This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: February 7th, I Wrote A Lot About Nine Former Pirates

Nine former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date.

Adrian Brown, outfielder for the 1997-2002 Pirates. As a low draft pick (48th round in 1992) out of high school, he moved slowly through the minors, not making it to Double-A until the middle of his fifth season in pro ball. He hit .306 with 45 stolen bases that year (1996), then followed it up with a 1997 season split between Double-A and Triple-A in which he hit .313 in 99 games. The Pirates called him up briefly in late May of 1997, but he struggled and was returned to the minors until September. In 48 games during his rookie season, Brown batted .190 with one homer and eight stolen bases. In 1998 he returned to Triple-A until August, then hit .283 in 41 games after being recalled, earning a job for the next season. He was on the Opening Day roster in 1999, but began the year slowly by hitting .178 through 24 games. He then spent a month down in Triple-A before coming back to finish the year. Brown batted .270 in 116 games, with four homers and five steals. Brown had his best season in the majors in 2000, hitting .315 in 104 games, with 64 runs scored and 13 stolen bases. He seemed primed to have a big season in 2001, but an injured shoulder caused him to miss all but eight MLB games and 15 rehab games in the minors. He would hit .337 in 51 Triple-A games in 2002, but his average was just .216 in 91 games with the Pirates that year. Brown was release at the end of the season and signed four weeks later with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays as a free agent. Just five weeks later, the Boston Red Sox selected him in the Rule 5 draft. He didn’t quite remain with the Red Sox, getting returned to Tampa on March 23, 2003, before ending up back with Boston after the Devil Rays released him just a few days later. Brown was in pro ball until 2006, playing another 40 big league games spread out over three different teams. He saw time in the majors with the 2003 Red Sox, the 2004 Kansas City Royals and 2006 Texas Rangers. Brown spent a total of 15 years in pro ball and played in the minors during every seasons, playing a total of 1,141 minor league games and 447 in the majors. If you combined all of his pro stats, he had over 1,500 hits, with 917 runs scored and 371 stolen bases. He was a .258 hitter in the majors, which included a .261 mark during his time in Pittsburgh. He played 409 games with the Pirates, collecting 11 homers, 83 RBIs, 42 steals and 158 runs scored.

Humberto Cota, catcher for the 2001-07 Pirates. He was originally signed as an amateur free agent by the Atlanta Braves in 1995, then got released by them two years later. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays picked him up as a minor league free agent four months later, then they eventually traded him to the Pirates on July 23, 1999 in the Joe Oliver/Jose Guillen deal. The Pirates needed catching help after Jason Kendall broke his ankle on July 4th, three weeks before the trade. Oliver was the big league replacement, while Cota was still in Low-A ball at the time. The Pirates skipped him to Double-A in 2000, where he hit .261 with eight homers in 112 games for Altoona. He moved up to Triple-A Nashville in 2001 and had a big season at 22 years old, batting .297 with 14 homers and 72 RBIs in 111 games. Cota was a September call-up each of his first two seasons in the majors, playing a total of 14 games those years. Cota repeated Triple-A in 2002 and the start of 2003, seeing a drop in his offensive production each season. Despite putting up a .205 average and a .654 OPS for Nashville in 2003, he ended up playing with the Pirates from late July until mid-August. He had a total of 24 games played between his first three seasons in the majors with just 44 plate appearances and there were some concerns about his future with the team. In late August, he shut himself down for the season due to injury concerns with his left hand, which previous had surgery. Medical results showed no damage and the Pirates suspended him without pay. He also had no minor league options remaining at that point, so he needed to make the Opening Day roster in 2004. Cota spent that 2004 season as the backup to Jason Kendall, receiving very little playing time throughout the season, but it was his first full season in the majors. He hit .227 in 66 at-bats over 36 games. When Kendall was traded in the 2004-05 off-season, Cota took over his spot and had his best year in the majors, playing 93 games in 2005, while hitting .242 with seven homers and 43 RBIs. In 2006, rookie Ronny Paulino emerged, hitting .310 in 129 games, which led to him taking over the regular catcher spot. Cota batted .190 in 100 at-bats over 38 games, serving as Paulino’s backup. Cota played briefly for the Pirates in 2007 before being granted free agency. He played in Triple-A for the Colorado Rockies in 2008, then spent most of the rest of his career playing in Mexico. The only time he spent elsewhere was seven games in Double-A for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2013. He played pro ball until 2016 without making the majors again. Cota played 196 games over his seven seasons in Pittsburgh, hitting .233 with 12 homers and 61 RBIs.

