Today is a popular date for former Pittsburgh Pirates birthdays, nine players have been born on this date.
Frank Brooks, pitcher for the 2004 Pirates. He was originally a 13th round pick in the 1999 draft by the Philadelphia Phillies, selected out of St Peter’s University. He debuted strong in the short-season New York-Penn League, going 7-3, 2.91 in 77.1 innings. He moved up to Low-A in 2000 and had a 14-8, 3.44 record in 177.2 innings, with 138 strikeouts for Piedmont of the South Atlantic League. From there it was to Clearwater of the pitcher-friendly High-A Florida State League, where he struggled with a 5-10, 4.71 record in 112.2 innings, walking nearly as many batters as he did the previous season in 65 fewer innings, which led to a 1.52 WHIP. Brooks switched to relief in 2002 and spent most of the season back with Clearwater, posting a 3.46 ERA and seven saves in 39 innings over 35 appearances. He finished the season in Double-A, with a 3.10 ERA in 29 innings for Reading of the Eastern League. He finished with 56 strikeouts in 68 innings between both stops. Through mid-2003, he had a 2.30, 71 strikeouts and nine saves in 58.2 innings over 34 appearances with Reading. Brooks came to the Pirates on July 21, 2003 in exchange for closer Mike Williams. Before he pitched a game at the big league level for the Pirates, Brooks went on a tour of baseball teams around the leagues. He made one appearance with Altoona of the Eastern League, followed by him posting a 2.54 ERA in 28.1 innings over 16 appearances at Triple-A Nashville of the Pacific Coast League to finish the 2003 season. He was then picked up by the New York Mets in the Rule 5 draft in December of 2003. The Mets then immediately traded him to the Oakland A’s. The A’s put him on waivers during Spring Training of 2004, where he was picked up by the Boston Red Sox. Less than two weeks later, he was back where he started three months earlier, getting returned to Pittsburgh.
Brooks started the 2004 season in Nashville, where he made eight starts and 34 relief appearances, going 6-3, 4.10 in 83.1 innings, with two saves and 55 strikeouts. He was called up to the Pirates in late August of 2004, making one start and ten relief appearances. His start didn’t go well, allowing five runs in one inning before being pulled. As a reliever, he had a 2.76 ERA in 16.1 innings, with 17 strikeouts. The Pirates put Brooks on waivers that December, where he was picked up by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Just after the 2005 season started, he was put on waivers again, where he was selected by the Atlanta Braves. Brooks pitched to one batter with the Braves on May 16, 2005, giving up an RBI single to Dave Roberts, who was caught stealing right afterwards. Brooks returned to the minors shortly after that game, where he finished his career three years later. He had a 2.73 ERA in 54 appearances for Atlanta in Triple-A Richmond of the International League in 2005. He split the 2006 season between Triple-A (Omaha of the Pacific Coast League) with the Kansas City Royals and Double-A Portland of the Eastern League with the Red Sox. Between both stops, he went 2-8, 4.31 in 104.1 innings over 14 starts and 20 relief appearances. Brooks had the odd coincidence of pitching for Portland at the end of 2006, then signing with the San Diego Padres and pitching in Portland in 2007. The former being the Double-A team in Maine, the latter being the Triple-A team in Oregon. Most of his 2007 season was spent with Double-A San Antonio of the Texas League. He had success that season, posting a 1.72 ERA in 25 appearances. His career finished in 2008 in independent ball with Somerset of the Atlantic League, where he had a 4.50 ERA in 54 innings over 43 appearances.
Derrek Lee, first baseman for the 2011 Pirates. He had a 15-year career in the majors that saw him collect 331 homers, 442 doubles, 1,081 runs and 1,078 RBIs. That career ended with one partial season in Pittsburgh after he came over from the Baltimore Orioles in a trading deadline deal for minor league first baseman Aaron Baker. Lee was brought in to help the Pirates playoff run, but he ended up playing just 28 games due to a wrist injury that landed him on the disabled list. In his brief time in Pittsburgh, he hit .337 with seven homers and 18 RBIs. Lee was a two-time All-Star during his career, who also took home two Gold Glove awards.
