Six former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date and one transaction of note.
John Buck, catcher for the 2013 Pirates. He was a seventh round draft pick out of high school in 1998 by the Houston Astros. He hit .286 with 24 runs and 15 RBIs in 36 games in the Gulf Coast League during his first season. In 1999, Buck spent most of the year in the short-season New York-Penn League with Auburn, where he hit .245 with 36 runs, 17 doubles, three homers and 29 RBIs in 63 games. He also played four games that year for Michigan of the Low-A Midwest League. He stayed with Michigan in 2000 and batted .282 with 57 runs, 33 doubles, ten homers, 71 RBIs and 55 walks in 109 games. Despite strong results, he remained in Low-A in 2001, albeit in a different league, as the Astros switched affiliates to Lexington of the South Atlantic League. Buck hit .275 with 72 runs, 24 doubles, 22 homers, 73 RBIs and an .828 OPS in 122 games. He skipped up to Double-A in 2002, where he batted .263 with 48 runs, 29 doubles, 12 homers and 89 RBIs in 120 games for Round Rock of the Texas League. The 2003 season was spent in Triple-A with New Orleans of the Pacific Coast League, though he played just 78 games. He hit .255 with 32 runs, 18 doubles, two homers and 39 RBIs. He was still in New Orleans in 2004 when the Astros traded him to the Kansas City Royals as part of a five-player/three-team deal on June 24th. He was hitting .300 with 11 doubles, 12 homers and an .874 OPS in 65 games at the time of the trade. Buck went right to the majors with the Royals and he hit .235 with 36 runs, nine doubles, 12 homers and 30 RBIs in 71 games, earning mild Rookie of the Year support with an eighth place finish.
In his first full season in 2005, Buck hit .242 with 40 runs, 21 doubles, 12 homers and 47 RBIs in 118 games. He had very similar results in 2006, hitting .245 with 37 runs, 21 doubles, 11 homers and 50 RBIs in 114 games. In 113 games in 2007, Buck batted .222 with 41 runs, 18 doubles, 18 homers and 48 RBIs. The 2008 season was his worst in Kansas City, with a .669 OPS. He hit .224 with 43 runs, 23 doubles, nine homers and 48 RBIs in 109 games. He lost his starting job in 2009 and missed all of June with a herniated disc in his back. He finished with a .247 average, 12 doubles, eight homers and 36 RBIs in 59 games. He hit four triples that year, which was nearly half of his career total (nine). His .782 OPS was his highest mark with the Royals. Buck became a free agent after 2009 and signed with the Toronto Blue Jays for one year. He was an All-Star that season for the only time in his career. His .281 average was a career high, to go along with personal bests in doubles (25), homers (20), RBIs (66) and OPS (.802), and he did all that with a 16:111 BB/SO ratio in 118 games.
Buck signed with the Florida Marlins in 2011 and hit .227 with 41 runs, 15 doubles, 16 homers, 57 RBIs and a career high 54 walks over 140 games during his first year. He struggled the next season, batting just .192 with 12 homers and a .644 OPS in 106 games. In the off-season, he was part of a 12-player deal that sent him back to Toronto. However, a month later he was part of a seven-player deal with the New York Mets. He was in his tenth year in the majors, hitting .215 with 38 runs, 11 doubles, 15 homers and 60 RBIs in 101 games, when the Pirates acquired him from the Mets on August 27, 2013 along with Marlon Byrd, in exchange for Vic Black and Dilson Herrera. Buck played just nine games with the Pirates before he was injured, hitting .333 with eight singles and two RBIs. He became a free agent after the season and played one more year in the majors before retiring during Spring Training of 2015. He signed with the Seattle Mariners in January of 2014 and was released that July. A few days later he signed with the Los Angeles Angels for the remainder of the season. He hit .225 with one homer and a .570 OPS in 32 games in 2014. That winter he signed with the Atlanta Braves, but he retired on March 26, 2015, ending his career. Buck was a .234 hitter in 1,090 big league games, with 389 runs, 172 doubles, 134 homers and 491 RBIs.
