Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, starting with one who was a key part of a major trade that helped bring in a World Series title.
Dave Brain, third baseman for the 1905 Pirates. He was one of three players traded to the Boston Beaneaters in December 1905 in exchange for Hall of Fame pitcher Vic Willis. Brain began his pro career in 1900 at 21 years old, playing for Des Moines of the Class-B Western League and also for the Chicago White Stockings of the American League, which was still considered a minor league at the time (classified as A-Ball). He remained with the team in 1901 when the league gained Major League status, but he was released after five games, despite hitting .350 with five RBIs. The rest of the 1901 season was spent with St Paul of the Western League (no stats available). He then played for Buffalo of the Class-A Eastern League in 1902, hitting .331 with 36 extra-base hits in 130 games, which helped earn him a spot on the St Louis Cardinals for the 1903 season. Brain split his first season with the Cardinals between shortstop and third base, hitting .231 with 60 RBIs and 21 stolen bases in 119 games. He had 15 triples that year, with eight doubles and one homer.The next season he played seven different positions (everything except catcher and pitcher) while hitting .266 in 127 games, with 57, 24 doubles, 12 triples, seven homers, 18 steals and a career high 72 RBIs.
Brain was struggling through July of 1905, hitting .228 in 44 games, when the Pirates picked him up in a trade for backup infielder George McBride. Brain took over the third base job in Pittsburgh and played well, hitting .257 with 46 RBIs, while providing solid defense (0.8 dWAR). Following the season he was traded to Boston along with minor league pitcher Vive Lindaman and first baseman Del Howard for Vic Willis, who would post four straight 21+ win seasons for the Pirates and help them to a championship in 1909. Brain hit .250 with 43 runs, 19 doubles, five homers and 45 RBIs in 139 games during his first season in Boston. The 1907 season was a real down year for offense during the deadball era, and Brain led the National League with ten homers, while his .745 OPS ranked ninth in the league. He batted .279 in 133 games, with a career best 60 runs scored, as well as 24 doubles, nine triples and 56 RBIs. He was sold to the Cincinnati Reds in May of 1908 after he refused to sign with Boston due to a salary holdout, as a result of them trying to reduce his salary by $400. He played just 28 games in 1908, splitting the year between the Reds and New York Giants, while hitting .125 with no extra-base hits. That was the end of his big league career. Brain ended up playing two years of minor league ball before retiring, playing back in both St Paul and Buffalo. He hit .252 with 254 runs scored, 27 homers, 303 RBIs and 73 steals in 679 big league games.
Enny Romero, pitcher for the 2018 Pirates. He was signed as an international amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2008 at 17 years old by the Tampa Bay Rays, and it took him five years to make the majors. He debuted in pro ball in 2008 in the Dominican Summer League, where he had a 2.76 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 16.1 innings. In 2009, Romero moved up to the Gulf Coast League. He had a 4.81 ERA in 39.1 innings, with 33 strikeouts. In 2010, he split his season between Tampa Bay’s short-season affiliates in the Appalachian League (Princeton) and the New York-Penn League (Hudson Valley), going 5-1, 1.94, with 76 strikeouts in 74.1 innings over 14 starts. He moved up to Low-A in 2011, playing for Bowling Green of the Midwest League, where he went 5-5, 4.26 in 114 innings over 26 starts, with 140 strikeouts. In 2012, Romero went to Charlotte of the High-A Florida State League. He had a 5-7, 3.93 record there, with 107 strikeouts in 126 innings. His slow climb through the system sped up in 2013, as he started in Double-A and then reached the majors by the end of the year. He went 11-7, 2.76 in 140.1 innings for Montgomery of the Southern League, then had a quick stop in Triple-A with Durham of the International League, where he threw eight shutout innings in his only start. Romero debuted in the majors with 4.2 shutout innings in a start on September 22, 2013. Romero allowed one hit, walked four batters and failed to pick up a strikeout.
