Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus two trades of note.
On this date in 1998 the Pittsburgh Pirates traded pitcher Ricardo Rincon to the Cleveland Indians for outfielder Brian Giles. Prior to the trade, the 28-year-old Giles had an .856 OPS in 299 games with the Indians over four seasons, which was worth 7.6 WAR. Rincon, who was also 28 years old, had two seasons with the Pirates in which he had a 3.17 ERA and 18 saves in 125 innings over 122 appearances. The trade was a one-sided win for the Pirates as Giles was an all-star outfielder and Rincon was a lefty reliever, who pitched 207 games for the Indians, but only amassed 154.1 innings over four seasons. Giles hit .308 with 501 runs scored and 506 RBIs in 715 games with the Pirates. His 1.018 OPS is the highest in team history. Giles was a two-time All-Star, who received MVP votes during four seasons with the Pirates. This trade paid off down the line as well, with Giles being traded for Jason Bay and Oliver Perez in 2003.
Also on this date in 1947 the Pirates traded pitcher Al Lyons, outfielder Jim Russell and catcher Bill Salkeld to the Boston Braves in exchange for outfielder Johnny Hopp and infielder Danny Murtaugh. The Pirates had an edge in the production each team received after the trade, but it get a little more one-sided when you consider what Murtaugh did after the trade as a manager of the Pirates, which may not have happened if he wasn’t acquired in this deal.
Lyons had played parts of four seasons in the majors, pitching 32 games, and he had a 6.08 ERA at the time of the trade. For the Pirates he had pitched 13 games in 1947, with a 7.31 ERA after coming over from the New York Yankees in early August. Salkeld had a strong rookie season in 1945, hitting .311 with 15 homers. He hit .294 in a backup role the next season, then really struggled in 1947, hitting just .213 in 47 games. Russell was the only significant player the Pirates traded away, he was a regular from 1943-47 playing 718 games over those five seasons with 412 runs scored and 288 RBIs.
The Pirates got a 31-year-old outfielder with a .297 career average in Johnny Hopp. He hit .288 with 58 walks and 74 runs scored in 1947. Prior to that he had three seasons with a .300+ average. Murtaugh was a regular for three seasons from 1941-43, but after serving in the war he was unable to get a regular job in the majors, playing just nine games between 1946 and 1947. Murtaugh had two strong seasons for the Pirates, in 1948 and 1950, though the true value in the trade was getting him in the organization. He eventually made his way to the major league manager role, winning two World Series titles and 1,115 games total. Hopp hit .310 over three seasons with the Pirates before being sold to the Yankees during the 1950 season.
Jameson Taillon, pitcher for the 2016-19 Pirates. He was the second overall draft pick in the 2010 draft out of high school by the Pirates. He signed too late to debut in 2010, so he started his pro career in 2011 with Low-A West Virginia of the South Atlantic League. He went 2-3, 3.98 in 92.2 innings over 23 starts, with 97 strikeouts. He made 23 starts with Bradenton of the High-A Florida State League in 2012, going 6-8, 3.82 in 125 innings. He finished the season with three starts at Double-A Altoona of the Eastern League and won all three games. In 2013, Taillon pitched most of the season at Altoona, going 4-7, 3.67 in 110.1 innings, with 106 strikeouts. He also made six starts at Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League and had a 3.89 ERA. He pitched in the Arizona Fall League after the season, but he was removed from the league after one start due to a groin strain. Unfortunately for Taillon, things got worse from there. An elbow injury during Spring Training in 2014 led to Tommy John surgery in April. He was pitching in Extended Spring Training in 2015, but an ab strain led to a July surgery that ended his season early. He returned in 2016 and looked like he didn’t miss a beat. Taillon made ten starts in Indianapolis, posting a 2.04 ERA in 61.2 innings, with 61 strikeouts. He made 18 starts for the Pirates and had a 5-4, 3.38 in 104 innings.
