Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including a slugger from the 1960 World Series champs.
Dick Stuart, first baseman for the 1958-62 Pirates. The Pirates signed Stuart as an amateur free agent before the 1951 season at 18 years old. He batted just .229 with four homers in 61 games during his first year as a pro while playing for Modesto of the Class-C California League. In 1952, he batted .313 with 30 doubles and 31 homers in 129 games for Billings of the Class-C Pioneer League. He then spent the next two years serving in the Army, though he was able to play plenty of baseball during that time as well, as each base he was stationed at had their own teams. Stuart returned to the Pirates in 1955 and he ended up back with Billings for most of the season, where he hit .309 with 32 homers and 104 RBIs in 101 games. He also saw brief time with two Double-A teams that year and didn’t perform well in either spot. He was promoted to Lincoln of the Class-A Western League in 1956 and had a crazy year, hitting .298 with 66 homers and 158 RBIs in 141 games. Stuart had 88 walks and 171 strikeouts. The second highest home run total on the team was 24, and no one else reached 90 RBIs. Stuart moved up to the Pacific Coast League by the end of the 1957 season, which was another big year spread out over three levels, including a slight majority of the year spent back with Lincoln. Combined that season, he hit .251 with 45 homers and 122 RBIs in 143 games. He had 84 walks and 180 strikeouts.
Stuart had a .311 average, 31 homers and 82 RBIs in 80 games for Salt Lake City of the PCL when he was called up to the Pirates in July of 1958. He added another 16 homers and 48 RBIs in 67 games as a rookie with the Pirates. Stuart did well on offense in 1959, batting .297 in 118 games, with 64 runs scored, 27 homers and 78 RBIs. He saw just slightly more playing time in 1960, when he hit .260 with 23 homers and 83 RBIs in 122 games. He had a rough World Series, going 3-for-20, with three singles and no walks, runs or RBIs. During his 1961 season, which was his best in Pittsburgh, he was named to the All-Star team for the first time (they played two All-Star games that year). He batted .301 in 138 games, with 35 homers, 117 RBIs, and career highs of 83 runs scored, 28 doubles and eight triples. He received mild MVP support, finishing 22nd in the voting. Stuart dropped down to .228 average in 114 games in 1962, with 16 homers and 64 RBIs. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox in a four-player deal on November 20, 1962.
In his first season in Boston, Stuart hit .261 in 157 games, with 81 runs scored and 25 doubles. He set a career high with 42 homers, led the American League with 118 RBIs and 319 total bases, also setting career highs in those two categories. He finished 13th in the MVP voting. In 1964, he batted .279 with 27 doubles, 33 homers and 114 RBIs in 156 games. He received mild MVP support for the third time in his career. He was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies after the season and spent one season there, hitting .234 in 149 games, with 28 homers and 95 RBIs. The Phillies traded him to the New York Mets in February of 1966, but he was released by the Mets on June 15th and finished the season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Stuart combined to hit .242 with seven homers in 69 games. He played in Japan during the 1967-68 seasons before playing one final season in the majors with the California Angels in 1970 when he lasted just 22 games and hit .157 with one homer. Known just as much for his poor defense as his power, he led the league in errors for seven straight seasons at first base. Despite the strong numbers on offense during his career, he finished with just 7.8 WAR in his ten seasons due to the impact of the defense. Those big numbers on offense in Boston led to just 2.4 WAR in two years. He finished as a .264 hitter in 1,112 games, with 228 homers, 753 RBIs and 506 runs scored.
