This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: August 6th, Steve Nicosia and a Pair of Buds

There have been seven former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date.

Stan Belinda, relief pitcher for the 1989-93 Pirates. He was drafted by the Pirates in the tenth round of the 1986 draft out of Allegany College in Maryland. He was a relief pitcher from the start of his career. In fact, in 209 minor league games and 585 Major League appearances, the only two starts that Belinda made were rehab starts during the 1995-96 seasons. At 19 years old in 1986, he spent most of his first season in pro ball playing in the Gulf Coast League, along with a brief stint with Watertown of the short-season New York-Penn League. He posted a 2.86 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 28.1 innings over 22 appearances that year. In 1987, he pitched at Low-A Macon of the South Atlantic League, where he had a 6-4, 2.09 record, with 75 strikeouts and 16 saves in 82 innings over 50 appearances. He moved up to the Advanced-A Carolina League in 1988 with Salem, where he went 6-4, 2.76 in 71.2 innings over 53 appearances, with 14 saves and 63 strikeouts. Belinda split the 1989 season between Double-A Harrisburg of the Eastern League and Triple-A Buffalo of the American Association, with much better results at the higher level. Between both spots, he went 3-6, 1.75, with 22 saves and 61 strikeouts in 67 innings over 51 outings. He had an 0.95 ERA in Triple-A that year. He made it to the Pirates in 1989 as a September call-up, posting a 6.10 ERA in 10.1 innings over eight outings.

Belinda began the 1990 season back in Buffalo, posting a 1.90 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 23.2 innings before returning to the Pirates in late May. He helped Pittsburgh to the playoffs that year and each of the next two seasons. Over the 1990-92 seasons, he pitched a total of  174 games, with an ERA between 3.15 and 3.55 each year, while compiling a total of 42 saves. That 3.55 ERA came in 1990, when he made 55 appearances, and had 55 strikeouts in 58.2 innings. He had eight saves that year, then picked up more closer time the next two seasons. Belinda had a 3.45 ERA, 71 strikeouts and 16 saves in 78.1 innings over 60 appearances in 1991. He was 6-4, 3.15 in 1992, with 18 saves, 57 strikeouts, 71.1 innings pitched and 59 appearances. Belinda pitched eight playoff games over that time, giving up one earned run in 10.1 innings, although he was the last Pirate to pitch in the playoffs during that stretch due to an inherited run he allowed to score.

Belinda remained with the Pirates until the trading deadline in 1993, when he was dealt to the Kansas City Royals for pitchers Jon Lieber and Dan Miceli. Prior to the deal he went 3-1, 3.61 in 42.1 innings, with 19 saves in 40 appearances. After joining the Royals, he had a 4.28 ERA in 27.1 innings over 23 outings, though they did not use him in a closer role. During the strike-shortened 1994 season he had a 5.14 ERA in 49 innings over 37 appearances. Belinda became a free agent in 1995 and signed with the Boston Red Sox, where he had an 8-1, 3.10 record and ten saves in 69.2 innings over 63 games. He went 2-1, 6.59 in 28.2 innings over 31 games in 1996 when he missed time due to a bicep injury, a right elbow injury and a groin strain. He signed with the Cincinnati Reds after the season and had a 1-5, 3.71 record in 1997, setting career highs with 84 appearances, 99.1 innings pitched and 114 strikeouts. He saw less work in 1998, but also had better results, putting up a 3.23 ERA in 61.1 innings. In his final season with the Reds, he went 3-1, 5.27 in 42.1 innings. That year got a late start because he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which would limit his effectiveness. Belinda pitched until 2000, finishing his 12-year career with the team he helped get to the 1992 World Series. He split the season between the Colorado Rockies and Atlanta Braves, struggling in both places. He finished with a 7.71 ERA in 46.2 innings during his final season. In his 585 big league games, he went 41-37, 4.15, with 79 saves in 685.1 innings. With the Pirates, he went 19-15, 3.52 in 260.2 innings over 222 appearances, with 61 saves.

