Six former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus two trades of note.
On this date in 1963 the Pirates traded pitcher Harvey Haddix to the Orioles in exchange for minor league shortstop Dick Yencha and cash. Haddix was 38 years old at the time of the trade and had been moved to the bullpen for the first time in his career in 1963. He had a career 128-106 record at that point. In five seasons with the Pirates he went 45-38, 3.73 in 100 starts and 66 relief appearances. Yencha never played in the majors, while Haddix pitched 73 games over two seasons for the Orioles, all in relief, going 8-7, 2.63 in 123 innings, with ten saves. Most of his work came during the 1964 season. He retired as a player following the 1965 season and years later returned to the Pirates as a pitching coach.
On this date in 1998 the Pittsburgh Pirates traded pitcher Jon Lieber to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for outfielder Brant Brown. Lieber started his career with the Pirates in 1994 and went 38-47, 4.36 in 151 games, 104 as a starter. Brown played just one season in Pittsburgh. He played a career high 130 games, hitting 16 homers with 58 RBIs, but he batted just .232 and struck out 114 times while taking just 22 walks. He was traded to the Florida Marlins after the season ended for outfielder Bruce Aven, who lasted just four months with the Pirates. Lieber played four seasons in Chicago, having marginal success his first two years, but breaking out in 2001 when he went 20-6, 3.80 and finished third in the Cy Young voting. He injured his arm during the 2002 season and missed all of 2003 due to Tommy John surgery. Lieber finished his career in 2008 with a 131-128 record, going 93-81 after he left Pittsburgh.
Adam Frazier, second baseman for the 2016-21 Pirates. He was drafted by the Pirates in the sixth round in 2013 out of Mississippi State. He was mostly a shortstop during his first three seasons in the minors, but he switched to a utility role in 2016, then eventually settled into the second base spot with the Pirates. In 2013, he reported to Jamestown of the New York-Penn League after signing. He batted .321 in 58 games, with a .761 OPS. In 2014, he skipped a level to Bradenton of the High-A Florida State League, where he hit .252 in 121 games, with 62 runs scored, 21 doubles and 14 steals. In 2015, he played at Altoona of the Double-A Eastern League. Frazier batted .324 in 103 games, with 59 runs scored and 27 extra-base hits. He went to the Arizona Fall League after the season, but left after seven games to play for Team USA in an international competition. In 2016, he started the year with Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League, where he hit .333 in 68 games. He had 17 steals, but he was caught 15 times. He joined the Pirates in late June and hit .301 in 66 games, with a .767 OPS. In 2017, Frazier hit .276 in 121 games for the Pirates, with 32 extra-base hits, 55 runs scored and 53 RBIs. He struggled for a time in 2018 and ended up back in Indianapolis for 32 games, ten did well when he returned. He finished with a .277 average that season in 113 games, with 52 runs scored, 23 doubles, ten homers and 35 RBIs. In 2019, he hit .278 in 152 games, with 33 doubles, seven triples, ten homers, 80 runs scored and 50 RBIs.
During the shortened 2020 season, Frazier hit just .230 in 58 games, with 22 runs scored, seven doubles, seven homers and 23 RBIs. He was named as a Gold Glove finalist that season. He hit .324 in 98 games for the 2021 Pirates, with 58 runs scored, 28 doubles and 32 RBIs. He was traded to the San Diego Padres on July 26th for three prospects. Frazier batted .267 in 58 games after the trade, with one homer, 11 RBIs and a .662 OPS. With one season left before free agency, the Padres traded him to the Seattle Mariners in November of 2021. Through the 2021 season, he has a .281 big league average in 665 games, with 313 runs scored, 127 doubles, 40 homers and 215 RBIs. He has finished second in fielding percentage for National League second basemen in each of the last three seasons (2019-21).
