This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: August 7th, Willie Stargell Signs; Hall of Famer Bill McKechnie

This is probably the busiest day for birthdays and trades. There are 11 former players born on this date, including a Hall of Famer. There are also five transactions of note.

The Players

Bill McKechnie, infielder for the Pirates in 1907, 1910-12, 1918 and 1920. Manager for the Pirates from 1922 until 1926. He began his big league career with a brief late season trial with the Pirates during the 1907 season. He was playing with Washington of the Class-D Pennsylvania-Ohio-Michigan League during the 1906-07 seasons and didn’t have much success at the plate according to his stats on Baseball-Reference, though there could be mistakes in there. On August 13, 1907, owner Barney Dreyfuss purchased his contract from Washington and it said that McKechnie was among the best third baseman in the league, with one of his highlights being his hitting. Records show that he batted .230 in 1906 and he was hitting .200 at the time of the deal, so that latter number seems suspect. McKechnie joined the Pirates the next day on their road trip east, but he didn’t debut until September 8th. He ended up playing just three games over the final seven weeks of the season, going 1-for-8 with five strikeouts. He was originally reserved for the 1908 season, but the Pirates put him on waivers that February. When he cleared waivers he was released outright to Wheeling of the Class-B Central League. Two months later, he was sold to Canton of the Class-C Ohio-Penn League, where he hit .283 with 34 steals and 55 runs scored in 118 games in 1908.

McKechnie rejoined Wheeling in 1909 and batted .274 with 24 extra-base hits in 132 games that year. The Pirates got him back at the end of the 1909 season, but he didn’t rejoin the club until the following year. He served as the team’s backup infielder during the entire 1910 season. The 23-year-old would see time at all four infield spots that first full year, hitting .217 with 23 runs scored, 12 RBIs and a .496 OPS in 71 games. In 1911, he saw most of his time at first base, platooning with 31-year-old rookie Newt Hunter. McKechnie hit a little better his second year, batting .227 with 17 extra-base hits, after collecting just three during his first season. He was strong at putting the ball in play, with just 18 strikeouts in 376 plate appearances. He also had 25 sacrifice hits, to go along 40 runs, 37 RBIs and a .608 OPS. He saw limited time during the 1912 season, playing 24 games through August, when he was sent to St Paul of the Double-A American Association (highest level of the minors at the time) in exchange for infielder Art Butler, who was highly sought after at the time. It was said that the Pirates gave up a total of five players to acquire Butler, outbidding multiple teams for his service. McKechnie’s final stats with the Pirates that year show a .247/.286/.274 slash line in 79 plate appearances. He hit .234 with 11 extra-base hits in 41 games with St Paul, then stayed there for part of 1913, when he batted .246 in 32 games, with all six of his extra-base hits credited as triples.

McKechnie returned to the majors in 1913, jumping all around the next four years, with stops in Boston (1913 Braves) New York (1913 Yankees), the Federal League (Indianapolis in 1914 and Newark in 1915), then back to New York (1916 Giants), before ending up with the 1916 Cincinnati Reds. He played just one game in Boston before they put him on waivers. With the Yankees for the rest of the 1913 season, he hit just .134/.198/.134 in 45 games. Based on those stats, they probably weren’t sad to see him go to the upstart Federal League in 1914 when he signed with Indianapolis. He had a breakout year though once he got a chance to play full-time. McKechnie hit .304 with 32 extra-base hits, 47 steals and 107 runs scored in 149 games in 1914. His .745 OPS was 62 points above league average. The next year he .251 with 49 runs, 28 extra-base hits, 43 RBIs and 28 steals in 115 games for Newark. When the Federal League ended after two seasons at the Major League level, McKechnie was sold to the New York Giants, where he stayed until late July of 1916. He hit .246 with 22 runs, ten extra-base hits and 17 RBIs in 71 games in New York, then was traded to the Reds in a deal that included Hall of Famers Edd Roush and Christy Mathewson. The Giants were the ones actually giving up three future Hall of Famers in the deal and they received just two players back. McKechnie hit .277/.293/.300 in 37 games with the 1916 Reds. He hit .254 with 11 runs, 15 RBIs and a .587 OPS in 48 games for Cincinnati in 1917, then was sold back to the Pirates in 1918 for $20,000 during Spring Training.

McKechnie started at third base for the 1918 Pirates, hitting .255 with 24 extra- base hits, 43 RBIs and 34 runs scored in 126 games. Despite the regular playing time in 1918, he took a job outside of baseball the next year. The Pirates convinced him to come back in 1920, serving as a backup infielder/coach. He played 40 games that year, putting up a .218 average and a .519 OPS. That 1920 season was his last in the majors. The next year he played his last year in the minors, hitting .321 with 46 extra-base hits in 156 games for Minneapolis of the American Association. McKechnie had managed in the majors in 1915 while with Newark of the Federal League. He returned to the Pirates as a coach in 1922, although he initially tried to comeback with the team is his backup infielder role. When the Pirates got off to a bad start, they got rid of manager George Gibson and hired McKechnie for the role. He took them from a 32-33 start, to a 53-36 record over the final 89 games. The next year the team was just as good, finishing in third place with 87 wins. They improved slightly in 1924, going 90-63, but it was still just good enough for a third place spot.

The 1925 season ended up being a championship year for the Pirates, as McKechnie led them to a 95-58 finish and a World Series win over the Washington Senators. It was the second title for the Pirates, who won in 1909 when McKechnie was in the minors. In 1926, they had a disappointing third place finish and McKechnie was allowed to leave. He would go on to win a National League pennant with the 1928 St Louis Cardinals, then another pennant with the 1939 Reds, before winning his second World Series title with the 1940 Reds. He finished with 1,896 Major League wins over 25 seasons. With the Pirates, he had a 409-293 record. He was elected to the Hall of Fame as a manager in 1962. McKechnie was a resident of Bradenton, Florida in his later years and the Pirates Spring Training home was named after him (McKechnie Field) until recently, when they made an unwise and extremely unpopular name change out of greed. Despite their error, most fans still refer to the park by the rightful name. As a player with the Pirates, he hit .235 with five homers, 109 RBIs and 34 steals in 368 games. Over his 11-year career, he was a .251 hitter, with 86 doubles, 33 triples, eight homers, 240 RBIs, 127 steals and 319 runs scored in 846 games.

