This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: November 14th, Nine-Player Deal with Toronto Blue Jays

Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a major trade of note. Side note to this is that November 14th has one of the lowest total of MLB players born on this date with just 39 over the years. The odd part is that five of the first nine players born on this date started their career with the Pirates (the last five played listed below).

The Transactions

On this date in 1996, the Pirates traded Dan Plesac, Orlando Merced and Carlos Garcia to the Toronto Blue Jays for Jose Silva and two minor league players, plus three players to be named later. Silva was the only player with MLB experience acquired in the deal and he had just two games. Three of the players in the trade never made the majors, but the Pirates got some value out of Silva, Abraham Nunez and Craig Wilson, with the latter two joining the Pirates as PTBNL on December 11th. Plesac, Merced and Garcia were part of a cost cutting measure for the Pirates, as they tried to get their payroll down to $14,000,000 for the 1997 season. The Blue Jays didn’t get much value from their players, and only Plesac was still around after the 1997 season. Abraham Nunez was said to be the key to the deal, but he never reached his potential, posting a 1.1 WAR over eight seasons in Pittsburgh. Silva stayed around five seasons, though he had a -0.5 WAR for his time with the Pirates. Wilson wasn’t originally the key, but he ended up being the best player in the entire deal (after the trade that is). He had 94 homers and 282 RBIs for the Pirates over six seasons. The other three players were pitcher Jose Pett, infielder Brandon Cromer and pitcher Mike Halperin.

On this date in 1947 the Pirates purchased seldom used shortstop Stan Rojek from the Brooklyn Dodgers. During his first season in Pittsburgh, Rojek led the National League in games played, plate appearances and at-bats. He also finished tenth in the MVP voting, thanks in part to a .290 average with 85 runs scored. Rojek would play two more full seasons in Pittsburgh and part of 1951 before they traded him to the St Louis Cardinals for Rocky Nelson and Erv Dusak.

The Players

Xavier Nady, outfielder for the 2006-08 Pirates. He hit .301 with 36 homers and 152 RBIs in 269 games with the Pirates. He was acquired from the Mets at the 2006 trade deadline in exchange for Oliver Perez and Roberto Hernandez. Nady hit .300 in 55 games that season for the Pirates. In 2007 he played in 125 games for Pittsburgh, hitting .278 with 20 homers and 72 RBIs. He hit .330 in 89 games for the 2008 Pirates before being traded to the New York Yankees along with Damaso Marte in exchange for Ross Ohlendorf, Jeff Karstens, Daniel McCutchen and Jose Tabata. Nady  played 12 years in the majors, seeing time with eight different teams. In 961 games, he had a .268 average and 104 homers. He was a fourth round draft pick by the St Louis Cardinals out of high school in 1997, then three years later he was a second round pick of the San Diego Padres. Nady actually debuted in the majors during his draft season, collecting a single in a late-season pinch-hit at-bat. It took three years before he played his second big league game. He was a regular for most of 2003, then spent more than half of the 2004 season in the minors. The Mets acquired him in a trade just eight months before dealing him to the Pirates. After leaving the Pirates, Nady played for the Yankees, Chicago Cubs (2010), Arizona Diamondbacks (2011), Washington Nationals (2012) and San Francisco Giants (2012). He spent 2013 in the minors, playing for both the Colorado Rockies and Kansas City Royals, before finishing his career in 2014 with the Padres (in the majors) and Seattle Mariners (in the minors).

Paul Wagner, pitcher for the 1992-97 Pirates. He had a 26-40, 4.58 record in 536.2 innings with the Pirates, making 75 starts and 67 relief appearances. Wagner also pitched briefly for the Milwaukee Brewers (1997-98) and Cleveland Indians (1999). He was drafted by the Pirates in the 12th round of the 1989 amateur draft and made his big league debut as a spot starter in July of 1992. He was recalled in September, finishing with a 2-0, 0.69 record in six games that year. In 1993 he went 8-8, 4.27 in 17 starts and 27 relief appearances. He made 17 starts again in 1994 while also pitching some relief, finishing the strike-shortened season with a 7-8, 4.59 record. In 1995 he led the NL in losses, posting a 5-16 record. For a third straight season his ERA increased, this time to a 4.80 mark. Despite the poor record, he set a career high with 165 innings pitched. Wagner continued that downward trend in 1996, going 4-8, 5.40 in 15 starts. He pitched in the minors for part of 1997 and struggled, posting an ERA over 10.00 in 12 games in Double-A. He pitched 14 games out of the Pirates bullpen before he was released in late August. Wagner finished with a 26-40 4.58 record with the Pirates. Wagner pitched briefly in the minors for the New York Mets in 2001 before retiring.

Claude Willoughby, pitcher for the 1931 Pirates. He was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies in a three-player deal prior to the 1931 season and lasted just two starts and seven relief appearances with the Pirates. The 32-year-old Willoughby went 0-2, 6.31 in 25.2 innings in Pittsburgh. That ended up being his last season in the majors. On June 5, 1931, the Pirates sold him to the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League. He went 38-56, 5.83 in five seasons in Philadelphia before the trade on November 6, 1930 to the Pirates. The Phillies received Dick Bartell in the deal, while the Pirates got Willoughby and Tommy Thevenow. It was a one-sided deal, with the young Bartell going on to become a star player. The Pirates were banking on Willoughby turning things around after a tough 1930 season that saw him go 4-17, 7.59 in 154 innings. It was a huge year for offense all around baseball, but that ERA was still well above league average (4.97). He played until 1937 in the minors before retiring. He won 110 games in the minors, including 22 victories in 1924, prior to making his big league debut the following season.

