Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, starting with one who was a key part of a major trade that helped bring in a World Series title.
Dave Brain, third baseman for the 1905 Pirates. He was one of three players traded to the Boston Beaneaters in December 1905 in exchange for Hall of Fame pitcher Vic Willis. Brain began his pro career in 1900, playing for the Chicago White Stockings of the American League, which was still considered a minor league at the time. He remained with the team in 1901 when the league gained Major League status, but was released after five games, despite hitting .350 with five RBIs. He played for Buffalo of the Eastern League in 1902, hitting .331 in 130 games, earning a spot on the St Louis Cardinals for the 1903 season. Brain split his first season with the Cardinals between shortstop and third base, hitting .231 with 60 RBIs and 21 stolen bases. The next season he played seven different positions while hitting .266 with a career high 72 RBIs. In 1905, he was struggling through July hitting .228 in 44 games, when the Pirates picked him up in a trade for backup infielder George McBride. Brain took over the third base job in Pittsburgh and played well, hitting .257 with 46 RBIs, while providing solid defense (0.8 dWAR). Following the season he was traded to Boston along with minor league pitcher Vive Lindaman and first baseman Del Howard for Vic Willis, who would post four straight 21+ win seasons for the Pirates and help them to a championship in 1909. Brain hit .250 with five homers and 45 RBIs in 139 games during his first season in Boston. The 1907 season was a real down year for offense during the deadball era and Brain led the National League with ten homers, while his .745 OPS ranked ninth in the league. He was sold to the Cincinnati Reds in May of 1908 after he refused to sign with Boston due to a salary holdout after they tried to reduce his salary by $400. He played just 28 games in 1908, splitting the year between the Reds and New York Giants, while hitting .125 with no extra-base hits. Brain ended up playing two years of minor league ball before retiring. He hit .252 with 27 homers and 303 RBIs in 679 big league games.
Enny Romero, pitcher for the 2018 Pirates. He was signed as an international amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2008 at 17 years old by the Tampa Bay Rays. It took him five years to make the majors and he debuted with 4.2 shutout innings in a start on September 22, 2013. Romero allowed one hit, walked four batters and failed to pick up a strikeout. After spending all of 2014 in Triple-A as a starting pitcher, he returned to the majors in late May of 2015. He pitched 23 times in relief for the Rays, posting a 5.10 ERA in 30 innings. Romero spent all of 2016 in the majors (except one rehab start) and he struggled, posting a 5.91 ERA in 45.2 innings over 52 appearances. Prior to the 2017 season, he was traded to the Washington Nationals for a minor league pitcher. Romero did much better there, posting a 3.56 ERA in 55.2 innings over 53 outings. The 2018 season saw him pitch a total of eight games in the majors, spending time with three different teams. After two outings, and three runs over two innings, he was put on waivers. The Pirates claimed him on April 14th and used him twice in the majors. He gave up one run over two innings in his debut on April 18th, then allowed four runs (one earned) over two innings on April 25th. He was soon placed on the disabled list with a shoulder impingement, then was designated for assignment on the day he came off of the DL. Romero was picked up by the Kansas City Royals, who used him four times before they designated him for assignment. He allowed eight runs over four innings with the Royals. He became a free agent on July 24, 2018 and signed to play in Japan for 2019. He has played winter ball in each of the last seven years.
Ross Powell, pitcher for the 1995 Pirates. He was a third round draft pick out of the University of Michigan by the Cincinnati Reds in 1989, who made it to the majors for the first time with Cincinnati in 1993. Powell debuted in Low-A ball after the draft and had a 3.54 ERA in 13 starts. He made it all the way to Triple-A in his first full season of pro ball, but it still took another three seasons to make that final leap. He made 24 Triple-A starts in 1991 and ended up back at Double-A for nearly half of the 1992 season. Powell was back in Triple-A in 1993, where he went 10-10, 4.11 in 179.2 innings. When the rosters expanded in September, he was called up to the majors for the first time. He made one start and eight relief appearances, going 0-3, 4.41 in 16.1 innings. The Reds traded him to the Houston Astros in April 1994 and he spent most of the year as a starter in Triple-A. He pitched 12 games for Houston that season, all in short relief. He did well in his limited time, allowing one run in 7.1 innings. He was with the team for the entire month of June, then returned in early August, pitching three games before the season shut down due to the strike. Powell had a rough time in the majors in 1995, posting an 11.00 ERA in 15 appearances, though most of the damage came in his first appearance (five earned runs in two innings). He was in Triple-A for just a few days when the Astros sent him to the Pirates for a player to be named later on July 28th. The Pirates added the southpaw Powell to the roster the next day, while placing Carlos Garcia on the disabled list. Powell would pitch 12 games for Pittsburgh, three as a starter and go 0-2, 5.23 in 20.2 innings. Following the season, he was granted free agency and he returned to the minors, where he finished his career in 1996. Powell spent that final season in Triple-A, seeing time with the St Louis Cardinals and the Reds. He had a Major League record of 0-5, 5.40 in 48 games, four as a starter. Powell passed away at age 49 in 2017.
