Six former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus a trade of note.
On this date in 1992, the Pirates traded third baseman Steve Buechele to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for pitcher Danny Jackson. With the Pirates fighting to stay over .500 in July after winning the National League East pennant two years in a row, they moved third baseman Buechele to the Cubs for a veteran pitcher and slid Jeff King over to a full-time role at third base for the rest of the season. Jackson was a 30-year-old lefty, who had won 23 games for the 1988 Cincinnati Reds team that won the World Series. He was also a key pitcher for the 1985 Kansas City Royals World Series winning team. At the time of this deal, he was 4-9, 4.22 in 19 starts with the Cubs. Buechele was also 30 years old, in his eighth season in the majors, second with the Pirates. He was hitting .249 with eight homers and 43 RBIs in 80 games at the time of the deal. His 1991 season was his best, which was split between the Pirates and Texas Rangers. He hit .262 with 22 homers and 85 RBIs in 152 games. He was a mainstay in the lineup early in his career, four times playing 152+ games in a season.
After the deal, Buechele raised his average to .276 with Chicago, although he didn’t hit for any power, with just one homer in 65 games. He ended up playing three more seasons with the Cubs, prior to finishing his career back with the Rangers in July of 1995. In 1993, he led all NL third basemen in fielding percentage. For the Pirates, Jackson went 4-4, 3.36 in 88.1 innings over 15 starts. He started game two of the NLCS and took the loss after giving up four runs in the second inning. The Pirates lost him to the Florida Marlins in the November 1992 expansion draft. Jackson ended up with the Philadelphia Phillies that same day in a trade, and in two seasons with them, he went 26-17, 3.53 in 389.2 innings, helping them to the 1993 World Series. He signed with the St Louis Cardinals in December of 1994 and his last three seasons were a disaster, going 5-22 combined with the Cardinals and San Diego Padres.
Johnny Barbato, pitcher for the 2017 Pirates. He was originally a sixth round draft pick out of high school by the San Diego Padres in 2010. He signed at the deadline and didn’t debut until 2011, playing for Eugene of the short-season Northwest League, where he had a 4.89 ERA in 57 innings. In 2012, he moved up to full-season ball and switched to a relief role. In 48 appearances for Fort Wayne of the Low-A Midwest League, Barbato had a 6-1, 1.84 record and 84 strikeouts in 73.1 innings. He moved up to the high-offense California League in 2013, where he made seven starts and also had 14 saves for Lake Elsinore. He had a 5.01 ERA in 88 innings, with 89 strikeouts. The Padres sent him to the Arizona Fall League after the season and he had a 5.79 ERA in five starts, throwing 14 innings. He spent 2014 in Double-A with San Antonio of the Texas League, going 2-2, 2.87 in 31.1 innings over 27 appearances, with 16 saves. The New York Yankees traded for him on December 29, 2014. Barbato split the 2015 season between Double-A Trenton of the Eastern League and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre of the International League, with much better results at the higher level, where he allowed one run in 25 innings. For the season, he had a 6-2, 2.67 record and three saves in 40 appearances, with 70 strikeouts in 67.1 innings.
Barbato had one partial season of big league experience before going to Pittsburgh, pitching a little under than two full months for the Yankees in 2016. In 13 relief appearances, he had a 7.62 ERA in 13 innings. He was with the team on Opening Day, before being sent down five weeks later. In August, he returned for one appearance and allowed three runs without recording an out. With Scranton/Wilkes-Barre that year, he had a 2.61 ERA in 48.1 innings, with 49 strikeouts. The Pirates acquired Barbato in April of 2017 from the Yankees for minor league pitcher Matt Frawley. For the 2017 Pirates, he made 24 appearances (all in relief), putting up a 4.08 ERA in 28.2 innings. The rest of the season was spent with Indianapolis of the International League, where he had a 3.06 ERA in 35.1 innings.After the 2017 season, he was lost on waivers to the Detroit Tigers. Barbato made seven appearances for Detroit in 2018, allowing nine runs in 6.2 innings. The rest of the year was spent in the minors (mostly with Toledo of the International League), where he had a 2.31 ERA and 12 saves in 39 innings. He signed in Japan for the 2019 season and struggled with a 5.56 ERA in 66.1 innings, then returned to the U.S. in 2020, where he played for two different independent league teams. He started in indy ball in 2021, before joining the Toronto Blue Jays in June, where he played out the rest of the season with Double-A New Hampshire. He has not played in 2022. In three big league seasons, he has a 1-3, 6.14 record and 40 strikeouts in 48.1 innings over 44 appearances.
