This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: September 12th, Pirates Lose Smoky Burgess to White Sox

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date and one transaction of note.

Franquelis Osoria, relief pitcher for the 2007-08 Pirates. He was originally signed out of the Dominican Republic as an amateur free agent in 1999 by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He pitched his first two seasons (2000-01) in the Dominican Summer League, then went to Low-A ball when he debuted in the U.S. in 2002, and even got a brief taste of High-A that year. He combined to post a 3.20 ERA in 50.2 innings over 24 games. The entire 2003 season was spent in High-A, where he 3-6, 3.00 in 75 innings over three starts and 30 relief appearances. A large majority of 2004 was spent in Double-A, but he also got in four games at Triple-A. Osoria went 8-5, 3.83 in 89.1 innings over 55 relief outings. He was in Triple-A for the first two months of 2005, and another stretch from mid-July until the beginning of September. He made it to the majors that year for two stints and had his best season, posting a career-low 3.94 ERA in 24 appearances, covering 29.2 innings. Osoria struggled badly with the Dodgers the next year, with a 7.13 ERA in his 12 outings, which led to him spending most of the season back in Triple-A. He didn’t even pitch in the majors after rosters expanded in September. That December, the Pirates picked him up off waivers. He was pitching well at Triple-A in 2007, posting a 2.63 ERA in 54.2 innings, including some work as the closer, before being recalled in early August. He pitched 25 times for the Pirates in 2007, compiling a 4.76 ERA in 28.1 innings. In each of his first three seasons in the majors, he finished with an 0-2 record. In 2008, Osoria pitched a career high 43 games, and while he had a 4-3 record to break his odd win/loss streak, he did not pitch well, finishing with a 6.08 ERA in 60.2 innings. He finished the season in the minors and was released by the Pirates after the season, then signed with the Kansas City Royals a couple of months later, although he never pitched in affiliated ball again. Osoria played winter ball in the Dominican through the 2014-15 off-season. He ended up with a 4-9, 5.48 record in four big league seasons, with 136.1 innings over 104 games.

Mike Roesler, pitcher for the 1990 Pirates. He was originally drafted in the 17th round of the 1985 amateur draft by the Cincinnati Reds out of Ball State University. He was a starter his first two years in the Reds system, then moved to relief in 1987, which helped him get to the majors two years later. He debuted in short-season ball in 1985, playing for Billings of the Pioneer League, where he went 8-2, 2.33 in 88.2 innings. The next year in A-Ball, playing for Cedar Rapids of the Midwest League, Roesler went 9-13, 4.58 in 163 innings with 135 strikeouts. The 1987 season saw him split the year fairly evenly between High-A and Double-A, with slightly better results at the lower level. He combined to go 11-4, 2.69 in 63.2 innings, with 22 saves in 50 appearances. The 1988 season was split between Double-A, where he had a 2.21 ERA in 16 appearances, and Triple-A, where he put up a 5.01 ERA in 41.1 innings. In 1989, he was in Triple-A, playing for Nashville of the American Association, where he went 6-4, 3.25 with ten saves in 69.1 innings over 40 relief outings. The Reds called him up in August of 1989 and used him 17 times out of the bullpen. Roesler was 0-1, 3.96 in 25 innings over the last two months of the season. The Pirates acquired him on April 3, 1990, along with infielder Jeff Richardson, in exchange for outfielder Billy Hatcher.

During the first three weeks of the 1990 seasons, teams were allowed to carry 27 players on their roster due to the shortened Spring Training, which was caused by a lockout. Roesler and Tom Prince both made the team because of the new rule. In those three weeks before being sent back down on April 29th (day before rosters reduced to 25), Roesler made five relief appearances, giving up two runs in six innings of work. He never returned to the majors after being sent down. He spent part of that 1990 season back in Double-A, finishing the year with 4.39 ERA in 65.2 minor league innings. His 1991 season was also split between Triple-A and Double-A, with worse results at the lower level, where he had a 4.91 ERA in 20 appearances. He was in the Pirates system until late in the 1992 season, before finishing that year with the Kansas City Royals Triple-A club. Roesler spent part of the next season in the Kansas City system, pitching seven games over two levels. He finished his pro career in China in 1994, though that experience lasted just one start in which he gave up four runs in 3.1 innings.

Trench Davis, center fielder for the 1985-86 Pirates. He was signed by the Pirates in 1980 as a non-drafted amateur free agent. He batted .275 with one homer and 12 steals in the Gulf Coast League that year. As a 20-year-old in 1981, the Pirates sent him to full-season ball with Greenwood of the South Atlantic League, where he put up strong numbers. He hit .298 with 73 RBIs, 70 runs scored and 31 stolen bases in 141 games. Davis was moved up to Triple-A the next year, skipping two levels and still performed well, hitting .268 with 80 runs scored and 42 stolen bases in 141 games. Despite that performance, he still ended up spending half of the next season in Double-A, dropping down a level. He hit .266 with 28 extra-base hits, 78 runs scored, 41 steals and 54 walks in 138 games between both Triple-A and Double-A that year. From the time he joined Triple-A Hawaii in the Pacific Coast League in 1983, Davis would spend 3 1/2 seasons with the team without getting much of a shot at the majors. The entire 1984 season was spent in Triple-A, where he hit .259 with 32 extra-base hits, 53 steals, 53 walks and 79 runs scored in 141 games. He began and ended the 1985 season in Triple-A, hitting .270 with 30 extra-base hits and 33 steals in 132 games. In between his two stints in Triple-A that year, Davis played two June 1985 games in center field, going 1-for-7 at the plate. His total time with the Pirates was six days that year.

