Nine former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including a key member of a World Series winning club. Before I get into those, current outfielder Jared Oliva turns 25 today. He debuted with the 2020 Pirates and hit .188 in six games.
Dave Giusti, pitcher for the 1970-76 Pirates. In seven seasons in Pittsburgh, he had a 2.94 ERA in 618 innings, with a 47-28 record and 133 saves. During the 1971 playoffs, Giusti pitched a total of 10.2 shutout innings, with 5.1 each in the NLCS and World Series. The Pirates made the playoffs in five of his seven seasons. He played a total of 15 years in the majors, winning exactly 100 games. He turns 81 today. Giusti signed with the expansion Houston Colt .45s in June of 1961 out of Syracuse University. That was ten months before they played their first official game. He was with the team on Opening Day in 1962 and made five starts and 17 relief appearances during his rookie season, posting a 5.62 ERA in 73.2 innings. He spent 1963 in the minors and made just eight relief appearances for the Colt .45s in 1964. Houston changed their name to the Astros in 1965 and Giusti had his big break that season, making 13 starts and 25 relief appearances. The next three years he was in their starting rotation and pitched 210+ innings each year, winning a total of 37 games.
After the 1968 season, Giusti was traded to the St Louis Cardinals. Three days later he drafted by the expansion San Diego Padres, but in December, the Padres traded him back to the Cardinals. He spent one year in St Louis before joining the Pirates on October 21, 1969 in a four-player deal, with two players going each way. The Pirates put him in the closer role, though at that time it involved multi-inning work. He averaged 62 appearances and 93 innings per season during his first six years in Pittsburgh. In 1971, he had a 2.93 ERA and led the league with 30 saves. His best year for ERA was 1972 when he put up a 1.93 mark in 74.2 innings, but his best overall year by WAR was 1973, when he had a 2.37 ERA and threw 98.2 innings. He was an All-Star that season and finished seventh in the Cy Young voting.
Giusti saw a slide in his results during his final season in Pittsburgh and then he was traded to the Oakland A’s on March 15, 1977 in a nine-player deal that brought Phil Garner to Pittsburgh. He split the 1977 season between the A’s and Chicago Cubs, then was released at the end of the year, which ended his career. He had a 3.89 ERA in 60 appearances, but he moved on from baseball after the season. Giusti had a 3.60 ERA in 1,716.2 innings in the majors. He made 133 starts and 535 relief appearances.
Tim Laker, catcher for the 1998-99 Pirates. He batted .364 in 20 games with the Pirates, split over two seasons. He was a .228 hitter over 11 big league seasons, playing a total of 281 games. Laker was drafted in the 49th round by Kansas City Royals in 1987 out of high school, but didn’t sign. He attended Oxnard College and was eligible for the 1988 draft. He moved up 43 rounds in one year, with the Montreal Expos taking him in the sixth round. It took him four years to make the majors, debuting with the Expos in 1992. He was used regular as a late season call-up, getting into 28 games. Laker spent half of the 1993 season in the majors, batting .198 in 43 games. He spent the entire 1994 season in the minors, despite batting .309 with 12 homers in Triple-A. That was followed by spending the entire 1995 season in the majors, where he batted .234 in 64 games. Laker missed the 1996 season due to elbow surgery. The Baltimore Orioles picked him up on waivers in March of 1997 and he played just seven big league games. He played three games with the 1998 Tampa Bay Devil Rays before being released in June. The Pirates signed him two weeks later and he played 14 games in 1998. He was actually released after the season and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who traded him to the Pirates on March 26, 1999. After leaving the Pirates via free agency after the season, he spent time with 2001, 2003-04 Cleveland Indians, then one game for the 2005 Devil Rays, before finishing his big league time back with the Indians in 2006. He played a total of 1,341 minor league games and he hit 147 homers during that time.
Randy Milligan, first baseman for the 1988 Pirates. He hit .220 over 40 games with the Pirates, after being acquired in a trade with the New York Mets. Milligan then spent four seasons in Baltimore, where he hit double digit homers each season. In eight years, he had an .810 OPS in 703 games. Back when the draft had a January phase, Milligan was the third overall pick by the Mets in 1981, shortly after his 19th birthday. It took him seven seasons in the minors to make it to New York and he played just three September games off of the bench for the Mets. The Pirates acquired Milligan late in Spring Training of 1988 in a deal that sent Mackey Sasser to New York. He stuck around until late June before he was sent to the minors for the rest of the season. Despite poor production, the Pirates went 14-9 in games that he started. Shortly after the season ended, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for minor league pitcher Pete Blohm. Milligan had an .852 OPS in his first season with the Orioles, then put up a .900 OPS in 1990, hitting 20 homers while drawing 88 walks. He saw a dip in power the next year, but still had decent overall results thanks to 16 homers, 70 RBIs and 84 walks. In 1992, Milligan saw the power drop even more, but still managed to draw 106 walks. He split the 1993 season between the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians, then played his final season in 1994 with the Montreal Expos. In 1996, he attempted a brief comeback in Mexico. In 703 big league games, he had an .810 OPS and more walks (447) than strikeouts (431).
