This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: April 10th, Lee Lacy and Joe Gibbon

Six former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date.

Mike Lincoln, pitcher for the 2001-03 Pirates. He was drafted four times out of three schools before he finally signed with the Minnesota Twins in 1996 as a 13th round pick. Lincoln was first drafted in the 51st round by the Montreal Expos out of high school in 1993. He then attended American River College, where the San Francisco Giants selected him in the 37th round in 1994 and the 40th round in 1995. He then transferred to the University of Tennessee, where he was picked by the Twins. Lincoln went right to the Florida State League after signing. He went 5-2, 4.07 in 59.2 innings during his first season. In his first full season, he repeated the FSL, where he went 13-4, 2.28 in 134 innings. He had a strong 1998 season in Double-A, going 15-7, 3.22 in 173.1 innings. Lincoln made the 1999 Twins roster out of Spring Training as a starting pitcher. He went 3-10, 6.84 in 15 starts and three relief appearances. He also made nine starts in Triple-A and posted a 7.78 ERA in 59 innings In 2000, he joined the Twins in mid-June, making four starts and four relief appearances. In all four of his starts he failed to make it through five innings. Minnesota released him in December of 2000 and he signed with the Pirates just over a month later. Lincoln pitched well his first two seasons in Pittsburgh being used strictly as a reliever. In 2001 he posted a 2.68 ERA in 31 outings, then followed it up with a 3.11 mark in 55 appearances and 72.1 innings. He began the 2003 season on the 60-day DL and never got going once he returned to Pittsburgh, finishing with a 5.20 ERA in 36 games. He managed to pick up his only five career saves during the 2003 season. Lincoln left via free agency and signed with the St Louis Cardinals, where he pitched one partial season in the majors, compiling a 5.19 ERA in 17.1 innings over 13 appearances. He missed all of 2005-07 due to two Tommy John surgeries. He returned in 2008 with the Cincinnati Reds and pitched decent that season, putting up a 4.48 ERA in 70.1 innings over 64 appearances. However, in limited time during the next two seasons, he struggled badly each year, posting an 8.22 ERA in 2009, followed by a 7.32 mark in 19.2 innings in 2010. He retired from baseball following the season, finishing with a 17-30, 5.33 record in 376.1 innings over 263 games (19 starts). With the Pirates, Lincoln had a 3.50 ERA in 149 innings over 122 relief appearances.

Alberto Reyes, pitcher for the Pirates in 2002. He signed with the Pirates in January 2002 as a free agent after spending parts of seven seasons in the majors, split between the Milwaukee Brewers, Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers. Reyes was originally signed as an international amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic shortly before his 18th birthday. He spent his first two seasons pitching in the Dominican, then debuted in the U.S. in 1990 by playing in High-A ball. Despite the advanced placement, the next three seasons were all spent in Low-A, where he put up better stats each season. The Expos bumped him up to Double-A in 1994 and he responded with a 3.25 ERA in 69.1 innings, while racking up 35 saves. Reyes was a Rule 5 pick up the Brewers over the off-season and he had a 2.43 ERA in 27 games, before Tommy John surgery in early August ended his rookie season. That surgery limited him to five September appearances in 1996. He spent part of 1997 in the majors, posting a 5.46 ERA in 29.2 innings. Reyes saw significantly more MLB time in 1998, going 5-1, 3.95 in 57 innings over 50 outings. He was sent to the Orioles in the middle of 1999 and had somewhat similar results in both spots, putting up a 4.25 ERA in 26 games with Milwaukee, followed by a 4.85 mark in 27 games in Baltimore. He got off to a slow start in 2000 and was traded to the Dodgers mid-season. This year his big league results were completely different. Reyes had a 6.92 ERA with the Orioles and he pitched six scoreless games for Los Angeles. In 2001, he posted a 3.86 ERA in 25.2 innings over 19 games. He became a free agent after the season and signed with the Pirates.