Michael Perez, catcher for the 2021-22 Pirates. He was a fifth round draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks out of Puerto Rico in 2011 at 19 years old. He debuted in pro ball in the rookie level Arizona League, playing just seven games. Despite his young age, he appeared in the Puerto Rican winter league that same year. Perez has played parts of six years in that league over the years. In 2012, he played for Missoula of the short-season Pioneer League, where he hit .293 in 58 games, with 43 runs, 16 doubles, ten homers, 60 RBIs and a .901 OPS. He played with two teams in 2013, splitting the season evenly between South Bend of the Low-A Midwest League, and Visalia of the High-A California League. Perez hit .208 in 93 games, with 41 runs, 21 doubles, seven homers, 38 RBIs and a .605 OPS, with much better results at the lower level. He repeated South Bend in 2014 and hit .238 in 98 games, with 53 runs, 31 doubles, nine homers, 35 RBIs, 62 walks and a .776 OPS. In 2015, he played 55 games for Kane County of the Midwest League and 34 games for Visalia, with similar results at each level. He combined to hit .210 in 89 games, with 33 runs, 15 doubles, four homers, 46 RBIs and a .586 OPS. Perez played with Visalia for part of 2016, while spending the rest of the year with Mobile of the Double-A Southern League. He hit .234 in 86 games, with 24 runs, 21 extra-base hits, 29 RBIs and a .638 OPS.

All but three games Perez played in 2017 were spent back in the Southern League with Jackson, where he put up a .789 OPS in 80 games, finishing with a .279 average, 23 doubles, five homers and 39 RBIs. He also played three games for Reno of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. That fall he played in the Arizona Fall League, where he .208/.276/.226 in 16 games. Perez had a .284 average and a .759 OPS in 58 games for Reno in 2018 before being traded to the Tampa Bay Rays on July 25, 2018. He went right to the majors, where he batted .284/.304/.392 in 24 games, with a homer and 11 RBIs. Most of the 2019 season was spent in Triple-A with Durham of the International League, though he also spent time on the injured list. In 22 games with the Rays that year, he hit .217/.346/.326 in 55 plate appearances. He saw regular playing time during the shortened 2020 season, hitting .167/.237/.238 in 38 games. Perez was put on waivers in October of 2020, where he was picked up by the Pirates. He spent the entire 2021 season in the majors, where he hit .143 in 70 games for the Pirates, with 19 runs, eight doubles, seven homers, 21 RBIs and a .511 OPS. He was designated for assignment over the off-season, but stayed with the Pirates and began 2022 in the minors with Indianapolis of the International League. When starter Roberto Perez was knocked out for the season, Michael Perez took his place. He played 39 games for the Pirates and hit .150 with six homers and 11 RBIs. He hit three homers in one game, the first catcher to accomplish that for the Pirates. He was sent to Indianapolis in mid-July and soon designated for assignment, which led to a trade to the New York Mets, where as of late July 2022, he is with Syracuse of the International League. Through late July 2022, he has played 193 big league games, hitting .175, with 49 runs, 21 doubles, 15 homers and 58 RBIs.

Ryan Lavarnway, catcher for the 2018 Pirates. He was a sixth round pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2008 out of Yale University. He struggled a bit during his first year in the New York-Penn League with Lowell, hitting .211 in 22 games, with a .683 OPS. In 2009, he was sent to Low-A Greenville of the South Atlantic League, where he batted .285 with 36 doubles, 21 homers, 87 RBIs and a .907 OPS in 106 games. He split the 2010 season between High-A Salem of the Carolina League and Double-A Portland of the Eastern League, batting a combined .288 with 91 runs, 27 doubles, 22 homers, 102 RBIs, 70 walks and an .882 OPS in 126 games, with very similar results at both levels. He played in the Arizona Fall League after the season and hit .268 with three homers in 21 games. Lavarnway split the 2011 season evenly between Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket of the International League, hitting .290 in 116 games, with 75 runs, 23 doubles, 32 homers, 93 RBIs and a .939 OPS, with better results at the higher level. He got 17 games with the Red Sox at the end of the year and hit .231 with two homers and a .738 OPS. After the season, he spent a short time playing winter ball in Venezuela. After that strong performance in 2011, he was rated as a top 100 prospect in the baseball for the only time in his career. In 2012, he spent more than half of of the year in Triple-A, while playing 46 games for the Red Sox, in which he batted .157/.211/.248 with two homers in 166 plate appearances. He had a .295 average and an .815 OPS in 86 games for Pawtucket that year. Lavarnway had the same type of split-seasons in 2013 and 2014, though his big league time dropped each year and his results at Pawtucket weren’t as strong as previous seasons. He batted .299 with one homer and a .758 OPS in 25 games for Boston in 2013, and then saw nine games (seven off of the bench) for the Red Sox in 2014, failing to pick up a hit or reach base in ten plate appearances.

