Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a trade from the 1950’s.
Brad Lincoln, pitcher for the 2010-12 Pirates. Lincoln was a first round pick in 2006, who dealt with some injuries coming up through the minors. He was originally drafted out of high school by the Texas Rangers in 2003 in the 23rd round, but he decided to attend the University of Houston and that move paid off. He was selected fourth overall by the Pirates three years later. In the minors that first season, he made six starts, throwing shutout ball in two Gulf Coast League outings, before posting a 6.75 ERA in four games at Low-A Hickory of the South Atlantic League. The following April he had Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2007 season. He returned in 2008 and made 19 starts, split between Hickory and High-A Lynchburg of the Carolina League. He combined to go 6-10, 4.69 with 75 strikeouts in 103.2 innings, and an impressive total of just 17 walks. In 2009, he split the year between Double-A Altoona of the Eastern League and Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League, going 1-5, 2.28 in 75 innings at the lower level, while posting a 6-2, 4.70 record in 12 starts and 61.1 innings at Indianapolis. After beginning the 2010 season in Indianapolis, he joined the Pirates in June and made nine starts before returning to Triple-A. He came back in late September and ended up with a 6.66 ERA in 52.2 innings for the Pirates, with nine starts and two relief appearances. In Triple-A that season, he made 17 starts and had a 4.12 ERA in 94 innings.
In 2011, Lincoln made eight starts and four relief appearances for the Pirates, posting a 4.72 ERA in 47.2 innings. He made a spot start for the Pirates during a doubleheader on July 2nd, then returned a month later to finish out the season. Lincoln had a 4.19 ERA in 19 starts at Indianapolis that year. He was mostly pitching in relief in 2012 when he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for Travis Snider. Lincoln had a 2.73 ERA with the Pirates in 59.1 innings that year, making five starts and 23 relief appearances. He then put up a 5.65 ERA in 28.2 innings over 24 relief appearances with the Blue Jays to finish out the season. He split the 2013 season between Toronto and Triple-A Buffalo of the International League, going 3.98 ERA in 31.2 innings over 22 relief appearances with the Blue Jays. He was with the Philadelphia Phillies briefly in 2014, giving up three runs over 2.1 early season innings, but the rest of the year was spent as a starting pitcher for Lehigh Valley of the International League. Lincoln went 6-11, 5.11, with 112 strikeouts in 123.1 innings that season in the minors. He signed with the Pirates as a minor league free agent for 2015, but was released without appearing in the majors. He had a 4.18 ERA in 60.1 innings at Indianapolis that season, making four starts and 35 relief appearances. That ended up being his final year in pro ball. In five MLB seasons, he was 9-11, 4.74 in 222.1 innings, making 22 starts and 77 relief appearances. He was 7-9, 4.62 in 159.2 innings with the Pirates.
Randall Simon, first baseman for the 2003-04 Pirates. He is one of 16 players born in Curacao to make it to the majors. The Atlanta Braves signed him out of his home country in 1992 at 17 years old. After a year in the Dominican Summer League (no stats available), he moved up to the Appalachian League in 1993 and he hit .254 with 17 doubles, three homers and 31 RBIs in 61 games for Danville. Simon spent 1994 in Low-A Macon of the South Atlantic League, where he had a .293 average in 106 games, with 23 doubles, ten homers and 54 RBIs, though he managed to walk just six times (twice intentional) in 368 plate appearances. He moved up to High-A Durham of the Carolina League for the next season and hit .264 with 56 runs, 18 doubles, 18 homers and 79 RBIs in 122 games. That year he improved to 36 walks. He moved one level again in 1996, spending the season in Double-A Greenville of the Southern League, where he hit .279 with 74 runs, 26 doubles, 18 homers and 77 RBIs in 134 games. Simon put everything together in Triple-A in 1997 with Richmond of the International League, hitting .308 with 45 doubles, 14 homers and 102 RBIs in 133 games. The Braves called him up when rosters expanded in September and he played 13 games, though he started just two games. He went 6-for-14 at the plate with a double and a walk.
