A busy day for Pittsburgh Pirates history that includes six birthdays and 26 trades of note between 1987 and 2019, all listed below. We also have a game of note from 1992.
J.J. Furmaniak, infielder for the 2005 Pirates. He was originally a 22nd round draft pick in 2000 out of Lewis University by the San Diego Padres. It’s a school that has produced six MLB players, but Furmaniak was the last player drafted from the school, which still has a baseball team. At 20 years old in 2000, he joined Idaho Falls of the Pioneer League and hit .343 with 25 extra-base hits in 62 games. The next year he moved up to Class-A Fort Wayne of the Midwest League, where he batted just .220 with 32 extra-base hits in 123 games. The Padres promoted him to High-A anyway the next year and Furmaniak hit .257 with 29 extra-base hits in 106 games, while playing in the hitter-friendly California League. He repeated the level in 2003 and did much better, batting .314 with 39 extra-base hits in 78 games. He also saw 31 games in Double-A and had a .744 OPS. After the season, he was sent to the Arizona Fall League. A majority of the 2004 season was spent in Triple-A, where he batted .294 with 24 doubles and 17 homers in 120 games, while playing in the Pacific Coast League. He played in the San Diego minor league system until July 28, 2005, when the Pirates acquired him in exchange for David Ross. Furmaniak had a .761 OPS in 99 games at the time of the trade. He went to Triple-A Indianapolis after the deal, where he hit .288 in 36 games with 21 RBIs and an alarming 4:32 BB/K ratio. The Pirates called him up in September and he hit .192 in 13 games, seeing time at both shortstop and second base. He spent all of 2006 with Indianapolis, hitting just .213 in 114 games, with 109 of those games as the team’s shortstop. He became a free agent in October of 2006, and he signed a few weeks later with the Oakland A’s. Furmaniak played 16 games with the 2007 A’s, hitting .176 and seeing time at five different positions. That ended up being his last time in the majors. He spent the 2008 season playing in Japan, the returned in 2009 and played minor league ball up until 2011, getting into 1,237 games over his 12-year career in the minors. He spent the 2009 season in Triple-A for the Philadelphia Phillies, and the 2010-11 seasons were spent with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Mike Bielecki, pitcher for the 1984-87 Pirates. He was a first round draft pick in 1979 by the Pirates in the June Secondary draft out of Valencia Community College. The Kansas City Royals had previous selected him in the January draft that year in the sixth round. He began in the Gulf Coast League at 19 years old and had a 2.29 ERA in nine starts. He moved up to Low-A in 1980 and pitched mostly in relief, posting a 4.55 ERA in 99 innings. He was a starter the next year in Low-A and had a solid season, going 12-11, 3.42 in 192 innings. Bielecki skipped to Double-A in his fourth season, but he needed to repeat the level the next year. He went 7-12, 4.86 in 157.1 innings over 25 starts. The second season at Double-A would be his breakout year. He went 15-7, 3.19 in 25 starts, striking out 143 batters in 163.2 innings. Jumping to Triple-A in 1984, Bielecki was even better, going 19-3, 2.97 in 28 starts, with 162 strikeouts. He made his Major League debut that September, throwing four scoreless relief appearances. Bielecki made the Opening Day roster for the 1985 Pirates, but he struggled through the middle of May, and returned to Triple-A until September. He finished the year with a 2-3, 4.53 record in 45.2 innings over seven starts and five relief appearances. He was in the big leagues for a full season in 1986, responding with a 6-11, 4.66 record in 148.2 innings over 27 starts and four relief outings. Bielecki was back in Triple-A to start the 1987 season. He rejoined the Pirates in late August for eight starts and had a 4.73 ERA, while matching his 45.2 innings from the previous season. Just prior to Opening Day in 1988, the Pirates sent him to the Chicago Cubs for minor league pitcher Mike Curtis. For the Pirates, the deal looked horrible short-term. By 1989, Bielecki was winning 18 games for the Cubs. However, in his next eight seasons combined, he had a 40-46 record. He jumped around the majors, including three stints with the Atlanta Braves.
