This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: January 21, Pirates Sign Hall of Fame Pitcher Waite Hoyt

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date. We also have a transaction involving a Hall of Fame pitcher.

The Transaction

On this date in 1933 the Pittsburgh Pirates signed pitcher Waite Hoyt, two months after he was released by the New York Giants. He was 33 years old at the time and had a career record of 195-141, 3.71 in 15 seasons, ten of those years spent with the New York Yankees. Hoyt would go on to pitch four full seasons with the Pirates, posting an ERA under 3.00 in three of them. His best season was 1934 when he went 15-6, 2.93 in 40 games, 17 as a starter. In 190.2 innings that year he struck out a career high 105 batters. In 1937 he had a 1-2, 4.50 record in 11 games before Pittsburgh sold him to the Brooklyn Dodgers on June 21st. Hoyt had a 35-31, 3.08 record in 156 games for the Pirates. Overall in his career he was 237-182, 3.59 in 21 seasons. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1969 by the Veterans Committee despite never receiving more than 19.2% of the votes from the writers. Hoyt’s career record was helped greatly by pitching most of it with the Ruth/Gehrig era Yankees, where he went 157-98, as opposed to the 80-84 record he had while pitching for other teams.

The Players

Chase d’Arnaud, infielder for the 2011-12 and 2014 Pirates. He was a fourth round draft pick of the Pirates in 2008 out of Peppedine. Three years earlier, the Los Angeles Dodgers drafted him in the 44th round out of high school. He played for State College of the short-season New York-Penn League in 2008, where he hit .286 in 43 games, with 16 extra-base hits and 14 steals. In 2009, d’Arnaud hit .293 with 60 walks and 31 stolen bases, split between Low-A West Virginia of the South Atlantic League and High-A Lynchburg of the Carolina League. After the season, the Pirates sent him to the Arizona Fall League, where he batted .296 with 11 walks and 13 steals in 20 games. He hit .247 with 33 doubles, nine triples, 33 steals, 56 walks and 91 runs scored for Double-A Altoona of the Eastern League in 2010. In 2011, d’Arnaud hit .264 with 22 extra-base hits and 20 steals in 74 games for Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League before being called up by the Pirates in late June. He would hit .217 with 12 steals and a .528 OPS in 48 games for the Pirates that year, splitting his time between shortstop (29 games) and third base (12 games). He played winter ball in the Dominican that year, but he went hitless in three games during his brief time. In 2012, d’Arnaud played eight games for the Pirates, going 0-for-6 at the plate, with two runs scored and an RBI. The rest of the year was spent with Indianapolis, where he hit .252 with 34 extra-base hits and 34 steals in 98 games.

D’Arnaud spent all of 2013 in the minors, hitting just .231.287/.346 over 67 games, while playing at three levels. His playing time was limited that season due to multiple injuries. After putting up a .670 OPS and 30 steals in 118 games with Indianapolis in 2014, d’Arnaud returned to the Pirates in September for the playoff run and played eight games without a plate appearance. He pinch-ran seven times and finished one game on defense at shortstop. After the season, he signed as a minor league free agent with the Philadelphia Phillies. He spent most of the 2015 season in Triple-A, getting called up in mid-September, where he hit .176 in 11 games. He signed with the Atlanta Braves for the 2016 season and had his best year in the majors. In 84 games, d’Arnaud hit .245 with 21 RBIs and nine stolen bases. He began 2017 with the Braves, playing 11 games before he was lost on waivers to the Boston Red Sox. He played just two games in Boston before the San Diego Padres picked him up on waivers and got him into 22 more big league games. For the 2017 season, he hit .175 in 33 games. D’Arnaud signed with the San Francisco Giants for 2018 and played 76 games in Triple-A and 42 games with the Giants, putting up a .215 batting average and a .618 OPS during his big league time. He split the 2019 season in the minors, seeing time in Triple-A with the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals. That was his last season of pro ball. He played 236 MLB games over seven seasons, split between six teams, finishing with a .222 average, 68 runs scored, 37 extra-base hits, 40 RBIs and 29 steals. His brother Travis d’Arnaud has played nine seasons in the majors, mostly spent with the New York Mets, though he helped the Atlanta Braves to a World Series title in 2021.

