This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: September 7th, Four Early Players and Gorkys Hernandez

There have been five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a game of note from 2011.

Gorkys Hernandez, outfielder for the 2012 and 2015 Pirates. He was originally signed as an amateur free agent in April of 2005 by the Detroit Tigers at 17 years old out of Venezuela. He debuted in the Gulf Coast League in 2006 and hit .327 with 41 runs, nine doubles, five homers, an .820 OPS and 20 steals in 50 games. He was advanced enough at a young age to play winter ball in Venezuela that season, which is rare for someone with no experience above rookie ball. Hernandez moved up to A-Ball in 2007 and hit .293 with 84 runs, 34 extra-base hits, 50 RBIs and 54 steals in 124 games with West Michigan of the Midwest League. He saw more time in winter ball, but the older competition ate him up, as he finished with a .157 average in 27 games. Shortly after the 2007 season ended, he was traded to the Atlanta Braves, along with Jair Jurrjens in exchange for Edgar Renteria. Hernandez was a top-100 rated prospect prior to both the 2008 and 2009 seasons. The Braves put him in High-A with Myrtle Beach of the Carolina League in 2008, where he hit .264 in 100 games, with 75 runs, 34 extra-base hits, 42 RBIs, a .734 OPS and 20 steals. In the early part of 2009, he batted .316/.361/.387 through 52 games for Double-A Mississippi of the Southern League.

In June of 2009, Hernandez was dealt to the Pirates, along with Jeff Locke and Charlie Morton, in the Nate McLouth deal. His production fell off after the deal at Altoona of the Double-A Eastern League, batting .262 with a .652 OPS in 86 games. Between both stops, he went 19-for-35 in steals, after being caught stealing 19 times total in three seasons. That performance led to him repeating the level during the next season.  Hernandez hit .266 with 45 runs, 17 extra-base hits, a .668 OPS and 17 steals in 92 games with Altoona in 2010. A finger injury ended his season in July. He moved up to Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League in 2011, putting together a solid season when factoring in his above average defense. In 126 games, he batted .283 with 35 extra-base hits, a .740 OPS and 21 steals. He began 2012 back in Indianapolis, but got the call to the majors early in the season, making his debut on May 21st. In 25 games for the Pirates that season, Hernandez made two starts, getting a total of 26 plate appearances. He hit .083/.154/.083 with two runs, two RBIs and two stolen bases. He ended up with a .699 OPS in 67 games that season with Indianapolis. On July 31, 2012, he was sent to the Miami Marlins in a deal for Gaby Sanchez. Hernandez saw 45 games with the Marlins that year, hitting .212 with a .629 OPS. He didn’t return to the majors until he was back with the Pirates in 2015 as a minor league free agent. In between he played minor league ball for the Marlins, Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox, while also playing summer ball in Mexico and winter ball in Venezuela. Hernandez had his best season of winter ball following that 2012 season, hitting .367 in 61 games.

The 2013 season for Hernandez was split between New Orleans (Miami) and Omaha (Royals) in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. He batted .263 in 124 games, with 59 runs, 28 extra-base hits, 25 steals and a .685 OPS. The 2014 season saw him play for Omaha, Charlotte of the International League (White Sox) and the Mexican League. Between all three stops, he hit .296/.380/.368 in 69 games. In his return to the Pirates, Hernandez went 0-for-5 in eight games. The rest of the year was spent with Indianapolis, where he hit .288 in 104 games, with 51 runs, 25 extra-base hits, 42 RBIs, 17 steals and a .771 OPS. He left after the season via free agency. Hernandez saw brief time with the San Francisco Giants in 2016, batting .259.298/.463 with two homers in 26 games. The rest of the year was spent with Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League, where he hit .302 in 116 games, with 74 runs, 33 extra-base hits, 51 RBIs, 20 steals and an .803 OPS. He was a regular in the Giants lineup during the 2017-18 seasons.

Hernandez batted .255 with 40 runs, 20 doubles, 22 RBIs and 12 steals in 128 games in 2017. He managed to go the entire 2017 season without a homer, then hit 15 home runs during the 2018 season. He had a .234 average, 52 runs scored, 33 extra-base hits, 40 RBIs and a .676 OPS in 142 games in 2018. In 2019, Hernandez saw sporadic time with the Boston Red Sox, hitting .143/.218/.245 in 20 games, while hitting just .219 in 123 games with Pawtucket of the International League. He signed with the White Sox in 2020, but he was released before the delayed season started. After playing winter ball in both Mexico and Venezuela over the 2020-21 off-season, he played in Mexico in 2021, seeing action with three different teams. He had a .261 average and a .784 OPS in 84 games that year. He hit .304 with a .950 OPS in Venezuela over the 201-22 winter, then he returned to Mexico for the 2022 season, where he was hitting .254/.365/.302 in 20 games through late August. Hernandez is a .230 big league hitter in 394 games over six seasons, with 122 runs, 44 doubles, 20 homers, 81 RBIs and 29 steals.

