Three Pittsburgh Pirates trades of note occurred on this date and three former players were born on this date. Before we get into them, current Pirates outfielder Travis Swaggerty turns 25 today.
On this date in 1909, the Pirates traded infielders Alan Storke and Jap Barbeau to the St Louis Cardinals for third baseman Bobby Byrne. The Pirates were trying to get stronger at third base for a run at their second World Series appearance. Neither Barbeau, the incumbent starter, nor his replacement Byrne, were strong hitters. Byrne was much more steady on defense and was said to handle the bat better and have decent speed. Storke was a backup infielder for the last four seasons with the team, though he did see extensive playing time during the 1907 season. He did well after the trade with the Cardinals, then was sent to the Cincinnati Reds in the off-season. Storke never played for the Reds. He had to have lung surgery in March of 1910 and he died during the operation. Byrne became a much better hitter after the deal, and by 1910 he led the National League in hits and doubles. Before the deal, he had a .223 average in three years with the Cardinals. He helped the Pirates to their first World Series title in 1909 with his solid defense and five runs scored during the series. He remained in Pittsburgh through the middle of the 1913 season. Barbeau played better with St Louis in 1909, but his Major League career would soon be over, lasting just seven games in the 1910 season before going to the minors to finish his career nine seasons later. The Pirates got 10.8 WAR out of Byrne, giving up two players who had 1.4 WAR with the Pirates and 0.6 WAR after the deal, though Storke may have evened the trade out more if he didn’t pass away.
On this date in 1983, the Pirates traded catcher Steve Nicosia to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for catcher Milt May. The Pirates also received cash in the deal because May had more left on his contract. Nicosia was unhappy since Spring Training with his playing time, serving as the backup to Tony Pena. Nicosia had played just 21 games at that point, and he was hitting just .130 at the time of the trade, with his only RBI on year coming via a solo home run. May was a former Pittsburgh Pirates catcher, who was traded away ten years earlier for pitcher Jerry Reuss. Shortly before the 1983 deal, the 33-year-old May caught his 1,000th Major League game. He remained with the Pirates through the end of 1984 in Nicosia’s backup role, before retiring after the season. He had just 12 at-bats over the rest of 1983, then hit .177 in 50 games in 1984. After the deal, Nicosia hit .333 in limited time for the 1983 Giants. The next season, while still in San Francisco, he batted .303 over 48 games, serving as the backup for Bob Brenly. He finished his big league career in 1985, splitting the season between the Montreal Expos and Toronto Blue Jays. May had -0.4 WAR after the deal, while Nicosia had -0.1 WAR.
On this date in 1988, Pittsburgh sent first baseman/outfielder Mike Diaz to the Chicago White Sox for outfielder Gary Redus. The 28-year-old Diaz was a versatile player, who could also catch if needed. He hit for power during his first two seasons with the Pirates, but that power had disappeared at the time of this trade, and his season average was down to .230 in limited time. After the deal, he played 40 games with the White Sox, which ended up being the last games he played in the majors. He went to Japan in 1989 and finished his career there three years later. Redus was 31 years old at the time of the deal and in his seventh season in the majors. He was a good outfielder, with above average speed, and he was considered to be a decent hitter. He struggled in 1988 after the trade, hitting .197 with two homers in 30 games, and became a free agent at the end of the season. The Pirates quickly re-signed him and made him a platoon player. He saw most of his time at first base and spent time at all three outfield spots. Redus was with the team through the National League East pennant run from 1990-92, before he moved on to the Texas Ranges for his last two years. He hit .255 with 24 homers, 69 stolen bases and 157 runs scored in 398 games for the Pirates. The deal worked out great for the Pirates, but only because they were able to re-sign Redus as a free agent.