Wil Ledezma, relief pitcher for the 2010 Pirates. He was a seven-year Major League veteran when he signed with the Pirates as a free agent in November 2009. He had a combined record of 15-22, 5.07 in 160 games (40 as a starter), prior to signing with Pittsburgh. Ledezma was signed as an international amateur free agent at 17 years old by the Boston Red Sox in 1998. He was a Rule 5 draft pick in 2002 and debuted in the majors with the Detroit Tigers in 2003. He remained there through the start of the 2007 season. He debuted in the Dominican Summer League in 1998, then moved to the U.S. in 1999, where he went 5-1, 3.30 in 57.1 innings, with 52 strikeouts. In 2000, Ledezma made 14 starts for Augusta of the Class-A South Atlantic League, where he had a 5.13 ERA in 52.2 innings. He was injured for all of 2001, then returned in 2002 long enough for five starts with Augusta and a relief appearance in the GCL. Despite all of that missed time, the Tigers took a shot on him in the Rule 5 draft and he stuck in the majors in 2003, posting a 3-7, 5.79 record in 84 innings over eight starts and 26 relief outings. The Tigers sent him to Double-A (Erie of the Eastern League) in 2004 and he went 10-3, 2.42 in 111.2 innings before returning to the majors after the All-Star break. In eight starts and seven relief appearances for the Tigers, he went 4-3, 4.39 in 53.1 innings.

In 2005, Ledezma split the year between the majors and Triple-A Toledo of the International League, struggling in both spots. He finished the big league year with a 7.07 ERA in ten starts. In 2006, he made 12 starts with Toledo, while making seven starts and 17 relief appearances for the Tigers. The results were much better at both levels that season, finishing up with a 3-3, 3.58 record in 60.1 innings with Detroit. Ledezma started the 2007 season with the Tigers, then got traded to the Atlanta Braves on June 20th, before they flipped him to the San Diego Padres on July 31st. He combined to go 3-3, 5.61 in 59.1 innings over 44 games (one start), with his best results coming in Detroit. In 2008, Ledezma made six starts and 19 relief appearances for the Padres before they put him on waivers in late August. He was picked up by the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he made three shutout appearances to finish the season. Before being placed on waivers, he had a 4.47 ERA in 54.1 innings. Ledezma signed with the Washington Nationals for 2009, but they released him in July after just five games. He signed with the Toronto Blue Jays, but spent the rest of the season in the minors.

Ledezma pitched most of the 2010 season in Triple-A with Indianapolis of the International League, where he posted a 0.94 ERA in 35 relief appearances. The Pirates called him up in late July and he went 0-3, 6.86 in 27 games, striking out 22 batters in 19.2 innings. He was selected off of waiver by the Blue Jays in early 2011 and pitched poorly during his brief time in the majors that season, allowing ten runs in six innings. It ended up being his last seasons at the big league level. He signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers for 2012 and pitched poorly in Triple-A, posting a 6.99 ERA in 38 appearances. Ledezma pitched in Japan in 2013, then played summer ball in Mexico during the 2014-17, 2019 and 2021 seasons. He is still active in baseball and has pitched winter ball in Venezuela for 16 seasons, including each of the last ten years. He finished his big league career with 99 straight appearances without a win, which immediately followed three straight relief appearance victories with the Detroit Tigers from April 11-17, 2007.  Over all levels of pro ball, including winter league action, he has made a total of 788 appearances, including 174 starts. Those numbers don’t include his 1998 stats from the Dominican Summer League, which are unavailable online. In his nine big league seasons, Ledezma posted a 15-25, 5.40 record in 396.1 innings, with 40 starts and 152 relief appearances. Despite making over 600 relief appearances over the years, he has just 28 saves to his credit, all in the minors or winter ball.

