This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: March 21st, All-Star Catcher Manny Sanguillen

Two trades for the Pittsburgh Pirates and three former players born on this date. One of the players stands out in Pirates history.

The Players

Manny Sanguillen, catcher for the 1967, 1969-76 and 1978-80 Pirates. The Pirates signed him as an amateur free agent in October 1964  at 20 years old out of Panama. Sanguillen didn’t hit much his first season in the low minors, batting .235 with six homers in 99 games for Batavia of the New York-Penn League. He quickly turned things around in 1966 after making the jump to A-Ball. He had a .328 average, with 30 extra-base hits and 49 RBIs in 115 games for Raleigh of the Carolina League, before getting promoted to Triple-A Columbus of the International League late in the year, skipping right over Double-A in the process. He repeated Columbus to start 1967, hitting .258 with a .706 OPS through 71 games before getting his first chance in the majors in July. Sanguillen played 30 games for the Pirates that year, hitting .271 in 96 at-bats, with four doubles, eight RBIs and a .613 OPS. He showed a strong arm behind the plate, going 8-for-14 in throwing out runners. Despite those solid numbers in his first big league trial, he spent the entire 1968 season in Columbus, where he hit .316 with 29 extra-base hits and 60 RBIs in 105 games.

Sanguillen became the everyday catcher for the Pirates in 1969 and hit .303 with 62 runs, 21 doubles, five homers and 57 RBIs in 129 games. He had a little bit of trouble behind the plate, making a league leading 17 errors, but he still threw out 44% of attempted base stealers. Sanguillen followed that up with a .325 average over 128 games in 1970, with 63 runs, 35 extra-base hits and 61 RBIs, helping the Pirates to the playoffs for the first time in ten seasons. He finished 11th in the NL MVP voting that year, one spot ahead of Roberto Clemente. His average ranked him third among National League hitters. The 1971 season would be a magical one for Sanguillen and the Pirates. He hit .319 with 60 runs, 26 doubles, seven homers and 81 RBIs in 138 games. He made his first All-Star appearance and finished eighth in the MVP race. The Pirates won their fourth world championship and Sanguillen had 11 hits in the World Series for a .379 average. His 2.2 WAR on defense was the highest of his career for a single season, and he threw out exactly 50% of attempted base stealers.

The 1972 season saw Sanguillen make his second All-Star appearance, thanks to his strong defense and .298 average with 55 runs, 33 extra-base hits and 71 RBIs. The Pirates again made the playoffs and he hit .313 in the NLCS. He finished 16th in the MVP voting that year. The Pirates suffered the tragedy of losing Clemente in the off-season and Sanguillen tried to take his spot in right field in 1973. It didn’t work out defensively and he was moved back behind the plate after two months. He would hit a career high 12 home runs that season, while driving in 65 runs. He also had a .282 average, 64 runs, 26 doubles and seven triples. In 1974, he caught a career high 151 games, again helping the Pirates to the playoffs. He had a .287 average that season and set a career high with 77 runs scored, to go along with 32 extra-base hits and 68 RBIs.  Sanguillen made his third (and final) All-Star appearance in 1975, hitting a career high .328 that year. He received mild MVP support (16th place finish) and he finished third in the league in batting average. He also added 60 runs scored, 24 doubles, nine homers, 58 RBIs and a career high 48 walks. He next highest walk total in a season was 28 during the 1976 season. He played just 114 games in 1976 and he led NL catchers in errors, but he still managed to put up a .290 average and a .716 OPS.

