This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: February 12th, Joe Garagiola Leads a Group of Obscure Former Pirates

Nine former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, starting with the most recent one first.

Todd Frazier, infielder for the 2021 Pirates. He was originally a 37th round draft pick out of high school by the Colorado Rockies in 2004. He decided to go to Rutgers, where he moved up to a first round pick (34th overall) in 2007 by the Cincinnati Reds. Frazier spent most of the 2007 season with Billings of the short-season Pioneer League, where he hit .319 with 16 extra-base hits in 41 games. He also posted a 1.102 OPS in six games with Dayton of the Low-A Midwest League. He played 30 games with Dayton in 2008, hitting .321, with 17 extra-base hits and a 1.000 OPS. He moved up to Sarasota of the Florida State League that year and he batted .281 in 100 games, with 62 runs, 20 doubles and 12 homers. He played winter ball in Hawaii that off-season and had a .922 OPS in 27 games. Prior to the 2009 season, he was ranked as a top 100 prospect according to multiple sources. In 2009, Frazier played 119 games for Carolina of the Double-A Southern League. He hit .291 with 40 doubles, 14 homers and 68 RBIs. He finished the year with Triple-A Louisville of the International League, where he hit .302 in 16 games. He was still a top 100 prospects according to multiple sources going into 2010. He was at Louisville in 2010, where he put up a .258 average and a .781 OPS in 130 games, with 71 runs, 32 doubles, 17 homers and 14 steals. He was back in Louisville to start 2011, then debuted with the Reds on May 23rd, though he returned to Triple-A for a time during the season. Frazier hit .232 with six homers and 15 RBIs in 41 games for the Reds that season.

Frazier had a brief stint in the minors in 2012, otherwise he was with the Reds for the entire season, hitting .273 in 128 games, with 55 runs, 26 doubles, 19 homers and 67 RBIs. His .829 OPS was a career best. He finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting. He came up through the minors as a shortstop, before taking more of a utility role in 2009, followed by settling in at third base during the 2012 season. Frazier played 150 games in 2013, hitting .234 with 29 doubles, 19 homers, 73 RBIs and 50 walks. In 2014, he had his first of two straight All-Star seasons. That year he batted .273 in 157 games, with 88 runs, 22 doubles, 29 homers, 80 RBIs, 52 walks, and a career high 20 steals. He put up better power numbers in 2015, with a .255 average, a career high 43 doubles, 35 homers and 89 RBIs. The Reds traded him to the Chicago White Sox in a seven-player deal that also included the Los Angeles Dodgers, occurring on December 16, 2015. In his only full season in Chicago, Frazier hit .225 and set career highs with 89 runs, 40 homers, 98 RBIs and 158 games played.

In the first half of 2017, Frazier hit .207 with 15 doubles, 16 homers, 44 RBIs and 48 walks for the White Sox. He was traded to the New York Yankees on July 19th and played 66 games there that year, hitting .222 with 11 homers, 32 RBIs and 35 walks. He finished the year with a career high 83 walks. He became a free agent and signed with the New York Mets in 2018. Frazier hit .213 in 118 games that first year with the Mets. He had 54 runs, 18 doubles, 18 homers and 59 RBIs. In 2019, he batted .251 in 133 games, with 63 runs, 19 doubles, 21 homers and 67 RBIs. He signed as a free agent with the Texas Rangers in 2020, but ended up spending part of that shortened season back in New York after an August trade. He combined to hit .236 in 45 games, with nine doubles, four homers and 12 RBIs. In February of 2021, Frazier signed a deal with the Pirates. He began the year at the alternate training site, then joined the Pirates in late April. His time did not go well in Pittsburgh. He played 13 games and hit .086, with a double and four RBIs. He was released on May 13th and he played six independent league games later in the year, but did not sign with any other team. In 11 big league seasons, he has a .241 average in 1,244 games, with 604 runs, 212 doubles, 218 homers and 640 RBIs. His brother Jeff Frazier played for the 2010 Detroit Tigers.

