We have four former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date. We also have one trade of note and a Game Rewind article from the 1926 season.
On this date in 2003, the Pirates traded All-Star outfielder Brian Giles to the San Diego Padres for outfielder Jason Bay, pitcher Oliver Perez and minor league pitcher Cory Stewart, who was a player to be named later in the deal. The 32-year-old Giles had played five seasons with the Pirates, hitting .308 with 165 homers, 501 runs scored, 519 walks and 506 RBIs in 715 games. At the time of the deal, he was hitting .299 with 16 homers and a .951 OPS. Perez and Bay each had minimal Major League experience at the time. Bay, at age 24, had played just three games for the Padres. He was in Triple-A, batting .303 with 20 homers and 23 stolen bases in 91 games. Perez had an 8-12, 4.51 record in two years with the Padres and he had just turned 22 years old. Stewart didn’t come over until October. He was a 23-year-old lefty, who spent the 2003 season in Double-A, going 12-7, 3.72, with 133 strikeouts in 125.2 innings over 24 starts.
After the deal, the Pirates got two minor league seasons out of Stewart, who never made it to the majors. Perez paid off huge his first full season (12 wins, 2.98 ERA, 239 K’s), then went downhill quickly, having three poor seasons before the Pirates traded him to the New York Mets in the Xavier Nady deal, which worked out well. Bay ended up being the key to the deal, hitting .281 with 139 homers and 452 RBIs over his six seasons (four full years) in Pittsburgh, before they traded him away for four players in a deal that did not work out. Giles played seven years in San Diego (he signed a free agent deal after 2005), and while he was still a strong hitter, his numbers fell way off from his Pirates days, especially the power numbers playing in his new spacious ballpark. He hit .279 with 83 homers in 833 games for the Padres. While the Pirates were only trading away two years and six weeks of control, Giles had 17.4 WAR in his time in San Diego. He had 26.1 WAR in Pittsburgh, where he played 118 fewer games. Bay had 15.1 WAR in Pittsburgh and Perez had 4.1 WAR, though he had 5.7 WAR during the 2004 season.
Jayson Nix, utility player for the 2014 Pirates. Nix had a brief stay in Pittsburgh as part of his seven-year career that saw him play for eight different teams. He was already in his seventh season when the Pirates acquired him as a free agent, just days after being released by the Tampa Bay Rays, where he was playing in the minors. Nix was a first round draft pick of the Colorado Rockies in 2001, taken 44th overall out of high school. In his pro debut that same year, he went to Casper of the short-season Pioneer League, where he hit .294 with 28 runs, 16 extra-base hits, 24 RBIs and an .856 OPS. Nix moved up to Low-A Asheville of the South Atlantic League in 2002, where he hit .246 with 73 runs, 29 doubles, 14 homers, 79 RBIs, 62 walks, a .740 OPS and 14 steals. In 2003, he was in the High-A California League and did well in the high offense environment with Visalia. He hit .281 with 107 runs scored, 46 doubles, 21 homers, 86 RBIs, and .826 OPS and 24 steals. He played in the Arizona Fall League that year for the first of two straight seasons. During the 2004 season, Nix played in Double-A for Tulsa of the Texas League. He hit just .213 that year in 123 games, with a major drop in his power, bringing him down to a .639 OPS. He had 58 runs, 17 doubles, 14 homers, 58 RBIs and 14 steals. He repeated the level in 2005 and batted .236 with a .644 OPS in 131 games. That year he had 68 runs, 27 doubles, 11 homers and 47 RBIs.
Just when it looked like his career stalled, Nix was promoted in 2006 to Triple-A Colorado Springs of the Pacific Coast League, which was another high offense team. He did not do well his first season in Triple-A, batting .251 with 39 runs, 14 doubles, two homers, 26 RBIs, 15 steals and a .630 OPS in 103 games. Repeating the level in 2007, he hit .292 with 80 runs, 33 doubles, 11 homers, 58 RBIs and 24 steals. His OPS went up 163 points over the previous season. He did even better in 2008, posting a .303 average and a .964 OPS in 67 games, which earned him his first promotion to the majors. In that brief time, he had 63 runs, 21 doubles, 17 homers and 51 RBIs. Nix hit just .125/.234/.161 in a 22-game trial for the Rockies in 2008. He played winter ball in Mexico during the 2008-09 off-season, posting a .775 OPS in 32 games. He became a free agent after the season and signed with the Chicago White Sox. Nix saw plenty of big league time that first year in Chicago, hitting .224 with 36 runs, 11 doubles, 12 homers, 32 RBIs and ten steals in 94 games. He began 2010 with the White Sox, then was lost mid-season on waivers to the Cleveland Indians. Between both stops he hit .224 again, this time with 32 runs, 15 doubles, 14 homers, 34 RBIs and just one steal in 102 games. His .676 OPS was 30 points lower than the previous season.