Lee was drafted in the first round (14th overall) out of high school at 17 years old in 1993 by the San Diego Padres. He batted .327/.397/.500 in 15 games with the rookie level Arizona League Padres that year. He then got skipped to High-A with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in the high offense California League, where he batted .274 with a homer and a .780 OPS in 20 games against much older competition. In 1994, he spent the entire season in Rancho Cucamonga, where he batted .267 in 126 games, with 66 runs scored, 29 extra-base hits, 53 RBIs and a .709 OPS. He repeated the level in 1995 and batted .301 in 128 games, with 82 runs, 25 doubles, 23 homers, 96 RBIs, 14 steals and an .862 OPS. That season ended with him going 1-for-9 in two games with Memphis of the Double-A Southern League. The entire 1996 season was spent in Memphis, where he hit .280 with 98 runs, 39 doubles, 34 homers, 104 RBIs, 13 steals, 65 walks and a .930 OPS. In 1997, Lee moved up to Triple-A with Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League and batted .324 with 86 runs, 29 doubles, 13 homers, 64 RBIs, 17 steals and 60 walks in 125 games. He joined the Padres in late April that year for a short stint, then returned in September. He hit .259/.365/.370 with nine runs, three doubles, one homer and four RBIs in 22 games during that first big league season. In December of 1997, he was one of three players traded to the Florida Marlins for pitcher Kevin Brown.
Lee hit .233 with 62 runs, 29 doubles, 17 homers, 70 RBIs and a .732 OPS in 142 games for the 1998 Marlins. He struggled the next season and spent half of the year back in Triple-A, where he had an .861 OPS in 89 games with Calgary of the Pacific Coast League. With Florida in 1999, he hit .206 with 21 runs, nine doubles, five homers and 20 RBIs in 70 games. In 2000, he hit .281 with 70 runs, 18 doubles, 28 homers, 70 RBIs, an .875 OPS and 63 walks in 158 games. That was followed by a .282 average in 158 games in 2001, with 83 runs, 37 doubles, 21 homers, 75 RBIs and an .820 OPS. He played all 162 games in 2002 and set a personal best with 98 walks. He hit .270 with 95 runs, 35 doubles, 26 homers, 86 RBIs, 19 steals and an .872 OPS. The Marlins won the World Series in 2003 and Lee was a big part of that title. He hit .271 with 91 runs, 31 doubles, 31 homers, 92 RBIs, 88 walks, an .888 OPS, and a career high 21 steals. He had a rough postseason, yet still managed timely hits, which led to eight RBIs in 17 games. He received mild MVP support that season, finishing 27th in the voting, and he won the Gold Glove award.
The Marlins broke up their World Series team after the season and Lee was traded to the Chicago Cubs. He hit .278 in 161 games, with 90 runs, 39 doubles, 32 homers, 98 RBIs, 68 walks and an .860 OPS in 2004. In 2005, he finished third in the National League MVP voting, after leading the league in average (.335), doubles (50), total bases (393) and hits (199), while also hitting 46 homers, scoring 120 times and driving in 107 runs. The doubles, homers, hits, runs and average here all career highs, as was his 1.080 OPS. He was an All-Star for the first time, won his only Silver Slugger award, and he collected another Gold Glove. He signed a five-year deal just prior to the 2006 season, which was then shortened for him down to 50 games due to a broken wrist. He hit .286/.368/.474 with 30 runs, nine doubles, eight homers and 30 RBIs that year. In 2007, Lee batted .317 with 91 runs, 43 doubles, 22 homers, 82 RBIs, 71 walks and a .913 OPS. He made his final All-Star appearance and won his final Gold Glove that season. In 2008, he batted .291 with 93 runs, 41 doubles, 20 homers, 90 RBIs and 71 walks in 155 games. He finished 21st in the MVP voting that season.
Lee hit .306 with 91 runs scored, 36 doubles, 35 homers, 76 walks, a .972 OPS and a career best 111 RBIs during the 2009 season. That led to a ninth place finish in the MVP voting. The 2010 season was split between the Cubs and Atlanta Braves. Between both stops, he batted .260 in 148 games, with 80 runs, 35 doubles, 19 homers, 80 RBIs, 73 walks and a .774 OPS. With his large contract finished, he signed a free agent deal with the Orioles for 2011. Before his trade to the Pirates, Lee was hitting .246 with 39 runs, 15 doubles, 12 homers and 41 RBIs in 85 games for Baltimore. The Pirates tried to re-sign him as a free agent for 2012, but he decided to retire at 36 years old instead. He finished his 15-year career with a .281 average in 1,942 games, with 1,081 runs, 432 doubles, 331 homers, 1,078 RBIs, 104 steals and 874 walks. Lee is the nephew of Leron Lee, who played eight seasons in the majors (1969-76).