Chris Snyder, catcher for the 2010-11 Pirates. Snyder was originally drafted out of high school by the Seattle Mariners in 1999 in the 43rd round. He decided to go to college, which really paid off. In 2002, he was selected in the second round (68th overall) by the Diamondbacks out of the University of Houston. It took him just two years to make the majors, debuting in August of 2004. He debuted in pro ball at a high level, going to Lancaster of the High-A California League, where he hit .258 with 16 doubles, nine homers and 44 RBIs in 60 games. He was back in Lancaster for part of 2003, where he hit .314 with 28 extra-base hits and 53 RBIs in 69 games. He also spent time in Double-A with El Paso of the Texas League, where his stats really dropped off, down to a .202 average and a .627 OPS. Snyder attended the Arizona Fall League after the season. He returned to El Paso for 2004 and hit .301 in 99 games, with 31 doubles, 15 homers and 57 RBIs, before he was promoted right to the majors without any Triple-A time. Snyder hit .240 with six doubles, five homers and 15 RBIs in 29 games for the 2004 Diamondbacks. He had a rough season in 2005 at the plate, but he was well above average defensively. He hit .202 in 115 games, with 14 doubles, six homers and 28 RBIs.

Snyder saw less playing time in 2006, but he improved on offense. In 61 games, he hit .277 with nine doubles, six homers and 32 RBIs, with a .773 OPS that was 175 points higher than the previous year. In 2007, he hit .252 in 110 games, with 37 runs, 20 doubles, 13 homers, 47 RBIs and 40 walks. He basically matched the previous season with his .775 OPS. That next year saw him post an .800 OPS, which was his career high. He hit just .237 that year, but it came with 22 doubles, 16 homers, 64 RBIs and 56 walks in 115 games. A lower back strain limited him to 61 games in 2009, and he hit just .200 that year, with seven doubles, six homers and 22 RBIs. Before joining the Pirates in 2010, Snyder hit .231 in 65 games, with eight doubles, ten homers and 32 RBIs. He came over to the Pirates in a five-player deal made at the 2010 trading deadline with the Diamondbacks. The Pirates gave up DJ Carrasco, Ryan Church and Bobby Crosby in the deal and received Snyder and Pedro Ciriaco, plus cash.

Snyder played 40 games with Pittsburgh after the trade, hitting just .169 with five homers. He played in only 34 games in 2011 before he was sidelined with a back injury that required surgery. He was hitting .271 with 17 RBIs at the time of his injury. He was let go after the season and signed with the Houston Astros, where he hit .176 with seven homers in 76 games during the 2012 season. Snyder finished his career in 2013 with the Baltimore Orioles, where he hit .100 over his final nine big league games. Snyder had a crazy 2013 season hidden in the fact that he played for just one team at the big league level that year. He signed with the Washington Nationals in early February and was released in mid-March. That same day he was released, he signed with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, where he played in the minors until April 28th when he was then traded to the Orioles. Snyder got released mid-season, then quickly re-signed with Baltimore, finishing the year out in the minors. He tried to catch on again with the Nationals in 2014 and was once again released during Spring Training. He signed with the Texas Rangers the next day and went to the minors before deciding to retire two weeks into the season. He ended up with a .224 average, 227 runs, 98 doubles, 77 homers and 298 RBIs in 715 games over ten seasons in the majors.

Argenis Diaz, infielder for the Pirates in 2010. Diaz was originally signed as a 16-year-old international amateur free agent out of Venezuela by the Boston Red Sox in 2003. He spent his first two seasons (2004-05) in the Venezuelan Summer League, then moved up to the Gulf Coast League in 2006, where he had a .593 OPS. Despite the lack of offense, he jumped up to Low-A Greenville of the South Atlantic League the next year and did well, posting a .279 average and .723 OPS. He established himself as a prospect that winter playing in the MLB-run Hawaii Winter Baseball league. Diaz hit .358 in 32 games, mostly playing against older competition. His prospect value was also pushed by strong defense at shortstop. He split the 2008 season between High-A Lancaster of the California League and Double-A Portland of the Eastern League, putting up decent stats at each level. He combined to hit .284 in 110 games, with 51 runs, 27 extra-base hits and 52 RBIs. Somewhat surprisingly, his stats were slightly better at the higher level, despite the California League being hitter-friendly. In 2009, Diaz had a .619 OPS through 76 games in Portland before his move to the Pittsburgh organization. He came to the Pirates from the Red Sox, along with Hunter Strickland, in the Adam LaRoche deal completed on July 22, 2009.

