This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: March 13th, Former Pirates with Baseball Relatives

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, two of them related to other Pirates players, and another had a brother in the majors. We start with the most recent one first.

Jason Rogers, corner infielder for the 2016 Pirates. He was a 32nd round draft pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2010 at 22 years old, selected out of Columbus State University in Georgia. Despite his advanced age, he debuted in the lowest level of the minors (Arizona League) and he hit .281 with a .761 OPS in 42 games. Rogers moved up to Low-A Wisconsin of the Midwest League in 2011 and hit .275 with 23 extra-base hits and a .765 OPS in 64 games. He put his name on the prospect map in 2011, splitting the season between Wisconsin and High-A Brevard County of the Florida State League, combining to hit .301 with 35 doubles, 11 homers, 12 steals and 79 walks in 133 games. In 2013, he spent the season in Double-A Huntsville of the Southern League, hitting .270 with 25 doubles, 22 homers, 87 RBIs and 59 walks in 133 games. He went to the Arizona Fall League after the season and hit .311 in 18 games, then played winter ball in the Dominican, where he batted .235 with a homer in 13 games. Rogers split the 2014 season between Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville  of the Pacific Coast League, hitting .296 with 78 runs, 29 doubles, 18 homers, 82 RBIs and 53 walks in 134 games. In September, he got his first shot at the majors, where he went 1-for-9 at the plate in eight games.

Rogers put up a 1.056 OPS at Nashville in five weeks at the level in the middle of 2015, but the rest of his season was spent in the majors, where he was used mostly off of the bench. In 86 games (25 starts) for the Brewers, he batted .296 with four homers, 16 RBIs and an .808 OPS. The Pirates acquired him over the 2015-16 off-season for outfielder Keon Broxton and minor league pitcher Trey Supak. Rogers played sparingly for the Pirates, getting into 23 games total. He made just three starts, all at first base, and he didn’t play a single complete game. He also played four games off of the bench at third base. He batted .080 in 25 at-bats, though he was able to post a .303 OBP due to seven walks and a hit-by-pitch. He struggled in winter ball over the 2016-17 off-season in the Dominican. Rogers was released during the middle of the 2017 season without playing a big league game that year. At the time he had a .263 average, 26 extra-base hits and and 40 RBIs in 105 games for Indianapolis of the Triple-A International League. After being released, he played the rest of 2017 in Japan, then spent the 2018-19 seasons in independent ball with New Britain of the Atlantic League, while also playing winter ball in Puerto Rico and Australia. He didn’t play anywhere in 2020, but he returned in 2021 to play with Gastonia of the Atlantic League and he also had a stint in Mexico. He has mostly played first base during his pro career, but he also saw 186 games at third base and 112 games in left field, with a handful of appearances in right field as well. During his three seasons in the majors, Rogers hit .258 in 117 games, with 24 runs, four homers and 18 RBIs in 212 plate appearances.

Gary Kolb, utility fielder for the 1968-69 Pirates. From 1960 until 1965, Kolb played 190 games in the majors, split between three different teams. He signed with the St Louis Cardinals as an amateur free agent at 20 years old in 1960 (reportedly receiving a $60,000 bonus) and appeared in the majors that September, getting three at-bats over nine games played. The rest of the year was spent with Keokuk of the Class-D Midwest League and Winston-Salem of the Class-B Carolina League. In the minors his first year, he combined to hit .271 in 84 games, with 56 runs, eight doubles, 15 triples, eight homers, 51 RBIs and 15 steals. Kolb spent the 1961 season in the minors playing for Lancaster of the Class-A Eastern League, where he batted .261 with 20 doubles, 12 triples and ten homers in 137 games. He moved up to Double-A in 1962, playing for Tulsa of the Texas League. Kolb batted .296 with 31 doubles, ten homers, 58 walks and 88 runs scored in 129 games. That got him another September look with the Cardinals and he went 5-for-14 in six games. He split the 1963 season between Tulsa and the Cardinals. Kolb made the Opening Day roster, but through May 8th, he had just four plate appearances, with eight games off of the bench. He went to Tulsa and hit .318 in 61 games, then returned to St Louis for the remainder of the season right after the All-Star break. He put up an .883 OPS in 119 plate appearances over 75 games for St Louis. Right before the 1964 season started, he was traded to the Milwaukee Braves in a deal for Bob Uecker. Kolb was a bench player in Milwaukee, seeing a handful of starts at four different positions, while also getting into games at two other spots. He played everywhere except shortstop, pitcher and first base. He batted .188 in 36 games for the Braves, and spent almost half of the season with Denver of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he had a .734 OPS in 52 games.

