On a busy day for Pittsburgh Pirates history, we have nine birthdays of former players, plus a quick look at some trades of note. Before we get into that, current infielder Erik Gonzalez turns 30 today, while current pitcher Dillon Peters turns 29 years old.
On this date in 2011, the Pirate sent outfielder Matt Diaz to the Atlanta Braves for a player to be named later. Twenty days later they acquired minor league pitcher Eliecer Cardenas, who was injured to start the season, then released in June before he ever appeared in a game. Diaz hit .259 with no homers and 19 RBIs in 100 games with the Pirates, then batted .286 with one RBI in 16 games for the Braves after the deal. He was originally with the Braves, but signed a two-year deal with the Pirates prior to the 2011 season.
On this date in 1997, the Pirates acquired 34-year-old veteran shortstop Shawon Dunston from the Chicago Cubs to help with their playoff run. He would hit .394 with five homers, 16 RBIs and 14 runs scored in 18 games for the Pirates. Despite his efforts, the Pirates missed the playoffs and Dunston left via free agency after the season. He was acquired for what was called a player to be named later, but there was never any word of the deal being completed. Rookie Kevin Polcovich was starting at shortstop, but he sprained his ankle on August 29th and they expected him to miss three weeks. He actually never returned that season.
On this date in 1985, the Pirates traded Bill Madlock to the Los Angeles Dodgers for three players to be named later. Three days later, they received outfielder R.J. Reynolds. Six days after that, they acquired both outfielder Cecil Espy and first baseman Sid Bream. Madlock still had two years left on a free agent deal that he signed in 1982. He hit .285 with 15 homers and 82 RBIs in 166 games with the Dodgers before being released. The Pirates got the better of the deal, with five full seasons out of Reynolds, who played 616 games with the Pirates, hitting .269 with 234 RBIs and 237 runs scored. Bream also hit .269 in five full seasons with the Pirates. He had 57 homers, 293 RBIs and 243 runs scored in 643 games. Espy played for the Pirates but not until after they got him back in 1991 as a free agent. He was lost to the Texas Rangers in the Rule 5 draft after the 1986 season.
On this date in 1981, the Pirates acquired Johnny Ray and two players to be named later, in exchange for Phil Garner. Nine days later, Pittsburgh got two pitchers, Randy Niemann and Kevin Houston. Garner ended up signing two free agent deals with the Astros and sticking around for six more years after the trade. Ray ended up as the regular second baseman for the Pirates for just as long, while Kevin Houston never made the majors and Niemann struggled through 49 innings for the 1982-83 Pirates. Considering the minimal contract the Pirates were giving up at the time with Garner, the deal worked out amazing for the Pirates. Ray put up 19.4 WAR in six full years with the Pirates (he was traded late in the 1987 season) and he was in the lineup almost every day, playing 931 games (average of 155 per year).
On this date in 1968, the Pirates sold Elroy Face to the Detroit Tigers, ending his 15 years of service with the team, in which he picked up 100 wins and 186 saves in 1,314.2 innings over 802 games. Face pitched just two games for Detroit, mostly because their starting pitchers were constantly throwing complete games. The Tigers went on to the World Series and they won in seven games over the St Louis Cardinals. Face played his final season with the Montreal Expos in 1969, where he posted a 3.94 ERA in 59.1 innings over 44 appearances.
On this date in 1953, the Pirates sold knuckleball pitcher Johnny Lindell to the Philadelphia Phillies. Lindell started his career as a pitcher, moved to outfield for ten years, then back to pitching to finish his career. He returned as a knuckleball pitcher. This transaction came just one day after his 37th birthday. He actually did better as a hitter with the Pirates, batting .286 in 109 plate appearances, compared to a 5-16, 4.71 record. After the sale, he had a 4.24 ERA in 23.1 innings with the Phillies, then got released early in the 1954 season before making any appearances on the mound. He was used seven times as a pinch-hitter that year and had one single and two walks.
