Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including a player from the 2019 club. We start with two trades of note.
On this date in 1927 the Pittsburgh Pirates traded star outfielder Kiki Cuyler to the Chicago Cubs for infielder Sparky Adams and outfielder Pete Scott. Cuyler at the time of the trade had been benched by manager Donie Bush, who refused to use him in the World Series despite being swept in four games. The Cubs easily got the best of the deal as Cuyler was a Hall of Fame caliber player in the prime of his career and both players they received in return did very little for the Pirates.
Cuyler had been with the Pirates since September of 1921 although he had played just four full seasons and three partial years, totaling 525 games. Cuyler accumulated a .336 average while with the Pirates, he scored 415 runs including a league leading 144 in 1925 when the Pirates won their second World Series title. That run total is the third highest in team history and most since 1894. He also drove in 92 runs in 1924 and 102 in 1925.
Adams had led the NL in at-bats three seasons in a row from 1925-27 and in each of those years he scored between 95-100 runs.In 672 games with the Cubs he batted .292 with 401 runs scored and 201 RBIs. He played most of his games during that stretch at second base, although in 1927 he played at least 40 games at the three infielder spots (not first base). Scott made the majors in 1926 as a 28-year-old. He played just 144 games in his two years in Chicago, but he batted .299 in those games, including a .314 average in 1927.
Cuyler would go on to play eight years in Chicago batting .325 during that time, including a .355 average in 1930 and a career high .360 in 1929. He led the NL in stolen bases for three straight seasons from 1928-30, and during the 1930 season he set career highs in hits with 228, runs with 155, doubles with 50 and RBIs with 134. He helped the Cubs get to the World Series in both 1929 and 1932. Adams hit .276 in 1928 for the Pirates in 135 games. He scored 91 runs that year, but the following year he lost his starting job and was sold to the St Louis Cardinals following the season. He lasted five more years in the majors. Scott hit .311 in 60 games in 1928, but he was injured for a large part of the year and never played in the majors again after 1928.
On this date in 1962 the Pirates traded third baseman Don Hoak to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for infielder Pancho Herrera and outfielder Ted Savage. Hoak had spent four seasons in Pittsburgh. He struggled in 1962 on offense and he was 34 years old at the time of the deal. He was just two years removed from finishing second to teammate Dick Groat for the 1960 MVP. Herrera hit .281 with 17 homers and 71 RBIs in his rookie season in 1960. He hit .258 in 1961 with 13 homers, but he also struck out a lot both seasons. He spent the entire 1962 season in the minors, hitting 32 homers with 108 RBIs. Savage hit .266 with seven homers in 127 games as a 25-year-old during his rookie season in 1962.
Herrera would spend three full seasons in the minors with the Pirates and a small part of 1966 before going to the Detroit Tigers organization, but he never played in the majors again. Savage was a backup outfielder used often as a pinch-hitter, and he was not successful in the role for the Pirates. He hit .195 with five homers in 149 at-bats in 1963, then spent the entire 1964 season in the minors before being traded to the St Louis Cardinals in late 1964. Hoak hit just .231/.282/.324 in 115 games in 1963 as the Phillies third baseman. He lost his job going into 1964, and lasted just six more games, all as a pinch-hitter. That was his last season in baseball. While the Pirates received almost nothing from their return, they picked the right time to move on from Hoak.
Yefry Ramirez, pitcher for the 2019 Pirates. He made nine relief appearances for the Pirates during his one season, posting a 7.71 ERA in 14 innings. He became a minor league free agent at the end of the year and signed with the New York Mets, though he didn’t pitch in the majors in 2020. Ramirez has also pitched for the 2018-19 Baltimore Orioles, where he went 1-10, 6.07 in 75.2 innings, with most of that work coming as a rookie in 2018. He was originally signed out of the Dominican at 17 years old by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011. The New York Yankees selected him in the minor league portion of the 2015 Rule 5 draft, then sold him to the Orioles at the 2017 trading deadline. The Pirates acquired him on May 27, 2019 in a trade for a player to be named later, which turned out to be minor league infielder Pat Dorrian. Ramirez went to the minors before joining the Pirates on July 30th for a week. He pitched once in long relief, allowing five runs in 3.2 innings. He returned on August 27th, went on the injured list after one appearance, then returned for seven games in September.