Mike York, pitcher for the 1990 Pirates. He was originally a 40th round draft pick of the New York Yankees in 1982 out of high school, who was cut after just one season. He debuted in the New York-Penn League in 1983, where he had an 8.18 ERA and a 2.46 WHIP in 11 innings. York signed with the Chicago White Sox nearly a year later, and didn’t last long there either, posting a 3.68 ERA in 14.2 innings in the Gulf Coast League during the 1984 season. Two months later, he signed with the Detroit Tigers, who waited just over a year to become the third team to cut him. He had a 2.37 ERA in 38 innings with Bristol of the Appalachian League in 1985, though that came with a huge total of 34 walks. In 1986, he posted a 5.06 ERA and 70 walks in 74.2 innings of A-Ball, splitting the year between Lakeland of the Florida State League and Gastonia of the South Atlantic League. York signed with the Pirates in October of 1986, and had a big first season in their system. Pitching for Macon of the South Atlantic League in 1987, he went 17-6, 3.04 in 28 starts, with 169 strikeouts in 165.2 innings. He made 13 starts in Advanced-A with Salem of the Carolina League, and 13 more in Double-A Harrisburg of the Eastern League in 1988. His Double-A stats weren’t bad, with a 3.72 ERA, but he won nine games prior to his promotion, and none after. Combined between the two stops, York had a 3.19 ERA and 138 strikeouts in 166.1 innings. He pitched much better during his second Double-A trial in 1989, going 11-5, 2.81 in 18 starts with Harrisburg, prior to being promoted to Triple-A Buffalo of the American Association. Just like his first shot at Double-A, York struggled initially with the jump in levels, posting a 5.93 ERA in 41 innings with Buffalo of the American Association. Between both stops, he went 12-8, 3.22, with 134 strikeouts in 162 innings.
York went 8-7, 4.20, with 130 strikeouts in 158.2 innings for Buffalo in 1990, earning a mid-August promotion to the Pirates. His Major League debut was an emergency start on August 17, 1990 against the Cincinnati Reds in the first game of a doubleheader. York threw seven shutout innings that day, then was returned to the minors for two weeks. When he came back in September, he pitched just three times in relief, allowing five runs in 5.2 innings. The next May, while in the minors, York was dealt to the Cleveland Indians for outfielder Mitch Webster. At the time of the deal, York had a 5-1, 2.91 record in 43.1 innings for Buffalo, though that came with 23 walks and 22 strikeouts.He pitched 14 games for Cleveland, four as a starter, in what turned out to be his last season in the majors. He went 1-4, 6.75 in 34.1 innings during his second big league trial. He pitched in Triple-A Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League for the San Diego Padres at the start of the 1992 season, but after going 5-7, 4.79, with more walks than strikeouts in 88.1 innings, he ended up back with the Pirates in Buffalo to finish the season. York went 4-1, 3.06 in 32.1 innings over six starts with Buffalo. He went to Spring Training in 1993 with the Chicago Cubs, but he was a very early cut, getting the ax on March 9th. After not pitching during the 1993-94 seasons, he returned to baseball for three more years of minor league ball before retiring, seeing time with the Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers and also independent ball. His return did not go well, with a 7.00 ERA in 45 innings with Syracuse of the International League (Blue Jays affiliate) in 1995. He did well in indy ball as a starter in 1996, posting a 3.31 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 70.2 innings for Tri-City of the Western League. His 1997 season with Texas was brief, seeing him post a 7.04 ERA in 15.1 innings.
Vince DiMaggio, center field for the 1940-44 Pirates. He was a strong defensive outfielder, who hit for some power and struck out a lot for his era. He led the league in strikeouts six times in his career, including his last three seasons in Pittsburgh. Despite that lack of contact, he was still an All-Star during the 1943-44 seasons, when the league was watered down due to the ongoing war. He debuted in pro ball at 19 years old in 1932, playing five seasons in the Double-A Pacific Coast League (highest level of the minors at the time) before making his big league debut. DiMaggio spent half of his first season with Tuscon of the Class-D Arizona-Texas League, where he hit .347 with 56 extra-base hits in 94 games. He joined San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League that season and hit .270 with 13 doubles and six homers in 59 games. His incomplete stats from 1933 in the PCL for San Francisco and Hollywood show a .333 average, 24 doubles and 11 homers in 96 games. In 1934, he hit .288 with 45 extra-base hits in 166 games for Hollywood. In 1935, DiMaggio hit .278 with 36 doubles and 24 homers in 174 games for Hollywood. He was with San Diego of the PCL in 1936 and had his best season, which led to his first MLB action. That year he hit .293 in 176 games, with 109 runs, 43 doubles, 14 triples, 19 homers, 102 RBIs and 22 stolen bases.
