Seven Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including a member of the no-hitter club, two players from the 1909 World Series champs and one from the 1925 World Series team.
Nick Maddox, pitcher for the 1907-10 Pirates. At 18 years old, he pitched for a team from Piedmont, WV of the Creek League (independent semi-pro league) in 1905, where he gained some recognition for throwing a no-hitter. After initially signing with Providence of the Eastern League in 1906 and pitching poorly in very brief time, he played the season with Cumberland in the Class-D Pennsylvania-Ohio-Maryland League, where it was said that he won 25 of his 29 starts that season. There is some confusion over how the Pirates acquired him, but the stories are similar. The one that seems correct is that the Pirates purchased his contract for $800 on August 31, 1906. The other says that he was taken in the Rule 5 draft on September 1st, but there were multiple reports from August 31st with the purchase details, so that appears to be correct. Either way, the Pirates told him that he would report the following spring, but instead he was sent to Wheeling before Spring Training for more seasoning. Maddox didn’t want to pitch for Wheeling, preferring to play for a team from Uniontown, Pa., but owner Barney Dreyfuss gave him the ultimatum to play for Wheeling or nowhere and he finally agreed, making his debut on May 28, 1907 when he threw a four-hit shutout. On August 22, 1907, he threw a no-hitter over Terre Haute. Exactly two weeks later, and just eight days before his big league debut, he threw a two-hit shutout. Before he could make another start, he was told to report to the Pirates, joining the club three days before his Major League debut.
Maddox had a brief big league career, but he made it memorable. He pitched a shutout in his Major League debut on September 13, 1907 and struck out 11 batters. He won his second start just three days later, and then exactly a week after his debut, he threw a no-hitter over the Brooklyn Dodgers, winning 2-1. The Pirates had two no-hitters prior that went fewer than nine innings, but Maddox is the first no-hitter recognized by MLB in team history. He finished his rookie season 5-1, 0.83 in six starts, all complete games. The following season he established himself as a star, going 23-8, 2.28 in 260.2 innings for the second place Pirates. He made 32 starts, completed 22 games, and he threw four shutouts. Maddox had a 13-8, 2.21 record in 203.1 innings for the 1909 champs. He threw four shutouts again that season. He tossed a complete game victory in game three of the World Series. Injuries/illness curtailed his effectiveness during the 1910 season, leaving him with a 2-3, 3.40 record in 87.1 innings over seven starts and 13 relief outings. He was sold to Kansas City of the American Association on September 22, 1910, returning to the minors, where he spent his final four seasons of pro ball. Maddox mainly threw a fastball and changeup, saying that his curveball was just a third pitch that he showed batters occasionally so they knew he had one. When he was released by the Pirates, Barney Dreyfuss said he hated seeing him go, but his curveball wasn’t big league quality and then made him an easy target for a few teams in the league.
For Kansas City in 1911, Maddox posted a 22-13 record, while throwing 331 innings. He dropped down to a 10-13 record in 179.1 innings in 1912, splitting the season between Kansas City and Louisville, also in the American Association. He spent his final two season with Wichita of the Class-A Western League, where he had a 3.06 ERA in 185 innings in 1913, and a 3-13, 4.03 record in 147.1 innings in 1914. His final big league record stood at 43-20, 2.29 in 605.1 innings over 72 starts and 21 relief appearances. Despite impressing with 11 strikeouts in his debut, he never had more than seven strikeouts in a game after that point in the majors. Maddox was born in Maryland, but he lived out his life in Pittsburgh, where he passed away at 68 years old in 1954. He’s buried in St Augustine Cemetery in Pittsburgh.
Scott Sauerbeck, reliever for the 1999-2003 Pirates. He was a 23rd round draft pick of the New York Mets out of Miami of Ohio at 22 years old in 1994. He debuted in the short-season New York-Penn League, where he had a 2.05 ERA in 48.1 innings over 21 relief outings. In 1995, Sauerbeck split the year between Low-A and High-A, combining to go 5-5, 2.72 in 59.2 innings, with much better results at the higher level, though the Florida State League was a pitcher-friendly league. In 1996, he switched to a starting role and had a 2.27 ERA in 99.1 innings back in the FSL, then jumped to Binghamton of the Double-A Eastern League, where he had a 3.47 ERA in 46.2 innings. The 1997 season was spent in Binghamton, mostly in a starter role, where he went 8-9, 6.10 in 131.1 innings. He made one start for Norfolk of the International League (Triple-A), then returned there for the entire 1998 season. Sauerbeck went 7-13, 3.93 in 160.1 innings over 27 starts that year.
