There have been four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including a Hall of Fame pitcher. Also a Game Rewind link below, and then one player still technically with the team, mentioned below just because everyone gets a bio.
Goose Gossage, relief pitcher for the 1977 Pirates. He was a ninth round draft pick out of high school by the Chicago White Sox in 1970. Gossage pitched well in a brief stint in the Gulf Coast League, but the White Sox pushed him to A-Ball (Appleton of the Midwest League) to finish his rookie year and it did not go well, with a 5.91 ERA in 35 innings. In 1971 he returned to Appleton for the entire season. He was a starter then and had an incredible year, going 18-2, 1.83 in 187 innings, with 15 complete games and seven shutouts. He made the jump to the majors in 1972 and had a great record, but mediocre overall results. He went 7-1, 4.28 in 80 innings, mostly pitching in long relief. Gossage spent part of the 1973 season back in the minors. While with Chicago that year, he had a 7.43 ERA in 49.2 innings. In 1974, he went 4-6, 4.13 in 89.1 innings over 39 outings. He broke out during the 1975 season, leading the American League with 26 saves and making his first All-Star appearance. He saw a ton of work as well, posting a 1.84 ERA in 141.2 innings over 62 appearances, all in relief. He finished sixth in the Cy Young voting and 17th in the MVP voting. The White Sox moved him to a starting role in 1976 and he did not do well, especially after June, although he was named to the All-Star team for the second time. Goose (His real first name is Richard) went 9-17, 3.94 in 224 innings, throwing 15 complete games. On December 10, 1976, the Pirates traded away outfielder Richie Zisk in a four-player deal to acquire Gossage. He moved back to a bullpen role in Pittsburgh and pitched outstanding, posting a 1.62 ERA in 72 appearances, with 11 wins and 26 saves. Gossage made the All-Star team for the third straight year and he set a career high with 151 strikeouts (in 133 innings). He became a free agent after the season, signing a six-year deal with the New York Yankees.
In his first year in New York, Gossage went 10-11, 2.01 in 134.1 innings over 63 appearances, with a league leading 27 saves. He never approached that innings total over the rest of his career. He was an All-Star, finished fifth in the Cy Young voting and 13th in the MVP voting. The Yankees won the World Series that year and he tossed six shutout innings in the series. In 1979, Gossage was 5-3, 2.62 in 58.1 innings, with 15 saves. He led the league in saves in 1980 (33) for the third and final time in his career. He had a 6-2, 2.27 record in 99 innings and made his fifth All-Star appearance. He finished third in both the Cy Young voting and the MVP voting. During the strike-shortened 1981 season, Gossage allowed just four earned runs all year. He had an 0.77 ERA in 46.2 innings. He was an All-Star again, with a fifth place finish in the Cy Young voting and a ninth place finish in the MVP race. He was dominating in the playoffs as well, throwing a total of 14.1 shutout innings over eight appearances, as the Yankees lost the World Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He made his seventh All-Star appearance over an eight-year stretch in 1982, going 4-5, 2.23 with 30 saves in 93 innings. In his final season in New York in 1983, he went 13-5, 2.27 in 87.1 innings, with 22 saves.
Gossage signed a free agent deal with the San Diego Padres and remained there for four seasons. He was an All-Star for an eighth time during his first year with the Padres, while finishing fifth in the Cy Young voting and 13th in the MVP voting. It would be the final year that he received votes for either of those awards. He went 10-6, 2.90 with 25 saves in 1984, making 62 appearances, while pitching 102.1 innings. It was the only time that he pitched over 100 innings during the final 15 years of his career, after averaging 158 innings per season during the 1975-78 seasons. Goose’s strong playoff performance didn’t carry over to San Diego, as the lost the World Series to the Detroit Tigers. He didn’t do well in the NLCS or the World Series, allowing six runs in 6.2 innings.
Gossage had a strong 1985 season, making his final All-Star appearance, while posting a 1.82 ERA in 79 innings over 50 appearances. His performance really slipped in 1986, with a 4.45 ERA in 64.2 innings. He still managed to pick up 21 saves, which would be the ninth and last time he topped the 20-save mark. He went 5-4, 3.12 in 52 innings, with 11 saves. Prior to the 1988 season, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs, where he spent one season, putting up a 4.33 ERA in 43.2 innings. He was released by the Cubs in 1989 and ended up splitting that season between the Yankees and San Francisco Giants. Gossage pitched well, putting up a 2.95 ERA in 58 innings. He became a free agent and didn’t sign a deal until January of 1991 with the Texas Rangers. That’s because he decided to spend the 1990 season in Japan. He did well in Texas, with a 3.57 ERA in 40.1 innings. He signed with the Oakland A’s in 1992 and had a 2.84 ERA in 30 appearances. He didn’t do as well in Oakland in 1993, with a 4.53 ERA in 47.2 innings. The A’s released him during Spring Training in 1994 and he signed with the Seattle Mariners. He had a 4.18 ERA in 47.1 innings, crossing over the 1,000 games pitched mark, while picking up his final career save in back-to-back appearances. His big league career ended that year, cut short by the strike in August.
