Six former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a trade of note.
On this date in 1969, the Pirates traded pitcher Ron Kline to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for pitcher Joe Gibbon, who had pitched previously for Pittsburgh. Kline began his career with the Pirates, playing six seasons in Pittsburgh before he was dealt to the St Louis Cardinals in 1959. In 1969, he was 37 years old and two years into his second stint with the Pirates, with a 1-3, 5.81 record in 20 relief appearances. Gibbon also began his career with six seasons in Pittsburgh, leaving the team for the Giants in the Matty Alou trade that was made after the 1965 season. Gibbon was 34 years old at the time of this deal, with a 1-3, 3.60 record in 20 innings over 16 relief appearances. They were trading similar pitchers (age/results), but Kline was a right-handed pitcher, while Gibbon threw lefty.
After the deal, Kline pitched just seven games for the Giants before they sold him to the Boston Red Sox. He pitched a total of 28 games and 34.1 innings in the majors after leaving the Pirates, finishing his big league career with the 1970 Atlanta Braves. Gibbon was a solid member of the Pittsburgh bullpen in 1969, going 5-1, 1.93 in 51.1 innings with nine saves. He pitched 41 games in 1970, although his ERA was 4.83 in 41 innings. After the season, he was released. He played two more years in the majors, split between the Cincinnati Reds and Houston Astros, before retiring.
Carlos Rivera, first baseman for the 2003-04 Pirates. He was selected by the Pirates in the tenth round of the 1996 draft at 18 years old out of high school in Texas, though he was born in Puerto Rico. Rivera batted .284 with three homers in 48 games for the Gulf Coast League Pirates in 1996. He hit well enough that first year in rookie ball to move to full season ball in 1997 as a 19-year-old. He batted .272 with 30 extra-base hits in 120 games for Low-A Augusta that season, though a low walk total kept his OPS down at a .716 mark. He split the 1998 season between Low-A and High-A, with much better results at the lower level. He combined to hit .270 with 21 doubles and nine homers in 116 games. Rivera spent three seasons in low-A, breaking out in 1999, when he hit .322 with 13 homers and 86 RBIs. He missed half of the 2000 season, which was spent in High-A ball, then he struggled in his first try at Double-A the next year. Playing for Altoona in 2001, he hit .234 with ten homers and 30 doubles, but he drew just 13 walks in 111 games, giving him a .258 OBP. In 2002, he put himself back on the prospect map, batting .302 with 28 doubles, 22 homers and 84 RBIs for Altoona. Rivera began 2003 in Triple-A, where he hit .263 with 18 doubles and nine homers in 72 games, before getting his first call to the majors in late-June. He would be used mostly off the bench by Pittsburgh, getting into 78 games with only 107 plate appearances. He hit .221 with three homers and ten RBIs. In 2004, he was back in Triple-A, getting a brief recall to the majors in late April. Rivera played seven games for the Pirates before being sent back down, which ended up being his last Major League action. He batted .292 with 19 doubles and 17 homers in 93 games for Nashville of the Pacific Coast League that season. He was released by the Pirates after the season, then signed a minor league deal with the Houston Astros. He spent all of 2005 in Triple-A for the Astros, then all of 2006 was spent in Triple-A for the Colorado Rockies. Rivero was still an active player in the Mexican League up until 2015. He also played in China for a brief time and he played independent ball as well. He also played ten seasons of winter ball in Puerto Rico. He had over 2,500 hits as a pro, almost 1,400 RBIs and 275 homers.
