Just two former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus two trades of note and one milestone.
Bryan Bullington, pitcher for the 2005 and 2007 Pirates. He was the first overall pick in the 2002 draft out of Ball State, who battled through injuries to pitch parts of five seasons in the majors, followed by five more seasons in Japan. Before being selected by the Pirates, Bullington was a 37th round draft pick out of high school by the Kansas City Royals in 1999. He debuted in pro ball in 2003, splitting a successful season between Low-A Hickory of the South Atlantic League and High-A Lynchburg of the Carolina League, combining for a 13-5, 2.52 record in 142.2 innings. While he didn’t do bad at High-A, he was much better at the lower level, going 5-1, 1.39 in 45.1 innings, with 46 strikeouts. He pitched 97.1 innings in Lynchburg, putting up a 3.05 ERA and 67 strikeouts. In 2004, he spent the entire season in Double-A with Altoona of the Eastern League, where he had a 12-7, 4.10 record and 100 strikeouts in 145 innings over 26 starts. He moved up to Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League in 2005, where he went 9-5, 3.28 in 17 starts, with 77 strikeouts in 104.1 innings, before joining the Pirates. His first big league appearance was a disaster and that was only partially related to the results. He gave up two runs in 1.1 innings of relief work. Bullington needed Tommy John surgery after that game, which cost him the end of the 2005 season and all of 2006.
Bullington had an 11-9, 4.00 record and 89 strikeouts in 150.1 innings over 26 starts with Indianapolis in 2007, before joining the Pirates for three starts and two relief outings in September. He went 0-3, 5.29 in 17 innings during that second big league trial. Bullington was pitching poorly in Indianapolis in 2008 when he was lost on waivers to the Cleveland Indians in June. He had a 4-6, 5.52 record in 15 starts and 75.1 innings at the time. He finished that year with a 5.20 ERA in 128 innings at Triple-A, after going 1-3, 4.75 in 53 innings for Buffalo of the International League. He got his third shot at the majors and made two starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.91 ERA in 14.2 innings with the Indians. In 2009, he was a reliever for the Toronto Blue Jays, spending most of the year in Triple-A Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League, where he went 3-1, 3.52 in 38.1 innings over 28 games. He made four big league appearances that season, allowing two runs in six innings. In 2010, Bullington pitched most as a starter in Triple-A Omaha of the PCL for the Kansas City Royals, while also getting five starts and eight relief appearances in the majors. He was 8-2, 2.82 in 102 innings with Omaha, and he went 1-4, 6.12 in 42.2 innings with the Royals, which ended up being his last big league time. He finished out his pro career with five seasons in Japan, where he posted a 46-48, 3.21 record in 805 innings.
Bullington had a big first season with Hiroshima in 2011, going 13-11, 2.42 in 204.1 innings. He had odd results from the 2012 and 2013 seasons, putting up the same ERA in the nearly same amount of work, but with a much different success rate. He went 7-14, 3.23 in 175.2 innings in 2012, and 11-9, 3.23 in 172.2 innings in 2013. He struggled a bit in the 2014 season, posting a 4.58 ERA in 23 starts. Bullington played for Orix in his final season in 2015, going 5-6, 3.01 in 113.1 innings. His strikeout total went down every season in Japan, starting with his high of 140 in 2011, dropping down to 71 by his last season. His big league record finished up as 1-9, 5.62 in 81.2 innings over ten starts and 16 relief outings.
Pat Bohen, pitcher for the 1914 Pirates. He pitched two big league games, getting one start in the American League and one relief appearance in the National League. He debuted in pro ball with Oakland of the Class-A Pacific Coast League (highest level of the minors at the time) right before his 21st birthday in 1911, making three appearances on the mound, throwing a total of 15 innings. He was a well-known semi-pro pitcher at the time with a good reputation for having speed, control and good curves. He was back in semi-pro ball on the west coast in 1912, then played for Helena and Missoula of the Class-D Union Association in 1913, dropping down four levels from the PCL, which was considered to be Double-A by 1912. Bohen had a combined record of 18-21 in 292 innings in 1913. Despite getting good reviews for his control, it was said that he had 205 walks and 228 strikeouts that season, both leading the league. On August 11, 1913, the Philadelphia A’s and manager/owner Connie Mack purchased his contract for $1,000 from Missoula, and he was allowed to finish out the season with his minor league team. Bohen debuted with the A’s on October 1, 1913, the day after his 23rd birthday. He took a tough loss that day, allowing just one run over eight innings, with the winning run scoring on a wild pitch in the eighth. The one-game scouting report was basically the same as before, except the locals noted that his changeup was also very good.