Javier Lopez, pitcher for the 2010 Pirates. He was originally a fourth round draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 1998 out of the University of Virginia. Lopez spent his first two seasons of minor league ball with South Bend of the Low-A Midwest League, where he was mainly a starting pitcher. He struggled both years, with a 6.55 ERA in 44 innings in 1998 and a 6.00 ERA over 99 innings in 1999. He remained a starter in 2000 and moved up to High-A. His 4-8, 5.22 record in 134.1 innings sounds like a minimal improvement at best, but he was playing for High Desert in the California League, which is a much more hitter-friendly place than South Bend, so it really was a step forward. Lopez moved to relief full-time in 2001 and split the season between High-A Lancaster of the California League and Double-A El Paso of the Texas League, posting a combined 5.63 ERA in 64 innings, with much better results in High-A (2.63 ERA vs 7.43). He spent all of 2002 in El Paso, posting a 2.72 ERA, six saves and 47 strikeouts in 46.1 innings over 61 appearances. The Boston Red Sox took him in the Rule 5 draft following the 2002 season, then traded him to the Colorado Rockies during Spring Training in 2003. He remained in the majors for the entire season and was used often, mainly as a lefty specialist. Lopez had a 3.70 ERA in 75 appearances, throwing a total of 58.1 innings. Lopez split his time between the minors and majors each season from 2004 until 2007. His minor league stay in 2004 was short, but his time in the majors was very rough. He had a 7.52 ERA in 40.2 innings over 64 games.
The Rockies lost Lopez on waivers early in 2005 after a poor start to his season. He returned to the Diamondbacks, where he made 29 big league relief appearances and had a 9.42 ERA. In 32 appearances that season, he pitched a total of 16.1 innings, and he allowed 20 runs. Lopez became a free agent after the 2005 season and he signed with the Chicago White Sox. He was in the minors until a June 15th trade sent him to the Red Sox. He came up to the majors and pitched great, posting a 2.70 ERA in 27 appearances, though he pitched just 16.2 innings. He became a regular in the Red Sox bullpen during their 2007 World Series winning season, going 2-1, 3.10 in 40.2 innings over 61 games. He followed up with a strong 2008 season, posting a 2.43 ERA in 59.1 innings over 70 appearances. His 2009 season was a tough one. He started off slowly in April, seemed to rebound at the end of the month, then had four straight poor outings, which led to him being sent to the minors for the rest of the year. He finished with a 9.26 ERA in 14 games with Boston that season, and a 3.18 ERA in 39.1 innings for Triple-A Pawtucket of the International League. He was granted free agency in October of 2009 and the Pirates picked him up two months later.
Lopez became the Pirates lefty specialist, pitching a total of 38.2 innings in 50 appearances, with a 2-2, 2.79 record. On July 31, 2010, the Pirates traded him to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for outfielder John Bowker and pitcher Joe Martinez. He helped the Giants to a World Series win that season and two other World Series wins (2012 and 2014) during his time in San Francisco. He had a 1.42 ERA in 19 innings after the deal in 2010, then allowed one run over nine appearances in the playoffs. Lopez went 5-2, 2.72 in 53 innings over 70 games in 2011, then helped the Giants to their second title in three years with a 2.50 ERA and seven saves in 70 games in 2012. He pitched just 36 innings total that year, which was smart managing because he had real trouble with right-handed batters. They had a .979 OPS against him, while lefties had a .573 OPS. In the playoffs, he made five scoreless appearances, though he didn’t get into the World Series.