Jeff Robinson, pitcher for the 1992 Pirates. His birthday is one day after pitcher Jeff Robinson, who was with the Pirates from 1987 until 1989 (covered in yesterday’s This Date article). This Jeff Robinson got his pro career started when he was a third round pick of the Detroit Tigers in the 1983 draft out of Azusa Pacific University. He had already been drafted twice without signing, once with the Toronto Blue Jays in the 17th round in 1979 out of high school, then the San Diego Padres took him in the 40th round in 1980. He debuted in pro ball with Lakeland of the Class-A Florida State League, where he went 2-5, 5.94 in 50 innings over ten starts and a relief outing. In 1984, Robinson made ten starts for Lakeland and 19 for Birmingham of the Double-A Southern League. He combined to go 8-9, 4.23 in 174.2 inning, with better results at the lower level. In 1985, he played the entire season for Birmingham, going 4-8, 5.09 in 115 innings over 22 starts. He was promoted to Triple-A Nashville of the American Association in 1986 and had a 10-7, 4.38 record in 150 innings over 24 starts. He made the Opening Day roster of the Tigers in 1987 without any previous experience.
Robinson saw a lot of time during that rookie season, making 21 starts and eight relief appearances. Despite putting up a 5.37 ERA in 127.1 innings, he compiled a 9-6 record. His ERA matched his win/loss record much better in his second season when he went 13-6, 2.98 in 172 innings over 23 starts and one relief outing. He threw six complete games and recorded two shutouts. That success lasted just one year. His ERA dropped to 4.73 over 16 starts in 1989 when he made three trips to the disabled list and also had a four-game stint on rehab with Lakeland. Robinson was healthy for the first five months in 1990 and put up a 10-9, 5.96 record in 145 innings over 27 starts. He was traded the Baltimore Orioles in January of 1991 and had a 5.18 ERA there in 104.1 innings over 19 starts and two relief games. He was released after the season and signed with the Texas Rangers as a free agent in January of 1992. Before joining the Pirates that season, he had a 5.76 ERA in 45.2 innings for the Rangers. The Pirates took Robinson off of waivers from the Rangers in June of 1992. He made seven starts and a relief appearance in Pittsburgh, going 3-1, 4.46 in 36.1 innings before the Pirates released him in late July, in a move that ended his Major League career. He finished the season in Triple-A for the Detroit Tigers, then retired after the season. In his six-year career, he went 47-40, 4.79 in 708.2 innings over 117 starts and 24 relief appearances.
Jerry May, catcher for the Pirates from 1964 to 1970. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Pirates in 1961 at 17 years old. He debuted that year with Kingsport of the Class-D Appalachian League, where he hit .328 in 61 games, with 16 doubles, 11 homers and 59 RBIs. The next season May played for Batavia of the Class-D New York-Penn League. He hit .284 in 104 games, with 21 doubles, 21 homers, 89 RBIs and 70 runs scored. In 1963, he moved up to Asheville of the Double-A South Atlantic League, where he hit .236 in 123 games, with 23 doubles, 41 RBIs and 46 walks. Asheville moved to the Double-A Southern League in 1964, and he hit .249 in 113 games, with 21 extra-base hits and 50 walks. May made his Major League debut in September of 1964. Despite debuting on September 19th, the Pirates got him into 11 games, in which he went 8-for-31 with eight singles and three walks. May had a similar minor league season while moving up to Columbus in 1965. He had a .257 average and a .694 OPS in 101 games, then joined the Pirates for his second September stint, this time playing just four games.
May was with the Pirates for the entire 1966 season, though he saw sporadic use and didn’t get his first start until the 32nd game of the season. He ended up batting .250 with a homer and two RBIs in 56 plate appearances. He played just 57 games total with Pittsburgh during his first three seasons in the majors, but that changed the next year. He earned the starting catcher job in 1967 and played 110 games, hitting .271 with 18 extra-base hits, 22 RBIs, 36 walks and a .993 fielding percentage. The following season he played a career high 137 games, but managed to hit just .219 with 33 RBIs in 416 at-bats. His OPS dropped 135 points that season, down from his .699 mark in 1967. Manny Sanguillen took over the regular catching duties of the Pirates in 1969, with May returning to the backup role for two more seasons before he was traded to the Kansas City Royals in December 1970, as part of a six-player deal. He batted .232 in 62 games in 1969, with seven homers, which was nearly half of his big league total over ten seasons. In his last season in Pittsburgh, he hit .209 in 51 games. His replacement in the backup role for the Pirates in 1971 was Milt May, who was not related. Jerry May hit .237 with 100 RBIs in 417 games in Pittsburgh.
