Nine former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including one Hall of Famer.
Vic Willis, pitcher for the 1906-09 Pirates. He made the Hall of Fame due to his four seasons in Pittsburgh. He was a great pitcher during his other nine seasons in the majors, but he pitched for some awful teams, which led to a 160-159 record. With the Pirates he was a workhorse ace on a team filled with strong pitching. He won 21+ games in each of his four seasons with the Pirates and he posted a 2.08 ERA, while averaging just over 300 innings per seasons. During the 1909 World Series winning season, Willis had a 22-11 record. During the 1899 and 1906 seasons, he led all MLB pitchers in WAR. Willis lived to be 71 years old, but he wasn’t elected to the Hall of Fame until 48 years after his passing. The cover card for this article was featured in our Card of the Day series.
Willis began his big league career at 22 years old in 1898. He debuted in pro ball three years earlier, posting a 10-15, 2.94 record in 235.1 innings. He may have made it to the majors sooner, but illness caused him to miss a chunk of the 1896 season. He pitched for Syracuse of the Eastern League in 1897 and established himself as a top prospect. Willis went 21-17, 1.16 in 355.2 innings. He was sold to the Boston Beaneaters (current day Atlanta Braves) prior to the 1898 season and he was an instant success in the majors, helping lead his team to a first place finish. Willis went 25-13, 2.84 in 311 innings as a rookie. He had his best big league season in 1899, putting up a year valued at 10.4 WAR. He went 27-8, leading the league with a 2.50 ERA and five shutouts. He also pitched 342.2 innings and Boston finished in second place. In 1900, Boston dropped below .500 and down to fourth place. Willis was part of the problem, going 10-17, 4.19 in 236 innings. He bounced back the next year with another strong season, despite pitching for a fifth place team. He went 20-17, 2.36 in 305.1 innings, while leading the league with six shutouts. In 1902, Willis led the National League with 410 innings. He managed that high total by also leading the league with 46 starts and 45 complete games. He also won his only strikeout crown, with a career high 225 punch outs. He finished with a 27-20, 2.20 record, tying his career high for wins.
The 1903 season was the real start of Willis suffering through playing for a bad team, which almost cost him his place in Cooperstown. He posted a 2.98 ERA in 1903, but his 12-18 record was indicative of his team’s play. The club finished with a 58-80 record. Things were about to get worse in 1904. Willis made 43 starts and completed 39 games, pitching a total of 350 innings for a team that finished 55-98. That led to his 18-25, which gave him the most losses in the NL. Boston was even worse in 1905, finishing with a 51-103 record. Willis was once again a workhorse, posting a 3.21 record in 342 innings. He was rewarded with a 12-29 record, his second straight season leading the league in losses. The Pirates saw through the record and on December 15, 1905, they traded three players to acquire Willis, in a deal that worked out tremendously. He saw an instant turnaround in his record while playing for a good team. For the 1906 Pirates, he went 23-13, 1.73 in 322 innings. Amazingly, he finished fourth in ERA that year and all three better pitchers were with the Chicago Cubs, who took the NL pennant for the first of three straight seasons. Willis went 21-11, 2.34 in 292.2 innings in 1907, then went 23-11, 2.07 in 304.1 innings in 1908. His consistency continued into 1909, leading to the Pirates second World Series appearance and fourth NL pennant. He went 22-11, 2.24 in 289.2 innings. The Pirates had a great pitching staff with depth at that time and Willis struggled through the World Series with a loss and eight walks in 11.2 innings. Manager Fred Clarke decided that the Pirates had enough young pitchers to rely on in 1910, so he was willing to sell/trade Willis to a second division club (aka a team that wouldn’t challenge them for the pennant). That happened on February 15, 1910 when he was sold to the St Louis Cardinals, a team that finished 54-98 in 1909. Willis lasted just one season in St Louis, going 9-12, 3.35 in 212 innings. At the end of the season, he announced his retirement.
Willis had a career 249-205 record, with a 2.63 ERA and 388 complete games in 471 starts. His 3,996 innings pitched ranks 42nd all-time. He ranks 19th all-time in both complete games and shutouts (50). He ranks 49th in wins and 63rd all-time in ERA (He’s 32nd among starters with 10+ innings pitched).