In 1998, Simon batted .256 with 20 doubles, 13 homers and 70 RBIs in 126 games for Richmond. His big league time that year was limited to seven mid-season games in which he hit .188 and drove in four runs. Simon saw limited time during his first two Major League trials until the Braves gave him a chance to play regularly for most of 1999, when he got into 90 games and hit .317 with 26 runs, 16 doubles, five homers and 25 RBIs. He also stole two bases that year, the only stolen bases of his eight-year big league career. Despite the strong average, he spent the entire 2000 season in the minors, though the writing may have been on the wall earlier. During the final six weeks of the 1999 season, Simon started just three games. During the 2000 calendar year, Simon was a member of four different organizations, starting the year with the Braves, who released him at the end of Spring Training. He signed with the Florida Marlins for a month, then the New York Yankees, then in the off-season he signed with the Detroit Tigers. That season he combined to hit .271 in 116 games, with 57 runs, 23 doubles, 18 homers and 85 RBIs. He began 2001 in Triple-A with Toledo of the International League, before joining Detroit in mid-June, where he quickly became a regular in the lineup, splitting time between first base and DH. He batted .305 with 28 runs, 14 doubles, six homers and 37 RBIs in 81 games. Simon’s 2002 season was the best of his career, as he hit .301 with 51 runs, 17 doubles, 19 homers and 82 RBIs, setting career highs in the latter four categories. He also played a career high 130 games that year.
The Pirates acquired Simon in November of 2002 in exchange for two minor league pitchers. In 2003, he hit .274 with 34 runs, 14 doubles, ten homers and 54 RBIs through 91 games for the Pirates before they traded him to the Chicago Cubs in August for outfielder Ray Sadler. He batted .282 with six homers and an .804 OPS in 33 games after the deal. Simon became a free agent at the end of the season and signed with the Pirates in February of 2004. He started the season off slow before missing a month with hamstring strain, then came back and hovered around .200 until the Pirates sent him to Triple-A Nashville of the Pacific Coast League, where he hit .266 with one homer in 17 games. He batted .194 in 61 games for the Pirates that year, putting up a .544 OPS. He was released in August, then signed with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to finish the season, though he hit just .118 in eight games. After 2004, his only Major League experience came with the 2006 Philadelphia Phillies, where he was used strictly as a pinch-hitter in 23 games, going 5-for-21 with two walks. He played in Japan and Mexico in 2005, and again in Mexico for part of the 2006-07 seasons, while also seeing brief time in Triple-A with the Texas Rangers in 2006. The 2008-10 seasons were spent in independent ball, seeing time with four different teams during that three-year period. In his big league career, he hit .283 in 537 games, with 172 runs, 71 doubles, 49 homers, 237 RBIs and a .742 OPS. He hit .245 with 13 homers and 65 RBIs in 152 games with the Pirates. Even without stats from his first season and one year of winter ball included, Simon had 2,012 hits and 631 extra-base hits in his entire pro career.
Will Pennyfeather, outfielder for the 1992-1994 Pirates. He had a 19-year career in pro ball despite going undrafted out of Syracuse University. He signed with the Pirates after college in 1988, playing 33 games in rookie ball that year at 20 years old, hitting .282 with two homers, ten steals and a .695 OPS. He played 17 games in the Gulf Coast League that year and 16 games for Princeton of the Appalachian League. Pennyfeather looked to be a long shot at ever reaching the majors after his second season in the minors, hitting .190/.223/.263 in 75 games of short-season ball with Welland of the New York-Penn League, putting up a low walk rate that followed him throughout his career. Even in his first year of full-season ball with Augusta of the South Atlantic League in 1990, his overall numbers were not impressive, led by a .635 OPS, with a .262 average, 22 extra-base hits and 23 walks in 122 games. He stole 21 bases that season, which was his career high, though he was caught 12 times. Pennyfeather was moved to high-A Salem of the Carolina League in 1991, and he finished the year in Double-A Carolina of the Southern League. Although his stats were better overall, they were still far from strong, due to a very low walk rate and limited power. Between both stops, he had a .269 average, 48 runs, 33 extra-base hits, 14 steals (in 24 attempts) and a .73 OPS in 123 games.