In 2017, Taillon had testicular cancer, which required mid-season surgery, though he missed very little time. Along with three rehab starts in the minors, he was also able to make 25 starts for the Pirates that season, going 8-7, 4.44 in 133.2 innings, with 125 strikeouts. He was healthy for all of 2018, where he posted a 14-10, 3.20 record in 191 innings over 32 starts, with 179 strikeouts. Unfortunately for him, the injury bug returned in 2019 after seven starts, and he required a second Tommy John surgery, which ended up costing him the rest of the season and all of 2020. The Pirates traded Taillon to the New York Yankees on January 24, 2021 for four prospects. He made 29 starts during the 2021 season, rebounding slightly after a slow start to the season to finish the year with an 8-6, 4.30 record in 144.1 innings, with 140 strikeouts. In his four seasons with the Pirates, he went 29-24, 3.67 in 466 innings over 82 starts.
Rocky Nelson, outfielder who had two stints with the Pirates, first in 1951 and then again from 1959-61. He was originally signed by the St Louis Cardinals in 1942 and played one season at 17 years old before missing the next three years while serving in the U.S. Army. He would become a feared power hitter in the minors later in his career, but during that first year with Johnson City of the Class-D Appalachian League, he batted .253 with no homers in 53 games. After returning from the service, the 21-year-old Nelson spent 1946 in the Class-C Western Association with St Joseph, where he .319 in 135 games. He only had five homers, but the signs of power were there, with 31 doubles and 23 triples, to go along with 92 runs scored and 93 RBIs. A large majority of his 1947 season was spent with Lynchburg of the Class-B Piedmont League. He had a big season there in 117 games, with a .371 average, 100 runs scored, 38 doubles, 11 triples, 11 homers and 107 RBIs. While he was never a stolen base threat in the majors, he compiled 46 steals during the 1946-47 seasons. Nelson played 11 games for Triple-A Rochester of the International League that year and hit just .056 with a single and a walk. In 1948, he spent the entire year with Rochester, where he batted .303 with 48 extra-base hits and 70 walks in 142 games.
Nelson made the Opening Day roster of the Cardinals in 1949. As a rookie, he hit .221 with 16 extra-base hits and 11 walks in 82 games. He split the 1950 season between the majors and Triple-A Columbus of the American Association, where he batted .418 with a 1.098 OPS in 48 games. For the Cardinals that year, he hit .247 with one homer in 76 games, though he managed an impressive 26:9 BB/SO ratio. He played just nine games in St Louis in 1951 before the Pirates acquired him in a trade for shortstop Stan Rojek. Nelson hit .267 with one homer and 14 RBIs in 67 games for the Pirates, splitting his time between first base and left field. In September, he was lost on waivers to the Chicago White Sox. He went 0-for-5 with a walk in six games in Chicago. Nelson played for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1952, seeing almost all of his sporadic playing time off of the bench, getting just 46 plate appearances in 37 games. He spent all of 1953 in the minors with Montreal of the International League, where he hit .308 with 34 homers, 136 RBIs and 106 walks. He played briefly for the Cleveland Indians in 1954, going 0-for-4 in four games, but the majority of the year was spent back in Montreal, where he batted .311 in 141 games, with 107 runs scored, 31 homers, 94 RBIs and 105 walks. Nelson spent all of 1955 in Montreal, where he hit .364 with 118 runs scored, 36 doubles, 37 homers, 130 RBIs and 118 walks.
Nelson split 1956 between the Dodgers and Cardinals, while also putting up a 1.195 OPS in 49 games with Montreal. He hit .208 with four homers in 31 games for the Dodgers, and .232 with three homers in 38 games for the Cardinals. Nelson spent the 1957-58 seasons in the minors with Toronto of the International League, where he hit 28 homers and drove in 102 runs in 1957, then topped that with 43 homers, 120 RBIs, 92 walks and a .326 average in 1958. The Pirates took him in the Rule 5 draft that winter and he was a key bench player on the 1959-60 squads. In 1959, he hit .291 with six homers and 32 RBIs in 98 games. He made 34 starts at first base and one in the outfield. During the 1960 season, he hit .300 with seven homers and 35 RBIs, along with a career best .852 OPS. In the World Series that year, he went 3-for-9, including a two-run homer in game seven. Nelson hit .197 with five homers in 75 games in 1961, then returned to the minors for his final season of pro ball. The Pirates sold him outright to Toronto on October 12, 1961. He hit a total of 234 homers in the minors. He was a .270 hitter in 337 games with the Pirates, with 109 runs scored, 19 homers and 94 RBIs. In his nine-year big league career, he batted .249 with 186 runs scored, 31 homers, 173 RBIs, seven steals and a 130:94 BB/SO ratio. His actual first name was Glenn.
