Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates have been born on July 13th, starting with the best one first.
Lee Handley, third baseman for the 1937-41 and 1944-46 Pirates. He spent his first two seasons of pro ball playing for Toronto of the International League. He hit .272 in 130 games in 1935 at 21 years old. He followed that up with a .297 average in 109 games with Toronto in 1936 after he spent the first six weeks of the season in the majors. He was a member of the Cincinnati Reds organization during those first two years, before being declared a free agent by the commissioner of baseball (Judge Landis), in what was called a violation of the major-minor league agreement. The Pirates reportedly beat out nine other teams for his service by paying him $20,000 to sign with the team. The Brooklyn Dodgers were heavy after Handley, offering the Reds three players and $12,500 to acquire him before finding out that he was declared a free agent. The Reds reportedly offered him $15,000 to sign. Handley, who had hit .308 in 24 games for the Reds in 1936, became the Pirates everyday second baseman during his first year with the team. In 127 games, he hit .250 with 59 runs scored and 37 RBIs. He also made 35 errors, the second most at the position in the National League. The Pirates moved him to third base the next year and he responded with a .268 average and 91 runs scored, getting some mild MVP support along the way. Handley led all NL third baseman in assists that year. When he was first signed by the Pirates, various people around baseball said that Handley wouldn’t be able to play second base in the majors, despite Pie Traynor saying he was going to try him there. Most insisted that he was a third baseman, which ended up being true.
Over the next three seasons, Handley remained as the Pirates starting third baseman. He missed the start of the 1939 season due to a serious beaning during Spring Training. He finished the year with a .285 batting average in 101 games, with a league leading 17 stolen bases. He hit .281 in 98 games in 1940, but lost his starting job late in July, regaining the spot only during the final week of the season. In 1941, he hit .288 in 124 games, with 59 runs scored and 16 steals. Following the 1941 season, the Pirates were looking to deal Handley. He reported to Spring Training out of condition and was not only sent home with an “ailing arm”, he was suspended by the team for lack of off-season conditioning. The injured arm actually was hurt during an off-season automobile accident. He was sent to Toronto later that season and he was signed by the New York Giants, but could not make their team due to the injury. He was re-signed by the Pirates in September of 1943 after playing the 1942-43 seasons in Toronto with mediocre at best results. Handley had a .554 OPS in 1942 and saw it go up to .604 during the following season. With the Pirates from 1944-46, he played another 254 games with the team. He saw limited bench time in 1944, batting 93 times in 40 games. In 1945, he hit .298 in 312 at-bats. He saw plenty of playing time in 1946, but he hit just .238 in 116 games, with 28 RBIs and 43 runs scored.
Handley was released by the Pirates at the start of the 1947 season and spent his last year in the majors with the Philadelphia Phillies, who signed him right after the Pirates released him. During that final season, he batted .253 with with 42 RBIs in 101 games. Handley ended up playing another three years in the minors before retiring. With the Pirates, he hit .269 with 247 RBIs and 391 runs scored in 843 games. During his last season in the majors with the Phillies, he led all NL third baseman in fielding percentage with a .975 mark. His brother Gene Handley played for the 1946-47 Philadelphia Athletics.
Casey Sadler, pitcher for the 2014-15 and 2018 Pirates. He was a 25th round draft pick of the Pirates in 2010 out of Western Oklahoma State. Despite the late draft status, Sadler took four seasons to make his Major League debut. He began as a reliever in the New York-Penn League, posting a 3.00 ERA in 24 innings for State College. In his first full season in 2011, he pitched for Low-A West Virginia, where he remained in long relief, going 5-5, 2.43 in 66.2 innings over 35 appearances. He moved up to Bradenton of the Florida State League in 2012 and made 17 starts, to go along with 15 relief appearances. Sadler had a 3.73 ERA in 130.1 innings. He spent 2013 in Altoona, where he made 24 starts. He went 11-7, 3.31 in 130.1 innings, then got one start in Triple-A Indianapolis. He spent the majority of the 2014 season with Indianapolis, where he made 21 starts and had an 11-4, 3.03 ERA in 124.2 innings. The Pirates called him up four different times that year for brief stints and he had a 7.84 ERA in six relief appearances. Sadler made one spot start for the 2015 Pirates, allowing two runs over five innings. After making a total of 13 starts in Triple-A, he needed Tommy John surgery. He tried rehab first before getting the surgery, which caused him to miss the entire 2016 season and start slowly in 2017. Sadler pitched over three levels in the minors in 2017, dominating in High-A, but he got hit around later in the year in Triple-A. He did better at Triple-A in 2018 and that led to a brief return to the majors in 2018 for two games with Pittsburgh, though he allowed seven runs in 4.1 innings. He became a free agent after the season and signed with the Tampa Bay Rays on January 28, 2019. Sadler appeared in the majors in 2019 for the Rays and the Los Angeles Dodgers after a mid-season trade, posting a combined 2.14 ERA in 46.1 innings over 33 appearances. He was traded to the Chicago Cubs in January of 2020. He made ten appearances with the Cubs, allowing six runs in 9.1 innings. The Seattle Mariners picked him up off of waivers in September and he gave up seven runs in ten innings over seven appearances. He was pitching well in 2021, with a 1.64 ERA in 11 appearances, but a shoulder injury caused him to miss all of May and June. Through July 1, 2021, he had a 6-4, 3.64 record in 96.1 innings over six big league seasons. He had a 6.86 ERA in 19.2 innings with the Pirates.
