This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: December 19th, Seven Former Players Born on This Date

Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date.

Mike Fetters, pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2001-02. Fetters was in his 13th season in the majors when the Pirates acquired him from the Los Angeles Dodgers along with Adrian Burnside in exchange for Terry Mulholland on July 31, 2001. He finished the year going 1-1, 4.58 in 17.2 innings over 20 games with the Pirates, recording eight saves. In 2002 Fetters went 1-0, 3.26 in 32 games before the Pirates traded him to the Arizona Diamondbacks in early July for reliever Duaner Sanchez. Fetters pitched 620 games over 16 Major League seasons, saving exactly 100 games in his career. Fetters went to high school in Hawaii and he was drafted in the 22nd round by the Dodgers in 1983. He decided to attend college at Pepperdine and the move paid off. He was a first round pick of the California Angels in 1986. He took just three years to make his pro debut, though his 1989 season with the Angels consisted of one rough outing in September. Fetters remained in California for the next two seasons and made his only six big league starts during that time. He moved on to the Milwaukee Brewers in 1992 and remained there for six seasons. He had 17 saves in 1994, 22 in 1995, and 32 in 1996, setting a personal best each year. Despite playing another eight seasons after 1996, he compiled just 26 more saves. Fetters started his moving around after 1997. After playing for two teams over his first nine seasons, he played for seven teams in his final seven seasons. That included a second stint with the Angels (this time as the Anaheim Angels) and two stops with the Diamondbacks. Besides the Dodgers and Pirates, he also saw time with the Baltimore Orioles, Minnesota Twins and Oakland A’s. Despite the long career, his entire playoff record consisted of two outs recorded in the 2002 NLDS.

Jose Silva, pitcher for the 1997-2001 Pirates. Silva came to the Pirates as one of the key pieces in a nine-player deal with the Toronto Blue Jays in November of 1996. His big league experience at the time consisted of two relief outings for Toronto earlier that year. For the Pirates, Silva spent five seasons in Pittsburgh, making 53 starts and 87 relief appearances. He had a 24-28, 5.44 record in 402 innings. In 1998, he went 6-7, 4.40 in 18 starts, posting his lowest season ERA. Two years later, he went 11-9 in 19 starts and 32 relief appearances, though he amassed that record while posting a 5.56 ERA. After posting a 6.75 ERA in 26 relief appearances during the 2001 season, the Pirates traded Silva to the Cincinnati Reds for minor league pitcher Ben Shaffar, who never made the majors. Silva played one season for the Reds, which was his last year in the majors. He had a 4.24 ERA in 23.1 innings over 12 relief appearances. He played in the minors and Mexico until the winter of 2012-13 before retiring at 38 years old. Silva was born in Mexico, but he attended high school in California, where he was a sixth round pick of the Blue Jays in 1991.  After his final big league game, he moved around the minors without any success or long trials. The Oakland A’s signed him after the 2002 season, then released him in May of 2003. He signed with the San Diego Padres a week later and he was released after exactly two months. Three days later he signed with the Chicago Cubs and got released 15 days later. In 2004, he spent the final month of the season in the minors for the Arizona Diamondbacks, then became a free agent after the season. In 2006, he signed with the Texas Rangers in late January and got released in early May.

Tommy O’Brien, outfielder for the Pirates from 1943-45. He had spent three seasons in the minors before joining the Pirates for the 1943 season. He played 89 games that rookie season, hitting .310 with 26 RBIs. During a doubleheader on June 6th, he went 5-for-5 in the first game, then collected hits in his first two at-bats in the second game, giving him hits in seven straight at-bats. The following year O’Brien got into 85 games, but he received just 178 plate appearances, in which he hit .250 with 21 walks. In 1945, he hit .335 in 58 games, but missed most of both June and July due to a stomach ailment that reportedly bothered him since he was a football player for the University of Tennessee five years earlier. On June 16th he was operated on for appendicitis. O’Brien did well as a bench player after his return, posting a .314 average, but he had to compete for a job during Spring Training in 1946 because the Pirates had a much strong outfield. O’Brien was one of the first cuts of the spring, getting sent to Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League on March 21st. He spent the entire 1946 season in the minors, then was sold to the Rochester of the International League on December 30th, ending his time with the Pirates. He next played in the majors in 1949 for the Boston Red Sox, getting into 61 games between the 1949-50 seasons, before finishing his career in the minors in 1955. O’Brien had a strange route to the Pirates. He played for Atlanta of the Southern Association in 1942, but refused to sign a contract for them the next year due to a salary dispute. Instead, he signed with the Pirates on April 16th and joined them three days later, just two days before Opening Day, but only on a trial basis. The Pirates had upwards of a month to decide whether they would return him to Atlanta, or keep him, which they did on May 21st.

Lou Koupal, a pitcher for the World Series winning 1925 Pirates team. The Pirates paid $40,000 for Koupal on December 13, 1924 and also had to include young pitching prospect Robert Burns Jr in the deal.. That was a large sum of money for the day, but he had just posted a 22-10 record for Omaha of the Western League. This deal was part of a youth movement by the Pirates, who released 36-year-old pitcher Jeff Pfeffer at the same time, despite a 3.07 ERA during the 1924 season. Koupal was used sparingly the first two months of his Major League career, getting into a total of six games, all in relief. He pitched just nine innings during that time, giving up 14 hits, seven walks, and he failed to record a strikeout. The Pirates sent him to Kansas City of the American Association on June 20th, then transferred him to Des Moines of the Western League on August 11th. He finished the 1925 season in the minors, then began the 1926 season there as well as one of the last cuts during Spring Training. On April 7th, they announced that he was being sent to Buffalo of the International League, though he remained with the Pirates for four more days as they traveled east. After going 13-5 for Buffalo, the Pirates brought him back to the majors on August 25th of that year. He made his first appearance one week later and he went 0-2, 3.20 in six games, in what would be his last year with the Pirates. On November 23, 1926, Koupal was released to Indianapolis of the American Association as part of the return for pitcher Carmen Hill, who was acquired back on September 1st. Koupal had a career record of 10-21, 5.58 in six Major League seasons, also seeing time with the Brooklyn Robins (1928-29), Philadelphia Phillies (1929-30) and St Louis Browns (1937). Koupal won 175 minor league games, playing until the age of 42. Before joining the Browns in 1937, he went 23-11, 2.69 in 1936 for Seattle of the Pacific Coast League.