Lavarnway went through a crazy December of 2014, switching teams three times via waivers during the month. He went from Boston to the Los Angeles Dodgers, to the Chicago Cubs to the Baltimore Orioles in an 18-day span. He didn’t play much for Baltimore in 2015, as they released him in May after ten games in which he had a .107 average and a .362 OPS. He signed with the Atlanta Braves, where he hit .227/.311/.394 in 27 games. The Braves released him in May of 2016 and he signed with the Toronto Blue Jays, but the entire season was spent in the minors, with the Blue Jays placing him in Double-A. He signed with the Oakland A’s in 2017 and ended up playing six big league games in July/August, going 3-for-11 with a double and a walk. Lavarnway was signed by the Pirates as a minor league free agent prior to the 2018 season and was added to the active roster in September, after spending the earlier part of the season as a platoon catcher in Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League. He had a .288 average and an .860 OPS in 78 games for Indianapolis. Lavarnway played six games and batted six times for the Pirates, collecting four hits and an RBI. He left via free agency after the season and appeared in the majors briefly with the Cincinnati Reds in 2019, going 5-for-18 with two doubles, two homers and seven RBIs. He also spent part of that season in the minors with both the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees. He appeared with the Miami Marlins for five games during the shortened 2020 season, going 4-for-11 at the plate. He re-signed with the Indians in February of 2021 and batted .250/.276/.357 in nine games. He has played in Triple-A with the Detroit Tigers and Miami Marlins during the 2022 season. Over ten seasons in the majors, he is a .217 hitter, with 37 runs, 30 doubles, nine homers and 50 RBIs in 160 games. He has played parts/all of 11 seasons in Triple-A.

Wade LeBlanc, pitcher for the 2016-17 Pirates. He was originally drafted out of high school in the 36th round by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2003, but he chose to attend college. The moved paid off, as the San Diego Padres picked him in the second round out of the University of Alabama in 2006. LeBlanc spent half of his first season in Low-A with Fort Wayne of the Midwest League, half in short-season ball with Eugene of the Northwest League. He combined for a 5-1, 3.02 record in 53.2 innings, with 47 strikeouts. He split the 2007 season between High-A Lake Elsinore of the California League and Double-A San Antonio of the Texas League, going 13-8, 2.95 in 149.1 innings, with 145 strikeouts, seeing slightly better results and more time at the lower level. He spent the large majority of the 2008 season in Triple-A, going 11-9, 5.32 in 138.2 innings, with 139 strikeouts for Portland of the high-offense Pacific Coast League. He was called to the majors in September and had an 8.02 ERA in 21.1 innings over four starts and one relief appearance. He lowered his ERA to 3.87 in 121 innings with Portland in 2009, and he made nine starts with the Padres, going 3-1, 3.69 in 46.1 innings. LeBlanc spent the majority of the 2010 season in the majors, but he split 2011 between Triple-A (Tuscon of the PCL) and the Padres. He went 8-12, 4.25, with 110 strikeouts in 146 innings in 2010 over 25 starts and a relief outing. That was followed by a 5-6, 4.63 record in 79.2 innings over 14 starts with the Padres in 2011. He was traded to the Florida Marlins over the off-season, right before they changed their name to Miami.

LeBlanc went 2-5, 3.67 in nine starts and 16 relief appearances for the 2012 Marlins, throwing a total of 68.2 innings. In 2013, he had a 5.18 ERA in 48.2 innings over seven starts and six relief appearances before the Houston Astros selected him off waivers in June. He pitched just four times in relief for the Astros, and gave up ten runs in 6.1 innings. He spent the rest of the year in Triple-A, then became a free agent after the season. LeBlanc split 2014 between the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels, starting and ending the year with the Angels. The Yankees picked him up off of waivers on June 3rd and let him go 12 days later, then he re-signed with Los Angeles two days later. He went 1-1, 3.94 in 29.2 innings between both teams, making three starts and eight relief appearances. He spent the 2015 season in Japan, where he went 5-5, 3.09 in 78.2 innings, then returned to the U.S. on a minor league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays for 2016. He was in Triple-A through late June when the Seattle Mariners purchased his contract. At the time, he had a 1.71 ERA in 89.2 innings over 14 starts with Buffalo of the International League. He made eight starts and three relief appearances for the 2016 Mariners, posting a 4.50 ERA in 50 innings.

LeBlanc was acquired by the Pirates in mid-September of 2016 from the Mariners for a player to be named later, which never amounted to anything. He made eight appearances for the Pirates over the final three weeks of the 2016 season and allowed just one earned run in 12 innings. In 2017, LeBlanc made 50 relief appearances for the Pirates, and he went 5-2, 4.50 in 68 innings. He was left go via free agency at the end of the season and signed with the New York Yankees, who released him during Spring Training of 2018. He re-signed with the Seattle Mariners and he went 9-5, 3.72 in 27 starts and five relief appearances, throwing a total of 162 innings. He set a career high with 130 strikeouts that season. For the 2019 Mariners, he went 6-7, 5.71 in eight starts and 18 relief appearances, throwing a total of 121.1 innings. He signed with the Baltimore Orioles for 2020 and made six starts during the shortened season, posting an 8.06 ERA in 22.1 innings. LeBlanc allowed seven runs over 6.2 innings with the 2021 Orioles before being released. He spent brief time with both the Milwaukee Brewers and Texas Rangers without appearing in a big league game before joining the St Louis Cardinals in June, where he had some success that ended abruptly. In eight starts and four relief appearances, he had a 3.61 ERA in 42.1 innings with the Cardinals. He suffered an elbow injury in August and didn’t return, then announced his retirement in April of 2022. He pitched a total of 13 seasons in the majors, putting up a 46-49, 4.54 record in 931.1 innings over 258 appearances. He started 129 games and pitched in relief 129 times.