Spike Shannon, outfielder for the 1908 Pirates. He was a native of Pittsburgh, who spent his first six seasons of pro ball in the minors, starting at age 20 in 1898. He batted .338 in brief time that year, then didn’t approach that average again until the 1902 season while playing for St Paul of the American Association, when he hit .344 in 120 games. He returned to St Paul in 1903 and hit .308 in 135 games, while stealing 41 bases. He was a singles hitter in the minors, with just one home run to his credit (his stats could be missing some games, but they are near complete). He didn’t crack 20 extra-base hits in a season until his final year with St Paul. Spike (his real first name was William) was a September 1903 Rule 5 draft by the St Louis Cardinals. He became their starting right fielder and hit .280 in 134 games that rookie season while playing outstanding defense, leading all National League outfielders in fielding percentage. He scored 84 runs, stole 34 bases and he even hit an inside-the-park homer off of Hall of Fame pitcher Vic Willis, who would become his teammate four years later. In 1905, Shannon saw a slight drop in his offense, but he once again led all NL outfielders in fielding percentage, though modern metrics say that he was -0.2 dWAR that season. In 1906 the Cardinals traded him mid-season to the Giants. He was hitting .258 through 80 games at the time. Shannon would lead the league in both games played and plate appearances that year, yet he had just a .275 slugging percentage, due to a .256 average and ten extra-base hits all year. In 1907 he hit .265 with 82 walks and 33 steals, while leading the league in plate appearances, runs scored (104) and times on base, so a major drop-off in  production during 1908 was unexpected.

With the Giants in 1908, he hit .224 in 77 games before being picked up by the Pirates on July 22nd off waivers. The Pirates only wanted him as a pinch-hitter according to manager Fred Clarke, who said that he would be well worth the $1,500 waiver price and his salary if he came through with some big hits for the team off of the bench. In 32 games for Pittsburgh he hit .197, with ten runs scored, 12 RBIs and five stolen bases, in what would end up being his last time in the majors. He was seeing limited time, accumulating just eight at-bats during his first 31 days with the team (July 22nd-August 21st), before getting regular playing time for the next 3 1/2 weeks. In mid-September, he was replaced in center field by Roy Thomas and sat the next nine games. Shannon then got to play out the season in right field after Chief Wilson got hurt. Shannon spent the next three seasons playing for Kansas City of the American Association after agreeing to a sale to the team on December 17, 1908. He then spent the 1913 season as a player/manager for low-level Virginia of the Northern League, before becoming an umpire. Shannon was a .259 hitter in 694 Major League games. He had 145 stolen bases and collected 67 extra-base hits, including three homers. He homered just seven times in his entire pro career, which lasted at least 1,683 games.

