Six former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus one game of note. Before we get into them, 2021 Pirates David Bednar turns 27 and Shelby Miller turns 31.
Andrew McCutchen, center fielder for the 2009-17 Pirates. In his nine seasons in Pittsburgh, he hit .291 with 203 homers, 814 runs scored, 725 RBIs and 171 stolen bases. He was the 2013 NL MVP, a four-time Silver Slugger winner and a five-time All-Star. He ranks fourth in team history in homers, ninth in doubles, tenth in total bases, seventh in walks and seventh in extra-base hits.
The Pirates drafted McCutchen in the first round in 2005, selecting him 11th overall out of Fort Meade HS. He shot through the lower levels of their system, reaching Double-A by the end of his first full season in pro ball. He began his journey in the Gulf Coast League for 45 games, then jumped to the New York-Penn League to finish the last two weeks of the season. He combined to hit .310 with 48 runs scored, 17 steals and 18 extra-base hits in 58 games. The 2006 season saw him play 114 games for Low-A Hickory of the South Atlantic League, followed by skipping to Double-A Altoona of the Eastern League for the final 20 games. McCutchen did well at both levels, but he actually put up better stats in Altoona. Combined between the two stops, he hit .294 with 24 doubles, 17 homers, 23 steals and 89 runs scored. After the push to Double-A, the Pirates moved him slowly from there, letting him play a total of 201 games at Triple-A split over three seasons.
McCutchen didn’t put up big stats in Double-A in 2007, hitting .258 with ten homers, 17 steals and 70 runs scored in 118 games. However, just like the previous two years, he did better after being promoted late in the season. He hit .313 in 17 games at Triple-A Indianapolis. He went to the Arizona Fall League after the season and hit .286 with 14 walks and seven steals in 29 games. McCutchen spent the entire 2008 season with Indianapolis, hitting .283 with 38 extra-base hits, 34 steals (with 19 caught stealing), 68 walks and 75 runs scored in 135 games. Despite the success, he was back in Triple-A to begin the season, staying long enough to hit .303 with 22 extra-base hits and ten steals in 49 games. McCutchen debuted in the majors on June 4, 2009 and he batted .286 with 12 homers and 22 stolen bases in 108 games as a rookie. He finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting. In 2010, he repeated that .286 average, this time with 94 runs scored, 16 homers, 70 steals and 33 stolen bases in 154 games.
McCutchen had his first of five straight All-Star seasons in 2011, hitting just .259, though it came with 34 doubles, 23 homers, 89 RBIs, 87 runs, 89 walks and 23 steals. He put together a big year in 2012, which led to a third place finish in the MVP voting. McCutchen hit for a career best .953 OPS, while leading the league with 194 hits. He set career highs with a .327 average, 31 homers, 96 RBIs and 107 runs scored. He won his first of four straight Silver Slugger awards that season and also took home the Gold Glove award, despite a -0.2 dWAR, with his best defensive results coming 2011 and 2013. He got his MVP award in 2013 when he led the Pirates to their first postseason/winning season since 1992. He hit .317 with 21 homers, 27 steals, 97 runs and 84 RBIs. Despite the 2013 season being his MVP year, McCutchen was better in 2012 and 2014, when he finished third each year in the MVP voting. He led the National League with a .952 OPS in 2014, and his .410 OBP was also tops in the league. He hit .314 with 89 runs scored, 38 doubles, 25 homers, 83 RBIs, 18 steals and 84 walks.
In 2015, McCutchen “only” finished fifth in the MVP voting. He set a career best with 98 walks and tied his previous RBI high of 96, set three years earlier. He batted .292 with 91 runs scored, 36 doubles and 23 homers. The 2016 season wasn’t up to his normal standards. He made the All-Star game, but saw his string of Silver Slugger wins snapped. He put up solid offensive numbers, hitting .256 with 81 runs, 26 doubles, 24 homers, 79 RBIs and 69 walks. He had six steals, while being caught seven times. After a down year in 2016, McCutchen bounced back with a .279 average, 30 doubles, 28 homers, 88 RBIs and 94 runs scored in 2017. With one year left of his contract, McCutchen was traded after the 2017 season to the San Francisco Giants for Bryan Reynolds and Kyle Crick.
