Four former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus one game of note. Before we get into those players, current Pirates pitcher Shea Spitzbarth turns 27 today.
Joe Boever, pitcher for the 1996 Pirates. He was signed by the St Louis Cardinals as a non-drafted free agent in 1982 out of college and made it to the majors with them in 1985. He did well in his first pro season, mostly pitching in short-season ball, with a late stint in A-Ball, combining to go 2-3, 1.96 with nine saves in 36.2 innings. He moved up to the Florida State League in 1983 (still Class-A, but considered to be more advanced, though the Low/High-A distinction wasn’t made yet at this time). Boever went 5-6, 3.02 in 80.1 innings over 53 appearances, with 26 saves. In 1984, he spent most of the year back in the Florida State League, with an eight-game stint in Double-A as well. He went 6-5, 3.65 in 88.2 innings over 56 games, with 17 saves. His 1985 season was split fairly evenly in the minors between Double-A and Triple-A, with success at both levels. He had a 1.60 ERA and ten saves in 73 innings over 48 outings. He ended up pitching 13 games for the Cardinals that season, posting a 4.41 ERA in 16.1 innings. In 1986, Boever spent the season in Triple-A, with a 2.25 ERA in 88 innings. He pitched 11 games for the Cardinals and had a 1.66 ERA in 21.2 innings.
Boever was traded to the Atlanta Braves during the middle of the 1987 season. Despite his big league success and solid Triple-A numbers, he spent a large majority of the year in the minors. His big league time didn’t go well, with a 7.36 ERA in 18.1 innings. In 1988, he had a 2.14 ERA in 48 appearances in Triple-A and a 1.77 ERA in 20.1 innings over 16 games with the Braves. He played parts of four seasons in the majors before finally sticking full-time in 1989 with the Braves. That season saw him go 4-11, 3.94 with 21 saves in 82.1 innings over 66 games. He started off poorly in 1990 and was traded mid-season to the Philadelphia Phillies, where he had much better results. Between the two stops, he went 3-6, 3.36 with 14 saves in 88.1 innings over 67 appearances. Boever was taken out of the closer role in 1991 with the Phillies and saw his most work to that point in middle relief. He went 3-5, 3.84 in 98.1 innings over 68 games. He became a free agent and signed with the Houston Astros. In his lone season in Houston, he led the National League with 81 pitching appearances. He had a 2.51 ERA and pitched a career high 111.1 innings.
Boever signed as a free agent with the Oakland A’s in 1993, but they released him mid-season and he finished the year with the Detroit Tigers. He went 6-3, 3.61 in 102.1 innings over 61 appearances between both stops. During the strike-shortened 1994 season, he was 9-2, 3.98 in 81.1 innings over 48 games for the Tigers. His performance really dropped off the next season. Boever had a 6.39 ERA in 60 games for the 1995 Tigers. The Pirates picked him up on waivers in April of 1996. At the end of his 12-year career, he made 13 appearances for the Pirates and posted a 5.40 ERA in 15 innings. He spent most of that season in Triple-A, where he managed to compile a 12-1 record as a reliever. He pitched in the minors in 1997 before retiring, splitting the Triple-A season between Calgary (Pirates affiliate) and Edmonton (A’s affiliate) in the Pacific Coast League. Boever pitched 516 games in the majors, all of them as a reliever. In his career, he went 34-45, 3.93 in 754.1 innings, with 49 career saves. Despite debuting in the majors in July in 1985 for a team that went to the World Series, Boever never pitched a postseason game during his career.
Billy Hatcher, 1989 outfielder for the Pirates. He was drafted three times before he eventually signed a deal as a sixth round pick of the Chicago Cubs in 1981. He actually passed on signing in 1980 after the Houston Astros selected him in the second round, then ended up spending a good portion of his career in Houston. He was originally drafted in the 30th round in 1979 by the Montreal Expos out of high school, but decided to go to Yavapai College, where he improved his draft stock. Hatcher debuted in the New York-Penn League in 1981 at 20 years old. He hit .280 in 75 games, with 57 runs, 22 extra-base hits and 13 steals. He moved up to the California League in 1982, hitting .311 with 34 extra-base hits and 84 steals in 138 games. He had a great 1983 season in the Texas League (Double-A), hitting .299 with 33 doubles, 11 triples, ten homers, 56 steals (in 64 attempts) and 132 runs scored in 135 games. Hatcher went to Triple-A Iowa of the American Association in 1984, where he had 27 doubles, 18 triples, 56 steals and 94 runs scored in 150 games. He played eight September games with the Cubs and had a .111 average.
