This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: August 6th, Steve Nicosia and Two Buds

There have been seven former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date.

Stan Belinda, relief pitcher for the 1989-93 Pirates. He was drafted by the Pirates in the tenth round of the 1986 draft out of Allegany College in Maryland. He was a relief pitcher from the start of his career. In fact, in 209 minor league games and 585 Major League appearances, the only two starts that Belinda made were rehab starts during the 1995-96 seasons. At 19 years old in 1986, he spent most of his first season in pro ball playing in the Gulf Coast League. He posted a 2.86 ERA in 28.1 innings that year. In 1987, he pitched at Low-A Macon of the South Atlantic League, where he had a 2.09 ERA and 16 saves in 82 innings over 50 appearances. He moved up to the Carolina League in 1988 and he went 6-4, 2.76 in 71.2 innings over 53 appearances, with 14 saves. Belinda split the 1989 season between Double-A and Triple-A, with much better results at the higher level. Between both spots, he went 3-6, 1.75, with 22 saves in 67 innings over 51 outings. He had an 0.95 ERA in Triple-A. He made it to the Pirates in 1989 as a September call-up, posting a 6.10 ERA in eight outings. Belinda began the next year back in Triple-A, returning to the Pirates in late May and helping the team to the playoffs each of the next three seasons. Over the 1990-92 seasons, he pitched a total of  174 games, with an ERA between 3.15 and 3.55 each year, while compiling a total of 42 saves. That 3.55 ERA came in 1990, when he made 55 appearances and pitched 58.2 innings. He had eight saves that year, then picked up more closer time the next two seasons. Belinda had a 3.45 ERA and 16 saves in 78.1 innings over 60 appearances in 1991. He was 6-4, 3.15 in 1992, with 18 saves, 71.1 innings pitched and 59 appearances. Belinda pitched eight playoff games over that time, giving up one earned run in 10.1 innings, although he was the last Pirate to pitch in the playoffs during that stretch due to an inherited run he allowed to score.

Belinda remained with the Pirates until the trading deadline in 1993, when he was dealt to the Kansas City Royals for pitchers Jon Lieber and Dan Miceli. Prior to the deal he went 3-1, 3.61 in 42.1 innings, with 19 saves in 40 appearances. After joining the Royals, he had a 4.28 ERA in 27.1 innings over 23 outings. During the strike-shortened 1994 season he had a 5.14 ERA in 49 innings. Belinda became a free agent in 1995 and signed with the Boston Red Sox, where he had an 8-1, 3.10 record and ten saves in 69.2 innings over 63 games. He went 2-1, 6.59 in 28.2 innings over 31 games in 1996. He signed with the Cincinnati Reds after the season and had a 3.71 ERA in 1997, setting career highs with 84 appearances and 99.1 innings pitched. He saw less work in 1998, but also had better results, putting up a 3.23 ERA in 61.1 innings. In his final season with the Reds, he went 3-1, 5.27 in 42.1 innings. Belinda pitched until 2000, finishing his 12-year career with the team he helped get to the 1992 World Series. He split the season between the Colorado Rockies and Atlanta Braves, struggling in both places. He finished with a 7.71 ERA in 46.2 innings during his final season. In his 585 games, he went 41-37, 4.15, with 79 saves in 685.1 innings. With the Pirates, he went 19-15, 3.52 in 260.2 innings over 2222 appearances, with 61 saves.

Steve Nicosia, catcher for the 1978-83 Pirates. He was drafted by the Pirates in the first round of the 1973 draft out of high school in Florida at 17 years old. He spent most of that first year in A-Ball, but he finished up with three games in Double-A. Between both stops, he hit .224 with 12 extra-base hits and 36 walks in 57 games. In 1974, Nicosia played for Salem of the Carolina League, where he hit .304 with 15 homers and 92 RBIs in 118 games. He moved up to Double-A in 1975, playing for Shreveport of the Texas League, where he batted .268 with 37 extra-base hits in 110 games. He made it to Triple-A by age 20 in 1976, but missed nearly all of the 1977 season, then returned to the level in 1978  for a third year. Nicosia hit .262 with 20 doubles and eight homers in 117 games in 1976. After playing just 25 games in 1977 due to a knee surgery, he hit .322 with 37 extra-base hits, 62 walks and 74 RBIs in 110 games in 1978. During that season he made two appearances with the Pirates, the first time for a week in July, then again at the end of the year. He played just three games in his first big league trial, but by 1979 he was a backup catcher to Ed Ott, playing a total of 70 games, 55 as a starter, during that championship season.