Angel Sanchez, pitcher for the 2017 Pirates. In his only big league season, he made eight relief appearances for the Pirates, posting an 8.76 ERA in 12.1 innings. Sanchez was released after the 2017 season so he could sign to play in Korea. He played in Korea in 2018-19, then spent the 2020 season playing Japan. He was originally signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2010 at 20 years old. Three years later, he was traded to the Miami Marlins. In 2014, Sanchez was selected off waivers by the Tampa Bay Rays on June 13th. On July 2nd, the Chicago White Sox picked him up off of waivers. On July 31st, the Pirates picked him up off of waivers. So over a seven week period, he was property of four different MLB organizations. Sanchez looked like he was well on his way to making the majors with the Pirates late in 2015, but an elbow injury turned into Tommy John surgery, which cost him the entire 2016 season. He debuted in the majors on August 24, 2017, pitching against the team that first signed him (Dodgers).
Jose Parra, pitcher for the 2000 Pirates. He made two starts and four relief appearance while with the Pirates, posting a 6.94 ERA in 11.2 innings. He played five years in the majors for five teams from 1995 until 2004. Parra was originally signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1989, one week after his 17th birthday. He made his Major League debut in May of 1995, but he was traded to the Minnesota Twins mid-season after just eight relief appearances. In Minnesota, he moved to the starting rotation and had his issues, going 1-5, 7.59 in 12 starts. In 1996, he pitched in more of a relief role and had a 6.04 ERA in 70 innings. Parra spent 1997 in the minors, 1998 in Korea, 1999 in Japan, then returned to the U.S. with the Pirates in 2000. He mostly pitched in Triple-A, going 6-5, 5.22 in 101.2 innings. He spent just over three weeks with the Pirates, making his two starts at the end of April, before four relief appearances in the beginning of May, before being sent back to the minors.He became a free agent in October, re-signed with the Pirates in February of 2001, but he was released in July without a big league appearance. Parra saw time in the majors with the 2002 Arizona Diamondbacks and 2004 New York Mets, posting an identical 3.21 ERA over 14 innings in both seasons. He finished his 16-year pro career in Japan in 2005.
Sixto Lezcano, outfielder for the 1985 Pirates. Hit .207 over 72 games in his final big league season in 1985. Lezcano spent 12 years in the majors, mostly with the Milwaukee Brewers. In 1979, he hit .321 with 28 homers and 101 RBIs, while winning the Gold Glove award. He was originally signed as a international free agent out of Puerto Rico at 16 years old in 1970, years before Puerto Rico became part of the amateur draft. Lezcano made it to the majors by age 20 in 1974, and he was Milwaukee’s everyday right fielder by 1975. After a decent rookie season, he put together a four-year stretch (1976-79) in which he compiled most of his career value. He had a 3.2 WAR in 1976 thanks in part to a .285 average. His WAR went up to 3.7 in 1977 when he hit .273 with 21 homers. Lezcano had a .292 average with 15 homers and 64 walks in 1978, before his big 1979 season mentioned above. He had a total of 9.6 WAR during those last two seasons combined. Despite winning the Gold Glove in 1979, it actually rated as his worst defensive season of his career, with a -1.1 dWAR. Lezcano saw a huge slide in his stats in 1980, batting .229, then had a mediocre year for the 1981 St Louis Cardinals. In 1982, he moved on to the San Diego Padres and had his best season (by WAR), hitting .289 with 78 walks, 16 homers and 84 RBIs. His numbers dropped off the following season, before rebounding with an .851 OPS for the 1984 Philadelphia Phillies. The Pirates signed him as a free agent in January of 1985 and he competed for a job during Spring Training in 1986 before being released on April 4th, which ended his big league career. He made a brief comeback attempt in Japan in 1987 before calling it quits. Lezcano was a .271 hitter in 1,291 big league games, with 148 homers and 591 RBIs.
Dave Augustine, outfielder for the 1973-74 Pirates. He batted 29 times over 29 games in his career, all spent with the Pirates. He went 6-for-29 at the plate and played all three outfield spots. Augustine spent nine seasons in the minors after his final big league game. He was with the Pirates organization from 1969-77 and then again from 1981-83. He was drafted out of college in the 33rd round in 1968 by the Cleveland Indians, but he didn’t sign. The Pirates signed him as a free agent in 1969 at 19 years old and he struggled at the lower levels in his first year. He had a breakout of sorts in 1970 with a .309 average in 86 games, but when he moved up a level in 1971, he saw his average drop to .247 for Salem of the Carolina League. He didn’t show much power at that point, but he managed to steal 36 bases, which was more than double any other single season output during his 15-year career. Augustine moved up to Double-A in 1972 and he hit .301 with 27 doubles and 12 homers. He had a .712 OPS in 125 games in Triple-A in 1973, which earned him a September look that year. He went 2-for-7 in 11 games for the Pirates. Augustine had two stints with the Pirates in 1974, spending most of July with the team, then returning in September, when he saw very little use and failed to record an at-bat. He made a total of four starts in the majors. Just prior to the 1978 season, he was traded to the Houston Astros for outfielder Jim Fuller, who had slightly more MLB time than Augustine, but Fuller never played in the majors again.
