A total of 11 former Pittsburgh Pirates have been born on this date, plus we have one major game of note.
Bob Harmon, Pitcher for the 1914-16 and 1918 Pirates. He came to the Pirates from the St Louis Cardinals as part of an eight-player deal in December of 1913, which did not go well for the Pirates. However, Harmon wasn’t supposed to be the main return piece, but he ended up easily being the best player they got back in the disastrous deal. His pro career began in 1909 at 21 years old, and his time in the minors was short. He played for Shreveport of the Class-C Texas League that season, where he had a 5-4 record in 94 innings. No ERA is available, but he allowed 3.93 runs per nine innings. He finished the season with the Cardinals, where he went 6-11, 3.68 in 159 innings over 17 starts and four relief appearances, with ten complete games. In 1910, he had a 13-15, 4.46 record in 236 innings. He had 33 starts, ten relief outings and 15 complete games. That win/loss record is actually very impressive considering that the Cardinals finished 63-90 and the league average ERA was 3.02 that season, so he was well below average on a very bad team. In 1911, Harmon improved to 23-16, 3.13 in 348 innings over ten relief appearances and a league leading 41 starts. He tossed 28 complete games, but also led the league in walks for the second straight time, racking up 181 that season. That large win total helped him get mild MVP support, finishing 14th in the voting.
Harmon had a 18-18, 3.93 record in 268 innings in 1912. The Cardinals were 63-90 again that season, and his ERA was 53 points above league average, so his win-loss record once again defied the odds. He had 34 starts, nine relief outings, 15 complete games and three shutouts. Harmon’s win-loss record finally matched his pitching for a poor team during the 1913 season. He went 8-21, 3.92 in 273.1 innings, while leading the league with 291 hits allowed. The Cardinals finished in last place, and the ERA for the league dropped to 3.20 that season. He completed 16 of 27 starts and pitched 15 times in relief. After the 1913 season, the Pirates gave up five players, including Dots Miller and Chief Wilson, in a return that netted them veterans Ed Konetchy, Mike Mowrey and Harmon. They were giving up too much to begin with, but the deal really went south in a hurry when Mowrey was released during the 1914 season and Konetchy jumped to the Federal League after the season. Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss wanted Konetchy for a long time and praised him numerous times before acquiring him, so he paid too much. Dots Miller outplayed Konetchy at first base in 1914, and he didn’t skip his team after the season, turning that portion of the deal one-sided. Harmon salvaged the deal a bit by improving with the Pirates. He had a 68-81, 3.78 record over 1,284.1 innings in five seasons for the St Louis Cardinals.
Harmon had his best season in his first year with Pittsburgh, posting a 2.53 ERA in 245 innings over 30 starts and seven relief outings. That lower ERA came with a 13-17 record, because the Pirates record dropped, while the revitalized Cardinals improved 30 games in the standings thanks to the Pirates handing them so much talent. Harmon was just as good the next year with a 2.50 ERA, but again he finished under .500, this time going 16-17 in 32 starts and five relief appearances. He threw 25 complete games and he had five shutouts. It should be pointed out that the 1912 season was the real decline in offense during the deadball era, with league ERAs dropping to an average of 2.78 in 1914, and 2.75 in 1915. So while Harmon really improved in Pittsburgh, the rest of the league improved with him. He split his time in 1916 between starting and the bullpen, going 8-11, 2.81 in 172.2 innings over 17 starts and 14 relief appearances. The league ERA was down to 2.61 that season. After sitting out the 1917 season due to a salary dispute with Pirates, he returned to Pittsburgh to pitched one more year before retiring. He went 2-7, 2.62 in 82.1 innings in 1918, which was a shortened year due to the war. He made nine starts and seven relief appearances. Harmon was 39-52, 2.60 in 769.2 innings over 88 starts and 33 relief appearances for the Pirates. He threw 2,054 innings and had a 3.33 ERA in his nine-year career.
Mule Watson, pitcher for the 1920 Pirates. He won a total of 50 games over a seven-year big league career, spending time with four different clubs. Watson played pro ball for a total of 12 seasons, starting and finishing with three seasons in the minors. He debuted in pro ball at 19 years old in 1916, playing his first two seasons with Fort Smith of the Class-D Western Association. Limited stats are available from those two years, but they show a 5-3 record in nine games in 1916, and a 12-8 record in 28 games and 221 innings pitched in 1917. The next year saw him move up to Class-B New Haven of the Eastern League, where he went 8-7 in 15 games, throwing 140 innings. That was enough to get him a mid-season gig with the 1918 Philadelphia Athletics, where he went 7-10, 3.37 in 141.2 innings, while throwing 11 complete games and three shutouts in his 19 starts. He also put in a little time with the war effort that year, though the war ended not long after he joined in. His big league time in 1919 was limited to two starts and two relief outings early in the year with the A’s. He posted a 6.91 ERA in 14.1 innings. The rest of the year was split between two minors league teams. He went 8-5 with 101 innings pitched while back with New Haven. He also making four appearances with Baltimore of the Double-A International League, which was the highest level of the minors at the time.
