Six former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a trade of note.
On this date in 1969, the Pirates traded pitcher Ron Kline to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for pitcher Joe Gibbon, who had pitched previously for Pittsburgh. Kline began his career with the Pirates, playing six seasons in Pittsburgh before he was dealt to the St Louis Cardinals in 1959. In 1969, he was 37 years old and two years into his second stint with the Pirates, with a 1-3, 5.81 record in 31 innings over 20 relief appearances. Gibbon also began his career with six seasons in Pittsburgh, leaving the team for the Giants in the Matty Alou trade that was made after the 1965 season. Gibbon was 34 years old at the time of this deal, with a 1-3, 3.60 record in 20 innings over 16 relief appearances. They were trading similar pitchers (age/results), but Kline was a right-handed pitcher, while Gibbon threw lefty.
After the deal, Kline pitched just seven games for the Giants before they sold him to the Boston Red Sox. He pitched a total of 28 games and 34.1 innings in the majors after leaving the Pirates, finishing his big league career with the 1970 Atlanta Braves. Gibbon was a solid member of the Pittsburgh bullpen in 1969, going 5-1, 1.93 in 51.1 innings with nine saves. He pitched 41 games in 1970, although his ERA was 4.83 in 41 innings. After the season, he was released. He played two more years in the majors, split between the Cincinnati Reds and Houston Astros, before retiring. The Pirates took the victory in the value department here, as Kline was worth -0.4 WAR over the rest of his career, while Gibbon had 1.5 WAR for the 1969 Pirates (-0.5 WAR in 1970).
Carlos Rivera, first baseman for the 2003-04 Pirates. He was selected by the Pirates in the tenth round of the 1996 draft out of high school in Texas (though he was born in Puerto Rico), taken six days before he turned 18 years old. Rivera batted .284 with 24 runs, eight doubles, three homers and 26 RBIs in 48 games for the Gulf Coast League Pirates in 1996. He hit well enough that first year in rookie ball to move to full season ball in 1997, still just 18 years old at the start of the season. He batted .272 with 52 runs, 30 extra-base hits and 65 RBIs in 120 games for Low-A Augusta of the South Atlantic League that season. A low walk total/rate kept his OPS down at a .716 mark. He split the 1998 season between Augusta and High-A Lynchburg of the Carolina League, with much better results at the lower level. He combined to hit .270 with 49 runs, 21 doubles, nine homers and 69 RBIs in 116 games, while drawing just 11 walks all season. Rivera spent parts/all of three seasons in Low-A, breaking out in 1999, when he hit .322 with 63 runs, 30 doubles, 13 homers and 86 RBIs in 119 games for Hickory of the South Atlantic League. The walk rate was still very low, but he put together an .832 OPS. He missed half of the 2000 season, batting .270/.284/.408 in 64 games with Lynchburg, while also playing six rehab games in the GCL. He had 17 doubles, five homers and 47 RBIs during that stint in High-A that year.
Playing for Altoona of the Double-A Eastern League in 2001, Rivera hit .234 with 63 runs, 30 doubles, ten homers and 86 RBIs, but he drew just 13 walks in 111 games, giving him a .258 OBP and a .646 OPS. In 2002, he put himself back on the prospect map, batting .302 with 67 runs, 28 doubles, 22 homers, 84 RBIs and an .845 OPS in 128 games for Altoona. Rivera began 2003 in Triple-A with Nashville of the Pacific Coast League, where he hit .263 with 18 doubles and nine homers in 72 games, before getting his first call to the majors in late-June. He would be used mostly off the bench by Pittsburgh, getting into 78 games over the rest of the season, with only 107 plate appearances. He hit .221 with 12 runs, five doubles, three homers and ten RBIs. In 2004, he was back in Nashville, getting a brief recall to the majors in late April. Rivera played seven games for the Pirates before being sent back down, which ended up being his last Major League action. He went 3-for-15 with one RBI for the 2004 Pirates. He batted .292 with 19 doubles and 17 homers in 93 games for Nashville of the Pacific Coast League that season.