Juan Nicasio, pitcher for the 2016-17 Pirates. He played four years for the Colorado Rockies and one season with the Los Angeles Dodgers before signing a free agent deal with the Pirates on December 10, 2015. Nicasio had some starting experience, but was used more in relief prior to signing. His career began back in 2006 when the Rockies signed him right before his 20th birthday as an international amateur free agent from the Dominican Republic. He debuted in the Dominican Summer League that year and had a 2.89 ERA in 28 innings. The next year he moved up to the short-season Pioneer League, where he posted a 4.36 ERA in 43.1 innings. He was in short-season ball in 2008 as well, playing for Tri-City of the Northwest League, where he made 12 starts and had a 4.50 ERA in 54 innings. He finally made it to full-season ball in 2009 with a full season as a starter for Asheville of the South Atlantic League. Nicasio went 9-3, 2.41 in 112 innings. His slow progress continued in 2010, as he spent the entire season in High-A, pitching in the California League, where he went 12-10, 3.91, with 171 strikeouts in 177.1 innings over 28 starts. The 2011 season finally saw him make progress at a faster pace. He made just nine starts in Double-A, putting up a 2.22 ERA in 56.2 innings, before making the jump to the majors. In his rookie season, he went 4-4, 4.14 in 71.2 innings for the Rockies before a line drive off of his head in early August resulted in him missing the rest of the season.
Nicasio made just 11 starts during the 2012 season, going 2-3, 5.28 in 58 innings over 11 starts, before a knee injury in June ended his season early. He came back for 31 starts in 2013, going 9-9, 5.14 in 157.2 innings. He spent part of 2014 back in Triple-A, while pitching 33 times in the majors, 14 as a starter. He went 6-6, 5.38 in 93.2 innings. He was traded to the Dodgers prior to the 2015 season. Nicasio went 1-3, 3.86 in 58.1 innings over 53 appearances, making just one start. The Pirates gave him a shot to win a starting rotation spot in Spring Training and he did. That didn’t last long though, as he ended up with 12 starts on the season and 40 relief appearances. Nicasio went 10-7, 4.50 in 118 innings. In 2017, he was pitching strictly in relief. He had a 2.85 ERA in 65 appearances and 80 innings pitched, but he was let go via waivers late in the season. He has bounced around after leaving the Pirates, going from Philadelphia, to the St Louis Cardinals, to the Seattle Mariners, back to Philadelphia, then finally to the Texas Rangers in 2020. Nicasio had a 6.00 ERA in 42 innings over 46 appearances in 2018 with the Mariners. He had a 4.75 ERA in 47 outings over 47.1 innings with the 2019 Phillies. He lasted just two games in 2020, giving up six runs in 1.1 innings. In ten seasons in the majors, he posted a 40-46, 4.71 record in 720.1 innings over 82 starts and 282 relief appearances.
Morris Madden, pitcher for the 1988-89 Pirates. He was originally a 24th round draft pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1979 out of Spartanburg Methodist College. It’s a school that has produced nine big league players through the draft, but just two of those players have been drafted in the last 32 years. Madden spent eight seasons in the minors before he made his Major League debut with the 1987 Detroit Tigers. Despite getting drafted out of college, he was still just 18 years old when he debuted in pro ball in 1979, posting a 2.93 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 83 innings for Lethbridge of the Pioneer League. By 1980 he was already in the Florida State League, where he went 11-9, 3.37 in 171 innings. He repeated the level in 1981 and saw a slight dip in his performance, going 6-12, 3.70 in 21 starts. He made three starts at Double-A and they did not go well, with a 0-3, 13.91 record. In 1982, Madden once again split the season between High-A and Double-A, seeing better results (2.60 ERA 72.2 innings) at the lower level. He had an 8.53 ERA in four Double-A starts. The 1983 season saw the same split in levels, though there were two changes. He saw much more time at Double-A that year than the previous two seasons. He also saw a lot of bullpen time. His results weren’t much different at either level, combining to go 8-9, 5.02 in 118.1 innings.
