Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus two trades of note.
On this date in 1962 the Pittsburgh Pirates traded star shortstop Dick Groat and pitcher Diomedes Olivo to the St Louis Cardinals for pitcher Don Cardwell and infielder Julio Gotay. The traded basically ended up being Groat for Cardwell, since neither Olivo or Gotay played much for their new team. Groat had two big seasons in St Louis before his stats started falling off. He finished second in the 1963 NL MVP voting and was an All-Star in 1964. Cardwell spent four years in Pittsburgh, posting a 33-33, 3.38 record in 84 starts and 22 relief appearances. His best season was 1965 when he went 13-10, 3.18 with 240 innings pitched. Groat had his huge season in 1960 when he won the MVP and the NL batting title. He saw a large dip in his stats the following season, then he was an All-Star in 1962 when he hit .294 in 161 games. He had just turned 32 years old at the time of the deal. Cardwell had six seasons of big league time in prior to the trade and he was five years younger than Groat. However, he didn’t have a track record like the star shortstop. Cardwell went 7-16, 4.92 in 195.1 innings in 1962. He was better in 1961 (3.82 ERA in 259.1 innings), but that was easily his best season. After the deal, Olivo pitched 13.1 innings for the Cardinals and managed to pick up five losses, while Gotay had a total of five plate appearances in seven games for the Pirates.
Exactly 30 years later, the Pirates would trade another longtime infielder, this time shipping Jose Lind to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for pitchers Joel Johnston and Dennis Moeller. Lind spent six seasons with the Pirates from 1987-92, playing a total of 779 games. He wasn’t much of a hitter, batting a career high .265 in 1991, but he played strong defense at second base and won a Gold Glove in 1992. His contract was expensive at the time for a light hitting infielder. He hit just .235 in 1992 with no homers and three stolen bases. That led to the Pirates shipping him off to the Royals for two pitchers. Johnston was a 26-year-old reliever who pitched great in his first shot at the big leagues in 1991 posting an 0.40 ERA in 13 games, but struggled in his brief chance during the 1992 season. Moeller was a 25-year-old starter who pitched well at Triple-A in 37 games over the 1991-92 seasons, but he was hit around in his only shot at the majors prior to the trade.
Lind went on to have two typical seasons for him with the Royals. He didn’t hit much either year, while showing strong defense in 1993, although by 1994 he was no more than league average at second base. He started the 1995 season with the Royals, but was released by early July. The Pirates saved plenty of money getting rid of Lind, though they got little in return from their two new pitchers. Johnston had a decent 1993 season, posting a 3.38 ERA in 33 games. However, in 1994 he had three very rough outings out of Spring Training, got sent to the minors where he struggled as well, then was released by the Pirates in May. Moeller fared even worse, pitching just ten games for the Pirates in 1993. He was hit around hard in five of those games. He finished the year in the minors, then the Pirates got rid of him that October. He never pitched in the majors again.
John “Denny” Driscoll, pitcher for the 1882-83 Alleghenys. His only pro experience before making his big league debut came for Albany of the National Association in 1879, and stats show that he played just four games and didn’t pitch. He was playing amateur ball before then near his home in Lowell, Massachusetts, seeing time in 1878 with a team from Holyoke, while previously playing for a team from Boston called “Our Boys”. Right before his big league debut, he was playing for a club from Brockton. Prior to joining Pittsburgh in 1882, his only big league experience was a 1-3, 3.89 record in 41.2 innings for the 1880 Buffalo Bisons of the National League. He actually played more outfield than time spent pitching that season, getting 14 games in at center field. The bat did not play well in the majors, as he hit .154 with one extra-base hit (a double). In 1881, he played for three different teams in the Eastern Championship Association. In the first season in Pirates (then called Alleghenys) franchise history in 1882, the 26-year-old Driscoll went 13-9 in 23 starts and lead the American Association in ERA with a 1.21 mark. He joined Pittsburgh in July, making his first start in the 33rd game of the season. He pitched 23 of the final 47 games for the Alleghenys. In his debut he allowed one run in a complete game, handled ten plays in the field and collected two hits. He then had an 18-21, 3.99 record in 1883 for the Alleghenys, though it needs to be pointed out that the team went 13-46 in games he didn’t pitch, so his record was really good under the circumstances. He was originally on the reserve list for Pittsburgh for the 1884 season (submitted to the league at the end of the 1883 season), but on December 15, 1884 it was announced that he was going elsewhere.