Timothy Jones, pitcher for the 1977 Pirates. He was a fourth round draft pick of the Pirates in 1972, taken at 18 years old out of high school in California. He slowly worked his way through the minors, pitching two full seasons in Double-A and then two more in Triple-A before getting a September call-up in 1977. The Pirates pushed him to Double-A quickly after he posted strong results in each of his first two seasons. In short-season ball in 1972, he had a 2.19 ERA in 74 innings. At 19 years old, he pitched 172 innings, going 13-7, 2.20 for Charleston of the Western Carolinas League. Jones actually did well in his first year of Double-A, though he did better in his second season when he finished 16-6, 3.03 in 172 innings for Shreveport. His results in Triple-A saw an opposite turn, doing better in his first year (3.63 ERA in 161 innings) versus his second run at the level (4.12 ERA in 190 frames). Despite the difference in ERA favoring his first year, he had a 7-10 record in 1976 and a 15-6 record in 1977. He had been a starter all six seasons in the minors, but the Pirates put him in the bullpen and only used him twice for a total of three innings before the final day of the season. He joined the club on September 4th and got right into a game on his first day, throwing the final two innings of an 8-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Jones retired all six batters he faced. His next appearance came 23 days later when he pitched the final inning of a 7-1 loss to the New York Mets. On October 2nd, the Pirates let him start game one of a doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs and he threw seven shutout innings, picking up his first big league win. Right before the 1978 season started, the Pirates traded Jones to the Montreal Expos on March 28th for lefty relief pitcher Will McEnaney. Jones spent that season in Triple-A where he had a 6.35 ERA (at a high offense stadium) in 119 innings. He never pitched again after 1978, ending his Major League career with a 1-0, 0.00 record.
Wally Judnich, outfielder for the 1949 Pirates. He spent his first five seasons of pro ball in the minors with the New York Yankees and couldn’t crack their loaded outfield. When he was sold to the St Louis Browns in early 1940 they gave him the center field job and he excelled, hitting a combined .299 with 254 RBIs in 415 games during his first three seasons. As a rookie in 1940, he hit .303 with 24 homers and 89 RBIs in 137 games. He dropped down to a .284 average in 1941, with 14 homers and 83 RBIs, but he also drew 80 walks and hit 40 doubles, which were both well above his previous year’s total. In 1942, Judnich hit .313 with 17 homers, 82 RBIs and 74 walks in 132 games. He then lost three full seasons of play to WWII, serving in the Air Force. He returned for the 1946 season and wasn’t nearly as good of a ballplayer as he was prior, though he was still a productive big leaguer. In 1946, he .252 with 17 homers and 72 RBIs in 142 games. He played 144 games in 1947, hitting .258 with 18 homers and 64 RBIs. He also drew 60 walks in each season. Judnich was a center fielder full-time in 1946, then saw a large majority of his work at first base in 1947. That move happened despite the fact that he led all American League outfielders for the third time in fielding percentage (he also led in 1940 and 1942). Shortly after the season ended, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians, who would win the World Series during the 1948 season, which is still their last World Series title to this date. Judnich saw a small role on that team, seeing time at center field, right field and first base, while hitting .257 with two homers in 79 games. He had a rough go in the World Series, going 1-for-14 in four games.