After playing five seasons in the minors for the Mets, Sauerbeck was selected by the Pirates in the December 1998 Rule 5 draft. He was 27 years old at the time, but that didn’t take away from his outstanding rookie season. He posted a 2.00 ERA in 65 appearances, throwing a total of 67.2 innings. Despite the low ERA, he didn’t have the best control (38 walks), and that would haunt him in the following seasons. He had a 4.04 ERA in 2000, with 61 walks in 75.2 innings and 75 appearances. His walk rate dropped a little in 2001, but it was still high. That season he posted a 5.60 ERA in 62.2 innings over 70 games. His best season happened in 2002 when he dramatically cut his walk rate. He posted a 2.30 ERA in 78 appearances, with 70 strikeouts in 62.2 innings. He started off 2003 with a 4.05 ERA in 40 innings over 53 outings. The Pirates traded him to the Boston Red Sox during the middle of the 2003 season in the original deal that included Mike Gonzalez going to Boston, before the two teams made a second deal because of an injured player in which the Pirates got Freddie Sanchez. Sauerbeck struggled in the American League (6.48 in 26 appearances) before missing all of 2004 due to shoulder surgery.
Sauerbeck played with the Cleveland Indians in 2005-06, before finishing his big league career with the 2006 Oakland A’s. He had a 4.04 ERA in 35.2 innings over 58 games in 2005, then posted a 6.23 ERA in 24 appearances before being released in June of 2006. He signed with the A’s five days later and finished out the year with a 3.65 ERA in 12.1 innings over 22 games. He spent his last two seasons of pro ball in the minors, spending time with the Houston Astros, Toronto Blue Jays, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox. He went 19-15, 3.56 in 341 games with the Pirates, all as a reliever, with 319 strikeouts in 308.2 innings. He picked up five saves in Pittsburgh and threw at least 65 times in each of his first four seasons. In his career, he went 20-17, 3.82 in 386.1 innings over 471 appearances, with 389 strikeouts.
Red Witt, pitcher for the Pirates from 1957-61. He had one outstanding season in the majors and the other five years combined were below average, but that one year stands out in team history. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1950 and he spent six seasons in the minors before his big league debut. He debuted in 1950 with two Class-C teams, spending most of the year with Greenwood of the Cotton States League, where he went 6-3, 2.50 in 72 innings. Witt spent the 1951 season serving in the Marines, then returned in 1952 to play most of the year for Newport News of the Class-B Piedmont League. He had a 3-11, 4.29 record in 128 innings for Piedmont, while also struggling in a brief stay in A-Ball, playing for Pueblo of the Western League. In 1953, Witt spent the entire year with Santa Barbara of the Class-C California League. He went 7-3, 2.65 in 85 innings. He was back in Pueblo for the 1954 season, where he had a 3.42 ERA in 50 innings. The Pirates acquired Red (his actual first name was George) from the Dodgers as a minor league selection in the November 1954 Rule 5 draft.
In 1955, Witt split his season between the Pirates affiliates in the Western League (Lincoln) and the Pacific Coast League (Hollywood), going a combined 5-15, 4.13 in 146 innings over 22 starts and 13 relief outings. In 1956, he spent the entire year with New Orleans of the Double-A Southern Association. He went 8-8, 3.62 in 149 innings, mostly in a starting role. The 1957 season was spent back in Hollywood, where Witt had a big year, going 18-7, 2.24 in 185 innings. He got a call up to the majors and made one September start in which he gave up six earned runs in 1.1 innings. Witt had a strange year in 1958. He began the season with the Pirates and saw limited use through mid-May before being sent to Columbus of the International League, where he made seven starts. Witt returned to Pittsburgh in late June and he made 15 starts to finish out the season and had a 1.43 ERA. He posted a 9-2 record, with a 1.61 ERA in 106 innings. That’s the fourth best single-season ERA among qualified pitchers in franchise history. He compiled a 4.0 WAR that season, then finished his six-year career with a total of 1.3 WAR.
