We have four former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date. We also have one trade of note and a Game Rewind article from the 1926 season.
On this date in 2003, the Pirates traded All-Star outfielder Brian Giles to the San Diego Padres for outfielder Jason Bay, pitcher Oliver Perez and minor league pitcher Corey Stewart, who was a player to be named later in the deal. The 32-year-old Giles had played five seasons with the Pirates, hitting .308 with 165 homers, 501 runs scored, 519 walks and 506 RBIs in 715 games. At the time of the deal, he was hitting .299 with 16 homers and a .951 OPS. Perez and Bay each had minimal Major League experience at the time. Bay, at age 24, had played just three games for the Padres. He was in Triple-A, batting .303 with 20 homers and 23 stolen bases in 91 games. Perez had an 8-12, 4.51 record in two years with the Padres and he had just turned 22 years old. Stewart didn’t come over until October. He was a 23-year-old lefty, who spent the 2003 season in Double-A.
After the deal, the Pirates got two minor league seasons out of Stewart, who never made it to the majors. Perez paid off huge his first full season (12 wins, 2.98 ERA, 239 K’s), then went downhill quickly, having three poor seasons before the Pirates traded him to the New York Mets in the Xavier Nady deal. Bay ended up being the key to the deal, hitting .281 with 139 homers and 452 RBIs over his six seasons (four full years) in Pittsburgh. Giles played seven years in San Diego (he signed a free agent deal after 2005), and while he was still a strong hitter, his numbers fell way off from his Pirates days, especially the power numbers playing in his new spacious ballpark. He hit .279 with 83 homers in 833 games for the Padres.
Jayson Nix, utility player for the 2014 Pirates. Nix had a brief stay in Pittsburgh as part of his seven-year career that saw him play for eight different teams. He was already in his seventh season when the Pirates acquired him as a free agent, just days after being released by the Tampa Bay Rays, where he was playing in the minors. He began the year with the Philadelphia Phillies, who let him go in mid-May. Nix joined the Pirates in early August and batted .111 in 16 games, while seeing time at second base, third base and right field. The Pirates placed him on waivers in late August and he signed with the Kansas City Royals, where he finished his big league career that season. Nix was a .212 hitter in 466 big league games, with 38 homers, 36 steals, 130 RBIs and 143 runs scored.
He was a first round draft pick of the Colorado Rockies in 2001, taken 44th overall out of high school. In his pro debut that same year, he went to the short-season Pioneer League, where he hit .294 and posted an .856 OPS. Nix moved up to Low-A in 2002, where he hit .246 with 29 doubles, 14 homers, 62 walks and 14 steals. In 2003, he was in the High-A California League and did well in the high offense environment. He hit .281 with 107 runs scored, 46 doubles, 21 homers and 24 steals. He played in the Arizona Fall League that year for the first of two straight seasons. During the 2004 season, Nix played in Double-A for Tulsa of the Texas League. He hit just .213, with a major drop in his power down to a .639 OPS. He repeated the level in 2005 and batted .236 with a .644 OPS. Just when it looked like his career stalled, he was promoted to Triple-A Colorado Springs of the Pacific Coast League, which was another high offense team. He did not do well his first season in Triple-A, batting .251 with a .630 OPS in 103 games. Repeating the level in 2007, he hit .292 with 33 doubles, 11 homers and 24 steals. He did even better in 2008, posting a .964 OPS in 67 games, which earned him his first promotion to the majors.
Nix hit just .125 in a 22-game trial for the Rockies in 2008. He became a free agent after the season and signed with the Chicago White Sox. He saw plenty of big league time that first year in Chicago, hitting .224 with 12 homers and ten steals in 94 games. He began 2010 with the White Sox, then was lost mid-season on waivers to the Cleveland Indians. Between both stops he hit .224 again, this time with 14 homers, 34 RBIs and just one steal in 102 games. In 2011, Nix was purchased by the Toronto Blue Jays. He struggled in the majors that season, hitting .169 with four homers in 46 games. He signed with the New York Yankees after the season and spent two years there. He hit .243 with four homers in 73 games in 2012 and .236 with three homers and 13 steals in 2013. That was the only year in his career where most of his time was spent at shortstop. He played more third base and second base than anywhere else during his time in the majors. Prior to joining the Pirates in 2014, he hit .154 in 18 games with the Phillies. He played just seven games after leaving Pittsburgh, going 0-for-8 with the Royals.
