Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date.
Jose Castillo, second baseman for the 2004-07 Pirates. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Pirates out of Venezuela, shortly after his 16th birthday in 1997. After one season in the Venezuelan Summer League (1998), he made it to the states as an 18-year-old, playing in the Gulf Coast League in 1999, where he batted .266 with 30 RBIs in 47 games. Pittsburgh moved him up to Low-A Hickory of the South Atlantic League for the next year and he hit .299 with 32 doubles, 16 homers, 16 steals, 95 runs scored and 72 RBIs in 125 games during his first year in a full-season league. Castillo split his time between second base and shortstop prior to the 2000 season, when he switched to full-time shortstop for three seasons. He moved up to High-A ball with Lynchburg of the Carolina League for 2001 and hit .245 with 34 extra-base hits, 23 steals and a .647 OPS in 125 games. The Pirates had him repeat that level in 2002 and he put up big numbers, hitting .300 with 82 runs, 25 doubles, 16 homers, 81 RBIs, 27 steals and an .823 OPS in 134 games. Castillo also showed better patience at the plate, doubling his walk rate over the previous season. He played well at Double-A the next season with Altoona of the Eastern League, hitting .287, with 68 runs, 24 doubles, 66 RBIs, 19 steals and a .728 OPS in 126 games. Jack Wilson had established himself as the long-term shortstop in Pittsburgh at this time, so Castillo began to play more second base that year. Without any Triple-A experience, he made the Pirates as their starting second baseman in Spring Training of 2004.
That rookie season saw Castillo play 129 games, with 105 starts at second base. He hit .256 with 44 runs, 15 doubles, eight homers and 39 RBIs. In 2005, he had two trips to the disabled list, the first time occurring just two games into the season when he strained an oblique muscle. The second injury happened as he was taken out by a runner attempting to break up a double play. That injury put him out from August 22nd until the end of the season. He was still able to hit .268 with 49 runs, 16 doubles, 11 homers and 53 RBIs in 101 games. Castillo came into Spring Training 2006 healthy, and put up his best career numbers in numerous categories, though poor defense resulted in his worst career WAR numbers (-1.3 WAR for the season). In 148 games he hit .253 with 54 runs, 25 doubles, 14 homers and 65 RBIs. His OPS dropped to .682, 42 points lower than the previous season. Castillo lost his starting job to Freddy Sanchez in 2007, and he would end up playing more third base than second base that year. In 87 games, Castillo hit .244 without a home run or a stolen base, while picking up just six walks, leading to a .604 OPS. He was released in December 2007 and he spent one more season in the majors, splitting the 2008 campaign between the San Francisco Giants and Houston Astros. In 127 games that year (112 with the Giants), he put up a .246 average, with 46 runs, 29 doubles, six homers, 37 RBIs, and a .668 OPS. With Pittsburgh, he was a .256 hitter in 465 games, with 33 homers, 181 RBIs and 197 runs scored. Despite four straight seasons of double-digit stolen base totals in the minors, he had just 13 steals (in 24 attempts) in the majors. Castillo played in Japan, Italy, Mexico and Venezuela until his untimely passing at age 37 in December, 2018. He played a total of 21 seasons in pro ball, plus 13 years of winter ball. If you include all of his totals (the 1998 stats from Venezuela aren’t available online, but I have them for hits, games and average), he played 2,752 games, with over 11,000 plate appearances. Castillo hit .290 during that time, with 257 homers, 509 doubles, 1,477 RBIs, 1,318 runs, 2,964 hits and 225 steals.
David Ross, catcher for the Pirates in 2005. He was drafted out of high school and college by the Los Angeles Dodgers, getting selected in the 19th round in 1995 and the seventh round in 1998 out of the University of Florida. Ross spent three years in the majors with the Dodgers prior to being purchased by the Pirates at the end of Spring Training in 2005. He had an excellent pro debut, batting .309 in 59 games, with 31 runs, 14 doubles, six homers, 25 RBIs, 34 walks and an .899 OPS with Yakima of the short-season Northwestern League in 1998. He struggled with the jump to Vero Beach of the High-A Florida State League in 1999, hitting .227 in 114 games, with a .657 OPS. Ross did just slightly better in 2000, while splitting the season between High-A and Double-A. He put up a .754 OPS in 51 games at High-A, but that was helped by the Dodgers moving from the pitcher-friendly Florida State League to San Bernardino of the hitter-friendly California League. After getting promoted to Double-A San Antonio of the Texas League, he had a .209 average in 24 games. Ross turned a corner with an .831 OPS in 74 games with Jacksonville of the Southern League (Double-A) in 2001. That was followed by a .297 average, 16 doubles and 15 homers in 92 games for Las Vegas of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in 2002. That led to his first taste of the majors, getting in eight games with the Dodgers over a June/July and late-September stint with the club.
