This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: February 1st, Lots of Pitching

Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date. Seven of them were pitchers and the oldest one was an outfielder.

Stolmy Pimentel, pitcher for the 2013-14 Pirates. After being acquired from the Boston Red Sox in the Joel Hanrahan/Mark Melancon deal in December of 2012, Pimentel made his Major League debut in September of 2013. He pitched five times in relief for the Pirates, allowing two earned runs in 9.1 innings. In 2014, he spent the entire season in the Pirates bullpen, minus a stint on the disabled list. Pimentel made 20 appearances, posting a 5.23 ERA in 32.2 innings, with 38 strikeouts. He was selected off waivers in April of 2015 and made his final eight big league appearances that year for the Texas Rangers. Pimentel was signed by the Red Sox at 16 years old out of the Dominican Republic in 2006. He played his first year of pro ball in the Dominican Summer League in 2007, then skipped two levels in 2008 to play for Lowell of the New York-Penn League. Pimentel put up solid results, with a 3.14 ERA in 63 innings. He was in full-season ball by 19 years old, going 10-7, 3.82 in 117 innings, with 103 strikeouts for Greenville of the South Atlantic League. He moved up one more step in 2010 and saw his ERA go up for the third straight season, posting a 4.06 mark in High-A. He repeated the level in 2011, before being promoted mid-season to Double-A. It was clearly a move he wasn’t ready for yet, one that resulted in a 9.12 ERA in 15 starts. He spent the entire 2012 season back at Double-A, putting up a 4.59 ERA in 115.2 innings. He played winter ball in the Dominican during the 2012-13 off-season, with the trade to the Pirates occurring during the middle of his season. Pimentel pitched a lot during his first season with the Pirates, splitting his time between Double-A and Triple-A, combining to go 6-9, 3.35 in 169.1 innings. That was in addition to his September stint in Pittsburgh and a one-game stint in winter ball again during the off-season. His 2014 season also included seven minor league rehab appearances and then nine starts during winter ball. Pimentel split the 2016 season between Triple-A with the New York Mets and seven starts in the Mexico summer league. His only pitching time after that year was winter ball during the following off-season.

Cecilio Guante, pitcher for the 1982-86 Pirates. He was signed by the Pirates as an amateur free agent at 19 years old in November 1979 out of the Dominican Republic. He shot through the minors as a reliever, going from low-A ball in 1980 to Triple-A by the middle of the 1981 season. The Pirates move him to a starting role in Triple-A during the 1981 season and he went 6-6, 5.37 in 104 innings for Portland of the PCL. That was after posting an 0.64 ERA in 14 innings over ten outings in Double-A. Guante was back to relief in 1982 and jumped between Triple-A and the majors all season, pitching ten games for the Pirates. He had stints with the team in May, July, August and September, finishing with a 3.33 ERA in 27 innings. He got called up in early May of 1983 and ended up with over 100 innings pitched in relief that season, in addition to 25.2 innings in Triple-A. He had 12 outings of 3+ innings, including seven shutout innings in his first big league win on June 27th against the St Louis Cardinals. Guante had a 2.61 ERA through 27 games and 41.1 innings in 1984 when he hurt his shoulder in early July, which ended his season. He was one of a few bright spots in 1985, pitching 109 innings in relief over 63 games, with a 2.72 ERA. Following another strong showing in 1986, the Pirates traded him in a six-player deal with the New York Yankees that brought back Doug Drabek. Guante would pitch another four seasons in the majors, finishing his career with the Cleveland Indians in 1990. He struggled in his first year in New York, posting a 5.73 ERA in 44 innings. He had a terrific 1988 season, one that ended as a member of the Texas Rangers. He had a 2.88 ERA and 11 saves in 75 innings over 56 appearances, before an August 30th trade sent him to Texas. He made seven appearances and allowed one run for the Rangers. Guante went 6-6, 3.59 in 69 innings over 50 outings in 1989, before signing a free agent deal with the Indians. His final season in the majors saw him post a 5.01 ERA in 46.1 innings before being released in mid-August. He quickly signed with the Boston Red Sox, but he spent just over 7 1/2 months there without pitching in the majors. He finished his pro career in 1992, playing one season in China. In five seasons with the Pirates he had a 13-17, 3.06 record in 201 games and 355.2 innings, picking up 20 saves.