Rivera was released by the Pirates after the 2004 season, then signed a minor league deal with the Houston Astros. He spent all of 2005 with Round Rock of the PCL while with the Astros, where he hit .312 with 35 doubles and 17 homers in 129 games. All of 2006 was spent in Triple-A for the Colorado Rockies, where he hit .325 with 25 doubles, nine homers and 70 RBIs in 120 games for Colorado Springs of the PCL. That was the end of his time with affiliated clubs, but Rivera was still an active player in the Mexican League up until 2015. He played in China for a brief time and he played independent ball as well. He also played ten seasons of winter ball in Puerto Rico. He had over 2,500 hits as a pro, almost 1,400 RBIs and 275 homers, which doesn’t include missing stats from two seasons of winter ball.
Pokey Reese, second baseman for the 2002-03 Pirates. He was a first round draft pick in 1991 by the Cincinnati Reds, and a top prospect in the minors for five years as he worked his way from an 18-year-old high school draft pick to the big leagues. He began his pro career in the Appalachian League, where he hit .238 with 16 extra-base hits and ten steals in 62 games for Princeton. He moved up to Low-A Charleston of the South Atlantic League the next season and put up a .268 average, 50 runs, 28 extra-base hits, a .696 OPS and 19 steals in 106 games. The Reds skipped him to Double-A in 1993 at 20 years old, playing for the Chattanooga Lookouts of the Southern League, where he hit just .212 in 102 games, with low power/walk numbers, resulting in a .568 OPS. He did much better in his second run at Double-A. Reese hit .269 in 134 games, with 23 doubles, 12 homers and 21 steals in 25 attempts in 1994. His .743 OPS was the highest of his time in the minors over a full season.
Reese batted .239 with 51 runs, 21 doubles, ten homers and 46 RBIs in 89 games during his first season at Triple-A Indianapolis of the American Association in 1995. He was back in Indianapolis in 1996, though a knee injury limited him to 79 games and a .232 average with one homer and a .595 OPS. Reese debuted his strong glove and above average speed in the majors on Opening Day in 1997 for the Reds. He was a shortstop by trade, although he was blocked in Cincinnati by Barry Larkin. In 1997, he saw plenty of time at that shortstop position, as Larkin missed most of the second half of the season. Reese hit just .219 with 25 stolen bases and a .571 OPS in 128 games, while also spending some time back with Indianapolis early in the season. The next year, Pokey (his real name is Calvin) played 56 games for the Reds, most of them spent at third base. He committed four errors at shortstop on Opening Day and was removed after seven innings. He played sporadically until July 30th when a thumb injury ended his season early. He hit .256 with one homer and three steals. He improved to a .645 OPS.
Reese would break through in 1999 as the everyday second baseman. He hit .285, with 85 runs scored, 37 doubles, ten homers, 38 stolen bases and a career best .747 OPS, while also winning the Gold Glove award. His season was worth 3.2 dWAR, the third best mark among all players in the National League. He batted .255 in 135 games, with 76 runs scored, 20 doubles, 29 steals and career highs of 12 homers and 45 walks in 2000, while winning another Gold Glove. He had 1.8 dWAR that year, the fourth best mark in the NL. Pokey’s hitting began to drop off in 2001, when he saw a majority of his time at shortstop. He hit .224 with 50 runs, 20 doubles, nine homers, 25 steals and a .627 OPS in 133 games. Cincinnati traded him in the off-season, setting off a strange string of events. He was dealt to the Colorado Rockies in mid-December, who turned around and traded him to the Boston Red Sox the next day, and then they released him just two days later.
