Six former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus a trade of note.
On this date in 1992, the Pirates traded third baseman Steve Buechele to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for pitcher Danny Jackson. With the Pirates fighting to stay over .500 in July after winning the National League pennant two years in a row, they moved third baseman Buechele to the Cubs for a veteran pitcher and slid Jeff King over to a full-time role at third base for the rest of the season. Jackson was a 30-year-old lefty, who had won 23 games for the 1988 Cincinnati Reds team that won the World Series. He was also a key pitcher for the 1985 Kansas City Royals World Series winning team. At the time of this deal, he was 4-9, 4.22 in 19 starts with the Cubs. Buechele was also 30 years old, in his eighth season in the majors, second with the Pirates. He was hitting .249 with eight homers and 43 RBIs in 80 games at the time of the deal. His 1991 season was his best, which was split between the Pirates and Texas Rangers. He hit .262 with 22 homers and 85 RBIs in 152 games. He was a mainstay in the lineup early in his career, four times playing 152+ games in a season.
After the deal, Buechele raised his average to .276 with Chicago, although he didn’t hit for any power, with just one homer in 65 games. He ended up playing three more seasons with the Cubs, prior to finishing his career back with the Rangers in July of 1995. In 1993, he led all NL third basemen in fielding percentage. For the Pirates, Jackson went 4-4, 3.36 in 88.1 innings over 15 starts. He started game two of the NLCS and took the loss after giving up four runs in the second inning. The Pirates lost him to the Florida Marlins in the November 1992 expansion draft. Jackson ended up with the Philadelphia Phillies before the 1993 season started and in two seasons with them, he went 26-17, 3.53 in 389.2 innings, helping them to the 1993 World Series. He signed with the St Louis Cardinals in December of 1994 and his last three seasons were a disaster, going 5-22 combined with the Cardinals and San Diego Padres.
Johnny Barbato, pitcher for the 2017 Pirates. He was originally a sixth round draft pick out of high school by the San Diego Padres in 2010. He signed at the deadline and didn’t debut until 2011, playing for Eugene of the Northwest League, where he had a 4.89 ERA in 57 innings. In 2012, he moved up to full-season ball and switched to a relief role. In 48 appearances for Fort Wayne of the Midwest League, Barbato had a 1.84 ERA in 73.1 innings. He moved up to the high-offense California League in 2013, where he made seven starts and also had 14 saves. He had a 5.01 ERA in 88 innings. The Padres sent him to the Arizona Fall League after the season and he had a 5.79 ERA in five starts. He spent 2014 in Double-A, going 2-2, 2.87 in 31.1 innings over 27 appearances, with 16 saves. The New York Yankees traded for him on December 29, 2014. Barbato split the 2015 season between Double-A and Triple-A, with much better results at the higher level, where he allowed one run in 25 innings. He had one season of big league experience before going to Pittsburgh, pitching a little less than two months for the Yankees in 2016. In 13 relief appearances, he had a 7.62 ERA in 13 innings. He was with the team on Opening Day, before being sent down five weeks later. In August, he returned for one appearance and allowed three runs without recording an out. The Pirates acquired Barbato in April of 2017 from the Yankees for minor league pitcher Matt Frawley. For the 2017 Pirates, he made 24 appearances (all in relief), putting up a 4.08 ERA in 28.2 innings. After the season, he was lost on waivers to the Detroit Tigers. Barbato made seven appearances for Detroit in 2018, allowing nine runs in 6.2 innings. He signed in Japan for the 2019 season, then returned to the U.S. in 2020, where he played for two different independent league teams. He started in indy ball in 2021, before joining the Toronto Blue Jays in June, where he currently plays in Double-A. In three big league seasons, he has a 6.14 ERA in 48.1 innings over 44 appearances.
Javier Lopez, pitcher for the 2010 Pirates. He was originally a fourth round draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 1998 out of the University of Virginia. Lopez spent his first two seasons of minor league ball with South Bend of the Midwest League, where he was a starting pitcher. He struggled, throwing 143 innings total, with a 6.55 ERA in 1998 and a 6.00 ERA in 1999. He remained a starter in 2000 and moved up to High-A. His 5.22 ERA sounds like a minimal improvement at best, but he was playing for High Desert in the California League, which is a much more hitter-friendly place than South Bend, so it really was a step forward. Lopez moved to relief in 2001 and split the season between High-A and Double-A, posting a combined 5.63 ERA in 64 innings, with much better results in High-A (2.63 ERA vs 7.43). He spent all of 2002 in Double-A, posting a 2.72 ERA in 46.1 innings over 61 appearances. The Boston Red Sox took him in the Rule 5 draft following the 2002 season, then traded him to the Colorado Rockies during Spring Training in 2003. He remained in the majors for the entire season and was used often, mainly as a lefty specialist. Lopez had a 3.70 ERA in 75 appearances, throwing a total of 58.1 innings. Lopez split his time between the minors and majors each season from 2004 until 2007. His minor league stay in 2004 was short, but his time in the majors was very rough. He had a 7.52 ERA in 40.2 innings over 64 games. The Rockies lost him on waivers early in 2005 after a poor start to his season. He returned to the Diamondbacks, where he made 29 big league relief appearances and had a 9.42 ERA.