Ryan Ludwick, outfielder for the 2011 Pirates. He was a second round draft pick of the Oakland A’s in 1999, selected out of UNLV. The A’s began his career in High-A ball with Modesto of the California League, where he hit .275 with four homers in 43 games. He repeated the level for all of 2000, hitting .264 with 26 doubles, 29 homers and 102 RBIs in 129 games. He moved up to Double-A in 2001, while getting a late push to Triple-A for 17 games. Ludwick batted .264 with 26 homers and 103 RBIs in 136 games between the two stops. Before he could make the majors, the A’s traded him before the 2002 season to the Texas Rangers. He joined the Rangers in June, but was sent back down after hitting .235 with one homer in 23 games. He was traded mid-season in 2003 to the Cleveland Indians, spending about half of the year in the majors. Ludwick hit .247 with seven homers and 26 RBIs in 43 big league games that season. In 2004, he played just 15 games for the Indians and was injured and in the minors for the rest of the season. He also missed time in 2005, which limited him to 54 minor league games and 19 big league contests. He had at least four significant injuries during his first four seasons in the majors. In 2006, Ludwick spent the entire season in Triple-A with the Detroit Tigers, hitting .266 with 34 doubles, 28 homers and 80 RBIs. He was signed by the Cardinals as a free agent in 2007 and turned his career around. He started off in Triple-A, but ended up playing 120 games in the majors, hitting .267 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs.
Ludwick was an All-Star for the Cardinals in 2008, hitting .299 with 40 doubles, 37 homers and 113 RBIs. He finished 16th in the MVP voting, the only year that he received MVP support. Ludwick also won his only Silver Slugger award that season. He followed that up with a 22 homer, 97 RBI season for St Louis the next year. In 2010, he split the season between the Cardinals and San Diego Padres, hitting .251 with 17 homers and 69 RBIs in 136 games. The Pirates acquired the nine-year veteran outfielder at the 2011 trading deadline from the Padres. He was hitting .238 with 11 homers and 64 RBIs in 101 games for San Diego. For Pittsburgh, he batted .232 with two homers and 11 RBIs in 38 games, splitting his time between the corner outfield spots. Ludwick became a free agent after the season and signed with the Cincinnati Reds. He spent three seasons in Cincinnati and had a strong 2012, hitting .275 with 28 doubles, 26 homers and 80 RBIs, before falling off during his last two years, combining for a -1.5 WAR in 2013-14. He hit .243 those two seasons combined in 150 games, with 11 homers and 57 RBIs. That ended up being the end of his big league career. Ludwick was a career .260 hitter over 1,065 games, with 154 homers and 587 RBIs. His brother Eric Ludwick pitched four seasons in the majors.
Clint Sodowsky, relief pitcher for the 1997 Pirates. He was a ninth round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers in 1991 at 18 years old, getting selected out of Connors State College. It’s a school that has produced seven big league players, but none have been drafted since 2002. Sodowsky spent his first two seasons with Bristol of the Appalachian League, putting up similar results both seasons. He had a 3.76 ERA in 55 innings in 1991 and a 3.54 ERA in 56 innings in 1992. He moved up to Low-A ball in 1993, pitching for Fayetteville of the South Atlantic League, where he went 14-10, 5.09 in 155.2 innings over 27 starts. He moved up to High-A in 1994, posting a 3.83 ERA in 110.1 innings in the Florida State League. The 1995 season saw him start in Double-A and advance to the majors by September. He had a 2.55 ERA in 19 starts at Double-A, and a 2.85 ERA in 60 innings over nine starts in Triple-A. He made six starts for the Tigers in September and had a 5.01 ERA in 23.1 innings. The 1996 season saw him make 19 starts in Triple-A, where he had a 3.94 ERA. In seven starts with the Tigers, he gave up 34 runs in just 24.1 innings. Sodowsky was traded to the Pirates in November of 1996 in exchange for pitcher Dan Miceli. After spending the first month of the season in the minors, the Pirates called him up in early May and put him in the bullpen. Sodowsky made 45 appearances for Pittsburgh, pitching a total of 52 innings with a 2-2, 3.63 record and 51 strikeouts. Following the season, he was lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the expansion draft. He pitched in Arizona in 1998, going 3-6, 5.68 in 77.2 innings over 45 appearances (six starts). He was traded to the St Louis Cardinals just before Opening Day in 1999. He pitched three early season games and allowed 11 runs in 6.1 innings, which proved to be the end of his big league career. He pitched another seven seasons in the minors without a return trip to the big leagues, spending time with the Kansas City Royals, Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers, Philadelphia Phillies, Florida Marlins, Atlanta Braves and an independent league team during his final season (2006). In the majors over five seasons, he was 8-14, 6.17 in 183.2 innings over 106 games.