Bill Short, lefty pitcher for the 1967 Pirates. He made six relief appearances in his brief time in Pittsburgh, throwing a total of just 2.1 innings. He allowed one run on one hit and one walk. His best season in the majors was as a rookie for the 1960 New York Yankees, when he made ten of his 16 career starts in the majors. He was signed by the Yankees prior to the 1955 season out of high school in New York. Despite the big league time he put in during the 1960 season, he didn’t pitch in the World Series in 1960 and he also didn’t pitch in the majors in 1961. After spending the season in Triple-A Richmond, he was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 1961 Rule 5 draft. Short made five relief appearances in 1962 and allowed seven runs in four innings. He wouldn’t appear in the majors again until 1966. He split that 1966 season as a starter for the Orioles and a reliever for the Boston Red Sox. The Pirates purchased his contract from Boston days after the 1966 season ended. Short pitched in six of the first 20 games of the 1967 season, then was sent to the minors, where he won 14 games and threw 173 innings in a starter role. After the season, he was sold to the New York Mets. He tossed 34 games for the 1968 Mets, then finished his career with the 1969 Cincinnati Reds. As a 5’9″ pitcher, he lived up (or is it down?) to his last name.
Bob Schultz, pitcher for the 1953 Pirates. After three seasons with the Chicago Cubs, he went 0-2, 8.20 in two starts and nine relief appearances with the Pirates. He played just one more big league game after that season, giving up three runs over 1.1 innings for the 1955 Detroit Tigers. Schultz served in WWII before signing his first pro deal at 22 years old in 1946. The Cubs picked him up in the minors from the Chicago White Sox system just prior to the 1950 season. He debuted in the majors a year later and made ten starts and seven relief appearances, posting a 3-6, 5.24 record in 77.1 innings. Schultz pitched in more of a relief role in 1952, making five starts and 24 relief appearances. He had a 4.01 ERA in 74 innings. He had a 5.40 ERA through early June when the Pirates acquired him as part of the large return in the Ralph Kiner trade. His 11 appearances in Pittsburgh came between June 7th and July 6th. Schultz spent the rest of 1953 in the minors, then stayed there for the entire 1954 season when he threw 261 innings for New Orleans. After the 1954 season, he was sold to the Detroit Tigers. He remained in baseball through the end of the 1956. He was hampered by control issues during his career, with a 125:67 BB/SO ratio in 183 big league innings. In 1,891 innings as a pro, he walked a total of 1,059 batters.
Joe Bush, pitcher for the 1926-27 Pirates. He lasted just 117.1 innings in Pittsburgh, but Bullet Joe had a long career in the majors. He won 196 games over 17 seasons and once led the league with 24 losses, despite a 2.57 ERA. Bush also had a 26-7 record for the 1922 Yankees. That was his only 20-win season, though he had a total of nine seasons with 15+ wins. He was on a World Series winner with three different teams and played in a total of five World Series. His time with the Pirates lasted just under a full year. He was signed from the Washington Senators, who released him days earlier. Bush had 15 years in the majors at the time, which allowed him to become a free agent and negotiate his own transfer from Washington to the Pirates. Players with less time back then would have had a waiver fee attached to them, or had to accept a minor league assignment, unless they were unconditionally released. Bush went 6-6, 3.01 in 110.2 innings over the rest of 1926. In 1927, he made three starts and two relief appearances before being released unconditionally on June 15th. In his three starts, he lasted a total of 1.2 innings. Bush joined the New York Giants and struggled there as well, though he allowed one run in a complete game victory in his debut. He finished his big league career with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1928, then stayed around for three more seasons in the minors, though the last two years were as a player-manager, with much more time spent on the bench. Bush was an outstanding hitter for a pitcher, batting .253 with seven homers and 140 RBIs in 1,239 at-bats. He was used as a pinch-hitter occasionally and also took some turns in the outfield during his career, playing a total of nine games spread over the three positions. As you may have guessed from his nickname, he threw very hard, and he was recognized as having one of the best fastballs of his day.
