Five former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus a major trade made during the end of the 19th century.
On this date in 1897 the Pittsburgh Pirates made a seven-player trade, sending star outfielder Elmer Smith and 30-game-winner Pink Hawley, along with cash ($1,500), to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for five players. The Pirates acquired Bill Gray, Jack McCarthy, Billy Rhines, Pop Schriver and Ace Stewart in the deal.
Hawley was just shy of his 25th birthday at the time and he had a 71-61 record for the Pirates in three seasons. He went 30-58 for the St Louis Browns prior to joining the Pirates in 1895. Smith had started his career as a pitcher with the Reds going 69-50 in four seasons. He switched to offense mid-career and with the Pirates he was a great outfielder. He was a local boy from Pittsburgh (and popular with the fans), who hit .325 over seven seasons with the Pirates, with 644 runs scored and 174 stolen bases.
This trade didn’t really pan out for either team, at least not long-term. Ace Stewart never played for the Pirates. Pitcher Billy Rhines, who replaced Hawley in the rotation, went 12-16, 3.52 in 1898. He made just nine starts the next season, going 4-4, 6.00 before being released. Bill Gray was the everyday third base for the Pirates in 1898, but he hit just .229 in 137 games and made the second most errors in the league at his position. Despite playing everyday, that was the end of his big league career. Jack McCarthy played two full seasons in the outfield for the Pirates before the Honus Wagner trade in 1899 made him expendable. He was sold to the Chicago Orphans (Cubs) following the 1899 season. With the Pirates he hit .298 with 147 RBIs in 276 games.
Pop Schriver made the biggest impact with the Pirates among the five returning players in the trade. He was the only player who lasted until 1900, hitting .260 with 93 RBIs in 224 games, spent mostly as a catcher. Following the 1900 season he was sold to the St Louis Cardinals, leaving the Pirates with no players left from the trade three years later.
Smith hit .342 with 69 walks in 1898, but quickly went downhill. By his last season in 1901, he played just 20 games, including a brief return for four games to the Pirates. Hawley went 27-11, 3.37 in 331 innings during the 1898 season, then he went 39-49 over the following three seasons, while playing for three different teams. He too saw his big league career end in 1901. The Reds got great results in 1898, though their victory in the deal was short-lived due to both players falling off quickly afterwards. In terms of WAR after the deal, the Pirates gave up 15 WAR in eight combined seasons for Smith/Hawley, while the players they received put up 14.4 WAR in 17 total seasons.
Matt Pagnozzi, catcher for the 2011 Pirates. He was originally a 40th round draft pick of the Chicago Cubs out of high school in 2001, but he decided to attend college. Two years later he was taken in the eighth round by the St Louis Cardinals out of Central Arizona College and signed. It took him six years to make the majors, getting a brief taste during the final week of the 2009 season. Pagnozzi debuted in pro ball in 2003 with New Jersey of the New York-Penn League. He hit just .178 in 59 games, with one homer and a .539 OPS. In 2004, he played for Peoria of the Low-A Midwest League, where he batted .209 in 74 games, with no homers and a .542 OPS. The next year was split between High-A Palm Beach of the Florida State League and Double-A Springfield of the Texas League. Pagnozzi combined to bat .184 with one homer and a .520 OPS in 76 games. He spent the entire 2006 season back with Palm Beach, where he hit .216 with 21 extra-base hits and a .612 OPS in 77 games. In 2007, he played 13 games with Springfield and spent the rest of the year with Memphis of the Pacific Coast League. He had a combined .570 OPS in 60 games. He played three games with Memphis and 68 with Springfield in 2008, hitting .235 with 11 doubles, three homers and a .624 OPS.