D.J. Carrasco, pitcher for the Pirates in 2010. He was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 1997, released in 1998, and then signed with the Cleveland Indians. After one season in their system he was released again, this time signing with the Pirates. Carrasco was originally drafted out of high school in the 39th round in 1995 by the Texas Rangers. He went to Pima Community College in Arizona, where the Orioles selected him in the 26th round two years later. He actually never pitched for the Orioles, and the Indians gave up on him after just 31.2 innings in short-season ball. In his first year with the Pirates, he had a 3.30 ERA in 57.1 innings, spending most of the year back in the New York-Penn League for a second season. He finished the year with a promotion to High-A that did not go well in a brief stint. Carrasco pitched great in Low-A Hickory in 2000, posting a 1.34 ERA in 40.1 innings. He also saw brief time in High-A again and Double-A, which did not go well, with an 8.36 ERA in 14 innings. Despite strong results at High-A in 2001, putting up a 1.50 ERA in 34 innings, he spent the entire 2002 season back at the level and did just as well, with a 1.61 ERA in 72.2 innings over 55 appearances, with 29 saves to his credit. Carrasco spent four seasons in the Pirates system before they lost him in the 2002 Rule 5 draft to the Kansas City Royals. He pitched three seasons for the Royals, going 14-15, 4.81 in 101 games.
Carrasco was used often in 2003 despite his Rule 5 status. He pitched 50 times, including two spot starts. He had a 4.82 ERA in 80.1 innings. He was remarkably consistent with the Royals, putting up a 4.84 ERA in 2004 and a 4.79 ERA in 2005. He switched to starting during that final season with the Royals and threw a career high 114.2 innings. Carrasco spent the 2006 season playing in Japan, then played at Triple-A for the Arizona Diamondbacks during the 2007 season. He began 2008 at Triple-A for the White Sox, before he was called to the majors in July. Carrasco ended up going 1-0, 3.96 in 31 relief appearances. In 2009, he spent the entire season in the majors, going 5-1, 3.76 in 49 outings and 93.1 innings. The White Sox let him go following the season and he signed with the Pirates on January 20, 2010. In Pittsburgh, he went 2-2, 3.88 in 55.2 innings over 45 games prior to being dealt to the Diamondbacks at the trade deadline. Carrasco had a 3.18 ERA in 22.2 innings after the trade. He became a free agent after the 2010 season and signed with the New York Mets for two years to finish out his big league career. He went 1-3, 6.02 in 49.1 innings over 42 games in 2011, then pitched just four games during the 2012 season before being released in May. Carrasco signed with the Atlanta Braves, but he was released after putting up a 12.60 ERA in five Triple-A outings, which ended his pro career. In eight big league seasons, he went 24-21, 4.50 in 290 games and 493.2 innings.
Jeff Wallace, pitcher for the 1997 and 1999-2000 Pirates. The Pirates acquired him in the six-player deal with the Kansas City Royals completed on December 13, 1996 that saw Jay Bell and Jeff King go to Kansas City. Wallace was drafted out of high school by the Royals one year earlier in the 25th round and he was just 20 years old at the time of the deal. He had a great debut in pro ball in 1995, putting up a 1.23 ERA in 44 innings for the Royals Gulf Coast League team. In 1996, he moved up to Low-A, where he went 4-9, 5.30 in 122.1 innings. He pitched great in his brief time at High-A Lynchburg during his first season in the Pirates system, posting a 1.65 ERA in 16.1 innings, earning a quick promotion to Double-A, where he had a 5.40 ERA in 43.1 innings of relief work. The Pirates called him up to the majors in late-August of 1997 despite the mediocre ERA and lack of experience. The move paid off initially with strong results. In 12 innings over 11 outings with the Pirates, he struck out 14 batters, while allowing just one earned run. Wallace had to have elbow surgery during Spring Training of 1998, causing him to miss the entire season. He returned healthy in 1999 to go 1-0, 3.69 in 41 games, pitching a total of 39 innings. He was actually sent to Triple-A mid-season and had an 8.79 ERA in 15 appearances, but still returned to the majors after six weeks. The 2000 season was a tough one for Wallace. He pitched great in Triple-A that year, allowing just one run in 14 innings, but his big league time did not go well. He had a 7.07 ERA in 35.2 innings over 38 appearances. The Pirates put him on waivers following the season, where he was picked up by the Cincinnati Reds. Twenty days later, he was released, eventually signing with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for 2001, which turned out to be his last season in the majors. Wallace went 0-3, 3.40 in 50.1 innings over 29 games for the Devil Rays. After the season, he was selected off waivers by the Boston Red Sox. He pitched mostly in Triple-A in 2012 before being released, which ended his pro career. Wallace pitched 90 games with the Pirates without picking up a loss, the highest total of games pitched without a loss in team history. He had a 4.67 ERA in 86.2 innings for the Pirates.