Romero spent all of 2014 in Triple-A as a starting pitcher, but he would soon move to a relief role to help him get back to the majors. He went 5-11, 4.50 with 117 strikeouts in 126 innings for Durham that season, then returned to the majors in late May of 2015. He pitched 23 times in relief for the 2015 Rays, posting a 5.10 ERA in 30 innings. Romero spent all of 2016 in the majors (except one rehab start) and he struggled, posting a 5.91 ERA in 45.2 innings over 52 appearances. Prior to the 2017 season, he was traded to the Washington Nationals for a minor league pitcher. Romero did much better in Washington, posting a 3.56 ERA in 55.2 innings over 53 outings in 2017. The 2018 season saw him pitch a total of eight games in the majors, spending time with three different teams. After two outings, and three runs over two innings, he was put on waivers by the Nationals. The Pirates claimed him on April 14th and used him twice in the majors. He gave up one run over two innings in his debut on April 18th, then allowed four runs (one earned) over two innings on April 25th. He collected a double and scored a run in his only at-bat with the Pirates. He was soon placed on the disabled list with a shoulder impingement, then was designated for assignment on the day he came off of the DL (July 2nd). Romero was picked up by the Kansas City Royals, who used him four times before they designated him for assignment. He allowed eight runs over four innings with the Royals. He became a free agent on July 24, 2018 and signed to play in Japan for 2019, where he has spent the last three season. He has played winter ball in the Dominican in each of the last nine years. He has a 4-6, 5.12 record in the majors, with 156 strikeouts in 146 innings, over 137 games (one start).
Ross Powell, pitcher for the 1995 Pirates. He was a third round draft pick out of the University of Michigan by the Cincinnati Reds in 1989, who made it to the majors for the first time with Cincinnati in 1993. Powell debuted in Low-A ball with Cedar Rapids of the Midwest League after the draft and had a 3.54 ERA in 13 starts. He made it all the way to Triple-A in his first full season of pro ball, but it still took another three seasons to make that final leap. During that 1990 season, he went 8-14, 3.55 in 185 innings for Chattanooga of the Double-A Southern League. He was a starter there, but his time in Triple-A with Nashville of the American Association consisted of three relief appearances. Powell made 24 starts for Nashville in 1991 and had an 8-8, 4.37 record in 129.2 innings, with a 63:82 BB/SO ratio. He ended up back at Double-A for nearly half of the 1992 season, where he put up a 1.26 ERA in 57.1 innings, while mostly pitching in relief. He also made 12 starts and 13 relief appearances for Nashville, going 4-8, 3.38 in 93.1 innings, with 84 strikeouts. The Reds moved their Triple-A affiliate to Indianapolis of the American Association, where Powell went 10-10, 4.11, with 133 strikeouts in 179.2 innings over 27 starts and one relief appearance. When the rosters expanded in September, he was called up to the majors for the first time. He made one start and eight relief appearances for the 1993 Reds, going 0-3, 4.41 in 16.1 innings.
The Reds traded Powell to the Houston Astros in April 1994, and he spent most of the year as a starter in Triple-A. Despite a 6.05 ERA in 77.1 innings in the minors, he did well in his brief big league time. He pitched 12 games for Houston that season, all in short relief, and he allowed just one run in 7.1 innings. He was with the team for the entire month of June, then returned in early August, pitching three games before the season shut down due to the strike. Powell had a rough time in the majors in 1995, posting an 11.00 ERA in 15 appearances, though most of the damage came in his first appearance (five earned runs in two innings). He was in Triple-A for just a few days when the Astros sent him to the Pirates for a player to be named later on July 28th. The Pirates added the southpaw Powell to the roster the next day, while placing infielder Carlos Garcia on the disabled list. Powell would pitch 12 games for Pittsburgh, three as a starter and go 0-2, 5.23 in 20.2 innings. He was granted free agency following the season. He returned to the minors, where he finished his career in 1996. Powell spent that final season in Triple-A, seeing time with the St Louis Cardinals and the Reds. He had a Major League record of 0-5, 5.40 in 53.1 innings over 48 games (four starts). Powell passed away at age 49 in 2017.