Bielecki went 2-2, 3.35 in 48.1 innings for the 1988 Cubs, making five starts and 14 relief appearances. He made 33 starts in 1989, going 18-7, 3.14 in 212.1 innings, with three shutouts. He received mild Cy Young support, finishing ninth in the voting. His results dropped off the next year, with an 8-11, 4.93 record in 168 innings. He was put in the bullpen two different times after posting a 5.75 ERA in his first 18 starts. He was slightly better in 1991, posting a 13-11, 4.50 record in 172 innings, before a trade right before the end of the season sent him to the Atlanta Braves to help their playoff push. He pitched two games for the Braves in 1991, then had a solid season for them in 1992, with a 2.57 ERA in 80.2 innings over 14 starts and five relief appearances. Bielecki did not pitch in the postseason against the Pirates that year. He became a free agent after the season and signed with the Cleveland Indians, where he had a 5.90 ERA in 13 starts in 1993. He was released in June and signed with the Baltimore Orioles, but never appeared with them in the majors. He signed a free agent deal with the Braves for 1994 and had a 4.00 ERA as a reliever in 27 innings. Bielecki signed with the California Angels in 1995 and made 11 starts and 11 relief appearances that year, going 4-6, 5.97 in 75.1 innings. He returned to the Braves in 1996-97, pitching almost exclusively in relief (90 games, five starts). He had a 2.63 ERA in 75.1 innings in 1996, helping them to the World Series. In the postseason he pitched six times and didn’t allow a hit or run in 6.2 innings. Bielecki went 3-7, 4.08 in 57.1 innings over 50 outings in 1997. He finished up his 14-year career after the 1997 season with a final line of 70-73, 4.18 in 347 games, 178 as a starter. For the Pirates, Bielecki went 10-17, 4.57 in 244.1 innings over 55 games.
Frank Brosseau, pitcher for the 1969 and 1971 Pirates. He was a first round draft pick by the Pirates in 1966 out of the University of Minnesota. It was the third time he was drafted, second by the Pirates, who took him five months earlier in the second round of the January portion of the amateur draft. The Minnesota Twins took him in the 38th round of the 1965 draft. He was originally drafted as a hitter, and didn’t make his first appearance on the mound until his third season. It didn’t take long for him to reach the majors after he made the transition. Brosseau batted .176 with a .199 slugging percentage in 61 games in 1966 while playing outfield for Raleigh of the Carolina League. He played for Gastonia of the Western Carolina League in 1967, where he hit .211 with 15 doubles and three homers in 92 games. He went 4-4, 1.88 in 91 innings in 1968 for Gastonia, making ten starts and ten relief appearances. He was still being used as a position player that year, batting a career high .232 in 55 games. He was in Double-A in 1969 and strictly a pitcher at that point, playing for York of the Eastern League, where he went 10-3, 1.90 in 123 innings. Brosseau was a September call-up that year, pitching two games with vastly different results. In his first big league game he gave up two runs on two hits and two walks while recording two outs. His second appearance two weeks later was a scoreless inning in which he struck out two batters. Brosseau was back in the minors in 1970, going 4-8, 4.65 in 91 innings with Triple-A Columbus, making 16 starts and three relief outings. The next season, he began and finished the year in Triple-A, making one appearance for the Pirates in June. That day he threw two scoreless innings in a win over the St Louis Cardinals. Brosseau had a 5.31 ERA over 83 innings in the minors that season and did not return to pro ball in 1972. When the Pirates split up their World Series shares in 1971, he received the lowest amount, getting $100. No one else on the team received less than $250, and full shares that year were worth $18,164.58. Brosseau told him local paper after the season that he was dealing with a sore arm during most of the season and thinks that he would have been back with the club in September if not for the injury. He was a late cut in Spring Training that year and pitched well, despite suffering a hand injury when teammate Fred Cambria closed a taxi door on him.