In 2013, Lopez went 4-2, 1.83 in 69 games, with 39.1 innings pitched. In the 2014 season, he saw his ERA go up to 3.11 in 37.2 innings over 65 games. He made nine scoreless relief appearances in the playoffs, three in each round. He had his best season in 2015, excelling in his limited role with a 1.60 ERA in 39.1 innings over 77 outings. In his final season in the majors, he had a 4.05 ERA in 68 games, while throwing just 26.2 innings. He faced just 118 batters all season, averaging fewer than two full batters per game. Lopez retired after the season. He had a 30-17, 3.48 record in 839 appearances, though as a lefty specialist, he pitched just 533.1 innings in the majors. He picked up 14 saves, with half of those coming during the 2012 season.
Ed Ott, catcher for the 1974-80 Pirates. He was drafted by the Pirates in the 23rd round of the 1970 draft out of high school. He reported to Niagara Falls of the short-season New York-Penn League after signing and he hit .291 in 61 games, with 14 extra-base hits (no homers), 24 RBIs, 34 walks and a .780 OPS. Ott was an outfielder then, and only played outfield during his first three seasons of pro ball. In 1971, he batted .292 with 58 runs, 12 doubles, ten homers, ten steals and an .808 OPS in 105 games for Monroe of the Class-A Western Carolinas League. He had a strong season for Salem of the Class-A Carolina League in 1972, hitting .304 with 84 runs, 35 extra-base hits, 63 RBIs, 85 walks and an .852 OPS in 133 games. Ott advanced to Triple-A Charleston of the International League in 1973 and he caught for the first time, though it was literally one time. He remained in the outfield and batted .261 in 126 games, with fewer walks (45) and extra-base hits (27), leading to a 165-point drop in his OPS. He repeated Triple-A in 1974 and his average/OBP were almost identical in 121 games, but he added 71 points to his slugging percentage thanks to 44 extra-base hits, including 14 homers. He joined the Pirates for a few weeks in the middle of the season, going 0-for-5 in seven games, but didn’t play in the majors in September.
The Pirates tried Ott for five games at third base in the minors during the 1974 season, but he was still mainly an outfielder. That changed in 1975 when he caught 116 games for Charleston. His hitting improved as well, despite the move to a tougher position. Ott put up a .790 OPS, which was 32 points higher than the previous season. He batted .285 with 66 runs, 21 doubles, ten homers and 55 RBIs in 121 games. He returned to the Pirates in September as a seldom-used bench player who didn’t make a single start for a second straight stint in the majors. While he made it to the majors during the 1974-75 seasons, Ott played a total of just 12 games, with ten at-bats. His was with the Pirates during the entire 1976 season, although his time was very limited, hitting .308/.349/.359 in 43 plate appearances, with just five starts the whole year. His first big league start came on September 23, 1976, which was the 35th game of his career. He was the third-string catcher behind All-Star Manny Sanguillen and veteran Duffy Dyer.
Pittsburgh traded away Sanguillen in November of 1976 and Ott became the starting catcher in 1977. In 104 games that year, he batted .264 with 40 runs, 14 doubles, seven homers, 38 RBIs and a .730 OPS, while throwing out 42% of would-be base stealers. He saw slightly more time during the following season, going to bat 63 more times (410 total) and finishing with a .269 average in 112 games, with 49 runs, 18 doubles, nine homers, 38 RBIs and a .724 OPS. Ott had a little trouble defensively that year, committing a league high 15 errors behind the plate. His defense improved greatly the next year and he had his best year at the plate, as the Pirates took the 1979 World Series. He finished second in fielding percentage among National League catchers and drove in a career high 51 runs. He batted .273 in 117 games, with 49 runs, 20 doubles, seven homers and a .699 OPS. In the World Series, he hit .333 with three RBIs, catching three of the seven games.