Steve Nicosia, catcher for the 1978-83 Pirates. He was drafted by the Pirates in the first round of the 1973 draft out of high school in Florida at 17 years old. He spent most of that first year in A-Ball with Charleston of the Western Carolinas League, but he finished up with three games at Double-A Sherbrooke of the Eastern League. Between both stops, he hit .224 with 12 extra-base hits, 21 RBIs and 36 walks in 57 games. In 1974, Nicosia played for Salem of the Class-A Carolina League, where he hit .304 with 62 runs, 16 doubles, nine triples, 15 homers, 92 RBIs and an .855 OPS in 118 games. He moved up to Double-A in 1975, playing for Shreveport of the Texas League, where he batted .268 with 52 runs, 27 extra-base hits, 39 RBIs and a .734 OPS in 110 games. He made it to Triple-A by age 20 in 1976, though he ended up spending three years there. Nicosia hit .262 with 29 runs, 20 doubles, eight homers, 49 RBIs and a .723 OPS in 117 games in 1976 for Charleston of the International League. He played just 25 games with Columbus of the International League in 1977, missing time due to a knee surgery. He batted .212/.320/.412 in his limited time that year. Nicosia hit .322 with 37 extra-base hits, 62 walks and 74 RBIs in 110 games in 1978 with Columbus. He had two stints with the Pirates that season, the first time for a week in July, then again at the end of the year. He played just three games total in his first big league season, but by 1979 he was a backup catcher to Ed Ott, playing a total of 70 games (55 starts) during that championship season.

Nicosia hit .288/.365/.435 in his 215 plate appearances in 1979, with 22 runs, 16 doubles, four homers and 13 RBIs. He started four games in the World Series, going just 1-for-16 at the plate, though the Pirates still won their fifth championship that year. Nicosia remained a backup with the Pirates through August of 1983, staying behind Ott in 1980, then backing up a rookie in 1981 named Tony Pena. Nicosia hit .216 with eight doubles, one homer, 22 RBIs and a .570 OPS in 60 games in 1980. That was followed by a .231 average, with 21 runs, ten doubles, two homers and 18 RBIs in 54 games during the strike-shortened 1981 season. In 1982, Nicosia hit .280/.348/.340 in 39 games (31 starts), as Pena proved to be a workhorse behind the plate. Nicosia asked to be traded in 1983 and on August 19, 1983, the Pirates sent him to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for veteran catcher Milt May. Nicosia was hitting .130/.149/.239 in 49 plate appearances over 21 games at the time of the deal. He then hit .333/.389/.333 in 15 games after the deal. He batted .303 in 48 games with the 1984 Giants, collecting 15 extra-base hits and 19 RBIs, along with a .798 OPS. He lasted in the majors until 1985, seeing time with the Montreal Expos and Toronto Blue Jays during his final season, when he hit just .186/.247/.209, with no homers in 48 games. In six years in Pittsburgh, he played 247 games, hitting .242 with 69 runs, 39 doubles, nine homers and 61 RBIs. He was a career .248 hitter, with 86 runs, 52 doubles, 11 homers and 88 RBIs in 358 games. He threw out 25% of runners during his career, seven points below league average at the time.

Clem Labine, pitcher for the 1960-61 Pirates. He was originally signed in 1944 by the Brooklyn Dodgers, playing one season for Class-B Newport News of the Piedmont League before losing a year of baseball to military service. He had a 4.18 ERA in 56 innings during his first season, then returned to the same club in 1946, though he pitched just 14 innings that year. Labine they spent the next three years working his way to the majors, before making the Dodgers Opening Day roster in 1950. He spent part of 1947 with Newport News (only stat available is 13 games pitched), while spending the rest of the year with Asheville of the Class-B Tri-State League, where he had a 6-0, 2.07 record in 61 innings over eight games, including six complete games. He moved up to A-Ball in 1948, playing for Pueblo of the Western League. He went 13-10, 4.32 in 196 innings that year, with 15 complete games and three shutouts. His 113 strikeouts that year marked the only time he reached 100 strikeouts in a season during his 18-year pro career. From there it was on to St Paul of the Triple-A American Association in 1949, where he had a 12-6, 3.50 record in 139 innings over 64 appearances. Despite solid results, he had 88 walks and 70 strikeouts that year.

Labine made the Dodgers club out of spring in 1950, though his stay lasted just one game in which he allowed one run over two innings. He went back to St Paul for the rest of 1950 and had an 11-7, 4.99 record in 128 innings over 13 starts and 24 relief appearances. He made the Dodgers Opening Day roster again in 1951 and his stay was a little longer, but he was still back in the minors by May. He went 9-6, 2.62 in 117 innings with St Paul, making 15 starts and five relief appearances. Clem (first name was Clement) came back to the Dodgers in August and began to pitch well as a starter by the end of the month, throwing five complete games (two shutouts). He finished that year with a 5-1, 2.20 record in 65.1 innings with the Dodgers, which led to a third place finish in the Rookie of the Year voting. Labine struggled in 1952, going back to the minors at one point for two games, but once he returned, he would spend the rest of his career in the majors. He went 8-4, 5.14 in 77 innings for the 1952 Dodgers, making nine starts and 16 relief appearances.