In 1984, Madden was lost in the Rule 5 draft to the Cincinnati Reds. He spent that season back in the Florida State League, where he went 6-9, 4.36 in 132 innings. The 1985 season was split between the FSL and a brief stint in Double-A. He combined to go 7-11, 3.30 in 114.2 innings, with 109 strikeouts. Madden became a free agent after the season and signed a minor league deal with the Detroit Tigers. He went 7-5, 4.04 in 91.1 innings, spending the entire season in Double-A. In 1987, he spent most of the year in Triple-A for the Tigers, putting together a 4.47 ERA in 58.1 innings. Madden pitched two games in June for Detroit, allowing three runs in 1.2 innings. The Pirates acquired him as the player to be named later in the August 7, 1987 Jim Morrison for Darnell Coles trade. Madden spent the rest of 1987 in Triple-A for the Pirates. He pitched one game for the Pirates in August of 1988, then came back for four more as a September call-up. He had an odd pitching line of no runs allowed in 5.2 innings, despite giving up five hits and seven walks. In Triple-A that year, he had a 3.48 ERA in 108.2 innings. In 1989, he pitched six games with the Pirates through early May, then came back from Triple-A in mid-June as a starter and did not do well in any of his three starts. His last outing, which ended up being his final Major League game, was the worst. He gave up a hit and three walks before he was pulled from the game after just four batters. The Pirates released Madden after the season and he ended up pitching one more year at Triple-A for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He pitched 325 minor league games, 189 as a starter, finishing with an 82-87, 3.96 record in 1,355.2 innings. His big league line read 2-2, 5.91 in 21.1 innings.
Ramon Hernandez, lefty reliever for the 1971-76 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1959, but it took twelve years for him to actually play his first game in Pittsburgh. The Pirates sold him to the Los Angeles Angels after the 1961 season, though it was still six years before he even made his Major League debut. His pro debut was rough at 18 years old, playing in the Class- C Northern League, he had a 7.73 ERA in 71 innings. He did better repeating the level, posting a 3.23 ERA in 53 innings, but he left baseball for over a year due to being unhappy about a stint in Dubuque of the Class-D Midwest League. That led to the sale to the Angels, and he returned to action in 1962. Hernandez went 7-6, 2.93 in 138 innings, with 171 strikeouts for San Jose of the Class-C California League. He jumped up to the Pacific Coast League in 1963, while also serving a stint in the Mexican League, after he was suspended again. In 1964, Hernandez returned to San Jose (which reclassified to Class-A) and went 6-6, 4.40 in 94 innings. In 1965, he moved up to El Paso of the Texas League and posted a 6-7, 3.93 record in 135 innings, making 14 starts and 29 relief appearances. Most of 1966 was spent in El Paso, though he had a brief stint in the Pacific Coast League as well. He combined to go 9-9, 2.44 in 133 innings that season.
In 1967, Hernandez threw 46 games for the Atlanta Braves, who took him in the Rule 5 draft during the previous fall. He went 0-2, 4.18 in 51.2 innings, with five saves. He was then lost in the 1967 Rule 5 draft to the Chicago Cubs, who used him in eight games before being sold to the St Louis Cardinals. He allowed 11 runs in nine innings with the Cubs. Hernandez never made it to the majors in St Louis, spending the rest of the 1968 season in Triple-A, where he had a 6.19 ERA in 32 innings. The Cardinals released him after he spent the 1969 season in the Texas League, and then he signed to play in Mexico for the 1970 season. The Pirates picked him up in February of 1971 from the Mexico City Reds in exchange for longtime minor league pitcher Danilo Rivas. Hernandez spent most of 1971 in Triple-A, but he pitched ten games for a Pirates team that won the World Series. He had a two-game stint in June, followed by eight September appearances. He didn’t allow a run until his last outing of the season, finishing with an 0.73 ERA in 12.1 innings.
