This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: August 7th, Willie Stargell Signs, Bill McKechnie

This is probably the busiest day for birthdays and trades. Ten former players born on this date and five transactions of note. Before we get into the former players, current catcher Michael Perez turns 29 years old today.

The Players

Bill McKechnie, infielder for the Pirates in 1907, 1910-12, 1918 and 1920. Manager for the Pirates from 1922 until 1926. He began his big league career with a brief late season trial with the Pirates during the 1907 season. He was playing with Washington of the Class-D Pennsylvania-Ohio-Michigan League during the 1906-07 seasons and didn’t have much success at the plate according to his stats on Baseball-Reference, though there could be mistakes in there. On August 13, 1907, owner Barney Dreyfuss purchased his contract from Washington and it said that McKechnie was among the best third baseman in the league, with one of his highlights being his hitting. Records show that he batted .230 in 1906 and he was hitting .200 at the time of the deal, so that latter number seems suspect. McKechnie joined the Pirates the next day on their road trip east, but he didn’t debut until September 8th. He ended up playing just three games over the final seven weeks of the season. He was originally reserved for the 1908 season, but the Pirates put him on waivers that February and when he cleared he was released outright to Wheeling of the Class-B Central League. Two months later, he was sold to Canton of the Class-C Ohio-Penn League, where he hit .283 with 34 steals and 55 runs scored in 118 games in 1908.

McKechnie rejoined Wheeling in 1909 and batted .274 with 24 extra-base hits in 132 games that year.The Pirates got him back at the end of the 1909 season, but he didn’t rejoin the club until the following year. He served as the team’s backup infielder during the entire 1910 season. The 23-year-old would see time at all four infield spots that first full year, hitting .217 with 12 RBIs and 23 runs scored in 71 games. In 1911, he saw most of his time at first base, platooning with 31-year-old rookie Newt Hunter. McKechnie hit a little better his second year, batting .227 with 17 extra-base hits, after collecting just three during his first season. He was strong at putting the ball in play, with just 18 strikeouts in 376 plate appearances. He also had 25 sacrifice hits. He saw limited time during the 1912 season, playing 24 games through August, when he was sent to St Paul of the American Association in exchange for infielder Art Butler, who was highly sought after at the time. It was said that the Pirates gave up a total of five players to acquire Butler, outbidding multiple teams for his service.

McKechnie returned to the majors in 1913, jumping all around the next four years, with stops in Boston (1913 Braves) New York (1913 Yankees), the Federal League (Indianapolis in 1914 and Newark in 1915), then back to New York (1916 Giants), before ending up with the 1916 Cincinnati Reds. He played just one game in Boston before they put him on waivers. With the Yankees for the rest of the year, he hit just .134 in 45 games. So they probably weren’t sad to see him go to the upstart Federal League in 1914 when he signed with Indianapolis. He had a breakout year though once he got a chance to play full-time. McKechnie hit .304 with 32 extra-base hits, 47 steals and 107 runs scored in 149 games in 1914. The next year he .251 with 28 extra-base hits and 28 steals in 115 games for Newark. When the Federal League ended after two seasons at the Major League level, McKechnie was sold to the New York Giants, where he stayed until late July. He hit .246 in 71 games in New York, then was traded to the Reds in a deal that included Hall of Famers Edd Roush and Christy Mathewson. The Giants were the ones actually giving up three future Hall of Famers in the deal and they received just two players back. McKechnie hit .277 in 37 games with the 1916 Reds. He hit .254 in 48 games for Cincinnati in 1917, then was sold back to the Pirates in 1918 for $20,000 during Spring Training.

McKechnie started at third base for the 1918 Pirates, hitting .255 with 43 RBIs and 34 runs scored in 126 games. Despite the regular playing time in 1918, he took a job outside of baseball the next year. The Pirates convinced him to come back in 1920, serving as a backup infielder/coach. That 1920 season was his last in the majors. The next year he played his last year in the minors, hitting .321 for Minneapolis of the American Association. McKechnie had managed in the majors in 1915 while with Newark of the Federal League. He returned to the Pirates as a coach in 1922, although he initially tried to comeback with the team is his backup infielder role. When the Pirates got off to a bad start, they got rid of manager George Gibson and hired McKechnie for the role. He took them from a 32-33 start, to a 53-36 record over the final 89 games. The next year the team was just as good, finishing in third place with 87 wins. They improved slightly in 1924, going 90-63, but it was still just good enough for a third place spot.

