Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a trade of note.
On this date in 1971, the Pirates traded pitcher Ed Acosta and outfielder Johnny Jeter to the San Diego Padres in exchange for pitcher Bob Miller. Jeter was 26 years old at the time, coming off a season in which he served as a backup outfielder for the Pirates, hitting .238 with 12 RBIs and 27 runs scored in 85 games. He had also played briefly for the Pirates in 1969, but he had spent the entire 1971 season in Triple-A, hitting .324 with 36 steals and 17 homers in 138 games. Acosta was a 27-year-old, tall righty, with only three games of Major League experience, coming as a member of the 1970 Pirates. He was also in Triple-A in 1971, with a 12-11, 2.72 record in 26 starts and one relief appearance at the time of the trade. Miller was a 32-year-old righty reliever, who was in his 14th season in the majors. He was pitching well for the Padres, who had picked him up early in the season from the Chicago Cubs.
After going 7-3, 1.41 with seven saves in 38 appearances for San Diego, Miller went 1-2, 1.29 with three saves in 28 innings over 16 outings for the Pirates. He pitched 7.2 innings in the postseason, and while he was credited with the loss in game six of the World Series, the Pirates still went on to win their fourth title that year. Miller also spent the entire 1972 season with the Pirates and put up strong stats in a bullpen role. Jeter hit .320 over the last month of the 1971 season in the majors, then batted .221 with an 18:92 BB/SO ratio the next year as the Padres center fielder. He was traded to the Chicago White Sox after the 1972 season and played 95 games over his last two years in the majors. Just like Jeter, Acosta also performed well right after the deal, then had his problems in his only full season in San Diego. Unlike Jeter, Acosta never played in the majors after 1972, finishing his career with two seasons in the minors. He was 6-9, 3.87 in 135 innings over 54 games (eight starts) for the Padres. As far as value, the Pirates got 1.1 WAR out of Miller, though his contribution in 1971 was worth even more than what the Pirates gave up. Jeter and Acosta combined for 1.2 WAR, though that number was lowered by Acosta’s awful hitting, which led to one career hit.
Anthony Banda, pitcher for the 2021-22 Pirates. He was originally drafted out of high school in Texas by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011, taken with their 33rd round pick. He decided to attend San Juanito College, where he moved up to a tenth round pick in 2012 by the Milwaukee Brewers. He went to the rookie level Arizona League that year, where he went 2-3, 5.83, with 43 strikeouts in 41.2 innings over four starts and ten relief appearances. At 19 years old in 2013, he played for Helena of the short-season Pioneer League, where he had a 3-4, 4.45 record in 60.2 innings over 14 starts. In 2014, Banda went 6-6, 3.66, with 83 strikeouts in 83.2 innings for Wisconsin of the Low-A Midwest League. He made 14 starts and six relief appearances. On July 31, 2014, he got sent to the Diamondbacks in a three-player trade. He was six starts that year after the deal, pitching in the Midwest League with South Bend. He went 3-0, 1.54 in 35 innings, with 34 strikeouts. In 2015, he spent the entire season with Visalia of the High-A California League, going 8-8, 3.32 in 28 games (27 starts), with 152 strikeouts in 151.2 innings. Banda split the 2016 season evenly between Double-A Mobile of the Southern League and Triple-A Reno of the Pacific Coast League, making 13 starts at each level. He pitched well at both levels, though he was much better at Mobile, which isn’t surprising because Reno’s ballpark favors hitters heavily. He combined to go 10-6, 2.88, with 152 strikeouts in 150 innings.