DiMaggio played two full seasons for the Boston Bees (Braves) in 1937-38, prior to being traded to the New York Yankees. He batted .256 with 56 runs, 18 doubles, 13 homers, 69 RBIs and a .699 OPS in 132 games as a rookie in 1937, while leading the league with 111 strikeouts. He followed it up with a .228 average in 150 games, with 71 runs, 28 doubles, 14 homers, 61 RBIs, 65 walks and a .682 OPS in 1938. He struck out 134 times that season, which was a Major League record that he held until 1956. In August of 1938, the Bees sent two players and a player to be named later to the Yankees for shortstop Eddie Miller. DiMaggio was the player to be named later, getting sent to New York in February of 1939. He was to be reunited with his brother Joe, but plans changed when Vince was sent to the minors, where he hit .290 with 32 doubles, nine triples and 46 homers in 154 games for Kansas City of the Double-A American Association. Before he could play a Major League game for the Yankees, they dealt him to the Cincinnati Reds, who brought him back to the majors that September. He would play just eight late season games in 1939 for the Reds and then two games for them over the first month of the 1940 season. DiMaggio went 1-for-14 with a double, two RBIs, two walks and ten strikeouts in 16 plate appearances for the 1939 Reds. He was 1-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored for the 1940 Reds. On May 8, 1940, the Pirates traded outfielder Johnny Rizzo to the Reds in exchange for DiMaggio. Pittsburgh put him into center field for the rest of 1940, and he stayed there through the end of 1944.
DiMaggio batted .289 with 59 runs, 26 doubles, 19 homers, 54 RBIs and an .887 OPS in 110 games in 1940 after the trade. His first full season in Pittsburgh was his best. He batted .267/.354/.456 in 151 games in 1941, with career highs in runs (73), home runs (21) and RBIs (100). DiMaggio finished 21st in the National League MVP voting that year, but it wasn’t until two years later that he made his first All-Star team. His average dropped to .238 in 1942, and he led the league with 87 strikeouts. He had 57 runs scored, 22 doubles, 15 homers and he drove in 75 runs in 143 games that year. In 1943, he led the league with 157 games played, making 156 starts in center field. He batted .248 with 64 runs, 15 homers, 88 RBIs and career highs of 41 doubles and 70 walks, resulting in a .733 OPS. He also led the league with 126 strikeouts. DiMaggio’s stats were rather pedestrian during his second All-Star season, hitting .240 with a .707 OPS in 109 games. He drove in 50 runs, collected 33 extra-base hits, scored 41 times and struck out an NL high 83 times.
The Pirates traded DiMaggio to the Philadelphia Phillies on March 31, 1945 in exchange for pitcher Al Gerheauser. DiMaggio had one good season after the deal, hitting .257 with 64 runs, 25 runs, 19 homers and 84 RBIs in 127 games in 1945, though he wore his fourth straight strikeout crown, going down 91 times. He set a career high with 12 steals, which doesn’t sound like much, but players didn’t run often during that era. DiMaggio had six seasons in which he finished between 10-12 steals, and he ranked among the top ten in steals in the NL during all six seasons. He would see a huge dip in his performance in 1946. He was traded to the New York Giants on May 1st and played his final big league game five weeks later. He hit .091/.130/.114 in 21 games that year. He returned to the minors that season, where he stayed for the next five seasons until his retirement. The rest of 1946 was spent back with San Francisco of the PCL (then a Triple-A level), where he had a .726 OPS in 43 games. In 1947, he hit .241 in 140 games for Oakland of the PCL, finishing with 80 runs, 20 doubles, 22 homers and 81 RBIs. He dropped down four levels of the minors in 1948 to play for Stockton of the Class-C California League, where he batted .283 with 30 homers, 100 RBIs and a .981 OPS. He dropped down again in 1949, playing for Pittsburg (California) of the Class-D Far West League, hitting .367 in 101 games, with 108 runs, 37 homers, 117 RBIs and a 1.222 OPS. He remained there in 1950 and hit .353 with 28 doubles and 26 homers in 1951. DiMaggio split his final season in 1951 between Pittsburg and Tacoma of the Class-B Western International League and his numbers dropped off, finishing with a .237 average and 33 extra-base hits in 118 games between both stops.
DiMaggio finished his ten-year big league career with a .249 average, 491 runs, 209 doubles, 125 homers and 584 RBIs in 1,110 games. For the Pirates, he hit .255 with 79 homers and 367 RBIs in 670 games. He played over 1,500 minor league games. He led NL center fielders in putouts three times and assists four times. In 1942, he led all NL outfielders in both putouts and assists. His brother Joe is the Hall of Fame outfielder for the Yankees, while his other brother Dom was a seven-time All-Star for the Boston Red Sox.