McCutchen split the 2018 season between the Giants (130 games) and New York Yankees (25 games), combining to hit .255 with 30 doubles, 23 homers, 95 walks and 83 runs scored. He signed a free agent deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, where he has spent the last three seasons. Injuries limited him to 59 games in 2019 and the shortened season in 2020 led to him 57 games that year. He hit .256 with ten homers in 2019 and .253 with ten homers in 2020, but his walk rate was twice as high in 2019, leading to a 77 point difference in his OPS between those two seasons. In 2021, he hit .222 with 81 walks, 27 homers, 78 runs and 80 RBIs. Career in 1,761 games, McCutchen is a .280 hitter, with 270 homers, 197 steals, 933 RBIs, 925 and 1,052 runs scored. He has a career 45.8 WAR, with 40.4 coming with the Pirates.
Gene Tenace, C/1B for the 1983 Pirates. He played 15 seasons in the majors. Tenace was a 1975 All-Star and the 1972 World Series MVP. He never hit for average during his career, but he made up for it with some power and huge walk totals. He had six seasons with over 100 walks, twice leading the league. The Kansas City Athletics selected him in the 20th round of the 1965 draft out of high school. The was the first year of the amateur draft. Kansas City would move to Oakland after the 1967 season. Tenace started out in A-Ball right out of high school, playing for Shelby of the Western Carolinas League, where he hit just .183 in 32 games. He spent the entire 1966 season with Leesburg of the Florida State League, hitting .211 with one homer in 91 games. Most of 1967 was spent back in Leesburg, where he batted .260 with 20 extra-base hits and a .697 OPS. Tenace spent his fourth straight season in A-Ball in 1968, playing for Peninsula of the Carolina League, where he hit .283 with 20 doubles, 21 homers, 17 steals, 66 walks and 78 runs scored. He had eight more extra-base hits in 1968 than he had in his first three seasons combined. He moved up to Double-A in 1969 and batted .319 with 20 homers, 20 doubles, 74 RBIs and 56 walks in 89 games before joining the A’s. His first big league trial didn’t go well, with a .158 average and one homer in 16 games.
Tenace spent more than half of the 1970 season in Triple-A, batting .282 with 24 doubles and 16 homers in 93 games. That would be his last minor league experience. He hit .305 with seven homers and 23 walks in 38 games with the A’s. In 1971, he hit .274 with seven homers, 25 RBIs and 29 walks in 65 games. His average dropped to .225 in 82 games in 1972, with five homers and 32 RBIs, so he wasn’t the person you would expect to be a postseason hero. During the 1972 World Series, Tenace hit four homers and drove in nine runs against the Cincinnati Reds, who defeated the Pirates in the NLCS. That postseason performance carried over into the 1973 regular season when he started a string of four straight 20+ homer seasons. However, that postseason success in 1972 didn’t carry over into other playoff action during his career. Tenace hit just .127 with no homers in his last 29 playoff games.
In 1973, Tenace hit .259 with 101 walks, 24 homers, 84 RBIs and 83 runs scored in 160 games. During the 1973-74 seasons, he actually saw more time at first base than catcher, though he still caught 112 games combined during those two seasons. In 1974, Tenace saw his average drop to .211, but he led the league with 110 walks, and he hit 26 homers, while driving in 73 runs in 158 games. He made his only All-Star appearance in 1975 when he hit .255 with 29 homers, 87 RBIs, 83 runs scored and 106 walks in 158 games. He finished 18th in the MVP voting in both 1975 and 1976, the only times that he received MVP support during his career. Tenace played 128 games in 1976, hitting .249 with 22 homers, 66 RBIs and 81 walks.He became a free agent after the 1976 season and signed with the San Diego Padres. In 1977, he hit .233 with 24 doubles, 15 homers and 61 RBIs in 177 games. He set career highs with 125 walks and 13 hit-by-pitches, both of which led the league.
