This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: February 15th, Russell Martin and Don Kelly

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date.

Rob Scahill, pitcher for the 2015-16 Pirates. He made a huge jump in the draft after just one year, going from a 48th round pick in 2008 by the New York Yankees, to an eighth round pick of the Colorado Rockies in 2009.  He is one of eight players from Bradley University to make the majors, including former Pirates pitchers Mike Dunne and Brian Shouse. Scahill was a starting pitcher all the way up until his big league debut, then never made a start in the majors. He joined the Rockies in September of 2012 and did well in six relief appearances, allowing one run in 8.2 innings. He split the 2013 season between Triple-A and the majors, making 23 appearances at each level. Scahill had a 5.13 ERA in 33.1 innings with the Rockies. In 2014, he spent the majority of the year in the minors. He was with the Rockies three times, making appearances in June, July and September. Scahill had a 4.80 ERA in 15 innings. On November 11, 2014, the Pirates traded minor league pitcher Shane Carle to acquire Scahill. He missed two full months of the 2015 season with forearm tightness, but he pitched well when he was healthy. He had a 2.64 ERA in 30.2 innings over 28 appearances. In 2016, Scahill bounced between the majors and Triple-A before being designated for assignment on July 3rd. He was picked up by the Milwaukee Brewers on waivers nine days later. He had a 4.41 ERA in 15 games with the Pirates and a 2.45 ERA in 16 games with the Brewers. Scahill made 18 appearances for the Brewers in 2017, then finished his big league career with six appearances for the 2018 Chicago White Sox. He signed a minor league deal with the Chicago Cubs in 2019, but he was released early in Spring Training, ending his pro career. He spent seven seasons in the majors, but never put in a full season at that level. He had a 5-7, 3.85 record in 124 appearances and 149.2 innings.

Russell Martin, catcher for the 2013-14 Pirates. Martin was born and raised in Canada. In 2000 at 17 years old, he was drafted in the 35th round by the Montreal Expos, but did not sign. He attended college in the U.S. and was drafted in the 17th round in 2002 by the Los Angeles Dodgers. In took him four years to make the majors and he had an impressive rookie season. Debuting in early May, he hit .282 with ten homers, ten steals and 65 RBIs in 121 games, earning him some Rookie of the Year consideration. He blossomed into a star the very next season, hitting .293 with 32 doubles, 19 homers, 87 RBIs and 21 steals. That earned him an All-Star appearance and a Silver Slugger award, while his defense earned him a Gold Glove award. He led all National League catchers in putouts, assists and caught stealing. Martin was an All-Star the next year as well, hitting .280 with 90 walks, 87 runs scored, 13 homers and 18 stolen bases. He also led all NL catchers in putouts again. He saw a major slip in his stats in 2009, hitting .250 with seven homers in 143 games. His defense was still fine, leading the NL with putouts, assists and caught stealing. A hip injury in August of 2010 ended his season early, but his hitting was almost identical to the previous season, with a one point different in his OPS (.680 vs .679). Martin became a free agent after the season and signed with the New York Yankees. Despite a .237 average, he was an All-Star during his first year in New York. The power returned to his game, with 18 homers. That was followed by more power in 2012 (21 homers), but a lower average (.211).

Martin became a free agent after the season and signed with the Pirates. In 2013, he hit .226 with 58 walks, 15 homers and 55 RBIs in 127 games. In the NL Wild Card game against the Cincinnati Reds, he hit a memorable home run off of Johnny Cueto to help the Pirates to victory. He was limited to 111 games in 2014, twice dealing with a hamstring issue, but he had a strong season, helping the Pirates back to the playoffs. Martin batted .290 with 11 homers and 67 RBIs, which earned him a 13th place finish in the MVP voting.  He signed a large five-year free agent deal after the season with the Toronto Blue Jays, one which did not work out well. Martin hit .240 with 23 homers in his first season with the Blue Jays, then saw both his average and his homers drop each year afterwards until he was traded to the Dodgers for the 2019 season. Martin failed to reach 100 games played in any of his last three seasons, dealing with assorted injuries each year. His WAR went from a solid 3.2 mark during his first year of the deal down to an 0.7 mark in his final year, dropping a little each season. Martin hasn’t officially retired and was interested in playing in 2020 and he hasn’t ruled out 2021. In 1,693 big league games, he has a .248 average, with 191 homers, 771 RBIs and 101 stolen bases.