Pokey Reese, second baseman for the 2002-03 Pirates. He was a first round draft pick in 1991 by the Cincinnati Reds and a top prospect in the minors for five years as he worked his way from an 18-year-old high school draft pick to the big leagues. He began his pro career in the Appalachian League, where he hit .238 with 16 extra-base hits and ten steals in 62 games. He moved up to Low-A the next season and put up a .696 OPS and 19 steals in 106 games. The Reds skipped him to Double-A in 1993 at 20 years old and he hit just .212 in 102 games, with low power/walk numbers, resulting in a .568 OPS. He did much better in his second run at Double-A, playing for the Chattanooga Lookouts. Reese hit .269 with 23 doubles, 12 homers and 21 steals in 25 attempts. He batted .239 with ten homers during his first season at Triple-A in 1995, then repeated the level in 1996 and a knee injury limited him to 79 games and a .232 average with one homer. Reese debuted his strong glove and above average speed in the majors on Opening Day in 1997 for the Reds. He was a shortstop by trade, although he was blocked in Cincinnati by Barry Larkin. In 1997, he saw plenty of time at that shortstop position, as Larkin missed most of the second half of the season. He hit just .219 with 25 stolen bases in 128 games, and he also spent some time back in Triple-A early in the season. The next year, Pokey (his real name is Calvin) played 56 games for the Reds, most of them spent at third base. He committed four errors at shortstop on Opening Day and was removed after seven innings. He played sporadically until July 30th when a thumb injury ended his season early. He hit .256 with one homer and three steals.
Reese would break through in 1999 as the everyday second baseman. He hit .285, with 85 runs scored, 37 doubles, ten homers and 38 stolen bases, while also winning the Gold Glove award. He batted .255 with 76 runs scored, 29 steals and a career high 12 homers in 2000, while winning another Gold Glove. Pokey’s hitting began to drop off in 2001. He hit .224 with nine homers, 25 steals and a .627 OPS in 133 games. Cincinnati traded him in the off-season, setting off a strange string of events. He was dealt to the Colorado Rockies in mid-December, who turned around and traded him to the Boston Red Sox the next day, and they released him just two days later. Reese signed with the Pirates in January 2002 and became the team’s starting second baseman. He would hit .264 with 50 RBIs in 119 games that year, while playing Gold Glove caliber defense. He played just 37 games for the Pirates in 2003 before a thumb injury, similar to one he had in 1998, put him out for the season. He left the Pirates via free agency after the 2003 season, then signed with the Red Sox, where he was a member of their 2004 World Series winning team. That would be his last season in the majors. He finished his career in the minors in 2008. Reese played 856 big league games over eight seasons, with a .248 average, 144 steals (in 170 attempts), 44 homers, 271 RBIs and 366 runs scored.
Hank Foiles, catcher for the Pirates from 1956 until 1959. He was signed by the New York Yankees out of high school in 1947, but didn’t make the majors until 1953 ,and wasn’t a regular until the 1955 season. Foiles debuted in 1948 at 19 years old, playing for Class-B Manchester of the New England League, where he hit .231 with four homers in 112 games. He moved up to Binghamton of the Eastern League (Class-A) in 1949, and also saw some time with Kansas City of the American Association, just one step away from the majors. He batted .311 with an .808 OPS for Binghamton that season. In 1950, Foiles once again split his time between Binghamton and Kansas City, hitting .319 in 53 games between the two stops. The 1951 season saw him struggle in Triple-A, playing briefly with Kansas City, while spending most of the year with Syracuse of the International League. He hit just .209 with five homers in 94 games. In 1952, he saw limited time with Ottawa of the International League, playing just 28 games all year due to a knee injury that sidelined him for most of the season. He actually joined the Cincinnati Reds that September, but never got into a game before the season ended. Foiles made his big league debut in 1953 with the Reds, who had acquired him in the Rule 5 draft over the 1951-52 winter. He was actually sold to Syracuse of the International League after the 1952 season, but the Reds held a right to repurchase him and they did before the 1953 season started. After just a couple of weeks with the Reds in which he played five games, he was sold to the Cleveland Indians, playing seven games there before returning to the minors for the rest of the 1953 season and all of 1954. He returned to the majors in 1955 and hit .261 in limited at-bats with the Indians over 62 games. After playing one game over the first month of 1956, the Pirates acquired him for first baseman Preston Ward, who Pittsburgh had acquired in the Ralph Kiner trade.