In 1978, Tenace hit .224 with 60 runs scored, 16 homers, 61 RBIs and 101 walks in 142 games. He followed that up with a .263 average in 151 games in 1979, with 20 homers, 67 RBIs and 105 walks. He played 133 games in 1980, hitting .222 with 17 homers, 50 RBIs and 92 walks. He was traded to the St Louis Cardinals after the season and he hit .233 with five homers and 22 RBIs during the strike-shortened 1981 season. He was a backup catcher on the 1982 World Series champs, hitting .258 with seven homers in 66 games. The Pirates signed him as a free agent shortly after the 1982 season ended and they released him right before Opening Day in 1984, which ended his pro career. In the last season of his 15-year career in 1983, Tenace hit .177 in 53 games for the Pirates. In 1,555 big league games, he hit .241 with 653 runs scored, 201 homers, 674 RBIs and 984 walks. He never led the league in OBP, but his .388 career mark is one of the highest all-time for catchers and he finished third in the league each year during the 1977-79 stretch. Tenace coached after his playing days and managed the 1991 Toronto Blue Jays for 33 games.
Myrl Brown, pitcher for the 1922 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball at 24 years old, but went right to a high level, playing for Reading of the International League in 1919, where he went 18-21 that first season (ERA/IP are unavailable). In 1920, he had a 13-22, 4.84 record in 223 innings, with 109 strikeouts. Brown improved to 17-14, 4.26 in 258 innings in 1921 with Reading. He joined the Pirates after going 15-11, 3.51 in 195 innings for Reading in 1922. Before Reading sold Brown to Pittsburgh on August 17th, it was said that they also received offers from the Brooklyn Robins (Dodgers), New York (doesn’t specify Giants or Yankees) and the St Louis Cardinals, but the Pirates cash offer was the best. It was later announced that they paid $20,000 to acquire him, which at the time was a record for a player purchase from the International League. The scouting report on Brown said that he got the best of hitters by having an assortment of pitches, changing speeds and his delivery, occasionally throwing sidearm. He made it to the majors at age 27 and only lasted that one partial season, debuting two days after he was acquired, and throwing his final game 32 days later. Brown posted a 3-1, 5.97 record in 34.2 innings with the Pirates.
The Pirates released Brown in August of 1923 without pitching a game that year after he suffered a Spring Training arm injury in late March, hearing a snap while throwing a curveball. It was said that the Pirates asked waivers on him prior to Spring Training and all of the big league clubs passed on him, so they were already looking to part ways with him before the season started. It was noted that his salary for the Pirates was $600 a month in 1922 and it was expected that he would get a cut in that amount in 1923. He was originally shipped to Dallas of the Texas League on option on May 14, 1923, but they returned him to the Pirates three weeks later after he re-injured his arm. The Pirates played the New York Yankees in an exhibition game at Forbes Field on July 5th and Brown was used as a pinch-runner after Pie Traynor got beaned in the head. Brown was sent home by the Pirates on July 17th, and five days later he pitched a semi-pro game in Wheeling, WV. Two days later he was released on option to Atlanta of the Southern Association, but he was eventually released in August. He pitched in the minors until 1928, saving his best performances for late in his career. Brown went 20-9, 3.00 in 1926 for Springfield of the Eastern League, then backed up that performance with a 22-9, 2.45 record in 1927. His minor league records show a total of 129 wins in nine seasons.
Homer Hillebrand, pitcher/catcher for the 1905-06 and 1908 Pirates. He was a two-way player who not only pitched 18 games for the Pirates (11 as a starter), but he also played first base, corner outfield and even caught three games. The three games caught are an interesting footnote in baseball history, because Homer (his actual first name) threw lefty, one of four lefty catchers in Pittsburgh Pirates history.