Lopez became a free agent after the 2005 season and he signed with the Chicago White Sox. He was in the minors until a June 15th trade sent him to the Red Sox. He came up to the majors and pitched great, posting a 2.70 ERA in 27 appearances. He became a regular in the Red Sox bullpen during their 2007 World Series winning season, going 2-1, 3.10 in 40.2 innings over 61 games. He followed up with a strong 2008 season, posting a 2.43 ERA in 70 appearances. His 2009 season was a tough one. He started off slowly in April, seemed to rebound at the end of the month, then had four straight poor outings, which led to him being sent to the minors for the rest of the year. He finished with a 9.26 ERA in 14 games with Boston that season. He was granted free agency in October of 2009 and the Pirates picked him up two months later. Lopez became the Pirates lefty specialist, pitching a total of 38.2 innings in 50 appearances, with a 2-2, 2.79 record. On July 31, 2010, the Pirates traded him to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for outfielder John Bowker and pitcher Joe Martinez. He helped the Giants to a World Series win that season two other World Series wins (2012 and 2014) during his time in San Francisco. He had a 1.42 ERA in 19 innings after the deal in 2010, then allowed one run over nine appearances in the playoffs. Lopez went 5-2, 2.72 in 70 games in 2011, then helped the Giants to their second title in three years with a 2.50 ERA in 70 games in 2012. He pitched just 36 innings total that year, which was smart managing because he had real trouble with right-handed batters. They had a .979 OPS against him, while lefties had a .573 OPS. In the playoffs, he made five scoreless appearances, though he didn’t get into the World Series.
In 2013, Lopez went 4-2, 1.83 in 69 games, with 39.1 innings pitched. In the 2014 season, he saw his ERA go up to 3.11 in 37.2 innings over 65 games. He made nine scoreless relief appearances in the playoffs, three in each round. He had his best season in 2015, excelling in his limited role with a 1.60 ERA in 39.1 innings over 77 outings. In his final season in the majors, he had a 4.05 ERA in 68 games, while throwing just 26.2 innings. He faced just 118 batters all season, averaging fewer than two full batters per game. Lopez retired after the season. He had a 3.48 ERA in 839 appearances, though as a lefty specialist, he pitched just 533.1 innings in the majors. He picked up 14 saves, with half of those coming during the 2012 season.
Ed Ott, catcher for the 1974-80 Pirates. He was drafted by the Pirates in the 23rd round of the 1970 draft out of high school. He reported to Niagara Falls of the New York-Penn League after signing and he hit .291 in 61 games, with no homers. Ott was an outfielder then, and only played outfield during his first three seasons of pro ball. In 1971, he batted .292 with ten homers and ten steals in 105 games for Monroe of the Western Carolinas League. He had a strong season for Salem of the Carolina League in 1972, hitting .304 with 35 extra-base hits and 85 walks in 133 games. Ott advanced to Triple-A Charleston in 1973 and he caught for the first time, though it was literally one time. He remained in the outfield and batted .261 in 126 games, with fewer walks and extra-base hits, leading to a 165-point drop in his OPS. He repeated Triple-A in 1974 and his average/OBP were almost identical in 121 games, but he added 71 points to his slugging percentage. He joined the Pirates for a few weeks in the middle of the season, but didn’t play in the majors in September. The Pirates tried him for five games at third base in the minors that season, but he was still mainly an outfielder. That changed in 1975 when he caught 116 games for Charleston. His hitting improved as well, despite the move to a tougher position. Ott put up a .790 OPS, 32 points higher than the previous season. He returned to the Pirates in September as a seldom-used bench player who didn’t make a single start for a second straight stint in the majors.
