Two trades of note and seven former players born on this date.
On this date in 1982, the Pirates acquired Larry McWilliams from the Atlanta Braves for Pascual Perez and a player to be named later. McWilliams was a tall, lanky, 28-year-old lefty, who was moved to the bullpen after struggling for two seasons as a starter. He had a strong rookie season in 1978, but four years later, he was 2-3, 6.21 in 27 appearances for the 1982 Braves. Perez had spent half of the 1981 season with the Pirates, going 2-7 3.96 in 13 starts and four relief appearances. In 1982, the 25 year old was back in Triple-A, where he remained until the trade.
After the deal, Perez became an All-Star for the Braves, although that star quickly faded. He won 29 games between the 1983-84 seasons, then dropped to 1-13 in 1985 and didn’t pitch the following season. He returned in 1987 for five more seasons, winning as many as 12 games (1988) in a year. In September, the Pirates completed the deal, sending Atlanta minor league infielder Carlos Rios, who never made the majors. McWilliams had success with the Pirates after the trade, winning 43 games over his 4 1/2 seasons in Pittsburgh, before returning to Atlanta as a free agent in 1987. He won 15 games in 1983 and finished fifth in the National League Cy Young voting. That season was covered here in detail.
On this date in 2009, the Pirates sent outfielder Nyjer Morgan and lefty pitcher Sean Burnett to the Washington Nationals in exchange for outfielder Lastings Milledge and reliever Joel Hanrahan. The two outfielders in this deal basically canceled each other out. Milledge was a big prospect at one point, but he had some off-field issues and his career never panned out. Morgan was a 33rd round pick who scratched his way to the majors, putting up a 6.8 WAR in seven seasons, though most of it came after he left Washington. Both players had a 1.0 WAR with their new team after the deal.
The Pirates gave up on Burnett, who was their first round pick in 2000, after he had a few injuries that slowed his progress. History has credited the Pirates with winning this deal, partially because Hanrahan netted them Mark Melancon in a later trade. However, Burnett pitched well for Washington, posting a 2.82 ERA over 255 appearances in five seasons. Before the Melancon trade, Hanrahan spent four years in Pittsburgh and posted a 2.59 ERA in 229.1 innings over 238 appearances. He saved 82 games and was named to the 2011 and 2012 All-Star games.
Drew Sutton, outfielder for the 2012 Pirates. He was originally a 38th round draft pick of the Colorado Rockies in 2002 out of Texarkana College. He decided to return to school and head to Baylor University, where he was a 15th round draft pick of the Houston Astros in 2004. He played for Tri-City of the New York-Penn League in 2004, where he hit .280 with 39 walks in 63 games. He split the 2005 season between Low-A and High-A, combining to hit .274 with 24 doubles, 16 homers and 65 walks in 105 games. The entire 2006 season was spent in High-A, where he hit .263 with 27 doubles, 15 homers and 69 walks in 125 games. Sutton moved up to Double-A Corpus Christi of the Texas League in 2007 and remained there through the end of the 2008 season. He hit .269 with 38 extra-base hits, 81 runs scored and 24 steals in just 29 attempts. In his second go through the league, he hit .317 with 102 runs scored, 39 doubles, 20 homers, 20 steals and 76 walks. He went to the Arizona Fall League after the season and he hit .315 with nine doubles and seven homers in 30 games. On April 19, 2009, Sutton was the player to be named later in a deal made three weeks earlier with the Cincinnati Reds. He spent 2 1/2 months in Triple-A with the Reds before making his big league debut on July 2nd. In 42 games, mostly off of the bench, he hit .212 with a homer and nine RBIs.
In 2010, Sutton played two games with the Reds and 11 for the Cleveland Indians after they picked him up off of waivers in August. He became a free agent after the season and signed with the Boston Red Sox. He played 31 big league game in 2011, hitting .315 with seven doubles and seven RBIs. He signed with the Atlanta Braves as a free agent in 2012 and he hit .270 in 38 games in Triple-A. In his first stint in Pittsburgh, Sutton was with the Pirates for one day on May 20, 2012. He was acquired from the Braves in a cash deal, before being moved to the Tampa Bay Rays the next day in another cash deal. Five weeks later, the Pirates got him off of waivers from the Rays. In 24 games with the Pirates, he batted .243 with one homer and seven RBIs. He was designated for assignment in July and finished the year in the minors with Triple-A Indianapolis. That ended up being his last big league season. He signed a minor league free agent deal with the Red Sox and spent the 2013 season in Triple-A. That ended up being his final season in pro ball. In his MLB career, he saw time with five teams over four seasons, hitting .256 with four homers and 37 RBIs in 128 games. Despite 20+ steals in three seasons in the minors, he didn’t steal a single base in the majors. He played both corner outfield spots and all four infield spots during his career. His first name is Steven, but he went by his middle name.