Nicosia hit .288 in his 215 plate appearances, with 13 RBIs and 22 runs scored in 1979. In the World Series, he started four games, going just 1-for-16 at the plate, though the Pirates still won their fifth WS title. Nicosia remained a backup with the Pirates through August of 1983, first behind Ott, then backing up a rookie in 1981 named Tony Pena. In 1980 he hit .216 with eight doubles and one homer in 60 games. That was followed by a .231 average, with ten doubles, two homers and 18 RBIs in 54 games during the strike-shortened 1981 season. In 1982, Nicosia hit .280 in 39 games, as Pena proved to be a workhorse behind the plate. Nicosia asked to be traded in 1983 and on August 19, 1983, the Pirates sent him to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for veteran catcher Milt May. Nicosia was hitting .130 in 21 games at the time, then hit .333 in 15 games after the deal. In 1984 he batted .303 in 48 games, with 15 extra-base hits and 19 RBIs. He lasted in the majors until 1985, seeing time with the Montreal Expos and Toronto Blue Jays during his final season, when he hit just .186 with no homers in 48 games. In six years in Pittsburgh, he played 247 games, hitting .242 with nine homers and 61 RBIs. He was a career .248 hitter, with 11 homers and 88 RBIs in 358 games.

Clem Labine, pitcher for the 1960-61 Pirates. He was originally signed in 1944 by the Brooklyn Dodgers, playing one season for Class-B Newport News of the Piedmont League before losing a year of baseball to military service. He had a 4.18 ERA in 56 innings during his first season, then returned to the same club in 1946, though he pitched just 14 innings that year. Labine they spent the next three years working his way to the majors, before making the Dodgers Opening Day roster in 1950. He spent part of 1947 with Newport News, while spending the rest of the year with Asheville of the Class-B Tri-State League, where he had a 2.07 ERA in 61 innings. He moved up to A-Ball in 1948, playing for Pueblo of the Western League. He went 13-10, 4.32 in 196 innings that year. From there it was St Paul of the American Association in 1949, where he had a 12-6, 3.50 record in 134 innings over 64 appearances. Labine made the Dodgers club out of spring in 1950, though his stay lasted just one game in which he allowed one run over two innings. He went back to St Paul for the rest of 1950 and had a 4.99 ERA in 128 innings. He made the Dodgers Opening Day roster again in 1951 and his stay was a little longer, but he was still back in the minors by May. Clem (first name was Clement) came back in August and began to pitch well as a starter by the end of the month, throwing five complete games (two shutouts). He finished that year with a 5-1, 2.20 record in 65.1 innings with the Dodgers and finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting. Labine struggled in 1952, going back to the minors at one point, but once he returned, he would spend the rest of his career in the majors. He remained with the Dodgers until 1960, being used almost exclusively as a reliever.

In 1953, Labine went 11-6, 2.77 in 110.1 innings over 37 games (seven starts). He pitched three times in relief during the World Series that year, though the Dodgers lost to the New York Yankees. In 1954, he had a 7-6, 4.15 record in 108.1 innings over 47 outings, with just two starts. In 1955, he led the league with 60 games pitched, throwing a career high 144. 1 innings. Labine went 13-5, 3.24 and saved 11 games. The Dodgers won the World Series that season and he made four relief appearances, allowing three runs in 9.1 innings. That regular season performance was good enough for a 15th place finish in the MVP voting. The next two years he was chosen for the NL All-Star team, recording the most saves (not an official stat at the time) each year. In 1956 he went 10-6, 3.35 in 115.2 innings over 62 games, with 19 saves. He pitched 12 innings in the World Series that year without allowing an earned run. His record dropped to 5-7 in 1957, but he had a 3.44 ERA in 105.2 innings over 58 games, with 17 saves. In 1958, Labine went 6-6, 4.15 in 104 innings over 52 games, with 14 saves. The Dodgers won their first World Series in Los Angeles in 1959 and Labine had a 3.93 ERA over 84.2 innings during the regular season. He pitched one scoreless inning in the World Series.

