Nine former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including one of the best pitchers in franchise history. We also have one early transaction of note.
Bob Friend, pitcher for the 1951-65 Pirates. He won 191 games in Pittsburgh, including 22 in 1958, and holds the team records for innings pitched (3,480.1), strikeouts (1,682) and games started (477). Unfortunately for Friend, he also suffered through the early 1950s with some of the worst Pirates teams ever, so despite a 3.55 ERA during his time with the team, he lost 218 games. He won 18 games during the 1960 World Series winning season.
The Pirates signed Friend at 18 years old in 1949 and it took him just two years to make it to the majors. His entire minor league career consisted of 246 innings in 1950. At age 20 in 1951, he made 22 starts and 12 relief appearances, posting a 4.27 ERA in 149.2 innings. His first four seasons were very similar while playing for those bad 1950s teams. He had a losing record, with an ERA over 4.00, while putting in an average of 170 innings. Things turned around in a big way in 1955 when he led the NL with a 2.83 ERA, while going 14-9 in 200.1 innings. In 1956, he went 17-17, 3.46, leading the NL with 42 games started and 314.1 innings. The next year was somewhat similar, with a 14-19, 3.38, once again leading the league in starts (38) and innings (277).
Friend set his career high with 22 wins in 1958, though he also led the league in both hits and earned runs allowed. For a third straight year, he led the NL in games started (38). The Pirates and Friend had a tough year in 1959 when there was high expectations on the team. He led the NL with 19 losses, and his 4.03 ERA was his highest during the 1955-65 time-frame. That ERA dropped to 3.00 in 1960, as he went 18-12 in 275.2 innings. He was an All-Star for the third (and final) year during his career. Over the next five years, Friend won 70 games total and pitched at least 222 innings each year. His 1963 season was extremely impressive, with a 2.34 ERA in 268.2 innings, though his record was barely above the .500 mark (17-16). After the 1965 season, Friend was traded to the New York Yankees for pitcher Pete Mikkelsen and cash. While it was tough seeing him end his career elsewhere, Friend was traded at the right time. He had a 4.55 ERA in 130.2 innings in what ended up being his final season.
Al Martin, outfielder for the 1992-99 Pirates. He was a .280 hitter with 107 homers in 897 games over eight seasons with the Pirates.. He hit 24 homers in 1999, then was traded to the San Diego Padres for three players and ended up hitting just 25 more big league homers after the deal. Martin was an eighth round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves out of high school in 1985. He became a minor league free agent in October of 1991 and signed with the Pirates one month later. Martin debuted in the majors briefly in late July in 1992, then returned to the majors in September, playing a total of 12 games. He was a regular during the 1993 season, hitting .281 with 18 homers and 16 stolen bases, which earned him a fifth place finish in the Rookie of the Year voting. He was putting up similar numbers in 1994 before the strike shortened the season. When play resumed in 1995, he put up a .282 average, with 13 homers and 20 steals in 124 games. The 1996 campaign was his best career year, setting highs with 101 runs scored, a .300 average, 38 steals, 40 doubles, 54 walks and 72 RBIs.
When the Pirates were making their unlikely playoff run in 1997, Martin helped out by hitting .291 with 13 homers and 23 stolen bases. His .832 OPS was a career best at that point, though he would soon top that mark. The 1998 season was a rough one, with a career worst .239 average and .660 OPS. Martin bounced back in a big way the next year, setting career highs with 24 homers and an .844 OPS, while scoring 97 runs. He was dealt away during the 2000 off-season in a deal that brought back John Vander Wal, who had a huge first season with the Pirates. Martin faded quickly after leaving the Pirates, playing three more seasons, spending time with the Padres, Seattle Mariners and Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He ranks 21st in Pirates history in home runs and 18th in stolen bases (152).
