This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: September 12th, Pirates Lose Smoky Burgess on Waivers to the White Sox

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date and one transaction of note.

Franquelis Osoria, relief pitcher for the 2007-08 Pirates. He was signed out of the Dominican Republic as an 18-year-old amateur free agent in 1999 by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He pitched his first two seasons (2000-01) in the Dominican Summer League (no stats available), then skipped to Low-A South Georgia of the South Atlantic League when he debuted in the U.S. in 2002, and even got a brief taste of High-A Vero Beach of the Florida State League that year. He combined to post a 3.20 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 50.2 innings over 24 games (one start). The entire 2003 season was spent in Vero Beach, where he went 3-6, 3.00, with six saves and a 1.17 WHIP in 75 innings over three starts and 30 relief appearances. A large majority of 2004 was spent in Double-A Jacksonville of the Southern League, but he also got in four games at Triple-A Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League. Between both stops, Osoria went 8-5, 3.83 in 89.1 innings over 55 relief outings, finishing with five saves and 76 strikeouts. He was in Las Vegas for the first two months of 2005, and another stretch from mid-July until the beginning of September, posting a 2.62 ERA in 55 innings. He made it to the majors that year for two stints and had his best big league season, putting up a career-low 3.94 ERA in 24 appearances, covering 29.2 innings.

Osoria struggled badly with the Dodgers during the 2006 season, finishing with a 7.13 ERA in 17.2 innings over his 12 outings, which led to him spending most of the season back in Triple-A. He had a 4.35 ERA in 51.2 innings with Las Vegas that year. He didn’t pitch in the majors after rosters expanded in September. The Pirates picked him up off waivers that December. He was pitching well at Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League in 2007, including some work as the closer, posting a 2.63 ERA and 11 saves in 54.2 innings over 39 appearances, before being called up by the Pirates in early August. He pitched 25 times for the Pirates that season, compiling a 4.76 ERA in 28.1 innings. In each of his first three seasons in the majors, he finished with an 0-2 record. In 2008, Osoria pitched a career high 43 games, and while he had a 4-3 record to break his odd win/loss streak, he did not pitch well, finishing with a 6.08 ERA in 60.2 innings. He finished the season in Indianapolis, where he had a 3.55 ERA in ten appearances, and he was released by the Pirates after the season. He then signed with the Kansas City Royals a couple of months later, although he never pitched in affiliated ball again. Osoria played winter ball in the Dominican through the 2014-15 off-season, but he did not see any action during the summer over that stretch. He played a total of eight seasons in the Dominican winter league. He ended up with a 4-9, 5.48 record in four big league seasons, with 136.1 innings pitched over 104 games.

Mike Roesler, pitcher for the 1990 Pirates. He was drafted in the 17th round of the 1985 amateur draft by the Cincinnati Reds out of Ball State University. He was a starter his first two years in the Reds system, then moved to relief in 1987, which helped him get to the majors two years later. He debuted in short-season ball in 1985, playing for Billings of the Pioneer League, where he went 8-2, 2.33 in 88.2 innings over 13 starts, with 73 strikeouts. The next year in A-Ball, playing for Cedar Rapids of the Midwest League, Roesler went 9-13, 4.58 in 163 innings with 135 strikeouts. He made 24 starts and eight relief appearances that year. The 1987 season saw him split the year fairly evenly between Advanced-A Tampa of the Florida State League and Double-A Vermont of the Eastern League, with slightly better results at the lower level. He combined to go 11-4, 2.69 in 63.2 innings, with 48 strikeouts and 22 saves in 50 appearances. The 1988 season was split between Double-A Chattanooga of the Southern League, where he had a 2.21 ERA and nine saves in 20.1 innings over 16 appearances, and Triple-A Nashville of the American Association, where he put up a 5.01 ERA in 41.1 innings. He was with Nashville in 1989, going 6-4, 3.25 with ten saves in 69.1 innings over 40 relief outings. The Reds called him up that August and used him 17 times out of the bullpen. Roesler was 0-1, 3.96 in 25 innings over the last two months of the season. The Pirates acquired him on April 3, 1990, along with infielder Jeff Richardson, in exchange for outfielder Billy Hatcher.