In 2011, Nix was purchased by the Toronto Blue Jays. He struggled in the majors that season, hitting .169/.245/.309 with four homers and 16 RBIs in 46 games. He signed with the New York Yankees after the season and spent two years there. He hit .243 with 24 runs, 13 doubles, four homers and 18 RBIs in 73 games in 2012, then batted .236 with 32 runs, nine doubles, three homers, 24 RBIs and 13 steals in 87 games in 2013. That was the only year in his career where most of his time was spent at shortstop. He played more third base and second base than anywhere else during his time in the majors. Prior to joining the Pirates in 2014, he hit .154/.214/.231 in 18 games with the Philadelphia Phillies, before they let him go in mid-May. After joining the Tampa Bay Rays, he hit .272/.340/.408 in 55 games for Durham of the Triple-A International League. Nix joined the Pirates in early August and batted .111/.158/.111 in 16 games, while seeing time at second base, third base and right field. The Pirates placed him on waivers in late August and he was claimed by the Kansas City Royals, where he finished his big league career that season. He played just seven games after leaving Pittsburgh, going 0-for-8 with the Royals. He played in Triple-A for the Phillies and Baltimore Orioles during the 2015 season, though he was released by the Phillies in late June, which ended his pro career. Nix was a .212 hitter in 466 big league games, with 55 doubles, 38 homers, 36 steals, 130 RBIs and 143 runs scored.
Eric Fryer, catcher for the 2011-12 and 2016 Pirates. He was a tenth round pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2007 draft out of Ohio State. His pro debut did not go well in the short-season Pioneer League, where he batted .209, with ten extra-base hits, 19 RBIs and a .612 OPS in 43 games for Helena. In 2008, Fryer tore up Low-A, hitting .339 with 76 runs, 41 extra-base hits, 63 RBIs, a .914 OPS and 15 steals in 104 games with West Virginia of the South Atlantic League. He was traded to the New York Yankees in February of 2009, and then got dealt to the Pirates for Eric Hinske in June of 2009. During his short time with the Yankees, he put up a .250 average and a .677 OPS in 59 games at High-A in the Florida State League with Tampa. After the trade, the Pirates kept him in High-A, where he had a .242 average and a .730 OPS in 47 games for Lynchburg of the Carolina League. He had 11 steals in 16 attempts with Tampa that year, then didn’t attempt a single stolen base in Lynchburg. In 2010, Fryer spent the season with Bradenton of the Florida State League, as the Pirates switched High-A affiliates that year. He played 83 games (plus three rehab games with the GCL Pirates), while missing a short amount of time due to injury. He hit .300 with 53 runs, 29 extra-base hits, 48 RBIs, an .865 OPS and ten steals in 11 attempts that season. He moved up to Double-A to start 2011 and was among the best hitters in the Eastern League with Altoona, hitting .345 with 24 runs, 11 extra-base hits, 16 RBIs and a .976 OPS in 37 games. Fryer debuted in the majors in June of 2011. He was up for approximately five weeks, and he batted .269/.345/.269 in ten games. He spent the second half of the season in Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League, where he hit just .203/.333/.314 in 38 games.
Fryer got into six games total for the 2012 Pirates, seeing big league time in July and September. All six of his appearances were off of the bench, and he didn’t do any catching. He went 1-for-4 with a walk. The rest of the year was spent in Indianapolis, where he struggled with a .204 average, no homers and a .504 OPS in 65 games. He was let go after the season and then played the next three seasons with the Minnesota Twins, splitting each year between Triple-A Rochester of the International League and the majors, with the majority of the time in the minors. He played six big league games in 2013, 28 games in 2014 and 15 games in 2015 with the Twins. During that time he hit .236 with 15 runs, seven doubles, two homers, 11 RBIs and a .677 OPS in 124 plate appearances. Fryer had his share of issues in Rochester, though he put up a decent OPS for the league during the 2013 and 2015 seasons. He batted just .215 in 2013, yet a solid walk rate and a little power led to a .704 OPS. That OPS dropped down to .656 in 2014, despite a 37-point increase in his batting average. He had a strong .293 average in 2015, yet low power numbers left him with a .727 OPS.
Fryer signed with the St Louis Cardinals in 2016 and spent the year in the majors, but the Pirates were able to pick him up off of waivers in July. While he was seeing limited time with the Cardinals, he had a .368 average in 24 games. With two doubles and three walks to his credit, he had an .836 OPS. He played 36 games after rejoining the Pirates, hitting .218 with eight RBIs and a .569 OPS in 92 plate appearances. He made 23 starts behind the plate for the Pirates. He became a free agent after the season and signed ten days later with the Cardinals. Fryer finished his big league career in St Louis in 2017, hitting just .155/.277/.197 in 34 games. He signed a free agent deal with the Philadelphia Phillies in early 2018, but he decided to retire just two days before Spring Training started. He played a total of 159 games over his seven seasons in the majors, finishing with a .232 average, 46 runs, 14 doubles, two homers and 27 RBIs.