Jerry Dybzinski, shortstop for the 1985 Pirates. He was a 15th round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians in 1977 out of Cleveland State University. His debut in pro ball in the short-season New York-Penn League with Batavia was a mixed bag. He hit .218 with no homers in 58 games, but he stole 18 bases in 21 attempts and drew 49 walks. He scored more runs (39) than he had hits (37). Dybzinski moved up to Class-A in 1978 and hit .283 with 96 runs scored, 15 doubles, 12 homers, 63 RBIs, 25 steals and 74 walks in 134 games for Waterloo of the Midwest League. He skipped up to Triple-A Tacoma of the Pacific Coast League in 1979, where he batted .254 with 58 runs, 16 doubles, one homer, 25 steals and a .642 OPS in 132 games. He ranked 13th on the team in OPS that season, so what happened next is a bit of a surprise. Dybzinski made the Opening Day roster of the Indians in 1980 and played 114 games, seeing plenty of time at shortstop and second base. He hit .230 with 32 runs, 11 doubles, one homer, 23 RBIs and a .547 OPS. In the strike-shortened 1981 season, he was a bench player for the Indians, getting just 67 plate appearances in 48 games. He failed to collect a single extra-base hit that year.
Despite spending over a month with Triple-A Charleston of the International League, Dybzinski played 80 games for the Indians in 1982, getting 64 starts at shortstop. He hit .231 with 19 runs, no homers, 22 RBIs and a .584 OPS. Right before Opening Day in 1983, he was traded to the Chicago White Sox, where he played for two years prior to being released at the end of Spring Training in 1985. He played 127 games his first year in Chicago, though he batted just 290 times, finishing with a .230 average, 30 runs, ten doubles, 32 RBIs and 11 steals. He batted .235/.311/.311 in 94 games in 1984, getting a total of 152 plate appearances. Dybzinski was a typical good-glove/no-hit shortstop of the 1980’s, finishing with above average fielding stats, but also had just three career homers to go along with his perennial .230 average. The Pirates signed him ten days after Chicago released him in 1985 and he was used just once as a starter, going 0-for-3 during an April 21st loss to the St Louis Cardinals. Dybzinski was used twice as a pinch-runner and twice as a defensive replacement, before being sent to Triple-A Hawaii of the Pacific Coast League to finish the season. After hitting .199 in 55 minor league games, the Pirates released him. He finished his playing career in the minors the following season with the Seattle Mariners, playing for Calgary of the Pacific Coast League. Dybzinski batted .234 with 108 runs, 42 extra-base hits, 93 RBIs and 32 steals in 468 big league games over six seasons.
Chuck Goggin, utility player for the 1972-73 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1964, before making his way to Pittsburgh in a deal for Jim Bunning five years later. Goggin debuted at 18 years old, playing Class-A ball during his first year. He hit .214 with 51 runs, 26 extra-base hits, nine steals and a .641 OPS in 106 games, splitting the year between Salisbury of the Western Carolinas League and St Petersburg of the Florida State League. In 1965, he played for Santa Barbara of the Class-A California League, where he hit .277 with 40 extra-base hits, 70 runs scored, 65 RBIs and 16 steals. He spent the 1966-67 seasons serving in the military, and then played for Albuquerque of the Double-A Texas League when he returned in 1968. Goggin batted .247 in 106 games that year, with 38 runs, 22 extra-base hits, 41 RBIs, 14 steals and a .705 OPS. He moved up to Triple-A in 1969 and hit .318/.386/.439 in 71 games for Spokane of the Pacific Coast League. On August 15, 1969, he was part of a two-for-one (plus cash) deal by the Dodgers to acquire Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning. It took Goggin three seasons after Pittsburgh acquired him to make his Major League debut.