Reyes spent most of the 2002 season at Triple-A Nashville, where he was 7-3, 2.70 in 43 relief appearances. He was called up by the Pirates in mid-August, and in 15 games he had a 2.65 ERA in 17 innings. He was released by Pittsburgh during the 2003 Spring Training and signed with the New York Yankees two weeks later. He pitched well at times after leaving Pittsburgh, despite only spending two full seasons in the majors over the next six years. With the 2003 Yankees, Reyes had a 3.18 ERA in 17 innings over 13 appearances. He was released by the Yankees in June and didn’t sign again until getting a deal in January of 2004 with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He was released by Tampa in June of 2004 without pitching a big league game, then signed five days later with the St Louis Cardinals. With the Cardinals in 2004, he posted an 0.75 ERA in 12 games. The 2005 season was his first full big league season, and he responded with a 2.15 ERA in 62.2 innings over 65 outings. Reyes became a free agent after the season and signed with the Devil Rays, but elbow surgery limited him to two minor league appearances in 2006. Back healthy in 2007, he took up a closer role for the first time in his career. He went 2-4, 4.90 with 26 saves in 60.2 innings over 61 appearances. Reyes finished out his big league career with the Rays (they dropped  “Devil” this season) by posting a 4.37 ERA in 26 games. In 384 games over 13 seasons, Reyes had a 23-16, 3.82 record with 32 saves and 428.2 innings pitched. After his final big league game, he saw brief minor league time with the New York Mets late in 2008. He then pitched winter ball only for three years, before returning to summer baseball for two seasons, spending 2011 in Mexico and 2012 in independent ball. Including all levels of pro ball, he made a total of 823 appearances and threw over 1,000 innings.

Lee Lacy, outfielder for the Pirates from 1979 until 1984. He was a second round draft pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers at 20 years old in the January portion of the 1969 amateur draft. He spent his first season at the low level Pioneer League, where he batted .293 in 71 games. Lacy hit .375 in the fall of 1969 back when stats were tracked for the Fall Instructional League. In 1970, he skipped up to Bakersfield of the California League and hit .301 in 124 games. He jumped to Double-A the following season and batted .307 in 132 games, though he went the entire year without hitting a home run. Back in Double-A in 1972, Lacy was hitting .372 through 68 games when he got promoted to the Dodgers. He not only skipped Triple-A entirely, he never returned to the minors. In 60 games with the Dodgers as a rookie, he hit .259, with a .625 OPS. He had a .207 average as a bench player in 1973, getting just 29 starts all season. He hit .282 in 1974, but his playing time was extremely limited, getting just 83 plate appearances all season. Lacy was a second baseman during his first three seasons in the majors, but then he started playing some outfield in 1975. By the time he reached the Pirates four years later, a majority of his playing time was spent in the outfield. For the 1975 Dodgers, he hit .314 with seven homers and 40 RBIs, while reaching 100 games for the first time (he played 101 games). On May 17th, he hit a three-run homer against the Pirates, which was the first homer of his big league career, coming in his 587th plate appearance. Lacy was traded to the Atlanta Braves over the off-season in a six-player deal, then returned to the Dodgers on June 23, 1976 in another trade. He played 103 games total that season, hitting .269, with a .660 OPS. He was back to a limited bench role in 1977 and he hit .266 with six homers in 75 games. He started 41 games all year, getting starts at second base, third base, left field and right field.

After he hit .261 with a career high 13 homers and 40 RBIs in 103 games in 1978, the Pirates signed him as a free agent in January 1979. Lacy saw limited time in left field and off the bench in 1979, hitting .247 in 182 at-bats. In the World Series, he went 1-for-4 in four games. In 1980, the righty-hitting Lacy platooned in left field with lefty Mike Easler and both had strong seasons at the plate. Lacy hit .335 with 33 RBIs and 18 stolen bases in 278 at-bats. He would have a down year during the strike-shortened 1981 season, batting .268 with two homers in 78 games, but from 1982-84 he reeled off three straight .300 seasons, with a high of .321 in 520 plate appearances in 1984. From 1981-84, he topped 20 stolen bases every season, with a high of 40 in 1982. That success with base running was a bit surprising, considering that he had just 28 steals in seven seasons before joining the Pirates, and he was thrown out 23 times. He set a career high (later topped) with 66 runs scored in 1982, then matched that total in 1984. Lacy started the first 22 games of the 1983 season and batted .302 for the year, but his playing time after May 7th was a lot less frequent, starting just 38 of the final 140 games. He followed that up by setting career highs with 152 hits, 26 doubles and 70 RBIs in 1984. He failed to reach 50 RBIs in any other season during his 16-year career. Following the 1984 season, Lacy signed with the Baltimore Orioles as a free agent, spending three seasons there before retiring. He received regular at-bats during the 1985-86 seasons and responded by hitting .293 with 69 runs scored the first year, then a .287 average with 11 homers and 77 runs scored in 1986. He served more of a bench role in his final season, hitting .244 in 87 games. In six seasons with the Pirates, he had a .304 average, with 172 RBIs, 140 steals and 265 runs scored in 638 games. He was a .286 hitter, with 91 homers, 185 steals and 650 runs scored in 1,523 games during his 16-year career. Lacy ranks 18th on the Pirates all-time list for batting average.

