This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History, September 25th, Tony Womack and an NL Pennant Clinched

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players have been born on this date, plus we have one game of note.

Vance Worley, pitcher for the 2014-15 Pirates. The Philadelphia Phillies drafted him twice, taking him in the 20th round out of high school in 2005, and then again out of Cal State Long Beach, nabbing him in the third round in 2008. He made two starts in short-season ball with Williamsport of the New York-Penn League in 2008, followed by 11 starts in Low-A Lakewood of the South Atlantic League. Worley combined to go 3-2, 2.48 in 69 innings during his first pro season. The next year was spent entirely in Double-A, where he went 7-12, 5.34 in 153.1 innings over 27 starts for Reading of the Eastern League. He split the 2010 season between Reading (19 starts) and Triple-A Lehigh Valley of the International League(eight starts), going 10-7, 3.36 in 158 innings, with 119 strikeouts. The Phillies first called him up in late July that year for one game, and then he returned in September for four more games, finishing with a 1.38 ERA in 13 innings. Most of 2011 was spent in the majors, with nine starts thrown in for Lehigh Valley, where he went 5-2, 2.31 in 50.2 innings. With the Phillies that year, Worley posted an 11-3, 3.01 record in 21 starts and four relief appearances, totaling 131.2 innings pitched. He set a career high with 119 strikeouts, which was also his high for a season in the minors. He finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting.

Worley’s 2012 season did not go well, with a 6-9, 4.20 record in 133 innings over 23 starts. He missed a month in the middle of the season due to an elbow injury. The Phillies traded him to the Minnesota Twins in December of 2012, where things didn’t get any better. He had a 1-5, 7.21 record in 48.2 innings over ten starts in 2013, which ended up being his only season in Minnesota. He was optioned to Triple-A Rochester on June 1st and never returned to the Twins. He went 6-3, 3.88 in 58 innings over nine starts before being placed on the disabled list in mid-July for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury. The Pirates purchased Worley from the Twins shortly before the 2014 season started. He joined the Pirates after making seven starts in Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League, going 3-2, 4.30 in 46 innings. He was strong as a starter for the 2014 Pirates, posting an 8-4, 2.85 record in 110.1 innings over 17 starts and one relief appearance. That performance helped the Pirates to their second straight playoff appearance. He split 2015 between starting and relief, seeing his ERA drop to 4.02 in 71.2 innings over eight starts and 15 relief outings. He also spent five starts back in Indianapolis.

Worley was released at the end of the 2015 season, and he signed with the Baltimore Orioles for 2016. He went 2-2, 3.53 in 86.2 innings that season, splitting his time between four starts and 31 relief appearances. He spent his final season in the majors with the 2017 Miami Marlins, going 2-6, 6.91 in 71.2 innings over 12 starts and 12 relief appearances. He also made eight Triple-A starts with New Orleans of the Pacific Coast League that season. It appeared that he finished his career in the minors in 2018 with four starts and a 13.50 ERA for the New York Mets affiliate (Las Vegas of the PCL). However, he made a comeback in 2021, pitching in independent ball Kane County of American Association, while also seeing time in Triple-A with Syracuse, the farm team of the Mets. Worley went 5-6, 4.23 in 86 innings with Syracuse, while posting a 4.01 ERA in 33.2 innings with Kane County, where he also spent the 2022 season. He went 6-9, 4.89 in 114 innings over 18 starts with Kane County this year. In his big league career, he has a 35-36, 4.09 record in 667 innings, with 97 starts and 66 relief appearances. He has two complete games, two saves and one shutout.

Tony Womack, second baseman for the 1993-94 and 1996-98 Pirates. He was drafted by the Pirates in the seventh round in 1991 out of Guilford College, where he’s the only draft pick to ever make it to the majors. He debuted with Welland in the short-season New York-Penn League and hit .277/.344/.313 in 45 games, with 30 runs scored and 26 stolen bases. He spent all of 1992 in Low-A Augusta of the South Atlantic League, where he hit .245 in 102 games, with 62 runs scored and 50 steals, though he was caught stealing 25 times. Low power numbers led to a .606 OPS that year. In 1993, Womack started in High-A Salem of the Carolina League, and he finished in the majors. He hit .299 with 41 runs, 28 steals and a .706 OPS in 72 games with Salem, then moved to Double-A Carolina of the Southern League for 60 games, in which he hit .304/.346/.348 and stole 21 more bases. He scored 41 runs at each level. He joined the Pirates in September and hit .083/.185/.083 in 28 plate appearances over 15 games. He went to Triple-A Buffalo of the American Association in 1994 and posted a lowly .221 average and a .505 OPS in 106 games, but he still stole 41 bases. He played five games that year for the Pirates, going 4-for-12 with four singles and two walks. The 1995 season was spent in the minors, with most of his time spent back with Carolina, while also playing 32 games for the new Triple-A affiliate of the Pirates (Calgary of the Pacific Coast League. He combined for a .262 average and a .632 OPS in 112 games, with 64 runs scored, 18 extra-base hits and 34 steals.