Foiles didn’t hit much that first year at the plate, but played good defense, with a strong arm. He hit .212 with seven homers in 79 games. In 1957, his defense, plus a .270 average and a .783 OPS in 109 games, got him elected to his only All-Star team. His average dropped to .205 in 1958, though his defense kept him in the lineup, led by a league leading 50% caught stealing rate, with only 34 runners testing him all year. Foiles was a backup in 1959, getting just 88 plate appearances over 53 games played, then he was traded to the Kansas City A’s in the off-season. The Pirates reacquired him in June of 1960, but it was for just one day, as he was sent back to Cleveland for outfielder John Powers the next day. He played 56 games total that season, also seeing time with the Detroit Tigers. In 1961, he spent the entire year with the Baltimore Orioles, where he hit .274 with six homers in 43 games. The next year was spent back with the Reds and he finished with 43 games played for a second straight season. He did well at the plate too in his limited time, hitting .275 with seven homers and an .836 OPS. Foiles played one game with the Reds in 1963 before being released in late May. He signed with the Los Angeles Angels and played 41 games there, hitting .214 with four homers. Foiles played until 1964 when he pinch-hit four times for the Angels. He saw some minor league time as well that season, his last in pro ball. He finished his 11-year big league career with a .243 average, 46 homers and 166 RBIs in 608 games. He hit .230 with 27 homers and 95 RBIs in 345 games for the Pirates.
Johnny Podgajny, pitcher for the 1943 Pirates. He pitched two seasons in the low minors for affiliates of the Philadelphia Phillies, before getting his first call to the majors. Podgajny went 15-10, 2.92 in 194 inning for Moultrie of the Georgia-Florida League at 19 years old in 1939. He then moved up one level and had an 18-7, 2.57 record in 214 innings at Class-C ball in 1940, before joining the Phillies. He made four September starts for Philadelphia that season, posting a 2.83 ERA in 35 innings. He was a regular in the Philadelphia rotation over the next two seasons. Podgajny had a 9-12, 4.62 record in 181.1 innings in 1941, making 24 starts and ten relief appearances. He improved his ERA to 3.91 in 186.2 innings in 1942, but it didn’t help his record, especially since the Phillies finished with a 42-109 record. He finished 6-14, which actually gave him the lowest loss total among the five regular starting pitchers for the Phillies. In 1943, he was splitting his time between starting and relieving, when the Pirates traded pitcher Dutch Dietz to get him in mid-June. Podgajny had a 20-33, 4.14 career record at the time of the deal, including a 4-4, 4.22 mark over 64 innings in 1943. For the Pirates that season, he went 0-4, 4.72 in five starts and ten relief appearances, losing each of his first four starts. He would be dealt to the St Louis Cardinals on September 30th, along with cash and outfielder Johnny Wyrostek, in exchange for pitcher Preacher Roe. Podgajny would pitch just six more Major League games, all in 1946 for the Cleveland Indians, before finishing his career in the minors four years later. He compiled 104 minor league wins, but never won in the majors after the Phillies traded him. He played for the Baltimore Orioles of the International League during the 1944-48 seasons, and managed to win 20 games in 1945, despite the fact that he mainly pitched in relief that year. Podgajny had a very odd split during his career, dominating the Chicago Cubs and struggling against everyone else (partially due to bad Phillies teams). He had a 10-5 record against the Cubs and a 10-32 record against every other team. However, his best ERA was actually against the Pirates, a 3.72 mark in 65.1 innings.
Danny MacFayden, pitcher for the 1940 Pirates. He never played a day in the minors, going right from prep school and summer league ball, to the majors with the 1926 Boston Red Sox. He pitched just three games during his first season, then split the 1927 season between starting and relief work, compiling a 5-8, 4.27 record in 160.1 innings. MacFayden became a full-time starter in 1928, going 9-15, 4.75 in 195 innings that season. He improved the next year, even if it didn’t show in his record (Red Sox were 58-96), putting together a 10-18, 3.62 season in 221 innings. He led the league with four shutouts. He went 11-14, 4.21 in 221 innings in 1930, which is actually quite an impressive ERA because 1930 was a huge year for offense all around baseball. MacFayden had his first winning season in 1931 when he went 16-12, 4.02 in a career high 269.1 innings. He pitched for Boston until June of 1932, going 52-78, 4.23 in 185 games before he was dealt to the New York Yankees. MacFayden had a 1-10, 5.10 record at the time, but the Red Sox were still able to get two players and a large amount of cash from the Yankees in the deal. His stats improved greatly with the better team, going 7-5, 3.93 to finish out the 1932 season. In 1933, he went 3-2, 5.88 in 90.1 innings, mostly pitching in relief.