Elmer Riddle, pitcher for the 1948-49 Pirates. He had a great start to his career, but an arm injury sidelined him in his prime and derailed a possibly great career. He debuted in pro ball in 1936 at 21 years old, pitching in the Class-D Northern League for the Wausau Timberjacks, where he went 14-16, 4.25 in 237 innings. He spent most of the 1937 season in the Class-B Piedmont League, while also seeing a short stint in Double-A with Indianapolis of the American Association. Riddle combined to go 15-8 (no ERA is available) in 181 innings. He spent the 1938 season with Indianapolis, mostly pitching in relief. He went 3-4, 4.35 in 91 innings. He played for three different minor league teams in 1939 and his season ended with one appearance for the Cincinnati Reds, in which he threw two shutout innings. He was in the majors for all of 1940, but barely got a chance to pitch. He made 15 appearances all year, and had a 1.87 ERA in 33.2 innings for a team that won the World Series, one year after they lost the 1939 World Series. He threw a scoreless inning in his only postseason appearance. In his first real chance in the majors, playing for the 1941 Reds, Riddle went 19-4, leading the National League with a 2.24 ERA in 216.2 innings. That performance earned him a fifth place finish in the NL MVP voting. He wasn’t as sharp in 1942, going 7-11, 3.69 in 158.1 innings. He led the NL in wins in 1943, going 21-11, 2.63 in 260.1 innings. Four games into the 1944 season, he began to experience arm troubles, causing him to miss the rest of the year. He pitched just 29.2 innings in 1945, posting an 8.19 ERA.
Riddle took off from baseball in 1946, returning briefly to the Reds the following year, where he had a similar record to his performance two years earlier, with an 8.31 ERA in 30.1 innings. The Pirates acquired him off of waivers in the off-season, and he made a strong comeback in 1948, going 12-10, 3.49 in 191 innings. His second stint of success was short-lived. In 1949, a leg injury limited his effectiveness, and after a 1-8, 5.33 season, he returned to the minors, where he played until the end of the 1952 campaign. He went to Spriung Training with the 1950 Pirates, but on April 12th (six days before Opening Day), he was released outright to Indianapolis of the American Association. Riddle finished with 65 Major League wins, 40 of them coming during his two big years with the Reds. Over his ten seasons in the majors, he went 65-52, 3.40 in 1,023 innings over 124 starts and 66 relief appearances. His brother Johnny Riddle was a catcher in the majors for seven years, spending time as Elmer’s teammate in Cincinnati and in 1948 with the Pirates.
Erv Kantlehner, pitcher for the 1914-16 Pirates. He made his pro debut as a 19-year-old in 1912, pitching for 14 games Victoria of the Northwestern League. The next year while still with Victoria, he put himself on the baseball map, going 23-16 in 49 appearances (no ERA available), with a total of 337 innings pitched. Pittsburgh purchased his contract on August 7, 1913, but let him finish the season with his minor league club before reporting to the Pirates during the following Spring Training. He was scouted by Chick Fraser, who was responsible for numerous Pirates minor league acquisitions during this era. Fraser was the brother-in-law of Pirates manager Fred Clarke. In his Major League debut on April 17, 1914, Kantlehner threw a four-hit shutout, albeit with seven walks, including three in the first inning. Despite that solid first outing, he made just four more starts, working out of the bullpen in his other six games. He went 3-2, 3.09 in 67 innings during his rookie year. He was used in a similar role in 1915, just pitching more often that the previous year. Kantlehner made 18 starts and 11 relief appearances in his sophomore season, with a 5-12 record, despite a strong 2.24 ERA (league average was a 2.61 ERA during that deadball era season) in 163 innings pitched. His record slipped even more in 1916 with the sixth place Pirates. In 21 starts and 16 relief outings, he went 5-15 3.16 in 165 innings. He was sold to the Philadelphia Phillies in September of 1916, and ended up pitching his last three Major League games with Philadelphia that year. Kantlehner returned to the minors in 1917, pitching three more seasons before retiring. He spent the 1917 season with Indianapolis of the American Association and then played his final two years with San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League. His Major League ERA in three seasons was 2.84 in 399 innings, yet his record stood at 13-29 when he was done. His nickname was Dutch in the minors, but on the day he was signed by the Pirates, one of the local papers said that he will need a nickname if he sticks with the team so they don’t have to write out Kantlehner in print.
