Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus two trades of note.
On this date in 1962 the Pittsburgh Pirates traded star shortstop Dick Groat and pitcher Diomedes Olivo to the St Louis Cardinals for pitcher Don Cardwell and infielder Julio Gotay. The traded basically ended up being Groat for Cardwell, since neither Olivo or Gotay played much for their new team. Groat had two big seasons in St Louis before his stats started falling off. He finished second in the 1963 NL MVP voting and was an All-Star in 1964. Cardwell spent four years in Pittsburgh, posting a 33-33, 3.38 record in 84 starts and 22 relief appearances. His best season was 1965 when he went 13-10, 3.18 with 240 innings pitched. Groat had his huge season in 1960 when he won the MVP and the NL batting title. He saw a large dip in his stats the following season, then he was an All-Star in 1962 when he hit .294 in 161 games. He had just turned 32 years old at the time of the deal. Cardwell had six seasons of big league time in prior to the trade and he was five years younger than Groat. However, he didn’t have a track record like the star shortstop. Cardwell went 7-16, 4.92 in 195.1 innings in 1962. He was better in 1961 (3.82 ERA in 259.1 innings), but that was easily his best season. After the deal, Olivo pitched 13.1 innings for the Cardinals and managed to pick up five losses, while Gotay had a total of five plate appearances in seven games for the Pirates.
Exactly 30 years later, the Pirates would trade another longtime infielder, this time shipping Jose Lind to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for pitchers Joel Johnston and Dennis Moeller. Lind spent six seasons with the Pirates from 1987-92, playing a total of 779 games. He wasn’t much of a hitter, batting a career high .265 in 1991, but he played strong defense at second base and won a Gold Glove in 1992. His contract was expensive at the time for a light hitting infielder. He hit just .235 in 1992 with no homers and three stolen bases. That led to the Pirates shipping him off to the Royals for two pitchers. Johnston was a 26 -ear-old reliever who pitched great in his first shot at the big leagues in 1991 posting an 0.40 ERA in 13 games, but struggled in his brief chance during the 1992 season. Moeller was a 25-year-old starter who pitched well at Triple-A in 37 games over the 1991-92 seasons but in his only shot at the majors he was hit around.
Lind went on to have two typical seasons for him with the Royals. He didn’t hit much either year, while showing strong defense in 1993, although by 1994 he was no more than league average. He started the 1995 season with the Royals, but was released by early July. The Pirates saved plenty of money getting rid of Lind, though they got little in return from their two new pitchers. Johnston had a decent 1993 season, posting a 3.38 ERA in 33 games, but in 1994 he had three very rough outings out of Spring Training, got sent to the minors where he struggled, then was released in May. Moeller fared even worse, pitching just ten games for the Pirates in 1993. He was hit around hard in five of those games. He finished the year in the minors, then the Pirates got rid of him in October. He never pitched in the majors again.
John “Denny” Driscoll, pitcher for the 1882-83 Alleghenys. In the first season in franchise history in 1882, he went 13-9 in 23 starts and lead the American Association in ERA with a 1.21 mark. He then had an 18-21 record in 1883, though the team went 13-46 in games he didn’t pitch. Prior to joining Pittsburgh, his only big league experience was 41.2 innings for the 1880 Buffalo Bisons of the National League. After leaving the Alleghenys, he pitched for the 1884 Louisville Eclipse of the American Association, going 6-6, 3.44 in 13 starts and 102 innings. His pro career lasted from 1879 until 1886. Unfortunately, he passed away from tuberculosis during the 1886 season. Driscoll joined Pittsburgh in July, making his first start in the 33rd game of the season. He pitched 23 of the final 47 games for the Alleghenys. In his debut he allowed one run in a complete game, handled ten plays in the field and collected two hits. His “Denny” nickname you find now is from old confusion over another player named Dennis Driscoll, who briefly appeared in the majors in 1885. They were originally thought to be the same player. I included it here because that’s how John Driscoll is usually identified if you attempt to look up his stats.