Eddie Yount, pinch-hitter for the 1939 Pirates. Yount didn’t get much of a chance with the Pirates, striking out as a pinch-hitter in consecutive games. He spent the 1939 season with Portsmouth of the Piedmont League, where he hit .350 with 27 doubles, 11 triples and 11 homers in 137 games. His only other Major League experience came with the 1937 Philadelphia A’s fresh out of Wake Forest, and that was just four games. The interesting part about that fact is that when Yount joined the Pirates, the local paper thought it was his Major League debut. He was also referred to as Floyd Yount, which is his given name, though most baseball sources call him Eddie. Yount played 12 years in the minors, retiring after the 1952 season. He missed three years during WWII. He was a .302 hitter in the minors.

The Pirates purchased him from Portsmouth on July 29, 1939, paying a price that was said to be in the five-figures (later announced to be $15,000). Yount was also being pursued by the Boston Red Sox and Washington Senators at the time. When the purchase was announced, they also said that Yount would remain with his Portsmouth team until early September. He finished with a .350 average that year, but the current stats as of the date of his purchase said that he had a .380 average. They believed that he was 22 years old at the time, though he was actually a year older. Yount joined the Pirates on September 8th and the papers said that he was expected to break into the lineup immediately. His debut came on September 9th to lead-off the bottom of the ninth, when he struck out as a pinch-hitter for pitcher Bill Swift. The next day he struck out again in the ninth, this time pinch-hitting for pitcher Bill Clemensen. The next day the Pirates gave Yount permission to return home for the winter. He had a job offer that needed to be immediately filled.

Yount was with the Pirates during Spring Training in 1940, but on March 19th he was optioned to Syracuse of the International League. After barely playing in Syracuse, the Pirates moved him to Oklahoma of the Texas League for 23 games and a .197 average, before he was transferred to Little Rock of the Southern Association on June 5th. He wasn’t recalled in September, but he rejoined the Pirates for Spring Training in 1941. He lasted until April 12th, three days before Opening Day, before he was shipped to Albany of the Eastern League. Eight days later, after refusing to report to Albany, he was sold to Toronto of the International League, ending his time with the Pirates.

Ray Poat, pitcher for the 1949 Pirates. Poat came to the Pirates in a mid-season trade (June 6, 1949) with the New York Giants that also sent Bobby Rhawn to Pittsburgh, with pitcher Kirby Higbe going the other way. Poat had only been used twice in the first two months of the season by the Giants and he got hit hard each time, allowing a total of six runs in 2.1 innings. He also saw limited time with the Pirates, getting two starts and nine relief appearances over the final four months of the season. He was 0-1, 6.25 in 36 innings. That would end up being his last season in the majors. He played one more year in the minors before retiring. Poat pitched a total of six years in the majors, going 22-30, 4.55 in exactly 400 innings. He picked up half of his career wins during the 1948 season with the Giants. He debuted in pro ball in 1939 at 21 years old, playing for a team named (no joke) the Leaksville-Draper-Spray Triplets of the Bi-State League. He played three seasons in the minors, compiling a 44-18 record, before joining the Cleveland Indians at the start of the 1942 season. After one start, he was sent to the minors, where he won 15 games for Indianapolis of the American Association before returning to Cleveland in September, where he threw a complete game shutout in his first game back. Poat remained in the majors for all of 1943-44, then worked a war-effort job during the 1945 season. He returned to baseball in 1946, playing in the minors for Baltimore of the International League, where he stayed until joining the Giants in August of 1947.

Art Butler, infielder for the 1912-13 Pirates. The Pirates acquired him on August 13, 1912 in a trade with St Paul of the American Association for infielder Bill McKechnie, the future Hall of Fame manager who had spent parts of four seasons in a Pittsburgh uniform. Prior to the trade, Butler’s Major League experience consisted of just 26 games with the Boston Rustlers (Braves) in 1911. He was considered to be the best player in the American Association prior to the trade and came heavily recommended by Pirates scout Billy Murray. Butler was hitting .329 at the time of the deal and his 37 stolen bases ranked near the top of the league. Despite being 10.5 games out of first place with 51 games left in the season before he joined them, the Pirates believed that Butler’s presence could help push them over the top. He was the Pirates everyday second baseman after the trade, playing 43 games in which he hit .273 with 17 RBIs. The Pirates went 32-18 (one tie) after acquiring Butler, though they still finished ten games out of first place. Butler backed up at both second base and shortstop in 1913, getting into 82 games, while hitting .280 with 40 runs scored. Following the season, he was part of a regrettable eight-player trade with the St Louis Cardinals  on December 12, 1913 that also included Dots Miller and Chief Wilson, which went horribly wrong for the Pirates when Miller outplayed their big get in the deal (first baseman Ed Konetchy), then two of their three new players jumped to the Federal League after one season. Butler was a solid player for three seasons in St Louis, then semi-retired in 1917, before returning full-time to pro ball in 1918. He played 11 years in the minors before retiring, without making it back to the majors. His pro career got started in 1910, playing in his hometown for Fall Rivers of the New England League.

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