Kelvin Marte, pitcher for the 2016 Pirates. His big league career so far has consisted of two September relief appearances for the Pirates in 2016. He threw 3.1 innings, allowing five runs, though they were all unearned. He pitched in Mexico during the 2019 season, then played in Venezuela over the winter. Marte signed with the San Francisco Giants at age 19 in 2007 as an international free agent out of the Dominican. He remained in the Giants minor league system for nine seasons until becoming a free agent after 2015. He spent that last season as a starting pitcher in Double-A, where he had a 2.63 ERA in 130.1 innings. Marte pitched well in the Dominican over the winter, then signed a minor league deal with the Pirates in January of 2016. He spent most of the season in Triple-A Indianapolis, where he had a 3.79 ERA in 34 appearances, four as a starter. The Pirates called him up on August 30th and he pitched back-to-back days on September 3rd/4th, recording one out in his debut, then allowing five runs over three innings in his second game. Two days after his final game, he was designated for assignment and sent to the minors, effectively ending his time with the Pirates. Marte signed as a free agent with the Miami Marlins in December of 2016.
Jeff Salazar, outfielder for the 2009 Pirates. After one season in Colorado and two in Arizona, Salazar saw his final big league time with the 2009 Pirates, going 1-for-23 at the plate in 21 games, while seeing time at all three outfield spots. He was a .232 hitter in 168 big league games. He was originally selected in the 35th round of the 2000 draft by the Baltimore Orioles out of Connors State College. He transferred to Oklahoma State, where in 2002 he was drafted in the eighth round by the Colorado Rockies. It took him four years to make the majors as a September call-up in 2006. During Spring Training of 2007, he was selected off of waivers by the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he spent the next two seasons. He hit .239 in 128 games with Arizona, with a majority of his time coming in 2008. The Pirates signed him as a free agent on December 16, 2008, four days after being let go by the Diamondbacks. Salazar spent most of that 2009 season in Triple-A Indianapolis, where he hit .270 with ten homers in 84 games. After leaving the Pirates via free agency, he also spent time with the Rockies, Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Rays before retiring following the 2012 season.
Mike Edwards, third baseman for the 2006 Pirates. He played 14 games in Pittsburgh, going 3-for-16 at the plate, in what would end up being his final big league season. He also played 88 games for the 2005 Los Angeles Dodgers and debuted with four games for the 2003 Oakland A’s. Edwards was a ninth round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians in 1995 out of Mechanicsburg Area HS (PA.). It took him eight years to make the majors and he did it with his third organization. He became a free agent after the 2001 season and spent 2002 with the Cincinnati Reds, before moving on to the A’s. He debuted in late September of 2003 and became a free agent after the 2004 season. Edwards signed with the Dodgers in November of 2004 and spent the majority of the 2005 season in the majors, hitting .247 with three homers and 15 RBIs in 258 plate appearances. The Pirates signed him on December 30, 2005 and he saw action with the big league club in late April, late May and late June. Edwards re-signed with the Pirates for 2007, but he was released in late April without appearing in a Major League game. He finished his pro career with the Reds in Triple-A later that season.
Ralph Comstock, pitcher for the 1918 Pirates. He went 5-6, 3.00 in 81 innings over eight starts and seven relief appearances with the Pirates. Comstock also played in the majors in 1913 and 1915, including time with the Pittsburgh club of the Federal League (FL), which was considered a Major League at the time. He debuted in pro ball at 19 years old on 1907, playing for the Mount Clemens Bathers of the Southern Michigan League. It took him six years to make it to the majors, no doubt due to a rough start in the minors. He had an 0-7 record in the low levels during the 1908 season. He would win 25 games during the 1911 season and then debut in the majors late in 1913 after picking up 24 wins over two levels in the minors. Comstock went 2-5, 5.37 in 60.1 innings for the 1913 Detroit Tigers. He spent 1914 and part of 1915 pitching for Providence of the International League, while also seeing time with the Boston Red Sox in April of 1915 and the Pittsburgh Rebels (FL) for the last seven weeks of the season. After winning a total of 31 games during the 1916-17 seasons in the minors, Comstock pitched his 15 games with the Pirates between July 3rd and September 1st. He began the year with Birmingham of the Southern Association. The Pirates purchased his contract on June 17th and he reported to the team on July 2nd, then debuted the next day. He was released outright by the Pirates on January 31, 1919, sent back to his club in Birmingham. Comstock didn’t play pro ball in 1919, but he did play with a semi-pro team near his home in Toledo, Ohio.
