Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date
Octavio Dotel, relief pitcher for the 2010 Pirates. Went 2-2, 4.28 in 41 appearances, with 21 saves. He played 15 seasons in the majors, making 758 appearances and picking up 109 saves. Dotel played for 13 different teams, although he spent five seasons with the Houston Astros. He was originally signed as an international amateur free agent by the New York Mets at 19 years old in 1993. After one season in the majors as a starting pitcher, he was traded to the Astros in a five-player deal. Dotel was a starter for part of his first season in Houston, then moved to relief for good in July of 2000. By his second relief appearance, he was put in the closer role. He had his best career run during the 2001-03 seasons as a long reliever, average 96 innings per year, with an ERA between 1.85 and 2.66 each year, while picking up a total of 12 saves. The 2004 season started his constant moving around, with his longest stay being the 2008-09 seasons with the Chicago White Sox. The Pirates signed him as a 36-year-old free agent after he had a 3.32 ERA in 62.1 innings over 62 appearances. He remained with the Pirates until July 31, 2010, when he was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers for James McDonald and Andrew Lambo. Dotel would get traded again later that season, finishing the year with the Colorado Rockies. In 2011, he picked up a World Series ring with the St Louis Cardinals, while making five appearances during the World Series and 12 total appearances in the playoffs. In the 2012 playoffs with the Detroit Tigers, he had six appearances without a hit or run. Dotel retired after the 2013 season.
Mike Ryan, catcher for the 1974 Pirates. Hit .100 over 15 games with the Pirates, in what ended up being his last big league season. He was a .193 hitter over 636 games and 11 seasons in the majors. Known for his strong arm, he threw out 44% of base runners in his career. Pirates acquired him from the Philadelphia Phillies in an even up trade for Jackie Hernandez on January 31, 1974 and he was released after the season. Ryan was with the Pirates for the entire season, though he started just ten games all year. Manny Sanguillen made 147 starts that season, leaving little time for the three other players who took turns behind the plate in 1974. Ryan managed for two seasons in the minors for the Pirates in 1975-76 and even got into a handful of games each season. He moved onto the Phillies organization as a manager for the 1977-78 seasons. Ryan originally signed as amateur with the Boston Red Sox at 18 years old in 1960. He made the majors in 1964 and remained in Boston through the end of the 1967 season. He was traded to the Phillies, where he played until his trade to the Pirates. Ryan set career highs in nearly every offensive category in 1969 when he batted .204 with 12 homers and 44 RBIs in 133 games. He had just one other season in which he played 100+ games (116 in 1966).
Cholly Naranjo, pitcher for the 1956 Pirates. He went 1-2, 4.46 in three starts and 14 relief appearances at 21 years old for the 1956 Pirates, in what turned out to be his only big league time. Naranjo played a total of ten seasons in the minors. He was originally signed by the Washington Senators in 1952, then joined the Pirates two years later in the 1954 minor league draft. Naranjo split the 1955 season between Lincoln of the Western League and Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League, posting a combined 7-14, 4.06 record in 177.1 innings. He began 1956 back in Hollywood, where he went 8-6, 3.05 in 118 innings over 16 starts and three relief appearances. The Pirates called him up on July 4th and he debuted four days later. Naranjo remained with the team through the end of the season, though he didn’t pitch during any of the final 14 games. After the season ended, he played winter ball in his home country of Cuba, along with 11 other players from the Pirates. Naranjo put up solid stats in Triple-A Columbus over the next two seasons, but never pitched for the Pirates again. On April 21, 1959, he was sold to the Cincinnati Reds, who sent them to their farm team in Nashville, where he pitched the next two seasons. Naranjo finished his pro career in 1961. He turns 86 years old today.
Jim Waugh, pitcher for the 1952-53 Pirates. He’s one of the youngest players in team history, debuting five months after his 18th birthday. His big league career was done before he turned 20 years old. Waugh went 5-11, 6.43 in 142.2 innings, making 18 starts and 28 relief appearances. He pitched a total of six seasons in the minors for the Pirates and was out of pro ball by age 22. He pitched 137 innings over two levels of the minors in 1951 at 17 years old, then made the Opening Day roster in 1952. While he ended up spending about half of that first season in the minors, he still managed to get in seven starts and ten relief appearances with the Pirates, with most of that time coming in August/September when he returned from three months in the minors. Waugh had a similar split in 1953, pitching five games early in the season before headed to the minors, except this time he returned in early July and remained in Pittsburgh for the rest of the season. He began to suffer from arm soreness in 1953 and it never went away fully, so he retired in early 1957, though he still pitched for a team near his hometown of Lancaster, OH. while he attended college. The Pirates signed Waugh to a $30,000 bonus on June 20, 1951 after he had tryouts with four different teams. Waugh reportedly chose the Pirates because he and his parents were impressed with Branch Rickey’s plan for him, which included arrangements for a college education.