Kolb matched his 1964 average by batting .188 in 1965 as well, though he got to that number by hitting .259 early in the year for Milwaukee, then batting .167 in 40 games for the New York Mets after a July trade even up for catcher Jesse Gonder. Both Kolb and Gonder would serve as backup catchers to Manny Sanguillen at Triple-A Columbus for the Pirates in 1967. Kolb spent all of 1966 in the minors with the Mets, hitting .219 with a .615 OPS in 100 games for Jacksonville of the Triple-A International League, before they traded him to the Pirates in December, swinging a four-player deal with two players going each way. He spent all of 1967 at Columbus, where he hit .293 with 29 extra-base hits and 46 RBIs in 117 games, which got him named as team MVP.  He made the Pirates out of Spring Training in 1968 and would become the jack-of-all-trades. He started just 22 games that year, but played another 52 off the bench, taking the field at six different positions. Kolb even caught ten games that year, seven more than he caught in his first five seasons in the majors combined. His versatility is what kept him on the team, as he hit just .218 with two homers and six RBIs in 119 at-bats. He was very seldom used in 1969, going long periods of time without playing. He played 29 games the entire year, getting only 39 plate appearances. He drove in three runs on the season, two in his last at-bat of the year, which would turn out to be his last Major League at-bat as well. He was assigned to Columbus after the season and got an invite to Spring Training in 1970, where he was competing for the third-string catcher job, but he was one of the last cuts of the season. He played another four seasons in the minors (1970-73) for Triple-A affiliates of the Pirates (Columbus and Charleston) before retiring. In seven big league season, he was a .209 hitter, with six homers, 29 RBIs and 63 runs scored. Despite the fact he wasn’t a pitcher, and never pitched a game in the majors, he made 41 appearances on the mound in the minors, spread out over seven different seasons. His cousin Danny Kolb pitched for the Pirates in 2007.

Al Luplow, outfielder for the 1967 Pirates. He attended Michigan State University, where he was a varsity football player, and he signed with the Cleveland Indians as an amateur free agent at 20 years old in 1959. Luplow batted .301 with 11 homers and 53 RBIs in 71 games with Batavia in the Class-D New York-Penn League during his first season of pro ball. He split the 1960 season between A-Ball (Reading of the Eastern League) and Double-A (Mobile of the Southern Association), combining to hit .283 with 64 walks, 76 RBIs and 67 runs scored in 127 games, with better results in his 84 games at Reading. He moved up to Triple-A Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League in 1961 and hit .302 in 152 games, with 90 runs, 18 doubles, 16 triples, 17 homers and 91 RBIs. That earned him a September look in Cleveland, where he went 1-for-18 with a single and two walks in five games. His best season in the majors was his rookie year in 1962, when he hit .277 with 54 runs, 15 doubles, 14 homers and 45 RBIs in 97 games for the Indians. He was batting .318 through early July and getting regular starts until he pulled a muscle in his leg that kept him out of action for three weeks. He had a pinch-hit RBI single in his first game back, but he hit just .222 the rest of the way and saw sporadic starts in September. In 1963, Luplow batted .234 with seven homers and 27 RBIs in 100 games. His OPS dropped from .834 as a rookie down to .655 during his second season. On June 27th at Fenway Park, he made a famous catch in which he ran full speed towards the right field wall and dove headfirst over the five-foot wall to rob a three-run homer that would have tied the score.