The Pirates acquired Watson via waivers on May 27, 1920 from the Boston Braves, and they lost him via waivers back to the Braves on July 8th. He had one scoreless appearance with Boston before joining Pittsburgh, and it came against the Pirates when he threw three no-hit innings in relief on May 21st. Watson’s time in Pittsburgh consisted of 11.1 innings over five relief appearances. He gave up runs in each of his first four appearances with the Pirates, including six runs over three innings on June 29th. Shortly after returning to Boston, he threw a three-hit 1-0 shutout over Hall of Fame pitcher Grover Alexander and the Chicago Cubs. The Pirates never gave him a chance to start during his six weeks with the club. Watson finished out the 1920 season by going 5-4, 3.77 in 71.2 innings during his second stint with the Braves. In 1921, he went 14-13, 3.85 in 259.1 innings, setting career highs with wins, innings, games pitched (44), starts (31) and complete games (15). The next year saw him go 8-14, 4.70 in 201 innings over 27 starts and 14 relief appearances.
Watson finished his big league career as a member of the 1923-24 New York Giants, going to the World Series two years in a row. He had a 5.17 ERA in 31.1 innings with Boston in 1923, before he was part of a four-player deal with the Giants on June 7th. After the deal, he had an 8-5, 3.41 record in 108.1 innings. In 1924, he went 7-4, 3.79 in 16 starts and six relief appearances, throwing a total of 99.1 innings. His final big league appearance came in game three of the 1924 World Series, where he recorded the final two outs to save a 6-4 win. Watson finished with a 50-53, 4.03 record in 124 starts and 54 relief appearances over seven big league seasons, throwing a total of 941.2 innings. He was back in the minors by age 28 in 1925, where he played for four teams in four leagues over three seasons before retiring. Watson went 0-3, 7.50 in 48 appearances for Minneapolis of the Double-A American Association in 1925. He dropped down two levels to Elmira of the Class-B New York-Penn League in 1926, where he had a 5-8, 2.47 record in 102 innings. His final season was split between Reading of the Double-A International League and Pittsfield of the Class-A Eastern League. Watson went 7-11, 5.95 in 112 innings for Reading, while posting a 2-0 record in four appearances with Pittsfield.
Watson’s real first name was John. It’s interesting to note that while he was in Pittsburgh, he was only referred to as John, and there was a local outlaw league player at the time who was called Mule Watson. That other Watson was Milt Watson, who pitched in the majors during the 1916-19 seasons. So it appears that the Pirates Watson just picked up the other players nickname later in his career when the other was out of pro ball.
Mule Haas, outfielder for the 1925 Pirates. He played a bit part on the Pirates second World Series winning club, going 0-for-3 with a run scored in four late season games. Haas spent the next two years in the minors, then played 11 more seasons in the majors, helping the Philadelphia A’s to three straight World Series appearances (1929-31). He was known as one of the best bunters of his day, leading the league in sacrifice hits six times between 1930 and 1936. The Pirates signed him as an amateur in February of 1923 at 19 years old. He went to Spring Training with them, then was assigned to Williamsport of the Class-B New York-Penn League, where he hit .342 in 114 games, with 19 doubles, eight triples and nine homers. Haas was sent to Oklahoma City of the Class-A Western League by the Pirates in 1924, then moved mid-season to Pittsfield of the Class-A Eastern League. He batted .293 in 136 games between both stops, with 25 doubles, 17 triples and eight homers. The Pirates sent Haas to Birmingham of the Class-A Southern Association in 1925, then recalled him on August 14th, after he hit .316 with 27 doubles, eight triples and nine homers in 99 games. Despite being with the Pirates for 50 days, he played just four games, including seeing action on his first and last days with the club. In between he pinch-ran on August 29th and pinch-hit on September 26th. On February 13, 1926, he was released outright to Atlanta of the Southern Association, ending his time with the Pirates.
