This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: February 14th, Pitchers and Catchers Reports

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, all of them pitchers or catchers.

Damaso Marte, relief pitcher for the 2001 and 2006-08 Pirates. Marte was signed out of the Dominican Republic at 17 years old by the Seattle Mariners in 1992. It took him seven years to make it to the majors, and even then it was a brief stop, followed by more time in the minors. Marte was a starter for most of the time in the minors and he saw his ERA go up in that role as he rose up the system. By 1999 he was seeing mostly bullpen time, which led to him getting a brief stint with the Mariners during the middle of the season. From June 30, 1999 to July 20th, he made five appearances and allowed nine runs in 8.2 innings. Marte missed most of the 2000 seasons, then got released in October. He signed with the New York Yankees, who had him in Double-A prior to a June 13th trade that sent him to Pittsburgh for infielder Enrique Wilson. Marte pitched just four games in Triple-A for the Pirates, then spent the rest of the year in the majors, where he had a 4.71 ERA in 36.1 innings over 23 appearances. He was then traded to the Chicago White Sox for Matt Guerrier on March 22, 2002. Marte was a steady contributor in the White Sox bullpen for four seasons, making at least 66 appearances each year. Over that time, he went 14-12, 2.78, with 31 saves in 259 innings over 279 appearances. The Pirates reacquired Marte in exchange for Rob Mackowiak in December 2005. He had a decent first season back in Pittsburgh, despite a 1-7 record. In 58.1 innings over 75 appearances, he had a 3.70 ERA. He was much better in 2007, going 2-0, 2.38 in 45.1 innings over 65 games. Through late July in 2008, he had a 4-0, 3.47 record, with five saves in 46.2 innings and 47 appearances. The Pirates traded him in a six-player deal with the Yankees, along with Xavier Nady, which landed the Pirates Ross Ohlendorf, Jeff Karstens, Daniel McCutchen and Jose Tabata. Marte struggled in New York over the next 2 1/2 seasons, then he was injured for all of 2011 season, which ended his pro career. In 76 appearances for the Yankees, he had a 6.02 ERA and he was mostly limited to a lefty specialist role, throwing a total of 49.1 innings. He made 570 appearances over his 11-year big league career (all in relief) and had a 3.46 ERA and 36 saves in 503.2 innings. With the Pirates, he was 7-8, 3.52 in 210 games and 186.2 innings.

Will McEnaney, lefty reliever for the 1978 Pirates. He was selected in the eighth round of the 1970 draft by the Cincinnati Reds, who took him out of Springfield North HS (Ohio) at 18 years old. McEnaney worked as a starter during his first four seasons of pro ball and did well in that role, especially during the 1971-72 seasons. At 19 years old with Tampa of the Florida State League in 1971, he went 14-5, 2.44 in 181 innings. He moved up to Double-A in 1972 and 11-6, 2.80 in 138 innings. That was followed by spending 1973 in Triple-A, where he had a 3.92 ERA in 29 starts, throwing eight complete games. He came into 1974 as a reliever and had a 2.30 ERA at Triple-A before debuting in the majors in July. The Reds used him 24 times as a rookie and he had a 4.33 ERA in 27 innings. He spent the full season in the majors in 1975 and had a terrific year for the World Series champs. McEnaney went 5-2, 2.47 in 70 appearances, picking up 15 saves, while working 91 innings. He pitched five times in the World Series and allowed two runs in 6.2 innings. That was the peak for his career, though the Reds repeated as champs in 1976 and he threw 4.2 shutout innings in the World Series. McEnaney struggled a bit during most of the season, posting a 4.85 ERA in 72.1 innings. That included an 0.63 ERA in June, and four months with a 6.00+ ERA. He pitched a little better in 1977 (3.95 ERA in 86.2) innings after being traded to the Montreal Expos in a four-player deal that also sent Hall of Famer Tony Perez north of the border. The Pirates acquired him from the Expos just prior to the 1978 season in exchange for pitcher Timothy Jones. McEnaney pitched just six games for the Pirates, 8.2 innings total, and he had a 10.38 ERA. He spent the rest of the season in Triple-A, where he had a 6.24 ERA in 64 innings. He was released following the completion of the season, then signed as a free agent with the St Louis Cardinals at the start of Spring Training in 1979. He did well in his final big league season, posting a 2.95 ERA in 64 innings. Despite those results, the Cardinals released him just prior to Opening Day in 1980. McEnaney signed with the New York Yankees and had a 1.44 ERA in Double-A. He also played for the Texas Rangers (Triple-A/Double-A) in 1982 and an independent minor league team in 1985. He spent the 1981 season playing in Mexico. In his six year career he had a 12-17, 3.76 record with 29 saves in 269 games, all in relief. Despite a very brief time with the Pirates, McEnaney wore three different jersey numbers, 16, 24 and 44.

