Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus one one trade of note.
On this date in 1960, the Pirates traded minor leaguers Julian Javier and Ed Bauta to the St Louis Cardinals for veteran pitcher Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell and infielder Dick Gray. Mizell was 29 years old at the time of the trade, coming off a season in which he went 13-10, 4.20 in 30 starts for the Cardinals. He pitched over 200 innings that season for the third time in his career. Before the trade, he made nine starts for the 1960 Cardinals, going 1-3 with a 4.55 ERA. Gray was a 28-year-old infielder with three years of Major League experience. He hit .233 in 57 games in 1959, spending most of his time at third base. Javier was 23 years old, in his fifth season in the Pirates system, and second year at Triple-A. He was a light-hitting second baseman, who had a .274 average, with 17 walks and 103 strikeouts in 135 games in 1959. Bauta was 25 years old, a relief pitcher, who just like Javier, was in his fifth season in the Pirates system and second year at Triple-A. He had an 0.95 ERA in 12 appearances at the time of the trade
Both Javier and Bauta went right to the majors with the Cardinals. Bauta was seldom used, relegated to the back of the bullpen, and he spent part of his time with St Louis back in Triple-A. They traded him to the New York Mets near the end of the 1963 season. He pitched 97 games in the majors, throwing 149 innings, with a 4.35 ERA. Javier became an All-Star player with the Cardinals, helping them to the World Series three times during the 1960’s. He played a total of 13 seasons in the big leagues (12 with St Louis) and twice made the National League All-Star team. Gray never played in the majors again, spending the last three years of his career at Triple-A with the Pirates. Mizell served his purpose by helping the Pirates get to the 1960 World Series with his 13-5 record in 23 starts. His production began to drop of the next season and his Major League career was done by the end of the 1962 season. The Pirates traded Mizell to the Mets on May 7, 1962.
Alex Hernandez, first baseman/outfielder for the 2000-01 Pirates. He was a fourth round draft pick of the Pirates in 1995 out of high school in Puerto Rico. Hernandez signed right away and reported to the Gulf Coast League, where he hit .269 with one homer in 49 games. He played for Erie of the New York-Penn League in 1996, hitting .289 with 21 extra-base hits in 61 games. He was in high-A ball by 1997, hitting .290 with 68 RBIs and 75 runs scored for Lynchburg. He had a very poor walk to strikeout ratio (27:140) but he also hit 37 doubles to go along with his high average. Hernandez then spent two full seasons in Double-A, while also starting a third season there in 2000. The Pirates affiliate was in Carolina of the Southern League in 1999. He hit .259 with 37 extra-base hits and 11 stolen bases in 115 games that year. The affiliate moved to Altoona of the Eastern League in 1999 and that year he batted .257 with 26 doubles, 15 homers and 11 steals in 126 games. Hernandez broke out in 2000, hitting .337 with 34 RBIs in 50 games. He moved up to Triple-A, where he batted .275 in 76 games, earning a September call-up to the Pirates. He played twenty games for Pittsburgh that year, getting 60 at-bats, in which he hit .200 with one homer and five RBIs. He made 11 starts at first base, one in right field and he played three games in left field off of the bench. In 2001, Hernandez got called up in August and played his last seven Major League games. He went 1-for-11 at the plate and started two games in right field. He was released after the season and signed with the Cincinnati Reds for 2002. After spending all of 2002 in the minors, with most of that time spent in Double-A, he played independent ball in 2003 with Somerset of the Atlantic League. He didn’t play pro ball in 2004-05, but he returned in 2006 after playing winter ball in Puerto Rico to play 20 games for Lancaster of the Atlantic League. That ended up being the end of his pro career. The low walk rate early during his time in the minors was a sign of things to come with Hernandez. He did not draw a single walk in his 71 plate appearances while with the Pirates.
