This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: July 23rd, Ginger Beaumont and Some Big Trades

The Pittsburgh Pirates have made four trades of note on this date, plus we also have three players born on this date.

The Trades

On this date in 2003, the Pirates traded outfielder Kenny Lofton and third baseman Aramis Ramirez, plus cash, to the Chicago Cubs for infielder Jose Hernandez, minor league pitcher Matt Bruback and a player to be named later, which turned out to be infielder Bobby Hill. A trade that was made as a salary dump, turned out to be even worse than it originally looked on paper. Ramirez wasn’t playing well for the 2003 Pirates (mostly on defense with 23 errors already), but the young third baseman was only 25 years old and 1 1/2 years removed from his monster 2001 season in which he hit .300 with 34 homers and 112 RBIs. Jose Hernandez and Kenny Lofton canceled each other out in the deal, both were pending free agents and the 2003 Pirates were going nowhere with a 44-53 record at the time of the deal. Unfortunately for the Pirates, Bruback and Hill, who came over in mid-August, did nothing to ease the pain of losing Ramirez, who was rejuvenated with his new team in a pennant race. Bruback never made the majors and Hill spent just one full season on the roster, hitting .267 with 38 RBIs in his 185 games for the Pirates, before being traded to the San Diego Padres in November of 2005 for a minor league player. Ramirez spent nine seasons in Chicago, hitting .294 with 239 homers and 806 RBIs.

On this date in 1999, the Pirates traded outfielder Jose Guillen and pitcher Jeff Sparks to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for catchers Joe Oliver and Humberto Cota. Guillen was just 23 years old at the time, in his third season with the Pirates. He showed power during his first two years, hitting 14 homers each season at a young age. However, in 1999 he had hit just one homer in 40 games and was back in Triple-A at the time of the deal. The Pirates gave up on him too soon, though he didn’t really break out until the 2003 season with the Cincinnati Reds, two years removed from his time with the Devil Rays.  The Pirates signed the 27-year-old Sparks out of independent ball in 1999 and he was a Triple-A reliever at the time of the deal. He ended up pitching 23 games over two seasons in Tampa, his only time in the majors. Cota was around with his new team longer than anyone on this list, although in his seven seasons in Pittsburgh (2001-07), he played a total of 196 games. Oliver provided immediate help behind the plate, as the Pirates looked for someone to replace the injured Jason Kendall, who would miss the rest of the year with a severe ankle injury. Oliver gave them a veteran presence, but he hit just .201 in his 45 games. He left via free agency after the season.

On this date in 1996, the Pirates dealt pitcher Danny Darwin to the Houston Astros in exchange for minor league pitcher Rich Loiselle.  Darwin was 40 years old at the time, in his 19th season in the majors. He signed with the Pirates as a free agent that February and made 19 starts, going 7-9, 3.02 in 122.1 innings. He struggled with Houston, posting a 5.95 ERA in six starts and nine relief appearances. Loiselle, a 24-year-old righty with no Major League experience, would come up to the Pirates that September, making three starts and two relief appearances. Over the next five seasons, he pitched 198 games for the Pirates, all in relief, finishing with a 9-18, 4.38 record in 224 innings. He saved 49 games, with 29 of them coming in 1997 as a rookie, when he made a career high 72 appearances.

In another deal that worked out for the Pirates, on this date in 1986 they sent pitcher Jose DeLeon to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for Bobby Bonilla. DeLeon was a 25-year-old righty, who came up in 1983 and looked good for his first two years, before leading the National League with 19 losses in 1985, and then pitching even worse in 1986, which earned him a trip down to Triple-A. Bonilla was originally with the Pirates, but they lost him in the 1985 Rule 5 draft to the White Sox. He hit .269 with two homers in 75 games for Chicago prior to the trade. DeLeon lasted in the majors until 1995 and had some effective seasons, though his overall record after leaving Pittsburgh was just 69-81, with his best season coming in 1989 for the St Louis Cardinals when he went 16-12, 3.05 and led the NL with 201 strikeouts. Bonilla went on to become a star for the Pirates, driving in 483 runs during his five full seasons with the team. From 1988 until 1991, he was named to four All-Star teams, won three Silver Slugger Awards and finished in the top 16 in NL MVP voting each year, with a second place finish in 1990, followed by third place the next year.

The Players

Mack Hillis, second baseman for the 1928 Pirates. He played just one Major League game prior to joining the Pirates. That was a mid-September 1924 game for the New York Yankees, in which he came off the bench during a 16-1 win. Hillis had one at-bat and scored one run, finishing the game at second base. He began his pro career two years earlier with Rochester of the International League, hitting .265 in 72 games. In 1923 he quit baseball for a time when his mother died, though he returned later in the year to play for a semi-pro team in Salem, Massachusetts. In 1924 he spent the season with the Atlanta Crackers of the Southern Association, hitting .257 with 22 extra-base hits in 112 games before joining the Yankees. Mack (first name was Malcolm, though he sometimes went by his middle name David) spent the next three years bouncing around the minors, playing for three different teams in three different leagues, prior to landing in 1928 with Columbia of the South Atlantic League. While there, he hit .348 with 53 extra-base hits in 111 games. He got his chance to play for the Pirates when regular second baseman Dick Bartell injured his ankle. On August 11th, the Pirates purchased his contract and noted that he was considered the best defensive second baseman in his league, though he could play all around the infield. He was also a very fast player. Making his Pittsburgh debut on August 15, 1928, Hillis hit an inside-the-park homer in his second at-bat with the team. He also handled all eight chances sent his way without an error. He ended up playing another ten games for the Pirates, hitting .250 with seven RBIs and six runs scored. When the season ended it was back to the minors for Hillis. The Pirates sent him (plus a pitcher to be named later, and cash) to Portland of the Pacific Coast League on December 13, 1928 for pitcher Larry French. He played through the 1931 season, then managed for a season (1934), without a return trip to the big leagues.