Homer and his brother Art were well-known athletes at Princeton University for baseball and football. The Pirates tried and failed to sign Art Hillebrand, who is in the College Football Hall of Fame. The Pirates also tried to sign Homer as a catcher in 1903, but that also failed. He had previous minor league experience, playing in 1902 for Flandreau of the Class-D Iowa-South Dakota League, followed by playing 59 games on the west coast for Los Angeles of the Class-A Pacific National League (56 games) and three games with Oakland of the Pacific Coast League in 1903. He actually picked the west coast over playing for the Pirates and Washington Senators in 1903. Neither Hillebrand brother played during the 1904 season, despite both agreeing to play that year for the Washington Senators. At the time, they said that they only agreed to play for Washington if they decided to play, and their father was very much against them playing professional baseball. The Pirates tried again for Homer and they were able to finally sign him as a pitcher/utility player in March of 1905 at 25 years old.
Hillebrand played 39 games for the 1905 Pirates. He went 5-2, 2.82 in 60.2 innings over six starts and four relief appearances. He batted .236, with a .582 OPS in 39 games, seeing time at six different positions, with more time at first base than anywhere else. In 1906, he was used strictly as a pitcher, going 3-2, 2.21 in 53 innings. Despite the solid all-around stats, he pitched with an injured arm most of his career. He rested it for the entire 1907 season, and then after pitching just one inning in 1908, he decided to retire. He went 8-4, 2.51 in 114.2 innings and batted .237 in 131 at-bats in his 47 career games. The Pirates released him to Minneapolis of the American Association on June 22, 1907 to play outfield/first base, but it appears that he never reported to the team. He played some independent ball while working as a rancher after retiring and even recommended a player named George Eastman, who signed with the Pirates in 1913.
Ad Gumbert, pitcher for the 1893-94 Pirates. He was a lifelong resident of Pittsburgh, with a strong family history with the Pirates. He began his baseball career as an amateur player in Pittsburgh, but he was in the majors by 20 years old with almost no minor league experience. Gumbert played very briefly for Zanesville of the Tri-State League in 1888, before beginning his Major League career in September of 1888 with the Chicago White Stockings. He spent four seasons in Chicago over a five-year period, which was interrupted by him jumping to the Player’s League in 1890 like most established players of the era did at that time. He went 3-3, 3.14 in 48.2 innings over six starts in 1888. In 1889, he had a 16-13, 3.62 record in 246.1 innings. Gumbert played for the Boston Reds in the Player’s League, where he had a 23-12, 3.93 record in 286.1 innings. He allowed the most home runs that season, which of course gives him the league record for homers allowed. He came back to the White Stockings in 1891 and went 17-11, 3.58 in 256.1 innings. The next year he had a 22-19, 3.41 record in 45 starts, with a career high 382.2 innings. His 118 strikeouts that year were a career high as well.
On June 27, 1893, the Pirates traded a young minor league pitcher named Bert Abbey to the White Stockings (by then called the Colts) in exchange for Gumbert, who had not played yet that season due to a salary dispute. He was pitching in local amateur games just prior to his acquisition, so he was able to step into action right away. He immediately joined the Pirates and made twenty starts over the rest of the season, going 11-7, though his ERA was 5.15 over 162.2 innings. The next season Gumbert struggled even more, but it was partially due to the new longer pitching distance and restrictions of pitcher movement, which gave the batters a bigger advantage, raising offensive numbers across the league. Gumbert went 15-14, 6.04 in 271 innings, throwing 26 complete games. Before the 1895 season, the Pirates traded him to the Brooklyn Grooms for catcher Tom Kinslow. Gumbert played two more years in the majors before retiring, but they parted ways with him at the right time, even though Kinslow ended up being a meager return. Gumbert went 11-16, 5.08 in 234 innings in 1895. The 1896 season was split between Brooklyn and the Philadelphia Phillies. He went 5-7, 4.32 in 108.1 innings.