Kirk Gibson, outfielder for the 1992 Pirates. He was signed as a first round pick in 1978 by the Detroit Tigers, selected 12th overall out of Michigan State. He would make it to the majors by the end of the following season, but it took five seasons in the majors before he reached his potential. Gibson went right to the Florida State League out of college at hit .240 with eight homers and 13 steals in 54 games. He played in Double-A the next year, hitting .245 with nine homers and 20 steals in 89 games before getting called up to the majors in September. He played 12 games for the Tigers during that first trial. In 1980, Gibson spent the entire season in the majors, hitting .263 with nine homers in 51 games. A sprained wrist ended his season in mid-June. During the strike-shortened 1981 season, he hit .328 with nine homers and 20 steals in 83 games. For that offense, he finished 12th in the American League MVP voting. In 1982 he hit .278 with eight homers in 69 games before his old wrist injury ended his season again, this time finishing him on July 8th. Gibson was healthy in 1983, but saw his average dip to a .227 mark in 128 games. He hit 15 homers and stole 14 bases in 17 attempts. During the 1984 season, Gibson helped the Tigers to the World Series by hitting .282 with 91 RBIs, 92 runs scored and just missing out on the 30/30 HR/SB club, with 27 homers and 29 steals. He finished sixth in the MVP voting. He hit .417 in the ALCS, then followed that with a .333 average and seven RBIs in the World Series, as the Tigers beat the San Diego Padres in five games. Gibson approached the 30/30 HR/SB club three seasons in a row, but never reached it. In 1985, he hit .287 with 37 doubles, 29 homers, 97 RBIs, 30 steals and 71 walks. He set career highs in doubles, homers and RBIs that season. In 1986, he hit .268 with 28 homers and 34 steals. He could have approached the 40/40 club that season if he was healthy all year, but he was limited to just 119 games. In 1987, Gibson hit .277 with 25 doubles, 24 homers, 26 steals, 71 walks and 95 runs scored in 128 games.
Gibson moved on to the Los Angeles Dodgers as a free agent in 1988, where he forever became part of baseball history. After having an MVP regular season, an injured Gibson hobbled to the plate in game one of the World Series and hit one of the most memorable homers in baseball history, a walk-off shot against Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley. It was his only plate appearance of the series.He won the MVP award and his only career Silver Slugger award by hitting .290 with 28 doubles, 25 homers and 31 steals. He scored 106 runs, the only time he topped 100 runs during his career. Gibson saw his stats drop off as he was barely healthy during his final two seasons with the Dodgers. He hit .213 with nine homers in 71 games in 1989, then batted .260 with eight homers during the next season.
Gibson moved on to the Kansas City Royals for one year, signing a free agent deal after the 1990 season. He played 132 games in 1991, hitting .236 with 16 homers, 55 RBIs, 69 walks and 18 steals. On March 10, 1992, the Pirates traded Neal Heaton to the Royals in exchange for Gibson. His stay in Pittsburgh was a short one, just 16 games with a .196 average and .541 OPS before being released. He retired, but it was only temporary as he came back for three more seasons with the Tigers before his playing career ended. Gibson batted .261 with 13 homers and 15 steals in 116 games in 1993. He hit 23 homers and drove in 72 runs, while playing just 98 games during the strike-shortened 1994 season. In his final season, he batted .260 with nine homers in 70 games. Gibson had a lifetime average of .268 with 985 runs scored, 255 homers, 875 RBIs and 284 steals in 1,635 games. Despite some many strong seasons during his career, he was never voted to the All-Star game. After his playing days, Gibson was the manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks for five years, including winning NL Manager of the Year award in 2011.
Bob Kuzava, pitcher for the 1957 Pirates. He originally signed with the Cleveland Indians as an 18-year-old in 1941, and he spent that first year pitching Class-D ball in Mansfield of the Ohio State League. The next year with Class-C Charleston of the Middle Atlantic League, he won 21 games, posting a 1.72 ERA in 235 innings. Kuzava then served in the military during WWII, missing three full seasons before returning in 1946. He went back to the minors upon his return, going 14-6, 2.36 in 217 innings for Wilkes-Barre of the Eastern League before joining the Indians in September for two starts. Kuzava was also a September call-up in 1947 after going 14-13, 3.17 in 214 innings for Baltimore of the International League. That second cup of coffee saw him put up a 4.15 ERA in 21.2 innings over four starts. He spent the entire 1948 campaign in the minors with Baltimore and struggled, going 9-16, 4.83 in 192 innings. Kuzava was traded to the Chicago White Sox after the 1948 season and was able to get his first real shot at pitching full-time in the majors. The Indians at the time were a much better team than Chicago, winning the World Series title in 1948, while the White Sox finished 51-101 in last place. They were only slightly better in 1949 and Kuzava made 18 starts and eleven relief appearances for the White Sox during his first season with the team. He went 10-6, 4.02 in 156.2 innings that year. In 1950 he started off slow, then was dealt to the Washington Senators at the end of May. He was 9-10, 4.33 in 199.1 innings between the two teams. He caught a big break in the middle of the 1951 season when he was traded to the New York Yankees. While there, Kuzava was able to collect three World Series rings in his first three seasons. He went 11-7, 3.61 in 134.2 innings in 1951. That was followed by an 8-8, 3.45 record in 133 innings in 1952. The 1953 season saw him put up a 3.31 ERA in 92.1 innings. During those three years, he pitched just one time each year in the World Series, ending up with one run allowed over 4.1 innings.