Pat Meares, shortstop/second baseman for the Pirates from 1999 until 2001. He played six seasons for the Minnesota Twins (1993-98) before signing with the Pirates as a free agent. Meares was a 12th round draft pick of the Twins out of Wichita State in 1990. He debuted in A-Ball, hitting .239 with 26 runs, four homers, 22 RBIs and a .705 OPS in 52 games for Kenosha of the Midwest League. He played in the High-A California League for Visalia in 1991, where he hit .303 with 53 runs, 31 extra-base hits, 44 RBIs, 15 steals and a .784 OPS in 89 games. He was in Double-A the next season, hitting .253 with 42 runs, 19 doubles, three homers, 23 RBIs and a .641 OPS in 81 games with Orlando of the Southern League. Despite those mediocre results, Meares played just 18 games in Triple-A Portland of the Pacific Coast League in 1993, hitting .296/.345/.389, before making his big league debut in early May. He became the Twins everyday shortstop and hit .251 in 111 games, with a lowly .575 OPS due in part to no homers and seven walks all season. He had 14 doubles, 33 runs and 33 RBIs. In the strike-shortened 1994 season, he hit .266 with 29 runs, 12 doubles, two homers and 24 RBIs in 80 games. Meares batted .269 with 57 runs and 49 RBIs in 116 games in 1995, a season that was shortened slightly due to the strike from 1994. He hit 19 doubles, 12 homers and stole a career high ten bases. His .742 OPS was also a career high.
Meares batted .267 over 152 games in 1996, with 41 extra-base hits, including career highs of 26 doubles and seven triples. He drove in 67 runs and set a personal best with 66 runs scored. The 1997 season saw him hit .276 with 63 runs, 23 doubles, ten homers, 60 RBIs and a .733 OPS in 134 games. In his final season with the Twins in 1998, he hit .260 with 56 runs, 26 doubles, nine homers, and a career high 70 RBIs, while putting up a .664 OPS in 149 games. Meares signed with the Pirates as a free agent on February 20, 1999. Before playing his first regular season game with the Pirates, he signed a four year extension for $15M, which was added to his existing one-year contract. A Spring Training injury to his hand, plus two other hand injuries before the end of May, caused him to miss nearly the entire 1999 season. He did well in the brief time he was healthy, hitting .308/.382/.352 in 21 games. In 2000, he played the only full season of his five-year contract. That year he hit .240 with 55 runs, 22 doubles, 13 homers, 47 RBIs and a career high 36 walks in 132 games.
Meares switched over to second base in 2001, and played 87 games, batting just .211 with 27 runs, 16 extra-base hits, 25 RBIs, and a .548 OBP. Meares ended up missing all of 2002 with his injured hand, then the Pirates reached a settlement with him that he would spend all of 2003 on the disabled list so he got his pay, but he wouldn’t travel with the team. He contended at the time he was healthy enough to play. Eventually the Pirates received some of the money back (through their insurance company) that they paid out to Meares. He never returned to baseball, ending his career with .258 average, 401 runs, 157 doubles, 58 homers and 382 RBIs in 982 games. For the Pirates, he played a total of 240 games, hitting .238 with 17 homers and 79 RBIs. According to modern metrics, he was an above average fielder for most of his career, finishing with 5.4 dWAR, though that entire number came from his Minnesota time, as he had 0.0 dWAR with the Pirates.
Jack Phillips, first baseman for the 1949-52 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball at 21 years old in 1943 with Norfolk of the Class-B Piedmont League, where he hit .284 in 119 games, with 53 runs, 22 doubles, nine triples, eight homers, 63 RBIs, 25 steals and a .778 OPS. He moved up to Newark of the Double-A International League in 1944 (highest level of the minors at the time), but like many players at that time, he was called into service. Phillips played just seven games that season, then missed all of 1945 while serving in the Navy. He returned to Newark in 1946, where he hit .251 in 101 games, with 51 runs, 21 extra-base hits, 40 RBIs, 51 walks and a .706 OPS. In 1947, he batted .298 with 59 runs, 40 extra-base hits, 51 RBIs and an .809 OPS in 122 games for Newark. He got a 16-game trial with the New York Yankees that year, hitting .278/.333/.417, with one homer and two RBIs in 39 plate appearances. He split the 1948 season between Newark and Kansas City of the Triple-A American Association, while playing one game for the Yankees at the end of the season, going 0-for-2 with a sacrifice bunt. Phillips hit .263 in 142 minor league games that year, with 70 runs, 32 extra-base hits, 55 RBIs and a .678 OPS.
