This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: March 16th, Patsy Donovan and Hall of Famer Lloyd Waner

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including a Hall of Fame outfielder and a very underrated outfielder from the 19th century.

Lloyd Waner, outfielder for the 1927-41 and 1944-45 Pirates. One of the great outfielders in team history, he ranks among the top ten in numerous categories on offense. Waner ranks tenth in team history with a .319 average. He’s eighth with 1,803 games played. He’s sixth with 2,317 hits, seventh with 1,151 runs scored, seventh with 2,895 total bases, ninth with 114 triples, and seventh with 2,734 times on base. Among single season records, he ranks seventh (134 in 1929) and eighth (133 in 1927) in runs scored. He has three of the top six single season hit totals, ranking second (234 in 1929), fourth (223 in 1927) and sixth with 221 in 1928. He also ranks tenth with 20 triples in 1929. Waner batted over .300 ten times with the Pirates, topping out at .362 during the 1930 season. He batted .355 as a rookie in 1927.

One year after his brother Paul broke into the majors, Lloyd Waner was a big part of the 1927 club that won the National League pennant. He debuted in pro ball just two years earlier at 19 years old, playing alongside his brother with San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League. Waner played 31 games in 1925, then another six in 1926 before he was released. Just three days later, he was signed by the Pirates and turned over to their farm club in Columbia of the Class-B South Atlantic League. He didn’t debut well, though at a young age, he was playing at an advanced level to begin his career, starting off at Double-A, which was the top level at the time. In 1926, Waner hit .200 in six games before he was let go. With Columbia that year, he batted .345 with 172 hits and 48 extra-base hits in 121 games, and then never played in the minors again. Along with his .355 average as a rookie for the 1927 Pirates, he led the National League with 133 runs scored. He had 223 hits in 150 games and set a personal best with 14 steals. That’s obviously not a high number, but speed was one of his best assets. By the middle of the season, he was getting praise from opposing newspapers who said he did everything well on the field and rarely made any mistakes. He finished sixth in the NL MVP voting.

In 1928, the Pirates brought a third Waner to camp, trying out a cousin named Travea, who didn’t make the team and never played in the majors. They were okay settling for just two Waners though. Lloyd followed up his rookie season by hitting .335 while leading the league in at-bats. He had 121 runs scored, 221 hits, 22 doubles, 14 triples, and he set a career high with five homers, a number he would reach two more times. He had 40 walks and struck out just 13 times in 720 plate appearances. He batted .353 in 1929 and led the league in at-bats again. Waner set career highs that year with 134 runs scored, 234 hits, 74 RBIs, 28 doubles and 20 triples, with the latter leading the league. He finished fifth in the MVP voting. The 1930 season was a huge one for offense in baseball, but Waner missed a good portion of the year due to appendicitis. He played just 68 games, but managed to put up a .362 average and an .803 OPS. Healthy for all of 1931, he led the NL with 681 at-bats and 214 hits. He scored 90 runs and had 42 extra-base hits. He also improved that already amazing contact ability, with 16 strikeouts in 726 plate appearances. He received mild MVP support in 1931 (15th place finish) and then again in 1932 (13th place), when he hit .333 with 90 runs scored, 27 doubles and 11 triples in 134 games.

In 1933, Waner had a rough season. He hit just .276 in 121 games, and without power or high walk totals, he finished with a .631 OPS. Right before the season started, he suffered a leg injury while running and then came down with a bad cold right before Opening Day and along with a minor injury suffered mid-season, it seems like he could never get going that year. That season rates as his worst year on defense as well. He didn’t lose that contact ability, striking out eight times in 526 plate appearances. He only bounced back slightly in 1934, hitting .283 in 140 games, with 95 runs scored, 27 doubles, 38 walks (with 12 strikeouts) and a 47-point bump in his OPS. He continued to rebound into 1935 when he reeled off his first of four straight .300+ seasons. He batted .309 in 122 games that year, with 22 doubles, 14 triples and 83 runs scored. Those numbers were impressive considering that twice he missed two weeks of action during the year due to injuries suffered while crashing into something. The first time was in early August and it was a concrete outfield wall that injured his ribs/side. The second time on August 30th was when he crashed into the catcher on a play at the plate and injured his leg.