Jeff McCurry, pitcher for the 1995 and 1998 Pirates. He signed as a 14th round draft pick of the Pirates in 1990 out of San Jacinto College, but he didn’t debut until a year later. The Pirates also selected him in the 20th round in 1989 out of San Jacinto. He came out of college as a reliever, and he started just three games (all in the minors) during his nine-year career in pro ball. The Pirates began his career in the Gulf Coast League at age 21 and he had a 2.57 ERA in 14 innings. He moved up to Welland of the short-season New York-Penn League, where he allowed one run in 15.2 innings. McCurry split the 1992 season between Low-A Augusta of the South Atlantic League and High-A Salem of the Carolina League, combining for a 3.01 ERA and ten saves in 92.2 innings over 49 appearances, with similar results at each level. He was back in Salem to start 1993, but moved to Double-A Carolina of the Southern League mid-season, after posting a 3.89 ERA in 44 innings. McCurry made a total of 64 appearances and picked up 22 saves (all with Salem) that year, while posting a 3.45 ERA in 73 innings. He spent all of 1994 with Carolina, going 6-5, 3.21 in 81.1 innings, with 11 saves in 48 appearances (two starts).

McCurry played just three games in Triple-A with Calgary of the Pacific Coast League before making his big league debut on May 6, 1995. As a rookie in 1995, he went 1-4, 5.02 in 55 relief appearances, pitching 61 total innings. The Pirates put him on waivers following the season where he was taken by the Detroit Tigers. McCurry pitched just two mid-July games for the Tigers, retiring the only batter he faced in his season debut, before giving up nine runs over three innings in his last game. The rest of the year was spent with Toledo of the International League (Triple-A), where he had a 4.76 ERA in 58.2 innings. He was taken by the Colorado Rockies in the 1996 minor league draft and split the year between Colorado and Colorado Springs of the PCL. He had a 4.43 ERA in 40.2 innings over 33 appearances with the Rockies during the 1997 season. The Pirates signed McCurry on December 18, 1997 as a free agent. In 16 relief appearances in the majors during the 1998 season, he went 1-3, 6.52 in 19.1 innings. He spent the rest of the year in Triple-A (then in Nashville of the PCL), where he had a 4.96 ERA in 45.1 innings. He signed with the Houston Astros for the 1999 season, his last in the majors. He gave up eight runs over four innings in five big league games in late May/early June, then spent the rest of the season in Triple-A. That ended up also being his final season in pro ball. McCurry went to camp with the Atlanta Braves in 2000, and was slated to go to Triple-A, but he didn’t play that season. He finished up his five-year big league career with a 3-12, 5.89 record in 128.1 innings over 111 appearances. He had a 5.38 ERA in 80.1 innings with the Pirates. At the time of McCurry’s Major League debut, he was just the sixth player in Major League history who was born in Japan.

Danny O’Connell, infielder for the 1950 and 1953 Pirates. He played four years in the minors for the Brooklyn Dodgers before the Pirates acquired him on October 1, 1949 in exchange for minor league second baseman Jack Cassini and $50,000. O’Connell batted between .292 and .327 while playing 121+ games during those four seasons with Brooklyn. He debuted at 17 years old in 1946 with Bloomingdale of the Class-D North Atlantic League, where he hit .327 with 91 runs, 43 extra-base hits and 78 RBIs in 121 games. He moved up to Trois-Rivieres of the Class-C Canadian-American League in 1947, where he hit .311 in 133 games, with 30 doubles, seven triples and 66 walks. In 1948, O’Connell skipped a level to Greenville of the Class-A South Atlantic League. He hit .292 in 146 games, with 91 runs, 34 doubles, nine triples, ten homers and 47 walks. In his final season with Brooklyn, he batted .314 in 148 games for St Paul of the Double-A American Association. He had 89 runs scored, 29 doubles, 17 homers, 102 RBIs and 61 walks.

As a rookie with the Pirates in 1950, the 21-year-old O’Connell hit .292 with 32 RBIs and 39 runs scored in 79 games, earning himself a third place finish in the National League Rookie of the Year voting. He debuted in the majors on July 14th after hitting .351 in 84 games for Triple-A Indianapolis of the American Association. O’Connell took the starting spot at third base that year, then soon switched over to shortstop, where he started 65 games. He then spent the next two years in the Army during the Korean War before returning to the Pirates for the 1953 seasons. O’Connell played 149 games that first year back, hitting .294 with 41 extra-base hits, 55 RBIs, 57 walks and 88 runs scored. He made 104 starts at third base and 45 at second base. On December 26, 1953, the Pirates traded him to the Milwaukee Braves for six players and $100,000. Outside of the huge sum of money by 1953 standards, the Pirates received very little for their return.  O’Connell played another eight seasons in the majors, finishing his career with a .260 average, 39 homers, 320 RBIs and 527 runs scored in 1,143 games. The Pirates dealt him at his peak offensively, though he became a strong defender at second base, which helped add value. He had a .764 OPS while with the Pirates, and he topped out at a .688 mark during his eight seasons after the trade.