Tyler Yates, relief pitcher for the 2008-09 Pirates. He was signed by the Oakland A’s in 1998 as a 23rd round draft pick out of the University of Hawaii. He made 17 relief appearances in short-season ball during his first season, posting a 4.26 ERA in 25.1 innings. Most of that time was in the Arizona Rookie League, which was a low level for a college player, but he also had two shutout appearances for Southern Oregon of the Northwest League. In 1999, he had a 5.47 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 82.1 innings over 47 games (one start) while pitching in the high-offense California League with Visalia. Yates split 2000 between High-A Modesto of the California League and Double-A Midland of the Texas League, combining to go 5-3, 3.90 in 83 innings, with 85 strikeouts, though he had significantly better results in High-A that year. The 2001 season saw him put up a 4.31 ERA, 17 saves and 61 strikeouts in 62.2 innings over 56 appearances in Midland, followed by four scoreless outings (5.1 innings) in his first shot at Triple-A with Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League. The New York Mets acquired him in a December 2001 trade for David Justice. Yates had a 1.32 ERA in 23 relief appearances in Triple-A Norfolk of the International League in 2002 before he needed Tommy John surgery. He returned for most of 2003 and ended up switching to a starting role, in an odd move for a reliever who was returning from a major surgery. Over three levels, he had a 4.28 ERA in 107.1 innings, spending his most time with St Lucie of the High-A Florida State League, though he made eight starts for Binghamton of the Eastern League and then returned back to Norfolk for four starts. It took him six years to make the majors, doing it as a member of the Opening Day roster of the 2004 Mets.

Yates went 2-4, 6.36 in 46.2 innings over seven starts and 14 relief appearances for the Mets in 2004, spending half the season back in Norfolk, where he had a 3.18 ERA while working as a reliever. He then missed all of 2005 with rotator cuff surgery. It was his second major operation, but it wouldn’t be his last. Yates was released by the Mets after the 2005 season and signed with the Baltimore Orioles, who released him before the end of 2006 Spring Training. He then signed with the Atlanta Braves and made it back to the majors after just seven Triple-A outings. Yates made 56 relief appearances for Atlanta in 2006, going 2-5, 3.96 in 50 innings. The next year, he was used often, but his numbers regressed. In 75 outings, he had a 5.18 ERA in 66 innings, while picking up 69 strikeouts. Near the end of Spring Training in 2008, the Pirates traded minor league pitcher Todd Redmond to the Braves to acquire Yates. He made 72 appearances in 2008 for Pittsburgh, throwing a total of 73.1 innings, with a 6-3, 4.66 record and 63 strikeouts. In 2009, he pitched 15 times before he required a second Tommy John surgery. He had a 7.50 ERA in 12 innings at the time of his injury. Yates attempted a comeback in 2010, but never pitched again. He is one of 48 MLB players born in Hawaii, a list that includes his brother Kirby Yates, who is still active in 2022 and has pitched seven seasons in the majors. Tyler Yates finished with a 12-17, 5.12 record in 248 innings over 239 games (seven starts). He saved four games, one with the Pirates.

Steve Kemp, left fielder for the 1985-86 Pirates. He was a first round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers in January of 1976 out of USC, making it to the majors after just 125 minor league games split between Double-A Montgomery of the Southern League and Triple-A Evansville of the American Association in 1976. In that lone minor league season, he hit .328 with 78 runs, 31 doubles, 19 homers, 81 RBIs and 73 walks, posting much better results in Triple-A, where he had a 1.203 OPS in 52 games. Kemp was a regular in the Detroit lineup for five seasons, hitting .284 with 82 homers and 422 RBIs in 684 games over that time. As a 22-year-old rookie in 1977, he played left field full-time and hit .257 with 75 runs, 29 doubles, 18 homers, 88 RBIs, 71 walks and a .765 OPS in 151 games. In 1978, he hit .277 with 75 runs, 18 doubles, 15 homers and 79 RBIs in 159 games. His slugging dropped 23 points that year, but the higher average and 97 walks (third most in the league), led to a higher OBP and a .778 OPS. Kemp made his only career All-Star appearance during the 1979 season, when he hit .318 with 88 runs scored, 26 doubles, 26 homers and 105 RBIs in 134 games. His .941 OPS that year ranked fourth in the American League and it was a career high that he never approached in any other season. He finished 17th in the AL MVP voting that season. In 1980, he hit .293 with 23 doubles, 21 homers and 101 RBIs in 135 games, once again scoring 88 runs, while finishing with an .851 OPS that was ninth best in the league. During the strike-shortened 1981 season, he batted .277 with 52 runs, 18 doubles, nine homers and 49 RBIs in 105 games. He had 70 walks, which was the third highest total in the league.

Kemp was traded to the Chicago White Sox in November of 1981. He played one season in Chicago prior to becoming a free agent and signing with the New York Yankees for five years in December of 1982. During that 1982 season in Chicago, he hit .286 with 91 runs, 23 doubles, 19 homers, 98 RBIs, 89 walks and an .808 OPS in 160 games. His runs and games played that year were both career highs. Kemp’s time in New York did not go well, lasting just two years and 203 games. He hit .241 with 53 runs, 17 doubles, 12 homers and 49 RBIs in 109 games in 1983. His .718 OPS was easily the lowest of his career up to that point. He played just 94 games in 1984 and hit .291 with seven homers and 41 RBIs. He was slowed by a shoulder injury in 1983 and a hamstring issue in 1984. The Pirates acquired Kemp from the Yankees, along with Tim Foli and a large sum of cash, on December 20, 1984 in exchange for Dale Berra, Al Pulido and minor league outfielder Jay Buhner. The cash ($800,000) was required because Kemp still  had just over $3,000,000 left on his five-year deal. By 1985, he was a shell of his former self and all power was gone from his offensive game.

Kemp hit .250 with 19 runs, 13 doubles, two homers and 21 RBIs in 92 games during the disastrous 1985 season, when the Pirates went 57-104, finishing 43.5 games out in the standings. He set a new career low with a .664 OPS. He would make the 1986 Pirates team out of Spring Training, but he was released a month into the season after hitting .188/.350/.375 in 13 games. Kemp spent the better part of the 1986-88 seasons in the minors, briefly reappearing with the 1988 Texas Rangers for 16 games before retiring. He spent the second half of the 1986 season with the San Diego Padres at Triple-A Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League, where he had an .821 OPS in 48 games. He then spent all of 1987 with Triple-A Oklahoma City of the American Association for the Rangers. That was followed by a .222 average, with two walks and no extra-base hits in 36 at-bats, after making the Rangers roster on Opening Day in 1988. He played his final big league game on May 24th, then played his final 37 games in pro ball that year with Oklahoma City. In 1,168 big league games, Kemp hit .278 with 179 doubles, 130 homers, 634 RBIs, 581 runs scored and 576 walks. He finished with 19.5 WAR in his career, a number knocked down by below average defense each season, resulting in a -7.9 career dWAR.

