Five former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus four trades of note.
On this date in 2009, the Pirates traded away Jack Wilson, Ian Snell and Freddy Sanchez in two separate deals, bringing back six players total. The Pirates received four minor league pitchers, along with shortstop Ronny Cedeno and first baseman Jeff Clement. The deals didn’t particularly work out for any of the teams involved. The Pirates got nothing (except cash) from their four pitchers, losing two in the Rule 5 draft (Nathan Adcock and Brett Lorin). Tim Alderson (the return in the Sanchez deal) was traded away for a minor league veteran who never played for the Pirates, while the final player (Aaron Pribanic) was injured for a large majority of his time with the Pirates. Clement played 77 games with the Pirates and hit .193 with seven homers. Cedeno’s contributions far outweighed everyone else combined, with three seasons in Pittsburgh, in which he batted .254 with 15 homers and 91 RBIs.
The Pirates were trading Wilson on an expiring contract, so his time was nearing the end and he was making a large salary. Snell was in a different situation, struggling in the majors, but still had a normal salary and time left before free agency. Wilson ended up re-signing with Seattle and played two full seasons there, while Snell had a 5.12 ERA in 110.2 innings in Seattle, which ended up being his last stop in the majors. Sanchez was also on an expiring deal when he went to San Francisco, but just like Wilson, he re-signed with his new team. He had a .619 OPS in 2009 after the trade, but still signed with the Giants for three years, in what turned out to be a bad deal due to injuries that limited him to 171 games.
Nine years prior to trading away Jack Wilson, the Pirates traded for him, sending pitcher Jason Christiansen to the St Louis Cardinals in a straight up deal. This deal was one-sided for the Pirates, who got nine seasons and 1,159 games out of Wilson before the trade mentioned above. Wilson had 21.3 WAR for the Pirates, driven by outstanding defense. The Cardinals got just 29.1 innings and a 4.91 ERA from Christiansen, who was being used as the lefty specialist out of the pen. They traded him in the middle of 2002 for a pitcher named Kevin Joseph, who pitched just 11 big league innings.
On this date in 1916, the Pirates traded veteran second baseman Otto Knabe and catcher Art Wilson to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for veteran outfielder Frank Schulte and catcher William Fischer. Knabe was nearing the end of his career and was actually sent home by the Pirates prior to this trade because they thought that the veteran second baseman wasn’t in good enough shape to play everyday. He was once considered an All-Star caliber player, who could field his position and handle the bat well. Wilson was a 30-year-old backstop, in his first season with the Pirates, and ninth year overall. He had played in Chicago the two years prior, playing in the Federal League (a Major League at the time). He was hitting .258 in 53 games for Pittsburgh, throwing out 37% of base runners, which was below average for the day. The catcher coming back to the Pirates in the deal, Fischer, was the youngest player of the group at 25 years old. He was the opposite of Wilson that year, having success on defense, but he was hitting below .200, which was well below his .329 the previous season. The odd thing about these two being traded for each other was the fact they platooned behind the plate for the Chicago Federal League team the previous year. Schulte, just like Knabe, was a star nearing the end of his career. He was the 1911 MVP, when he had the first ever 20-20-20-20 season, hitting 31 doubles, 21 triples, 21 homers and stealing 23 bases. Schulte was hitting .296 over 72 games at the time of the trade, but it was obvious he was slowing down.
After the deal, Knabe played out the season in Chicago, then finished his career in the minors the following year. Schulte hit .239 with no homers in 85 games for Pittsburgh, before they put him on waivers in June of 1917, where he was picked up by the Philadelphia Phillies. Fischer played well after the deal, sticking with the Pirates through the end of the following year. Despite hitting .286 over 95 games that last season, the Pirates went with Walter Schmidt the next year as their starter. Fischer went to the minors, where he played off and on for the next ten years. Wilson stuck around the majors the longest of the group, playing until 1921. His time with Chicago wasn’t that good though, with a .206 average and a high error total over 117 games played.