Ott played 120 games in 1980, batting .260 with 35 runs, 14 doubles, eight homers and 41 RBIs. Despite setting a career high in games played, the Pirates had catching prospect Tony Pena ready to take over behind the plate by the end of the season. On April 1, 1981, the Pirates traded Ott, along with pitcher Mickey Mahler, to the California Angels in exchange for first baseman Jason Thompson, in a trade that worked out great for the Pirates. Ott played 75 games during the strike-shortened 1981 season, hitting .217 with 11 extra-base hits and a .545 OPS. He then missed all of 1982 with rotator cuff surgery. During a comeback attempt in Spring Training of 1983, Ott re-injured his throwing shoulder and missed all but two minor league games that season. He played 14 games at Triple-A in 1984 before deciding to retire. During his time in Pittsburgh, he hit .267 with 176 runs, 68 doubles, 31 homers and 167 RBIs in 492 games. He put up solid defensive marks in all but his rough 1978 season. While he played he was known as having the shortest name ever in baseball, but “Ed” was just a shortened version of his middle name. His actual name is Nathan Edward Ott.
Hal Gregg, pitcher for the 1948-1950 Pirates. He was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1941 and he made his Major League debut two years later. Gregg was a good pitcher, albeit with a lack of control on his pitches at most times. He didn’t appear to be on a fast track during his first season at 19 years old in 1941, pitching for three different low level clubs, throwing a total of 74 innings. He was with Santa Barbara of the Class-C California League for four games, Olean of the Class-D New York-Penn League for nine games and Washington of the Pennsylvania State Association for three games. Gregg played with Santa Barbara in 1942, where he had a 4-6, 3.66 record, which came with 64 walks in 64 innings. He skipped over two levels to Montreal of the Double-A International League in 1943 (highest level of minors at the time), where he went 11-11, 3.17 in 145 innings, walking 90 batters and picking up 66 strikeouts. The Dodgers brought him to the majors in August of 1943 and he had a 9.64 ERA in 18.2 innings, with 21 walks and seven strikeouts. Despite the poor control, he stayed in the majors. Gregg made 31 starts and eight relief appearances in 1944, as many of the top MLB players were serving in the military at the time. He went 9-16, 5.46 in 197.2 innings and led the National League in earned runs allowed, walks (137), hit batters (nine) and wild pitches (ten).
Gregg led the National League in walks during each of his first two full seasons, yet still won 18 games (with 13 losses) during the 1945 season. He made 34 starts and eight relief appearances that year, posting a 3.47 ERA in 254.1 innings. He received mild MVP support, finishing 29th in the voting. While he walked 120 batters, it was a major improvement over 1944 when he had 17 more walks in 56.2 fewer innings. He finished second in the league that year with 139 strikeouts, nine behind Preacher Roe of the Pirates. Those two would soon cross paths. In 1946, Gregg showed the best control of his career and ended up with a 6-4, 2.99 record in 117.1 innings, with less work due to players returning from the war effort and strengthening rosters. He made 16 starts and ten relief appearances that year. His numbers fell off the next season, posting a 5.87 ERA in 104.1 innings. He actually made 16 starts and 21 relief appearances that season, so he had trouble going deep in games. On December 8, 1947, the Pirates acquired Gregg in a six-player deal with the Dodgers that included Preacher Roe going the other way, in what turned out to be a one-sided deal in favor of Brooklyn.
Gregg saw limited action in 1948, making eight starts and 14 relief appearances, going 2-4, 4.60 in 74.1 innings. He pitched eight early season games in 1949, posting a 3.38 ERA in 18.2 innings through the end of May. On June 10th, the Pirates acquired outfielder Dino Restelli from the San Francisco Seals of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. Part of the price was Gregg being loaned to the team on option for the rest of the season. He was back with the Pirates to start 1950, but he pitched just 5.1 innings and gave up ten runs, before being optioned to Indianapolis of the Triple-A American Association on May 16th. He did not return to the Pirates. His final appearance with the team was a start on May 12th in which he allowed five runs in 2.1 innings. After the 1950 season, Gregg was lost in the minor league draft to Oakland of the Pacific Coast League. He decided to retire during the 1951 season because of poor performance with Indianapolis (3-9 record) and a back injury that was bothering him at the time. He would make it back to the majors in 1952, playing 17 games for the New York Giants (4.71 ERA in 36.1 innings), before finishing his career in the minors the next season with Oakland, where he also spent part of the 1952 season. He had a 40-48, 4.54 record in 827 innings over 201 Major League games (115 starts), while going 3-6, 4.85 in 98.1 innings over 35 games for the Pirates.
