This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: February 1st, Lots of Former Pitchers

Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date. Seven of them were pitchers and the oldest one was an outfielder.

Stolmy Pimentel, pitcher for the 2013-14 Pirates. He was signed by the Red Sox at 16 years old out of the Dominican Republic in 2006. He played his first year of pro ball in the Dominican Summer League in 2007 and had a 2.90 ERA in 62 innings, with 60 strikeouts. He then skipped two levels in 2008 to play for Lowell of the New York-Penn League. Pimentel put up solid results there, with a 3.14 ERA, a 1.08 WHIP and 61 strikeouts in 63 innings. He was in full-season ball by 19 years old, going 10-7, 3.82 in 117 innings, with 103 strikeouts for Greenville of the Low-A South Atlantic League. He moved up one more step in 2010 and saw his ERA go up for the third straight season, posting a 9-11, 4.06 record in High-A with Salem of the Carolina League. Pimentel had 102 strikeouts in 128.2 innings over 26 starts that season. He repeated the level in 2011, posting a 4.53 ERA in 51.2 innings, before being promoted mid-season to Double-A Portland of the Eastern League. It was clearly a move he wasn’t ready for yet, and one that resulted in a 9.12 ERA in 15 starts for Portland. He spent the entire 2012 season back at Double-A, putting up a 4.59 ERA, a 1.36 WHIP and 86 strikeouts in 115.2 innings. He played winter ball in the Dominican during the 2012-13 off-season, with a trade to the Pirates occurring during the middle of his season.

After being acquired from the Boston Red Sox in the Joel Hanrahan/Mark Melancon deal in December of 2012, Pimentel made his Major League debut in September of 2013. He pitched a lot during his first season with the Pirates, splitting his time between Double-A Altoona of the Eastern League and Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League, combining to go 6-9, 3.35 with 123 strikeouts in 169.1 innings. That was in addition to his September stint in Pittsburgh and a one-game stint in winter ball again during the 2013-14 off-season. Pimentel pitched five times in relief for the Pirates that year, allowing two earned runs in 9.1 innings. In 2014, he spent the entire season in the Pirates bullpen, minus a stint on the disabled list and some rehab work in the minors before returning to Pittsburgh. He made 20 appearances for the Pirates that year, posting a 5.23 ERA in 32.2 innings, with 38 strikeouts. He played winter ball in the Dominican to make up some missed time and he ended up with a 5.06 ERA in nine starts. He was selected off waivers in April of 2015 and made his final eight big league appearances that year for the Texas Rangers, where he had a 3.97 ERA in 11.1 innings. Pimentel split the 2016 season between Triple-A with the New York Mets and seven starts in the Mexico summer league. His only pitching time after that year was winter ball during the following off-season, one in which he mostly pitched in Venezuela. His big league career totals show a 2-2, 4.39 record in 53.1 innings over 33 appearances.

Cecilio Guante, pitcher for the 1982-86 Pirates. He was signed by the Pirates as an amateur free agent at 19 years old in November 1979 out of the Dominican Republic. He shot through the minors as a reliever, going from Class-A ball in 1980 to Triple-A by the middle of the 1981 season. He pitched 39 times for Shelby of the South Atlantic League in 1980 and six times for Salem of the Carolina League, combining to go 6-6, 2.68 with 21 saves and 132 strikeouts in 104 innings. Guante pitched ten times in relief for Buffalo of the Double-A Eastern League to start 1981 and posted an 0.64 ERA in 14 innings. The Pirates then move him to a starting role in Triple-A during the 1981 season and he went 6-6, 5.37 in 104 innings for Portland of the PCL. His strikeout rate took a massive tumble at the upper levels, going from 11.4 per nine innings in 1980, down to 6.6 in 1981). Guante was back to relief in 1982 and jumped between Triple-A and the majors all season, pitching ten games for the Pirates. He had stints with the team in May, July, August and September, finishing with a 3.33 ERA in 27 innings. Despite big league time, the Pirates sent him to the Fall Instructional League after the season to work on throwing a forkball. He got called up in early May of 1983 and ended up with just over 100 innings pitched in relief that season, in addition to 25.2 innings in Triple-A. He had 12 outings of 3+ innings, including seven shutout innings in his first big league win on June 27th against the St Louis Cardinals. He went 2-6, 3.32 in 49 appearances for the 1983 Pirates, with nine saves and 82 strikeouts in 100.1 innings.