Timothy Jones, pitcher for the 1977 Pirates. He was a fourth round draft pick of the Pirates in 1972, taken at 18 years old out of high school in California. He slowly worked his way through the minors, pitching two full seasons in Double-A and then two more in Triple-A before getting a September call-up in 1977. The Pirates pushed him to Double-A quickly after he posted strong results in each of his first two seasons. In short-season ball in 1972, mostly spent in the Gulf Coast League, he had a 2.19 ERA in 74 innings. At 19 years old, he pitched 172 innings, going 13-7, 2.20, with 163 strikeouts, while playing for Charleston of the Class-A Western Carolinas League. Jones actually did well in his first year of Double-A with Thetford Mines of the Eastern League, though he did better in his second season after the Pirates switched Double-A affiliates. He went 11-10, 3.75 in 144 innings over 22 starts, with 95 walks and 106 strikeouts for Thetford Mines in 1974. He then finished 16-6, 3.03 in 172 innings for Shreveport of the Texas League in 1975. His strikeout rate dropped a little (108 strikeouts on the season), but he walked just 62 batters, nearly cutting his walk rate in half.
Jones saw an opposite turn in his results with the move to Triple-A, doing better in his first year versus his second run at the level. The Pirates also made an affiliate switch between those years, but this time he stayed in the same league. He went 7-10, 3.63 in 161 innings over 24 starts with Charleston of the International League in 1976. In 1977, he had a better record, but a worse ERA, while pitching for Columbus. Jones went 15-6, 4.12 in 190 innings over 26 starts and two relief outings, which earned him a trip to the majors. He had been a starter all six seasons in the minors, but the Pirates put him in the bullpen and only used him twice for a total of three innings before the final day of the season. He joined the club on September 4th and got right into a game on his first day, throwing the final two innings of an 8-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Jones retired all six batters he faced. His next appearance came 23 days later when he pitched the final inning of a 7-1 loss to the New York Mets. On October 2nd, the Pirates let him start game one of a doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs, and he threw seven shutout innings, picking up his first big league win. A month later, he had a physical run-in during winter ball with two umpires that got him kicked out of the league. Right before the 1978 season started, the Pirates traded Jones to the Montreal Expos on March 28th for lefty relief pitcher Will McEnaney. Jones spent that season in Triple-A where he had a 6.35 ERA (at a high offense stadium) in 119 innings. He never pitched again after 1978, ending his Major League career with a 1-0, 0.00 record.
Wally Judnich, outfielder for the 1949 Pirates. He spent his first five seasons of pro ball in the minors with the New York Yankees and couldn’t crack their loaded outfield. When he was sold to the St Louis Browns in early 1940 they gave him the center field job and he excelled. Judnich debuted in pro ball at 19 years old in 1935, with Akron of the Class-C Middle Atlantic League, where he hit .274 with 39 extra-base hits in 109 games. In 1936, he played for Norfolk of the Class-B Piedmont League. He had a .303 average in 143 games, with 26 doubles, 11 triples and 24 homers. In 1937, Judnich moved up two levels to Oakland of the Pacific Coast League, where he had a .316 average in 175 games, with 42 doubles, 14 triples and 11 homers. He stayed in Double-A (the highest level at the time) in 1938 with Kansas City of the American Association. That year he hit .273 in 150 games, with 34 doubles, ten triples and 22 homers. He was moved to the Double-A Newark Bears of the International League in 1939, and hit .284 in 149 games, with 23 doubles, 13 triples and 21 homers. The Browns purchased his contract on January 30, 1940 and he made their Opening Day roster. As a rookie in 1940, he hit .303 with 97 runs, 27 doubles, seven triples, 24 homers, 89 RBIs and 54 walks in 137 games. That performance earned him mild MVP support, with an 18th place finish in the voting.