In June of 1960, the Dodgers traded Labine to the Detroit Tigers. After two unsuccessful months there, he was released, then immediately signed by the Pirates. He turned things around with Pittsburgh, going 3-0, 1.48 in 15 appearances and 30.1 innings, helping the Pirates to the World Series. Labine did not pitch well in the postseason, allowing 11 runs over just four innings. His combined record for the 1961 season between all three teams was 3-4, 3.65 in 66.2 innings over 44 games. He was with the Pirates in 1961 as well, going 4-1, 3.69 in 92.2 innings over 56 appearances, with eight saves. The Pirates released Labine in October of 1961 and he was signed by the expansion New York Mets in the off-season, though his short was stay. After just three outings, Labine was released on May 1st, ending his 13-year big league career with a 77-56, 3.63 record in 1,079.2 innings over 513 games pitched. He recorded 94 saves, one of the highest totals prior to it becoming an official stat.

Bud Hafey, outfielder for the 1935-36 Pirates. He began his career as a 17-year old in 1930 and spent his first five years playing for the Mission Reds of the Pacific Coast League. He started off slow with a .208 average in 67 games during his first year. In 1931 he batted .293 in 61 games. The next season he hit .293 again, this time in 131 games, with 44 extra-base hits. Hafey nearly matched the average for a third straight season in 1933, finishing with a .292 mark in 147 games. He had 41 doubles, six triples and 16 homers that year. In 1934, he batted .322 in 166 games, with 39 doubles, 11 triples and 16 homers. That led to him making his big league debut the next April. The Pirates acquired Hafey just two games into his Major League career with the Chicago White Sox, with both appearances coming as a pinch-runner. He played on April 21st and May 4th, but before joining the Pirates, he spent time with Albany of the Eastern League, where he batted .230 in 25 games. On June 9, 1935, Pittsburgh sent pitcher Jack Salveson to Chicago in an even up deal for Hafey. Bud (first name was Daniel) played 58 games for the Pirates that year, seeing time at all three outfield spots, hitting .228 with six homers and 16 RBIs. He doubled in his first big league at-bat, but didn’t get his second hit until nearly a month later during his first big league start on July 13th. In 1936, he hit .212 with four homers and 13 RBIs in 39 games. He played 28 of the first 44 games that year, then played just 11 more games all season, and his only start after June 3rd was in the final game of the season. On October 13, 1937, after Hafey had spent the entire season in the minors with Montreal of the International League, he was dealt to the St Louis Cardinals, along with two other players, for outfielder Johnny Rizzo. Bud played just 24 more games in the majors during his career, splitting the 1939 season between the Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies, hitting a combined .172 in 64 at-bats. He remained in pro ball until 1941, spending his last two years playing for Memphis of the Southern Association.  He was a .213 hitter in 123 big league games, with ten homers and 33 RBIs. His brother was Tom Hafey, who played two years in the majors. His cousin was Chick Hafey, a Hall of Fame outfielder for the Cardinals and Reds (they were never teammates).

Bud Sharpe, first baseman for the 1910 Pirates. During Spring Training of 1910, the Pirates had a competition for the open first base job between Sharpe and John Flynn. Both players made the Opening Day roster, but the job was soon given to Flynn, who was the much better hitter, while Sharpe was strong on defense, but not much of a batter. Bud (first name was Bayard) ended up playing just four games for the Pirates, hitting .188, while handling all forty chances in the field flawlessly. On April 28, 1910, he was traded to the Boston Doves, along with pitcher Sam Frock, for pitcher Kirby White. Sharpe played with Boston until the end of 1910, finishing with a .239 average and no homers in 115 games. Before the 1911 season, he was sold to the minors, ending his Major League career. Before joining the Pirates in 1910, he had played part of one season in the majors, back in 1905 with the Boston Doves. That year he hit .182 in 46 games, in what was also his first year in pro ball. Sharpe attended Penn State and debuted in pro ball at 23 years old. He spent part of that 1905 season playing in Coatesville, PA in the Tri-State League, which was an independent league at the time. He played the 1906 season with Scranton of the Class-B New York State League, where he hit .295 in 131 games. He moved up to Newark of the Eastern League in 1907 and remained there for three years. He hit just .210 with 18 extra-base hits in 125 games during his first year. In 1908 he played 146 games and finished with a .270 average, 19 doubles, nine triples and 16 steals. In 1909, he batted .241 in 156 games, with 22 doubles, four triples and a home run. The Pirates drafted him in the September Rule 5 draft, but put him on waivers right before Christmas when they acquired John Flynn. However, they decided a short time later to keep him and sell off first base prospect Robert Tarleton instead. After Sharpe finished up with Boston in early 1911, he played that season for Buffalo of the Eastern League, then he ended his career with the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League in 1912 as a player/manager, hitting .300 in 101 games, which was his highest minor league average.