After leaving the Alleghenys, Driscoll pitched for the 1884 Louisville Eclipse of the American Association, going 6-6, 3.44 in 13 starts and 102 innings. His pro career lasted from 1879 until 1886. Unfortunately, he passed away from tuberculosis during the 1886 season at 30 years old. He played for Binghamton of the International League that season, but they released him once he became ill. Some papers were actually announcing his release from the team on the same day people were finding out in other papers about his passing. His “Denny” nickname you find now is from old confusion over another player named Dennis Driscoll, who briefly appeared in the majors in 1885. They were originally thought to be the same player. I included it here because that’s how John Driscoll is usually identified if you attempt to look up his stats.
Billy Sunday, outfielder for the 1888-90 Alleghenys. Considered to be the fastest base runner of his era, Sunday held the Alleghenys/Pirates single season stolen base record for 91 years. He is more famous for what he did in his post-baseball career. Sunday retired after the 1890 season to become an extremely famous evangelist. He never played a game of minor league ball. He began his pro career in the majors at age 20, playing for the 1883 Chicago White Stockings. He was a backup for all five seasons in Chicago, never playing more than 50 games in a season. Sunday was never able to get on base enough to use his blazing speed. Stolen bases weren’t tracked during his first three seasons in the majors. He batted .241 in 14 games during his first season, finishing with a .569 OPS. He actually struck out 18 times in his limited work, which was a very high strikeout rate for the era. In 1884, Chicago played a smaller stadium that changed the ground rules for one year, which led them to a huge year on offense. Sunday did not benefit from those changes like some of his teammates. His four homers were a career high, but he hit just .222 with a .563 OPS in 43 games. His speed and defense helped keep him in the lineup. He got on base more often in 1885, with a .256 average and a .304 OPS, which helped lead to 36 runs scored in 46 games. He saw limited work in 1886, playing just 28 games, finishing with 16 runs scored, ten steals and a .592 OPS. Sunday did well in his last year (1887) in Chicago, batting .291 with 41 runs scored, 32 RBIs, 34 steals and 15 extra-base hits in 50 games.
On January 18, 1888, it was announced by the Pittsburgh manager Horace Phillips that he failed to acquire Chicago’s Jimmy Ryan, but he was able to get Sunday for a $1,000 fee (some sources say $2,000, but I went with the direct quote), plus his salary would be approximately $1,800 for the season. Sunday played full-time in center field for the 1888 Alleghenys, where he was known for making dazzling plays due to his speed and athleticism. However, he hit just .236 and drew 12 walks all season, while failing to hit a homer, so the offense was an issue. He wasn’t able to properly utilize his speed because he wasn’t on base enough. Sunday still managed to steal 71 bases, third most in the league,and a franchise record until broken by Omar Moreno in 1979. Moreno had tied his record one year earlier. In 1889, Sunday hit .240 in 81 games, with 48 steals and 62 runs scored. He missed about two months of the season (total) with an assortment of minor injuries. When the Player’s League was formed in 1890, Sunday was one of the few players to remain with the Alleghenys. He was one of the top players on a very bad team and hit .257 with 56 steals and 58 runs scored in 87 games before he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in August. There were rumors that he would quit the game and that would affect the trade, but they were dispelled by the Alleghenys, who assured that Sunday would be around in 1891. He did quit the game after the 1890 season, though he didn’t make that decision until March of 1891.
Sunday batted .261 with 28 steals in 31 games after the trade to Philadelphia, giving him 84 stolen bases in his final season in the majors. He was 27 years old at the time. In his eight-year big league career, he hit .248 in 499 games, with 339 runs scored, 12 homers, and 170 RBIs. He stole 246 bases over his last five seasons in the majors. He’s credited with a -2.6 WAR on defense during his career, but all sources from the day praised his defense, so the numbers don’t match to eye test. In particular, the game reports from 1890 (which were mostly from the road teams because the Alleghenys switched home games to road game for financial reasons) spoke highly of his defense throughout the season, yet he’s credited (or discredited might be better) with -0.8 dWAR.