Waner was back in his early days form in 1936, putting up a .321 average, though a slow start to the season limited his playing time early. He batted .335 over his final 78 games, finally getting regular playing time in the second half of June. In 106 games that year, he 67 runs scored, 22 extra-base hits, 31 walks, five strikeouts and a .767 OPS. His average rose to .330 in 1937, when he added 80 runs scored, 23 doubles, 45 RBIs and a .762 OPS in 129 games. Waner made his first and only All-Star appearance during the 1938 season (The All-Star game didn’t start until his seventh season). He also received mild MVP support and his 194 hits were his highest total for a season after 1931. He batted .313 in 147 games that year, with 79 runs scored, 25 doubles, seven triples, five homers, 57 RBIs and 11 strikeouts in 659 plate appearances. Age and numerous injuries/ailments throughout the years caught up to him after that point and Waner hit just .285 in 112 games in 1939, with a .661 OPS that was his lowest mark since his rough 1933 season. He then hit .259 in 1940, while seeing less playing time, putting up a .562 OPS in 72 games, with 32 starts all season. He didn’t make a single start between May 11th and July 20th.

Waner was traded by the Pirates early in the 1941 season, but he still accomplished something extremely impressive that year. In 234 plate appearances, he finished the year with zero strikeouts. In fact, his streak went back to August 4th in 1940 and lasted until April 23, 1942 before his next strikeout, a span of 291 plate appearances without a strikeout. In his entire career, he struck out just 173 times in 8,333 plate appearances. Waner went from the Pirates to the Boston Braves, where he hit .412 in 19 games before they traded him to the Cincinnati Reds. His time in Cincinnati did not go well and he was released at the end of the season. He played with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1942, hitting .261 in 101 games, making 70 starts in center field. He was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers in March of 1943, but decided to retire to work a wartime job. He came back in 1944 and played 15 games for the Dodgers before being released. He signed with the Pirates, where he was a seldom-used bench player during the rest of 1944 and 1945. While he saw time at all three outfield spots, he didn’t get a single start during his second stint in Pittsburgh. He batted 36 times in 42 games during the 1944-45 seasons with the Pirates. He retired in 1946 and became a scout for the Pirates for the next four years.

Waner led all center fielders in fielding percentage three times, assists twice, and he led all outfielders in putouts four times. He was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967 by the Veteran’s Committee, joining his brother, who had been elected by the writers 13 years earlier. He finished up with 2,459 hits and 1,201 runs scored in 1,993 big league games. The Waner siblings combined to collect 5,611 base hits. There nickname origin story has many varieties that all tie to a bad accent and the 1927 season. The most likely one seems to come from a newspaper man outside of Ebbetts Field because the first usage of the “poison brothers” happened at that same time, and months later their names morphed into Big Poison and Little Poison, though Lloyd Waner was known for a time as Little Lysol instead, because the nicknames were so similar.

Patsy Donovan, outfielder for the 1892-99 Pirates. He began his pro career in the minors in 1886 at 21 years old and it took him four seasons to make it to the majors. While playing for Lawrence of the New England League in 1887 (no 1886 stats are available), he batted .409 in 88 games, with 119 runs, 54 steals and 43 walks. He moved up to London of the International Association in 1888 and hit .359 with 39 extra-base hits, 80 stolen bases and 115 runs scored in 103 games. Donovan was back in London in 1889 (then of the International League), though he saw limited time and didn’t do as well when he played. In 53 games, he batted .268 with ten extra-base hits, 45 runs and 27 steals. Despite that fact, he still made it to the majors in 1890. He played for four different teams during his first two big league seasons, spending time with Brooklyn and Baltimore of the National League in 1890, combining to hit .241 in 60 games, with a .560 OPS, 34 runs and 13 steals. Playing for the Louisville Colonels of the American Association in 1891, Patsy (his first name was Patrick) hit .321 in 105 games, with 73 runs scored and 27 stolen bases. Despite those stats, he was released by the Colonels in mid-September and he signed with the Washington Statesman of the American Association to finish the season. He hit just .200 in 17 games, but still had a job with the team as they moved to the National League for the 1892 season. He combined to hit .305 in 122 games in 1891, with 82 runs, 56 RBIs, 28 steals and a .707 OPS.

