Ten former Pittsburgh Pirates have been born on this date.
Duke Welker, pitcher for the 2013 Pirates. His big league career consisted of two scoreless relief appearances in late June of 2013. He debuted on June 23rd and pitched a scoreless inning, retiring all three batters he faced. Two days later, he needed three pitches to retire the only batter he faced. Welker was a second round draft pick (68th overall) by the Pirates in 2007 out of the University of Arkansas. It was the third time that he was drafted. He was originally taken in the 34th round in 2004 out of high school in Washington by the Seattle Mariners. One year later, the Mariners took him again, this time in the 39th round out of Seminole State College. Welker debuted at State College of the New York-Penn League in 2007 and had excellent results in seven starts, going 2-2, 2.35 in 30.2 innings, with 27 strikeouts. He remained in the starting role in 2008 with Hickory of the Low-A South Atlantic League and struggled. Welker posted a 4-13, 5.51 record in 116 innings over 24 starts, with 72 strikeouts, which was a sharp drop in his strikeout rate. He was back in Low-A in 2009 (affiliate moved to West Virginia of the South Atlantic League) and split the season between starting and relief. He managed to compile an 0-11 record, with a 5.79 ERA in 101 innings, with 67 walks and 69 strikeouts. Moved to full-time relief in 2010, he split the season between West Virginia and High-A Bradenton of the Florida State League, showing much better results in both spots, though the control issues remained. He had a combined 3.66 ERA in 46.2 innings over 40 appearances, with five saves and a 47:45 BB/SO ratio.
The 2011 and 2012 seasons were both split at two levels, as Welker slowly crawled up the system ladder. He did well in Bradenton in 2011 (2.25 ERA in 52 innings), but he struggled in Double-A with Altoona of the Eastern League, allowing seven runs in ten innings. He improved the control that year, finishing with 26 walks and 50 strikeouts in 62 innings. He had his best season in 2012, doing well at both Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League. Welker had a combined 2.29 ERA in 55 innings, with five saves, 25 walks and 49 strikeouts. Before getting called up to the majors in 2013, he had a 2.78 ERA in 25 appearances with Indianapolis, collecting 34 strikeouts in 35.2 innings. His official time on the big league roster was seven days (June 20-26). In October of 2013, he was named as the player to be named later in the August 2013 trade for Justin Morneau from the Minnesota Twins. Six weeks later, the Pirates reacquired Welker in a trade for pitcher Kris Johnson. Welker was one of the first cuts of Spring Training in 2014, getting optioned to Triple-A on March 14th. He missed most of 2014, pitching a total of 11 innings with 11 walks and 15 strikeouts for Indianapolis. He had to undergo elbow surgery and the Pirates designated him for assignment in July, shortly after he had Tommy John surgery, and then shortly before he was released. He then missed all of 2015 due to his injury. He returned for one season in Triple-A with the San Francisco Giants before retiring, finishing that last year with a 3.86 ERA in 35 innings over 31 games. His real first name is Matthew.
Jeanmar Gomez, pitcher for the 2013-14 Pirates. The Cleveland Indians signed Gomez as an international free agent out of Venezuela at age 17 in 2005. It took him five years to make his way to the majors, debuting in July of 2010. He debuted in the Gulf Coast League in 2006 and had a 4-3, 2.48 record in 54.1 innings. Gomez moved up to the Low-A South Atlantic League with Lake County in 2007, where he went 11-7, 4.80 in 140.2 innings over 27 starts. He moved up to High-A Kinston of the Carolina League in 2008 and posted a 5-9, 4.55 record in 138.1 innings over 27 starts. Gomez had 94 strikeouts in 2007, then bumped that up to 110 in slightly less work in 2008. He improved his rate slightly again in 2009 when he went 12-6, 3.30 in 147.1 innings, with 124 strikeouts. He made four starts for Kinston that year and another 22 for Akron of the Double-A Eastern League. The 2010 started with Triple-A Columbus of the International League and ended in the majors, where he made his debut in mid-July after putting up an 8-8, 5.20 record in 116 innings over 20 starts. Gomez made 11 starts as a rookie with the Indians and he had a 4.68 ERA in 57.2 innings. He saw nearly identical big league time in 2011, making ten starts and one relief appearance. His ERA was nearly the same as well, posting a 4.47 mark in 58.2 innings. He did much better in Columbus that year, going 10-7, 2.55 in 137.2 innings.
