Sever former Pittsburgh Pirates born on Christmas Day, including a Hall of Fame pitcher.
James “Pud” Galvin, pitcher for the Alleghenys from 1885-89 and 1891-92. He is the winningest pitcher to ever suit up for the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise. He joined the team having already won 222 games by the age of 28, and by the time he retired following the 1893 season, he would be the Major League leader in wins. That was a record he would hold until he was passed by Cy Young in 1903. Galvin won 365 career games, a number made more impressive by the fact he played for some bad teams during his career. He retired at age 35, despite posting a 2.92 ERA his last season. He also didn’t play in the majors from 1876-78, even though he had a 1.16 ERA in eight games during his rookie season of 1875. Yet he was still able to put up one of the most impressive careers as a pitcher in baseball history.
Galvin debuted in the National Association in 1875 with the St Louis Brown Stockings. He played minor league ball in Pittsburgh and became a bit of a cult hero during that time, before returning to the big league ranks in 1879 with Buffalo of the National League, three years before Pittsburgh had a Major League club. It was there where he established himself as a true workhorse. During that 1879 season, he went 37-27, 2.28 in 593 innings, with 65 complete games (66 starts) and six shutouts. In 1880, Galvin had a 20-35 record, despite a 2.71 ERA in 458.2 innings. He recorded another five shutouts. The next year saw him go 28-24, 2.37 in 474 innings, with five shutouts. In 1882, he had a 28-23, 3.17 record in 445.1 innings, with 48 complete games in 51 starts. He stepped things up another level during the next two seasons. During the 1883 season, Galvin went 46-29, 2.72 with 72 complete games and 656.1 innings pitched. He followed that up by going 46-22, 1.99 in 636.1 innings, with a league leading 12 shutouts. He posted a 20.5 WAR that season, which is an all-time record for pitchers that won’t be broken (or approached) in these days of pampered starters. Those two seasons rank 5th and 6th all-time for innings pitched. The 12 shutouts are the fifth most all-time in a season.
Pittsburgh purchased Galvin from the Buffalo Bisons of the National League on July 13, 1885 after he started the season 13-19, 4.09 in 284 innings. He went just 3-7, 3.67 in 88.1 innings that first year for the Alleghenys, and the team went 13-26 from August 1st until the end of the season. The next year Galvin was back in form, winning 29 games (21 losses) and pitching 434 innings. He had a 2.67 ERA and he completed 49 of 50 starts. He helped Pittsburgh to a 80-57 record, which in turn helped lead to their invitation to leave the American Association and join the National League the following season. With the Alleghenys in 1887. Galvin went 28-21, 3.21, pitching 440 innings. He lowered his ERA to 2.63 in 1888, but the record suffered with poor run support, as he went 23-25 in 50 starts, with 49 complete games (one game ended in a tie, so he only had 48 decisions). Six of those complete games were shutout. He won his 300th career game on September 4, 1888 over the Indianapolis Hoosiers. Galvin went 23-16, 4.17 in 341 innings over 41 games for Pittsburgh in 1889.
Galvin moved on to the newly formed Player’s League with most of his teammates in 1890. In the only year of that league’s existence, he went 12-13, 4.35 in 217 innings, as the club finished with a disappointing 60-68 record. When the league folded after the season, he returned to the Pirates/Alleghenys, where he went 15-14, 2.88 in 246.2 innings over 33 games. He pitched well early for the Pirates in 1892, but was traded after just ten games to the St Louis Browns for Cub Stricker. It was a one-sided trade as far as career value, with the 33-year-old Stricker mostly being league average over 11 seasons in the majors (he was a -1.9 WAR career). However, the Pirates quickly flipped Stricker for pitcher Adonis Terry, who was a better pitcher at the time than Galvin. After the trade, Galvin pitched just 12 more big league games before retiring, though he did briefly pitch in the minors in 1894.
Galvin still ranks second all-time in innings pitched (6,003.1) and complete games (646), trailing in both to Cy Young. Those are two spots that he will likely never lose with pitchers seeing fewer starts and complete games now. They would need to average 200 innings per year for 30 seasons to catch Galvin’s mark. He currently sits fifth in career wins, tenth in career starts (688), 11th in shutouts (57), and his 83.3 career WAR is 21st for pitchers all-time. He threw two no-hitters during his career. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1965.