Harry Wolter, pitcher for the Pirates on June 17, 1907. His pro career began on the west coast at 20/21 years old (age depending on his debut date) in 1905, two years before his big league debut. Limited stats are available from that first year, which he split between San Jose of the California State League and San Jose of the Class-A Pacific Coast League. He had a big 1906 season with Fresno of the Pacific Coast League, pitching regularly and playing outfield when he wasn’t toeing the rubber. He had a 12-21, 3.22 record in 287.2 innings, while hitting .307 with 19 doubles and ten triples in 149 games. Wolter made his Major League debut during the 1907 season with the Cincinnati Reds, playing four games in the outfielder before moving on to Pittsburgh. He missed the first month of the season due to a Spring Training ankle injury, then played four straight games for the Reds between May 14th and 18th. He was put on waivers so the Reds could send him to the minors, but Barney Dreyfuss put in a claim for him and finally worked out a cash deal to acquire him on June 10th. It was said that two players who saw him play on the west coast, Joe Nealon and Tom Sheehan, recommended him to the Pirates before the deal was completed. For the Pirates, he made just one appearance and it was as a pitcher. On June 17, 1907, Wolter pitched the last two innings of a 7-3 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. He allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits and two walks. Two weeks later, he was playing for the St Louis Cardinals, where he started three games and played all three outfield positions during his 16 games with the team. The Pirates sold him to the Cardinals prior to the two teams playing on July 5th and he debuted the next day for St Louis. He spent all of 1908 in the minors, playing with San Jose in the California League, where he hit .339 and won 25 games.
Wolter returned to the majors in 1909 with the Boston Red Sox and hit .240/.292/.372 in 54 games, while posting a 3.51 ERA in 59 innings over six starts and five relief appearances. He then joined the New York Highlanders (Yankees) in 1910, playing two years as their full-time right fielder. He batted .267 with 84 runs scored, 28 extra-base hits, 42 RBIs, 66 walks and 39 steals in 135 games in 1910. In 1911, he hit .304 with 78 runs scored, 17 doubles, 15 triples, four homers, 36 RBIs, 28 steals and 62 walks. He got off to a fast start in 1912, but he broke his leg early in the year when his spike got caught as he started a slide. He ended up hitting .344/.512/.469 in 12 games that season. Wolter spent the entire 1913 season with New York and his numbers were down, batting .254 with 53 runs, 26 extra-base hits, 43 RBIs, 80 walks and 13 steals in 127 games. He returned to the minors in 1914, and stayed there for three years before making it back to the big leagues for one more season. Wolter played the 1914-16 seasons with Los Angeles of the Double-A Pacific Coast League, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. He hit .328 in 1914 when he got into 203 games, finishing up with 33 doubles, 21 triples and eight homers. In 1915, he batted .359 in 150 games, with 35 extra-base hits. During the 1916 season, he had a .296 average and 46 extra-base hits in 173 games.
Wolter was sold to the Chicago Cubs at the end of the 1916 season, though he didn’t report until 1917. That year he hit .249 in 117 games, with 44 runs, 22 extra-base hits, 28 RBIs and a .655 OPS. He had a salary dispute prior to the 1918 season, which led to him being sold to Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League, where he spent the 1918-20 seasons, seeing time with four different teams. He finished out his baseball career in 1927 as a player/manager in the minors at 42 years old with Logan of the Class-C Utah-Idaho League, where he did some pitching for the first time in 18 seasons. Wolter had no playing records in pro ball from 1921 to 1926, though he managed for part of the 1926 season. In seven seasons in the majors, he hit .270 in 588 games, with 69 doubles, 42 triples, 12 homers, 167 RBIs, 95 steals and 286 runs scored. His last career home run was an odd one for him. It was his second homer of the day on June 5, 1913 and it was the only one he hit over the fence. The other 11 consisted of ten inside-the-park homers and one that bounced over the fence, back when the rules declared that a home run.
