This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: May 22nd, Players, Trades and a Big Game for Pops

Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a trade and one game of note.

The Players

Corey Dickerson, outfielder for the 2018-19 Pirates. He was originally drafted by the Colorado Rockies in 2009 out of Meridian Community College in Mississippi, selected in the 29th round. He decided to return to school and the Rockies signed him out of the eighth round in 2010. He went to the short-season Pioneer League his first season and hit .348 with 44 extra-base hits in 69 games. Dickerson moved up to Low-A in 2011 and hit .282 with 27 doubles and 32 homers in 106 games. He moved up to the high offense environment of the California League in 2012 and dominated, putting up a .980 OPS in 60 games, before moving up to Double-A. In 67 games for Tulsa of the Texas League, Dickerson had an .826 OPS. He went to the Arizona Fall League after the season and continued to hit well, batting .364 in 17 games. He began 2013 in Triple-A, playing in another great park for offense in Colorado Springs. He batted .371 with 11 homers in 75 games, then joined the Rockies in late June. Dickerson hit .263 with five homers in 69 games for the 2013 Rockies. In 2014, he batted .312 with 27 doubles and 24 homers in 131 games. In 2015 he had three different stints on the disabled list, which limited him to 65 games. He batted .304 with ten homers that season. In the off-season, he was part of a four-player deal with the Tampa Bay Rays. Dickerson hit .245 with 36 doubles and 24 homers in 148 games for the 2016 Rays. He followed that up with an All-Star season in 2017, hitting .282 with 33 doubles and 27 homers. The following Spring Training he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for reliever Daniel Hudson and minor league prospect Tristan Gray. Dickerson won the Gold Glove in left field for the Pirates in 2018, while hitting .300 with 35 doubles and 13 homers in 135 games. He was rated with 1.0 WAR on defense that season, the only year during his career that he put up a positive dWAR number. He spent the early part of the 2019 season in the injured list before being sent to the Philadelphia Phillies in a trade for international bonus slot space. Dickerson was hurt soon after he joined the Phillies, so his entire 2019 season was limited to 78 games. He batted .304 with 12 homers and 59 RBIs during that time. He became a free agent after the 2019 season and signed with the Miami Marlins. Dickerson hit .258 with seven homers in 52 games during the shortened 2020 season. Through 32 games in 2021, he was batting .316 with one homer. In his career, through early May of 2021, he is a .285 career hitter, with 202 doubles, 123 homers and 394 RBIs in 860 games.

Rick van den Hurk, pitcher for the 2012 Pirates. He was signed as an international amateur free agent by the Florida Marlins in 2002 at 17 years old out of the Netherlands. Van den Hurk debuted in the Gulf Coast League in 2003 and had a 5.35 ERA in 38.2 innings. He moved all the way up to the Florida State League the next season and had a 3.26 ERA in 14 starts. He was limited to just 14 games total during the 2005-06 seasons, missing most of each season due to Tommy John surgery. He was able to pitch 40 innings in the Hawaiian Winter Baseball league in the 2006-07 off-season. Despite his limited work and complete lack of upper level experience, van den Hurk debuted in the majors on April 10, 2007. He returned to the minors for a short time, but spent most of the season as a starter in the majors, going 4-6, 6.83 in 81.2 innings. He was injured for part of 2008 and made 14 minor league starts as well. With the Marlins that year, he made four starts and had a 7.71 ERA. The 2009 season was split between the minors and majors. He had a 4.30 ERA in 58.2 innings over 11 starts. In 2010, van den Hurk split the season between the Marlins and Baltimore Orioles, spending most of the year in Triple-A. He played nine big league games that season and had a 5.09 ERA in 17.2 innings. His big league work was limited to nine innings and nine runs allowed during the 2011 season with the Orioles. He was released in early February of 2012 and signed three weeks later with Toronto Blue Jays. Van den Hurk was lost on waivers a month later to the Cleveland Indians, who parted ways with him just two weeks later. A few days later he signed with the Pirates and spent most of the year in Triple-A, where he went 13-5, 2.92 in 123.1 innings. He joined the Pirates in September and pitched four times out of the bullpen, allowing four runs in 2.2 innings. That was the end of his big league career, but his pro career is still going on at 36 years old in Japan, where he has spent the 2015-21 seasons. In 2013-14, van den Hurk played in Korea. In the majors, he went 8-11, 6.08 in 138.2 innings over 35 starts and 15 relief appearances.

