Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus a transaction of note.
Marino Salas, reliever for the 2008 Pirates. He signed with the Baltimore Orioles as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic at 16 years old in 1998. He spent a total of nine seasons with the Orioles without making it to the majors. His first three years of pro ball were spent playing in the Dominican Summer League. Salas made it to the U.S. in 2001, playing in the Gulf Coast League, where he had a 4.82 ERA in 18.2 innings of relief work. He spent the next two seasons with Bluefield in the Appalachian League, posting a 5.40 ERA in 36.2 innings in 2002, followed by a 4.89 ERA in 35 innings in 2003. He finally made it to full-season ball six years after he signed, playing for Delmarva of the Low-A South Atlantic League in 2004. He went 2-4, 2.15 with 13 saves in 50.1 innings over 40 appearances. Salas moved up to High-A the next year, going 4-2, 3.63 with 16 saves in 62 innings over 50 outings with Frederick of the Carolina League. In 2006, he spent the entire year in Double-A with Bowie of the Eastern League. Salas had a 2.92 ERA in 49.1 innings, with 19 saves in 44 appearances.
The Brewers acquired Salas via waivers prior to the 2007 season. He did well that year in Double-A with a 1.42 ERA and 17 saves in 37 games, but struggled a bit in Triple-A, posting a 4.94 ERA in 23.2 innings. He was acquired by the Pirates from the Brewers for Solomon Torres on December 7, 2007. Salas pitched 13 games for the 2008 Pirates during his only season in the majors, posting an 8.47 ERA in 17 innings. He was called up four different times during the season, seeing action in May, June, July and September. In Triple-A Indianapolis that season, he had a 3.47 ERA in 57 innings. The Pirates released him after the 2008 season and he pitched in Mexico in 2009, which was his last season of summer ball. Salas played winter ball through the 2012-13 off-season in the Dominican before retiring. He played a total of seven seasons in winter ball
Victor Santos, pitcher for the 2006 Pirates. He played for seven teams over a seven-year big league career, which started with the 2001 Detroit Tigers. He then moved on to the Colorado Rockies (2002), Texas Rangers (2003), Milwaukee Brewers (2004-05), Pirates, before finishing in 2007 with the Cincinnati Reds and Baltimore Orioles. Santos was originally signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Tigers at age 19 in 1996 out of St Peter’s University in NJ. That school has produced just four Major League players, including Frank Brooks of the 2004 Pirates. Santos debuted in the Gulf Coast League, but he finished his first season in High-A, combining at the two levels to go 5-4, 2.07 in 78.1 innings. In 1997, he spent the entire year with Lakeland of the High-A Florida State League. He had a 10-5, 3.23 record in 145 innings. Santos split the 1998 season between three levels, starting back at Lakeland and finishing at Triple-A. He went 10-6, 3.74 in 151.2 innings, with 123 strikeouts. His results got worse the higher he went in the system. In 1999, he spent the entire year with Double-A Jacksonville of the Southern League, where he had a 12-6, 3.49 record in 173 innings, with 146 strikeouts. He was injured for most of the 2000 season, which saw him limited to four games.