Phillips was a bench player for the 1949 Yankees for four months, hitting .308/.388/.407 in 105 plate appearances over 45 games. On August 6, 1949, the Pirates purchased Phillips from the Yankees. He was leaving a team that won two World Series titles during two of his three years in the majors. He was coming to a Pirates team that was on a downswing, losing 83 games in 1949, then 90+ each of the next three seasons, peaking with a 112 loss 1952 season. Phillips batted .232 with six runs, three doubles and three RBIs in 18 games with the 1949 Pirates. He saw limited time during his two full seasons (1950-51) with the team, and the 1950 season was easily his best. He hit .293 in 69 games that year, hitting seven doubles, six triples, five homers and driving in 34 runs, while finishing with an .812 OPS. He was not a home run hitter by any means, collecting a total of nine homers in his nine-year major league career. However, on July 8th, he did something that no one else had ever done in the 80th season of big league ball. He hit the majors first pinch-hit walk-off grand slam with a team trailing by three runs. In 1951, he batted .237/.304/.321 with 12 runs, seven doubles, no homers and 12 RBIs in 70 games. After playing just one April game with the Pirates in 1952, he was sent to the minors, where he would remain as property of the Pirates until a September 4, 1954 trade sent him to the Chicago White Sox. Phillips played 158 games for Pittsburgh, hitting .264 with five homers and 49 RBIs. He finished the 1952 season with Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League, where he hit .300 in 101 games, with 47 runs, 28 extra-base hits and 53 RBIs.
Phillips remained with Hollywood for the 1953-54 seasons before the trade. He hit .270 in 147 games in 1953, with 71 runs, 22 doubles, 16 homers and 77 RBIs. He did better in 1954, batting .300 in 160 games, with 70 runs, 35 doubles, 17 homers, 88 RBIs and an .812 OPS. Phillips never played for the White Sox, but he ended up playing parts of three seasons (1955-57) for the Detroit Tigers. He hit .316 with one homer, 20 RBIs and an .809 OPS in 55 games in 1955. He followed that up with a .295 average, 31 runs, 13 doubles, one homer and 20 RBIs in 67 games in 1956. He played just one late April game in 1957, before being sent to the minors, where he finished his career in 1959. That was the third time in nine seasons in the majors that he played just one game. In 343 big league games, he batted .283 with 42 doubles, 16 triples, nine homers, 101 RBIs and 111 runs scored. He played out the 1959 season with San Francisco of the PCL, putting up a .711 OPS in 95 games. His final two seasons were spent with Buffalo of the Triple-A International League, where he hit .250/.286/.433, with 16 doubles, nine triples and 14 homers in 122 games in 1958, followed by a .287 average, 28 extra-base hits and a .788 OPS in 96 games in 1959.
Johnny Lanning, pitcher for the 1940-43 and 1945-46 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball at 21 years old in 1932, playing for three teams in different leagues/levels, seeing time with Monroe of the Class-D Cotton States League, Springfield of the Class-C Western Association, and Greensboro of the Class-B Piedmont League. Combined between those stops, he went 6-8 in 20 games, with 129 innings pitched. His full ERA isn’t available, but it’s know that he had a 4.81 ERA in 88 innings with Springfield. In 1933, Springfield moved to the Class-A Western League and Lanning went with the club, though his records show just one game played that entire season. A search of the newspapers shows that he was playing semi-pro ball in North Carolina that year. In 1934, he played for the Charlotte and Columbia teams in the Class-B Piedmont League, where he had an 11-7 record and he threw 149 innings. In 1935, Lanning was with Knoxville of the Class-A Southern Association, putting up a 13-13, 3.84 record in 237 innings. That led to an Opening Day job with the 1936 Boston Bees (Braves). As a rookie in 1936, he had a 7-11, 3.65 record in 153 innings, with 20 starts and eight relief outings. The next year he 5-7, 3.93 in 116.2 innings, making 11 starts and 21 relief appearances. In 1938, Lanning was 8-7, 3.72 in 138 innings over 18 starts and 14 relief appearances. His lowest ERA with Boston came during his last season in 1939, when he went 5-6, 3.42 in 129 innings, with six starts and 31 relief outings.
In four years with the Bees, Lanning went 25-31, 3.67 in 536.2 innings over 129 games, 55 as a starter, with 14 complete games, three shutouts and six saves (not an official stat at the time). On December 6, 1939, the Pirates traded pitcher Jim Tobin to the Bees to acquire Lanning, who was used mostly in relief during his time in Pittsburgh, starting 49 of his 146 games with the team. In his first season with the Pirates, he went 8-4, 4.05 in 115.2 innings, with seven starts and 31 relief games. His best season with the Pirates came in 1941 when he was used 23 times as a starter and 11 times in relief. That year he went 11-11, 3.13, with a career high 175.2 innings pitched. In 1942, he had a 6-8, 3.32 record in 119.1 innings over eight starts and 26 relief appearances. He threw his only shutout with the Pirates that season. Lanning started off 1943 by going 4-1, 2.33 in 27 innings over 12 games (two starts) through the end of June, when he was called into active duty during WWII. He missed all of 1944 and most of 1945, returning to the Pirates for one game in September in which he gave up eight earned runs in two innings of work.