The nickname “Pud” is said to have come from either his love for pudding as a kid, or a writer saying that he turned batters’ legs into pudding with his pitches. However, that nickname was rarely used during his time and shouldn’t be how he is referred to today. A search online of old newspapers only shows the name being used after he was already retired, and only three times total until it was part of a headline story from 1925 that said it was a childhood nickname based on his “chunky physical structure”, so that could be the actual starting point. He was mostly called “Jeems” in references made during his playing days. In fact, the name “Pud” never really caught on until he was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1965 when it was part of the press release for the announcement.
Gene Lamont, manager for the Pirates from 1997-2000. He had two memorable seasons during the Pirates long losing streak, winning 79 games during his first season and 78 in 1999, when the Pirates were in contention for part of both years. Lamont finished with a 295-352 record in Pittsburgh. He led them to a second place finish in 1997, which was dubbed as the “Freak Show” team. The Pirates were in first place that year as late as July 15th, and they were just 1.5 games back on September 2nd. Lamont then finished in third place in 1999. They moved into third place on August 26th and remained there for the rest of the season. They had a .500 record on September 1st that year, but they went 11-16 the rest of the way. In between those two seasons, the Pirates had a disappointing 69-93 season. His final year saw him go 69-93 again. Before taking over for Jim Leyland in Pittsburgh, Lamont managed for four seasons with the Chicago White Sox, where he had two first place finishes and a 258-210 record. Despite leading the team to a first place finish in 1994, he lost his job after just 31 games in 1995, as the team started with an 11-20 record.
Before getting into managing/coaching, Lamont was a catcher for parts of five seasons in the majors with the Detroit Tigers from 1970-75 (spent 1973 in the minors), hitting .233 in 87 games. Detroit drafted him in the first round of the 1965 draft out of high school. He was stuck behind perennial All-Star catcher Bill Freehan, who moved to a part-time role at first base in 1974, allowing Lamont to play 60 of his 87 career games that season. Freehan moved back behind the plate full-time in 1975 and Lamont played his final four big league games that May. He played in the minors until 1977, then became a minor league manager the next season in the Kansas City Royals organization, where he remained for eight seasons. Besides his time as a manager, Lamont also served as a coach with the Pirates for seven seasons, including the 1990-91 pennant winning years. He has had numerous jobs with many organizations since leaving Pittsburgh, including a minor league managing spot for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2015, and he was the manager for the Tigers for one game in 2016 when manager Brad Ausmus was suspended. His career win-loss record in the majors stands at 554-562.
Rich Renteria, infielder for the 1986 Pirates. He was a first round draft pick by Pittsburgh in the 1980 amateur draft at 18 years old out of South Gate HS in California. He moved up one level each year in the minors until reaching Triple-A in 1984, then spent parts of three seasons there, as well as some time in Mexico, before making his big league debut on September 14, 1986. Renteria debuted with the Gulf Coast League team in 1980 and hit .227 with a .575 OPS in 46 games. In 1981, he moved up to Greenwood of the Class-A South Atlantic League, where he hit .286 in 127 games, with 90 runs scored and 28 extra-base hits. He had a breakout season in 1982 with Alexandria of the Class-A Carolina League. Renteria hit .331 in 127 games, with 24 doubles, 14 homers and 100 RBIs. His .841 OPS that season was easily the best of his 15-year pro career. In 1983, he moved up to Double-A Lynn of the Eastern League, where he hit .285 with 25 doubles and four homers in 115 games. Most of the 1984 season was spent back in the Eastern League (affiliate moved to Nashua), where he hit .273 in 113 games, with 22 doubles, seven triples and one homer. He had 21 steals, though it came with 15 caught stealing. He also played 19 games for Hawaii of the Pacific Coast League (Triple-A), where he had a .613 OPS. In 1985, Renteria played seven games for Hawaii and spent the rest of the year playing in the Mexican League. He returned to Hawaii for the 1986 season and batted .314 with 30 extra-base hits, 51 runs and 51 RBIs in 112 games. Renteria went 3-for-12 at the plate for the Pirates in ten games that season, driving in one run. He played just one game in the field, getting a start at third base.