Donovan played two months with Washington in 1892, hitting .239 in 40 games, before he was sent to the Pirates in a trade for Harry Raymond. It turned out to be one of the better trades in team history, with Donovan remaining around for eight seasons, some as a player-manager, while Raymond lasted just four games with Washington. In 90 games for Pittsburgh in 1892, Donovan hit .294 with 40 stolen bases and 77 runs scored. Combined on the year in 130 games, he scored 106 runs and stole a career high 56 bases. In 1893, he batted .317 and scored 114 runs in 113 games played. He stole 46 bases and walked 42 times, while striking out just eight times all season in 544 plate appearances. He also had more triples (eight) than doubles and homers combined (seven). The 1894 season was a huge season for offense around baseball due to the new pitching rules that favored the hitters. Donovan scored 147 runs in 133 games played that year. His runs scored total in 1894 would be a Pirates all-time record if it weren’t for teammate Jake Stenzel scoring 150 times that same year. Donovan batted .303 and swiped 41 bases, while finishing with a career best 76 RBIs. He reached 20 doubles for the first time (21) and finished with career highs of ten triples and four homers.

Donovan led the Pirates with 115 runs in 1895, while hitting .310 with 36 stolen bases and 48 walks. While offense around baseball began to drop that year as pitchers adjusted to the new rules, he actually saw him OPS go from .745 in 1894 to .751 in 1895, which was a career best that didn’t last long. Donovan hit .319 in 1896, with 113 runs scored, 28 extra-base hits, 59 RBIs and 48 stolen bases. He had a .757 OPS that year, which would stand as his career best. With five games left in the season, he was named the new manager after Connie Mack left the club to sign with a minor league team from Milwaukee. As a side note, those five games aren’t currently on the record of Donovan as a manager, but that should change in the near future because I passed on the research to the proper person. Donovan led the Pirates with a .322 average in 1897, though he scored “just” 82 runs, his lowest total since he had 82 runs in 1891. He also had 57 RBIs and 34 steals. In his first year as a manager, he finished with a disappointing 60-71 record, which led to a change in the managerial ranks, though Donovan remained as the team’s captain and their everyday right fielder. He was able to break the century mark in runs scored again in 1898, thanks in part to a longer NL schedule. He batted .302 with 112 runs, 16 doubles, nine triples and he swiped 41 bags in a career high 147 games. In 1899, he batted .291 in 122 games, with 82 runs, 56 RBIs and 26 steals. It was the first time that he batted under .300 in seven years. Donovan was the manager for most of the 1899 season, going 69-58 in that role.

After an 1899 season, the Pirates sold Donovan to the St Louis Cardinals for just $1,000. It was a great deal for the Cardinals, who got four straight .300 seasons out of him, while using him as a manager for three of those years.  He also led the league in stolen bases in 1900. Pittsburgh was able to make the deal due to the fact they acquired most of the Louisville Colonels (NL) roster in the Honus Wagner trade that same off-season, leaving no room in the outfield for Donovan. Wagner was actually an outfielder at the time, along with Hall of Famer (and new manager) Fred Clarke. The Pirates already had young Ginger Beaumont, who was one of the better hitters in the league. The Donovan deal didn’t hurt the Pirates, but they should have been able to get much more for him in trade value. In his first season in St Louis, he hit .316 in 126 games, with 78 runs, 61 RBIs and 45 steals. He followed that up in 1901 with a .303 average in 130 games, finishing with 92 runs scored, 73 RBIs, 28 steals, and a career high 23 doubles. In 1902, Donovan posted a .315 average in 126 games, with 70 runs, 35 RBIs and 34 steals. In his final season with the Cardinals, he posted a career high .327 average, with 63 runs, 39 RBIs and 25 steals in 105 games. The Cardinals went 76-64 in his first season as their manager in 1901, finishing in fourth place. They dropped to sixth place in 1902 with a 58-76 record, then had a last place finish and a 43-94 record in 1903.

In 1904, Donovan took over as a player-manager for the Washington Senators after they got off to a 1-16 starts. He didn’t do much better, leading them to a 37-97 record the rest of the way. Part of the problem was his own hitting, as he dropped down to a .229 average and a .514 OPS in 125 games. He finished his playing career with eight games over two seasons with the 1906-07 Brooklyn Superbas, though he was serving as the team’s manager as his primary role. He finished his managerial career with two seasons (1910-11) at the helm of the Boston Red Sox. In 11 seasons as a manager, he had a 684-879 record. With the Pirates in eight seasons, he hit .307 in 982 games with 842 runs scored and 312 stolen bases. He batted over .300 six times during his time in Pittsburgh. In his career he batted .301 with 518 steals. He had 2,256 hits and 1,321 runs scored in 1,824 games. He also had 214 career outfield assists, which ranks 19th all-time in baseball history, one assist behind Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente and Tommy McCarthy. Donovan was also a longtime manager in the minors, finishing up that career at 63 years old in 1928.