Kris Benson, pitcher for the Pirates from 1999 until 2004. He was the first overall pick in the 1996 draft out of Clemson University and he debuted in the majors three years later. He signed in mid-August of 1996 and didn’t debut until 1997 when he made ten starts with High-A Lynchburg of the Carolina League and 14 starts for Carolina of the Southern League (Double-A). Benson went 8-7, 3.87 in 128 innings, with 138 strikeouts that season between both stops. In 1998, he spent the entire year at Nashville of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he went 8-10, 5.37 in 156 innings, with 129 strikeouts. Somewhat surprisingly, he made the Pirates on Opening Day in 1999 and made 63 starts over the next two seasons. He went 11-14, 4.07 in 196.2 innings over 31 starts in 1999. After finishing fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting, he had his best big league season in 2000. Benson threw 217.2 innings that season, putting up a 3.85 ERA and a career high 184 strikeouts, a number that he never approached again in a season. He finished with a 10-12 record, but the team went 69-93 that year.
Before the 2001 season, Benson needed elbow surgery, which would cost him the entire year. He returned in 2002 to make 25 starts with the Pirates after completing five rehab starts in the minors. He went 9-6, 4.70 in 130.1 innings. His ERA went up to 4.97 in 105 innings in 2003 and he was able to make just 18 starts due to shoulder issues that ended his season in mid-July. The Pirates traded Benson the following July to the Mets in a five-player deal that brought Jose Bautista and Ty Wigginton to Pittsburgh. In his five seasons in Pittsburgh, he had a 43-49, 4.26 record in 782 innings over 126 starts. He would go on to pitch for the Mets (2004-05), Baltimore Orioles (2006), Texas Rangers (2009) and Arizona Diamondbacks (2010). He missed 2007 due to shoulder surgery and 2008 was spent in the minors with the Philadelphia Phillies. When the Pirates sent Benson to New York, he had an 8-8, 4.22 record in 132.1 innings over 20 starts. He finished the season with a 4-4, 4.50 record in 11 starts. In 2005, he went 10-8, 4.13 in 174.1 innings over 28 starts.
Benson was traded to the Orioles in January of 2006. In his only season there, he went 11-12, 4.82 in 183 innings over 30 starts. He was still a member of the Orioles when he was out for all of 2007, then signed with the Phillies as a free agent in 2008. His actual time with the Phillies was short, as they signed him in late February and he was released in August. Benson didn’t sign with the Rangers until February 21, 2009 and he spent more time in the minors that year. He had an 8.46 ERA in 22.1 innings with Texas over two starts and six relief outings. In his final big league season, he made three starts for the Diamondbacks and had a 5.14 ERA. He also had an 8.87 ERA in seven starts at Triple-A, though he was pitching for Reno of the Pacific Coast League, which is extremely hitter-friendly, so it wasn’t quite as bad as that ERA would indicate. Benson finished with a 70-75, 4.42 record in 1,243.2 innings over 200 starts and six relief appearances in his nine big league seasons.
Todd Ritchie, pitcher for the 1999 to 2001 Pirates. He was drafted out of high school in 1990, taken 12th overall in the first round by the Minnesota Twins. It took him seven years to make the majors, debuting shortly after Opening Day in 1997. In his pro debut, he pitched for Elizabethton of the Appalachian League, where he went 5-2, 1.94 in 65 innings over 11 starts. In 1991, Ritchie was 7-6, 3.55 in 116.2 innings for Kenosha of the Midwest League. The next season saw him go 11-9, 5.06 in 28 starts, with 129 strikeouts in 172.2 innings for Visalia of the High-A California League. He moved up to Double-A Nashville of the Southern League for the 1993-94 seasons. Ritchie pitched just 16 games and 63.2 innings during those two seasons. He missed time due to a shoulder issue in 1993 and arm surgery in 1994, but he also pitched well during the 1993-94 off-season, which helped him make up some lost time. At the time, the Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said that Ritchie had the best stuff of any pitcher in their system. In 1995, he was with their new Double-A affiliate, Hardware City of the Eastern League. He went 4-9, 5.73 in 113 innings. In 1996, he struggled with both Hardware City and the Triple-A affiliate in Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League. Ritchie combined to go 3-11, 5.45 in 107.1 innings in 1996, yet he spent all of 1997 in the majors.