Tommie Sisk, pitcher for the 1962-68 Pirates. Pittsburgh signed him as an amateur free agent before the start of the 1960 season. He debuted as a starter for Burlington of the Three-I League, where he went 6-7, 4.50 in 96 innings. He pitched well for Asheville of the South Atlantic League in 1961, going 12-3, 3.81 in 144 innings, earning a late promotion to Triple-A Columbus. Sisk started 1962 in Triple-A, getting his first shot at the majors in July of that season as a spot starter during a doubleheader. After two relief appearances, he returned to Columbus to finish the minor league season, rejoining the Pirates in September. He ended up with a 4.08 ERA in 17.2 innings in Pittsburgh that year. Sisk made 57 appearances out of the Pirates bullpen in 1963, pitching a total of 108 innings. He had a 1-3 record with a 2.92 ERA. He had troubles in 1964, earning a brief demotion back to Columbus, but was back to form during the following season when he began to see more time on the mound. After posting a 6.16 ERA in 61.1 innings in 1964, Sisk had a 7-3, 3.40 record in 1965. He pitched 111.1 innings over 12 starts and 26 relief appearances. In 1966, he made 23 starts and 11 relief appearances, going 10-5, 4.14 in 150 innings.
The 1967 was the best of his career. Sisk threw a career high 207.2 innings, posting a 13-13, 3.34 record. He threw 11 complete games that season, three more than he had in his other eight big league seasons combined. The next season his playing time started to diminish, despite pitching decent through mid-June with a 4-2, 3.75 record. In his last 24 appearances of the 1968 season, 21 of them came during Pirates losses. One of the wins during that stretch was a start in which he gave up just one run through 8.1 innings. He actually pitched better while seeing less time, posting a 3.15 ERA in 60 innings after June 20th. The Pirates traded Sisk to the San Diego Padres in a four-player deal on March 28, 1969. He went 2-13, 4.78 in 143 innings over 13 starts and 40 relief appearances for the Padres in their first season of existence. He picked up six of his ten career saves that year. He pitched just one season in San Diego, then was traded to the Chicago White Sox for 1970, and they in turn traded him to the Cleveland Indians in June of that season. He had a 5.40 ERA in 33.1 innings before the trade to Cleveland. The Indians sent him right to the minors, where he stayed for the rest of the season. Sisk played his final year of pro ball in 1971, pitching in Triple-A for the Montreal Expos.. With the Pirates, he had a 37-35, 3.69 record in 752 innings over 246 games, 85 as a starter.
Woodie Fryman, pitcher for the 1966-67 Pirates. The Pirates signed him as an amateur free agent in July of 1965, five years after he first attended a tryout for the team and couldn’t agree on a bonus price. He pitched semi-pro ball before signing his first pro contract at 25 years old. It took just 64 innings in the minors to convince Pittsburgh he was ready for the majors at the start of the 1966 season. During that half season in 1965, Fryman posted a 1.50 ERA in 30 innings while playing in the New York-Penn League, then put up a 3.71 ERA in six starts at Triple-A Columbus. That led to him making the Opening Day roster in 1966. Fryman would pitch 36 games that rookie season, 28 as a starter, getting in a total of 181.2 innings. He had a 12-9 record and a 3.81 ERA for the third place Pirates. He struggled at the start of the 1967 season, while also missing a month. He turned things around with a complete game win over the Houston Astros in late July, his first victory of the season. He finished with a 3-8, 4.05 record in 118.1 innings over 18 starts and ten relief appearances. The Pirates traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies on December 15, 1967 along with three other players in exchange for Jim Bunning. Fryman ended up pitching another 16 years in the majors after the disastrous deal, which also included All-Star third baseman Don Money. It wouldn’t be the last time Fryman was traded for a future Hall of Famer.
