This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: December 27th, Six Former Pirates Born on This Date

Six former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date.

Craig Reynolds, infielder for the 1975-76 Pirates. He was a first round draft pick of the Pirates in 1971, the 22nd overall pick. He hit .318 that first season the Gulf Coast League, but struggled the following year in A-ball, playing just 41 games, while hitting .240 with no homers. Just one year later he earned a late season promotion to Triple-A after hitting .287 with 13 homers while playing for Salem of the Class-A Carolina League. He split the 1974 season between Double-A Thetford Mines of the Eastern League and Triple-A Charleston of the International League. In 100 games that season, he hit .299 with 12 doubles and six homers, putting up slightly better results at the upper level. In 1975 he was a full-time shortstop in Triple-A, hitting .308 through 108 games, when he earned a Major League call-up on August 1st. He played 31 games in Pittsburgh that first year, hitting .244 in 76 at-bats. He returned to Triple-A for 1976 and didn’t do as well, but still got a September, getting four plate appearances in seven games.

Following the 1976 season the Pirates traded Reynolds to the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Grant Jackson. The deal worked out for both teams. He took over the starting shortstop position for the expansion Mariners, hitting .248 with a .596 OPS in 135 games that year. By 1978, Reynolds became an All-Star. He hit .292 with 57 runs scored and 28 extra-base hits in 148 games that season, posting a career best 3.7 WAR on offense. The Mariners sold high on him, trading him to the Houston Astros on December 8, 1978 for starting pitcher Floyd Bannister. That trade worked out well for both clubs, with each player making an All-Star appearance with their new teams. Reynolds stayed in Houston through the 1989 season, playing 1,170 games over 11 seasons with the Astros. He was an All-Star during the 1979 season, hitting .265 in 146 games, with 63 runs scored, 20 doubles, nine triples and a career high 12 steals. He led the league with 34 sacrifice hits. In 1980, Reynolds batted just .226 in 137 games, with a lowly .566 OPS, though he kept his job with a solid defensive season. In the strike-shortened 1981 season, he bounced back a bit with a .260 average in 87 games, with 43 runs scored and a league leading/career high 12 triples. He also led the league with 18 sacrifice hits.

In 1982, Reynolds batted .254 in 54 games. He missed time due to vertigo, and he served in a bench role from mid-June to the end of the season. In 1983, he batted just .214 in 65 games, with limited plate appearances and he was more of a utility infielder. His best overall season during his career was 1984 when he had 3.1 WAR as the everyday shortstop. In 146 games that year, he had a .260 average, with 61 runs scored, 32 extra-base hits and a career high 60 RBIs. He also led the league in sacrifice hits (16) for a third time. He had a higher OPS in 1985 (.686 vs .651 in 1984), batting .272 with 43 runs scored and 30 extra-base hits, but he played 107 games and had better defense in 1984, so the WAR total didn’t quite stack up to the previous year. In 1986, Reynolds hit .249 in 114 games, with 32 runs scored and 41 RBIs. He mostly played shortstop, but he saw time at six positions that season, a total he would match in 1989.

In 1987, Reynolds batted .254 in 135 games, with 35 runs scored, 17 doubles and 28 RBIs. He took up a bench role in 1988, batting .255 in 78 games, with a .607 OPS. He started just 33 games all year, but he made at least five starts at all four infield spots. In his final season, he hit .201 in 101 games and once again saw starts at all four infield spots. Reynolds played a total of 15 seasons in the majors, hitting .256 over 1,491 games, with 480 runs scored, 250 extra-base hits, 377 RBIs and 124 sacrifice hits.