Judnich dropped down to a .284 average in 1941, with 90 runs scored, 14 homers and 83 RBIs, though he also drew 80 walks and hit 40 doubles, which were both well above his previous year’s total. His .888 rookie OPS, dropped down to a very respectable .833 mark in his sophomore year. In 1942, Judnich hit .313 with 78 runs, 22 doubles, 17 homers, 82 RBIs and 74 walks in 132 games. He improved to a .912 OPS, but his big league career would get sidetracked. He lost three full seasons (1943-45) of play to WWII, serving in the Air Force. He returned for the 1946 season and wasn’t nearly as good of a ballplayer as he was prior, though he was still a productive big leaguer. In 1946, he .252 with 60 runs, 23 doubles, 17 homers, 72 RBIs and 60 walks in 142 games. He played 144 games in 1947, hitting .258 with 58 runs, 24 doubles, 18 homers, 64 RBIs and 60 walks. Judnich was a center fielder full-time in 1946, then saw a large majority of his work at first base in 1947. That move happened despite the fact that he led all American League outfielders for the third time in fielding percentage (he also led in 1940 and 1942). Shortly after the 1947 season ended, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians, who would win the World Series during the 1948 season, which is still their last World Series title to this date. Judnich saw a small role on that team, seeing time at center field, right field and first base, while hitting .257 with two homers in 79 games. Despite limited plate appearances, he drew 56 walks, resulting in a .411 OBP. He had a rough time in the World Series, going 1-for-14 in four games.
Judnich was picked up by the Pirates off waivers for $10,000 in February of 1949. He started eight of the first 16 games of the season in center field for the Pirates, then was used as a pinch-hitter twice over the next week. He hit .229 in ten games before getting sold outright to the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League on May 15th. He played pro ball until 1955, but never returned to the majors. Judnich spent his final seven seasons in the PCL, playing for the Seals (1949), Seattle (1950-53) and Portland (1954-55) before finishing back in San Francisco in 1955. He drove in over 100 runs during each of the 1951-53 seasons. He finished his big league career with a .281 average in 790 games, with 424 runs scored, 150 doubles, 90 homers and 420 RBIs. He finished with more walks (385) than strikeouts (298). For a player who missed three full seasons in his prime, Judnich put up some huge numbers over all levels of pro ball in 18 seasons. He hit 292 homers, drove in 1,016 runs, collected 2,630 hits and scored 994 runs in 2,578 games. The runs and RBI totals are actually missing his first five years due to incomplete minor league stats. He was a power hitter, who also hit for average those years, while playing an average of nearly 150 games per season, so the real totals in each of those categories are probably in the 1,400-1,500 range.
Johnny Dickshot, outfielder for the 1936-38 Pirates. Nicknamed “Ugly”, he was a strong hitter in the minors prior to making his MLB debut with the 1936 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball at age 20 in 1930, but didn’t really break out in the minors until the 1934 season, when he split the year between two teams in the Class-A Western League. That first year of pro ball was spent with Dubuque of the Class-D Mississippi Valley League, where he hit .309 with nine extra-base hits in 19 games. Dickshot was playing semi-pro ball for a club called St Anthony’s for most of 1931, but also saw some time with Davenport of the Mississippi Valley League in the summer, and he played briefly for Milwaukee of the Double-A American Association that September. Milwaukee signed him to a deal, then they loaned him to two teams during the 1932 season, as he saw time with Fort Smith of the Class-C Western Association, and then finished up with Rock Island of the Mississippi Valley League. He combined to hit .270 that year, with 40 extra-base hits in 137 games. In 1933, Dickshot saw time with two teams in the Class-A Texas League, but by the summer he was back near his home playing semi-pro ball again. The 1934 season saw him play for Cedar Rapids and Rock Island in the Class-A Western League, where incomplete stats credit him with a .343 average in 117 games, with 21 doubles, eight triples and 16 homers.
The Pirates purchased Dickshot’s contract from Little Rock of the Class-A Southern Association on September 19, 1934 and he remained with Little Rock for the 1935 season on option from the Pirates. He hit .309 that year in 138 games, with 28 doubles, 19 triples and seven homers. He began that 1936 season with the Pirates, playing nine games off of the bench before they sent him to the minors. He last played for the Pirates on May 9th, but he actually played an exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox on the 11th before being optioned back to the minors that same day. With Buffalo of the Double-A (highest level at the time) International League that year, Dickshot batted .359 in 130 games, with 17 doubles, 15 triples and 17 homers. He was scheduled to come back to the Pirates in September after his minor league season was done, but the International League championship series didn’t finish until after the Pirates season ended on September 27th.