Joe Leonard, third baseman for the 1914 Pirates. He hit .198 with four RBIs in 53 games as a rookie for the Pirates in 1914, then played four more years in the majors between 1916 and 1920, spent mostly with the Washington Senators. Leonard also played three games for the 1916 Cleveland Indians. He was a career .226 hitter in 269 games. Leonard debuted in pro ball at 18 years old with Des Moines of the Western League. He spent his first two seasons there before joining the Pirates after scout Chick Fraser recommended him to Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss, which led to his purchase from Des Moines for $3,000 on July 31, 1913. With the 1914 Pirates, Leonard was playing sparingly through early June until he was slowed by an ankle injury. The Pirates cut veteran third baseman Mike Mowrey in early August and the August 17th newspapers declared that the 20-year-old Leonard was now the team’s starting third baseman. However, he started just five games after that point of the season, with the Pirates handing the job instead to Alex McCarthy, who was batting .085 at that time and finished with a .150 average. Part of the reason for the change was that Leonard missed over a week with the flu, which hit him the same day that he was announced as the new starter. Leonard last played on September 13th. On April 21, 1915 (seven days after Opening Day), the Pirates sold him to Columbus of the American Association.

Jim Wallace, right fielder for the Pirates in 1905. His big league career lasted all of six days, but he got into seven games during that brief stretch. Wallace went 6-for-29 at the plate with three RBI’s and a .523 OPS. He also picked up three outfield assists. Wallace never played in the majors again, but he had a decent minor league career spent solely in the Northeast. He was born in Massachusetts and spent most of his nine-year career in his home state. His best minor league season was that 1905 campaign, when he hit .314 in the New England League, then got a brief trial in the Eastern League, which was one of the top leagues at the time. Wallace batted lead-off in both games of a doubleheader in his first day in the majors and collected three hits. The lineup behind him during those games was pretty formidable, Fred Clarke, Tommy Leach and Honus Wagner. Pittsburgh was in Boston at that time and Wallace’s performance that day earned him a trip with the club to their series in Philadelphia. When the Pirates returned home on August 31st, they had a new outfielder that they wanted to try out, Bob Ganley. Manager Fred Clarke said that Wallace was a good player that needed more seasoning in the minors, but that turned out to be his only big league time.

Fred Carisch, catcher for the 1903-06 Pirates. He was born on the same day as Jim Wallace (1881), who was his teammate briefly in 1905. Carisch was a .229 hitter over 78 games as the backup catcher for four seasons. His only full season with the Pirates was in 1905 when he hit .206 in 32 games. He went 6-for-18 with four doubles and a home run for the 1903 NL champs. After leaving the Pirates, he didn’t make the majors again for another six seasons, then had a nine-year stretch before he finished his career with two games for the 1923 Detroit Tigers at 41 years old. Both were as a defensive replacement late and he didn’t bat in either game. Carisch homered in his 14th big league at-bat (fourth game) and then never homered again in the majors. It was an inside-the-park homer. He managed the Tigers for one game in 1924. His minor league career stretched from 1901 until 1922 and includes two years as a player-manager. Carisch was acquired as a package deal from Helena of the Pacific National League in August of 1903. He came along with pitcher Gus Thompson, which was actually happened quite a few times back then. A new pitcher would be signed and his personal catcher would come along. Carisch debuted on August 31st, five days after he reported to the Pirates. He didn’t play his second game until three weeks later. In 1906, he played four April games between the 15th and 19th, then went 28 days without playing again before being released to Rochester of the Eastern League. However, his final games with the Pirates came on May 9th and 10th when he caught a pair of exhibition games on consecutive days off.

Sam Gillen, shortstop for the 1893 Pirates and a lifelong resident of Pittsburgh. He spent most of his ten-year pro career in the minors, playing three games for the Pirates in 1893 and 75 for the Phillies four years later. Those two stops would be his only time in the majors. He made his Major League debut on August 19th, playing both games of a doubleheader against the first place Boston Beaneaters. It was said that he held his own at shortstop, though he made an error and wasn’t able to collect a hit. Despite the good play, it was questioned in the newspaper as to why the Pirates would use Gillen in a big situation over Jim Gray, a veteran baseball player from Pittsburgh. Gray played two games for the Pirates days earlier as a fill-in for star shortstop Jack Glasscock. Gillen’s first game was started by Glasscock, though he was forced out of the game early by a leg injury  and replaced by Gillen. The next three games of the Boston series ended up getting rained out and he would play just one more game with the Pirates, coming in as a sixth-inning defensive replacement for Glasscock on August 26th during a blowout loss. With the Pirates, he finished 0-for-6 at the plate and he made two errors. He remained with the club for a time after his final game, and actually played in an exhibition game on September 5th, starting at shortstop. For the 1897 Phillies, he hit .259 with 27 RBIs and 32 runs scored in 75 games.

Otto Schomberg, first baseman for the 1886 Alleghenys. As a 21-year-old rookie, he hit .272 with a homer, 29 RBIs and 57 walks in 72 games, giving him a .417 OBP. He hit .308 with 83 RBIs for the Indianapolis Hoosiers in 1887, then was out of the majors at age 23 after just 30 more games spent with the Hoosiers in 1888. The Alleghenys traded Schomberg in early December of 1886 to the St Louis Maroons for first baseman Alex McKinnon. Three months later, he was sold to Indianapolis when St Louis folded before the 1887 season. Schomberg debuted with the Alleghenys on July 7th. Prior to joining Pittsburgh, he was playing for Utica of the International League in his third season of pro ball. The Alleghenys purchased his released for $800 (it’s also listed one place as $600). After his big league career ended, he played off-and-on in the minors and semi-pro ball until 1890 and also did some umpiring work into the mid-1890s.