Bill Bishop, pitcher for Pittsburgh in 1886-87. Before signing with Pittsburgh, he played briefly in pro ball with Richmond of the Virginia State League in 1886, where he signed in June. In early September of 1886, there was word that the Alleghenys would give a trial to Bishop, who was called “a member of the Steubenville club”, which was a semi-pro team. He made his big league with the 1886 Alleghenys, pitching two late-season games. He allowed seven runs in each game, but just six of those runs total were earned. He pitched to a tie in his first game on September 13th, which was called after nine innings due to darkness. The report from his first game makes you wonder how he actually got more chances. Bishop was said to be extremely wild and very poor with his fielding. The boxscore shows eight walks, five wild pitches and he committed four errors in five chances. His second start came seven days later in New York and he allowed five runs in the first inning. In a game called after eight innings, he managed to hold New York to just two runs over the final seven frames, taking a 7-5 loss. The local newspapers said that he would pitch again on September 25th against the Philadelphia Athletics, but Pud Galvin and Ed Morris started the final 17 games of the season.

The following season, Pittsburgh moved to the National League and Bishop pitched two games of a three-game series against Detroit early in the year and lost badly in each game, going down 10-3 on May 9th and 18-2 just two days later. Ed Morris was scheduled to pitch both games and there was a big controversy over him not playing, with Pittsburgh President William Nimick calling him a coward for not wanting to pitch against Detroit. As a side note, Detroit would win the National League title in 1887. Morris rejoined the rotation and the Alleghenys didn’t use Bishop again for another five weeks. He lost 18-1 in his next start on June 18th to an Indianapolis team that had a 37-89 record that year. That turned out to be his final game with the Alleghenys.

Just one day before his final game, the Alleghenys turned down an offer from a minor league team in Wheeling to purchase Bishop. All five of his starts with Pittsburgh came in road games. The next day manager Horace Phillips announced to the papers that Bishop was a “failure” and he would be released. Numerous times it was said that he lost all of his nerve during big league games, but looked confident at all other times. He played only two more MLB games, both relief appearances for the 1889 Chicago White Stockings, in which he allowed 13 runs over three innings. His pro career ended in the minors in 1891. From 1887 through 1889, he played for a total of eight different teams, plus he had two stints with the same team. After he was released by the Alleghenys, he went nearly a month before settling on his next job, pitching for Lowell  of the New England League. His salary that he requested and received was $200 per month and $100 advanced money. Despite a 9.96 ERA in 47 big league innings, he actually had some minor league success. During the 1888 season for Syracuse of the International Association, he went 9-2, 1.00 in 90 innings. He also had a 2.97 ERA in 217 innings during the 1889 season. Until recent research confirmed otherwise, Bishop was thought to be five years younger, which at the time made him one of the youngest players in Major League history.

William “Ducky” Hemp, outfielder for the 1890 Alleghenys. On a team that went 23-113, he was one of the few Opening Day roster players who had previous MLB experience and it wasn’t much. Hemp played one Major League game prior to joining the Alleghenys, an 1887 game for the Louisville Colonels of the American Association. The game was a late season game and played in St Louis, which is where Ducky was from, so it is likely he was signed just for that day (signed is a technical term, since one-day players rarely signed contracts back then). He went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk in his big league debut. He played the next two seasons in the minors, hitting .253 with 39 extra-base hits and 21 steals for Evansville of the Central Interstate League in 1889, then made the Opening Day roster for the 1890 Alleghenys. He got into 21 games for Pittsburgh, hitting .235 with nine runs scored before being released on June 4th. The team was going on a road trip after going 9-24 to start the season and Hemp was one of two players who didn’t board the train with his teammates to head to Louisville. During Spring Training that year, the Alleghenys played a lot of exhibition games and Hemp was consistently mentioned as one of the best hitters during the spring, so there were some high hopes for his success.

Hemp moved on to the American Association to play nine games with Syracuse in August (he batted .152), then he never played in the majors again, ending his pro career after the 1892 season, though he played a bit of semi-pro ball after that year. Hemp played with four different teams over his final two seasons of pro ball. A newspaper article announcing the 1890 Alleghenys listed Hemp as being 5’6 1/2″ and weighing 146 pounds. His age was also reportedly 24 years old, but later research determined that he was three years older. An article from before his Pittsburgh debut called him the fastest sprinter in the league. He hit .214 and stole four bases in his 31 big league games. He debuted in pro ball in 1885 with Memphis of the Southern League, where he hit .206 in nine games. His nickname, which was used often during his career, first appears in print during his time in semi-pro ball in 1886. There was no reason given, but that nickname has been used for other players and it had to do with their running style, though he was also called “little Ducky” at times. During the 1887 season, he did some pitching, but there are no other records of him pitching any other years.