The 1925 season ended up being a championship year for the Pirates, as McKechnie led them to a 95-58 finish and a World Series win over the Washington Senators. It was the second title for the Pirates, who won in 1909 when McKechnie was in the minors. In 1926, they had a disappointing third place finish and McKechnie was allowed to leave. He would go on to win a National League pennant with the 1928 St Louis Cardinals, then another pennant with the 1939 Reds, before winning his second World Series title with the 1940 Reds. He finished with 1,896 Major League wins over 25 seasons. With the Pirates, he had a 409-293 record. He was elected to the Hall of Fame as a manager in 1962. McKechnie was a resident of Bradenton, Florida in his later years and the Pirates Spring Training home was named after him (McKechnie Field) until recently, when they made an unwise name change. Most fans still refer to it by the rightful name. As a player with the Pirates, he hit .235 with five homers, 109 RBIs and 34 steals in 368 games. Over his 11-year career, he was a .251 hitter, with 240 RBIs, 127 steals and 319 runs scored in 846 games.

Ryan Lavarnway, catcher for the 2018 Pirates. He was a sixth round pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2008 out of Yale University. He did poorly his first year in the New York-Penn League, hitting .211 in 22 games. In 2009 he was sent to Low-A Greenville, where he batted .285 with 36 doubles and 21 homers in 106 games. He split the 2010 season between High-A and Double-A, batting a combined .288 with 27 doubles, 22 homers and 102 RBIs in 126 games, with very similar results at both levels. He played in the Arizona Fall League after the season and hit .268 with three homers in 21 games. Lavarnway split the 2011 season between Double-A and Triple-A, hitting .290 in 116 games, with 23 doubles, 32 homers and 93 RBIs. He got 17 games with the Red Sox at the end of the year and hit .231 with two homers. After the season, he spent a short time playing winter ball in Venezuela. After that strong performance, he was rated as a top 100 prospect in the baseball for the only time in his career. In 2012 he spent more than half of of the year in Triple-A, while playing 46 games for the Red Sox, in which he batted .157 with two homers. Lavarnway had the same type of split-seasons in 2013 and 2014, though his big league time dropped each year. He batted .299 with one homer in 25 games for Boston in 2013 and then saw nine games (seven off of the bench) for the Red Sox in 2014, failing to pick up a hit.

Lavarnway went through a crazy December of 2014, switching teams three times via waivers during the month. He went from Boston to the Los Angeles Dodgers, to the Chicago Cubs to the Baltimore Orioles in an 18-day span. He didn’t play much for Baltimore, as they released him in May of 2015 after ten games. He signed with the Atlanta Braves, where he hit .227 in 27 games. The Braves released him in May of 2016 and he signed with the Toronto Blue Jays, but the entire season was spent in the minors, with the Blue Jays placing him in Double-A. He signed with the Oakland A’s in 2017 and ended up playing six big league games in July/August. Lavarnway was signed by the Pirates as a minor league free agent prior to the 2018 season and was added to the active roster in September, after spending the earlier part of the season as a platoon catcher in Triple-A. Lavarnway played six games and batted six times for the Pirates, collecting four hits and an RBI. He left via free agency after the season and appeared in the majors briefly with the Cincinnati Reds in 2019. He also spent part of that season in the minors with both the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees. He appeared with the Miami Marlins for five games during the shortened 2020 season and through late July in 2021, he has played four games for the Indians, who re-signed him in February of 2021. Over ten seasons in the majors from 2011 to late July of 2021, he is a .216 hitter, with nine homers and 50 RBIs in 160 games.

