A total of 12 former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including two Hall of Famers.
Pie Traynor, third baseman for the 1920-35 and 1937 Pirates. Considered to be the greatest third baseman in the first 100 years of baseball according to a 1969 centennial team voting, Traynor spent his entire career with the Pirates, 17 years as a player, and six seasons (1934-39) as a manager (457-406 record). His .320 career average ranks ninth in team history. He also ranks seventh with 1,941 games played, sixth with 1,183 runs scored, fourth with 2,416 runs scored, fifth with 3,289 total bases, sixth with 371 doubles, fourth with 164 triples and fourth with 1,273 RBIs.
Traynor was from the Boston area and tried out for both local major league teams with neither signing him, although the Red Sox liked him enough to recommend him to a team from Portsmouth, Virginia with the understanding that they would sign him when they thought he was ready. The owner of Portsmouth however had other ideas and he decided to sell Traynor. Both the Giants and Senators tried to sign him after he hit .270, but they would not match the high price the Portsmouth owner put on him. The Pirates ended up paying the $10,000 price tag after scouting him and they never looked back on that decision. Pie (first name was Harold) ended up hitting .212 in 17 games that year in his first taste of the majors. Traynor returned to the minors for the 1921 season. He would hit .336 in 131 games for Birmingham in 1921 before getting called up to the Pirates in September. He never return to the minors.
Traynor had a strong rookie season in 1922. He hit a career low .282, but still drove in 81 runs while scoring 89 times. It was just a sign on things to come for him, and 1923 proved to be quite a season. He hit .338 while driving in 101 runs, scoring 108 and leading the NL in triples with 19, while also adding a career high in both homers (12) and stolen bases (28). He slipped a little in 1924, hitting .294 with 82 runs and 86 RBIs, but he bounced back quickly. In 1925 the Pirates won the World Series and Traynor was a big part of that team. He hit .320 with a career high 114 runs scored, while driving in 106 runs. He also led all NL third baseman in putouts and assists. In the seven-game series he hit .346 with a homer and four runs batted in.
In 1927 the Pirates went to the World Series again and once again Traynor was a big part of that team. He hit .342 while driving in 106 runs and scoring 93 times. It was his third season of at least 100 RBIs up to that point, but it also started a streak of five straight seasons in which he passed the century mark in RBIs, driving in a total of 560 runs over that span. From 1925-33 he received MVP votes in all but one of those nine seasons. Amazingly the year he didn’t get any votes (1930), he hit .366 with 119 RBIs. The All-Star game was started in 1933 and Traynor made the team both years that he was still an everyday player. He was the Pirates manager from 1934-39, and although he never won an NL pennant, he finished with a winning record, plus a second place finish in 1938. Traynor made the Hall of Fame in 1948 and the Pirates retired his number 20 in 1972.
Rabbit Maranville, shortstop/second baseman for the 1921-24 Pirates. He hit .283 with 245 RBIs and 345 runs scored in 601 games with the Pirates. He played 23 years in the majors and recorded 2,605 hits. Maranville is considered one of the best defensive players in history, posting a 30.8 dWAR, which ranks seventh all-time. He is the all-time leader for putouts at shortstop and he has more assists than anyone in the history of baseball. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1954.
Rabbit (real first name was Walter) had already played nine seasons before he joined the Pirates in 1921, coming over from the Boston Braves in a trade for three players and cash. He was very strong on defense and had good speed, but he wasn’t much of a hitter during the deadball era. He carried a .251 average into the 1921 season and his career high for runs was just 79, while he topped 50 RBIs just once in his first nine years.
The trade to the Pirates, a better overall team that the Braves, helped Maranville set new career highs right away in runs scored (90), hits (180) and batting average with a .294 mark, plus he also drove in 70 runs that first year. It would get even better in 1922 when he topped his previous season’s average by one point while also scoring a career high 115 runs and collecting 198 hits. He also set single season Major League records at the time for at-bats with 672 and plate appearances with 747. Rabbit slacked on the offense side in 1923, but his defense was strong as he led NL shortstops in assists, putouts and fielding percentage. In 1924 he drove in 71 runs while also setting career highs with 33 doubles and 20 triples. Following the season the Pirates traded him along with Wilbur Cooper (the Pirates all-time win leader) and Charlie Grimm to the Chicago Cubs for Al Niehaus, Vic Aldridge and George Grantham.
Jason Grilli, pitcher for the 2011-14 Pirates. He went 3-11, 3.01 in 161.2 innings over 168 appearances with the Pirates, picking up 47 saves. He had an ERA under 3.00 in each of his first three seasons in Pittsburgh. Grilli played 15 years in the majors from 2000 until 2017. His father Steve Grilli was a Major League reliever for four seasons. Jason Grilli was originally drafted by the New York Yankees in the 24th round in 1994. He made the right decision to head to college and three years later the San Francisco Giants made him the fourth overall pick in the entire 1997 draft. He was traded to the Florida Marlins in 1999 and played a total of seven games for the 2000-01 Marlins. He then played for the 2004 Chicago White Sox, 2005-08 Detroit Tigers, 2008-09 Colorado Rockies and 2009 Texas Rangers. A knee injury caused him to miss all of 2010, Grilli was with the Philadelphia Phillies in the minors in July of 2011 when he was released. He signed the next day with the Pirates and he was around until being traded in June of 2014 to the Los Angeles Angels for Ernesto Frieri. In his career, he played for nine different big league clubs and threw 684.2 innings over 595 appearances.