Reese signed with the Pirates in January 2002 and became the team’s starting second baseman. He would hit .264 with 46 runs, 25 doubles, 50 RBIs and 12 steals (in 13 attempts) in 119 games that year, while playing Gold Glove caliber defense. He played just 37 games for the Pirates in 2003 before a thumb injury, similar to one he had in 1998, put him out for the season. He was hitting .215, with a career low .533 OPS at the time of the injury. He had six steals in six attempts that year, continuing his successful base running while in Pittsburgh. He left the Pirates via free agency after the 2003 season, then signed with the Red Sox, where he was a member of their 2004 World Series winning team. He batted just .221 in 96 games that year, but his defense was outstanding (2.0 dWAR) and once again he saw more time at shortstop. That would be his last season in the majors. He finished his career in the minors in 2008. Reese played 856 big league games over eight seasons, ending up with a .248 average, 144 steals (in 170 attempts), 128 doubles, 44 homers, 271 RBIs and 366 runs scored.
Hank Foiles, catcher for the Pirates from 1956 until 1959. He was signed by the New York Yankees out of high school in 1947, but didn’t make the majors until 1953 ,and wasn’t a regular until the 1955 season. Foiles debuted in 1948 at 19 years old, playing for Class-B Manchester of the New England League, where he hit .231 with 13 doubles, four homers and 49 RBIs in 112 games. He moved up to Binghamton of the Eastern League (Class-A) in 1949, and also saw some time with Kansas City of the Triple-A American Association. He batted .311 with 18 extra-base hits and an .808 OPS in 64 games for Binghamton that season (Kansas City stats are unavailable). In 1950, Foiles once again split his time between Binghamton and Kansas City, hitting .319 with 17 extra-base hits in 53 games between the two stops, putting up better stats (and more time) at the lower level. The 1951 season saw him struggle in Triple-A all year, playing briefly with Kansas City, while spending most of the year with Syracuse of the International League. He hit just .209 with five homers in 94 games. He had a .638 OPS in 85 games with Syracuse that season.
Foiles saw limited time with Ottawa of the International League in 1952, playing just 28 games all year due to a knee injury that sidelined him for most of the season. He batted .218 with four extra-base hits and a .609 OPS. He joined the Cincinnati Reds that September, but never got into a game before the season ended. Foiles made his big league debut in 1953 with the Reds, who had acquired him in the Rule 5 draft over the 1951-52 winter. He was actually sold to Syracuse of the International League after the 1952 season, but the Reds held a right to repurchase him and they did before the 1953 season started. After just a couple of weeks with the Reds in which he played five games and went 2-for-14 with two singles at the plate, he was sold to the Cleveland Indians, where he played seven games before returning to the minors for the rest of the 1953 season and all of 1954. Foiles batted just eight times with Cleveland, collecting a single and a walk. He went down to Indianapolis of the American Association and hit just .221 with no homers and nine RBIs in 57 games. With Indianapolis in 1954, he batted .332 in 103 games, with 57 runs, 13 doubles, 17 homers, 59 RBIs and a .917 OPS.
Foiles returned to the majors in 1955 and hit .261 in limited at-bats with the Indians over 62 games. He had nine doubles, one homer, seven RBIs and a .723 OPS. After playing one game over the first month of the 1956 season, the Pirates acquired him for first baseman Preston Ward, who Pittsburgh had acquired in the Ralph Kiner trade. Foiles didn’t hit much that first year in Pittsburgh, but played good defense, with a strong arm. He hit .212 with ten doubles, seven homers and 25 RBIs in 79 games. In 1957, his defense, plus a .270 average and a .783 OPS in 109 games, got him elected to his only All-Star team. He set/tied his career highs in doubles, triples and homers that season, though he had just 23 extra-base hits. Foiles saw his average dropped to .205 in 1958, though his defense kept him in the lineup, led by a league leading 50% caught stealing rate, with only 34 runners testing him all year. His 0.9 dWAR that season was the best of his career. Despite the low average, he had a respectable .670 OPS, thanks to 20 extra-base hits and a career high 45 walks.