Fred Blackwell, catcher for the 1917-19 Pirates. He played four seasons in the minors before getting his first big league shot as a September call-up for the 1917 Pirates. He debuted in 1914 playing for Lexington of the Class-D Ohio State League, where he batted .206 with three extra-base hits in 67 games during that first season. His defense was highly praised that year. It’s interesting to note that he was said to be 18 years old at the time, but he was really four years older. That’s not rare for back then, as a raw 22-year-old with no experience may not have been able to land a job, but an 18-year-old at the same level might be seen as having upside as he matures. Blackwell remained in Lexington in 1915 and hit .203 in 94 games (available stats for his minor league career are extremely limited). After the Lexington season ended, he played 17 games with the Cleveland Spiders of the Double-A American Association, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. It was at that time that he was drafted by the Pirates, which was announced on September 21st. The scouting report from the Pirates said that he had an outstanding arm, and they also believed that he was 20 years old. Blackwell went to Spring Training with the Pirates in 1916 and made a solid impression, but he was still cut on April 1st and sent to the minors. He moved up to Class-B in 1916, playing for Wheeling of the Central League, where he had a .228 average in 108 games. The Pirates recalled him at the end of the season, but they sent him on option to Jacksonville of the Class-C South Atlantic League on February 17, 1917. Blackwell refused to report, asking to be sent to Newark of the Double-A International League instead.

Blackwell didn’t attend Spring Training with the Pirates in 1917, but he was still back with the team that September and got his first chance to play. He didn’t earn that spot with his bat, hitting just .162 with four extra base hits (all doubles) in 76 games for Newark that season. Blackwell caught three of the last seven games of the season for the 1917 Pirates, going 2-for-10 with two RBIs. In 1918, the regular season was shortened due to the ongoing war. Starting catcher Walter Schmidt ended up catching 105 of the team’s 126 games that year. Blackwell played just eight games as the third-string receiver behind Schmidt and veteran Jimmy Archer. He batted 17 times that season, going 2-for-13 with two RBIs and three walks. He would see his most big league time in 1919, when he was the backup catcher along with Cliff Lee. Blackwell was the third-string catcher to start 1919 , replaced in the backup role by veteran Jeff Sweeney. In fact, Blackwell stayed in Pittsburgh when the team went on early season road trips, and in mid-May they actually allowed him to go home. An early season injury to Schmidt caused the Pirates to bring Blackwell back to the team a short time later. When Schmidt returned from his injury, Sweeney was the player who was released, mostly because he was hitting .095 at the time in 17 games. Blackwell hit .215/.261/.262 in 24 games for the 1919 Pirates, getting twenty starts behind the plate. His Major League career was over at that point, and he played just one more season (1921) in the minors. The Pirates sold him to San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League on March 7, 1920, but he didn’t play that season. A year and four days later, he was sold to Kansas City of the American Association, where he spent his final season in pro ball, hitting .268 with three doubles in 24 games. Blackwell hit .205 with five runs, three doubles and ten RBIs in his 35 big league games. While his 1915 stats from his short stint in Cleveland are missing, the rest of his stats show that he failed to hit a single homer during his pro career.

John Flynn, first baseman for the 1910-11 Pirates. After winning the 1909 World Series, the Pirates got rid of their starting first baseman Bill Abstein, who played 137 regular season games and all seven postseason games. Abstein made too many mental errors for the Pirates liking, so after the 1909 season ended, Pittsburgh purchased the contracts of Flynn for $4,000 from St Paul of the Class-A American Association. They also added first baseman Bud Sharpe, who was taken in the Rule 5 draft. Both men battled it out for the starting first base job, with Flynn eventually winning it after the season started. Prior to joining the Pirates, Flynn played four seasons of minor league ball, with 1909 being his best year. He was considered to be strong with the bat, and serviceable in the field.

Flynn debuted in pro ball in 1906 at 22 years old, playing for Toronto of the Class-A Eastern League, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. He hit .206 that year, with 16 extra-base hits in 95 games. He improved slightly the next year, batting .215 with 47 runs, 21 extra-base hits and 23 steals in 99 games for Toronto. He moved on to Milwaukee of the American Association in 1908, where he hit .230 with 44 runs, 24 extra-base hits and 24 steals in 92 games. He finally broke out with St Paul in 1909, hitting .265 with 61 runs, 33 extra-base hits and 29 steals in 116 games, which led to him joining Pittsburgh. For the 1910 Pirates, Flynn hit .274 in 96 games, with 32 runs, ten doubles, six homers, 52 RBIs and a .707 OPS. League average OPS during that deadball year was 41 points lower than his mark. His 22 errors ranked as the third highest total among National League first basemen that year. In 1911, Pittsburgh picked up minor league veteran Newt Hunter to play first base and Flynn lost his starting spot. He hit .203 in 33 games, with five runs, one extra-base hit (a triple), three RBIs and a .546 OPS that season before being sold back to his St Paul team in August. Stats aren’t available for the rest of his 1911 season, though he’s credited with playing 20 games split between St Paul and Kansas City of the American Association.