Harry Wolfe, infielder for the 1917 Pirates. He played just three games with Pittsburgh and 12 games total in his big league career. After nine early season games with the 1917 Chicago Cubs, he joined the Pirates and went 0-for-5 at the plate. Wolfe played eight seasons in the minors, debuting at age 23 in 1912. In 1916, he batted .302 in 121 games for Duluth of the Northern League. It was his third season for that team and he gained the attention of the big league clubs. He was taken in the minor league draft by the Cubs, who used him sporadically through early July, giving him just six plate appearances in his nine games, all off of the bench. The Pirates picked him up on waivers on July 7th and his three games happened between July 13th and the 16th. He played second base and went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in his only Major League start on the 14th in game one of a doubleheader. On July 24th, he was released to Richmond of the Central League. He never played for his new team and instead he went to independent ball, which led to a suspension by Major League Baseball. On April 5th, it was announced that the Pirates sold him to Minneapolis of the American Association. His baseball time after that was brief due to his service in WWI.
Ed Doheny, pitcher for the 1901-03 Pirates. The Pirates won three consecutive NL titles and Doheny was there for all of them, posting a 38-14, 2.75 record in 487.2 innings. Unfortunately for the Pirates, he had a mental breakdown and wasn’t available during the 1903 World Series, but things got even worse after that. He had a violent incident in October of 1903 that led to him being put in an insane asylum for the final 13 years of his life. Prior to joining the Pirates, Doheny spent seven seasons with the New York Giants, where he went 37-69, 4.26 in 917.1 innings. He was released by the Giants in mid-July of 1901 after they took the loss in eight of his ten appearances. The Pirates signed him on July 25th after releasing veteran shortstop Bones Ely to make roster room. Manager Fred Clarke said that Doheny showed good stuff against them and he figured a change of scenery would help the 27-year-old lefty. Doheny debuted in relief on August 5th in a one-sided game, then he got ten starts over the rest of the season and pitched great, posting a 1.80 ERA in 75 innings. He went 16-4, 2.53 in 188.1 innings for the 1902 Pirates, then had a 16-8, 3.19 record in 222.2 innings during his final season, despite it ending early and being marred by a few incidents with the team during the season.
Frank Smith, catcher for the 1884 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He didn’t make the majors until he was 26 years old and then lasted just ten games, all with the 1884 Alleghenys. He went 9-for-36 at the plate with eight singles and a triple. Smith made seven starts at catcher and played one game at each of the three outfield spots. His time with the Alleghenys lasted from August 6th (debut) until October 3rd (final big league game). He was a Canadian-born player, whose pro career lasted just two seasons, though the surname Smith makes it difficult to fully track his career back when newspapers commonly referred to players by last name only. He was playing for the Saginaw Grays on the Northwestern League, but the league disbanded right before he joined the Alleghenys. It was reported on July 26th that he was going to join Toledo of the American Association, along with teammate Jay Faatz, but they both joined Pittsburgh instead. In fact, the Alleghenys also picked up shortstop Tom Forster at Art Whitney from Saginaw as well. About a month after joining the Alleghenys, the local papers realized (or found out) that he once played in Pittsburgh for an amateur team named the C.S. Browns.
On this date in 1886, the Alleghenys purchased outfielder Abner Dalrymple from the Chicago White Stockings. He would go on to become the first batter used by the Alleghenys in their first National League game on April 30, 1887 against the White Stockings. Dalrymple won the NL batting title as a rookie in 1878 and he was a reliable player for many years in Chicago, four times leading the league in at-bats. He also led the league in homers in 1885. He had a down year in 1886 and it was a sign of things to come for his time in Pittsburgh. He hit .215 in 149 games over two season with the Alleghenys. He hit just two homers in Pittsburgh and they came in back-to-back at-bats, while playing in Chicago, with the first one tying the score late and the second one ending the game in the tenth.