Wade LeBlanc, pitcher for the 2016-17 Pirates. He was originally drafted out of high school in the 36th round by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2003, but he chose to attend college. The moved paid off, as the San Diego Padres picked him in the second round out of the University of Alabama in 2006. LeBlanc spent half of his first season in Low-A, half in short-season ball. He combined for a 5-1, 3.02 record in 53.2 innings. He split the 2007 season between High-A and Double-A, going 13-8, 2.95 in 149.1 innings, with 145 strikeouts. He spent the large majority of the 2008 season in Triple-A, going 11-9, 5.32 in 138.2 innings, with 139 strikeouts for Portland of the high-offense Pacific Coast League. He was called to the majors in September and had an 8.02 ERA in 21.1 innings. He lowered his ERA to 3.87 in Triple-A in 2009 and he made nine starts with the Padres, going 3-1, 3.69 in 46.1 innings. LeBlanc spent the majority of the 2010 season in the majors, but he split 2011 between Triple-A and the Padres. He went 8-12, 4.25 in 146 innings in 2010, followed by a 5-6, 4.63 mark in 14 starts with the Padres in 2011. He was traded to the Florida Marlins over the off-season, right before they changed their name to Miami. LeBlanc went 2-5, 3.67 in nine starts and 16 relief appearances, throwing a total of 68.2 innings in 2012. In 2013, he had a 5.18 ERA in 48.2 innings before the Houston Astros selected him off waivers in June. He pitched just four times in relief for the Astros, then became a free agent after the season. LeBlanc split 2014 between the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels, starting and ending the year with the Angels. He went 1-1, 3.94 in 29.2 innings between both teams. He spent the 2015 season in Japan, then returned to the U.S. on a minor league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays for 2016. He was in Triple-A through late June when the Seattle Mariners purchased his contract. He made eight starts and three relief appearances for the Mariners, posting a 4.50 ERA in 50 inings.

LeBlanc was acquired by the Pirates in mid-September of 2016 from the Mariners for a player to be named later, which never amounted to anything. He made eight appearances for the Pirates over the final three weeks of the 2016 season and allowed just one earned run in 12 innings. In 2017, LeBlanc made 50 relief appearances and he went 5-2, 4.50 in 68 innings. He was left go via free agency at the end of the season and signed with the New York Yankees, who released him during Spring Training of 2018. He re-signed with the Seattle Mariners and he went 9-5, 3.72 in 27 starts and five relief appearances, throwing a total of 162 innings. For the 2019 Mariners, he went 6-7, 5.71 in eight starts and 18 relief appearances, throwing a total of 121.1 innings. He signed with the Baltimore Orioles for 2020 and made six starts during the shortened season, posting an 8.06 ERA. LeBlanc allowed seven runs over 6.2 innings with the 2021 Orioles before being released. He spent brief time with both the Milwaukee Brewers and Texas Rangers without appearing in a big league game before joining the St Louis Cardinals in June. Through late July of 2021, he has a 3.45 ERA in 28.2 innings with the Cardinals. He has pitched a total of 13 seasons in the majors. He has a 46-49, 4.55 record in 917.2 innings over 255 appearances through late July of 2021. He has started 126 games and pitched in relief 129 times.

Tyler Yates, relief pitcher for the 2008-09 Pirates. He was signed by the Oakland A’s in 1998 as a 23rd round draft pick out of the University of Hawaii. He made 17 relief appearances in short-season ball during his first season, posting a 4.26 ERA in 25.1 innings. In 1999, he had a 5.47 ERA in 82.1 innings while pitching in the high-offense California League. Yates split 2000 between High-A and Double-A, combining to go 5-3, 3.90 in 83 innings, with 85 strikeouts, though he had significantly better results in High-A that year. The 2001 season saw he put up a 4.31 ERA in 56 appearances in Double-A, followed by four scoreless outings in his first shot at Triple-A. The New York Mets acquired him in a December 2001 trade for David Justice. Yates had a 1.32 ERA in 23 relief appearances in Triple-A before he needed Tommy John surgery. He returned for most of 2003 and ended up switching to a starting role, in an odd move for a reliever who was returning from a major surgery. Over three levels, he had a 4.28 ERA in 107.1 innings. It took him six years to make the majors, doing it as a member of the Opening Day roster of the 2004 Mets.