Hernandez would spend the entire 1972 season with the Pirates and he was outstanding out of the bullpen. He went 5-0, 1.67 in 70 innings over 53 games, with a career high 14 saves. In the NLCS against the Cincinnati Reds, he allowed one hit over 3.1 innings in three appearances, though that hit was a solo home run. He continued to be a strong relief option for the Pirates for the next three seasons, starting with a 2.41 ERA and 11 saves in 89.2 innings over 59 games in 1973. The next year he went 5-2, 2.75 in 68.2 innings over 58 games. In the 1974 NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he threw 4.1 scoreless innings over two outings. The Pirates won the NL East again the following year, but this time Hernandez didn’t do so well in the playoffs. He had a 2.95 ERA in 64 innings over the course of the regular season. He lost his only appearance in the playoffs, giving up two runs in the tenth inning of a 5-3 loss during game three. He remained with the Pirates until September of 1976, when he was sold to the Cubs. During that final season in Pittsburgh, he went 2-2, 3.56 in 43 innings over 37 appearances. He made two scoreless appearances with the Cubs. Hernandez played one more season in the majors before retiring, splitting 1977 between the Cubs and Boston Red Sox, going 0-1, 6.64 in 20.1 innings over 18 games. For Pittsburgh, he was 23-12, 2.51 in 263 relief appearances, picking up 39 saves and pitching a total of 347.2 innings. He pitched 74 games total outside of Pittsburgh and finished with a 3.03 career ERA in 430.1 innings, with 46 saves.
Ray Berres, catcher for the 1937-40 Pirates. When he came to the majors in 1934 with the Brooklyn Dodgers, he was the backup catcher to Hall of Famer Al Lopez. It wouldn’t be the last time the two crossed paths. Berres debuted in pro ball at 21 years old in 1929 for Waterloo of the Class-D Mississippi Valley League. He hit .300 that first season in 64 games. He moved up two levels to Montgomery of the Southeastern League in 1930, where he batted .253 in 69 games. In 1931, Berres hit .226 in 36 games for Birmingham of the Southern Association (Class-A). He remained there for three seasons, hitting .283 with 21 extra-base hits in 107 games in 1932, followed by a .294 average and 16 extra-base hits in 124 games in 1933. Berres played five years of minor league ball before being taken in the Rule 5 draft in October of 1933 by the Dodgers. That first season, he hit .215 in 39 games, sticking around for his defense and arm more than his bat, something that was true for most of his playing career. He spent the entire 1935 season in the minors with Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League, then came back to Brooklyn in 1936 and played 105 games. He batted .240 with 12 extra-base hits and 13 RBIs in his second big league trial. Berres was back in the minors for almost the entire 1937 season, getting into just two games for the Pirates, who purchased his contract late in the year from Louisville of the American Association. On the last day of the season, he caught both games of the doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds.
Berres caught a break when the Pirates traded catcher Tommy Padden in the 1937-38 off-season, leaving him as the backup catcher to Al Todd. Using just the two catchers the entire year in 1938, Berres got into 40 games and hit .230 with two doubles and a .537 OPS. In 1939, Al Todd was traded for catcher Ray Mueller, and Mueller would split the catching duties with Berres for the entire year. Berres hit .229 with 16 RBIs in 81 games, finishing with the second highest fielding percentage among catchers in the National League. He caught another 21 games with the Pirates in 1940 before being traded away for a familiar name. On June 14, 1940, Berres was sent to the Boston Bees (Braves), along with cash, for Al Lopez. After the deal, Berres batted just .192 in 85 games with the 1940 Bees. He was hitting .188 at the time of the deal. He played a career high 120 games in 1941, though it was clear that his defense kept him in the lineup. He batted .201 and finished the year with a .494 OPS. He was sold to the New York Giants in February of 1942.
Berres remained in the majors until 1945, spending his last four years as a seldom used backup for the Giants. He batted .188 in 12 games in 1942, with one RBI and no runs scored. In 1943 he hit .143 in 20 games, with no RBIs and one run scored. In 1944 he played 16 games and batted just 19 times. Berres hit .471 with a homer. In his final season, he hit .167 in 20 games. He had a total of 32 starts in those final four seasons combined. He became a coach as soon as his career ended, sticking around until the early 1970’s. At one point he was the pitching coach for Al Lopez, who was managing the Chicago White Sox at the time. Berres hit .225 with no homers and 24 RBIs in 144 games for the Pirates. He was a .216 career hitter in 561 games over 11 big league season. He hit just three homers in his career, with two of them coming at the Polo Grounds.