Ross spent most of 2003 as a backup in the majors to All-Star Paul Lo Duca. Ross hit .258 with ten homers and 18 RBIs in 40 games, finishing with an .892 OPS. In 2004, he spent the entire year with the Dodgers, but had his share of trouble at the plate. He hit .170 in 70 games during his final season in Los Angeles, striking out 62 times in 190 plate appearances. For the 2005 Pirates, he started the year as the backup to Benito Santiago, but quickly took over the starting job when Santiago was placed on the disabled list a week into the season. Ross drove in seven runs in the first four games after taking over, but he quickly fizzled out and ended up with a .222 average in 40 games, adding just eight more RBIs to his total. On July 28th, the Pirates traded him to the San Diego Padres in exchange for JJ Furmaniak. Ross hit .353 in 11 games with the Padres, then got traded in the off-season to the Cincinnati Reds. He had his best season in 2006, batting .255 with 21 homers, 52 RBIs and a .932 OPS in 90 games. He hit 17 homers the next year with the Reds, though it came with a .203 average and a .670 OPS in 112 games. Despite the power and semi-regular playing time, he had just 32 runs and 39 RBIs that season. The Reds released Ross mid-season in 2008 after a slow start and he signed with the Boston Red Sox. He lasted just eight games there in 2008, but he would return to Boston in a few years. He hit .225 in 60 games, with nine doubles, three homers and 13 RBIs that season.
From 2009 to 2012, Ross was the backup for the Atlanta Braves, playing between 52 and 62 games each year, finishing between 145 and 191 plate appearances each season. In four years there, he .269 in 227 games, with 24 homers and 94 RBIs. He put up an .888 OPS his first season in Atlanta, hitting .273 with nine doubles, seven homers and 21 walks in 158 plate appearances. He did well in 2010 too, batting .289 with 17 extra-base hits, 28 RBIs and an .871 OPS in 54 games. Ross hit .263 in 52 games in 2011, with seven doubles, six homers and 23 RBIs. In his final season with the Braves, he hit .256 with seven doubles, nine homers and 23 RBIs in 62 games. He signed with the Red Sox as a free agent for the 2013-14 seasons and held a backup role. His hitting fell off, but he was strong defensively. In 2013, he helped Boston to a World Series victory, while starting seven games behind the plate during the playoffs. He batted just .216 with four homers in 36 games during the regular season. In 2014, he batted .184 with seven homers and 15 RBIs in 171 plate appearances over 50 games.
Ross moved on to the Chicago Cubs in 2015 and really struggled at the plate, hitting .176 with one homer in 72 games, though he was there more for his defense. He helped the Cubs to the World Series title in 2016 by putting up a .784 OPS in 67 games, with ten homers and 30 walks contributing to that number. He then hit two homers in the playoffs and drove in four runs. He retired following the 2016 season. In 883 career games over 15 seasons, he was a .229 hitter with 254 runs, 116 doubles, 106 home runs and 314 RBIs. He stole three bases in his career, collecting his first during his 11th season in the majors. Ross is currently the manager of the Cubs, in his second season at that position. He went 34-26 during the shortened 2020 season, then had a 71-91 record during the 2021 season.