Rich Aude, first baseman for the 1993 and 1995-96 Pirates. He was drafted by the Pirates in the second round of the 1989 draft at 17 years old out of Chatsworth HS in California, which has produced eight MLB players through the draft. Aude batted .216 with no homers in 24 games in the Gulf Coast League in 1989. The next year he moved up to Low-A, where he hit .234 with 41 walks and 30 extra-base hits in 128 games. He was up in High-A for the 1991 season, playing for Salem of the Carolina League. Aude hit .265 in 103 games, though he had just 27 walks and 17 extra-base hits. He spent the large majority of 1992 back with Salem, batting .283 with 27 doubles and 11 homers in 128 games, which included six games at Double-A. After batting .300 with 22 homers and 89 RBIs during the 1993 season, which he split between Double-A and Triple-A, Aude made his Major League debut, joining the team as a September call-up. In 13 games for the Pirates, he hit .115 with four RBIs. Aude spent the entire strike-shortened 1994 season in Triple-A, where he hit .281 with 38 doubles and 15 homers in 138 games. He made the Pirates Opening Day roster in 1995, but he was seeing limited playing time early on. He was on an 0-for-13 streak when the Pirates sent him back to Triple-A in early July. He came back up in September that year, finishing his big league season with a .248 average, two homers and 19 RBIs in 42 games. Aude was called up for a two-week stretch during the month of May in 1996, in what would turn out to be his last big league season. He played just seven games, going 4-for-16 with no walks or extra-base hits. He was let go shortly after the season ended and signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. He spent all of 1997 in Triple-A, hitting .283 with 15 homers and 59 RBIs in 100 games. He had a very brief stint in the Montreal Expos system in 1998, while spending the majority of the year in independent ball. His final season of pro ball (1999) was spent in Double-A for the Chicago White Sox, where he hit .290 with 12 homers and 85 RBIs in 129 games. He was a .225 hitter, with two homers and 24 RBIs in 62 games for the Pirates. Aude played 1,090 games in minor league ball over 11 seasons, hitting .282 with 122 homers and 646 RBIs.
Frank Bork, lefty pitcher for the 1964 Pirates. He signed with the Pirates in 1960 and spent his entire eight-year pro career as a member of the Pirates organization. Bork debuted in pro ball at 19 years old, going 15-4, 3.44 in 175 innings, with 171 strikeouts, for Hobbs of the Class-D Sophomore League. He moved up to Class-C Grand Forks of the Northern League in 1961, while also briefly seeing time with Class-B Burlington of the Three-I League that year. Bork went 8-12, 4.87 in 146 innings during the 1961 season. He was an invite to Spring Training in 1962, getting cut from the big league squad on March 19th. During that 1962 season, he spent the large majority of the year with Kinston of the Carolina League (Class-B), where he went 19-7, 2.00 in 230 innings. Bork had a 9-10, 3.50 record in 28 starts in 1963 for Triple-A Columbus, earning a spot on the Pirates Opening Day roster for the following season. He was sent back to Triple-A in mid-May after 4.50 ERA in ten appearances, then returned to the big leagues at the end of July and saw regular work. He pitched mostly out of the bullpen for the Pirates, making two starts and 31 relief appearances. He went 2-2, 4.07 with two saves in 42 innings. Bork was fighting for a job during Spring Training in 1965, but didn’t make the team. One of his last outings during spring was three innings against the Washington Senators in which he was touched up for four runs, albeit with six strikeouts. After spending all of 1965 and 1966 in the minors back with Columbus, Bork was a late September call-up in 1966, though he never got into a game. His promotion to the majors that season was delayed due to Columbus making the International League playoffs. He was among the first cuts during Spring Training in 1967. He retired after posting a 4.09 ERA in relief during the 1967 season for Macon of the Southern Association. His big league career lasted just 33 games, while he finished his minor league career with a 64-58, 3.46 record in 197 games, throwing 1,053 innings.
