This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: March 13th, Pirates Relatives

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, two of them related to other Pirates players. We start with the most recent one first:

Jason Rogers, corner infielder for the 2016 Pirates. He was a 32nd round draft pick of the Milwaukee Brewers at 22 years old, selected out of Columbus State University in Georgia. Despite his advanced age, he debuted in the lowest level of the minors and he hit .281 with a .761 OPS in 42 games. Rogers moved up to Low-A in 2011 and hit .275 with a .765 OPS in 64 games. He put his name on the prospect map in 2011, splitting the season between Low-A and High-A, combining to hit .301 with 35 doubles, 11 homers, 12 steals and 79 walks in 133 games. In 2013, he spent the season in Double-A, hitting .270 with 22 homers and 87 RBIs. He went to the Arizona Fall League after the season and hit .311 in 18 games, then played winter ball in the Dominican. On the full year, he played 164 games. Rogers split the 2014 season between Double-A and Triple-A, hitting .296 with 18 homers and 82 RBIs. In September, he got his first shot at the majors, where he went 1-for-9 at the plate in eight games. He put up a 1.056 OPS at Triple-A in five weeks at the level in the middle of 2015, but the rest of his season was spent in the majors, where he was used mostly off of the bench. In 86 games (25 starts), he batted .296 with four homers, 16 RBIs and an .808 OPS. The Pirates acquired him over the 2015-16 off-season for outfielder Keon Broxton and minor league pitcher Trey Supak. Rogers played sparingly for the Pirates, getting into 23 games total. He made just three starts, all at first base, and he didn’t play a single complete game. He also played four games off of the bench at third base. He batted .080 in 25 at-bats, though he was able to post a .303 OBP. Rogers was released during the middle of the 2017 season without playing a big league game that year. Since being released, he has played in Japan and in independent ball, while also playing winter ball in Puerto Rico and Australia. He last played during the 2019 season. He mostly played first base during his pro career, but he also saw 186 games at third base and 101 games in left field, with a handful of appearances in right field as well.

Gary Kolb, utility fielder for the 1968-69 Pirates. From 1960 until 1965, Kolb played 190 games in the majors, split between three different teams. He signed with the St Louis Cardinals as an amateur free agent at 20 years old in 1960 and appeared in the majors that September, getting three at-bats over nine games played. Kolb spent the 1961 season in the minors playing for Lancaster of the Eastern League, where he batted .261 with 20 doubles, 12 triples and ten homers in 137 games. He moved up to Double-A in 1962, playing for Tulsa of the Texas League. Kolb batted .296 with 31 doubles, ten homers, 58 walks and 88 runs scored in 129 games. That got him another September look with the Cardinals and he went 5-for-14 in six games. He split the 1963 season between Tulsa and the Cardinals. Kolb made the Opening Day roster, but through May 8th, he had just four plate appearances, with eight games off of the bench. He went to Tulsa and hit .318 in 61 games, then returned to St Louis for the remainder of the season right after the All-Star break. He put up an .883 OPS in 119 plate appearances over 75 games. Right before the 1964 season started, he was traded to the Milwaukee Braves in a deal for Bob Uecker. Kolb was a bench player in Milwaukee, seeing a handful of starts at four different positions, while also getting into games at two other spots. He played everywhere except shortstop, pitcher and first base. He batted .188 in 36 games. Kolb batted .188 in 1965 as well, though he got to that number by hitting .259 early in the year for Milwaukee, then batting .167 for the New York Mets after a July trade even up for catcher Jesse Gonder. Both Kolb and Gonder would serve as backup catchers to Manny Sanguillen at Triple-A Columbus in 1967.

