Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates players have been born on this date, plus we have a game of note.
Travis Ishikawa, first baseman for the 2014-15 Pirates. He hit .217 in 53 games with the Pirates, split over two different stints. Ishikawa also had two stints with the San Francisco Giants during his eight-year career, plus a third stint in the minors with the Giants later in his career. He was drafted by the Giants in the 21st round of the 2002 draft out of high school. At 18 years old, he played for two separate short-season teams, hitting .295 with 27 RBIs and 24 runs scored in 42 games. In 2003, he spent the first half of the season in Low-A, then returned to short-season ball during the second half. He combined to hit .233 with 32 extra-base hits and 77 walks in 123 games. The 2004 season saw Ishikawa spend most of the year in Low-A, with 16 games in High-A as well. He batted .254 with 26 doubles, 16 homers and 55 walks in 113 games. He played all of 2005 in High-A, with San Jose of the California League, where he hit .282 with 87 runs scored, 28 doubles, 22 homers, 79 RBIs and 70 walks in 127 games. In 2006, he had three separate brief stints with the Giants in which he hit .292 in 12 games. However, he spent the rest of the season in Double-A and really struggled, hitting .232 with ten homers in 86 games. He went to the Arizona Fall League after the season and batted .186 in 17 games.
After spending 2007 in the minors, Ishikawa played three more seasons in San Francisco. He actually split both the 2007 and 2008 seasons between Double-A and Triple-A, but the second year resulted in him making it to the majors. He had a combined .750 OPS in 2007, followed by a combined .955 OPS in the minors in 2008. With the Giants after being promoted in mid-August of 2008, he hit .274 with three homers and 15 RBIs in 33 games. Ishikawa saw significant playing time at first base in 2009, hitting .261 with nine homers and 39 RBIs in 120 games. He played 116 games in 2010, but he was mostly being used as a bench player. He hit .266 with three homers and 22 RBIs in 158 at-bats. He spent the 2011 season in Triple-A, though a shoulder injury ended his season after 56 games. Ishikawa moved on to Milwaukee in 2012 as a free agent, where he hit .257 with 12 doubles, four homers and 30 RBIs in 94 games. He then played very briefly for both the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees in 2013, getting into a total of seven big league games that season. He signed a free agent deal with the Pirates after the season and ended up playing 15 early season games before being released. Ishikawa batted .206 with a homer during his first stint in Pittsburgh. He re-signed with the Giants and stayed there until the Pirates picked him up off waivers in July of 2015. He played 47 games with the 2014 Giants, but before rejoining the Pirates in 2015, he had just five at-bats in the majors.He was released by the Pirates after hitting .224 with one homer and eight RBIs in 38 games. He spent 2016 in the minors with the Giants and the Chicago White Sox before retiring. Ishikawa hit .255 in 488 big league games, with 23 homers and 137 RBIs.
Jeff Karstens, pitcher for the 2008-12 Pirates. He was a 19th round pick by the New York Yankees in 2003 out of Texas Tech. Three years earlier, the Montreal Expos selected him in the 45th round out of high school, but he decided to go the college route. He debuted with Staten Island of the New York-Penn League in 2003, going 4-2, 2.54 in 67.1 innings. Karstens skipped to High-A in 2004, playing in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, where he had a 6-9, 4.02 record, with 116 strikeouts in 138.2 innings. The next year was spent with Double-A Trenton of the Eastern League, where he was 12-11, 4.15 in 169 innings, with 147 strikeouts. The 2006 season was split between Trenton and Triple-A Columbus of the International League. He had a combined 11-5, 3.29 record in 147.2 innings. He debuted in the majors in late August and posted a 3.80 ERA in 42.2 innings. He had three separate brief stints with the Yankees in 2007, making appearances in April, August and September. He had an 11.05 ERA in 14.2 innings over three starts and four relief appearances. While in the minors in the middle of the 2008 season, he was part of a six-player deal, coming to the Pirates as part of the package for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte. Karstens went right into the rotation for the Pirates and made nine starts to close out 2008. He went 2-6, 4.03 in 51.1 innings. In 2009, he split the year between the bullpen and starting, going 4-6, 5.42 in 108 innings, with 13 starts and 26 relief appearances.