Luplow spent most of 1964 in the minors, batting .111 in 19 games with the Indians. He didn’t get a single start during his two stints with the team that year, sticking around from Opening Day until late May, followed by a return in September. He was a deep bench player during the 1965 season for the Indians, getting 48 plate appearances in 53 games, and he batted just .133 with one homer. For a second year in a row, he failed to get a single start all season. After the season, he was sold to the New York Mets, which opened up an opportunity for playing time. Luplow played in a career high 111 games in 1966, batting .251 with 31 runs, nine doubles, seven homers, 31 RBIs and 38 walks. He was a bench player when the Pirates purchased his contract from the Mets on June 21, 1967, losing his starting job three weeks earlier. In 41 games with the Mets that year, he hit .205 with three homers and a .555 OPS. For the Pirates, Luplow played 55 games, mostly off the bench. He batted .184 in 103 at-bats with 13 runs, one homer and eight RBIs. He went to Spring Training with the Pirates in 1968, but he was a late cut from the team and never played pro ball again, deciding to retire instead of accepting his minor league assignment. In 481 big league games over seven seasons, he batted .235 with 147 runs, 34 doubles, 33 homers and 125 RBIs. His great-nephew Jordan Luplow played outfield for the Pirates during the 2017-18 seasons. In fact, Jordan’s MLB debut was in right field, and it came exactly 50 years to the day that Al started as a replacement for an injured Roberto Clemente in right field. Along with the Kolbs (see above) they are one of 26 set of relatives to play for the Pirates.

Eddie Pellagrini, infielder for the 1953-54 Pirates. Pellagrini was 24 years old and in his fifth season of minor league ball in May of 1942 when he got drafted into the Navy during WWII. His stay in the military lasted  3 1/2 years and delayed his arrival in the majors until 1946. When he finally got his first big league at-bat at 28 years old, he hit a home run. He debuted in pro ball in 1938, playing for Danville of the Class-D Bi-State League, where he hit .296 in 118 games, with 24 doubles, five triples and 21 homers. That was followed by spending most of 1939 with Canton of the Class-C Middle Atlantic League. He hit .303 with 29 extra-base hits in 99 there, while also batting .229 with two homers in 14 games for Rocky Mount of the Class-B Piedmont League. In 1940, Pellagrini moved up to Class-A, playing for Scranton of the Eastern League, where he put up a .259 average in 125 games, with 26 extra-base hits. He batted .273 with 57 extra-base hits in 173 games for San Diego of the Pacific Coast League in 1941, and then went to Spring Training with the Boston Red Sox in 1942. He was playing for Louisville of the Double-A American Association early in that 1942 season. Pellagrini likely would have debuted in 1942 had he not been drafted, though he was hitting just .209 with a .554 OPS in 19 games before the military came calling.

Pellagrini was a deep bench player when he returned to action for the 1946 Red Sox, playing just 22 games total. He was actually the starting third baseman early in the year, but a combo of poor hitting and a hamstring injury kept him on the bench for all but seven games after May 7th. He hit .211 with two homers and four RBIs that season. He saw more time in 1947, getting regular starts at shortstop and third base through late May until he dropped down to a .207 average through 31 games. His time was limited after that point and he finished with a .203 average and a .580 OPS in 74 games. Boston traded him to the St Louis Browns on November 17, 1947 as one of six players and a huge sum of cash they gave up for star shortstop Vern Stephens. As an interesting side note, there were rumors in May of 1946 that he was one of two players being traded for Stephens, with some papers reporting it as a done deal, 18 months before it actually happened.

Pellagrini had the unenviable task of replacing the power-hitting Stephens at shortstop in St Louis. In 105 games in 1948, he batted .238 with two homers and 27 RBIs, though he had his best defensive season that year. He saw less playing time in 1949 and his defense suffered, with modern metrics giving Pellagrini -0.9 WAR that season. He batted .238 again, this time in 79 games. His .627 OPS from 1948 dropped 37 points in his second year with the Browns. He spent 1950 in the minors with Baltimore of the Triple-A International League, where he hit .282 with 21 doubles, 19 homers and 78 walks. Pellagrini moved on to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1951, then to the Cincinnati Reds in 1952. In his only season in Philadelphia, he batted .234 in 86 games, and had the odd stat line of more triples (five) and homers (five) than doubles (four). His .707 OPS that year was a career best. For the Reds in 1952, he hit .170 in 46 games with one homer and a lowly .452 OPS. The Pirates picked him up off of waivers early in the 1953 seasons, before he could play a game that year for the Reds.  Pellagrini was a lifetime .222 hitter before coming to Pittsburgh, where he would hit a career high .253 in 1953. His .671 OPS was the second best of his career. He started 34 games that season, mostly at second base, and played another 44 off the bench. He had a similar role in 1954, except most of his playing time came at third base. Pellagrini hit .216 that year, with six extra-base hits (all doubles) and 16 RBIs in 142 plate appearances over 73 games. The Pirates released him immediately after the season ended and the 36-year-old called it quits, taking up a coaching job three years later at Boston College, where he stayed for 32 seasons. In 563 games over eight big league seasons, he hit .226 with 20 homers, 133 RBIs and 167 runs scored.