Womack improved while with Calgary in 1996, posting a .729 OPS in 131 games, with 75 runs, 19 doubles, 11 triples and 37 steals. He got another shot with the Pirates and this time he hit .333/.460/.500 in 40 plate appearances over 17 games. Womack played three partial seasons with the Pirates, totaling 37 games, before finally getting a chance to play full-time in 1997. That year he finished ninth in the Rookie of the Year voting, received mild MVP support (24th place finish) and made the All-Star team. He hit .278 with 85 runs, 41 extra-base hits, 50 RBIs and a .700 OPS in 155 games. Womack stole 60 bases (in 67 attempts) to lead the National League. The following season, he led the NL again with 58 steals, getting caught just eight times. In 159 games, he hit .282 with 85 runs, 36 extra-base hits, 45 RBIs and a .677 OPS. Prior to the 1999 season, he was dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks for pitchers Jason Boyd and Paul Weichard. Womack led the NL for a third straight season in steals during his first season in Arizona, swiping a career-high 72 bags. He also set a career-best with 111 runs scored, while batting .277 with 39 extra-base hits, 41 RBIs, 52 walks and a .702 OPS. In 2000, he hit .271 with 95 runs scored, 57 RBIs, 45 steals, a .692 OPS and 42 extra-base hits, which included a league leading total of 14 triples. In 2001, he helped the Diamondbacks to a World Series title by providing strong defense at second base (1.5 dWAR), to go along with 66 runs scored and 28 steals in 125 games. He batted .266 that year, with 27 extra-base hits and 30 RBIs. He scored a total of eight runs in the postseason, despite going 1-for-4 in steal attempts.

In 2002, Womack batted .271 with 90 runs scored, 33 extra-base hits, 57 RBIs, 46 walks and 29 steals in 153 games. He was traded during the 2003 season to the Colorado Rockies, who sent him to the Chicago Cubs a short time later. Between the three stops, he hit .226 with 43 runs scored, 20 extra-base hits, 22 RBIs, 13 steals and a .558 OPS in 103 games. He signed with the Boston Red Sox as a free agent for 2004, but they ended up trading him to the St Louis Cardinals before the season started. Womack ended up having his best overall season that year, hitting .307 with 91 runs scored, 22 doubles, five triples, 38 RBIs, 26 steals and a career best .735 OPS in 145 games. He signed a free agent deal with the New York Yankees for 2005 and hit .249/.276/.280 in 108 games, with 46 runs, 15 RBIs and 27 steals. The Yankees traded him to the Cincinnati Reds, who would release him just three weeks into the 2006 season. He signed with the Cubs, but his stay there lasted just six weeks before being released, which ended his big league career. He batted .265/.342/.353 in 28 games during his final season. Womack played 1,303 big league games, with a .273 average, 739 runs scored, 190 doubles, 59 triples, 36 homers, 368 RBIs and 363 steals. Despite some seasons with big overall numbers in speed and runs scored over a 13-year career, Womack finished with a 2.5 WAR for his career, which includes 3.3 WAR for the St Louis Cardinals in 2004.

Michael Crotta, reliever for the 2011 Pirates. He was originally drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 47th round in 2003 out of high school, but he decided to attend Florida Atlantic instead. The Pirates selected him in 2006 in the 17th round. He started his pro career in short-season ball, posting a 2.68 ERA in 47.2 innings with Williamsport of the New York-Penn League. He got promoted to Low-A, where he had a 10.38 ERA in 17.1 innings over four starts with Hickory of the South Atlantic League. Crotta was in Hickory in 2007, going 10-5, 4.39 in 137.1 innings. He got one Double-A start with Altoona of the Eastern League that did not go well, with seven runs in 2.2 innings. In 2008, he was in High-A all year, going 9-10, 4.67 in 146.1 innings over 28 starts with Lynchburg of the Carolina League. He went to the Arizona Fall League after the season and had a 4.76 ERA in 17 innings. In 2009, Crotta spent the year as a starter for Altoona, going 7-8, 4.76 in 143.2 innings over 27 starts. He had 97 strikeouts, giving him a mark of 6.1 strikeouts per nine innings, which was the highest strikeout rate of his career. He did well in four starts in Altoona in 2010, going 2-0, 1.78 in 25.1 innings, while spending the rest of the year in Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League, where he had a 5-10, 4.93 record in 131.1 innings over 24 starts. He had 105 strikeouts that season, the only time he crossed the century mark.