Goggin saw limited playing time in 1970 in Triple-A with Columbus of the International League, where he hit .214 with a .584 OPS in 62 games. The next year was split between Columbus and Double-A Waterbury of the Eastern League. He did well at both levels, combining to hit .313 with 72 runs, 42 extra-base hits, 54 RBIs and an .828 OPS in 117 games. In Triple-A in 1972 with Charleston of the International League, Goggin hit .297 with 82 runs, 46 extra-base hits, 63 RBIs, 67 walks and an .853 OPS in 121 games, which earned him a September call-up. The Pirates used him five times (once as a starter) and he went 2-for-7 with a walk. In 1973, Goggin played one game for the Pirates, catching the end of a blowout loss in the second game of a doubleheader on April 22nd. On May 5th he was sent back to Triple-A Charleston, where he played 15 games. On May 24th he was sold to the Atlanta Braves, where he hit .289/.350/.344 in 100 plate appearances over 64 games for the Braves during the final 4+ months of the season. He played five different positions that year for Atlanta. Despite the solid batting average and versatility, Goggin’s Major League career was over after just two more games for the 1974 Boston Red Sox, who acquired him in a trade at the end of Spring Training. He spent the rest of the season with Triple-A Pawtucket of the Interntional League, putting up a .221 average and a .671 OPS in 136 games. He retired after the 1974 season and managed in the minors for a few years before retiring from baseball. While serving in the military during the Vietnam War, Goggin was injured in a landmine explosion and had to work his way back through rehab, so it’s impressive that he even had a Major League career. He received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star, among his many recognitions for his time in the service.
Red Nonnenkamp, pinch-hitter for the Pirates on September 6, 1933. He spent four seasons in the minors before he got his only chance with the Pirates. Nonnenkamp debuted in Class-D ball at 18 years old in 1930, where he hit .297 with 20 extra-base hits in 114 games for Waynesboro of the Blue Ridge League. In 1931, he played 122 games spread over two teams (Scottdale and Jeannette/Altoona) in the Class-C Middle Atlantic League, where his stats are incomplete, but they show a .297 average and 27 extra-base hits. His rights were held by the Pirates for a short time that year, and they sent him to their affiliated club in Altoona. He was playing for Tulsa of the Class-A Western League in 1932, a team backed by the Pirates both financially and with players, when he broke a bone in his right foot. That injury limited him to 16 games that season, and he ended up batting .391 during that time. When the owner of the Tulsa team wanted to buy the team outright from Pittsburgh, they worked out a deal on August 26, 1933 in which the Pirates got Nonnenkamp and Cy Blanton, who went on the become a star pitcher for the Pirates. Pittsburgh acquired Nonnenkamp after he was recommended by Pirates scout Carleton Molesworth, who saw him playing on loan from Tulsa with El Dorado of the Class-C Dixie League during that 1933 season, where he hit .336 in 63 games. Nonnenkamp reported to the Pirates on September 2, 1933 and it was noted that he likely wouldn’t see much playing time until the pennant race was settled. In the second game of a doubleheader on September 6, 1933, he batted for pitcher Bill Swift in the ninth inning of a 9-1 game that the Pirates were losing. He would strike out against Giants pitcher Hal Schumacher.
Red (first name was Leo) never played again for the Pirates that season. They were fighting for second place, back when a second place finish came with added bonus money from the league, so they said that they couldn’t find time for Nonnenkamp to play when every game counted towards the standings. On January 19, 1934, he was released to Little Rock of the Class-A Southern Association on an option. He batted .278 with 39 extra-base hits in 141 games during the 1934 season. The Pirates recalled him in September (without reporting to the team), but on December 10th, he was released outright to Little Rock again, where he spent the 1935 season hitting .279 with 28 extra-base hits in 153 games. On November 7, 1935, he was sold to Little Rock, officially ending his time with the Pirates organization. Nonnenkamp was in the minors with Little Rock until the 1938 Boston Red Sox gave him his second chance at the big leagues. He hit .326 in 133 games in 1936, with 88 runs, 39 extra-base hits, 58 RBIs, 20 steals and 50 walks. In 1937, he batted .332 in 147 games, with 39 doubles, 14 triples and six homers.
