Six former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including a Hall of Famer. We also have one trade of note from the 1970 season.
Deacon White, third baseman for the 1889 Alleghenys. He collected the first hit in MLB history, a double, back on May 4, 1871. Despite being a star player before MLB baseball started, and playing much of his career when full seasons were under 100 games, White had 2,067 base hits, 1,140 runs scored and 988 RBIs. He won a batting title in 1875 and 1877, and also won three RBI crowns. He played his final Major League game in 1890 and he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame 123 years later in 2013, though many of his family members were in attendance for the ceremony in Cooperstown. His brother Will White was a star pitcher, who had three 40+ win seasons and he once threw 680 innings in a season. Their cousin Elmer White played one season in the majors as a teammate of Deacon (first name was James), but he sadly passed away at 22 years old prior to the 1872 season.
White debuted with the 1871 Cleveland Forest Citys of the National Association in 1871, already 23 years old before pro baseball leagues existed. After collecting the first hit in Major League history, he played a total of 29 games that season (the team played 29 games total) and hit .322 with 40 runs scored and 21 RBIs. He was a catcher at that time, though he’s more known for his work at third base during his career. Cleveland played a 22-game schedule in 1872 and White played every game, hitting .339 with 21 runs and 22 RBIs. He moved on to the Boston Red Stockings (which is basically the Atlanta Braves now and started as the famed 1869 Cincinnati Reds). White had an outstanding season, leading the league with 60 games played and 77 RBIs (which wasn’t an official stat at the time). He hit .392 that year, with 79 runs scored and 26 extra-base hits. In 1874, he batted .301 with 75 runs and 52 RBIs in 70 games. He won the league batting title in 1875 with a .367 mark in 80 games. He had 76 runs scored, 23 doubles and 60 RBIs.
The National League was formed in 1876 and took over for the National Association. White played for the Chicago White Stockings (Cubs) in 1876 and hit .343 in 66 games, with 66 runs scored and a league leading 60 RBIs. He played for the Boston Red Stockings again in 1877 and had his best season. He led the league with a .387 average, a .545 slugging, a .950 OPS, 103 hits, 11 triples and 49 RBIs, all in 59 games (the team played 61 games that year). In 1878, White moved on to the Cincinnati Reds, where he was teammates with his brother, who started/pitched 52 of the 61 games that year. Deacon White hit .314 that season, with 41 runs and 29 RBIs in 61 games, including plenty of starts at catcher for his brother. In 1879, he hit .330 in 78 games, with 55 runs and 52 RBIs. White retired after the 1879 season, but luckily for his legacy, he decided to return to baseball, otherwise he would not have made the Hall of Fame. His 1880 season started late due to the retirement and he batted .298 in 35 games, breaking a string of nine straight seasons over the .300 mark to begin his career. That season saw him go from primarily a catcher, to playing more games in the outfield that year. He would then take over at third base for the majority of his remaining time. He signed with the Buffalo Bisons in 1881 and stayed there for five seasons.
In 1881, White hit .310 in 78 games, with 58 runs scored and 53 RBIs. His 24 doubles that year were a career high. He followed that up in 1882 by hitting .282 in 83 games, with 51 runs scored and 33 RBIs. He played 94 games in 1883 and hit .292 with 62 runs scored and 47 RBIs. White broke the century mark in games played for the first time in 1884. That year he hit .325 in 110 games and set a career high with 82 runs scored, while also adding 74 RBIs. In 1885, he batted .292 in 98 games, with 54 runs scored and 57 RBIs. White was purchased by the Detroit Wolverines before the 1886 season and hit .289 in 124 games that year, with 65 runs scored and 76 RBIs. Detroit won the National League title in 1887 and he helped out by batting .303 in 111 games, with 71 runs scored, 20 doubles, 11 triples and 75 RBIs. In his last season with the Wolverines in 1888, he batted .298 in a career high 125 games, with 75 runs scored and 71 RBIs. After the season, Detroit folded and sold players off. First White was sent to the Boston Beaneaters, but he was later transferred to the Pittsburgh Alleghenys when it was said that Boston no longer wanted to pay the fee for his services.