Don Kelly, utility player for the 2007 Pirates. He began his career in the Detroit Tigers organization after being selected in the eighth round of the 2001 amateur draft out of Point Park University in Pittsburgh. Kelly attended Mount Lebanon HS, so he was a local kid as well, which gained him some extra interest when he joined the Pirates. In 2003, he had a breakout of sorts in the minors, hitting for a high average/OBP in the Florida State League, where led to a mid-season promotion and a spot in the Arizona Fall League after the season. His career got a bit sidetracked the next season when he was limited to 31 games due to a shoulder injury. Kelly put up a .909 OPS back in Double-A in 2005, seeing a promotion to Triple-A mid-season, as well as another trip to the Arizona Fall League. The 2006 season rough though and he ended up back at Double-A. After homering ten times in 2005, he failed to hit a single home run in 507 plate appearances. He became a free agent after the 2006 season and signed with the Pirates two months later. Kelly hit well during the early part of Spring Training and made the Pirates Opening Day roster. He played 25 games that year, going 4-for- 27 at the plate (.148), with all four hits being singles. Kelly played four different positions and he made three starts, two at shortstop and one at second base. His inclusion on the team seemed a bit rushed and based off of early spring results, which was basically a handful of games mostly against minor league pitching. The big league time resulted in a -0.5 WAR and he was released following the season.

Kelly needed more minor league seasoning and he got that with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2008 and the Tigers at the start of the 2009 season. He was called up in June of 2009 and he ended up playing parts of six years with the Tigers, followed by his two final seasons in the majors with the Miami Marlins. Kelly never had more than 257 at-bats in a season in Detroit, but he was a valuable utility player, averaging over 100 games per season during the 2010-14 seasons. In that time, he played every position except shortstop, which was his main position in the minors with the Tigers. He played just 15 big league games over his two seasons in Miami, then retired following the 2006 season. Kelly hit .230 with 23 homers, 98 RBIs and 16 steals (in 18 attempts) over 584 big league games. He served as the bench coach for the Pirates in 2020, after two years as a Detroit scout and one year with the Houston Astros as a first base coach. Kelly is the brother-in-law of Pirates long-time second baseman Neil Walker.

Barry Jones, pitcher for the 1986-88 Pirates. Jones was originally drafted by the Texas Rangers in the sixth round in 1981 out of high school. He chose to attend Indiana University and was a third round draft pick of the Pirates in 1984. Jones rose through the minor league ranks quickly with the Pirates, making it to the majors 25 months after he signed. He pitched that first season with the Pirates in the New York-Penn League, making 14 starts, while going 6-3, 3.43 in 86.2 innings. His first full season in pro ball saw him start the year at high-A ball and work his way up to Triple-A for one game. He was moved to the bullpen that year, which fast-tracked his rise. In 52 games (split between three levels) he went 6-4, 1.69 with 22 saves. He began the next year in Triple-A, then got called up to the Pirates in mid-July after posting a 3.56 ERA in 48 innings. He went 3-4 2.89 with three saves in 26 games for the Pirates that rookie season. Jones pitched poorly at the start of 1987, posting an 11.81 ERA in April, which led to him being sent to Triple-A for nearly two full months. He posted a 5.61 ERA in 32 games with the Pirates that season, though he had a 1.93 ERA from July 4th through September 16th, before allowing five runs in his final 3.1 innings. He had a better 1988 season through late August, posting a 3.04 ERA in 42 games, when the Pirates decided to ship him to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for veteran starter Dave LaPoint. Jones did some great relief work in Chicago, posting a 2.42 ERA to finish off the 1988 season, followed by a 2.37 ERA in 22 games in 1989 and his peak performance in 1990, which saw him go 11-4, 2.31 ERA in 74 innings over 65 appearances. He was traded to the Montreal Expos after the season and stayed there one year. He led the National League with 77 games pitched in 1991, while putting up a 3.35 ERA and 13 saves in 88.2 innings, which was a career high. Jones was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies prior to 1992 and he career dropped off quickly. The Phillies released him mid-season and he finished the year with the New York Mets. He had a 5.68 ERA in 69.2 innings. He signed as a free agent with the White Sox for 1993, but he was released after just 7.1 innings, ending his big league career. Jones finished up his pro career in Triple-A for the 1994 Milwaukee Brewers. In 433 innings over 348 big league games (all in relief), he went 33-33, 3.66 with 23 saves.