Ernie Camacho, pitcher for the 1981 Pirates. He spent ten seasons in the majors, starting with a brief cup of coffee with the 1980 Oakland A’s. The Pirates acquired him early in the 1981 season as the player to be named later in a deal for pitcher Bob Owchinko, which was made four days earlier on April 6th. He spent most of the year in Triple-A working out of the bullpen, but the Pirates would use him seven times during the season, including the only three starts of his Major League career. He had a 4.98 ERA in 21.2 innings, with 15 walks and 11 strikeouts. Less than a year after they traded for him, Pittsburgh dealt him to the Chicago White Sox on March 20, 1982 in a four-player deal. Camacho played in the majors until 1990, finishing with a 10-20, 4.21 record in 193 games with 45 saves. He spent a majority of that time with the Cleveland Indians (1983-87), where he pitched 69 games during the 1984 season and 51 games during the 1986 season. He had a 2.43 ERA in 100 innings in 1984, while picking up 23 saves. His ERA was up to 4.08 in 1986, but he still had 20 saves. Camacho played for the Houston Astros in 1988, the San Francisco Giants in 1989, before splitting the 1990 season between the Giants and St Louis Cardinals. He finished his pro career in Mexico in 1992. Camacho was originally drafted by the Pirates out of Hartnell College in the 1975 draft, but he decided to return to school. He would be selected by the California Angels in the January phase of the 1976 draft, moving up to the fourth round. Still not satisfied, he moved up to the first round of the June, 1976 draft, where he was taken by the A’s with the 17th overall pick. His minor league career got off to a rough start, putting up a 5.63 ERA in 1976, a 5.58 mark in 1977, following by just two innings during the 1978 season, then a 6.59 ERA as a starter in 1979. His 1978 season was limited due to a car accident during Spring Training, where the van he was in got hit twice while stopped at a red light. A refrigerator inside the van fell on him, causing head, neck and back injuries. At the time, reports said that he was pitching better than he had at any previous point and he was really making a good impression with the A’s.

Jim McKee, pitcher for the 1972-73 Pirates. He was a 6’7″ righty, drafted in the fourth round of the 1969 amateur draft at 22 years old out of Otterbein University. That’s a school that has produced just seven draft picks total, with McKee being the first one selected and the only one to make the majors. He got off to a rough start during his first year of pro ball, going 0-6, 7.88 in 40 innings in A-ball. Repeating the level in 1970, he had an 8-15 record in 26 starts, but it came with a respectable 3.59 ERA and 170 strikeouts in 173 innings. In Double-A in 1971, McKee posted a 3.85 ERA in 152 innings with 172 strikeouts. The following year he had a 2.63 ERA in 26 Triple-A starts, including 11 complete games. It was a strong season, though he saw a sharp decline in his strikeout rate, going from 10.2 per nine innings, down to a 7.7 SO/9IP rate. His performance that year was rewarded with a September call-up. In two relief appearances, he pitched five scoreless innings, while earning the win in his second game in the majors. He split the 1973 season between the Pirates and Triple-A, going 0-1, 5.67 in 15 games for Pittsburgh, pitching a total of 27 innings. McKee was with the club on Opening Day and lasted until early June, then returned to the majors in September. In between those stints, he started all 15 games he pitched for Triple-A Charleston that year, going 7-5, 3.55 in 104 innings. He only made one big league start that year (and in his career) and couldn’t make it through the third inning. McKee would spend the entire 1974 season in Triple-A, going 10-12, 3.61 in 23 starts, which was his last season of pro ball. His strikeout rate dropped even more during his final two seasons, going from 7.7 in 1972, to 6.2 in 1973 to 5.1 in his final year. McKee was with the Pirates during Spring Training in 1975, though he was competing for a job on the Charleston pitching staff and made it down to the final cuts, before the Pirates released him on April 7th, ending his pro career. He wore three different uniform numbers during his brief time in Pittsburgh (39, 46 and 49).