Jim Sadowski, pitcher for the 1974 Pirates. He was a Pittsburgh native, who was signed by the Pirates in 1969 at 18 years old as an amateur free agent. His only work that first year was in the Florida Instructional League and he pitched just one inning. In 1970, he split the year between four starts in the Gulf Coast League and 16 starts and one relief outing with Gastonia of the Class-A Western Carolinas League, going 7-8, 3.88 in 137 innings, with 109 strikeouts. Most of the 1971 season was spent with Salem of the Class-A Carolina League, with two appearances for Double-A Waterbury of the Eastern League also throw in during the year. He had a 6-7, 3.55 record and 107 strikeouts in 132 innings that season. He threw 18 innings over two starts with Waterbury, allowed two runs, while putting up 14 walks and 13 strikeouts. Sadowski was a starting pitcher during his first two seasons in the minors, before moving into a spot starter/long man role in 1972, when he spent the year back in Salem. He went 7-8, 3.89, with 91 strikeouts in 104 innings that year. He made nine starts and 21 relief appearances that season. In 1973, he moved up to Double-A with Sherbrooke of the Eastern League, going 11-5, 3.34, with 135 strikeouts in 124 innings. He made seven starts and 32 relief appearances. He began 1974 in Triple-A, but was quickly up with the big club. Sadowski pitched four early season games for the Pirates that year. He gave up six runs on seven hits and nine walks in nine innings. It would end up being his only Major League experience. He spent a total of 24 days with the Pirates and his demotion on May 16th was made so that the Pirates could call up pitcher Kent Tekulve for his big league debut.

Sadowski had a 4-10, 4.02 record and 87 strikeouts in 94 innings in 1974 with Triple-A Charleston of the International League. He made 11 starts and 19 relief appearances that year. He then went to Spring Training with the Pirates in 1975 and ended up being one of the final cuts. He spent the entire 1975-76 seasons with Charleston, posting the same ERA each year. He went 6-12, 4.14 in 126 innings in 1975, with 21 starts and six relief appearances. In 1976, he had a 9-8, 4.14 record in 163 innings over 24 starts and four relief appearances. Sadowski some struggles during the 1977 season that led to him spending time in Double-A with Shreveport of the Texas League. Including his time with the Pirates new Triple-A affiliate in Columbus of the International League, he went 6-7, 4.77 in 100 innings in 1977. He finished his career with one year in the Kansas City Royals system, posting a 4.03 ERA in 76 innings in 1978, which was split between a poor showing in Triple-A and solid results in Double-A. He came from an outstanding baseball family. Three of his uncles (all named Sadowski) played in the majors. Bob won twenty games over four seasons with the Milwaukee Braves and Boston Red Sox. Ted pitched 43 games over three years with the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins. Ed was a catcher for the Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels and Atlanta Braves, hitting .202 in 217 games.

Jerry McNertney, catcher for the 1973 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Chicago White Sox in 1958 at 21 years old out of Iowa State, and he made his Major League debut with Chicago six seasons later. He had a strong start to his career, albeit as a college player in the lowest level of pro ball. McNertney hit .328 with 22 extra-base hits and 51 RBIs in 63 games in 1958 for Holdredge of the Class-D Nebraska State League. He moved up to Class-C Duluth-Superior of the Northern League for most of 1959, while also playing 14 games for Class-B Lincoln of the Three-I League. He hit just .237 with 21 extra-base hits in 104 games that year, though he had more walks than strikeouts (61 to 55). In 1960 he played for Class-C Idaho Falls of the Pioneer League and batted .341 with 55 extra-base hits, 109 runs scored, 125 RBIs and a .926 OPS in 130 games. He jumped up two levels to Class-A Charleston of the South Atlantic League in 1961 and hit .273 with 64 runs, 30 extra-base hits, 79 RBIs and a .711 OPS in 134 games. He jumped two more levels in 1962, playing for Indianapolis of the Triple-A American Association. McNertney batted .267 with 43 runs, 27 extra-base hits, 51 RBIs and a .733 OPS in 101 games that year. He remained in Indianapolis as the team moved to the International League (still Triple-A) in 1963, and he struggled in his second year at the level, batting .224 in 93 games, with 14 extra-base hits, 34 RBIs and a .606 OPS. Despite the down year, he spent all of 1964 with the White Sox. He hit .215 with 16 runs, five doubles, three homers, 23 RBIs and a .580 OPS in 73 games as a rookie. The next year saw him playing just 15 games during the season in Triple-A and another 21 games in fall ball due to a broken leg suffered on May 17th.

After missing most of the 1965 season, McNertney returned to the majors in 1966 for eight more years. He spent three years (1966-68) as the backup catcher for the White Sox, prior to his selection in the 1968 expansion draft by the Seattle Pilots. In 1966 he hit .220 with no extra-base hits and one RBI in 44 games, getting just 71 plate appearances all season. He played a little more in 1967-68, but the results weren’t much better. He hit .228 with three homers, 13 RBIs and a .624 OPS in 56 games in 1967, then batted .219 with three homers, 18 RBIs and a .608 OPS in 74 games in 1968. The move after the season to an expansion team opened up a better opportunity for him. McNertney got his most playing time in Seattle, catching 122 games that first year. In 128 games total that season, he hit .241 with 39 runs, 18 doubles, eight homers, 55 RBIs and a .640 OPS. He caught 94 games the next year (plus spent some time at first base) as the franchise became the Milwaukee Brewers after one year. McNertney batted .243 in 111 games, with 27 runs, 11 doubles, six homers and 22 RBIs in 1970.