Diaz spent the rest of 2009 with Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League and really struggled at the plate, though at 22 years old, he was extremely young for the level. He batted .233 with a .512 OPS in 43 games. He also struggled in winter ball in Venezuela after the season, hitting .194 in 47 games. Diaz started the 2010 season in Indianapolis, but quickly joined the Pirates on April 21st when they sent pitcher Brian Burres to the minors. Diaz’s first stint in the majors lasted just three days, though he would return on July 31st and remain around for the rest of the season. He played 22 games for the Pirates in his only season in Pittsburgh, with 15 of those games at shortstop. He hit .242 in 36 plate appearances with two RBIs and no runs scored. He was released following the 2010 season and then spent the next three seasons at Triple-A Toledo of the International League as a member of the Detroit Tigers organization. He played another four seasons (2014-17), seeing time in the minors with the Cincinnati Reds, Arizona Diamondbacks, Minnesota Twins and then back to the Tigers for his last season. Diaz played nine seasons of winter ball during his career, and he played nearly 1,600 games during his 15 years in pro ball, though his 2004 stats are missing, so he could be slightly over. He hit just 17 homers during his career, including winter ball time (but missing 2004). Diaz went from August 12, 2008 to June 7, 2013 without hitting a home run, which was well over 2,000 plate appearances. He was a minor league coach for the Pirates from 2018 to early 2021.

Stan Fansler, pitcher for the 1986 Pirates. He was a second round draft pick (36th overall) of the Pirates out of Elkins High School in West Virginia in 1983. He is one of just three players ever drafted from that school and the only one to make the majors. Fansler had a disastrous beginning to his career, going 0-10, 8.05 in 57 innings over 14 starts for Watertown of the New York-Penn League. He returned to Watertown in 1984 at 19 years old, where he made 14 starts, this time with a 5-1, 2.01 record in 98.2 innings. Despite pitched 41.2 more innings than the previous season, he allowed one fewer base runner (combined hits, walks and HBP) in 1984. In 1985, the Pirates jumped him over two levels to Double-A Nashua of the Eastern League, and in 24 starts and 158.2 innings pitched, he posted a 3.01 ERA, earning a late season promotion to Triple-A. Despite that success at Nashua, he had a 75:74 BB/SO ratio. He also pitched for Hawaii of the Pacific Coast League that year and had a 2.31 ERA in 11.2 innings. After the season, he was added to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.

Fansler started the 1986 season back in Triple-A Hawaii, where he went 8-9, 3.63 in 156 innings, earning a September call-up to the majors. The Pirates put him in the rotation for the final month, and in five starts he went 0-3, 3.75, walking 15 batters in 24 innings. Fansler put up decent overall numbers in 1987 in Triple-A (Pirates switched affiliates to Vancouver of the PCL), going 12-7, 3.80, but his control was very poor, with 107 walks in 167 innings. He was dropped from the 40-man roster in December of 1987. By 1988 he was pitching down in Double-A, after struggling in Triple-A (Pirates switched affiliates again, this time to Buffalo of the American Association). He went 3-7, 5.67 in 15 starts for Buffalo, then had a 4-6, 3.55 record in 11 starts for Harrisburg of the Eastern League (another affiliate switch). Even though the Pirates kept him around for four more seasons, he never pitched above Double-A during that time. Fansler spent two entire seasons (1989-90) in High-A with Salem of the Carolina League after returning from an arm injury and failed to pick up a single win in 17 starts. His final two seasons (1991-92) with the Pirates weren’t as bad, with decent stats for Carolina of the Double-A Southern League (they switched affiliates a lot during this time). He was released after the 1992 season, took off from baseball in 1993, then pitched briefly in the Texas Rangers farm system, before retiring in 1994. Fansler was actually a pitching coach during his final season, but he was given a chance to pitch four games in relief later in the season. He served as a pitching coach in the minors for the Montreal Expos for two seasons before retiring from baseball. He was a hard thrower, who didn’t learn how to throw a breaking ball until after he was drafted.