May played 71 games for the 1971 Royals, hitting .252 with 16 extra-base hits and 24 RBIs. In 1972, he hit just .190 in 53 games, with a .553 OPS. He stayed with the Royals through May of 1973 when he was purchased by the New York Mets. He was released after two months in New York, then returned to Pittsburgh 20 days later. He hit .222 in 27 games at Triple-A. Between stops with the Royals and Mets, he hit .158 in 15 games. The Pirates sold him to the Minnesota Twins in the off-season, but he never played again. In 556 big league games, May hit .234 with 120 runs scored, 63 doubles, 15 homers and 130 RBIs. He had just one big league steal in three attempts.
Paul LaPalme, pitcher for the Pirates from 1951 to 1954. He debuted in pro ball at 17 years old in 1941. LaPalme played that first season for Bristol of the Class-D Appalachian League, where he went 10-4, 4.50 in 116 innings. In 1942 he played for Erie of the Class-C Middle Atlantic League, where he went 12-11, 3.27 in 190 innings. By 1943, he had joined in the WWII efforts and was out of baseball for three years. He returned to the Giants system in 1946 and put together a 20-2, 3.16 record in 191 innings, with 181 strikeouts, while pitching back in Bristol. In 1947 LaPalme split the season between Class-B Trenton of the Interstate League and Class-A Jacksonville of the South Atlantic League. He had a 2.76 ERA in 114 innings with Trenton, and a 5.77 ERA in 53 innings with Jacksonville. The entire 1948 season was spent with Trenton, where he went 13-8, 3.00 in 159 innings. The Braves took him from the New York Giants in the minor league draft after the season, one year before the Pirates got him from the Braves in December of 1949 during the same minor league draft. The Pirates acquired him after he went 14-13, 2.90 in 211 innings with Hartford of the Class-A Eastern League.
In his first season with the Pirates, LaPalme went 10-7, 3.00 in 111 innings over 40 appearances, while splitting the season between Double-A New Orleans of the Southern Association and Triple-A Indianapolis of the American Association. He began the 1951 season back with Indianapolis, but on May 22nd he was called up to the majors for the first time. The Pirates had to send outfielder Ted Beard and injured pitcher Bill Pierro to Indianapolis in exchange for LaPalme. While with the Pirates that season, he was being used as both a starter and a reliever, though he received sporadic work and he was even sent to the minors for a short time in August/September, before rejoining the club for two late season relief appearances. The Pirates were bad that year and in LaPalme’s 22 appearances they had a 2-20 record. He went 1-2, 6.29 in 54.1 innings. During his second trip to the minors, the Pirates had him change his delivery to help his effectiveness and it apparently worked for a short time. The next year he was used out of the big league bullpen and did better, posting a 3.92 ERA in 31 games. However, he was sent to Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League on August 10th and finished the season there. At the time, general manager Branch Rickey said he was making room for rookies he planned to call up.
LaPalme pitched a career high 176 innings in 1953, although his ERA of 4.59 was well below the average of the rest of the pitchers. He went 8-16 for a Pirates team that won just 50 games that year. He struggled in 1954, going 4-10, 5.54 in 120.2 innings, making 15 starts and 18 relief appearances. After the 1954 season the Pirates traded him to the St Louis Cardinals for pitcher Ben Wade and cash. LaPalme had a 2.75 ERA in 91.2 innings over 56 appearances with the Cardinals in 1955, then he was traded early in 1956 after allowing six runs over 2/3 of an inning in his only appearance. He pitched for a short time with the Cincinnati Reds, posting a 4.67 ERA in 27 innings, then spent the rest of 1956 and all of 1957 with the Chicago White Sox. LaPalme went 3-1, 2.36 in 45.2 innings over 29 appearances with the 1956 White Sox, then had a 3.35 ERA in 40.1 innings over 35 games in 1957. He finished his pro career with two seasons in the minors. Over seven big league seasons, he was 24-45, 4.42 in 616.1 innings over 51 starts and 202 relief appearances. He won 106 games during his minor league career.