Angel Mangual, outfielder for the Pirates in 1969. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Pirates in 1966 at 19 years old out of Puerto Rico. He hit .228, with 16 extra-base hits and a .628 OPS in 80 games for Clinton of the Class-A Midwest League that first year. Mangual moved to Raleigh of the Class-A Carolina League for 1967 and improved to a .285 average with 71 runs scored, 29 extra-base hits and 46 RBIs in 136 games, seeing a 76-point increase in his OPS. He spent all of 1968 and most of 1969 at Double-A, showing a drastic improvement the second time through the league. That first year he hit .249 in 128 games for York of the Eastern League, with 43 runs, 21 extra-base hits, 12 steals and a .616 OPS. Mangual hit .320 with 88 runs, 24 doubles, 26 homers, 102 RBIs, 15 steals and a .909 OPS in 133 games for York in 1969, then played three games at Triple-A Columbus of the International League, before he was called up by the Pirates in September of 1969. Mangual played six games off of the bench for the 1969 Pirates, going 1-for-4 at the plate with a double and a run scored. He spent the entire 1970 season at Columbus, where he hit .281 with 74 runs, 19 doubles, 20 homers and 87 RBIs in 135 games. Shortly after the 1970 season ended, he was sent to the Oakland A’s as the player to be named later in an earlier trade for veteran pitcher Mudcat Grant.
Mangual spent six seasons in the majors with the A’s, getting into 444 games. In 1971, he finished third in the American League Rookie of the Year voting after hitting .286 with 13 extra-base hits in 94 games. He batted .167 in the postseason, though his two hits were a double and a triple. He had a similar platoon role in 1972 when the A’s won their first of three straight World Series titles. Mangual hit .245 with five homers and 32 RBIs in 91 games. He improved his defense that season, which helped give him his best season of WAR (1.3) during his career. He went 0-for-3 in the ALCS that year, then went 3-for-10 in the World Series. His average dropped to .224 in 1973 and he saw a little less playing time due to that performance, posting a .560 OPS in 74 games. He struggled in the postseason as well, going 1-for-15 with a single and no walks. Mangual was a bigger part of the 1974 champions, setting career highs with 115 games and 387 plate appearances. He batted .233 with 37 runs, 14 doubles, nine homers and 43 RBIs that season. He went 1-for-5 in the postseason that year, striking out in his only World Series at-bat.
Mangual’s playing time dropped in 1975, as he made just 17 starts all season. He hit .220 in 62 games, with one homer and six RBIs. He played just eight games in the early part of 1976 before spending the rest of the season in the minors. He played in Mexico in 1977 and Puerto Rico in 1979 before retiring. In 450 big league games, he hit .245 with 122 runs, 22 homers and 125 RBIs. He had a few double-digit stolen base seasons in the minors, but he went 5-for-13 in his stolen base attempts at the big league level. He played a total of 20 playoff games, though he had a .156 average and no walks in 46 plate appearances. He is the brother of Pepe Mangual, who spent six seasons in the majors, and he’s the cousin of Coco Laboy, who played five seasons for the Montreal Expos. We posted a Card of the Day article looking at the rookie card of Angel Mangual.
Paul Smith, first Baseman/outfielder for the 1953 and 1957-58 Pirates. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Pirates in 1950 at 19 years old and he spent that first season playing for the Tallahassee Pirates of the Class-D Georgia-Florida League. Smith hit .319, with 24 doubles, eight triples and seven homers in 139 games that year and won the league’s Rookie of the Year award. Moving up to Class B in 1951, he hit .322 with 28 doubles, eight triples and ten homers in 143 games for Waco of the Big State League. He continued his rise through the system, playing at Double-A New Orleans of the Southern Association in 1952, where he hit .323 with 39 extra-base hits in 153 games. He received a Spring Training invite that season, which helped him in the next year when he won an Opening Day job in Pittsburgh. Smith spent all of 1953 with the Pirates, hitting .283 with 44 runs, 12 doubles, seven triples, four homers and 44 RBIs in 118 games. He played 74 games at first base and saw some time in the outfield as well. He then spent all of 1954 in the minors, batting .321 with 68 runs, 62 RBIs, 66 walks and an .832 OPS in 122 games while playing for Havana of the Triple-A International League. Smith then served two years in the Army, causing him to miss the entire 1955-56 seasons. He was actually expected to join the service in early April of 1954, but he failed the physical due to a concussion he suffered on March 21st while covering first base, when a pick-off throw hit him in the head. His induction into the Army was put off until January 28, 1955 and he served until early November of 1956.
