder Denny Sothern. Brickell remained with the Phillies through the early part of the 1933 season, while Sothern lasted just 17 games in Pittsburgh. The upside for the Pirates in that deal is that Brickell saw a drop-off in his stats, batting .258 with one homer in 236 games with the Phillies. Just 26 years old at the time of his last big league game, he went to the minors and played a total of 75 games over two seasons before retiring from baseball. You can read much more on Brickell in this feature article. His son Fritz also played Major League ball, seeing 41 games over three seasons with the New York Yankees (1958-59) and Los Angeles Angels (1961).
Johnny Gooch, catcher for the Pirates from 1921 until 1928. He helped the Pirates to two National League titles and one World Series championship in his eight seasons in Pittsburgh. He hit .286 with 215 RBIs in 551 games for the Pirates, and he was a .280 hitter over his 11-year career in the majors. He threw out 45% of runners attempting to steal during his career. Gooch debuted in the majors in September of 1921 after spending his second season with Birmingham of the Southern Association. He hit .288 with 29 extra-base hits in 135 games during the 1921 season. His contract was purchased on September 7th to help replace starting catcher Walter Schmidt, who was out with an illness. With the Pirates, he batted .237 in 13 games. By 1922, he was their starting catcher. That first full season in Pittsburgh, Gooch played a career high 105 games and posted a .329 average, his only season eclipsing the .300 mark. When the Pirates won the World Series in 1925, he was a platoon catcher, hitting .298 in 79 games. He started just one game in the Series (game four) and he was a late defensive replacement in two other contests. He was behind the plate for the final pitch of the series, catching a called third strike for the win.
Gooch was in a similar platoon role in 1926, then he got the majority of the work in 1927, playing 101 games. During the World Series, he started two games and played in a third off of the bench. Gooch was unable to pick up a hit during either of his postseason appearances. Just two months into the 1928 season, he was sent in a trade to the Brooklyn Dodgers. He played in the majors until 1933, also seeing time with the Boston Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds. He continued two player pro ball in the minors, twice as a player/manager, seeing his last competition during the 1942 season at 44 years old.
Gene Moore, lefty pitcher for the 1909-10 Pirates. He had a small bit part during the 1909 season, debuting in late September for one relief appearance. Moore saw slightly more time in 1910, getting one start and three relief appearances. He had a 3.12 ERA in 17.1 innings. His only other big league time was with the 1912 Cincinnati Reds. Moore was in his second season on pro ball, playing for Dallas of the Western League, when the Pirates purchased his contract in late July of 1909. He went 16-14, 3.50 in 216 innings for Dallas that season. Despite being purchased in July, he didn’t debut until September 28th, when he gave up four runs in two innings during his only game. Moore pitched four times in 1910 between April 23rd and May 25th. By mid-June of 1910 he was pitching for New Britain of the Connecticut League. The Pirates sent him there in exchange for pitcher Lefty Webb. Moore remained under the control of the Pirates for a time after being sent down. He spent the 1911 season with Indianapolis of the American Association. After his brief stint with the 1912 Reds, Moore spent the next six seasons in minor league ball before retiring. His son, also named Gene Moore, had a 14-year career as an outfielder in the majors from 1931 until 1945.
Bill Phillips, pitcher for the 1890 Alleghenys. He went 1-9 in ten starts as a rookie in 1890 for the Alleghenys, then over the next eight years, he pitched just one season in the majors (Cincinnati Reds, 1895). From 1899 until 1903, he went 63-60 for the Reds, including a 17-9 record in 1899. The Alleghenys purchased him from a minor league team in Washington DC, where the 21-year-old right-hander had a 17-16 record. Phillips debuted on August 11th, the day after he joined the team, and gave up four runs in the first inning. He quickly settled down and threw shutout ball the rest of the way, winning 6-4. With a 1-9 record in ten starts, he obviously couldn’t match that first game feat. Phillips had his share of issues, but he was pitching for a team that won 23 games all season and they started off a lot better that season than they finished. He got them late when they went 4-43 after his debut. In fact, his win was the team’s only win in August (1-27). Phillips was reportedly released in late September, then pitched for the team again days later. He would be let go shortly after that game and was back in the minors by 1891.