Guante had a 2.61 ERA through 27 games and 41.1 innings in 1984 when he hurt his shoulder in early July, which ended his season. He was one of a few bright spots in 1985 when the Pirates finished 57-104. That year he pitched 109 innings in relief over 63 games, with a 2.72 ERA and five saves. His 92 strikeouts that season set a career high. In 1986, he went 5-2, 3.35 in 78 innings over 52 appearances. Following that strong showing in 1986, the Pirates traded him in a six-player deal with the New York Yankees that brought back Doug Drabek. Guante would pitch another four seasons in the majors, finishing his career with the Cleveland Indians in 1990. He struggled in his first year in New York and also missed time, posting a 5.73 ERA in 44 innings over 23 appearances. He had a terrific 1988 season, one that ended as a member of the Texas Rangers. He had a 2.88 ERA and 11 saves in 75 innings over 56 appearances, before an August 30th trade sent him to Texas. He then made seven appearances and allowed one run for the Rangers. Guante went 6-6, 3.91 in 69 innings over 50 outings for Texas in 1989, before signing a free agent deal with the Indians. His final season in the majors saw him post a 5.01 ERA in 46.1 innings before being released in mid-August. His final big league appearance was his only career start. He quickly signed with the Boston Red Sox, but he spent just over 7 1/2 months as a member of the team without pitching in the majors. He finished his pro career in 1992, playing one season in China. In five seasons with the Pirates he had a 13-17, 3.06 record in 201 games and 355.2 innings, picking up 20 saves. His final career stats show a 29-34, 3.48 record in 595 innings over 363 games.

Ernie Camacho, pitcher for the 1981 Pirates. He spent ten seasons in the majors, starting with a brief cup of coffee with the 1980 Oakland A’s. Camacho was originally drafted by the Pirates out of Hartnell College in the 12th round of the 1975 draft, but he decided to return to school. He would be selected by the California Angels in the January phase of the 1976 draft, moving up to the fourth round. Still not satisfied, he moved up to the first round of the June 1976 draft, where he was taken by the A’s with the 17th overall pick. His minor league career got off to a rough start and it took quite some time to get on track. Camacho started off by putting up a 5.63 ERA in 1976, while making ten starts for Modesto of the Class-A California League. He then had a 5-9, 5.58 record over 92 innings and 16 starts in 1977, while posting a 51:41 BB/SO ratio. That year he did decent in five starts for Modesto, but struggled with the jump to Double-A with Chattanooga of the Southern League. His 1978 season was limited to just two innings all year due to a car accident during Spring Training, where the van he was in got hit twice while stopped at a red light. A refrigerator inside the van fell on him, causing head, neck and back injuries. At the time, reports said that he was pitching better than he had at any previous point and he was really making a good impression with the A’s. When he returned healthy in 1979, Camacho pitched poorly for Ogden of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, going 7-9, 6.59 in 97 innings over 17 starts and four relief outings. He had 70 walks and 60 strikeouts. In 1980, he had a 3.94 ERA in 64 innings over 33 games (one start) for Ogden. The A’s called him up in late May for two weeks and he gave up nine runs and 20 hits in 11.2 innings over five appearances.

The Pirates acquired Camacho early in the 1981 season as the player to be named later in a deal for pitcher Bob Owchinko, which was made four days prior on April 6th. He spent most of the year in Triple-A with Portland of the Pacific Coast League, where he worked out of the bullpen, posting a 4.74 ERA in 38 innings. The Pirates would use him seven times during the 1981 season, including the only three starts of his Major League career. He was with the team for a brief time in May, then rejoined the club in September. He had a 4.98 ERA and a 15:11 BB/SO ratio in 21.2 innings with the Pirates. Less than a year after they traded for him, Pittsburgh dealt him to the Chicago White Sox on March 20, 1982 in a four-player deal. Camacho pitched just seven games for the White Sox in Triple-A, then spent the rest of the year pitching in Mexico. He became a free agent after the season and signed with the Milwaukee Brewers, but he didn’t make it back to the majors until a trade on June 6, 1983 sent him to the Cleveland Indians. Camacho pitched just four big league games in 1983, then had his best season in the majors in 1984. He pitched 69 times  and threw exactly 100 innings for the Indians that year, going 5-9, 2.43 with 23 saves, which was the sixth highest total in the American League. His 1985 season was limited to 3.1 innings due to a minor elbow surgery in April that kept coming with minors setbacks and he didn’t fully recover until the off-season.