Pennyfeather seemed to put everything together out of nowhere in Double-A Carolina in 1992, hitting .337 with 28 runs and 20 extra-base hits through 51 games, earning himself a brief promotion to the majors at the end of June. In his first big league at-bat, he collected a bunt single off of John Wetteland. Pennyfeather was soon sent to Triple-A Buffalo of the American Association, where he hit .238 with nine extra-base hits in 55 games. He came back to the Pirates for a second short stay in early August, then returned again as a mid-September call-up. He played 15 games total that first year in the majors for the 1992 National League East champs, though he received just nine at-bats and one start. He began to show a little power in Triple-A Buffalo in 1993, although the walks were still low and he had trouble stealing bases when he did get on, getting thrown out 12 times in 22 attempts. Pennyfeather hit .250 with 54 runs, 18 doubles, 14 homers and 18 walks in 112 games for Buffalo that season, compiling a .671 OPS. He came up to Pittsburgh for a month in 1993, beginning in mid-June and running through his final game on July 11th. He didn’t return in September. He played a big league career high 21 games that season, hitting .206 with two RBIs in 34 at-bats. He made the Pirates out of Spring Training in 1994, but was used just three times as a pinch-hitter and once as a pinch-runner, before being sent to the minors, which turned out to be the end of his Major League career. He was picked up off waivers by the Cincinnati Reds in May of 1994, then spent the next twelve years playing both affiliated and independent ball before retiring in 2006.
Pennyfeather played just one game during the 1995 season due to a Spring Training knee injury. He spent the 1996 season in Triple-A with the California Angels, the 1997 season in Triple-A with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the 1998 season was split between Mexico and independent ball. He was with the Anaheim Angels in 1999, seeing both Double-A and Triple-A time. He then played indy ball the rest of the way out, mostly playing in the Atlantic League, where he saw time with four different clubs between 1998 and 2006. His big league career consisted of 47 plate appearances over 40 games and he didn’t draw a single walk. Pennyfeather batted .196 in his three years with the Pirates, scoring six runs, with a double and two RBIs. His stats from his partial season in Mexico are unknown, but the rest of his career shows that he played 1,834 games total (including majors), with 174 homers and 193 stolen bases.
Jim Marshall, first baseman for the 1962 Pirates. He signed with the Chicago White Sox as a 19-year-old in 1950 and it took him eight seasons to make it to the majors, finally getting there for Opening Day with the 1958 Baltimore Orioles. Marshall started in Class-C ball in 1950 and put up strong numbers for Albuquerque of the West Texas-New Mexico League, hitting .336 with 19 doubles, 17 triples and 15 homers in 88 games. He also played four games one step from the majors with Oakland of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. Marshall split the 1951 season between two vastly different levels, playing for Wenatchee in the Class-B Western International League and the other half of the year was in the Pacific Coast League. He combined to hit .248 with 89 runs, 20 doubles, ten triples, 20 homers, 92 RBIs and 65 walks. As you would expect, he did better at the lower level, but it wasn’t a huge difference, posting a .683 OPS with Oakland and .791 with Wenatchee. The 1952 season was spent with Nashville of the Double-A Southern Association, where he batted .296 with 38 doubles, four triples and 24 homers in 154 games. The next three years were spent back in the PCL with Oakland, where he showed some big power numbers and solid walk rates.
