This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: April 4th, Trades for Manny Mota, Mike Easler and Manny Sanguillen

Four Pittsburgh Pirates trades and four former players born on this date. We also have Mitch Keller’s 25th birthday today.

The Trades

The Pirates sent Miguel Dilone, Elias Sosa and Mike Edwards on April 4, 1978 to the Oakland A’s to get veteran catcher Manny Sanguillen, who was traded to Oakland 17 months earlier for manager Chuck Tanner. In his one season in Oakland, Sanguillen hit .275 with 58 RBIs in 152 games. Edwards was a 25-year-old infielder at the time, with seven games of Major League experience, all coming in September of 1977. Dilone was a 23-year-old outfielder, who spent parts of four seasons with the Pirates, getting into 75 games total. He had a .145 average, but he managed to steal 21 bases. Sosa was a 26-year-old reliever, who had six seasons of experience in the majors. He was with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1977, posting a 1.98 ERA in 44 appearances. The Pirates had purchased him from the Dodgers two months earlier.

Edwards spent three seasons with the A’s, the first two as an everyday player. He hit .252 in 310 games, mostly playing second base. Dilone hit .229 in 135 games for the A’s in 1978, stealing 50 bases, but also led the league with 23 times caught stealing. He played 30 games with the A’s in 1979 before being sold to the Chicago Cubs. He would play for the Pirates again in 1983 for a brief time. Sosa pitched great in one season for the A’s before leaving via free agency. He had a record of 8-2, 2.64 with 14 saves in 109 innings pitched. Sanguillen would play three seasons with the Pirates after the trade, receiving less playing time each season until he was down to a pinch-hitting role in 1980, occasionally playing first base. He was traded to the Cleveland Indians in December of 1980, along with Bert Blyleven, in a deal that did not work out well, though Sanguillen never played for the Indians (or anyone else) after the trade.

On this date in 1977, the Pirates traded minor league pitcher Randy Sealy to the California Angels in exchange for outfielder Mike Easler. This deal was one-sided as far as what happened in their baseball career, but Easler would be involved in two more deals before he finally started paying off for the Pirates. Easler would be sold to the Boston Red Sox in October of 1978, but returned to the Pirates before the start of the next season in a separate deal, which ended up being a big win for the Pirates. With the 1977-78 Pirates, he played just ten big league games. Sealy was just 22 years old when the trade occurred, a fourth round draft pick of the Pirates in 1973, who had already made it to Triple-A by 1976. The Angels gave up on him quickly after a poor start in Double-A, and by the beginning of 1978 he had already been with the Kansas City Royals and then back to the Pirates organization. Sealy lasted just ten games in 1978, missed all of 1979, then finished his career in the minors in 1980. He never played in the majors.

On this date in 1964, the Pirates traded outfielder Howie Goss to the Houston Colt .45’s in exchange for outfielder Manny Mota. This trade was also one-sided in the Pirates favor. Mota did not hit well his first season in the majors as a 24-year-old with the San Francisco Giants. He was traded by San Francisco to the Colt .45’s four months prior to this trade. Goss was a 27-year-old rookie in 1962 for the Pirates, hitting .243 with ten RBIs in 89 games. He would end up playing just one season in Houston, hitting .209 with 128 strikeouts, which was the second highest total in the league. He did not appear in the majors again after 1964. Mota ended up playing six seasons in Pittsburgh, hitting .297 in 642 games. He hit .332 in 1966, then .321 the following season. After slumping down to .281 in 1968, the Pirates lost him in the expansion draft to the Montreal Expos.

On this date in 1986, the Pirates traded Jason Thompson to the Montreal Expos for two minor leaguers, Ben Abner and Ronnie Giddens. The Pirates didn’t get anything from the two returning players, but they did shed the high salary of Thompson, then watched him hit .196 through the end of June before he was released, ending his career. Abner was a light hitting 22-year-old outfielder, who briefly made it to Double-A before his career ended after the 1987 season. Giddens was a 24-year-old infielder, who lasted just one season in the Pirates organization before his career ended. He never made it to Double-A. Thompson hit .259 in 671 games with the Pirates over five seasons, collecting 93 homers, 354 RBIs and 430 walks. He was an All-Star during the 1982 season when he hit .284 with 31 homers, 101 RBIs and 101 walks. In 1985 before the trade, he hit .241 with 12 homers and 61 RBIs in 123 games.