In 2001, Santos began the season in the majors, and was with the Tigers for most of the year, except for six Triple-A starts. He went 2-2, 3.30 in 76.1 innings during his rookie season, with seven starts and 26 relief appearances. He was traded to the Rockies right before the 2002 season started. That year he went 0-4, 10.38 in 26 innings over 24 appearances, including two starts. He spent part of the year in Triple-A and he was released at the end of the season. Santos signed a one-year deal with the Rangers and made four starts and four relief appearances in the majors, posting a 7.01 ERA in 25.2 innings. He became a free agent at the end of the year and signed with the Brewers, where he got a chance to pitch regularly. He went 11-12, 4.97 in 154 innings in 2004, setting career highs in wins, innings and strikeouts (115). In 2005, Santos went 4-13, 4.57 in 141.2 innings. He was signed early in the 2005-06 off-season as a minor league free agent by the Kansas City Royals, but the Pirates selected him in the Rule 5 draft. In his only season with the club, he went 5-9, 5.70 in 115.1 innings, making 19 starts and six relief appearances. He became a free agent after the season and signed with the Reds, who sold him to the Orioles mid-season. In his final year in the majors, Santos went 1-6, 5.83 in 63.1 innings over three starts and 33 relief appearances. He signed with the San Francisco Giants as a free agent in the off-season, but he spent the entire 2008 season in Triple-A. He played independent ball in 2009 and also played winter ball in four different countries, last playing during the 2011-12 off-season. Santos went 23-48, 5.21 in 87 starts and 99 relief appearances in the majors, throwing 602.1 innings.
Bob Robertson, first baseman for the Pirates in 1967, and then 1969-76. He debuted in pro ball at 17 years old, hitting .302 with 13 homers and 63 RBIs in 70 games for Salem of the Appalachian League. In 1965, he moved up to Gastonia of the Class-A Western Carolinas League, where hit batted .303 with 25 doubles, 32 homers, 98 RBIs, 68 walks and 89 runs scored in 123 games. In 1966, he played for Asheville of the Double-A Southern League, where he hit .287 with 25 doubles, 32 homers, 99 RBIs and 83 runs scored in 134 games. He was in Triple-A in 1967 with Columbus of the International League. Robertson hit .256 with 19 homers, 63 RBIs and 56 runs scored in 108 games. He debuted in the majors at 20 years old in September of 1967, though he only got into nine games that year, then spent all of 1968 on the sidelines after a surgery for his kidneys. Robertson was with the Pirates during April/May in 1969, then returned in September, finishing the season with a .208 average and one homer in 32 games. In between those two big league stints in 1969, he homered 34 times in Triple-A. Robertson was a regular in the majors by 1970, hitting hit a career high 27 homers, to go along with a .287 average, 51 walks, 82 RBIs and 69 runs scored in 117 games. He hit 26 homers in 1971, then added six postseason homers in 41 at-bats that year to help the Pirates to their fourth World Series title. He played a career high 131 games that year, hitting .271 with 72 RBIs, 60 walks and 65 runs scored.
After he strong 1970-71 seasons, Robertson’s stats quickly dropped off, mostly due to back issues that bothered him for the rest of his career. He batted .193 with 12 homers and 41 RBIs in 115 games in 1972, then bounced back a little in 1973 when he hit .239 with 14 homers, 40 RBIs and 55 walks in 119 games. That was his last season seeing regular action. Robertson played 91 games in 1974 and hit 16 homers and drove in 48 runs in 236 at-bats. He was a part-time player in 1975-76, playing a total of 136 games, with just 53 starts. He hit .274 with six homers and 18 RBIs in 74 games in 1975, followed by a .217 average, two homers and 25 RBIs in 1976. The Pirates released him just prior to Opening Day in 1977 and he didn’t play again until 1978 with the Seattle Mariners, then finished his career with the 1979 Toronto Blue Jays. Robertson had back surgery after being released by the Pirates. He batted .230 with eight homers and 28 RBIs in 64 games with the Mariners, then lasted just 15 with Toronto, going 3-for-29 at the plate. In nine seasons in Pittsburgh, he hit .245, with 265 runs scored, 106 homers and 339 RBIs in 750 games.