Billy Zitzmann, outfielder for 1919 Pirates. His big league career started with controversy. During his first season in pro ball, Zitzmann batted .360 in 25 games for Jersey City of the Double-A International League in 1918 before joining the Navy during WWI. Since he had played for Jersey City in 1918, they held his rights for the 1919 season, but they failed to offer him a 1919 contract in time and he signed with the Pirates instead. Zitzmann made his debut in the majors with the Pirates on April 27, 1919 and played his last game on May 26th. He hit .192 in 11 games with the Pirates before being sold to Cincinnati Reds on July 3, 1919. He was with the Pirates until mid-June, though he didn’t get into a game over his final three weeks with the team. His actual last game with the club was a June 8th exhibition game against Akron. There was an ongoing dispute between Jersey City and Pittsburgh for his services and it was ruled on June 16th that he couldn’t play for the Pirates. He was assigned to Jersey City, but before being sold to the Reds, he actually retired and got a job in Pittsburgh because Jersey City wouldn’t meet his contract demands. Zitzmann’s actual sale to the Reds happened between Cincinnati and Jersey City, though some sources say it was a deal between the Pirates and Reds.
Zitzmann ended up playing six years in Cincinnati, though he was out of pro ball during the 1920-24 seasons. He played just two games after joining them in 1919, because the Reds sent him back to Jersey City. He spent all of 1920 in Jersey City, hitting .311 with 115 runs scored, 49 extra-base hits and 42 stolen bases in 152 games. In 1921, he batted .277 with 35 extra-base hits in 143 games. In his final season with Jersey City in 1922, he batted .298 with 39 extra-base hits in 139 games. Zitzmann spent the next two season with Newark of the International League. He hit .325 with 39 extra-base hits in 125 games in 1923. The next season saw him bat .359 with 37 doubles, six triples and eight homers in 145 games. The Reds had to purchase him back for $30,000 at that time. He returned to the majors in 1925 and hit .252 in 104 games, with 53 runs scored and 16 extra-base hits. He was a backup outfielder in 1926, hitting .245 in 53 games, while batting just 105 times all season. In 1927, Zitzmann saw a little more playing time and responded by hitting .284 with 47 runs scored and 24 RBIs in 88 games. He had his best season in Cincinnati in 1928 when he hit .297 with 53 runs scored, 33 RBIs and 13 steals in 101 games. He hit the only three homers of his big league career that year. In his final big league year in 1929, he hit just .226 in 46 games, with 18 starts all season. He returned to Newark for the next three seasons, then played in Jersey City again in 1933, before playing his final pro game as a player-manager in Class-D ball in 1937 at 41 years old. In his six seasons in the majors, he batted .267 in 406 games, with 197 runs scored, 89 RBIs and 42 steals. His name was often misspelled throughout his career, with Zitzman and Zitsman being popular errors.
Elmer Tutwiler, pitcher for 1928 Pirates. His pro career lasted from 1925 until 1932, with his last four years spent in the Western League. Tutwiler’s entire big league career consisted of two late season appearances for the 1928 Pirates. While there are no records available, a 1925 article states that he was with Mobile of the Southern Association in 1923 on a trial basis. He played independent ball in 1924 in his home state of Alabama, where he made a name for himself by going 19-5 with a 17-strikeout game, while putting up a .280 batting average. He debuted in pro ball at 20 years old, spending his first two seasons in Class-D ball with Laurel of the Cotton States League. He went 8-6 in 141 innings over 22 games in 1925, posting a 1.12 WHIP. He improved to a 14-11 record in 1926, while throwing 233 innings. He moved up to Class-B in 1927, playing for Pensacola of the Southeastern League. He went 5-7 in 130 innings and had a 1.32 WHIP.