Billy Sunday, outfielder for the 1888-90 Alleghenys. Considered to be the fastest base runner of his era, he was a .243 hitter in 287 games with Pittsburgh. Sunday stole 174 bases during that time. He retired after the 1890 season to become an extremely famous evangelist. Sunday began his pro career in the majors at age 20, playing for the Chicago White Stockings. He was a backup for all five seasons in Chicago, never playing more than 50 games in a season. He did well in his last year (1887), batting .291 with 34 steals and 15 extra-base hits. On January 18, 1888, it was announced by the Pittsburgh manager that he failed to acquire Chicago’s Jimmy Ryan, but he was able to get Sunday for $1,000 fee (some sources say $2,000, but I went with the direct quote), plus his salary would be approximately $1,800 for the season. He played full-time in center field, where he was known for making dazzling plays due to his speed and athleticism. However, he hit just .236 and drew 12 walks all season, while failing to hit a homer, so the offense was an issue. He wasn’t able to properly utilize his speed because he wasn’t on base enough. Sunday still managed to steal 71 bases, third most in the league. In 1889, he hit .240 in 81 games, with 48 steals and 62 runs scored. He missed about two months of the season (total) with an assortment of minor injuries. When the Player’s League was formed in 1890, Sunday was one of the few players to remain with the Alleghenys. He was one of the top players on a very bad team and hit .257 with 56 steals and 58 runs scored in 87 games before he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in August. There were rumors that he would quit the game and that would affect the trade, but they were dispelled by the Alleghenys, who assured that Sunday would be around in 1891. He did quit the game after the 1890 season, though he didn’t make that decision until March of 1891.
Billy Zitzmann, outfielder for 1919 Pirates. Hit .192 in 11 games with the Pirates before being sold to Cincinnati Reds on July 3, 1919. He played six years in Cincinnati, though he was in minors from 1920-24. Zitzmann made his debut in the majors with the Pirates on April 27, 1919 and played his last game on May 26th. In between his time with the Pirates and Reds, Zitzmann was assigned to Jersey City of the International League. There was a dispute between Jersey City and Pittsburgh for his services and it was ruled that he couldn’t play for the Pirates. Zitzmann actually retired and got a job in Pittsburgh because Jersey City wouldn’t meet his contract demands. He had played for the team in 1918, but they failed to offer him a 1919 contract in time and he signed with the Pirates. Zitzmann was with the Pirates until mid-June (the ruling came down on June 16th), not getting into a game over his final three weeks with the team. His actual last game with the club was a June 8th exhibition game against Akron. His actual sale to the Reds happened between Cincinnati and Jersey City, though some sources say otherwise. Zitzmann batted .360 in 25 games for Jersey City in 1918 before joining the Navy during WWI.
Elmer Tutwiler, pitcher for 1928 Pirates. Tutwiler’s entire big league career consisted of two late season appearances for the 1928 Pirates. He threw a total of 3.2 innings, allowing two runs. His pro career lasted from 1925 until 1932, with his last four years spent in the Western League. Tutwiler spent the 1928 season in the Southeastern League, where he had a 10-12 record and pitched a total of 188 innings. He was with a club from Savannah, which dropped out of the league in August, so they sold Tutwiler to the Pirates, who already had interest in the pitcher. He joined the Pirates on August 13th and made his debut with the team on August 20th. He recorded two outs in his debut, while allowing one hit. His only other appearance came 38 days later when he allowed two runs over three innings. He pitched one other time, facing the Boston Red Sox in an exhibition game on September 13th. Tutwiler allowed four runs on six hits in four innings of work. On January 14, 1929, he was released outright to Omaha of the Western League, ending his big league career.
Stu Martin, infielder for the 1941-42 Pirates. Hit .305 over 88 games during the 1941 season, then dropped down to .225 in 1942. Martin batted .268 in 722 games over eight years in the majors, also spending time with the St Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs. He attended Guilford College in North Carolina before signing to play pro ball at 21 years old. It’s a school that has produced 12 Major League players, though only Tony Womack has played in the majors over the last 75 years. Martin took two seasons to make the majors, debuting with the 1936 Cardinals. He batted .298 in 92 games as a rookie and made the All-Star team. He also finished second in the NL with 17 stolen bases. He remained in St Louis through 1940, getting a majority of the starts at second base. In 1939, he led all NL second basemen in fielding percentage. The Pirates purchased his contract in December of 1940 after he hit .238 in 112 games. Martin played almost exclusively at second base during his time in Pittsburgh, though he saw a lot of time off the bench as well, along with spot opportunities at the other three infield positions. He played his last game with the Pirates on July 5, 1942. He was sent outright to Minneapolis of the American Association on July 9th, ending his time in Pittsburgh. Martin appeared in the majors again with the 1943 Cubs. He served two years in Maritime service during WWII, then finished up his pro career with three seasons in the minors.