Wally Rehg, outfielder for the 1912 Pirates. He played his first two years of pro ball for the Hartford Senators of the Class-B Connecticut State League, showing enough improvements in his second year to draw the interest of the Pirates. Rehg hit .224 with 38 extra-base hits in 118 games in 1910 at 21 years old. The next year he batted .286 with 38 extra-base hits in 124 games for Hartford. The Boston Red Sox owned his rights for a brief time, but when they asked waivers on him in January of 1912, the Pirates put in a claim. It was said that Pirates pitcher Lefty Leifield did the scouting work on Rehg and recommended him to owner Barney Dreyfuss when he became available. Rehg was playing shortstop for Hartford, but the scouting reports said that he was a better outfielder, so that’s where the Pirates planned on using him. The waiver price at the time was $1,500. Rehg made the Opening Day roster in 1912, making his first appearance as a pinch-hitter in the third game of the season. He would play just eight games for the Pirates,all of them off of the bench, getting into a total of two games in the field, one in right field and one in center field. Rehg went 0-for-9 at the plate, though he did score a run when he pinch-ran for Dots Miller in his (Rehg’s) final game with the Pirates on June 26th. He was sold to St Paul of the American Association right after his final game with the Pirates. The Pirates claimed him back at the end of the season, and he went to Spring Training in 1913, lasting until April 7th before he was returned to St Paul.
Rehg remained in St Paul until being picked up by the Boston Red Sox in August of 1913. He played 123 games for the Red Sox between the 1913-15 seasons, then he played 127 games for the crosstown Boston Braves during the 1917-18 seasons. He played regularly after joining the Red Sox in 1913, hitting .277 in 30 games. In 1914 he batted .219 in 88 games, with a .577 OPS. He played just five April games in 1915 before ending up with Providence of the International League. Rehg remained with Providence through the middle of the 1917 season, before joining the Braves. He hit .270 with 31 RBIs and 48 runs scored in 87 games for Boston that year, while mostly playing in right field. In 1918 he mostly played in left field. He hit .241 with 12 RBIs in 40 games that year. He finished his Major League career in 1919 with the Cincinnati Reds, getting into just five games for the World Series champs. In 263 Major League games, Rehg hit .250 with two homers and 66 RBIs. He had a long and successful minor league career, hitting .300 over 2,125 games, taking part in 19 seasons. He played for Indianapolis of the American Association from 1919 through 1926. His career ended after the 1930 season, when he spent part of the year in a managerial role. Both of his career homers were inside-the-park homers, the second one coming off of the Pirates all-time wins leader, Wilbur Cooper. Rehg went by his first name (Walter) during his time in Pittsburgh, and the Wally nickname that he’s known as now, was not used during that time.
Syd Smith, catcher for the 1914-15 Pirates. He spent two full seasons and parts of three other years in the majors, while also playing over 1,500 minor league games. Smith debuted in pro ball in 1904 at 20 years old, spending his first two seasons with Class-C Charleston of the South Atlantic League. While available stats are limited, they show that he hit .282 in 118 games as a rookie, followed by a .265 average in 115 games the next year. He moved up two levels to Atlanta in Southern Association for the 1906-07 seasons. Smith hit .326 in 134 games his first year in Atlanta, followed by a .294 average in 108 games in 1907. While the average dropped over 30 points, that season led to his first chance in the majors. Smith hit .196 in 73 games as a rookie in 1908, splitting the season between the Philadelphia Athletics and the St Louis Browns. After spending the 1909-10 seasons in the minors back with Atlanta, he was taken by the Cleveland Naps (name changed to Indians in 1915) in the September 1, 1910 Rule 5 draft and joined the team right away. He batted .271 in 141 games with Atlanta in 1910, followed by a .333 average in nine games with the Naps.