Yates went 2-4, 6.36 in 46.2 innings over seven starts and 14 relief appearances for the Mets in 2004, spending half the season back in the minors. He then missed all of 2005 with rotator cuff surgery. It was his second major operation, but it would be his last. Yates was released by the Mets after the 2005 season and signed with the Baltimore Orioles, who released him before the end of 2006 Spring Training. He then signed with the Atlanta Braves and made it back to the majors after just seven Triple-A outings. Yates made 56 appearances for Atlanta that year, going 2-5, 3.96 in 50 innings. The next year, he was used often, but his numbers regressed. In 75 outings, he had a 5.18 ERA, throwing a total of 66 innings. Near the end of Spring Training in 2008, the Pirates traded minor league pitcher Todd Redmond to the Braves to acquire Yates. He made 72 appearances in 2008 for Pittsburgh, throwing a total of 73.1 innings, with a 6-3, 4.66 record. In 2009, he pitched 15 times before he required a second Tommy John surgery. He had a 7.50 ERA in 12 innings at the time of his injury. Yates attempted a comeback in 2010, but never pitched again. He is one of 48 MLB players born in Hawaii, a list that includes bis brother Kirby Yates, who is active in 2021 and pitched seven seasons in the majors.

Steve Kemp, left fielder for the 1985-86 Pirates. He was a first round draft pick of the Tigers in January of 1976 out of USC, making it to the majors after just 125 minor league games split between Double-A and Triple-A in 1976. In that lone minor league season, he hit .328 with 31 doubles, 19 homers and 70 walks, posting much better results in Triple-A. Kemp was a regular in the Detroit lineup for five seasons, hitting .284 with 82 homers and 422 RBIs in 684 games over that time. As a 22-year-old rookie in 1977, he played left field full-time and hit .257 with 29 doubles, 18 homers, 88 RBIs and 71 walks in 151 games. In 1978 he hit .277 with 15 homers and 79 RBIs in 159 games. His slugging dropped 23 points that year, but the higher average and 97 walks, led to a higher OBP. Kemp made his only career All-Star appearance during the 1979 season, when he hit .318 with 88 runs scored, 26 doubles, 26 homers and 105 RBIs. He finished 17th in the AL MVP voting that season. In 1980, he hit .293 with 23 doubles, 21 homers and 101 RBIs, once again scoring 88 runs. During the strike-shortened 1981 season, he batted .277 with nine homers and 49 RBIs in 105 games. Kemp was traded to the Chicago White Sox in November of 1981, playing one season in Chicago prior to signing with the Yankees for five years in December of 1982. During that 1982 season, he hit .286 with 19 homers, 98 RBIs and 89 walks.

Kemp’s time in New York did not go well, lasting just two years and 203 games. He hit .241 with 17 doubles, 12 homers and 49 RBIs in 109 games in 1983. His .718 OPS was easily the lowest of his career up to that point. He played just 94 games in 1984 and hit .291 with seven homers and 41 RBIs. He was slowed by a shoulder injury in 1983 and a hamstring issue in 1984. The Pirates acquired Kemp from the Yankees, along with Tim Foli and a large sum of cash, on December 20, 1984 in exchange for Dale Berra, Al Pulido and minor league outfielder Jay Buhner. The cash ($800,000) was required because Kemp still  had just over $3,000,000 left on his five-year deal. By 1985, he was a shell of his former self and all power was gone from his offensive game. Kemp hit .250 with two homers and 21 RBIs in 92 games during the disastrous 1985 season, when the Pirates went 57-104, finishing 43.5 games out in the standings. He would make the 1986 Pirates team out of Spring Training, but he was released a month into the season after hitting .188 in 13 games. Kemp spent the better part of the 1986-88 seasons in the minors, briefly reappearing with the 1988 Texas Rangers for 16 games before retiring. He spent the second half of the 1986 season with the San Diego Padres at Triple-A Las Vegas, then spent all of 1987 with Triple-A Oklahoma City for the Rangers, followed by a .222 average in 36 at-bats after making the Rangers roster on Opening Day in 1988. He played his final big league game on May 24th, then played his final 37 games in pro ball that year with Oklahoma City. In 1,168 big league games, Kemp hit .278 with 130 homers, 634 RBIs, 581 runs scored and 576 walks.