Earl Smith, catcher for the Pirates from 1924 until 1928. He caught on two Pirates World Series teams and hit .350 during the 1925 series. Smith played 12 seasons in the majors, catching for five teams that made the World Series and he helped win three titles. He debuted in pro ball in 1916 at 19 years old, though he was playing independent ball two years earlier. He played three full seasons in the minors before getting his first chance at the majors, sitting at the end of the bench for the 1919 New York Giants. Smith played 21 games that first year, but he had just two starts through the team’s first 131 games, which included him starting game two of the season. He then started five games over the rest of the season, accumulating 18 of his 36 at-bats that season during that short time. By May of 1920 he was getting a majority of the playing time behind the plate and he did well, putting up a .294 average in 91 games. He saw similar playing time over the next two years in New York, while putting up a big season at the plate in 1921. Smith hit .336 with ten homers in 89 games that year, while posting a 27:8 BB/SO ratio. The Giants won the World Series that year, though Smith went 0-for-7 in three games. He had a solid season in 1922, hitting .278 with nine homers in 89 games, then struggled again in a World Series win, going 1-for-7 in four games. During the 1923 season, he was traded in June to the Boston Braves in a four-player deal. Smith lasted just over a full year in Boston, hitting .284 in 105 games. He was purchased by the Pirates on July 14th under some odd circumstances. Two days earlier, Los Angeles of the Pacific Coast League announced that he was purchased by them. On July 14th, the Boston Braves said that he had not been sold to anyone, then it was announced that he was sold to the Pirates. Newspapers later clarified that Smith was put on waivers and claimed by the Pirates, as player movement between big league teams was limited to waiver pickups only after June 15th that year. Smith saw limited time over the rest of the season, but he did well in a platoon role, batting .369 in 39 games. At the time of his purchase, the Pirates had both starting/platoon catchers injured, Walter Schmidt and Johnny Gooch, so young Cliff Knox was the only healthy option.

During the 1925 championship season, Smith formed a great pair with Gooch, while seeing slightly more time behind the plate than his backstop partner. In 109 games (93 starts), Smith hit .313 with eight homers and 64 RBIs. Gooch batted .298 and drove in 30 runs. Smith played six of the seven World Series games that year. While he did hit .350, as mentioned up top, he didn’t score or drive in a single run. He had an outstanding 1926 season, putting up a .346 average in 105 games, though interestingly enough, his .845 OPS was exactly the same as the previous season when he batted .33 points lower. Smith saw quite a one-year drop-off in production and playing time in 1927, hitting .270 in 66 games. His playoff struggles returned, going 0-for-8 at the plate in the World Series. During the 1928 season, the Pirates sold Smith to the St Louis Cardinals. He didn’t play much in St Louis, but he went to the World Series for a fifth time and went 3-for-4 at the dish. In five postseasons, he failed to collect an RBI or score a run. He was a backup in 1929 and saw very limited time for the Cardinals in 1930, which ended up being his last season. His pro career ended the following season in the minors. Smith was a .303 hitter in 860 games, with 46 homers and 355 RBIs. With the Pirates, he batted .315 in 351 games, with 21 homers and 167 RBIs.