Bob Smith, lefty pitcher for the 1957-59 Pirates. He had seven games of MLB experience when the Pirates purchased his contract from the St Louis Cardinals in May of 1957. He debuted at pro ball at the lowest level (D-ball) and had a rough first season at 18 years old in 1948. Smith went 0-6, 7.85 in 55 innings, with 54 walks during his first year. He repeated the level in 1949 and dropped his ERA to 5.32, while drastically cutting his walk rate, which was still fairly high with 76 free passes in 132 innings. He moved up a level in 1950, and while the walks saw a slight uptick, he lowered his ERA to 3.65 in 138 innings and put together a 13-5 record. By the end of the 1951 season, Smith had advanced to A-ball, playing for Scranton of the Eastern League. That progress was halted for the next two seasons while he served in the Army during the Korean War. He returned in 1954 and picked up right where he left off. Now in Double-A in the Texas League, Smith went 13-5, 2.89 in 212 innings and posted his best walk rate to that point. That earned him an Opening Day spot with the Boston Red Sox in 1955, though he pitched just once in relief before being sent to the minors for the rest of the season. He spent all of 1956 pitching in the Pacific Coast League, then got picked up by the Cardinals in the 1956 Rule 5 draft. In six relief appearances in St Louis, he allowed ten runs in 9.2 innings, though only half of those runs were earned. The Pirates picked him up on May 14th and he debuted four days later. That first game didn’t go so well, as he allowed three runs in two innings and picked up his first career loss. Smith posted a 2-2, 3.11 record in 20 games (four as a starter) with the Pirates that season. His last three appearances were as a starter and he threw two complete games, including his first big league win on September 8th against the Philadelphia Phillies. He was used mostly in relief in 1958, pitching a total of 35 games (four starts) with a 4.43 ERA in 61 innings. He started the 1959 season off strong, but after allowing runs in eight of his last 12 relief appearances he was put on waivers in early June, where the Detroit Tigers picked him up. He got roughed up with his new team, going 0-3, 8.18 in nine relief appearances. That would be his last season in the majors, although he pitched another five years in the minors. With the Pirates, he had a 3.74 ERA in 144.1 innings. During the 1958-59 seasons, there were three big league players named Bob Smith. One was an outfielder in the National League, the other was a pitcher in the American League.

Chuck Churn, pitcher for the 1957 Pirates. Churn pitched parts of 18 seasons in the minors, starting in 1949 when the Pirates signed him as a 19-year-old amateur free agent. In 1950, he won 16 games for Hutchinson of the Western Association. After six appearances in 1951, he served out the rest of the season, and all of 1952, in the military during the Korean War. He returned in 1953 and played four straight seasons for New Orleans of the Southern Association. mostly pitching in long relief, with some spot starts. He was with the Pirates during the early parts of Spring Training in 1954 before being cut on March 28th. After the season, he pitched winter ball in Panama. During the 1956 season, he pitched complete game wins in both ends of a doubleheader, though he was mostly a reliever, starting ten of 51 appearances that year. He threw 182.1 innings that season and then spent 3 1/2 months pitching winter ball in Venezuela, where he pitched enough to compile an 8-8 record. Churn had solid results each season after his return from military service,  but he wouldn’t make the majors until age 27 in 1957, when the Pirates used him as a reliever early in the season. In five games, he had no record and a 4.32 ERA in 8.1 innings. He debuted on April 18th and pitched his final game on May 1st, throwing shutout ball in each of his final three appearances. He was sent down to Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League on May 7th in favor of pitcher Laurin Pepper. Following the season, Churn was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the Rule 5 draft, then was taken by the Cleveland Indians off waivers. He would play parts of two more seasons in the majors (1958-59) after leaving Pittsburgh, pitching 25 games total, while spending 1958 in Cleveland and 1959 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Churn pitched 548 career minor league games, picking up 111 victories. He also managed in the minors for four seasons (1964-67) in the Houston Astros system, making a total of 12 pitching appearances, which were spread out over those four seasons. His full name was Clarence Nottingham Churn.