Jim Dee, shortstop for the 1884 Alleghenys. He was a very popular amateur player in Buffalo, playing for a team called the Travelers before and after his time in Pittsburgh. He was just 19 years old when he made his big league debut on July 30, 1884, and his entire big league career lasted 18 days, though he signed with the team on July 25th. Dee hit .125 in 12 games, going 5-for-40 with one walk. He failed to score a run during his career and all five hits were singles. During his first game, he made a “marvelous” catch that was considered the highlight of the game, though the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted that “his bat failed entirely”, which was a sign of things to come. He struck out in every at-bat that first day. His final game was on August 16th and the Alleghenys went 1-11 during his time with the team. After a Sunday off-day on August 17th, Horace Phillips took over the managerial reins and brought three players with him from Saginaw. One of those players was Tom Forster, who took over at shortstop. Dee was immediately released by his new manager, while Forster played in each of the team’s final 35 games.

Dee was a Pennsylvania native (born in Safe Harbor), who played for eight minor league teams between the 1887-88 seasons, with six of them being teams in the Keystone State. He played in four different leagues during that 1887 season, with most of the time spent with Bradford of the Pennsylvania State League, where he hit .393 with 22 extra-base hits in 46 games. His online records are missing time with Canandaigua of the New York State League in 1888. The next year he signed to play semi-pro ball in Batavia for his manager from Canandaigua, but by July there was word that he was back in Buffalo “playing good ball” for the Travelers. He remained with that club for the 1890-91 seasons. There are no pro records of him playing in 1885-86 or before he joined the Alleghenys, so it appears that he was playing amateur ball that entire time in Buffalo. He passed away in 1897 at 32 years old under suspicious circumstances, with his body found buried in grain in the hold of a steamer. He was buried in the town the boat arrived in without his family knowing of his passing until nearly a month later. His listed death date (August 28th) is off by at least one day, as he was found on the 27th, but his family said that they were receiving letters nearly every day, and the last one sent was from August 15th.

Jeff D’Amico, pitcher for the 2003 Pirates. He was a 1993 first round draft pick, who was taken 23rd overall by the Milwaukee Brewers out of Northeast HS in Florida. Injuries pushed back his pro debut until 1995. He had a stress fracture in his leg that limited his work as a senior in high school, plus lengthy bonus negotiations led to him getting a late start in 1993. He came up with a shoulder injury before he could get into a game that season, then an elbow injury sidelined him for 1994. In 1995, he went right to Class-A ball with Beloit of the Midwest League, where he had a 13-3, 2.39 record in 132 innings, with 119 strikeouts. He went to Double-A El Paso to start the 1996 season, but he didn’t even last a full season there. After going 5-4, 3.19 in 96 innings, he joined the Brewers for the rest of the season. D’Amico debuted in the majors on June 28, 1996 at age 20. He went 6-6, 5.44 in 86 innings over 17 starts. After showing some slight improvements the next year, going 9-7, 4.71 in 135.2 innings over 23 starts, he was injured for all of 1998 and most of the following season due to shoulder sugery. During those two seasons, he got into a total of four minor league starts and one big league in 1999.