Jim Sadowski, pitcher for the 1974 Pirates. He was a Pittsburgh native, who was signed by the Pirates in 1969 at 18 years old as an amateur free agent. His only work that first year was in the Florida Instructional League. In 1970 he split the year between rookie ball and A-Ball, going 7-8, 3.88 in 137 innings. Most of the 1971 season was spent with Salem of the Carolina League, with two appearances in Double-A also throw in during the year. He had a 6-7, 3.55 record in 132 innings that season. Sadowski was a starting pitcher during his first two seasons in the minors, moving into a spot starter/long man role in 1972, when he repeated High-A ball in the Carolina League. He went 7-8, 3.89 in 104 innings that year. In 1973, he moved up to Double-A, going 11-5, 3.34 in 124 innings, making seven starts and 32 relief appearances. He began 1974 in Triple-A, but was quickly up with the big club. Sadowski pitched four early season games for the Pirates that year. He gave up six runs on seven hits and nine walks in nine innings. It would end up being his only Major League experience. He spent a total of 24 days with the Pirates and his demotion on May 16th was made so that the Pirates could call up pitcher Kent Tekulve for his big league debut. Sadowski had a 4.02 ERA in 1974 in Triple-A Charleston, then went to Spring Training with the Pirates in 1975 and ended up being one of the final cuts. He put up matching 4.14 ERAs during the 1975-76 season in Charleston. He moved back to a starting role during those latter seasons and pitched a total of 289 innings in 1975-76. Some struggles during the 1977 season led to him spending time in Double-A with Shreveport of the Texas League. He pitched in the Pirates system until 1977, then finished his career with one year in the Kansas City Royals system, posting a 4.03 ERA in 76 innings that final year, which was split between a poor showing in Triple-A and solid results in Double-A. Three of his uncles (all named Sadowski) played in the majors. Bob won twenty games over four seasons with the Milwaukee Braves and Boston Red Sox. Ted pitched 43 games over three years with the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins. Ed was a catcher for the Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels and Atlanta Braves, hitting .202 in 217 games.

Jerry McNertney, catcher for the 1973 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Chicago White Sox in 1958 at 21 years old out of Iowa State, and he made his Major League debut with Chicago six seasons later. He had a strong start to his career, albeit as a college player in the lowest level of pro ball. McNertney hit .328 with 51 RBIs in 63 games in 1958 for Holdredge of the Nebraska State League. He moved up to Class-C for most of 1959, finishing the year with 14 games for Class-B Lincoln of the Three-I League. He hit just .237 with 21 extra-base hits in 104 games that year, though he had more walks than strikeouts (61 to 55). In 1960 he played for Class-C Idaho Falls of the Pioneer League and batted .341 with 55 extra-base hits, 109 runs scored and 125 RBIs in 130 games. He jumped up two levels to Class-A Charleston of the South Atlantic League in 1961 and hit .273 with 30 extra-base hits and 79 RBIs in 134 games. He jumped two more levels in 1962, playing for Indianapolis of the American Association. McNertney batted .267 with 27 extra-base hits in 101 games that year. He remained in Indianapolis as the team moved to the International League (still Triple-A) in 1963 and he struggled, batting .224 in 93 games. Despite the down year, he spent all of 1964 with the White Sox. He hit .215 with three homers and 23 RBIs in 73 games as a rookie. The next year saw him playing just 15 games during the season in Triple-A and another 21 games in fall ball.

After missing most of the 1965 season, McNertney returned to the majors in 1966 for eight more years. He spent three years (1966-68) as the backup catcher for the White Sox, prior to his selection in the 1968 expansion draft by the Seattle Pilots. In 1966 he hit .220 with one RBI in 44 games, getting just 71 plate appearances all season. He played a little more in 1967-68, but the results weren’t better. He hit .228 with three homers in 56 games in 1967, and .219 with three homers in 74 games in 1968. The move after the season to an expansion team opened up a better opportunity for him. McNertney got his most playing time in Seattle, catching 122 games that first year. In 128 games total that season, he hit .241 with 18 doubles, eight homers and 55 RBIs. He caught 94 games the next year (plus spent some time at first base) as the franchise became the Milwaukee Brewers after one year. McNertney batted .243 in 111 games, with six homers and 22 RBIs in 1970.