He pitched in New York until 1934, going 4-3, 4.50 in 96 innings that season, before getting sold to the Cincinnati Reds in the off-season. Cincinnati let him go less than two months into the season, sending him back to the Yankees, who put him on waivers, where he was picked up by the Boston Braves. After going 6-15, 5.04 in 187.2 innings in 1935, MacFayden made a name for himself in Boston, winning 45 games from 1936 to 1938, with an ERA under 3.00 each season. He was 17-13, 2.87 over 266.2 innings in 1936, playing for a team that finished 12 games under the .500 mark. That performance earned him a ninth place finish in the MVP voting. He went 14-14, 2.93 in 246 innings in 1937, then followed it up by going 14-9, 2.95 in 29 starts and 219.2 innings in 1938. The Braves were really bad in 1939 and MacFayden’s stats slipped to an 8-14, 3.90 record in 191.2 innings. After a down year in 1939, the Pirates sent pitcher Bill Swift and cash to acquire him from Boston on December 8th. MacFayden made eight starts and 27 relief appearances for the 1940 Pirates, going 5-4, 3.55 in 91.1 innings. He was released after the season and would go on to pitch just 15 more Major League games, five for the 1941 Washington Senators and ten more for the Boston Braves in 1943, before retiring after being released following the 1943 season. He was semi-retired from May of 1941 until joining Boston for the 1943 season, spending that in between time as a coach at the prep school ranks. He had a 132-159, 3.96 career record in 465 games (334 as a starter), pitching a total of 2,706 innings in the majors.
Jap Barbeau, third baseman for the 1909 Pirates. When he joined the Pirates prior to the 1909 season, Barbeau had played 53 Major League games, although his last two full seasons were spent in the minors. He debuted in pro ball with Columbus of the American Association at 23 years old in 1905 and by the end of the season he was in the majors. He played for the Cleveland Naps (Indians) during the 1905-06 seasons, hitting .211 in 166 at-bats. He was a shortstop for Toledo of the American Association during the next two years in the minors (1907-08), hitting .295 and .282 during those seasons. He was known more for his glove than his bat and the Pirates purchased him to play third base, as shortstop was manned at the time by Honus Wagner, although some papers disagreed with that when he was acquired. On July 16, 1908, it was announced that the Pirates purchased his contract from Toledo, with the understanding that he would report to the team for Spring Training of 1909. Some papers noted that he would be replacing Wagner at shortstop in 1909. There was a thought around that time that Wagner could retire, though he ended up playing another nine seasons in the majors.
Barbeau was described as a weak hitter, standing just 5’5″, 140 pounds, and his Major League stats prove that fact, as he hit .225 in 199 games with no homers during his four-year career. He was able to collect his share of homers in the minors, hitting 11 one season for Kansas City, which was no small feat during the deadball era. He was fast, stealing 30+ bases in three seasons during his pro career. Playing out of position for the 1909 Pirates, Barbeau struggled at the plate and in the field, hitting .220 in 91 games with 29 errors. In mid-August, as the team geared up for their playoff run, Jap (first name was William) was traded to the St Louis Cardinals, along with infielder Alan Storke, for third baseman Bobby Byrne, who was known as a strong fielder at the hot corner. Barbeau batted .251 in 48 games with the Cardinals to finish out the 1909 season. He ended up the year with 33 steals. He played with St Louis through May of 1910, hitting .190 in seven games, before returning to the minors for good, where he played another ten seasons. Most of that time was spent in the American Association, playing with Kansas City from 1910 through 1913, then with Milwaukee during the 1914-15 and 1917-18 seasons. He also played briefly with St Paul during the 1918 season. Barbeau spent the 1916 season playing for Oakland of the Pacific Coast League.