During the first three weeks of the 1990 seasons, teams were allowed to carry 27 players on their roster due to the shortened Spring Training, which was caused by a lockout. Roesler and Tom Prince both made the team because of the new rule. In those three weeks before being sent back down on April 29th (day before rosters reduced to 25), Roesler made five relief appearances, giving up two runs in six innings of work. He never returned to the majors after being sent down. He spent part of that 1990 season back in Double-A with Harrisburg of the Eastern League, but the majority of the year was spent with Buffalo of the American Association. He finished the year with 4.39 ERA in 65.2 minor league innings. His 1991 season was also split between Triple-A (Buffalo) and Double-A (Carolina of the Southern League), with worse results at the lower level, where he had a 4.91 ERA in 20 appearances. He was in the Pirates system until late in the 1992 season, before finishing that year with the Kansas City Royals Triple-A club (Omaha of the American Association). Roesler went 3-5, 5.50 with six saves in 54 innings over 34 appearances with Buffalo in 1992. The Pirates released him on July 25th after he made an obscene gesture and cursed at fans behind the dugout the previous night. He played ball in Mexico for most of the 1993 season, then spent the latter part of the season in the Kansas City system, pitching seven games over two levels. He finished his pro career in China in 1994, though that experience lasted just one start in which he gave up four runs in 3.1 innings.

Trench Davis, center fielder for the 1985-86 Pirates. He was signed by the Pirates in 1980 as a 19-year-old non-drafted amateur free agent. He batted .275 with one homer, 12 steals and a .664 OPS in 43 games in the Gulf Coast League that year. The Pirates sent him to full-season ball in 1981 with Greenwood of the Class-A South Atlantic League, where he put up strong numbers. He hit .298 with 70 runs, 24 doubles, nine triples, 73 RBIs, 31 stolen bases and a .749 OPS in 141 games. Davis skipped two levels by moving up to Triple-A in 1982, where he hit .268 with 80 runs scored, 23 extra-base hits, 46 RBIs and 42 stolen bases in 141 games with Portland of the Pacific Coast League. He was playing in a friendly hitting environment, yet his .644 OPS was a 105-point drop from the previous season. Despite holding his own at a young age in Triple-A, he still ended up spending half of the next season in Double-A with Lynn of the Eastern League. In 59 games with Lynn and 79 games with Hawaii of the Pacific Coast League, he hit .266 with 78 runs scored, 28 extra-base hits, 39 RBIs, 41 steals, 54 walks and a .697 OPS in 138 games that year. From the time he joined Hawaii in 1983, Davis would spend 3 1/2 seasons with the team without getting much of a shot at the majors. The entire 1984 season was spent in Hawaii, where he hit .259 with 79 runs, 32 extra-base hits, 39 RBIs, 53 steals, 53 walks and a .657 OPS in 141 games. He began and ended the 1985 season in Triple-A, hitting .270 with 59 runs, 30 extra-base hits, 56 RBIs, 33 steals and a .662 OPS in 132 games. In between his two stints in Triple-A that year, Davis played two June games in center field for the Pirates, going 1-for-7 at the plate. His total time with the Pirates was six days that year.

Davis returned to the Pirates for 15 more games in May of 1986. This time he spent 17 days in the majors before he was sent down on May 25th, getting replaced on the roster by Barry Bonds, who was recalled for the first time in his career. In his 17 Pirates games over two seasons, Davis hit .133/.129/.133 with an RBI and no walks, giving him a lower OBP than average due to one sacrifice fly. He became a free agent after the 1986 season and signed with the Atlanta Braves shortly after hitting the market. He played his last six Major League games with the Braves in late June/early July of 1987, getting three pinch-hit appearances and three pinch-running spots, going 0-for-3 at the plate. He hit .256 in 114 games for Richmond of the Triple-A International League that year, finishing with 51 runs, 21 extra-base hits and 44 steals. Davis went to Mexico to play in 1988, finishing his playing career there four years later without another chance in affiliated ball. His only available stats from that time in Mexico are from 1988, when he batted .371 in 127 games, with 81 runs, 23 doubles and 34 steals. He’s the only known pro baseball player with the first (or middle) name of Trench. According to Davis, he got his unique name from the hospital nurse who put the wrong name down on his birth certificate.

George Freese, third baseman for the 1955 Pirates. He was a member of four different organizations before joining the Pirates, playing just one Major League game prior to his trade to Pittsburgh. Freese was originally signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers at 21 years old in 1948, staying with them until the St Louis Browns took him in the December 1952 Rule 5 draft. He debuted in the Class-C Middle Atlantic League with Johnstown in 1948, where he hit .349 with 91 runs, 30 extra-base hits, 76 RBIs, 64 walks and a .957 OPS in 96 games. He spent almost all of the 1949 season with Lancaster of the Class-B Interstate League, where he hit .309 in 121 games, with 92 runs, 25 extra-base hits, 53 RBIs and a .755 OPS. He also put up a .140 average and a .390 OPS in 15 games with Newport News of the Class-B Piedmont League. In 1950, Freese moved up to Class-A, playing for Elmira of the Eastern League, where he hit .285 with 16 extra-base hits in 110 games. In 1951, he remained in Class-A with Pueblo of the Western League, where he batted .338 with 37 doubles, 15 triples and 12 homers in 135 games. He also hit .240 in eight games that year with Fort Worth of the Texas League. His slow climb to the majors continued in 1952 at Mobile of the Double-A Southern Association. He hit .313 with 37 doubles, 14 triples and eight homers in 150 games that season. That led to the Rule 5 pick by the Browns over the 1952-53 off-season. From there he was purchased by the Detroit Tigers in early April of 1953, then sold to the Chicago Cubs a month later. He made his big league debut with the Tigers as a pinch-hitter on April 29th, which ended up being his only big league game that season.