In 1953, Labine went 11-6, 2.77 in 110.1 innings over 37 games (seven starts). While not an official stat at the time, he had seven saves. He pitched three times in relief during the World Series that year, though the Dodgers lost to the New York Yankees. In 1954, he had a 7-6, 4.15 record and four saves in 108.1 innings over 47 outings, with just two starts. In 1955, he led the league with 60 games pitched, throwing a career high 144. 1 innings. Labine went 13-5, 3.24 and saved 11 games. The Dodgers won the World Series that season and he made four relief appearances, allowing three runs in 9.1 innings. That regular season performance was good enough for a 15th place finish in the MVP voting. He was chosen for the NL All-Star team in each of the next two seasons, while recording the most saves each year. In 1956 he went 10-6, 3.35 in 115.2 innings over 62 games, with 19 saves, receiving very mild MVP support. He pitched 12 innings in the World Series that year without allowing an earned run. His record dropped to 5-7 in 1957, but he had a 3.44 ERA in 105.2 innings over 58 games, with 17 saves. The Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958, and Labine went 6-6, 4.15 in 104 innings over 52 games, with 14 saves. The Dodgers won their first World Series in Los Angeles in 1959 and Labine had a 3.93 ERA and eight saves in 84.2 innings over 56 appearances during the regular season. Despite the team finishing 20 games over the .500 mark, he had a 5-10 record that season. He pitched one scoreless inning in the World Series.

After putting up a 5.82 ERA in 17 innings by June of 1960, the Dodgers traded Labine to the Detroit Tigers. After two unsuccessful months there, going 0-3, 5.12 in 19.1 innings, he was released and immediately signed by the Pirates. He turned things around with Pittsburgh, going 3-0, 1.48 in 15 appearances and 30.1 innings, helping the Pirates to the World Series. Labine did not pitch well in the postseason, allowing 11 runs over just four innings. His combined record for the 1960 season between all three teams was 3-4, 3.65 in 66.2 innings over 44 games. He was with the Pirates in 1961 as well, going 4-1, 3.69 in 92.2 innings over 56 appearances, with eight saves. The Pirates released Labine in October of 1961 and he was signed by the expansion New York Mets in the off-season, though his stay was short. After just three outings in which he allowed six runs in four innings, Labine was released on May 1st, ending his 13-year big league career with a 77-56, 3.63 record in 1,079.2 innings over 513 games pitched (38 starts). He recorded 94 saves, one of the highest totals prior to it becoming an official stat.

Bud Hafey, outfielder for the 1935-36 Pirates. He began his career as a 17-year old in 1930 and spent his first five years playing for the Mission Reds of the Double-A Pacific Coast League, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. He started off slow with a .208 average and 12 extra-base hits in 67 games during his first year. In 1931, he batted .293 with 16 extra-base hits in 61 games. The next season he hit .293 again, this time in 131 games, finishing with 44 extra-base hits. Hafey nearly matched the average for a third straight season in 1933, finishing with a .292 mark in 147 games. He had 41 doubles, six triples and 16 homers that year. In 1934, he batted .322 in 166 games, with 39 doubles, 11 triples and 16 homers. That led to him making his big league debut the next April. The Pirates acquired Hafey just two games into his Major League career with the 1935 Chicago White Sox, with both appearances coming as a pinch-runner. He played on April 21st and May 4th, but before joining the Pirates, he spent time with Albany of the Double-A International League, where he batted .230 with ten extra-base hits in 25 games. On June 9, 1935, Pittsburgh sent pitcher Jack Salveson to Chicago in an even up deal for Hafey. Bud (first name was Daniel) played 58 games for the Pirates that year, seeing time at all three outfield spots, hitting .228 with 29 runs, six homers, 16 RBIs and a .698 OPS. He doubled in his first big league at-bat, but didn’t get his second hit until nearly a month later during his first big league start on July 13th.