Joe Gibbon, pitcher for the 1960-65 and 1969-70 Pirates. He was signed as an amateur free agent in 1957 by the Pirates and spent three years in the minors as a starting pitcher before making the 1960 Opening Day roster. He had an excellent debut in pro ball with Lincoln of the Western League, going 9-4, 1.83 in 108 innings, with 119 strikeouts. He moved up to Triple-A Columbus in 1958, where he had a 6-13, 3.80 record in 147 innings, with 127 strikeouts. Gibbon returned to Columbus in 1959, where went 16-9, 2.60 in 201 innings, with 152 strikeouts, which led to his big league spot the next year. He pitched mostly in relief during his rookie season with the Pirates, going 4-2, 4.03 in 80.1 innings. He made two appearances during the World Series, allowing three runs in three innings. In 1961, he moved to the starting role and went 13-10, 3.32 in 195.1 innings, throwing three shutouts, while striking out a career best 145 batters. Gibbon missed some time in 1962 with arm problems, making just eight starts and 11 relief appearances. He had a 3.63 ERA in 57 innings.  He pitched well  in 1963 with a 3.30 ERA in 147.1 innings, but his record (5-12) suffered from lack of support, as the Pirates finished in eighth place (74-88).

Gibbon had a 10-7, 3.68 record in 146.2 innings in 1964, then followed it with a down year in which his ERA rose to 4.51 in 105.2 innings. The Pirates traded him that December, along with Ozzie Virgil, to the San Francisco Giants for Matty Alou. Gibbon had a solid first season with the 1966 Giants, making ten starts and 27 relief appearances. He had a 3.67 ERA in 81 innings. He had a similar spot starter/long relief role in 1967, going 6-2, 3.07 in 82 innings. He had a great year in 1968, though it came with limited work throughout the season. He posted a 1.48 ERA in 40 innings over 29 relief appearances. He was seeing somewhat regular work early in the 1969 season, pitching 20 innings over 16 games through early June. The Pirates reacquired Gibbon for veteran pitcher Ron Kline on June 10, 1969. Gibbon pitched great during his first season back, putting up a 1.93 ERA in 51.1 innings and 35 appearances after the draft. He picked up nine saves with the Pirates after collecting just seven total saves over his first 9 1/2 seasons in the majors. However, things went much worse in 1970, with an ERA almost three runs higher (4.83) in 41 outings. He was released following the 1970 season and signed with the Cincinnati Reds for 1971. He had one good season left in him, putting up a 2.94 ERA and 11 saves in 64.1 innings in 1971, then got hit hard in brief time (11 runs in 7.2 innings) with the Reds and Houston Astros in 1972 before retiring. Gibbon had a career record of 61-65, 3.52 in 419 games, 127 as a starter. With Pittsburgh, he went 44-46, 3.61 in 824.2 innings over 248 games (107 starts). He had four career shutouts and three happened in 1961.

Roger Wolff, pitcher for the 1947 Pirates. He was a knuckleball pitcher, who spent 12 seasons in the minors before finally getting his first chance at the big league level as a September call-up for the 1941 Philadelphia Athletics. He would then spend the next six seasons in the majors without a return trip to the minors. Wolff had a 141-108 minor league record in 2,244 innings pitched. He debuted at 19 years old in 1930 with Danville of the Three-I League and he had a 4-5, 4.98 record in 103 innings. The next season, playing two levels lower in the minor league system (Class-D), he went 15-9, 3.26 in 221 innings. The strong results got him promoted back to Class-B in 1932, during a season in which he also played briefly at the two highest levels of the minor league system (Class-A and AA). Despite being on the doorstep of the majors, his career stalled out for quite some time. Wolff even had some big seasons, including a 17-12, 3.84 season in 1934 with Dayton of the Middle Atlantic League. That season resulted in his return to Dayton the next year, where he went 14-14, 3.42 in 226 innings. He didn’t approach that success until 1938 when he returned to his original league, playing for Cedar Rapids of the Three-I League. Wolff went 16-11, 2.87 in 248 innings in 1938, then 15-5, 3.08 in 196 innings in 1939. He spent the next two seasons with Williamsport of the Eastern League before finally getting his shot with the A’s in late 1941. Wolff went 10-6, 2.80 in 1940 and 16-9, 2.66 in 210 innings in 1941. He made two starts with the A’s in 1941 and took losses in both games, but he pitched two complete games and allowed just six runs in 17 innings.