Max West, 1B/OF for the 1948 Pirates. In 87 games in Pittsburgh, he batted .178 with eight homers. West played for the Boston Braves (also called Bees at that time) from 1938-42, then missed three years due to WWII. He played 73 games in 1946, then spent the 1947 season in the minors before joining the Pirates for his final big league season. He began his pro career at 18 years old in 1935 in the Pacific Coast League. West had a solid rookie season in pro ball, then .307 in the PCL in 1936, and .330 with 61 extra-base hits in 151 games in 1937. The Bees had him as an everyday player at 21 years old in 1938 and he hit .234 with ten homers. He settled in during his second season and batted .285 with 19 homers and 82 RBIs. His stats dropped off a bit in 1940, though he was still good enough to get named to the NL All-Star team, which ended up being his only All-Star season. In his final season before leaving for WWII, West hit .254 with 16 homers and 68 walks. He was with Boston for one game after he returned in 1946, then moved on to Cincinnati to finish his season. Playing for San Diego of the PCL in 1947, he hit .306 with 43 homers, 124 RBIs and 120 walks. West was acquired by the Pirates as a Rule 5 pick in November of 1947 and he was around until January 28, 1949, when the Pirates gave him his unconditional release. West spent the next six seasons in the PCL. Returning to San Diego again in 1949, he hit .291 with 48 homers and 166 RBIs, while drawing 201 walks (that’s no misprint). The league played an extended schedule, but that’s still extremely impressive for 189 games.
Lee Fohl, catcher for the 1902 Pirates. He lasted one game in Pittsburgh, going 0-for-3 on August 29, 1902. The rest of his big league career consisted of four games with the 1903 Cincinnati Reds. He played 12 seasons in the minors and managed for 22 seasons total, including 11 years in the majors. During his last five years in the minors, he was a player/manager. Before joining the Pirates, he was playing for a local amateur team called the Pittsburgh Junctions in 1902, where he was teammates of Harvey Cushman, who was the starting pitcher during Fohl’s only game with the Pirates. The August 29th game was called a tryout by manager Fred Clarke, who already had the Pirates well on the way to their second NL title in a row at that point. While Fohl played well behind the plate, he was back with the Junctions days later. Cushman was given three more starts and he lost them all. After the season, it was announced that the Junctions battery received “flattering” offers to play for Des Moines of the Western League in 1903, which is where they both ended up playing. In Cincinnati, he was the backup to Heinie Peitz, a name you might read soon…
Heinie Peitz, catcher for the 1905-06 Pirates. During his two seasons in Pittsburgh, he hit .228 over 128 games. He had a 16-year career in the majors, also playing nine seasons with the Cincinnati Reds and five years for the St Louis Cardinals. Peitz averaged exactly one home run per season in the majors and his career high was three in 1894, which was a huge year for offense around all of baseball. His last home run came in 1904 against the great Christy Mathewson. Peitz joined the Pirates on December 14, 1904 in a straight up trade with the Reds for catcher Eddie Phelps. In his first season in Pittsburgh, he hit .223 in 88 games, while throwing out 47% of runners attempting to steal. Peitz saw limited time in 1906, as newcomer George Gibson began to see regular time behind the plate. He spent the 1907-10 seasons playing for Louisville of the American Association. He was purchased from the Pirates on January 7, 1907, along with pitcher Doc Moskiman, who never got a chance to play for the Pirates.
Peitz’s pro career began in 1892 at 21 years old. He played one game for the Cardinals (then called the Browns) that season, after spending the year with the Montgomery Lambs of the Southern Association. He wouldn’t play another minor league game until 15 years later. Peitz would end his big league career in 1913, playing three games for the Cardinals at 42 years old. He was a coach for the Cardinals at the time, getting called into duty twice off the bench and once as a starter. His brother Joe Peitz was his teammate in the middle of 1894 and hit .423/.531/.731 in six games, yet never played in the majors again. Heinie Peitz was a .271 career hitter in the majors over 1,235 games.