In 1936, Hafey hit .212 with 19 runs, six doubles, four homers, 13 RBIs and a .655 OPS in 39 games for the Pirates. He played 28 of the first 44 games that year, then played just 11 more games all season, and his only start after June 3rd was in the final game of the season. Hafey had spent the entire 1937 season with Montreal of the International League, where he hit .247 with 30 extra-base hits in 131 games. On December 15, 1937, he was dealt to the St Louis Cardinals, along with two other players, for outfielder Johnny Rizzo. The original deal happened in October, but Hafey was sent to St Louis as a player to be named later in December. He spent the entire 1938 season in the minors, split between Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League and Knoxville of the Class-A Southern Association. He combined to hit .249 in 130 games, with 19 doubles, nine triples, 12 homers and 50 RBIs. Hafey played just 24 more games in the majors during his career after leaving Pittsburgh. He split the 1939 season between the Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies, hitting a combined .172/.221/.203 in 69 plate appearances, while spending more than half of the season back in Knoxville, where he hit .355 with 40 extra-base hits in 74 games. He remained in pro ball until 1941, spending his last two years playing for Memphis of the Southern Association. Hafey batted .282 with 64 extra-base hits in 150 games in 1940, followed by a .268 average and 42 extra-base hits in 130 games in 1941. He was a .213 hitter in 123 big league games, with 53 runs, 19 doubles, ten homers and 33 RBIs. He came from a great baseball family. His brother was Tom Hafey, who played two years in the majors. His cousin was Chick Hafey, a Hall of Fame outfielder for the Cardinals and Reds (they were never teammates).

Bud Sharpe, first baseman for the 1910 Pirates. Before joining the Pirates in 1910, he had played part of one season in the majors, back in 1905 with the Boston Doves. That year he hit .182/.215/.224 in 46 games, in what was also his first year in pro ball. Sharpe attended Penn State and debuted in pro ball at 23 years old. He spent part of that 1905 season playing in Coatesville, PA in the Tri-State League (no stats available), which was an independent league at the time. He played the 1906 season with Scranton of the Class-B New York State League, where he hit .295 in 131 games. He moved up to Newark of the Class-A Eastern League in 1907 and remained there for three years. He hit .210 with 18 extra-base hits and 15 steals in 125 games during his first year with the team. In 1908, he played 146 games and finished with a .270 average, 19 doubles, nine triples and 16 steals. In 1909, he batted .241 in 156 games, with 22 doubles, four triples and a home run. The Pirates drafted him in the September 1909 Rule 5 draft, but put him on waivers right before Christmas when they acquired John Flynn. However, they decided a short time later to keep him and sell off first base prospect Robert Tarleton instead.

During Spring Training of 1910, the Pirates had a competition for the open first base job between Sharpe and Flynn. Both players made the Opening Day roster, but the job was soon given to Flynn, who was the much better hitter, while Sharpe was strong on defense, but not much of a batter. Bud (first name was Bayard) ended up playing just four games for the Pirates, hitting .188, while handling all forty chances in the field flawlessly. Sharpe started each of the first four games of the season, and due to the entire road series against Cincinnati getting rained out, he ended up only playing against the St Louis Cardinals while with the Pirates, playing three games in St Louis, then the home opener at Forbes Field on April 21st when they celebrated the 1909 World Series title. On April 28, 1910, seven days after his last game with the Pirates, he was traded to the Boston Doves, along with pitcher Sam Frock, for pitcher Kirby White. Sharpe played with Boston until the end of 1910, finishing with a .239 average, 30 runs, 14 doubles, no homers, 29 RBIs and a .549 OPS in 115 games. He was sold to the minors before the 1911 season, ending his Major League career. Sharpe played that 1911 season for Buffalo of the Eastern League, where he hit .281 with 15 doubles and five triples in 102 games. He then he ended his career with the Oakland Oaks of the Double-A Pacific Coast League in 1912 as a player/manager, hitting .300 (with 13 extra-base hits) in 101 games, which was his highest minor league average.

Brownie Foreman, lefty pitcher for the 1895-96 Pirates. As a 19-year-old in 1895, the 5’8″, 150 pound Foreman began his pro career with the Petersburg Farmers of the Virginia State League, where he went 14-8, 2.28 with 150 strikeouts in 205.1 innings. The Pirates signed him in July and he made 16 starts and three relief appearances, going 8-6, 3.22 in 139.2 innings, with the lowest hits per nine rate in the majors. He also didn’t allow a single home run. During his big league debut against the Baltimore Orioles, their Hall of Fame manager (former Pirates/Alleghenys player/manager) Ned Hanlon said that he had a chance to sign Foreman before the season started, but he felt that he wasn’t good enough for the majors, so he passed. Foreman ended up beating the Orioles that day, right in the middle of their three-year run as National League champions. Foreman remained with the Pirates through the beginning of the next season, going 3-3, 6.57 in 84.2 innings over 13 starts before Pittsburgh gave up on him. He missed some time early in the season due to illness, but in early July they suspended him without pay for refusing to go to the minors. Shortly afterwards he was released. He finished the year with the Cincinnati Reds, where he made the last four starts of his Major League career (1-3, 11.35 in 23 innings). He lasted eight more years in the minors before retiring, but his big league career was done at 21 years old. He went 12-12, 4.97 in 224.1 innings, with 20 complete games in 29 starts.