Foiles was a backup in 1959, getting just 88 plate appearances over 53 games played. He hit .225 with three doubles and three homers, though he drove in just four runs all year. He was traded to the Kansas City A’s in the off-season in a three-for-one deal in which the Pirates acquired Hal Smith. The Pirates reacquired Foiles one June 1, 1960, but it was for just one day, as he was sent back to Cleveland for outfielder John Powers the next day. He played 56 games total that season, also seeing time with the Detroit Tigers later in the year. Between the three stops, he hit .282 with 15 runs, four doubles, one homers and ten RBIs. In 1961, he spent the entire year with the Baltimore Orioles, where he hit .274 with six doubles, six homers and 19 RBIs in 43 games. The next year was spent back with the Reds and he finished with 43 games played for a second straight season. He did well at the plate too in his limited time, hitting .275 with 17 runs, six doubles, seven homers, 25 RBIs and an .836 OPS. Foiles played one game with the Reds in 1963 before being released in late May. He signed with the Los Angeles Angels and played 41 games there, hitting .214 with four homers, ten RBIs and a .683 OPS in 94 plate appearances. Foiles played until 1964 when he pinch-hit four times for the Angels. He saw some minor league time as well that season, his last year in pro ball. He finished his 11-year big league career with a .243 average, 171 runs, 59 doubles, 46 homers and 166 RBIs in 608 games. He hit .230 with 27 homers and 95 RBIs in 345 games for the Pirates. He finished with 4.8 WAR career, including 2.0 dWAR, a number that dropped over his final four seasons.
Johnny Podgajny, pitcher for the 1943 Pirates. He pitched two seasons in the low minors for affiliates of the Philadelphia Phillies, before getting his first call to the majors. Podgajny went 15-10, 2.92 in 194 inning for Moultrie of the Class-D Georgia-Florida League at 19 years old in 1939. He then moved up one level and had an 18-7, 2.57 record in 214 innings at Class-C ball with Ottawa-Ogdensburg of the Canadian-American League in 1940, before joining the Phillies. He made four September starts for Philadelphia during that season, posting a 2.83 ERA in 35 innings, with three complete games. He was a regular in the Philadelphia rotation over the next two seasons. Podgajny had a 9-12, 4.62 record in 181.1 innings in 1941, making 24 starts and ten relief appearances. He improved his ERA to 3.91 in 186.2 innings in 1942, but it didn’t help his record, especially since the Phillies finished with a 42-109 record. He finished 6-14, which actually gave him the lowest loss total among the five regular starting pitchers for the Phillies. In 1943, he was splitting his time between starting and relieving, when the Pirates traded pitcher Dutch Dietz to get him in mid-June. Podgajny had a 20-33, 4.14 career record at the time of the deal, including a 4-4, 4.22 mark over 64 innings in 1943.
For the 1943 Pirates, he went 0-4, 4.72 in 34.1 innings over five starts and ten relief appearances, losing each of his first four starts. He would be dealt to the St Louis Cardinals on September 30th, along with cash and outfielder Johnny Wyrostek, in exchange for pitcher Preacher Roe. Podgajny would pitch just six more Major League games, all in 1946 for the Cleveland Indians, before finishing his career in the minors four years later. He compiled 104 minor league wins, but never won in the majors after the Phillies traded him. That odd part about that was that many pitchers got chances during the 1944-45 seasons due to so many big league players serving in the war. There aren’t many examples of pitchers who were big league regulars in 1942-43, then spent the next two years in the minors. He played for the Baltimore Orioles of the International League during the 1944-48 seasons. While that league was always the highest level of the minors during that time, it was Double-A for the first two seasons and Triple-A afterwards. He played for Double-A Columbus of the American Association in 1944 for half of the season and spent the rest with Baltimore. Podgajny combined to go 9-5, 5.29 in 131 innings. He managed to win 20 games in 1945, despite the fact that he mainly pitched in relief that year, with 15 starts and 51 relief appearances, throwing a total of 226 innings. That was enough to get him to the majors, but he made his last appearance in 1946 with the Indians on May 13th, before returning to the minors for good.