Joe Garagiola, catcher for the 1951-53 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball at 16 years old in 1942 while WWII was going on, after being signed by the St Louis Cardinals. Garagiola hit .254 with ten extra-base hits in 67 games for Springfield of the Class-C Western Association that first season. He moved up to Double-A Columbus of the American Association in 1943, which was a very high level of play for someone so young. Garagiola more than held his own, batting .293 in 81 games, with 14 extra-base hits, 27 runs and 27 RBIs. He had just 20 strikeouts in 225 plate appearances. He was informed that he would be inducted into the Army in March of 1944, but the actual call didn’t come until after he played one minor league game on April 19th for Columbus. He missed the rest of 1944 and all of 1945, before returning to the St Louis Cardinals in 1946, going straight to the majors. He was released from the Army days before he joined the club on May 19th, then he debuted a week later. Garagiola came with high praise, as people with the Cardinals said that it wouldn’t take him long to make the fans forget about All-Star catcher Walker Cooper, who was sold to the New York Giants four months earlier. Garagiola never lived up to that hype, but the fans didn’t mind during that first season. He hit .237 with 21 runs, three homers and 22 RBIs in 74 games as a rookie, seeing the majority of the time behind the plate once he got into the lineup. The Cardinals won the World Series that year and he hit .316 with four RBIs in the series.

Garagiola saw about the same amount of playing time during the 1947 season, hitting .257 with 20 runs, ten doubles, five homers and 25 RBIs, along with a 40:14 BB/SO ratio. He struggled in 1948 and even spent part of the year in the minors. He hit just .107 with the Cardinals in 24 games that season. He bounced back in 1949 in a platoon role, hitting .261 in 81 games, with 25 runs, 14 doubles, three homers and 26 RBIs. He was doing well in the early part of 1950, before a collision at first base with Jackie Robinson on June 1st separated his shoulder and cost him 3 1/2 months. Garagiola was batting .347 at the time. He finished with a .318 average and an .865 OPS in 34 games. His best OPS over a full season was his .814 mark in 1947. He started off slow in 1951, hitting .194 through 27 games. The Pirates acquired him on June 15, 1951 in a seven-player deal that saw star outfielder Wally Westlake and pitcher Cliff Chambers (who had just thrown a no-hitter) both go to the Cardinals. Garagiola hit .255 with nine homers and 35 RBIs in the last 72 games of the 1951 season for the Pirates. His total of 11 homers in 1951 were his career high for a season.

In 1952, Garagiola hit .273 with 35 runs, 27 extra-base hits, 54 RBIs and 50 walks in 118 games for the last place Pirates, a 112-loss team. He set career highs in games, RBIs, walks, runs scored and doubles (15) that year. He began the 1953 season with the Pirates, but he would be included in the Ralph Kiner trade to the Chicago Cubs in early June. That was a ten-player deal that also saw the Cubs send $150K to the Pirates. Garagiola was hitting .233 with two homers and 14 RBIs in 27 games prior to the deal. After the trade, he batted .272 in 74 games, with 14 extra-base hits, 21 runs and 21 RBIs. He spent most of the 1954 season with the Cubs, hitting .281 in 63 games, with five doubles, five triples, 21 RBIs and a 28:12 BB/SO ratio. Garagiola finished his nine-season Major League career in 1954 with the New York Giants after they picked him up on waivers on September 8th. He played just five games for New York, though that made his part of another World Series winning team. He was a .257 career hitter in 676 big league games, which included a .262 mark in 217 games with the Pirates. Garagiola finished with 198 runs scored, 82 doubles, 42 homers, 255 RBIs and a 267:173 BB/SO ratio. He remained active in baseball, mainly broadcasting, until his passing in 2016. He took up broadcasting right after retiring as a player, working for the Cardinals in 1955, before going on to National broadcast jobs, as well as a stint with the New York Yankees.

Woody Main, pitcher for the Pirates in 1948, 1950 and 1952-53. He signed to play minor league ball in 1941 at 19 years old, but after two seasons of pro ball he would spend the next three years serving in the military during WWII. Main had a solid ERA during the 1941-42 seasons (combined 3.54 in 346 innings) playing in the New York Yankees system, but his record stood at just 12-29 during that two-year span. He still managed to work his way quickly up the minor league ladder, spending the 1941 season with Idaho Falls of the Class-C Pioneer League, followed by splitting the 1942 season between Norfolk of the Class-B Piedmont League and Binghamton of the Class-A Eastern League. He returned to pro ball in 1946, playing for Binghamton again, where he got the same poor support on offense. He went 3-11, 3.03 in 116 innings, with 48 walks and 51 strikeouts. He finally played for a good team in 1947, but he didn’t pitch as well. With Kansas City of the Triple-A American Association, he was 7-6, 4.45 in 95 innings, pitching almost exclusively in relief. The Pirates drafted him out of the Yankees system in December 1947 in the Rule 5 draft. He was used infrequently that first year in Pittsburgh, pitching 17 games for a total of 27 innings, with an 8.33 ERA.

