This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: November 17th, Pirates and Reds Make a Big Trade

Six former Pirates players born on this date, plus a trade of note. Before we get into those things, current Pirates pitcher JT Brubaker turns 27 today. He debuted in the majors in 2020 and made nine starts and two relief appearances.

The Transaction

On this date in 1933 the Pittsburgh Pirates traded longtime left fielder Adam Comorosky and second baseman Tony Piet to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for pitcher Red Lucas and outfielder Wally Roettger. For the Pirates, who finished in second place with an 87-67 record, it was their biggest move of the off-season going into 1934. The trade seemed fairly even at the time, but Lucas was the only one to put in significant time with his new team. In five seasons with the Pirates, he won 47 games and was known as one of the best hitting pitchers in baseball, getting occasional pinch-hitting at-bats throughout his career. In 1936, he posted a 15-4 record and he was used as a pinch-hitter in 43 games. Roettger played just 47 games in the fourth outfielder role with the Pirates, posting a .245 average in 109 at-bats. That was his last season in baseball. Piet slumped down to a .259 average in 1934 and he was not known as a strong fielder. He played until 1938, but never approached the 154-game total he played with the 1932 Pirates. His .298 career average at the time of the trade was down to .277 by the time he retired. Comorosky was a regular outfielder in 1934, hitting .258 in 127 games with no homers and 40 RBIs. The following year, which was his last in the majors, he hit just .248 in 137 at-bats.

The Players

Elias Diaz, catcher for the 2015-19 Pirates. Diaz was a low-priced international signing out of Venezuela in 2008, days before his 18th birthday. He moved slowly through the lower levels of the minors, reaching the big leagues as a September call-up in 2015. He played just two games off of the bench during his first taste of the majors. In 2016, he played one July game with the Pirates, while missing most of the season with an elbow injury. He finally got his first real chance with the team in 2017 and hit .223 with one homer and 19 RBIs in 64 games, though he played above average defense (0.7 dWAR). Diaz had his big season in 2018, hitting .286, with ten homers in 82 games, while once again providing above average defense. He was sidelined by a severe illness during Spring Training of 2019 and it not only kept him out of action for much of the early season, he also played poorly once he returned. In 101 games, he hit .241 with two homers and 28 RBIs, while showing a dip in his defense. He was let go after the season and signed with the Colorado Rockies for 2020. In 26 games this past season, he hit .235 with two homers and nine RBIs.

Ty Taubenheim, pitcher for the 2008 Pirates. On June 28, 2008, Taubenheim started against the Tampa Bay Rays and pitched six strong innings, allowing two runs. The Pirates ended up winning the game in 13 innings. That was the last Major League game of his career. Taubenheim spent all of 2009 at Triple-A for Pirates, before finishing his pro career in 2010 in the Philadelphia Phillies system. He signed with the Texas Rangers for 2011, but he was released right before the season started. He was originally drafted in the 44th round of the 2002 draft out of Edmonds Community College by the Oakland A’s. He decided to return to school for one more year and he moved up to a 19th round pick by the Milwaukee Brewers. Two years after signing, he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays, where he made his big league debut in 2006. Taubenheim made seven starts and five relief appearances during his rookie season, posting a 4.89 ERA in 35 innings. He made one big league start in 2007 and allowed five runs over five innings. The Pirates acquired him on December 3, 2007 as a waiver pickup.

Jim Mann, relief pitcher for the 2003 Pirates. He pitched two games for the Pirates in 2003, allowing four runs over 1.2 innings. Mann also spent time in the majors with New York Mets (2000) and Houston Astros (2001-02). The Pirates let him go at the end of the 2003 season, but signed him again in June of 2004 after he was released by the New York Yankees. His second stint with the team lasted until he became a minor league free agent in October. Mann originally signed as a 54th round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993, though he was a draft-and-follow player back when draft rules allowed that. He actually signed in May of 1994. The Blue Jays lost him in the 1999 Rule 5 draft to the New York Mets, though the teams worked out a deal in March of 2000 for him to remain in New York. Mann pitched two games for the Mets in 2000, allowing three runs in 2.2 innings. He became a free agent after the season and signed with the Houston Astros, where he saw the majority of his big league time. Mann gave up two runs over 5.1 innings in four appearances in 2001, then he posted a 4.09 ERA in 22 innings over 17 appearances in 2002. The Pirates acquired via waivers just days after the 2002 season ended. After his second stint with the Pirates, Mann spent a brief time with the Boston Red Sox in Double-A (2005), while also putting in three years of independent ball.

