Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus two trades of note. Before we get into them, current Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon turns 29 years old today.
On this date in 1998 the Pittsburgh Pirates traded pitcher Ricardo Rincon to the Cleveland Indians for outfielder Brian Giles. The trade was a one-sided win for the Pirates as Giles was an all-star outfielder and Rincon was a lefty reliever, who pitched 207 games for the Indians, but only amassed 154.1 innings over four seasons. Giles hit .308 with 501 runs scored and 506 RBIs in 715 games with the Pirates. His 1.018 OPS is the highest in team history. Giles was a two-time All-Star, who received MVP votes during four seasons with the Pirates. This trade paid off down the line as well, with Giles being traded for Jason Bay and Oliver Perez in 2003.
Also on this date in 1947 the Pirates traded pitcher Al Lyons, outfielder Jim Russell and catcher Bill Salkeld to the Boston Braves in exchange for outfielder Johnny Hopp and infielder Danny Murtaugh. The Pirates had an edge in the production each team received after the trade, but it get a little more one-sided when you consider what Murtaugh did after the trade as a manager of the Pirates, which may not have happened if he wasn’t acquired in this deal.
Lyons had played parts of four seasons in the majors, pitching 32 games, and he had a 6.08 ERA at the time of the trade. For the Pirates he had pitched 13 games in 1947, with a 7.31 ERA after coming over from the New York Yankees in early August. Salkeld had a strong rookie season in 1945, hitting .311 with 15 homers. He hit .294 in a backup role the next season, then really struggled in 1947, hitting just .213 in 47 games. Russell was the only significant player the Pirates traded away, he was a regular from 1943-47 playing 718 games over those five seasons with 412 runs scored and 288 RBIs.
The Pirates got a 31-year-old outfielder with a .297 career average in Johnny Hopp. He hit .288 with 58 walks and 74 runs scored in 1947. Prior to that he had three seasons with a .300+ average. Murtaugh was a regular for three seasons from 1941-43, but after serving in the war he was unable to get a regular job in the majors, playing just nine games between 1946 and 1947. Murtaugh had two strong seasons for the Pirates, in 1948 and 1950, though the true value in the trade was getting him in the organization. He eventually made his way to the major league manager role, winning two World Series titles and 1,115 games total. Hopp hit .310 over three seasons with the Pirates before being sold to the Yankees during the 1950 season.
Rocky Nelson, outfielder who had two stints with the Pirates, first in 1951 and then again from 1959-61. He was a .270 hitter in 337 games with the Pirates. During the 1960 season, he posted a .300 batting average and in the World Series, he went 3-for-9, including a two-run homer in game seven. He was originally signed by the St Louis Cardinals in 1942 and played one season at 17 years old before missing the next three years while serving in the U.S. Army. Nelson spent 1946-48 in the minors, then made the Opening Day roster in 1949. He was a platoon first baseman until 1951 when the Pirates acquired him in a trade for shortstop Stan Rojek. Nelson hit .267 with one homer and 14 RBIs in 67 games for the Pirates, splitting his time between first base and left field. In September, he was lost on waivers to the Chicago White Sox.
Nelson played for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1952, then spent all of 1953 in the minors, where he hit .308 with 34 homers, 136 RBIs and 106 walks. He played briefly for the Cleveland Indians in 1954, then spent all of 1955 in the minors, where he hit .364 with 37 homers, 130 RBIs and 118 walks. He split 1956 between the Dodgers and Cardinals, then spent 1957-58 in the minors. In 1958 with Toronto of the International League, he hit 43 homers. The Pirates took him in the Rule 5 draft and he was a key bench player on the 1959-60 squads. Nelson hit .197 in 75 games in 1961, then returned to the minors for his final season of pro ball. He hit a total of 234 homers in the minors
Mark Petkovsek, relief pitcher for the 1993 Pirates. Had a 3-0 record in 26 appearances for the Pirates, despite posting a 6.96 record. He played nine years in the majors, starting and ending his career with the Texas Rangers. He was a first round pick of the Rangers out of the University of Texas in 1987. Petkovsek made the majors in 1991, though he got roughed up in his limited time. He had a 14.46 ERA and a 2.68 WHIP in 9.1 innings over four appearances. He became a free agent after the 1991 season and signed with the Pirates in January of 1992. He spent the entire season in Triple-A, but still re-signed with the Pirates for 1993. Petkovsek had two separate stints with the club, one in May/June and another one from late July until the end of the season. He had a 3.75 ERA in the first trial, which ballooned to 8.86 in the second stint. A big portion of the damage came on August 24th when he allowed seven runs in one inning. After leaving the Pirates, he played for the 1995-98 St Louis Cardinals, 1999-2000 Anaheim Angels and the 2001 Texas Rangers. He spent the 1994 season in the minors with the Houston Astros. In his career he had 46-28, 4.74 record in 710 innings over 390 appearances (41 starts).
