The nation’s birthday is also a popular day for Pittsburgh Pirates birthdays. We have eight former players and one manager. We also have one trade to mention.
On this date in 1905, the Pirates traded shortstop George McBride to the St Louis Cardinals in exchange for infielder Dave Brain. In McBride, the Pirates were giving up a 24-year-old, light-hitting shortstop, just 30 games into his career. They had a pretty good shortstop ahead of him on the depth chart in Honus Wagner and they needed help at third base, which a position that the 26-year-old Brain had played in the majors numerous times.
Brain was the much better hitter in this trade, and as it turned out, McBride was the much better fielder. Brain lasted in Pittsburgh until the end of the season, when he was then included in the trade to get Hall of Fame pitcher Vic Willis, a move that paid off huge for the Pirates. McBride ended up playing another 14 seasons in the majors. He was strong enough defensively that he received MVP votes in four straight seasons, despite the fact he never batted higher than .235 during that time and hit a total of two homers during that four-year stretch.
Jared Hughes, pitcher for the 2011-16 Pirates. He was the fourth round pick of the Pirates in the 2006 amateur draft out of Cal State University. Three years earlier he turned down signing as a 16th round pick of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays out of high school. Hughes debuted in the New York-Penn League after signing with the Pirates, but he quickly moved to Low-A, where he had a 5.77 ERA in 48.1 innings over ten starts. The entire 2007 season was spent in Low-A, where he made 27 starts and posted an 8-9, 4.64 record in 145.1 innings. The next season was split between 21 starts in High-A and six starts with Double-A Altoona, with similar results at each level. He combined to go 5-11, 4.68 in 136.2 innings. After the season, he was sent to the Arizona Fall League, where he had a 12.39 ERA in eight starts. Hughes missed a little time during the 2009 season, but he pitched better in Altoona during seven starts and ten relief appearances, posting a 3.88 ERA in 46.1 innings. The next year saw him make 23 starts and seven relief appearances for Altoona. He had a 12-8, 5.56 record in 150.2 innings. Hughes remained at Altoona for a fourth season in 2011 and still struggled as a starter, with a 4.09 ERA in 61.2 innings. He was promoted to Indianapolis in early June and switched to relief, a move that paid off immediately. He had a 2.11 ERA in 35 appearances and received a September promotion to the majors, where he had a 4.09 ERA in 11 innings over 12 games.
Hughes didn’t play a full season in the majors until 2015, but he spent most of the 2012-14 seasons with the Pirates, playing a total of 28 games in the minors during that stretch. For the 2012 Pirates, he had a 2.85 ERA in 75.2 innings over 66 games. The next year his numbers dropped to a 4.78 ERA in 32 innings over 29 games. His best season in Pittsburgh was 2014 when he had a 1.96 ERA in 63.1 innings over 64 appearances, helping the Pirates to their second straight playoff appearance. Hughes pitched nearly as well the following year, posting a 2.28 ERA in 67 innings over 76 appearances, which helped lead to a third straight playoff appearance for the Pirates. He saw his ERA go up slightly to 3.03 in 2016 when he pitched 59.1 innings over 67 outings. With a rising salary and one year left before free agency, the Pirates cut ties with Hughes early in 2017. In six seasons in Pittsburgh, he had a 2.82 ERA in 309.1 innings over 314 appearances. He signed with the Milwaukee Brewers three days after being cut by the Pirates and basically had the same exact season as he put up in 2016. Hughes had a 3.02 ERA for the Brewers, pitching 59.2 innings over 67 appearances. The only difference over the previous year was that he recorded one extra out in the same amount of games, with the same amount of earned runs. He became a free agent after the season and signed with the Cincinnati Reds. Hughes went 4-3, 1.94 in 78.2 innings over 72 games in 2018. The 2019 season was his worst season and the Reds placed him on waivers in August, where he was picked up by the Philadelphia Phillies. He did a little better to finish the year with the Phillies, ending up with a combined 4.04 ERA in 71.2 innings over 72 games. Hughes signed with the Houston Astros in 2020, but he was released in Spring Training. The New York Mets signed him in June and he pitched 18 times during the shortened season, posting a 4.84 ERA in 22.1 innings. In the spring of 2021, he announced his retirement. Hughes went 30-26, 2.96 in 541.1 innings over 542 games in his ten-year big league career.