The Players

John Bormann, catcher for the 2017 Pirates. Bormann has a throwback story similar to many cases from the early years of baseball when players were just in the right place at the right time and they lasted just one game. On April 30, 2017, the Pirates were on the road playing the Miami Marlins. Starting catcher Francisco Cervelli was unable to play that day due to a right foot injury, but the team found that out on short notice, not giving them enough time to get someone to the majors from Triple-A. Bormann was one of three catchers in Charlotte (Florida) with the Bradenton Marauders, but they other two were potential prospects who the Pirates likely didn’t want to add to the 40-man roster that early in their career. Bormann was the third-string catcher, hitting .136 in seven games at the time. He made the drive over to Miami and got to the park just after the game started. In the ninth inning with the score 10-3, Bormann got to pinch-hit for Josh Harrison and he struck out swinging. The next day he was optioned to Bradenton and designated for assignment.

Bormann was originally drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the 19th round out of the University of Texas at San Antonio. He decided to return to college for his senior year and the Pirates selected him in the 24th round in 2015. He spent his first year with Bristol of the Appalachian League, where he hit .235 in 25 games. In 2016, he spent the year in Low-A with West Virginia. Bormann hit .243 with two homers in 52 games. During his magical 2017 season, he also had a brief stint in Triple-A as an injury replacement, but most of the year was spent in Bradenton. He batted .194 in 41 games. Bormann moved around in 2018 to wherever he was needed. He ended up playing for West Virginia, Bradenton and he made his first appearance in Double-A, though he played just 31 games total. He was a third string catcher again in 2019, though he wasn’t on the active roster most of the time, and instead he was more of a player-coach. He returned to school in 2020 to graduate and he hasn’t signed for 2021 as of yet. Bormann hit .220 in 154 minor league games, though he was known more for his strong defensive skills than his bat.

Jim Fregosi, infielder for the 1977-78 Pirates. He played a full season of minor league ball at 18 years old in 1960, and he was in the majors by September of 1961. Fregosi debuted with the Los Angeles Angels at 19 years old and hit .222 in 11 games. He split the 1962 season between Triple-A and the majors, then remained in the big leagues as a player until 1978, and as a manager until 2000. Fregosi hit .291 in 58 games for the Angels in 1962, then took over full-time at shortstop the next season. He received MVP support for the first of eight straight seasons in 1963 when he hit .287 with 50 extra-base hit and 83 runs scored. He was an All-Star the next year when he hit .277 with 18 homers, 72 RBIs, 72 walks and 86 runs scored. His .833 OPS in 1964 was the highest of his career for a full season. Fregosi batted .277 again in 1965, though he played 14 more games (161) and saw both his extra-base hits and walks drop, leading to a .744 OPS. He played all 162 games in 1966 and made his second All-Star appearance. He would end up making the All-Star team in each of the next five seasons. He batted .252 with 13 homers, 67 RBIs, 67 walks, 78 runs scored and he set a career high with 17 stolen bases.

Fregosi batted .290 with 75 runs scored in 1967. He won the Gold Glove award for shortstops and had his highest MVP finish (seventh). Offense around baseball was low in 1968, which led to a change with the pitching mound heights. Fregosi saw his offense suffer like many players. He hit .244 with a .680 OPS. He managed a highlight on offense despite those numbers, leading the league with 13 triples. After improving to a .744 OPS in 1969, he had a big season at the plate in 1970. Fregosi set career highs with 22 homers, 33 doubles, 82 RBIs and 95 runs scored. His numbers really fell off the next season (.643 OPS in 107 games) and then he was part of an awful trade with the New York Mets, at least from the New York side of things. The Angels received Nolan Ryan and three other players in an even up deal for Fregosi. In his first season with the Mets, he hit .232 in 101 games, with a .655 OPS. Just 45 games into the 1973 season, he was sold to the Texas Rangers, where he remained until he joined the Pirates four years later. Fregosi became a bench player in Texas, topping out at 78 games played during the 1974 season. In his three full seasons and two partial seasons with the Rangers, he batted .257 with 28 homers and 100 RBIs in 271 games.

He was already in his 17th season in the majors when the Pirates traded outfielder Ed Kirkpatrick to the Texas Rangers to get him on June 15, 1977. Fregosi was a six-time All-Star in his career, but he was also seven seasons removed from his last All-Star selection at the time of the deal. He missed the first month of the 1977 season and had played just 13 games with the Rangers before being acquired by Pittsburgh. For the Pirates in 1977, he played 36 games, splitting his time between first base and pinch-hitting. He batted .286 in 71 plate appearances, drawing 13 walks and driving in 16 runs. In 1978, Fregosi played 20 games for the Pirates before being released on June 1st, ending his playing career. He went 4-for-20 at the plate, with six walks, three runs scored and an RBI. He was released so he could take over as the manager of the California Angels, going right from Pittsburgh to the helm of the Angels for their game on June 2nd. Fregosi went 62-54 over the rest of the season. He remained on with the Angels for 2 1/2 more seasons, then also managed the 1986-88 Chicago White Sox, the 1991-96 Philadelphia Phillies and the 1999-2000 Toronto Blue Jays. He had a career 1,028-1,094 record in 15 seasons. He led the Phillies to the 1993 World Series, his lone first place finish. During his playing career, Fregosi hit .265 with 151 homers and 706 RBIs, 844 runs scored and 715 walks in 1,902 games.