Smith spent the entire 1911 season with Cleveland and played well, hitting .299 in 58 games, with 21 runs scored. Despite the decent offensive numbers, he was back in the minors for the next three years. He spent the 1912-14 seasons with Columbus of the American Association, where he put up surprisingly similar numbers each year. Averaging 145 games played per season, he hit between .282 and .286 during those three years, while his slugging percentage had the same four-point range, bottoming out at .342, while topping out at .346 in 1914. Smith was purchased by the Pirates on September 25, 1914, one of three players they acquired that day, though he was the only one to report that fall. He joined the Pirates two days after being purchased and got into three games behind the plate when starting catcher George Gibson was excused from making the last road trip. He also pinch-hit in two other games. Over the off-season, Smith took up a job as the baseball coach for the University of South Carolina, and the Pirates gave him permission to forego the beginning of Spring Training as long as he stayed in shape, instructing him to join the team on the first of April. He played just one game for the Pirates in 1915, coming in as a pinch-hitter on April 18th and leaving for a pinch-runner after reaching base. That would be his last Major League game. He was released unconditionally by the Pirates five days after his final game. Smith soon returned to the minors, playing for three different teams that year. After stops in Atlanta and Columbus, Ohio, he settled down in Shreveport, managing the team at the end of 1915, and each of the next two seasons. He played 146 big league games, hitting .247 with two homers and 40 RBIs. Not long before he was released by the Pirates, the local papers said that he was very popular with his teammates and went by the nickname “old honesty”.
Monte Cross, Pirates shortstop during the 1894-95 seasons. He spent 15 years as a shortstop in the majors, despite a .234 career average, lack of power and a high strikeout total, twice leading the league in K’s during seasons in which he hit just one home run. Cross was kept around for his glove, though even that part of his game came with some flaws. He led the league in putouts for six straight years (1898-1903), but he also led the league in errors during the first three years of that streak, and he never led the league in fielding percentage or range for shortstops. Cross debuted in pro ball at 19 years old in 1889, playing for three different teams during that first season. In 1890 he played in Lebanon, Pa. in two different leagues and also played for a team that played in both Allentown and Lancaster during that season. His early stats are hard to come by, but what’s available in 1890 shows that he played at least 78 games and stole at least 30 bases. In 1891 he played the entire year with Lebanon of the Eastern Association, where he batted .239 in 117 games, with 29 steals and 33 extra-base hits. In 1892 he saw time with three different teams in the Eastern League, as well as a brief trial with the Baltimore Orioles, his first big league experience. He batted .160 in 15 games with Baltimore.
Cross spent the 1893 and 1894 seasons in the minors, bouncing around like he did before. He played for three teams in 1893, and two teams in 1894 before returning to the majors with the Pirates. Cross hit .355 in 42 games with Detroit of the Western League that year, and he stole a total of 50 bases in 111 games over the course of the season. His season with Detroit ended in July when he assaulted the team owner. He finished the year with Syracuse of the Eastern League. He joined the Pirates on September 15, 1894, after catcher/infielder Joe Sugden suffered a broken finger that was going to keep him out of action earlier that same day. Cross impressed the Pirates with his bat, an outstanding feat considering how bad he hit during his career. In 13 games for Pittsburgh that year, he hit .442 with 13 RBIs and 14 runs scored. He was the Pirates starting shortstop for most of 1895, hitting .254 with 54 RBIs, 67 runs scored and 39 stolen bases in 109 games. He would be dealt in the off-season to the St Louis Browns, along with pitcher Bill Hart and cash, for shortstop Bones Ely. Cross played two years in St Louis, then spent his last ten years in Philadelphia, the first four with the Phillies, then the last six with the Athletics.