Dickshot was with the Pirates for all of 1937, playing 82 games that season, with 58 starts in left field. He hit .254 with 15 extra-base hits, 33 RBIs and 42 runs scored. The following season, he was used sparingly all season, making seven starts and getting into a total of 28 games, despite being healthy and with the Pirates all year. He batted .229 with eight singles and eight walks in 43 plate appearances. After the season, Dickshot was traded to the Boston Bees as part of a package used to acquire catcher Ray Mueller. Before Opening Day in 1939, Dickshot was sold to the New York Giants. where he hit .235 in ten games that season, before spending the rest of the year in the minors with Jersey City of the International League. He then spent the next four seasons in the minors, playing mostly for Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League, before returning to the majors to play two seasons during the war years (1944-45) for the Chicago White Sox. In 1944, he hit .253 in 62 games, with 18 runs, 13 extra-base hits and 15 RBIs. He saw more time in 1945, hitting .302 in 130 games, with 74 runs, 19 doubles, ten triples, four homers and 58 RBIs. Despite that success, his big league career was over at that point. His pro career ended two years later playing back with Milwaukee of the American Association. He was a career .318 hitter in 1,526 minor league games. Dickshot batted .276 with 142 runs, seven homers and 116 RBIs in 322 big league games. With the Pirates, he hit .250 with three homers and 38 RBIs in 120 games.
Stu Clarke, infielder for the 1929-30 Pirates. He spent five seasons working his way up through the low levels of the minors before the Pirates signed him for the 1929 season. Clarke began pro ball at 18 years old in 1924, hitting .199 with eight doubles and eight triples in 124 games for Waterloo of the Class-D Mississippi Valley League. He didn’t do much better the next year, hitting .204 with 17 doubles, seven triples and two homers for Waterloo. It was said that he played winter ball in California between the 1924-25 seasons to help improve his hitting, which only helped slightly it appears. However, Clarke was named as the best shortstop in the league, which was voted on by the league umpires. He finally put things together at the plate during the 1926 season. Clarke hit .273 in 119 games for Waterloo, while showing an increase in his power numbers, with 38 extra-base hits. That led to him moving up the minor league ladder in 1927, playing most of the year for Salisbury-Spencer of the Class-C Piedmont League, where he hit .272 with 27 doubles, ten triples and two homers. He also played ten games with with Columbia of the South Atlantic League in 1927, then stayed there for all of 1928, and hit .264 with 36 extra-base hits in 147 games. After the season, he was sold to Wichita of the Class-A Western League. He didn’t last long there, hitting .290 with 20 extra-base hits in 59 games before getting grabbed by the Pirates on June 17th in exchange for infielder Cobe Jones and cash.
Clarke, who was called “Sammy” often in the papers, was acquired to be a backup infielder for most of the final 3 1/2 months of the 1929 season, but he got a decent amount of playing time when injuries, including one to Pie Traynor, opened up some opportunities. He never hit more than .273 in a full season in the minors, but was able to hold his own in the majors during his rookie season, hitting .264 with 20 runs, 14 extra-base hits and 21 RBIs in 57 games. He had trouble in the field when he was forced to fill in at shortstop, committing 18 errors in 41 games. He played well at the hot corner in place of Traynor, making just one error in his 15 games. The following season Clarke lasted just four games before the Pirates sent him to the minors. He hit .444, playing two games at second base and two off the bench. His time with the Pirates actually ended with an ankle injury suffered on May 13th during practice. He was expected to miss about ten days, but he was still doing rehab work in early June. Clarke was available to play for a short time before the Pirates optioned him to Fort Worth of the Texas League. He remained in the minors for the rest of his career, playing until 1933, seeing time with six teams over those final four seasons. Clarke’s time with the Pirates officially ended on March 29, 1931 when he was sold outright to Mission of the Pacific Coast League. He finished with a .273 big league average and a .763 OPS in 61 games.