One event and seven former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including one with an extremely significant event in team history.
On this date in 1988, Willie Stargell was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot. He was named on 352 of the 427 ballots, while a total of least 321 (75%) votes were necessary for election. Stargell was the only player voted in that year, but five others on the ballot eventually got in, one of them being Bill Mazeroski, who finished seventh with 33.5% of the votes. Stargell played 21 seasons in a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform, the only team he played for during his career. He was a .282 career hitter with 475 homers and 1,540 RBIs. In Pirates history he ranks third in games played, fifth in runs, seventh in hits, fourth in doubles and first in RBIs, homers and walks.
Bill Madlock, third baseman for the 1979-85 Pirates. He was a four-time National League batting champ, winning two of those titles before joining the Pirates. He would win his third batting title with a .341 mark in 1981 and then pick up his fourth title when he had a .323 average two years later. Madlock was a .305 hitter in 1,806 games over his 15-year career, with 163 homers and 174 steals. He batted .375 with five walks during the 1979 World Series. He is the only Hall of Fame-eligible player with four batting titles who isn’t in the Hall. Madlock turns 71 today.
Madlock was originally drafted in the 11th round of the 1969 draft by the St Louis Cardinals out of high school at 18 years old. He wouldn’t sign until the next season when the Washington Senators took him in the fifth round of the January draft after attending Southeastern Illinois College. Madlock remained with the franchise through their move to Texas, before the Rangers traded him to the Chicago Cubs in 1973 as part of a package to acquire Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins. He debuted in pro ball with Geneva of the New York-Penn League and hit .269 with 44 runs, six homers and 16 steals in 66 games. In 1971, Madlock jumped to Pittsfield of the Double-A Eastern League, where he hit just .234 in 112 games, with 14 doubles, ten homers, 12 steals and 53 walks. In 1972, he split the season between Pittsfield and Triple-A Denver of the American Association, combining to hit .292 in 68 games, with 36 runs, 24 extra-base hits and 35 RBIs. He spent the 1973 season with Spokane of the Pacific Coast League, as the Rangers changed their Triple-A affiliate. Madlock hit .338 in 123 games, with 119 runs, 22 doubles, 22 homers, 90 RBIs, 17 steals and 56 walks.
During that 1973 season, Madlock debuted with the Rangers in early September and he hit .351 with nine extra-base hits in 21 games. After the trade to the Cubs, he batted .313 in 128 games in 1974, earning him a third place finish in the Rookie of the Year voting. He scored 65 runs, while collecting 21 doubles, nine homers and 54 RBIs. There was no sophomore slump for Madlock. He followed up that strong rookie season by winning back-to-back batting titles. Madlock hit .354 with 77 runs, 29 doubles, seven homers and 64 RBIs in 130 games in 1975 and made his first All-Star appearance. He finished 12th in the NL MVP voting that year. He hit .339 in 1976 and finished sixth in MVP voting, though he didn’t make the All-Star team. Madlock had 36 doubles, 15 homers, 84 RBIs and 56 walks, which were all career best marks up to that point. Despite the three-year run of success, the Cubs moved on from him over the off-season when they were able to acquire perennial All-Star outfielder Bobby Murcer. Madlock was traded to the San Francisco Giants just prior to the start of Spring Training in 1977.
While with the Giants, Madlock saw his batting average drop, though he still topped the .300 mark each full season. That first year he played 140 games, hitting .302 with 70 runs, 28 doubles, 12 homers and a .785 OPS, which was 127 points lower than his mark with the Cubs in 1976. In 1978, he hit .309 in 122 games, with 76 runs, 26 doubles, 15 homers, 16 steals and 48 walks. He was batting just .261 (.706 OPS) in 69 games when he was acquired by the Pirates in a six-player deal on June 28, 1979. Madlock immediately hit with the Pirates, finishing the rest of the season with a .328 average, 44 RBIs and 21 stolen bases in 85 games. He finished the year with 32 steals, the only time he topped 20 in a season. He batted .250 with a homer in the NLCS, before his strong performance in the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles.