Mark Petkovsek, relief pitcher for the 1993 Pirates. He played nine years in the majors, starting and ending his career with the Texas Rangers. He was a first round pick of the Rangers out of the University of Texas in 1987. Petkovsek debuted in the Gulf Coast League that year, but he was quickly promoted to the Class-A Florida State League (Port Charlotte), where he went 3-4, 4.02 in 56 innings. He remained in Port Charlotte for all of 1988 and posted a 10-11, 2.97 record in 175.2 innings. He made 21 starts for Double-A Tulsa of the Texas League in 1989 and had an 8-5, 3.47 record in 140 innings. He finished the year with Triple-A Oklahoma City of the Pacific Coast League and had an 0-4, 7.34 record in 30.2 innings. Petkovsek remained in Oklahoma City for all of 1990, where he went 7-14, 5.25 in 151 innings over 28 starts. A majority of the 1991 season was spent in Oklahoma City as well, where he had a 9-8, 4.93 record in 149.2 innings. Petkovsek made the majors in 1991, though he got roughed up in his limited time. He had a 14.46 ERA and a 2.68 WHIP in 9.1 innings over four appearances. He became a free agent after the 1991 season and signed with the Pirates in January of 1992. He spent the entire 1992 season in Triple-A, but still re-signed with the Pirates for 1993.
Petkovsek had two separate stints with the 1993 Pirates, one in May/June and another one from late July until the end of the season. He had a 3.75 ERA in the first trial, which ballooned to 8.86 in the second stint. A big portion of the damage came on August 24th when he allowed seven runs in one inning. He had a 3-0 record in 26 appearances for the Pirates that year, despite posting a 6.96 record. After leaving the Pirates via free agency at the end of the year, he spent the 1994 season in the minors with the Houston Astros. He became a free agent and quickly signed with St Louis Cardinals, where he had some big league success. Petkovsek went 6-6, 4.00 in 137.1 innings over 21 starts and five relief appearances in 1995. The next year he moved to relief and posted an 11-2, 3.55 record in 88.2 innings over 48 games. In 1997, he went 4-7, 5.06 in 96 innings over 55 games. He saw a bit of starting time in 1998, going 7-4, 4.77 in 105.2 innings, with ten starts and 38 relief appearances.
Petkovsek was traded to the Anaheim Angels on December 14, 1998. He spent two seasons as a reliever for the Angels before hitting free agency, and he threw 64 games each year. In 1999, he went 10-4, 3.47 in 83 innings. He followed that up by going 4-2, 4.33 in 81 innings in 2000. Petkovsek finished up his career with the 2001 Rangers, where he went 1-2, 6.69 in 76.2 innings over 55 appearances. In his nine-year career, he had 46-28, 4.74 record in 710 innings over 390 appearances (41 starts).