Mike Williams, closer for the Pirates from 1998 until 2003. He was a 14th round draft pick of the Philadelphia Phillies out of Virginia Tech in 1990. He went right into the closer role in the New York-Penn League, posting a 2.30 ERA in 47 innings over 27 games, with 11 saves. He became a starter in 1991 and dominated in High-A, posting a 1.74 ERA in 14 starts. He got promoted to Double-A and posted a 3.69 ERA in 102.1 innings. Williams made three starts in Double-A in 1992 and spent the rest of the season in Triple-A, where he had a 9-1, 2.43 record in 92.2 innings. He finished the year in the majors with a 5.34 ERA in five starts. In 1993, he went 9-2, 2.87 in Triple-A and 1-3, 5.29 in the majors, making four starts and 13 relief appearances. The 1994 season saw a similar split, with 14 starts in Triple-A and eight starts/four relief outings in the majors, where he went 2-4, 5.01 in 50.1 innings. The 1995 season was spent mostly in the majors, with just three starts in Triple-A. With the Phillies that season, he went 3-3, 3.29 in 87.2 innings, with eight starts and 25 relief appearances. He spent the 1996 season as a starting pitcher, going 6-14, 5.44 in 167 innings. Williams signed with the Boston Red Sox as a free agent in 1997, but he was released before appearing in a big league game. He signed with the Kansas City Royals six weeks later and appeared briefly in the majors with them in May and June.
After pitching just ten games in the majors in 1997 with the Royals, the Pirates were able to sign Williams as a free agent that December. He didn’t become the team’s closer until his second year, but that first year he was a lights out reliever, posting a 1.94 ERA, with 59 strikeouts in 51 innings. In 1999, he went 3-4, 5.09 in 58.1 innings over 50 appearances, with 23 saves. He was better the next year, with a 3-4, 3.50 record in 72 appearances, with 24 saves and 72 innings pitched. In 2001 with the Pirates, he went 2-4, 3.67 in 41.2 innings over 40 games, with 22 saves. On July 31, 2001, the Pirates traded Williams to the Houston Astros for pitcher Tony McKnight. Williams had a 4.03 ERA in 22.1 innings over 25 outings after the deal. Pittsburgh re-signed him in the off-season as a free agent, putting him back in the closer role, where he responded with an All-Star season. He pitched 59 times, with a 2.93 ERA and a team record 46 saves, which has since been surpassed. He made the 2002 All-Star team as well, although his stats were nowhere near the previous season and he got there because every team needed a representative. Williams had a 1-3 ,6.27 record with 25 saves for the 2003 Pirates. Pittsburgh traded him to the Phillies on July 21, 2003 in exchange for minor league pitcher Frank Brooks. For Williams, his struggles continued in Philadelphia, and he never pitched in the majors again after the 2003 season. He had a 5.96 ERA in 25.2 innings over 28 appearances after the trade. In his 12 big league seasons, Williams went 32-54, 4.45 in 768.1 innings over 413 relief appearances and 55 starts. With the Pirates, he was 15-23, 3.78 in 321.2 innings. He ranks third in Pirates history in saves (140), trailing only Elroy Face and Kent Tekulve. He had just four saves outside of his time with Pittsburgh.
Tommy Gregg, outfielder for the 1987-88 Pirates. He was drafted by Pittsburgh in the seventh round of the 1985 draft out of Wake Forest. It was the third time he was drafted, with the first two times being done by the Cleveland Indians in 1981 in the ninth round out of high school and 1984 out of Wake Forest in the 32nd round. Gregg hit well in Low-A ball that first season, batting .313 in 72 games. He jumped to Double-A the next year and posted average numbers, batting .268 with 66 walks and one homer in 126 games, causing the Pirates to repeat him at the level. He broke out in 1987 playing for Double-A Harrisburg, hitting .371 with 84 walks, 82 RBIs, 35 stolen bases and 99 runs scored. Pittsburgh brought him up that September, giving him ten games off the bench. He went 2-for-8 at the plate and played all three outfield positions during his brief stay. Gregg began 1988 at Triple-A, earning a promotion back to the majors at the beginning of July. He hit .200 in 14 games, two as a starter. He was sent back to the minors in early August, then on September 1st he was sent to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for veteran infielder Ken Oberkfell. Gregg hit .345 in 11 games with the Braves that season. He split time between right field and first base and the bench in 1989, hitting .243 with six homers and 23 RBIs in 102 games. In 1990, Gregg set a career high with 124 games played, though he saw more time off of the bench, resulting in just 261 plate appearances all season. He hit .264 with 13 doubles, five homers and 32 RBIs. As a pinch-hitter he batted .353 with four homers and 17 RBIs in 59 plate appearances. He struggled in a similar role in 1991 and saw his playing time drop down to 120 plate appearances over 72 games. Gregg hit .187 with one homer, and he batted .231 with two RBIs as a pinch-hitter in 39 at-bats. Over the next six seasons his playing time was sporadic in the majors. He played 18 games for the Braves in 1992 and ten games for the Cincinnati Reds in 1993. Gregg was with the Florida Marlins for 72 games in 1995 and then he finished his big league career with 13 games for the 1997 Braves. He spent the 1994 and 1998 seasons playing in Mexico. He played eight seasons in the majors, finishing with a .243 average, 20 homers and 88 RBIs in 446 games.