Cross batted .244 with 58 walks, 52 RBIs, 66 runs scored and a career high 40 steals in 125 games in 1896. He hit a career high .286 in 1897, with 32 extra-base hits, 55 RBIs, 38 steals, 60 runs scored and a career best of 62 walks, while playing 132 games. In his first season with the Phillies in 1898, he hit .257 with 55 walks, 68 runs scored, 55 RBIs and a career high 25 doubles. In 1899, Cross played in a career high of 154 games. He hit .257 again, this time with 56 walks and career highs with 65 RBIs and 85 runs scored. His stats really dropped off in 1900, batting .202 in 131 games, though his run production was similar to most years, with 62 RBIs and 59 runs scored. In 1901, he batted just .197 in 139 games and led the league with 91 strikeouts. He jumped to the Athletics in 1902 and had a .231 average, with 59 RBIs and 72 runs scored in 137 games. He played 137 games during the 1903 season as well. Cross hit .247 with 31 steals, 45 RBIs and 44 runs scored. In 1904, he played in 153 games, despite a very poor season at the plate. He batted .189 with 38 RBIs, 19 steals and 33 runs scored. He rebounded a bit in limited time in 1905, hitting .266 in 71 games. That was his highest average in eight years. Cross hit .200 in 134 games in 1906, while leading the league with 89 strikeouts. In his final big league season in 1907, he batted .206 in 77 games. He played another four seasons in the minors before retiring as a player, serving as a player-manager those years. His career consisted of 1,684 Major League games, and over 1,000 minor league games. He was a .234 hitter in the majors, with 621 RBIs and 719 runs scored. He also stole 328 bases in the majors. As mentioned up top, Cross wasn’t much of a power hitter, but he had an interesting Pirates theme to his six homers during the 1899-1900 seasons. They all came off top pitchers, who at one time starred for the Pirates, two off Deacon Phillippe, two off Hall of Famer Vic Willis and one each of Hall of Famer Jack Chesbro, and Pink Hawley, a 31-game winner for the 1895 Pirates.
Red Ehret, pitcher for the 1892-94 Pirates. He began his Major League career with four seasons in the American Association, the last three with his hometown Louisville Colonels, before moving on to the National League in 1892 with the Pirates when the AA folded. It took him just one season of minor league ball in 1887 at age 18 before making the majors. That year he played for two different teams in the Western League, combining to go 20-25, 4.24 in 405 innings. He completed 42 of his 45 starts. Ehret spent part of 1888 in the Texas League, but he made his mark in the American Association for the first time that year, going 3-2, 3.98 in 52 innings for the Kansas City Cowboys, while also seeing brief time at three other positions, resulting in a .190 average in 17 games. He played for Louisville for all of 1889, going 10-29, 4.80 in 364 innings. That record sounds awful, but the team went 27-111 that year, so his winning percentage was actually above team average. Red (first name was Philip) won 25 games in 1890, though it comes with the huge asterisk that the American Association was a watered down league that year, with the best players of the day, playing either in the newly-formed Player’s League or the National League. Louisville had a staggering turnaround in one season, winning the league pennant with an 88-44 record. Ehret finished 25-14, 2.53 in 359 innings, with a career high 174 strikeouts. He saw less work during the 1891 season, going 13-13, 3.47 in 220.2 innings. That lack of work came about being he jumped from Louisville to a minor league team mid-season, only to see that team fold, which led to him find work elsewhere in the minors.
Ehret signed with the Pirates on November 28, 1891 after manager Al Buckenberger came to Louisville specifically to add a pitcher to his team. Ehret’s first season in Pittsburgh saw him pitch well, yet he didn’t get great support.His 16-20 record in 1892 came with a 2.65 ERA in 316 innings, which was nearly the same as teammate Adonis Terry (2.51) had that year, yet the latter finished with an 18-7 record. Ehret’s ERA jumped to 3.44 in 1893, but he finished with an 18-18 record, leading the league with four shutouts, while throwing 314.1 innings. In 1894, he went 19-21, 5.14 in 346.2 innings. He was a solid pitcher for the Pirates for his three seasons, finishing 53-59, 3.79 in 977 innings over 109 starts and 15 relief outings. The 1894 season was a huge year for offense in the majors and it skewed many pitching stats, so that overall ERA is quite impressive.
On January 17, 1895, the Pirates trade Ehret and cash, to the St Louis Browns for pitcher Pink Hawley. Red didn’t do so well in his only year in St Louis, going 6-19 with a 6.02 ERA in 231.2 innings. He would be traded to the Cincinnati Reds in November of 1895, and he had a strong first season there, going 18-14, 3.42 over 276.2 innings. Ehret’s stats dropped off in 1897, down to 8-10, 4.78 in 184.1 innings, and he moved back to Louisville (now in the NL) for his last season. He went 3-7, 5.76 in 89 innings in 1898, finishing his career with 139-167, 4.02 record in 2,754.1 innings over 309 starts and 53 relief appearances. He topped the 300-inning mark five times in a season during his 11-year big league career, but he had just two winning seasons, 1890 with Louisville and 1896 with the Reds. After his final big league game at 29 years old, he played in the minors until 1906, including three years with Memphis of the Southern Association.