In his first year in Philadelphia, Fryman went 12-14, 2.78 in 213.2 innings, throwing five shutouts. He earned his first All-Star appearance. The Phillies were a below .500 team and it showed in his record, though teammate Chris Short managed a 19-13, 2.94 record that same season. Fryman struggled a bit in 1969, going 12-15, 4.41 in 228.1 innings. A strained elbow in 1970 caused him to miss a month and limited him to 127.2 innings. He bounced back in 1971, but still saw somewhat limited work while switching between starting and relief. Fryman went 10-7, 3.38 in 17 starts and 20 relief appearances, throwing a total of 149.1 innings. He started off 1972 by going 4-10, 4.36 in 119.2 innings, before the Phillies dealt him to the Detroit Tigers, where he turned things around quickly. He finished the year by going 10-3, 2.06 in 113.2 innings. His success in Detroit was fleeting. He had a rough 1973 season, putting up a 6-13, 5.36 record in 169.2 innings. He was a little bit better the next year, lowering his ERA to 4.32 in 141.2 innings. Over the off-season, he was sent to the Montreal Expos in a deal for two players, including Tom Walker, the father of Pirates Neil Walker. For the third time, a change of scenery led to strong results. Fryman put up a 3.32 ERA in 157 innings in 1975, though playing for a fifth place team led to a 9-12 record. He went 13-13 in 1976, despite the team going 55-107. His standout performance on a poor team earned him his second All-Star appearance, but it didn’t keep him in Montreal. After the season, Fryman was shipped to the Cincinnati Reds in a four-player deal that included Hall of Fame first baseman Tony Perez. Fryman lasted just one year in Cincinnati, going 5-5, 5.38 in 75.1 innings. He was traded to the Chicago Cubs, who held on to him for just two months of the 1978 season before shipping him back to Montreal.
Fryman remained in Montreal for the final 5 1/2 seasons of his career. He moved to full-time relief in 1979 and didn’t make a single start during his last five years. He had a 2.79 record in 58 innings over 44 appearances in 1979, while picking up ten saves. He was even better in 1980, setting a career best with 17 saves, while featuring a 2.25 ERA in 80 innings. Fryman continued to improve during the strike-shortened 1981 season, posting a 5-3, 1.88 record, with seven saves in 35 appearances and 43 innings pitched. At 42 years old in 1982, he went 9-4 with 12 saves, but his ERA doubled to 3.75 and it was a sign of him slowing down. He returned for 1983, but multiple injuries led to him playing just six games during his final season. Fryman finished his career with a 141-155, 3.77 record in 2,411.1 innings over 625 games, 322 as a starter. He threw 27 shutouts and also added 58 saves, with 46 of them coming during his second stint in Montreal.
Joe Vitelli, pitcher for the Pirates in 1944-45. He was a local kid, born in McKees Rock, PA., and he lived in Pittsburgh for a time. That helped him get to the majors with the Pirates. He pitched eight seasons in the minors from 1932 until 1940, then didn’t play pro ball at all for nearly four full years before getting into his first big league game. He had tryouts with both the New York Yankees and Cincinnati Reds that went nowhere early in his career. He debuted in pro ball in the Middle Atlantic League, where he had a 4.45 ERA in 91 innings during the 1932 season. He then won 16 games and pitched 209 innings in 1933. He remained in the same league for a third season and with his third different team in 1934. Vitelli went 7-3, 4.33 in 108 innings that year. In 1935, he moved up one level of the minor league ladder to the Class-B Piedmont League, where he went 5-4, 3.94 in 56 innings. He had to sit out the entire 1936 season due to a year-long suspension for a fight. Vitelli returned to pro ball in 1937 with Albany of the New York-Penn League, where he had a 17-10, 2.66 record in 244 innings. He remained in Albany for the next three years, though the team was playing in the Eastern League during the 1938-40 seasons. He couldn’t match those strong 1937 numbers, putting up a 4.00 ERA in 1938, and an 11-8, 3.85 record in 152 innings in 1939. He spent most of 1940 and all of 1941 playing semi-pro ball and later told of arm injuries slowing him down during those seasons. He served in the Army in 1942-43 during WWII, then returning to pro ball with the Pirates in 1944 as a coach, serving as the batting practice pitcher.