Ritchie pitched 42 times in relief that first year in the majors, posting a 4.58 ERA in 74.2 innings. He spent more time in Triple-A than the majors in 1998, then was released days after the season ended, finishing with a 5.63 ERA in 24 innings with the Twins that season. The Pirates signed him as a free agent in December of 1998 and put him right in their rotation. He went 15-9, 3.49 in 172.2 innings in 1999, then struggled a bit in 2000, going 9-8, 4.81 in 187 innings over 31 starts. Ritchie improved slightly in the ERA department in 2001, going 11-15, 4.47 in 207.1 innings over 33 starts. After the season, he was traded to the White Sox in a five-player deal that brought back Kip Wells and Josh Fogg to Pittsburgh. Ritchie went 35-32, 4.29 in 567 innings over three seasons with the Pirates. He did very poorly in his only year in Chicago, going 5-15, 6.06 in 133.2 innings. Ritchie finished his career with brief stints for the 2003 Milwaukee Brewers and 2004 Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He had a 5.08 ERA in five starts with the Brewers, then finished his big league time with a 9.00 ERA in eight innings over two starts and two relief outings with the Devil Rays. He didn’t play during the 2005-07 seasons, then made a brief comeback with the Colorado Rockies in 2008, but he lasted just five minor league games. His final big league totals show a 43-54, 4.71 record in 835.2 innings over 120 starts and 64 relief outings.
Dave Wainhouse, pitcher for the 1996-97 Pirates. He was born in Canada and the Montreal Expos selected him in the first round (19th overall) of the 1988 draft at 20 years old out of Washington State University. He debuted in pro ball in 1989, making 13 starts for West Palm Beach for the Florida State League, where he had a 4.07 ERA in 66.1 innings, with 26 strikeouts. He made 12 starts for West Palm Beach in 1990, and 16 more for Jacksonville of the Double-A Southern League. Wainhouse combined to go 13-10, 3.34 in 172.1 innings and 117 strikeouts, which was nearly double what he struck out in any other season during his 12-year career in pro ball. He moved to relief in 1991 and split the year between Double-A (Harrisburg of the Eastern League) and Triple-A (Indianapolis of the American Association. He had a 3.12 ERA and 12 saves in 80.2 innings that year. He was in the majors with the Expos by August of 1991, though his stay was short (two games) and he then spent all of 1992 in Indianapolis, where he had a 4.11 ERA and 21 saves in 46 innings. After the 1992 season, he was traded to the Seattle Mariners, where he made three appearances after making the Opening Day roster during the 1993 season and he gave up seven runs in 2.1 innings. He was sent to Triple-A, where he suffered an arm injury and pitched just 18 innings all season.
Wainhouse was released by the Mariners during Spring Training in 1994 and didn’t play that season. In 1995 he spent time in the minors with the Toronto Blue Jays and Florida Marlins, combining to go 5-3, 5.77 in 53 innings over 47 appearances. He then signed with the Pirates as a free agent in January of 1996 and he was sent to Double-A Carolina of the Southern League to start the season. After posting a 3.16 ERA and 25 saves in 51.1 innings, Wainhouse debuted with the Pirates on August 1, 1996 and had a 5.70 ERA in 23.2 innings over 17 appearances that year. He then made the Opening Day roster in 1997 and had an 8.04 ERA in 28 innings over 25 outings before being spent to Triple-A Calgary of the Pacific Coast League. The Pirates let him go after the 1997 season and he finished his big league time with two years with the Colorado Rockies (1998-99) and St Louis Cardinals (2000), making a total of 38 big league appearances after leaving the Pirates. Wainhouse had a 4.91 ERA over 11 innings and ten appearances in 1998 with the Rockies. He had three separate stints in the majors that year, seeing time in June, July and September. In 1999, he was with the team in May, June/July and September, finishing with a 6.91 ERA in 28.2 innings. During his season in St Louis, all nine of his games came in April. He allowed ten runs over 8.2 innings before heading to Triple-A for the rest of the year. His pro career ended after the 2001 season, which was spent with the Chicago Cubs in Triple-A. In two seasons in Pittsburgh, he made 42 appearances and posted a 6.97 ERA in 51.2 innings. In seven seasons in the majors, he had a 7.37 ERA in 105 innings over 85 relief appearances.