In 1985, Hatcher split the season between the majors and Triple-A. He hit .245 with two homers, ten RBIs and 24 runs scored in 53 games with the Cubs. He was in the majors for good in 1986 after being traded to the Astros. That season he hit .258 with 38 steals, 36 RBIs and 55 runs scored in 127 games. He had a .658 OPS during both the 1985 and 1986 seasons, then had his best year in 1987 when he hit .296 in 141 games, with career highs of 28 doubles, 11 homers, 96 runs scored, 63 RBIs and 53 steals. Hatcher most played center field early in his career, then saw more time in left field from 1988 through 1992. That year he batted .268 in 145 games, with 79 runs, 36 extra-base hits, 52 RBIs and 32 steals. He started off the 1989 season with the Astros by hitting .228 with 22 steals and 49 runs scored in 108 games. Hatcher was a late season acquisition by the 1989 Pirates, who hit .244 with a homer and seven RBIs in 27 games. He led all National League outfielders with a .997 OPS that season. The Pirates acquired him on August 18th for outfielder Glenn Wilson. Hatcher was traded to the Cincinnati Reds prior to the 1990 season for infielder Jeff Richardson and pitcher Mike Roesler. Hatcher didn’t have a great regular season for the Reds that year, but he made quite a name for himself in the playoffs. He batted .276 with five homers, 68 runs scored and 30 steals in 139 games during the season. He hit .333 in four games against the Pirates in the NLCS, then hit .750 in a four-game sweep of the Oakland A’s in the World Series. All told, he had 14 hits and eight runs scored in the eight playoff games.
In 1991, Hatcher hit .262 with 25 doubles, 45 runs scored, 41 RBIs and 11 steals in 138 games for the Reds. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox in the middle of the 1992 season and he combined to hit .249 with 47 runs scored and a .618 OPS in 118 games, with slightly better results prior to the trade. With the Red Sox in 1993, he moved back to center field and hit .287 with 71 runs scored, 57 RBIs and 14 steals in 136 games. The strike-shortened 1994 season saw him split the year between Boston and the Philadelphia Phillies, with more of his playing time in right field. He had very similar playing time and results in both spots, finishing the year with a .245 average and 39 runs scored in 87 games. Hatcher signed with the Texas Rangers at the start of the 1995 season, but he lasted just three weeks and six games before being released. He signed with the Kansas City Royals three weeks later, finishing his career in the minors 26 games later. Hatcher was a career .264 hitter in 1,233 big league games, with 218 stolen bases, 210 doubles, 54 homers, 399 RBIs and 586 runs scored. He played 12 seasons in the majors, just like the aforementioned Joe Boever, who was also born on the same day in 1960.
Red Munger, pitcher for the 1952 and 1956 Pirates. He won a total of 229 games in pro ball, but just three of those wins came with the Pirates in the majors during his two seasons with the team. Munger played a total of 21 seasons in pro ball, with ten seasons of big league experience. He debuted in pro ball at 18 years old in 1937 and spent the season with Class-D New Iberia of the Evangeline League. He went 19-11, 3.42 in 284 innings. He also added another 11 innings three levels higher in the Texas League with Houston, giving him nearly 300 innings when he was still a high school student age. In 1938, he played for the same two teams, with 131 innings for New Iberia and 68 innings for Houston. He combined to go 12-11, 2.98, with better results at the lower level. In 1939, Munger played the entire season with Asheville of the Class-B Piedmont League, where he had a 16-13 record in 236 innings. His ERA isn’t available, but he allowed 4.39 runs per nine innings. He moved up to Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League for the 1940-41 seasons. That first year saw him go 9-14, 3.17 in 190 innings. The next year he went 17-16, 3.07 in 261 innings. Despite the PCL being one level from the majors and he had strong results each year, he still spent the entire 1942 season in the minors with Columbus of the American Association. Munger had a 16-13, 3.52 record in 243 innings that season.
Munger spent the entire 1943 season in the majors with the St Louis Cardinals. He went 9-5, 3.95 in 93.1 innings, with nine starts and 23 relief appearances. He had his baseball career somewhat derailed by WWII. He was called into service during his sophomore season in 1944. At the time, he had an outstanding 11-4, 1.34 record in 121 innings for the Cardinals and he was named to the All-Star team for the first time. He missed the end of the 1944 season, all of 1945 and most of 1946 before returning. The lowest ERA he could put up after returning was the 3.33 mark he had during the partial 1946 season when he pitched 48.2 innings. Munger had a strong 1947 season, it was just nothing like the dominating performance he was having in 1944. That 1947 season saw him go 16-5, 3.37 in 224.1 innings. He set career highs in wins, innings, complete games (13), shutouts (six) and strikeouts (123), while making his second All-Star appearance. Munger’s numbers slipped in 1948 when he went 10-11, 4.50 in 166 innings. He rebounded a bit in 1949 and was selected to his third (and final) All-Star game. He had a 15-8, 3.87 record in 188.1 innings.