McNertney was traded to the St Louis Cardinals just after the 1970 season ended. He served as the backup catcher for the Cardinals for two seasons, batting .289 in 56 games in 1971, followed by a .208 average over 39 games and 56 plate appearances in 1972. After being released following the 1972 season, he was signed by the Oaklan A’s, where he played back in the minors for the first time in eight years. Less than a month into the season, the Pirates purchased his contract. McNertney served as the backup to Milt May, as Manny Sanguillen attempted to play right field, following the tragic death of Roberto Clemente. In July, Sanguillen moved back to catching full-time and McNertney was released. He played nine games for the Pirates, one as the starting catcher and the rest off of the bench. He went 1-for-4 at the plate and caught a total of 18 innings. His release by the Pirates would mark the end of his baseball playing career. He hit .237 with 27 homers and 163 RBIs in 590 big league games over nine seasons.

Les Fleming, first baseman for the 1949 Pirates. He had a 16-year minor league career that saw him bat over .300 with 280 homers. Fleming didn’t have as much success in the majors, playing a total of 434 games, including 156 in 1942 with the Indians, when he led the American League in games played. He debuted in pro ball in 1935 at 19 years old, playing Class-D ball for Alexandria of the Evangeline League for two seasons. He hit .277 with 47 extra-base hits in 135 games during his first year, then batted .321 with 64 extra-base hits in 139 games the next season. He moved up three levels to Beaumont of the Texas League for the 1937-38 seasons. Fleming hit .289 with 44 doubles, eight triples and two homers in 156 games in 1937. He followed that up with a .296 average and 68 extra-base hits in 1938 over 153 games. He jumped up to Toledo of the American Association in 1939 and batted .269 with 27 homers in 126 games. All three of his minor league clubs had working agreements with the Detroit Tigers and he actually opened the 1939 season in the majors, but he was quickly sent down at going 0-for-16 in eight games. Fleming spent all of 1940 in the minors with Buffalo of the International League, hitting .255 with 22 homers in 122 games. He was traded to Nashville of the Southern Association at the end of the 1940 season and reappeared in the majors at the very end of the 1941 season with the Cleveland Indians for two games.

Fleming was the starting first baseman for the Indians in 1942. In 156 games, he hit .292 with 27 doubles, 14 homers, 82 RBIs and 106 walks. He received mild MVP support that year. After what appeared to be a breakout season at 26 years old, he missed all of the 1943-44 seasons, plus most of 1945 while serving in the military during WWII. Fleming returned to Cleveland in August of 1945 and hit .329 over the last 42 games. He spent the next two years serving as a platoon player at first base, playing a total of 202 games. His batting average dropped from .329 to .278 in 99 games in 1946, but his OBP actually went up one point due to a huge walk rate. In 103 games in 1947, he batted .242 with four homers, 43 RBIs and 53 walks. The Pirates acquired Fleming on December 4, 1947 in exchange for first baseman Elbie Fletcher. He spent the entire 1948 season playing at Triple-A Indianapolis, where he hit .323 with 26 homers and 143 RBIs in 151 games. Fleming made the Pirates Opening Day roster in 1949, and was used mainly as a pinch-hitter, making three starts over the first two months of the season, which ended up being his last time in the big leagues. In 24 games, he hit .258 with seven RBIs and six walks in 38 plate appearances. He was returned to the minors, where he played until 1956, serving as a player/manager during the 1954 season in the Chicago Cubs system. Three of those minor league seasons were spent back in Beaumont. During his seven-year big league career, he hit .277 with 29 homers and 199 RBIs in 434 games.

