This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: March 16th, Lloyd Waner and Patsy Donovan

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including a Hall of Fame outfielder and a very underrated outfielder from the 19th century.

Lloyd Waner, outfielder for the 1927-41 and 1944-45 Pirates. One of the great outfielders in team history, he ranks among the top ten in numerous categories on offense. Waner ranks tenth in team history with a .319 average. He’s eighth with 1,803 games played. He’s sixth with 2,317 hits, seventh with 1,151 runs scored, seventh with 2,895 total bases, ninth with 114 triples, and seventh with 2,734 times on base. Among single season records, he ranks seventh (134 in 1929) and eighth (133 in 1927) in runs scored. He has three of the top six single season hit totals, ranking second (234 in 1929), fourth (223 in 1927) and sixth with 221 in 1928. He also ranks tenth with 20 triples in 1929. Waner batted over .300 ten times with the Pirates, topping out at .362 during the 1930 season. He batted .355 as a rookie in 1927.

One year after his brother Paul broke into the majors, Lloyd Waner was a big part of the 1927 club that won the National League pennant. He debuted in pro ball just two years earlier at 19 years old, playing alongside his brother with San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League. Waner played 31 games in 1925, then another six in 1926 before he was released. Just three days later, he was signed by the Pirates and turned over to their farm club in Columbia of the South Atlantic League. He batted .345 with 48 extra-base hits in 121 games and never played in the minors again. Along with his .355 average as a rookie, he led the National League with 133 runs scored. He had 223 hits in 150 games and set a personal best with 14 steals. That’s obviously not a high number, but speed was one of his best assets. He finished sixth in the NL MVP voting.

In 1928, the Pirates brought a third Waner to camp, trying out a cousin named Travea, who didn’t make the team and never played in the majors. They were okay settling for just two Waners though. Lloyd followed up his rookie season by hitting .335 while leading the league in at-bats. He had 121 runs scored, 221 hits, 22 doubles, 14 triples, and he set a career high with five homers, a number he would reach two more times. He had 40 walks and struck out just 13 times in 720 plate appearances. He batted .353 in 1929 and led the league in at-bats again. Waner set career highs with 134 runs scored, 234 hits, 74 RBIs, 28 doubles and 20 triples, with the latter leading the league. He finished fifth in the MVP voting. The 1930 season was a huge one for offense in baseball, but Waner missed a good portion of the year due to appendicitis. He played just 68 games, but managed to put up a .362 average. Healthy for all of 1931, he led the NL with 681 at-bats and 214 hits. He scored 90 runs and had 42 extra-base hits. He received mild MVP support in 1931 and then again in 1932, when he hit .333 with 90 runs scored in 134 games.

In 1933, Waner had a rough season. He hit just .276 in 121 games, and without power or high walk totals, he finished with a .631 OPS. He only bounced back slightly in 1934, hitting .283 in 140 games, with 95 runs scored and a 47 point bump in his OPS. He continued to rebound into 1935 when he reeled off his first of four straight .300+ seasons. He batted .309 in 122 games, with 22 doubles, 14 triples and 83 runs scored. Waner was back in form the next season, putting up a .321 average, though a slow start to the season limited his playing time early. He batted .335 over his final 78 games, finally getting regular playing time in the second half of June. His average rose to .330 in 1937, then he made his first and only All-Star appearance during the 1938 season. He also received mild MVP support and his 194 hits were his highest total for a season after 1931. Age caught up to him after that point and Waner hit just .285 in 1939 and .259 in 1940, while seeing less playing time.

Waner was traded by the Pirates early in the 1941 season, but he still accomplished something extremely impressive that year. In 234 plate appearances, he finished the year with zero strikeouts. In fact, his streak went back to August 4th in 1940 and lasted until April 23, 1942 before his next strikeout, a span of 291 plate appearances without a strikeout. In his entire career, he struck out just 173 times in 8,333 plate appearances. Waner went from the Pirates to the Boston Braves, where he hit .412 in 19 games before they traded him to the Cincinnati Reds. His time in Cincinnati did not go well and he was released at the end of the season. He played with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1942, hitting .261 in 101 games, making 70 starts in center field. He was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers in March of 1943, but decided to retire to work a wartime job. He came back in 1944 and played 15 games for the Dodgers before being released. He signed with the Pirates, where he was a seldom-used bench player during the rest of 1944 and 1945. While he saw time at all three outfield spots, he didn’t get a single start during his second stint in Pittsburgh. He retired in 1946 and became a scout for the Pirates for the next four years.

Waner led all center fielders in fielding percentage three times, assists twice, and he led all outfielders in putouts four times. He was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967 by the Veteran’s Committee, joining his brother, who had been elected by the writers 13 years earlier. He finished up with 2,459 hits and 1,201 runs scored in 1,993 big league games. The Waner siblings combined to collect 5,611 base hits.

