Four former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus two significant trades of interest.
On this date in 1976 the Pittsburgh Pirates traded outfielder Richie Zisk and pitcher Silvio Martinez to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for pitchers Goose Gossage and Terry Forster. Martinez was a minor leaguer at the time while the other three were just one year away from free agency. None of the four players were with their new team by 1978. Despite that fact, the two clubs got big production from the big names in the deal. Zisk hit .290 with 30 homers and 101 RBIs for the White Sox. He was an All-Star and finished 14th in the MVP voting. Gossage pitched 133 innings in relief, posting a 1.62 ERA with 26 saves and 11 wins. In the modern metric called Win Probability Added, his one season in Pittsburgh rates as the best pitching season in team history. We took a closer look at Gossage’s season here. Forster had a 4.43 in 87.1 innings over 33 games (six starts) for the Pirates, while Martinez pitched just ten games with the Sox in 1977, then was traded to the St Louis Cardinals in the off-season. He looked like a rising star by 1979 when he won 15 games as a 23-year-old, but he won just seven more Major League games in his career. The deal basically worked out as a draw for the two teams.
On this date in 1965, the Pirates traded longtime pitcher Bob Friend to the New York Yankees for relief pitcher Pete Mikkelsen and cash. Friend was 35 years old at the time of the trade, and had an 8-12, 3.24 record in 222 innings in 1965. In 15 seasons in Pittsburgh, he won 191 games, which is the fourth highest total in team history. He is the team’s all-time leader in strikeouts, innings pitched and games started, though he also leads in losses, hits, walks and home runs allowed. Mikkelsen was 26 years old at the time of the trade and he had a 3.42 ERA with 13 saves in 91 games for the Yankees. Friend struggled with the Yankees, going 1-4, 4.84 before they sold him to the New York Mets in mid-June. He finished the year with the Mets and was released in October, ending his Major League career. Mikkelsen had a strong first season for the Pirates and was used a lot, going 9-8, 3.07 with 14 saves in 126 relief innings. His 71 appearances that year were a team record until surpassed by Goose Goosage and Kent Tekulve in 1977. Mikkelsen didn’t pitch as well in 1967, posting a 4.31 ERA in 56.1 innings before he was put on waivers by early August, where he was taken by the Chicago Cubs.
Pedro Florimon, infielder for the 2015-16 Pirates. He was originally signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic by the Baltimore Orioles in 2004 at 17 years old. Florimon debuted in the majors with the Orioles in September of 2011, playing four games, so it took some time for him to work his way through the minors. He debuted in pro ball in 2006, playing for two short-season clubs in the U.S., combining to hit .293 with 41 walks and 36 runs scored in 59 games. In 2007, he moved up to Low-A Delmarva of the South Atlantic League for the first of two full seasons. He hit .197 that year in 111 games, with 50 runs scored and 16 steals. In 2008, he batted .223 in 81 games, with 18 doubles and 13 steals. In 2009, Florimon spent most of the year with Frederick of the High-A Carolina League, where he batted .267 in 115 games, with 76 runs, 32 doubles, nine homers and 26 steals. He got a late promotion to Double-A Bowie of the Eastern League and played seven more games. In 2010, he split the season between Frederick and Bowie, posting a .785 OPS at the lower level, while seeing that number drop to .483 in Double-A.
In 2011, Florimon spent the entire minor league season with Bowie. He hit .267 in 133 games, with 53 runs scored, 39 extra-base hits, 60 RBIs and 51 walks. He had 15 steals, but he was also caught 12 times. At the end of the year, he got a late boost to the majors, where he went 1-for-8 with a double, walk and two RBIs in four games. Over the 2011-12 off-season, Florimon was lost on waivers to the Minnesota Twins. The majority of his big league time came in Minnesota, where he batted .205 with ten homers and 55 RBIs in 210 games. Florimon split the 2012 season between Double-A, Triple-A and the majors. He hit .219 in 43 games for the Twins that season. He spent the entire 2013 season in the majors, playing 134 games, in which he batted .221 with 44 runs scored, 17 doubles, nine homers, 44 RBIs and 15 steals. Most of the 2014 season was spent in Triple-A. He hit .092 with one RBI in 33 games for the Twins, though he went 6-for-6 in stolen bases.