In 1959, Witt went 0-7, 6.93 in 11 starts and four relief outings, throwing a total of 50.2 innings. He went 1-2, 4.20 in six starts and four relief appearances during the 1960 season when the Pirates won their third World Series title. He was with the Pirates early in the year, but he returned to the minors in May for two months, where he pitched for Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League. In 1961, he split the year between the minors and majors, putting up a 6.32 ERA in 15.2 innings with the Pirates. After spending his first five big league seasons with the Pirates, he was sold to the Los Angeles Angels shortly after the 1961 season ended. Witt split his final Major League season between the Angels and Houston Colt .45’s, posting a 7.46 ERA in 25.1 innings over 13 games (four starts), before finishing his career in the minors in 1963. In five seasons in Pittsburgh, he went 10-13, 3.93 in 34 starts and 19 relief appearances, throwing a total of 203.2 innings.
Fred Brickell, outfielder for the 1926-30 Pirates. He played five seasons in Pittsburgh, playing alongside Hall of Famers Paul and Lloyd Waner. Brickell burst onto the scene at 19 years old as a late season addition from Wichita of the Class-A Western League. The Pirates paid at least $15,000 to acquire him, plus the promise to loan two players to Wichita in the future. It was his first season of pro ball and he hit .345 in 113 games, with 23 doubles, 13 triples and 14 homers before joining the Pirates. He hit .345 in 24 games in 1926 after joining the Pirates in August. He was a backup during the 1927 season when the Pirates went to their fourth World Series. He started the season with Indianapolis of the American Association (Double-A), but he was with the Pirates by June 1st. He hit .286 in 32 games during the regular season, but he started just one game and had a total of 23 plate appearances. That was despite starting outfielder Kiki Cuyler getting benched in one of the worst decisions in Pirates history. Brickell was 0-for-2 with a run scored in the World Series.
Brickell had his best season in 1928 when he hit .322 with 34 runs scored and 41 RBIs in 202 at-bats. The next year he batted .314 in 60 games, though with low power/walk numbers, his .733 OPS was below average during an up year for offense in baseball. The 1930 season was an even biggest year for hitting. Brickell hit .297 in 68 games, with 36 runs scored, 14 RBIs and a .721 OPS. The Pirates traded him during the 1930 season to the Philadelphia Phillies for outfielder Denny Sothern. Brickell remained with the Phillies through the early part of the 1933 season, while Sothern lasted just 17 games in Pittsburgh. The upside for the Pirates in that deal is that Brickell saw a drop-off in his stats, batting .258 with one homer in 236 games with the Phillies. After the trade in 1930, he hit .246 with 33 runs scored in 53 games. His 21 doubles and nine triples were career high numbers. In 1931, he hit .253 in 130 games, with 77 runs scored, 20 extra-base hits, 31 RBIs and 42 walks. While he hit .333 in 1932, he had just 72 plate appearances in 45 games. Brickell played just eight early season games for the Phillies in 1933 before he was sold to Kansas City of the American Association. Just 26 years old at the time of his last big league game, he went to the minors and played a total of 75 games over two seasons before retiring from baseball. Brickell hit .312 with 100 runs scored, 36 extra-base hits and 80 RBIs in 265 games while in Pittsburgh.
You can read much more on Brickell in this feature article. His son Fritz also played Major League ball, seeing 41 games over three seasons with the New York Yankees (1958-59) and Los Angeles Angels (1961).
Johnny Gooch, catcher for the Pirates from 1921 until 1928. He helped the Pirates to two National League titles and one World Series championship in his eight seasons in Pittsburgh. His career didn’t begin like you would expect from someone who spent 11 seasons in the majors. At 18 years old in 1916, he batted .177 in 70 games for Talladega of the Class-D Georgia-Alabama League. He didn’t play baseball for the next two seasons, then returned in 1919 to play for three different clubs. He saw time with two teams in the Class-A Southern Association, but a majority of his time was spent with Newport News of the Class-C Virginia League, where he hit .202 in 66 games. In 1920, Gooch was with Birmingham of the Southern Association, a team managed by Pirates scout Carlton Molesworth. There he was teammates with Johnny Morrison and Clyde Barnhart, two key players for the 1925 World Series champs. Gooch hit .271 with nine doubles and a homer in 69 games. He broke out in 1921 and that led to his shot at the majors.