Harry Jordan, pitcher for the 1894-95 Pirates. He won his only start during the 1894 season, a 10-7 win in which he pitched a complete game  and gave up ten hits against Brooklyn during the last week of the season. It was announced after the game that he signed a contract for the 1895 season. Jordan lived in the East End section of Pittsburgh at the time, so he was a local kid. The Pittsburgh Press noted that he did better than expected and most of the damage came in the ninth inning. He had excellent support in the field, and showed some trick deliveries, as well as strong control. On March 23, 1895, the Pirates played an exhibition game against local players from Savannah, Georgia, which is where the Pirates were training at the time. Jordan pitched well in the game, allowing just five hits, though the local paper noted that he was giving full effort due to a sore arm. Jordan still pitched though and on April 2nd, a note in the newspapers said that he was pitching better than the veterans on the Pittsburgh staff.  On April 25th, it was announced that Jordan would pitch for a team from Steubenville for $150 a month, and the Pirates could call him back at any time that they needed him, but just four days later, he was loaned to New Castle of the Iron and Oil League. On June 2nd, the Pirates made the call for Jordan to join the team and he showed up two days later. On June 19th, the Pirates tried to send him to Syracuse and he refused, so the local papers said he was released, but two days later it was noted that he could start a game during a series in Chicago. That never happened, but on June 30th, the papers noted that he would pitch the July 3rd game in the upcoming road series in Cleveland. What happened back then was that teams still held the rights of players for ten days after releasing them. Sometimes they played during that time, sometimes the release would be called off, which appears to have happened here. The reason might be that manager Connie Mack thought he was signing veteran pitcher Jack Luby, who was just recently released by Louisville. That never happened, so it appears that they kept Jordan.

Jordan made two starts in early July in 1895, four days apart, both against the Cleveland Spiders and lost both games. Those three games over two seasons with the Pirates were the only Major League games of his career. Eight days after his final game with the Pirates, he was playing for a local amateur team near Pittsburgh and he lost 13-7, which probably didn’t help his big league case. On July 22nd, he was signed by Titusville of the Iron and Oil League, which appears to have officially ended his time with the Pirates. Jordan played five seasons in the minors, seeing time with six different clubs. His first known pro time was earlier in the 1894 season at age 21, playing for the Brockton Shoemakers of the New England League. He also played that season for a team in Sharon, Pa. His last three seasons were spent playing for Youngstown of the Interstate League, though he also saw some time in 1896 with the Syracuse team he refused to report to while with the Pirates.

Morgan Murphy, catcher for the 1898 Pirates. He was acquired by the Pirates from the St Louis Browns on December 7, 1897 for catcher Joe Sugden, who had been with the team since 1893. The Pirates were giving up better offense for better defense. They also had four other catchers at the time, though three of them would be gone before Opening Day. Murphy hit .125 in five games and the Pirates released him less than two months into the season. Morgan was let go on June 11th due to financial reasons, at the same time the Pirates cut star outfielder Steve Brodie. They decided with Murphy to let him go since he was the third-string catcher behind veteran Pop Schriver and Frank Bowerman, who was a much better hitter than Murphy. The local paper said at the time that they could’ve sent him to the minors, but instead they rewarded his hard work over the off-season and Spring Training by releasing him outright so he could sign with another Major League team. He ended up signing with the Philadelphia Phillies, where he batted .198 in 25 games. There was a story during the 1899 season that he was stealing signs for the Phillies all season during home games, sitting in a grandstand in center field with a telescope and a way to signal the batters about what pitch was coming up. Murphy reportedly drew a salary all season from Philadelphia but never played a game that year. He was back to playing in 1900 for 11 games, then went across town to briefly play for the 1901 Athletics, finishing his pro career. He played in the majors for 11 seasons, hitting .225 over 568 games. He is one of a small group of players that played in four different leagues, the Player’s League (1890), the American Association, the National League, and then finally the American League, during its first season in 1901.

Murphy debuted in the majors with Boston in the Player’s League in 1890, with the expanded big league roster space that year making it much easier to get a big league job. He previously played five years of minor league ball in the New England area, debuting at age 18 in the Southern New England League, seeing time with two different teams. When the Player’s League was done after one season, Murphy stayed in Boston, playing the final year of the American Association with the 1891 Boston Reds, helping them to a 93-42 record and the league pennant. That league folded up shop after the 1891 season and he caught on with the Cincinnati Reds, where he played the next four years (1892-95). Murphy then played for the 1896-97 St Louis Browns before joining the Pirates. Murphy homered ten times during his career, the last one coming during the 1894 season off of Clark Griffith, the Hall of Fame owner who was also a great pitcher during his time.