Gomez struggled in his big league chances in 2012, making 17 starts and three relief appearances, posting a 5.96 ERA in 90.2 innings. He wasn’t much better that year in Columbus, with a 4.41 ERA in 11 starts. After going 14-16, 5.18 in 206.2 innings with the Indians, he instantly saw better results with the Pirates, which was partially due to a move to the bullpen. He was acquired by Pittsburgh via trade for minor league outfielder Quincy Latimore on January 9, 2013. Gomez started eight of 34 games in 2013, making what ended up being his last big league start on June 26th. He had a 3-0, 3.35 record in 80.2 innings during that first season in Pittsburgh. He pitched once in the NLDS against the St Louis Cardinals and allowed two unearned runs over four innings. That solid season was followed by a 3.19 ERA over 62 innings and 44 appearances in 2014. In two seasons in Pittsburgh, he had a 5-2, 3.28 record in 142.2 innings, making 70 relief appearances and eight starts. He was surprisingly let go after that 2014 season, which ended up coming one year too early. Gomez signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Phillies for 2015 and he had a 3.01 ERA in 74.2 innings over 65 appearances. He saw a decline in his stats the next year and never approached his peak level.
Gomez spent two more seasons in Philadelphia, including one season as a closer. He had 37 saves in 2016, though he went 3-5, 4.85 in 68.2 innings over 70 appearances. He really got roughed up in 2017, posting a 7.25 ERA in 22.1 innings over 18 games. The Phillies released him in late June, and he ended playing in Triple-A for both the Seattle Mariners and Milwaukee Brewers that season, but didn’t see the majors again until the following year. Gomez had a 4.68 ERA in 25 innings for the 2018 Chicago White Sox, then played for the Texas Rangers in 2019, though he had an 8.22 ERA in 16.1 innings, so things didn’t go well. He was released on June 1, 2019 and retired. In ten seasons, he had a 28-30, 4.51 record in 555.1 innings, with 269 relief appearances, 46 starts and 40 career saves.
Luis Cruz, shortstop and second base for the 2008-09 Pirates. He signed with the Boston Red Sox out of Mexico as a 16-year-old international amateur free agent in 2000. He debuted in the Gulf Coast League in 2001 and hit .259 in 53 games, with a .635 OPS. He struggled with the jump to Low-A in 2002 with Augusta of the South Atlantic League and spent part of the year back in the GCL. He had a .292 average in the GCL in 21 games, and a .188 average and a .498 OPS in 52 games with Augusta. After the 2002 season, he was traded to the San Diego Padres, where he remained until he reached minor league free agency following the 2007 season. Cruz played for Low-A Fort Wayne of the Midwest League in 2003, where he hit .231 in 129 games, with 55 runs, 24 doubles, eight homers and 53 RBIs. In 2004, he moved up to the High-A California League with Lake Elsinore, which was a hitter-friendly league. He hit .277 that year in 124 games, with 75 runs, 35 doubles, eight homers and 72 RBIs. In 2005, Cruz struggled in Double-A with Mobile of the Southern League, then spent part of the year playing on loan in Mexico, followed by winter ball in Mexico that off-season. He had a .460 OPS with Mobile and a .744 OPS in Mexico. In 2006, he spent the entire season in Mobile, where he batted .261 in 130 games, with 65 runs, 35 doubles, 12 homers and 65 RBIs. After another winter in Mexico, Cruz split the 2007 season between Double-A (Padres switched affiliates to San Antonio of the Texas League) and Triple-A Portland of the Pacific Coast League. He had a .252 average and a .638 OPS in San Antonio, followed by a .168 average and a .558 OPS in Portland.
In December of 2007, Cruz signed a minor league deal with the Pirates. He spent most of the 2008 season in Double-A Altoona of the Eastern League, where he put up average stats, hitting .262 with 24 doubles and six homers in 105 games. He moved up to Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League mid-season and batted .325 in 32 games, which earned him a September call-up. He made his Major League debut on September 2nd and played 22 games in his first season with the Pirates, hitting .224 in 67 at-bats. Cruz played 27 games for the Pirates the next year, seeing time in the majors briefly in April, then coming back in early July and staying through the end of the season during his second stint. He batted .214 with one double and six walks, leading to a .514 OPS. Cruz started a total of 32 games at shortstop for the Pirates, while seeing some brief time at second base each season. He hit .219 with five RBIs in 137 at-bats for Pittsburgh. After the 2009 season, he was picked up off waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers. Cruz played seven late-season games for the 2010 Brewers, after putting up a .723 OPS in 129 games with Triple-A Nashville of the Pacific Coast League. The 2011 season was split between Triple-A for the Texas Rangers and Mexico, playing both summer and winter ball.