Juan Pizarro, pitcher for the 1967-68 and 1974 Pirates. He played 18 years in the majors, compiling a 131-105, 3.43 record in 488 games, 245 as a starter, while throwing over 2,000 innings. After signing with the Milwaukee Braves as a 19-year-old amateur free agent out of Puerto Rico in 1956, Pizarro debuted in the majors just one year later. He put in four seasons with the Braves, switching between starting and relief, going 23-19, 3.93 in 444.1 innings. Following the 1960 season, he was traded twice on the same day, going to the Cincinnati Reds first, before being flipped to the Chicago White Sox. It turned out to be a great move for his career. From 1961 until 1964, Pizarro was selected to two All-Star teams and won 61 games for the White Sox, picking up at least 12 wins each season. The Pirates acquired Pizarro as part of the ill-fated Wilbur Wood deal in November of 1966. Pizarro provided the Pirates with some value as a veteran who can be used in any role, but Wood went on to become a perennial 20-game winner in Chicago. In his three seasons with the Pirates, Pizarro went 10-12, 3.55 in 69 games, 11 as a starter. Most of those stats came during the 1967 season, when he pitched 107 innings over 50 games. He was 8-10, 3.95 that year and picked up a career high nine saves.  Pizarro was sold to the Boston Red Sox in the middle of the 1968 season, after posting a 3.27 ERA in 11 innings over 12 appearances through late June. He was used often after the deal, compiling 107.2 innings over the final three months. During the 1969 season, he pitched for three different teams, playing six games in Boston, followed by 48 appearances for the Cleveland Indians, before finishing up with three relief appearances for the Oakland A’s. Despite the moving around, he had a 3.35 ERA in 99.1 innings. Pizarro was released by Oakland after the season, signed with the California Angels, then got traded to the Chicago Cubs before ever playing a game for California. He would remain in Chicago until being sold to the Houston Astros during the 1973 season. Pizarro had a 3.89 ERA in 180.1 innings with the Cubs, switching between starting and relieving, while shuffling between the minors and majors. He struggled in his brief time in Houston, posting a 6.56 ERA in 23.1 innings. In 1974, he was re-signed by the Pirates as a free agent to help with a pennant push. After signing in late August, he went 1-1, 1.88 in 24 innings and pitched shutout ball in his only playoff appearance.  Pizarro started the 1974 season in the Mexican League, then returned there for his final two seasons of pro ball. During his pro career, he picked up 243 wins and threw over 3,500 innings total. He turns 84 years old today.

Felipe Montemayor, outfielder for the 1953 and 1955 Pirates. The Pirates purchased him in 1951 for $20,000 from a team in the Sunset League in Mexico. At the time, he had three years of pro ball in Mexico. At 22 years old in 1950, he hit .319 with 63 extra-base hits in 122 games. Montemayor spent parts of two seasons in the majors with the Pirates and five seasons with their New Orleans affiliate in the Southern Association. With New Orleans in 1951, he hit .277 in 144 games, with 37 extra-base hits. That was followed in 1952 by a .282 average in 123 games, with 39 extra-base hits. He made the Pirates Opening Day roster in 1953, but did not spend the entire season in the majors. He saw some starts early in center field, but by late April he was on the bench, playing his final game with the team that season on June 9th. He finished with a .109 average, including a 1-for-30 stretch during his final 21 games. He went to New Orleans immediately after his game on June 9th and remained there for the rest of the season, where he hit .236 in 76 games, although he belted 16 homers. In 1954, he spent the entire season in New Orleans and returned to form at the plate, batting .309 with 60 extra-base hits. That led to another Opening Day spot in 1955 and he had similar results, seeing more playing time earlier in the year, then got optioned to Charleston on June 21st, which ended his big league time. For Pittsburgh, he started 36 of the 64 games he played, seeing time at all three outfield positions and he pinch-hit often. Montemayor batted .173 with two homers and ten RBIs in 150 at-bats. He actually played much better during his second stint, posting a .689 OPS in 36 games, compared to .391 in 28 games during the 1953 season.  His two home runs came on the same day, during both games of a doubleheader against the St Louis Cardinals on May 1, 1955. He actually homered in an earlier game, only to have his first big league round tripper washed away by rain in the third inning. On October 17, 1955, the Pirates traded Montemayor (and cash) to the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League for outfielder Bobby Del Greco. The Stars had a working agreement with the Pirates at the time. Just prior to the start of the 1956 season, the Hollywood returned him to the Mexican League in a deal with the Mexico City Tigers on April 11, 1956. He saw time back in the U.S. during the 1958-60 seasons, but most of his career after 1955 was spent back in his home country. He played a total of 21 seasons in the minors, seeing his final action at 40 years old in 1968. Most of the stats in Mexico, where he spent 14 seasons, are unavailable at this time, so his records are incomplete.