Marty O’Toole, pitcher for the 1911-14 Pirates. Despite a 3.17 ERA in 550.1 innings, he had a 25-35 record with the Pirates. They paid $22,500 to purchase his contract during the 1911 season, which was a huge sum of money at the time. At the time, the reported second highest paid price for a player was $11,000 for Hall of Fame pitcher Rube Marquard in 1908. Despite the price tag, O’Toole was out of the majors by age 25, finishing his career with four years in the minors following his last big league game. O’Toole debuted in the majors in 1908 with the Cincinnati Reds at 19 years old and he finished his career with the 1914 New York Giants, but the bulk of his career came with the Pirates. O’Toole was built up in the newspapers before joining the Pirates. He was purchased on July 22nd, but didn’t report to the team until a month later. The papers presented a game-by-game breakdown of his 1911 minor league season right before his arrival, which included a 15-10 record and 202 strikeouts in 204 innings. The Pirates also purchased his catcher Billy Kelly, who stayed around for three seasons in Pittsburgh. At the time, Kelly was actually being sought by more teams than O’Toole, but both were getting a lot of notice in St Paul of the American Association.
After his third big league start (he won and completed all three games) he saw a doctor about an arm injury and believed his season was over. However, he ended up making two more starts after a short time off and pitched poorly in both games, so it was likely a bad decision to return. While the record didn’t show it, he had a strong season in 1912, going 15-17, 2.71 in 275.1 innings. He led the league with six shutouts, but also led the league with 159 walks. That work seemed to take a toll on him and O’Toole dropped down to a 3.30 ERA in 144.1 innings in 1913 and a 4.68 ERA in 94.1 innings in 1914 before he was sold to the Giants in August. He lasted just 34 innings in New York, before finishing his career in the minors.
Jim Kane, first baseman for the 1908 Pirates. In his only big league season, he batted .241 with 22 RBIs in 55 games. Kane debuted in pro ball in 1907 with the Utica Pent-Ups of the New York State League at age 25 and he played seven seasons in the Western League after his season with the Pirates, batting .318 in 1,097 games. He was playing amateur ball in his early years and then was in independent ball before joining Utica in late August of 1907 to finish out the season. Kane, a Scranton, PA native, played basketball before and after the 1908 season. His winter team in 1908-09 was in Pittsburgh. He was drafted from Utica on October 19, 1907 under the recommendation of a trusted source of Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss. The Pirates had almost no information on him and none of their scouts saw him play before Spring Training in 1908. The Pirates were weak at first base, so they had four players compete for the job in Spring Training. Kane saw most of his time with the Pirates in June and early July, then played just 11 games after July 8th, with only one start during that stretch. He was with the Pirates for the first seven games of the 1909 season without appearing in a game, before being sent to Omaha on April 23rd. The Pirates retained his rights at that time, though he never returned to the majors. On August 23rd, he was sold to the Boston Doves of the National League. He was supposed to join the Doves at the conclusion of his minor league season, but Omaha played into October and he hit a walk-off homer in the final game of the season, which decided the pennant race (the team Omaha beat lost the pennant by .002 in the winning percentage column).
Jack Kading, first baseman for the 1910 Pirates. He played eight games with Pittsburgh and hit .304 with four RBIs. His only other big league experience was three pinch-hit appearances in the Federal League for Chicago in 1914. Kading debuted in pro ball with Eau Claire of the Minnesota-Wisconsin League in 1909. He hit .251 with no homers in 121 games as a 24-year-old. The next season he batted .271 with four homers and 21 doubles in 126 games. He joined the Pirates on September 11, 1910 and was in the starting lineup the next day. He didn’t play again until September 22nd, then started seven games in a row. He didn’t play in any of the final ten games. Kading was left behind to train at Forbes Field during a team road trip east, but a minor injury to Honus Wagner caused the Pirates to send for Kading to join the team in Philadelphia. Wagner played first base when he returned, moving Kading to the bench. During his first day with the Pirates on that road trip, Kading went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a walk. Pirates scout Howard Earl purchased Kading on July 11th for $1,500, though they allowed him to stay with his Eau Claire team until the end of the season. On February 18, 1911, the Pirates released him to Seattle of the Northwestern League. He was the starting first baseman for Chicago of the Federal League in 1913, but when the Federal League gained Major League status in 1914, he lasted just three games with the team. He finished his pro career later that year in the minors. At 6’3″, he was tall for the era and had the nickname “Big John” in the minors.