Cruz next appeared in the majors with the 2012 Los Angeles Dodgers, where he hit .297 in 78 games, with 48 starts at third base and 23 at shortstop. He split the 2013 season between the Dodgers and New York Yankees, hitting .145 in 61 games between both clubs, with a .127 average in 45 games for the Dodgers. That was his last big league time, but his career was far from over at that point. Cruz played a total of five seasons in the majors, batting .234 in 195 games, with 57 runs, 27 doubles, seven homers and 57 RBIs. He is still active, playing in Mexico in 2021, doing well during both the summer and the winter leagues. He spent the 2014-17 seasons playing in Japan. In his 21-year pro career, including winter league stats (one year is missing), Cruz has played over 2,600 games, with 1,169 runs, 2,550 hits, 552 doubles, 262 homers and 1,246 RBIs.
Cesar Izturis, infielder for the 2007 Pirates. He was originally signed as a 16-year-old international amateur free agent out of Venezuela by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1996. It took him five years to make the majors and he didn’t stay long in Toronto. Izturis debuted in 1997 with St Catharines of the short-season New York-Penn League, where he hit just .191 in 70 games, with a .458 OPS. In 1998, he moved up to Hagerstown of the Low-A South Atlantic League. He batted .262 that season in 130 games, with a low .602 OPS due to poor power/walk numbers, though he stole 20 bases. In 1999, he played for Dunedin of the High-A Florida State League, where he posted a .308 average and a .758 OPS in 131 games, with 28 doubles, 12 triples, 77 runs, 77 RBIs and 32 steals in 48 attempts. In 2000, Izturis skipped a level to Syracuse of the Triple-A International League. He batted .218 in 132 games, with 21 extra-base hits, 21 steals and a .532 OPS. He repeated Syracuse of 2001, batting .292 with a .684 OPS in 87 games before joining the Blue Jays in late June. Izturis hit .269 with 19 runs and ten extra-base hits in 46 games as a rookie in 2001, then got traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the off-season. He made a name for himself during his 4 1/2 seasons in Los Angeles.
In 2002, Izturis played 135 games, spending most of his time at shortstop. He hit .232 with 43 runs, 24 doubles and 31 RBIs. In 2003, he hit .251 in 158 games, with 154 starts at shortstop. He added 47 runs, 21 doubles, six triples, 40 RBIs and ten steals. Izturis had his best season at the plate during that 2004 season, batting .288, while setting career highs with 90 runs scored, 32 doubles, nine triples, 62 RBIs, 43 walks and 25 stolen bases. He played 159 games and started 156 games at shortstop, where he won his only Gold Glove award. He was an All-Star in 2005, though he actually did much worse at the plate than he did during the previous year, hitting .257 with a .624 OPS in 106 games. At the 2006 trade deadline, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs even up for Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux. Izturis was hitting .252 in 32 games at the time of the deal, and he hit .233 in 22 games after the deal. He was on the disabled list early due to off-season elbow surgery, then was sidelined again in August with a hamstring pull. He played 65 games for the 2007 Cubs and had a .246 average and a .601 OPS.
The Pirates purchased Izturis from the Cubs in mid-July of 2007, and then let him leave via free agency at the end of the season. In his one partial season in Pittsburgh, he batted .276, with a .643 OPS in 45 games. He had an extremely impressive strikeout rate during that time, striking out just three times in 130 plate appearances. Izturis signed with the St Louis Cardinals as a free agent for the 2008 season and he batted .263 in 135 games, with 50 runs, 14 extra-base hits and 24 steals. After the season, he signed with the Baltimore Orioles as a free agent and lasted three years at Camden Yards. He was injured for a short time in 2009 and a long time in 2011. Izturis hit .256 in 114 games in 2009, with 34 runs, 20 extra-base hits, 30 RBIs and 12 steals. He was healthy for all of 2010 and played 150 games, hitting .230 with 42 runs, 15 extra-base hits, 28 RBIs and 11 steals. He was limited to 18 big league games and eight rehab games in 2011 due to an elbow injury in mid-May. He actually returned for two games in August, only to be shut down due to a groin strain.