White had a rocky start with the Alleghenys, as his sale was disputed for most of the off-season and into the season. He disputed the reserve rule that said that a team still existed until all of its players were sold off. He believed that he should be able to sign where he wanted to because the team no longer existed, and he desired to play for Buffalo of the International League in 1889. All off-season and part of the regular season, Pittsburgh fans were unsure if the Deacon was going to play for the team. He was managing in Buffalo to start the season, but finally gave in to join the Alleghenys on June 27th after Detroit offered to give him a share of the money (reported as $1,250) they were paid for his release by Pittsburgh. It was said that he was willing to make the change at that point because Buffalo was losing too much. White also agreed that he would get the pro-rated amount of his $3,500 salary. Everything seeming to be in place as he traveled to Pittsburgh the next day, but he left town on June 30th and headed home without signing. Despite that setback, White agreed to join the Alleghenys in New York for the July 8th opener against the Giants. Pittsburgh was 26-31 at the time and they went 35-40 (with two ties) after he signed. In the 19th year of his 20-year career, White hit .253 with 26 RBIs in 55 games for the Alleghenys.
After the 1889 season, White left to play for Buffalo, which was now part of the newly-formed Player’s League, which got many star players and didn’t adhere to the reserve rule. That ended up being his final season, though he was already 42 years old at that time, the oldest active player in the majors. He hit .260 that season with 62 runs scored, 67 walks and 47 RBIs in 122 games. He managed briefly during his career in two seasons (1872 and 1879), going 9-11 in those games. He was a player-manager briefly for Elmira of the New York-Penn League in 1891 before his baseball career ended. White hit .312 in 1,560 games, with 1,140 runs, 270 doubles, 98 triples, 988 runs and 221 strikeouts in 6,973 plate appearances.
Roscoe Miller, pitcher for the 1904 Pirates. He played pro ball from 1896 until 1909, spending four of those seasons in the majors. The available stats for him from his first four seasons of pro ball are very light. He pitched for two teams in the Class-B Southern Association at 19 years old in 1896. The next three years were spent with Mansfield of the Class-B Interstate League, where almost nothing is available, though it’s known that he won 23 games in 1898. Miller made his big league debut with the 1901 Detroit Tigers at 24 years old in the first year of the American League as a Major League. The league existed in 1900, but as a minor league, and Miller had a 19-9 record that season in 241 innings. He saw a lot of work as a rookie in 1901, and he was very successful, going 23-13, 2.95 in 332 innings, with 36 starts and 35 complete games. The 1902 season didn’t go as well and he jumped teams mid-season, going from the Tigers to the New York Giants. Players jumped leagues often back then, but usually during the off-season, as the two leagues battled for the best players. Miller went 6-12, 3.69 in 148.2 innings for the Tigers, then had a 1-8, 4.58 record in 72.2 innings for the Giants. He saw limited work for New York in 1903 and got released late in the season, finishing 2-5, 4.13 in 85 innings.
The Pirates actually signed Miller while the first World Series was being played on October 4, 1903 (travel day between games three and four), though he wasn’t an eligible player for the series. He started the second game of the season for the 1904 Pirates, and by the 29th game of the year, he already had starts against all seven opposing National League teams, going 4-4 during that stretch (two starts versus Philadelphia) with two shutouts. He was seeing regular use through July 8th in 1904, but he pitched just three times after that date. The Pirates released him unconditionally on August 27th. He was at home in Cleveland at the time nursing a sore arm suffered during his last appearance on August 3rd. In his only season in Pittsburgh, he went 7-7, 3.35 in 134.1 innings. He made 17 starts and two relief appearances. Miller spent the 1905 season in the Pacific Coast League, seeing time with San Francisco and Seattle, combining for a 19-26 record. He was signed by the Cleveland Naps in late 1906, but never played for them, remaining in the minors for his final five seasons of pro ball. That year he went 28-15 for Des Moines of the Class-A Western League, where he also played in 1907. His final two seasons (1908-09) were split between three different teams in California League. In his four-year big league career, Miller went 39-45, 3.45 in 772.2 innings, with 88 starts, 74 complete games and six shutouts.