Podgajny went 34-41 over the 1946-48 seasons in Baltimore, averaging 172 innings per year. He had a 3.40 ERA in 1946 and a 3.44 mark in 1948, but he dropped down to Birmingham of the Double-A Southern Association in 1949 and had a 4.68 ERA in 77 innings. He moved back up to the American Association with Milwaukee in 1950, but his time was brief and his career was over at 30 years old. Podgajny had a very odd split during his career, dominating the Chicago Cubs and struggling against everyone else (partially due to bad Phillies teams). He had a 10-5 record against the Cubs and a 10-32 record against every other team. However, his best ERA was actually against the Pirates, a 3.72 mark in 65.1 innings. His final big league stats show a 20-37, 4.20 record in 61 starts and 54 relief appearances, throwing a total of 510.1 innings. He had a 165:129 BB/SO ratio during that time.
Danny MacFayden, pitcher for the 1940 Pirates. He never played a day in the minors, going right from prep school and summer league ball, to the majors with the 1926 Boston Red Sox. He pitched just three games during his first season, posting a 4.85 ERA in 13 innings. That included one start in which he threw a complete game. He then split the 1927 season between starting and relief work, compiling a 5-8, 4.27 record in 160.1 innings. He had 16 starts, 18 relief appearances, six complete games, one shutout and two saves. MacFayden became a full-time starter in 1928, going 9-15, 4.75 in 195 innings that season, with nine complete games in 28 starts. He improved the next year, even if it didn’t show in his record (Red Sox were 58-96), putting together a 10-18, 3.62 season in 221 innings over 27 starts and five relief outings. He led the league with four shutouts, and he threw 14 complete games. He went 11-14, 4.21 in a career high 269.1 innings in 1930, which is actually quite an impressive ERA because 1930 was a huge year for offense all around baseball. That season he completed 18 of his 33 starts, while picking up two saves in his three relief appearances.
MacFayden had his first winning season in 1931 when he went 16-12, 4.02 in 230.2 innings. He completed 17 of 32 starts and he had two shutouts. He received mild MVP support that year, finishing 20th in the voting. He pitched for Boston until June of 1932, going 52-78, 4.23 in 185 games before he was dealt to the New York Yankees. MacFayden had a 1-10, 5.10 record at the time of the deal, but the Red Sox were still able to get two players and a large amount of cash from the Yankees in the trade. His stats improved greatly with the better team, going 7-5, 3.93 in 121.1 innings to finish out the 1932 season. The Yankees won the World Series that year, but he did not pitch in the postseason. In 1933, he went 3-2, 5.88 in 90.1 innings, mostly pitching out of the bullpen, with six starts and 19 relief outings. He pitched in New York until 1934, going 4-3, 4.50 in 96 innings over 11 starts and 11 relief appearances that season, before getting sold to the Cincinnati Reds in the off-season. Cincinnati let him go less than two months into the season, sending him back to the Yankees, who put him on waivers, where he was picked up by the Boston Braves. After going 6-15, 5.04 in 187.2 innings in 1935 between Cincinnati and Boston, MacFayden made a name for himself with the Braves, winning 45 games from 1936 to 1938, with an ERA under 3.00 each season.
MacFayden was 17-13, 2.87 over 266.2 innings in 1936, playing for a team that finished 12 games under the .500 mark. He set a career high with 21 complete games, and he had the lowest home run rate (0.2 per nine innings) for pitchers in the National League. That performance earned him a ninth place finish in the MVP voting. MacFayden was never much of a strikeout pitcher. His 86 strikeouts in 1936 were his career high, despite ten seasons with 187+ innings pitched. He went 14-14, 2.93 in 246 innings in 1937, with 16 complete games and two shutouts. That year was the first time that all of his appearances were as a starter (32 games), a feat he would repeat in 1938. He followed up that strong 1937 season by going 14-9, 2.95 in 29 starts and 219.2 innings in 1938. He had 19 complete games that year and he threw five shutouts. The Braves were really bad in 1939 and MacFayden’s stats slipped to an 8-14, 3.90 record in 191.2 innings over 28 starts and five relief outings.