Izturis split the 2012 season between the Milwaukee Brewers (57 games) and Washington Nationals (five games), combining to hit .241 with 11 extra-base hits and 11 RBIs. He then finished his big league career with the 2013 Cincinnati Reds, playing 63 games throughout the season, with 25 starts. He hit .209 with a .530 OPS with the Teds. Izturis signed with the Houston Astros as a free agent in January of 2014, but he was released near the end of Spring Training. His pro career ended with two seasons of winter ball in Venezuela. Izturis played a total of 1,310 games over 13 seasons in the majors, and he had a .254 average, with 17 homers, 312 RBIs, 441 runs scored and 110 stolen bases. His career .981 fielding percentage is the ninth best in baseball history at shortstop. His younger brother Maicer Izturis played 11 seasons in the majors (2004-14).
Ruben Mateo, outfielder for the 2004 Pirates. He was signed by the Texas Rangers in 1994 at 16 years old as an international amateur free agent. He debuted in the Dominican Summer League in 1995, then jumped all the way up to Low-A ball the next year, playing for Charleston of the South Atlantic League, where he hit .260 with 30 doubles, eight triples, eight homers and 30 stolen bases in 134 games. Mateo was one of the top prospects in baseball after hitting .314 in 99 games, with 23 doubles, eight triples, 12 homers and 20 stolen bases as a 19-year-old in the Florida State League in 1997. He prospect status continued to get better, moving up to #9 by Baseball America after hitting .307 with 32 doubles, 18 homers and 18 stolen bases in 108 games at Double-A Tulsa of the Texas League in 1998. In Triple-A with Oklahoma City of the Pacific Coast League in 1999, Mateo hit .336 with 18 homers and 62 RBIs in 63 games. That led to a promotion to the majors, where he hit .238 with five homers and a .719 OPS in 32 games for the Rangers. He was still a rookie going into 2000 and rated as the sixth best prospect in baseball. It seemed like he could live up to that potential early on, batting .291 with seven homers and six steals in 52 games, before he fractured a bone in his leg, ending his season.
Mateo struggled a bit in 2001 and on June 15th he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds. He was hitting .248 in 40 games, with a .663 OPS at the time of the deal. The Reds kept him in the minors for the rest of 2001, then used him sparingly during the 2002 season, when he put up a .714 OPS in 94 plate appearances over 46 games. In 2003, Mateo saw his most action in the majors, playing 74 games, with a .242 average, nine doubles, three homers and 18 RBIs. The Pirates signed him as a free agent prior to the 2004 season and he was sold to the Kansas City Royals on July 1, 2004. In his brief 19-game stint in Pittsburgh, Mateo played all three outfield spots and hit .242 with three homers in 39 plate appearances. He hit .194 in 32 games with the Royals, which ended up being his last time spent in the majors. He had an .874 OPS with the Pirates that year, which dropped down to .536 mark in Kansas City. His 2005 season was spent in Korea, though he struggled there in 34 games and then didn’t play during the 2006 regular season after being cut by the Washington Nationals during Spring Training. Mateo played a total of six seasons in the majors and he batted .250 with 106 runs, 44 doubles, 21 homers and 89 RBIs in 295 games. While he didn’t run often like he did in the minors, he went 11-for-12 in steals in the majors. He played pro ball until 2015, spending most of his time in Mexico, though he had time in Korea, independent ball and a stint in the minors for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007. He hit 37 homers and drove in 119 runs in Mexico in 2013. In his 18-year pro career, he was a .284 hitter in 1,465 games, with 846 runs, 321 doubles, 241 homers and 906 RBIs.