Main returned to the minors for 1949 and struggled with a 5.04 ERA while pitching in relief for Indianapolis of the Triple-A American Association. He really turned it around with Indianapolis in 1950 by posting a 1.90 ERA in 71 innings over 43 appearances. He actually began that year with the Pirates, but after a 4.87 ERA in 20.1 innings over 12 appearances during the first month of the season, they sent him back to Triple-A. He would spend all of the 1951 season in Indianapolis as well, seeing a lot of bullpen work. Main went 12-13, 4.22 in 60 games (six starts) and 143 innings. He had his best big league year in 1952 playing for a Pirates team that lost 112 games. His record was poor at 2-12, but he had a career low 4.46 ERA and he threw 153.1 innings. The Pirates gave him 11 starts from June 13th until August 6th and he actually did better in that role, posting a 3.89 ERA in 74 innings, compared to a 4.88 ERA in 79.1 relief innings. In 1953 he pitched poorly in two early season games before the Pirates sent him to the minors, where he would finish his career the following season. On May 13, 1953, he was sold to Toronto of the International League for $10,000, officially ending his time with the Pirates. He had a 3.56 ERA in 48 innings for Toronto, then pitched for Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League in 1954, where he had a 2.53 ERA in 64 innings. In 1955, he was playing semi-pro ball in his hometown of Delano, California. Over his four big league seasons, he went 4-13, 5.14 in 204.2 innings, with 68 relief appearances and 11 starts. His actual first name was Forrest, and that is how he was often referred to in print.

Dutch Dietz, pitcher for the Pirates from 1940 until 1943. His pro career started in 1935 at 23 years old. He was playing semi-pro and college ball in Michigan before his first pro deal signed with the Detroit Tigers, one in which he received a $2,000 bonus to sign. He was assigned to Charleston of the Class-C Mid-Atlantic League after signing in June of 1935, then played for three different teams during the 1936 season, seeing brief time with Charleston, Beaumont of the Class-A Texas League and Augusta of the Class-B South Atlantic League. As a side note, both of his seasons with Charleston are listed separately on Baseball-Reference for a “Lloyd Dietz” (his actual name) in 1935 and just “Dietz” in 1936.  By 1937 he was with Henderson of the Class-C East Texas League, where he went 14-7, 3.86 in 219 innings. Dietz went 14-4, 2.80 in 143 innings in 1938, spending most of the season with Beaumont, while also seeing time back with Henderson. He went 3-17, 5.89 in 147 innings over 41 games (19 starts) for Toledo of the Double-A American Association in 1939, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. He was sold by the Tigers to St Paul of the American Association in December of 1939, but by January he was declared a free agent. Papers ran different stories on January 30th, saying he was signed by the Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia A’s, while the Pirates were among the teams that had major interest in him. Later it was clarified that the Reds had signed him, and they put him on the waiver wire in March of 1940, where he was picked up by the Pirates on March 27th, to help a team that was in desperate need of pitching.

Dietz made his Major League debut early in the 1940 season as a pinch-runner before he was sent to the minors without pitching a game.  He was sent on option to Syracuse of the Double-A International League, where he had a 9-13, 5.01 record in 153 innings. Despite the poor pitching stats, the Pirates called him up in September and he pitched four games, started two, with an 0-1, 5.87 record in 15.1 innings.  He did well for the Pirates in 1941, going 7-2, 2.33 in 100.1 innings. He pitched 33 games that year, six as a starter. He got more work and more starts in 1942, pitching 40 games total (13 as a starter) and 134.1 innings. Dietz went 6-9, 3.95, the highest ERA among any Pirates pitcher who made ten starts that season. He pitched just nine innings over the first 40 games of the 1943 season, when the Pirates traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies for pitcher Johnny Podgajny. Neither pitcher did well for their new team, and Dietz’s big league career was done after that 1943 season. He served two years in the army during WWII, then played another four minor league seasons before retiring. His 1948-49 seasons were spent with New Orleans of the Double-A Southern Association, which was an affiliate of the Pirates at the time. With the Pirates, he was 13-15, 3.51 in 259 innings over 21 starts and 64 relief appearances. He had a 6.50 ERA in 36 innings with the Phillies. He had the Dutch nickname long before his pro career started. During the 1920s there was a football player named Dietz with the Dutch nickname, so it wasn’t original.