Brownie Foreman, lefty pitcher for the 1895-96 Pirates. As a 19-year-old in 1895, the 5’8″, 150 pound Foreman began his pro career with the Petersburg Farmers of the Virginia State League, where he went 14-8, 2.28 in 205.1 innings. The Pirates signed him in July and he made 16 starts and three relief appearances, going 8-6, 3.22 in 139.2 innings, with the lowest hits per nine rate in the majors. He also didn’t allow a single home run. During his big league debut against the Baltimore Orioles, their Hall of Fame manager (former Pirates/Alleghenys player/manager) Ned Hanlon said that he had a chance to sign Foreman before the season started, but he felt that he wasn’t good enough for the majors, so he passed. Foreman ended up beating the Orioles that day, right in the middle of their three-year run as National League champions. Foreman remained with the Pirates through the beginning of the next season, going 3-3, 6.57 in 84.2 innings over 13 starts before Pittsburgh gave up on him. He missed some time early in the season due to illness, but in early July they suspended him without pay for refusing to go to the minors. Shortly afterwards he was released. He finished the year with the Cincinnati Reds, where he made the last four starts of his Major League career (1-3, 11.35 in 23 innings). He lasted eight more years in the minors before retiring, but his big league career was done at 21 years old. He played for five different teams during the 1897-98 seasons, spent the 1899 season with Fort Wayne of the Interstate League (this doesn’t show up in his minor league records on Baseball-Reference), then played the next six years playing in five different leagues with a total of nine teams, never staying in one spot for more than a year. His brother Frank pitched 11 years in the majors, winning 96 games. They were teammates during Brownie’s brief time with the Reds. His actual first name was John. The nickname Brownie was given to him right after he joined the Pirates and was based on his small size and early success, with the connection that a brownie was good thing that came in a small package. While his listed height/weight of 5’8″, 150 pounds is small in stature for a player, even back then, there were reports that he was even smaller. One paper after his debut said that the “midget pitcher stood 5’5″, 119 pounds”. That could be close to true because a letter he wrote from early 1896 said that he worked out a lot in the off-season and added 20 pounds since September of 1895, now weighing 151 pounds. The scouting reports said that he threw hard and had a tantalizing curveball that worried batters, who were just trying to put the bat on the ball so that they didn’t strike out. One manager called it the best curve that he has ever seen.

Jim McDonald, utility player for the 1884 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He played just 45 games in the majors over the 1884-85 seasons, yet managed to play in three different Major Leagues. He was in the Union Association, which only existed in 1884, the American Association and the National League. McDonald spent the first six years of his pro career playing in his hometown of San Francisco, seeing time with five different teams. He debuted in pro ball in 1878 at 17 years old during the first year of the Pacific League, playing for the San Francisco Californias (great name). His 1883 season before debuting in the majors was spent with a team by the same name, though they played in the California League. He debuted in the majors on June 20, 1884, playing right field and hitting lead-off with the Alleghenys, after he was brought on by manager Bob Ferguson. McDonald played 38 games in Pittsburgh, seeing time at third base, second base and all three outfield spots. He hit just .159 with 11 runs scored with Pittsburgh before being released on August 19th. In October he joined the Washington Nationals of the Union Association and lasted just two games. The next year he went 0-for-14 in four games at the end of the season for the Buffalo Bisons of the National League, his last Major League action. McDonald played pro ball until 1894, finishing his career back in California. He became an NL umpire in 1895, sticking around until 1899 in that role. He worked 572 games in that role, though he did not umpire during the 1896 season.