Bill Steinecke, catcher for the 1931 Pirates. His entire big league career consisted of four mid-September games off the bench for the 1931 Pirates. He was purchased by the Pirates from Binghamton of the New York-Penn League on August 29, 1931 and was allowed to remain with his minor league team until the Pirates requested him to report to Forbes Field on September 11th. His first game came on September 16th when he came in to pinch-hit in the seventh inning, then remained in to catch the final two innings. He pinch-hit in his other three contests over the next eight days, going 0-for-4 at the plate in his four games. The Pirates released him outright to Fort Worth of the Texas League on December 8, 1931, ending his brief time in Pittsburgh. The news shocked some because the Pirates apparently paid a heavy price to acquire him. During that 1931 season, he hit .361 with 41 doubles for Binghamton, playing in his sixth season of pro ball at 24 years old. While his big league career was extremely brief, his pro baseball career was not. Steinecke played 23 seasons in the minors, getting into 1,886 games total. He played his final game at 43 years old in 1950. He fell just short of a .300 career average, collecting 1,791 hits in 6,006 minor league at-bats. He nearly matched his playing days as a manager, spending 22 years at the helm of various minor league teams between 1937 and 1964. His first season as a manager was for Savannah of the South Atlantic League, which was considered a Pirates affiliate at the time. His longest stretch in any one spot was four years when he was at the helm of the McCook Braves from 1956 until 1959.

Charlie Jackson, outfielder for the 1917 Pirates. Jackson’s only other big league experience besides his one season with the Pirates, was an August pinch-hit at-bat for the 1915 Chicago White Sox, which ended in a strikeout. With the Pirates two years later, he played 41 games, splitting his time between left field and right field. Jackson hit .240 in 41 games and managed to collect just one RBI in 134 plate appearances. The 1917 Pirates were a bad group, going 51-103 and they scored only 464 runs. They were slightly better in Jackson’s 30 starts, posting an 11-19 record. Jackson got on base 41 times, yet he scored just seven times. In fact, two of those runs came in his first two at-bats with the team on August 9th when he tripled and singled while batting in the lead-off spot. Jackson was sure-handed during his time with the Pirates, committing one error. He didn’t play enough to qualify for league leaders, but his .986 fielding percentage was two points higher than the National League leader (Dode Paskert) for all outfielders. Prior to joining the Pirates in early August of 1917, Jackson hit .313 in 297 at-bats during the first four months of the season for Spokane of the Northwestern League. The league disbanded in early August and the Pirates purchased him from Spokane just before he arrived at Forbes Field on August 6th. Jackson was leading the league in runs scored at the time. The local papers noted that a case of malaria caused him to miss Spring Training in 1917, leading to the White Sox selling him off to Spokane. He was sold to Minneapolis of the American Association on April 23, 1918 after not showing up to the team during Spring Training, ending his time with the Pirates. He played eight seasons in the minors, hitting .268 in 2,601 at-bats.  That average is a bit strange on how he got to that mark. Jackson had full seasons in which he hit .309, .312 and .313, as well as seasons in which he batted .184, .186 and .236.