After the 1986 season, the Pirates traded him to the Seattle Mariners for minor league pitcher Bob Siegel, who never made the majors. Renteria played parts two years in the majors with the Mariners (1987-88), before being released following the 1990 season. He played 12 games during the 1987 season, joining the club two weeks into the season, while sticking around through late May. He batted just 11 times, going 1-for-10 with a walk. In 1988 he was with the team from Opening Day through late June. He spent 1989 at Triple-A, but didn’t play during the 1990 season due to a severely broken jaw after getting hit with a line drive. After spending minor league time with the Detroit Tigers, Montreal Expos, and another trip back to Mexico during the 1991-92 seasons, he signed as a free agent with the Florida Marlins.
After playing 53 big league games over his first 13 years in pro ball, Renteria played 103 games for the Marlins in 1993. He hit .255 and spent time at second base and third base. Renteria finished his big league career with 28 games for the Marlins in 1994, playing his final game in the majors right before the league shut down for the strike. He hit .224 with two homers in 49 at-bats. Renteria had another stint in Mexico in 1996 before retiring as a player. He finished with a .237 average, 42 runs scored and 41 RBIs over 184 career games in the majors. In 2001, he began a career in the minors as a manager, putting in eight years that were split between the Marlins and San Diego Padres organizations. In 2014, he managed the Chicago Cubs to a 73-89 record. In 2017, he took over the Chicago White Sox and was there for the 2017-20 seasons, putting together a 236-309 record. His best finish was second place during the shortened 2020 season.
Scott Bullett, outfielder for the 1991 and 1993 Pirates. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Pirates in 1988 at 19 years old. He went to the Gulf Coast League and hit just .180 in 21 games. He stayed in the GCL in 1989 and hit .255 in 46 games, showing an improvement of 218 points on his OPS from the previous season. In 1990, Bullett played for Welland of the short-season New York-Penn League, where he hit .302 in 74 games, with 46 runs scored and 30 steals. Despite spending his first three seasons in short-season ball, he was one year away from making the majors. He spent most of the 1991 season in Low-A with Augusta of the South Atlantic League, where he hit .284 in 95 games, with 61 runs scored, 22 doubles and 48 steals. He then played 39 games for Salem of the High-A Carolina League, where he batted .333 with 15 steals, giving him 63 on the season. In September of 1991, he made the jump from A-ball directly to the majors and went 0-for-4 in 11 games for the National League East champs.
Bullett spent the entire 1992 season in Double-A (he played three games in Triple-A), where he batted .270 in 132 games, with 59 runs scored, 33 extra-base hits and 29 steals, though he was caught 21 times. He opened the 1993 season with Triple-A Buffalo of the American Association, then rejoined the Pirates in mid-July in 1993. He remained with the team for a total of four weeks, getting sent down on August 12th, then didn’t return in September. Instead, the Pirates sent him to the Arizona Fall League in early October. He batted .200 in 23 games in the majors that year, while hitting .287 in 110 games with Buffalo, where he had a .706 OPS.
Just before the 1994 season started, the Pirates traded Bullett to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for minor league pitcher Travis Willis. After leaving Pittsburgh, Bullett played two full seasons in the majors with the Cubs. He hit .273 in 104 games, though he batted a total of 164 times. He had 15 extra-base hits, 22 RBIs and eight steals. He started 25 games all season, with 21 starts in left field. In 1996, he hit .212 in 109 games, getting a total of 177 plate appearances all year. His OPS dropped 238 points that season and it marked the end of his big league career. He was released by the Cubs in December of 1996, but he was far from finished in his pro career. After spending 1997 in Triple-A for the Baltimore Orioles, he played in China in 1998. That was followed by stints in Mexico and independent ball in 1999, then Mexico again to start 2000. He ended up in the Colorado Rockies system in 2000 and remained there for another 21 games in 2001. He was back in Mexico in 2001, then he spent 2002 in Japan, before playing his final four seasons of pro ball in Mexico. Bullett hit 35 homers in Mexico in 2000, and another 44 during his final two seasons combined. His 2004 stats from Mexico are incomplete, but over the rest of his career, he had 179 homers and 356 steals. He hit .186 in 34 games for the Pirates, and in his four big league seasons, he batted .233 in 247 games, with 49 runs scored, 25 extra-base hits, 42 RBIs and 19 steals.