Crotta was with the Pirates at the start of the 2011 season, staying with the big league club until mid-May. He had a strong Spring Training and was helped out by the Pirates having three injured pitchers who were all supposed to be locks for the Opening Day pitching staff. He had a 9.28 ERA in 10.2 innings over 15 relief appearances during his only big league experience. Crotta returned to the minors, where he remained with the Pirates through the 2012 season, though he was injured for part of 2011 and all of 2012.In between, he was able to make three appearances in Venezuela during the 2011-12 winter league season. He ended up pitching a total of 11.2 innings over 12 relief appearances in the minors for the Pirates after being sent down in May of 2011. He pitched in the Washington Nationals system in 2013, going 6-7, 3.57 in 58 innings over 51 games with Syracuse of the Triple-A International League. Crotta spent the 2014-15 seasons in Japan, going 4-5, 2.58 in 59.1 innings over 62 appearances in 2014, followed by a 4-2, 5.21 record in 46.2 innings over 45 games in 2015. He finished his pro career making nine relief appearances in the minors for the Detroit Tigers, which were split between Erie of the Eastern League and Toledo of the International League.

Dick Davis, outfielder for the 1982 Pirates. He was originally signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Milwaukee Brewers out of Snow College in 1972, and he debuted in the majors with the Brewers five years later. At 18 years old, Davis debuted in the short-season New York-Penn League with Newark after hitting .347 in 28 games in college. He hit .288/.336/.374 over 37 games in his first season in pro ball. He spent the next two seasons with Danville of the Class-A Midwest League. Davis hit .274 with 57 runs, 27 extra-base hits, 43 RBIs and a .735 OPS in 101 games in 1973. He followed that up with a .262 average, 76 runs, 35 extra-base hits, 38 RBIs, 28 steals and a .733 OPS in 114 games. The stolen base total that year was quite an improvement after attempting just ten steals in his first two seasons combined. Davis moved up to Thetford Mines of the Double-A Eastern League in 1975, where he batted .253 with 66 runs,23 doubles, 16 homers, 67 RBIs, 14 steals and a .731 OPS in 132 games. The next year was spent in the same league, just with the Milwaukee affiliate changing to the Berkshire Brewers. Davis batted .289 with 70 runs, 24 doubles, 16 homers, 69 RBIs and a .763 OPS in 126 games in 1976. The next year he moved up to Spokane of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League and had an outstanding year, batting .355, with 94 runs, 25 doubles, 13 homers, 74 RBIs, 18 stolen bases and a .915 OPS. That led to his first big league shot and he batted .275/.278/.314 in 22 games with the Brewers.

Davis spent the entire 1978 season in the majors, hitting .248 with 28 runs, ten doubles, five homers and 26 RBIs in 69 games (52 starts). He saw a bit more time in 1979, while getting extra work in the DH spot. He batted .266 with 51 runs, 13 doubles, 12 homers, 41 RBIs and a .716 OPS in 91 games, with 50 starts as the DH and 30 in the outfield. He set a career high with 106 games played in 1980, when he hit .271 with 50 runs, 32 extra-base hits, 30 RBIs and a .683 OPS. That year he made 59 starts in the DH spot. Davis was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies during Spring Training in 1981, then hit .333/.387/.479 with 12 runs, six doubles, two homers and 19 RBIs in 45 games during the strike-shortened season. The 1982 season saw him play with three different teams, starting with 28 games for the Phillies, before he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays on June 15th for Wayne Nordhagen, who was subsequently traded to the Pirates for Bill Robinson. After just three games, Davis was acquired by the Pirates in a trade with the Blue Jays on June 22, 1982 for Nordhagen. It turned out that Nordhagen was injured at the time, so the Pirates returned him to his original team and got Davis instead. Davis hit .182/.224/.312 in 39 games for the Pirates, seeing most of his playing time in right field. He had a .629 OPS in 67 games between all three stops.

Davis remained with the Pirates until late in Spring Training of 1983 when he was released. He played with the Philadelphia Phillies in Triple-A in 1983, putting up a .328 average and an .873 OPS in 87 games for Portland of the Pacific Coast League. He then spent his final five seasons of pro ball playing in Japan. Davis hit a total of 76 homers during the 1985-86 seasons. He put up a .310 average and a .913 OPS in 78 games in 1984. In 1985, he hit .343 in 128 games, with 88 runs, 22 doubles, 40 homers, 109 RBIs and a 1.058 OPS. That was followed in 1986 by a .337 average in 122 games, with 83 runs, 25 doubles, 36 homers, 97 RBIs and a 1.042 OPS. In 1987, he hit .337 with 31 extra-base hits in 91 games. He finished up with a .303 average and an .829 OPS in 42 games in 1988. Davis was a .265 hitter with 160 runs, 62 doubles, 27 homers and 141 RBIs in 403 big league games. Despite four straight seasons of double-digit stolen base totals in the minors, he went 13-for-26 in steals during his six seasons in the majors. His cousin is Enos Cabell, who played 15 years in the majors.