The 2010 season saw a similar role for Karstens, though the split favored the rotation more this time. He went 3-10, 4.92 in 122.2 innings. Karstens had a breakout year of sorts in 2011, going 9-9, 3.38 in 162.1 innings. He set a career best with 26 starts and he had a career high of 96 strikeouts. He missed two full months in the middle of 2012 with a shoulder injury and finished 5-4, 3.97 in 90.2 innings. He was signed by the Pirates for 2013, but missed the entire year due to a right shoulder injury. He attempted to rehab the injury, but he was shut down after two starts in May. In June he had minor surgery that wasn’t expected to end his season, but he never returned. He went unsigned in 2014 and eventually retired. Karstens went 23-35, 4.31 in 82 starts and 41 relief appearances while in Pittsburgh. He had a 5.65 ERA in 57.1 innings with the Yankees.
John McDonald, middle infielder for the 2013 Pirates. He was a 12th round pick of the Cleveland Indians in 1996 out of Providence College. He debuted in the New York-Penn League in 1996 and hit .270 with a .685 OPS in 75 games. He jumped to High-A in his first full season in pro ball, where he hit 2.59 with 35 extra-base hits and 77 runs scored in 130 games for Kinston of the Carolina League. The next year was spent in Double-A with Akron of the Eastern League, where he batted just .230, putting up a .578 OPS. McDonald hit much better while repeating Double-A in 1999, which led to a mid-season promotion to Triple-A, where his stats improved slightly. Combined he hit .307 with 24 doubles, 51 RBIs and 61 runs scored in 121 games. He saw some brief time with the Indians in July and then returned in September, playing a total of 18 games, though he batted just 21 times. Most of 2000 was spent in Triple-A, but he made it back to Cleveland for a short time, this time batting nine times in nine games. The 2001 season was similar, with slightly more time in Cleveland, hitting .091 in 17 games with the Indians.
McDonald was in the majors for the full season in 2002. He played 93 games and had a .250 average, with 15 extra-base hits and 35 runs scored, while seeing time at three infield spots (not first base). He had the same exact role in 2003, this time batting .215 in 82 games, with 21 runs scored and 14 RBIs. His playing time dropped in 2004 when he played 66 games and batted 100 times, batting .204 with two homers and 17 runs scored. He was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in December of 2004 and spent the first four months of the season there before being traded to the Detroit Tigers. He combined to hit .277 with 16 RBIs and 18 runs scored in 68 games. He was sold back to the Blue Jays after the season and saw his most playing time during the 2006-07 seasons. He played 104 games in 2006, hitting .223 with 35 runs scored and 23 RBIs. McDonald played 123 games in 2007, hitting .251 with 20 doubles, 31 RBIs and 32 runs scored. He made 93 starts at shortstop that season. His hitting and playing time dropped in 2008, as he hit .210 in 84 games, with 18 RBIs and 21 runs scored. He had a similar role in 2009, with a .258 average in 73 games. He somehow managed to draw just one walk all season.
In 2010, McDonald hit .250 with 27 runs scored, 23 RBIs and a career high six homers, while playing just 63 games. During the 2011 season, he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was hitting .250 through 65 games prior to the deal, then batted .169 in 19 games after the deal. Despite the poor hitting, he signed a free agent deal with Arizona for 2012 and hit .249 with nine doubles, six homers, 22 RBIs and 16 runs scored in 70 games. After joining the Pirates late in Spring Training 2013 in a deal with the Diamondbacks, McDonald hit .065 in 16 games with Pittsburgh. He made eight starts at shortstop and saw some time at second base. In June, the Pirates traded him to the Indians, where he went hitless in seven at-bats over eight games. McDonald would also play for the Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox during that same season. In total he batted 77 times in 51 games. His career ended after the 2014 season, which he spent as a utility player with the Los Angeles Angels, where he played 95 games, but he batted just 91 times all season. He played a total of 16 years in the majors, seeing time with eight different teams. Despite the long career, he played 100+ games just twice (2006-07 Blue Jays). McDonald hit .233 with 28 homers and 210 RBIs in 1,100 games.
Jim Mangan, catcher for the Pirates in 1952 and 1954. He hit .179 over 25 games, seeing a little more time during the 1952 season. In between his two stints with the Pirates, he spent time serving in the Navy, which caused him to miss the entire 1953 season. Mangan played a total of 45 big league games over three seasons (also the 1956 New York Giants), but he batted just 67 times and played a total of six complete games. The Pirates lost him via waivers to the Giants in March of 1956 for the $10,000 waiver fee at the time. He was originally signed by Pittsburgh in 1949 and debuted in pro ball at 19 years old. That first year he hit .297 with 32 extra-base hits in 83 games with Class-C Uniontown of the Middle Atlantic League, but he struggled that same season with Class-B York of the Interstate League, where he hit .217 with one homer in 31 games. The 1950 season was spent with Albany of the Class-A Eastern League, where he batted .313 with 23 doubles and six homers in 118 games. In 1951, he moved up to Indianapolis of the American Association (Triple-A) and hit .291 with nine homers and 51 RBIs in 100 games.
