This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: January 22nd, The Oldest Pirates Rookie

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date.

Jimmy Anderson, pitcher for the 1999-2002 Pirates. He was a ninth round draft pick of the Pirates in 1994 out of Western Branch HS in Virginia. Anderson had a strong debut in the Gulf Coast League at 18 years old, going 5-1, 1.60 in 56.1 innings, with 66 strikeouts. He made 14 starts with Low-A Augusta of the South Atlantic League in 1995 and posted a 1.53 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 76.2 innings, earning a mid-season promotion to high-A Lynchburg of the Carolina League. He went 1-5, 4.13 in 52.1 innings, with 32 strikeouts, after being promoted. In 1996 he had a 13-6, 2.77 record in 162.1 innings, spending more than half of the season in Double-A Carolina of the Southern League at the age of 20. He had a 1.93 ERA in 11 starts with Lynchburg, then finished off with am 8-3, 3.34 record in 97 innings with Carolina. That performance earned him a top 100 ranking by Baseball America going into the 1997 season. Despite that early success at a young age, Anderson stalled out during the following two seasons posting a combined ERA near 5.00 in 60 games and 251.1 innings. He did well with Carolina in 1997, posting a 1.46 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 24.2 innings, but the struggles began once he reached Triple-A Calgary of the Pacific Coast League. He went 7-6, 5.68 in 21 starts that year for Calgary. Pittsburgh’s Triple-A affiliate moved to Nashville of the PCL in 1998, and Anderson did slightly better, going 9-10, 5.02 in 123.2 innings, though he had more walks (72) than strikeouts (63).

Anderson pitched better in Nashville in 1999, going 11-2, 3.84 in 133.2 innings, which much better walk and strikeout rates. That earned him a brief call-up to the majors in July, followed by a permanent spot with the Pirates in early August. He would go 2-1, 3.99 in 13 games (four as a starter) and 29.1 innings during that rookie season. Anderson was in the Pirates starting rotation in 2000, where he went 5-11, 5.25 in 144 innings over 26 starts and one relief outing. The following year he made a career high 34 starts and went 9-17, 5.10 in 206.1 innings. He had a 83:89 BB/SO ratio, though the Pirates had him issue 14 intentional walks. He was fourth in the National League in games started and second in losses that year. The Pirates released him in December of 2002 after going 8-13, 5.44 in 140.2 innings, with a 63:47 BB/SO ratio. During his four seasons in Pittsburgh, he went 24-42, 5.17 in 520.1 innings. Between 2003 and 2006, Anderson pitched a total of 20 big league games and was a member of eight different organizations in that four-year period. Anderson signed with the Cincinnati Reds in January of 2003 and went 1-5, 8.87 in 38.1 innings before being released in July. He then signed with the San Francisco Giants, who released him six weeks later without using him in the majors. Anderson signed with the Chicago Cubs for 2004 and pitched seven times in relief before being traded to the Boston Red Sox in early July. He last pitched in the majors on July 21, 2004, then got released by Boston 11 days later.He had a 5.17 ERA in 15.2 innings that year. After that point, Anderson returned to the Cubs, then spent time with the Minnesota Twins, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Houston Astros, playing at Triple-A for all four teams during the 2005 season. He pitched 22 games in Triple-A in 2006 for the Florida Marlins before retiring.