Kyle McPherson, pitcher for the 2012 Pirates. He had an 0-2, 2.73 record in 26.1 innings over ten appearances (three starts) with the Pirates. His career was derailed by injuries and that one season in Pittsburgh ended up being his only big league season. McPherson was a 14th round draft pick in 2007 out of college by the Pirates. He was a surprise 40-man roster addition after the 2010 season, then his stats showed a strong improvement in 2011 and he was up in Triple-A by 2012. The Pirates called him up in late August and he did well to finish out the season. He made just two starts in Triple-A in 2013 before Tommy John surgery ended his season early. The Pirates tried rehab first, which didn’t work, so his surgery happened three months after his final game and cost him all of the 2014 season as well. The Pirates let him go after the 2014 season and he signed with the Tampa Bay Rays, where he pitched a total of 40 innings in the minors over the 2015-16 seasons. His last pro experience was in April of 2016.
JR House, catcher for the 2003-04 Pirates. He saw very limited time in his two season in Pittsburgh, going 2-for-10 in six games. House played parts of five seasons in the majors, getting into a total of 32 games. He was a fifth round draft pick of the Pirates out of high school in 1999. House developed into one of the top prospects in baseball during the 2001-02 seasons when Baseball America ranked him 21st (2001) and 41st overall. Injuries derailed him at that point and he played a total of 76 games during the 2002-03 seasons, including one game for the Pirates. House spent most of 2004 in the minors, joining the Pirates for five games. He needed another major surgery and it cost him all of 2005, when he decided to go back to college to play football. The Pirates released him and he resumed his baseball career in 2006. House spent most of 2006-11 in the minors, but he saw four games for the 2006 Houston Astros, 19 games for the 2007 Baltimore Orioles, then back in Houston for his final three big league games. He managed for four seasons in the minors for the Arizona Diamondbacks and was hired by the Cincinnati Reds in 2019 to be their third base coach.
Roberto Hernandez, pitcher for the 2006 Pirates. He posted a 2.93 ERA in 43 innings over 46 appearances with the Pirates before being traded mid-season. Hernandez played a total of 17 seasons in the majors, pitching 1,010 games. He recorded 326 saves, which ranks as the 18th most in big league history. He was an All-Star with the Chicago White Sox in 1996 and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 1999. Hernandez was a first round draft pick (16th overall) by the California Angels in 1986. It took him five years to make the majors and he was with the White Sox by that time. He made three starts in 1991, then never started again in the majors. In his first full season in 1992, he posted a 1.65 ERA in 71 innings. He was with the White Sox until 1997, then started skipping around the majors. From late 1997 until he joined the Pirates in 2006, he played for the San Francisco Giants, Devil Rays, Kansas City Royals, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets. The Pirates signed him as a free agent in December of 2005, then traded him (and Oliver Perez) to the Mets for Xavier Nady. Hernandez split his final big league season (2007) between the Cleveland Indians and Los Angeles Dodgers, giving him ten teams total during his career.
Rey Quinones, shortstop for 1989 Pirates. He hit .209 with three homers and 29 RBIs in 71 games in Pittsburgh. In four seasons in the majors, he hit .243 over 451 games. He was originally signed at 18 years old in 1982 by the Boston Red Sox as an amateur free agent out of Puerto Rico. Quinones made it to the majors briefly with the Red Sox in 1986 before being traded mid-season to the Seattle Mariners. The majority of his big league time came in Seattle, where he played 318 games over the 1986-89 seasons. He played a total of 275 games during the 1987-88 seasons. Quinones joined the Pirates on April 21, 1989 in a five-player deal that didn’t work out well for either team. He was released on July 22, 1989 and played winter ball that year, but his only other pro experience came during the 1999 season in independent ball.
Scott Loucks, outfielder for the 1985 Pirates. Went 2-for-7 in four games during his brief time with the Pirates. Prior to joining Pittsburgh, he played parts of four seasons with the Houston Astros, getting into a total of 69 games. Loucks was a fifth round draft pick out of college by the Astros in 1977. It took him just three years to make the majors, though he never played a full season during any of his five years. He was a September call-up in 1980 and played eight games without making a start. He had a similar experience in 1981, coming up in September for ten games. On the final day of the season, he got his first career start and picked up three hits. His best big league season was 1982, when he came up in late April and stayed until mid-June, then returned in September. Loucks started six of the final nine games that season, marking his most playing time over any short stretch. In 1983 he was a September recall and played just seven games. He split the 1984 season in Triple-A for the Astros and Montreal Expos, then joined the Pirates as a free agent signing on March 1, 1985. Most of his time was spent in Triple-A, other than four straight late May games. He was called up on May 24th and sent down on May 30th when the Pirates acquired infielder Johnnie LeMaster. Loucks did not play pro ball after the 1985 season.