Dixie McArthur, pitcher for the 1914 Pirates. He started his pro career in 1911 with Hopkinsville of the KITTY League, where he spent his first three seasons of pro ball. He saw somewhat limited time in 1911-12, before getting a real chance to pitch regularly in 1913. He had a 17-6 record that season and twice pitched both games of a doubleheader, winning all four of those contests. The Pirates purchased his contract for $1,000 on August 9, 1913, though he was allowed to remain in Hopkinsville for a short time before reporting to Pittsburgh on August 31st. He was supposed to be given a trial, but one week after he arrived, he left the team due to an undisclosed illness and went home instead. By March of 1914 he was in Spring Training with the Pirates trying to win a job. McArthur was there as a pitcher, but he batted .281 in the minors and occasionally played outfield, so he had some added value as a player at the end of the bench. He made the Opening Day roster, but it would be three months before his got his first chance in the majors. On July 10th during an 11-2 loss in Boston, McArthur was called on by manager Fred Clarke to pitch the bottom of the eighth. He faced four batters, allowed one unearned run and struck out one batter in his only inning of work. It literally was his only inning of work in the majors. In between Opening Day and his only game, he was used often as a batting practice pitcher and then he would go to the outfield when another pitcher (mostly Al Mamaux) came on to pitch. McArthur was reportedly considered as a starter for the second game of a doubleheader on July 22nd, only to get optioned to Richmond of the Virginia League that same day.

After finishing the 1914 season in Richmond, and appearing briefly at the start of 1915 for Columbus of the American Association, he spent the next three seasons playing for the Grand Rapids Black Sox of the Central League. There were reports that he was recalled to the Pirates at the end of the 1914 season, but his name was never mentioned after the August 23rd article and he was still pitching for Richmond as of mid-September. McArthur was put on their winter roster after the 1914 season and an article posted on his birthday in 1915 noted that he was born in 1893 and turned 22 that day. It wasn’t odd to see ages wrong back in the early parts of the majors, as some would say they were older to get a chance, while others would claim to be younger not to get overlooked due to their age. The Pirates officially parted ways with him on February 27, 1915 when he was sent to Columbus, though he trained with the Pirates during the early part of Spring Training. He had a combined 43-20 record during the  1915-16 seasons. His real first name was Oland, making him the only Oland to ever pitch in the majors. He was referred to as “Ollie” during his brief time in Pittsburgh.

Jim Kelly, outfielder for the 1914 Pirates. Kelly would play 16 seasons in the minors, starting his pro career at the age of 27 in 1911, though he claimed to be 21 years old at the time. In September of 1913 the Pirates selected him in the Rule 5 draft after he hit .333 in 121 games playing for the Great Falls Electrics of the Union Association. The Pirates almost didn’t end up with him because Denver of the Western League claimed that Kelly was still their property, on option to Great Falls, and they had chosen to exercise that option. Two days after the dispute was brought up, the national baseball commission ruled that Kelly was property of the Pirates now, since Denver didn’t exercise their option on time. For the Pirates in 1914 he spent most of his time on the bench, being used in the pinch-hitter role. He started just seven games all season, all during an 11-day stretch in July, and he hit .227 with three RBIs in 44 at-bats. He had an arm injury in mid-June that was thought to be a fracture that would keep him out of action for a long period of time, but he was back just three weeks later. After getting a handful of starts in right field between July 11th and the 21st, Kelly was released to Jersey City of the International League on July 24th. After the season ended, he jumped to the Pittsburgh team in the upstart Federal League, a second Major League at the time, which would fold after the 1915 season. He spent 1916-17 in the minors, returning to the majors with the Boston Braves for 35 games in 1918, only that season he played under his real name, Robert Taggert. Kelly played pro ball until 1928, serving as a player-manager in the lower levels of the minors during his final two seasons. During his time in Pittsburgh, the papers often spelled his name “Kelley”. He was a .299 career hitter in the minors over 1,755 games. In the majors he hit .297 over 215 games, including a .329 average in 1918. He hit 22 triples during his three seasons in the majors, which is more than his combined total of doubles (15) and homers (four).