Tutwiler spent the 1928 season with two teams in the Southeastern League, where he had a 10-12 record and pitched a total of 188 innings. He was with a club from Savannah, which dropped out of the league in August, so they sold Tutwiler to the Pirates, who already had interest in the pitcher. He joined the Pirates on August 13th and made his debut with the team on August 20th. He recorded two outs in his debut, while allowing one hit. His only other appearance came 38 days later when he allowed two runs over three innings. He pitched one other time, facing the Boston Red Sox in an exhibition game on September 13th. Tutwiler allowed four runs on six hits in four innings of work that day. On January 14, 1929, he was released outright to Omaha of the Class-A Western League, ending his big league career. He won 16 games and pitched 230 innings for Omaha in 1929, then split the next two seasons between Omaha and St Joseph, which was also part of the Western League. He finished his career with St Joseph in 1932. He was released in June of 1932 due to an arm injury, which appears to have completely ended his playing days. He gained the nickname “King” after people started shortening his last name to “Tut”.
Stu Martin, infielder for the 1941-42 Pirates. He attended Guilford College in North Carolina before signing to play pro ball at 21 years old. It’s a school that has produced 12 Major League players, though only Tony Womack has played in the majors over the last 75 years. Martin took two seasons to make the majors, debuting with the 1936 St Louis Cardinals. He saw time with four different teams over four different levels in 1934, playing everywhere from Class-C up to Double-A. The next season was mostly spent in Class-B ball, playing for Asheville of the Piedmont League, where he hit .332 with 32 extra-base hits in 118 games. He also saw 13 games with Columbus of the Double-A American Association, where he had a .378 average in his brief time. From there it was right to the majors on Opening Day in 1936. He batted .298 with 63 runs scored, 31 extra-base hits and 41 RBIs in 92 games as a rookie, which helped him make the All-Star team for the only time in his career. He also finished second in the National League with a career high 17 stolen bases. His .796 OPS was also a career best. Martin remained in St Louis through 1940, getting a majority of the starts at second base.
Martin had a bit of a sophomore slump in 1937, seeing a 134 point drop in his OPS. He batted .260 in 90 games, with 34 runs scored and 32 walks, though he had just eight extra-base hits. In 1938, he batted .278 in 114 games, with 54 runs scored and a career high 26 doubles. Martin played in a career high 120 games in 1939, when he led all NL second basemen in fielding percentage. He batted .268 and scored a career best 60 runs, while matching his high of 26 doubles, and setting a high with seven triples. In 1940, he saw his average drop to .238 in 112 games, with a .637 OPS. He played more third base this season than anywhere else, but still saw his share of time at second base. The Pirates purchased his contract in December of 1940. Martin played almost exclusively at second base during his time in Pittsburgh, though he saw a lot of time off the bench as well, along with spot opportunities at the other three infield positions. He rebounded with a .305 average in 88 games in 1941, though it still came with low power/walk numbers. It was a one-year rebound, as he posted a .225 average and a .590 OPS in 42 games in 1942. He played his last game with the Pirates on July 5, 1942. He was sent outright to Minneapolis of the American Association on July 9th, ending his time in Pittsburgh. Martin appeared in the majors again with the 1943 Cubs, hitting .220 in 64 games. He served two years in Maritime service during WWII, then finished up his pro career with three seasons in the minors. His final two seasons came as a player-manager in Class-D ball for Roanoke of the Coastal Plain League. In his eight-year big league career, he hit .268 in 722 games, with 322 runs scored, 152 extra-base hits and 182 RBIs. He had more walks (190) than strikeouts (185).