Pop Schriver, catcher for the 1898-1900 Pirates. He had a long career in pro ball, playing his first game as a teenager in 1885 and his last as a 42-year-old in 1907. Pop (first name was William) even managed in the minors into the mid-1920’s after his playing career was over. He’s credited with just one minors league game before his big debut, collecting two hits for Jersey City of the Eastern League in that 1885 game. He played eight games in the majors during his first season in 1886 with his hometown Brooklyn Grays of the American Association, going 1-for-21 at the plate for an .048 average. That led to him spending 1887 back in the minors, where he played for a team from Scranton, PA. in two different leagues (he hit .460 in 20 games in the Pennsylvania State Association), before returning to the big leagues with the Philadelphia Phillies (known as the Quakers for the 1888-89 seasons) as a platoon catcher for three years. Back in the 19th century, catching equipment was inferior and those who played the position took a beating (a lot more than they do now and now is no picnic either). So most catchers had plenty of time off, unless they could hit well, then they would play other positions on their off-days from catching. Schriver hit .194/.250/.284 in 40 games in 1888. He did much better in 1889, batting .265 in 55 games, though low power numbers led to a .650 OPS.
Schriver was even better in 1890, which comes with an asterisk. The talent level in the National League was watered down due to a third Major League at the time (Player’s League existed for the 1890 season), so some of those who stayed in the NL benefited with their numbers on offense. He hit .274 with 37 runs, 35 RBIs and a .706 OPS in 57 games. In 1891, he moved on to the Chicago Colts (Cubs) for four seasons, and had an outstanding first year in very limited work, even after the talent returned to the NL. Schriver hit .333 in 27 games, with 21 RBIs, 15 runs scored and an .879 OPS. In 1892, he hit .224 in 92 games and watched his OPS drop 280 points down to a .598 mark. The competition level in the NL was stronger that year because the American Association ceased to exist after the 1891 season, leaving the National League as the only Major League at the time. Schriver rebounded the next year in 64 games, hitting .284 with 49 runs, 34 RBIs and a .733 OPS. In his final season in Chicago in 1894, he played a career high 98 games and hit .274 with 49 RBIs and 56 runs scored. Those sound like decent numbers, but that was a huge season for offense in baseball and his .695 OPS was eighth among regulars on the team.
Schriver played briefly with the 1895 New York Giants, hitting .315/.382/.391 in 24 games. After spending part of 1895 back with Scranton in the Eastern League, and all of 1896 with Minneapolis of the Class-A Western League, he made the 1897 Cincinnati Reds roster. That year he hit .303 with 29 runs, 17 extra-base hits and 30 RBIs in 61 games. On November 10, 1897, the Pirates and Reds hooked up on a seven-player deal that saw star pitcher Pink Hawley, and star outfielder Elmer Smith go to Cincinnati for five players, Schriver included among them. During his first two seasons in Pittsburgh, he split the catching duties with Frank Bowerman. His 1898 season was not a good one at the plate, with a .229 average, 25 runs, 18 extra-base hits (no homers), 32 RBIs and a .583 OPS in 95 games. He rebounded in 1899, hitting .281 in 92 games, with 49 RBIs and a career high 19 doubles. His OPS went up 149 points that year.
In 1900, the Pirates acquired Chief Zimmer and Jack O’Connor, giving the team three catchers that were all at least 34 years old, and all three were better than average players during their prime. Schriver saw about 1/3rd of the playing time and hit .294/.381/.402 in 37 games. The Pirates sold him to the St Louis Cardinals after the season and he hit .271/.335/.368 in 53 games during his final season in the majors in 1901. That year he threw out 51.6% of runners attempting to steal, the only time that he led the league in that category. He ended up playing 224 games for the Pirates, batting .260 with two homers and 93 RBIs. In 14 big league seasons, he hit .264 in 803 games, with 117 doubles, 40 triples, 16 homers, 377 RBIs and 368 runs scored. In his career, he threw out 40% of would-be basestealers, giving him a total of 575 runners caught stealing over his 656 games caught. He spent the 1902-05 seasons playing for Louisville of the Class-A American Association, then finished with two seasons with Harrisburg of the Tri-State League, which was an independent league in 1906 and a Class-B league in 1907.