Andy Tomberlin, outfielder for the 1993 Pirates. He was a non-drafted free agent signing by the Atlanta Braves in 1985 at 18 years old. He debuted in 1986, and he was a pitcher at the time. In 42.1 innings, he had a respectable 3.61 ERA and 37 strikeouts, but he also walked 36 batters. In 1987, he spent the year back with Pulaski of the Appalachian League for a second season. Tomberlin had a 4-2, 4.43 record in 44.2 innings, with 29 walks and 51 strikeouts. Despite improving both his walk and strikeout rates, he moved to hitting in 1988 and the move looked to be smart from the start. He split that season between the two A-Ball affiliates of the Braves and combined to hit .315 with 67 runs scored, 38 extra-base hits, 53 RBIs, 23 steals and 71 walks in 126 games. In 1989, Tomberlin spent the year with Durham of the Carolina League, where he spent part of the previous season. He hit .281 in 119 games, with 63 runs, 16 homers, 61 RBIs, 35 steals and 54 walks. He split the 1990 season between Double-A Greenville of the Southern League and Triple-A Richmond of the International League. In 140 games that year, Tomberlin batted .307 with 67 runs scored, 40 extra-base hits, 20 steals and 59 walks. He returned to Richmond in 1991 and saw a major drop in the production, putting up a .234 average and a .636 OPS in 93 games. He returned there for entire 1992 season as well, hitting .271 in 118 games that year, with 69 runs scored and 30 extra-base hits.
After spending seven seasons in the Braves minor league system, he became a free agent and signed with the Pirates in November of 1992. He spent most of the 1993 season in Triple-A with Buffalo of the American Association, where he hit .285 with 12 homers and 45 RBIs in 68 games. Tomberlin debuted with the Pirates on August 12, 1993 and was mainly used off of the bench. Just six of his 27 games came as a starter, and he was used strictly as a pinch-hitter in September/October, after making four starts in the final week of August. He batted .286 in 45 plate appearances over 27 games with the Pirates. Tomberlin was let go after the season and he signed with the Boston Red Sox. He played 18 games for the 1994 Red Sox, hitting .194 with one homer, which accounted for his only run and RBI that season in the majors. He signed with the 1995 Oakland A’s as a free agent and played 46 big league games, hitting .212 with four homers, ten RBIs and 15 runs scored. After hitting free agency again, he then played a career high 63 games for the 1996 New York Mets, where he batted .258 with three homers and ten RBIs. Tomberlin started just five of those 63 games and he batted 76 times all year. He saw brief time with the Mets in 1997, going 2-for-7 in six games, and then he finished his big league career with the 1998 Detroit Tigers, where he batted .217 with two homers and 12 RBIs in 32 games. He spent two more years in the minors before retiring, spending 1999 back with the Mets, before playing a short stint with the Cleveland Indians at Triple-A in 2000. He played for five teams over six seasons in the majors, batting .233 in 191 games, with 40 runs scored, 11 homers and 38 RBIs.
Bill Brubaker, third baseman for the Pirates from 1932 until 1940. He saw very limited time during each of his first four seasons in the majors, playing a total of 18 games for the 1932-35 Pirates, then started full-time in place of Pie Traynor in 1936 and had a big season. Brubaker played his first game for the Pirates a month before his actual debut, playing the second half of an exhibition game on August 8th at third base, replacing Traynor. He was with the Pirates for nearly a month at that time, joining the club on July 12th, shortly after he graduated from the University of California. He didn’t actually sign with the Pirates until September 2nd, so it appears that his was with the Pirates on a tryout basis and they were satisfied with his work. His actual big league debut came on September 8th as a late inning replacement during a one-sided game. His next appearance was 13 days later, when the Pirates decided to put him at third base for the final six games of the season. In 1933, he played one April game and one September game, both off of the bench. In between, he spent the year with Toronto of the Double-A International League, where he hit .257 with 13 extra-base hits in 92 games. Brubaker hit .291 with 49 extra-base hits in 135 games for Albany of the International League in 1934. He joined the Pirates in September and played three games.