Mike Wilson, catcher for the 1921 Pirates. His big league career consisted of five games for the 1921 Pirates, all of them off of the bench. He caught in each game and went 0-for-4 at the plate. The Pirates were his first team in pro ball. His next seven seasons were spent in the minors before he retired from baseball. Wilson is credited with playing ball at three different colleges before his big league debut at 24 years old. He was called the “Lehigh star athlete” when it was announced that he signed with the Pirates on January 27, 1921. Besides catching for the baseball team, he also played for the football team. He gained semi-pro baseball experience playing for Bethlehem of the Bethlehem Steel League in 1920, a small industrial league team run by the Bethlehem Steel company. He was with the Pirates during Spring Training in 1921 and made the Opening Day roster in early April, but he didn’t play his first game until June 4th. Wilson was with the Pirates during Spring Training of 1922 and was still there for Opening Day, but he was given his unconditional release on April 22nd so he could pursue a bigger role elsewhere, even if it was in the minors. He was reportedly headed to Rochester of the International League because he wanted to play for manager George Stallings, but didn’t play for that team until 1927, which was Stallings’ last year with the team.
Wilson moved around a lot after leaving the Pirates. He played for two teams in 1922, seeing time with Newark of the Double-A International League and Des Moines of the Class-A Western League, where he hit .216 with nine doubles in 45 games. He played for Pittsfield of the Class-A Eastern League in 1923 and batted .299 with 27 extra-base hits in 125 games. He remained in the Eastern League in 1924, though he split the season between New Haven and Bridgeport, playing a total of 132 games. He played for a short time with Scranton of the Class-B New York-Penn League in 1925, but an injury in late June ended his season early (this season is missing from his online stats). In 1926, Wilson played for Newark again, while also seeing time all the way down in Class-D Ball with Salisbury of the Eastern Shore League, where he hit .390 in 35 games. He played for the aforementioned Rochester in 1927, as well as seeing time with Salisbury (where he hit .370) and Williamsport of the New York-Penn League. His final season in 1928 was split between Williamsport and Wilkes-Barre of the same league. Wilson went by “Mike” in pro ball, but his actual name was Samuel Marshall Wilson, and the nickname appears to have come from an athlete from his area with the name Mike Wilson, who had some fame during the same time Samuel Wilson was entering college. Giving players with the same last name the same nickname was a very common practice during this era. The Pirates’ Wilson played pro football during the 1922-24 seasons, getting into 17 NFL games with Rochester (1922) and Rock Island (1923-24). Later in life he became the head of NFL officials. A story from Spring Training in 1921 said that he also excelled in boxing and basketball, and he spent time as a member of the Marines during the war.
Johnny Welch, pitcher for the 1936 Pirates. He finished his nine-year big league career with one season for the Pirates. Welch had two double-digit win seasons with the Boston Red Sox (1934-35), but he finished with just 35 big league wins. He played a total of 14 seasons in pro ball, yet he was done with his career by age 30. Welch debuted at 17 years old in 1924 and managed to get in two games in one of the best minor leagues, playing for Buffalo of the International League. He spent the rest of the year with Utica/Oneonta of the New York-Penn League, where he went 3-4 in 16 games and threw 62 innings. After winning 17 games (with 12 losses) and throwing 269 innings for Ottumwa of the Class-D Mississippi Valley League in 1925, Welch debuted in the majors in 1926 with the Chicago Cubs. Despite being healthy, and with the team for the entire 1926-27 seasons, he pitched a total of four games, all in relief. After some early season games in 1928 with the Cubs, he went to the minors and didn’t return until 1931. Welch went from pitching 5.1 innings total in two seasons, to going 14-10, 4.30 in 182 innings for Reading of the Double-A International League in 1928. He saw similar work and results over the next three seasons with Reading, averaging 182 innings per year, while compiling a 31-39 record. His 1931 season was easily his best, finishing 15-11, 3.79 in 202 innings, which led to him rejoining the Cubs in late August. Over the last five weeks of the season, he went 2-1, 3.74 in 33.2 innings. He finished with just seven strikeouts.
Welch moved on to the Boston Red Sox in 1932 and put in 4 1/2 seasons there, posting a 4.66 ERA in 583.1 innings. He gained some notoriety for being the final remaining player on the Red Sox from before new owner Tom Yawkey took over after the 1932 season. Welch opened the 1932 season with Newark of the International League, before the Red Sox acquired him on July 22nd. Over the final two months, he went 4-6, 5.23 in 72.1 innings over eight starts and 12 relief outings. In 1933, he had a 4-9, 4.60 record in 129 innings, with seven starts and 40 relief appearances. The 1934 season was his best as far as workload in the majors. Welch went 13-15, 4.49 in 206.1 innings, with 22 starts and 19 relief appearances. The 1935 season saw him go 10-9, 4.47 in 143 innings, with 19 starts and 12 relief appearances. He made three starts in April of 1936, and only one went well for him, though he had a relief outing in the middle that consisted of 7.2 shutout innings. He switched to relief in May and that went poorly, with eight runs in 3.2 innings over five outings.