Madlock had a bit of a rough go during the 1980 season with a .277 average and a .739 OPS in 137 games, but he bounced back with his third batting title during the strike-shortened 1981 season. On top of his .341 average that season in 82 games, he had a .907 OPS, he made his second All-Star appearance and got some mild MVP support. He would get MVP votes during each of the 1981-83 seasons, finishing as high as eighth in the voting. In 1982, Madlock batted .319 in 154 games, with a career high 92 runs scored, as well as 33 doubles, 18 steals, a career bests with 19 homers and 95 RBIs. He finished 11th in the MVP voting that season. He made his third All-Star appearance during the 1983 season, when he won the batting title with a .323 average. He had 68 runs scored, 21 doubles, 12 homers, 68 RBIs and 49 steals. Madlock slumped badly in 1984 with a .620 OPS in 103 games, finishing the year with a .253 average and 20 extra-base hits. He wasn’t doing any better in 1985 when the Pirates decided to trade him to the Los Angeles Dodgers for RJ Reynolds, Sid Bream and Cecil Espy. Madlock flipped a switch with his new team, reminiscent of his time with the Pirates. Before the deal, he was hitting .251 in 110 games, with 23 doubles and 11 homers. In 34 games with the 1985 Dodgers, he put up a .360 average, with 20 runs and 15 RBIs. He then batted .333 during the six-game playoff loss to the St Louis Cardinals.
Madlock had a solid season with the 1986 Dodgers, hitting .280 in 111 games, with 17 doubles, ten homers and 60 RBIs. He started off 1987 poorly and he was released in late May with a .180 average in 21 games. He finished the year with the Detroit Tigers, when he batted .279 with 17 doubles, 14 homers and 50 RBIs in 87 games, then retired after the season. He reached the 2,000 hit mark late in his time with the Tigers. Madlock spent his final season of pro ball (1988) playing in Japan. In 801 games in Pittsburgh, he hit .297 with 68 homers, 390 RBIs and 392 runs. He had 82 steals and more walks (275) than strikeouts (206). During his big league career, he batted .305 in 1,806 games, with 920 runs, 2,008 hits, 348 doubles, 163 homers, 880 RBIs and 174 steals.
Ivan Nova, pitcher for the 2016-18 Pirates. He was originally signed at 17 years old by the Yankees as an international amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2004. He debuted in pro ball in 2006 in the Gulf Coast League, where he went 3-0, 2.72 in 43 innings, with seven walks and 36 strikeouts. In 2007, Nova moved up to Low-A Charleston of the South Atlantic League, where he went 6-8, 4.98 in 21 starts and 99.1 innings pitched. In 2008, he went 8-13, 4.36 in 148.2 innings, while playing for Tampa in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League (High-A). The Yankees briefly lost him in the 2008-09 off-season in the Rule 5 draft to the San Diego Padres, but he was returned before making his big league debut. Nova spent the 2009 season making 12 starts with Double-A Trenton of the Eastern League and 12 more for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre of the International League. He went 6-8, 3.86 in 139.1 innings that year, with an ERA that nearly doubled in Triple-A. He put up great results that 2009-10 off-season in the Dominican, with a 1.05 ERA in 25.2 innings, then improved great with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2010, going 12-3, 2.86 in 145 innings, with 115 strikeouts.
Nova’s first big league game came in May of 2010, but a majority of his time that year in the majors came later in the year. He pitched a total of 42 innings for the 2010 Yankees and he had a 4.50 ERA. He moved into their rotation for almost all of 2011 and remained there until his trade to the Pirates five years later. In 2011, he went 16-4, 3.70 in 165.1 innings, which led to a fourth place finish in the Rookie of the Year voting. In 2012, Nova compiled a 12-8, 5.02 record in 28 starts, with a career high 153 strikeouts in 170.1 innings. His best season according to WAR was 2013 when he went 9-6, 3.10 in 139.1 innings, which led to 3.4 WAR. In 2014, he had Tommy John surgery after struggling (8.27 ERA) through four starts. Due to the timing of the injury/surgery, he missed the start of 2015, when he went 6-11, 5.07 in 94 innings over 17 starts, getting decisions in every outing that year. He was acquired by the Pirates from the New York Yankees at the 2016 trade deadline for Tito Polo and Stephen Tarpley. At the time of the deal, he had a 7-6, 4.90 record in 97.1 innings over 15 starts and six relief outings.
