This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: September 17th, Sheriff, Whitey and Wildfire

Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date. Before we get into them, current minor league pitcher James Marvel turns 28 today. He made four starts in September of 2019 for the Pirates and then was injured for most of the 2020 season. He has pitched this entire year in Triple-A.

Sean Burnett, pitcher for the 2004 and 2008-09 Pirates. He was a first round pick out of high school, selecting by the Pirates 19th overall in the 2000 draft. He debuted at 17 years old and had a 4.06 ERA in the Gulf Coast League during that first season. In 2001, he moved up to Low-A Hickory of the South Atlantic League, where he went 11-8, 2.62 in 161.1 innings. The next year Burnett spent the season with High-A Lynchburg of the Carolina League, where he posted a 13-4, 1.80 record in 155.1 innings over 26 starts. Despite the success, he had just 96 strikeouts. In 2003, he moved up to Altoona for the season and had a 14-6, 3.21 record in 159.2 innings over 27 starts, with 86 strikeouts. That inability to miss bats caught up with him at Triple-A, though it didn’t stop his progress to the majors at 21 years old. Burnett went 1-5, 5.36 in ten starts for Nashville of the Pacific Coast League. He debuted in the majors in May of 2004 and started 13 games for the Pirates before getting injured (Tommy John surgery), which cost him the entire 2005 season. Burnett went 5-5, 5.02 in 71.2 innings during his first stint in the majors. He didn’t return to the majors until 2008, and by that time he was a reliever.

In 2006, Burnett spent the season as a starter in Triple-A (then at Indianapolis of the International League), where he went 8-11, 5.16 in 120.1 innings, with just 46 strikeouts. He repeated the level in 2007, though he wasn’t healthy for the entire season, which led to him making up innings in winter ball in Venezuela. He had a 4.48 ERA in 15 starts at Triple-A, and a 2.45 ERA in 25.2 innings in Venezuela. Burnett switched to relief in 2008 and had immediate success with Indianapolis, posting a 1.04 ERA in 17.1 innings. He 58 appearances for the Pirates that season and had a 4.75 ERA in 56.2 innings. He improved to a 3.06 ERA in 32.1 innings for the Pirates in 2009. He remained with the Pirates until June of 2009, when he was sent to the Washington Nationals as part of the Joel Hanrahan trade. Burnett had a 4.54 ERA in 160.2 innings over 109 outings with the Pirates.

In 2009 with Washington, Burnett had a 3.20 ERA in 25.1 innings. The next year he went 1-7, 2.14 in 63 innings over 73 outings, picking up three saves. He was 5-5, 3.81 in 2011, with four saves, 69 appearances and 56.2 innings. He also threw 56.2 innings in 2012, finishing the year with a 2.38 ERA in 70 outings. He signed a free agent deal with the Los Angeles Angels for 2013, but multiple elbow injuries and a second Tommy John surgery derailed his career from that point on. Burnett pitched just 10.1 innings over 16 appearances for the 2013-14 Angels. He didn’t pitch at all in 2015, then finished his big league career with 5.2 innings over ten appearances with the 2016 Nationals. Burnett signed minor league deals with three different teams during the 2017-19 off-seasons, but he only pitched a total of 27 innings in the minors during that time. He had a career 3.52 ERA in 380 games and 378.1 innings over nine seasons.

Jim Umbricht, pitcher for the 1960 World Series champs. Umbricht attended the University of Georgia before going to a minor league tryout, where he earned a job in 1953 with Class-D Waycross of the Florida-Georgia League. He went 4-3, 2.87 in 69 innings that season. Umbricht spent the 1954-55 seasons serving in the Army, which delayed his climb to the majors. When he returned in 1956, he played for Baton Rouge of the Class-C Evangeline League, where he had a 15-15, 3.35 record in 235 innings. He was old to the Milwaukee Braves, who sent him to Topeka of the Class-A Western League in 1957. Umbricht went 13-8, 3.24 in 178 innings that season. He moved up to Atlanta of the Double-A Southern Association in 1958 and had a 6-10, 4.06 record in 173 innings. The Pirates acquired him in a minor league trade for outfielder Emil Panko during the 1958-59 off-season. He was already 28 years old at the time and had no big league experience. The Pirates assigned him to Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League in 1959, where he went 14-8, 2.78 in 136 innings.