Jeff Richardson, infielder for the 1991 Pirates. He was originally a seventh round draft pick in 1986 of the Cincinnati Reds out of Louisiana Tech. Richardson debuted in the short-season Pioneer League with Billings, where he batted .315 with 42 runs, 14 doubles, four triples and 12 steals in 47 games. He spent a majority of the 1987 season with Tampa of the Class-A Florida State League, where he hit .299 with 44 runs and ten steals in 100 games, though his OPS was just .634 due to low power numbers (11 extra-base hits, no homers). He also played 35 games in Double-A that year, hitting .209, with a .482 OPS for Vermont of the Eastern League. He had four extra-base hits (all doubles) and five walks. He spent all of 1988 in Double-A, playing for Chattanooga of the Southern Association. He hit .251 with 50 runs, 17 doubles, one homer and 37 RBIs in 122 games. Richardson went to Triple-A in 1989, where he batted .273 with 36 runs, 19 doubles, one homer and 25 RBIs in 88 games with Nashville of the American Association. He made it to the majors in July of 1989 and saw plenty of time over the rest of the season. In 53 games, he hit .168/.234/.248 with two homers and 11 RBIs, seeing most of his time at shortstop in place of the injured Barry Larkin. On April 3, 1990, the Pirates traded outfielder Billy Hatcher to get Richardson and pitcher Mike Roesler. Nearly his entire time with the Pirates, from 1990-93, was spent with Triple-A Buffalo of the American Association, but he did make a brief appearance in the majors during the 1991 season.
Richardson batted just .207/.278/.250 in 66 games with Buffalo in 1990. He missed the middle of the season due to a broken hand. He was batting .239 with one homer in 23 games in 1991 when he got his second chance at the majors. When Jeff King went on the disabled list in mid-May, the Pirates called up Richardson and got him into six games. He batted four times, collecting a single and striking out the other three times. When King returned after 15 days, Richardson was sent down, ending his Major League time with the Pirates. He had minor knee surgery shortly after he was sent back to Buffalo. He returned in August and finished the 1991 season with a .258 average and a .707 OPS in 62 games. In 1992, he had his best minor league season, hitting .290 with 34 runs, 23 doubles, three homers, 29 RBIs and a .728 OPS in 97 games. Almost exactly three years to the day that they acquired him, the Pirates dealt Richardson to the Boston Red Sox for pitcher Daryl Irvine. Richardson hit .208/.240/.292 in 15 games for Boston in 1993, missing most of the year with back problems. He played just nine games in the minors that year for Triple-A Pawtucket of the International League. In 1994, he spent the entire year in the minors while playing in the St Louis Cardinals system. In 89 games with Louisville of the American Association, he batted .259 with 29 runs, 21 RBIs and a .675 OPS. He then finished his playing career in 1995 with a brief stay at Triple-A for the Pirates, putting up a .714 OPS in seven games with Calgary of the Pacific Coast League. He managed the next three seasons (1996-98) in the Pirates farm system. Richardson played 74 big league games, hitting .177 with 13 runs, six doubles, two homers and 13 RBIs. Those two homers happened two at-bats apart from each other, though they occurred seven days apart. There was a second Jeff Richardson in baseball at the same time. The other was a pitcher who played in the majors briefly with the 1990 California Angels.
Sparky Adams, infielder for the 1928-29 Pirates. He got a late start in his pro career, not playing his first minor league game until age 24. He didn’t make the majors until weeks after his 28th birthday, but he ended up playing 13 years in the majors. Adams played very briefly for Reading of the Double-A International League (highest level of the minors at the time) in 1914, going 1-for-11 in four games. He then spent the 1915 season with Danville of the Class-D Piedmont League. At the time, that would have been the same drop in competition as going from Triple-A to Rookie League ball. Adams excelled at the low level, batting .326 with 66 runs, 45 extra-base hits (33 doubles), 98 RBIs and 20 steals in 119 games. In 1916, he moved back up to the International League with Syracuse, where he hit .266 with 26 doubles, five triples and no homers in 164 games. He moved down a level to Wichita of the Class-A Texas League in 1922 and hit .340 with 209 hits, 29 doubles, 15 triples and no homers in 156 games. Adams finished the season with the Chicago Cubs, hitting .250/.313/.296 in 11 games. He remained with the Cubs in 1923 and primarily played shortstop. He hit .289 with 40 runs scored, 12 doubles, four homers, 35 RBIs and a .713 OPS in 95 games that season. He stole 20 bases that year, but he was caught 19 times. He followed it up in 1924 by hitting .280 with 66 runs, 16 extra-base hits, 27 RBIs, 40 walks and a .682 OPS. Adams had even more trouble on the bases that season, going 15-for-32 in steals.