McNertney was traded to the St Louis Cardinals just after the 1970 season ended. He served as the backup catcher for the Cardinals for two seasons, batting .289/.343/.445 with ten extra-base hits and 22 RBIs in 56 games in 1971. That was followed by a .208/.291/.313 slash line over 39 games and 56 plate appearances in 1972. After being released following the 1972 season, he was signed by the Oakland A’s, where he played back in the minors for the first time in eight years. Less than a month into the season, the Pirates purchased his contract after he hit .344 in ten games for Tuscon of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. McNertney served as the backup to Milt May, as Manny Sanguillen attempted to play right field, following the tragic death of Roberto Clemente. In July, Sanguillen moved back to catching full-time and McNertney was released. He played nine games for the Pirates, one as the starting catcher and the rest off of the bench. He went 1-for-4 at the plate and caught a total of 18 innings. His release by the Pirates would mark the end of his baseball playing career. He hit .237 with 129 runs, 51 doubles, 27 homers and 163 RBIs in 590 big league games over nine seasons. He was rated as above average defensively, putting up a positive dWAR during every season of his career. McNertney threw out 39% of runners during his career, just above league average at the time.

Les Fleming, first baseman for the 1949 Pirates. He had a 16-year minor league career that saw him bat over .300 with 280 homers. Fleming didn’t have as much success in the majors, playing a total of 434 games, including 156 in 1942 with the Indians, when he led the American League in games played. He debuted in pro ball in 1935 at 19 years old, playing Class-D ball for Alexandria of the Evangeline League for two seasons. He hit .277 with 47 extra-base hits in 135 games during his first year, then batted .321 with 64 extra-base hits and a .528 slugging percentage in 139 games the next season. He moved up three levels to Beaumont of the Class-A Texas League for the 1937-38 seasons. Fleming hit .289 with 44 doubles, eight triples and two homers in 156 games in 1937. He followed that up with a .296 average in 153 games in 1938, with 89 runs, 49 doubles, nine triples, ten homers, 108 RBIs and an .824 OPS. He jumped up to Toledo of the Double-A American Association in 1939 (highest level of the minors at the time) and batted .269 with 15 doubles, six triples, 27 homers in 126 games. All three of his minor league clubs had working agreements with the Detroit Tigers, and he actually opened the 1939 season in the majors, but he was quickly sent down at going 0-for-16 in eight games. Fleming spent all of 1940 in the minors with Buffalo of the Double-A International League, hitting .255 with 16 doubles, one triple and 22 homers in 122 games. He was traded to Nashville of the Class-A Southern Association at the end of the 1940 season and reappeared in the majors at the very end of the 1941 season with the Cleveland Indians for two games. He destroyed pitching in Nashville after getting dropped down a level in the minors, batting .414 with 34 doubles, eight triples and 29 homers in 106 games. During his brief stint with the Indians, he went 2-for-8 with a double and two RBIs.

Fleming was the starting first baseman for the Indians in 1942. In 156 games that year, he hit .292 with 71 runs, 27 doubles, 14 homers, 82 RBIs, 106 walks and an .845 OPS. He led the league with 23 intentional walks. He received mild MVP support that year, finishing 25th in the voting. After what appeared to be a breakout season at 26 years old, he missed all of the 1943-44 seasons, plus most of 1945 while serving in the military during WWII. Fleming returned to Cleveland in August of 1945 and hit .329/.382/.493 over the last 42 games. He spent the next two years serving as a platoon player at first base, playing a total of 202 games. His batting average dropped down to to .278 in 99 games in 1946, but his OBP actually went up one point due to a huge walk rate. In 99 games, he had 40 runs, 17 doubles, five triples, eight homers, 42 RBIs and an .827 OPS. In 103 games in 1947, he batted .242 with 39 runs, 14 doubles, four homers, 43 RBIs, 53 walks and a .711 OPS. The Pirates acquired Fleming on December 4, 1947 in exchange for first baseman Elbie Fletcher.

Fleming spent the entire 1948 season playing at Triple-A Indianapolis of the American Association, where he hit .323 with 112 runs, 28 doubles, 26 homers, 143 RBIs, 103 walks and a .983 OPS in 151 games. Fleming made the Pirates Opening Day roster in 1949, and was used mainly as a pinch-hitter, making three starts over the first two months of the season, which ended up being his last time in the big leagues. In 24 games with the Pirates that year, he hit .258 with seven RBIs and six walks in 38 plate appearances. His only two extra-base hits were triples. His last game was on June 9th and he was returned to Indianapolis, where he had a .340 average and a 1.010 OPS in 95 games. Fleming played minor league ball until 1956, serving one year as a player/manager during the 1954 season in the Chicago Cubs system. Three of those minor league seasons were spent back in Beaumont. In his first full year after leaving Pittsburgh, he played for San Francisco of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he hit .292 with 108 runs, 32 doubles, 25 homers, 138 RBIs and 126 walks in 184 games. With Toronto of the International League in 1951, he hit .267 with an .842 OPS. Despite sold results, he dropped down to the Double-A Texas League in 1952 and remained in that league for four seasons, seeing time with four teams. His final season in Beaumont was a brief stay in the Class-B Big State League in 1956. During his seven-year big league career, he hit .277 with 168 runs, 69 doubles, 29 homers and 199 RBIs in 434 games.