Maury Wills, 1967-68 third baseman for the Pirates. He once held the MLB modern day record with 104 steals (the all-time record for steals is 138 in 1887 by Hugh Nicol). Wills hit .290 over 302 games with the Pirates and stole 81 bases. He had 586 career steals, though he also led the league in caught stealing seven times. Wills debuted in pro ball at 18 years old in 1951, playing his first two seasons for Hornell of the PONY League, where he had 54 steals each season. He batted .280 in 123 games his first year, then hit .300 with 34 doubles in 125 games the next year. He moved up the Brooklyn Dodgers system, playing most of 1953 in the Class-B Florida International League. Along with a brief stop in A-Ball, Wills hit .286 with 29 extra-base hits in 111 games. In 1954, he spent the entire season with Pueblo of the Class-A Western League, batting .279 with 33 extra-base hits in 145 games. He moved up to Double-A Fort Worth of the Texas League in 1955, hitting just .202 in 123 games, with 39 steals. The poor performance led to him being returned to Pueblo, where he hit .302 with 51 extra-base hits and 34 steals in 134 games. He moved up to the Pacific Coast League in 1957 and took up switch-hitting for the first time. Wills hit .267 in 147 games for Seattle that first season, stealing 21 bases. He stayed in the PCL with Spokane for the 1958-59 seasons, hitting .253 with 25 steals that first year, followed by a .313 average, 25 steals and 42 runs scored in 48 games before joining the Los Angeles Dodgers in early June.
Wills hit .260 with 27 runs scored in 83 games that first year, finishing with just seven RBIs and seven steals. He quickly established himself the next year, hitting .295 with 75 runs scored and a league leading 50 steals in 148 games. He finished 17th in the MVP voting. In 1961, he batted .282 with 35 steals, 59 walks and 105 runs scored in 149 games. He was an All-Star, a Gold Glove winner and he finished ninth in the MVP voting. He had his best season in 1962, which led to the National League MVP award. He batted .299 with 104 steals and 130 runs scored. He led the league with ten triples and he set a Major League record with 165 games played, as the Dodgers made up three tie games. He was an All-Star again and won his second Gold Glove. Wills hit a career high .302 in 1963, with 40 steals and 83 runs scored in 134 games. He was an All-Star and received mild MVP support. In 1964 he hit .275 with 53 steals and 81 runs scored. The next year saw him return to All-Star form with a .286 average, 94 steals and 92 runs scored in 158 games. He finished third in the MVP voting that season. In his final year during his first stint with the Dodgers, Wills hit .278 with 38 steals and 60 runs scored in 143 games. He didn’t lead the league in steals for the first time since 1960, but he was caught stealing 24 times.
The Pirates acquired Wills on December 1, 1966 in exchange for third baseman Bob Bailey and infielder Gene Michael. At the time, Wills had been an All-Star in five of his previous six seasons. He also won two Gold Glove awards with the Dodgers, though the second one came five years earlier. However, his two best seasons as far as dWAR were his last two seasons with the Dodgers, not the Gold Glove years. The Pirates nullified some of that value by shifting him over to third base during his time in Pittsburgh. He hit .302 with 94 runs scored in 1967, though his 29 stolen bases represented a career low up to that point. His average dropped to .278 in 1968, while collecting just 18 extra-base hits in 153 games. However, Wills stole 52 bases that season. After the season, he was lost to the Montreal Expos in the Expansion Draft. He played just 47 games in Montreal before returning to the Dodgers for his final 3 1/2 seasons. He hit .222 with 15 steals with the Expos in 1969, then batted .297 with a .734 OPS in 104 games with the Dodgers that season. While his regular season combined total wasn’t the best of his career, that .734 mark was better than any full season total during his 14 years in the majors. Wills batted .270 with 28 stolen base and 77 runs scored in 132 games in 1970. He hit .281 with 73 runs scored, 44 RBIs and 15 steals in 149 games in 1971. That performance earned him a sixth place finish in the MVP voting. He saw a major drop-off in production in 1972, which ended up being his final season. He hit just .129 in 71 games. He finished with a .281 average in 1,942 games, with 1,067 runs scored, 20 homers, 458 RBIs and 552 walks, to go along with his 586 steals.