Patsy Donovan, outfielder for the 1892-99 Pirates. He began his pro career in the minors in 1886 at 21 years old and it took him four seasons to make it to the majors. While playing for Lawrence of the New England League, he batted .409 in 88 games. He moved up to London of the International Association and hit .359 with 80 stolen bases and 115 runs scored in 103 games. Donovan was back in London in 1889, though he saw limited time and didn’t do as well when he played. Despite that fact, he still made it to the majors in 1890. He played for four different teams during his first two big league seasons, spending time with Brooklyn and Baltimore of the National League in 1890, combining to hit .241 in 60 games. Playing for the Louisville Colonels of the American Association in 1891, Patsy (a form of Patrick for the native of Ireland) hit .321 in 105 games, with 73 runs scored and 27 stolen bases. Despite those stats, he was released by the Colonels in mid-September and he signed with the Washington Statesman of the AA to finish the season. He hit .200 in 17 games, but still had a job with the team as they moved to the National League for the 1892 season. Donovan played two months there in 1892, hitting .239 in 40 games, before he was sent to the Pirates in a trade for Harry Raymond. It turned out to be one of the better trades in team history, with Donovan remaining around for eight seasons, some as a player-manager, while Raymond lasted just four games with Washington.

In 90 games for Pittsburgh in 1892, Donovan hit .294 with 40 stolen bases and 77 runs scored. In 1893, he batted .317 and scored 114 runs in 113 games played. He stole 46 bases and walked 42 times, while striking out just eight times all season in 544 plate appearances. The 1894 season was a huge season for offense in the NL and Donovan scored 147 runs in 133 games played that year. His runs scored total in 1894 would be a Pirates all-time record if it weren’t for teammate Jake Stenzel scoring 150 times that same year. Donovan batted .303 and swiped 41 bases, while finishing with a career best 76 RBIs. He led the Pirates with 115 runs in 1895 (in 126 games), while hitting .310 with 36 stolen bases. He hit .319 in 1896, with 113 runs scored and 48 stolen bases. With five games left in the season, he was named the new manager after Connie Mack left the club to sign with a minor league team from Milwaukee. As a side note, those five games aren’t currently on the record of Donovan as a manager, but that should change in the near future because I passed on the research to the proper person.

Donovan led the Pirates with a .322 average in 1897, though he scored “just” 82 runs. In his first year as a manager, he finished with a disappointing 60-71 record, which led to a change in the managerial ranks, though Donovan remained as the team’s captain and their everyday right fielder. He was able to break the century mark in runs scored again in 1898, thanks in part to a longer NL schedule. He batted .302 and swiped 41 bags in a career high 147 games. After an 1899 season, in which he hit below .300 for the first time since 1892 (he hit .291), the Pirates sold Donovan to the St Louis Cardinals for just $1,000. Donovan was the manager for most of the 1899 season, going 69-58 in that role. It was a great deal for the Cardinals, who got four straight .300 seasons out of him, while using him as a manager for three of those years.  He also led the league in stolen bases in 1900. Pittsburgh was able to make the deal due to the fact they acquired most of the Louisville Colonels (NL) roster in the Honus Wagner trade that same off-season, leaving no room in the outfield for Donovan.

In 1904, Donovan took over as a player-manager for the Washington Senators after they got off to a 1-16 starts. He didn’t do much better, leading them to a 37-97 record the rest of the way. He finished his playing career with eight games over two seasons with the 1906-07 Brooklyn Superbas, though he was serving as the team’s manager as his primary role. He finished his managerial career with two seasons (1910-11) at the helm of the Boston Red Sox. In 11 seasons as a manager, he had a 684-879 record. With the Pirates in eight seasons, he hit .307 in 982 games with 842 runs scored and 312 stolen bases. He batted over .300 six times during his time in Pittsburgh. In his career he batted .301 with 518 steals. He had 2,256 hits and 1,321 runs scored in 1,824 games. He also had 214 career outfield assists, which ranks 19th all-time in baseball history, one assist behind Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente and Tommy McCarthy. Donovan was also a longtime manager in the minors, finishing up that career at 63 years old in 1928.