Banda made 22 starts for Reno in 2017, posting an 8-7, 5.39 record, with 116 strikeouts in 122 innings. He made his big league debut that year, pitching eight times (four starts) for the Diamondbacks. He went 2-3, 5.96, with 25 strikeouts in 25.2 innings. In February of 2018, he was part of a three-team/seven-player trade that sent him to the Tampa Bay Rays. His 2018 season lasted eight minor league starts with Durham of the Triple-A International League, and three appearances with the Rays. He went on the disabled list in June and had Tommy John surgery, which pushed back his return until June of 2019. Banda had a 3.68 ERA in 14.2 innings with the Rays that year. After making 13 rehab appearances over three levels in 2019, he joined the Rays for three games in September and he allowed three runs in four innings. He made four appearances during the shortened 2020 season, giving up nine runs in seven innings. He was sold to the San Francisco Giants on August 31, 2020 and remained there until July 2, 2021, but his only time with the Giants was in the minors in 2021. The New York Mets acquired him on July 2nd and he pitched 7.1 innings over five games, allowing eight runs, before he was lost on waivers to the Pirates exactly one month after the trade. Banda had a 3.42 ERA in 25 appearances with the 2021 Pirates, picking up 25 strikeouts in 26.1 innings. In 2022, he had two stints on the injured list before the Pirates designated him for assignment. He had a 6.41 ERA in 19.2 innings over 23 appearances. He was sold to the Toronto Blue Jays, where he has a 5.06 ERA in six appearances through late July of 2022. Through the same point, his career big league record stands at 7-6, 5.48 in 110 innings over 77 appearances (six starts).
Bob Porterfield, pitcher for the 1958-59 Pirates. After serving in the Army during WWII, he played his first minor league games at 22 years old in 1946, seeing time in Class-D ball with Radford of the Blue Ridge League, while also spending part of the year in the Class-B Piedmont League for Norfolk. Porterfield went 8-8, 3.61, with 179 strikeouts in 152 innings between both stops during his first season. He spent all of 1947 with Norfolk, going 17-9, 2.37 in 239 innings, piling up 208 strikeouts. The next year he jumped three levels to Triple-A Newark of the International League, the affiliate of the New York Yankees. He had a 15-6, 2.17 record, with 133 strikeouts in 178 innings that season, then joined the Yankees in August for 12 starts and four relief appearances. Porterfield went 5-3, 4.50 in 78 innings in his first big league action. He saw limited work, with mediocre results during the 1949 season, the poor results in 1950. He went 2-5, 4.06 in 1949, with 57.2 innings pitched over eight starts and four relief appearances. The Yankees won the World Series in 1950, but his contribution that year amounted to an 8.69 ERA in 19.2 innings over ten appearances (two starts). Part of the year was spent with Kansas City of the Triple-A American Association, where he allowed five runs in eight innings over three games. For the first three and a half years of his Major League career, he was a seldom used pitcher for the New York Yankees, going 8-9, 5.06 in 40 appearances.
In the middle of 1951, Porterfield was traded to the Washington Senators, where he became an All-Star pitcher for a brief time. At the time of the deal, he had allowed six runs in three innings with the Yankees, while spending the rest of his time with Kansas City. After the trade, he finished off the 1951 season by going 9-8, 3.24 in 133.1 innings over 19 starts, with ten complete games and three shutouts. The Yankees didn’t miss him, but they clearly gave up on him too soon. In 1952, he had a 13-14, 2.72 record in 231.1 innings, with the lowest home run rate in the American League. He completed 15 of his 29 starts and tossed three shutouts. He received mild MVP support, finishing 24th in the voting. Porterfield was an All-Star selection in 1954, but his best season by far was in 1953, when he led the American League with 22 wins and nine shutouts. That 22-10, 3.35 record in 255 innings came with a team that finished with a .500 record, so they were not very good when he wasn’t on the mound. He made 32 starts that year and led the league with 24 complete games and an amazing total of nine shutouts. Porterfield finished seventh in the MVP voting that season. During his lone All-Star campaign, he went 13-15, 3.32 in 244 innings, with a league leading 21 complete games. This season wasn’t much different from his 1953 season except that the Senators finished with a 66-88 record. His results dropped off the next year significantly, with a 10-17, 4.45 record in 178 innings. After leading the league in complete games in back-to-back years, he completed just eight of 27 starts that year. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox in November of 1955. In five seasons with Washington, Porterfield went 67-64, 3.38 in 1,041.2 innings over 146 games (138 as a starter).