Fred Cambria, pitcher for the 1970 Pirates. He was a third round draft pick of the Pirates at 21 years old out of St Leo University in 1969, who didn’t take long to make it to the majors, getting there just 14 months. He went right to Double-A York of the Eastern League after signing and had a 9-2, 2.16 record in 14 starts and 104 innings. On July 15th, he threw a seven-inning perfect game during the first game of the doubleheader. Back when teams used to track Fall Instructional League stats and it was played more like a league than exhibitions, he had a 3.82 ERA in 33 innings after that first season in pro ball. Beginning the next season in Triple-A with Columbus of the International League, Cambria had a 12-7, 4.17 record in 164 innings over 26 starts before getting called up to the majors. He made his debut on August 26, 1970 and was the tough luck loser in a 2-1 game. He allowed one earned run in 6.1 innings that day. He started again four days later and got a no-decision in a 2-1 Pirates loss. He was even better this day, giving up one run in seven innings. He would get his only Major League win six days later, going 7.1 innings while allowing four runs to the Philadelphia Phillies in a 6-4 game. He started two more games, going 5.1 innings each time, taking one loss and another no-decision, before finishing his MLB career with a two-inning shutout performance in relief on the final day of the season (October 1st). The Pirates made the playoffs that year, and while he didn’t play in the postseason, he was voted a half playoff share, which amounted to $2,900 at the time.

Cambria would develop shoulder problems the following season and never quite recovered, pitching just 73 minor league innings over the 1971-72 seasons. He blamed the injury on his workload from the 1970 season, when he pitched 164 innings in the minors, 33.1 more with the Pirates, then got sent to winter ball in the off-season. He also noted that the Pirates had him change his delivery at that same time. Cambria was the final pitcher cut during Spring Training in 1971. He went 0-3, 5.56 in seven starts for Charleston of the International League in 1971, then followed it up with a 2-0, 5.54 record in 39 innings over 17 relief appearances for Charleston in 1972. During that 1972 season, he was cut in the middle of Spring Training, then after the season ended, he was dropped from the 40-man roster. He went to camp in the spring of 1973 with Charleston, but they cut him early in the year without an appearance. He  played sandlot ball for five weeks before getting his final chance in pro ball when he pitched briefly in Double-A for the 1973 New York Yankees before retiring. A Yankees scout saw him during the sandlot game and signed him right away, but he lasted just seven games. One interesting note about him, Cambria was born in Cambria Heights, NY, which was just a coincidence and not named after his family.

Diomedes Olivo, pitcher for the 1960 and 1962 Pirates. He is supposedly the second oldest rookie ever to Satchel Paige, but just like Paige, questions surround his actual age and he may have been much older than the 41 years he claimed when he made his MLB debut with the 1960 Pirates. He originally signed with the Cincinnati Reds in 1955. Olivo was a top pitcher in the Dominican Republic during his day, who didn’t want to play in the majors until later in life. He pitched just seven games for Cincinnati’s Triple-A affiliate in Havana, Cuba in 1955, then spent the rest of the year with the Mexico City Reds of the Mexican League, which was considered to be a Double-A level of play. Olivo went 8-6, 4.91 with 120 strikeouts in 141 innings, making 14 starts and 14 relief appearances. He remained with Mexico City through the 1958 season. He had a big year in 1956, going 15-8, 2.65 in 197 innings over 23 starts and nine relief appearances. In 1957, he had a 2.00 ERA for Mexico City, though he was only credited with 36 innings pitched. He left the team early in the year to play summer ball in Nicaragua, but he returned to the Mexican League in 1958. He went 8-6, 3.81, with 122 strikeouts in 151 innings in 1958. In 1959, he played for Poza Rica of the Mexican League, and had a huge season, going 21-8, 3.02 in 247 innings, with 233 strikeouts. He threw 23 complete games and three shutouts.

The Pirates purchased Olivo’s contract from Poza Rica on March 6, 1960, and at the time he was listed as being 35 years old. He was said to have a tremendous fastball, with shortstop Dick Groat saying that he threw harder than anyone in Spring Training for the Pirates at the time. Groat had faced him during winter ball for three years straight and said that he had just two soft hits against him and a lot of strikeouts. The Pirates also included a minor league player in the deal to get Olivo from his Poza Rica team. It sounded as if he would make the Pirates out of Spring Training, but they sent him to the minors on April 13th. Technically he wasn’t a part of the Pirates anymore at this time, as his contract was returned to his Mexican League team, who immediately sold it to Columbus of the International League.