Goose ended up pitching 22 seasons in the majors, playing for nine different teams over that time. He finished with nine All-Star selections, 124 wins, 310 saves and 3.01 ERA in 1,809.1 innings over 1,002 appearances. Gossage was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008, his ninth time on the ballot. We covered his one season with the Pirates in full detail here.
Beals Becker, outfielder for the 1908 Pirates. He came up to the majors in 1908 as an outfielder, but in 1906 Becker won 25 games on the mound while playing for Wichita of the Western Association. He was just 19 years old that season, in his second season of pro ball, after debuting with Little Rock of the Southern Association in 1905. His hitting became more valuable than his pitching for Wichita in 1907, going 5-5 on the mound while batting .310 in 97 games. He was purchased by the Pirates from Wichita on August 3, 1907, just a month after it was announced that the Detroit Tigers had secured an option on him. He was allowed to complete the 1907 season in Wichita and finished as the league’s leading hitter. Despite the fact that he batted over .300 both seasons in Wichita, his speed was said to be his best asset. He reported to the Pirates the following spring and made the 1908 Opening Day roster. In limited action for Pittsburgh, Becker batted .154 with no RBIs in twenty games, with 17 of those games as a right fielder. He was released on option to Little Rock of the Southern Association on June 19th, where he hit .305 in 53 games. The Pirates sold him to the Boston Doves on August 18, 1908, while the two teams were playing each other in Pittsburgh. Becker went on to play seven more years in the majors, twice batting over .300. He batted .275 in 43 games with Boston to finish out the 1908 season. In 1909, he played a career high 152 games and led the National League with 87 strikeouts. He hit .246, with 60 runs scored, a .631 OPS and 21 steals.
Becker was traded to the New York Giants just before the start of the 1910 season. He was a bench player during his first two years in New York, hitting .286 in 80 games in 1910 and .262 in 88 games in 1911, batting a total of 346 times those two years. He became a regular in 1912, when he hit .264 with 62 RBIs, 67 runs scored and 30 steals in 125 games. He was sold to the Cincinnati Reds in 1913, but his stay there was short. They traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies after 30 games. Becker had a strong 1913 season, hitting .316 with 46 extra-base hits in 118 games. He batted .325 the next season and set career highs with 76 runs scored and 66 RBIs. While he set a career best with 11 homers in 1915, his average dropped nearly 80 points and his OPS dropped 100 points. He hit .246 in 112 games that season, which ended up being his last year in the majors. Becker helped his teams get to the 1911, 1912 and 1915 World Series, though he was on the losing end all four years.
He finished his career with a .276 average, 292 RBIs and 367 runs scored in 876 games. While Becker was known for his speed early in his career and he stole 129 bases in the majors, in all four seasons where caught stealing records are available, he was successful in fewer than 50% of his stolen base attempts. His big league career was over by 1915, but he was far from done as a player, hanging around until 1925 in the minor leagues. His full minor league stats are incomplete, but it is known that he batted over .300 in six of his seven seasons with Kansas City of the American Association between 1916 and 1924. His odd name “Beals” wasn’t a nickname, it was his middle name. His first name was David.
Ward Miller, outfielder for the 1909 Pirates. He spent three years in class-D ball, the lowest level of the minors and didn’t hit well until the third season (1908) when he really broke out while playing for Wausau of the Wisconsin-Illinois League. That year he batted .382 in 124 games, an average that was 128 points higher than the next best regular on the team. The Pirates signed him for the 1909 season and he played center field 14 times through the end of May. He was hitting .143 at that point, when Pittsburgh decided to deal him to the Cincinnati Reds for outfielder/pitcher Kid Durbin and cash considerations (If Miller was doing well after 30 days, the Reds would pay the Pirates). Miller ended up hitting .310 in 43 games for the Reds over the rest of the season. In 1910, he hit .238 in 81 games for Cincinnati, seeing time at all three outfield spots, while mostly playing off of the bench. He returned to the minors for the 1911 season. After hitting .332 for Montreal of the Eastern League that year, Miller returned to the majors in 1912 with the Chicago Cubs.
He played two years in Chicago as a part-time player with drastically different results. He hit .307 in 86 games in 1912, seeing most of his time in center field. In 1913 he batted .236 in 80 games and saw more time in left field. That was followed by two years in the Federal League for the St Louis Terriers, one of many big league players to jump to the newly-formed Major League. Miller batted .294 with 50 RBIs and 59 walks over 121 games in his first year with the Terriers. He followed that up with his best big league season, hitting .306 with 63 RBIs and 80 runs scored in 154 games in 1915. The league folded after two seasons and he then spent his last two seasons in the majors with the St Louis Browns. He hit .266 in 146 games in 1916, with 50 RBIs and 72 runs scored. In 1917, he batted just .207 in 43 games, playing his final big league game on July 15th. It was back to the minors in 1918 for Miller, where he played three more years before retiring. He batted .230 for Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League in 1918, then played his final two years with Kansas City of the American Association, where he hit .318 in 148 games in 1919, then dropped to a .275 average at 35 years old during his final season of pro ball. He was a .278 career hitter in 769 games in the majors, with 322 runs scored and 221 RBIs.
