This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: July 8th, Josh Harrison and Hall of Famer Hank O’Day

Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date

Josh Harrison, infielder for the 2011-18 Pirates. He was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the sixth round of the 2008 draft out of the University of Cincinnati. Harrison batted .351/.462/.509 in 33 games at short-season ball with Boise of the Northwest League, then finished his first season in Low-A with Peoria of the Midwest League, where he had a .262 average and a .622 OPS in 31 games. In 2009, he hit .337/.377/.479 in 79 games with Peoria, then moved up to High-A Daytona of the Florida State League. In 18 games, he hit .286 with a .751 OPS. The Pirates acquired him in July of 2009 as part of a five-player trade that included Tom Gorzelanny and John Grabow going to Chicago. Harrison finished the 2009 season in High-A, hitting .270 in 34 games with Lynchburg of the Carolina League after the deal. He finished the season with 76 runs, 43 extra-base hits, 55 RBIs and 30 stolen bases in 131 games. In 2010, he spent the season at Double-A Altoona of the Eastern League, where he batted .300 with 74 runs, 33 doubles, 75 RBIs and 19 steals in 135 games. He played in the Arizona Fall League after the season and batted .330/.391/.517 in 22 games.

Harrison began the 2011 season in Triple-A, where he hit .310 with an .826 OPS in 62 games over multiple stints for Indianapolis of the International League. He debuted with the Pirates on May 31, 2011 and hit .272 in 65 games as a rookie, finishing with 21 runs, 16 extra-base hits and a .656 OPS. He was with the Pirates for all of 2012 and hit .233/.279/.345 in 276 plate appearances over 104 games, while seeing time at six different positions. He split 2013 between the majors and Indianapolis, getting 95 plate appearances in 60 big league games. His .699 OPS that year was the best of his first three seasons in the majors. Harrison had a breakout season in 2014 in which he made the All-Star team and finished ninth in the National League MVP voting. He batted .315, with 77 runs, 38 doubles, seven triples, 13 homers, 55 RBIs and 18 stolen bases, while posting an .837 OPS. He started games at five positions, including 20+ starts at third base, right field and left field.

In 2015, Harrison split most of his time between second base and third base, hitting .287 in 114 games, with 57 runs, 29 doubles and a .717 OPS. He became the everyday second baseman in 2016 and batted .283 with 57 runs, 25 doubles, seven triples and four homers in 131 games, while stealing 19 bases, which set a career high. Despite the high average, his low walk rate and limited home run power kept him at a .699 OPS. He was an All-Star for the second time in 2017 when he hit .272 in 128 games and set a career best with 16 homers, to go along with 66 runs, 26 doubles, 47 RBIs and 12 steals. His 28 walks that season also stands as a career high, and he reached base 23 times via hit-by-pitch. A broken hand caused him to miss a large part of 2018. He batted .250 in 97 games, with 41 runs, 22 extra-base hits and a .656 OPS. That ended up being his final season with the Pirates.

Harrison signed with the Detroit Tigers in 2019 and had a rough season, playing just 36 games, while batting .175 with one homer. He had a shoulder injury early in the year, followed by a hamstring injury, then he got released in early August. He signed a free agent deal with the Philadelphia Phillies for 2020, but he was released in July without playing a game during the shortened season. Harrison signed with the Washington Nationals six days later and hit .278/.352/.418 in 33 games. In 2021, he hit .294 with an .800 OPS in 90 games for the Nationals, seeing most of his playing time at second base, though he played four other positions as well. On July 30, 2021, he was traded to the Oakland A’s in a five-player deal. Harrison hit .254/.296/.341 in 48 games after the deal. He signed a free agent deal with the Chicago White Sox in March of 2022, and through 48 games, he was hitting .215 with a .611 OPS. In his eight seasons in Pittsburgh, he was a .277/.317/.408 hitter in 842 games, with 52 homers, 269 RBIs, 363 runs scored and 75 steals. He made 352 starts at second base and 207 at third base, splitting the rest of his time between shortstop and the corner outfield spots. Through late June of 2022, Harrison played 1,097 big league games over 12 seasons, with a .271 average, 464 runs, 204 doubles, 65 homers, 360 RBIs and 90 stolen bases. His uncle John Shelby played 11 seasons in the majors, spending most of his time with the Baltimore Orioles.