Olivo had a 2.88 ERA in 150 innings at Triple-A in 1960, earning a late season call-up and four relief appearances for the Pirates.The Pirates purchased his contract from Columbus on September 1st and he debuted four days later. He allowed three runs over 9.2 innings during his first taste of the majors. Papers were saying he was 40 years old at this time, though his age jumped to 44 years old the next season. He spent the entire 1961 season in Triple-A with Columbus and posted a 2.01 ERA in 130 innings, helping him earn a spot on the Pirates 1962 Opening Day roster. He would pitch 62 times (one start) for Pittsburgh that year, finishing with seven saves and a 5-1, 2.70 record in 84.1 innings. Following the season, the Pirates traded him, along with Dick Groat, to the St Louis Cardinals for infielder Julio Gotay and pitcher Don Cardwell. Olivo would go 0-5, 5.40 in 13.1 innings over 19 games with the 1963 Cardinals, and then never pitched in the majors again. He finished his pro career later that same season with Atlanta of the International League. He played winter ball that year before officially retiring. After his playing days were over, he scouted for a numbers of seasons. His brother Chi-Chi Olivo and his son Gil Rondon both played in the majors.

Eugene “Huck” Geary, shortstop for the 1942-43 Pirates. He began his career in the minors at age 18 in 1935 and it took him 7 1/2 seasons to make it to the majors for the first time. His career got sidetracked three years in a row in the minors, missing time in 1937 due to appendicitis, then in 1938 he broke his left ankle, followed by a break in his right ankle in 1939. In 1935, Geary played two games for Buffalo of the Double-A International League, which was quite an advanced placement for someone his age with no prior experience. He remained there in 1936 and hit .232 in 39 games. In 1937, he lasted 30 games total, playing twice for Buffalo and 28 games for Scranton of the Class-A New York-Penn League. In 1938, he played 16 games for Baltimore of the International League, but most of the year was spent five levels lower with Thomasville of the Georgia-Florida League. He combined to hit .242 with 25 extra-base hits in 90 games. In 1939, Geary played for DeLand of the Class-D Florida State League. He batted .362 in 87 games, with 21 doubles and 13 triples. The next three years were spent with the Minneapolis Millers of the Double-A American Association. In 1940, he hit .308 in 131 games, with 31 doubles and ten homers. He followed that up with a .280 average in 142 games in 1941. He scored 85 runs, hit 33 doubles and 12 homers, while adding 56 RBIs, 15 steals and 47 walks. During the first half of the 1942 season, Geary hit .294 in 89 games, with 46 runs, 23 extra-base hits and 39 RBIs.

The Pirates acquired Geary on June 17, 1942 from Minneapolis. The Pirates traded star shortstop Arky Vaughan after the 1941 season and they were having trouble replacing him, so Geary became an option, though he was allowed to remain with Minneapolis for a time before joining the Pirates. They gave up two players (Stu Martin and Alf Anderson) and cash (reportedly $22,000) to get their new shortstop and there was a bit of media-driven controversy from the start. He joined the Pirates on June 16th, taking five full days to report to the team after leaving Minneapolis for Pittsburgh. The media constantly wondered where he was during that time, but Geary was allowed by the Pirates to move his family to his home in Buffalo prior to joining the team. He played just nine games that rookie season, going 5-for-22 (.227) at the plate. On August 15th, he went missing during a doubleheader in Chicago. The Pirates received a wire stating that he may retire for the rest of the season because he couldn’t play in his present condition. It was soon explained that he had a stomach ailment and returned home. The Pirates received Alf Anderson back from Minneapolis after Geary left.