Tom Dettore, pitcher for the 1973 Pirates. In one start and 11 relief appearances during his only season in Pittsburgh, he went 0-1, 5.96 in 22.2 innings. Prior to Opening Day in 1974, the Pirates traded Dettore to the Chicago Cubs for Paul Popovich. He went 8-10, 5.10 in three seasons in Chicago, which was his other big league time outside of Pittsburgh. He was released by the Cubs in early 1976 and signed with the San Diego Padres. His final time in pro ball was spent in Triple-A for the Padres (1976) and Triple-A for the St Louis Cardinals in 1977. Dettore was drafted three times by the Pirates, finally signing as a third round pick in the 1968 draft. He was selected in the 26th round out of high school in Canonsburg, PA in 1965, then went in the ninth round out of Juniata College in 1967. During his first full season in the minors in 1969, he went 12-3, 2.01 in 148 innings and reached Triple-A. However, in 1970, he was in Double-A and posted a 5.04 ERA. Repeating the level in 1971, Dettore had a 2.40 ERA in 154 innings. Back at Triple-A for the first time in three years, he went 11-7, 3.06 in 159 innings in 1972. His big league debut came in early June of 1973, though he finished the season in the minors after spending five weeks in Pittsburgh.

Orlando Pena, reliever for the 1970 Pirates. He went 2-1, 4.78 in 23 relief appearances during his only season in Pittsburgh. Pena was signed as a free agent by the Pirates on June 9, 1970 and released just over two months later. When he signed with the Pirates, he was serving as the batting practice pitcher for the Kansas City Royals. The two clubs played a mid-season exhibition game on June 8th and he signed the next day. He spent 14 years in the majors pitching for eight different teams. He won 56 games and picked up 40 saves in his career. His pro career lasted 21 seasons, starting in 1955 when the Cincinnati Reds signed him out of Havana, Cuba at 21 years old. He debuted in the majors in 1958 and played three seasons with the Reds, though he only saw significant time in 1959. After spending 1961 in the minors, he joined the Kansas City A’s in 1962 and spent parts of four seasons there. In 1963, he led the American League with 20 losses, despite a 3.69 ERA. Pena would play for the Detroit Tigers during the 1965-67 seasons, finishing 1967 with the Cleveland Indians. He was in the minors for all of 1968 and 1969, before joining the Pirates. After he left Pittsburgh, Pena played for the Baltimore Orioles in 1971 and 1973, the St Louis Cardinals in 1973-74 and the California Angels in 1974-75. Including his minor league stats and a season in Cuba, he threw over 3,000 innings in pro ball and he won exactly 200 games.

Don Flinn, outfielder for 1917 Pirates. Hit .297 in 14 games as a September roster addition after the Pirates purchased his contract from the Shreveport Gassers. Flinn was purchased by the Pirates on August 10th, though he was allowed to finish his minor league season first before joining the team. He reported to the Pirates on September 2nd and got into that day’s game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning. Flinn played pro ball from 1914 until 1926, but never played in the majors again. He spent the 1917 season in the Texas League, where he hit .300 with ten homers and 24 stolen bases in 109 games. Shortly after the 1917 season ended, the newspapers reported that he would likely return to the minors, because despite the high average, he showed very little during his time in the majors. It didn’t take long to become official. The season ended on October 1st and exactly one week later, the rights to Flinn were returned to his Shreveport club. During his time in Pittsburgh, he was called “Flynn”.

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