Lanning went 4-5, 3.07 in 91 innings over nine starts and 18 relief outings in 1946. He was released during Spring Training in 1947, leading to him signing back in Boston with the Braves for his last season. He lasted just three appearances and 3.2 innings during that second stint with Boston. He played minor league ball through the 1949 season before retiring. He finished out 1947 with Toronto of the Triple-A International League, though he’s credited with playing just four games. He spent the entire 1948 season with Albany of the Class-A Eastern League, which had a working agreement with the Pirates. Lanning went 10-9, 3.06 in 162 innings that year. He spent part of his last year as a player-manager for Marion of the Class-D Western Carolina League, while also seeing time with Rock Hill of the Class-B Tri-State League. He went 9-7, 3.57 in 141 innings that year. With the Pirates, he went 33-29, 3.44 in 530.2 innings. In his career he was 58-60, 3.58 in 1,071 innings. He was a pitch-to-contact guy, with 295 strikeouts to his credit over his 104 starts and 174 relief appearances. His career high for strikeouts in a game was five, which he did six times. His brother Tom Lanning pitched for the 1938 Philadelphia Phillies.
Tommy Thevenow, infielder for the Pirates from 1931 until 1935, then again in 1938. He was the definition of a light-hitting middle infielder, with just two Major League homers to his credit over his 15-year career. Both of those homers came in the same season (1926 for the St Louis Cardinals), both were inside-the-park homers and they occurred just five days apart. He went another 12 seasons without another home run, including all 1,837 plate appearances for the Pirates.
Thevenow debuted in pro ball at 19 years old in 1923, playing for Joplin of the Class-C Western Association, while also seeing some brief time with Class-A Little Rock of the Southern Association. In 125 games for Joplin that year, he hit .286 with 37 extra-base hits. Most of the 1924 season was spent with Syracuse of the Double-A International League (highest level of the minors at the time), where he hit .271 with 23 doubles and nine triples in 140 games. He broke into the big leagues that same year, hitting .202/.211/.270 with four runs and seven RBIs in 23 games with the St Louis Cardinals. He spent most of 1925 back in Syracuse, hitting .290 in 112 games, with 18 doubles, eight triples and one homer. Thevenow still saw plenty of time with the Cardinals in 1925, hitting .269 with 17 runs, seven doubles, two triples, 17 RBIs and a .632 OPS in 50 games. He took over as the starting shortstop for St Louis in 1926 and helped lead them to a World Series title. He finished fourth in the MVP voting, based strictly off of an amazing season on defense that saw him rack up 3.9 dWAR. That numbers ranks tied as the 27th best season for any position in baseball history. He batted .256 with 22 extra-base hits (including his only two homers), 63 RBIs, a .602 OPS and a career high 64 runs scored in 156 games.
Thevenow saw his batting really dropped in 1927, when he ended up playing just 59 games. He had a .194 average and a .484 OPS, with four RBIs. He missed three months of the season due to an ankle injury in late June. He only rebounded slightly the next season when he hit .205 with 13 RBIs and 11 runs scored in 69 games. He had a starting job to begin the season, but by late May he was on the bench. There were rumors that Rogers Hornsby was trying to acquire him for Boston, but Thevenow ended up being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in December of 1928. In 1929, he posted a .227 average, 30 runs scored, 11 doubles, 35 RBIs and a .550 OPS in 90 games. Like many players from that era, Thevenow had his best season on offense during the 1930 campaign, when baseball was at one of its top points for offense. He batted .286 that year, well over his career average, with 57 runs, and career highs of 21 doubles and 78 RBIs. His .642 OPS was his highest to that point. He led all National League shortstops in putouts and assists, although he also led the league in errors. He also led the league with 156 games played. Following that season, the Pirates acquired Thevenow on November 6, 1930, along with pitcher Claude Willoughby, for shortstop Dick Bartell. He would try to replace the young Bartell at shortstop, and while the bat fell well short, Thevenow was much better defensively of the two in 1931, when Bartell would lead the league in errors. They would even out on defense in the following years, before Bartell’s defense eventually surpassed him. Thevenow hit .213 with 35 runs, 12 doubles, 38 RBIs and a .513 OPS in 120 games for the 1931 Pirates.