D’Amico made an incredible return in 2000, finishing third in the National League with a 2.66 ERA, while going 12-7 in 162.1 innings over 23 starts. He also made six minor league starts that year, going from a total of 14.1 innings in 1998-99 to 193.2 innings the next season. That was the high point for D’Amico, who played four more years, for four different teams and never approached that one-year success. He spent 2001 with the Brewers compiling a 2-4, 6.08 record in ten starts, missing four months of the season due to a nerve surgery on his right arm. He was then traded to the New York Mets in the 2001-02 off-season in a deal that included the Colorado Rockies as well and a total of 11 players moving to new teams. D’Amico went 6-10, 4.94 in 145.2 innings during his only season in New York. The Pirates signed him as a free agent in January of 2003 and he went 9-16, 4.77 in 29 starts, leading the league in losses. He set a career high with 175.1 innings. He reached 100 strikeouts for the third time in the majors, but he never topped 101 strikeouts in a season. D’Amico left as a free agent after the season, signing with the Cleveland Indians, where he was done after seven starts and a 7.63 ERA. He was released in late June and never played again. D’Amico finished with a 45-52, 4.61 career record in 784 innings over eight seasons. During the 2000 season, the Kansas City Royals also had a pitcher named Jeff D’Amico.

Jim Tobin, pitcher for the 1937-39 Pirates. He had been in the minors since 1932, spending the 1933-36 seasons as a member of the New York Yankees organization when the Pirates purchased his contract on April 14, 1937. He debuted with Bisbee of the Class-D Arizona-Texas League, where he went 9-2, 6.13 in 119 innings. That win/loss record and ERA look wrong together, but it was a high offense league. In 1933, Tobin pitched most of the year with Wheeling of the Class-C Middle Atlantic League, but he also saw decent time with Binghamton of the Class-A New York-Penn League. He went 16-10, 3.81 in 196 innings, with similar effectiveness in both spots. He stayed with Binghamton for the entire 1934 season and posted a 15-10, 3.98 record in 192 innings. In 1935 he moved up to Oakland of the Pacific Coast League, where he had an 11-8, 4.14 record in 152 innings. Tobin also spent the 1936 season playing for Oakland, where he went 16-8, 4.38 in 230 innings, before joining the Pirates during the following spring.

As a rookie for the 1937 Pirates, Tobin went 6-3, 3.00 in 20 games, eight of them starts, throwing a total of 87 innings. The Pirates gave him sporadic use until the final four weeks of the season when he pitched six complete games over a 24-day stretch. He went 5-1, 1.33 in those games. The following year he was put in the starting rotation full-time, where he went 14-12, 3.47, pitching a total of 241 innings, which was the ninth most in the National League that season. He was the team leader in wins and his 14 complete games also led the team. He struggled in 1939, posting a 9-9, 4.52 record in 145.1 innings, making 19 starts. On December 6, 1939, he was traded to the Boston Bees for pitcher Johnny Lanning. Tobin saw limited use in 1940, but as the league became watered down with players being lost due to war service, he began to see even more playing time. He went 7-3, 3.83 in 96.1 innings during his first season in Boston. He followed that up with a 12-12, 3.10 record in 238 innings in 1941, with 20 complete games and three shutouts.

In 1942, he led the league with 287.1 innings pitched and 28 complete games. However, he also led the league in losses. Boston was a cellar dweller at the time and he had a 12-21, 3.97 record that season.  On May 13, 1942, he tied an MLB record and set an NL record for pitchers by hitting three homers in the same game. He had a terrific 1943 season, posting a 2.66 ERA in 250 innings, while also hitting .280 in 113 plate appearances. The Braves went 68-85, so his 14-14 record was strong for the team that year.  Tobin was a workhorse in 1944, making 36 starts and ten relief appearances, while piling up 299.1 innings pitched. He did a great job too, posting a 3.01 ERA, though the Braves went 65-89, so his record stood at 18-19 that season. He was traded to the Detroit Tigers in 1945 and he helped them to a World Series title, in what ended up being his final big league season. Tobin went 4-5, 3.55 in 58.1 innings over six starts and eight relief appearances. He finished his career with a 105-112, 3.44 career record over nine seasons, finishing with exactly 1,900 innings pitched over 227 starts and 60 relief appearances. After his MLB career was over, he returned to the minors for four more seasons. Tobin’s brother Jackie Tobin played for the Red Sox in 1945.