Chappie McFarland, pitcher for the 1906 Pirates. McFarland debuted in pro ball at 23 years old in 1898, pitching five seasons in the minors before debuting in mid-September of 1902 with the St Louis Cardinals. That 1898 season saw him playing for Dubuque of the Class-B Western Association, where he went 6-5 in 106 innings over 11 starts and two relief appearances, with 34 walks and 29 strikeouts. In 1899, McFarland spent most of the year with Albany of the New York State League, going 10-8 in 154 innings. There could be an error in those online stats, as he is only credited with 17 games, all complete game starts. No ERA is available, but we know he allowed 4.50 runs per nine innings. He also saw time that year with Syracuse of the Class-A Eastern League, where he struggled with a 1-7 record and 9.76 runs allowed per nine innings. He was with Des Moines of the Class-B Western League in 1900, though no stats are available. He spent the 1901-02 seasons pitching for Cedar Rapids of the Three-I League, before getting his shot at the majors. That league was Class-D in 1901 and Class-B in 1902. McFarland pitched 48 games over his two seasons with the team, though almost no other stats are available. Newspaper records show him with a .143 average and a .925 fielding percentage in 19 games during the 1901 season, followed by a .170 average, .916 fielding percentage and a 70:145 BB/SO ratio in his 32 appearances on the mound. He’s credited with a .586 winning percentage, which works out to a 17-12 record, though it’s not listed.

McFarland began his big league career at age 27 in mid-September of 1902 with the St Louis Cardinals and had a 33-57 record over three full and two partial seasons in St Louis. His ERA during that time was just 3.33, yet he finished in the top ten among National League pitchers in losses during all three of his full seasons.  He made one start and one relief appearance in 1902, which was enough to earn him a spot in the St Louis rotation in 1903. The Cardinals were awful at this time and it showed in his record. They finished 43-94 in last place, and McFarland went 9-19, 3.07 in 229 innings. He completed 25 of his 26 starts. The team made an incredible improvement in just one season, going 75-79 in 1904, picking up 32 extra wins. McFarland posted a 14-18, 3.21 record in 269.1 innings, with career highs of 31 starts, 28 complete games and 111 strikeouts. The Cardinals were bad again in 1905 (58-96) and he saw his ERA go up to 3.81 in 250.1 innings, which resulted in an 8-18 record. He finished 22 of 28 starts, managing to pick up three shutouts, which proved to be half of his career total. The Pirates acquired him on June 3, 1906 for young rookie starter Ed Karger, who posted a 1.93 ERA in his first 28 innings of work in the majors. The Pirates wanted a veteran starter at the time, and McFarland had a 1.93 ERA in 37.1 innings at the time, but things did not work out in Pittsburgh. McFarland made five starts for the Pirates, picking up just one win, which was a 3-0 shutout in his first start, ten days after trade. He allowed four runs in each of his next three starts, then he lost at home to a below-.500 Philadelphia Phillies team in his final start. The Pirates put him on waivers in late July, where he was picked up by the Brooklyn Superbas. He lost his only start with his new team, giving up eight runs on ten hits and five walks. That would be his last game in the majors. Karger, who the Pirates gave up in the deal, went on to post a 2.72 ERA in 191.2 innings over the rest of the 1906 season, then had a 2.04 ERA 314 innings in 1907. In 1907. McFarland had a 22-4 record in the minors, while also serving as the team’s manager, though he was pitching in Class-C ball at the time. He was also a player-manager in 1908, but by the end of the 1909 season he was out of baseball for good. McFarland’s real name was Charles. His older brother Monte pitched two years in the majors with the 1895-96 Chicago Colts (Cubs).

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