Between 1954-55, Kuzava was a member of four different organizations. He started the 1954 season with the Yankees, before being lost on waivers to the Baltimore Orioles in August. The following May the Philadelphia Phillies selected him off waivers, where he finished out the year, then was sold to the Kansas City Athletics. He pitched 108 innings total over those two seasons. Kuzava then spent the entire 1956 season in the minors, going 10-8. 3.57 in 169 innings for Columbus of the International League. The Pirates signed him prior to the 1957 season after he made the Opening Day roster by pitching on a trial basis, but he didn’t last long. Kuzava made four relief appearances before being sold outright back to Columbus. In his brief time with the Pirates, he allowed two runs in two innings of work. In the middle of September, Columbus sold him to the St Louis Cardinals, where he pitched his last three Major League games. Kuzava played three more years in the minors, the last as a player/manager, before retiring. In ten seasons in the majors, he went 49-44, 4.05 in 862 innings, making 99 starts and 114 relief appearances.
Steve Nagy, pitcher for the 1947 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1942, but after one season in the minors, he spent the next three years serving in the military during WWII. He was already 23 years old before his pro debut and he pitched part of that first season playing for Montreal of the International League, just one step from the majors. Combined with his time in Class-B that year, he had an 11-6, 2.16 record in 121 innings in 1942. Nagy returned to baseball in 1946, going 17-4, 3.01 in 214 innings for the Montreal. Right after the 1946 season ended, the Pirates purchased his contract on October 1st from Montreal, where he was still playing in the league’s championship series. They were able to purchase him after the Dodgers released him outright to Montreal earlier that season. Nagy made three relief appearances over the first month of the 1947 season for the Pirates, allowing runs in all three games. He was optioned to Indianapolis of the American Association on May 14th. At the time, teams could carry extra players to start the year, but they couldn’t have more than 25 active players after May 15th, until rosters expanded in September. After spending three months in Triple-A where he had a 4.43 ERA in 132 innings, Nagy returned to Pittsburgh in September, making another three appearances. In the next to last day of the season, he got his only start, going eight innings in a 3-1 loss to the St Louis Cardinals. He went 1-3, 5.79 in 14 innings for the Pirates. He pitched two years in the minors for the Pirates before they traded him (along with cash) to San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League for pitcher Bill Werle. Just months after the trade, Nagy was picked up by the Washington Senators in the 1949 Rule 5 draft. He would make nine starts for the Senators, going 2-5, 6.58 in 53.1 innings before being sent back to the minors. He pitched another eight years in the minors before retiring, finishing with 121 minor league wins over 14 seasons. He finished with 2,012 innings in pro ball. Nagy played four full seasons for Seattle of the Pacific Coast League (1951-54) and he finished his career with three years for Buffalo of the International League (1956-58).
King Brady, pitcher for the 1906-07 Pirates. Brady made his debut in pro baseball with the 1905 Philadelphia Phillies, making two late season starts. He was already 24 years old at the time and he had experience pitching semi-pro ball in the Philadelphia area. In 1906, he went 14-24 in 39 games (the only available stats) for the Little Rock Travelers of the Southern Association. The Pirates took him in the 1906 Rule 5 draft and brought him right to the majors. He got two late season starts, both during a six-game series in Brooklyn. On September 28th in the first game of a doubleheader, King (first name was James, sometimes referred to as “Jeems”) went seven innings, allowing five runs on 12 hits in a 5-4 loss. He won his second game, throwing a complete game in a 5-1 win. The papers said he pitched well and the run was only because of an error by Honus Wagner. However, he gave up 12 hits for the second game in a row and he also walked three batters, leaving Brooklyn with 14 runners left on base. For the 1907 Pirates, Brady pitched two innings in relief in his only game played that season on May 30th. Before a game on May 21st, he was hit in the temple with a pitch and knocked out, which required a hospital visit. Two days earlier he pitched a complete game in a 5-3 exhibition loss to Newark of the Eastern League. He spent the rest of the year with Johnstown of the Tri-State League, who purchased him on June 9th with the understanding that the Pirates could purchase him back during the season. He was with Johnstown again in 1908, going 20-10 in 41 games. In the 1908 Rule 5 draft, he was chosen by the Boston Red Sox. In his only start for Boston, he threw a shutout over the New York Highlanders. Brady spent the next three years in the minors, finally getting another shot in the majors during the 1912 season with the Boston Braves. In his only outing, he allowed six runs in 2.2 innings. After four more years in the minors, Brady retired. Despite the fact he played five years in the majors for four different teams, he appeared in just eight Major League games.