Brendan Donnelly, pitcher for the 2010 Pirates. It took him ten years after signing as an amateur to reach the majors, making the 2002 Anaheim Angels Opening Day roster at 30 years old. In 1992, the Chicago White Sox drafted him in the 27th round out of Colorado Mesa, but he was released after just one season. Donnelly signed with the Chicago Cubs two months later and didn’t even last a full season there. After playing independent ball in 1994, he signed a minor league deal with the Cincinnati Reds and worked his way up to Triple-A, though he gave up eight runs in 2.2 innings at that level. He spent the entire 1996-97 seasons at Double-A, posting a 5.52 ERA the first year, followed up by a 3.27 mark in 1997. He made it back to Triple-A for part of the 1998 season and did well with a 2.65 ERA in 37.1 innings, but the Reds still parted ways with him at the end of the year. Donnelly split the 1999 season between Triple-A with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays, while also seeing time in Double-A with the Pirates, and a brief stint in independent ball. Between the three affiliated stops, he had a 3.18 ERA in 73.2 innings. The 2000 season was split between the Cubs and Blue Jays in Triple-A, combining to go 4-9, 6.07 in 59.1 innings over 46 appearances. In 2001, he signed a minor league deal with the Angels and split the year between Double-A and Triple-A, putting together a 2.40 ERA at the upper level, despite playing in the ultra high offense environment of Salt Lake City.
Donnelly made the Angels Opening Day roster in 2002, but he was back in Triple-A for two months after just three appearances. Once he came back, he stayed in the majors. He finished the big league season with a 2.17 ERA in 49.2 innings over 46 games. The Angels won the World Series in 2002 and Donnelly struggled in the first two rounds, allowing six runs in 5.1 innings, but he was lights out in the World Series, making five scoreless appearances, totaling 7.2 innings. The next year he was an All-Star for the lone time in his career, posting a magnificent 1.58 ERA in 74 innings over 63 games. He missed some brief time in 2004, but still made 40 appearances and had a 3.00 ERA in 42 innings. His performance dipped a bit in his final two seasons with the Angels, posting a 3.72 ERA in 65.1 innings in 2005 and a 3.94 ERA in 64 innings in 2006. Despite the higher ERA’s, he managed to compile a 15-3 record during those two seasons. Donnelly had a successful five-year stint with Anaheim/Los Angeles, going 23-8, 2.87 in 295 innings over 276 games. The next four years he spent with four different teams, with varying results each year. He pitched well for the 2007 Boston Red Sox in brief time, putting up a 3.05 ERA in 20.1 innings while helping them to their second World Series title in four seasons. Donnelly then got bombed with the 2008 Cleveland Indians, posting an 8.56 ERA in 15 games. The next year he was dominating for the Florida Marlins after pitching half the year in the minors. Donnelly had a 1.78 ERA in 30 games for Florida. He signed with the Pirates as a free agent in January of 2010. He pitched 38 games for the team through the end of July, missing three weeks in May due to an oblique strain. Donnelly never got going with the Pirates, posting a 5.58 ERA in 30.2 innings before he was released. It was a move that ended his pro career. He pitched 386 games in the majors over nine seasons without making a start, finishing with a 32-10, 3.22 record in 385.1 innings.
Wayne Nordhagen, left fielder for the Pirates on June 19, 1982. He had an eight-year Major League career, playing a total of 502 games, which included one game for the 1982 Pirates. On June 15, 1982, the Pirates traded Bill Robinson to the Philadelphia Phillies to get Nordhagen. Four days later, he started a game in left field against the Phillies, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs in an 8-3 loss. Six days later, he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays as the player to be named later in a deal that happened on June 22nd, in which the Pirates acquired outfielder Dick Davis. The interesting thing about the trade with Davis going to the Pirates was that Nordhagen never played for the Phillies. He was acquired earlier in the day on June 15th by Philadelphia, in a trade that saw the Phillies sent Dick Davis to the Blue Jays to acquire Nordhagen. Within a ten-day stretch, the two players were traded for each other twice, with three teams involved in the deals. The second deal was made because Nordhagen had a back injury that wasn’t disclosed during the first trade.