Joe Sugden, catcher for the 1893-97 Pirates. He played two years of minor league ball in Charleston, SC before making his Major League debut with the 1893 Pirates. While no stats are available from his age 21 season in 1892, he batted .271 in 73 games during the 1893 season with Charleston. On July 14th, the Pirates purchased Sugden and pitcher Tom Colcolough from Charleston, bringing the two battery mates to the majors for the first time for each player. Sugden hit .261 in 27 games with 20 runs scored, splitting time behind the plate with the great Connie Mack. The 1894 season was an extremely high offense year in baseball due to the pitcher’s box (pre-mound days) being moved back to it’s current distance, and pitchers having trouble adjusting to it at first. They also had to pitch from a pitching rubber, instead of being able to move around the pitching box. Sugden was the backup to Mack that year, playing 39 games with a .331 average, 23 runs, 23 RBIs and a 14:2 BB/K ratio. The league batting declined slowly over the next couple of years and he showed a similar regression in his batting. He hit .304 in 50 games in 1895, with a 161 point drop in his OPS. Sugden hit his third career homer early that year (his first came off Cy Young in 1894). He would play the rest of that year and another nine full seasons in the majors without hitting another home run. That 1895 season was followed up with a .296 average over 80 games in 1896, with his OPS dropping another 33 points. Sugden platooned with Bill Merritt for the better part of his final three seasons in Pittsburgh, the last occurring in 1897 when he hit just .222 in 84 games.
The Pirates dealt him to the St Louis Cardinals in the off-season for veteran catcher Morgan Murphy. That move, along with his switching of teams in 1899, would put him on two of the worst teams ever. Sugden played for the 1898 Cardinals, who went 39-111, then moved to the Cleveland Spiders for 1899, a team that went 20-134,making them the worst team in baseball history. He hit .253 with 34 RBIs during the 1898 season, then batted .276 in 76 games for the Spiders. Sugden spent the 1900 season playing the the Chicago White Stockings of the American League, which became a Major League the following season. He remained in Chicago for 1901 and hit .275 with 19 RBIs and 21 runs scored in 48 games. He was traded to the St Louis Browns before the 1902 season and remained there for four seasons. Sugden hit .250 in 68 games in 1902, then batted .212 in 79 games in 1903. He had just four extra-base hits that year, all of them doubles. He played a career high 105 games in 1904 and batted .267 with 30 RBIs and 25 runs scored, while leading all American League catchers in fielding percentage. The Browns went 54-99 in 1905 and he hit just .173 in 90 games, once again collecting just four extra-base hits all season (all doubles), which gave him a .188 slugging percentage. The next six years were spent in the minors, including three years with Vancouver of the Northwestern League, before he made one more big league appearance.
Sugden played his last Major League game on May 18, 1912 for the Detroit Tigers, a famous game in baseball history and his first big league game in seven seasons. In short, Ty Cobb had been suspended at that time and his Tiger teammates refused to play that day unless Cobb played. The Tigers had a bunch of sandlot players ready to play just in case, to go along with two coaches who played that day as well, Deacon McGuire and Sugden. The Tigers ended up losing 24-2 and he went 1-for-4, while playing first base. Cobb’s suspension was reduced and things were back to normal the next day, officially ending Sugden’s playing career. In 836 big league games, he batted .255 with 283 RBIs, 303 runs scored and exactly 100 extra-base hits.