While he made it to the majors during the 1974-75 seasons, Ott played a total of just 12 games, with ten at-bats. His was with the Pirates during the entire 1976 season, although his time was very limited, hitting .308 in 39 at-bats, with just five starts the whole year. His first big league start came on September 23, 1976, which was the 35th game of his career. In 1977, Pittsburgh traded away Manny Sanguillen and Ott became the starting catcher. In 104 games, he batted .264 with seven homers and 38 RBIs, throwing out 42% of would-be base stealers. He saw slightly more time during the following season, going to bat 63 more times (410 total) and finishing with a .269 average, and (again) 38 RBIs. Ott had a little trouble defensively, committing a league high 15 errors behind the plate. His defense improved greatly the next year and he had his best year at the plate, as the Pirates took the 1979 World Series. He finished second in fielding percentage among National League catchers and drove in a career high 51 runs. In the World Series, he hit .333 with three RBIs, catching three of the seven games. He played a career high 120 games in 1980, batting .260 with 41 RBIs, but the Pirates had catching prospect Tony Pena ready to take over behind the plate by the end of the season. On April 1, 1981, the Pirates traded Ott, along with pitcher Mickey Mahler, to the California Angels in exchange for Jason Thompson. Ott played 75 games during the strike-shortened 1981 season, then missed all of 1982 with rotator cuff surgery. During a comeback attempt in Spring Training of 1983, Ott re-injured his throwing shoulder and missed all but two minor league games that season. He played 14 games at Triple-A in 1984 before deciding to retire. During his time in Pittsburgh, he hit .267 with 31 homers and 167 RBIs in 492 games.
Hal Gregg, pitcher for the 1948-1950 Pirates. He was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1941 and he made his Major League debut two years later. Gregg was a good pitcher, albeit with a lack of control on his pitches at most times. He didn’t appear to be on a fast track during his first season at 19 years old in 1941, pitching for three different low level clubs, throwing a total of 74 innings. He was with Class-C Santa Barbara of the California League in 1942, where he had a 3.66 ERA, which came with 64 walks in 64 innings. He skipped over two levels to Montreal of the International League in 1943, where he went 11-11, 3.17 in 145 innings. The Dodgers brought him to the majors in August and he had a 9.64 ERA in 18.2 innings. Gregg made 31 starts and eight relief appearances in 1944, as many of the top MLB players were serving in the military at the time. He went 9-16, 5.46 in 197.2 innings and led the National League in earned runs allowed, walks, hit batters and wild pitches. He led the NL in walks during his first two full seasons, yet still won 18 games during the 1945 season. He made 34 starts and eight relief appearances, posting a 3.47 ERA in 254.1 innings. While he walked 120 batters, it was a major improvement over 1944 when he had 137 walks in 56.2 fewer innings.
In 1946, Gregg showed the best control of his career and ended up with a 2.99 ERA in 117.1 innings, with less work due to players returning from the war effort and strengthening rosters. His numbers fell off the next season, posting a 5.87 ERA in 104.1 innings. He actually made 16 starts and 21 relief appearances that season, so he had trouble going deep in games. On December 8, 1947, the Pirates acquired Gregg in a six-player deal with the Dodgers. He saw limited action in 1948, making eight starts and 14 relief appearances, going 2-4, 4.60 in 74.1 innings. He pitched eight early season games in 1949, posting a 3.38 ERA in 18.2 innings through the end of May. On June 10th, the Pirates acquired outfielder Dino Restelli from the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League. Part of the price was Gregg being loaned to the team on option for the rest of the season. He was back with the Pirates to start 1950, but he pitched just 5.1 innings before being optioned to Indianapolis of the American Association on May 16th. He did not return to the Pirates. His final appearance with the team was a start on May 12th in which he allowed five runs in 2.1 innings. After the 1950 season, Gregg was lost in the minor league draft. He would make it back to the majors in 1952, playing 16 games for the New York Giants, before finishing his career in the minors the next season. He had a 40-48, 4.54 record in 827 innings over 200 Major League games, while going 3-6, 4.85 in 98.1 innings over 35 games for the Pirates.
Harry Wolter, pitcher for the Pirates on June 17, 1907. His pro career began on the west coast at 20 years old in 1905, two years before his big league debut. He had a big 1906 season with Fresno of the Pacific Coast League, pitching regularly and playing outfield when he wasn’t toeing the rubber. He had a 12-21, 3.22 record in 287.2 innings, while hitting .307 with 19 doubles and ten triples in 149 games. Wolter made his Major League debut during the 1907 season with the Cincinnati Reds, playing four games in the outfielder before moving on to Pittsburgh. He missed the first month of the season due to a Spring Training ankle injury, then played four straight games for the Reds between May 14th and 18th. He was put on waivers so the Reds could send him to the minors, but Barney Dreyfuss put in a claim for him and finally worked out a cash deal to acquire him on June 10th. It was said that two players who saw him play on the west coast, Joe Nealon and Tom Sheehan, recommended him to the Pirates before the deal was completed. For the Pirates, he made just one appearance and it was as a pitcher. On June 17, 1907, Wolter pitched the last two innings of a 7-3 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. He allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits and two walks. Two weeks later, he was playing for the St Louis Cardinals, where he started three games and played all three outfield positions during his 16 games with the team. The Pirates sold him to the Cardinals prior to the two teams playing on July 5th and he debuted the next day for St Louis. He spent all of 1908 in the minors, playing in California, where he hit .339 and won 25 games.