Munger made 20 starts and 12 relief appearances in 1950, going 7-8, 3.90 in 154.2 innings. He saw less work in 1951, with 11 starts and 12 relief outings. He finished with a 4-6, 5.23 record in 94.2 innings. His time with the Cardinals ended with one start in the 1952 season in which he allowed six runs in 4.1 innings. The Pirates acquired him from the Cardinals on May 3, 1952 in an even up exchange for pitcher Bill Werle. Munger went 0-3, 7.18 in 26.1 innings for the 1952 Pirates. He pitched for them in the minors between 1953-55 and had a 23-win season in 1955, with 56 wins overall for Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League during that time. He returned to the majors in 1956 and had a 3-4, 4.04 record in 107 innings, making 13 starts and 22 relief appearances. That ended up being his final big league season. He pitched minor league ball during the 1957-58 seasons before retiring. He finished his big league career with a 77-56, 3.83 record in 1,228.2 innings, making 161 starts and 112 relief appearances. Munger’s real first name was George.
Jim Gardner, pitcher/infielder for the 1895, 1897-99 Pirates. He was a lifelong native of Pittsburgh, who attended the University of Pittsburgh. His life had a tragic ending, which was assumed to be related to a baseball injury. He began his first season of pro ball with New Castle of the Iron and Oil League, where he pitched until June 15th. He was considered to be the best pitcher in the league, which was quoted in the local papers just three days before he joined the Pirates. He was in a Pirates uniform for the first time four days after his last start in New Castle and he was with the team on a trial basis. If he pitched well he would be signed by the Pirates. He gave up nine runs in his debut, but it was a blowout win for the Pirates and not all of the runs were earned, so manager Connie Mack was satisfied enough with the results. Gardner had an odd deal with the Pirates during his first season, at least by current day standards. He never traveled with the team during the 1895 season, making all ten starts and one relief appearance in Pittsburgh. Gardner pitched well, especially considering the high offense in the National League that season. He went 8-2, 2.64, completing eight of his ten starts. After not playing pro ball (he played local amateur ball) during the 1896 season due to focusing on his law studies, he returned to the Pirates in 1897. He said he would pitch for the Pirates if they were desperate during the 1896 season, but he was planning to retire from the game for good instead.
Gardner changed his tune in 1897, returning to the majors, where he went 5-5, 5.19 in 95.1 innings over 14 games, all as a starter. He made his first appearance on the road in July of that season. He also occasionally took turns at third base and in both corner outfield spots. In 1898, Gardner was a regular with the team, going 10-13, 3.21 in 185.1 innings, in what was his only full season in the majors. He was released after a few poor performances in the 1899 season, attributed partially to a severe beaning the previous season. He played his final game on June 26th and was let go on June 30th, finishing with a 7.52 ERA in 32.1 innings.
Gardner spent the 1900 season in the American League with Indianapolis, one season before the league was considered to be a Major League level of play. He had an 8-8 record and threw 157 innings. He pitched for Hartford of the Eastern League in 1901 and posted an 11-7 record. Gardner made the majors one other time briefly, making three starts for the 1902 Chicago Orphans (Cubs) at the beginning of the year, going 1-2, 2.88 in 25 innings. He finished the year back in the Eastern League in Toronto where he had a 19-4 record. Gardner played minor league ball briefly in 1904, then in April of 1905, he passed away at age 30 from an ear abscess and subsequent brain infection from it. A teammate after his passing claimed that the severe beaning he took years earlier, resulted in a fractured skull and played a part in his untimely death. His time with the Pirates showed a 24-20, 3.91 record in 398.1 innings over 46 starts and ten relief outings. Gardner finished 35 of those games and tossed one shutout.
On this date in 1903, Deacon Phillippe and the Pirates won 5-4 over the Boston Americans in game four of the World Series. It was the third win of the series for Phillippe. The team was short-handed at the time with Sam Leever nursing an injury and Ed Doheny leaving the team right before the series due to personal reasons (he went crazy, literally). Phillippe had to take the brunt of the workload and he won game one, game three and game four over a six-day span. Here’s the boxscore for game four.