Jim Shellenback, pitcher for the 1966-67 and 1969 Pirates. He was signed out of high school in 1962 by the New York Yankees. He didn’t last long in their system. In November of 1962, the Pirates selected Shellenback in the 1962 First Year draft. It would take the 6’2″ lefty four years to make it to the majors, debuting in September of 1966 with two relief appearances. His pro debut saw him post a 1-5, 4.05 record in 49 innings, with 40 walks and 57 strikeouts. He split that 1962 season between two low level teams in Class-D and Class-C ball. After joining the Pirates, he went to Gastonia of the Class-A Western Carolina League in 1963. Shellenback had a 17-3, 2.03 record in 182 innings, with 181 strikeouts. In 1964, he went 8-14, 3.53 in 181 innings for Asheville of the Double-A Southern League. His strikeouts dropped to 132 that season, despite the same amount of work. It was a trend though, as in 1965, he had 109 strikeouts in 181 innings, while splitting his season between Asheville and Columbus of the Triple-A International League. Despite that drop, he finished with a 14-6, 3.33 record. In 1966, Shellenback spent the season with Columbus, going 11-13, 3.09 in 195 innings, with 120 strikeouts and four shutouts. He appeared in two games for the Pirates that season and allowed three runs in three innings.
Shellenback pitched six games for the Pirates in 1967, making three appearances in April and three more in late September. He had a 2.70 ERA in 23.1 innings in the majors that year, and a 7-10, 3.16 record in 154 innings in Columbus. He did well in Columbus in 1968, with a 2.85 ERA in 140 innings, but he failed to appear in a big league game. He started the 1969 season with the Pirates, but after posting a 3.24 ERA in eight appearances, he was traded to the Washington Senators for veteran pitcher Frank Kreutzer. Shellenback spent three seasons in Washington, then moved with the team to Texas in 1972 for three seasons. After the deal in 1969, he went 4-7, 4.04 in 84.2 innings over 11 starts and 19 relief appearances. He had the same reliever/occasional starter role over the next two seasons. In 1970, he went 6-7, 3.68 in 117.1 innings, with 14 starts and 25 relief appearances. In 1971, Shelleback had a 3-11, 3.53 record in 120 innings, with 15 starts and 25 relief outings. Once the team moved to Texas, his big league time became sporadic. In 1972, he went 2-4, 3.47 in 57 innings over six starts and 16 relief appearances. He pitched just two big league games in 1973 and retired all five batters he faced. He had 11 appearances in 1974 and posted a 5.84 ERA in 24.2 innings.
Shellenback spent the 1975-76 seasons with Hawaii of the Pacific Coast League. His last appearance in the majors came with the 1977 Minnesota Twins, where he pitched five games in relief. He went 16-30, 3.81 in 454 innings over his nine seasons in the majors. In his three partial seasons in Pittsburgh, he went 1-1, 3.35 in two starts and 14 relief outings. His uncle Frank Shellenback pitched for the 1919 Chicago White Sox team known as the Black Sox.
Curt Raydon, right-handed pitcher for the 1958 Pirates. In his first year of pro ball at 19 years old in 1953, he went 11-7, 3.50 in 162 innings over 20 starts and 12 relief appearances for Jacksonville of the Class-A South Atlantic League. He came to the Pirates organization from the Milwaukee Braves as part of a six-player and cash deal for Danny O’Connell following the 1953 season. Raydon spent a total of eight seasons in the minors, the last seven in the Pirates organization. In 1954, he went 4-6, 5.96 in 83 innings for New Orleans of the Double-A Southern Association. With New Orleans again in 1955, he had a 14-11, 4.43 record in 203 innings, the only season in which he topped 200 innings. He also set a career high with 139 strikeouts. In 1956, Raydon split the season between New Orleans and Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League. He combined to go 8-12, 3.83 in 162 innings, with much better results during his shorter stint with New Orleans that year. He played for Hollywood for all of 1957 and had a 10-10, 3.30 record in 169 innings over 24 starts and eight relief appearances. The Pirates purchased his contract from Hollywood on October 16, 1957.