Britt Reames, pitcher for the 2006 Pirates. He was signed by the St Louis Cardinals in 1995 as a 17th round pick out of The Citadel. He was originally drafted in the 46th round in 1992 out of high school by the Texas Rangers. He started strong in pro ball, posting a 1.52 ERA in five starts with New Jersey of the short-season New York-Penn League, picking up 42 strikeouts in 29.2 innings. He quickly moved up to Low-A, where he went 3-5, 3.46, with 63 strikeouts in 54.2 innings over ten starts for Savannah of the South Atlantic League. In 1996, Reames played for Peoria of the Class-A Midwest League, where he went 15-7, 1.90 in 161 innings over 25 starts, with 167 strikeouts. That was a great season, but his career got sidetracked by Tommy John surgery, which cost him all of the 1997-98 seasons. He returned for a partial season in 1999, going 3-2, 3.19 in 36.1 innings over eight starts and two relief appearances with Potomac of the High-A Carolina League. He was still dealing with an elbow issue for part of that year. Despite missing two full seasons and seeing limited time in A-ball in 1999, Reames made it to the majors in late August of 2000 for seven starts and a relief appearances for the Cardinals. He began the year in Double-A, where he had a 6.13 ERA in eight starts with Arkansas of the Texas League. He then joined Memphis of the Pacific Coast League, where had regained his old form. In 13 starts in Triple-A, he went 6-2, 2.28 in 75 innings. Between both stops, he had 116 strikeouts in 114.2 innings. With St Louis that year, he was 2-1, 2.88 in 40.2 innings.
The Cardinals traded Reames to the Montreal Expos in the off-season and he never got going there in three seasons, seeing minor league time each year. He went 4-8, 5.59 in 95 innings over 13 starts and 28 relief appearances in 2001, while also posting a 3.50 ERA in eight starts for Ottawa of the Triple-A International League. In 2002, he was 1-4, 5.03 in 68 innings over six starts and 36 relief outings for the Expos, while posting a 2.79 ERA in seven starts with Ottawa. He struggled as a starter in Triple-A (Edmonton of the Pacific Coast League) in 2003, going 5-13, 5.42 in 188 innings, and ended up pitching just two games in relief with the Expos, allowing four runs in 1.1 innings. He spent all of 2004 in the minors with the Oakland A’s, going 3-5, 4.67 in 52 innings over 34 games (three starts) with Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League. Reames got into a couple of mid-season games in 2005 for Oakland, though he gave up six runs in 5.2 innings. The rest of the year was spent with Sacramento, where he went 6-6, 3.31 in 92.1 innings, with seven starts and 35 relief appearances.
The Pirates signed Reames as a free agent in November of 2005, and he spent most of the 2006 season with Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League, where he was primarily a starter. He had a 2.80 ERA in 64.1 innings over 14 games (11 starts). Pittsburgh called him up in August, giving him six relief appearances over a 12-day span. In his last game, he allowed five runs in 1.2 innings. He allowed eight runs over 7.1 innings during his brief time with the Pirates. He was designated for assignment in October and left via free agency after the season. He finished up his career playing winter ball in the Dominican during the 2006-07 off-season, where he allowed one earned run in ten innings. In six big league seasons, he went 7-13, 5.28, with 204 strikeouts in 218 innings over 26 starts and 75 relief appearances.
Terry Harper, outfielder for the 1987 Pirates. He was drafted out of high school in 16th round of the 1973 amateur draft by the Atlanta Braves. It took Harper seven years to make his Major League debut, and another five years before he saw full-time work in the majors. He started out as a pitcher, but he never put in a full season of work, compiling a 9-11, 4.75 record over 178 innings in 29 starts and 14 relief appearances. He played for Wytheville of the short-season Appalachian League in 1973, then moved up to Greenwood of the Class-A Western Carolinas League for the next three seasons. He didn’t do that bad at first, posting a 3.88 ERA in 58 innings in 1973, when he was still 17 years old at the start of the season. The next season saw him put up a 3.98 ERA in 43 innings, seeing more time in relief. The next season was the start of the downfall on the mound, as he had a 5.22 ERA in 69 innings, with 39 walks and 27 strikeouts. The switch to the outfield occurred in 1976, when he made two poor starts for Greenwood, in his third season at the level. He ended up going to the Gulf Coast League that year, where he played mostly outfield, with some time at the corner infield spots as well. In 51 games, he hit .259 with 13 extra-base hits, while drawing more walks (24) than strikeouts (23). He split the 1977 season between Greenwood and Savannah of the Double-A Southern League, combining to hit .275 in 124 games, with 59 runs, 28 extra-base hits, 61 RBIs, 64 walks, a .767 OPS and 14 steals.