Nonnenkamp batted .283 in 87 games for Boston during the 1938 season, finishing with 37 runs, 18 RBIs and a .675 OPS in 205 plate appearances. He started 31 games that year split between the three outfield spots, with 25 starts in right field. He also played five games at first base off of the bench. He then had just 87 plate appearances over 58 games in 1939, with nine starts spread over the three outfield spots. Nonnenkamp was with Boston for the first two months of the 1940 season, but he batted just eight times in nine games. He hit .263 in 154 games during the 1938-40 seasons, then returned to the minors, where he finished his playing career in 1946 after serving in the Navy during WWII. Most of his 1940 season was spent with Newark of the Double-A International League. He then spent the entire 1941 season with Newark and did well, hitting .301 in 133 games, with 88 runs, 36 extra-base hits, 54 RBIs and 58 walks. Nonnenkamp played for Double-A Kansas City of the American Association in 1942, where he batted .227 in 153 games, with 86 runs, 30 extra-base hits and 87 walks. His final season was spent back in Little Rock, where he batted .231 in 22 games.
Billy Herman, second baseman for the 1947 Pirates. By the time he reached the Pirates in 1947, his playing career was basically over. He was acquired by the Pirates from the Boston Braves in a six-player deal on September 30, 1946 and was named manager of the team. It would be his first managerial experience in the majors. Herman played sporadically during the season, getting 11 starts at second base and two at first base, only once playing more than two days in a row. After leading the team to a 61-92 record, Herman stepped aside as the manager on the last day of the season. He went on to become a player/manager in the minors for two seasons, then later managed the Boston Red Sox for three years. As a player, Herman was a .304 career hitter, with 839 RBIs and 1,163 runs scored in 1, 922 games. Three times he led the league in games played, once in hits, once in doubles and once in triples. He hit over .300 seven times and missed two years during his prime while serving in WWII. Herman was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1975, joining Ralph Kiner and Hank Greenberg as members of that 1947 Pirates team in the Hall.
Herman’s pro career began in 1928 at 18 years old. He hit .332 with 31 extra-base hits in 106 games with Vicksburg of the Class-D Cotton States League that season and even got a four-game trial with Louisville of the Double-A American Association, one step from the majors. He batted .339 with 56 extra-base hits in 138 games at Dayton of the Class-B Central League in 1929, while also hitting .323 in 24 games for Louisville. The 1930 and 1931 seasons were both spent in Louisville, where he hit .305 with 40 doubles, seven triples and eight homers in 143 games in 1930, then batted .350 with 34 extra-base hits in 118 games in 1931. He joined the Chicago Cubs in August, debuting in the majors shortly after his 22nd birthday. Herman batted .327/.405/.398 in 25 games for the Cubs to finish out the 1931 season. He led the National League with 154 games played and 723 plate appearances during his first full season in the majors in 1932. He batted .314 with 102 runs scored, 206 hits, 50 extra-base hits (42 doubles) and 51 RBIs, which helped him to a ninth place finish in the MVP voting. He set a career high with 14 steals, but he was thrown out 18 times, which led the National League. Herman hit just .279 in 1933, and saw his OPS drop to .675 in 153 games, though he played strong defense, which kept his value high that year. He scored 82 runs that year and hit 35 doubles. He also led all NL second basemen in putouts and double plays. He was an All-Star in 1934, hitting .303 with 79 runs scored, 30 extra-base hits and 42 RBIs in 113 games. The next year started a string of three big seasons.
In 1935, Herman led the league with 227 hits and 57 doubles. He also set career highs with a .341 average and 113 runs scored. He collected 83 RBIs and his .859 OPS was his highest to that point. He led all NL second basemen in fielding percentage, assists, putouts and double plays. He was an All-Star for the second time and he finished fourth in the MVP voting. He batted .333 in the World Series, which the Cubs lost to the Detroit Tigers. In 1936, he hit .334 with 101 runs scored, 211 hits and 57 doubles, while driving in 93 runs, which was his high up to that point. His .862 OPS was also his high to that point. Once again he led the league in fielding percentage and putouts. He made his third All-Star team and had a career best third place finish in the MVP voting. In 1937, Herman batted .335 in 138 games, with 56 extra-base hits, 106 runs scored and a career best .875 OPS, which led to an All-Star appearance and ninth place in the MVP voting.