With the majors decimated by the losses of players serving in the military during the war at that time, the Pirates used Vitelli in four games during the 1944 season, despite the fact he hadn’t pitched at all since 1941, and he was 36 years old. He was signed on April 24, 1944 to a player’s contract after pitching for two days in front of manager Frankie Frisch, who was looking for a batting practice pitcher with good control. It was said that his chief job would be to throw batting practice, but he could pitch in a real game if needed. All four of his appearances came during blowout losses in relief, getting in a total of seven innings. He allowed two earned runs, though he walked seven batters. Vitelli started an exhibition game on June 17, 1944 against Columbus of the American Association and he allowed three runs over eight innings in a 4-3 victory. Ten days later he pitched during a game against the Youngstown All-Stars to entertain soldiers. He was with the Pirates in the same role in 1945, but they used him just once as a pinch-runner on May 30th. He was released two weeks later so they could get down to a 25-man roster by the June 15th deadline. He returned immediately as a batting practice pitcher, but gave up that role after just two weeks due to the cut in pay and his desire to pitch, which he never did after the 1945 season.
Bill Clancy, first baseman for the 1905 Pirates. The Pirates took Clancy in the September 1904 Rule 5 draft from Montreal of the Eastern League. It was said the Clancy played baseball just for the money and he would go wherever he was paid best, even if that meant staying in the minor leagues. He got a reputation from some who said he couldn’t handle the pressure of Major League baseball and that he would rather play in the minors, where he was a star player. For the Pirates in 1905, Clancy hit .229 with 34 RBIs in 56 games, drawing just four walks, leaving him with a .246 on base percentage. On July 22, 1905, the Pirates sold his contract to Rochester of the Eastern League, ending his big league career after only three months. He lost his starting first base job to another rookie (Del Howard) on June 25th. Clancy moved to right field for four days, then didn’t play during his final 24 days with the team. The Pirates tried to sell him to Columbus of the American Association on July 6th, but he refused to report, even after they agreed to match his big league salary, so he later ended up with Rochester. Clancy would spend the next seven seasons in the minors despite having numerous offers to play in the majors, all of which he turned down. He debuted in pro ball at age 23 in 1902, playing for Worcester of the Eastern League, where he hit .292 in 126 games. He remained in Worcester, though the team moved to Montreal during the 1903 season. He batted .317 in 105 games. The next year in Montreal, he batted .310 with 33 extra-base hits. He also spent a short time with Oakland of the Pacific Coast League, hitting .210 in 16 games. After his stint with the Pirates, he hit .289 in 69 games for Rochester. He remained there until the middle of the 1908 season. Clancy hit .275 in 141 games in 1906 and .288 in 115 games in 1907. He split the 1908 season before Rochester and Buffalo, also of the Eastern League (stats are incomplete that season). He saw his average drop down to .242 with Buffalo in 1909, then moved over to Baltimore of the Eastern League in 1910 and repeated that .242 average. Clancy played his entire minor league career at Class-A ball until 1911 when he joined Fort Wayne of the Central League (Class-B) for his final two seasons. The move down helped his hitting, finishing the year with a .299 average in 97 games, with 31 extra-base hits. In his final year of pro ball, he batted .272 in 129 games, with 50 extra-base hits.
