Six former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date.
Mike Lincoln, pitcher for the 2001-03 Pirates. He was drafted four times out of three schools before he finally signed with the Minnesota Twins in 1996 as a 13th round pick. Lincoln was first drafted in the 51st round by the Montreal Expos out of high school in 1993. He then attended American River College, where the San Francisco Giants selected him in the 37th round in 1994 and the 40th round in 1995. He then transferred to the University of Tennessee, where he was picked by the Twins. Lincoln went right to Fort Myers of the High-A Florida State League after signing, where he had a 5-2, 4.07 in 59.2 innings during his first season, finishing with 25 walks and 24 strikeouts. He spent his first full season back with Fort Myers, where he went 13-4, 2.28 in 134 innings, once again finishing with 25 walks, though this time he had 75 strikeouts. He had a strong 1998 season in Double-A, going 15-7, 3.22, with a 35:109 BB/SO ratio in 173.1 innings for New Britain of the Eastern League. Lincoln made the 1999 Twins roster out of Spring Training as a starting pitcher. He went 3-10, 6.84 in 15 starts and three relief appearances, throwing a total of 76.1 innings, while striking out just 27 batters. He also made nine starts in Triple-A and posted a 7.78 ERA in 59 innings, though part of that poor performance was due to playing for Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League, where the team had a 5.32 ERA.
In 2000, Lincoln did much better at Salt Lake City, putting up a 3.87 ERA in 74.1 innings over 12 starts. He joined the Twins in mid-June, making four starts and four relief appearances. In all four of his starts he failed to make it through five innings. He finished with an 0-3, 10.89 record in 20.2 innings. Minnesota released him in December of 2000 and he signed with the Pirates just over a month later. Lincoln pitched well his first two seasons in Pittsburgh being used strictly as a reliever. In 2001, he opened the season with Nashville of the Pacific Coast League, where he went 5-4, 3.44 in 91.2 innings over 13 starts and five relief appearances. He joined the Pirates in late June and he posted a 2.68 ERA in 40.1 innings over 31 outings. Lincoln then followed it up with a 3.11 ERA in 55 appearances and 72.1 innings for the Pirates. He began the 2003 season on the 60-day disabled list and never got going once he returned to Pittsburgh, finishing with a 5.20 ERA in 36.1 innings over 36 games. He managed to pick up his only five career saves during the 2003 season. He was injured early in Spring Training that year after he slipped on a golf ball that was hit from a neighboring golf course and injured his shoulder.
Lincoln left via free agency after the 2003 season and signed with the St Louis Cardinals, where he pitched one partial season in the majors, compiling a 5.19 ERA in 17.1 innings over 13 appearances. He missed all of 2005-07 due to two Tommy John surgeries. He returned in 2008 with the Cincinnati Reds and pitched decent that season, putting up a 4.48 ERA in 70.1 innings over 64 appearances. However, in limited time during the next two seasons, he struggled badly each year, posting an 8.22 ERA in 23 innings over 19 games in 2009, followed by a 7.32 mark in 19.2 innings in 2010. He missed the last 3 1/2 months of the 2009 season with a neck injury, and an oblique/back injury ended his season (and career) after his final game on May 31, 2010. He finished both seasons on the 60-day disabled list and he retired from baseball following the 2010 season, finishing with a 17-30, 5.33 record in 376.1 innings over 263 games (19 starts). With the Pirates, Lincoln had a 3.50 ERA in 149 innings over 122 relief appearances.
Alberto Reyes, pitcher for the Pirates in 2002. He signed with the Pirates in January 2002 as a free agent after spending parts of seven seasons in the majors, split between the Milwaukee Brewers, Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers. Reyes was originally signed as an international amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic shortly before his 18th birthday. He spent his first two seasons pitching in the Dominican Summer League (stats are unavailable), then debuted in the U.S. in 1990 by playing in High-A ball with West Palm Beach of the Florida State League. Reyes went 5-4, 4.74 in 57 innings over ten starts and six relief appearances. Despite the advanced placement in 1990, the next three seasons were all spent in Low-A, where he put up better stats each season, though he was injured for most of the 1991 season, making just three starts all year for Rockford of the Midwest League. The Expos had him with Albany of the South Atlantic League in 1992 as a reliever, where he went 0-2, 3.95 in 27 appearances, with five saves and 29 strikeouts in 27.1 innings. In 1993, he finally put in a full season, playing for his third different Low-A team. With Burlington of the Midwest League, he went 7-6, 2.68 with 11 saves and 80 strikeouts in 74 innings over 53 games.