Nova went 5-2, 3.06 in 64.2 innings over 11 starts for the Pirates in 2016, then became a free agent after the season. Before the calendar flipped to 2017, the Pirates re-signed him to a three-year deal. He went 11-14, 4.14 in a career high 187 innings during the 2017 season. He made 31 starts and his two complete games led the league (seriously). That was followed up by a 9-9, 4.19 record in 161 innings over 29 starts in 2018. The Pirates traded Nova to the Chicago White Sox during the 2018-19 off-season for minor league pitcher Yoldi Rosario. He went 11-12, 4.72 in 187 innings over 34 starts during his only season in Chicago. He led the American League in both starts and hit allowed (225). Nova signed with the Detroit Tigers for the 2020 season and had four rough starts, going 1-1, 8.53 in 19 innings. He became a free agent after the season and did not sign for 2021, though he did participate in winter ball in the Dominican over the 2021-22 off-season. In December of 2021, he signed to play in Korea. He has an 90-77, 4.38 record in 1,347.2 innings over 227 starts and 13 relief appearances in 11 seasons in the majors. In 2 1/2 seasons with the Pirates, he went 25-25, 3.99 in 71 starts. He threw five complete games and one shutout, compiling 412.2 innings. Nova has thrown a total of three shutouts in his career, with two coming in 2013, and one while he was with the Pirates on May 29, 2017 against the Miami Marlins.
Rich Loiselle, relief pitcher who spent his entire big league career with the Pirates, playing for the team from 1996 until 2001. He was a 38th round draft pick in 1991 by the San Diego Padres at 19 years old, coming out of Odessa College in Texas. He played that 1991 season in the Arizona Summer League, where he had 3.52 ERA in 61.1 innings over 12 starts. In 1992, Loiselle spent the year in A-Ball with Charleston of the South Atlantic League. He went 4-8, 3.71 in 97 innings over 19 starts. The next season was split between Waterloo of the Class-A Midwest League, and Rancho Cucamonga of the High-A California League. He combined to go 6-13, 5.01 in 142 innings over 24 starts, with much better results at the lower level, though the California League was known for offense. In 1994, Loiselle spent the entire season with Rancho Cucamonga, going 9-10, 3.96 in 156.2 innings over 27 starts, with 120 strikeouts.
Loiselle remained with the Padres through the middle of 1995, posting a 3.55 ERA in 13 starts for Double-A Memphis of the Southern League, followed by a 7.24 ERA in 27.1 innings for Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League. He was traded to the Houston Astros near the end of the season and pitched 10.1 innings for their Triple-A team (Tuscon of the PCL). He spent a year and four days in their organization before the Pirates picked him up in a trade on July 23, 1996 in exchange for veteran pitcher Danny Darwin. Loiselle at the time of the deal had a 3.47 ERA in 16 starts with Double-A Jackson of the Texas League. He was strictly a starter as he was coming up through the minors, but he didn’t last long in that role with the Pirates. He reported to Triple-A Calgary of the PCL after the trade and had a 4.09 ERA in 50.2 innings over eight starts. He made his MLB debut that September, and in five games (three starts) he had a 3.05 ERA in 20.2 innings. He made his only three big league starts that season. Loiselle moved to the bullpen for good the following season and became the Pirates closer by May, saving 29 games, while posting a 3.10 ERA in 72.2 innings over 72 outings.
Loiselle had another 19 saves in 1998, with a 3.44 ERA in 55 innings and 54 appearances, but his stats dropped off in the second half and he was removed from the closer role. He pitched 13 games in 1999 before injuring his elbow in a game on May 7th, which cost him the rest of the season. At the time he had a 5.28 ERA in 15.1 innings. Loiselle returned to the Pirates in late May of 2000 and posted a 5.10 ERA in 42.1 innings over 40 games. He struggled again in 2001, and began shuttling between Nashville (Triple-A) of the PCL and Pittsburgh, finishing with an 11.50 ERA in 18 Major League games. He became a free agent after the season and signed with the St Louis Cardinals, though he was released during Spring Training of 2002. He signed with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2003, but never appeared in a game for them at any level. His final game with the Pirates on October 6, 2001 was also his final game as a pro. Loiselle had a career 9-18, 4.38 record in 224 innings over 202 games, while picking up 49 saves.