Kolb spent all of 1966 in the minors with the Mets before they traded him to the Pirates in December in a four-player deal with two players going each way. He spent all of 1967 at Columbus, where he hit .293 in 117 games and was named team MVP.  He made the Pirates out of Spring Training in 1968 and would become the jack-of-all-trades. He started just 22 games that year, but played another 52 off the bench, taking the field at six different positions. Kolb even caught ten games that year, seven more than he caught in his first five seasons in the majors combined. His versatility is what kept him on the team as he hit just .218 with six RBIs in 119 at-bats. In 1969 he was very seldom used, going long periods of time without playing. He played 29 games the entire year, getting only 39 plate appearances. He drove in three runs on the season, two in his last at-bat, which would turn out to be his last Major League at-bat as well. He played another four seasons in the minors for the Pirates before retiring. In seven big league season, he was a .209 hitter, with six homers, 29 RBIs and 63 runs scored. Despite the fact he wasn’t a pitcher, and never pitched a game in the majors, he made 41 appearances on the mound in the minors, spread out over seven different seasons. His cousin Danny Kolb pitched for the Pirates in 2007.

Al Luplow, outfielder for the 1967 Pirates. He attended Michigan State University, where he was a varsity football player, and he signed with the Cleveland Indians as an amateur free agent at 20 years old in 1959. Luplow batted .301 with 11 homers and 53 RBIs in 71 games in the New York-Penn League during his first season of pro ball. He split the 1960 season between A-Ball (Eastern League) and Double-A (Southern Association), combining to hit .283 with 64 walks, 76 RBIs and 67 runs scored in 127 games. He moved up to Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League in 1961 and hit .302 in 152 games, with 18 doubles, 16 triples and 17 homers. That earned him a September look in Cleveland, where he went 1-for-18 with a single and two walks in five games. His best season in the majors was in 1962 as a rookie when he hit .277 with 14 homers for the Indians. He was batting .318 through early July and getting regular starts until he pulled a muscle in his leg that kept him out of action for three weeks. He had a pinch-hit RBI single in his first game back, but he hit just .222 the rest of the way and saw sporadic starts in September. In 1963, Luplow batted .234 with seven homers and 27 RBIs in 100 games. On June 27th at Fenway Park, he made a famous catch in which he ran full speed towards the right field wall and dove headfirst over the five-foot wall to rob a three-run homer that would have tied the score. He spent most of 1964 in the minors, batting .111 in 19 games with the Indians. He was a deep bench player during the 1965 season for the Indians, getting 48 plate appearances in 53 games, and he batted just .133 with one homer. After the season, he was sold to the New York Mets, which opened up an opportunity for playing time. Luplow played in a career high 111 games in 1966, batting .251 with seven homers and 31 RBIs.

Luplow was a bench player when the Pirates purchased his contract from the Mets on June 21, 1967, losing his starting job three weeks earlier. In 41 games with the Mets that year, he hit .205 with three homers. For the Pirates, Luplow played 55 games, mostly off the bench. He batted .184 in 103 at-bats with one homer and eight RBIs. He went to Spring Training with the Pirates in 1968, but he was a late cut from the team and never played pro ball again, deciding to retire instead of accepting his minor league assignment. In 481 big league games over seven seasons, he batted .235 with 33 homers and 125 RBIs. His great-nephew Jordan Luplow played outfield for the Pirates during the 2017-18 seasons. In fact, Jordan’s MLB debut was in right field and came exactly 50 years to the day that Al replaced an injured Roberto Clemente in right field. Along with the Kolbs (see above) they are one of 22 set of relatives to play for the Pirates.