Delwyn Young, utility player for the 2009-10 Pirates. He spent eight seasons in the Los Angeles Dodgers system, hitting for average and power in the minors, although those numbers never translated to big league success. Young was drafted three times before he finally signed. He was taken out of high school by the Atlanta Braves in the 2000 draft. He went to Riverside Community College, where the Braves took him in the 29th round in 2001. He transferred Santa Barbara City College, where the Dodgers took him in the fourth round in 2002. Young did well at the start, batting .300 with ten homers in 59 games for Great Falls of the Pioneer League in 2002. In 2003, he played for South Georgia of the South Atlantic League, where he hit .323 with 38 doubles and 15 homers in 119 games. The next year he moved up to the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, where he batted .281 with 38 doubles and 22 homers. The 2005 season was split between Double-A and Triple-A and he had similar success at both levels. He combined to hit .305 with 37 doubles and 20 homers in 131 games. He spent the 2006 season in Triple-A, batting .273 with 42 doubles and 18 homers, which earned him a September call-up. Young went 0-for-5 in eight games during his first shot at the majors. He spent most of 2007 back in Triple-A, despite tearing up the league all season. In 121 games, he hit .337 with 54 doubles and 17 homers. In the majors, he batted .382 with two homers in 19 games. He spent almost the entire 2008 season with the Dodgers, except for 13 games in Triple-A. He batted .246 with one homer in 83 games for Los Angeles, getting a total of 143 plate appearances.
Young played 110 games for Los Angeles from 2006 to 2008, hitting .267 with three homers. In mid-April of 2009, the Pirates acquired him in exchange for two minor league pitchers who combined to pitch 12.1 big league innings. Young played second base, right field and pinch-hit often that first season in Pittsburgh, batting .266 with seven homers and 43 RBIs in 124 games. In 2010, he was used more often off of the bench, also adding third base to his resume temporarily. He hit .236 with seven homers and 28 RBIs in 110 games (72 as a pinch-hitter), getting 207 plate appearances. Young last appeared in the majors during that 2010 season, but he played pro ball until 2016. The Pirates let him go after the 2010 season and he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. He would attend Spring Training with the Chicago White Sox in 2012 and Washington Nationals in 2013, but he was cut before the season each time. His final five seasons of pro ball were spent between independent ball and Mexico. In five big league seasons, he was a .258 hitter over 344 games.
Chan Ho Park, pitcher for the 2010 Pirates. He signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers out of college in his home country of South Korea at 20 years old. He pitched briefly in the majors during each of his first two seasons, pitching two games each year, while throwing a total of 211.1 innings in the minors during those seasons. He was in the majors for good in 1996, going 5-5, 3.64 in 108.2 innings over ten starts and 38 relief appearances. He moved into a full-time starter role in 1997 and had a 14-8, 3.48 record in 192 innings. In 1998 he went 15-9, 3.71 in 220.2 innings, with 191 strikeouts, which ranked as the sixth highest total in the National League. Park stumbled badly in 1999, yet still had a winning record. He went 13-11, 5.23 in 194.1 innings. He rebounded the next season, going 18-10, 3.27 in 226 innings, with 217 strikeouts, which ranked second in the NL. In his final season in Los Angeles, Park went 15-11, 3.50 in 35 starts and a career high 234 innings. He made his only career All-Star appearance and he struck out a career best 218 batters, the third highest mark in the league. He signed a large free agent deal with the Texas Rangers prior to the 2002 season and struggled badly his first year. Park went 9-8, 5.75 in 145.2 innings. He was limited to 23 starts over the next two seasons due to a combo of hamstring and back injuries. He had a 7.58 ERA in 29.2 innings in 2003 and a 5.46 ERA in 95.2 innings in 2004.
After posting a 5.66 ERA in 20 starts in 2005, the Rangers traded him to the San Diego Padres. He finished 2005 by going 4-3, 5.91 in 45.2 innings. In 2006, he went 7-7, 4.81 in 136.1 innings. His 2007 season consisted of one game for the New York Mets that did not go well. He signed as a free agent back with the Dodgers in 2008, going 4-4, 3.40 in 95.1 innings over five starts and 49 relief appearances. He signed with the Philadelphia Phillies for the 2009 season and he went 3-3, 4.43 in 83.1 innings over seven starts and 38 relief appearances. The New York Yankees signed Park in 2010 and saw him go 2-1, 5.60 in 35.1 innings over 27 games. Pittsburgh took him off waivers from Yankees in August of 2010 and he was used often over the final two months of the season. Park went 2-2, 3.49 in 26 appearances, throwing a total of 28.1 innings for the Pirates. He pitched in Japan in 2011 and then Korea in 2012 before retiring. He finished his big league career with a 124-98, 4.36 record in 1,993 innings over 17 seasons. He started 287 games and he pitched 189 times in relief.