Portfield struggled in Boston, while also seeing a decline in his time on the mound. He was 3-12, 5.14 in 126 innings in 1956, with 18 starts and seven relief appearances. Pitching more in relief in 1957, he went 4-4, 4.05 in 102.1 innings over nine starts and 19 relief outings. The Pirates purchased his contract in early May of 1958 after two relief appearances that year for the Red Sox. For the Pirates that season, he pitched 37 times (six starts), going 4-6, 3.27 with five saves in 87.2 innings. Porterfield began the 1959 season with the Pirates, throwing 5.1 innings over the first month of the season before he was released. He was picked up by the Chicago Cubs and got hit hard there in four appearances over a five-week stretch. Porterfield was put on waivers, where the Pirates picked him up and used him in a relief role for the rest of the season. He pitched 36 innings over 30 appearances, in what would end up as his last season in the majors. He ended up with a 5.29 ERA in 47.2 innings that season between the two-team/three-stop tour. Porterfield went on to pitch two more years in the minors before retiring. In 12 big league seasons, he finished with an 87-97, 3.79 record in 1,567.2 innings over 318 games, 193 of those games came as a starter. He tossed 92 complete games and he had 23 shutouts. Despite high strikeout totals in the minors, his big league season high was 82 in 1954. His real first name was Erwin. Bob was a childhood nickname given to him at a very young age by his father.
Elmer Jacobs, pitcher for the 1916-18 Pirates. He had a successful career as a minor league pitcher, but that strong pitching that led to 220 minor league wins over 13 seasons, never translated well to the majors. Jacobs was still able to last nine years in the big leagues, finishing with a 50-81 record. He began his career in the 1912 at 19 years old, pitching two years of minor league ball ,prior to spending the 1914 season with the Philadelphia Phillies. He was in Class-D ball both of those seasons, starting off with Clinton of the Illinois-Missouri League, where he had a 14-19 record and threw 265 innings. His ERA isn’t available for his first two seasons of pro ball, but it’s known that he allowed 4.25 runs per nine innings in 1912, and 4.60 runs per nine innings in 1913, when he went 20-19 in 317 innings for Burlington of the Central Association. With the 1914 Phillies, which was a tremendous jump in competition over the previous year (skipping four levels), he went 1-3, 4.80 in 50.2 innings over seven starts and seven relief appearances. It was back to the minors in 1915, where he spent the entire year with Albany of the Class-B New York State League, where he posted a 10-16 record in 38 appearances (full stats are unavailable). In December of 1915, the Pirates purchased his contract from the Phillies, though that wasn’t the plan of Philadelphia. They believed that he had a lot of promise, and tried to sneak him through waivers so he could be farmed out to Portland of the Double-A Pacific Coast League. The Pirates were the only team that claimed him and refused to give up that claim, so they were able to purchase him for the $1,500 waiver fee.
Jacobs would switch between starting and relieving for Pittsburgh in 1916, being used 17 times in each role. He had a 6-10, 2.94 record in 153 innings. While it sounds like a strong ERA, it was actually just the fifth best on the team and 18 points higher than the combined team ERA (which ranked the Pirates sixth in the National League). The 1917 Pirates were one of the worst teams in franchise history. They went 51-103 while scoring only 464 runs all year. Jacobs would pitch often that season, making 25 starts and 13 relief appearances for a combined total of 227.1 innings. His 2.81 ERA ranked third on the team, but due to the lack of run support, his record stood at just 6-19 when the season was over. In 1918, Jacobs struggled early, unable to get through five innings in any of his first four starts. The Pirates traded him to the Phillies on June 20, 1918 in exchange for pitcher Erskine Mayer. Jacobs would pitch well for Philadelphia that year, going 9-5, 2.41 in 123 innings, with four shutouts and 12 complete games in his 14 starts. It would end up being his only winning season in the big leagues. He split the next year between Phillies and St Louis Cardinals, combining to go 9-16, 3.32 in 214 innings. He completed 17 of his 23 starts that year, and he made 11 relief appearances as well. He spent all of 1920 with St Louis and struggled, going 4-8, 5.21 in 77.2 innings over nine starts and 14 relief outings.
