This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: March 6th, Willie Stargell

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, one of them is among the team’s all-time greats.

Willie Stargell, 1B/OF for the 1962-82 Pirates. He played 21 seasons in a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform, three more than anyone else in team history. He also hit 475 homers and drove in 1,540 runs, both tops among the team’s all-time list. The Pirates signed Stargell at the age of 18 as an amateur free agent in 1958, and he made his pro debut the following season playing Class D ball. He hit just seven homers in 118 games that rookie season. He moved up a level for 1959 and hit 11 homers in 107 games with a .260 average. Stargell never had a great hitting season in the minors, but his breakout year could be considered 1961 when he hit .289 with 22 homers playing for Asheville of the South Atlantic League. The Pirates jumped him up to Triple-A for the next season, and by September he was up in the majors for ten late season games. He would be in Pittsburgh for good from that point on.

In his first full season, Pops started just 71 games and hit a modest .243 with 11 homers in 304 at-bats. He made his first All-Star team in 1964, but the 1965 season was his first true All-Star type season in the majors. Stargell batted .273 with 22 homers and 78 RBIs in 117 games in 1964. His OBP was low due to just 17 walks, but he finished with a .501 slugging percentage. In 1965, he hit 27 homers and drove in 107 runs, earning his second of three straight All-Star appearances. Stargell gained some respect from pitchers, which led to more walks (including 13 intentional walks), but his slugging percentage was exactly the same as the previous season. His overall numbers just looked much better because he was in the lineup more often, playing 144 games. He garnered some MVP consideration in 1965, finishing 14th in the voting. That would be one spot ahead of where he would finish in the MVP voting the next season when he had one of the best years of his career at the plate. He hit a career high .315 with 33 homers and 102 RBIs. Stargell’s .962 OPS that year would be his highest during the first nine years of his career and it ranked him third in the National League.

Stargell saw a decline in each of the next two seasons, though he still put up solid numbers in 1967. That year he hit .271 with 67 walks, 20 homers and 73 RBIs in 134 games. He hit 24 homers in 1968, but it came with a .237 average and a lowly (for him) .757 OPS. That would be his lowest OPS during a 15-year stretch (1964-80). After a couple of down years, Stargell put together a solid 1969 season in which he hit .307 with 29 homers and 92 RBIs. He played 145 games that season, a total he would top just once in his career. His .938 OPS was eighth best in the league. Stargell followed that up with a 31-homer season in 1970, before putting together the best stretch of his career. The Pirates won the 1971 World Series and the man they would later call “Pops”  led the way. He set career bests in both homers with 48 and RBIs with 125. The Pirates won everything in the postseason, but Stargell provided very little help. He went hitless in the NLCS, then hit .208 with one RBI in the WS. He led the NL in homers for the first time in his career and became just the second Pirates player to reach the 40-homer mark, and his total still sits third in team history behind Ralph Kiner’s two top seasons. His 125 RBIs fell six short of the team record, and it ranks fifth among the Pirates single-season marks. His 1.026 OPS ranked second in the NL behind an incredible season put up by Hank Aaron. Stargell scored 104 runs that year, the first time he cracked the century mark in a season.

The 1972 season gets lost between his two best years, but Stargell still put up big numbers. He hit .293 with 33 homers and 112 RBIs, leading to a .930 OPS. However, those playoff struggles from 1971 would come back the next season. Despite finishing third in the 1972 MVP voting, he hit just .063 in the NLCS against the Reds, and the Pirates lost the series. Stargell would hit .299 in 1973 with a league leading 44 homers and 119 RBIs. He set career highs with 106 runs scored and 43 doubles. His 1.038 OPS led the league and set a career high. His .646 slugging also led the league and was his career high. He had 90 extra-base hits that year, setting a still-standing team record. During that 1971-73 stretch he finished second or third in the MVP voting every year. Stargell still had plenty of strong seasons left, but the 1974 season would be the last time he played over 130 games in a year. He hit .301 with 96 RBIs during the regular season, then hit .400 with two homers in the playoff loss to the Dodgers. He drew a career high 87 walks, which led to a career best .407 OBP.  Stargell helped the Pirates to the playoffs again in 1975 by hitting .295 and driving in 90 runs , earning a seventh place finish in the MVP voting.