Dave LaPoint, lefty pitcher for the 1988 Pirates. He was a tenth round draft pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in 1977 out of high school in New York. LaPoint was still 17 years old when he debuted in the New York-Penn League in 1977. He posted a 4.70 ERA in 69 innings. In 1978 he was with Burlington of the Midwest League, where he had a 12-12, 4.02 record in 161 innings, with 134 strikeouts. The next year was spent with Stockton of the California League, where he went 12-10, 3.15 in 180 innings, with 208 strikeouts. He jumped to Triple-A the next year and had a 2.81 ERA in 93 innings before debuting in the majors in September. LaPoint had a 6.00 ERA in 15 innings with the Brewers, and he issued 13 walks. Shortly after the season ended, he was dealt to the St Louis Cardinals in a seven-player trade that included Hall of Famers Ted Simmons and Rollie Fingers. LaPoint played just three games in the majors in 1981, then saw regular time the next season, making 21 starts and 21 relief appearances. He went 9-3, 3.42 in 152.2 innings. In the World Series against his former team, he allowed three earned runs over 8.1 innings. In 1983, he was a regular in the rotation for the full season. LaPoint went 12-9, 3.95 in 191.1 innings. His 1984 season was extremely similar, going 12-10, 3.96 in 193 innings. He was traded to the San Francisco Giants after the season, along with David Green, who was also part of the earlier trade with the Brewers. The Giants lost 100 games in 1985, so while LaPoint lowered his ERA to 3.57 in 206.2 innings, he finished the year with a 7-17 record.
Right after the 1985 season ended, LaPoint was dealt to the Detroit Tigers in a six-player trade. He went 3-6, 5.72 in 67.2 innings before being dealt to the San Diego Padres in an even up deal for pitcher Mark Thurmond on July 9th. LaPoint went 1-4, 4.26 in 61.1 innings with the Padres. He was released in December and signed a free agent deal to return to the Cardinals. He pitched just 16 innings for St Louis before they dealt him to the Chicago White Sox in late July. After the deal, he went 6-3, 2.94 in 82.2 innings.
LaPoint was with the White Sox to begin the 1988 season and was pitching well, going 10-11, 3.40 in 161.1 innings over 25 starts. In early August, the Pirates sent pitcher Barry Jones to the White Sox in an even up exchange for LaPoint. He made eight starts for the Pirates, going 4-2, 2.77, with 52 innings pitched, giving him a career high 14 wins on the year. He became a free agent at the end of the season and signed with the New York Yankees, spending two years there, before finishing his career with the 1991 Philadelphia Phillies. He went 13–19, 4.74 in 271.1 innings over 47 starts (and one relief appearance) with the Yankees. He pitched just two big league games during his final season in the majors, giving up ten runs in five innings. He was released by the Phillies in late April and finished the year playing in Triple-A for the Brewers and Chicago Cubs. He pitched in Triple-A for the Minnesota Twins in 1993 and played briefly in independent ball in 1996, his last action in pro ball. LaPoint had a career record of 80-86, 4.02 in 1,486.2 innings over 227 starts and 67 relief appearances during 12 seasons in the majors.
Erv Dusak, outfielder for the 1951-52 Pirates. He originally signed with the St Louis Cardinals in 1938, though prior to the 1946 season he had played just 18 Major League games, partially due to time missed during the war. He was 17 years old in 1938, playing Class-D ball for the first of three straight seasons. Dusak had impressive results during that time, hitting .351 with 18 homers in 67 games during his first year. That was followed by a .309 average in 134 games in 1939 and a .335 average with 56 extra-base hits in 141 games in 1940. The next year saw him play for three different minor league teams, while also making his MLB debut in September. He batted .143 in six games with the Cardinals. In 1942 he played eight April games with St Louis, then returned for four September games. He batted .185 in 27 at-bats. The next three years were spent in the military during WWII. He returned to pro ball in 1946 and went right to the majors for three years. From 1946 until 1948, he played at least 100 games each season for the Cardinals, although his average slipped to near .200 during the last year. He hit .240 with nine homers and 42 RBIs in 100 games in 1946, seeing most of his time in left field. In 1947, he hit .284 with six homers, 28 RBIs and 50 walks in 111 games, splitting his time between all three outfield spots. It was a one-year peak for him, though he set career highs with 114 games played and 60 runs scored in 1948. That year he batted .209 with six homers, 19 RBIs and 49 walks.
