Six former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date.
Jack Wilson, shortstop for the 2001-2009 Pirates. Wilson was originally draft by the St Louis Cardinals in 1998 in the ninth round out of Oxnard College in California. Just two years later, the Pirates acquired him on July 29, 2000 in exchange for pitcher Jason Christiansen. Wilson finished the season in Double-A Altoona, where he hit .232 in 33 games. He began the 2001 season in the majors as the team’s starting shortstop, skipping over Triple-A. After hitting .155 through the first month, he was sent to Triple-A Nashville, where he tore up the league, hitting .369 in 27 games. That performance earned him a quick trip back to the majors. He would hit just .223 with 25 RBIs that rookie season in 108 games. He led the league with 17 sacrifice hits. During the 2002 season he established himself as a solid everyday player, who was providing the team with above average defense at a key position. He raised his batting average to .256, took more walks, scored 77 runs, and again led the league in sacrifice hits.
From 2002 to 2007 Wilson played an average of 149 games a year, with a career high of 158 during the 2005 season. His best season came in 2004 when he played 157 games, recorded 201 hits, 41 doubles, a league leading 12 triples, 11 homers and a career high 82 runs scored. He hit .308 that year, earned his only All-Star appearance and won the Silver Slugger award. His offensive numbers fell off in 2005, but it was one of the best defensive seasons ever (see below). Wilson had a strong season in 2007 when he hit a career high 12 homers and posted a .791 OPS, but he missed the beginning of the 2008 season with a calf strain and ended up playing just 87 games that year. In 2009 Wilson was traded to the Seattle Mariners on July 29th, exactly nine years to the day the Pirates acquired him. The trade also included Ian Snell going to Seattle, while five players returned to the Pirates. Wilson played 154 games over three seasons in Seattle, including the partial 2009 season and part of 2011 before he was traded to the Atlanta Braves. Much of his time with the Mariners was spent on the disabled list, suffering four separate injuries. He hit just .188 in 57 games with the Braves over two seasons before being released in late August. He also spent time on the DL with in Atlanta.
In his nine seasons in Pittsburgh he played 1,159 games, hit .269 with 508 runs scored. He led NL shortstops in assists in both 2004-05 and putouts in 2004. He turned 255 double plays between the 2004-05 seasons. His 4.1 dWAR led all NL players in 2005, and it is rated as the best defensive season in franchise history. It is tied for the 15th best season in baseball history. His 18.3 dWAR with the Pirates is third best all-time, trailing only Bill Mazeroski and Honus Wagner.
Emil Brown, outfielder for the Pirates from 1997 to 2001. He was originally drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 37th round out of high school. He decided to attend Indian River Community College and in just one year he moved up 31 rounds in the draft. He was selected by the Oakland A’s, who then lost him to the Pirates in the 1996 Rule 5 draft. Brown spent the entire 1997 season in the majors as per the rules of the draft, getting just 112 plate appearances in 66 games. He hit .179 with five stolen bases and 16 runs scored. The following season he went to Double-A to get regular at-bats. He hit .330 with 14 homers and 24 stolen bases, earning a late season call-up to Pittsburgh, where he hit .256 in 13 games. Brown spent the 1999 season in Triple-A, hitting .307 with 18 homers and 16 stolen bases. For a second straight season he received some playing time in September, though it amounted to just six games at 14 at-bats. He started the 2000 season back in the minors, getting a few brief call-ups in May and June, before coming up for good in late July. In 50 Major League games that season, he hit .218 with three homers and 16 RBIs. The next year he began the season in the majors, but hit only .203 through 61 games, before the Pirates traded him to the San Diego Padres for two minor leaguers, who never made it to the Pirates. Brown played just 13 games for the Padres, then played in Triple-A for four different organizations over the next three seasons. Despite that long stretch in the minors, Brown had a breakout season with the Kansas City Royals in 2005. He batted .286 with 17 homers and 86 RBIs in 150 games. He put up nearly identical numbers in 2006, then saw a drop-off in production the next year. From 2005-07 with the Royals, he hit .279 with 229 RBIs and 196 runs scored in 410 games. Brown played 117 games for the 2008 Oakland A’s and then his final three games in the majors came with the 2009 New York Mets. He finished his pro career playing winter ball in Mexico during the 2010-11 off-season. He hit .205 in 196 games with the Pirates.