Manny Jimenez, pinch-hitter/left fielder for 1967-68 Pirates. He was born in the Dominican Republic and debuted in pro ball in 1957 at 18 years old, playing three games in the Class-C Central Mexican League. He stayed in Class-C ball in 1958, playing for Eau Claire of the Northern League, where he hit .340 with 31 doubles, 15 homers and 71 RBIs in 105 games. In 1959, Jimenez moved up two levels to Jacksonville of the Class-A South Atlantic League. He batted .288 that year in 128 games, with 30 extra-base hits, 48 RBIs and 46 walks. The 1961 season was split between Double-A Austin of the Texas League, and Triple-A Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League. He hit .313 that season in 121 games, with 77 runs scored, 32 extra-base hits and 48 RBIs. He remained in the PCL with Vancouver in 1961 and hit .325 with 26 doubles, 17 homers and 76 RBIs. He was property of the Milwaukee Braves at the time, who traded him to Kansas City Athletics in December of 1961, which ended up being a big break. During his rookie season in 1962 with the Athletics, Jimenez hit .301 with 48 runs scored, 24 doubles and 69 RBIs in 139 games. All of those stats ended up being his career highs. Despite the success, half of the 1963 season was spent back in the minors. He did well during his big league time, hitting .280 in 60 games, though he ended up with no homers. That’s despite hitting 11 home runs in 1962, and connected on 16 homers in 66 minor league games in 1963. Almost all of 1964 was spent with the A’s, where he hit .225 with 12 homers and 38 RBIs in 95 games. The entire 1965 season was spent in Triple-A, and his big league time in 1966 consisted of just a .114 average in 13 games with the A’s.
Jimenez was acquired by the Pirates in the 1966 minor league draft from the A’s. In 1967, he played just 50 games total, and just four were as a starter, all in left field. He batted .250 with two homers and ten RBIs in 58 plate appearances. During the 1968 season, he batted .303 and had 66 at-bats in 66 games. He started a total of five games that season, all of them in left field. He lasted two full seasons in Pittsburgh before being traded to the Chicago Cubs in January of 1969 in three-player deal, with the Pirates receiving Chuck Hartenstein and Ron Campbell in return. Over his two seasons with the Pirates, Jimenez hit .279 in 116 games. He had just six big league at-bats after being traded by the Pirates, all coming in a pinch-hitting role with the 1969 Cubs. He played a total of seven seasons in the majors, hitting .272 in 429 games, with 90 runs scored, 26 homers and 144 RBIs. He failed to pick up a single stolen base in the majors. In ten minor league seasons, he batted .311 in 818 games. His brother Elvio Jimenez played one game in the majors, getting six at-bats for the New York Yankees on October 4, 1964.
Bobby Tolan, first baseman for 1977 Pirates. He was originally signed out of high school by Pittsburgh in 1963, but didn’t play for the team until 14 years later. He played 13 years in the majors, spending time with five different National League teams. He played his first season at 17 years old with Reno of the Class-A California League, where he batted .271 with 25 extra-base hits and 63 runs scored in 75 games. Tolan debuted in the majors with the St Louis Cardinals in 1965 at 19 years old, two years after they acquired him in December of 1963 in the First Year draft. He was with Double-A Tulsa of the Texas League in 1964. He hit .297 with 46 extra-base hits, 74 runs scored, 68 RBIs and 34 steals in 130 games. In 1964, he moved up to Triple-A Jacksonville of the International League, where he batted .290 in 145 games, with 86 runs scored, 43 extra-base hits and 45 steals. The Cardinals brought him up in September and he hit .188 in 17 games. Tolan split the 1966 season between Tulsa and St Louis. He hit well in his demotion to Double-A, but struggled back in the majors, putting up a .513 OPS in 43 games. He batted .179 over 60 games in his first two seasons combined with the Cardinals, then hit .253 with 35 runs scored, six homers and 32 RBIs in 110 games during the 1967 season. Tolan saw a drop in his stats in 1968, batting .230 with five homers in 92 games, then was dealt to the Cincinnati Reds as part of a deal to acquire Vada Pinson on October 11, 1968.
Tolan flourished immediately with the Reds, batting .305 with 104 runs scored, 25 doubles, ten triples, 21 homers, 93 RBIs and 26 stolen bases in 152 games. The next year he hit .316, with 112 runs scored, 34 doubles, 16 homers, 80 RBIs and a league-leading 57 steals (he also led the league with 20 caught stealing). His .860 OPS was his career high, topping .821 mark he put up in 1969. He finished 16th in the MVP voting. Prior to the 1971 season, Tolan ruptured his Achilles tendon playing basketball, which caused him to miss the entire year. He did well during his return in 1972, but at 26 years old, he had reached his peak. That season saw him bat .283 in 149 games, with 88 runs scored, 41 extra-base hits, 82 RBIs and 42 steals. He finished 20th in the MVP voting that season, and his .720 OPS was his best post-injury mark. In fact, Tolan didn’t put up a positive WAR mark after 1972. He compiled 16.9 WAR by age 26, then finished with -5.9 WAR over his final six seasons.