Bobby Crosby, infielder for the 2010 Pirates. He was a first round draft pick out of Cal State in 2001, taken 25th overall by the A’s. He was originally drafted in the 34th round out of high school three years earlier by the Los Angeles Angels, but chose the college route and it paid off. Crosby was the American League Rookie of the Year in 2004 and spent seven seasons in Oakland before joining the Pirates. He played just 11 games in the minors during his signing year, starting in High-A ball with Modesto of the California League, where he hit .395 in 38 at-bats. He finished the 2002 season in Double-A, splitting the year between Modesto and Midland of the Texas League. Crosby hit .295 in 132 games, with 78 runs, 33 doubles, nine homers, 69 RBIs, 14 steals and 52 walks. He hit .309 with 32 doubles, 22 homers, 90 RBIs, 63 walks and 24 stolen bases in Triple-A for Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League in 2003, which resulted in a September call-up to the A’s. He played 11 games and failed to get a hit in 12 at-bats during his first big league trial. That poor start was not a sign of things to come. Crosby hit just .239 as a rookie, but he won the Rookie of the Years thanks to 34 doubles, 22 homers, 70 runs scored and above average defense. He did better the next season at the plate, but it also marked a stretch of him being unable to play a full season. From 2005 until 2007, he topped out at 96 games played in a season. Crosby had an .802 OPS in 2005, but it dropped to .636 in 2006 and then down to .619 in 2007.
Crosby hit .276 in 84 games in 2005, with 66 runs, 25 doubles, nine homers and 38 RBIs. The next year saw him hit .229 in 96 games, with 42 runs, 12 doubles, nine homers and 40 RBIs. He hit .226 in 93 games in 2007, with 40 runs, 16 doubles, eight homers and a career high ten steals. He finally played a full season in 2008, though the hitting stats didn’t recover to 2004-05 standards. Crosby batted .237 in 145 games, with 66 runs scored, seven homers and 61 RBIs. He collected a career high 39 doubles, but he finished with a .645 OPS. After batting .223 with six homers and 29 RBIs in 97 games in a utility role in 2009 , the A’s let him go via free agency. He became a free agent on November 5th and signed with the Pirates five weeks later.
Crosby played half of a season for the Pirates before being dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a five-player/cash deal on July 31, 2010. He hit .224 with 11 RBIs in 61 games before the trade. He got starts at all four infield spots, seeing his most time at shortstop. Crosby finished his big league career with Arizona in 2010, but he attempted a comeback in 2013 with the Milwaukee Brewers, which ended with him being released during Spring Training. In his career, he hit .236/.304/.372 in 747 games, with 329 runs, 62 homers, 276 RBIs and 34 steals. His father Ed Crosby played six seasons in the majors with three different teams during the 1970s.
Ed Stevens, first baseman for the 1948-50 Pirates. Known as “Big Ed”, he signed his first pro contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1941 when he was 16 years old, and he hit .271 with 13 homers that season in Class-D ball (lowest level at the time) with Big Spring of the West Texas-New Mexico League. He remained in Class-D ball in 1942 and had a huge season, batting .330 with 56 extra-base hits in 110 games. Part of the year was spent in the same league with a team from Lamesa, while he also put up 46 games for Johnstown of the Pennsylvania State League. He managed to avoid service during WWII, but an injury cost him the entire 1943 season. He was skipped to Montreal of the Double-A (highest level at the time) International League when he returned in 1944, which was a huge jump at the time. He did well, batting .271 with 16 homers, 102 RBIs and 80 walks in 153 games. Stevens repeated the level to start, but he got promoted to the majors in July after hitting .309 with 19 homers and 95 RBIs in 110 games. He made the Dodgers by age 20 and hit .274 with 32 walks and 29 RBIs in 55 games as a rookie. Stevens played 103 games in 1946, hitting .242 with ten homers and 60 RBIs. When all of the talent returning from the war effort, he spent nearly the entire 1947 season in the minors where he hit .290 with 27 homers and 108 RBIs for Montreal (then a Triple-A team). He played just five games all year for the Dodgers.