The Athletics won the World Series in 1913 and Bohen received a cash award from the player’s pool, which was a bit odd for the day because players who barely spent time with the team, rarely received anything. He went to Spring Training with Philadelphia in 1914, and even made the team out of Spring Training, but he didn’t pitch during the first two weeks and was sold outright to the minors. Bohen went 20-9 for Reading of the Class-B Tri-State League in 1914 before joining the Pirates for his second/final big league game. On August 26, 1914, the Pirates purchased him from Reading for $1,500 after scout Billy Murray recommended him, and he was asked to immediately join the team (he arrived the next day in time for practice). He pitched for the Pirates in relief on September 6, 1914 in an 8-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs and gave up two runs in his only inning of work. On September 22nd, with 17 games still left on the schedule and the Pirates on the east coast, Bohen and outfielder Eddie Mensor were at Forbes Field practicing to stay in shape. They didn’t go on the trip that started six days earlier because teams often left extra players at home to save on travel expenses. That day they were told that they could leave for home because they wouldn’t be needed for the rest of the season. In early December, Bohen was sold back to Reading. His pro career lasted just one more minor league season. He went 11-11 in 211 innings while playing for two teams in the Class-B Three-I League, seeing time with Peoria and Moline. After that season he played semi-pro ball on the west coast, twice signing with Pacific Coast League teams without appearing in a game. His actual name was Leo Ignatius Bohen, but the Pat nickname was used almost exclusively for him.
On this date in 1946, the Pirates pulled off a six-player trade with the Boston Braves, acquiring Hall of Fame second baseman Billy Herman in the deal. The Pirates lost this trade despite not only getting the most recognizable name in the deal, they also gave up two players to get four in return. Herman was a player-manager, who did very little playing in his final year in the majors, getting into just 15 games. He didn’t even finish the season as the manager, resigning from the position with one game left on the schedule. Pittsburgh gave up third baseman Bob Elliott in the deal. He would make the All-Star team and win the 1947 National League MVP award, followed by two more All-Star appearances in 1948 and 1951. Boston also received backup catcher Hank Camelli, who lasted one season with the Braves. The rest of the Pirates return included infielder Whitey Weitelmann, who hit .234 over 48 games in his only season with the team. They also got Stan Wentzel, who only played in the minors after the deal, and pitcher Elmer Singleton, who had a 5.54 ERA in 74 appearances with the Pirates during the 1947-48 seasons. By the end of Spring Training in 1949, all that the Pirates had to show for this trade was small amount of cash received for the three players who were sent to the minors. The total comparison in WAR for this deal saw the Pirates receive -0.7 WAR from their four players, and Braves received 25.9 from Elliott in five seasons. In addition to that production, the Braves were able to trade him before the 1952 season for one player and $50,000 cash. At least Camelli was no loss for the Pirates, as his 1947 season was worth -0.9 WAR.
On this date in 1986, the Pirates traded pitcher Jeff Zaske for pitcher Randy Kramer. While it wasn’t a big win for them, the Pirates got the best of this deal. Zaske pitched for the Pirates briefly in 1984, but never made the majors again. Kramer was a minor leaguer at the time of the deal, who debuted in 1988 and went on to post a 4.22 ERA in 147 innings over three seasons with the club. He was a small contributor to the 1990 NL East championship team. Most of his time came in 1989 when he made 15 starts and 20 relief appearances, finishing 5-9, 3.96 in 111.1 innings. He made two starts and ten relief appearances for the 1990 Pirates, posting a 4.91 ERA in 25.1 innings. The Pirates traded Kramer during the 1990 season for minor league pitcher Greg Kallevig. While the latter never made the majors, Kramer pitched just 36.2 innings in the majors after the trade over two seasons.
On this date in 1972, Roberto Clemente collected his 3,000th big league hit off of Mets pitcher Jon Matlack in a 5-0 Pirates win. It would be the final regular season hit for Clemente. Below is a video of the hit, along with an interesting note about something in the video. Early in the video, they showed a graphic that said that Clemente tied Honus Wagner for most games played in team history. That was thought to be true back then, but later research corrected Wagner’s game total to 2,433 (one more), which Clemente would actually tie three days later in his final regular season big league game.