Judnich was picked up by the Pirates off waivers for $10,000 in February of 1949. He started eight of the first 16 games of the season in center field for the Pirates, then was used as a pinch-hitter twice over the next week. He hit .229 in ten games before getting sold outright to the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League on May 15th. He played pro ball until 1955, but never returned to the majors. Judnich spent his final seven seasons in the PCL, playing for the Seals (1949), Seattle (1950-53) and Portland (1954-55) before finishing back in San Francisco in 1955. For a player who missed three full seasons in his prime, he put up some huge numbers over all levels of pro ball. He hit 292 homers, drove in 1,016 runs, collected 2,630 hits and scored 994 runs in 2,578 games. The runs and RBI totals are actually missing his first five years due to incomplete minor league stats. He was a power hitter, who also hit for average those years, while playing an average of nearly 150 games per season, so the real totals in each category are probably in the 1,400-1,500 range.
Johnny Dickshot, outfielder for the 1936-38 Pirates. Nicknamed “Ugly”, he was a strong hitter in the minors prior to making his MLB debut with the 1936 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball at age 20 in 1930, but didn’t really break out in the minors until the 1934 season, when he split the year between two teams in the Western League. His last three seasons in the minors (1934-36) he hit .343, .309 and .359. The Pirates purchased his contract from Little Rock of the Southern Association on September 19, 1934 and he remained with Little Rock for the 1935 season on option from the Pirates. He began that 1936 season with the Pirates, playing nine games off of the bench before they sent him to the minors. He last played for the Pirates on May 9th, but he actually played an exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox on the 11th before being optioned back to the minors that same day. Dickshot was scheduled to come back to the Pirates in September after his minor league season was done, but the International League championship series didn’t finish until after the Pirates season ended on September 27th. He was with the Pirates for all of 1937, playing 82 games that season, with 58 starts in left field. He hit .254 with 33 RBIs and 42 runs scored. The following season, he was used sparingly all season, making seven starts and getting into a total of 28 games, despite being with the Pirates and healthy all year. After the season, Dickshot was traded to the Boston Bees as part of a package used to acquire catcher Ray Mueller. Before Opening Day in 1939, Dickshot was sold to the New York Giants. where he played ten games that season, before spending the rest of the year in the minors. He then spent the next four seasons in the minors, playing mostly for Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League, before returning to the majors to play two seasons (1944-45) for the Chicago White Sox. His pro career ended two years later playing for Milwaukee of the American Association. He was a career .318 hitter in 1,526 minor league games. Dickshot batted .276 in 322 big league games. With the Pirates, he hit .250 with three homers and 38 RBIs in 120 games.
Stu Clarke, infielder for the 1929-30 Pirates. He spent five seasons working his way up through the low levels of the minors before the Pirates signed him for the 1929 season. Clarke began pro ball at 18 years old in 1924, hitting .199 in 124 games for Waterloo of the Mississippi Valley League, a D-Level (lowest level) league. He didn’t do much better the next year, hitting .204 for Waterloo, but he finally put things together during the 1926 season. Clarke hit .273 in 119 games for Waterloo, while showing an increase in his power numbers. That led to him moving up the minor league ladder in 1927, where he hit .268 while playing at two levels. In 1928, he was with with Columbia of the South Atlantic League, where he hit .264 with 36 extra-base hits in 147 games. After the season, he was sold to Wichita of the Western League, which was another step up the minor league ladder. He didn’t last long there, getting grabbed by the Pirates on June 17th in exchange for infielder Cobe Jones and cash. Clarke, who was called “Sammy” often in the papers, was acquired to be a backup infielder for most of the final 3 1/2 months, but he got a decent amount of playing time when injuries, including one to Pie Traynor, opened up some opportunities. He never hit more than .273 in the minors, but was able to hold his own in the majors during his rookie season, hitting .264 with 21 RBIs in 57 games. He had trouble in the field when he was forced to fill in at shortstop, committing 18 errors in 41 games. He played well at the hot corner in place of Traynor, making just one error in his 15 games. The following season Clarke lasted just four games before the Pirates sent him to the minors. He hit .444, playing two games at second base and two off the bench. His time with the Pirates actually ended with an ankle injury suffered on May 13th during practice. He was expected to miss about ten days, but he was still doing rehab work in early June. Clarke was available to play for a short time before the Pirates optioned him to Fort Worth of the Texas League. He remained in the minors for the rest of his career, playing until 1933, seeing time with six teams over those final four seasons. Clarke’s time with the Pirates officially ended on March 29, 1931 when he was sold outright to Mission of the Pacific Coast League.