Umbricht would end up playing parts of three seasons in Pittsburgh (1959-61), posting a 5.12 ERA in 51 innings. He had a 31-19 record in Triple-A during that same time period. The majority of that big league time came in 1960 for the World Series champs when he made three starts and 14 relief appearances, posting a 5.09 ERA in 40.2 innings. He was with the team for the first two full months of the season, then returned in September, but he did not participate in the postseason. In each of his other two seasons with the Pirates, Umbricht made one appearance. That included a start in his big league debut on September 26, 1959 in which he allowed five runs over seven innings and took a no-decision. His game in 1961 came on May 5th when he allowed one earned run over 3.1 innings of relief work in a lopsided 10-0 loss. The Houston Colt .45’s (Astros) took him in the expansion draft after the 1961 season and he pitched well there for two year. He spent part of 1962 in Triple-A, but his big league performance was strong, with a 2.01 ERA in 67 innings over 34 games. Sadly, he developed cancer prior to the 1963 season. It was thought that treatment went successful because he was able to go 4-3, 2.61 in 76 innings over 35 appearances in 1963, but the cancer returned, and by Opening Day in 1964 he passed away at 33 years old. His five-year career shows a 9-5, 3.06 record in 194 innings over 88 appearances. His jersey number (#32) is retired by the Astros.

Bob Dillinger, third baseman for the 1950-51 Pirates. Hit .279 in 70 games for the Pirates, split over his two seasons with the team. Dillinger was acquired via purchase from the Philadelphia Athletics in July of 1950 and he was sold to the Chicago White Sox ten months later. He did well for the 1950 Pirates, hitting .288 in 58 games, but he was batting just .233 through 12 games when they sold him to Chicago in 1951. Dillinger played six years in the majors total and he led the league in stolen bases three times and hits once. He debuted at 27 years old in 1946 with the St Louis Browns, but his career in the majors could have started sooner if not for the war. Dillinger debuted in pro ball in 1939 with Lincoln of the Class-D Western League, where he put up a .314 average in 117 games, with 58 extra-base hits. He moved up to the Class-C Middle Atlantic League in 1940 and posted a .312 average in 124 games. The next year was spent mostly in A-Ball in the Texas League, where he batted .291 in 94 games. Dillinger moved up to Double-A Toledo of the American Association in 1942. He hit .305 that season in 132 games, with 81 runs scored, 32 extra-base hits and 23 steals. He was just one step from the majors, but the next three years were spent serving in the military during WWII.

Dillinger returned to baseball in 1946 and went right to the majors, where he batted .280 in 83 games for the St Louis Browns. In 1947, he hit .294 with 34 stolen bases and 70 runs scored in 137 games. He received some mild MVP support for his effort. The 1948 season was his big year, with .321 average, 207 hits, 110 runs scored and 28 steals. He finished 19th in the MVP voting that year. He hit .324 with 36 extra-base hits and 23 steals in 137 games in 1949, while making his only All-Star appearance. That means that when Dillinger joined the Pirates during the 1950 season, he was just a year removed from being an All-Star. The A’s acquired him in December of 1949 as the smaller part of a 2-for-4 player/cash deal. Before joining the Pirates, he hit .309 with 33 extra-base hits in in 84 games for the 1950 A’s. He hit well for Chicago after leaving Pittsburgh, putting up a .301 average in 89 games. After his final big league game in 1951, he spent another four seasons playing minor league ball. In 1953 for Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League, he hit .366 with 236 hits. In his six-year big league career, he batted .306 with ten homers, 213 RBIS, 401 runs scored and 106 steals in 753 games.