Dusak spent all but one game of the 1949 season in the minors, then was buried at the end of the Cardinals bench the next year. He began pitching in July and would make two late season starts, finishing 0-2, 3.72 in 36.1 innings, while getting just 12 plate appearances over the entire season. On May 17, 1951, the Pirates sent shortstop Stan Rojek to the Cardinals to get Dusak and Rocky Nelson. Dusak was being used as a mop-up pitcher exclusively in 1951 until he reached Pittsburgh. The Pirates used him almost everywhere, albeit with little playing time. He played 21 games, seeing time at six different positions, including three games on the mound, one as a starter. He was with the Pirates for the first two months of 1952, only seeing limited action in the outfield. He went to the minors in June and remained there for the next three years before retiring. While in Pittsburgh over two season, he played 41 games, hitting .273 with two homers in 71 plate appearances. In his career he batted .243 in 413 games, with 24 homers, 106 RBIs and 168 runs scored. He was 0-3, 5.33 in 54 innings as a pitcher.
George Cutshaw, second baseman for the Pirates from 1918 until 1921. Cutshaw played college ball at Notre Dame, then spent four years in the minors and six seasons with the Brooklyn Robins, before joining the Pirates in a big trade that involved two future Hall of Famers. In 1908 he debuted in pro ball with Bloomington of the Three-I League at 21 years old. The next year was split between Bloomington, where he hit .287 in 97 games, and Oakland of the Pacific Coast League, where he batted .228 in 66 games. The next two seasons were spent in Oakland, where the extended schedules of the PCL allowed him to play 429 games total. He batted just .222 in 1910, but showed a better average and slightly more power in 1911, with a .261 average and 34 extra-base hits. Despite the low averages, he debuted in the majors during the deadball era with a strong .280 average in 102 games for the 1912 Brooklyn Dodgers/Superbas (both names were used at that time). He played 147 games the next year and hit .267 with 23 doubles, 13 triples, 80 RBIs, 39 steals and 72 runs scored. That performance earned him mild MVP support. He saw the slightest drop across the board in 1914 in 153 games, hitting .257 with 22 doubles, 12 triples, 34 steals, 78 RBIs and 69 runs scored. He played 154 games the next season and saw another small drop in production, watching his .701 OPS in 1913, go down to .644 the next year and .602 in 1915. His production stayed about the same in 1916, again playing 154 games. He hit .260 with 27 extra-base hits, 27 steals and 58 runs scored. In his final season in Brooklyn (then called the Robins), he batted .259 in 135 games, with 26 extra-base hits and 22 steals.
On January 9, 1918, the Pirates sent infielder Chuck Ward and pitchers, Burleigh Grimes and Al Mamaux to the Robins in exchange for Cutshaw and outfielder Casey Stengel. Cutshaw was a .260 hitter, with 360 RBIs and 350 runs scored in 845 games while with Brooklyn. He hit .285 with 31 extra-base hits, 25 steals and 68 RBIs during that first season with the Pirates. In 1919, he batted .242 in 139 games and posted a .980 fielding percentage at second base, which broke the Major League record set in 1896 by Hall of Famer Bid McPhee, who is one of the best fielders at any position in baseball history. Cutshaw held that mark until it was broken in 1925 by Sparky Adams, who would eventually join the Pirates as part of the return in the awful Kiki Cuyler deal. In 1920, Cutshaw hit .252 in 131 games, with 47 RBIs and 56 runs scored. The following year he had a breakout year, hitting .340 in 98 games, though he missed some time in August due to a bad spike. His .776 OPS that year was easily the best of his career. Despite the strong hitting, the Pirates decided to part ways with the 35-year-old second baseman in the off-season, sending him to the Detroit Tigers for the cost of a waiver pickup. In his four seasons with Pittsburgh, he batted .275 with 219 RBIs and 204 runs scored in 494 games. Cutshaw almost retired before the 1921 season, then asked to be released following the year, figuring a change in scenery would be good for him. The Pirates saw the emergence of Cotton Tierney during the 1921 season and he had a huge year as their everyday second baseman in 1922, making Cutshaw expendable. Cutshaw had one decent season in Detroit, hitting .267 with 61 RBIs in 132 games in 1922. That earned him mild MVP support for the second time in his career. His numbers tailed off in 1923, when he hit just .224 in 45 games, which ended up being his last season in the big leagues. He played another three years in the minors before retiring from pro baseball. Cutshaw was a slick fielding second baseman, leading the National League five times in putouts, four times in assists and twice in fielding percentage during his career. As a batter, he hit .265 in 1,516 big league games, with 271 steals, 653 RBIs and 629 runs scored.