Earl Sheely, first baseman for the 1929 Pirates. He was a star player in the Pacific Coast League prior to making his MLB debut in 1921. He debuted in pro ball at 18 years old in 1911 with Spokane of the Class-B Northwestern League, playing very briefly for the team over the 1911-12 seasons. His pro career really got off the ground in 1913 with Walla Walla of the Class-D Western Tri-State League, where he batted .222 with 26 doubles in 119 games. In 1914, Sheely spent most of the year back with Walla Walla, hitting .327 with 25 doubles and 11 homers in 93 games. He also saw some time back in the Northwestern League with Seattle, but he would end up back in Spokane for the 1915 season. That year he batted .278 with 28 doubles and four homers in 152 games. In 1916, Sheely batted .283 with 31 doubles and seven homers in 116 games for Spokane. He played 14 games for Salt Lake City of the Double-A Pacific Coast League, where he would spend the next four full seasons. In 1917, he hit .303 with 46 doubles, seven triples and 19 homers in 193 games (they played over 200 games some years in that league). The 1918 season was limited due to WWI. Sheely hit .300 with 14 doubles and 12 homers in 93 games. In 1919, he hit .305 in 168 games, with 35 doubles and 28 homers.

In his fifth season with Salt Lake City in 1920, Sheely batted .377 with 51 doubles and 33 homers in 188 games.  He was an instant solid contributor for the Chicago White Sox once he reached the majors in 1921. In Sheely’s first six seasons in the majors he hit at least .296 every year and drove in 80+ runs each season for the White Sox. In his rookie season, he hit .304 in 154 games, with 68 runs, 25 doubles, 11 homers, 95 RBIs and 57 walks. In 1922, he batted .318 in 149 games, with 72 runs, 37 doubles, six homers, 80 RBIs and a 60:27 BB/SO ratio in 620 plate appearances. In 1923, Sheely hit .297 in 156 games, with 74 runs, 32 extra-base hits, 88 RBIs and 79 walks. He continued to increase his run production in 1924, batting .320 in 146 games, with 84 runs, 34 doubles, 103 RBIs and a career high 95 walks. In 1925, he hit .315 in 153 games, and set career highs with 93 runs, 43 doubles and 111 RBIs. in 1926, Sheely hit .299 in 145 games, with 77 runs, 40 doubles and 87 RBIs. He struggled through the 1927 season, hitting just .209 in 45 games, then decided to return to the PCL where he hit .381 with 46 doubles and 21 homers in 165 games in 1928 for Sacramento.

The Pirates picked up Sheely in the Rule 5 draft on October 3, 1928. In his only season in Pittsburgh in 1929, he hit .293 with 63 runs, 32 extra-base hits, 75 walks and 88 RBIs, starting 137 of the team’s 154 games at first base. The Pirates picked up slugger Gus Suhr in the off-season to play first base and sent Sheely back to the PCL. On December 7, 1929, Sheely was traded to the San Francisco Seals, along with cash, for Suhr, who went on to play ten seasons with the Pirates and is considered by some to be the best first baseman in team history. The younger Suhr was considered to be the better all-around player because he was much quicker on the bases and around first base, though Sheely was considered to be sure-handed at first base and he offered a big target, standing at 6’3″-6’4″, depending on the source. Sheely hit .403 with San Francisco in 1930, with 29 homers, 35 doubles and 289 hits. He played one more season in the majors with the 1931 Boston Braves, hitting .273 with 77 RBIs in 147 games, before finishing his career in the PCL in 1934.