Nordhagen was a seventh round draft pick of the New York Yankees out of Treasure Valley Community College in Canada. It’s a school that has produced six MLB players, yet their last draft pick happened in 2006. He hit .291 in the Appalachian League at 19 years old in 1968, then spent the next three seasons playing for Kingston of the Carolina League. He struggled with .233 and .230 averages during his first two years, then hit .294 with 25 doubles and 14 homers in 1971. The next year he moved up to Double-A and batted .263 with 21 doubles, 14 homers and 73 RBIs in 117 games. Nordhagen was traded to the Atlanta Braves mid-season in 1973 and spent the entire year in Triple-A. In 1974, he hit .289 with 16 homers and 77 RBIs in 112 games for Richmond of the International League. The Braves traded him in the middle of 1975 to the St Louis Cardinals and he batted .327 with 15 homers that year, but still didn’t get a call to the majors. The Philadelphia Phillies purchased his contract before the 1976 season and kept him in Triple-A until July 14th, when he was traded to the Chicago White Sox. He would make his big league debut two days later and he hit .189 in 22 games for the White Sox.
Nordhagen did well in a part-time role for the 1977-79 White Sox. He batted .315 in 52 games in 1977, posting an .839 OPS. He batted .301 in 68 games in 1978, then posted a .790 OPS in 76 games in 1979. The next year he received much more playing time and responded with a .277 average, while setting career highs with 22 doubles, 15 homers, 45 runs scored and 59 RBIs. During the strike-shortened 1981 season, he batted .308 with six homers and 33 RBIs in 65 games. He traded to the Blue Jays just before Opening Day in 1982 and before joining the Pirates, he was hitting .278 with one homer in 44 games. After returning to Toronto, Nordhagen hit .257 with no homers in 28 games. He became a free agent after the season and signed with the Chicago Cubs, but after hitting .143 in 21 games, he was released in early June of 1983. That ended his big league and pro career. He was a .282 hitter in the majors, with 39 homers and 205 RBIs. He is the uncle of Kevin Millar, who played 12 years in the majors.
Jim Minshall, pitcher for the 1974-75 Pirates. He was a second round pick of the Pirates in the 1966 draft out of Newport Catholic HS in Kentucky. He remains to this day as the only draft pick from that school. It took him nine seasons to work his way from a recent high school graduate struggling in the Appalachian League, to becoming a Major League pitcher. In that first season of pro ball, he had a 6.00 ERA in 36 innings, with 37 walks and 33 strikeouts. He remained in the Appalachian League in 1967 and improved his walk rate, while posting a 4.60 ERA in 45 innings, with 47 strikeouts. He moved up to Clinton of the Midwest League for 12 starts in 1968 and he went 4-4, 2.57 in 70 innings. Minshall advanced to Salem of the Carolina League in 1969, where he went 6-3, 3.03 in 119 innings over 18 starts. The next year for Salem he made 18 starts and eight relief appearances, going 5-8, 4.14 in 124 innings. He pitched mostly in relief for Salem in 1971, posting a 3.87 ERA in 93 innings. In 1972, playing his fourth season for Salem, Minshall went 16-1 with a 3.38 ERA in 26 starts. He finally moved up to Double-A the following year and did not pitch well, mainly due to control problems that saw him walk 91 batters in 135 innings. He finished with a 6-11, 4.13 record. He returned to Double-A the next year and pitched about the same in a relief role (4.07 ERA and a slightly higher walk rate), but still earned a mid-season promotion to Triple-A, where he posted a 2.25 ERA in 20 relief innings. He showed an incredible improvement with his control in Triple-A, walking just four batters. The Pirates called him up in September and he threw 4.1 innings over five appearances without allowing an earned run. Minshall returned to Triple-A in 1975 and pitched great. He had a 1.38 ERA in 45 appearances, striking out 64 batters in 65 innings. He was once again a September call-up, this time getting into just one game, throwing a scoreless inning on September 11th against the New York Mets in which he struck out two batters. Minshall was back in Triple-A for the 1976 season, which ended up be his last in pro ball. He had a 5.38 ERA in 77 innings during that final season. Minshall was sold to the expansion Seattle Mariners on October 14, 1976, but he didn’t make the team out of Spring Training, getting cut on March 27th. He finished his Major League career with an 0-1 record, despite a career 0.00 ERA.