John Bowker, outfielder/first baseman for the 2010-11 Pirates. Bowker was a third round pick in the 2004 draft by the San Francisco Giants out of Cal State University Long Beach. He started out his career great, putting together a .371 average and a 1.046 OPS in 41 games at short-season ball, split between the Arizona League and Salem-Keizer of the Northwest League. He skipped to High-A, playing in the high offense environment of San Jose in the California League, where his .733 OPS in 121 games was well below league/team average. Bowker had 66 runs, 41 extra-base hits and 67 RBIs. He returned to San Jose in 2006 and made very little progress, posting a .762 OPS, though he was basically league average (.763 OPS) for the season. His other numbers were nearly the same, with 61 runs, 45 extra-base hits and 66 RBIs. Despite mediocre results, he played two games with Triple-A Fresno of the Pacific Coast League that year.

Bowker moved up to Double-A in 2007, playing with Connecticut in the Eastern League, where he hit .307 with 79 runs, 35 doubles, 22 homers and 90 RBIs in 139 games. He made it to the majors early in 2008 with very little Triple-A time (.659 OPS in 23 games with Fresno), hitting .255 with 31 runs, 14 doubles, ten homers and 43 RBIs in 111 games as a rookie for the Giants. He began 2009 in the minors, getting called up two different times (July/September) for a total of 31 games. He finished with a .194 average, two homers, seven RBIs and a .620 OPS in 73 plate appearances. Bowker made the Giants Opening Day roster in 2010, playing 41 games with a .207 average, three homers, eight RBIs and a .609 OPS, before being sent down in the beginning of June. The Pirates acquired Bowker at the trade deadline that year, along with pitcher Joe Martinez, in exchange for veteran reliever Javier Lopez. The Pirates sent Bowker to Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League, where he hit .319/.367/.571 in 25 games, earning a September call-up in which he batted .232/.312/.391 in 26 games. He spent most of 2011 in Indianapolis, where he batted .306 with 27 doubles, 15 homers and 76 RBIs in 106 games. He played 19 games for the Pirates in April that year, all as a pinch-hitter. At the end of August, Bowker was sold to the Philadelphia Phillies, where he went 0-for-13 in 12 games, in what ended up being his final big league time.

After being released in January of 2012, Bowker signed to play in Japan, where he stayed until 2014. He did not put up big numbers overseas, finishing 2012 with a .676 OPS in 112 games. He was better in 2013, when he batted .263 in 107 games, with 35 extra-base hits, 46 RBIs and an .815 OPS. He had a rough time over 81 games in Japan in 2014, and ended up playing 20 games in Mexico that season as well. He was with the Pirates again for part of 2015, though he spent the year in Triple-A, split between Indianapolis and Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League (Giants). Bowker batted .237 in 98 games that final year, with 15 doubles, nine homers and .626 OPS. He then retired after the season. He hit .233 with two homers and 15 RBIs in 45 games for the Pirates. Over four big league seasons, he hit .232 with 54 runs, 25 doubles, 17 homers and 73 RBIs in 240 games.

Rosario Rodriguez, pitcher for the 1991 Pirates. He was a lefty reliever the Pirates acquired off waivers in December of 1990 from the Cincinnati Reds. Rodriguez signed with Cincinnati in 1987 as an amateur free agent out of Mexico, and he made the majors in 1989, shortly after his 20th birthday. It was a quick climb to the majors despite an average start at the lowest level. He had a 3.08 ERA in 64.1 innings (ten starts and seven relief appearances), with 33 strikeouts, in the Gulf Coast League in 1987. He dominated in the Class-A South Atlantic League in 1988 in a long relief role, putting up a 1.52 ERA in 65.1 innings with Greensboro. He then had a 3.99 ERA in 70 innings with Cedar Rapids of the Midwest League as a starter. Both were A-Ball leagues at the time, back before the levels were split between High-A and Low-A (both leagues ended up in Low-A down the line). Rodriguez finished with a 2.79 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 135.1 innings that year. He moved up to Double-A as a reliever in 1989, and had a 4.47 ERA in 44.1 innings with Chattanooga of the Southern League, before getting a September call to the majors. In seven relief appearances, he allowed two runs in 4.1 innings without recording a strikeout. In 1990, he had a 4.81 ERA and seven saves in 58 innings in the minors, seeing some Triple-A time (Nashville of the American Association), though most of his time was spent back in Chattanooga. He was in the majors again from mid-August until the end of the season, making nine appearances. This time he had eight strikeouts in 10.1 innings. In parts of two seasons with the Reds, he went 1-1, 5.52 in 14.2 innings over 16 relief appearances.