The Pirates acquired Freese from the Cubs on June 4, 1953 in the Ralph Kiner deal, so in a matter of six months he was with the Dodgers, Browns, Tigers, Cubs and Pirates. Despite changing teams three times during the season, he spent the entire minor league season with Springfield of the International League, where he batted .266 with 53 runs, 37 extra-base hits, 66 RBIs and a .693 OPS in 132 games. He would remain in the minors until Opening Day in 1955 when he made the Pirates as a bench player. Pittsburgh sent him to New Orleans in the Southern Association in 1954, where he hit .324 with 98 runs, 26 doubles, 23 homers, 104 RBIs, 62 walks and a .928 OPS in 134 games. That performance earned him a spot with the 1955 Pirates. Sid Gordon was at third base to begin the 1955 season, but quickly lost the starting job due to a poor start. Freese would start every game for the Pirates from April 24th until June 12th at third base. Two days after his last game, he was sent to the Pirates farm team in Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League, while the Pirates got back Cuban pitcher Lino Donoso. At the same time, the Pirates also got back twin infielders Johnny and Eddie O’Brien. They had been serving in the Army prior to the season and were working their way back into shape, prior to rejoining the team. Freese finished with a .257 average, 17 runs, eight doubles, three homers and 22 RBIs in 51 games. After the season ended, the Pirates lost him to the Chicago Cubs in the 1955 Minor League draft. He would go six seasons before he played in the majors again, making his last nine appearances with the 1961 Cubs at the beginning of the season. He then began to manage in the minors, the first three years as a player/manager, followed by another nine seasons as a manager.

Freese finished off the 1955 season by hitting .302 with 17 doubles, ten homers and 40 RBIs in 79 games for Hollywood. In 1956, he spent the year with Los Angeles of the Pacific Coast League, batting .291 in 137 games, with 87 runs, 31 doubles, 22 homers, 113 RBIs and an .878 OPS. He moved on to Portland of the PCL for the next 3 1/2 seasons, starting off in 1957 with a .261 average and 23 extra-base hits in 71 games. In 1958, Freese hit .305 in 146 games, with 94 runs, 23 doubles, 35 homers, 81 RBIs and a .932 OPS. He followed that up with a .319 average in 120 games, with 17 doubles, 21 homers and 80 RBIs. The 1960 season was split between Portland and San Diego of the PCL. He batted .255 with 36 extra-base hits and 87 RBIs in 127 games. Freese played nine early season games for the 1961 Cubs, all as a pinch-hitter. He went 2-for-7 with an RBI and a walk. He played the rest of the year with Houston of the Triple-A American Association, hitting .314 in 58 games, mostly off of the bench. His last three seasons combined saw him bat 26 times in 27 games. He played with St Cloud of the Class-C Northern League in 1962, Wenatchee of the Class-A Northwest League in 1963, and Treasure Valley of the Pioneer League in 1964. He remained with Treasure Valley for two more years as a manager, then stayed in the same league with Caldwell, where he managed the next three years. His last two seasons of managing were with Bakersfield of the California League in 1973-74. Freese is the brother of Pirates infielder Gene Freese, who was his teammate on the 1955 Pirates. While George was with the team, Gene played second base. In early July he started playing third base and remained there through the end of the season. They are one of 26 groups of relatives to play for the Pirates.

The Transaction

On this date in 1964, 37-year-old catcher Smoky Burgess was selected off waivers by the Chicago White Sox, ending his six-year stint with the Pirates. Burgess is known as one of the best pinch-hitters in baseball history, but he was an All-Star during the 1959-61 and 1964 seasons. During the 1960 season, he hit .294 in 110 games, with seven homers and 39 RBIs. He then batted .333 in the World Series. At the time that the Pirates lost him on waivers, he was hitting .246 with two homers and 17 RBIs in 68 games. He started just ten games in the six weeks leading up to his departure to Chicago. Burgess hit .296/.352/.445 in 586 games with the Pirates. He had 164 walks and 92 strikeouts during that time. He played just seven games with the White Sox in 1964, pinch-hitting every time. He then remained in Chicago for another three seasons in which he was used almost exclusively as a pinch-hitter. During the 1964-67 seasons with the White Sox, he caught a total of 31 innings, while playing in 243 games.