Eddie Pellagrini, infielder for the 1953-54 Pirates. Pellagrini was 24 years old and in his fifth season of minor league ball in May of 1942 when he got drafted into the Navy during WWII. His stay in the military lasted  3 1/2 years and delayed his arrival in the majors until 1946. When he finally got his first big league at-bat at 28 years old, he hit a home run. Pellagrini likely would have debuted in 1942 had he not been drafted. He batted .273 with 57 extra-base hits in 173 games for San Diego of the Pacific Coast League in 1941 and then went to Spring Training with the Boston Red Sox in 1942. He was playing for Louisville of the American Association early in that 1942 season. Pellagrini was a deep bench player for the 1946 Red Sox, playing just 22 games total. He saw more time in 1947, getting regular starts at shortstop and third base through late May until he dropped down to a .207 average through 31 games. His time was limited after that point and he finished with a .203 average in 74 games. Boston traded him to the St Louis Browns on November 17, 1947 as one of six players and a huge sum of cash they gave up for star shortstop Vern Stephens. Pellagrini had the unenviable task of replacing the power-hitting Stephens at shortstop. In 105 games in 1948, he batted .238 with two homers and 27 RBIs. He saw less playing time in 1949 and his defense suffered, with modern metrics giving Pellagrini -0.9 WAR that season. He batted .238 again, this time in 79 games. He spent 1950 in the minors with Baltimore of the International League, where he hit .282 with 19 homers. Pellagrini moved on to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1951, then to the Cincinnati Reds in 1952. In his only season in Philadelphia, he batted .234 in 86 games, and had the odd stat line of more triples (five) and homers (five) than doubles (four). For the Reds in 1952, he hit .170 in 46 games with one homer. The Pirates picked him up off of waivers early in the 1953 seasons, before he could play a game for the Reds.  Pellagrini was a .222 hitter before coming to Pittsburgh, where he would hit a career high .253 in 1953. He started 34 games, mostly at second base and played another 44 off the bench. The following season he had a similar role, except most of his playing time came at third base. Pellagrini hit .216 in 1954 with 16 RBIs in 73 games. The Pirates released him immediately after the season ended and the 36-year-old called it quits, taking up a coaching job three years later at Boston College, where he stayed for 32 seasons. In 563 games over eight big league seasons, he hit .226 with 20 homers, 133 RBIs and 167 runs scored.

Chappie McFarland, pitcher for the 1906 Pirates. He began his big league career at age 27 in 1902 with the St Louis Cardinals and had a 33-57 record over three full and two partial seasons in St Louis. His ERA during that time was just 3.33, yet he finished in the top ten among National League pitchers in losses during all three of his full seasons. McFarland debuted in pro ball at 23 years old in 1898, pitching five seasons in the minors before debuting in mid-September with the Cardinals. He spent the 1901-02 seasons pitching for Cedar Rapids of the Three-I League, before getting his shot at the majors. He made one start and one relief appearance in 1902, which was enough to earn him a spot in the St Louis rotation in 1903. The Cardinals were awful at this time and it showed in his record. They finished 43-94 in last place, and McFarland went 9-19, 3.07 in 229 innings. The team made an incredible improvement in just one season, going 75-79, picking up 32 extra wins. McFarland posted a 14-18, 3.21 record in 269.1 innings. The Cardinals were bad again in 1905 (58-96) and he saw his ERA go up to 3.81 in 250.1 innings, which resulted in an 8-18 record. The Pirates acquired him on June 3, 1906 for young rookie starter Ed Karger, who posted a 1.93 ERA in his first 28 innings of work in the majors. The Pirates wanted a veteran starter at the time, and McFarland had a 1.93 ERA at the time, but things did not work out. McFarland made five starts for the Pirates, picking up just one win, which was a 3-0 shutout in his first start, ten days after trade. He allowed four runs in each of his next three starts, then he lost at home to a below-.500 Philadelphia Phillies team in his final start. The Pirates put him on waivers in late July, where he was picked up by the Brooklyn Superbas. He lost his only start with his new team, giving up eight runs on ten hits and five walks. That would be his last game in the majors. Karger, who the Pirates gave up in the deal, went on to post a 2.72 ERA in 191.2 innings over the rest of the 1906 season, then had a 2.04 ERA 314 innings in 1907. In 1907. McFarland had a 22-4 record in the minors, while also serving as the team’s manager, but by the end of the 1909 season he was out of baseball for good. McFarland’s real name was Charles. His older brother Monte pitched two years in the majors with the 1895-96 Chicago Colts (Cubs).