Camacho returned healthy in 1986 and went back into the closer role. He went 2-4, 4.08 with 20 saves in 57.1 innings over 51 appearances. In 1987, he split the year between Triple-A and the majors, going 0-1, 9.22 in 13.2 innings over 15 appearances with the Indians. He became a free agent and signed with the Houston Astros for 1988. Most of that season was spent in Triple-A. Camacho made 13 appearances for the Astros, going 0-3, 7.64 in 17.2 innings. He signed with the San Francisco Giants in 1989 and did another split season between Triple-A and the majors, though this time he had success at both levels. He had a 1.47 ERA in 55 innings with Phoenix of the Pacific Coast League, and a 2.76 ERA in 16.1 innings with the Giants. He remained with the Giants for the first half of the 1990 season before being released, then finished the year with the St Louis Cardinals. He pitched in Triple-A and in the majors for both teams. Despite being released, he actually did well for the Giants at both levels, posting a 3.60 ERA in eight big league games. He struggled in limited work with the Cardinals, giving up six runs in 5.2 innings over six games. That ended up being his final season of pro ball. He finished with a 10-20, 4.21 record and 45 saves in 262.2 over 193 games.

Jim McKee, pitcher for the 1972-73 Pirates. He was a 6’7″ righty, drafted in the fourth round of the 1969 amateur draft at 22 years old out of Otterbein University. That’s a school that has produced just seven draft picks total, with McKee being the first one selected and the only one to make the majors. He got off to a rough start during his first year of pro ball, going 0-6, 7.88 in 40 innings in A-ball with Salem of the Carolina League. The Pirates sent him to the Florida Instructional League after the season and he allowed 12 runs in seven innings. He was back with Salem in 1970, where he had an 8-15 record in 26 starts, but it came with a respectable 3.59 ERA and 170 strikeouts in 173 innings. In Double-A with Waterbury of the Eastern League in 1971, McKee posted a 10-13, 3.85 record in 152 innings with 172 strikeouts. The following year he had a 2.63 ERA in 26 start at Triple-A (Charleston of the International League),which included 11 complete games. It was a strong season, though he saw a sharp decline in his strikeout rate, going from 10.2 per nine innings in 1971, down to a 7.7 SO/9IP rate in 1972. His performance that year was rewarded with a September call-up to the Pirates. He pitched a total of five scoreless innings over two relief appearances, while earning the win in his second game in the majors.

McKee split the 1973 season between the Pirates and Triple-A. He was with the big league club on Opening Day and lasted until early June, then returned to the Pirates in September. In between those stints, he started 15 games at Charleston, going 7-5, 3.55 in 104 innings. He made his one and only big league start that year and couldn’t make it through the third inning, though he allowed just one unearned run in that game on September 26th. That start was actually an odd/risky way to make his first big league start. The Pirates were in a must-win situation with six games left on the schedule and they were trailing the first place New York Mets by 1.5 games. When McKee made a fielding error and then issued a walk to start the third inning, manager Danny Murtaugh went with the quick hook and brought on Bob Moose, who would end up winning the game. McKee finished with an 0-1, 5.67 record and a 17:13 BB/SO ratio in 27 innings over 15 appearances with the 1973 Pirates, pitching just one more big league game after his lone start. He would spend the entire 1974 season in Charleston, going 10-12, 3.61 in 147 innings over 23 starts. That ended up being his last season of pro ball. His strikeout rate dropped even more during his final two seasons, going from 7.7 in 1972, to 6.2 in 1973 to 5.1 in his final year. McKee was with the Pirates during Spring Training in 1975, though at the time he was only competing for a job on the Charleston pitching staff. He made it down to the final cuts, before the Pirates released him on April 7th, ending his pro career. He wore three different uniform numbers during his brief time in Pittsburgh, going with 49 to start his big league career, before switching to 39 that same year, then switching from 39 to 46 during the 1973 season.