Les Bartholomew, pitcher for the 1928 Pirates. Bartholomew got his start in pro ball at 23 years old with the Burlington Bees of the Mississippi Valley League in 1926, where he went 11-11 in 25 appearances, while pitching 211 innings. On June 30th of that season, he was purchased by Pirates scout Chick Fraser on behalf of Columbia of the South Atlantic League, along with his catcher Thomas Farr. The two players were allowed to finish the 1926 season with Burlington. Bartholomew went 14-15 ,3.77 in 265 innings while playing for Columbia during the 1927 season. The Pirates purchased his contract on September 11, 1927, but he didn’t join the team until Spring Training the next year. Bartholomew made the Pirates Opening Day roster in 1928 and he got hit hard as a reliever in his big league debut on Opening Day. In 1/3 of an inning, he allowed five hits, two walks and six earned runs. He would make five more appearances with the Pirates during 1928, but his next appearance wasn’t until the 27th game of the season. All six of his appearances were in one-sided losses. He went 16 days before his final two appearances (May 30th and June 15th), then gave up four runs over 6.2 innings in his last game. Six days later he was released on option to Dallas of the Texas League, but an illness limited his work. He finished with a 7.15 ERA in 22.2 innings with the Pirates. On December 8, 1928, the Pirates traded Bartholomew and cash to Kansas City of the American Association for pitcher Heinie Meine. Bartholomew spent the 1929-30 seasons with Omaha of the Western League. He briefly reappeared in the majors in August of 1932 with the Chicago White Sox, in what would be the last three games of his pro baseball career, though he was playing semi-pro ball in 1931 and also long after his days with the White Sox. He also spent brief time with Des Moines of the Western League, Springfield of the Western Association and Jersey City of the International League.

Bill Hinchman, outfielder for the 1915-18 and 1920 Pirates. He played five seasons in the majors with the Cincinnati Reds (1905-06) and the Cleveland Naps (1907-09) before spending five full seasons playing in the minors for Columbus of the American Association. Hinchman debuted in pro ball in 1905 at 20 years old, playing his first two seasons for the Ilion Typewriters of the New York State League. He played for Williamsport of the Tri-State League in 1905, then debuted in the majors with the Reds in late September. He batted .255 in 17 games. That helped earn him an Opening Day spot in 1906, but he was sent back to the minors by mid-May after hitting .204 in 18 games. In his first stint with Columbus, he hit .314 in 115 games. He was back in the majors with Cleveland to start the 1907 season. Hinchman hit just .228 in 152 games, seeing most of his time in left field. He batted .231 with 59 RBIs  in 137 games in 1908, while splitting his playing time between right field (52 starts), shortstop (51 starts) and left field (25 starts). The Naps moved on from him after the 1909 season, despite improvements across the board on offense, including a .703 OPS. He then stayed with Columbus until the Pirates came calling five years later.

During the 1914 season, he hit .366 with 57 doubles and 21 triples, earning a spot with the 1915 Pirates. Hinchman also served as the team’s manager during his final two seasons.  He capitalized on his second chance in the majors, but it almost didn’t happen. Hinchman’s purchased occurred on September 16, 1914, but he immediately balked at the deal, saying that he wished to remain as a manager/player in the minors. There was even a report that the deal fell through, which turned out to be false. The Pirates were able to purchase both Hinchman and shortstop Wally Gerber from Columbus, with Gerber reporting to the team right away, while Hinchman reported in 1915. That first season back, he hit .307 with 77 RBIs, 72 runs scored and 52 extra-base hits. In 1916 he led the National League in triples with 16 and hit .315 with 76 RBIs. Hinchman played a combined 308 games for the Pirates during those 1915-16 seasons. He struggled badly in 1917, seeing his playing time eventually diminish into a pinch-hitting role by the end of the 1918 season. He didn’t play during the 1919 season, deciding to retire from the game, though he occasionally played for a team from Williamsport. The Pirates kept him on their reserved list during that time and he returned in 1920 as a pinch-hitter, getting 18 at-bats throughout the season. He last played in July, but the Pirates had him doing some scouting work before that game. In ten seasons in the majors, he hit .261 in 908 games, with 20 homers, 369 RBIs and 364 runs scored. With the Pirates, he hit .284 in 445 games, with a .751 OPS. He became a coach and scout for the Pirates, performing his greatest service to the team in that role by signing Hall of Famers Arky Vaughan and Lloyd Waner as well as Pirates pitching great, Rip Sewell. Bill had a brother named Harry, who also played for Cleveland in 1907, which was his only season in the majors.