Pirates transactions of note at the July 31st trading deadline
2019: Pirates trade Corey Dickerson to the Philadelphia Phillies for international bonus pool slot space
2018: Pirates trade Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows and Shane Baz to the Tampa Bay Rays for Chris Archer. We know, let it go already, there are plenty of good trades below.
2018: Pirates trade minor leaguers Taylor Hearn and Sherten Apostel to the Texas Rangers for Keone Kela.
2017: Pirates acquire Joaquin Benoit from the Philadelphia Phillies for minor league pitcher Seth McGarry.
2017: Pirates trade Tony Watson for minor leaguers Oneil Cruz and Angel German
2015: Pirates trade Jose Tabata to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Mike Morse and cash.
2015: Pirates acquire JA Happ from the Seattle Mariners for minor league pitcher Adrian Sampson.
2012: Pirates trade 1B/3B Casey McGehee to the New York Yankees for Chad Qualls
2012: Pirates trade Gorkys Hernandez and a draft pick to the Miami Marlins for Gaby Sanchez and minor league pitcher Kyle Kaminska
2011: Pirates acquire Ryan Ludwick from the San Diego Padres for cash.
2010: Pirates trade closer Otavio Dotel to the Los Angeles Dodgers for starting pitcher James McDonald and minor league outfielder Andrew Lambo
2010: Pirates trade lefty specialist Javier Lopez to the Giants for outfielder John Bowker and pitcher Joe Martinez
2009: Pirates send reliever D.J. Carrasco, shortstop Bobby Crosby and outfielder Ryan Church to the Arizona Diamondbacks for catcher Chris Snyder and minor league shortstop Pedro Ciriaco.
2008: Jason Bay is sent to the Boston Red Sox as part of a three-way deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, that saw the Pirates acquire third baseman Andy LaRoche, outfielder Brandon Moss, relief pitcher Craig Hansen and minor league starter Bryan Morris.
2007: Pirates obtain pitcher Matt Morris from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for outfielder Rajai Davis and minor league pitcher Stephen MacFarland.
2006: Pirates sent Sean Casey to the Detroit Tigers for minor league pitcher Brian Rogers. In a separate deal, they trade outfielder/first baseman Craig Wilson to the New York Yankees in exchange for pitcher Shawn Chacon.
2006: Pittsburgh sends pitchers Oliver Perez and Roberto Hernandez to the New York Mets for outfielder Xavier Nady. The Pirates also traded pitcher Kip Wells to the Texas Rangers for minor league pitcher Jesse Chavez.
2005: Pirates ship outfielder Matt Lawton to the Chicago Cubs. In return they get outfielder Jody Gerut and cash.
2003: Pitchers Anastacio Martinez, Brandon Lyons and Jeff Suppan, all get sent to the Boston Red Sox for infielder Freddy Sanchez and reliever Mike Gonzalez.
2002: Pirates give up outfielder Chad Hermansen to get outfielder Darren Lewis from the Chicago Cubs. Lewis retired instead of reporting to the Pirates.
2001: Pirates send closer Mike Williams to the Houston Astros for pitcher Tony McKnight.
2001: Pitcher Terry Mulholland is sent to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for reliever Mike Fetters and minor league pitcher Adrian Burnside.
1993: Reliever Stan Belinda is sent to the Kansas City Royals for pitchers Jon Lieber and Dan Miceli.
1987: Pirates sent pitcher Don Robinson to the San Francisco Giants for catcher Mackey Sasser and cash.
On this date in 1992, Tim Wakefield made his Major League debut against the St Louis Cardinals and threw 146 pitches in a 3-2 victory. Wakefield went the distance and both runs were unearned. He allowed six hits and walked five batters, while picking up ten strikeouts. He also threw three wild pitches, with catcher Don Slaught having some trouble with the knuckleball. Barry Bonds provided the offense with his 20th homer of the season. Here’s the boxscore and play-by-play from Baseball-Reference.