Larry McWilliams, pitcher for the Pirates from 1982 until 1986. He was a first round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves in 1974, taken sixth overall at 19 years old out of Paris Junior College. He played his first two pro seasons for Greenwood of the Low-A Western Carolinas League and posted a matching 2.81 ERA each year. He made 11 starts in 1974, with 61 strikeouts in 64 innings, then pitched 93 innings over 13 starts and four relief appearances in 1975. Despite those stats, he was back in Greenwood again for two months of the 1976 season and he did even better, with a 2.63 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 48 innings over eight starts. McWilliams struggled with the jump to Double-A (Savannah of the Southern League) that year, posting a 4.62 ERA in 74 innings, while striking out just 37 batters. In 1977, he spent the entire year in Savannah, compiling an 8-9, 3.36 record in 158 innings, with 139 strikeouts. That was followed by a move to Triple-A Richmond of the International League in 1978, where he had a 6-5, 2.83 record in 108 innings over 15 starts, with seven complete games. He debuted in the majors in July of 1978 and went 9-3, 2.81 in 99.1 innings over 15 starts.
McWilliams had a rough sophomore season with the Braves, going 3-2, 5.56 in 15 starts, while missing time due to an elbow injury. Things got slightly better in 1980 despite a 9-14 record. He had a 4.95 ERA in 163.2 innings over 30 starts. He ended up spending most of the 1981 season back in Triple-A, despite a 3.11 ERA in 37.2 innings with the Braves during that strike-shortened season. The Pirates traded for him on June 30, 1982, sending Pascual Perez to Atlanta. McWilliams was a starter during his first four seasons in the majors, but was moved to the bullpen for 1982, and he was struggling with a 6.21 ERA in 37.2 innings over 27 appearances before the Pirates picked him up. He would move back to the starting role in Pittsburgh and cut his ERA in half, going 6-5, 3.11 record in 121.2 innings after the trade. He had his best big league season in 1983, going 15-8, 3.25 in 235 innings over 38 starts. He struck out 199 batters that year, which ranks as the 11th highest single season mark for the Pirates. He finished fifth in the NL Cy Young award voting. We wrote up a Pittsburgh Pirates Seasons article, looking at his 1983 season. His ERA improved to 2.93 in 227.1 innings during the following season, but the Pirates were a sub .500 team and it showed in his 12-11 record. He picked up 149 strikeouts that year.
McWilliams was moved to the bullpen late in 1985, and then he went back and forth between the starting and relieving roles in 1986. He posted a 4.70 ERA in 126.1 innings (19 starts and 11 relief appearances) in 1985, then had a 5.15 ERA in 1986, when he threw 122.1 innings over 15 starts and 34 relief outings. He was released by the Pirates following the 1986 season and went back to Atlanta for the 1987 season. His stay there in the majors was brief and it resulted in a 5.75 ERA in limited use, with 20.1 innings over two starts and seven relief outings. He signed with the St Louis Cardinals in 1988 and saw both bullpen and starter time, going 6-9, 3.90 in 136 innings, with 17 starts and 25 relief games. McWilliams had the same starter/relief split role in 1989, playing most of the year for the Philadelphia Phillies, before finishing with 32.2 innings for the Kansas City Royals. He had a decent 4.11 ERA in 153.1 innings over 16 starts and 24 relief appearances, but it came with a 4-13 record. He finished his career as a reliever for the 1990 Royals, where he had a 9.72 ERA in 13 appearances before being released in mid-May. McWilliams went 43-44, 3.64 in 835.2 innings with the Pirates, making 119 starts and 48 relief appearances. In his 13-year career, he went 78-90, 3.99 in 1,558.1 innings over 224 starts and 146 relief appearances. He threw 34 complete games and he had 13 shutouts.
Billy O’Dell, pitcher for the 1966-67 Pirates. He was a two-time All-Star, who never played a single game in the minors. The Baltimore Orioles signed him at age 21 in 1954 as a Bonus Baby, which meant that he had to remain in the majors that season because his $12,500 bonus exceeded the $4,000 Bonus Baby mark. Anything under $4,000 would have allowed the Orioles to send him to the minors. The rule was in place to keep the wealthier teams from stockpiling young talent. O’Dell debuted in the majors 12 days after signing out of Clemson University. He was used sparingly that first year, but did well with a 2.76 ERA in 16.1 innings. He joined the Army after the season and remained there until returning to baseball in August of 1956. He gave up one run over eight innings to finish out the 1956 season. O’Dell put up strong numbers over the next three seasons in Baltimore, splitting between starts and long relief. He had a 2.69 ERA in 140.1 innings in 1957, with 15 starts and 20 relief appearances. That was followed by a 14-11, 2.97 record in 221.1 innings in 1958, when he made his first All-Star appearance. He made 25 starts and 16 relief appearances, finishing with 12 complete games, three shutouts and eight saves. He led the league with the lowest home run rate and the best BB/SO ratio. O’Dell then had a 10-12, 2.93 record in 199.1 innings in 1959, with 24 starts and 14 relief appearances. He made his second straight All-Star appearance that year, but the Orioles decided to move on after the season.