It was clear by those numbers on offense that persistence and defense kept Pagnozzi around, which led to a stint with the Cardinals in 2009 after he hit .221 with seven doubles and five homers in 86 games for Memphis. He played each of the final five games of the 2009 season off of the bench for St Louis. In 2010, he had a .647 OPS in 68 games with Memphis and a crazy .359 average in 15 games for the Cardinals, with all of that time coming in September. The Pirates had a plethora of catching injuries in 2011 and Pagnozzi was one of the players who got a chance during that time. He split the 2011 season between the Colorado Rockies and Pirates, playing seven games for the Rockies in June/July. Pittsburgh selected him off waivers on September 14th, and in five games he started twice and went 2-for-8 at the plate. He became a free agent at the end of the season and signed with the Cleveland Indians in December of 2011. He spent the entire 2012 season in Triple-A and then signed a free agent deal with the Atlanta Braves in December of 2012. Pagnozzi played briefly for the Houston Astros in 2013 after the purchased his contract in September from Atlanta. He batted .143 in nine games for the Astros. He signed with the Milwaukee Brewers in December of 2013 and played one big league game in 2014 as a defensive replacement. He finished his career with the Arizona Diamondbacks in the minors in 2015. Pagnozzi batted .272 in 43 big league games over five seasons, seeing time with five different teams. He had a .221 average in the minors over 938 games. He is the nephew of Tom Pagnozzi, who caught 12 seasons for the St Louis Cardinals. Both of them wore #19 in St Louis.
Junior Noboa, infielder for the 1994 Pirates. He was signed at 16 years old as an international free agent out of the Dominican in 1981 by the Cleveland Indians. It took him just three years to make the majors, playing his first game at the end of the 1984 season before his 20th birthday. Despite the quick rise through the system, he didn’t play in the majors again until the middle of the 1987 season. Noboa had an impressive debut in pro ball, batting .302 in 50 games in the New York-Penn League in 1981, where he was five years younger than the average player in the league. He was in A-Ball by 17 years old in 1982, hitting .249 with 69 runs scored, 44 stolen bases and a 62:61 BB/SO ratio in 121 games. He remained with Waterloo of the Midwest League in 1983, where he hit .256 with 64 runs scored, 22 doubles, 47 steals and 48 walks in 132 games. He showed a little more power than the previous year, but the lower walk rate led to a one point difference in OPS from the previous season (.660 vs .659). In 1984, he began the year with Double-A Buffalo of the Eastern League, where he batted .253 with 55 runs scored, 23 extra-base hits and 45 RBIs in 117 games. He joined the Indians in late August and mostly served as a defensive replacement, getting just one start over the final 5 1/2 weeks of the season. He had 11 at-bats in 23 games.
In 1985, Noboa spent the entire season in Triple-A with Maine of the International League. He hit .288 with 62 runs scored in 122 games. His .708 OPS was the best of his first five seasons, but he went 14-for-29 in stolen base attempts. He repeated Maine in 1986 and had similar results in 106 games, hitting .286 with a .686 OPS, while going 10-for-24 in steals. Cleveland moved their Triple-A franchise to Buffalo and Noboa spent half of the season there and the other half in the majors. He hit .225 with seven runs scored and seven RBIs for Cleveland. Noboa played for the California Angels in 1988 after being acquired in a trade at the end of Spring Training. His big league time that season was limited to 21 games (six starts) and he went 1-for-16 at the plate. He became a free agent and then spent the next three years with the Montreal Expos, where he saw his most big league time. In 1989, Noboa hitting .227 in 21 games, with ten starts. His best big league season was 1990 when he made 24 starts at second base and added outfield to his resume. He hit .266 in 81 games, with 15 runs scored and 14 RBIs, the only time he reached double-digits in either category in the majors. In 1991, he played sparingly all season, seeing time at six different positions, getting 96 plate appearances in 67 games. He hit .242 and connected on his only big league homer.