Abraham Nunez, infielder for the 1997-2004 Pirates. He was originally signed as an amateur free agent by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1994 out of the Dominican Republic at 18 years old. His first two years (1994-95) were spent in the Dominican Summer League. He came to the Pirates in the nine-player deal that sent Carlos Garcia and Orlando Merced to the Blue Jays in November of 1996. Nunez had yet to reach full-season ball, but he was still considered to be the best prospect in the deal. Prior to the trade to the Pirates, he played the 1996 season with St Catharines of the short-season New York-Penn League, where he hit .280 in 75 games, with 43 runs, 13 extra-base hits, 31 walks and 37 steals. Before the 1997 season, Baseball America rated him as the 69th best prospect in baseball. He spent the first half of that first year with the Pirates with Lynchburg of the High-A Carolina League, where he hit .260 in 78 games, with 45 runs, 29 steals and a .659 OPS. Nunez was moved up to Carolina of the Double-A Southern League mid-season and he hit .328, with 31 runs and ten steals in 47 games. The Pirates bumped him to the majors in late August and he hit .225 in 19 games.

The jump to the majors proved to be premature for Nunez. He spent his first four seasons in Pittsburgh bouncing between the minors and majors, getting into a total of 173 big league games. He was never able to hit well in any of those first four seasons with the Pirates, topping out at that .225 average in 1997. He was still a top prospect in baseball going into 1998, but that status was lost when he hit .192 in 24 games with the Pirates. Most of that season was spent with Nashville of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where in 94 games, he put up a .651 OPS that was 138 points below league average. The Pirates gave him an extended look in the majors in 1999, but it resulted in a .220 average and a .550 OPS in 90 games. He got 58 starts that year at shortstop. Nunez batted .220 again in 2000, this time getting just 99 plate appearances over 40 games, which spending more than half of the year back in Nashville. In 2001, he finally got a full-time gig in the majors, playing 48 games at both shortstop and second base. He hit .262 with 21 RBIs and eight steals in 301 at-bats. While he didn’t provide much offense, he was solid in the field at both positions. Nunez had three more similar seasons with the Pirates before he left via free agency after the 2004 season. He hit.233 in 112 games in 2002, seeing a majority of his playing time at second base. He hit .248 with a .667 OPS in 118 games in 2003, seeing more starts at second base and fewer appearances off of the bench. In his final season in Pittsburgh, Nunez hit .236 in 112 games, though he made just 29 starts. He hit .238 with 11 homers, 117 RBIs and 156 runs scored in 630 games with the Pirates. Despite being a stolen base threat in the minors, he had 35 steals in eight seasons in Pittsburgh.

Nunez became a free agent on December 1, 2004 and signed with the St Louis Cardinals four weeks later. His best career season came in 2005 when he played 139 games for the Cardinals and hit .285 with 44 RBIs and 64 runs scored, setting career highs in each category. That year is valued at 2.3 WAR, just over double any WAR total he put up in a season with the Pirates. Nunez hit .211 in 123 games with the 2006 Philadelphia Phillies after signing a two-year free agent deal. His .577 OPS was a 127-point drop from his career best season one year earlier, though he managed to set a career high with 41 walks. He was only slightly better in 2007, posting a .600 OPS in 136 games for the Phillies, with a .234 average,  24 runs, 16 RBIs and 30 walks. While he played nearly every day, just 53 of those games were starts. He managed to play 62 games as a defensive replacement at third base, where he was finishing games for the platoon of Wes Helms and Greg Dobbs. Nunez signed as a free agent with the Milwaukee Brewers for 2008, but they released him in mid-May before he played a big league game. He signed with the New York Mets and played two games in the majors before being sent to Triple-A for the rest of the season. He spent 2009 with the Arizona Diamondbacks in Triple-A, then he played independent ball up until 2011. Nunez was also active in winter ball in the Dominican.  In his big league career, he was a .242 hitter over 12 seasons and 1,030 games, with 286 runs, 88 doubles, 19 triples, 18 homers, 209 RBIs and 38 steals. He was a -1.1 WAR player on offense during his career, but he added value with 4.3 WAR on defense. He had 1.1 WAR over his eight seasons with the Pirates. During the 2002 and 2004 seasons, there was also an outfielder in the majors named Abraham Nunez.