O’Dell was part of a five-player trade with the Orioles and San Francisco Giants on November 30, 1959. He had similar results with the Giants during that first year, going 8-13, 3.20 in 202.2 innings over 24 starts and 19 relief appearances. He saw more bullpen time in 1961, putting up a 7-5, 3.59 record in 14 starts and 32 relief outings, throwing a total of 130.1 innings. O’Dell had a big season in 1962, going 19-14, 3.53 in 280.2 innings, with 20 complete games in 39 starts. He struck out 195 batters that year, the only time that he surpassed 150 strikeouts in a season. San Francisco went to the World Series that year and O’Dell pitched another 12.1 innings in the series loss to the New York Yankees. He took the loss in game one of the series, then allowed just one run over five innings in two relief appearances. That would be his only postseason experience. Things went well for him in 1963, going 14-10, 3.16 in 222.1 innings over 33 starts and three relief appearances. His effectiveness dropped off in 1964 when he had a 5.40 ERA in 85 innings, pitching almost exclusively out of the bullpen (eight starts and 28 relief appearances). That season was really bad, but he saw a turn around after being traded to the Milwaukee Braves in February of 1965. He won ten games in 1965, while finishing with a 2.18 ERA and 18 saves in 111.1 innings over 62 games.
After the franchise moved from Milwaukee, O’Dell began the 1966 season with the Atlanta Braves, posting a 2.40 ERA in 41.1 innings, before the Pirates acquired him on June 15th for reliever Don Schwall. O’Dell would pitch 37 games after the trade, going 3-2, 2.78 in 71.1 innings. He combined for 2.64 ERA and ten saves that season. In the beginning of the 1967 season, he was used as a starter and struggled in the role, posting a 6.18 ERA in 11 games before being moved back to the bullpen. He finished the season with a 5-6, 5.82 record in 86.2 innings over 27 appearances. O’Dell retired after the Pirates released him following the 1967 season. In his 13-year career, he went 105-100, 3.29 in 1,817 innings. He made 199 starts, 280 relief appearances, finishing with 63 complete games, 13 shutouts and 50 saves.
Cotton Tierney, second baseman for the 1920-23 Pirates. He played minor league ball for seven seasons before the Pirates gave him his first shot at the majors as a September call-up in 1920 at 26 years old. He had a rough pro debut at 18 years old in 1912, hitting .070 in 26 games for Dallas of the Class-B Texas League and .169 in 27 games for Tyler of the Class-D South Central League. In 1913, Tierney played for Texarkana of the Class-D Texas-Oklahoma League. He hit .236 in 101 games that year. In 1914, he played McAlester of the Class-D Western Association and Ardmore of the Texas-Oklahoma League. In 119 games, he hit .269, with 55 runs, 38 extra-base hits and 30 stolen bases. He had a contract dispute in 1915 and played semi-pro ball in Kansas, then returned to the minors in 1916 with Beaumont of the Class-B Texas League and Kansas City of the Double-A American Association. He went to Spring Training with Kansas City and made quite the impression, but they shipped him out to start the year. He returned to hit just .191 in 55 games. In 1917, Tierney put up matched .253 averages with Kansas City in 52 games and San Antonio of the Texas League in 128 games. He missed the 1918 season due to service during WWI. In 1919, he saw time with Kansas City again, and also Tulsa of the Class-A Western League, where he hit .275 with 26 extra-base hits in 91 games.