Harper split the 1978 season between Savannah and Triple-A Richmond of the International League. He batted .259, with 38 runs, 22 extra-base hits, 45 RBIs and a .682 OPS in 120 games, with better results at the lower level. The 1979 season was spent in Richmond, where he hit .303 in 108 games, with 49 runs, 18 doubles, ten homers, 58 RBIs, an .847 OPS, and 15 steals in 17 attempts. Harper spent 1980 back in Richmond, hitting .279 with 66 runs, 19 doubles, eight triples, 13 homers, 72 RBIs, 54 walks, 34 steals and a .773 OPS in 140 games. That stole base total was more than double his second best season output, though he was thrown out 18 times attempting to steal. He came up to the Braves for the first time that September and hit .185/.279/.259 in 21 games. Harper was with the Braves at the start of 1981, through early June before the player’s strike paused the season. He played a few games in August after the strike ended, then a few more at the end of the season, spending the other time back in Richmond. He batted .260 with nine runs, two homers, eight RBIs and a .709 OPS in 85 plate appearances over 40 games in Atlanta that year. He had three stints with the Braves in 1982, joining the team for good at the end of July. He destroyed pitching in Richmond that year, putting up a .384 average and a 1.146 OPS in 37 games. In 48 games with the Braves, he batted .287 with 16 runs, two homers, 16 RBIs, seven steals and a .694 OPS.
Harper spent the entire 1983 season in the majors as a part-time player who covered both corner outfield spots. He hit .264 with 19 runs, 13 doubles, three homers, 26 RBIs and a .715 OPS in 80 games. He was with the Braves through early June of 1984 and then for a time in July. He then spent time in Richmond (.926 OPS in 59 games), and barely played after he returned to the Braves in September. He finished the year with a .157 average and a .400 OPS in 108 plate appearances. After playing 229 games over his first five seasons in the majors, Harper played 138 games in 1985 for the Braves, batting .264 with 58 runs, 15 doubles, 17 homers, 72 RBIs, 44 walks and a .734 OPS. He saw much less time the next season, hitting .257 with 26 runs, 12 doubles, eight homers, 30 RBIs and a .723 OPS in 108 games (65 starts), then Atlanta traded him in January of 1987 to the Detroit Tigers. Harper slumped with his batting average in the American League, hitting .203/.301/.391 through 31 games, getting just 74 plate appearances. On June 26, 1987, he was dealt to the Pirates in exchange for two minor league players. Harper did well back in the National League, hitting .288/.356/.379 in 36 games, getting nine starts at each corner outfield spot. After the season, he signed to play in Japan, ending his Major League career. He lasted just ten games in Japan, which was his last season in pro ball. Harper was a .253 hitter in 540 big league games over eight season, with 55 doubles, 36 homers, 180 RBIs and 147 runs scored. Despite his 34 stolen bases in 1980 before joining the Braves, he stole just 37 bases in the majors, and he was caught 28 times.