Dave Robertson, outfielder for the 1921 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball at 21 years old in 1911 in the Class-D Tidewater League for a team from Elizabeth City (no stats available). Just one year later he made the huge jump to the majors with the New York Giants, though he was barely used during the 1912 season, playing one game in early June, one in late June and another game one month later. He was originally a pitcher, but switched to outfield after a bad shoulder injury while playing college football. The Giants knew he would spend the 1912 season recovering from the injury, but he came highly praised as a baseball player, so they kept him around all season. Manager John McGraw promised big things from him in 1913, but it took him a little bit longer to reach his potential. Robertson was in the minors for the 1913 season, where he hit .335 with 85 runs, 45 extra-base hits and 57 steals in 135 games for Mobile of the Class-A Southern Association. He returned to the Giants in 1914 and hit .266 with 25 runs, 12 doubles, two homers, 32 RBIs and a .658 OPS in 82 games. While that OPS doesn’t sound like anything special, it was the deadball era, and the mark was actually seven points above league average.

Robertson became the everyday right fielder in 1915 and hit .294 with 72 runs, 30 extra-base hits, 58 RBIs, 22 steals and a .705 OPS in 141 games. Robertson became a feared power hitter during the 1916 season, though this was still the deadball era, so that doesn’t hold the same weight that it does now. He batted .307 that season, with 18 doubles, eight triples and a league leading 12 homers, to go along with 88 runs scored and 69 RBIs in 150 games. His .752 OPS was tenth best in the league. While he led the league with 12 homers again in 1917, he didn’t quite pack the same punch, batting .259 with a .667 OPS. He had 64 runs, 18 doubles, nine triples, 55 RBIs and 17 steals. Robertson served in the military during the 1918 season. He was back in New York in 1919, though he was traded to the Chicago Cubs mid-season after playing just one game off of the bench. He ended up hitting .208/.224/.260 with one homer and ten RBIs in 28 games in 1919. He regained some of that power in 1920, hitting .300 with 29 doubles, 11 triples and ten homers in 134 games. He scored 68 runs and set a career high with 75 RBIs.

Robertson got off to a slow start in 1921, hitting .222/.243/.306 with no homers in 22 games, though he still managed to drive in 14 runs. The Pirates dealt pitcher Elmer Ponder to the Cubs to get Robertson in June, 1921. With Pittsburgh, he hit .322/.361/.504 with 29 runs, 18 doubles, six homers and 48 RBIs in 60 games in 1921, seeing time at all three outfield spots. Robertson held out during Spring Training in 1922 and was released by owner Barney Dreyfuss, who thought his salary demands were outrageous. He went back to the Giants for one final season, batting .277/.320/.383 with one homer in 50 plate appearances spread over 42 games in 1922, before finishing his career in the minors with eight more seasons, including four as a player-manager. He was a career .287 hitter, who ended up with just 47 big league homers, despite the two home run titles. He had 366 runs scored, 117 doubles, 44 triples and 364 RBIs in 804 games.

Robertson put up big numbers in the minors after his final big league game, but they were coming in Class-B ball, three steps from the majors at the time. He played for Richmond of the Virginia League in 1923, hitting .334 with 40 extra-base hits in 103 games as a player-manager. In 1924, he hit .304 with 37 extra-base hits in 81 games for Norfolk of the Virginia League. He remained in Norfolk for the next three seasons as a player-manager, starting with a .388 average, 37 doubles and 24 homers in 118 games in 1925. In 1926, he hit .382 in 140 games, with 29 doubles, five triples and 35 homers. In 1927, Robertson batted .350 in 62 games, with 26 extra-base hits. He moved on to York of the Class-B New York-Penn League in 1928, where he hit .360 in 123 games, with 28 doubles, eight triples and seven homers. He was 38 years old that season and ended up playing just ten more games of pro ball, returning to Norfolk briefly during the 1931 season. His full name is Davis Aydelotte Robertson.

The Game

On this date in 1960, the Pirates clinched their first National League title in 33 years. They lost to the Milwaukee Braves, but a 5-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs eliminated the St Louis Cardinals from the playoffs. The Pirates went on to win their third World Series title that year, defeating the New York Yankees in seven games. Here’s the boxscore from the game on this date. Roberto Clemente had two hits and Bill Mazeroski homered off of Warren Spahn.

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