Adams moved to second base and saw full-time work in 1925. He hit .287 with 95 runs, 39 extra-base hits, 48 RBIs, 26 steals and a .709 OPS. He led the National League with 627 at-bats that year. His 1926 season was a strong one as well, with a .309 average, 95 runs, 35 doubles, 39 RBIs and 27 steals in 154 games. His .742 OPS was the second best of his big league career. That year he led the league with 701 plate appearances and 624 at-bats. Adams saw his OPS dropped down to .675 in 1927, though he managed to score 100 runs, while hitting .292 with 24 extra-base hits, 49 RBIs and 26 steals. He led the league with 647 at-bats. He spent his first six years with the Cubs, where he hit .292 with 401 runs scored and 201 RBIs in 672 games. He saw plenty of time at shortstop, third and second base during his career, playing at least 297 games at each position.
Adams came to the Pirates on November 28, 1927, as the main return in the deal for Hall of Fame outfielder Kiki Cuyler, which turned out to be the disaster it looked like on paper when it happened. The Pirates were giving up one of the best hitters in the league, and he just turned 29 years old, with no such thing as free agency, so the Cubs had him until they were done with him. All the Pirates got in return was the 33-year-old light-hitting Adams, and backup outfielder Pete Scott, who lasted 60 games in Pittsburgh after the deal. With the Pirates in 1928, Sparky (first name was Earl) got most of his playing time at shortstop, making 105 starts there. He batted second to begin the year, then moved to the lead-off spot in early July. He hit .276 with 91 runs, 20 extra-base hits, 38 RBIs, 64 walks and a .682 OPS in 135 games. In 1929, he was being used more in a utility role, seeing time at all three infield positions, and being used more often off of the bench. It was a down year for Adams, who hit .260 with 37 runs, nine extra-base hits, 11 RBIs and a .627 OPS in 74 games. After the season, he was sold to the St Louis Cardinals, leaving the Pirates with nothing left from the Cuyler deal, while he had his best season in Chicago just ahead of him.
Adams immediately had two strong seasons in St Louis, hitting .314 with 98 runs scored, 36 doubles, nine triples and a career high 55 RBIs in his first year there in 1930, which was a huge year for offense all around baseball. His .774 OPS was 34 points below league average that season. He then finishing ninth in the National League MVP voting in 1931, when he hit .293 with 97 runs scored, 40 RBIs, a .730 OPS and a league leading 46 doubles. Adams had three more average years in the majors, before finishing his career off in 1935 in the minors. He had a knee injury on May 17, 1932 that basically ended his season. He returned two months after the injury and pinch-hit, only to be replaced in the middle of the at-bat due to re-injuring his knee while getting out of the way of an inside pitch. He was placed on the voluntarily retired list for the rest of the season, finishing with a .276/.352/.315 slash line in 31 games. In 1933, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds early in the season as part of a six-player deal that also included Hall of Fame manager Leo Durocher, who was a player at the time. Adams hit .257 with 60 runs scored, 24 extra-base hits, 22 RBIs and 45 walks in 145 games that season. He hit .252, with 38 runs, 17 extra-base hits, 14 RBIs and a .623 OPS in 87 games during his final big league seasons in 1934. He finished his career in the minors in 1935, splitting the year between Rochester of the International League and Columbus of the Double-A American Association. He was a .286 career hitter in 1,424 games, with 844 runs scored, 1,588 hits, 249 doubles, 48 triples, nine homers, 394 RBIs and 154 steals.
Adams was considered to be a strong defensive player earlier in his career, which is one of the pluses they noted when they made the ill-fated Cuyler trade. The problem was that Adams was already 33 years old at the time of the deal, so his defense was on its way downhill when he joined the Pirates. He has a strong career defensive WAR total of 10.3, but it was just 2.1 in his last seven seasons combined, with 1.1 of that total coming in the 1933 season. Overall he was worth 17.5 WAR in 13 seasons.
On this date in 1926, the Pittsburgh Pirates won 15-7 over the New York Giants, which gave them a tie for first place with the St Louis Cardinals. Rookie right fielder Paul Waner had a 6-for-6 day, with two doubles and a triple. It was the only six-hit game of his career. The game included a total of eight future Hall of Famers in the lineup. You can find a game recap here, which has a link to the boxscore and play-by-play.