The Pirates traded Sanguillen (and cash) on November 5, 1976 to the Oakland A’s in exchange for manager Chuck Tanner. He only played one season in Oakland before the Pirates acquired him back for three players just before Opening Day in 1978. He played in a career high 152 games with the A’s, though they gave him 57 starts as the DH, along with some outfield and first base work. He batted .275 with 42 runs, 28 extra-base hits and 58 RBIs. With the return to Pittsburgh, his catching days were all but over. Sanguillen caught just 26 games over his final three seasons and spent more time at first base and in the pinch-hitting role. He saw decent time in 1978, hitting .264 in 85 games, with a .633 OPS in 235 plate appearances. His playing time dropped the next two seasons, playing a total of 103 games, with 133 plate appearances. He batted .230 with a .598 OPS in 56 games in 1979. The Pirates won the World Series that year and Sanguillen had the game-winning pinch-hit in the ninth inning of game two to tie the series up one game apiece. During the 1980 season, he hit .250 in 47 games and struck out just once in 53 trips to the plate. On December 9, 1980, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians, along with Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven. Sanguillen was released by the Indians two months later, having played 1,448 career games in 13 seasons. He had a .299 average with Pittsburgh in 1,296 games, scoring 524 runs and driving in 527 runners in 4,491 at-bats. He finished with exactly 1,500 career hits.

Shawon Dunston, shortstop for the 1997 Pirates. He was the first overall pick in the 1982 draft, getting selected by the Chicago Cubs at 19 years old out of Thomas Jefferson HS in Brooklyn, NY. Dunston was an instant success in the minors, hitting .321 with 32 steals in 53 games of rookie ball in the Gulf Coast League in 1982. He moved up to Low-A Quad Cities of the Midwest League in 1983 and hit .310 with 58 stolen bases in 117 games, though one of his career weaknesses showed up at this point, with just seven walks all season. By age 21, he was splitting the 1984 season between Double-A Midland of the Texas League and Triple-A Iowa of the American Association, doing much better at the lower level. He hit .329 with a .777 OPS in 73 games at Midland and .233 with a .642 OPS in 61 games with Iowa. Despite the struggles at the upper level, he was in the majors on Opening Day in 1985, though he didn’t last the entire season. In 74 games with the 1985 Cubs, he put up a .698 OPS, which was better than the .651 OPS he had in 73 games at Iowa that same year. Dunston batted .260 with 40 runs, 20 extra-base hits and 11 stolen bases with the Cubs that rookie season.

Dunston spent the entire 1986 season in the majors and hit 37 doubles and 17 homers, which would both stand as his career highs for a season when he retired 14 years later. He batted .250 in 150 games that year, but due to a low walk rate, he had just a .278 OBP. He had 66 runs scored, 68 RBIs and 13 steals, though he was caught stealing 11 times. Dunston saw his offense slide over the next two seasons, yet he still made the All-Star team for the first time in 1988. He put up a .626 OPS in 95 games in 1987, while missing just over two months due to a broken hand suffered in mid-June on a slide into second base. He had a .514 OPS in 33 games after he returned. He had a .627 OPS in a career high 155 games in 1988. He also set a career high with 30 stolen bases, to go along with 69 runs, 38 extra-base hits and 56 RBIs. His low walk total and a .249 average, led to a .271 OBP. He got more recognition for his defense, specifically his strong arm, which was as good or better than anyone else in the infield at the time (and most other times).

Dunston had a steady performance over the next three years, showing a slight bump in his OPS each year, while averaging 142 games played. In 1989, he hit .278 in 138 games, with a career high 30 walks, though 15 of those walks were intentional, with the Cubs moving him down to the eighth spot in the order, batting most days right in front of the pitcher. He hit .278 with 52 runs, 35 extra-base hits, 60 RBIs and 19 steals (in 30 attempts). He was an All-Star again in 1990, though it wasn’t his best year during that three-year stretch. However, he tied his career high with 17 homers, set a career high with 73 runs, and he stole 25 bases. He batted .262 that year and drove in 66 runs. Dunston was putting together a solid career until the 1991-92 off-season hit. He injured his back prior to the 1992 season and was limited to 25 games total over the 1992-93 seasons. He returned during the strike-shortened 1994 season and set a personal best with a .748 OPS in 88 games, only to top that in 1995 when he batted .296 with 30 doubles and 14 homers, giving him a .788 OPS. His doubles that year were a career high, as was his total of 69 RBIs. He signed with the San Francisco Giants as a free agent in 1996, staying there one year before rejoining the Cubs in 1997. Dunston ended up batting exactly .300 in each season (1996-97). His 1996 season ended in early August after he got kneed in the head during a collision at second base.