Ed Holley, pitcher for the 1934 Pirates. He was a right-handed submarine pitcher, who spent the first six years of his pro career (1922-27) pitching for the Louisville Colonels of the American Association. At 23 years old in 1923, he had a 5.63 ERA in 72 innings. The next year he went 10-12, 3.87 in 223 innings. His ERA went up slightly, but he had more work and a better record in 1925, finishing 20-7, 4.05 in 260 innings. You would expect that he got better ahead of his first chance at the majors, but that wasn’t true. Holley had a 5.72 ERA in 192 innings in 1926, and a 6.00 ERA in 144 innings the next year. In 1928, Holley got his first chance at the majors while with the Chicago Cubs. He was seldom used during the season, getting into 13 games, all but one in relief. He returned to the minors for three more years, this time with Reading of the International League for one year, then Kansas City of the American Association for the 1930-31 seasons. Holley went 14-12, 4.02 in 233 innings in 1931. He was signed by the 1932 Philadelphia Phillies and had a regular spot in their rotation for the next two seasons, going 11-14, 3.95 in 228 innings the first year, followed by a 13-15, 3.53 record in 206.2 innings in 1933 for a seventh place team. Philadelphia was even worse in 1934 and Holley was no help, going 1-8, 7.18 in 13 starts and two relief appearances. On July 12, 1934, the Pirates purchased Holley from the Phillies off of waivers, and by the next day he was with the team pitching in relief. The Pirates at the time were desperate for veteran pitching, but Holley didn’t provide help. He made four starts and failed to get past the third inning in all of them. He was 0-3, 15.43 in his five outings with a total of just 9.1 innings pitched. He made his final appearance on August 8th, though he pitched two in-season exhibition games after that date. Holley was sold to Buffalo of the International League on January 4, 1935 and he finished his career the following season (1936), right back where it started with Louisville. In the majors, he went 25-40, 4.40 in 547.2 innings.

Ginger Beaumont, center fielder for the Pirates from 1899 until 1906. His minor league career was very brief, playing the last month of the 1898 seasons for Milwaukee of the Western League with great success. The Pirates gave up two players to get Beaumont from Milwaukee during that off-season, third baseman Bill Gray and pitcher Bill Hart. It ended up being a one-sided deal in Pittsburgh’s favor. Ginger (first names was Clarence) became the Pirates everyday center fielder shortly after the season began and he had a remarkable rookie season, batting .352 in 111 games, with 90 runs scored. His average dropped well off the next season, although it was still a respectable .279 mark in 138 games, and he scored 105 runs. In 1901, the Pirates won their first National League pennant and Beaumont was a big part of that team. He led Pittsburgh with 120 runs scored and finished second on the team to Honus Wagner with his .332 average. His 36 steals were a career high, one of eight times he topped 20 steals in a season during his career. The 1902 Pirates had the best winning percentage in team history (.741) and Beaumont led the way, topping the NL with his .357 average, while scoring 100 runs for the third straight season. He also led the league in hits for the first time. As good as he was in the 1902 season, Ginger may have been better the next year as the Pirates took their third straight NL pennant, on their way to the first ever modern day World Series. He hit .341 with 68 RBIs from the lead-off spot and led the league in games played (141), plate appearances (678), runs scored (137), hits (209) and total bases (272). He had 30 doubles and 44 walks, which were both career highs. His 137 runs scored that season ranks sixth highest in team history. In the World Series against Boston, he hit .265 and scored six runs.

In 1904, Beaumont played a career high 153 games, leading the league in plate appearances again, and for a third straight time he had the most hits (185). He batted .301 with 97 runs scored and 28 steals. In 1905, he batted .328 in 103 games, seeing limited work late in the year due to what was called rheumatism. By 1906, a knee injury limited his playing time and severely cut into the speed that made him such as effective player. Beaumont stole at least 21 bases in each of his first seven seasons, but in his last year with the Pirates, he managed just one stolen base all year. He batted .265 in 80 games that year. The Pirates traded him to the Boston Doves on December 11, 1906  in a three-for-one deal to get Ed Abbaticchio. They assumed that the knee injury that slowed down Beaumont would end his effectiveness but it didn’t, at least not right away. That turned this deal into a one-sided win for Boston. He had one more big season left in him, leading the NL in hits (187) for a fourth time in 1907, when he batted .322 over 150 games. Showing that the knee was healthy, he stole 25 bases and set a career high with 14 triples. While he was a solid player over his final three seasons in the majors, he couldn’t approach his earlier standards. Beaumont batted .267 in 125 games in 1908, then hit .263 with 60 RBIs in 123 games in 1909. He was traded to the Chicago Cubs prior to the 1910 season and batted .267 in 76 games. The Cubs made (and lost) the World Series that season, though he was limited to three pinch-hit at-bats in the postseason. He finished his career with one season in the minors, playing for St Paul of the American Association.

For the Pirates, he hit .321 with 757 runs scored in 989 games, collecting 1,292 hits. His batting average ranks him eighth in team history between Hall of Famers Arky Vaughan and Pie Traynor. He was a career .311 hitter in 1,463 games, with 955 runs scored and 254 stolen bases. Beaumont was an outstanding bunter and would often collect multiple bunt base hits in the same game. In an 1899 game, he collected six bunt hits in one game.