The Pirates acquired Welch off waivers on June 4th and he pitched sporadically the rest of the way, with just one appearance after July 29th. At the time of his pick-up, Welch was working out with the St Louis Cardinals, waiting for the Red Sox to sell him elsewhere. His first outing with Pittsburgh was a start in which the Pirates won 7-5, but he allowed four runs in four innings of work. In his second appearance with the Pirates, his wild pitch led to a walk-off win for the New York Giants. He had one relief appearances that saw him throw 6.2 shutout innings. He posted a 4.50 ERA in 22 innings with the Pirates. After the season, he was sold to the Chicago White Sox. Welch never pitched in the majors again. He finished his career in the minors in 1937, going 12-19, 4.97 in 220 innings for Indianapolis of the Double-A American Association. In nine big league seasons, he went 35-41, 4.66 in 684.1 innings, with 63 starts and 109 relief appearances.
Andre Rodgers, infielder for the 1965-67 Pirates. He was the first player born in the Bahamas who made it to the majors. He was originally signed by the New York Giants in 1954 at 19 years old. He debuted in the majors in April of 1957 with the Giants, then made the move cross country with the team to San Francisco for another three seasons. He debuted in pro ball in the Class-D Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York League, where he hit .286 with 92 runs scored, 36 extra-base hits, 85 RBIs and 94 walks in 125 games. In 1955, he moved up to St Cloud of the Class-C Northern League and put on a show. Rodgers hit .387 in 123 games, with 133 runs scored, 28 doubles, 28 homers, 111 RBIs and 84 walks. That performance led to him jumping up three levels to Dallas of the Texas League in 1956, where he batted .266, with 84 runs scored, 23 doubles, 22 homers, 90 RBIs and 98 runs scored in 148 games. From there it was to Minneapolis of the Triple-A American Association in 1957, where he had a .663 OPS in 52 games. He debuted that season with the Giants and hit .244 with three homers in 32 games.
Rodgers spent most of 1958 in Triple-A, playing for Phoenix of the Pacific Coast League, where he hit his way back to the majors by putting up a .354 average, with 43 doubles and 31 homers in 122 games. He played 22 games for San Francisco that season, batting .206 with two homers and 11 RBIs. After posting a 1.148 OPS for Phoenix and playing 22 big league games in 1958, Rodgers had a .728 OPS for Phoenix in 1959 and ended up playing 71 big league games, where he actually slightly improved to a .733 OPS, thanks to a .250 average with 19 extra-base hits and 32 walks. He finally spent a full season in the majors in 1960 and hit .244 in 81 games, with two homers, 22 runs and 22 RBIs. Right after the 1960 season, Rodgers was traded to the Milwaukee Braves. Right before the 1961 season, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs, so he never got a chance in Milwaukee. Rodgers spent four seasons in Chicago and saw the majority of his big league time during the 1962-64 campaigns, playing nearly half of his career big league games in those three seasons. In 1962, he was given the shortstop job, while Ernie Banks was over at first base. Rodgers hit .278 with 33 extra-base hits, 40 runs scored, 44 RBIs and 44 walks in 138 games in his first year in Chicago. In 1963, he hit just .229 in 150 games, though he had a decent OBP due to 65 walks, to go along with 51 runs scored. He batted .239 in 129 games in 1964, belting a career high of 12 homers, which he never approached in any other season.
The Pirates acquired him on December 9, 1964 for minor league infielder Roberto Pena and cash. He saw most of his playing time with the Pirates in 1965 and responded by hitting .287 in 75 games, making 41 starts. He saw almost exclusively bench time in 1966-67, getting a total of just 110 at-bats in 83 games. He started eight games in 1966 and nine games in 1967. Despite that low total of games in 1967, he made starts at all four infield spots that year. His work was mostly pinch-hitting that year, as he played a total of 100 innings on defense all season. Rodgers spent the 1968 season at Triple-A (Columbus of the International League) for the Pirates, then finished his pro career in Japan in 1969. In three seasons in Pittsburgh, he saw time at five different positions and hit .257 with 33 runs scored and 31 RBIs in 158 games. He was a .249 hitter over 11 big league seasons, with 268 runs, 45 homers and 245 RBIs in 854 games.