Raydon played just one season in the majors, going 8-4, 3.62 in 134.1 innings over 20 starts and 11 relief appearances for the 1958 Pirates. After the season, he was almost traded to the Cincinnati Reds in a deal that ended up happening a month later and it helped the Pirates to the 1960 World Series. In December of 1958, the Pirates and Reds had the outline of a deal that would send Don Hoak, Smoky Burgess and Harvey Haddix to the Pirates in exchange for Frank Thomas and pitcher Bennie Daniels. The Pirates balked at including Daniels, offering Raydon instead, which the Reds wouldn’t do, ending the talks at that point. Eventually the Pirates sent three other players instead of Daniels and it still worked out great for the Pirates. In 1959, Raydon went 7-4, 2.92 for Columbus of the International League. His season was limited to 77 innings due to arm soreness in May/June and a surgery on his index finger in February. At one point in the season, he was pitching batting practice as part of his rehab work. He also battled arm troubles in 1961, which ended up being his last season in pro ball. He had a decent showing with Columbus in 1960, going 7-5, 3.75 in 84 innings. His final season saw him put up a 4.73 ERA in 40 innings while pitching for Asheville of the Class-A South Atlantic League. His career ended in June of 1961 when he refused to report to Burlington of the Class-B Three-I League.
Gene Mauch, middle infielder for the 1947 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball in 1943 at 17 years old, playing 32 games for Durham of the Class-B Piedmont League and 31 games for Montreal of the Double-A International League. He hit .322 at the lower level, while struggling with a .169 average at the higher level against much older competition. He started at shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the first five games of the 1944 season, then 13 days later, without playing another game, he was sent to Montreal, where he played just 14 games before being called into service during WWII. He would miss the entire 1945 season as well, then came back in 1946 to spend the entire year with St Paul of the Triple-A American Association. Mauch was involved in two big trades with the Pirates and Brooklyn Dodgers. The first one in mid-May of 1947 consisted of five players coming to Pittsburgh for outfielder Al Gionfriddo and cash. Then in December of that same year, he was sent back to Brooklyn in a six-player deal, with three players going each way. Despite those two trades with the Dodgers, he played a total of 17 games for Brooklyn, which was slightly more than he saw in Pittsburgh. He hit .300 in 16 games for the Pirates during his only season with the team. The rest of the season was spent with Indianapolis of the Triple-A American Association, where he also batted .300, while playing 58 games.
Mauch played 12 games with the 1948 Dodgers before he was lost on waivers to the Chicago Cubs. Between both stops that year, he hit .199 with 19 runs scored and seven RBIs in 65 games. In 1949, he hit .247 in 72 games with the Cubs. He was traded to the Boston Braves on December 14, 1949, and he saw limited work during the 1950-51 seasons, playing a total of 67 games (35 starts), while hitting .213 with one homer, 22 runs scored and 16 RBIs. He was lost to the New York Yankees in the November 1951 Rule 5 draft, but the Yankees lost him on waivers to the St Louis Cardinals during Spring Training of 1952. He played seven games for the Cardinals, all off of the bench, before being released in May. He re-signed with the Braves on the same day he was released, but he didn’t make it back to the majors until 1956. At that time he was with the Boston Red Sox, where he hit .275 with two homers and 29 RBIs in 72 games before being released after the 1957 season. He played in the minors during the 1958-59 seasons before retiring as a player.
Mauch managed for 26 seasons in the majors, winning 1,902 games, with two first place finishes to his credit. His managerial career consisted of 5+ years with the Philadelphia Phillies, Montreal Expos, Minnesota Twins and California Angels. He also managed for three seasons in the minors. Mauch hit .239 with 93 runs, five homers and 62 RBIs in 304 games over nine seasons in the majors. His brother-in-law Roy Smalley played 11 seasons in the majors (they were teammates in 1948-49), and his nephew Roy Smalley played 13 years in the majors, including five seasons (1976-80 Twins) with Mauch as his manager.