Wolter returned to the majors in 1909 with the Boston Red Sox and hit .240 in 54 games, while posting a 3.51 ERA in 59 innings. He then joined the New York Highlanders (Yankees) in 1910, playing two years as their full-time right fielder. He batted .267 with 84 runs scored and 39 steals in 135 games in 1910. In 1911, he hit .304 with 78 runs scored, 15 triples, 28 steals and 62 walks. He got off to a fast start in 1912, but he broke his leg early in the year when his spike got caught as he started a slide. He ended up hitting .344 in 12 games that season. Wolter spent the entire 1913 season with New York and his numbers were down, batting .254 with 80 walks and 13 steals in 127 games. He returned to the minors in 1914, and stayed there for three years before making it back to the big leagues for one more season. For the 1917 Chicago Cubs, he hit .249 in 117 games, with a .655 OPS. He finished out his baseball career in 1927 as a player/manager in the minors at 42 years old, though he had no playing records in pro ball from 1921 to 1926, though he managed for part of the 1926 season. In seven seasons in the majors, he hit .270 in 588 games, with 12 homers, 167 RBIs, 95 steals and 286 runs scored. His last career home run was an odd one for him. It was his second homer of the day on June 5, 1913 and it was the only one he hit over the fence. The other 11 consisted of ten inside-the-park homers and one that bounced over the fence, back when the rules declared that a home run.
Pop Schriver, catcher for the 1898-1900 Pirates. He had a long career in pro ball, playing his first game as a teenager in 1885 and his last as a 42-year-old in 1907. Pop (first name was William) even managed in the minors into the mid-1920’s after his playing career was over. He played eight games in the majors during his first season in 1886 with his hometown Brooklyn Grays of the American Association, going 1-for-21 at the plate for an .048 average. That led to him spending 1887 back in the minors, before returning to the big leagues with the Philadelphia Phillies (known as the Quakers for the 1888-89 seasons) as a platoon catcher for three years. Back in the 19th century, catching equipment was inferior and those who played the position took a beating (a lot more than they do now and now is no picnic either). So most catchers had plenty of time off, unless they could hit well, then they would play other positions on their off-days from catching. Schriver hit .194 in 40 games in 1888. He did much better in 1889, batting .265 in 55 games, though low power numbers led to a .650 OPS. He was even better in 1890, which comes with an asterisk. The talent level in the National League was watered down due to a third Major League at the time (Player’s League), so some of those who stayed in the NL benefited with their numbers on offense. He hit .274 with a .706 OPS in 57 games. In 1891, he moved on to the Chicago Colts (Cubs) for four seasons, and had an outstanding first year (in limited work), even after the talent returned to the NL. Schriver hit .333 in 27 games, with 21 RBIs and 15 runs scored. In 1892, he hit .224 in 92 games and watched his OPS drop 280 points down to a .598 mark. He rebounded the next year in 64 games, hitting .284 with 34 RBIs and 49 runs scored. In his final season in Chicago in 1894, he played a career high 98 games and hit .274 with 49 RBIs and 56 runs scored. Those sound like decent numbers, but that was a huge season for offense in baseball and his .695 OPS was eighth among regulars on the team.
Schriver then played briefly with the 1895 New York Giants, hitting .315 in 24 games. After spending part of 1895 and all of 1896 in the minors, he made the 1897 Cincinnati Reds roster, hitting .303 with 30 RBIs in 61 games. On November 10, 1897, the Pirates and Reds hooked up on a seven-player deal that saw star pitcher Pink Hawley, and star outfielder Elmer “Mike” Smith go to Cincinnati for five players, Schriver included among them. During his first two seasons in Pittsburgh, he split the catching duties with Frank Bowerman. His 1898 season was not a good one at the plate, with a .229 average and no homers in 95 games. He rebounded in 1899, hitting .281 in 92 games, with 49 RBIs and a career high 19 doubles. In 1900, the Pirates acquired Chief Zimmer and Jack O’Connor, giving the team three catchers that were all at least 34 years old, and all three were better than average players during their prime. Schriver saw about 1/3rd of the playing time and hit .293 in 37 games. The Pirates sold him to the St Louis Cardinals after the season and he hit .271 in 53 games during his final season in the majors. That year he threw out 51.6% of runners attempting to steal, the only time that he led the league in that category. He ended up playing 224 games for the Pirates, batting .260 with two homers and 93 RBIs. In 14 big league seasons, he hit .264 in 803 games, with 16 homers, 377 RBIs and 368 runs scored. In his career, he threw out 40% of would-be basestealers, giving him a total of 575 runners caught stealing over his 656 games caught. He spent the 1902-05 seasons playing for Louisville of the American Association, then finished with two seasons in Harrisburg.