Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a trade from the 1950’s.
Brad Lincoln, pitcher for the 2010-12 Pirates. Lincoln was a first round pick in 2006, who dealt with some injuries coming up through the minors. He was originally drafted out of high school by the Texas Rangers in 2003 in the 23rd round, but he decided to attend the University of Houston and that move paid off. He was selected fourth overall by the Pirates three years later. In the minors that first season, he made six starts, throwing shutout ball in two Gulf Coast League outings, before posting a 6.75 ERA in four games at Low-A. The following April he had Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2007 season. He returned in 2008 and made 19 starts, split between Low-A and High-A. He combined to go 6-10, 4.69 in 103.2 innings, with an impressive total of just 17 walks. In 2009, he split the year between Double-A and Triple-A, going 1-5, 2.28 in 75 innings at the lower level, while posting a 6-2, 4.70 record in 12 starts at Indianapolis. He joined the Pirates in June of 2010 and made nine starts before returning to Triple-A. He came back in late September and ended up with a 6.66 ERA in 52.2 innings, with nine starts and two relief appearances. In Triple-A that season, he made 17 starts and had a 4.12 ERA in 94 innings. In 2011, he made eight starts and four relief appearances for the Pirates, posting a 4.72 ERA in 47.2 innings. He made a spot start for the Pirates during a doubleheader on July 2nd, then returned a month later to finish out the season. Lincoln had a 4.19 ERA in 19 starts at Triple-A that year. He was mostly pitching in relief in 2012 when he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for Travis Snider. Lincoln had a 2.73 ERA with the Pirates in 59.1 innings that year, and a 5.65 ERA in 28.2 innings with the Blue Jays. He played for Toronto in 2013, putting up a 3.98 ERA in 31.2 innings over 22 relief appearances. He was with the Philadelphia Phillies briefly in 2014, giving up three runs over 2.1 early season innings. He signed with the Pirates for 2015, but was released without appearing in the majors. He had a 4.18 ERA in 60.1 innings at Triple-A Indianapolis, making four starts and 35 relief appearances. That ended up being his final season in pro ball. In five MLB seasons, he was 9-11, 4.74 in 222.1 innings, making 22 starts and 77 relief appearances.
Randall Simon, first baseman for the 2003-04 Pirates. He is one of 15 players born in Curacao to make it to the majors. The Atlanta Braves signed him out of his home country in 1992 at 17 years old. After a year in the Dominican Summer League, he moved up to the Appalachian League in 1993 and he hit .254 with three homers in 61 games. Simon spent 1994 in Low-A, where he had a .293 average in 106 games, with 23 doubles and ten homers. He moved up to High-A Durham the next season and hit .264 with 18 homers and 79 RBIs in 122 games. He moved one level again in 1996, spending the season in Double-A, where he hit .279 with 18 homers and 77 RBIs. Simon put everything together in Triple-A in 1997, hitting .308 with 45 doubles, 14 homers and 102 RBIs. The Braves called him up when rosters expanded in September and he played 13 games, though he started just two games. In 1998, he batted .256 with 13 homers in 26 games. His big league time was limited to seven mid-season games. Simon saw limited time during his first two Major League trials until the Braves gave him a chance to play regularly for most of 1999, when he got into 90 games and hit .317 with five homers and 25 RBIs. He also stole two bases that year, the only stolen bases of his eight year big league career. Despite the strong average, he spent the entire 2000 season in the minors, though the writing may have been on the wall earlier. During the final six weeks of the 1999 season, Simon started just three games. During the 2000 calendar year, Simon was a member of four different organizations, starting the year with the Braves, who released him at the end of Spring Training. He signed with the Florida Marlins for a month, then the New York Yankees, then in the off-season he signed with the Detroit Tigers. He began 2001 in Triple-A, before joining Detroit in mid-June, where he quickly became a regular in the lineup, splitting between first base and DH. He batted .305 with 14 doubles and six homers in 81 games. His 2002 season was the best of his career, as he hit .301 with 19 homers and 82 RBIs, setting career highs in the latter two categories.
The Pirates acquired Simon in November of 2002 in exchange for two minor league pitchers. In 2003, he hit .274 with ten homers and 54 RBIs through 91 games for the Pirates before they traded him to the Chicago Cubs in August for outfielder Ray Sadler. He batted .282 with six homers in 33 games after the deal. Simon became a free agent at the end of the season and signed with the Pirates in February of 2004. He started the season off slow before missing a month with hamstring strain, then came back and hovered around .200 until the Pirates sent him to Triple-A. He was released in August, signing with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to finish the season, though he hit just .118 in eight games.. After 2004, his only Major League experience came with the 2006 Philadelphia Phillies, where he was used strictly as a pinch-hitter in 23 games, going 5-for-21 with two walks. He played in Japan and Mexico in 2005, and again in Mexico for part of the 2006-07 seasons, while also seeing brief time in Triple-A with the Texas Rangers in 2006. The 2008-10 seasons were spent in independent ball, seeing time with four different teams during that three-year period. In his big league career, he hit .283 in 537 games, with 49 homers and 237 RBIs. He hit .245 with 13 homers and 65 RBIs in 152 games with the Pirates.