Tierney had a breakout season with Tulsa in 1920 when he hit .335 and collected 72 extra-base hits, setting career highs with 48 doubles, 13 triples and 11 homers. He was doing so well that the Pirates purchased his contract on July 12th, yet they let him finish out the season with Tulsa before heading to Pittsburgh. He debuted with the Pirates on September 22nd and made ten starts at second base and two at shortstop, hitting .239 with eight RBIs. Cotton (his first name was James) was a regular on the 1921 Pirates, playing about half of the team’s games at second base, while getting time in at three other positions. He hit .299 with 49 runs, 22 doubles and 52 RBIs in 117 games. In 1922 he played 122 games and hit .345, which place him fifth in the National League in average, and second on the Pirates to outfielder Carson Bigbee. He finished with 58 runs, 26 doubles, 14 triples, seven homers and 86 RBIs. We wrote up a Pittsburgh Pirates Seasons article for his 1922 season. The crazy part of that season was that he was limited due to a back injury that bothered him for much of the year.
Tierney was batting .292 with 22 runs and 23 RBIs in 29 games during the early part of the 1923 season before he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in a four-player/cash deal that got the Pirates pitcher Lee Meadows. Tierney hit .317 with 11 homers and 65 RBIs in 121 games for the Phillies in 1923, finishing the year with 90 runs scored, 36 doubles, 13 homers and 88 RBIs. Despite the success that year, his Major League career was over by the end of the 1925 season. He was traded to the Boston Braves in December of 1923 and lasted one season there, hitting .259 in 136 games, with 58 RBIs and a .626 OPS. Prior to the 1925 season, he was traded to the Brooklyn Robins, where he batted .257 in 93 games, posting a .656 OPS. Prior to the 1926 season, he was traded once again, this time to Minneapolis of the American Association. The Robins gave up five players to acquire 33-year-old infielder Johnny Butler, who lasted just 375 big league games. Tierney was a .296 hitter in 630 big league games, with 266 runs, 119 doubles, 31 homers and 331 RBIs. He was just 28-for-59 in steals during his career. With the Pirates, he hit .315 in 280 games, with 169 RBIs and 133 runs scored. He played in the minors until 1930, moving around just as much as he did in the majors. Tierney played for eight teams during the 1926-30 seasons. He was a player-manager during his final two seasons and hit .364 in 35 games in 1930.
Bill Evans, pitcher for the 1916-17 and 1919 Pirates. Evans had an odd start to his pro career at 23 years old. His contract was purchased by Pittsburgh in June of 1916 from Morganton of the Western North Carolina League, an independent league. The Pirates scout William Neal was able to sign him when several other big league teams were looking at him, but the two sides kept the deal quiet until after the Morganton team disbanded in late July. The timing was more of a coincidence, as Evans was originally scheduled to join the Pirates in August. The original deal called for the Pirates to deliver a sizable bonus to Morganton once Evans reported to Spring Training in 1917. A week after Morganton went under, Evans pitched one game for a team from Lumberton, NC, then left to join the Pirates on August 2nd. During the time between the Pirates signing him and his final game for Morganton, there were still scouts for other big league teams following him around, trying to get a deal done. Evans was said to have good velocity, a nice curveball, and he pitched well in both the college ranks and semi-pro ball over the 1913-16 seasons. He made his Major League debut on August 13th and pitched 13 games over the final seven weeks of the season, starting seven of those games, and throwing three complete games. He had a 2-5, 3.00 record in 63 innings.
In 1917, Evans went 0-4, 3.38 in eight appearances before joining the military after the season to serve during WWI. His work was limited early in 1917 due to illness, which kept him out of action from mid-April until he pitched on July 31st. He missed the entire 1918 season due to the war, returning the following year to go 0-4, 5.65 in seven early season games for the Pirates before being sent to Kansas City of the Double-A American Association on June 20th, 19 days after his final appearance. He played minor league baseball until 1928, three times winning at least 16 games in a season, but never returned to the majors. When he was sent down in 1919, the papers said that the minor league experience should help him in the future, as he has good control, fine speed and a fast-breaking curve. Evans had a strong performance with Kansas City to finish out 1919, going 16-8, 2.26 in 195 innings. He was with Kansas City early in 1920, but he jumped the team to play with an independent club in Oil City, Pa., then when that team folded in 1921, he played for another independent team in Kenosha, Wisconsin through the end of 1922. He remained in that league (Midwest League) in 1923, playing with a team called the Agathons for two seasons. He returned to pro ball in 1925 with Kansas City, where he stayed through the 1926 season. Evans won a total of 31 games for Denver of the Class-A Western League during his final two season (1927-28) of pro ball.