Dave Roberts, first baseman for the 1966 Pirates. He had a pro career that lasted 22 seasons, spanning from 1952 until 1973, but Roberts played only 91 games in the majors, spread out over three seasons. He was born in Panama and played his first pro game for Porterville of the Southwest International League, turning 20 years old in the middle of that first season. Roberts batted .314 for the Class-C club that year, but stayed at that same level for the next two seasons in the Northern League. He was signed by the Baltimore Orioles after hitting .269 with 36 extra-base hits for Grand Forks in 1953. He had a big season in 1954, batting .297 with 28 doubles and 33 homers for Aberdeen. Roberts skipped up three levels to San Antonio of the Texas League in 1955 and 1956. He hit just .232 in 153 games his first year, but that came with 14 homers, 84 RBIs and 101 walks. The next season he hit .275 with 99 walks and 109 runs scored, but the power numbers dropped off, with just seven homers in 539 at-bats. Roberts was sold to the Milwaukee Braves in July of 1957 and he played 144 games split over four teams and three levels that year. He spent all of 1958 back in the Texas League, where he hit .294 with 20 homers and 81 walks for Austin. The 1959 season was spent one step away from the majors, playing for Louisville of the American Association. He batted .252 with 32 extra-base hits in 133 games that year. Roberts played part of the 1960 season with the Kansas City A’s farm team, splitting the year between three teams and two leagues. He combined to hit .268 with 23 doubles and 14 homers.
Roberts split the 1961 season between A-Ball, where he hit .316 with eight homers, and Triple-A, where he batted .208 with three homers. Ten years after his first minor league game, he made his big league debut with a new expansion team, the 1962 Houston Colt .45’s. He batted .322 with 38 doubles and 15 homers Oklahoma City of the American Association during the season. Roberts was a September call-up to the majors, hitting .245 with ten RBIs in 16 games. He spent all of 1963 back in the minors with Oklahoma City, then played for Houston again in 1964, getting into 61 games that year. For most of June, he was the starting first baseman, assuming a bench role at the end of month that lasted for the rest of the season. He batted .184 with seven RBIs in 143 plate appearances that year. Pittsburgh took him in the November 1965 Rule 5 draft after he played with Oklahoma City for the entire 1965 season. Roberts lasted a month with the Pirates, going 2-for-16 at the plate with seven strikeouts, starting just two of his 14 games with the team. He was sent to Columbus of the International League after his final game on May 11th, then in September he was sold to the Baltimore Orioles. Roberts went to Japan in 1967, where he played the last six seasons of his career. He was a .196 big league hitter in 91 games, with two homers and 17 RBIs. In his pro career, he had 449 doubles, 433 homers, 1,337 RBIs and 2,611 hits. The Pirates also had a pitcher named Dave Roberts for the 1979 World Series team.
Don Gross, left-handed pitcher for the 1958-60 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Reds in 1950 at 18 years old, and he made his debut in the majors with Cincinnati five seasons later. He had a big first season, going 15-7, 3.13 in 187 innings for Muncie of the Ohio-Indiana League (Class-D). Gross split the 1951 season over three levels, with the majority of the year spent in the Class-C Pioneer League, combining to go 13-8, 2.65 in 173 innings. In 1952 he pitched just two games for Tulsa of the Texas League. He was inducted into the Army and remained there through the end of the 1953 season. When he returned in 1954, Gross spent some brief time back with Tulsa, but the majority of the year he was with Columbia of the South Atlantic League, where he went 12-9, 3.14 in 189 innings. After starting the 1955 season with Nashville of the Southern Association, he joined the Reds in July and he went 4-5, 4.14 in 67.1 innings over 11 starts and six relief appearances. In 1956, Gross had a 1.67 ERA in 54 innings for Havana of the International League, while putting up a 1.95 ERA in 69.1 innings over 12 starts and seven relief appearances with the Reds. He spent the entire 1957 season in the majors, making 16 starts and 27 relief appearances. He went 7-9, 4.31 in 148.1 innings. Gross went 14-14, 3.69 in 79 games, 34 as a starter for the Reds in three seasons. The Pirates acquired him on December 9, 1957 in exchange for pitcher Bob Purkey. Gross went 5-7, 3.98 for the 1958 Pirates, making 40 appearances (three starts) and picking up seven saves. In 1959, he pitched strictly out of the bullpen, getting into 21 games with a 1-1, 3.55 record and two saves. After being used only in a mop-up role through the end of May in 1960, he was sent to the minors, where he finished his pro career three years later without a return trip to the majors. Arm injuries limited his effectiveness during his final four seasons of pro ball. Gross was 20-22, 3.73 in 398 innings during his six seasons in the majors. He is the uncle of long-time Major League first baseman, Todd Benzinger.