The Expos bumped Reyes up to Double-A Harrisburg of the Eastern League in 1994 and he responded with a 3.25 ERA in 69.1 innings, while racking up 35 saves and 60 strikeouts in 60 appearances. He was a Rule 5 pick of the Milwaukee Brewers over the off-season and he had a 2.43 ERA in 33.1 innings over 27 games in 1995, before Tommy John surgery in early August ended his rookie season. That surgery limited him to five September appearances for the Brewers in 1996, in which he allowed five runs in 5.2 innings. He also made 13 minor league rehab appearances before joining Milwaukee. He spent part of 1997 in the majors, posting a 5.46 ERA in 29.2 innings over 19 games. The rest of the year was spent with Tuscon of the Pacific Coast League, where he had a 5.02 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 57.1 innings, while getting his first Triple-A experience. Reyes saw significantly more big league time in 1998 (his minor league time was limited to three games), going 5-1, 3.95 in 57 innings over 50 outings. He was sent to the Baltimore Orioles as part of a trade on July 21, 1999 and had somewhat similar results in both spots, putting up a 4.25 ERA in 26 games with Milwaukee, followed by a 4.85 mark in 27 games in Baltimore. Combined he went 4-3, 4.52, with 67 strikeouts in 65.2 innings. He got off to a slow start in 2000 and was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers mid-season. This year his big league results were completely different. Reyes had a 6.92 ERA in 13 innings over 13 games with the Orioles, and he pitched six scoreless games for Los Angeles. In 2001, he posted a 3.86 ERA in 25.2 innings over 19 games with the Dodgers. He became a free agent after the season and signed with the Pirates.
Reyes spent most of the 2002 season at Nashville of the Pacific Coast League, where he was 7-3, 2.70 in 43 relief appearances, picking up 90 strikeouts in 66.2 innings. He was called up by the Pirates in mid-August, and in 15 games he had a 2.65 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 17 innings. He was released by Pittsburgh during Spring Training in 2003 and signed with the New York Yankees two weeks later. He pitched well at times after leaving Pittsburgh, despite only spending two full seasons in the majors over the next six years. With the 2003 Yankees, Reyes had a 3.18 ERA in 17 innings over 13 appearances. He was released by the Yankees in June and didn’t sign again until getting a deal in January of 2004 with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He was released by Tampa in June of 2004 without pitching a big league game, then signed five days later with the St Louis Cardinals. With the Cardinals in 2004, he posted an 0.75 ERA in 12 games. He allowed just three hits in 12 innings. The 2005 season was his first full big league season, and he responded with a 4-2, 2.15 record, three saves and 67 strikeouts in 62.2 innings over 65 outings. Reyes became a free agent after the season and signed with the Devil Rays, but elbow surgery limited him to two minor league appearances in 2006. Back healthy in 2007, he took up a closer role for the first time in his career. He went 2-4, 4.90, with 26 saves and 70 strikeouts in 60.2 innings over 61 appearances. Reyes finished out his big league career with the 2008 Rays (they dropped “Devil” this season) by posting a 4.37 ERA in 26 games. In 384 games over 13 seasons, Reyes had a 23-16, 3.82 record, with 32 saves and 422 strikeouts in 428.2 innings pitched. After his final big league game, he saw brief minor league time with the New York Mets late in 2008. He then pitched winter ball only for three years, before returning to summer baseball for two seasons, spending 2011 in Mexico and 2012 in independent ball. Including all levels of pro ball, he made a total of 823 appearances and threw over 1,000 innings, while picking up 137 saves.