Harvey Cushman, pitcher for the 1902 Pirates. At the end of the 1902 season, the Pirates played 13 doubleheaders over the last 53 days. The team had a 76-26 record going into play on August 24th, when Cushman made his Major League debut. Over a 13-day stretch, the team went 10-5 with four of those losses coming while he was on the mound. Those would be the only four games of his Major League career. He had no previous pro experience prior to joining the Pirates shortly after his 25th birthday. He was called the “Millville amateur” during his big league debut, which occurred one day after he joined the Pirates in an emergency role due to multiple injuries on the team. In his first Major League game, he lost 9-4 to the Cincinnati Reds. and pitched a complete game (seven inning contest), despite the fact he gave up all nine runs in the third inning. The catcher for Cushman once the game got out of hand was Mike Hopkins. During the time Cushman got his two-week trial, the Pirates were battling injuries and both Hopkins and an outfielder named Bill Miller were amateurs who played their only game in pro ball at this time, Miller on August 23rd and Hopkins on the 24th. Things got so bad with injuries that pitcher Jesse Tannehill was in left field during both games of the doubleheader played on the 24th, yet Pittsburgh still finished with a 103-36 record that season. Cushman made his second start on August 29th against the Chicago Cubs and lost 9-3. That would be his only home start for the Pirates. On September 2nd in Brooklyn, he pitched well, but lost 3-0. His final outing came three days later in Boston and he was wild and got hit around in a 12-1 loss. He gave up ten runs before being pulled in the second inning and replaced by Honus Wagner, who threw 5.1 innings without an earned run.
Cushman actually pitched again for the Pirates three time after his final big league game, taking the ball in exhibition games against a strong local amateur team called Homestead and a minor league teams from Utica and Rochester. He beat Utica 1-0 in ten innings, allowing just three hits and one walk on September 7th. He tossed a complete game in a 7-3 win over Homestead on September 19th and struck out 13 batters. He tied Rochester 3-3 in 11 innings, striking out 11 batters. He played three more seasons of pro ball after 1902, spending most of that time with Des Moines of the Western League, who were said to have made him and catcher Lee Fohl great offers through manager Fred Clarke as the 1902 regular season was ending for the Pirates. His career finished in Class-C ball in 1906, spending the final two year with the Braddock Infants of the Ohio-Pennsylvania League, though he isn’t credited on Baseball-Reference with the 1906 season, likely due to limited work. He pitched for an independent local team in Natrona in 1907, which appears to be his final baseball experience.
Felipe Vazquez, pitcher for the 2015-19 Pirates. Vazquez has been suspended by baseball since 2019 due to his ongoing court case, but he is still technically with the Pirates. He’s on the restricted list due to his salary, which would have been due to him if they flat out released him instead. He was originally signed by the Tampa Bays Rays as a 17-year-old international free agent out of Venezuela. He was known as Felipe Rivero back then, but legally changed his last name to Vazquez prior to the 2018 season. He spent his first two seasons in the Venezuelan Summer League, then jumped to the U.S. in 2011, when he had a 4.62 ERA in the Appalachian League. He was a starter in Low-A in 2012, going 8-8, 3.41 in 113.1 innings. In High-A in 2013, he went 9-7, 3.40 in 127 innings. He was traded to the Washington Nationals prior to the 2014 season. Vazquez missed part of the 2014 season due to injury and had to make up time in the Arizona Fall League. He had a 4.12 ERA in ten starts at Double-A and a 6.08 ERA in seven starts in the Fall. In 2015, he began the year in Triple-A, but quickly made the majors as a reliever. He posted a 2.79 ERA in 48.1 innings over 49 appearances for the Nationals. In 2016, he had a 4.53 ERA through 47 appearances when he was traded to the Pirates for Mark Melancon. In 28 appearances with the Pirates that season, he had a 3.29 ERA in 27.1 innings. He became the team closer in 2017 and he went 5-3, 1.67 in 75.1 innings over 73 games, compiling 21 saves. He was an All-Star in both 2018 and 2019, posting a 2.70 ERA and 37 saves the first year, followed by a 1.65 ERA and 28 saves in 60 innings in 2019. It’s highly unlikely that he ever plays pro ball again, though winter ball in Venezuela down the line could be possible depending on how his ongoing case plays out and whether they are willing to accept him in the league if it is a possibility. His final big league stats show a 17-13, 2.61 record in 323 games (all in relief), with 89 saves and 330.2 innings pitched.
The Game Rewind
We did a Game Rewind article on a July 5, 1923 contest between the Pirates and New York Yankees. Yes the date is correct and you can assume who starred in that game.