Bob Smith, lefty pitcher for the 1957-59 Pirates. He had seven games of MLB experience when the Pirates purchased his contract from the St Louis Cardinals in May of 1957. He debuted at pro ball at the lowest level (D-ball) with Wellsville of the Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York League (PONY) and had a rough first season at 18 years old in 1948. Smith went 0-6, 7.85 in 55 innings over eight starts and eight relief outings, with 54 walks during that first year. He repeated the PONY league in 1949 with Hornell and dropped his ERA to 5.32, while drastically cutting his walk rate, which was still fairly high with 76 free passes in 132 innings. Smith has 118 strikeouts that year, along with an 8-10 record in his 17 starts and 13 relief appearances. He moved up a level in 1950 to the Class-C Canadian-American League. While the walk rate saw a slight uptick, he lowered his ERA to 3.65 in 138 innings and put together a 13-5 record. Smith advanced to A-Ball 1951, playing briefly for Scranton of the Eastern League, but the majority of the year was spent with Roanoke of the Class-B Piedmont League. He had a 6-15, 4.11 record in 173 innings that year. His progress up the minor league ladder was halted for the next two seasons while he served in the Army during the Korean War.

Smith returned in 1954 and came back as an improved pitcher. Playing in Double-A with Shreveport the Texas League, he went 13-5, 2.89 in 212 innings and posted his best walk rate to that point, finishing with an 89:147 BB/SO ratio. That performance helped earn him an Opening Day spot with the Boston Red Sox in 1955, though he pitched just once in relief (1.2 scoreless innings) before being sent to the minors for the rest of the season. He pitched for Louisville of the Triple-A American Association that year and had a 10-6, 2.48 record in 127 innings. Smith spent all of 1956 pitching in the Pacific Coast League with San Francisco, where he went 8-11, 4.38 in 156 innings, bringing walks all the way down to a respectable 3.1 per nine innings. He got picked up by the St Louis Cardinals in the 1956 Rule 5 draft. In six relief appearances in St Louis in 1957, he allowed ten runs in 9.2 innings, though only half of those runs were earned. The Pirates picked him up in a cash deal on May 14, 1957 and he debuted four days later. That first game didn’t go so well, as he allowed three runs in two innings and picked up his first career loss. Smith posted a 2-2, 3.11 record in 55 innings over 20 games (four starts) with the Pirates that season. His last three appearances were as a starter and he threw two complete games, including his first big league win on September 8th against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Smith was used mostly in relief in 1958, pitching a total of 35 games (four starts) with a 4.43 ERA in 61 innings. He started the 1959 season off strong, but after allowing runs in eight of his last 12 relief appearances, he was put on waivers in early June, where the Detroit Tigers picked him up. Smith had a 3.49 ERA in 28.1 innings that year for the Pirates, though it came with a 17:12 BB/SO ratio. He got roughed up with his new team, going 0-3, 8.18 in nine relief appearances. That would be his last season in the majors, although he pitched another five years in the minors, seeing time with six teams over all three Triple-A leagues at the time. Part of the 1961 season was spent with the Pirates affiliate (Columbus of the International League). With the Pirates, he had a 4-6, 3.74 record in 144.1 innings over eight starts and 67 relief appearances. He had a career 4.05 ERA in 166.2 innings. During the 1958-59 seasons, there were three big league players named Bob Smith. One was an outfielder in the National League, the other was a pitcher in the American League.