Abraham Nunez, infielder for the 1997-2004 Pirates. He was originally signed as an amateur free agent by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1994 out of the Dominican Republic at 18 years old. He came to the Pirates in the nine-player deal that sent Carlos Garcia and Orlando Merced to the Blue Jays in November of 1996. Nunez had yet to reach full-season ball, but he was still considered to be the best prospect in the deal. Before the 1997 season, Baseball America rated him as the 69th best prospect in baseball. He spent the first half of that first year with the Pirates in Low-A, where he hit .260 in 78 games. Nunez was moved up to Double-A mid-season and he hit .328 in 47 games. The Pirates jumped him to the majors in late August and he hit .225 in 19 games. The jump to the majors proved to be premature. Nunez spent his first four seasons in Pittsburgh bouncing between the minors and majors, getting into a total of 173 big league games. He was never able to hit well in any of those first four seasons with the Pirates, topping out at that .225 average in 1997. He was still a top prospect in baseball going into 1998, but that status was lost when he hit .192 in 24 games with the Pirates. They gave him an extended look in 1999, but it resulted in a .220 average and a .550 OPS in 90 games. He got 58 starts that year at shortstop. Nunez batted .220 again in 2000, this time getting just 99 plate appearances over 40 games. In 2001, he finally got a full-time gig in the majors, playing 48 games at both shortstop and second base. He hit .262 with 21 RBIs and eight steals in 301 at-bats. While he didn’t provide much offense, he was solid in the field at both positions. Nunez had three more similar seasons with the Pirates before he left via free agency after the 2004 season. He hit.233 in 112 games in 2002, seeing a majority of his playing time at second base. He hit .248 with a .667 OPS in 118 games in 2003, seeing more starts at second base and fewer appearances off of the bench. In his final season in Pittsburgh, Nunez hit .236 in 112 games, though he made just 29 starts. His best career season actually came in 2005 when he played 139 games for the St Louis Cardinals and hit .285 with 44 RBIs and 64 runs scored, all career highs in each category. He played in the majors until 2008, spending two seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies (2006-07), before lasting just two games with the 2008 New York Mets. He spent 2009 with the Arizona Diamondbacks in Triple-A, then he played independent ball up until 2011. Nunez was also active in winter ball in the Dominican. He hit .238 with 11 homers, 117 RBIs and 156 runs scored in 630 games with the Pirates. In his career, he was a .242 hitter over 12 seasons and 1,030 games. He was a -1.1 WAR player on offense during his career, but he added value with 4.3 WAR on defense. He had 1.1 WAR over his eight seasons with the Pirates. During the 2002 and 2004 seasons, there was also an outfielder in the majors named Abraham Nunez.

Bill Duggleby, pitcher for the 1907 Pirates. He was in his eighth season in the majors in 1907 when the Pirates purchased his contract from the Philadelphia Phillies in July. He was 0-2, 7.45 in two starts and three relief appearances prior to the purchase on July 15th, which was completed by manager Fred Clarke, with permission from owner Barney Dreyfuss. Duggleby debuted in the majors with the 1898 Phillies, making their Opening Day roster. He pitched 54 innings and had a 5.50 ERA, before ending up in the minors until 1901. He won 22 games for Montreal of the Eastern League in 1899, while throwing 332 innings. The next year he was 17-10 for Toronto of the Eastern League, throwing 250 innings. Returning to the majors in 1901, Duggleby won 20 games for the Phillies, while posting a 2.88 ERA in 284.2 innings. Prior to the 1902 season he jumped to the Philadelphia Athletics of the American League, during the league’s second season as a Major League, which became an immediate rival to the National League. After just two starts, he was returned to the Phillies. The two teams had a lawsuit over players jumping from one team to the other at the time and most of the players involved were either traded away or returned to their old team. Duggleby went 11-17, 3.38 in 258.2 innings after returning to the Phillies. He was 13-16, 3.75 in 264.1 innings in 1903, then had a 12-13, 3.78 record in 223.2 innings in 1904. The 33-year-old Duggleby was struggling in 1907 prior to the deal to the Pirates, but he wasn’t far removed from success on the mound. Despite a 13-19 record in 1906, he had a 2.25 ERA in 280.1 innings. Duggleby had a little more luck the previous season when he went 18-17, 2.46 in 289.1 innings. With the Pirates he pitched nine games, three as a starter and went 2-2, 2.68 in 40.1 innings. He debuted in relief just three days after they completed the purchase to acquire him. On September 4th, during the first game of a doubleheader against the Reds, he threw a 2-0 shutout. His final appearance with the Pirates came three days later when he gave up five runs over four innings in a loss to the Chicago Cubs, although he pitched the final eight innings of an 11-inning exhibition game against a minor league team from Wheeling on September 22nd. After the season ended, he returned to the minors for five more seasons before retiring. The Pirates reserved his rights for the 1908 season, but he came down with typhoid fever in early October. He was sold to Rochester of the Eastern League on January 4, 1908, along with teammate Goat Anderson. Duggleby’s final three years in the minors were spent far from the majors, pitching for Albany of the South Atlantic League, considered to be a Class-C league at the time, similar to Low-A ball now.  He had a career record of 92-103 in the majors and he threw 17 shutouts.