During his first full season in the majors in 1942 he posted a team low 3.32 ERA, but the A’s were so bad that year (55-99) that he finished with a 12-15 record. The A’s were even worse the next year, losing 105 games and again Wolff’s record suffered. He went 10-15 with a 3.54 ERA. He was traded to the Washington Senators on December 13, 1943 and pitched poorly his first year. His career was helped by the fact many baseball players at this time were serving in the military. It allowed him to stay around despite a 4-15, 4.99 record during that 1944 season. It was a good thing for the Senators they didn’t give up on him, as in 1945 he had a career year. Wolff went 20-10, 2.12 in 250 innings, with the lowest WHIP (1.01) in the American League.  He finished seventh in the MVP voting. It helped Washington go from a last place finish in 1944 to second place in one year.

It was a fleeting moment for Wolff, who saw his pitching time diminish as players returned from the war. He still had a 2.58 ERA in 1946, but pitched just 122 innings and saw very limited action after June. The Senators traded him to the Cleveland Indians during Spring Training of 1947 and they used him for just 16 innings during the first two months of the season. On June 14th, the Pirates purchased his contract and they put him in the bullpen, where he had two bad outings right away. That led to just one inning pitched over the next 17 days before the Pirates needed him to make a start during a doubleheader. That didn’t go well and neither did a follow up start six days later. Wolff would make four more relief appearances and four more starts the rest of the way. He was unscored upon during the relief outings, but in three of the four starts he combined for 15 runs allowed in 8.1 innings. The fourth start was a gem. On August 6, 1947 he pitched a complete game over the Chicago Cubs, winning 7-2, and just one of the runs was unearned. It was the 199th and last win of his pro career. The 1947 season ended on September 28th and the Pirates traded Wolff to Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League that same day as a partial payment for recently acquired catching prospect Ed FitzGerald.  He retired following the 1947 season. In seven seasons, he had a 52-69, 3.41 record in 1,025.1 innings pitched.

Howdy Groskloss, infielder for the 1930-32 Pirates. He came to the Pirates right out of Amherst College, where he is one of 14 players from that school to ever make the majors (seven of them played between one and six games in the majors). Howdy (his first name was Howard), was a Pittsburgh native, who played just two games during the entire 1930 season after signing with the club on June 21st. On the day he signed, it was announced that he held workouts with the Pirates during the 1928-29 seasons, so he was familiar with the team. He was a substitute at shortstop during the late innings of a 19-6 loss on June 23rd, and he pinch-hit on August 8th during a 9-1 loss. Groskloss was sent home for the winter in early September when the Pirates decided to drop some extra players instead of taking them on a long road trip.  After the season, it was announced that he would attend Yale and not be available to the Pirates until June. On November 29th, Pittsburgh sent him to Wichita of the Western League in a six-player deal that landed them long-time outfielder Woody Jensen. He never reported to Wichita, instead he joined the Pirates in early June once he was available to play. Groskloss saw plenty of time in 1931, getting 39 starts at second base throughout the year. He played 53 games total, hitting .280 with 20 RBIs. In 1932 he was used strictly as a pinch-hitter, getting 16 at-bats during the first 153 games of the season. On the last day of the year, second game of a doubleheader, he put on his fielding glove for the first time all season, getting the start at shortstop and batting lead-off. Howdy went 0-for-4 with an error, in what would be his last Major League game. He went back to medical school in the off-season and it was said that he would arrive late during the 1933 season. On May 5th, the Pirates released him on option to Tulsa of the Texas League. Groskloss was transferred to Jersey City of the International League ten days later and made his season debut there. By June he was back in Tulsa after Jersey City let him go. By the end of July, he was playing for Williamsport of the New York-Penn League. He played 56 games that season, split between the three different teams (he is also said to have played for Toledo of the American Association, but there’s no record of him playing there according to my searches), before he retired from pro ball to become a doctor. His name came up during March of 1934 when it was announced that he was reinstated from the inactive list, but would not attend Spring Training with the Pirates. On March 22nd, his time with the Pirates officially came to an end when they released him unconditionally to Oakland of the Pacific Coast League. At one time Groskloss was the oldest living former baseball player. He passed away at the age of 100 in 2006.