This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: June 21st, Garrett Jones

Just two former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date. We also have a transaction of note from 1935.

The Transaction

On this date in 1935, the Pirates sold outfielder Babe Herman to the Cincinnati Reds. Herman was acquired over the winter in a five-player deal with the Chicago Cubs. He was 32 years old at the time and coming off of a season in which he batted .304/.353/.488 in 123 games. He had averaged 95 RBIs per year over his first nine seasons, so the Pirates thought they were acquiring a bat that would help them. However, Herman hit .235/.271/.358 in 26 games with the Pirates. He lost his starting job and was being used as a pinch-hitter prior to his sale to Cincinnati. With the Reds in 1935, he hit .335/.396/.516 in 92 games. He was still productive the following season, put up an .806 OPS in 119 games, but he had just 54 games remaining in his big league career, and most of those came during the 1945 season after he spent the previous 7 1/2 years in the minors.

The Players

Garrett Jones, OF/1B for the 2009-13 Pirates. He signed with the Pirates as a free agent in December of 2008. Jones had played ten seasons of pro ball already at that point, but he had just 31 games of Major League experience, all coming with the 2007 Twins. He was a 14th round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves out of high school in 1999. They released him after three seasons of playing in short-season ball, topping out in the Appalachian League. Jones was known for his power in later years, but he hit just six homers in three years with the Braves. Along with a low average/walk rate and zero speed (he went 1-for-7 in steals with Atlanta), Jones didn’t offer much, so his release wasn’t surprising, but it turned out to be a big mistake. He signed with the Minnesota Twins and went right to Low-A ball, where he hit just .202 with 11 walks and ten homers in 83 games. Despite those numbers, he moved up to High-A and put up better stats in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, where he hit .220 with 18 homers in 117 games, seeing a 78 point jump in his OPS. Jones started 2004 back in High-A and had similar results (.695 OPS vs .688 in 2003) early on, then got a promotion to Double-A and everything clicked for him at 23 years old. He hit .311 with 33 doubles and 30 homers in 122 games. He spent all of 2005 in Triple-A, where he .244 with 24 homers in 134 games. He went sent to the Arizona Fall League that year and he hit .289 with nine homers in 25 games. In 2006 his average dropped to .238, but he drew more walks and hit 32 doubles and 21 homers, while driving in 92 runs. He played winter ball in Venezuela and hit .281 with eight homers in 41 games. Jones got an early season promotion to the majors in 2007, though it was just a four-game stint. He returned for two weeks in July, then came back to stay in mid-August. He hit .208 with two homers in 31 games for the Twins.

In 2008, playing back at Rochester (Triple-A), Jones hit .279 with 23 homers and 92 RBIs, but the Twins cut ties at the end of the year. After coming to the Pirates, he began the year in Triple-A, batting .307 with 12 homers and 50 RBIs in 72 games before getting called up to the majors on July 1st. Jones went on a home run tear the rest of the way, connecting for a team-leading 21 homers in just 82 games. In 2010, he led the team with 21 homers and 86 RBIs, playing in 158 games, 106 of them as the starting first baseman. He  saw a slip in his production in 2011, batting .243 with 16 homers in 148 games. Jones got back on track in 2012, batting .274, with 28 doubles, 27 homers and 86 RBIs. He fell off again in 2013, which would mark the end of his time with the Pirates. He batted .233/.289/.419 in 144 games, with 15 homers and 51 RBIs. The Pirates let him go after the 2013 season. Jones signed with the Miami Marlins for 2014 and hit .246 with 33 doubles and 15 homers in 146 games. He was traded to the New York Yankees in the off-season and he hit .215 with five homers in 57 games, in what turned out to be his final season in the majors. In 2016, he went to Japan for his final two seasons of pro ball. With the Pirates, he was a .256 hitter in 677 games, with 100 homers and 325 RBIs. In eight big league seasons, he hit .251 with 122 homers and 400 RBIs. Despite the rough start with stolen bases in the minors, he went 28-for-38 in steals in the majors.

Spencer Adams, middle infielder for the 1923 Pirates. He began his pro career in 1921, playing for Tremonton of the Northern Utah League. It was a Class-D league (lowest level) that lasted just one season before folding. Adams dominated at the plate, hitting .432 with 28 extra-base hits in 40 games. The next year, he moved to Seattle of the Pacific Coast League, which was a big jump in competition. He batted .256 with 26 extra-base hits in 123 games, playing most of his time at second base. The Pirates would acquire Adams in December of 1922 from Seattle, in exchange for outfielder Ray Rohwer and pitcher Sheriff Blake. Adams saw very little time for the Pirates at the start of 1923, getting just two starts and a total of ten at-bats over the first two months. In July, he got five starts in a row at second base, collecting a hit in each game. He later got five starts at shortstop in late August and early September. He batted .250 for the Pirates in 25 games, scoring 11 runs and collecting six RBIs.

On December 12, 1923, the Pirates traded Adams, along with pitchers Earl Kunz and George Boehler, to the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League, in exchange for pitcher Ray Kremer. There was also cash sent to the Oaks in the deal, one which netted the Pirates 143 wins from Kremer. Adams batted .273 with 53 extra-base hits in 200 games (yes, 200) with Oakland in 1924. He reappeared in the majors in 1925, playing for the Washington Senators. He hit .273 in 39 games, going to the World Series, where he met his former team. Pittsburgh took the series in seven games, as Adams got into two of those contests off of the bench, going 0-for-1 at the plate. The next year he was purchased by the New York Yankees and returned to the World Series, again on the losing side. He hit .120 that season, getting 28 plate appearances in 28 games played. Adams moved on to the St Louis Browns for 1927, having what would not only be his best season in the majors, it would also be his last. He hit .266 with 29 RBIs and 32 runs scored in 88 games, splitting his time between second base and third base. He played for Milwaukee of the American Association in 1928, where he hit .272 with 26 extra-base hits in 133 games. Adams played another three seasons with Class-A Nashville of the Southern Association before retiring. In his Major League career, which spanned 180 games and 451 plate appearances, he failed to hit a home run. He batted .256 with 38 RBIs and 61 runs scored in four big league seasons.