The New York Mets selected Noboa off of waivers right after the 1991 season ended. He only played infield in 1992 and he had just five starts in 46 games played, with 52 plate appearances all season. He hit .149 and scored seven runs while collecting seven hits. He became a free agent again and spent the 1993 season in Triple-A for the Cincinnati Reds, He then played for the Oakland A’s in April of 1994, where he hit .325 in 17 games, before joining the Pirates as a free agent signing in early May. After signing, Noboa played in Triple-A Buffalo, which became a Pirates affiliate since he last played there in 1987. He was there until joining the Pirates in early August. He lasted just two games with the 1994 Pirates, going 0-for-2, while playing one inning at shortstop. That ended his eight-year big league career. His final game came just a week before the season-ending strike that lasted into the start of the 1995 season, though he was still with the Pirates when the strike started. Noboa finished his pro career with six games in Triple-A for the Baltimore Orioles in 1995. He was a .239 hitter in 317 big league games, with 47 runs scored, one homer and 33 RBIs. Despite some big stolen base numbers early in his career, he had just nine steals in the majors.
Eddie Eayrs, pitcher for the 1913 Pirates. He was signed as an amateur free agent in 1913 by the Pirates and joined the team in late June. He was pitching at Brown University before making his pro debut, helping them to an 18-3 record that season. He was just a freshman when he signed (though he was 22 years old), impressing scouts as a lefty with two strong pitches, a sinker and a changeup. Eayrs was a gifted athlete, who also excelled at football. He was a pitcher/outfielder who lasted just four games for the Pirates before going to the minors for seven seasons. During his brief time in Pittsburgh, he went 1-for-6 at the plate and allowed two runs in eight innings over two games on the mound. On July 7th, just 19 days after he was signed, Eayrs was traded to a minor league team in Columbus (American Association) for veteran pitcher George McQuillan, who had five seasons of big league experience. The Pirates probably should have given him a bigger chance, because Eayrs ended up batting .449 in 27 games with Columbus in 1913, while posting a 9-4 record. His stats really dropped off in 1914 back with Columbus, hitting .226 in 81 games, while putting up an 11-9, 4.01 record in 182 innings
In 1915, Eayrs played for three Double-A teams, which was one step below the majors at the time. Besides Columbus, he was also with Louisville of the American Association and Providence of the International League. He remained in Providence for the next four full seasons, despite the level of play changing twice during that time. The team moved to the Eastern League in 1918, which was a Class-B level of play at the time, though in 1919 the league was reclassified as Class-A. As you would expect, his stats improved as the level of play dropped. He batted .284 and .244 during the 1916-17 seasons, then hit .354 and .335 during the 1918-19 seasons, when he was also the team’s manager. Eayrs missed some time during his stay in Providence, as he served in the Navy during WWI. He had a 3.63 ERA in 129 innings in 1917, but his mound time after that year was sporadic, amounting to fewer than 100 innings total. Eayrs resurfaced in the majors in 1920 for the Boston Braves and hit .328 in 87 games while also pitching seven games, posting a 5.47 ERA in 26.1 innings. He played for two teams during the 1921 season (Boston and Brooklyn), and hit .095 in 21 games while allowing ten runs in 4.2 innings, then returned to the minors for six more seasons before retiring. Eayrs batted .320 in 99 games for Providence during his final season as a player. He was a .310 minor league hitter in 1,210 games, while also winning 41 games on the mound. He also managed for three seasons. Despite his brief big league time and versatility, he hit .306 in the majors.
Billy Earle, catcher for the 1892-93 Pirates. He was the backup to Connie Mack during his time in Pittsburgh. Earle made his pro debut at 18 years old in 1886 and played his final game 22 years later. He began his pro career with two teams from the Class-B Southern Association, combining to hit .194 in 25 games in 1886. In 1887, he played for Duluth of the Northwestern League, where he hit .331 with 112 runs scored, 47 extra-base hits and 55 steals in 104 games. In 1888, Earle played for St Paul of the Class-A Western Association, where he hit .254 in 88 games, with 60 runs scored, 28 extra-base hits and 48 steals. That led to a utility role with the 1889 Cincinnati Red Stockings of the American Association, where he hit .266 in 53 games, with 37 runs scored, 31 RBIs, 26 steals and 30 walks. Part of the 1890 season was spent with the St Louis Browns of the American Association. Earle hit .233 in 22 games, with a .618 OPS. He spent the entire 1891 season in the minors, along with most of the 1892 season. He joined the Pirates for five early season games in 1892 and did well at the plate, going 7-for-13 with four walks. The Pirates still released him in May because they had a solid 1-2 punch behind the plate in Connie Mack and Doggie Miller. The next season he played 27 games for the Pirates after rejoining the club on August 12th. He hit .253 with 15 RBIs during his second stint.