Roy Wise, pitcher for the 1944 Pirates. Before joining the Pirates, he was pitching at Illinois Wesleyan University. The Pirates got their first look at him during an exhibition game in 1943 when he threw four no-hit innings against them. He went to Spring Training with the Pirates in 1944, but left on April 8th after he couldn’t reach a contract agreement with the team, which was said by the Pirates to be a strong offer and bonus. After a short stay at home, the two sides agreed to a deal on April 21st (three days after Opening Day) and he returned to the club the next day. Wise said that both the Philadelphia Athletics and St Louis Browns made him offers during his time away from the Pirates. On May 1st, while with the Pirates, Wise threw a three-hit shutout over seven innings in an exhibition contest against a minor league teams from Zanesville. Prior to his exhibition debut, he was throwing batting practice for the Pirates. He made just two regular season appearances in the majors, coming on back-to-back days in mid-May of 1944 for the Pirates against the Boston Braves. He tossed two shutout innings in his debut, but then he allowed three runs in the ninth inning of his second game, though it didn’t matter much at the time because the score was already 13-2 in favor of the Braves at the time. The 20-year-old right-hander also played briefly for Albany of the Eastern League during that 1944 season, joining them on May 26th on option from the Pirates, and remaining there until he was released unconditionally by the Pirates on June 29th. That season was his only year of pro baseball, although he went to Spring Training with the Chicago White Sox in 1945. He went by his middle name (Ogden) during his brief time with the Pirates. In fact, when he was first announced as signing, he was being called Ogden Wyse in the newspapers. He also had the nicknames “Fuzzy” and “Fluffy” (due to his wild hairstyle), and it was said that he didn’t exactly give the best effort and he had a carefree attitude that annoyed the coaches, but he had a fastball and sinker that impressed the team.
Bill Hughes, pitcher for the Pirates on September 15, 1921. Not too many men could claim to be a 300-game winner by 1939 and none could do it with as little fanfare as Hughes. He won 302 career games, all of them in minor league ball. He played 20 seasons and had two 20-win seasons during that time. Hughes threw over 4,800 innings as a pro. Compared to Major League records, only 17 pitchers have thrown more than 4,800 innings in the majors. His big league career consisted of his one late-season relief appearance for the Pirates in which he allowed one run over two innings. That came during his second season in pro ball, 18 years before he retired. Hughes debuted in pro ball with Raleigh of the Class-D Piedmont League at 23 years old in 1920. He had a 19-13, 1.76 record in 271 innings, with 177 strikeouts. He went 26-7 in 260.2 innings in 1921 for Raleigh (then classified as a Class-C level). His ERA isn’t available for that season, but it’s known that he allowed 3.59 runs per nine innings. On August 15, 1921, the Pirates purchased his rights for $3,500 and said that he could stay with Piedmont until their season ended on September 13th. However, the Pirates called him up a few days earlier because they lost their division lead on September 9th and they wanted as much help as possible. Hughes came recommended to the Pirates by a scout and an umpire in the league, who tipped off Pittsburgh owner Barney Dreyfuss. It was said that he pitched six shutouts at the time, and another seven games in which he allowed just one run. Hughes appeared in his lone game for the Pirates on September 15th in a 6-3 loss to the Boston Braves. He came in with a 5-1 deficit and he allowed one run on three hits and a walk in two innings.
On October 15, 1921, Hughes was sent to Birmingham of the Class-A Southern Association by the Pirates to clear roster space for the Rule 5 draft. He ended up pitching the 1922 season with Rochester of the Double-A International League, where he went 18-16, 2.85 in 262 innings. In December of 1922, the Pirates traded Hughes as part of a large package sent to Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League for pitcher Earl Kunz. Hughes spent the next 3 1/2 seasons in Sacramento, where he won 53 games during the 1923-25 seasons and average 324 innings per year. He split the 1926 season between Sacramento and Portland of the PCL and combined to win 17 games. Hughes won 15 games for Portland in 1927, and 11 games for Mission of the PCL in 1928. The next seven seasons were split evenly between Birmingham and Little Rock, also of the Southern Association. He won 104 games during that time, finishing between 10-18 wins each year. Hughes kept his career going at 39 years old in 1936 by dropping back down to the Piedmont League, which was then considered to be a Class-B League. He won 13 games that year, then dropped down another level in 1937, winning 16 games for Muskogee of the Western Association. His final two seasons saw him play for three different teams in three different league, seeing time with Knoxville of the Southern Association each year. His 300th win came with Meridian of the Class-B Southeastern League in 1939 at 42 years old. At the time, he was in his third year as a player-manager.