Gooch debuted with the Pirates in September of 1921 after spending his second season with Birmingham of the Southern Association, where he hit .288 with 29 extra-base hits in 135 games during the 1921 season. His contract was purchased by the Pirates on September 7th to help replace starting catcher Walter Schmidt, who was out with an illness. With Pittsburgh, Gooch batted .237 in 13 games. By 1922, he was their starting catcher. During that first full season in Pittsburgh, he played a career high 105 games and posted a .329 average, his only season eclipsing the .300 mark. He hit 15 doubles, drove in 42 runs and set career highs with 45 runs scored and 39 walks. His .800 OPS that year was 67 points higher than his second best season. In 1923, he hit .277 with 13 extra-base hits and 20 RBIs in 66 games, as Walter Schmidt saw the majority of the time behind the plate. The Pirates had three catchers in 1924 who saw playing time somewhat regularly, with Earl Smith joining Gooch and Schmidt. It was Gooch who led the team in appearances behind the plate though. He played 70 games, hitting .290 with six doubles, five triples, 25 RBIs and 26 runs scored.
When the Pirates won the World Series in 1925, Gooch was a platoon catcher with Earl Smith, who saw the majority of games at catcher that year. Gooch hit .298 with 24 runs scored, eight doubles, four triples and 30 RBIs in 79 games. He started just one game in the Series (game four) and he was a late defensive replacement in two other contests. He was behind the plate for the final pitch of the series, catching a called third strike for the win. Gooch was in a similar platoon role in 1926, and responded with a .271 average in 86 games, with 15 doubles and 42 RBIs. He then he got the majority of the work in 1927, playing 101 games, while finishing with a .258 average and career highs with 17 doubles and 48 RBIs. During the World Series, he started two games and played in a third off of the bench. Gooch was unable to pick up a hit during either of his postseason appearances, combining to go 0-for-8 with a walk in his six games.
Just two months into the 1928 season, Gooch was sent in a trade to the Brooklyn Dodgers for catcher Charlie Hargreaves. Gooch was hitting .238 in 31 games at the time of the deal, then batted .317 in 42 games afterwards, though low power/walk numbers kept his OPS down to .727 in Brooklyn that year. In 1929, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds after one game. He hit .299 that season in 93 games, with 18 extra-base hits and 34 RBIs. The 1930 season was his final full year in the majors. It was a huge season for offense around baseball, but Gooch saw a drop in his production. He batted .243 in 82 games, with 29 runs scored and 30 RBIs. He missed the 1931 season after being suspended by baseball when he didn’t report, then got reinstated for 1932 and spent the season in the minors with Nashville of the Southern Association, where he hit .334 in 117 games and earned another chance at the majors. Gooch played 37 games for the 1933 Boston Red Sox, batting .182 with a .505 OPS. He continued two player pro ball in the minors, twice as a player/manager, seeing his last competition during the 1942 season at 44 years old. He hit .286 with 215 RBIs in 551 games for the Pirates, and he was a .280 hitter over 805 games during his 11-year career in the majors. He threw out 45% of runners attempting to steal during his career. He hit seven home runs during his career and all of them came during road games, yet his career OPS was 52 points higher at home.
Gene Moore, lefty pitcher for the 1909-10 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball at 21 years old in 1907, playing for Dallas of the Texas League, where he played just six games that first year. He was back in Dallas in 1908 and had a 9-11 record in 20 games on the mound, while batting .179 in 27 total games. Moore was in his third season with Dallas when the Pirates purchased his contract in late July of 1909. He went 16-14, 3.50 in 216 innings for Dallas that season. Despite being purchased in July, he didn’t debut with the Pirates until September 28th, when he gave up four runs in two innings during his only game. As part of the deal with Dallas, Moore was allowed to remain with the team until September, before reporting to the Pirates. He ended up leaving to join the Pirates on August 25th. He pitched an exhibition game against a minor league team from Jersey City (Eastern League) on August 29th and took the loss, allowing five runs in five innings. His second game with the Pirates, another exhibition game on September 19th, saw him play center field against Wheeling of the Central League, which was managed at the time by former Pirates/Alleghenys pitcher Bill Phillips (see below). Because Moore joined the Pirates before September 1st, he was eligible to play in the World Series, but he did not appear in a game.