The 1976-77 seasons were tough ones for Stargell between family and physical problems. He played just 180 games total those two years, though he combined to hit 33 homers and drive in 100 runs. He was 38 years old going into 1978, but he proved that he wasn’t done as a player. He hit .295 with 28 homers and 97 RBIs that year, making his seventh and final All-Star appearance. He may not have made the All-Star team in 1979, but he did one better. He led the Pirates to their fifth World Series title, and in the process won the regular season MVP, the NLCS MVP and the WS MVP awards. He hit 32 homers and drove in 82 runs during the season, then hit .455 with six RBIs in the three-game NLCS and .400 with three homers and seven RBIs during the WS.

That would be the one final shining moment for Stargell, who still played another three seasons with the Pirates, but only saw action in 179 games, many of them off the bench. In his first year on the Hall of Fame ballot in 1988, Pops was voted in with 82.4% of the votes. He finished with a .282 career average, 1,195 runs scored, 2,232 hits, 475 homers and 1,540 RBIs. Besides his team home run and RBI records, he also holds the Pirates all-time record for walks with 937 and he had 227 career intentional walks.

Francisco Cervelli, catcher for the 2015-19 Pirates. Cervelli signed as an international amateur free agent with the New York Yankees in 2003 out of Venezuela, just days before his 17th birthday. He spent the first 12 seasons of his pro career with the Yankees, making it to the big leagues for the first time in 2008 for three September games. Cervelli had a very slow start to his pro career. His first two seasons were spent in the Dominican Republic, before playing in the Gulf Coast League in 2005, where he put up a .190 batting average. He got on track to the majors in 2006, batting .309 in 42 games, while playing in the New York-Penn League. The Yankees skipped him over Low-A the next year and he did well in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, where he put up a .783 OPS. He got some great winter ball experience playing against older competition in Venezuela that off-season, but his 2008 season was basically a lost one due to an injury suffered in a home plate collision in Spring Training. He played just 27 games, but made up for lost time by playing regularly in Venezuela again over the winter. The Yankees also gave him a brief taste of the majors with five September at-bats.  Cervelli split the 2009 season between two stints in the majors and Triple-A. He did well in his big league time, hitting .298 in 94 at-bats over 42 games. He saw more time with the Yankees in 2010, batting .271 with 38 RBIs in 93 games. After batting .266 with four homers in 43 games in 2011, Cervelli spent most of 2012 in the minors, seeing just three games with the Yankees.  Injuries and a 50-game suspension during the 2013 season limited him to just 66 games over his final two seasons in New York. He was acquired by the Pirates following the 2014 season in exchange for pitcher Justin Wilson.

Cervelli played 450 games for the Pirates over five seasons before they let him go late in 2019, which allowed him to sign with a playoff contender (Atlanta Braves). His best season with the Pirates was his first year, when he hit .295 and played 130 games, helping the team to their third straight playoff appearance. He also had a strong 2018 season, setting career highs with 12 homers and 57 RBIs. In 13 seasons in the majors, he played 100+ games three times, all with the Pirates. Unfortunately for Cervelli, injuries were also a big part of his time with the Pirates, especially concussions. Between June 11, 2016 and May 26, 2019, he was placed on the disabled list eight times, including five times for concussions. He had a total of 14 trips to the disabled list during his time in the majors. He was limited to 81 games in 2017 and 34 in 2019 before his late season release so he could sign with Atlanta. He was hitting just .193 with one homer for the Pirates before being let go. Cervelli signed with the Miami Marlins for the 2020 season and he hit .245, with three homers in 16 games before a concussion ended his season in August. He retired following the 2020 season. In 730 big league games, he hit .268 with 41 homers and 275 RBIs. With the Pirates he batted .264 with 26 homers and 169 RBIs. He put up 3.4 WAR in 2015 and 3.1 WAR in 2018, nearly half of his career total (14.1 WAR). His third best season also came while with the Pirates when he put up 1.5 WAR in 2016.