Herman saw a large drop in his offense in 1938. He led the league with 152 games played, while hitting .277, with 86 runs, 34 doubles, 56 RBIs, 59 walks and a .701 OPS, which was 174 points lower than the previous year. He hit just .188 in the World Series, going 3-for-16 with three singles. He was still strong on defense, which helped him to an All-Star appearance. He led the league in putouts and fielding percentage again. Herman bounced back on offense in 1939, hitting .307 with 111 runs scored, 34 doubles and a league leading 18 triples, while driving in 70 runs and posting an .830 OPS in 156 games. He made his sixth straight All-Star game and received mild MVP support, finishing 31st in the voting. He made the All-Star team again in 1940, when he batted .292 with 77 runs scored, 33 extra-base hits, 57 RBIs and a .723 OPS in 135 games. In 1941, he hit .285 with 38 extra-base hits, 41 RBIs, 67 walks and 81 runs scored in 144 games. He was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers early in the season and made his eighth straight All-Star appearance, while finishing 11th in the MVP voting.
Herman led the league with 155 games played in 1942 and made the All-Star team once again. He hit just .256, but it came with 72 walks, 76 runs scored and 65 RBIs, though his .672 OPS was a career low for a full season. He had an incredible 1943 season, batting .330 with 76 runs, 41 doubles, 66 walks, an .815 OPS and a career best 100 RBIs. He made his tenth straight All-Star appearance and finished fourth in the MVP voting. The next two years were lost to the war, before returning to Brooklyn in 1946. The Dodgers traded him to Boston mid-season that year, after he hit .288 in 47 games. After the deal, he posted a .306/.409/.440 slash line in 75 games for the Braves. The trade to the Pirates came right as the season ended and it went poorly for the Pirates. Besides losing over 90 games in his only season with the team, they gave up Bob Elliott in the deal. Elliott won the MVP in 1947 and put up 25.9 WAR in five seasons with Boston after the deal. The other four players involved did very little, but Elliott won the deal easily by himself, just in the 1947 season.
Art Merewether, pinch-hitter for the Pirates on July 10, 1922. He was a standout college athlete at Brown University, where he was scouted by a former Pirates pitcher and Brown alum, Mike Lynch. The Pirates signed Merewether on June 28, 1922 and would use him just once before sending him to the minors on August 5th when he was farmed out to Worcester of the Class-A Eastern League, which was managed by former Pirates player Jack Flynn. After signing with the Pirates Merewether was told to report immediately to the team in Pittsburgh, where they were in the second day of a 26-day homestand (except Sunday games). In the first game of a doubleheader on July 10th in Pittsburgh, the Giants had a 19-2 lead going into the bottom of the ninth. Merewether came up to bat for pitcher Bonnie Hollingsworth, who had just given up three runs in the top of the inning. In his only plate appearance of his big league career, Merewether grounded out to Hall of Fame shortstop Dave Bancroft. The outing was also the last for Hollingsworth in a Pirates uniform. The papers referred to Merewether as an infielder, and he was a second baseman in college, but he never got a chance to play defense in the majors.
Merewether was sent out on an option to Worcester and the local papers expected him to be back in a few weeks, but he never returned to the Pirates. He returned to college (MIT), and due to the different rules of the time, he was allowed to play college ball again. He would go on to play in the minors in 1926 for Lewiston of the Class-B New England League, where he hit .282 in 75 games, with 15 extra-base hits. He played semi-pro ball after leaving school as well, spending time in 1924 with the Lewiston Outlaws of the Inter-State League, among his many teams. While his name didn’t appear in print often during his brief time in Pittsburgh, one story noted that he was a talented ice skater and a good boxer, but his best skill was playing the piano, which he apparently did for the entertainment of the team. When he was sent to the minors, they noted that they didn’t think it would be long before he was big league ready.
On this date in 1990, the Pirates signed pitcher Jerry Reuss as a free agent. The 41-year-old lefty won 61 games over five seasons for the Pirates in the 1970s, but he was at the end of his 22-year career when he returned to Pittsburgh 11 years after they traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Rick Rhoden. Reuss signed with the Pirates in early July, but he would pitch in the minors until September. Once he got recalled, he made three relief appearances for the Pirates, then got a start in the final game of the season. In his four appearances, he gave up three runs over 7.2 innings. He finished his career with 220 wins.