Will Pennyfeather, outfielder for the 1992-1994 Pirates. He had a 19-year career in pro ball despite going undrafted out of Syracuse University. He signed with the Pirates in 1988, playing 33 games in rookie ball that year at 20 years old, hitting .282 with two homers and ten steals. He looked to be a long shot at ever reaching the majors after his second season in the minors, hitting .190 in 75 games of short-season A-ball, with a low walk rate that followed him throughout his career. Even in his first year of full-season ball, his overall numbers were not impressive, led by a .635 OPS in 122 games. He stole 21 bases that season, which was his career high. Pennyfeather was moved to high-A in 1991 and finished the year in Double-A. Although his stats were better, they were still far from strong, due to a very low walk rate and limited power. He had a .269 average and 14 steals in 123 games, but it came with just 15 walks and a .380 slugging percentage. He seemed to put everything together out of nowhere in Double-A in 1992, hitting .337 through 51 games, earning a brief promotion to the majors at the end of June. In his first big league at-bat, he collected a bunt single off of John Wetteland. Pennyfeather was soon sent to Triple-A, coming back a second time for a short stay in early August, then again as a mid-September call-up. He played 15 games that first year in the majors for the 1992 NL East champs, though he received just nine at-bats and one start. He began to show a little power in Triple-A in 1993, although the walks were still low and he had trouble stealing bases when he did get on, getting thrown out 12 times in 22 attempts. Pennyfeather hit 14 homers and had 18 walks in 112 games for Buffalo that season. He came up to Pittsburgh for a month in 1993, beginning in mid-June and running through his final game on July 11th. He didn’t return in September. He played a big league career high 21 games that season, hitting .206 with two RBIs. He made the Pirates out of Spring Training in 1994, but was used just three times as a pinch-hitter and once as a pinch-runner, before being sent to the minors, which turned out to be the end of his Major League career. He was picked up off waivers by the Cincinnati Reds in May of 1994, then spent the next twelve years playing both affiliated and independent ball before retiring in 2006. Pennyfeather played just one game in 1995 due to a Spring Training knee injury. He spent the 1996 season with the California Angels, the 1997 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the 1998 season split between Mexico and independent ball. He was with the Anaheim Angels in 1999 and then indy ball the rest of the way out, mostly playing in the Atlantic League, where he saw time with three different clubs. His big league career consisted of 47 plate appearances over 40 games and he didn’t draw a single walk. His stats from his partial season in Mexico are unknown, but the rest of his career shows that he played 1,834 games total (including majors), with 174 homers and 193 stolen bases.
Jim Marshall, first baseman for the 1962 Pirates. He signed with the Chicago White Sox as a 19-year-old in 1950 and it took him eight seasons to make it to the majors, finally getting there for Opening Day with the 1958 Baltimore Orioles. Marshall started in Class-C ball in 1950 and put up strong numbers for Albuquerque of the West Texas-New Mexico League, hitting .336 with 19 doubles, 17 triples and 15 homers in 88 games. Marshall split the 1951 season between two vastly different levels, playing in the Class-B Western International League and the other half of the year was in the Pacific Coast League, one step from the majors. He combined to hit .248 with 20 homers, 92 RBIs and 65 walks. The 1952 season was spent with Nashville of the Southern Association, where he batted .296 with 38 doubles and 24 homers in 154 games. The next three years were spent back in the PCL with Oakland, where he showed some big power numbers and solid walk rates. He hit .273 with 24 homers and 99 RBIs in 1953. The was followed by a .285 average in 1954, with 31 homers, 123 RBIs and 85 walks. In 1955, he hit just .239, but it came with 93 walks and 30 homers. Marshall was back in the Southern Association in 1956, hitting .264 with 61 extra-base hits. Still not enough to get him to the majors, he back in the PCL in 1957, where he batted .264 with 37 doubles and 30 homers for Vancouver. The Orioles acquired him in a seven-player trade with the White Sox in December of 1957, a deal that included Hall of Famer Larry Doby.