Clint Barmes, shortstop for the 2012-14 Pirates. He was drafted out of Indiana State in the tenth round in 2000 by the Colorado Rockies and made his Major League debut three years later. Barmes played eight seasons in Colorado, one for the Houston Astros, then signed as a free agent with the Pirates prior to the 2012 season. He debuted with a .282 average in 45 games at the short-season level in 2000, before hitting just .173 in 19 games after a late season promotion to Low-A. Barmes didn’t exactly tear up the minors in his first full season, which was split between Low-A and High-A. He had a .683 OPS for Low-A Asheville before putting up a .672 OPS in the Carolina League. He stole 25 bases in 2001 and averaged 18 steals per season in the minors before establishing himself in the majors, but speed wasn’t a significant part of his big league game. Barmes moved up to Double-A in 2002 and hit .272 with 15 homers and 15 steals. He moved up to the high offense of Colorado Springs in the Pacific Coast League in 2003 and had a mediocre .709 OPS, but it still earned him a trip to the majors in September. He hit .320 in 12 games with the Rockies that year. Back in Triple-A in 2004, he had an .881 OPS, which led to a big league call in August and 20 late season games. Barmes earned a big league job in 2005 and he hit .289 with ten homers and 46 RBIs in 81 games. posting a 2.6 WAR, due in part to some great defense. After batting just .220 in 131 games during the 2006 season, he was replaced at shortstop by Troy Tulowitzki. Barmes played just 27 games for the 2007 Rockies, spending a majority of the season in the minors. He returned in 2008 as a backup infielder, though he took over at second base by the end of the year. He hit .290 with 11 homers in 107 games, which led to him getting the second base job in 2009. That year he set a career best with 154 games played, while breaking 500 at-bats (550) for the only time in his career. Barmes hit just .245 and his low walk rate led to a .294 OPS, but the Colorado air did well for his slugging percentage. He belted 23 homers, 32 doubles and drove in 76 runs, all career highs. His numbers dropped off significantly in 2010 and the Rockies traded him to the Astros after the season. In his one year in Houston before reaching free agency, he hit .244 with 12 homers and 39 RBIs in 123 games.

With the Pirates, he held the shortstop job for 2012, while serving as a mentor to Jordy Mercer. Barmes hit .229 with eight homers and 45 RBIs in 144 games in 2012. He put up a 2.2 dWAR, which was the fifth best total among all National League players. He saw his OPS drop to .558 in 108 games in 2013, then he saw limited use backing up all four infield spots in 2014, playing 48 games total. After the season, he left via free agency. In three years with the Pirates, he batted .224 with 13 homers and 75 RBIs in 300 games. Barmes played one more season in the majors (2015 San Diego Padres), then signed with the Kansas City Royals in 2016 and played two months at Triple-A before retiring. In 13 seasons, he was a .245 hitter with 89 homers in 1,186 games. His 2.5 dWAR in 2005 rated him as the best defensive player in the National League. His uncle Bruce Barmes played for the 1953 Washington Senators.

Bert Husting, pitcher for the 1900 Pirates. He began his pro career in 1899 for the Milwaukee Brewers of the Western League playing for Connie Mack. The Western League proved to be a little too tough for the 21-year-old pitcher out of college, so he was loaned to New Haven of the Connecticut League for part of the season, before returning to Milwaukee. The next year the Brewers moved to the American League (one year before the league was recognized as a Major League). The Pirates acquired him from the Brewers in August after three Pirates players went to Milwaukee, including Hall of Famer Rube Waddell. Husting was sought after by Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss, who actually showed interest in him before he owned the Pirates, but he thought he needed more minor league experience and the American League was a good level for him. Husting wasn’t with Milwaukee long in 1900, joining the team on June 17th after finishing up his college studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He was secured by Dreyfuss on July 31st, just six weeks after beginning his season. Milwaukee had a salary dispute with him which amounted to $25 a month, with them paying him $150 and he wanted a raise to $175 in July. Husting would end up pitching just two games for Pittsburgh, both in relief, going eight innings in which he allowed five runs, but recorded seven strikeouts. In his debut on August 16th, nine days after his arrival to the team, he took over for the final three innings from Deacon Phillippe against Brooklyn and gave up two runs, one being a home run to Hall of Famer Joe Kelley. The local papers said that Husting threw hard, had “a lot of good curves and a cross-fire delivery that puzzle some of the league’s best batters”.