Marshall hit .273 with 73 runs, 27 doubles, 24 homers, 99 RBIs and 50 walks in 151 games in 1953. The was followed by a .285 average in 166 games in 1954, with 90 runs, 19 doubles, 31 homers, 123 RBIs and 85 walks. In 1955, he hit just .240 in 169 games, but it came with 91 runs, 22 doubles, 30 homers, 86 RBIs and 93 walks. Marshall was back in the Southern Association in 1956, hitting .264 with 93 runs, 20 doubles, 13 triples, 28 homers, 106 RBIs and 65 walks. That was still not enough to get him to the majors, so he was back in the PCL in 1957, where he batted .264 with 98 runs, 37 doubles, 30 homers, 102 RBIs and 57 walks in 168 games for Vancouver. The Baltimore Orioles acquired him in a seven-player trade with the Chicago White Sox in December of 1957, in a deal that included Hall of Famer Larry Doby. Marshall finally made the majors and hit .215 through 85 games with the 1958 Orioles before they put him on waivers, where he was picked up by the Chicago Cubs. He finished out the season by hitting .272 in 26 games with the Cubs. Combined that rookie season, he batted .232 in 111 games, with 29 runs, 19 extra-base hits (ten homers), 30 RBIs and 30 walks, resulting in a .694 OPS. He had his best Major League season in 1959 for Chicago, hitting .252 with 39 runs, ten doubles, 11 homers and 40 RBIs in 108 games.
Marshall was traded to the Boston Red Sox after the 1959 season, but before he played a regular season games for them, he was sent to the San Francisco Giants on March 29, 1960. The Red Sox actually dealt him to the Cleveland Indians two weeks earlier, but that trade was voided when one of the other players involved refused to report. Marshall hit .237 in 75 games in 1960, with 19 runs, six extra-base hits and 13 RBIs. He was buried deep on the bench in 1961, getting 40 plate appearances in 44 games. He started just one game all season and he played just two innings that day. He batted .222 with a homer and seven RBIs. He was sold to the expansion New York Mets shortly after the end of the 1961 season. With New York, he had an amazing stretch at the plate, especially compared to the rest of his big league career. Through 17 games, he hit .344 with three homers and a 1.056 OPS. The Pirates acquired him on May 7, 1962 in exchange for pitcher Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell. Marshall played 55 games for Pittsburgh, getting twenty starts at first base. He hit .220 with 12 RBIs in 100 at-bats. After being released by the Pirates that October, he signed to play in Japan, spending three years overseas before retiring. He hit 78 homers during his three seasons in Japan, giving him 309 homers during his career in pro ball. Marshall batted .242 with 111 runs, 24 doubles, 29 homers, 106 RBIs and 101 walks in 410 big league games. He turns 91 years old today.
John Hofford, pitcher for the 1885-86 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He began his pro career in 1884 at 21 years old, playing for two independent minor league teams from Pennsylvania. No stats are available, but we know that he was with Littlestown of the Keystone Association and Franklin of the Iron and Oil League that year. By 1885 he was a well sought after pitcher, after posting a 38-13, 0.59 record with 389 strikeouts in 457 innings for Augusta of the Southern League. Hofford completed all 50 starts he made that year, throwing eight shutouts. He batted .258 in 72 games for Augusta and he hit out of the lead-off spot for part of the season (he also hit third), while also seeing brief time at five other spots besides pitcher. He joined the Alleghenys during the last week of that 1885 season, starting three of the last five games, including his MLB debut on the day he joined the team. Also along for the ride was his catcher Frank Ringo, which led to The Sporting Life saying that “Pittsburgh gobbled up Augusta’s great battery of Hofford and Ringo”. Hofford lost all three of his starts during a six-day period, although two of the games came against Bobby Mathews, a 297-game winner in the majors. Hofford allowed 16 runs in 25 innings, with ten of those runs being earned. His 21 strikeouts (7.7 per nine innings) were an impressive total for that era.