Despite success at a high level in 1934, Brubaker was back in the minors in 1935 and did well for Kansas City of the American Association. In 133 games, he hit .293 with 63 extra-base hits. His time that year with the Pirates came in April/May, where he went 0-for-11 in six games. His defense was considered to be big league ready at the time, and he was even called the best third baseman in the American Association multiple times, but there were questions about his bat playing up in the majors. Brubaker put those questions to rest, at least for one year. His big 1936 season was truly out of nowhere. He was on the bench for the first 11 games of the season, but got off to a hot streak once he got a chance to play. He was an iron man that season, playing almost every inning of the last 145 games of the season, only leaving two games early, which were both one-sided contests. In one of those games, he went 5-for-5 before leaving in the seventh inning. Brubaker finished with a .289 average, 77 runs scored, 27 doubles, 102 RBIs and 50 walks, which were all career highs. He never came close to approaching that RBI mark, topping out at 48 during the 1937 season when he was the starting third baseman for most of the year. That year he hit .254 in 120 games, with 30 extra-base hits, 47 walks and 57 runs scored.
Brubaker lost the starting third base job two weeks into the 1938 season, and he became a seldom used bench player at that point. He hit .295 with 18 RBIs and 19 runs scored in 45 games in 1938. The next year he saw work at second base and third base, while hitting .232 in 100 games, with 41 runs scored, 23 doubles, seven homers and 43 RBIs. He was back on the bench in 1940, making 19 starts all year, with 14 coming in June at third base. He batted just .192 in 38 games. The Pirates sold him to the St Louis Cardinals after the 1940 season and he spent the next two seasons in the minors, seeing time with four different clubs, including parts of the 1942-43 seasons with Albany of the Eastern League. Brubaker saw his only other Major League time with the 1943 Boston Braves, playing 13 games in what ended up being his last year of pro ball. It was said that he was hampered by a bad back during his final season in pro ball. With the Pirates, he hit .262 in 466 games, with 205 runs scored, 22 homers and 204 RBIs. His grandson Dennis Rasmussen pitched 12 seasons in the majors.
Ed Mensor, outfielder for the 1912-14 Pirates. He was active in pro ball from 1910 until 1919, returning for a brief time in 1921, with most of his minor league action coming on the west coast (he was a native of Oregon). Mensor’s career began with Portland of the Class-A Pacific Coast League, where he hit .323 in 19 games in 1910. He was with Portland for the next two seasons as well, though they were playing in the Class-B Northwestern League at the time. In 1911, he .287 in 135 games, with 19 doubles and four triples. He began the 1912 season with Portland, hitting .301 with ten doubles and five triples in 55 games before joining the Pirates on July 8th when his contract was purchased for $3,000. He was scouted by George Van Haltren, a star player with Hall of Fame credentials, who had two stints as a player with the Pirates. The Pirates noted from the start that Mensor would be used as an extra outfielder, with his best tools being above average speed, patience at the plate and a very strong arm. He failed to hit a single home run in his three seasons before making the majors. Mensor was a backup for three seasons in Pittsburgh, playing all three outfield spots and even a few games in the infield in 1913. His best seasons was his rookie year in 1912 when he hit .263 in 39 games, with ten stolen bases and 23 walks. In 1913, he batted just .179 in 49 games, with a lowly .489 OPS. In 44 games in 1914, he hit .202 with one homer, which was an inside-the-park home run and the first homer of his pro career. He is credited with one more pro home run, hit three years later in the minors.