Adonis Terry, pitcher for the 1892-94 Pirates. He burst onto the minor league scene as an 18-year-old in 1883, going 16-9, 1.38 for the Brooklyn Greys of the Interstate League. By 1884, he was a big league starter, spending the next 14 years in the majors, winning a total of 197 games. Terry remained in Brooklyn, playing for the Atlantics/Grays of the American Association for six years, then following the team in 1890 as it shifted to the National League. He did not have a good rookie season, as Brooklyn was a ninth place team and Adonis (real name was William) was thrown into the fire often, going 19-35, 3.55 in 55 starts, while pitching 476 innings, which included 54 complete games. In 1885 he went 6-17, 4.26 in 209 innings. The next year he had an 18-16, 3.09 record in 288.1 innings, as Brooklyn improved to a third place finish. During the 1887 season he 16-16, 4.02 in 318 innings. He completed all 35 of his starts that season. Brooklyn finished in second place in 1888 and he went 13-8, 2.03 in 195 innings. His ERA was the third best in the league, his highest finish among league leaders in that category. Terry went 22-15, 3.29 in 326 innings in 1889, helping Brooklyn to a first place finish in the American Association. The team switched to the National League in 1890 and he had his best year, going 26-16, 2.94 in 370 innings. His final season in Brooklyn didn’t go well, as his career year one season, turned into a 6-16, 4.22 record in 194 innings in 1891. He finished his eight years in Brooklyn with a 126-139, 3.42 record, twice winning over twenty games. He was released by Brooklyn in June of 1892, after not pitching during the first two months of the season. He signed quickly with Baltimore and lost the only game he pitched there, giving up seven runs in a complete game. The Pirates acquired Terry on June 17, 1892, for second baseman Cub Stricker, who they acquired three days earlier for Hall of Fame pitcher Pud Galvin.

Terry pitched great for the Pirates, going 18-7, 2.51 in 240 innings over the last four months of the 1892 season. He struggled a bit in 1893, going 12-8, 4.45 in 19 starts and seven relief outings. On April 28, 1894, he made his first start of the season in the seventh game of the year for the Pirates. It was also his last start for the team. He allowed five runs in the first inning, unable to record three outs before he was removed from the game. A month later, he was a regular member of the Chicago Colts (Cubs) rotation, finishing his big league career there three years later. He was 5-11, 5.84 in 163.1 innings to finish out the 1894 season, then compiled a strong record in 1895, despite only minor improvements in the ERA department. He went 21-14, 4.80 in 311.1 innings that year. It was a drop of 1.04 in ERA, but hitting dropped league-wide from a high in 1894, so his ERA wasn’t as big of an improvement as it appears. He was above league average both years, yet he went from six games under .500 to seven games over that mark. In 1896, Terry went 15-14, 4.33 in 235.2 innings. He lost his only start during the 1897 season, giving up ten runs over eight innings in his final game. Terry played his last two seasons of pro ball in the minors for Milwaukee of the Western League, where his manager was Connie Mack, his regular catcher in Pittsburgh. After retiring as a player, he briefly took up umpiring in the majors, though that didn’t last long. His career record in 14 years was 197-196, 3.74 in 3,514.1 innings. He had 406 career starts and completed 367 games.

Jim Gray, infielder for the 1884 and 1890 Alleghenys, and 1893 Pirates. He was a native of Pittsburgh, who kept popping up with the local teams every so often. His minor league records show him parts of three (1887-88, 1898) seasons. He mostly played semi-pro ball in the Pittsburgh area, and was well-known in Pittsburgh and a very popular player. He played baseball full-time for just two years (1887-88) because he had a job in town that paid much better than pro ball, plus the job allowed him to play with the local teams back when baseball was hugely popular in town. His entire Major League career consisted of six games, and included three stints with the Pirates franchise and two games for the Pittsburgh Burghers in 1890, a team from the Player’s League. In 1884, he was forced into action for the Alleghenys of the American Association when Doggie Miller got hurt while running in the fourth inning. Teams back then didn’t carry many extra players, so an injury sometimes resulted in a local player filling in. Gray was one of the better (best?) local amateur players, so he got the call that day. Six years later, he filled in again for the Alleghenys, this time as a member of the National League. The Alleghenys had two injured infielders and needed a shortstop for one game in Cleveland. Manager Guy Hecker asked owner J. Palmer O’Neill to send him a player and Gray was the choice. He had a rough game that day, going 0-for-3 with three errors, two of them costly, in a 15-0 loss. In 1893, he was called up to substitute for Jack Glasscock for two days and collected two hits in each game. The only reason he didn’t stay longer was because the Pirates went on the road after his second game and he couldn’t leave due to work obligations. His first game in 1893 came exactly three years to the day of his lone game in 1890 with the Alleghenys. Gray was able to hold his own at the plate, batting .304 with a homer in his 23 career at-bats, but he had his share of problems in the field, making nine errors in his six games. He was referred to in The Pittsburgh Press as the “local County League boy” whenever he showed up in a Major League game. In his six game career, he played third base, second base and shortstop. We covered his career in an Obscure Pittsburgh Pirates article that goes into full detail about his playing days in Pittsburgh.