When Hofford joined Pittsburgh, they were without Hall of Famer Pud Galvin and fellow pitcher Frank Mountain, who were both injured. They were also without Ed Morris, a 39-game winner, who returned home to his ailing wife during the final week of the season. Those things opened up a spot to try a new pitcher and Hofford filled that role. In 1886, Hofford was with Pittsburgh for most of the season, but made just nine starts all year. He went 3-6 with 4.33 ERA in 81 innings, playing his last Major League game on July 24th. On April 25th the Alleghenys played an in-season exhibition game against the Cincinnati Red Stockings and Hofford collected five hits in the game. It wasn’t quite the fluke it seems to be, as he hit .294 in his nine games that year. On August 3, 1886, Pittsburgh manager Horace Phillips released both Hofford and Ringo. At the time it was said that there were too many men on the payroll and neither player was doing good work. It was revealed that Hofford was dealing with a shoulder injury for much of the season and he blamed his results on his ailment. He stuck around minor league baseball for another ten years before retiring, playing regularly at almost every position at some point in his career. His career minor league stats are far from being completely researched at this point, but the known stats show that after winning 38 games in 1885, he won just eight games over five more seasons of pitching. Seven of those wins came for Kansas City of the Western League in 1887, where Ringo was his teammate. Hofford pitched one game for Memphis of the Southern League in 1888, two games for Macon of the Class-B Southern Association in 1892, and his last recorded pitching appearances came with Danville of the Pennsylvania State League in 1893, where he went 0-5, 4.99 in 48.2 innings. He was with Lynchburg of the Virginia League in 1894, and spent the 1895-96 seasons with four different teams in three different leagues in the northeast.
In 1893, a story ran in the Pittsburgh Post that managers from two other teams were in a hurry to get down to see Hofford during the 1885 season in Augusta and Pittsburgh manager Horace Phillips was the first to get there and signed him right away. Baltimore manager Bill Barnie and Louisville manager Jim Hart got there late and they settled on signing pitchers Matt Kilroy and Toad Ramsey respectively. Assuming that is true, then being the early bird was bad luck for the Alleghenys because Kilroy set the still-standing single-season strikeout record as a rookie in 1886 (are you just finding out Nolan Ryan doesn’t hold that record?) and Ramsey won a total of 75 games during the 1886-87 seasons.
Hofford’s throwing hand is listed as unknown, but a search for any references to him being left-handed came up almost empty. A Louisville paper that never saw him before 1886, called him a lefty twice in a game preview, then never mentioned it in the game recap the next day. It was popular back in the day to only mention the throwing hand for lefty pitchers and it can be found a lot for other pitchers in stories that also included Hofford’s name. However, a list of all of the left-handed pitchers in the Southern League in 1885 didn’t have his name on it, and he was already establishing a name for himself by then. So all signs point to him throwing right-handed.
On this date in 1954, the Pirates traded outfielder Cal Abrams to the Baltimore Orioles for pitcher Dick Littlefield. The lefty throwing Littlefield was 28 years old at the time of the trade. He was in his fifth season in the majors and the Orioles were his fourth Major League team, all American League clubs. He got off to a poor start in 1954, allowing seven runs and 14 base runners over just six innings in his three relief outings. In 1953, he had a 7-12. 5.08 record in 152.1 innings over 36 games, 22 as a starter. Abrams was 30 years old, and in his sixth season in the majors. His first year with the Pirates in 1953 was his best season up to that point. He batted .286 with 66 runs, 15 homers, 43 RBIs, 58 walks and an .803 OPS in 119 games. In 1954, he was batting just .143/.308/.214 through 17 games with the Pirates.
After the deal, Abrams had a strong finish to the season in Baltimore, hitting .293 with 73 walks, 66 runs scored and an .821 OPS in 115 games. He maintained a strong walk rate the following year, but his average was down to .243 and he hit just six homers in 118 games. He was traded to the Chicago White Sox for 1955, playing four games there before finishing his career in the minors. Abrams had 5.8 WAR in his time in Baltimore. Littlefield pitched well for a Pirates team that lost 101 games in 1954. He went 10-11, 3.60 in 155 innings over 21 starts and two relief appearances. The Pirates were nearly as bad the next season and Littlefield struggled on the mound, going 5-12, 5.12 in 130 innings. A month into the 1956 seasons, he was dealt to the St Louis Cardinals in a trade that brought Bill Virdon to Pittsburgh. After the trade to St Louis, Littlefield pitched a total of 178.2 innings in the majors while playing for four different teams. While the Orioles won this trade (5.8 WAR vs 1.7 WAR), the Pirates did okay with Littlefield as a trade piece by getting Virdon in return.