Marshall hit .215 through 85 games with the 1958 Orioles before they put him on waivers, where he was picked up by the Chicago Cubs. He had his best Major League season in 1959 for Chicago, hitting .252 with 11 homers and 40 RBIs in 108 games. Marshall was traded to the San Francisco Giants in 1960, where he hit .234 with three homers and 20 RBIs over a total of 119 games during his two seasons there. He was sold to the expansion New York Mets shortly after the end of the 1961 season. With New York, he had an amazing stretch at the plate, especially compared to the rest of his career. Through 17 games, he hit .344 with three homers. The Pirates acquired him on May 7, 1962 in exchange for pitcher Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell. Marshall played 55 games for Pittsburgh, getting twenty starts at first base. He hit .220 with 12 RBIs in 100 at-bats. After being released by the Pirates that October he signed to play in Japan, spending three years overseas before retiring. He hit 78 homers during his three seasons in Japan, giving him 309 homers during his career in pro ball. Marshall batted .242 with 29 homers, 106 RBIs and 101 walks in 410 big league games. He turns 90 years old today.
John Hofford, pitcher for the 1885-86 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He began his pro career in 1884 at 21 years old, playing for two independent league teams from Pennsylvania. By 1885 he was a well sought after pitcher, after posting a 38-13, 0.59 record with 389 strikeouts in 457 innings for Augusta of the Southern League. Hofford completed all 50 starts he made that year, throwing eight shutouts. He batted .258 in 72 games for Augusta and he hit out of the lead-off spot for part of the season (he also hit third), while also seeing brief time at five other spots besides pitcher. He joined the Alleghenys during the last week of that 1885 season, starting three of the last five games, including his MLB debut on the day he joined the team. Also along for the ride was his catcher Frank Ringo, which led to The Sporting Life saying that “Pittsburgh gobbled up Augusta’s great battery of Hofford and Ringo”. Hofford lost all three of his starts during a six-day period, although two of the games came against Bobby Mathews, a 297-game winner in the majors. Hofford allowed 16 runs in 25 innings, with ten of those runs being earned. His 21 strikeouts (7.7 per nine innings) were an impressive total for that era. When Hofford joined Pittsburgh, they were without Hall of Famer Pud Galvin and fellow pitcher Frank Mountain, who were both injured. They were also without Ed Morris, a 39-game winner, who returned home to his ailing wife during the final week of the season. Those things opened up a spot to try a new pitcher and Hofford filled that role. In 1886, Hofford was with Pittsburgh for most of the season, but made just nine starts all year. He went 3-6 with 4.33 ERA, playing his last Major League game on July 24th. On April 25th the Alleghenys played an in-season exhibition game against the Cincinnati Red Stockings and Hofford collected five hits in the game. It wasn’t quite the fluke it seems to be, as he hit .294 in his nine games that year. On August 3, 1886, Pittsburgh manager Horace Phillips released both Hofford and Ringo. At the time it was said that there were too many men on the payroll and neither player was doing good work. It was revealed that Hofford was dealing with a shoulder injury for much of the season and he blamed his results on his ailment. He stuck around minor league baseball for another ten years before retiring, playing regularly at almost every position at some point in his career. His career minor league stats are far from being completely researched at this point, but the known stats show that after winning 38 games in 1885, he won just eight games over five more seasons of pitching. Seven of those wins came for Kansas City of the Western League in 1887, where Ringo was his teammate.
On this date in 1954, the Pirates traded outfielder Cal Abrams to the Baltimore Orioles for pitcher Dick Littlefield. The lefty throwing Littlefield was 28 years old at the time of the trade. He was in his fifth season in the majors and the Orioles were his fourth Major League team, all American League clubs. He got off to a poor start in 1954, allowing seven runs and 14 base runners over just six innings in his three relief outings. In 1953, he had a 7-12. 5.08 record in 36 games, 22 as a starter. Abrams was 30 years old, and in his sixth season in the majors. His first year with the Pirates in 1953 was his best season up to that point. He batted .286 with 15 homers and 66 runs scored in 119 games. In 1954, he was batting just .143 through 17 games with the Pirates.
After the deal, Abrams had a strong season in Baltimore, hitting .293 with 73 walks and 66 runs scored in 115 games. He maintained a strong walk rate the following year, but his average was down to .243 and he hit just six homers in 118 games. He was traded to the Chicago White Sox for 1955, playing four games there before finishing his career in the minors. Littlefield pitched well for a Pirates team that lost 101 games in 1954. He went 10-11, 3.60 in 21 starts and two relief appearances. The Pirates were nearly as bad the next season and Littlefield struggled on the mound, going 5-12, 5.12 in 130 innings. A month into the 1956 seasons, he was dealt to the St Louis Cardinals in a trade that brought Bill Virdon to Pittsburgh. After the trade to St Louis, Littlefield pitched a total of 178.2 innings in the majors while playing for four different teams.