Gumbert finished with a 123-102, 4.27 record in 1,996.1 innings. He wasn’t much of a strikeout pitcher during his time, walking 635 batters over his career, compared to 548 strikeouts. He was a strong hitter, who occasionally played outfield. He finished his career with a .275 average and 15 homers. His brother Billy Gumbert pitched for the Pirates/Alleghenys in 1890 and 1892, while their great-nephew Harry Gumbert pitched for the 1949-50 Pirates, giving the family the odd trio of three pitchers who each spent two seasons with the Pirates.
Dave Anderson, lefty pitcher for the 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. Someone had to pitch for the worst team in franchise history and Anderson was called on to make 13 starts at the end of the season for the 23-113 ball club that year. Anderson completed all 13 starts he made, finishing with a 2-11, 4.67 record. His first game with the team was a 1-0 loss to Hall of Famer Mickey Welch on August 29th. Anderson also took the loss later in the year to another Hall of Famer pitching for New York, Jesse Burkett. Known as one of the best hitters of his time, Burkett had a 3-10 record as a pitcher that season before the Giants decided he was better suited for the outfield, where he hit .338 career and won three batting titles. On September 1st, three days after Anderson’s Pittsburgh debut, the team played a tripleheader in Brooklyn. There have only been three tripleheaders in big league history. Anderson pitched game two and did so well in a 3-2 loss, that he pitched game three as well. He lost that contest 8-4. His 13th start for Pittsburgh came 35 days after his debut, and he lost 9-1 to Brooklyn. On September 11th, he took part in a complete game 4-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds that took 75 minutes to play. There’s a second interesting footnote between Anderson and Mickey Welch. On September 19th, there was no umpire for the game, so both Anderson and Welch umpired the contest.
Prior to joining Pittsburgh during the 1890 season, Anderson had played two years with the Philadelphia Phillies (nicknamed the Quakers in 1889). He made a total of eight appearances for them, four as a starter, including a win in which he allowed ten runs against the Alleghenys on May 28, 1890. The middle part of the 1890 season was spent with Wilmington of the Atlantic Association, where he went 14-13, while throwing 27 complete games in 27 starts. He did not pitch in the majors again after the 1890 season, though he played at least one more year in the minors, going 10-14, 1.74 in 222.2 innings for Lebanon of the Eastern Association. Anderson pitched twice during a postseason barnstorming tour for the Alleghenys in 1890, and he was reserved for the 1891 season as late as February of that year, but he never played for the team. He has no known baseball stats after turning 22 years old, or prior to his big league debut. He passed away at age 28 in Chester, PA.
On this date in 1960, the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the New York Yankees in game five of the World Series by a score of 5-2 in front of 62,753 fans at Yankee Stadium. With the win the Pirates took a 3 games to 2 lead in the series. Harvey Haddix, who won 11 games for the Pirates in 1960, started the game and went 6.1 IP allowing just two runs on five hits with six strikeouts against the powerhouse Yankees lineup. Elroy Face followed him with 2.2 scoreless innings to finish the game. He allowed just one baserunner, an 8th inning walk to Mickey Mantle. The Pirates scored four of their runs early, knocking two Yankees pitchers out before the third inning was over.
In the second inning, a one-out ground ball by Don Hoak to shortstop, with Smoky Burgess on second base and Gino Cimoli on third, turned into a run when Yankees third baseman Gil McDougald couldn’t handle the throw from shortstop Tony Kubek. That put runners on second and third again, and both of them would score on a Bill Mazeroski double to make it a 3-0 game. It also chased Yankees starter Art Ditmar. One inning later, Roberto Clemente singled to drive in Dick Groat, who doubled ahead of Clemente. Don Hoak drove in the Pirates fifth run in the ninth inning with a single that scored pinch-runner Joe Christopher. The series would return to Pittsburgh for game six two days later.