Jacobs pitched the 1921-23 seasons for Seattle of the Pacific Coast League (highest level of the minors at the time). He put together a 66-41 record during that time, topped by his 24-10, 3.13 mark in 312 innings in 1923. He improved each year in the year, starting off 19-14, 3.67 in 292 innings, followed by a 23-17, 3.50 record in 306 innings in 1922. After his three-year stint in the minors, he returned to the majors with the 1924-25 Chicago Cubs. Jacobs went 11-12, 3.74 in 190.1 innings in 1924, completing 13 of his 22 starts, while also pitching 16 times in relief. That was followed by a 5.17 ERA in 55.2 innings over four starts and 14 relief appearances during the 1925 season, which he split between the Cubs and Los Angeles of the PCL, where he had a 2.75 ERA in 121 innings. He won 20 games and pitched 278 innings for Los Angeles in 1926, then the 1927 Chicago White Sox gave him his last chance in the majors. He was 2-4, 4.60 in 74.1 innings that season, making eight starts and 17 relief appearances. Jacobs spent the last five years of his pro career in the minors, playing the first four seasons with the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League. While he got better every year during his time with Seattle in the PCL, he got a little worse each year with San Francisco, starting at a high with a 22-8, 2.57 record in 277 innings in 1928. He won 21 games in 1929 and 17 in 1930, then finished his time there with 12-11, 3.98 record in 217 innings in 1931. His final season of pro ball was split between two Single-A Southern Association teams, Memphis and Knoxville. Jacobs went 50-81, 3.55 in 1,189.1 big league innings, with 133 starts and 117 relief appearances. He threw 65 complete games and nine shutouts. He ended up throwing over 4,000 innings in his pro career. His real first name was William. He went by his middle name.
Pat Kilhullen, catcher for the Pirates on June 10, 1914. He was in his third season of minor league ball when the Pirates came calling, putting him into his only Major League game on June 10, 1914. He was with a team from Fitchburg, Mass. of the Class-B New England League, when he joined the Pirates as they played in Boston that day. He actually played the day before for Fitchburg, then traveled after the game to meet the team. Pirates scout Billy Murray saw him play that season and sent a favorable report to the management, so when the Pirates went east, they asked him to join the team in Boston. They gave him a tryout pre-game, then inserted him into the lineup in the eighth inning, with the score well out of hand. Kilhullen batted once and was robbed of a hit on a nice play up the middle by Hall of Fame shortstop Rabbit Maranville. The one day scouting report on him by The Pittsburgh Press, was that he was a sturdy kid, who handled himself well, crowded the plate and had a strong throwing arm. The trial given to Kilhullen ended up being just that, a trial, because the asking price for his release from the Fitchburg ballclub turned out to be too high. When the Pirates left Boston, Kilhullen returned to his old team. It was said that the Pirates were given five days to decide if they wanted to keep him by Fitchburg manager Fred Lake. By June 15th, he was back in the Fitchburg lineup.