Davis returned to the Pirates for 15 more games in May of 1986. This time he spent 17 days with the Pirates before he was sent down on May 25th, getting replaced on the roster by Barry Bonds, who was recalled for the first time in his career. In his 17 Pirates games over two seasons, Davis hit .133 with an RBI and no walks, giving him a lower OBP than average due to one sacrifice fly. He became a free agent after the 1986 season and signed with the Atlanta Braves shortly after hitting the market. He played his last six Major League games with the Braves in late June/early July of 1987, getting three pinch-hit appearances and three pinch-running spots. Davis went to Mexico to play in 1988, finishing his playing career there four years later without another chance in affiliated ball. He’s the only known pro baseball player with the first (or middle) name of Trench. According to Davis, he got his unique name from the hospital nurse who put the wrong name down on his birth certificate.

George Freese, third baseman for the 1955 Pirates. He was a member of four different organizations before joining the Pirates, playing just one Major League game prior to his trade to Pittsburgh. Freese was originally signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers at 21 years old in 1948, staying with them until the St Louis Browns took him in the December 1952 Rule 5 draft. He debuted in the Class-C Middle Atlantic League with Johnstown, where he hit .349 with 30 extra-base hits in 96 games. He spent almost all of the 1949 season with Lancaster of the Interstate League (Class-B), where he hit .309 in 121 games. In 1950, Freese moved up to Class-A, playing for Elmira of the Eastern League, where he hit .285 with 16 extra-base hits in 110 games. In 1951, he remained in Class-A with Pueblo of the Western League, where he batted .338 with 64 extra-base hits in 135 games. His slow climb to the majors continued in 1952 at Mobile of the Double-A Southern Association. He hit .313 with 59 extra-base hits in 150 games that season. That led to the Rule 5 pick by the Browns. From there he was purchased by the Detroit Tigers in early April of 1953, then sold to the Chicago Cubs a month later. He made his big league debut with the Tigers as a pinch-hitter on April 29th, which ended up being his only big league game that season.

The Pirates acquired Freese from the Cubs on June 4, 1953 in the Ralph Kiner deal, so in a matter of six months he was with the Dodgers, Browns, Tigers, Cubs and Pirates. Despite changing teams three times during the season, he spent the entire minor league season with Springfield of the International League, where he batted .266 with 37 extra-base hits in 132 games. He would remain in the minors until Opening Day in 1955 when he made the Pirates as a bench player. Pittsburgh sent him to New Orleans in the Southern Association in 1954, where he hit .324 with 26 doubles and 23 homers in 134 games. That performance earned him a spot with the 1955 Pirates. Sid Gordon was at third base to begin the 1955 season, but quickly lost the starting job due to a poor start. Freese would start every game for the Pirates from April 24th until June 12th at third base. Two days after his last game, he was sent to the Pirates farm team in Hollywood, while the Pirates got back Cuban pitcher Lino Donoso. At the same time, the Pirates also got back twin infielders Johnny and Eddie O’Brien. They had been serving in the Army prior to the season and were working their way back into shape, prior to rejoining the team. Freese finished with a .257 average and 22 RBIs in 51 games. After the season ended, the Pirates lost him to the Chicago Cubs in the 1955 Minor League draft. He would go six seasons before he played in the majors again, making his last nine appearances with the 1961 Cubs at the beginning of the season. He then began to manage in the minors, the first three years as a player/manager, followed by another nine seasons as a manager. George is the brother of Pirates infielder Gene Freese, who was his teammate on the 1955 Pirates. While George was with the team, Gene played second base. In early July he started playing third base and remained there through the end of the season

The Transaction

On this date in 1964, 37-year-old catcher Smoky Burgess was selected off waivers by the Chicago White Sox, ending his six-year stint with the Pirates. Burgess is known as one of the best pinch-hitters in baseball history, but he was an All-Star during the 1959-61 and 1964 seasons. During the 1960 season, he hit .294 in 110 games, with seven homers and 39 RBIs. He then batted .333 in the World Series. At the time that they lost him on waivers, he was hitting .246 with two homers and 17 RBIs in 68 games. He started just ten games in the six weeks leading up to his departure to Chicago. Burgess hit .296/.352/.445 in 586 games with the Pirates. He had 164 walks and 92 strikeouts during his time in Pittsburgh. He played just seven games with the White Sox in 1964, pinch-hitting every time. He then remained in Chicago for another three seasons in which he was used almost exclusively as a pinch-hitter. During the 1964-67 seasons with the White Sox, he caught a total of 31 innings, while playing in 243 games.