Enyel De Los Santos, pitcher for the 2021 Pirates. He was signed by the Seattle Mariners as an amateur free agent in July of 2014 out of the Dominican Republic at 18 years old. He debuted in 2015, splitting his time between two short-season teams, going 6-0, 3.47 in 62.1 innings over 13 starts, with 71 strikeouts. In December of 2015, he was traded to the San Diego Padres. He split the 2016 season between Low-A Fort Wayne of the Midwest League and High-A Lake Elsinore of the California League. He combined to go 8-5, 3.72 in 121 innings, with better results at the lower level. The Padres moved him up to Double-A San Antonio of the Texas League in 2017, where he had a 10-8, 3.76 record in 150 innings, with 138 strikeouts. In December of 2017, the Philadelphia Phillies acquired him in a trade even up with Freddy Galvis. De Los Santos spent the majority of the 2018 season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley of the International League. He went 10-5, 2.63 in 22 starts, with 110 strikeouts in 126.2 innings. He debuted with the Phillies in July, but also had brief stints with the team in August and September. He posted a 4.74 ERA in 19 innings over two starts and five relief outings. In 2019, most of the year was spent back in Lehigh Valley. De Los Santos went 5-7, 4.40 in 94 innings over 19 starts in Triple-A, while allowing nine runs over 11 innings in five appearances (one start) with the Phillies. De Los Santos didn’t appear in the majors during the shortened 2020 season, but he played winter ball in his home country for the first time during the 2020-21 off-season. He joined the Phillies in early May of 2021 for just over a week, then returned in June and stayed until September. He went 1-1, 6.75 in 28 innings over 26 appearances, all made in relief. He had 42 strikeouts during that short time. In mid-September of 2021, the Pirates picked him up off of waivers. De Los Santos allowed four runs over 7.1 innings in seven appearances. He became a free agent after the season and signed with the Cleveland Indians on December 1, 2021. He has a 6.06 ERA in 65.1 innings over 45 big league appearances (three starts).
Earl Kunz, pitcher for the 1923 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball in 1920 at 21 years old, playing for Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League, which was his hometown team. Kunz played all but one season of his pro career in the Pacific Coast League, which was his 1923 season with the Pirates. He was born in Sacramento in 1898 and passed away there in 1963, so like many west coast players, he preferred to stay closer to home. He had a 3-11, 4.78 record in 171.1 innings during his first season in the minors. He remained in Sacramento in 1921 and had a 14-12, 3.79 record in 228 innings. He didn’t pitch particularly well his first three seasons in the minors, but he did pitch over 300 innings in 1922, while finishing with a 15-18, 4.12 record, which was enough for the Pirates to give him his first big league shot. They were obviously enamored with his possibilities, as they paid a high price to acquire him right before his 24th birthday. On December 13th, the Pirates agreed to send four players and cash to Sacramento for Kunz under the recommendation of scout Bill Hinchman, who called him a “real phenom”. The cash total sent from the Pirates to Sacramento was originally reported as $7,500, but later sources said they paid $25,000 plus the four players, one of which was Moses Yellow Horse. It was said that the Cincinnati Reds put up a large offer to acquire him from Sacramento, only to be outbid by Barney Dreyfuss. At any rate, whatever amount that they paid and the reason they did it, the purchase was an overpay, even if none of the players they gave up ever returned/made it to the majors. Kunz couldn’t live up to the high price during his brief big league career.