In 1954, O’Connell hit .279 in 146 games for the Braves, with 61 runs scored, 34 extra-base hits and 37 RBIs. He played 124 games the next year, finishing up with a .225 average, 47 runs, 25 extra-base hits and 40 RBIs. In 1956, he batted .239 in 139 games, with 71 runs, 17 doubles, nine triples, 42 RBIs and 76 walks. O’Connell’s best season at the plate outside of Pittsburgh came in 1957 when he was traded (along with two other players) mid-season to the New York Giants in exchange for Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst. O’Connell hit .256 in 143 games that year, with 86 runs, 27 doubles, eight homers and 52 walks. His results were much better after the trade, with a .720 OPS in 95 games with New York. In 1958, he batted .232 in 107 games, with 44 runs scored, 17 extra-base hits and 51 walks. His 1959 season was limited to 66 plate appearances over 34 games, with a .195 average and a .495 OPS. O’Connell spent the 1960 season in the minors, then returned to the big leagues as a member of the expansion Washington Senators (now the Texas Rangers), seeing most of his time there at third base. He batted .260 in 138 games in 1961, with 61 runs, 30 doubles, 15 steals and a career high 77 walks. He played his final big league season in 1962, batting .263 in 84 games, then finished his career in the minors the next year. He passed away at 40 years old from a combo of a heart issue while driving and auto accident that resulted.

Fern Bell, outfielder for the 1939-40 Pirates. He came into pro ball as an inconsistent power hitter, though he started with a bang, belting 35 doubles and 24 homers as an 18-year-old in 1931. That year he hit .310 in 161 games, splitting his time between two Class-C clubs and Memphis of the Class-A Southern Association. The next two years were spent in Memphis, though he played just 106 games total and hit a total of four homers. That stretch was followed by a .350 average and 28 homers in 1934, with most of those results coming with Tyler of the Class-C West Dixie League, though he also played 43 games with Hollywood of the Double-A Pacific Coast League and put up solid results. In 1935, Bell played 81 games for Newark of the International League (Double-A) and 40 games with Oakland of the PCL. He combined to hit .287 with 19 doubles, six triples and six homers, with slightly better results with Oakland. The 1936 season was spent entirely with Oakland, where he hit .313 in 133 games, with 26 doubles, 11 triples and nine homers. In 1937, he played 56 games for Oakland and 75 games for Double-A Kansas City of the American Association. He combined to hit .291 in 133 games, with 20 doubles, nine triples and six homers.

Bell spent eight seasons in the minors, playing for nine different teams, before he got his first shot in the majors at 26 years old with the 1939 Pirates. He split the 1938 season between Louisville of the American Association (129 games) and Hollywood of the PCL (44 games),  hitting a combined .321 with 37 doubles, 17 triples and 14 homers in 173 games. Those big numbers drew the attention of the Pirates during the National League draft held on October 4, 1938 and helped earn him an Opening Day spot in 1939 for the Pirates. During the 1939 season, Bell hit .286 with 42 walks and 44 runs scored in 83 games, playing all three outfield positions, with most of his time coming in center field. He began the 1940 season with the Pirates, but after playing only six games during the first three weeks, he was sold outright to Toronto of the Double-A International League on May 6th. Teams were allowed to carry 30 players to start the season that year, but they had to be down to 25 players by May 15th. Bell was the first cut to get from 30 down to 25. While with the Pirates that season, he went 0-for-3 with a walk, pinch-hitting four times and pinch-running twice. Bell never played in the majors again. He spent the next four seasons in the minors before he joined the Navy during WWII, which in turn ended his baseball career. In the winter between his two seasons with the Pirates, he worked as a post office clerk in Los Angeles. His name Fern was just a shortened version of his first name (Fernando).