Adonis Terry, pitcher for the 1892-94 Pirates. He burst onto the minor league scene as an 18-year-old in 1883, going 16-9, 1.38 for the Brooklyn Greys of the Interstate League. By 1884, he was a big league starter, spending the next 14 years in the majors, winning a total of 197 games. Terry remained in Brooklyn, playing for the Atlantics/Grays of the American Association for six years, then following the team in 1890 as it shifted to the National League. He did not have a good rookie season, as Brooklyn was a ninth place team and Adonis (real name was William) was thrown into the fire often, going 19-35, 3.55 in 55 starts, while pitching 476 innings, which included 54 complete games. He set a career high with 230 strikeouts. Despite that high inning total, he was only sixth in the league in innings that year. In 1885, he went 6-17, 4.26 in 209 innings, completing all 23 of his starts, while also pitching twice in relief. The next year he had an 18-16, 3.09 record in 288.1 innings, as Brooklyn improved to a third place finish. Terry completed 32 of 34 starts and he tossed five shutouts. While there weren’t a ton of homers hit in the 19th century, he allowed just one home run all season in 1886. During the 1887 season, he went 16-16, 4.02 in 318 innings. He completed all 35 of his starts that season and even saved three games in relief.

Brooklyn finished in second place in 1888, and Terry went 13-8, 2.03 in 195 innings, with 20 complete games and two shutouts in 23 starts. His ERA was the third best in the league, his highest finish among league leaders in that category. He struck out 138 batters that year, the same amount as the previous season, except he did it in 123 fewer innings. He had the best strikeout rate in the league that year (6.4 per nine innings). Terry went 22-15, 3.29 in 326 innings in 1889, completing 35 of 39 starts, while helping Brooklyn to a first place finish in the American Association. He had 186 strikeouts that year, the second highest total of his career. The team switched to the National League in 1890 and he had his best year, going 26-16, 2.94, with 185 strikeouts in 370 innings. Terry had 38 complete games in 44 starts. His final season in Brooklyn didn’t go well, as his career year one season earlier, turned into a 6-16, 4.22 record in 194 innings in 1891. He finished his eight years in Brooklyn with a 126-139, 3.42 record in 2,376.1 innings, twice winning over twenty games. He was released by Brooklyn in June of 1892, after not pitching during the first two months of the season. He signed quickly with Baltimore and lost the only game he pitched there, giving up seven runs in a complete game. The Pirates acquired Terry on June 17, 1892, for second baseman Cub Stricker, who they acquired three days earlier for Hall of Fame pitcher Pud Galvin.

Terry pitched great for the Pirates, going 18-7, 2.51 in 240 innings over the last four months of the 1892 season. He completed 24 of 26 starts and pitched four times in relief as well. He struggled a bit in 1893, going 12-8, 4.45 in 19 starts and seven relief outings. Like most pitchers during that time, he had troubles with the new pitching rules with distance to home and where the pitchers had to stand. He finished with 99 walks and 52 strikeouts that season. On April 28, 1894, he made his first start of the season in the seventh game of the year for the Pirates. It was also his last start for the team. He allowed five runs in the first inning, unable to record three outs before he was removed from the game. A month later, he was a regular member of the Chicago Colts (Cubs) rotation, finishing his big league career there three years later. He was 5-11, 5.84 in 163.1 innings to finish out the 1894 season, which was one of the best for offense in baseball history. He had 127 walks and 39 strikeouts that year. Terry then compiled a strong record in 1895, despite only minor improvements in the ERA department. He went 21-14, 4.80 in 311.1 innings that year. It was a drop of 1.04 in ERA, but hitting dropped league-wide from a high in 1894, so his ERA wasn’t as big of an improvement as it appears. He was above league average both years, yet he went from six games under .500 to seven games over that mark. In 1896, Terry went 15-14, 4.33 in 235.2 innings, with 25 complete games in 28 starts. He lost his only start during the 1897 season, giving up ten runs over eight innings in his final game. Terry played his last two seasons of pro ball in the minors for Milwaukee of the Western League, where his manager was Connie Mack, who was his regular catcher in Pittsburgh.

After retiring as a player, Terry briefly took up umpiring in the majors, though that didn’t last long. His career record in 14 years was 197-196, 3.74 in 3,514.1 innings. He had 406 career starts and completed 367 games, finishing with 17 shutouts. He had 1,553 strikeouts. Terry was a strong hitter, who took turns in the outfield throughout his career. He even played a little shortstop and first base. He was a career .249 hitter in 667 games, with 314 runs, 76 doubles, 54 triples, 15 homers and 287 RBIs (incomplete due to missing 1884 stats). Stolen bases aren’t available for his first two seasons, but he had 106 steals during the other 12 years. Terry was the pitcher in 1896 when Ed Delahanty became the second player to hit four homers in one game. The third game with four homers didn’t happen for another 36 years.

Jim Gray, infielder for the 1884 and 1890 Alleghenys, and 1893 Pirates. He was a native of Pittsburgh, who kept popping up with the local teams every so often. His minor league records show him playing parts of three (1887-88, 1898) seasons with no available stats. He mostly played semi-pro ball in the Pittsburgh area, and was well-known in Pittsburgh and a very popular player. He played baseball full-time for just two years (1887-88) because he had a job in town that paid much better than pro ball, plus the job allowed him to play with the local semi-pro teams back when baseball was hugely popular in town. His entire Major League career consisted of six games, and included three stints with the Pirates franchise and two games for the Pittsburgh Burghers in 1890, a team from the Player’s League. In 1884, Gray was forced into action for the Alleghenys of the American Association when Doggie Miller got hurt while running in the fourth inning. Teams back then didn’t carry many extra players, so an injury sometimes resulted in a local player filling in. Gray was one of the better (best?) local amateur players, so he got the call that day. He’s credited online with playing seven innings on defense, but the called was called after seven innings, so there’s an error in his career defensive stats. Six years later, he filled in again for the Alleghenys, this time as a member of the National League. The Alleghenys had two injured infielders and needed a shortstop for one game in Cleveland. Manager Guy Hecker asked owner J. Palmer O’Neill to send him a player and Gray was the choice. He had a rough game that day, going 0-for-3 with three errors, two of them costly, in a 15-0 loss.