Kilhullen ended up playing minor league ball until 1922, when his career (and life) ended that October due to smallpox. The early part of his career, from 1912 (at 21 years old) to 1916, was spent in the New England area. He played 45 games total in 1912 for New Bedford and Worcester of the New England League. Kilhullen batted .254 with 18 extra-base hits in 104 games in 1913. During his season with Fitchburg in 1914, he batted .286 in 105 games, with 23 extra-base hits and 16 steals. Fitchburg moved to Manchester during the later part of the 1914 season and he played for the team in 1915 as well, batting .226 with five extra-base hits in 85 games. His 1916 stats are limited, but they show him splitting 86 games between Portland and Lowell of the Class-B Eastern League. He went to the West Coast in 1917 with Oakland of the Double-A Pacific Coast League, though he only has 12 games to his credit that year, then spent the 1918 season working a war job, while also playing baseball in the shipyard league. He didn’t return to the pro ranks until 1921 when he played for Calgary of the Class-B Western Canada League and hit .256 with five extra-base hits in 62 games. During that tragic 1922 season, he batted .302 over 54 games, playing for Portland of the PCL and Denver of the Class-A Western League. The name “Pat” was actually a nickname, and he mostly went by his first name Joseph (Joe), including during his brief time with the Pirates.
Truck Eagan, shortstop for the 1901 Pirates. He hit over 100 homers in the minors over 14 seasons, during an era when the Major League record for homers was 138 by Roger Connor. Truck’s career home run total is missing three full years of data, but he hit at least 105 homers during his minor league playing days. He spent most of his pro career playing on the west coast, but he played his entire Major League career in two cities well to the east, Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Eagan’s stint in the majors lasted just one month, making his debut with the Pirates on May 1, 1901, and playing his last game on May 30th with the Cleveland Blues (Indians franchise). Truck (his first name was Charles) played three games at shortstop for the Pirates, and one game off the bench as a pinch-hitter, while regular shortstop Bones Ely missed a week of action early in the season. When Ely returned on May 7th, it marked the end of Eagan’s time with the Pirates. He was released to a minor league team in Columbus, but he refused to report. A few weeks later, he played five games for the Blues at second base. Before he debuted with the Pirates, he played against them in an in-season exhibition game on April 26th, handling shortstop for a team of college players. His signing by the Pirates was actually announced on April 9th on the west coast, where he was playing winter ball that year prior to signing. He was practicing with the Pirates within a week, so that exhibition game actually came while he was a member of the Pirates and he just switched teams for the day. Truck finished with a .133 Major League average, with seven strikeouts in 31 plate appearances. He collected one single and two RBIs while with Pittsburgh.
Eagan debuted in pro ball in 1898 at 20 years old, splitting the year between the San Francisco Athletics and San Jose of the Pacific Coast League. He played for San Jose and Sacramento of the Class-E California League in 1899, then remained in Sacramento for the 1900 season. After his big league time in 1901, he played for Sacramento again, as well as Oakland of the California League. His first four seasons of minor league ball have no available stats. In 1902, Eagan batted .257 with 38 extra-base hits in 159 games for Sacramento. Over a seven-year stretch in the Pacific Coast League (1903-09), he played between 180 and 210 games each season, starting with one year for Sacamento in 1903, when he hit .322 with 57 doubles, 23 triples and 13 homers. In 1904, he batted .311 with 49 doubles and 24 homers for Tacoma. In 1905, he hit .279 with 47 doubles and 21 homers for the Tacoma team, which moved to Sacramento mid-season. In 1906, Eagan hit .252 with 43 extra-base hits for Fresno. In 1907, he moved back to Oakland for two season, hitting .335 with 45 doubles and ten homers the first year, followed by a .262 average and 39 extra-base hits the next season. With Vernon in 1909, his average dropped to .223, and he had 38 extra-base hits. His final two seasons saw him drop down in competition, as he played for Sacramento of the Class-D California State League in 1910 and Richmond of the Class-C Virginia League in 1911. His nickname “Truck” came from his off-season job of pushing a hand truck, which helped make him stronger. The nickname pre-dates his pro career, first showing up in print on August 30, 1897 while playing for a team called the Bushnell Alerts of Alameda. After his playing days, he picked up the nickname of the “Babe Ruth of the West Coast”. Ruth’s career didn’t begin until after Eagan retired.