Sheriff Blake, pitcher for the 1920 Pirates. Prior to joining the Pirates, Blake pitched as West Virginia Wesleyan College. In early 1920, it was announced that he would pitch for the Cincinnati Reds that season. While his records show no prior pro experience before joining the Pirates, it was noted in the article announcing his signing with the Reds that he pitched for Charleston of the South Atlantic League at the end of the 1919 season. By the time Spring Training rolled around in 1920, Blake was with the Pirates, where he missed time early due to a sprained ankle. He was in action by March 22nd and did just enough to make the Opening Day roster. He had 8.10 ERA in six relief appearances for 1920 Pirates as a 20-year-old rookie. He debuted on June 29th and played his final game on August 15th. After his brief trial in Pittsburgh, he didn’t pitch in the majors until 1924. On February 19, 1921, he was sent to Rochester of the International League on an optional agreement. Blake went 21-13, 3.33 in 300 innings in 1921, then remained in Rochester for 1922, when he went 17-9, 2.76 in 241 innings. He actually went to Spring Training with the Pirates in 1922 and was expected to stick with the team, which sort of happened. He made the Opening Day roster, but he didn’t appear in any games over the first 11 days of the season before being optioned back to Rochester. He was still property of the Pirates until being dealt to Seattle of the Pacific Coast League in December of 1922. He got roughed up a bit in 1923, but the season still ended with a trip back to the majors. He had a 13-20, 4.71 record in 256 innings for Seattle.

Blake was acquired by the Chicago Cubs in December of 1923. In eight seasons in Chicago, he put together an 81-92, 3.95 record. He made 11 starts and 18 relief appearances in 1924, going 6-6, 4.57 in 106.1 innings. The next year he saw even more work, though with poor overall results. He finished with a 10-18, 4.86 record in 231.1 innings. In 1926, Blake went 11-12, 3.60 in 27 starts and 12 relief outings, throwing 197.2 innings. He led the National League with 92 walks. In 1927, he had a 13-14, 3.29 record in 224.1 innings, with more walks (82) than strikeouts (64). He had what was easily his best career year in 1928, when he posted a 17-11, 2.47 record in 240.2 innings, while leading the league with four shutouts. Things went downhill quickly from there, though the 1929-30 seasons were huge years for offense in baseball. Blake had a 14-13, 4.29 record in 218.1 innings in 1929, followed by a 10-14, 4.82 record over 186.2 innings in 1930. Offense calmed down a bit in 1931, but Blake wasn’t part of that trend. He went 4-9, 5.43 in 121 innings that season, which was split between the Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies. The next five years were spent in the minors, including a season back in Rochester. He came back to the majors for a time in 1937, seeing action with both the St Louis Cardinals and St Louis Browns. He went 2-5, 5.49 in 80.1 innings that year, then finished his career out with three seasons in the minors. Blake won 228 games as a pro, playing a total of 21 seasons. His real first name was John, but he was known by his middle name while in Pittsburgh, referred to as Fred Blake during that time. The sheriff nickname was reportedly received in Rochester and had nothing to do with anything other than just being a random nickname given to him by his manager.

Whitey Glazner, pitcher for the 1920-23 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball at 19 years old in 1913, playing his first three seasons for Anniston of the Class-D Georgia-Alabama League. During the 1915 season, he played part of the year for Winston-Salem of the Class-D North Carolina State League. It was there in 1916 that he made his mark. He had a 21-7, 2.20 record that year in 258 innings. He was out of pro ball in 1917 due to a having a good job, but he remained active in semi-pro ball and returned to the minors in 1918 for his first of three seasons with Birmingham of the Southern Association. That first season didn’t last long, as he got called into service during WWI, which limited him to 17 games total during the 1918-19 seasons. He back for a full season in 1920 and put together a 24-10 record, while throwing 326 innings. The Pirates purchased Glazner and teammate Johnny Morrison on August 16, 1920 from Birmingham. Glazner was having the better season, but Morrison was the bigger prize, and their careers played out that way as well. Both pitchers were allowed to finish their season in Birmingham, staying until September 20th, before joining the Pirates.

Glazner debuted in the majors on September 26, 1920, nine days after his 27th birthday.He made two relief appearances for the Pirates that year, allowing three runs in 8.2 innings, before putting together his big 1921 campaign. He went 14-5, 2.77 in 234 innings in 1921, which was easily his best season in the majors.  He led the National League with a .737 winning percentage that year. Glazner saw his numbers slide in 1922, going 11-12, 4.38 in 193 innings, with 26 starts and eight relief appearances. Just 30 games into the 1923 season, he was part of a four-player/cash trade between the Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies. Glazner had a 3.30 ERA prior to the deal, then he went 7-14, 4.69 in 161.1 innings for the Phillies that season. He had a 7-16, 5.92 record over 156.2 innings in 1924 and then never pitched in the majors again. However, he spent another seven seasons in the minors, winning a total of 95 games. He added a third 20+ win season to his minor league resume in 1928 while pitching his second season for Mobile of the Southern Association. Two years later he won 19 games for New Orleans of the Southern Association, but he had just two more wins left in the tank before retiring. He had 206 wins during his pro career.