After a down year, the Pirates sent pitcher Bill Swift and cash to acquire MacFayden from Boston on December 8, 1939. He made eight starts and 27 relief appearances for the 1940 Pirates, going 5-4, 3.55 in 91.1 innings. He was released after the season and would go on to pitch just 15 more Major League games, five for the 1941 Washington Senators and ten more for the Boston Braves in 1943, before retiring after being released following the 1943 season. He gave up nine runs in seven innings during his brief time with the Senators. He was semi-retired from May of 1941 until joining Boston for the 1943 season, spending that in between time as a coach at the prep school ranks. He went 2-1, 5.91 in 21.1 innings during that final big league stint. He had a 132-159, 3.96 career record in 465 games (334 as a starter), pitching a total of 2,706 innings in the majors. He had 158 complete games and 18 shutouts. He compiled 26 WAR as a pitcher, though some poor hitting/defense knocked his career total down to 22.4 WAR.
Jap Barbeau, third baseman for the 1909 Pirates. When he joined the Pirates prior to the 1909 season, Barbeau had played 53 Major League games, although his last two full seasons were spent in the minors. He debuted in pro ball with Columbus of the Class-A American Association (highest level of the minors at the time) at 23 years old in 1905, and by the end of the season he was in the majors. He hit .246 with 31 extra-base hits in 153 games with Columbus. He played for the Cleveland Naps (years before they became the Indians) during the 1905-06 seasons, hitting .211 in 166 at-bats. He did well in 11 games in 1905, debuting on September 27th, and hitting .270 over 37 at-bats. He struggled in 1906, batting .194 with eight runs, eight extra-base hits and 12 RBIs in 42 games. He didn’t debut that year until an injury forced him into action on June 11th, in the 45th game of the season. He was getting regular starts at third base and for a time at shortstop, but he didn’t play after September 11th, and he was put on waivers before the season ended.
Barbeau was a shortstop for Toledo of the American Association during the next two years in the minors. He batted .295 in 125 games in 1907, with 93 runs, 35 doubles, seven triples, four homers and 28 steals. In 1908 he batted .282 in 137 games, with 84 runs, 38 extra-base hits and 32 steals. He was known more for his glove than his bat and the Pirates purchased him to play third base, as shortstop was manned at the time by Honus Wagner, although some papers disagreed with that when he was acquired. On July 16, 1908, it was announced that the Pirates purchased his contract from Toledo, with the understanding that he would report to the team for Spring Training of 1909. Some papers noted that he would be replacing Wagner at shortstop in 1909. There was a thought around that time that Wagner could retire, though he ended up playing another nine seasons in the majors. Barbeau was described as a weak hitter, standing just 5’5″, 140 pounds (he was often referred to as “the midget”), and his Major League stats prove that fact, as he had no homers and a .593 OPS during his four-year career. He was able to collect his share of homers in the minors, hitting 11 one season for Kansas City, which was no small feat during the deadball era. He was fast, stealing 30+ bases in three seasons during his pro career.
Playing out of position for the 1909 Pirates, Barbeau struggled at the plate and in the field, hitting .220 with no homers in 91 games, committing 29 errors. He managed to score 60 runs, though the Pirates lineup had more to do with that number than his own skills at the plate. In mid-August, as the team geared up for their playoff run, Jap (first name was William) was traded to the St Louis Cardinals, along with infielder Alan Storke, for third baseman Bobby Byrne, who was known as a strong fielder at the hot corner. Barbeau batted .251 in 48 games with the Cardinals to finish out the 1909 season. He combined that season to score 83 runs, with 65 walks and 33 steals. He played with St Louis through May of 1910, hitting .190 in seven games, before returning to the minors for good, where he played another ten seasons. Most of that time was spent in the American Association, playing with Kansas City from 1910 through 1913, then with Milwaukee during the 1914-15 and 1917-18 seasons. He also played briefly with St Paul during the 1918 season. Barbeau spent the 1916 season playing for Oakland of the Pacific Coast League. He did well in the minors in 1911, so it’s a bit surprising that he never made it back. That year he hit .296 with 48 extra-base hits in 154 games. In his first two seasons in Milwaukee, he had an .815 and a .793 OPS, but his hitting dropped off a bit from that point on. His big league career shows a .225 average in 199 games, with 96 runs, 25 doubles, eight triples, 46 RBIs, 39 steals and 78 walks.