Kunz had a bit of a rough start with the Pirates, as he was one of the last players to sign a 1923 contract, with a local California paper stating that he wasn’t pleased with what amounted to a salary cut with the Pirates compared to his 1922 pay. He was also held back in camp because he was said to be out of shape and needed to lose some weight. He started two games for the Pirates, and they also used him 19 times out of the pen. One of the starts was an early season complete game loss in which he allowed five runs to the Cincinnati Reds. He failed to retire a batter in the other start on June 1st against the St Louis Cardinals before he was pulled. He faced just three batters that day and all three scored in a 4-3 loss. His last MLB game was a brief appearance on July 30th, which the Pirates lost 17-2 to the New York Giants. Kunz was optioned to Wichita Falls of the Texas League on August 11, 1923. There was a report that said that he entered his first game for Wichita Falls as a relief pitcher just 26 minutes after he arrived in town by train. The Pirates traded Kunz to Oakland of the PCL on December 12, 1923 as part of a deal to bring in pitcher Ray Kremer, which ended up working out well for the Pirates. Kunz returned to the PCL, where he finished out his pro career in 1930 holding a 109-128 minor league record. He went 1-2, 5.52 in 45.2 innings for the Pirates. He pitched 2 1/2 season for Oakland (1924-26), then 1 1/2 season with San Francisco (1926-27) before returning to Sacramento for the 1928-29 seasons. He finished his career with Seattle during the 1929-30 season. His nickname in the PCL was “Pinches”.
Alex Jones, pitcher for the 1889 Alleghenys. He won his only game with Pittsburgh while striking out ten batters when he was just 19 years old. That September 25, 1889 game he pitched against the Washington Nationals was his pro debut. Jones was a local kid who was originally announced as signed to a deal on September 11, 1889, but he ended up pitching just one of the final 18 games. There was a bit of a discrepancy in his announcement, as six days later the local papers said that he signed on September 16th after going through a long tryout in front of players on the Alleghenys. It’s likely that he was brought along on a tryout basis on the 11th and things went well enough that he officially signed on the 16th. The Nationals had trouble with the 5″9 lefty during his pro debut, but they still scored five runs (three earned) in their loss that day. Newspaper reports said that he had excellent control and used an assortment of pitches, including drops (sinkers) and curves. At the plate, he hit a double and drove in a run. He reportedly received a new suit after the game from his former employers (not specified), which was promised to him if he was able to win.
Jones was called the “Homestead” player in the recap from his first game. That was a local amateur team, which had plenty of Major League players over the early years, either before or after their big league debut. A game from one month before he signed shows that he struck out 16 batters while facing another strong amateur team from Braddock. Three days before he joined the Alleghenys, he had 15 strikeouts in a ten-inning game against McKeesport. On October 3rd, it was announced that he signed a conditional contract for 1890. On October 11th, Jones pitched Pittsburgh to victory over Wheeling in an exhibition game, winning 6-5. On October 17th, Jones pitched for Homestead against the Alleghenys and lost 14-4 (one paper says 15-4) in 7 1/2 innings. His time with Pittsburgh officially ended on March 28, 1890 when he was released, though he didn’t appear with the team during Spring Training that season. It was said that he didn’t know the rules of the reserve list in baseball and he signed with another team (Bradford of the New York-Penn League) in mid-December of 1889. Rather than causing the young pitcher any problems related to breaking a contract, the Alleghenys released him without any issue, claiming that his reserve with the team was just conditional and they didn’t need him for the upcoming season. His contract for 1890 called for $150 per month.
Jones played for his hometown team in Bradford, Pa. during the 1890 season, while also seeing time with a team from Altoona early in the year. He played for Bradford in 1891, while also seeing time with Jamestown, also of the NYPL. He won 24 games that season. He played in the majors in 1892, splitting his season between the Louisville Colonels and Washington Senators. Despite a 3.42 ERA that season in 173.2 innings, his record was just 5-14 in 22 games. Jones played off and on in pro ball until 1907, but his Major League career after 1892 consisted of a complete game win for the Philadelphia Phillies in September of 1894 and two games for the Detroit Tigers in May of 1903. He went 20-13, 2.49 in 296.2 innings for Reading of the Pennsylvania State League before joining the Phillies in 1894. His minor league stats are incomplete, but it’s known that he had at least three 20+ win seasons in the minors. In 1897 he was teammates with Honus Wagner during the latter’s final season in the minors, playing for Patterson of the Atlantic League. Jones went 22-15, 1.51 in 327.1 innings that season.
Merry Christmas from us at Pittsburgh Baseball Network.