Frank “Wildfire” Schulte,  outfielder for the 1916-17 Pirates. He hit .239 in 85 games for Pirates near the end of his 15-year career in the majors. He was acquired in July of 1916 in a three-player deal with the Chicago Cubs. Schulte was hitting .296 with five homers in 72 games at the time of the deal. He batted .254 with no homers in 55 games over the rest of the 1916 season. In 1917, he hit .214 in 30 games, before being lost on waivers to the Philadelphia Phillies in June. He batted just .215 in 64 games for the 1917 Phillies, then finished his big league career with the Washington Senators in 1918, hitting .288 with 44 RBIs in 93 games. He was a career .270 hitter in 1,806 games, with 92 homers, 233 stolen bases and 793 RBIs. He finished top ten in the National League in slugging percentage four times. He was the first player to accomplish an extremely rare feat that has only been done four times in Major League history.

Schulte began his pro career in 1902 at 19 years old, playing for the Class-B Syracuse Stars of the New York State League. He spent all of his time in the minors with Syracuse prior to his big league debut. He batted .280 in 112 games during the 1902 season. The next year he batted .294 in 130 games. He earned his call to the majors in 1904 by batting .307 with 31 extra-base hits in 135 games. Schulte played 20 games that season for the Cubs, hitting .286 with two homers, 13 RBIs and 16 runs scored. He was the starting left fielder in 1905, before moving over to right field in 1906. He hit .274 with 30 extra-base hits and 67 runs scored in 123 games during his first full season in the majors. The 1906 Cubs are one of the greatest teams of all-time, finishing 116-36. Schulte hit .281 with 38 extra-base hits, 60 RBIs, 25 steals and 77 runs scored in 146 games. He led the league with 13 triples. He batted .269 in the World Series with three doubles and three RBIs. The Cubs returned to the postseason in 1907 and 1908, winning both years, after dropping the 1906 series to the Chicago White Sox.

In 1907, Schulte hit .287 in 97 games, then batted .250 during the World Series. The next year he posted a .236 average in 102 games, with 20 doubles and 43 RBIs. He had a strong postseason, batting .389 with four runs scored in five games. In 1909, Schulte hit .264 with 31 extra-base hits, 60 RBIs and 57 runs scored in 140 games. He broke out a little in 1910, then a lot in 1911. During that 1910 season, he hit .301 with 93 runs scored and 54 extra-base hits, including a league leading ten homers. In 1911, he became the first player to reach the 20-20-20-20 club, collecting 30 doubles, 21 triples, 21 homers and 23 stolen bases. That feat wasn’t matched again until 1957 by Willie Mays, and it’s only been done four times total in baseball history. Schulte was voted NL MVP that season. He led the league in homers and RBIs (107).

Schulte never came close to replicating that historic season, but he was still a solid player during the rest of his time in Chicago, which was right in the middle of the deadball era. In 1912 he hit .264 with 50 extra-base hits and 90 runs scored. The next year he put up a .278 average, with 43 extra-base hits, 68 RBIs and 85 runs scored. He stole 21 bases, but he was caught stealing 19 times. In 1914, Schulte hit .241 with 61 RBIs and 54 runs scored in 137 games. In his last full season in Chicago, he batted .249 with 38 extra-base hits, 66 runs scored and 62 RBIs. After his big league career wrapped up, he played another four seasons of minor league ball. He spent two of those years back in Syracuse, though the team was in the International League at that time, with a much higher level of play than his first three seasons of pro ball.