After joining the Pirates via waivers, Rodriguez spent most of 1991 in Triple-A with Buffalo of the American Association, where he made 48 relief appearances, pitching a total of 51 innings. He finished with a 4-3, 3.00 record and 43 strikeouts. He was called up to the Pirates in late August and was used often, making 18 appearances, with a 1-1, 4.11 record and six saves in 15.1 innings. Rodriguez pitched once in the postseason, allowing three runs in his only inning of work. He missed most of the 1992 season due to a shoulder injury, making just four relief appearances in Buffalo that did not go well, with four runs and eight walks in 2.1 innings He was a non-roster invitee to Spring Training in 1993, but he was an early cut (March 9th) and never pitched for the Pirates again. The team barely gave him a chance in Spring Training after he showed up significantly late due to visa issues for the third straight year, despite the fact that they took care of his visa early enough that he should have been on time. He arrived on February 28th, just nine days before being cut, with the team noting that he was on the verge of being released at the time because of his constant late arrivals. He started pitching in his home country of Mexico after being let go by the Pirates, and he last pitched pro ball in 2005, playing nine seasons over a 13-year time-frame, though some seasons could be missing and his stats are very limited. He went 2-2, 4.80 with six saves in 30 innings over 34 big league games.

Bob Kipper, pitcher for the 1985-91 Pirates. He was a first round draft pick in 1982 of the California Angels, taken eighth overall out of high school in Illinois. The Angels sent him to short-season Salem of the Northwest League, where he went 6-5, 4.46 with 65 strikeouts in 76.2 innings over 13 starts. He moved up to Peoria of the Class-A Midwest League in 1983, where he posted a 5-8, 4.65 record, with 105 strikeouts in 127.2 innings. Kipper jumped to the Advanced-A California League in 1984 and had an incredible season for Redwood, going 18-8, 2.04 in 185 innings, with 26 starts, eight complete games and three shutouts. Despite the success, and the fact that he put in 57.1 more innings, his strikeouts dropped to 98 for the season. He reached the majors by age 20, making the Angels 1985 Opening Day roster, although he was sent back to the minors after just two appearances in which he allowed eight runs in 3.1 innings. On August 16, 1985, the Pirates acquired Kipper as the player to be named later in a six-player deal made two weeks earlier. He pitched nine times as a starter for Double-A Midland of the Texas League, putting up a 3.08 ERA in 49.2 innings. He also pitched briefly in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League with Edmonton before the trade and Hawaii after the deal, before joining the Pirates. Kipper made four starts and a relief appearance for the 1985 Pirates, going 1-2, 5.11 in 24.2 innings.

Kipper made the 1986 Opening Day roster, though he ended up making four starts for Double-A Nashua of the Eastern League. He had 19 starts and one relief appearance that year for the Pirates, going 6-8, 4.03 in 114 innings. Both his win total and innings pitched that season would end up being his career highs. He started 20 times in 1987, while also making four relief appearances. He struggled with a 5-9, 5.94 record in 110.2 innings, but he had the best outing of his career that year. On April 16th, he threw a four-hit shutout against the Chicago Cubs, striking out eight batters. His 83 strikeouts that year were his career high. In 1988, Kipper was moved to the bullpen, a role he would fill for the next four seasons in Pittsburgh. He went 2-6, 3.74 in 65 innings over 50 appearances that first season as a reliever. In 1989, he had a career high 52 appearances, posting a 3-4, 2.93 record with four saves in 83 innings. After finishing the 1990 season with a 5-2, 3.02 record and three saves in 62.2 innings over 41 games, he had a down year in 1991. He had his highest ERA (4.65) in the bullpen role, pitching 60 innings over 52 appearances. In the playoffs, Kipper pitched two innings in the game three loss to the Atlanta Braves, allowing one run. He didn’t make an appearance during the 1990 playoffs.