Manny Jimenez, pinch-hitter/left fielder for 1967-68 Pirates. He was acquired by the Pirates in the 1966 minor league draft, coming over from the Kansas City A’s. Jimenez had played 13 games for the A’s in 1966. He spent the entire 1965 season in the minors after playing 95 games for Kansas City in 1964. He lasted two full seasons in Pittsburgh before being traded to the Chicago Cubs in January of 1969 in three-player deal, with the Pirates receiving two players in return. Over his two seasons with the Pirates, Jimenez hit .279 in 116 games. During the 1968 season, he batted .303 and had 66 at-bats in 66 games. He started a total of nine games in his two seasons in Pittsburgh, all of them in left field. Jimenez had just six big league at-bats after being traded by the Pirates, all coming in a pinch-hitting role with the 1969 Cubs. He played a total of seven seasons in the majors, hitting .272 in 429 games. In ten minor league seasons, he batted .311 in 818 games. During his rookie season in 1962 with the Kansas City Athletics, Jimenez hit .301 with 69 RBIs in 139 games. All three of those stats ended up being his career highs. His brother Elvio Jimenez played one game in the majors, getting six at-bats for the New York Yankees on October 4, 1964.
Bobby Tolan, first baseman for 1977 Pirates. Was originally signed out of high school by Pittsburgh in 1963, but didn’t play for the team until 14 years later. Tolan hit .203 in 49 games for Pirates after being signed as a free agent mid-season. He played 13 years in the majors, spending time with five different NL teams. Tolan debuted with the St Louis Cardinals in 1965 at 19 years old. They acquired him in December of 1963 in the First Year draft. He batted .179 over 60 games in his first two seasons combined, then hit .253 with six homers and 32 RBIs in 110 games during the 1967 season. Tolan saw a drop in his stats in 1968, then was dealt to the Cincinnati Reds as part of a deal to acquire Vada Pinson. Tolan flourished immediately with the Reds, batting .305 with 21 homers, 93 RBIs and 26 stolen bases in 152 games. The next year he hit .316, with 16 homers, 80 RBIs and a league-leading 57 steals. Prior to the 1971 season, he ruptured his Achilles tendon playing basketball, which caused him to miss the entire year. He did well in 1972, but at 26 years old, he had reached his peak. He batted .206 in 129 games in 1973, then got traded to the San Diego Padres, where he played two seasons before being released. He had two poor seasons for the Philadelphia Phillies before moving on to the Pirates. After playing in Japan in 1978, Tolan finished his career back with the Padres, where he played his final 22 games. He hit .265 with 86 homers, 497 RBIs and 197 steals in 1,282 big league games.
Jonathan Sanchez, pitcher for the 2013 Pirates. He signed with the Pirates as a free agent in February of 2013 and he went 0-3, 11.85 in four starts and one relief outing before being released in early May. Sanchez won 38 games over eight seasons in the majors, including 13 games for the 2010 World Series winning San Francisco Giants. Sanchez was born in Puerto Rico, though he attended college in Ohio, where he was a 27th round draft pick of the Giants in 2004. It took him less than two full years to make the majors, debuting in May of 2006. He was mostly used in relief during his first two seasons in the majors, making four starts each year. Sanchez became a full-time starter in 2008 and he went 9-12, 5.01 in 158 innings over 29 starts. He went 8-12, 4.24 in 163.1 innings in 2009, before having his big season in 2010. Sanchez posted a 13-9 record, with a 3.07 ERA in 193.1 innings. He saw a slip in his results over 19 starts in 2011, then split 2012 between the Kansas City Royals and Colorado Rockies, posting an 8.07 ERA in 15 starts. After being released with the Pirates, he spent time with three other MLB clubs, never making it out of the minors. He also played a year of independent ball, a year in Mexico and six years of winter ball in Puerto Rico. He was active as of this past off-season.