Moore saw slightly more time with the Pirates in 1910, getting one start and three relief appearances. He had a 3.12 ERA in 17.1 innings. He pitched four times that year between April 23rd and May 25th. By mid-June of 1910 he was pitching for New Britain of the Connecticut League, where he had an 8-5 record. The Pirates sent him to there on June 13th in exchange for pitcher Lefty Webb. Moore remained under the control of the Pirates for a time after being sent down, but on September 19, 1910, he was released to Jersey City of the Eastern League. He spent the 1911 season with Indianapolis of the American Association (no stats available). He joined Galveston of the Texas League in 1912, going 19-6 in 243.2 innings. His only other big league time came with the Cincinnati Reds over the final two months of that 1912 season. He had a 4.91 ERA in 14.2 innings over five games (two starts). After his brief stint with the 1912 Reds, Moore spent the next six seasons in minor league ball before retiring. He remained in the Texas League the entire time, returning to Galveston, where he stayed until the middle of the 1916 season, before finishing his career with the 1916-18 Houston Buffaloes. Moore won 21 games and pitched 298 innings during the 1914 season. His son, also named Gene Moore, had a 14-year career as an outfielder in the majors from 1931 until 1945.
Bill Phillips, pitcher for the 1890 Alleghenys. He went 1-9 in ten starts as a rookie in 1890 for the Alleghenys, then over the next eight years, he pitched just one season in the majors (Cincinnati Reds, 1895). From 1899 until 1903, he went 63-60 for the Reds. The Alleghenys purchased him from a minor league team in Washington DC, where the 21-year-old right-hander had a 17-16 record in his first season of pro ball. Phillips debuted on August 11th, the day after he joined the team, and gave up four runs in the first inning. He quickly settled down and threw shutout ball the rest of the way, winning 6-4. With a 1-9 record in ten starts, he obviously couldn’t match that first game feat. Phillips had his share of issues, but he was pitching for a team that won 23 games all season and they started off a lot better that season than they finished. He got them late when they went 4-43 after his debut. In fact, his win was the team’s only win in August (1-27). Phillips was reportedly released in late September, then pitched for the team again days later. He would be let go shortly after that game and was back in the minors by 1891.
Phillips bounced around a lot before returning to the majors. He was with Meadville of the New York-Penn League in 1891 for a brief time, then pitched for Chattanooga of the Southern Association in 1892. He went 21-16 that season and threw 342 innings. He stayed in the Southern Association for part of the next season, seeing action with two other teams. He also saw time with Akron of the Ohio-Michigan League and Johnstown of the Pennsylvania State League that year. In 1894, Phillips pitched his first of five straight seasons with Indianapolis of the Western League, where he went 26-21, 3.76 in 421 innings in 1894, then had a 12-4, 3.65 record in 138 innings in 1895. He actually started the 1895 season with the Reds, but returned to Indianapolis after going 6-7, 6.03 in 109 innings. He was back in Indianapolis in 1896 (he’s listed online as not playing in 1896, but he was with Indianapolis all season). In 1897, Phillips went 28-13, 2.14 in 357 innings. His record was even better in 1898, when he went 28-9 in 333 innings. His ERA isn’t available for that year, but he allowed fewer runs per nine innings compared to the previous season.
Phillips was back with the Reds in 1899 and had a strong third stint in the majors. He went 17-9, 3.32 in 227.2 innings during his first season back. In 1900, he had a 9-11, 4.30 record in 207.1 innings. In 1901, Phillips posted a 14-18, 4.64 record in 281.1 innings, with 29 complete games in 36 starts. While his 16-16 record in 1902 wasn’t anything special, he had a 2.51 ERA in 269 innings, with 30 complete games in 32 starts. In his final big league season, Phillips went 7-6, 3.35 in 118.1 innings. While his big league career was over with a 70-76, 4.09 record in 1,294.2 innings, his pro career was far from over at that point. He won 11 games for Indianapolis in 1904, then pitched the next three full seasons with New Orleans of the Southern Association, where he combined for a 52-35 record during that time. He was with New Orleans for part of 1908, but spent the majority of the year in Class-C ball for East Liverpool of the Ohio-Pennsylvania League, where he had an 18-4 record. At 40 years old in 1909, he finished his career with a 12-3 record in 162 innings for Wheeling of the Class-B Central League. While some of his pro stats aren’t available, it’s known that he won over 300 games during his career. Phillips managed in the minors for seven seasons and then got in two seasons in the majors when the Federal League was formed. He won the league title in 1914 with Indianapolis, leading them to an 88-65 record. He had a half-brother named Barney Wolfe, who pitched four seasons in the majors.