Flynn would play one more season in the majors, making the 1912 Opening Day roster for the Washington Senators, who parted ways with him in mid-May after he batted just .169/.253/.254 in 20 games. He played another nine seasons in the minors after his last Major League game, retiring after the 1921 season with nearly 1,500 minor league games played. His last six seasons were spent back in the Eastern League, seeing time with four different teams. He also managed for five seasons in the minors. Flynn returned to St Paul (then a Double-A level) to finish the 1912 season, hitting .237 in 117 games, with 19 extra-base hits. In 1913, he split the year between St Paul and Indianapolis of the American Association. He hit .254 in 122 games, with 48 runs, 19 doubles and eight triples. He moved to Montreal of the Double-A International League for the 1914-15 seasons. He did well both seasons, starting with a .309 average in 1914, with 64 runs, 17 doubles, 13 triples, nine homers, 78 walks and an .866 OPS in 134 games. The next year he hit .289 in 128 games, with 64 runs, 13 doubles, 13 homers and a .773 OPS.

Flynn started his six-year run in the Eastern League in Springfield. The league was classified as Class-B in 1916-18 and Class-A in 1919-21. He batted .289 in 120 games in 1916 (stats are limited for these years). With the Lawrence Barristers in 1917, he hit .273 in 105 games. He moved on to New London in 1918 and hit .290 in 56 games, in a season shortened due to the war. In 1919, Flynn played for Waterbury, where he batted .268 with 16 extra-base hits in 77 games. His last two seasons were spent back in Springfield. He hit .290 with 27 extra-base hits in 102 games in 1920, and .265 with 12 doubles, six triples and 15 homers in 109 games in 1921. In his three-year big league career, Flynn hit .249 with 46 runs, 14 doubles, six homer and 60 RBIs in 149 games.

Charlie Case, pitcher for the 1904-06 Pirates. He made his Major League debut with the 1901 Cincinnati Reds, making three starts after joining the team in July. He threw three complete games, but allowed 34 hits and 21 runs in his 27 innings. He didn’t make his minor league debut until after those starts, getting sent to Matthews of the Western Association (team also played in Indianapolis that year) on the same day that he made his third start for the Reds. In 1902, Case joined Rock Island of the Class-B Three-I League. He stayed there for the entire 1902-03 seasons. No stats are available from that time other than the fact that he pitched 33 games and batted .140 in 1902, and pitched 34 games the next season with a .180 average. He began the 1904 season with Springfield of the Three-I League, where the Pirates purchased his contract in July after he pitched 16 games. The scout who saw him was actually Pirates manager Fred Clarke, who took an early July trip to check out players in the league, and Case was one of three who really caught his eye. He was also the only one purchased by Clarke, though the papers noted that Harry Hardy was the best looking player he saw. Hardy ended up pitching briefly for the 1905-06 Washington Senators.

Case made 17 starts and a relief appearance for Pittsburgh in 1904, going 10-5, 2.94 in 141 innings, with 14 complete games and three shutouts. In 1905, he made 24 starts and seven relief appearances, throwing a total of 217 innings, with 18 complete games and three shutouts. His record that year was only 11-11, 2.57, yet the team won 96 games and he had the second best ERA among regulars. Teammate Sam Leever went 20-5 with an ERA 13 points higher, while Mike Lynch had a 3.79 ERA, yet managed to finish with a 17-8 record. The Pirates had a deeper pitching staff in 1906 with the additions of Vic Willis and Lefty Leifield, so after two poor starts, Case was sent to the minors, where he finished his career. On June 1, 1906, the Pirates sold him to Rochester of the Class-A Eastern League (highest level of the minors at the time), with the understanding that they could get him back at the end of the season if he pitched well. Case told the local papers that he was fine with the move because he needed regular work, which he got in the form of 264 innings over the final four months of the season. His last appearance with the Pirates came 33 days before they let him go. He still had plenty of strong pitching left in his arm, but never got another chance in the majors. From 1906 until 1914, he went 122-119, winning in double digits (with a high of 19 victories) in all but his last season.