Husting pitched again seven days later, with another Hall of Fame connection involved. He took over for Jack Chesbro, after the latter allowed eight runs over the first four innings of an 11-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. On August 29th, he pitched a complete game shutout over a local amateur team (Homestead) in an exhibition game. When the Pirates left on an 18-day road trip after their game on September 1st, Husting and outfielder Tom McCreery were left in Pittsburgh to save on travel expenses. On September 8th, Husting pitched a game for the same Homestead team he just defeated. There was nothing heard from him again until the Pirates held a Field Day at Exposition Park and they played an exhibition game between all of their players. Husting pitched part of the game and finished out in left field. He left a few days later for a football coaching job at Wisconsin University. The next season he returned to Milwaukee and went 9-15, 4.27 in 34 games, 26 as a starter. That Brewers team eventually became the current day Baltimore Orioles, with a stop in St Louis (Browns) in between. He signed with the Boston Americans (Red Sox) for 1902, but after one very poor start in which he allowed 15 runs and 23 base runners, he was sold to the Philadelphia Athletics, a team managed by Connie Mack. After going 14-6 for the Athletics that year Husting retired at 24 years old to take up law, ending his playing career. His real name was Berthold Juneau Husting, but he mostly went by the nickname Pete, which was given to him in college.

John Coleman, outfielder for the Pittsburgh Alleghenys from 1886-88 and 1890. He started his career as a pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1883 and set four pitching records as a rookie that will never be broken, and none of them are positive. Playing for the franchise in their first year of existence, Coleman lost 48 games that season (against 12 wins) while giving up 772 hits, 510 runs and 291 earned runs, all Major League records. In his defense, the team wasn’t any better when he wasn’t pitching (5-33 record in their other games) and he did throw 538.1 innings with the worst fielding team in the league behind him. Coleman played 31 games in the outfield his rookie season, and by 1884 he was in the field more often on the mound, partially due to throwing his arm out as a rookie. He pitched just 18 more games after 1884, two of them for the 1890 Alleghenys. Coleman didn’t put up great stats at the plate during his first two years. He batted .234 as a rookie, then followed it up with a .230 average and a .585 OPS in 1884. His fortunes at the plate got better in his third season. He hit .299 with 70 RBIs and 71 runs scored in 96 games in 1885 for the Philadelphia Athletics of the American Association, a team he joined mid-season in 1884, switching leagues, but staying in the same city. He was hitting .246 with 65 RBIs, 16 triples and 28 stolen bases through 121 games when Pittsburgh picked him up at the end of the 1886 season. He hit .349 with nine RBIs in the last 11 games of the season, earning the starting right field job for 1887 when the team moved to the National League. That first year for Pittsburgh in the NL,  he hit .293 while scoring 75 runs and driving in 54 runs. His production dropped off significantly in 1888, and he would play just nine more Major League games over the next two seasons. In 116 games in 1888, he hit .231 with 15 extra-base hits, putting up a .558 OPS. He returned to the Athletics for six games in 1889, then joined the Alleghenys on July 15, 1890 after his minor league team disbanded. Coleman was called the best pitcher in the International League prior to rejoining Pittsburgh, but that success didn’t carry over. In his first start on the same day he joined Pittsburgh, he allowed eight runs over the first three innings against his old Philadelphia Phillies team, then shut them down without a run for the final six innings. Coleman started in right field two days later, then made his second pitching appearance on July 18th. He allowed 15 runs in five innings, then went to left field to finish the game. After the game on July 21st, he was released and paid $100 for his seven days with the team. Following his last season in the majors he played another four seasons of minor league ball before retiring as a player. In 629 games over eight seasons, he hit .257 with seven homers and 332 runs scored. He has 279 RBIs, though that doesn’t include his partial 1884 season in the American Association, where the RBI records are incomplete. He hit two homers while with Pittsburgh, both against Boston pitcher Kid Madden, though they occurred over three months apart.

MORE FROM THIS SECTION

Menu