Evans had a 2-13 record with the Pirates, despite a 3.85 overall ERA in his 126.1 innings. He was with the team at the end of the deadball era, so that ERA is a little high for that period, but it wasn’t awful. That winning percentage of .133 leaves him tied with John Van Benschoten (who had a 9.20 ERA) for the worst winning percentage in franchise history among pitchers with at least 15 decisions. He did much better in the minors, posting a 63-40 record over six seasons.
Jim Keenan, catcher for the first team in franchise history, the 1882 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. Keenan caught the first pitch in franchise history on May 2, 1882 against the Cincinnati Red Stockings, the team he would end up playing most of his big league career for a few years later. Prior to joining the Alleghenys, he had seven games of MLB experience. He played five games in 1875 for New Haven of the National Association, which was a league that lasted five seasons before giving way to the National League in 1876. Keenan then caught two games for the 1880 Buffalo Bisons of the National League. In between those two big league stints, he played for Auburn of the League Alliance in 1877, the first season of minor league ball. He also played for Hornellsville of the International Association in 1878, and Albany of the National Association during the 1879-80 seasons. It was said in the middle of 1881 that Albany reorganized for that season and Keenan was going to be their catcher. By December 10, 1881, it was announced that Keenan had already signed with the Alleghenys for the inaugural season (1882) of the American Association.
For Pittsburgh in 1882, Keenan caught 22 games and hit .209 with nine runs scored in 24 games total. He was in right field on July 6th in a 9-8 loss to Baltimore. They next day the team announced that he was suspended indefinitely for intoxication and insubordination. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted on July 8th that Keenan probably wouldn’t have been suspended just for intoxication, but he told manager Al Pratt that he could “go somewhere that is always warm” and that got him the indefinite suspension. After not playing major league ball in 1883, he finally established himself as a big league regular in 1884, playing one season for Indianapolis of the American Association and the next seven years in Cincinnati. He played for Indianapolis during the 1883 season on an independent team, then remained there when they became a big league club the next year. He was a manager in 1883, but did not hold that role the following season. Keenan hit .293 in 68 games in 1884, with 36 runs and 21 extra-base hits. His 3.1 WAR that year is the highest mark on a team that finished the year with a 29-78 record. He hit .359 with nine extra-base hits and 15 runs in 15 games for Indianapolis in 1885 after they moved to the Western League. He then joined the Cincinnati Red Stockings for the rest of the 1885 season, and remained there for the rest of his pro career.
In 1885, Keenan hit .265 in 36 games for Cincinnati, with 16 runs and 15 RBIs. In 1886, he batted .270 in 44 games, with ten extra-base hits, 31 runs and 24 RBIs. He followed that up with a .253 average in 47 games in 1887, with 19 runs and 17 RBIs. In 1888, Keenan hit .233 in 85 games, which included 16 games at first base. He had 38 runs scored, 18 extra-base hits and 40 RBIs. He had his best season at the plate in 1889, putting up an .849 OPS, which ranked seventh best in the league. He finished eighth in OBP (.395) and sixth in slugging (.453). Keenan batted .287 that year, setting career highs with 87 games, 52 runs, 11 triples, 60 RBIs, 18 steals and 48 walks. Cincinnati moved to the National League in 1890 and Keenan saw a surprising drop-off in his stats, as there were nearly twice as many big league jobs during the 1890 season due to expansion in the American Association and the addition of the Player’s League. So it was odd to see him go from his best season all the way down to a .139 average in 54 games in 1890, with a .439 OPS. During his final season in the majors in 1891, he hit .202 in 75 games, with 30 runs, 16 extra-base hits and 33 RBIs.
The odd part about his long stay in Cincinnati is that when Pittsburgh got rid of him, the Cincinnati Enquirer was among the most vocal, saying that new Pittsburgh catcher Rudy Kemmler was significantly better than Keenan and Pittsburgh made a good decision getting rid of him. Keenan retired in 1892 when he couldn’t get an offer from a Major League team, even though minor league teams were willing to sign him. It was said that he would have played for Cincinnati in 1892, but the team balked at him asking for a $500 raise, so the two sides parted ways. He finished with a .240 average in 527 games, with 254 runs, 22 homers and 208 RBIs (RBIs aren’t available for the 1882 and 1884 seasons in the American Association). In 1888, he led all American Association catchers with a .946 fielding percentage.