Foreman played for five different teams during the 1897-98 seasons. His 1897 stats show an 11-14, 2.94 record in 223.1 innings, with 23 complete games in 30 starts. He split that season between Kansas City, Grand Rapids and Columbus, all of the Class-A Western League, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. His 1898 stats show him making five starts for London of the Canadian League, which are his last recorded pitching stats during his pro career. He also spent time with two Class-B Atlantic League teams, Norfolk and Reading. He spent the 1899 season with Fort Wayne of the Interstate League (this doesn’t show up in his minor league records on Baseball-Reference), then played the next six years playing in five different leagues with a total of nine teams, never staying in one spot for more than a year. He was with Toronto of the Class-A Eastern League in 1900, then split 1901 between Portsmouth and Wilmington of the Class-C Virginia-North Carolina League. In 1902, Foreman played for Amsterdam of the Class-B New York State League, a teams that moved twice during the season. The 1903 season was spent with Wheeling and Evansville of the Class-B Central League. During the 1904-05 seasons, he played in the Tri-State League for York (1904), Harrisburg (1904) and Lancaster (1905), which was his last pro team.

Foreman’s brother Frank pitched 11 years in the majors, winning 96 games. They were teammates during Brownie’s brief time with the Reds. Brownie’s actual first name was John. The nickname was given to him right after he joined the Pirates and was based on his small size and early success, with the connection that a brownie was good thing that came in a small package. While his listed height/weight of 5’8″, 150 pounds is small in stature for a player, even back then, there were reports that he was even smaller. One paper after his debut said that the “midget pitcher stood 5’5″, 119 pounds”. That could be close to true because a letter he wrote from early 1896 said that he worked out a lot in the off-season and added 20 pounds since September of 1895, now weighing 151 pounds. The scouting reports said that he threw hard and had a tantalizing curveball that worried batters, who were just trying to put the bat on the ball so that they didn’t strike out. One manager called it the best curve that he has ever seen.

Jim McDonald, utility player for the 1884 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He played just 45 games in the majors over the 1884-85 seasons, yet managed to play in three different Major Leagues. He was in the Union Association, which only existed in 1884, the American Association and the National League. McDonald spent the first six years of his pro career playing in his hometown of San Francisco, seeing time with five different teams. He debuted in pro ball in 1878 at 17 years old during the first year of the Pacific League, playing for the San Francisco Californias. There are no stats available for his first six seasons, but there’s a paper trail of the teams he played for during that time and they were all in San Francisco. He played with the Athletics of the California League and the Star of the Pacific League in 1879. The 1880-81 seasons were spent with the Athletics. Part of the 1882 season was spent with the Nationals in the California League. Before debuting in the majors in 1884, McDonald spent part of 1882 and all of the 1883 season with a team by the same name as his first team (San Francisco Californias), though they played in the California League.

McDonald debuted in the majors with the Alleghenys on June 20, 1884, playing right field and hitting lead-off, after he was brought on by manager Bob Ferguson. McDonald played 38 games in Pittsburgh, seeing time at third base, second base and all three outfield spots. He hit just .159 with 11 runs scored, three doubles, two walks and an anemic .349 OPS with Pittsburgh before being released on August 19th. With a 30-78 record, the 1884 Alleghenys are one of the worst teams in franchise history. In October of 1884, he joined the Washington Nationals of the Union Association and lasted just two games, going 1-for-6 with a single. The next year he went 0-for-14 in four games at the end of the season for the Buffalo Bisons of the National League, his last Major League action. He also saw time that year with Oswego of the New York State League and Toledo of the Western League. McDonald played pro ball until 1894, finishing his career back in California. He played for the Greenhood & Morans of the California League, then spent two seasons with Oakland of the California League. His only west coast stats available came from the 1891 season when he hit .227 with 19 runs and ten steals in 28 games with Seattle of the Pacific Northwestern League. McDonald also played with Sacramento of the California League that year, and then his only known pro time after that date was 1894 with Sacramento of the California Players League. He became a National League umpire in 1895, sticking around until 1899 in that role. He worked 572 games total, though he did not umpire during the 1896 season.

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