John Fox, pitcher for the 1884 Alleghenys. He came to the majors in 1881, playing pitcher, first base and outfield for the Boston Red Stockings of the National League. He went 6-8, 3.33 in 124.1 innings and hit .178 in 30 games total. He had 21 singles and no walks, giving him an identical .178 mark in slugging and on base as well. After not playing in the majors in 1882, Fox played for the Baltimore Orioles of the American Association the following year. He went 6-13, 4.03 and hit .152 in 23 games, usually batting in the lead-off spot. He joined the Alleghenys in 1884 and was the Opening Day starter. His time with the team didn’t last long. Fox started seven of the first 28 games and went 1-6, 5.64 in 59 innings. He dropped a 9-2 decision to Philadelphia in the season opener, then lost two games to the New York Metropolitans in the second series of the season. His lone win came on May 12th in a 9-6 victory at home over Brooklyn. Exactly one week later in Brooklyn, he was handed an 11-6 loss. Fox then lost 10-1 five days later to Philadelphia, then went 16 days before his final game with the Alleghenys on June 9th, which he lost 9-3 at home against St Louis. After his final game, it was announced that he was suspended indefinitely due to drinking. The team said that every one of his losses was due to drunkenness and that was after the team gave him a $500 bonus if he wouldn’t drink during the season. After playing in the minor leagues in 1885, Fox finished his big league career with one start for the 1886 Washington Nationals. His final big league record stood at 13-28, 4.16 in 356.2 innings, and he put together a .176 batting average. During his time in Pittsburgh, Fox batted .240 in eight games, which included a brief stint at shortstop in one contest. Very little is known about his minor league time other than the fact that he played for two teams in the northeast during the 1885 season. He was mostly playing independent ball. He passed away at age 34 in 1893.

Mike Jordan, outfielder for the 1890 Alleghenys. He signed with the Alleghenys in late August 1890 and mostly played left field (occasional center field) for the last 37 games of the season. While he played strong defense that often got praise during his time in Pittsburgh, his offense set a franchise futility record. No other position player in Pirates history had more plate appearances with a lower average. In fact no other position player came to the plate more than 53 times with a worse average. He hit .096 in 143 plate appearances, collecting 11 singles and a double. The Alleghenys record during his time with the team was just 4-35. That was the only Major League experience for Jordan, who played in the minors from 1884 until 1893. In eight seasons of pro ball, with some stats incomplete, he doesn’t have a single home run to his credit. The Alleghenys formed a working agreement with Ted Sullivan, who was managing Washington of the Atlantic Association to start the 1890 season. When that team folded, Sullivan helped the Alleghenys sign players, including Jordan, who was the third player Sullivan signed after pitchers Bill Phillips and Fred Underwood. Phillips took regular rotation work and Underwood never appeared in a game for Pittsburgh. Jordan debuted on August 21st, ten days after Phillips. There was word from Pittsburgh owner J. Palmer O’Neil that Jordan had an offer from a Player’s League club, but he was able to snap up the 27-year-old outfielder first.

Jordan’s poor batting average could have been a little better if MLB records were updated, and it would add a nice footnote to his resume. On September 3rd, the Alleghenys and Cleveland Spiders played a game in Altoona that was a regular season game, but for some reason it’s now called an exhibition game. The rules of the day stated that teams couldn’t play in-season exhibition games until their regular season head-to-head schedule was completed. The game was called a regular season game on the day in was played as well, plus it was part of the stats during the season. For some unknown reason, it has been removed from the stats (trust me, I’ve looked hard for a reason and came up empty). Anyway, Jordan had two hits in that game that are no longer credited to him and they came off of a rookie pitched named Cy Young. In a cruel twist, the Spiders and Alleghenys played a game later that month that was considered to be an exhibition game after their head-to-head schedule ended, and then it got switched to a regular season game for an unknown reason. Not only did Jordan get credit for an 0-for-4 in that game, the papers called him Gordon.

Jordan has one other interesting footnote to his brief big league career. On September 22nd in a game played in Wheeling, WV, the Alleghenys took on the New York Giants. Mike Tiernan of the Giants hit a ball into left field that got lost in the high grass and was able to circle the bases while Jordan tried to find the ball that should have been nothing more than a single, but ended up as a homer.

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