Ike McAuley, shortstop for the 1914-16 Pirates. He played two seasons for Waterloo of the Class-D Central Association (1913-14) to start his pro career, showing a huge improvement the second year. He batted .184 over 127 games his first season, then raised his average to .300 the next year in 129 games, finishing with 79 runs and 61 steals, which helped get the attention of the Pirates. He was purchased from Waterloo on June 30, 1914 by scout Chick Fraser for $2,500. Fraser got tipped off about McAuley and scouted him for a short time before the purchase, which occurred while scouts of the New York Giants and Chicago White Sox were there to see him play. McAuley’s purchase allowed him to remain with Waterloo through August 15th before reporting to Pittsburgh. His arrival in the big leagues was delayed into September due to his minor league team being in the pennant race. McAuley played his first big league game on September 10, 1914 at shortstop, with Honus Wagner moving over to third base for the new kid. He collected a hit, but also made an error and struck out twice. In 15 games split between 2B/3B/SS, he hit .125/.125/.125 with three singles, no RBIs or walks, and eight strikeouts. Over the next two seasons in Pittsburgh, McAuley played just nine games, all at shortstop, spending the better part of those two years in the minors. He went a combined 4-for-23 at the plate in 1915-16, with one run batted in during his three partial seasons with Pittsburgh. All of his games with the Pirates were played in September/October. He lost the second base job to Paddy Siglin in Spring Training of 1915. Siglin was his teammate in Waterloo and his roommate while with the Pirates. McAuley went to play for Youngstown of the Class-B Central League, where he hit .213 in 117 games, with 48 runs, 23 doubles, four homers, 25 steals and 49 walks. He struck out 99 times that season, which was a huge number for the time, especially since he didn’t play a full season. When he returned in September of 1915, McAuley played five games in four days, then spent the rest of the season on the bench, only appearing in an exhibition game on September 26th.
In 1916, McAuley was sent out to Rochester of the Double-A International League (highest level of the minors at the time) prior to the season. He is listed as a switch-hitter, but that’s only somewhat true. He was a left-handed hitter when he came to the Pirates and manager Fred Clarke made him hit right-handed full-time. When he went back to the minors, he was switched back to left-handed by former Pirates player Tommy Leach, who was a player/manager at the time. McAuley hit .256 with 17 extra-base hits in 136 games for Rochester, and rejoined the Pirates late in September, after Rochester’s season ended. There was actually talk of the Pirates bringing him back as early as May 21st, but he ended up playing his first big league game in 1916 on September 22nd. The Pirates put him on waivers in April of 1917 and he was picked up the St Louis Cardinals on April 9th. He played three games between April 25th and May 1st when the Cardinals were dealing with a minor injury to Rogers Hornsby. On May 17th, McAuley was sold to Montreal of the International League. He batted .258 with 19 extra-base hits in 120 minor league games that season, while going 2-for-7 with an RBI for the Cardinals.
McAuley spent the 1918-19 seasons with Kansas City of the Double-A American Association. The 1918 season was shortened due to the war and he hit .204 with ten doubles in 66 games. The next season saw him hit .274 in 140 games, with 21 doubles and six triples. In 1920, he moved on to Los Angeles of the Double-A Pacific Coast League, where he played the next six seasons. McAuley hit .255 in 168 games in 1920, with 25 doubles, four triples and three homers. His last pro homers came five years earlier with Youngstown. In 1921, he batted .299 in 177 games, with 21 doubles and ten triples. In 1922, he had a .213 average in 181 games, with 18 doubles and five triples. McAuley hit .238 with 32 extra-base hits in 179 games in 1923. His average jumped to .276 in 154 games in 1924, with 22 doubles, six triples and three homers.
McAuley saw his last big league time in 1925, going eight years between big league appearances. He got into 37 early season games with the Chicago Cubs that year, and once again he was a fill-in for a Hall of Famer, as Rabbit Maranville was down with an injury at the time. McAuley put up strong numbers in that time, hitting .280/.343/.368, with ten runs, nine extra-base hits, 11 RBIs and 11 walks. The rest of the year was spent was spent back in Los Angeles, where he hit just .205 in 93 games. His average didn’t recover the next year, as he hit .205 in 93 games with Minneapolis of the American Association. He played minor league ball until 1927, getting into nearly 2,000 games down on the farm. That last season was split between Minneapolis and Class-A Fort Worth of the Texas League. He batted .299 in 87 games that season, with 16 doubles and two homers. Right before the start of the 1928 season, McAuley passed away from pneumonia at 36 years old. He batted .246 in 64 big league games, with 14 runs, eight doubles, two triples and 13 RBIs. Ike was a nickname that was seldom used during his career. While with the Pirates, he was called Jimmy (his name was James Earl McAuley).