Walt Moryn, outfielder for the 1961 Pirates. Moryn finished his eight-year career with the Pirates in 1961, coming over from the St Louis Cardinals on June 15th of that year in a cash deal. He hit .200 with three homers in 40 games, though he was mostly coming off the bench, making just ten starts. He started in right field five times and left field five times. Moryn played pro ball for a total of 14 seasons, starting his career in 1948 at 22 years old in the Brooklyn Dodgers system. He was playing at the lowest level that year (Class-D), but he still hit .338 in 124 games, with 46 extra-base hits. He moved up two levels in 1949, hitting .309 in a half season with Danville of the Three-I League, but when he played in Double-A that year, Moryn hit .224 in 40 games. He played for Mobile of the Southern Association in 1950-51, putting up solid numbers his first year, then doing better in his second try in the league. He hit .281 with 24 doubles and 15 homers in 1950, followed by a .299 average and 73 extra-base hits in 1951. That performance got him promoted to Montreal of the International League for 1952, where he hit .276 with 16 homers, 70 RBIs and 71 runs scored in 114 games. He split the 1953 season between Montreal and St Paul of the American Association (both Triple-A teams), doing much better with his new team. He had a .686 OPS in Montreal and an .878 mark with St Paul. He was back with St Paul to start 1954, before making his big league debut at 28 years old in June. Moryn hit .275 in 48 games for the Dodgers, mostly seeing time off of the bench. He spent nearly all of 1955 back in St Paul, playing just 11 September games for the Dodgers. He was traded that December in a five-player deal with the Chicago Cubs that also included Don Hoak, his teammate with the Pirates. Moryn became the everyday right fielder for the Cubs immediately, hitting .285 with 27 doubles, 23 homers and 67 RBIs in 147 games. He had a solid season in 1957 as well, batting .289 with 33 doubles, 19 homers and 88 RBIs. He was an All-Star during the 1958 season with the Cubs when he hit .264 with 26 homers and 77 RBIs in 143 games. His .845 OPS was the best of his career for a full season. He saw a significant drop in his production in 1959, batting just .234 in 117 games, with 14 doubles and 14 homers. His playing time dropped in 1960 when he split the season between the Cubs and Cardinals. He played 113 games, but saw more time off of the bench. Moryn hit .262 with 13 homers and 42 RBIs. Before joining the Pirates in 1961, he was hitting just .125 in 17 games for the Cardinals. The Pirates released him shortly after the 1961 season ended and he retired from baseball.
Jerry Goff, catcher for the 1993-94 Pirates. He played a total of six seasons in the majors, two each with the Montreal Expos, Pirates and Houston Astros. He was never a regular, playing a career high 52 games with the Expos in 1990, and he never played a full season in the majors, but he stuck around for 12 seasons in pro ball. Goff was drafted three times before finally signing. The Oakland A’s selected him in the seventh round in January of 1983 out of the College of Marin. He returned to school and in January of 1984, the New York Yankees selected him in the 12th round. He transferred to the University of California Berkeley and moved up to a third round pick of the Seattle Mariners in 1986. Goff had a rough debut as far as average, hitting just .190 in short-season ball, but some power mixed with a high walk rate, led to a .740 OPS. He moved up to Low-A the next year and had a very similar season, with a low average (.232) and a solid OPS (.778). Goff split 1988 evenly between High-A and Double-A, putting up a .251 average with 20 homers and 76 walks. The 1989 season was mostly spent in Triple-A, where the average, walks and power all dropped, leading to a .681 OPS in 109 games for the season. That was just a minor setback, as he was in the majors by mid-May in 1990 and remained there for almost the entire rest of the season. It took a trade to the Montreal Expos during that Spring Training to help get him to the majors. In 52 games (36 starts) for the Expos, he hit .227 with three homers and 21 walks. Goff missed time during the 1991 season and he was limited to 57 games in Triple-A. He nearly spent all of 1992 in Triple-A as well, playing just three games in May for the Expos. He was left go after the season and signed with the Pirates as a free agent in January of 1993. He hit .297 with two homers in 14 games with the 1993 Pirates, then batted .080 in eight April games during the following season. He played a total of 183 games in Triple-A during his time with Pittsburgh. The Pirates let him go via free agency following the 1994 season. He signed free agent deals for 1995 and 1996 with the Astros, but he was limited to 13 games in the majors during those seasons, including just one game in 1996. Goff went out with a bang on May 12, 1996, going 2-for-4 with a home run in his final big league game. He finished his pro career playing for Armadillo in the independent Texas-Louisiana League in 1997. In the majors, he hit .215 with seven homers and 19 RBIs in 90 games. His son is an NFL quarterback.