Tolan batted .206 with 25 extra-base hits, 51 RBIs and 15 stolen bases in 129 games in 1973, then got traded to the San Diego Padres on November 9, 1973. In 1974, he hit .266 with 25 extra-base hits, 40 RBIs and 45 runs scored in 96 games. Tolan mostly played right field in his first season with the Padres, then he moved to left field in 1975, though he also ended up seeing 10+ starts at first base, center field and right field that year. He hit .255 in 147 games, with 58 runs scored, 26 extra-base hits and 43 RBIs. The Padres released Tolan in February of 1976, and then he spent the next 1 1/2 seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies before moving on to the Pirates. He hit .261 in 110 games in 1976, with five homers, 35 RBIs and ten stolen bases. In 1977, he was being used as a pinch-hitter early in the year, starting just one of his 15 games for the Phillies before being released on May 25th. Tolan signed with the Pirates as a free agent 16 days later and he played 49 games over the final 3 1/2 months, hitting .203 with two homers and nine RBIs in 80 plate appearances. After playing in Japan in 1978, Tolan finished his career back with the Padres, where he played his final 22 games. Over 13 seasons, he hit .265 with 572 runs scored, 173 doubles, 86 homers, 497 RBIs and 197 steals in 1,282 big league games.
Jonathan Sanchez, pitcher for the 2013 Pirates. He won 38 games over eight seasons in the majors, including 13 games for the 2010 World Series winning San Francisco Giants. Sanchez was born in Puerto Rico, though he attended college in Ohio (Ohio Dominion), where he was a 27th round draft pick of the Giants in 2004. It took him less than two full years to make the majors, debuting in May of 2006. He made his pro debut with two short-season teams in 2004, going 7-1, 3.72 in 48.1 innings, with 61 strikeouts. In 2005, Sanchez spent the entire year with Augusta of the Low-A South Atlantic League, where he went 5-7, 4.08 in 125.2 innings over 25 starts, with 166 strikeouts. The 2006 season saw him start the year in Double-A and end in the majors. He went 2-1, 1.15 in 31.1 innings with Connecticut of the Eastern League, then moved up to Fresno of the Pacific Coast League, where he had a 3.80 ERA in six starts. Sanchez was mostly used in relief during his first two seasons in the majors, making four starts each year. He made a total of 27 appearances as a rookie, going 3-1, 4.95 in 40 innings. He spent some brief time in the minors in 2007, but a majority of the year was spent in San Francisco, where he went 1-5, 5.88 in 52 innings over 33 appearances.
Sanchez became a full-time starter in 2008 and he went 9-12, 5.01 in 158 innings over 29 starts, with 157 strikeouts. He had an 8-12, 4.24 record in 163.1 innings in 2009, with 177 strikeouts. He also threw his only career shutout that season. That was a good year despite the record, but he had his best season in 2010. Sanchez posted a 13-9 record, with a 3.07 ERA in 193.1 innings. He made four postseason starts and went 0-2, 4.05 in 20 innings. He saw a slip in his results over 19 starts in 2011, going 4-7, 4.26 in 101.1 innings, with 102 strikeouts. Things got worse in 2012 when he split the season between the Kansas City Royals and Colorado Rockies, posting an 8.07 ERA in 15 starts. He signed with the Pirates as a free agent in February of 2013 and he went 0-3, 11.85 in four starts and one relief outing before being released in early May. After being released with the Pirates, he spent time with three other MLB clubs (Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs), never making it out of the minors. He also returned to the Royals Spring Training of 2017. He also played a year of independent ball, a year in Mexico and six years of winter ball in Puerto Rico. He was still active as late as the 2019-20 off-season. In his eight-year career in the majors, he went 39-58, 4.70 in 786.1 innings.