Jose Mesa, reliever for the 2004-05 Pirates. He was signed by the Toronto Blue Jays as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 1981 at 15 years old. He pitched 83.1 innings in the Gulf Coast League at 16 years old in 1982, then made it to full-season ball in Low-A at age 17, posting a 5.48 ERA in 141.1 innings in 1983. The next season was split between Low-A and High-A, which resulted in a combined 3.84 ERA in 89 innings. Mesa struggled in a full season of High-A ball in 1985, putting up a 5-10, 6.16 record in 106.2 innings. The next year saw him reach Double-A late in the season. He had a combined 12-8, 3.97 record in 183.2 innings. The Baltimore Orioles acquired him in September of 1987 and had him up in the majors for the final month of the season, though he spent the next two full seasons in the minors. Mesa had a 6.03 ERA in 31.1 innings during his first trial with the Orioles. When he returned in 1990, it was for seven late-season starts in which he had a 3.86 ERA in 46.2 innings. He made 23 starts for the Orioles in 1991, going 6-11, 5.97 in 123.2 innings.

Mesa was traded in the middle of 1992 to the Cleveland Indians. He went 7-12, 4.59 in 160.2 innings that year, with slightly better results after the trade. The Indians stayed with him as a starter in 1993, before moving him to a full-time relief role during the strike-shortened 1994 season. He went 10-12, 4.92 in 208.2 innings over 33 starts in 1993. That was followed by 51 relief appearances in 1994, when he went 7-5, 3.82 in 73 innings. The next year he was moved to the closer spot and led the league in saves (46) for the only time in his career. He had a 1.13 ERA in 64 innings over 62 appearances. He was an All-Star, finished second in the Cy Young voting and fourth in the MVP voting. Mesa pitched eight times in the 1995 postseason, as the Indians just missed winning their first World Series title since 1948. He allowed a total of three runs in ten innings, though none of the runs he allowed ended up costing his team a win.

In 1996, Mesa had 39 saves and he made his second (and final) All-Star appearance, but he was nowhere near the pitcher from the previous year. He went 2-7, 3.73 in 72.1 innings over 69 appearances. The Indians returned to the World Series in 1997 and he improved, while spending just part of the season in the closer role. He went 4-4, 2.40 in 82.1 innings over 66 appearances, while saving 16 games. In the postseason, he blew three save chances, including game seven of the World Series, which was won by the Florida Marlins. He gave up one run in six of his 11 appearances that postseason.  Mesa struggled in 1998 and was shipped to the San Francisco Giants mid-season. He combined to go 8-7, 4.57 in in 84.2 innings, with just one save. He became a free agent after the season and spent the next two years with the Seattle Mariners, where he went 7-12, 5.18 in 149.1 innings over 134 appearances, with 34 saves. He got another chance to pitch in the playoffs in 2000, but he allowed six runs over 4.1 innings in the ALCS series loss to the New York Yankees. Mesa signed with the Philadelphia Phillies for the next three seasons and put up strong numbers in 2001-02, posting ERAs of 2.34 in 69.1 innings and 2.97 in 75.2 innings. He saved a total of 87 games those two years. The 2003 season didn’t go as well, with a 6.52 ERA and 24 saves in 58 innings.

Mesa signed with the Pirates on January 30, 2004. In his first season with the team, he went 5-2, 3.25 in 69.1 innings, with 43 saves. He fell just three saves short of the team record at the time, set two years earlier by Mike Williams. Mesa went 2-8, 4.76 in 56.2 innings over 55 appearances in 2005, with 27 saves. He left via free agency after the season and spent 2006 with the Colorado Rockies and 2007 was split between the Detroit Tigers and Phillies. He had a 7.11 ERA in his final season and saved just two games after leaving Pittsburgh. His final appearance in pro ball was another tough postseason game, allowing three runs while recording just one out in the NLDS loss to the Rockies. Mesa pitched 1,022 games during his 19 seasons in the majors, going 80-109, 4.36 with 321 saves and 1,548.2 innings pitched. He ranks 20th all-time in saves and 12 in games pitched. His son Jose Mesa Jr is a current minor league pitcher for the Marlins.