The Dodgers went to the World Series four times while Wills was on the team and they won three times, 1959, 1963 and 1965. He did not have overall postseason success, posting a .571 OPS, six steals and six runs scored, with almost all of his production coming during the 1965 series. After his playing days were over, he managed the Seattle Mariners during parts of the 1980-81 seasons. Wills turns 89 years old today. He’s the father of Bump Wills, who spent six seasons in the majors.
Eddie Murphy, outfielder for the 1926 Pirates. He was once a star player for the Philadelphia A’s, but by 1926 when he joined the Pirates, he was out of the majors for five years. He came back just long enough to hit .118 in 16 games with the Pirates. Murphy played five seasons (1921-25) for Columbus of the American Association after his last big league game with the 1921 Chicago White Sox. He hit .351, .350 and .397 during his final three seasons in Columbus. In 1926, he moved on to Rochester of the International League, where he was batting .364 through 109 games in early August. The Pirates purchased his contract “for a large sum” on the recommendation of scout Chick Fraser. He was back in Rochester by 1927, and retired from playing ball in 1928. He played in three World Series, including the final one as a member of the 1919 Chicago Black Sox.
Murphy debuted in pro ball in 1911 at 19 years old, playing for Scranton of the Class-B New York State League, where he hit .300 in 91 games. In 1912, he moved up two levels to Baltimore of the International League, where he put together a .361 average and 36 extra-base hits in 122 games. He joined the Philadelphia A’s in late August and hit .317 with 24 runs scored in 33 games as their everyday right fielder. He would hold that position with the team for the next 2 1/2 seasons. In 1913, he hit .295 with 70 walks and 105 runs scored in 137 games, helping the A’s to the World Series, where they defeated the New York Giants. Philadelphia was back in the World Series in 1914, though they lost to the Boston Braves. Murphy hit .272 with 87 walks and 101 runs scored. He stole 36 bases, but he was also caught a staggering 32 times. He wasn’t a power hitter, and in fact, he hit three of his career total of four homers during the 1914 season, then never homered again. All four of his homers were solo shots, two led off the game, three came on the road in a six-week span and one was an inside-the-park homer.
In 1915, Murphy was sold to the White Sox on July 15th for $11,500. He hit .274 with 68 walks, 33 steals and 88 runs scored in 138 games that season, with much better results after switching teams. In 1916, he took up a bench role and hit just .210 in 51 games. The next year saw him rebound in a limited bench role, hitting .314 with 16 RBIs in only 64 plate appearances. He got more playing time in 1918 and hit .297 in 91 games, with 36 runs scored. He was a bit player on the 1919 White Sox, playing just 30 games all year, but he did incredible in his limited time, batting .486 with seven walks and no strikeouts in 43 plate appearances. He was able to play a little more in 1920 and he responded with a .339 average, 19 RBIs and 22 runs scored in 58 games (16 starts). In his final big league time before heading to the minors for five seasons, Murphy got just five at-bats in six games, all of them off of the bench. In his big league career, Murphy hit .287 with 411 runs scored, 195 RBIs, 294 walks and 111 steals in 761 games. He struggled in the postseason, hitting .200 in 45 plate appearances, with four runs scored and no RBIs.