Under the current system of baseball, a player like Sheely would’ve had a long productive, possibly Hall of Fame career, but back then players could make a good living in the PCL and some chose to stay there instead of playing in the majors away from home. Sheely was a .324 minor league hitter in 1,935 games and a .300 hitter in 1,234 Major League games. During his big league time, he had 572 runs, 244 doubles, 48 homers, 745 RBIs and 563 walks. He had over 3,600 hits between the majors/minors and he accumulated 670 doubles and over 200 homers during his 24 seasons in pro ball (he played just 11 games in 1911-12 as a teenager, so it was 22 full years). Most of his home runs came in the minors, and that difference was partially due to the extra time played in the minors, but also Comiskey Park and Forbes Field were two of the tougher home run parts during that era. His son Bud Sheely played three seasons in the majors with the White Sox, catching for the 1951-53 teams.

Ray Miller, first baseman for the 1917 Pirates. He played minor league ball for 11 seasons before he got his first chance at the majors in 1917. Miller’s career in the minors had a strange start. He played for four different teams during his first season in 1906, mostly playing in the Pennsylvania-Ohio-Maryland League. No stats are available for the year, but we know that he batted .330 in 32 games for McKeesport of the same league in 1907, which was not one of the teams he played for in 1906. He then batted .325 in 92 games in 1908, while moving up a level of play, going from Class-D  to Class-C ball (Ohio-Pennsylvania League), though he was in McKeesport each year. Miller then dropped back down to the Class-D Ohio State League in 1909 (playing for Lima), where his average took a huge hit. He posted a .232 batting average in 114 games, with 29 extra-base hits. That was followed by an identical .232 average in 1910, while mostly playing back in the Ohio-Pennsylvania League with Akron. He also saw brief time in the Class-D MINK League with Falls City, where he hit just .100 in 14 games. Miller had a 2-10 record as a pitcher for Falls City that season. He also pitched in 1907, but has no other mound time on his record.

You would imagine that those type of hitting numbers in the low levels after five years of pro ball would be death for a baseball career, but he bounced back in a big way with a .352 average, 80 runs, 73 walks and 47 doubles in 131 games in 1911, while playing for Akron. He would jump three levels to Columbus of the Double-A American Association in 1912, which was considered one of the top leagues of the day. He actually got a shot with the St Louis Browns that year, but failed to make the team. Miller remained in Columbus for four seasons as their everyday first baseman and did well, batting at least .289 each season, while showing a bit more power than in previous years. He hit .296 in 168 games in 1912, with 93 runs, 31 doubles, ten triples and nine homers. He batted .311 in 166 games in 1913, with 77 runs, 31 doubles, eight triples and seven homers. Miller batted .319 in 155 games in 1914, with 91 runs, 32 doubles, ten triples, eight homers and 85 walks. In his final season with Columbus, he batted .289 in 113 games, with 51 runs, 24 extra-base hits and 52 walks. He spent the 1916 season playing for Omaha of the Class-A Western League, which led to his chance at the majors. While there, Miller hit .344 with 45 doubles, eight triples and ten homers in 151 games.

Miller was acquired by the Cleveland Indians in January of 1917. He was on the Opening Day roster for the Indians, who used him in 19 games, mostly off the bench in a pinch-hitting role. He batted .190 with eight walks in 29 plate appearances. Miller was sold to Oakland of the Pacific Coast League on June 1st, where he stayed until he was picked up by the Pirates on August 16th. Miller had actually left Oakland and returned to his home in Pittsburgh, so when the sale was completed, he was able to join the Pirates the same day. Pittsburgh gave him six starts at first base, but after hitting .148 in 27 at-bats, they sent him  to the Kansas City Blues of the American Association on August 29th as partial payment from an earlier trade between the two teams.  Despite playing just six games, he played 70 innings in the field, due to the fact that three straight games went into extra innings, including a 22-inning contest on August 22nd against Brooklyn. Miller never played in the majors again. He enlisted in the Navy after the 1917 season ended and he appeared on the Pirates roster in February/March of 1919, but never played for the team. He was sent to St Joseph of the Western League, but they released him after just 12 games. His stats from that season are attributed to “Tod Miller”, who was a first base during that time, who actually had a very brief stint with St Joseph. Ray Miller played independent ball after playing minor league ball in 1920. It was said that he became ill in 1921 and never shook the illness. He was a Pittsburgh native, who passed away there in 1927 at 39 years old.