Julian Tavarez, reliever for the 2003 Pirates. He signed with the Cleveland Indians in 1990 as an international amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic at 16 years old. It took him just over three years to make his big league debut, not long after his 20th birthday. Tavarez pitched his first two seasons in the Dominican Summer League before moving to the U.S. for the 1992 season, where he played in the Appalachian League. He skipped to High-A the next season and did so well in 18 starts (11-5, 2.42 in 119 innings) that he got bumped up to Double-A. After just three appearances, he joined the Indians in early August and made seven starts and one relief appearance, going 2-2, 6.57 in 37 innings. The 1994 season was mostly spent in Triple-A, where he went 15-6, 3.48 in 176 innings. He made a start for the Indians in May and allowed eight runs in 1.2 innings. The 1995 season was spent entirely in the majors as a full-time reliever. He went 10-2, 2.44 in 85 innings over 57 games. Tavarez struggled in 1996, with a 5.36 ERA in 80.2 innings. Over the 1996-97 off-season, he was part of a large trade with the San Francisco Giants that included Jeff Kent and Matt Williams. With the 1997 Giants, he led the National League with 89 games pitched. Tavarez had a 3.87 ERA in 88.1 innings. He was used more in extended relief in 1998, pitching 85.1 innings over 60 appearances, while posting a 3.80 ERA. His performance dropped off significantly in 1999, with a 5.93 ERA in 54.2 innings. After the season he was claimed on waivers by the Colorado Rockies. Tavarez saw some starting pitching work in 2000, going 11-5, 4.43 in 120 innings. He signed with the Chicago Cubs for 2001 and pitched almost exclusively in the rotation, going 10-9, 4.52 in a career high 161.1 innings. During Spring Training of 2002, the Cubs traded him to the Florida Marlins, where he went 10-12, 5.39 in 153.2 innings.

Tavarez signed with the Pirates as a free agent in January of 2003 and was moved back to the bullpen. For Pittsburgh, he made 64 appearances, pitching 83.2 innings with a 3.66 ERA and 11 saves. He became a free agent after the season and signed with the St Louis Cardinals. He had a great first season in St Louis, posting a 2.38 ERA in 63.1 innings over 77 appearances. He was solid the next year, going 2-3, 3.43 in 65.2 innings in 74 games. He had four saves in each of his two seasons with the Cardinals. He signed with the Boston Red Sox in 2006 and remained there until he was released late in May of 2008. Tavarez had a 4.47 ERA in 98.2 innings in 2006, making 52 relief appearances and six starts. He saw more time in the rotation in 2007, making 23 starts and 11 relief appearances. He had a 7-11, 5.15 record in 134.2 innings, but the Red Sox were still able to win the World Series title that season. The 2008 season was split between Boston, the Milwaukee Brewers and the Atlanta Braves. He combined for a 4.72 ERA in 42 innings. His final season in the majors in 2009 saw him post a 4.89 ERA in 42 outings for the Washington Nationals. While his big league career was over at that point, he still pitched winter ball for the next three years, with stops in the Dominican, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Tavarez pitched 17 seasons in the majors, getting into a total of 828 games, 108 as a starter. He won 88 games, had a 4.46 ERA and pitched a total of 1,404.1 innings. His 11 saves with the Pirates were nearly half of his big league total of 23 saves. He made 31 postseason appearances during his career and had a 3.52 ERA.