Clyde Barnhart, outfielder/third baseman who spent his entire Major League career with the Pirates, playing from 1920 to 1928. He started his minor league career in 1913 at age 17, playing for Zanesville of the Interstate League. Two years later, he hit just .256 in D-level ball, in his first of three seasons with Frederick of the Blue Ridge League. Barnhart did not play pro ball during the 1918-19 seasons, so it was quite a jump to the majors for him in 1920. He spent the 1919 season with a semi-pro team in Williamsport, where he was scouted by Billy Hinchman of the Pirates. He went to Spring Training with the Pirates in 1920, and made the Opening Day roster, but he was shipped out to Birmingham of the Southern Association on May 1st without getting into a game for the Pirates. After hitting .322 in 131 games of A-Ball ( a higher level back then, than it is now) he earned a late season look in which he hit .326 in 12 games. The Pirates took no time putting him right into the fire. He played his final game for Birmingham on September 20th and two days later he started both games of a doubleheader with the Pirates.
Barnhart was the everyday third baseman in 1921 and he hit .258 with 31 extra-base hits in 124 games, but he lost his starting job to a young Pie Traynor the following year. Barnhart moved to the outfield and hit .330 in 75 games in 1922, earning more playing time in 1923. He responded with a .324 average and 72 RBIs in 114 games. He struggled in 1924 and lost his starting job for a second time, and again it was lost to another future Hall of Famer (Kiki Cuyler). During the 1925 season Barnhart became the everyday left fielder and he had a big season hitting .325 with 114 RBIs, helping the Pirates to their second championship in team history. He hit .250 in the World Series against the Senators, driving in five runs.
Barnhart had a knack for being replaced by great all-time Pirates and the 1926-27 seasons were no different, although he had himself to blame the next two times. He hit just .192 in 1926 and was never especially skilled in the outfield, so the Pirates called upon rookie Paul Waner to take his place. The following season Barnhart was still around due to the loss of two outfielders and likely would’ve had the starting job if he came into camp into shape, but he didn’t and rookie Lloyd Waner took the position from him. That gave the Pirates an outfield to start the year made up of all future Hall of Famers, the Waner brothers and Cuyler. Barnhart eventually did get plenty of time in 1927 when Cuyler was hurt and then benched. In the World Series that year, Barnhart hit .313 against the Yankees. He was with the Pirates in 1928 and hitting well in limited time when they sent him to a minor league team in Indianapolis in exchange for young outfielder Adam Comorosky. Barnhart went on to play five minor league seasons before ending his pro career. He was a career .295 hitter in 814 games for the Pirates, with 436 RBIs and 404 runs scored. His son Vic Barnhart was an infielder for the Pirates in 1944-46.
George Perez, pitcher for the 1958 Pirates. Perez played a total of four Major League games, all before the age of twenty-one. He pitched for the Pirates early in the 1958 season, making his last appearance on May 6th. In four relief outings, he went 0-1, 5.40 with one save in 8.1 innings. In 1958, teams were allowed to carry extra players during the early part of the season, which had to be cut down to 25 players within 30 days of Opening Day. Perez was a surprise addition to the team due to his lack of experience in general and the fact that it was all lower level affiliates The Pirates signed him as an 18-year-old in 1956 out of high school in Verdugo Hills, California. Three teams showed heavy interest in signing hi, but the Pirates came through with a $4,000 bonus to win out over the Milwaukee Braves and Boston Red Sox. He was assigned to Douglas of the Arizona-Mexico League and he went 13-5, 4.50 in 146 innings during his first season in pro ball. He moved up to Lincoln of the Western League in 1957 and went 15-6, 2.96 in 204 innings. It was said that two outings in particular earned him a spot on the 1958 Pirates out of Spring Training. He allowed one run over three innings against the Braves, then pitched two scoreless innings against the Detroit Tigers. In both of those innings, Perez gave up a lead-off double, but the runner never moved from second base. The coolness under pressure impressed manager Danny Murtaugh.