Wyatt Toregas, catcher for the 2011 Pirates. His big league career consisted of 19 games for the 2009 Cleveland Indians and three games for the 2011 Pirates. The Indians drafted Toregas in the 24th round out of Virginia Tech in 2004 and signed him nine days later. He debuted that season with Mahoning Valley of the short-season New York-Penn League, where he hit .294 with seven homers and 48 RBIs in 59 games. In 2005, he played for Lake County of the Low-A South Atlantic League. He batted .231 with 22 doubles and five homers in 104 games, showing a 201-point drop in his OPS over the previous season. In 2006, Toregas moved up to High-A (Kinston of the Carolina League), where he had a .336 average and a .931 OPS in 44 games, which led to a mid-season promotion to Double-A (Akron of the Eastern League). He batted .258 with ten doubles and four homers in 48 games with Akron, then played winter ball in the Dominican and hit .320 in 16 games. Toregas spent all of 2007 with Akron, putting up a .250 average, 16 doubles, six homers and 39 RBIs in 86 games. The 2008 season was split between Akron and Triple-A Buffalo of the International League, with vastly different results. He hit .296 with 12 homers and 35 RBIs in 47 games with Akron, and .219 with two homers in 50 games with Buffalo, with a 335-point difference between the two spots in OPS.
In 2009, Toregas began the year in Triple-A (Columbus of the International League), batting .284 with ten doubles, seven homers and 29 RBIs in 60 games. He debuted in the majors on August 1, 2009, and he remained with the club through the end of the season on October 4th. He hit .176 with six RBIs in 19 games, getting 17 starts behind the plate. After failing to win a job out of Spring Training, Toregas was designated for assignment in April and spent 2010 in the minors for the Indians, playing at three different levels. After the season, he signed as a minor league free agent with the Pirates on January 18, 2011. Toregas joined the Pirates in June and played three straight games (June 10-12). His total stay with the Pirates was four days, getting called up on the 9th and he was designated for assignment on the 13th. The Pirates were dealing with catching injuries that year and they ended up using eight different starters behind the plate that season, including one start for Toregas. He went 0-for-4 at the plate in Pittsburgh. He barely played in the minors that season, hitting .133 in 22 games for Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League. Toregas re-signed with the Pirates in both 2012 and 2013, though he was a player-coach those years and didn’t actually play any games. He managed for five seasons (2015-19) in the minors for the Pirates, working his way from Morgantown to Bradenton. He was a manager in the minors with the Atlanta Braves for part of the 2021 season.
On this date in 1970, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Kansas City Royals completed a six-player trade with Bruce Dal Canton, Jerry May and Freddie Patek going to the Royals and Jim Campanis, Jackie Hernandez and Bob Johnson coming back to Pittsburgh. Patek was by far the best player involved in the trade, but Johnson and Hernandez both contributed to the 1971 World Series title. Patek played three years for the Pirates with decent overall results (3.1 WAR total), but he really broke out with the Royals, making three All-Star teams over nine years, while accumulating 20.5 WAR. Dal Canton spent five years in Kansas City, with one big season (1974) accounting for much of his value. May was a backup for three seasons after the deal, playing a total of 139 big league games. The three combined had 26.4 WAR in 17 seasons with the Royals
The Pirates did not get anything close to that WAR total from their three players, though the fourth World Series title more than made up for that fact. Johnson was a solid starter-turned-bullpen arm during his time in Pittsburgh. He went 9-10, 3.45 in 174.2 innings in 1971, then he out-pitched Juan Marichal in game three of the NLCS. Johnson actually had 4.5 WAR for the 1970 Royals, so the Pirates were banking on him being a bigger contributor. His Pirates WAR total was just 2.9 over three seasons, but he was still a solid contributor all three years. Hernandez has his best year with the Pirates in 1971 due to his defensive contributions. However, he was -0.9 WAR over three seasons due to very poor offense in Pittsburgh (.537 OPS in 214 games). Campanis pinch-hit six times for the Pirates and that’s it. It was a bad trade that still managed to work out fine.