George Spriggs, outfielder for the 1965-67 Pirates. Before he joined minor league baseball, Spriggs spent time playing Negro League baseball with the Kansas City Monarchs and Detroit Stars, while also seeing two years in the military. The Pirates signed Spriggs as an amateur free agent in 1963. The signing scout was Joe Consoli, who would sign George “Geno” Spriggs Jr 24 years later out of high school. The elder Spriggs signed just before his 26th birthday and went to A-Ball, playing for Reno of the California League, where he hit .319 with 107 walks and 44 steals in 133 games. He moved up to Double-A the next year and batted .322 with 70 walks, 33 steals and double-digit totals in doubles, triples and homers. He hit a bit of a wall in his first year at Triple-A, batting .240, with lower walk/power totals, though he managed to steal 66 bases. That speed helped him get a September shot with the Pirates, where he batted just twice in nine games, getting pinch-running opportunities. In 1966, he batted .300 with 15 homers, 75 walks and 34 steals in Triple-A. Once again he got a September look with the Pirates and he was given more hitting chances, but still batted just seven times in nine games. Spriggs finally got an extended look in 1967, playing with the Pirates from Opening Day through late June. He hit .175 in 38 games before going to the minors. He didn’t make a single start in his first two trials, but got nine starts in 1967. After the season, the Pirates lost him in the Rule 5 draft to the Boston Red Sox, who ended up returning him in April. Spriggs spent all of 1968 in Triple-A, then was sold to the expansion Kansas City Royals at the end of the season. He played 23 games in the majors for the Royals in 1969 and then another 51 games for them in 1970, when he hit .208 with his only big league homer. The Royals sold him to the New York Mets during Spring Training in 1971, and his career ended in 1972. As mentioned, his son was signed by the same scout, who was still with the Pirates at the time. The young Spriggs was a 31st round pick in 1987, who played 90 games over two seasons with the Pirates before passing away tragically at 20 years old in December of 1988 in a car accident.

Hoke Warner, infielder for the 1916-17 and 1919 Pirates. He played four years in the minors before getting his first chance with the 1916 Pirates. Warner spent his first two seasons of pro ball with Jackson of the Southern Michigan League. In 1913 when he was 19 years old, the league was considered to be a Class-D league. In 1914, it’s considered to be one level higher at Class-C. Warner batted .298 in 40 games during his first season. The next year he hit .305 in 128 games, with 24 doubles and 20 steals. In 1915, he spent part of the season with Jackson, but split the year between three teams, two leagues and two levels. He played 102 games total that season, hitting .245 in 46 games for Dayton of the Central League, while playing the rest of the season in the Southern Michigan League. He was with Dayton for all of 1916, where he batted .318 in 106 games. On July 12th he was purchased by the Pirates and local fans were told that he was considered to be the fastest player in the Central League, who also offered strong defense at a young age. Pirates manager Jimmy Callahan saw him playing a doubleheader three days earlier and he encouraged owner Barney Dreyfuss to meet Dayton’s purchase price of $4,000. Warner was supposedly going to finish the season in Dayton on September 10th, but he reported to the Pirates three weeks earlier. He opened his Pirates career on August 21, 1916, batting lead-off in both games of a doubleheader and playing third base. His fielding was good that day, but at the plate he collected just one single, although it came off of Grover Alexander, a pitcher who would win 373 career games and go on to the Hall of Fame. Warner would play 44 games that rookie season, hitting .238 with 16 RBIs. He played three games in 1917 for the Pirates before serving in the military during WWI, finally returning during the 1919 season. While still on active duty in France in March of 1919, the Pirates reportedly traded Warner and Gus Getz to Toledo of the American Association for some catching help, acquiring veteran Ed Sweeney. However, Warner returned home in mid-May and reported to the Pirates a short time later to get into shape to play. He debuted on June 18th as a pinch-runner and played his first game on July 24th as a pinch-runner. In between he played another four games for Pittsburgh in 1919, three as the starting third baseman.  He also spent some time in the minors, hitting .250 in 27 games for the Kansas City Blues of the American Association after being released to them on July 29th. Warner next played for the 1921 Chicago Cubs, getting into 14 games, in what is his only known pro experience after the 1919 season. Chicago purchased his contract from Kansas City in January of 1921, but he did not play for the Blues during the 1920 season. He told the team that their contract wasn’t significant enough and he opened his own restaurant in the Pittsburgh area instead, while also playing semi-pro ball. He had the nickname Hooks, but he’s the only big league player with the first name Hoke.