In September of 2014, the Washington Nationals picked Florimon up off of waivers, but two months later, the Pirates got him off of waivers from the Nationals, so he never actually played there. He mostly played in the minors while with the Pirates, getting into 171 games for Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League. In the majors, he went 2-for-23 at the plate in 24 games during the 2015 season. He did a little better in 2016, going 5-for-24 in 18 games for the Pirates. Over two seasons, he played 42 games with Pittsburgh and posted a .149 average. During that time he wore four different uniform numbers (17, 18, 23 and 51). He was granted free agency after the 2016 season and played 65 games over two years with the Philadelphia Phillies. During his brief time with the 2017 Phillies (15 games), he put up a .348 average. Florimon has played eight seasons in the majors (2011-18) and hit .211 in 321 games, with 96 runs scored, 12 homers, 73 RBIs and 26 steals. He spent the 2019 season in Triple-A for the Atlanta Braves and then played winter ball in the Dominican. He didn’t sign anywhere during the shortened 2020 season (though he played winter ball), then inked a minor league deal with the San Diego Padres in 2021. He spent the season in Triple-A, and he’s currently playing with ball in the Dominican now. He has played every position except catcher and first base in his big league career, though he only played shortstop and second base with the Pirates, with most of that time at shortstop.
Bob Priddy, pitcher for the Pirates in 1962 and 1964. He was a Pittsburgh, PA. native who signed with the Pirates at 19 years old in 1959. It took him four seasons to make the majors, debuting with the Pirates on September 20, 1962. Priddy played nine years in the majors, seeing time with six different clubs. He debuted in pro ball in 1959 with the San Angelo/Roswell club of the Sophomore League (Class-D), where he went 3-11, 7.01 in 131 innings, with 144 walks and 118 strikeouts. He improved only slightly the next year while making the jump to the Class-B Three-I League with Burlington. He went 9-12, 6.21 in 155 innings, with 156 walks and an impressive 184 strikeouts. Most of 1961 was spent back in Burlington, with a brief stop of five relief appearances a level higher for Asheville of the South Atlantic League. He cut down his walks in Burlington and posted a 2.76 ERA, but in 21.2 innings with Asheville, he had a 9.97 ERA and 23 walks. Despite those struggles in A-Ball, Priddy jumped to Triple-A in 1962 and had a 10-6, 3.13 record, with 93 strikeouts in 92 innings and 56 appearances for Columbus of the International League. That led to his first cup of coffee in the majors.
Priddy had just two appearances after joining the 1962 Pirates in mid-September, throwing three innings, with one run allowed. He struggled with Columbus in 1963, going 5-2, 5.06 in 64 innings over 40 appearances, and didn’t see any big league time. He split the 1964 season fairly evenly between Triple-A and the majors, though he was a starter in the minors and pitched in relief for the Pirates. Priddy made 19 appearances for the Pirates between May 15th and July 13th. He was called up two days before his first appearance and sent back down to the minors on July 15th, two days after his last appearance. Priddy was not called up in September when the rosters expanded. He had a 3.86 ERA in 37.1 innings over 21 appearances in two seasons with the Pirates, before being traded to the San Francisco Giants for All-Star catcher Del Crandall on February 11, 1965. The Pirates also included minor league outfielder Bob Burda in the deal.
Priddy spent most of the 1965 season back with Columbus, but he began and ended the year in the majors with the Giants. He had a 1.74 ERA in 10.1 innings over eight appearances, which helped secure him his first full season in the majors. He went 6-3, 3.96 in 91 innings over 38 appearances (three starts) for the 1966 Giants. Priddy was traded to the Washington Senators in December of 1967. He went 3-7, 3.44 in 1967, with 110 innings pitched over eight starts and 38 relief outings. The Senators dealt him to the Chicago White Sox over the off-season in a six-player deal. His best season came in 1968 when he had a 3.63 ERA in a career high 114 innings (18 starts, 17 relief appearances), though that came with a 3-11 record for an eighth place White Sox squad. Priddy played for three different teams in 1969, starting with the White Sox, who dealt him to the California Angels in May, then they traded him to the Atlanta Braves in September. The latter deal also included Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm going to the Braves. Priddy saw some minor league time in 1969 as well. His big league time amounted to a 4.72 ERA in 34.1 innings over 19 appearances. He would see regular relief work with the Braves over his final two seasons in the majors. He went 5-5, 5.42 with eight saves in 73 innings over 41 appearances in 1970. In 1971, Priddy had a 4-9, 4.22 record in 64 innings over 40 games. He had a 24-38, 4.00 record in 536 innings over nine seasons in the majors, with 29 starts and 18 saves in 249 appearances. He turns 82 years old today.