The Trades

On this date in 1904, the Pirates, New York Giants and Cincinnati Reds got together on a three-player trade. Pittsburgh sent young right fielder Jimmy Sebring to the Reds, while the Reds sent veteran outfielder Mike Donlin to the Giants and New York sent outfielder Moose McCormick to the Pirates. This trade is an odd one in that all three of these players had no problems walking away from their baseball careers, right in the middle of them. Donlin was by far the best player of the group, but he also had a successful career outside of baseball, performing in vaudeville with his wife, who was a famous actress at the time. Sebring also left baseball to be with his wife, who was sick for a brief time. Instead of returning, he began playing for a local team and was blacklisted from the majors. He returned to the majors in 1909, but passed away the following off-season. McCormick retired from baseball for three years, before going back to the Giants, where he was used mostly off the bench. The Pirates got just 66 games out of Moose, but they later acquired Donlin for outfielder Vin Campbell, another players that had no qualms over leaving baseball for more money elsewhere.

On this date in 1930, the Pirates traded outfielder Fred Brickell to the Philadelphia Phillies for outfielder Denny Sothern. This is listed as a trade, but it was technically the two teams trading waiver pickups, not an actual trade, but it worked the same way. The Pirates were giving up a 23-year-old outfielder with a .312 average over 265 games, spread out over five seasons. In return, they got a 26-year-old center fielder, with a .287 average in 321 games, and a knack of picking up outfield assists, twice leading National League center fielders. The trade quickly went down south for the Pirates. Sothern would play just 17 games for Pittsburgh, and only 19 other games in his big league career. He hit .176 with the Pirates and never picked up another assist after leaving Philadelphia. It wasn’t a huge loss for the Pirates, as Brickell also saw a quick drop in his production. He played parts of four seasons in Philadelphia, hitting .258 with one homer in 236 games.

On this date in 1958, the Pirates signed the great Willie Stargell as an amateur free agent. Just 18 years old at the time, and fresh out of Encinal HS in Alameda, California, Stargell went on to have a 21-year Major League career, spent all with the Pirates, which ended with him gaining election into the Hall of Fame. Stargell reportedly received a $1,500 bonus to sign. Money well spent by the Pirates I’d say.

On this date in 1987, the Pirates traded third baseman Jim Morrison to the Detroit Tigers for third baseman/outfielder Darnell Coles. Five days later, the Tigers also sent pitcher Morris Madden to the Pirates as the player to be named later in this deal. The Pirates got 14 appearances, three as a starter, out of Madden. He pitched 19.2 innings, with a 5.03 ERA over parts of two years. Coles lasted nearly a full year with the Pirates before he was dealt for outfielder Glenn Wilson. In 108 games with the Pirates, he hit .230 with 11 homers and 60 RBIs. Morrison was in his 11th season in the majors, nearing his 35th birthday at the time of the deal. He hit .274, with 57 homers and 241 RBIs in 552 games for the Pirates over five seasons. He was nearly done as a player at the time, batting .209 in 58 with the Tigers, then .152 with two homers in 51 games for the 1988 Atlanta Braves.

On this date in 2000, the Pirates trade utility fielder Luis Sojo to the Yankees for pitcher Chris Spurling. Sojo had been with New York up until the 2000 season, signing with the Pirates as a free agent. To get the veteran back, the Yankees gave up a 23-year-old minor league reliever who they took in the 41st round of the 1997 draft. Spurling was in high-A ball, where he remained and pitched extremely well after the trade. The next year he tried out starting in Double-A with mild success, but returning to the level the next year, he moved into the closing role and pitched strong in 51 outings. The Pirates lost him in the 2002 Rule 5 draft and he eventually pitched 187 games in the majors over four seasons. Sojo had signed a one-year deal with the Pirates and was not playing full-time. He moved to a bench role with the Yankees, playing parts of three years there before retiring.