Chuck Churn, pitcher for the 1957 Pirates. Churn pitched parts of 18 seasons in the minors, starting in 1949 when the Pirates signed him as a 19-year-old amateur free agent. That first year while with Uniontown of the Class-C Middle Atlantic League, he went 7-12, 6.31 in 194 innings, with 125 walks and 87 strikeouts. In 1950, he went 16-11, 3.71 in 194 innings for Hutchinson of the Class-C Western Association. Despite pitching the same amount of innings, he went from 125 walks in 1949 down to 59 walks in 1950. After six appearances in 1951 for Charleston of the Class-A South Atlantic League, he served out the rest of the season (and all of 1952) in the military during the Korean War. Churn returned in 1953 and played four straight seasons with New Orleans of the Double-A Southern Association, though only one of those years was a full season with the team. He was mostly pitching in long relief during that time, with some spot starts. Most of 1953 was spent back in Charleston, where he had a 5-5, 2.59 record in 73 innings. He was with the Pirates during the early parts of Spring Training in 1954 before being cut on March 28th. Most of 1954 was spent with Denver of the Class-A Western League. He went 11-3, 4.93 in 126 innings with Denver, with nine starts and 33 relief appearances. After the season, he pitched winter ball in Panama. The 1955 season was his one full year in New Orleans, and he pitched a lot. Churn went 13-8, 3.45 in 188 innings, with 14 starts and 49 relief outings. He had a 99:86 BB/SO ratio that year.

Churn spent most of 1956 back in New Orleans, with a six-game stint for Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League also during that season. In New Orleans, he pitched complete game wins in both ends of a doubleheader that year, though he was mostly a reliever, starting ten of 51 appearances. He went 9-11, 3.22 in 176 innings for New Orleans, and he threw a total of 182.1 innings during the regular season, before spending 3 1/2 months in winter ball in Venezuela, where he pitched enough to compile an 8-8 record. Churn had solid results each season after his return from military service,  but he wouldn’t make the majors until age 27 in 1957, when the Pirates used him as a reliever early in the season. In five games, he had no record and a 4.32 ERA in 8.1 innings. He debuted on April 18th and pitched his final game on May 1st, throwing shutout ball in each of his final three appearances. He was sent down to Hollywood on May 7th in favor of pitcher Laurin Pepper. Churn remained with Hollywood for the rest of the season, going 9-7, 2.78 in 136 innings over 67 games. Following the season, he was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the Rule 5 draft, then was taken by the Cleveland Indians off waivers. He would play parts of two more seasons in the majors (1958-59) after leaving Pittsburgh, pitching 25 games total, while spending 1958 in Cleveland and 1959 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He allowed seven runs in 8.2 innings during his time with the Indians, while posting a 4.99 ERA in 30.2 innings with the Dodgers. In his three partial big league seasons, he went 3-2, 5.10 in 47.2 innings. Churn pitched 548 career minor league games, picking up 111 victories. He also managed in the minors for four seasons (1964-67) in the Houston Astros system, making a total of 12 pitching appearances, which were spread out over those four seasons. His full name was Clarence Nottingham Churn.

Dixie McArthur, pitcher for the 1914 Pirates. He started his pro career in 1911 with Hopkinsville of the Kentucky-illinois-Tennessee League, where he spent his first three seasons of pro ball. He saw somewhat limited time in 1911-12, before getting a real chance to pitch regularly in 1913. His 1911 season only has batting stats available, which shows him hitting .247 in 34 games, with one double and one triple. His 1912 stats show that he posted a 4-4 record in eight games pitched, and he hit .250 with two triples in a total of 13 games played. McArthur pitched a lot in 1913 and played outfield often. He had a 17-6 record that season and twice pitched both games of a doubleheader, winning all four of those contests. He also batted .279 with 12 doubles, five triples and three homers. The Pirates purchased his contract for $1,000 on August 9, 1913, though he was allowed to remain in Hopkinsville for a short time before reporting to Pittsburgh on August 31st. He was supposed to be given a trial, but one week after he arrived, he left the team due to an undisclosed illness and went home instead. By March of 1914 he was in Spring Training with the Pirates trying to win a job. McArthur was there as a pitcher, but he batted .281 in the minors and occasionally played outfield, so he had some added value as a player at the end of the bench. He made the Opening Day roster, but it would be three months before his got his first chance in the majors. On July 10th during an 11-2 loss in Boston, McArthur was called on by manager Fred Clarke to pitch the bottom of the eighth. He faced four batters, allowed one unearned run and struck out one batter in his only inning of work. It literally was his only inning of work in the majors. In between Opening Day and his only game, he was used often as a batting practice pitcher and then he would go to the outfield when another pitcher (mostly Al Mamaux) came on to pitch. McArthur was reportedly considered as a starter for the second game of a doubleheader on July 22nd, only to get optioned to Richmond of the Class-C Virginia League that same day.