Geary joined the Pirates late in 1943 after deciding during Spring Training that he would continue working his wartime factory job instead. That was first reported on March 3rd, although by the 28th it was said that he would return to the Pirates. The local media had a field day with him when he constantly failed to show up when it was said that he would be in camp. One time he made it almost all the way to Spring Training in Muncie, Indiana before turning around and going back to Buffalo because he got sick on the ride over. He also suffered a sinus infection during another trip to the club and had to stop on his way. They thought they would get about two weeks of Spring Training work for him, but he arrived in camp on April 14th, seven days before Opening Day.  In 1943 he played 46 games at shortstop for the Pirates, hitting a paltry .151, though he walked 18 times against just six strikeouts. His defense was league average for his position. Geary played his last major league game on July 16, 1943, and he would play just ten more minor league games after that date, all coming in 1947. In between he served in the military during WWII.  Geary’s last day with the Pirates was July 17th when he left the team during a doubleheader without notice and they suspended him indefinitely. He went home and played semi-pro ball once a week, saying he left the Pirates due to a knee injury and all he could play is once a week due to his condition. His nickname “Huck” was a childhood nickname that carried over into pro ball, though local scribes started calling him Huckleberry instead after his constant issues with the club.

Warren McLaughlin, pitcher for the 1902 Pirates. He began his pro career in 1897 for a team from Pennsylvania called the Williamsport Demorest Bicycle Boys of the Class-F Central Pennsylvania League. His next known pro experience would come for the Philadelphia Phillies, pitching one game in 1900. Prior to joining the team, he was playing semi-pro/amateur ball near his home in New Jersey, where he made quite a reputation for himself as a pitcher. His one game with the Phillies was a six-inning relief outing on July 7th, in which he allowed four runs and six walks, getting a no decision. He was with the Phillies for some time that year, but his only other pitching was a July 18th exhibition game. He was said to possess a lot of velocity on his fastball, but his overall game didn’t impress. The Philadelphia papers started calling him Barney, which was the name of the second baseman for the 1887 Phillies (then called Quakers) with the last name McLaughlin. The nickname stuck through his career, including his time in Pittsburgh.

McLaughlin then pitched for two seasons in the minors, spending most of that time with a team from New London of the Class-D Connecticut State League. The manager for New London announced on September 4, 1902 that McLaughlin would get a tryout with the Pirates, while at the same time denying a local report that the Boston Beaneaters (Braves) had signed his young pitcher. There were also reports around that same time that he would get a tryout with the St Louis Cardinals. The Pirates gave him three starts, one against his former Phillies team, and the other two against the Cardinals. He previously faced the Cardinals during his one game in Philadelphia. McLaughlin won all three games and got great support from the Pirates bats, as they scored at least seven runs in each game. He joined the Pirates on September 9th and debuted on the 11th in the second game of a doubleheader, then pitched three days later in a game shortened to eight innings due to the Pirates arriving late when a train accident ahead of them caused them a three-hour delay. Six days later, the home crowd saw him for the only time and he picked up a 7-4 win. The papers noted his fastball speed, but he also got compliments for his curveballs and his command of his pitches. That 1902 Pirates team has the best winning percentage in franchise history at .741, so they were giving all of their pitchers great support that season.

In November of 1902, the Pirates signed McLaughlin to a $3,000 salary for the 1903 season. The Chicago White Sox were trying to get him to jump to the American League at that same time. Prior to the start of that 1903 season, the Pirates sold McLaughlin to the Phillies on March 13th in a deal consummated by managers Fred Clarke and Chief Zimmer, who was looking to acquire as much talent as he could that day. Clarke would only part with McLaughlin and gave Zimmer a take-it-or-leave it offer. McLaughlin pitched three games in April/May for the Phillies and lost all of them, while getting a total of ten runs of support. That would be his last big league experience. He pitched in the minors until 1907, spending 2 1/2 seasons back with his former team in New London, then 1 1/2 seasons with the Springfield Ponies of the Connecticut State League (by then it was considered to be a Class-B league), before retiring as a player. There are almost no known minor league stats for him. What is available shows a 17-21 record in 1906 and a 13-19 record in 1907.

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