In 1894, Earle went to Spring Training with the Pirates, but he was released on April 9th, ten days before the season started. It was said that he was unhappy with his salary. He ended up playing for two different National League teams in 1894, while hitting .348 in 35 games. He started the year with the Louisville Colonels, then finishing the season with the Brooklyn Grooms. Despite the high average, he never returned to the majors. He retired for a brief time and played semi-pro ball, then returned to play minor league ball until 1908, spending much of that time as a player-manager in the low levels of the minors, including five years in Class-D ball. He also had some other managerial time in the minors and did some umpiring. Earle hit .286 in 142 big league games, with 102 runs scored, 74 RBIs and 41 stolen bases. He hit two homers for the Pirates in his 108 at-bats with the team and they came in back-to-back at-bats, plus both were inside-the-park homers.
Fred Roat, third baseman for the 1890 Alleghenys, who was born on the same day as the aforementioned Billy Earle in 1867. He hit .223 as a rookie in 1890 for the Alleghenys, playing in 57 games. His only other big league time was eight late-season games for the 1892 Chicago Colts. Roat made the Opening Day roster in 1890, but didn’t see his first game until two weeks later. He actually wasn’t traveling with the team early in the year, which was a move done to save on traveling expenses. He got off to a great start, but an injury, followed by an illness caused him to leave the team for a time, then a side injury in August ended his season. He was one of the few players who remained with the team after the Player’s League folded, though the Alleghenys sold him to the Cincinnati Reds in early 1891 in a strange deal. Roat had received $125 advanced pay before being sold to Cincy. The Reds agreed to pay Pittsburgh that money back, but they cut Roat before the season started and refused to make payment. During the season, the two teams went back-and-forth shaving $125 of the road gate receipts, with Pittsburgh claiming victory because they hosted the last series between the teams, though all they actually received was the agreed upon amount. Roat hit two homers in the majors and they came during the first and second game of a doubleheader on June 16, 1890. At the time, the Alleghenys had just one home run all season. He also hit their first home run during Spring Training that year.
Roat played 11 seasons of minor league ball. He debuted in 1888 at 20 years old with a team from Danville, Illinois in the Central Interstate League. He remained with Danville, as they moved to the Illinois-Indiana League in 1889. No stats are available from that year, but an article profiling the players of the 1890 Alleghenys said that Roat was the leading hitter in the league. After his season in Pittsburgh, he split the 1891 season between Lincoln of the Western Association and Rockford of the Illinois-Iowa League, playing a total of 83 games, with a .243 average, 51 runs scored and 19 stolen bases. In 1892, the majority of his year was spent with Milwaukee of the Western League, where he hit .337 in 26 games. His time with Chicago came later in the year and he batted .194 in his final eight big league games. Roat hit well over the next three seasons at a high level of play. He batted .322 in 73 games for New Orleans of the Southern Association in 1893, then hit .286 in 64 games for New Orleans in 1894, before finishing the season with Indianapolis of the Western League, where he batted .330 in 54 games. In 1895, he hit .388 with 46 extra-base hits and 127 runs scored in 120 games for Indianapolis. His stats after that point are a bit spotty, with nothing available for Indianapolis in 1896, and partial stats over his final three seasons, which were spent with four different teams, three of which were in the Western League. Roat batted .241 in 71 games in 1899 with Toronto of the Eastern League.