Stan Gray, first baseman for the 1912 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball in 1909 at 20 years old, playing for Shreveport of the Class-C Texas League and hit .186 in 15 games. I was able to track him down in El Paso in 1910 playing for a semi-pro team. He worked mainly as a pitcher in 1911, going 14-10, while throwing 226.2 innings for San Antonio of the Texas League (switched to Class-B by then). He also had a .315 average that year in 184 at-bats, so he seemed like a potential two-way player. He was a Rule 5 pick by the Pirates in September of 1911, who was assigned to play for Springfield of the Class-B Central League in 1912. The interesting part about his late-season 1912 trial as a first baseman with the Pirates is that he was a .230 hitter in the minors that season, while pitching 192 innings, finishing with an 11-11 record (no ERA available). Despite that fact, he didn’t get a chance to pitch in the majors. He played just six games in the majors, debuting in mid-September of 1912 at 23 years old. He went 5-for-20 with a triple at the plate and handled all 39 chances in the field without an error. He was with the Pirates for two weeks before he got his chance to play after first baseman Dots Miller suffered a hand injury. Prior to starting four straight games (September 28 – October 1), his only playing time was two pinch-hitting appearances.
Gray’s pro career didn’t last long after his time with the Pirates either. He went to Spring Training in 1913 as a pitcher and he got an early start to help his chances of winning a spot, but he developed a sore arm late and pitched poorly. On April 6th, it was announced that he would be shipped to Montreal of the Eastern League. When he left the team on April 9th, he assured the local scribes that he would be back with the Pirates by Spring Training of 1914. He played back in San Antonio in 1913 after developing a sore arm that caused Montreal to part ways with him. He was released by San Antonio in mid-July. After that, his only other known records say that he finished his career in 1915 with a low-level D-League team from El Paso in the Rio Grande Association. He was supposed to play for Dayton of the Central League in 1914, but he spent his time with a semi-pro team from Fort Bayard, NM. He got the nickname “Dolly”, which was part of an odd early baseball ritual of giving players with the same last name the same nickname. Dolly Gray was a Major League pitcher from 1909 until 1911.
Frank Shugart, shortstop for the 1891-93 Pirates. His career in pro ball stretched from 1888 when he was 21 years old, until 1908. He was from Luthersburg, PA., the only Major League player born in that town. He debuted with Elmira of the Central League, then stayed in town as the team played in the New York State League in 1889. That year he hit .295 with 55 runs scored, 15 extra-base hits and 40 steals in 52 games. In 1890, he began the year with Burlington of the Central Interstate League, where he hit .295 in 83 games, with 80 runs scored, 45 extra-base hits and 41 steals. Shugart debuted in the majors in the Player’s League in 1890, where he batted .189 in 29 games with the Chicago Pirates. He began 1891 with Minneapolis of the Western Association, before joining Pittsburgh in July. He hit .336 in 69 games in the minors and his team was said to have a $4,000 price tag for his release at the start of July. The local papers were calling him the finest shortstop ever developed in the league. The two teams finally settled for $5,000 on July 7th according to reports, though a few days later it was said that they “only” paid $2,800 and the initial price was inflated to fool the public. Shugart was signed after Pittsburgh owner J. Palmer O’Neill went to see him play first-hand. He joined the Pirates on July 10th and hit .275 with 30 extra-base hits and 21 steals in 75 games.
In 1892, Shugart played 137 games (134 at shortstop) for the Pirates, batting .267 with 19 doubles, 14 triples, 94 runs scored, 62 RBIs and 28 steals. After his strong 1892 season, Shugart lasted 52 games with the 1893 Pirates before he was traded to the St Louis Browns for veteran shortstop Jack Glasscock. He was hitting .262 with a .670 OPS at the time. Shugart batted .268 with 188 runs scored, 127 RBIs and in 264 games for the Pirates. To finish out the 1893 season, he hit .280 with 41 runs scored and 28 RBIs in 59 games for St Louis In 1894, he hit .292 in 133 games, with 103 runs scored, 19 doubles, 18 triples, seven homers and 72 RBIs. Those are solid numbers, but 1894 was a huge year for offense around baseball due to new rules for pitchers that greatly helped the batters, so it was actually an average season overall. In 1895, Shugart played for the Louisville Colonels and hit .264 in 113 games, with 61 runs scored and 70 RBIs. The entire 1896 season and part of 1897 was spent with St Paul of the Western League. He finished the year with the Philadelphia Phillies and hit .252 with five homers and 25 RBIs in 40 games.
In 1898, Shugart returned to St Paul, where he played the 1898-99 seasons. He joined the Chicago White Sox of the American League in 1900, though the league was considered to be a minor league that year. He hit .284 in 98 games, with 27 extra-base hits. The American League was reclassified as a Major League in 1901 and Shugart stayed with Chicago, where he batted .251 in 107 games, with 62 runs scored, 23 extra-base hits and 47 RBIs. That ended up being his final big league time. He played for San Francisco of the California League in 1902, then returned to the Western League for the 1903-06 seasons, which he spent with five different teams. He finished his playing career at age 41 in 1908 by playing for Rockford of the Class-D Wisconsin-Illinois League, where he posted a .173 average as a player-manager. In his eight-year big league career, he hit .267 in 745 games, with 483 runs scored, 384 RBIs and 131 stolen bases.