Ben Wade, pitcher for the 1955 Pirates. He made one start and ten relief appearances for the Pirates, posting a 3.20 ERA in 28 innings. He had a 19-17 record over five seasons in the majors, seeing time with four clubs. His brother Jake Wade pitched eight seasons in the majors, playing with six different American League clubs back when there were only eight teams in each league. Ben Wade began his pro career in 1940 at 17 years old. He played three seasons in the minors before spending the next three years serving during WWII. From 1946 until 1951, he pitched two big league games (both in relief), debuting early in 1948 for the Chicago Cubs. His next big league appearance came in 1952 for the Brooklyn Dodgers, where he went 11-9, 3.60 in 24 starts and 13 relief appearances, throwing a total of 180 innings. In 1953, he was pitching in relief all season for the Dodgers, going 7-5, 3.79 in 32 appearances. He struggled in 1954 and split the season between the Dodgers and St Louis Cardinals, posting a 7.28 ERA in 68 innings. The Pirates acquired him on January 11, 1955 in a trade for pitcher Paul LaPalme. Wade was with the Pirates through June 15th when he was sent to Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League, where he spent three years. He had an odd salary during his time in Pittsburgh. He got paid $3,500 in 1954, then the Pirates cut his salary 25% in 1955, but if he remained with the club after May 15th, his old salary would kick in again. So for one month, he got the pro-rated $3,500 salary before being sent to the minors. He pitched until 1961 in the minors on the west coast without returning to the majors.
Jim Weaver, pitcher for the 1935-37 Pirates. He won 14 games in each of his first two seasons with the Pirates, then went 8-5, 3.20 in 1937. He threw a total of 511.2 innings with Pittsburgh, going 36-21, 3.76 in 62 starts and 47 relief appearances. Weaver spent a total of eight years in the majors, seeing time with six different teams. He debuted in pro ball at 24 years old in 1928 and was in the majors by the end of the season, pitching three games for the Washington Senators. He didn’t pitch in the majors again until 1931, returning with the 1931 New York Yankees for 17 games. He had another three year stretch before he got his third chance in the majors, splitting the 1934 season between the St Louis Browns and Chicago Cubs. He did much better with the Cubs that year, going 11-9, 3.91 in 159 innings. In November of 1934, the Pirates acquired him in a five-player deal that included a lot of big names at the time, with Weaver being the clear fifth player in the deal as far as recognition. The Pirates sent Hall of Famer Freddie Lindstrom and starter Larry French to Chicago for Weaver, Guy Bush and Babe Herman. It was Waver who ended up providing the most value for the Pirates with three solid seasons. He was shipped to the St Louis Browns in January of 1938 in a cash deal. He had a 3.43 ERA in 136.1 innings in 1938, but he played just three more games with the 1939 Cincinnati Reds, before finishing his career in the minors, playing two seasons for Louisville of the American Association. Weaver was known as “Big Jim” during his career because he was 6’6″, 230 pounds (at least). On the 1937 Pirates, the next tallest player was 6’3″, and no one else weighed over 200 pounds, so he earned that nickname.
Jimmy Woulfe, outfielder for the 1884 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He began the 1884 season with the Cincinnati Red Stockings, but he was released after hitting .147 in eight games. He was their extra fielder on a 14-man team that included three pitchers and three catchers. The Alleghenys signed him soon after and he batted .113 in 15 games. He debuted with Pittsburgh on July 2nd and made 14 starts in center field. He was taking the place of George “Live Oak” Taylor, who was out due to illness. The local papers praised Woulfe’s defense often, though they never got his name right, spelling it Woulffe. He would play his final game in Pittsburgh on July 23rd, then get released eight days later under his own request, when he wasn’t playing anymore. The interesting part is that Taylor returned from his illness, but he played his final big league game on July 30th, so the Alleghenys lost both of their outfielders. Woulfe had no other big league experience and his time in minor league ball was brief, with only one other known team in 1886, though he played plenty of baseball with amateur teams prior to his big league stint. After being release by Cincinnati, a Philadelphia paper predicted that he would sign with either Washington or Indianapolis.