Bob Long, pitcher for the 1981 Pirates. Had a 1-2, 5.95 record in three starts and two relief outings during his only season in Pittsburgh. His only other big league experience was 28 relief appearances for the 1985 Seattle Mariners. Long was drafted in the 17th round of the 1976 draft by the Pirates out of Shorter University in Georgia. It’s a school that has produced 15 draft picks over the years, but Long is the only player from that group to make the majors. While he was a starter during his first season in the minors, he pitched mostly in relief over the next four years. Long was moved back to starting in 1981 and he went 15-3, 2.98 in 157 innings at Triple-A, which earned him a September trial. He struggled the next season repeating Triple-A, going 5-13, 5.78 in 157.1 innings. The Pirates released him after the season and he signed with the Chicago White Sox, though they released him just three weeks later. He signed in May of 1983 with the Mariners and got called up in June of 1985 for the rest of the season. He had a 3.76 ERA in 38.1 innings. Long spent the next two seasons in the minors before retiring, playing for the Atlanta Braves in 1986 and the Baltimore Orioles in 1987.
Lee Howard, lefty pitcher for the 1946-47 Pirates. He was a September call-up in 1946, who made two starts and one relief appearance. Howard made two September appearances the following season. He missed three years (1943-45) due to serving in the Navy during WWII. When he passed away in 2018 at age 94, he was one of the oldest living former Pirates player. He had the nickname Lefty for obvious reasons. Howard had very little pro experience before joining the war effort at 19 years old. He pitched 154 innings for Hutchison of the Western Association in his first taste of pro ball in 1942. He also pitched 154 innings in 1946 before being called up by the Pirates on September 10th. He debuted as a starter 12 days later and allowed two runs over five innings. On September 29th, he took the tough loss when he allowed one run over eight innings. Howard spent most of 1947 with Selma of the Southeastern League, where he went 13-6, 3.00 in 165 innings. In late September, he played his final two big league games for the Pirates. Howard played until 1949 before retiring.
Charlie Hastings, pitcher for the 1896-98 Pirates. He began his Major League career with the 1893 Cleveland Spiders, going 4-5, 4.70 in 15 games, nine as a starter. He then spent the next two seasons in the minors, struggling badly in 1894 (7-20, 5.21) before turning it around in 1895, when he won 28 games for the Kansas City Blues of the Western League. In his three seasons with the Pirates, Hastings was used sparingly each year, getting occasional starts and seeing some relief work. The Pirates had star pitchers Pink Hawley, Frank Killen and Jesse Tannehill receiving most of the starts during his three seasons. Hastings got 36 total starts and 16 relief appearances for Pittsburgh, going a combined 14-24, 4.51 in 379.1 innings. His best ERA came during the 1898 season when he also pitched the most, 3.41 in 137.1 innings. The downside was his 4-10 record for a team that finished just under the .500 mark. During the previous season, his 5-4 record (with a 4.58 ERA) was the only winning record among the six pitchers the Pirates used all season. Hastings returned to the minors in 1899, playing pro ball until 1904, before retiring.
Hastings first start with the Pirates was an interesting one. On May 20, 1896, the Pirates played Brooklyn in Pittsburgh. Hastings wasn’t doing well in the first three innings, allowing two runs each frame. He was replaced for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the third and that is when things got interesting. It began to rain hard and the Pirates manager Connie Mack told his team to go easy in the field, hoping that the game would be called before it was official and would have to be replayed from the start the following time the two teams met (It was a getaway day for Brooklyn, while Pirates took on the Philadelphia Phillies the next day). So the Pirates replacement pitcher, Jot Goar came in and started lobbing the ball over the plate, Brooklyn caught on and tried to make outs of their own to make sure the game reached five innings but the Pirates anticipated the game being called as the weather got worse. It was never called much to the Pirates dismay, because the weather cleared up, leaving the Pirates in a 17-0 hole after five innings. When they realized the game was going to be official they began to play hard again. The Brooklyn pitcher, Bert Abbey, was told not to strain his arm though and with the score out of hand, he began lobbing the ball over the plate, allowing the Pirates to score six runs in the last two innings for a 25-6 final.
Joe Battin, third baseman for the 1882-84 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. Hit .205 in 175 games during his time in Pittsburgh. Battin led the league in games played with 98 in 1883. During the first season of Major League Baseball in 1871, he was the youngest player in the National Association. Battin played a total of ten seasons in the majors over a 20-year time-frame. His big league career ended in 1890, but his pro career wrapped up in 1894 at 40 years old. Besides the NL and the National Association, he also saw time in the Union Association and the American Association, making him one of the few players to play in four different Major Leagues. In 1876 for the St Louis Brown Stockings, he batted .300, which set a career high. Playing for the same team the next season, he batted .199 in 57 games, then didn’t play in the majors again until his time in Pittsburgh. During both the 1883 and 1884 seasons, two of the worst years in franchise history, Battin managed the team for 13 games each year. He was a player-manager in the minors during the 1885-86 seasons.