Ernie Diehl, outfielder for the 1903-04 Pirates. He played a very minor part of the first World Series team for the Pirates, going 1-for-3 in his lone game on May 31, 1903. That game was his pro debut at 25 years old. He batted .162 over 12 games the following season, then played a total of four games over two seasons (1906 and 1909) for Boston (Braves) to finish out his big league career. He didn’t have much of a minor league career, spending part of the 1907 season with Toledo of the American Association and parts of two seasons with Louisville, also of the American Association. It was said that Diehl had plenty of money and the idea of playing baseball every day wasn’t for him. According to a late 1907 article, he never made a cent playing pro ball. He preferred to play when he wanted to and therefore his career was rather brief compared to the skills that he possessed, which would have easily landed him a job with the best minor league teams each year and likely much more MLB time. It’s also said that he never signed a pro contract. The Pirates tried to sign him in 1903 after he impressed in his lone game, but he had business affairs that kept him from joining the team. He came highly recommended from pitcher Sam Leever. In 1904, Diehl filled in when needed, once taking the place of an injured Jimmy Sebring for nearly two weeks until the Pirates could get someone else signed. The Cincinnati Reds made an offer to sign him just prior to joining the Pirates, but he refused his hometown team. Owner Barney Dreyfuss said in February of 1905 that he was hoping to sign Diehl, but nothing ever came of that wish. Dreyfuss mentioned as late as 1907 that Diehl could have a job with the Pirates any time that he wanted to sign. He even called him late in the 1907 season, asking him to fill in for Fred Clarke in left field after the Hall of Famer got injured, but Diehl already had a spot with Toledo at the time. A 1908 story out of Cincinnati called him the greatest Cincinnati amateur player. He was an outstanding athlete, who also excelled at tennis.
Scott Stratton, pitcher for the 1891 Pirates. He had a 34-14 record during his best season in the majors, but he was just 63-100 over the rest of his career, including losses in his only two starts with the Pirates. Stratton debuted in pro ball in the majors. He was an 18-year-old rookie in 1888, when he went 10-17, 3.64 in 269.2 innings for the Louisville Colonels of the American Association. He lowered his ERA to 3.23 in 1889, but he was pitching for the team that set the MLB record for losses in a season, which left him with a 3-13 record in his 17 starts. Louisville went 27-111 that season, though it was a record that lasted just one year. While he was having the season of a lifetime in 1890 (34-14, 2.36 in 431 innings), Pittsburgh went 23-113 (my extensive research says 114, but that is a story for a different day). Stratton was paid just $1,800 in 1890. He had a career best 207 strikeouts, which was the only time that he topped 100 strikeouts in a season. After the season, the Alleghenys/Pirates used Guy Hecker to get him to sign in Pittsburgh. Hecker mentored Stratton for two seasons in Louisville, then managed the Alleghenys in 1890.
In Stratton’s debut with Pittsburgh, he faced future Hall of Famer Kid Nichols and lost a tough 4-3 decision, with some poor defense hurting Stratton’s chances to win. He actually started three days earlier (May 22nd), but that game was called after just two innings due to rain. We wrote about that called game here because it was an extremely rare case from the 19th century where there was a pitch count available. Stratton lost 5-3 to Brooklyn on June 1st, and it was another solid performance according to the papers. He developed a sore shoulder in that second start and was sent home. He was released by Pittsburgh on June 19th and signed shortly after with Louisville, though he debuted as a position player before making his first start in mid-July. He went 6-13, 4.08 in 20 starts for Louisville to finish out the 1891 season. Stratton went 21-19, 2.92 in 351.2 innings in 1892, but he won just 23 more games over the next three seasons and then never pitched again. His record really dropped off in 1893, going 12-23, 5.43 in 314.2 innings. Baseball changed pitching rules that year, including the distance to home plate, which led to more offense and many pitchers having trouble adjusting. Stratton had even more trouble in 1894 (as did most pitchers), going 9-10, 6.51 in 171.1 innings, while spending half of the season with the Chicago Colts (Cubs). He finished his big league career out with the Colts in 1895, going 2-3, 9.60 in five starts. He became an outfielder and played minor league ball for another five seasons, finally retiring in 1900. Stratton refused to play on Sundays and said he would quit before he did that. His big league record shows a 97-114, 3.87 record in 1,892.1 innings pitched.
On this date in 1964, the Pirates signed 20-year-old catcher Manny Sanguillen as an amateur free agent out of Panama. It took him just three seasons to make the majors. He would go on to make three All-Star teams and hit .299 over 1,296 games with the Pirates in 12 seasons. Sanguillen became the second player from Panama to play for the Pirates, debuting one year after outfielder Dave Roberts.