Jiggs Donahue, catcher for the 1900-01 Pirates. He was signed by the Pirates in September of 1900 after catching full-time for Dayton of the Interstate League. He batted .333 in 116 games, with 51 extra-base hits and 32 stolen bases. It was his fourth season in the minors, all spent in the Interstate League (three with Dayton) and his first chance at the majors. The amazing thing about Jiggs (first name was John) being a full-time catcher is the fact he threw left-handed and played the spot well enough to get a trial in the big leagues. His debut with the Pirates was in right field on September 10, 1900, replacing an injured Honus Wagner in the lineup. Donahue made his debut behind the plate later in the season, playing just three of the final 26 games, including the last game of the season. In that final contest, he hit a bases clearing triple during a five-run rally that came up short in a game called due to darkness. Jiggs was a defensive substitute in two games for the 1901 Pirates, each time failing to get a plate appearance. He was let go in July and he signed with the Milwaukee Brewers of the American League, where he hit .318 in 37 games. Donahue played for the St Louis Browns in 1902, which was just a franchise move from Milwaukee to St Louis. He batted .236 in 30 games and hit his first of four big league homers (three were inside-the-park home runs). He also spent part of that 1902 season in the minors playing in Milwaukee for an American Association club.
Donahue spent the entire 1903 season in the minors with Milwaukee and hit .342 in 123 games before returning to the majors with the 1904 Chicago White Sox. He was a first baseman by this time and he played five full seasons with Chicago, helping them to a World Series win during the 1906 season. He hit .248 with 48 RBIs and 46 runs scored in 102 games in 1904. In 1905, he batted .287 with 76 RBIs, 71 runs scored and 32 stolen bases in 149 games. During that title season in 1906, Donahue hit .257 with 70 runs scored and 36 steals in 154 games. That club won with incredible pitching, as they batted just .230 with seven homers as a team that year. Donahue batted .278 with four RBIs in the World Series. In 1907, he led the American League with 157 games played and 609 at-bats. He hit .259 with 68 RBIs and 75 runs scored. His average and playing time both dropped in 1908 and he finished with a .204 average in 93 games. After just two games in 1909, Donahue was traded to the Washington Senators, where he finished out his big league career that season by hitting .237 in 84 games. He played his final game in the minors in 1911. In nine big league seasons, he batted .255 with 327 RBIs, 319 runs scored and 143 stolen bases. He was a strong defensive first baseman, leading the American League in fielding percentage, putouts and assists for three straight seasons (1905-07). He is one of just four left-handed catchers in the history of the Pirates franchise. His brother Pat Donahue played three seasons in the majors and he was a right-handed throwing catcher.
John O’Brien, second baseman for the 1899 Pirates. He bounced around the majors and minors before joining the Pirates during the 1899 season, playing six years in the majors with five different teams over a nine-season (1891-99) time-frame. He debuted in pro ball in 1889 at 22 years old, playing in California. By 1891 he was playing for Portland of the New England League, followed by making his big league debut with the Brooklyn Grooms of the National League. O’Brien hit .246 with 26 RBIs and 22 runs scored in 43 games for Brooklyn. His only big league time over the 1892-94 seasons was four games with the 1893 Chicago Colts. His 1892 season had an interesting mid-season move. He played part of the year in California and part of the year in Lewiston, Maine, where he would end up living after being born in Canada. He traveled a lot in 1893 around his big league time, playing in Augusta, Georgia and Dover, New Hampshire. Even his 1894 season was split, with a .319 average and 41 steals in 67 games for Nashville of the Southern Association, as well as a .330 average and 14 steals for Buffalo of the Eastern League. He returned to the majors in 1895 with the Louisville Colonels as their full-time second baseman. In 128 games, he hit .256 with 82 runs scored and 50 RBIs. He split the 1896 season between Louisville and the Washington Senators. O’Brien hit .339 in 49 games with Louisville and .267 in 73 games with Washington. For the 1897 Senators, he batted .244 in 86 games, with 45 RBIs and 37 runs scored. His 1898 season was split between two teams in the Eastern League, seeing time with Syracuse and Montreal, playing a total of 110 games. The Pirates purchased the second baseman from the Baltimore Orioles in mid-June of 1899, after he hit .193 with 17 RBIs in 39 games over the first two months of the season. For Pittsburgh, he played 79 games (all at second base) and batted .226 with 33 RBIs and 26 runs scored. In December, he was sent to the Louisville Colonels in the 17-player deal often referred to as the Honus Wagner trade, which brought a ton of talent to Pittsburgh while giving up almost nothing. When Louisville folded shortly after that deal was made, O’Brien was given back to the Pirates, who released him before he could play another game for the team. That move ended his big league career. He returned to the minors in 1900, in what ended up as his final season of pro ball. O’Brien was a career .254 hitter in 501 Major League games.