Jim Nelson, pitcher for the 1970-71 Pirates. He was a 31st round draft pick out of high school in 1965 by the Pirates. His career began in the Appalachian League, where he had a 4.22 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 49 innings. Nelson had troubles in the minors adjusting to new levels. The first time he played High-A ball in 1966, he went 0-5, 7.24, yet dominated in low-A that same season, going 9-2, 1.54 in 13 games. The next season he had a 9-0 record in two levels of A-ball, before going to Double-A, where he went 0-5, 6.00 in nine games. The first year he played Triple-A (1969), he went 3-5 5.49 in 18 starts, which followed a 2.23 ERA over 97 innings in his second stint in Double-A in 1968. Nelson was back in Triple-A to start 1970, where he posted a 3.60 ERA in 35 innings. He was called up by the Pirates at the end of May in 1970 and pitched twice in relief before making three straight strong starts. On June 22nd against the St Louis Cardinals, he threw ten inning, tossing a 1-0 shutout. He made seven starts in the month of July, before moving back to the bullpen in August. He had thrown 25 innings over his three June starts, giving up just two earned runs, winning all three games. In July he had three starts in which he couldn’t get through five innings, and total that month he allowed 26 runs in 30 innings. Late in the season, he was sent down to the minors after dealing with a sore arm that had bothered him in the past.
Nelson made the Opening Day roster in 1971, pitching 17 games (two as a starter) through the middle of July, before returning to the minors on July 23rd. At the time, he had a 2.34 ERA in 34.2 innings, but pitcher Bob Moose was returning from a military stint and the choice came down to Nelson or rookie pitcher Bruce Kison. Nelson never returned to the Pirates that year, but he was voted a half share of the World Series prize money ($9,032). He talked about retiring over the off-season in 1971-72, because he was getting married and had a job lined up. He was quoted as saying the job wasn’t anything great, but he didn’t think he would ever make good money in baseball. He ended up returning for 1972 and was a late cut during Spring Training, spending that entire year at Triple-A before retiring from baseball. He was a fastball pitcher, who liked to attack hitters and claimed late in his big league time that the Pirates wanted him to spot his curveball better, but he didn’t have that type of control over the pitch.
Mel Ingram, pinch-runner for the 1929 Pirates. He was a star athlete in four sports at Gonzaga before starting his pro baseball career, also excelling in track, football and basketball. From July 24, 1929 until August 28, 1929, Ingram played his entire pro baseball career with the Pittsburgh Pirates. On July 24th, he pinch-ran for catcher Charlie Hargreaves. On August 6th, he pinch-ran for first baseman Earl Sheely in the ninth inning. On August 28th, during the second game of a doubleheader, he pinch-ran for pinch-hitter Erv Brame in the eighth inning and scored a run. He never played in the majors again and never played in the minors. His contract with the team was an odd one by today’s standards. The Pirates signed him on June 18th, with the guarantee that they would release him on September 1st so he could return home to begin work as an athletic director at a local high school. At the time the Pirates signed him, he was playing semi-pro ball for a team named “Price” in the Idaho-Washington League, a league he played in after 1929 as well. The Pirates were said to have scouted him during a 15-inning game on June 9, 1929 and then the scout talked to him after the game. After the game, Ingram told the local paper that he would probably signed with a Pacific Coast League team instead, but he had no intention of making baseball his career and he also mentioned the job he had lined up for September 1st. The Pirates expected him to report to Spring Training in 1930, but they found out in late February that he wouldn’t leave his job. A week later on March 5th, he was given his unconditional release.
Even though he never got an official at-bat with the Pirates, Ingram played some games with the team during his two months in a Pittsburgh uniform. He first played the second half of an exhibition game in left field on June 25th against Toledo. He went 1-for-2 with a walk. On July 28th, he played against a local team from Youngstown and went 3-for-4 while playing first base. He played the second half of a game against a minor league team from Albany on August 13th, playing left field and he went 0-for-1 at the plate. Ingram replaced Lloyd Waner in center field on August 18th against Binghamton and he went 0-for-1 that day too. Finally, on August 26th, he replaced Waner again in center against Bridgeport of the Eastern League in a game lost by the Pirates. Ingram went 1-for-1 with a hit-by-pitch and two runs scored.