The Pirates purchased Stevens’ contract in November of 1947 and he would play 128 games for them in 1948, hitting .254 with 47 runs, 19 doubles, ten homers and 69 RBIs, while leading all National League first baseman in fielding percentage. Stevens was with the Pirates all year in 1949, though he played just 67 games. He hit .262 with four homers and 32 RBIs. His OPS was just three points lower than in 1948, though he did a better job of getting on base in 1949, albeit with lower power numbers. Stevens then spent most of the following year in the minors with Indianapolis of the Triple-A American Association, getting a brief September call-up, which would end up being his last appearance in the majors. He went to Spring Training with the 1951 Pirates, but he was optioned to Indianapolis on March 21st, officially ending his time with the club. He played minor league ball until 1961, hitting over 250 homers during his 16-year career. He also drove in nearly 1,200 runs in pro ball, while playing a total of 2,240 games. The 1952-56 seasons were spent with Toronto of the International League, where he had two seasons with 113 RBIs. After leaving Toronto, he played with six teams over his final four seasons. Stevens batted .253 with 14 homers and 104 RBIs in 212 games with the Pirates. He hit .252 in 163 games with the Dodgers and finished with a .252 career average. He became a full-time scout after his playing career ended.
Tom Kinslow, catcher for the 1895 Pirates. He had played in the majors as early as 1886, but he got his first real chance in 1890 when the Player’s League was formed. He debuted in pro ball in the majors at 20 years old. His big league career started with him playing five games total over the 1886-87 seasons for two different teams. He saw three games with the 1886 Washington Nationals of the National League and two games with the New York Metropolitans of the American Association in 1887. Kinslow spent the rest of the 1887 season with the Allentown Peanut Eaters of the Pennsylvania State League, where he hit .377 in 36 games. In 1888 he caught for London of the International Association, where he batted .200 with 18 extra-base hits in 81 games. London moved to the International League in 1889 and Kinslow remained with the club, hitting .343 with 21 extra-base hits in 72 games. That performance led to him getting a job with the Brooklyn Ward’s Wonders of the Player’s League, where he hit .264 in 64 games, with 21 extra-base hits and 46 RBIs. When the league folded after one season, he followed his manager (Hall of Famer John Ward) from the Player’s League to the National League, staying in the same city to play for the Brooklyn Grooms.
In 1891, Kinslow hit .237 in 61 games, with six extra-base hits (all doubles), 33 RBIs and 22 runs scored. He had a solid season at the plate in 1892, batting .305 with 40 RBIs in 66 games. He had 19 extra-base hits that year and 11 of them were triples. He hit .244 in 78 games in 1893, with 16 extra-base hits and 45 RBIS. After a down year at the plate, he returned to form in 1894 to put up very similar numbers to 1892. It was a huge year for offense in baseball, but it was still a nice bounce back season because that offensive explosion started in 1893, when he was only able to put up a .605 OPS. In 62 games in 1894, he hit .305 with 39 runs and 41 RBIs. Those games played totals from that five-year run appear to be small, but many catchers during that era only worked with certain pitchers, which in turn gave them a chance to rest from the grueling work behind the plate in the 1890s, when the equipment paled in comparison to what is in use today. The best athletes/hitters among catchers back then usually saw work at other positions often to keep them in the lineup.
In January of 1895 the Pirates traded pitcher Ad Gumbert for Kinslow. The trade didn’t work out well for either team. Gumbert had two losing seasons in Brooklyn and Kinslow lasted just 19 games in Pittsburgh, in which he hit .226 in 62 at-bats. He also gave up 33 steals (in 44 attempts) over his 18 games caught. At the time of the trade, Pirates manager Connie Mack said that he considered Kinslow to be the best catcher in the league and he would be needed with the young pitching staff for the Pirates. However, Kinslow got off to a slow start and Mack started catching more often. On June 28, 1895, Kinslow was released unconditionally, which was odd for the time because most teams would release a player on ten days notice, then get some type of return for the player, even if it was a sale to a minor league team. He played two more seasons in the majors, seeing a combined 25 games for three different teams. He played eight games for Louisville in 1896, three games with the Washington Senators in 1898 (not the same franchise as his earlier Washington time), and 14 games for the 1898 St Louis Browns. In ten seasons, Kinslow played for eight teams total in three different Major Leagues. He was a .266 hitter in 380 games, with 186 runs scored, 12 homers and 222 RBIs. He had two seasons in which he collected more triples than doubles.