Lee Lacy, outfielder for the Pirates from 1979 until 1984. He was a second round draft pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers at 20 years old in the January portion of the 1969 amateur draft. He spent his first season at the low-level Pioneer League, where he batted .293 with 45 walks in 71 games for Ogden. Lacy hit .375 over 18 games in the fall of 1969 back when stats were tracked for the Fall Instructional League. In 1970, he played for Bakersfield of the Class-A California League and hit .301, with 96 runs, 28 extra-base hits, 21 steals and 59 walks in 124 games. He jumped to Double-A the following season with Albuquerque of the Dixie Association and batted .307 in 132 games, though he went the entire year without hitting a home run. He had 17 doubles, seven triples and 18 steals, finishing with a .725 OPS. Back in Double-A in 1972 with El Paso of the Texas League, Lacy was hitting .372 with 27 extra-base hits and 11 steals through 68 games when he got promoted to the Dodgers. He not only skipped Triple-A entirely, he never returned to the minors. In 60 games with the 1972 Dodgers, he hit .259, with 34 games, ten extra-base hits, five steals and a .625 OPS. He had a .207 average as a bench player in 1973, getting just 29 starts all season. Lacy batted 150 times total in 57 games, and he had just two extra-base hits (both doubles), leading to a lowly .222 slugging percentage. He hit .282 in 1974, but his playing time was extremely limited, getting just 83 plate appearances all season. He started 17 of his 48 games played that season.
Lacy was a second baseman during his first three seasons in the majors, but then he started playing some outfield in 1975. By the time he reached the Pirates four years later, a majority of his playing time was spent in the outfield. For the 1975 Dodgers, he hit .314 with seven homers and 40 RBIs, while reaching 100 games for the first time (he played 101 games). On May 17th, he hit a three-run homer against the Pirates, which was the first homer of his big league career, coming in his 587th plate appearance. He ended up playing 43 games at second base and 43 in the outfield that year. Lacy was traded to the Atlanta Braves over the off-season in a six-player deal, then returned to the Dodgers on June 23, 1976 in another trade. He played 103 games total that season, hitting .269, with 42 runs, 17 extra-base hits, 34 RBIs and a .660 OPS. He was back to a limited bench role in 1977 and he hit .266, with 28 runs, seven doubles, six homers and 21 RBIs in 75 games. He started 41 games all year, getting starts at second base, third base, left field and right field. After he hit .261 with a career high 13 homers, as well as 16 doubles, four triples and 40 RBIs in 103 games in 1978, the Pirates signed him as a free agent in January 1979 to a six-year deal.
Lacy saw limited time in left field and off the bench in 1979, hitting .247 in 182 at-bats, finishing with a .739 OPS that was 114 points lower than his 1978 total. In the World Series, he went 1-for-4 in four games. In 1980, the righty-hitting Lacy platooned in left field with lefty Mike Easler and both had strong seasons at the plate. Lacy hit .335 with 31 extra-base hits, 33 RBIs and 18 stolen bases in 278 at-bats. His .905 OPS that year was his career best. He would have a down year during the strike-shortened 1981 season, batting .268 with two homers and 24 steals in 78 games. From 1981-84, he topped 20 stolen bases every season, with a high of 40 in 1982. That success with base running was a bit surprising, considering that he had just 28 steals in seven seasons before joining the Pirates, and he was thrown out 23 times. Lacy found his groove at the plate in 1982 and had three straight .300+ seasons. He hit .312 in 121 games in 1982, with 66 runs, 24 extra-base hits and a .784 OPS. Lacy started the first 22 games of the 1983 season and batted .302 for the year, but his playing time after May 7th was a lot less frequent, starting just 38 of the final 140 games. He followed that up by setting career highs with 152 hits, 26 doubles and 70 RBIs in 1984. That RBI total was impressive for him, considering that he failed to reach 50 RBIs in any other season during his 16-year career. He batted .321 that season with 12 homers, 21 steals and an .826 OPS. He had 520 plate appearances that year, which was the first time he reached 400+ plate appearances in a season.