Eric Fryer, catcher for the 2011-12 and 2016 Pirates. He was a tenth round pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2007 draft out of Ohio State. His pro debut did not go well in the short-season Pioneer League, where he batted .209, with a .612 OPS in 43 games. In 2008, Fryer tore up Low-A, hitting .339 with 41 extra-base hits and 15 steals in 104 games. He was traded to the New York Yankees in February of 2009, and then got dealt to the Pirates for Eric Hinske in June of 2009. During his short time with the Yankees, he put up a .677 OPS in 59 games at High-A in the Florida State League. After the trade, the Pirates kept him in High-A, where he had a .730 OPS in 47 games for Lynchburg of the Carolina League. In 2010, Fryer spent the season with Bradenton, as the Pirates switched High-A affiliates that year. He played 83 games, while missing a short amount of time due to injury. He hit .300 with 29 extra-base hits and ten steals in 11 attempts that season. He moved up to Double-A to start 2011 and was among the best hitters in the Eastern League, hitting .345 with a .976 OPS in 37 games. Fryer debuted in the majors in June of 2011. He was up for approximately five weeks, and he batted .269 in ten games. He spent the second half of the season in Triple-A Indianapolis, where he hit just .203 in 38 games.
Fryer got into six games total for the 2012 Pirates, seeing big league time in July and September. All six of his appearances were off of the bench, and he didn’t do any catching. The rest of the year was spent in Triple-A, where he struggled with a .204 average and no homers in 65 games. He was let go after the season and then played the next three seasons with the Minnesota Twins, splitting each year between Triple-A and the majors, with the majority of the time in the minors. He played six games in 2013, 28 games in 2014 and 15 games in 2015 with the Twins. During that time he hit .236 with two homers and 11 RBIs. Fryer signed with the St Louis Cardinals in 2006, but the Pirates were able to pick him up off of waivers in July. While he was seeing limited time with the Cardinals, he had a .368 average in 24 games. He played 36 games after rejoining the Pirates, hitting .218 with eight RBIs. He became a free agent after the season and signed ten days later with the Cardinals. Fryer finished his big league career in St Louis in 2017, hitting just .155 in 34 games. He signed a free agent deal with the Philadelphia Phillies in early 2018, but he decided to retire just two days before Spring Training started. He played a total of 159 games over his seven seasons in the majors, finishing with a .232 average, two homers and 27 RBIs.
Jeff Richardson, infielder for the 1991 Pirates. He was originally a seventh round draft pick in 1986 of the Cincinnati Reds out of Louisiana Tech. Richardson debuted in the short-season Pioneer League, where he batted .315 with 12 steals and 42 runs scored in 47 games. In 1987 he spent a majority of the season with Tampa of the Florida State League, where he hit .299 in 100 games, though his OPS was just .634 due to low power numbers. He also played 35 games in Double-A that year, hitting .209, with a .482 OPS. He spent all of 1988 in Double-A, playing for Chattanooga of the Southern Association. He hit .251 with one homer in 122 games. Richardson went to Triple-A in 1989, where he batted .273 with 19 doubles and one homer in 88 games. He made it to the majors in July of 1989 and saw plenty of time over the rest of the season. In 53 games, he hit .168 with two homers and 11 RBIs, seeing most of his time at shortstop in place of the injured Barry Larkin. On April 3, 1990, the Pirates traded outfielder Billy Hatcher to get Richardson and pitcher Mike Roesler. Nearly his entire time with the Pirates, from 1990-93, was spent with Triple-A Buffalo, but he did make a brief appearance in the majors during the 1991 season.
Richardson batted just .207 in 66 games with Buffalo in 1990. He was batting .239 with one homer in 23 games in 1991 when he got his second chance at the majors. When Jeff King went on the disabled list in mid-May, the Pirates called up Richardson and got him into six games. He batted four times, collecting a single and striking out the other three times. When King returned after 15 days, Richardson was sent down, ending his Major League time with the Pirates. He had minor knee surgery shortly after he was sent back to Buffalo. He returned in August and finished the 1991 season with a .258 average in 62 games. In 1992, he had his best minor league season, hitting .290 with 23 doubles and three homers in 97 games. Almost exactly three years to the day that they acquired him, the Pirates dealt Richardson to the Boston Red Sox for pitcher Daryl Irvine. He hit .208 in 15 games for Boston in 1993, missing most of the year with back problems. In 1994, Richardson spent the entire year in the minors while playing in the St Louis Cardinals system. He then finished his playing career in 1995 with a brief stay at Triple-A for the Pirates. He managed the next three seasons (1996-98) in the Pirates farm system. There was a second Jeff Richardson in baseball at the same time. The other was a pitcher who played in the majors briefly with the 1990 California Angels.