The 34-year-old Dunston was in his 13th season in the majors when the Pirates acquired him on August 31, 1997 from the Cubs. After play on the date, the Pirates had a 68-69 record, but they trailed the first place Houston Astros by just 2.5 games in the standings. Dunston was hitting .284 with nine homers, 41 RBIs and 29 stolen bases in 114 games for the Cubs prior to the trade. For the Pirates he stepped right into the starting shortstop role and hit .394 with five homers and 16 RBIs, collecting at least one hit in 17 of the 18 games he played for Pittsburgh. Despite his hot hitting, the Pirates went just 11-14 the rest of the way, ending the season five games back in the standings. Dunston became a free agent at the end of the season, playing five more years in the majors before he retired as a player.

Dunston moved around a lot during the 1997-99 season, splitting each year between two teams. He played for the Cleveland Indians for 62 games in 1998, before finishing the season back with the Giants. Between both stops, he combined to hit .222 with 13 doubles and six homers in 98 games. In 1999, he played 62 games (apparently a magic number) with the St Louis Cardinals, before finishing the year with the New York Mets. That was his best year as far as batting average, though most of his time came off of the bench. He batted .321 in 104 games, with 35 runs, 41 RBIs and he managed to walks just two times all season. Dunston was back with the Cardinals for all of 2000, hitting .250 with 11 doubles and 12 homers in 216 at-bats over 98 games, then played his final two seasons with the Giants, his third stint with the team. He hit .280 in 88 games in 2001, with an .804 OPS that was his best over a full season, though he had just 193 plate appearances. In his final season, he hit .231 in 72 games, watching that OPS drop to a .536 mark. He was a .269 hitter with 292 doubles, 62 triples, 150 homers, 668 RBIs, 736 runs and 212 stolen bases in 1,814 games. He didn’t take many walks during his career, just 203 total in 18 years, and 44 of them were intentional. Dunston finished with exactly 1,000 strikeouts.

Bill Brandt, pitcher for the Pirates from 1941 until 1943. He signed with the Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1938 at 23 years old and pitched over 200 innings each season in the minors from 1938 until 1942, winning at least 13 games each year. Brandt debuted in pro ball with Hutchinson of the Class-C Western Association, going 13-13, 3.78 in 207 innings. He remained in Hutchinson in 1939 and he went 13-12 in 216 innings. His ERA isn’t available for that year, but he allowed 12 fewer runs over the previous season in nine more innings. He moved up to Gadsden of the Southeastern League (Class-B) in 1940 and he went 17-11, 3.66 in 229 innings. He stayed at the same level in 1941, though he moved to Harrisburg of the Interstate League, where he went 15-8, 3.00 in 231 innings. In his final start that season, he won the league title for Harrisburg by throwing a three-hit shutout on September 16th. Brandt was a September call-up in both 1941 and 1942, pitching a total of five games for the Pirates, four as a starter, with 23.1 innings pitched. Pie Traynor was among the scouts sent to see him before the Pirates agreed to purchase his rights from Harrisburg. He made his debut on September 20, 1941 in relief against the Cincinnati Reds, retiring all six batters he faced. Six days later against the same Reds team, he started and allowed three runs over five innings in a loss.