Kipper was released after the 1991 season and signed with the Minnesota Twins as a free agent. He went 3-3, 4.42 in 38.2 innings over 25 appearances in 1992. His last appearance was on July 27th, then he was released four days later. He went through a tryout with the Montreal Expos, but they decided not to sign him. Two weeks later, after a workout for the Chicago White Sox, an MRI revealed an injury that would cost him some time and nearly end his career. He missed the entire 1993 season with a tear in his throwing shoulder, then attempted a comeback with the New York Mets in 1994 that lasted just seven games in Triple-A before he retired. With the Pirates, Kipper was 24-33, 4.22 in 520 innings over 244 games, 44 of those outings were as a starter. In his career, he was 27-37, 4.34 with 11 saves in 562 innings.

John Powers, outfielder for the 1955-58 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Boston Red Sox in 1949, but just a year later he was acquired by the Pirates. Powers hit .303 his first season in 137 games, with 28 doubles, 12 triples, 17 homers, 87 RBIs, 17 stolen bases, 76 walks and 109 runs scored. He split that season between Valley of the Class-D Georgia-Alabama League and Gadsden of the Class-B Southeastern League (75 games). He played his first season in the Pittsburgh organization with Waco of the Big State League (Class-B), where he hit .311 with 124 runs, 24 doubles, 39 homers, 135 RBIs, 66 walks and a .983 OPS in 144 games. Powers moved up to Charleston of the Class-A South Atlantic League in 1951, where he batted .256, with 34 doubles, five triples and 17 homers in 139 games. He spent the next two seasons serving in the military, before returning to baseball in 1954. He spent most of that first year back with New Orleans of the Double-A Southern Association, where he hit .265 with 75 runs, 14 doubles, 23 homers, 74 RBIs and 58 walks in 106 games. Powers also saw brief time with Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League that year. He struggled with his average at New Orleans in 1955, and spent part of the year down a level at Williamsport of the Class-A Eastern League, where he put up much better stats. He hit .222 with 21 homers for New Orleans in 93 games, then had a 1.053 OPS in 32 games for Williamsport. Despite the demotion, he was in the majors later that year as a September call-up, though he played just two games, going 1-for-4 at the plate.

Back in New Orleans for all of 1956, Powers hit .312 with 32 doubles, 12 triples, 39 homers, 116 RBIs, 80 walks and a 1.017 OPS in 153 games. That led to another September recall and a little bit more playing time than he saw in 1955, though he went just 1-for-21 at the plate in 11 games in 1956. Powers made the Pirates Opening Day roster in 1957, but was sent down to the minors in May. He had a .922 OPS, 56 extra-base hits and 95 RBIs in 127 games with Columbus of the Triple-A International League. He was called up again in September and finished with .286 average and a .952 OPS in 44 plate appearances over 20 games. Powers finally spent the entire season in the majors in 1958, hitting .183 with two RBIs, both coming on solo homers. He played 57 games that year, though just 12 were as a starter, which limited him to 90 plate appearances all season. On January 30, 1959, the Pirates traded Powers and three other players (including Frank Thomas) to the Cincinnati Reds for Smoky Burgess, Harvey Haddix and Don Hoak. Powers played 43 games for the 1959 Reds, mostly off of the bench, hitting .256/.319/.488 in 43 at-bats. He then split the 1960 season between the Cleveland Indians and Baltimore Orioles, before returning to the minors for five more years until his retirement. Powers  batted .133/.257/.233 in 18 games during his final big league season.

