We have one Pittsburgh Pirates trade of note, two former players born on this date, plus a game of note.
On this date in 2001, the Pirates traded infielder Enrique Wilson to the New York Yankees in exchange for relief pitcher Damaso Marte. Wilson was in his second season with the Pirates. He had been acquired the previous year at the trading deadline for left fielder Wil Cordero. He was 27 years old at the time, hitting .186 in 46 games, although he had hit much better in prior seasons. Marte was 26 years old at the time, with just five games of Major League experience, which came with the 1999 Seattle Mariners. The lefty reliever was in Double-A for the Yankees at the time, with a 3.50 ERA in 23 appearances.
After a brief stop in Triple-A, Marte pitched 23 games for the Pirates in 2001, posting a 4.71 ERA in 36.1 innings. Less than a year after they acquired him, Marte was traded to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for minor league pitcher Matt Guerrier. He would return to the Pirates in 2005, then get dealt back to the Yankees, along with Xavier Nady, at the 2008 trading deadline. Wilson hit .242 in limited action for the Yankees. He remained with the team for three more seasons, serving as their backup infielder. In 264 games for New York, he batted .216 with 69 RBIs. The trade really didn’t help either team, but the Pirates technically got the best of it, even though they traded Marte soon afterwards for a player they cut before he went on to become a big league regular. Marte had 0.1 WAR with the Pirates. Wilson had -3.1 WAR during his time with the Yankees.
Darrell May, pitcher for the 1996 Pirates. He made it to the majors in 1995 with the Atlanta Braves, despite being drafted in the 46th round just three years earlier. May was originally a 14th round pick of the Oakland A’s in 1991 out of Sacramento City College, but he decided to return to school and he ended up going 32 rounds later the next year. He debuted in the Gulf Coast League in 1991, where he had a 1.36 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 53 innings. He jumped up to Low-A Macon of the South Atlantic League at the start of 1993 for 17 starts, and then ended the year with nine starts for Durham of the High-A Carolina League. May combined to go 15-6, 2.19, with 158 strikeouts in 156 innings that season. He made 23 starts the next year split between Durham (12 starts) and Double-A Greenville of the Southern League, going 13-5, 3.06 in 138.1 innings, with 115 strikeouts. The 1995 season saw him back in Greenville for 15 starts, followed by nine starts with Triple-A Richmond of the International League, before making it to Atlanta in September. He went 6-10, 3.60, with 121 strikeouts in 142.1 innings over his two minor league stops. May had a rough start with the Braves, getting hit hard in his first cup of coffee in the majors, allowing five runs on ten hits in four innings over two games. He would be put on waivers at the end of Spring Training in 1996, where he was picked up by the Pirates just after Opening Day.
After going to the minors to begin the 1996 season, May got a spot start for the Pirates in early May, giving up five runs in five innings during a loss to the San Diego Padres. He returned to the team in late July and made three relief appearances over a five-day stretch, then made another spot start the next day, which also didn’t go well. In September he was put on waivers, where the California Angels picked him up. May allowed ten runs in 8.2 innings during his time with the Pirates. With Triple-A Calgary of the Pacific Coast League, he had a 7-6, 4.10 record in 131.2 innings. He finished out the year by allowing three runs in 2.2 innings over five appearances with the Angels, giving him a 9.53 ERA in 11.1 innings that season. May did much better with the Anaheim Angels (name switched that year) in 1997, going 2-1, 5.23 in 29 outings (two starts) and 51.2 innings pitched. He then pitched in Japan from 1998 until 2001, before returning to the big leagues with the Kansas City Royals in 2002. He combined for a 32-31 record in Japan and average 140 innings per season.
May went 4-10, 5.35 in 131.1 innings over 21 starts and nine relief appearances during his first season back in the U.S. with the 2002 Royals. He had a strong 2003 season in Kansas City, going 10-8, 3.77 in 210 innings over 32 starts and three relief outings. The next year was a rough one, as he led the American League with 19 losses, while posting a 5.61 ERA in 186 innings over 31 starts. He set a career high that season with 120 strikeouts. The Royals traded him to the San Diego Padres just after the 2004 season ended. His big league career ended in 2005 with the New York Yankees and Padres, going 1-4, 6.78 in 66.1 innings over nine starts and 15 relief appearances. He gave up 13 runs in seven innings with the Yankees after they acquired him in a July 2nd trade. He spent 2006 in the minors with the Cincinnati Reds before retiring. May went 26-43, 5.16 in 660.2 innings in the majors. He made 97 starts and 64 relief appearances. He threw seven complete games and tossed three shutouts, picking up one each year during his three seasons with the Royals.
John O’Connell, catcher for the 1928-29 Pirates. He made his Major League debut for the Pirates on August 16, 1928 after the starting catcher, Charlie Hargreaves, got injured and backup catcher Rollie Hemsley got thrown out of the game. O’Connell was the third-string catcher, and forced into action. While it was said that he did alright, the Pirates didn’t think he was ready for full-time work. They had two straight doubleheaders over the next two days and Hemsley caught all four games. Hemsley also caught the next five games, including another doubleheader, before Hargreaves returned. O’Connell didn’t make another appearance the rest of the season. Prior to playing his first big league game, the 24-year-old O’Connell was mostly playing semi-pro ball. He spent the 1928 season with Canton of the Class-B Central League, where he hit .302 with 25 runs scored, 16 extra-base hits and a .774 OPS in 72 games. He joined the Pirates just one day before his debut, in what turned out to be great timing considering how he ended up getting into that first game. The team lucked out because he was playing nearby and was able to get to Pittsburgh, just one day after they purchased his contract.
In 1929, O’Connell was sent to the minors one week before Opening Day, after he lost the third-string catching spot to Bob Linton in Spring Training. He played briefly for Baltimore of the Double-A International League (highest level of the minors at the time), but spent the majority of the season playing for Columbia of the South Atlantic League (Class-B) where he batted .297 with 31 extra-base hits in 127 games. O’Connell returned to the Pirates on September 23rd and he played his last two Major League games on October 5th/6th, starting the final two games of the season. He was being groomed to be a backup for first baseman Gus Suhr during Spring Training of 1930, though the Pirates ended up unconditionally releasing O’Connell unconditionally to Fort Worth of the Class-A Texas League on April 7, 1930. In 82 games for Fort Worth, he hit .272 with 11 doubles and two homers. He never made it back to the majors, finishing his career three seasons later, playing for Harrisburg of the Class-A New York-Penn League, where he hit .275 with seven extra-base hits in 41 games. He has no 1931-32 stats available, but a paper trail says he was property of Baltimore in 1931, who then sold him to Atlanta of the Southern Association in December of 1931, though he went to camp with Chattanooga of the Southern Association in 1932, where he was with the team until April 25th before being released. He went 1-for-8 at the plate in his big league career, with a double and a walk to his credit. He was often referred to as “Johnny” in print during his time in Pittsburgh.
The Pirates defeated the Kansas City Royals by a 5-3 score on this date in 1997, the first interleague game in franchise history. Jay Bell and Jeff King were in the Royals lineup, while the Pirates had Francisco Cordova on the mound, just one month before he threw nine no-hit innings in a ten-inning no-hitter over the Houston Astros. New Pirates third baseman Joe Randa hurt his old team by driving in three runs on a triple and a homer. Tony Womack also homered for the Pirates. You can view the boxscore and play-by-play here.