Bill Duggleby, pitcher for the 1907 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball with Auburn of the Class-C New York State League in 1897 at 23 years old. The Philadelphia Phillies announced that they purchased his contract on Christmas Day in 1897, after he was highly recommended to their manager. He was signed as a pitcher, but the report from the day noted his .365 batting average and his good fielding. Duggleby debuted in the majors with the 1898 Phillies, making their Opening Day roster. He pitched 54 innings and had a 5.50 ERA, before ending up in the minors until 1901. He won 22 games for Montreal of the Class-A Eastern League in 1899, while throwing 332 innings. The next year he was 17-10 for Toronto of the Eastern League, throwing 250 innings. Returning to the majors in 1901, Duggleby won 20 games (with 12 losses) for the Phillies, while posting a 2.88 ERA in 284.2 innings. He made 29 starts, tossed 26 complete games, and he threw five shutouts. Prior to the 1902 season he jumped to the Philadelphia Athletics of the American League, during the league’s second season as a Major League, which became an immediate rival to the National League. After just two starts, he was returned to the Phillies. The two teams had a lawsuit over players jumping from one team to the other at the time and most of the players involved were either traded away or returned to their old team. Duggleby went 11-17, 3.38 in 258.2 innings after returning to the Phillies, completing 28 of his 30 starts.

Duggleby went 13-16, 3.75 in 264.1 innings in 1903, completing 28 of his 30 starts, with three being shutouts. He then had a 12-13, 3.78 record in 223.2 innings in 1904, which was actually a fairly impressive record. Not only were the Phillies 52-100 that season, his ERA was 1.05 above league average, yet somehow he ended up just one game under the .500 mark. Duggleby had a much better season in 1905 when he went 18-17, 2.46 in 289.1 innings, yet his luck with the win-loss record went the complete opposite way. The Phillies were 83-69 in 1905 and his ERA was 53 points below league average. Despite a 13-19 record in 1906, he had a 2.25 ERA in 280.1 innings. At least that year was more in line with the team/league, as the Phillies were below .500 and the average ERA dropped to 2.62 that year. That season was a big one for Duggleby, but he would suffer a huge drop-off in 1907, which would end up being his final season in the majors.

The 33-year-old Duggleby was struggling along in his eighth season in the majors in 1907 when the Pirates purchased his contract from the Philadelphia Phillies in July. He was 0-2, 7.45 in 29 innings over two starts and three relief appearances prior to the purchase on July 15th, which was completed by manager Fred Clarke, with permission from owner Barney Dreyfuss. He pitched nine games with the Pirates, three as a starter, going 2-2, 2.68 in 40.1 innings. He debuted in relief just three days after they completed the purchase to acquire him. On September 4th, during the first game of a doubleheader against the Reds, he threw a 2-0 shutout. His final appearance with the Pirates came three days later when he gave up five runs over four innings in a loss to the Chicago Cubs, although he pitched the final eight innings of an 11-inning exhibition game against a minor league team from Wheeling on September 22nd. After the season ended, he returned to the minors for five more seasons before retiring. The Pirates reserved his rights for the 1908 season, but he came down with typhoid fever in early October of 1907. He was sold to Rochester of the Eastern League on January 4, 1908, along with teammate Goat Anderson. Duggleby had a 12-15 record for Rochester in 1908, throwing 258 innings that year. He went to Kansas City of the American Association for $1,500, but after Spring Training they decided the price was too high and he returned to his old team in Toronto in May, then ended up playing semi-pro ball in Atlantic City instead. The 1910 season was spent with Montgomery of the Class-A Southern Association, where he had a 10-15 record. His final three years in the minors were spent far from the majors, pitching for Albany of the South Atlantic League, considered to be a Class-C league at the time, similar to Low-A ball now.  He had a career record of 92-103, 3.18 record in 1,741.1 innings in the majors. He made 191 starts and 50 relief appearances, finishing with 159 complete games, and he threw 17 shutouts.