On June 2, 1960, the Pirates reacquired Powers, getting him from the Indians in a trade for catcher Hank Foiles. He went to Columbus, where he hit .276 in 104 games, with 24 homers and an .880 OPS. He played the 1961 season back in Columbus and hit .242 in 128 games, with 15 doubles, 19 homers and 51 RBIs. The Pirates made him available in the 1962 expansion draft, but when he wasn’t picked, he was back in Columbus for the season, hitting .214 in 114 games, with 15 homers, 48 RBIs and a .747 OPS. He split the 1963 season between Buffalo of the International League and Tacoma of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, before returning to Columbus for his final two season, retiring at 36 years old after the 1965 season. Powers was a .270 hitter in 1,534 minor league games, hitting 298 homers. He batted .190 with four homers in 90 games for the Pirates. He played 151 big league games and just 30 were as a starter. In his six seasons, he finished with a .195 average, 26 runs, seven doubles, six homers and 14 RBIs. He never attempted a stolen base in the majors.

Jay Parker, pitcher for the Pirates on September 27, 1899. Before making his big league debut at 25 years old in 1899, Parker had limited minor league time spread out over four years. He is credited with playing for Fort Wayne of the Class-B Western Interstate League in 1895, then he played for Fort Wayne in the Class-B Interstate League in 1897, as well as Lansing of the Class-D Michigan League for part of that year. There are no stats available and that’s the extent of his pro ball before joining the Pirates in late September of 1899. ,In his Major League debut, Parker started the second game of a doubleheader against the Chicago Orphans (Cubs) after the Pirates lost the opener game by a 4-1 score. Rookie pitcher Chummy Gray pitched a complete game in the first game and Parker was set to make his debut in the second game. Parker was so erratic against the first two batters he faced that he was pulled right away and Gray went in the finish the second game. Parker walked both batters and they both came around to score, leaving him with the “inf” designation for his ERA (stands for infinite). He avoided the loss when the game ended in a 7-7 tie. His online records show that he also hit a batter, but all of the game recaps from that day mention that Gray walked the third batter of the inning, so that hit-by-pitch stat is wrong. That turned out to be his only day with the Pirates. He was called a “well known local amateur” in one Chicago paper and another said that he was the “Auburn Park whirlwind”, who was only used because the Pirates were desperate for pitching. The umpire for that game was Hall of Famer and former Pittsburgh pitcher Hank O’Day, who shares a birthday with Parker (see below).

Parker played nine seasons in the minors between 1895 and 1914 (most stats are unavailable), and managed a few seasons as well, but his Major League career was done after his one start, which was over almost as soon as it began. On September 9, 1899, eighteen days before his game with the Pirates, a local Chicago paper said that he signed with the New York Giants and was to report to the team immediately as an outfielder. His records during that minor league time show that he played all over the field, though his only known pitching records besides his game with the Pirates came during the 1905 season for Evansville of the Central League, and that was just two games.  In 1900, Parker played first base for Des Moines of the Class-B Western League and took over as manager for a time, not even a full year after his lone big league game. In his final season of pro ball, he was the first baseman/manager for a team from Cadillac Michigan in the Michigan State League. It was a Class-D club, lowest level of the minors, and he batted .293 in 61 games. His brother Harley “Doc” Parker was a pitcher in the majors for four partial season. Doc’s last start was almost as bad as his brother’s only game. On June 21, 1901, he threw a complete game for the Cincinnati Reds against the Brooklyn Superbas, giving up 21 runs on 26 hits, while facing 51 batters without a strikeout.

Harry Gilbert, second baseman for the Pittsburgh Alleghenys on June 23, 1890. The 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys were the worst team in franchise history and that led to some interesting stats and happenings during that season. One such instance was Harry Gilbert, a semi-pro player from Pottsville, Pa. manning second base alongside his double play partner and older brother, John Gilbert. Neither had played in the majors prior to June 23, 1890, and neither would play in the majors after that day either. The Alleghenys had a doubleheader that day against the Philadelphia Phillies and the Gilberts played both games. The Phillies won the opener 11-0, but Pittsburgh took the second game by a 12-8 score, just their 13th win of the season. Between both games, Harry Gilbert went 2-for-8 at the plate, with two singles in the second game and one run scored. Both he and his brother played flawless defense that day, each turning one double play. Harry was listed in multiple boxscores during that time as “N. Gilbert”, which was for his nickname “Nan”, but during his day in Pittsburgh, some of the papers listed them as “N. Gilbert” and “H. Gilbert”, mixing the two up. Harry batted eighth in both games for the Pirates, right behind his brother in the batting order.