Stump Edington, right fielder for the 1912 Pirates. He had a long minor league career that began in 1910 at 18 years old and ended in 1928, but for Edington, his big league career lasted just 15 games for the 1912 Pirates. He was playing for Lexington of the Blue Grass League when the Pirates signed him in mid-June of 1912. Edington paid his own way just to get to the Pirates so he could get a trial with the team, traveling from Kentucky to Pittsburgh for his chance at the majors. The Pirates had two stars in right field, Mike Donlin and Chief Wilson (played center field when Donlin wasn’t injured), so it was of little surprise that Edington didn’t stick around despite hitting .302 with 12 RBIs in his 15 games. His Major League career was over by the middle of July, just after his 21st birthday. The Pirates had the option of keeping him, which had to be closed with Lexington before he became Pittsburgh property. It was said that they closed the deal on June 26th, just 2 1/2 weeks before his final big league game. He was actually injured for a short time, which limited him to 15 games, including just one game after the July 9th injury, pinch-hitting on the 13th. He was around for 11 more days before being sold to Wheeling of the Central League. It was said that he could rejoin the Pirates, but he ended up being sold to Fort Wayne of the Central League before the year ended, then they sold him to Columbus of the American Association in October of 1912. Stump batted over .300 numerous times in the minors, spending his last six seasons playing in the Texas League. His stay in Fort Worth in 1912 was extremely brief, but he ended up playing there during the 1923-26 seasons. He began as a pitcher and did some pitching a short time after being sent to Wheeling by the Pirates, but never took the mound in the majors, and he has no pitching records after 1912. His career ended up as a player-manager, when he hit .341 in 61 games for Raleigh of the Piedmont League in 1928. His actual first name was Jacob, though he was called by his middle name Frank while in Pittsburgh. He also had the nickname “Bugs” in the minors.
Lou Manske, pitcher for the 1906 Pirates. He pitched seven seasons in the minors, going 85-68, twice winning 20+ games in a season (there are no ERAs available for any of his minor league seasons). In the middle of that minor league career, he was property of the Pittsburgh Pirates for just under six months. He began his career with Milwaukee of the American Association as a 19-year-old in 1904. Manske won 20 games in 1905, while pitching 357 innings for Des Moines of the Western League. He was there for the second straight year in 1906 and posted a 23-10 record in 33 games through mid-August. The Pirates purchased his contract from Des Moines on August 20, 1906, reportedly for $2,500. He made his Major League debut on August 31st as a starter against the St Louis Cardinals. He went five innings, giving up three runs on ten hits and took a no-decision in the eventual 7-5 Pirates victory. It’s interesting to note that he was credited with the win at the time and he left after five innings with a lead, but the win is now credited to Hall of Famer Vic Willis, who gave up two runs over four innings of relief work. Manske made a relief appearance seven days later, allowing three runs over three innings, then never pitched in the majors again. He did however pitch a complete game in an exhibition contest on September 14th against a local team from Washington, Pa. Manske tossed a complete game in the 6-2 win and he collected two hits. The Pirates kept him through most of the off-season, but manager Fred Clarke wanted a smaller group of players at Spring Training in 1907 and Manske was one of four players (all pitchers) cut on February 9, 1907. Manske was sent back to his team in Des Moines, though he ended up spending the 1907 season with Minneapolis of the American Association, where he went 12-6 and threw 157 innings. He was back with his original team in Milwaukee for the 1908-09 seasons, putting together a 24-29 record in 454 innings. He finished his career in 1910 playing for St Joseph of the Western League.
Chuck Tanner, manager for the 1977-85 Pirates. He began his pro career as a player, spending parts of eight seasons in the majors. Tanner was an outfielder, who hit .261 in 396 games. He began managing in the minors in 1963, seven years before his first Major League managerial job with the Chicago White Sox. In six years in Chicago (1970-75), he went 401-414, finishing as high as second place in the standings in 1972. In 1976, he took over the Oakland A’s and led them to a second place finish. On November 5, 1976, the Pirates traded Manny Sanguillen and $100,000 to the A’s in exchange for Tanner. He went on to manage nine seasons in Pittsburgh, leading them to the 1979 World Series victory, as well as three second place finishes (1977, 78 and 83). He had six winning seasons with the Pirates. He went 711-685 in Pittsburgh before moving on to the Atlanta Braves for his last three seasons of managing. He went 153-208 in Atlanta and never finished higher than fifth place After his managerial days, he held numerous spots in baseball, working five years in the Cleveland Indians front office, before taking a senior adviser to the GM spot with the Pirates in 2007, he last job in baseball before his passing in 2011. Tanner ranks 32nd all-time in managerial wins with 1,352. His son Bruce pitched in the majors and was a pitching coach at one time in the Pirates farm system.