Mangan went to Spring Training with the Pirates in 1952, but missed two weeks in the middle to fulfill service requirements with the Navy. Early in the season back in 1952 (and other years) teams were allowed to carry extra players, before getting down to a 25-man roster on May 15th. Mangan was one of the cuts in 1952, but he got to play 11 games before being sent to Toronto of the International League. His Navy service was announced on October 1, 1952 and he wasn’t discharged until May 21, 1954. He left to join the Pirates immediately. At the time, they had five catchers on the roster, though they sold veteran Walker Cooper to the Chicago Cubs to remain at five catchers once Mangan arrived. Mangan hit .192 in 14 games with the Pirates before being optioned to Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League on July 16th. He went to Spring Training with the Pirates in 1955, but he was optioned to Hollywood on April 10th, three days before Opening Day. On March 5, 1956, his time with the Pirates ended when he was picked up on waivers by the Giants. He went 2-for-20 with four walks in his final season in the majors. Mangan spent the 1957-58 seasons in the minors before retiring.
Dixie Walker, outfielder for the 1948-49 Pirates. He was a star player who finished out his big league time in Pittsburgh. In his career, he hit .306 over 18 seasons, with 1,037 runs scored, 1,023 RBIs, 2,064 hits and an .820 OPS. Walker led the National League in triples in 1937, average in 1944 and RBIs in 1945. He played in four All-Star games and got MVP votes in eight different seasons. Dixie (his first name was Fred) debuted in pro ball in 1928 at 17 years old and played for three lower level teams, combining to hit .284 in 104 games. He spent the 1929 season with Vicksburg of the Class-D Virginia League, where he hit .318 in 61 games. In 1930, he moved up to the South Atlantic League (Class-B) for half of the season, then played the other half with Jersey City of the International League. He combined to bat .367 in 156 games, with 35 doubles, 19 triples and 18 homers. He played for three upper level teams in 1931. While most of his stats are incomplete from that season, he played well enough the previous year to get the attention of the New York Yankees, who threw him into two early season games. It was a brief trial and he wouldn’t get his second shot until the start of the 1933 season.
Walker played 98 games for the 1933 Yankees, hitting .274 with 15 doubles, seven triples, 15 homers, 51 RBIs and 68 runs scored. Despite solid stats at a young age, he got almost no chances with the 1934-35 Yankees, playing a total of 25 games, though his .133 average during that time didn’t help. In 1936, Walker was put on waivers, despite going 7-for-20 in six early season games. He was picked up by the Chicago White Sox and didn’t see much action over the final five months of the season, hitting .271 in 26 games. That lack of big league playing time changed in 1937. That year he hit .302 with 28 doubles, a league leading 16 triples, nine homers, 95 RBIs and 105 runs scored in 154 games. He was traded to the Detroit Tigers in December of 1937 and he hit .308 with 65 walks, 39 extra-base hits and 84 runs in 127 games. He was put on waivers by Detroit early in 1939, despite hitting .305 at the time. He was picked up by the Brooklyn Dodgers and hit .280 over the final 61 games of the season.
In 1940, Walker batted .308 with 37 doubles, 75 runs scored and 66 RBIs in 143 games. He finished sixth in the MVP voting. The next year saw him hit .311 with 49 extra-base hits, 70 walks, 71 RBIs and 88 runs scored in 148 games. That earned him a tenth place finish in the MVP voting. In 1942, Walker batted .290 with 28 doubles, 54 RBIs and 57 runs scored in 118 games. With competition starting to get watered down due to the war effort, he batted .302 with 32 doubles, 71 RBIs and 83 runs scored in 1943. He made his first All-Star appearance that season. The next year was his best, winning a batting title with a .357 average. He had 58 extra-base hits, 72 walks, 91 RBIs and 77 runs scored. He was an All-Star and finished third in the MVP voting. In 1945, Walker hit .300 with 75 walks and 102 runs scored, while setting career highs with 42 doubles and 124 RBIs, which led the league. He finished ninth in the MVP voting that season. The next year saw him hit .319 with 48 extra-base hits, 67 walks, 80 runs scored and 116 RBIs. He finished second in the MVP voting and made his third All-Star appearance. In his final season with the Dodgers, Walker hit .306 with 43 extra-base hits, 94 RBIs and 77 runs scored in 148 games. He set a career high with 97 walks. He made his fourth All-Star appearance and received mild MVP support.