Tom McCarthy, pitcher for the 1908 Pirates. He made his pro debut with the Mount Clemens Bathers of the Southern Michigan League, considered to be Class-D ball at the time, the lowest level of the minors. McCarthy moved up three levels to Newark of the Eastern League in 1907, where he had an 18-12 record and pitched 258 innings. The ERA numbers aren’t available for the league, but he allowed 2.93 runs per nine innings. He had his contract purchased by the New York Giants in September of 1907, but never pitched for them. He made his Major League debut with the Reds on May 10, 1908, starting the second game of a doubleheader. McCarthy allowed five runs in 3.2 innings, taking the loss in an 8-7 game. Shortly after that game, and before he could pitch again for Cincinnati, the Pirates picked him up on waivers for $1,500. When he showed up to Pittsburgh, McCarthy told the local papers that he didn’t pitch with the Reds because he got sick during Spring Training and took time to recover, then got hit with a line drive on his knee during practice in mid-May and couldn’t pitch, though he was healthy when he reached the Pirates. On May 30th/31st, the Pirates played two doubleheaders and McCarthy got the start in the fourth game played over those two days. He won 13-3, in what would turn out to be his only start for the Pirates. He also had one relief appearance coming on June 9th in which he allowed one run over three innings. On June 18, 1908 he was traded to the Boston Doves, along with pitcher Harley Young, in exchange for veteran pitcher Irv Young. The veteran Young was supposed to help the Pirates with their pennant run, but McCarthy ended up being the best pitcher of the group during the duration of the 1908 season. He would go 7-3 with a 1.63 ERA in 94 innings for the Doves. On July 17th in Pittsburgh, he shutout the Pirates. Despite the strong work, the next season he was unable to pick up a win through the middle of July and he was sent to the minors with an 0-5, 3.50 record in 46.1 innings. McCarthy never returned to the majors, finishing his career in the minors in 1911. During his final season of pro ball, he went 15-9 and pitched 207 innings for Hartford of the Connecticut State League. There was an interesting note from very early in his time in Boston. McCarthy was introduced to Tommy McCarthy, the Hall of Fame outfielder who also played on Boston. Despite the star outfielder retiring just 12 years earlier when the younger McCarthy was 12 years old, the younger McCarthy said that he had never heard of the future Hall of Famer.

The Trades

On this date in 1965, the Pirates traded shortstop Dick Schofield to the San Francisco Giants for Jose Pagan. Schofield was 30 years old at the time, in his 13th season in the majors. He came up with the St Louis Cardinals as an 18-year-old in 1963 and he had been with the Pirates since 1958. At the time of the trade, he was batting .229 in 31 games, coming off a season in which he hit .209 in 132 games. He also made the third most errors among National League shortstops in 1964. Pagan was also 30 years old, and putting up similar numbers, hitting .205 in 28 games. He was in his seventh season in the majors, coming off a year in which he hit .223 in 134 games. Pittsburgh was making room for young shortstop Gene Alley at the time. Despite the fact Pagan only played shortstop in San Francisco in 1965, he spent most of his time in Pittsburgh at third base that first season. He lasted with the Pirates until 1972, becoming a utility player, getting decent playing time at third base, shortstop and left field, while occasionally filling in at other spots. He hit .263 with a .690 OPS in 625 games with the Pirates. Schofield hit .197 in 112 games for the Giants before they sold him to the New York Yankees in May of 1966. He stuck around the majors until 1971, playing for six different teams after he left Pittsburgh.

The Game

On this date in 1968, Willie Stargell hit three homers and drove in seven runs in a 13-6 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. During the sixth inning, Stargell just missed his third homer of the game, when he got a double off the left field wall. Two innings later, he put another one over the fence to cap off his day. Stargell drove in six runs in a game four times during his career, but the seven RBIs in one contest is a career high. This game was one of four three-homer games in his career. You can find the boxscore for this game here.