Smith returned to the Pirates for 1957 and hit .253 with 11 RBIs in 81 games (24 as a starter, all in the outfield). He had a .653 OPS in 167 plate appearances. Smith was used just six times during the first month of the 1958 season, all as a pinch-hitter, prior to being sold to the Chicago Cubs on May 6th for a reported price of $20,000. The main reason for the sale was that teams were allowed to have a bigger roster until May 15th. They needed to get down to a 25-man roster by that date and the Pirates were carrying 29 men at the time of Smith’s sale. He played 18 games (two starts) with Chicago before they sent him to the minors, where he finished out his career in 1964. He hit .174 in 23 at-bats during his final big league season, though six walks gave him a .345 OBP. His last four years of pro ball were spent in the Pacific Coast League, splitting the time between Seattle and Tacoma. He played 223 big league games over three seasons, and he hit .298 in 1,385 minor league games. For the Pirates, he hit .275 with 53 runs, 16 doubles, seven triples, seven homers and 55 RBIs, finishing with exactly 600 plate appearances. Smith was born in New Castle, PA (Birthplace of Chuck Tanner), but he was referred to as a Pittsburgh native while with the Pirates, living in Wilkinsburg. An August 1952 article talked about the potential for an all-Pittsburgh district outfield with Smith, Frank Thomas and Bobby Del Greco. The three never played together because Del Greco was only with the Pirates during the 1952 and 1956 seasons.
Billy Colgan, who was once known as Ed Colgan, was a catcher/outfielder for the 1884 Alleghenys. He had a completely unknown birth date until research uncovered it in 2021. It’s now known that he was born on March 19, 1862. He was said to have developed as a catcher while playing ball for the East St Louis Nationals before going pro. He debuted in pro ball at 21 years old in 1883, playing for Springfield of the Northwestern League. On January 18, 1884, the Pittsburgh Alleghenys received the signed contract from Colgan and pitcher Fleury Sullivan, with the local papers noting that they would be a battery for the team that year. Colgan was described as being from East St Louis and together with Sullivan, they were considered to be among the finest pitcher-catcher duos. The 1884 season was an interesting year in that teams in the American Association had reserve squads, that basically served as a minor league team in each team’s city, so teams were signing extra players. There was also a third Major League running at that time, with the Union Association in business for one year, which opened up more big league jobs that season. Colgan lasted just that one year in the majors and he hit .155 in 48 games, with ten runs scored, four extra-base hits and three walks, resulting in a lowly .363 OPS, which wasn’t even the worst on the team for regular position players. With those results, it was no surprise that the Pirates finished 30-78 that year, though my own extensive research shows that their record should be 31-78 due to a missing game in which Colgan played left field.
Colgan was said to have signed with the St Louis Maroons of the National League in March of 1885, along with Sullivan, but neither played in the majors again. Both appeared for Kansas City of the Western League in 1885, then went their separate ways. Colgan played for Memphis of the Southern League in 1885 as well, getting into 20 games with each of his teams with very similar results, batting .256 with Kansas City and .257 with Memphis, collecting four extra-base hits with both teams. In 1886, he played briefly for Memphis, then returned to the Northwestern League, where he played for Milwaukee and St Paul. He was lucky to play that year at all, as he was shot in a hunting accident in April. He was out of pro ball in 1887, running a saloon in St Louis, while playing some ball for a semi-pro team from Decatur, Illinois. In 1888, he teamed back up with Fleury Sullivan and the two formed a battery for the semi-pro Lotus club of East St Louis. In 1889, Colgan returned to pro ball, playing for Chattanooga of the Southern League, where he hit .281 in 39 games. He also played briefly for Evansville of the Central Interstate League that year. In 1890, he batted .273 in 34 games for Spokane of the Pacific Northwest League, then he remained out west and played for the (wait for it) Walla Walla Walla Wallas of the Pacific Interstate League. His pro career ended at 30 years old in 1892, as he split the season between Butte and Missoula of the Montana State League. He was said to be trying to get a team organized for the 1893 season while living in Great Falls, Montana, but there was no mention of him again in that area until his untimely passing on August 8, 1895. He was working as a switchman at the railroad station when a car he was standing on went off the tracks and hit another car, pinning him between the two cars. Part of the mystery with his age over the years perhaps came from the story that said he was about 37 years old at the time. On local Montana paper said that his nickname back in 1892 was “Little Willie”. His height is unknown (as are his throwing/batting sides), but his weight is said to have been 180 pounds.