Jim Shellenback, pitcher for the 1966-67 and 1969 Pirates. In his three partial seasons in Pittsburgh, he went 1-1, 3.35 in two starts and 14 relief outings. He was signed out of high school in 1962 by the New York Yankees. He didn’t last long in their system. In November of 1962, the Pirates selected Shellenback in the 1962 First Year draft. It would take the 6’2″ lefty four years to make it to the majors, debuting in September of 1966 with two relief appearances. He pitched six games for the Pirates in 1967, making three appearances in April and three more in late September. Shellerback had a 2.70 ERA in 23.1 innings. He did well in Triple-A in 1968, with a 2.85 ERA in 140 innings, but he failed to appear in a big league game. He started the 1969 season with the Pirates, but after posting a 3.24 ERA in eight appearances, he was traded to the Washington Senators for veteran pitcher Frank Kreutzer. Shellenback spent three seasons in Washington, then moved with the team to Texas in 1972. Over the 1972-74 seasons with the Rangers, he pitched a total of 83.1 innings. His last appearance in the majors came with the 1977 Minnesota Twins, where he pitched five games in relief. He went 16-30, 3.81 in 454 innings over his nine seasons in the majors. His uncle Frank Shellenback pitched for the 1919 Chicago White Sox team known as the Black Sox.
Curt Raydon, right-handed pitcher for the 1958 Pirates. Played just one season in the majors, going 8-4, 3.62 in 134.1 innings over 20 starts and 11 relief appearances. He came to the Pirates organization from the Milwaukee Braves as part of a six-player and cash deal for Danny O’Connell following the 1953 season. Raydon spent a total of eight seasons in the minors, the last seven in the Pirates organization. In his first year of pro ball while still with the Milwaukee organization, he went 11-7, 3.50 in 20 starts and 12 relief appearances for Jacksonville of the South Atlantic League. In 1955, he won 14 games for New Orleans of the Southern Association. In 1959 Raydon went 7-4, 2.92 for Columbus of the International League. His season was limited to 77 innings due to arm soreness in May/June and a surgery on his index finger in February. At one point in the season, he was pitching batting practice as part of his rehab work. He also battled arm troubles in 1961, which ended up being his last season in pro ball.
Gene Mauch, middle infielder for the 1947 Pirates. He hit .300 in 16 games for the Pirates during his only season in Pittsburgh. Mauch was involved in two big trades with the Pirates and Brooklyn Dodgers. The first one in mid-May of 1947 consisted of five players coming to Pittsburgh for outfielder Al Gionfriddo and cash. Then in December of that same year, he was sent back to Brooklyn in a six-player deal, with three players going each way. Mauch hit .239 in 304 games over nine seasons in the majors. Despite those two trades with the Dodgers, he played a total of 17 games for Brooklyn. Most of his time was spent with the 1948-49 Chicago Cubs (125 games), but he also played 72 games for the 1956-57 Boston Red Sox and 67 games for the 1950-51 Boston Braves. Mauch also appeared briefly with the 1952 St Louis Cardinals. He managed for 26 seasons in the majors, winning 1,902 games, with two first place finishes to his credit. His managerial career consisted of 5+ years with the Philadelphia Phillies, Montreal Expos, Minnesota Twins and California Angels.
Roy Wise, pitcher for the 1944 Pirates. He made just two appearances in the majors, coming on back-to-back days in mid-May of 1944 for the Pirates. Wise allowed three runs over three innings and was released by Pittsburgh on June 29th. That season was also his only year of pro baseball. The 20-year-old right-hander played briefly for Albany of the Eastern League during that 1944 season, joining them on May 27th. On May 1st while with the Pirates, Wise threw a three-hit shutout over seven innings in an exhibition contest against a minor league teams from Zanesville. Prior to his exhibition debut, he was throwing batting practice for the Pirates. Before joining the Pirates, he was pitching at Illinois Wesleyan Unviersity. The Pirates got their first look at him during an exhibition game in 1943 when he threw four no-hit innings against them. He went to Spring Training with the Pirates in 1944, but left after he couldn’t reach a contract agreement with the team. After a short stay at home, the two sides agreed to a deal on April 21st and he returned to the club the next day. He went by his middle name (Ogden) during his brief time with the Pirates. In fact, when he was first announced as signing, he was being called Ogden Wyse in the newspapers. He also had the nickname “Fuzzy”, and it was said that he didn’t exactly give the best effort, but he had a fastball and sinker that impressed the team.
Bill Hughes, pitcher for the Pirates on September 15, 1921. Not too many men could claim to be a 300-game winner by 1939 and none could do it with as little fanfare as Hughes. He won 302 career games, all of them in minor league ball. He played 20 seasons and had two 20-win seasons during that time. Hughes threw over 4,800 innings as a pro. Compared to Major League records, only 17 pitchers have thrown more than 4,800 innings in the majors. His big league career consisted of his one late-season relief appearance for the Pirates in which he allowed one run over two innings. That came during his second season in pro ball, 18 years before he retired. Hughes went 26-7, 3.59 in 260.2 innings in 1921 for Raleigh of the Piedmont League. On August 15, 1921, the Pirates purchased his rights for $3,500 and said that he could stay with Piedmont until their season ended on September 13th. However, they called him up a few days earlier because they lost their division lead on September 9th and they wanted as much help as possible. On October 15th, Hughes was sent to Birmingham to clear roster space for the Rule 5 draft. In December of 1922, the Pirates traded Hughes as part of a large package sent to Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League for pitcher Earl Kunz.