The Pirates moved Brandt up two levels to Toronto of the Double-A International League in 1942 and he responded with a big season, going 15-11, 3.08 in 216 innings. He got three starts between September 13th and 27th with the Pirates, twice throwing the second game of a doubleheader. His debut was rough, with three runs over 2.1 innings. His second start saw him take a complete game 4-3 loss to the Reds. As it turned out, four of his first five games for the Pirates were against the Reds, including three runs over five innings in his first big league win on September 27th. Brandt spent the entire 1943 season on the Pirates roster, pitching 29 games, three as a spot starter. He threw 57.1 innings and had a 4-1 record with a 3.14 ERA. He then spent the next two years serving in the military during WWII, before returning to the minors in 1946. He was actually with the Pirates for the first 12 days of the 1946 season, before being released outright to Hollywood of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he lasted just three games. After playing for two other minor league teams in 1946, Columbus of the Triple-A American Association and Chattanooga of the Double-A Southern Association, he spent the next two years playing semi-pro ball in Indiana. Brandt returned to pro ball for one final season in 1949, playing his last season in independent ball with Sherbrooke of the Provincial League at 34 years old. Brandt had a 3.57 ERA in 80.2 innings with the Pirates. Most of his minor league strikeout numbers are unavailable, but the known ones show a very low strikeout rate for minor league ball, which carried over into the majors. He had just 21 strikeouts (and 27 walks) during his time in Pittsburgh. His final start in the majors was the only time he had more than two strikeouts in a game. That day he had four over 7.2 innings against the Brooklyn Dodgers, in a game in which he faced both Paul Waner and Arky Vaughan (neither struck out).

The Trades

On this date in 1982, the Pirates traded infielder Vance Law and pitcher Ernie Camacho to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for pitchers Ross Baumgarten and Butch Edge. The trade really only benefited the White Sox, as Baumgarten pitched just 12 games in Pittsburgh, going 0-5 with a 6.55 ERA. He was released during the next Spring Training. Prior to the trade he had been in the White Sox rotation for parts of four seasons. Edge was the sixth overall pick in the 1974 amateur draft. He had previously pitched in the majors with the 1979 Toronto Blue Jays, but that would end up being all of his Major League experience. With the Pirates, he spent two seasons in Triple-A before he retired. Camacho pitched seven games in 1981 for the Pirates, his second season playing in the majors. After the trade he played parts of eight more years in the big leagues, but for Chicago he spent just one season in the minors before being released. Law, the son of Pirates great Vernon Law, played three seasons in Chicago before they traded him to the Montreal Expos for pitcher Bob James. In 1982, Law hit .281, then he followed that up in 1983 with 17 homers and 59 RBIs in 151 games, helping the White Sox make the playoffs. He had 4.1 WAR during his time in Chicago, then James had 4.3 WAR as Chicago’s closer in his first season with the team.

On this date in 1893, the Pirates acquired pitcher Frank Killen from the Washington Senators in exchange for catcher Duke Farrell and $1,500 cash. Killen would go on to post two 30-win seasons with the Pirates, finishing with a 112-82 record over 5 1/2 seasons in Pittsburgh. Despite the success with his Pirates, his two best seasons for ERA were his first two years as a pro in 1891 and 1892. Part of that comes from the fact that offense in baseball peaked from 1893-95 due to new rules that temporarily limited the effectiveness of pitchers while they adjusted to using a pitching rubber, along with a slightly longer distance to the plate. Killen had a 29-26, 3.31 record in 459.2 innings with Washington in 1892. After the deal, he went 36-14, 3.64 in 415 innings in 1893, leading the National League in wins. He missed parts of the 1894-95 season, then led the NL again with 30 wins in 1896. He ended up back in Washington after being released mid-season in 1898. Farrell was a major disappointment in his only season with the Pirates. They signed him after he led the American Association with 12 homers and 110 RBIs in 1891. The Pirates had Connie Mack behind the plate, so Farrell was signed as a third baseman, a position he played previous for part of one year. He hit just .215 in 152 games with Pittsburgh and managed a .590 OPS for the season. His defense also wasn’t up to prior standards set back when he was one of the best defensive players in the game at any position. After the trade to Washington, he had a strong 1893 season, hitting .282 in 124 games, with 84 runs, 30 extra-base hits, 75 RBIs and a 47:12 BB/SO ratio.  He was then was traded to the New York Giants (along with future Pirates pitcher Jouett Meekin) in February of 1894 for two players and cash. Farrell would end up playing 13 seasons in the majors after the trade.