Duke Farrell, third baseman/outfielder for the 1892 Pirates. He was known primarily as a catcher during his long career in the majors, and he’s also one of the few backstops from the early days of the game to catch over 1,000 games, but in 1892 the Pirates played him 152 times without putting him behind the plate. Farrell debuted in pro ball at 20 years old in 1887, playing his first season with the Lawrence/Salem club of the New England League. That turned out to be his only minor league season. In 1888 he joined the Chicago White Stockings as a backup catcher/utility player. He batted .232 in 64 games that year. In 1889, he hit .263 with 11 homers, 75 RBIs and 66 runs scored in 101 games. Like many of his teammates, he jumped to the Player’s League in 1890, where he played for the Chicago club, which was named the Pirates. Farrell hit .290 with 35 extra-base hits, 84 RBIs and 79 runs scored in 117 games. After the Player’s League ended with just one season, Duke (first name was Charles) played for the Boston Reds of the American Association in 1891, the last championship winner in that league’s ten-year history. He was a key to their success, leading the league with 12 homers, 110 RBIs, while also leading all third baseman with a .918 fielding percentage. After the AA folded following the 1891 season, Farrell latched on with the Pirates, and would play all but three of the team’s games that year. His average slipped way off from .302 in 1891, down to .215 in 1892, though he did finish second on the team with 77 RBIs. His defense was considered to be well above average, but it too fell off in 1893. Modern metrics show that he had a 2.0 dWAR in 1891 and it went down to 0.0 in 1893, his lowest mark during the final 17 years of his big league career.
On March 21, 1893, the Pirates traded Farrell and cash, to the Washington Senators for pitcher Frank Killen, who reached thirty wins in a season twice with the Pirates. Farrell’s time with the Pirates came to a bad ending when he claimed he had a three-year contract with the team, while they claimed that they didn’t, and they wanted to cut his salary due to his poor performance. Duke still had 13 seasons left in his career after the trade, and while he was a strong catcher, he never approached the numbers he put up during the 1891 season. In 1893, he batted .282 with 75 RBIs and 84 runs scored in 124 games for the Senators. He was traded to the New York Giants after one season and hit .287 with 37 extra-base hits and 70 RBIs in 116 games for his new team. Despite playing another 11 seasons in the majors, he never reached the 100-game mark again. Farrell hit .288 with 58 RBIs in 90 games in 1895. He was traded back to Washington during the 1896 season, and combined to hit .290 that year in 95 games, with 67 RBIs and 41 runs scored.
In 1897, Farrell batted .322 in 78 games. The former home run champ failed to hit a homer that year, but he still drove in 53 runs during his limited time. In 1898, he hit .314 with 53 RBIs and 47 runs scored in 99 games. He opened the 1899 season with Washington, but after just five games, he was traded to the Brooklyn Superbas. Farrell hit .301 that season, his third straight .300+ average season. He drove in 56 runs in 85 games. Brooklyn won the NL pennant in 1900, and he hit .275 with 39 RBIs and 33 runs scored in 76 games. He batted .296 in 80 games in 1901, while the Pirates were starting their run of three straight NL pennants. In 1902, Farrell hit .242 in 74 games, but a low walk rate and no power, left him with a .577 OPS. He jumped to the Boston Americans in 1903, and they won the World Series that year. He had a small part on the team, hitting .404 in 17 games. He broke a bone in his leg on a slide in late April and didn’t return until August. He batted .212 in 68 games in 1904, then saw just seven games during his final season in the majors.
Farrell finished his career with a .277 average, 829 runs, 1,572 hits, and 916 RBIs in 1,565 games. He is one of a few players, who competed in four different major leagues, the AA, NL, the Player’s League in 1890 and the AL from 1903 until 1905 with Boston. He ranks fourth all-time in runners caught stealing, throwing out 1,156 attempted base stealers during his career.