Case had a 17-9 record with Rochester in 1906, allowing 2.86 runs per nine innings (ERA isn’t available). In 1907, he pitched 272 innings for Kansas City of the Class-A American Association (his online win-loss record is wrongly listed as 28-32 that year). He returned to his old Springfield team in 1908 and had a 12-7 record in 24 appearances. In 1909, Case joined Nashville of the Class-A Southern Association. He remained with that team until mid-1913, and finished with Montgomery in the same league the next season. He went 19-12 in 32 games in 1909, followed by a 13-20 record in 39 games in 1910, and a 10-16 record in 32 games in 1911. In 1912, Case went 18-10 in 29 games. His split season in 1913 saw him go 11-15 with 216 innings pitched. His final season saw him post an 8-14 record.

Ed Poole, pitcher/outfielder for the 1900-02 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball in 1897 at 22 years old, playing for Springfield of the Class-B Interstate League and Zanesville of the Ohio-West Virginia League. There are no stats available for that season, but we know he did well in 1898 with Springfield, where he put up a 17-10 record. The Springfield club was sold and transferred to Wheeling, where he remained for the 1899-1900 seasons. Poole went 20-15 in 36 starts for Wheeling in 1900, completing 35 of those starts. The Pirates drafted him in September of 1900 and he joined the team on September 25th, after the Wheeling season ended. His Major League debut on October 5, 1900 for the Pirates was not a good first impression. Manager Fred Clarke started the game in left field and got hurt running out a hit. Poole came in for him and by the fourth inning, he was back on the bench. In that inning he made a throwing error and dropped an easy fly ball. He was known more for his pitching at that point, but he had played outfield in Wheeling. He hit .257 in 78 total games for Wheeling that season. His second game for the Pirates was a complete 180 over the first. A week after his debut, he came in to pitch after Deacon Phillippe got hit hard early. Poole allowed just one run over seven innings, while also hitting a home run and a triple, driving in three runs, for a 10-6 victory. Those were his only two appearances for the Pirates that year.

Poole was put on the reserve list for 1901 and he remained with the Pirates all season. He started ten games and pitched twice in relief, going 5-4, 3.60 in 80 innings. He played a total of 26 games, seeing action at all three outfield positions, as well as one game each at second base and third base. Poole hit .205 in 78 at-bats, with a home run and four RBIs. He played just one game for the 1902 Pirates before he joined the Cincinnati Reds. On May 14, 1902, he pitched eight innings in relief during a 10-5 loss, giving up four runs, though just one was earned. Hall of Fame pitcher Jack Chesbro made the start, allowing six runs in the first before he was pulled. Poole actually pitched more for the Pirates that year, just not in official games. On June 8th, he pitched the entire game against Newark of the Class-A Eastern League, which was one step below the majors at the time. Poole and the Pirates won 8-5 that day. On June 17th, Chesbro started against Worcester of the Eastern League and allowed seven runs in four innings. Poole replaced him and gave up one run over the final five innings, but the Pirates lost 8-2. He was released on July 3rd and after his ten-day release expired, he agreed to a deal with the Reds.

Poole would go on to make 16 starts for the Reds in 1902, going 12-4, 2.15 in 138 innings, with 16 complete games and two shutouts. The Reds said that they were signing him as a utility player, but he did so poorly at the plate, hitting .115/.115/.148 in 17 games, that he didn’t see any extra time in the field. He had a 7-13, 3.28 record in 184 innings for the Reds in 1903, completing 18 of his 21 starts, while pitching four times in relief. He did better at the plate, putting up a .243 average, though he was still never used outside of his pitching role. He was sold to the Brooklyn Superbas (Dodgers) in March of 1904, where he had an 8-14, 3.39 record over 178 innings, with 19 complete games in 23 starts. He returned to the minors in 1905, playing another four years before he retired from pro ball. Poole had a 33-35, 3.04 record in 595 innings over five seasons in the majors. He made ten relief appearances and completed 61 of 70 starts, with five shutouts. He was a career .183 hitter, with two homers and 15 RBIs in 95 games. He had a strong 1905 season with Providence of the Eastern League, going 21-12 in 298 innings. His ERA isn’t available, but it’s known that he allowed 3.31 runs per nine innings. In 1906, Poole went 14-10 in 193 innings with Providence, allowing 2.80 runs per nine innings. The next season was spent with Trenton of the Class-B Tri-State League, where he had a 17-10 record. His last season was played with Louisville of the Class-A American Association, and he had a 4-9 record in 117 innings.

The Game

On this date in 2011, the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Houston Astros by a 5-4 score. This game included a crazy base running play by the Pirates late that cost them an opportunity to score more runs. It also had two homers by Andrew McCutchen. Here’s the full game recap, along with a link inside to the boxscore.