Following the 1984 season, Lacy signed with the Baltimore Orioles as a free agent, spending three seasons there before retiring. He received regular at-bats during the 1985-86 seasons and responded by hitting .293 in a career high 540 plate appearances in 1985, with 69 runs scored, 35 extra-base hits and 48 RBIs in 121 games. That runs total was the highest of his career to that point, but he would top it the next season. Lacy put up a .287 average with 18 doubles, 11 homers, 47 RBIs and 77 runs scored in 1986. On June 8th, he hit three homers in a game against the New York Yankees. He served more of a bench role in his final season, hitting .244 with 23 extra-base hits and 28 RBIs in 87 games. In six seasons with the Pirates, he had a .304 average, with 172 RBIs, 140 steals and 265 runs scored in 638 games. He was a .286 hitter, with 207 doubles, 42 triples, 91 homers, 185 steals and 650 runs scored in 1,523 games during his 16-year career. Lacy ranks 18th on the Pirates all-time list for batting average. He finished with 20.2 career WAR, which was hurt by below average defensive numbers in 11 of his 16 seasons.
Joe Gibbon, pitcher for the 1960-65 and 1969-70 Pirates. He was signed as an amateur free agent in 1957 by the Pirates and spent three years in the minors as a starting pitcher before making the 1960 Opening Day roster. Gibbon debuted in pro ball at 22 years old after a stellar athletic career at the University of Mississippi, where at 6’4″, he got more attention for his basketball skills. In 1957, he was an All-SEC player in both basketball and baseball, then debuted in pro ball in A-Ball and won an ERA title. He played that first year with Lincoln of the Western League, going 9-4, 1.83 in 108 innings, with 119 strikeouts. He was a first baseman for part of that season, hitting .220 with two homers in 39 games. He moved up to Triple-A Columbus of the International League in 1958, where he had a 6-13, 3.80 record in 147 innings, with 127 strikeouts. Gibbon returned to Columbus in 1959, where he went 16-9, 2.60 in 201 innings, with 152 strikeouts, which led to his big league spot the next year. He pitched mostly in relief during his rookie season with the Pirates, going 4-2, 4.03 in 80.1 innings in nine starts and 18 relief outings. He made two appearances during the World Series late in one-sided losses, allowing three runs in three innings. In 1961, he moved to the starting role and went 13-10, 3.32 in 195.1 innings, throwing three shutouts, while striking out a career best 145 batters. Gibbon missed some time in 1962 with arm problems, making just eight starts and 11 relief appearances. He didn’t debut until June, then missed a month when he got hurt three weeks later. He had a 3.63 ERA in 57 innings that year.
Gibbon pitched well in 1963 with a 3.30 ERA in 147.1 innings, but his record (5-12) suffered from lack of support, as the Pirates finished in eighth place (74-88). He made 22 starts that year and 15 relief appearances. Gibbon had a 10-7, 3.68 record in 146.2 innings in 1964, with 24 starts and four relief appearances. He followed that performance with a down year in which his ERA rose to 4.51 in 105.2 innings. His record fell to 4-9, as he made 15 starts and 16 relief appearances. The Pirates traded him that December, along with Ozzie Virgil, to the San Francisco Giants for Matty Alou. Gibbon had a solid first season with the 1966 Giants, making ten starts and 27 relief appearances. He had a 3.67 ERA in 81 innings. He had a similar spot starter/long relief role in 1967, going 6-2, 3.07 in 82 innings over ten starts and 18 relief outings. He tossed a shutout on June 4th against the New York Mets, which turned out to be his only career shutout besides the three he recorded in 1961. Gibbon had a great year in 1968, though it came with limited work throughout the season, and it was a year that offense was at a low point in all of baseball. He posted a 1.48 ERA in 40 innings over 29 relief appearances that season. He was seeing somewhat regular work early in the 1969 season, pitching 20 innings over 16 games through early June, posting a 3.60 ERA. The Pirates reacquired Gibbon for veteran pitcher Ron Kline on June 10, 1969.
Gibbon pitched great during his first season back in Pittsburgh, putting up a 1.93 ERA in 51.1 innings and 35 appearances after the trade. He picked up nine saves with the Pirates after collecting just seven total saves over his first 9 1/2 seasons in the majors. However, things went much worse with the 1970 Pirates, as he had an ERA almost three runs higher (4.83) in 41 innings over 41 outings. He faced two batters in the NLCS over two games against the Cincinnati Reds, allowing a hit in one game, while recording a strikeout in the other. He was released following the 1970 season and signed with the Reds for 1971 right before the season started. He had one good season left in him, putting up a 2.94 ERA and 11 saves in 64.1 innings in 1971. He then got hit hard in brief time (11 runs in 7.2 innings) with the Reds and Houston Astros in 1972 before retiring. Gibbon had a career record of 61-65, 3.52 in 1,119.2 innings over 419 games, 127 of those coming as a starter. With Pittsburgh, he went 44-46, 3.61 in 824.2 innings over 248 games (107 starts).