Hal Smith, pitcher for the 1932-35 Pirates. He didn’t make the big leagues until age 30, and he played all four years of his Major League career with Pittsburgh. He didn’t debut in pro ball until shortly before his 24th birthday in 1926. Smith went 19-9, 2.68 in 225 innings that first season with Peoria of the Three-I League (Class-B). He split the 1927 season between Danville of the Three-I League and Houston of the Class-A Texas League. He went 13-9, 2.90 in 202 innings that year. In 1928 he was one step from the majors with Rochester of the International League, where he had a 9-15, 4.16 record in 184 innings. Smith was back with Danville in 1929, while also seeing time with another Class-C club (Fort Wayne) of the Central League. He went 8-12, 4.42 in 165 innings that year. He ended up pitching 178 innings total for three different teams during the 1930 season while compiling a 12-10 record. He went 13-6, 3.19 in 186 innings for Springfield of the Three-I League in 1931, though those records haven’t been attributed to him (they are currently listed as belonging to an “H.Smith?”) on Baseball-Reference. During the 1932 season, Smith went 17-8 in 205 innings for Kansas City of the American Association. The Pirates acquired him in August for two players and cash. On September 22, 1932, Smith made his first Major League start, throwing a complete game shutout over the Cubs. The Pirates expected big things from him in 1933 and he didn’t disappoint, going 8-7, 2.86 ERA in 145 innings. He threw two more shutouts that season. He did not pitch well or often in 1934, missing nearly two months of the season with an illness. Smith started his first game back and got hit hard in a loss, forcing the Pirates to move him to the pen where he was used sparingly the rest of the way. He finished the year 3-4, 7.20 in 50 innings over five starts and 15 relief appearances. He pitched just one early season game for the 1935 Pirates before being sent back to Kansas City, where he remained until his retirement at the end of the 1936 season. He went 12-11, 3.77 in 51 Major League games, 25 as a starter. The Pirates also had two other players named Hal Smith, both catchers. One caught for the 1965 team and the other caught for the 1960-61 team.
Johnny Miljus, pitcher for the 1927-28 Pirates. He made his Major League debut in 1915 at 20 years old, playing for his hometown Pittsburgh Rebels of the short-lived Federal League. His debut (which was also his first pro game) came on the next-to-last day of the season. When the league folded in the off-season, he went to the minors for the first time. Miljus went from the majors to Class-D, where he went 7-7, 1.53 in 118 innings in 1916. He had an 11-6 record for Binghamton of the Class-B New York State League in 1917 before getting his second cup of coffee in the majors. He had a brief trial with the Brooklyn Robins in 1917, pitching four games. After serving in the military during WWI, he returned to baseball in 1919, and made it back to Brooklyn the following year, after throwing 165 innings for Toledo of the American Association. Miljus pitched just nine games over the entire 1920 season for Brooklyn, pitching only in losses until he won the final game of the season by allowing one run over five innings. Two days later, the Robins played game one of the 1920 World Series, which they lost in seven games to the Cleveland Indians.
Miljus went 6-3, 4.23 in 93.2 innings over 28 games (nine as a starter) for the Robins in 1921, before spending the next 5 1/2 seasons in the minors. He won 12 games for Rochester of the International League in 1923, then went 15-13, 3.21 in 230 innings for Bridgeport of the Eastern League in 1924. He was a successful pitcher in the Pacific Coast League, winning 47 games and throwing 707 innings for Seattle from 1925 until July of 1927, when he joined the Pirates. He made six starts and 13 relief appearances for the National League champs that year, going 8-3, 1.90 in 75.2 innings. He pitched 6.2 innings in the World Series against the powerhouse New York Yankees team, allowing just one run. In 1928, Miljus struggled with the Pirates, going 5-7, 5.30 in 69.2 innings over ten starts and 11 relief outings. In July, Pittsburgh put him on waivers, where he was picked up by the Cleveland Indians. He went 1-4, 2.66 in 50.2 innings for Cleveland to finish out 1928, then had a 8-8, 5.19 record in 1929, with 128.1 innings pitched over 15 starts and 19 relief appearances. That spelled the end of his big league career, which saw him go 29-26, 3.92 in 457.1 innings over seven seasons. He returned to the PCL for the next four seasons, then pitched for Indianapolis of the American Association in 1934. Miljus returned for one final game in 1939 for Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League at age 44.