In 1893, Gray was called upon to substitute for Jack Glasscock for two days and he collected two hits in each game. The only reason he didn’t stay longer was because the Pirates went on the road after his second game and he couldn’t leave due to work obligations. His first game in 1893 came exactly three years to the day of his lone game in 1890 with the Alleghenys. During his two games with the Pittsburgh Player’s League club, Gray made the headlines for belting an inside-the-park home run in a 6-0 win. He was able to hold his own at the plate during his brief big league time, batting .304 with a homer in his 23 career at-bats, but he had his share of problems in the field, making nine errors in his six games. That’s an interesting career line because he was known more for his defense than his offense, and it was said that if he was a little better at the plate, he would have been a regular in the majors. He was referred to in The Pittsburgh Press as the “local County League boy”  or “the East Ender” whenever he showed up in a Major League game. In his six game career, he played third base, second base and shortstop. We covered his career in an Obscure Pittsburgh Pirates article that goes into full detail about his playing days in Pittsburgh.

The Trades

On this date in 1904, the Pirates, New York Giants and Cincinnati Reds got together on a three-player trade. Pittsburgh sent young right fielder Jimmy Sebring to the Reds, while the Reds sent veteran outfielder Mike Donlin to the Giants and New York sent outfielder Moose McCormick to the Pirates. This trade is an odd one in that all three of these players had no problems walking away from their baseball careers, right in the middle of them. Donlin was by far the best player of the group, but he also had a successful career outside of baseball, performing in vaudeville with his wife, who was a famous actress at the time. Sebring also left baseball to be with his wife, who was sick for a brief time. Instead of returning, he began playing for a local team and was blacklisted from the majors. He returned to the majors in 1909, but passed away the following off-season. McCormick retired from baseball for three years, before going back to the Giants, where he was used mostly off the bench.

The Pirates got just 66 games out of McCormick, but they later acquired Donlin for outfielder Vin Campbell, another players that had no qualms over leaving baseball for more money elsewhere. Sebring, who is most known in baseball history for hitting the first World Series homer, had -0.3 WAR with the Reds in 114 games after the deal. McCormick was worth 0.7 WAR for the Pirates, who traded him in December of 1904. The Giants made out the best, getting two big seasons out of Donlin, but his willingness to leave baseball for more money left they without a key player multiple times.

On this date in 1930, the Pirates traded outfielder Fred Brickell to the Philadelphia Phillies for outfielder Denny Sothern. This is listed as a trade, but it was technically the two teams trading waiver pickups, not an actual trade, but it worked the same way. The Pirates were giving up a 23-year-old outfielder with a .312 average over 265 games, spread out over five seasons. In return, they got a 26-year-old center fielder, with a .287 average in 321 games, and a knack of picking up outfield assists, twice leading National League center fielders. The trade quickly went down south for the Pirates. Sothern would play just 17 games for Pittsburgh, and only 19 other games in his big league career. He hit .176 with the Pirates and never picked up another assist after leaving Philadelphia. It wasn’t a huge loss for the Pirates, as Brickell also saw a quick drop in his production. He played parts of four seasons in Philadelphia, hitting .258 with one homer in 236 games. His time in Philadelphia actually rated as -2.4 WAR according to modern metrics. Sothern’s remaining big league time was worth -0.7 WAR.

On this date in 1958, the Pirates signed the great Willie Stargell as an amateur free agent. Just 18 years old at the time, and fresh out of Encinal HS in Alameda, California, Stargell went on to have a 21-year Major League career, spent all with the Pirates (1962-82), which ended with him gaining election into the Hall of Fame during his first season on the ballot. Stargell reportedly received a $1,500 bonus to sign. Money well spent by the Pirates I’d say. He ranks first in Pirates history with 475 homers, 1,540 RBIs and 937 walks. He is fifth all-time in WAR for the Pirates trailing all-time greats Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, Paul Waner and Arky Vaughan. Stargell was a seven-time All-Star, who won the 1979 MVP and helped the Pirates to World Series titles in 1971 and 1979.

On this date in 1987, the Pirates traded third baseman Jim Morrison to the Detroit Tigers for third baseman/outfielder Darnell Coles. Five days later, the Tigers also sent pitcher Morris Madden to the Pirates as the player to be named later in this deal. The Pirates got 14 appearances (three starts) out of Madden, and he had a 5.03 ERA in 19.2 innings over parts of two seasons. Coles lasted nearly a full year with the Pirates before he was dealt for outfielder Glenn Wilson. In 108 games with the Pirates, he hit .230 with 11 homers and 60 RBIs. Morrison was in his 11th season in the majors, nearing his 35th birthday at the time of the deal. He hit .274, with 57 homers and 241 RBIs in 552 games for the Pirates over five seasons. He was nearly done as a player at the time of the trade, batting .209/.219/.314 in 58 games with the 1987-88 Tigers, then .152 with two homers and a .468 OPS in 51 games for the 1988 Atlanta Braves.

On this date in 2000, the Pirates trade utility fielder Luis Sojo to the Yankees for pitcher Chris Spurling. Sojo had been with New York up until the 2000 season, before signing with the Pirates as a free agent. At the time of the trade, he had a .760 OPS in 61 games (40 starts). To get the veteran back, the Yankees gave up a 23-year-old minor league reliever who they took in the 41st round of the 1997 draft. Spurling was in high-A ball, where he remained and pitched extremely well after the trade. The next year he tried out starting in Double-A with mild success, but returned to the level the next year, where he moved into the closing role and pitched strong in 51 outings. The Pirates lost him in the 2002 Rule 5 draft and he eventually pitched 187 games in the majors over four seasons. Sojo had signed a one-year deal with the Pirates and was not playing full-time. He moved to a deep bench role with the Yankees, playing 76 games over parts of three years there before retiring. This would have been a decent return for a bench player on an expiring contract, but all the Pirates got out of the deal was minimal money savings from Sojo (he was only making $450,000 and they had to pay someone to replace him), and the cash from the Rule 5 pick.