Thevenow’s batting was slightly better for the 1932 Pirates, but he lost his starting spot to a rookie named Arky Vaughan. He hit .237 that year, and saw a 34 point jump to his OPS, but he also played just 59 games. In 1933-34, Thevenow spent most of his time at second base. He was able to hit a career high .312 in 73 games during 1933, though it was an empty average, as his OPS was .660, with just six extra-base hits and three walks. With Pie Traynor slowing down in 1935, Thevenow got 82 starts at third base. He hit .238 with 38 runs, nine doubles, 47 RBIs and a career high nine triples that season. That December, he was sold to the Cincinnati Reds. He had a typical Thevenow year in 1936 for the Reds, hitting .234 with 25 runs, seven doubles, 36 RBIs and a .536 OPS in 106 games, then moved on to Boston for the 1937 season, where he barely played for the Bees, hitting .118/.211/.176 in 21 games. After being released in February of 1938, he signed back with the Pirates. He played 15 games over the entire season, which ended up being his last in the majors. He batted 33 times and put up a .200/.333/.200 slash line. He was a player-manager in the minors during the 1940 season with Ashland of the Class-D Mountain State League, which was his last season of pro ball. Thevenow hit .251 with 201 RBIs in 499 games for the Pirates. In his 15-year career, he hit .247 with 124 doubles, 32 triples, 456 RBIs and 380 runs scored in 1,229 games.
Bill Gleason, second baseman for the 1916-17 Pirates. He played four years in the minors before getting a shot with the Pirates. He debuted in 1913 at 18 years old with Meridian of the Class-B Eastern Association, where he hit .240 with 28 extra-base hits in 108 games. In 1914, he played 18 games for Springfield of the Eastern Association, and another 55 games for Reading of the Class-B Tri-State League. He combined to hit .237 in 73 games. The next two years were spent playing in Lynn, Massachusetts, for a team that played in two different leagues. In 1915, Lynn was in the Class-B New England League. He batted just .220 with 17 extra-base hits in 120 games that season. The team moved to the Class-B Eastern League during the following season. Gleason was drafted by the Pirates on September 15, 1916, after he hit .271 in 124 games for Lynn. He played just one game over the last two weeks of the 1916 season for the Pirates and didn’t even start. On September 25, 1916, he came in to play the second half of the game at second base, replacing Paddy Siglin, who only played 23 games for the Pirates over parts of three seasons. Gleason went 0-for-2 at the plate and cleanly handled his only two plays in the field. In 1917, he was with the Pirates through the end of May, before being sent to Chattanooga of the Class-A Southern Association. On May 21st, the Pirates acquired infielder Jake Pitler from Chattanooga for Gleason and $3,750 in cash. Gleason hit .167/.255/.191 in 13 games for the Pirates, scoring three runs, but failing to drive in a run. He finished the year hitting .276 with 12 extra-base hits in 59 games for Chattanooga.
After missing the 1918 season during WWI, Gleason returned to baseball in 1919, remaining in the minors for nearly all of the next 13 seasons. He had just one other trial in the majors, playing for the 1921 St Louis Browns. Gleason played nearly 2,000 minor league games and had over 2,000 hits during his 19 years down on the farm. He switched teams often after his time with the Pirates, playing for ten different minor league teams. In 1919-20, he returned to Chattanooga, where he hit .275 with 20 extra-base hits in 138 games in 1919, and .272 with 28 extra-base hits in 151 games in 1920. He played 26 games with the Browns to start the 1921 season, hitting .257/.329/.284 with six runs and eight RBIs through early June. The rest of the year was split between Tulsa of the Class-A Western League and Columbus of the Double-A American Association, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. He combined to hit .242 in 85 games, with 16 extra-base hits. Gleason remained in Columbus in 1922, hitting .246 in 137 games, with 30 extra-base hits. He played with Memphis of the Southern Association in 1923, where he stayed through mid-1925. That first year he hit .325, though he was limited to 25 games due to a broken leg. He hit .280 in 143 games during the 1924 season, finishing with 28 doubles and ten triples. He split 1925 between Memphis and New Haven of the Class-A Eastern League. He hit .181 in 55 games for Memphis, but his online stats for New Haven are wrong. He’s credit with 137 games played, even though he joined the team on June 23rd, after they had already played 56 out of 154 games.
Gleason hit .269 in 1926, with 31 extra-base hits (25 doubles) in 150 games for New Haven. He moved to Albany of the Eastern League, where he stayed until mid-1929. He batted .261 with 29 extra-base hits (26 doubles) in 151 games during the 1927 season. He hit .285 in 1928, with 27 doubles and five triples in 151 games. The 1929 season was split between Albany of Springfield of the Eastern League. He combined to hit .292 with 45 doubles in 138 games. Unfortunately, the rest of his career stats are either missing or have errors. He was with Springfield in 1930, toured the Eastern League with New Haven, Richmond and Allentown in 1931, and he came back to pro ball in 1934 with Springfield in the Class-B Northeastern League for his final pro action.