Roger Wolff, pitcher for the 1947 Pirates. He was a knuckleball pitcher, who spent 12 seasons in the minors before finally getting his first chance at the big league level as a September call-up for the 1941 Philadelphia Athletics. He would then spend the next six seasons in the majors without a return trip to the minors. Wolff had a 141-108 minor league record in 2,244 innings pitched. He debuted at 19 years old in 1930 with Danville of the Class-B Three-I League and he had a 4-5, 4.98 record in 103 innings. The next season, playing two levels lower in the minor league system with Keokuk of the Class-D Mississippi Valley League, he went 15-9, 3.26 in 221 innings. The strong results got him promoted back to Class-B in 1932, during a season in which he also played briefly at the two highest levels of the minor league system at the time. His stats are limited for that season, showing 102 innings pitched total between Springfield and Terre Haute of the Three-I League, Denver of the Class-A Western League and Indianapolis of the Double-A American Association. He got roughed up in Denver, allowing 22 runs in 19 innings (ERA isn’t available). Despite being on the doorstep of the majors, his career stalled out for quite some time.
Wolff played for Fort Worth of the Class-A Texas League for part of 1933, posting a 2.63 ERA in 24 innings. The rest of the year was spent with Dayton of the Class-C Middle Atlantic League, where he went 8-7, 2.32 in 132 innings. That was followed up by a solid 1934 season with Dayton, as he went 17-12, 3.84 in 237 innings. That season resulted in his return to Dayton the next year, where he went 14-14, 3.42 in 226 innings. In 1936, he went 3-7, 4.08 in 86 innings for Oklahoma City of the Texas League, and 8-6, 2.31 in 113 innings for Davenport of the Class-A Western League. in 1937, he ended up playing for four teams in three leagues, including Oklahoma City and Dallas in the Texas League, where he’s credited with throwing 31 innings between the two teams. No other stats are available from those teams, but we know that he went 3-5, 4.32 in 77 innings for Sioux City of the Class-A Western League, while also going 5-3, 2.92 in 71 innings for Sioux Falls of the Class-D Nebraska State League. Eight years into his career, he spent part of the season at the lowest level of the minors.
Wolff went 16-11, 2.87 in 248 innings in 1938 while playing for Cedar Rapids of the Three-I League, right back where he started his career. He remained there in 1939 and had a 15-5, 3.08 record in 196 innings. He spent the next two seasons with Williamsport of the Class-A Eastern League, before finally getting his shot with the Philadelphia A’s in late 1941. Wolff went 10-6, 2.80 in 167 innings in 1940 and 16-9, 2.66 in 210 innings in 1941. He made two starts with the A’s in September of 1941 and took losses in both games, but he pitched two complete games and allowed just six runs in 17 innings. During his first full season in the majors in 1942, he posted a team low 3.32 ERA, but the A’s were so bad that year (55-99) that he finished with a 12-15 record. He threw 214.1 innings that year over 25 starts and seven relief appearances, finishing with 15 complete games, two shutouts and two saves. The A’s were even worse the next year, losing 105 games, and again Wolff’s record suffered, yet he got some recognition for his work at the end of the year. He went 10-15 with a 3.54 ERA in 221 innings. He had 26 starts, 15 relief appearances, 13 complete games, two shutouts and six saves. He finished 25th in the MVP voting.
Wolff was traded to the Washington Senators on December 13, 1943 and pitched poorly during his first year with his new team. His career was helped by the fact many baseball players at this time were serving in the military. It allowed him to stay around despite a 4-15, 4.99 record in 155 innings during that 1944 season. It was a good thing for the Senators that they didn’t give up on him, as in 1945 he had a career year. Wolff went 20-10, 2.12 in 250 innings, with the lowest WHIP (1.01) in the American League. He completed 21 of his 29 starts and threw four shutouts, which was half of his career total. He set a career high with 108 strikeouts, which ranked him fifth in the league. He finished seventh in the MVP voting. His performance helped Washington go from a last place finish in 1944 to second place in one year. It was a fleeting moment for Wolff, who saw his pitching time diminish as players returned from the war. He still had a 2.58 ERA in 1946, but he pitched just 122 innings over 17 starts and four relief outings, and he saw very limited action after June.