Perez threw hard and mixed in a curveball that had average results against Major League hitters. He season salary during his brief time was $7,000 (he only received the pro-rated amount), which was double his minor league salary. The Pirates sent him to the minors on May 10th, giving him a total of 25 days of service time in the majors. The Pirates finished in second place in 1958, which gave them a share of the World Series cut. The team voted a 1/4 share to Perez, which amounted to a $376.76 bonus. Perez went to Spring Training with the 1959 Pirates, but he was limited in his work due to a sore arm. He was sent to minor league camp on April 2nd, ending his shot at making the Opening Day roster. On May 13th, he threw a ho-hitter for Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League. A seventh inning walk was the only runner of the game for the opposition. He served in the Army for six months during the off-season and he was optioned to Columbus of the International League on April 20, 1960, eight days after the 1960 season opened. He stayed in the Pirates organization until 1961 before retiring. He had a 47-24 record in his six seasons in the minors.
Kevin Hart, pitcher for the 2009 Pirates. Hart came to the Pirates from the Chicago Cubs at the 2009 trading deadline. Along with Josh Harrison, he was part of the return for pitchers John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny. Hart was immediately inserted into the starting rotation after the trade and he went 1-8, 6.92 in ten starts for the Pirates. In 2010, Hart started the season in the minors, then tore his labrum early in May and missed the rest of the year. He didn’t pitch at all in 2011, then attempted a brief comeback in Independent ball and winter ball in 2012 before retiring. Hart was an 11th round draft pick of the Baltimore Orioles in 2004 out of the University of Maryland. They sent him to the Cubs as the player to be named later in a December 2006 trade. He made his big league debut with the Cubs in September of 2007 and gave up one run over 11 innings during his eight relief appearances. That success earned him an Opening Day spot in 2008, but it didn’t carry over. He was with the team until late April, then had brief stints with the club in early June and mid-July, before coming back in September. The Cubs had him pitching in relief in the majors, while also seeing time as a starter in the minors. In the majors, he had 6.51 ERA in 21 appearances. Before joining the Pirates in 2009, he made three June appearances in relief, then moved to the starting rotation for four games in July, He won three of those games and had a 2.86 ERA in 22 innings. In his three seasons with Chicago, he went 5-3, 3.93 in four starts and 33 relief appearances.
Mike Brown, right fielder for the 1985-86 Pirates. Brown was one of six players involved in the August 2, 1985 trade between the California Angels and Pirates that sent veterans John Candelaria and George Hendrick to California. Brown was the everyday right fielder for the Pirates after the trade and did well over the rest of the 1985 season, hitting .332 with 25 extra-base hits in 57 games. In his only full season with the team in 1986, he struggled all year, hitting .218 in 87 games. At the end of Spring Training in 1987, Brown was released by the Pirates. He split the 1987 season playing in Triple-A for the Chicago White Sox and Atlanta Braves. He signed with the Detroit Tigers in 1988 before returning to the Angels, where he ended up hitting .220 in 18 big league games. That was his only Major League experience after leaving Pittsburgh. He spent the 1989 season in Triple-A with the Angels, then finished his pro career with one season in Japan. He was originally a seventh round draft pick of the Angels in 1980 out of San Jose State University. Prior to joining the Pirates, he played 153 games with California over three seasons, debuting mid-season in 1983. Brown batted .231 in 31 games during his first trial, while seeing time at all three outfield spots. He was with the Angels for nearly all of 1984, debuting in early May. Serving as a fourth outfielder, he hit .284 with seven homers and 22 RBIs in 62 games. Prior to the trade to the Pirates in 1985, he was serving in the same backup role, hitting .268 with four homers and 20 RBIs in 60 games.