Mensor’s online stats credit him with playing 18 games for Pendleton of the Western Tri-State League in 1914, but that was actually his brother Jimmy. During Spring Training of 1915, he was the first player cut by the Pirates. On March 11th, they sold his contract to Columbus of the American Association. On his way out to his new team, Mensor’s last words to reports were “I will be back in the Major League again”. That did not come to fruition. He spent most of 1915 playing for Newark of the International League, where he hit .219 in 112 games. In 1916, he returned to the west coast, playing for Spokane of the Northwestern League, where he batted .308 in 114 games. Mensor spent the next two seasons playing for Oakland of the Pacific Coast League, then refused to report in 1919 and ended up playing for Victoria of the Class-B Western International League. He played semi-pro ball in Merced, California in 1920, then returned to pro ball in 1921 for 73 games with Calgary of the Class-B Western Canada League. He hit .221 with 43 runs scored, one homer, eight RBIs and 14 steals in 127 games in the majors, all spent with the Pirates. Mensor is one of the smaller players in big league history, listed at 5’6″, 145 pounds, though it appears that he was lighter at times. An article in 1912 called him the smallest player in baseball and listed his weight at 125 pounds.
The Only Nolan, pitcher for the 1883 Alleghenys. He wasn’t the best pitcher out there, but he thought he was at times. Edward Nolan is forever known as “The Only Nolan” with the most widely accepted origin of the name being that he had a desire to be the only pitcher for his team. Research for this article has uncovered a story printed four days after his big league debut that states that he team owner had very large photographs of Nolan and his catcher Silver Flint printed up and hung in store windows all around town. The photo for Nolan was labeled “The Only Nolan” and he gained instant fame from it, but not in a good way. The press thought that he was undeserving of the name and started throwing about “The Only” nicknames for everyone else as a joke. It apparently stuck with him. For the first 22 games of the 1878 season, he was the only pitcher used by his team, but it’s unlikely that he could request such a thing at such a young age, with just one season of minor league experience to his credit. He first played with the League Alliance team in Indianapolis in 1877, which became an National League team during the following season.
He had a pro career that spanned ten years, with five seasons in the majors for five teams. Back when pitchers finished what they started and their win/loss record told a better story, he went 23-52, including losses in all seven starts for the 1883 Alleghenys. Nolan had a lot of trouble with staying out of trouble during his career. He was suspended during his first season, suspected of throwing a game in June, then he refused to pitch a game in August. He claimed that his brother had died, but there was no proof of that happening. He finished with a 13-22, 2.57 record in 347 innings for Indianapolis. The league expelled him and he played the next two years in California. Nolan also quickly gained a bad reputation for hitting batters that he didn’t want to face, or as the papers put it, “batters who made him nervous”.
Nolan returned to the majors in 1881 with Cleveland and he went 8-14, 3.05 in 180 innings. Late in the season, he umpired two games. He also played 14 games in the outfield and nine at third base that season, finishing with a .244 average in 41 games. He was out of baseball in 1882 and ran a saloon in his hometown, then came back in November of 1882 to sign with Pittsburgh. His time with the Alleghenys was very brief. On May 16th, he was fined $10 by manager Al Pratt for not going to bed on time. According to the papers, he thought that was ridiculous and decided to give the team a better reason to fine him. He went out drinking and put the drinks on the team’s tab, which earned him a suspension. He would return to the team in June, but only for two final games before being released. He had a 4.25 ERA in 55 innings with Pittsburgh, to go along with that 0-7 record. Despite all of his troubles, he still found big league jobs in 1884 with Wilmington of the Union Association (a league that lasted just one year) and the Philadelphia Quakers (NL) in 1885. Wilmington actually began the year as an Eastern League team, where he had a 19-5, 1.42 record in 203 innings. They were asked to join the Union Association in mid-August to finish out the schedule, but they did so poorly that they folded too. Nolan went 1-4, 2.93 in 40 innings during that brief time. In 1885 he went 1-5, 4.17 in 54 innings for Philadelphia. He played his final season in the minors in 1886, seeing time with Jersey City of the Eastern League and Savannah of the Southern Association. He was a .240 hitter in the majors. Nolan had a strong 2.98 ERA in 676 big league innings, despite that awful 23-52 career record.