Sparky Adams,infielder for the 1928-29 Pirates. He got a late start in his pro career, not playing his first minor league game until age 24. He didn’t make the majors until weeks after his 28th birthday, but he ended up playing 13 years in the majors. Adams played very briefly for Reading of the International League in 1914, then spent the 1915 season with Danville of the Class-D Piedmont League. At the time, that would have been the same drop in competition as going from Triple-A to Rookie League ball. Adams excelled at the low level, batting .326 with 45 extra-base hits and 98 RBIs in 119 games. In 1916, he moved back up to the International League with Syracuse, where he hit .266 with 26 doubles, five triples and no homers in 166 games. He moved down a level to Wichita of the Texas League in 1922 and hit .340 with 209 hits, 29 doubles and 15 triples. Adams finished the season with the Chicago Cubs, hitting .250 in 11 games. He remained with the Cubs in 1923 and primarily played shortstop. He hit .289 with 40 runs scored in 95 games that season. He followed it up in 1924 by hitting .280 with 40 walks and 66 runs scored. Adams moved to second base and saw full-time work in 1925. He hit .287 with 39 extra-base hits, 26 steals and 95 runs scored. His 1926 season was a strong one as well, with a .309 average, 35 doubles and 95 RBIs. His .742 OPS was the second best of his big league career. The OPS dropped down to .675 in 1927, though he managed to score 100 runs, while hitting .292 with 26 steals.
He spent his first six years with the Cubs, where he hit .292 with 401 runs scored and 201 RBIs in 672 games. He saw plenty of time at shortstop, third and second base during his career, playing at least 297 games at each position. He came to the Pirates on November 28, 1927, as the main return in the deal for Hall of Fame outfielder Kiki Cuyler, which turned out to be the disaster it looked like on paper when it happened. In the three years prior to the Pirates acquiring him, Adams led the league in at-bats every single year. He also scored between 95 and 100 runs each season. With the Pirates in 1928, Sparky (first name was Earl) got most of his playing time at shortstop, making 105 starts there. He batted second to begin the year, then moved to the lead-off spot in early July. He hit .276 with 64 walks, 38 RBIs and 91 runs scored in 135 games. In 1929, he was being used more in a utility role, seeing time at all three infield positions, and being used more often off of the bench. It was a down year for Adams, who hit .260 with 11 RBIs and 37 runs scored in 74 games. After the season, he was sold to the St Louis Cardinals.
Adams immediately had two strong seasons in St Louis, hitting .314 with 98 runs scored and a career high 55 RBIs in his first year there in 1930, which was a huge year for offense all around baseball. He then finishing ninth in the National League MVP voting the following year, when he hit .293 with 97 runs scored and a league leading 46 doubles. Adams had three more average years in the majors, before finishing his career off in 1935 in the minors. He had a knee injury on May 17, 1932 that basically ended his season. He returned two months after the injury and pinch-hit, only to be replaced in the middle of the at-bat due to re-injuring his knee while getting out of the way of an inside pitch. He was placed on the voluntarily retired list for the rest of the season. In 1933, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds early in the season as part of a six-player deal that also included Hall of Fame manager Leo Durocher, who was a player at the time. Adams hit .257 with 60 runs scored in 145 games that season. He hit .252, with a .623 OPS in 87 games during his final big league seasons in 1934. He finished his career in the minors in 1935. He was a .286 career hitter in 1,424 games, with 844 runs scored and 1,588 hits.
Adams was considered to be a strong defensive player earlier in his career, which is one of the pluses they noted when they made the ill-fated Cuyler trade. The problem was that Adams was already 33 years old at the time of the deal, so his defense was on its way downhill when he joined the Pirates. He has a strong career defensive WAR total of 10.3, but it was just 2.1 in his last seven seasons combined, with 1.1 of that total coming in the 1933 season.
On this date in 1926, the Pittsburgh Pirates won 15-7 over the New York Giants, which gave them a tie for first place with the St Louis Cardinals. Rookie right fielder Paul Waner had a 6-for-6 day, with two doubles and a triple. It was the only six-hit game of his career. The game included a total of eight future Hall of Famers in the lineup. You can find a game recap here, which has a link to the boxscore and play-by-play.