Walker was acquired by the Pirates from the Dodgers as part of a six-player deal on December 8, 1947. He had a strong 1948 season at 37 years old, hitting .316 with 52 walks and 54 RBIs in 129 games, spending most of his time in right field. He batted .282 in 1949, though he saw more time off of the bench than as an actual starter. As soon as the season ended, Walker was released. He begin a ten-year stretch as a minor league manager in 1950, the first year as a player-manager. Walker came from a great baseball family. His brother Harry Walker played 11 seasons in the majors, while also missing time during WWII. His father, who also went by Dixie, pitched for four seasons in the majors. His uncle Ernie Walker had a three-year stretch in the majors with the St Louis Browns.
Paddy Siglin, second baseman for the Pirates from 1914 until 1916. He played just 23 games over his three seasons in Pittsburgh, hitting .180 with nine singles. Signlin played over 2,000 games in the minors over 14 seasons. The Pirates got him early in his pro career, acquiring him from his minor league team in Waterloo, Iowa during the 1914 season. He debuted as a pro in 1913 and hit .227 in 126 games for Waterloo. Siglin broke out the next season, batting .322 with 43 steals and 83 runs scored in 130 games. His contract was purchased on July 9, 1914, as one of three players picked up by the Pirates from Waterloo that season, along with infielder Ike McAuley and catcher Bill Wagner. According to the deal of the purchase, he was allowed to remain in Waterloo until August 15th before reporting to the Pirates, but he ended up staying longer. Once he got to Pittsburgh on September 9th, he debuted just three days later and made 11 starts at second base before the season ended, batting .154 in 44 plate appearances. Siglin went to Spring Training with the Pirates in 1915 and he was one of the last four cuts on the eve of Opening Day. He moved up in minor league competition in 1915, going to Youngstown, where he hit .241 in 125 games. He again joined the Pirates in September (August 31st to be exact) and he went 2-for-7 at the plate in six games.
Siglin jumped up another level in 1916, playing for Rochester of the International League, where he hit .285 in 142 games. That season he didn’t go to Spring Training with the Pirates. He was released under optional agreement to Rochester on March 9th, where he managed by former Pirates star Tommy Leach. As a September addition for a third time for the Pirates that season, his big league action was limited to four at-bats over three games. That was surprising because it was said right before he joined the club that he was expected to see regular action at second base. On January 19, 1917, Siglin and infielder Jack Farmer were traded to Portland of the Pacific Coast League for infielder Chuck Ward. Siglin played another ten years of minor league ball before retiring, spending all but 58 games during that time in the Pacific Coast League. His actual first name was Wesley.
Bob Vail, pitcher for the 1908 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball at 21 years old, fresh out of college in 1903 with Nashua of the Class-B New England League. His first two seasons were spent there, before playing two years for Lynn of the same league. His first available pitching stats show a 15-9 record for Lynn in 1906. The next year was split between two teams in the Class-C Virginia League, where the available stats show a 4-10 record and 136 innings pitched. Before joining the Pirates in 1908, Vail had a 15-12 record for the Portsmouth Truckers of the Virginia League. His contract was purchased on August 17th and he reported to Pittsburgh a week later. In his only big league season, he made one start and three relief appearances for the Pirates, allowing ten runs over 15 innings. His first outing was eight shutout innings on August 27th in relief of Vic Willis, who gave up three runs in the first inning. The Pirates won the game 4-3. Vail started nine days later and allowed four runs in four innings. After a scoreless inning on September 10th, his final appearance was six runs over two innings eight days later. When the Pirates left for their final road trip on October 1st, they took 22 players with them, allowing Vail to go home early. That was despite pitcher Irv Young being unavailable due to an ankle injury. Vail was signed to a 1909 contract with the Pirates, but on May 13th he was released to Roanoke of the Virginia League without pitching a game. His Spring Training work was limited due to a sore arm. He would spend his final four seasons (1909-12) of pro ball in the Virginia League before retiring as a player.
On this date in 1913, the Pirates won 3-2 over the Cubs to move to 76-68 on the season, all but securing them their 15th straight winning season. Due to multiple rain outs, they ended up playing just five more games that season, finishing with a 78-71 record. They would fall below .500 in 1914, breaking the still-standing longest winning stretch in team history. Here’s the boxscore from September 24, 1913.