Charlie Hargreaves, catcher for the Pirates from 1928 to 1930. He didn’t debut in pro ball until he was 24 years old in 1921. It took him two seasons to reach the majors with the Brooklyn Dodgers (then called the Robins). In 1921 he split his season between Pittsfield of the Class-A Eastern League (83 games) and Rochester of the Double-A International League (11 games). He batted .277 with Pittsfield, with 13 doubles and a triple. In 1922, Hargreaves spent the entire season with Pittsfield, where he hit .302 in 140 games, with 22 doubles, three triples and a home run. By Opening Day in 1923, he was in the majors with Brooklyn as a backup. He played just 20 games that season as the third catcher behind a platoon of two starters (Zack Taylor and Hank DeBerry) who split the time fairly evenly. Hargreaves batted .281 in 57 at-bats. In 1924, he was once again the third catcher behind the same platoon, this time playing just 15 games. He managed to hit .407 in his limited time. In 1925, the same situation saw him get some extra playing time, though he batted just 90 times in 45 games. Hargreaves batted .277 with 13 RBIs. In 1926, he moved up to the second spot, as Mickey O’Neill became the starter and Hank DeBerry saw the third most time. Hargreaves played 85 games, hitting .250 with 13 doubles, two homers and 23 RBIs. He was back in the third slot again in 1927, hitting .286 in 46 games, with DeBerry seeing the most time.
The Pirates acquired Hargreaves in May of 1928 from the Dodgers in exchange for their longtime catcher Johnny Gooch and 37-year-old veteran 1B/OF Joe Harris. Hargreaves was 31 years old at the time and had played just 231 games over six seasons in Brooklyn. He was hitting .197 over 20 games at the time of the trade. With the Pirates in 1928, he got into 79 games and hit .285 with 32 RBIs, but struggled defensively, leading National League catchers in errors and allowing the third most stolen bases in the league. He played a career high 102 games the following season, hitting .268 with 44 RBIs, which was also a career high. Modern defensive metrics credit him with 0.5 dWAR in 1929, though he offense was below average for the league (1929 saw a spike in offense around baseball), so his overall WAR was -0.4 for the season. In 1930 the Pirates went with a young catcher named Rollie Hemsley and Hargreaves played just 11 games before being sold outright to Buffalo of the International League on June 11th. He remained in the minors until his retirement in 1934, spending most of that time with the Newark Bears of the International League. He briefly managed in the minors in 1949. With the Pirates he hit .273 with two homers and 78 RBIs in 192 games. He made 178 starts behind the plate in 2+ years with the Pirates, while he received 137 starts with Brooklyn in 5+ seasons. In his big league career, he hit .270 in 423 games, with 96 runs, four homers and 139 RBIs.
Every one of Hargreaves homers in the majors had a Hall of Fame connection. The first one drove in Rabbit Maranville. The second came off of Eppa Rixey. The third was a grand slam for the Pirates on June 17, 1928 that scored Paul Waner and Pie Traynor. His fourth and final homer was off of Carl Hubbell.
Ren Wylie, outfielder for the 1882 Alleghenys. On August 11, 1882 Pittsburgh was at home taking on the Baltimore Orioles and lost 1-0, dropping their record to 21-27. Back when teams carried just a few extra players (the Alleghenys used 20 players all season in 1882), they had three players injured that day and needed to go the local route for a fill-in. On August 10th, they used pitcher Harry Salisbury in center field and he went 0-for-4 with an error. A 20-year-old named Ren Wylie was in center field the next day and he went 0-for-3 at the plate. He didn’t make any catches, but he did throw out a runner. The only thing written about him in the local papers the following day was that he was an East End amateur. The East End team in Pittsburgh was a strong amateur club at the time and numerous future Alleghenys/Pirates saw time with the team over the years. The Pittsburgh Daily Post called him “Patton” and said that he was a young amateur who played center in place of an injured John Driscoll. Somewhat confusing to that fact is that there was a young center fielder named Patton, who was a local amateur at that time in the Pittsburgh area, but research has determined that it was Wylie who played that day.
On August 12th, the Alleghenys got Chappy Lane back from injury and he started in center field. Pittsburgh went on a ten-game road trip after an off-day and Wylie stayed in Pittsburgh, ending his time with the club. Minor league records from back then are spotty and there is no other known pro experience for Wylie. Not much is known about his baseball experience, but he lived out a long life in the Pittsburgh area, passing away in 1951, the last player from that first Pittsburgh team to pass away. He was involved in politics for a time, was a bank president and he was an insurance/real estate salesman. He is buried in Pittsburgh. He attended Geneva College in Beaver Falls, PA. His first name was James. Ren comes from his middle name (Renwick).