If you look at his player page on, it says he made his big league debut on April 20, 1986 when he was still in Triple-A. How could that be, you ask? On April 20th the Pirates played the Cubs at Wrigley before the lights were in place. The game went extra innings and was called due to darkness with the score tied. On August 11th the two teams hooked up to play the conclusion of the game prior to their regularly scheduled game. Jones came in and pitched four scoreless innings, striking out eight and picking up the win. Since the game was started on April 20th, that is when the records for that game count for, so while he didn’t actually throw a pitch for the Pirates until July, he picked up his first Major League win in a game played on April 20, 1986.

Charlie Reilly, third baseman for the 1891 Pirates. When MLB players thought they were being treated unfairly in 1889, they decided to form the Player’s League. A league run by the players and full of star power. That left the 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys as a very weak team with the majority of their roster leaving for the new league. The league folded after one season and most players returned to their 1889 team. However, the newly dubbed “Pirates” added plenty of star power from other teams, including Pete Browning and Louis Bierbauer. They also picked up “Princeton” Charlie Reilly from the Columbus Solons of the American Association, a third Major League running at the time. Reilly was originally signed with Columbus for 1891, but his contract called for him to receive advanced money by a certain date. When he didn’t receive that money, he signed with Pittsburgh on February 26th, only to (according to a letter written by Reilly) receive the advanced money in checks later that same day, which he returned to the team.  An interesting side note to that signing is that manager Ned Hanlon advised the team against signing Reilly just two days earlier via telegram.

At 23 years old in 1890, Reilly hit .266 with 75 runs scored, 77 RBIs and 43 stolen bases, though it should be noted that the American Association was a clear third among player strength at that time. His only previous MLB time was six October games in 1889 for Columbus in which he had 11 hits and nine stolen bases, resulting in a .478 average and a 1.452 OPS. He got his “Princeton” nickname from his hometown of Princeton, NJ. Reilly debuted in pro ball in 1885, though his minor league career really got going two years later when he batted .344 in 128 games, splitting the season between two lower level leagues. He played for Princeton University in 1886 and has no pro ball records that year. In 1888, he moved up to St Paul of the Western Association, where he hit just .238 in 106 games. Prior to joining Columbus in 1889, Reilly batted .341 with 27 homers and 46 steals for St Paul. For reference sake, the Major League record for homers in a season was 27 until topped by Babe Ruth in 1919.

Even though Pittsburgh was a stacked team in 1891 between new stars and their old lineup from 1889, the team struggled to a 55-80 record. Reilly was very little help as he hit just .219 in 114 games. He was released just prior to the end of the season. Princeton Charlie went on to play the next four seasons for the Philadelphia Phillies, where his offensive stats improved, though they were still well below league average during an era of high offense. MLB changed the pitching distance and rules in 1893 and it took pitchers some time to get used to the changes. Many couldn’t adjust at all and offense peaked during the 1894 season. Reilly hit .294 that season, but his team batted .350 as a group (their outfield was the best in baseball history with no doubt Hall of Famers Sam Thompson, Billy Hamilton and Ed Delahanty, so that helped a lot). There was a rumor during the 1894 season that the Pirates could bring back Reilly, but one local Pittsburgh paper said that they hope that the rumors are unfounded, “Pittsburgh ball patrons know Charlie Reilly and do not want him here again”, showing that he obviously made quite an impression during his one season in Pittsburgh. After he signed with the Phillies on December 9, 1891, the Philadelphia Inquirer said that after he played in Pittsburgh “his services were not in great demand, as his behavior and habits were not of the best”.

After Philadelphia, Reilly spent a year in the minors, before returning to the majors for one last season in 1897 with the Washington Senators. He then played eight more seasons in the minors, finally ending his 20-year pro baseball career when he retired in 1905. He was a .250 hitter in 642 big league games, with 17 homers, 311 RBIs, 342 runs scored and 132 stolen bases.