One of the slower dates for Pittsburgh Pirates birthdays. Just three players born on December and none of them were around long with the team. We also have two transactions of note below.
Steve Carter, outfielder for the 1989-90 Pirates. His big league career lasted 14 games and he had 21 at-bats, with three hits, including a double and a homer. Carter played all three outfield spots during his brief time, though he only got starts in right field. He was drafted five times before he signed, including the first and last times with the Pirates (1983 and 1987). The Pirates were his worst draft spots over that time as well, first going in the 21st round, then finally signing as a 17th round pick. In between he was a second round pick of the Kansas City Royals in 1984, then twice got drafted in the third round by the Milwaukee Brewers in 1985, back when they had June and January phases of the draft. He was born on the same exact day at Major League pitcher Jeff Carter, but they are not twins.
Carter saw his 1988 season ended early due to a hand injury just nine games into his time in Double-A. He got off to a hot start in Triple-A in 1989 (10-for-25 in seven games) and the Pirates had as many as seven players injured at one time in April, so he was called up on April 16th and made his debut that day. He had just 16 games above A-Ball at the time. On April 26th, he was sent back to the minors, but he was gone for a total of 16 hours before Andy Van Slyke had go to on the disabled list and Carter returned. He played his last game with the Pirates on May 7th and he was sent down two days later. He did not return in September when the rosters expanded, despite finishing with a .295 average in 100 games at Triple-A. Carter batted .303 in 120 games with Triple-A Buffalo in 1990, then returned to the Pirates in September, though he only played five games off of the bench. Just before Opening Day in 1991, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Gary Varsho. Despite solid minor league batting numbers, his big league time was done. He played until 1995, including some time in Mexico, before retiring.
Lou Marone, relief pitcher for the 1969-70 Pirates. Marone had a brief big league career that was spent entirely with the Pirates over two seasons. He made 29 appearances in 1969, posting a 2.55 ERA in 35.1 innings. He made just one early season appearance in 1970, allowing one run in 2.1 innings. Marone was a 30th round pick of the Pirates in 1965 out of San Diego Mesa College. He almost didn’t make it to the majors, as the Pirates nearly cut him in 1967 due to major conditioning issues (they said he was 5’9″, 220+ pounds, despite being now listed at 5’11”, 185). He debuted in the majors at the end of May in 1969 after posting an 0.93 ERA over 29 innings for York of the Eastern League. He remained with the Pirates through the end of the season, mostly pitching late in losses. The Pirates went 5-24 in his appearances. Marone pitched for the Pirates on April 18, 1970, then was sent to Triple-A to develop a slider. In the process of throwing his new pitch, he injured his arm and couldn’t pitch for most of the summer. He was sent home and worked as a bartender, then returned to Pittsburgh in August and threw batting practice. Marone pitched two seasons in the minors (1971-72), then couldn’t make the Pirates out of Spring Training in 1973 and he was released in mid-April. In June, he was working as an insurance salesman in Montreal when the Pirates came there on a road trip. Marone pitched batting practice for the Pirates during that series. His cousin John D’Acquisto pitched ten years in the majors (1973-82), making 22 appearances against the Pirates during that time.
Harry Simpson, outfielder for the 1959 Pirates. He finished his eight-year big league career with the Pirates in 1959, hitting .267 in nine games. Simpson had the nickname “Suitcase” because he reminded a sportswriter during his early years of a cartoon character named Suitcase who had large feet, just like Simpsons. You often hear the nickname came along because it seemed like he was always on the move during his career, which spanned 19 seasons, including stints in the Negro Leagues and Mexico. However, he had the nickname while he was still with his first team in pro ball. He hit over 200 homers in his pro career. He debuted in pro ball with the Philadelphia Stars of the Negro National League in 1946 at 20 years old. After three seasons there, he was signed by the Cleveland Indians and played two years of minor league ball before debuting in the majors in 1951. Simpson played three seasons with the Indians, putting together one solid year in 1952 when he hit .266 with 41 extra-base hits and 65 RBIs in 146 games. He spent 1954 in the minors, then briefly played for the Indians in 1955 before moving on to the Kansas City Athletics for three seasons. He hit .293 with a league leading 11 triples, 21 homers and 105 RBIs in 1956 when he made his lone All-Star appearance. Simpson next played for the 1957-58 New York Yankees before rejoining the A’s mid-season in 1958. In his final big league season, he spent time with the A’s, Chicago White Sox and the Pirates. He came to Pittsburgh in trade for first baseman Ted Kluzsewski on August 25th. Exactly seven weeks later, he was sold back to the White Sox. While he never played in the majors, again, Simpson still played another five years of pro ball, finishing his career in Mexico in 1963-64.
On this date in 1982, the Pirates signed second baseman Jose Lind as an 18-year-old amateur free agent out of Puerto Rico. He debuted in the Gulf Coast League in 1983 and hit .301 in his first season of pro ball. Lind played for the Pirates for six seasons (1987-92), hitting .255 with 50 stolen bases, 292 runs scored and 249 RBIs in 779 games. He won a Gold Glove in 1992.
On this date in 1984, the Pirates selected catcher Junior Ortiz in the Rule 5 draft from the New York Mets. He was originally with the Pirates in 1982-83, but he was traded to the Mets in the middle of the 1983 season. After the Rule 5 draft, he spent five more seasons in Pittsburgh as the backup catcher. Ortiz hit .264 with five homers and 81 RBIs over 299 games with the Pirates.