The local Pottsville fans were worried about losing Harry Gilbert to a professional team because he was playing so well and it would be hard to replace him. Their worries were relieved when two days after his big league debut, the 21-year-old Harry Gilbert was back in the Pottsville lineup, batting second behind his brother. The day after the Pirates used the Gilberts, they tried another local kid at shortstop named Fred Clement. His trial lasted just two innings before he was removed due to poor play. The Pirates had a scout at the time named James Randall, who was nicknamed Detective. At first it was said that he was there to watch the players to make sure they were on good behavior after games, but he became and scout with little success. His recommended players included two players before bringing in the Gilbert brothers, followed by Fred Clement.

Hank O’Day, pitcher for the 1885 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He had minimal pro experience before making his big league debut. At 23 years old in 1883, he saw time with both Bay City and Toledo of the Northwestern League (no stats available). That was it for the minors before he first big league action. As a rookie for the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association in 1884, O’Day pitched 326.1 innings, making 40 starts, while losing 28 games. The team had two main starters work all but four of the team’s games, back when pitchers were workhorses or someone else took their job. O’Day’s 9-28 record appears to signal that he played for a bad team, but the team’s other pitcher, Tony Mullane (who should be in the Hall of Fame), posted a 36-26 record. The Toledo franchise folded and O’Day hooked on with the Pittsburgh Alleghenys in 1885. He was Pittsburgh’s second starter behind Ed “Cannonball” Morris. O’Day lost five straight games to open the season, while Morris won five of his six starts. O’Day  got plenty of run support from his teammates over the next six games and they won five of them, scoring a total of 64 runs. He made just one more start (an 8-0 loss), before the Alleghenys released him. He finished the year in the minors, pitching for Washington of the Eastern League. He went 5-7, 3.67 in 103 innings with Pittsburgh, completing ten of his 12 starts.

In 1886, O’Day won 26 games in the minors with Savannah of the Class-B Southern Association, earning a spot in the National League with Washington to finish out the 1886 season. He went 2-2, 1.65 in six starts that year, then made 76 starts over the next two seasons. He lost a total of 49 games during the 1887-88 seasons, playing for a team that went 94-162 over that time. O’Day went 8-20, 4.17 in 254.2 innings in 1887, completing 29 of his 30 starts. He led the National League with 29 losses (with 16 wins) in 1888, despite a 3.10 ERA. That year he completed all 46 of his starts, finishing with 403 innings pitched and 186 strikeouts, which was his career high. O’Day’s 1889 season shows just how bad Washington was at the time. He went 2-10, 4.33 in 13 starts, then joined the New York Giants and went 9-1, 4.27 in ten starts. A difference of .06 in his ERA resulted in a difference of .733 in his winning percentage. He pitched 186 innings that year, completing 19 of 23 starts. In his last season in the majors (1890), he went 22-13, 4.21 in 329 innings for New York of the Player’s League. O’Day pitched in the minors during the 1891-93 seasons before retiring as a player.

O’Day’s final career totals in the majors were 73-110, 3.74 in 1,651.1 innings, with 177 complete games in 192 starts. He had a seven-year career as a pitcher in the majors, but he made his name in baseball history as an umpire. He umpired in parts of 35 seasons in the majors, beginning in 1895. The Veteran’s Committee recognized his accomplishments in 2013 when they voted him into the Hall of Fame. O’Day was an umpire in ten different World Series, including the 1903 series that involved the Pirates. He also took time away from umpiring to manage for two seasons in the majors, finishing fourth with both the 1912 Cincinnati Reds and 1914 Chicago Cubs.

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