McArthur finished the 1914 season in Richmond with a 7-5 record and 105 innings pitched. There were reports that he was recalled to the Pirates at the end of the 1914 season, but his name was never mentioned after the August 23rd article and he was still pitching for Richmond as of mid-September. In that case, the recall may have been necessary to avoid losing his rights to Richmond. McArthur was put on the Pirates winter roster after the 1914 season, and an article posted on his birthday in 1915 noted that he was born in 1893 and turned 22 that day (he was actually 23). It wasn’t odd to see ages wrong back in the early parts of the majors, as some would say they were older to get a chance, while others would claim to be younger not to get overlooked due to their age. The Pirates officially parted ways with him on February 27, 1915 when he was sent to Columbus of the Double-A American Association, though he trained with the Pirates during the early part of Spring Training. McArthur appeared briefly at the start of 1915 for Columbus, then spent the next three seasons playing for the Grand Rapids Black Sox of the Class-B Central League. He had a combined 43-20 record during the  1915-16 seasons, then saw limited time during the 1917 season, when he was mostly found pitching semi-pro ball after his contract was transferred to Vernon of the Pacific Coast League. He retired in 1918 to help with the war effort, then the Pirates reacquired his rights on March 10, 1919. Three weeks later, the Pirates announced that he would not be joining the team because he had a good job in Detroit that he didn’t want to give up. His real first name was Oland, making him the only Oland to ever pitch in the majors. He was referred to as “Ollie” during his brief time in Pittsburgh.

Jim Kelly, outfielder for the 1914 Pirates. Kelly would play 16 seasons in the minors, starting his pro career at the age of 27 in 1911, though he claimed to be 21 years old at the time. He played that first year with Chillicothe of the Class-D Ohio State League, where he hit .300 in 131 games, with 25 doubles, five triples and three homers. He remained with Chillicothe in 1912 and batted .306 in 133 games, with 29 doubles, four triples and three homers. In September of 1913 the Pirates selected him in the Rule 5 draft after he hit .333 with 18 doubles, 14 triples and six homers in 121 games while playing for the Great Falls Electrics of the Class-D Union Association. The Pirates almost didn’t end up with him because Denver of the Western League claimed that Kelly was still their property, on option to Great Falls, and they had chosen to exercise that option. Two days after the dispute was brought up, the national baseball commission ruled that Kelly was property of the Pirates now, since Denver didn’t exercise their option on time.

For the Pirates in 1914, Kelly spent most of his time on the bench, being used in the pinch-hitter role. He started just seven games all season, all during an 11-day stretch in July, and he hit .227 with three RBIs in 44 at-bats. He had an arm injury in mid-June that was thought to be a fracture that would keep him out of action for a long period of time, but he was back just three weeks later. After getting a handful of starts in right field between July 11th and the 21st, Kelly was released to Jersey City of the International League on July 24th. After the season ended, he jumped to the Pittsburgh team in the upstart Federal League, a second Major League at the time, which would fold after the 1915 season. He played 148 games in 1915, hitting .294 with 68 runs scored, 12 doubles, 17 triples, four homers, 50 RBIs and 38 steals. Kelly spent 1916-17 in the minors, with most of that time back in Great Falls, though by then the team was in the Class-B Northwestern League. He returned to the majors with the Boston Braves for 35 games in 1918, only that season he played under his real name, Robert Taggert. He batted .329 with 19 runs, four triples and four RBIs with the Braves, after joining the club in late July. He played the end of 1917 and start of 1918 with Columbus of the Double-A American Association, then ended up back there for the 1919-21 seasons.

Kelly played pro ball until 1928, serving as a player-manager in the lower levels of the minors during his final two seasons. He spent 1922-26 seasons in the International League, mostly playing for Syracuse during that time. He batted .320 in both 1923 and 1924, combining those two seasons for a total of 86 extra-base hits in 295 games. During his time in Pittsburgh, the papers often spelled his name “Kelley”. In the majors he hit .297 over 215 games, with 91 runs scored, 57 RBIs and 42 steals. His 22 triples in the majors are more than his combined total of doubles (15) and homers (four).

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