Otto Krueger, utility fielder for the 1903-04 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball at 21 years old in 1898, playing at the lower levels of the minors. By the next year he was in the majors, though the level of playing was only slightly better. Krueger debuted in the majors in 1899 with the worst team in baseball history, the 20-134 Cleveland Spiders. He played 13 games and hit .227 in 44 at-bats. The owner of the St Louis Cardinals (called the Perfectos in 1899) also owned Cleveland, which folded after their awful season. Krueger was transferred to the Cardinals in 1900 and he batted .400 in 12 games. Most of the year was spent in the minors, where he hit .317 with 131 runs scored and 34 steals in 137 games for Fort Wayne of the Class-B Interstate League. Krueger was the starting third baseman for the Cardinals in 1901 when he led the league with 142 games played. He batted .275 with 30 extra-base hits, 79 RBIs, 19 steals, 50 walks and 77 runs scored that season. In 1902 he played 128 games, seeing most of his time at shortstop. He hit .266 with 15 extra-base hits, 46 RBIs and 55 runs scored.

Krueger was acquired by the Pirates in a March 1903 trade with the Cardinals for Jimmy Burke. The deal almost didn’t happen because Burke objected to playing shortstop, which is where the Cardinals wanted him to play. After some time, the deal was finally completed in mid-March. Krueger hit .219 in 166 games during his two seasons with the Pirates, seeing time at five different positions. He played 80 games for the 1903 National League champs, seeing most of his time at shortstop and third base. He hit .246 that season and drove in 28 runs. The hitting slipped in 1904 as he moved around more in the field, getting 10+ starts at four different positions (RF/LF/SS/3B), so the versatility helped his case, but his .525 OPS did not. After the season, he was part of a five-player trade with the Philadelphia Phillies. Krueger hit .184 in his only season in Philadelphia, which ended up being his final big league season. He was a career .251 hitter in 507 games over seven big league seasons, with five homers, 196 RBIs, 48 steals and 230 runs scored. He played in the minors until 1912, playing his final three seasons in Class-B ball, three steps below the majors. He did some player/managing during the 1911-12 season.

Dick Padden, second baseman for 1896-98 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball at 24 years old in 1895, batting .316 with 48 extra-base hits in 122 games for Roanoke of the Class-B Virginia State League. Despite the seemingly late start, he was already quite well known for his baseball prowess in the semi-pro circuits. The Pirates signed him to a deal in November 1895, but they loaned him to a minor league team managed by their former manager (Al Buckenberger) just two months later. He began the 1896 season with Toronto of the Eastern League, but he was in the majors with the Pirates by mid-season. A story that ran in the Wheeling, WV papers in early April of 1896 noted that the Pirates would get a chance to see Padden in an exhibition game and they wouldn’t be surprised if he impressed them so much that he’s with the team before the end of the season. That was quite a prediction because it ended up being true. He joined the team in mid-July and hit .242 in 61 games that season. The next season he played 134 games and had a .282 average, with 84 runs scored, 58 RBIs and 18 stolen bases. In 1898, Padden played the same amount of time (128 games) but he saw a decline in his offensive stats. He finished with a .257 average and a .646 OPS. He hit .265 over 323 games with Pittsburgh, then was one of three players dealt to Washington Senators for star second baseman Heinie Reitz.

Padden hit .277 with 61 RBIs, 66 runs scored and 27 steals in 134 games during his only season with Washington. The next year he was in the American League, though it was considered a minor league at the time. After batting .284 in 130 games, Padden joined the St Louis Cardinals in December of 1900 after being the first player signed away from the American League by National League president Harry Pulliam. Padden hit .256 with 62 RBIs, 71 runs scored and 26 steals in 123 games in 1901, but by that October he had jumped back to the American League, staying in St Louis to play for the Browns. He was below average defensively with the Pirates, but by 1902 he was one of the best defenders in the American League. Padden hit .264 with 54 runs scored and a career high 26 doubles in 117 games in 1902. Thumb surgery limited him to 29 games in 1903, then he returned healthy in 1904 to hit .238 with 36 RBIs, 23 steals and 42 runs scored in 132 games. In his final big league season, he batted .172 in 16 games before he was released. He played a total of nine seasons in the majors, hitting .258 with 132 steals and 423 runs in 874 games. After his final big league game, he spent the 1906-07 season with St Paul of the American Association.