The Senators traded Wolff to the Cleveland Indians during Spring Training of 1947 and they used him for just 16 innings during the first two months of the season. He had a 3.94 ERA over his two starts and five relief appearances. On June 14th, the Pirates purchased his contract and they put him in the bullpen, where he had two bad outings right away. That led to just one inning pitched over the next 17 days before the Pirates needed him to make a start during a doubleheader. That didn’t go well and neither did a follow up start six days later. Wolff would make four more relief appearances and four more starts the rest of the way. He was unscored upon during the relief outings, but in three of the four starts he combined for 15 runs allowed in 8.1 innings. The fourth start was a gem. On August 6, 1947 he pitched a complete game over the Chicago Cubs, winning 7-2, and just one of the runs was unearned. It was the 199th and last win of his pro career. He went 1-4, 8.70 in 30 innings with the Pirates. The 1947 season ended on September 28th and the Pirates traded Wolff to Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League that same day as a partial payment for recently acquired catching prospect Ed FitzGerald. Instead of reporting to his new team, he retired following the 1947 season. In seven seasons in the majors, he had a 52-69, 3.41 record in 1,025.1 innings pitched. He had 128 starts, 54 relief appearances, 63 complete games, eight shutouts and 12 saves, which were not an official stat at the time.
Howdy Groskloss, infielder for the 1930-32 Pirates. He came to the Pirates right out of Amherst College, where he is one of 14 players from that school to ever make the majors (seven of them played between one and six games in the majors). Howdy (his first name was Howard), was a Pittsburgh native, who played just two games during the entire 1930 season after signing with the club on June 21st. On the day he signed, it was announced that he held workouts with the Pirates during the 1928-29 seasons, so he was familiar with the team. He was a substitute at shortstop during the late innings of a 19-6 loss on June 23rd, and he pinch-hit on August 8th during a 9-1 loss. Groskloss was sent home for the winter in early September when the Pirates decided to drop some extra players instead of taking them on a long road trip. After the season, it was announced that he would attend Yale and not be available to the Pirates until June. On November 29th, Pittsburgh sent him to Wichita of the Western League in a six-player deal that landed them long-time outfielder Woody Jensen. He never reported to Wichita, joining the Pirates instead in early June once he was available to play. Groskloss saw plenty of time in 1931, getting 39 starts at second base throughout the year. He played 53 games total, hitting .280 with 13 runs, nine extra-base hits and 20 RBIs. In 1932 he was used strictly as a pinch-hitter, getting 16 at-bats during the first 153 games of the season. On the last day of the year, in the second game of a doubleheader, he put on his fielding glove for the first time all season, getting the start at shortstop and batting lead-off. Howdy went 0-for-4 with an error, in what would be his last Major League game.
Groskloss went back to medical school in the off-season and it was said that he would arrive late during the 1933 season. On May 5th, the Pirates released him on option to Tulsa of the Class-A Texas League. Groskloss was transferred to Jersey City of the Double-A International League (highest level at the time) ten days later and made his season debut there. By June he was back in Tulsa after Jersey City let him go after eight games. By the end of July, he was playing for Williamsport of the Class-A New York-Penn League. He played 56 games that season, split between the three different teams (he is also said to have played for Toledo of the American Association, but there’s no record of him playing there according to my searches), before he retired from pro ball to become a doctor. His name came up during March of 1934 when it was announced that he was reinstated from the inactive list, but would not attend Spring Training with the Pirates. On March 22nd, his time with the Pirates officially came to an end when they released him unconditionally to Oakland of the Pacific Coast League, but he never played after 1933. He batted .261 in 72 games over his three seasons in Pittsburgh, finishing with 14 runs scored and 21 RBIs. At one time Groskloss was the oldest living former baseball player. He passed away at the age of 100 in 2006.