Ed Swartwood, outfielder/first baseman for the 1882-84 Pittsburgh Alleghenys and 1892 Pirates. He played Independent ball from 1878 until 1881, when purely by chance he got to play an MLB game at 22 years old with the Buffalo Bisons of the National League. Swartwood’s team (Akron) played an exhibition game against Buffalo on an off-day and won 9-4. Hall of Famer Pud Galvin made the start against Akron and Swartwood finished with two hits. After the game, two Bisons players had to leave the team for personal reasons, one being Galvin, who had to attend to his sick wife. Buffalo sent a telegraph back to Akron and picked up Swartwood and teammate Blondie Purcell for the day to play against Cleveland. Swartwood went 1-for-3 with a walk in his only game, while Purcell ended up sticking with Buffalo for the rest of the season. Swartwood rejoined his minor league team after that one big league game, but it took an increase in salary for him not to sign with Buffalo for the remainder of the season. The American Association was formed for the 1882 season as a rival Major League to the NL. Swartwood played throughout the winter in the south with a team from Louisville called the Eclipse, and in mid-November it was announced that he would sign with Pittsburgh for the upcoming season. He would hit .331 that first year in 77 games, with 87 runs scored and 18 doubles, leading the American Association in each of those last two stats during the league’s inaugural 80-game schedule. He’s best known now as being the first batter in Pittsburgh Pirates franchise history, batting lead-off on Opening Day (May 2, 1882). The AA schedule expanded to 98 games during the following year and Swartwood would lead the league with 147 hits, an .869 OPS and a .357 average, winning the first batting title in franchise history. He scored 86 runs and had 35 extra-base hits in 94 games.
After hitting .288 with 25 extra-base hits and 77 runs scored in 102 games in 1884, the Alleghenys sold Swartwood to the Brooklyn Grays. The move was made necessary by the fact that Swartwood had said he was going to sign with a National League team, so Pittsburgh was forced to sell/trade him or risk losing him for nothing. Despite the fact that Brooklyn was an American Association team, Swartwood remained in the league and played for the Grays for three seasons. He never quite approaching his 1882-83 numbers, hitting .268 in 312 games over those three seasons. He batted .266 in 99 games in 1885, with 80 runs scored and 49 RBIs. His best season was 1886 when he led the league with 70 walks, and he scored 95 runs. He batted .280 in 122 games that year, with 26 extra-base hits, 58 RBIs and 37 steals. During the 1887 season, Swartwood hit .253 in 91 games, with 72 runs, 23 extra-base hits, 54 RBIs and 29 steals.
After the 1887 season, Swartwood then played two seasons in the minors with Hamilton, first in the International Association in 1888, then in the International League in 1889. He reappeared in the majors in 1890, playing in the American Association when the league’s talent was watered down due to a third Major League in existence, the Player’s League. Despite hitting .327 with 80 walks and 106 runs scored in 1890 for the Toledo Maumees, he was back in the minors for 1891 after the PL folded. Part of the reason for the return to the minors was that the Toledo franchise lasted just one year. Swartwood spent the 1891 season with Sioux City of the Western League, then started the 1892 season with the Pirates. Sioux City’s manager was Al Buckenberger, who became the manager of the Pirates during the winter of 1891-92 and in November he signed Swartwood to join him in Pittsburgh. Their time together didn’t last long in the majors. Swartwood hit .238 in 13 games with 13 walks before the Pirates released him on May 26th to help cut team expenses. He went back to the minors and played there until the end of the 1893 season, but an arm injury (suffered while with the Pirates) and illness limited his effectiveness during that time. He umpired off and on in the minors for the next ten years before retiring from baseball. He was a .322 hitters in 286 games with the Alleghenys/Pirates. In 725 big league games, he finished with a .300 average and he scored 608 runs.