Haas batted .299 with 28 doubles, 18 triples and three homers in 151 games for Atlanta in 1926. The next year in Atlanta he improved to a .323 average in 153 games, with 34 doubles, 19 triples and ten homers. He joined the A’s in 1928 and platooned in the outfield during his first season, hitting .280 with 41 runs, 31 extra-base hits, 39 RBIs and a .752 OPS in 91 games. In 1929, he hit .313 in 139 games as the starting center fielder, setting a career high with an .854 OPS. Somewhat surprisingly in 1929, he set his career high in sacrifice hits (40) in the same season he also set highs in runs scored (115), hits (181), doubles (41), triples (9), homers (16), RBIs (82). In 1930, Haas batted .299 with 91 runs, 33 doubles, seven triples, two homers, 68 RBIs and a .751 OPS in 132 games. It was actually a down year for him, as the 1930 season was a huge year for offense in baseball and his OPS was 21 points below league average. In 1931, he hit .323 in 102 games, with 82 runs, 29 doubles, seven triples, eight homers, 56 RBIs and an .841 OPS. The next season saw him hit .305 with 91 runs, 39 extra-base hits, 65 RBIs, 62 walks and a .781 OPS in 143 games. His previous high for walks in a season was 43, but Haas would continue to put up better walk rates throughout the rest of his career.
Just after the 1932 season ended, Haas was sold to the Chicago White Sox, along with Jimmy Dykes and Hall of Famer Al Simmons for $100,000. Haas hit .287 with 97 runs, 33 doubles, 51 RBIs, a .723 OPS and a career high 65 walks in 146 games for the 1933 White Sox. In 1934, he hit .268 with 54 runs, 21 extra-base hits, 22 RBIs, 47 walks and a .702 OPS in 106 games. His OPS was his lowest mark during the 1928-36 stretch when he was a full-time starter. He moved from center field to right field in 1935 and hit .291 in 92 games, with 44 runs, 22 doubles, 40 RBIs and a .745 OPS. In 1936, he batted .284 in 119 games, with 75 runs, 26 doubles, 46 RBIs, 64 walks and a .741 OPS. That was his last season as a full-time player. In 1937, Haas saw most of his time at first base. He played 54 games and hit just .207, with a .601 OPS in 133 plate appearances. He was released by the White Sox after the season and re-signed with the A’s for his final season in the majors. As a seldom-used bench player in 1938, he had a .542 OPS in 93 plate appearances over 40 games. He was a .292 career hitter in 1,168 games, with 706 runs scored, 254 doubles, 45 triples, 43 homers, 496 RBIs and 433 walks. He stole just 12 bases (in 28 attempts) during his career. Haas was a player-manager with Oklahoma City of the Class-A Texas League in 1939, which was his last season as a player. He hit .312 in 26 games, while also playing 14 games that season for Williamsport of the Class-A Eastern League. He also managed in the minors during the 1948-50 seasons. His real first name was George.
Don Carlsen, pitcher for the 1951-52 Pirates. He played a total of nine seasons in pro ball, debuting in 1944 as a 17-year-old infielder with Marion of the Class-D Ohio State League, where he hit .296 in 56 games, with 26 runs, 13 extra-base hits and 27 RBIs. He signed with Los Angeles of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, but was out of action in the service during WWII, before rejoining pro ball in 1947, immediately switching to a pitching role when he returned. He spent most of 1947 with Tulsa of the Double-A Texas League, where he went 8-7, 3.04 in 151 innings, with 84 strikeouts. He was originally with Los Angeles that season in a sporadic starting role, going 2-2 before being shipped to Tulsa on May 7th. Carlsen’s only big league experience besides his two seasons with the Pirates was one inning for the 1948 Chicago Cubs. He began that 1948 season with the Cubs, but he was optioned back to Los Angeles on May 7th after allowing four runs in his only inning of work on April 28th. He pitched the rest of that season for Los Angeles, where he had a 7-6, 5.20 record and 67 strikeouts in 116 innings. Carlsen spent all of 1949 with Los Angeles, going 9-8, 4.73 in 135 innings, with 74 walks and 65 strikeouts. He nursed an arm injury for much of the 1950 season while still property of the Chicago Cubs, pitching just 16 innings total for Nashville of the Double-A Southern Association. He did well during that brief time, posting a 2.25 ERA. Carlsen then moved on to Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League in early 1951. He was traded to New Orleans of the Southern Association in early May, then the Pirates purchased his contract on August 15th and had him starting game one of a doubleheader four days later. He had an 11-3, 3.05 record in 121 innings with New Orleans that season in 15 starts.
Carlsen won both of his first two starts with the Pirates, giving up three earned runs over 21 innings. He allowed two runs in a complete game against the Cubs on August 19th, then pitched all 12 innings in a 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on August 25th. He lost his next three decisions, giving up 18 runs over 22 innings during the month of September. Carlsen had a 4.19 ERA in 43 innings for the 1951 Pirates, making six starts and one relief appearance. In 1952, he made five early season appearances (one start) for a team that finished up 42-112. He allowed a total of 13 runs in ten innings with the Pirates that year. He spent the rest of that season in the minors, seeing time with New Orleans and Denver of the Class-A Western League. He went 2-6, 3.00 in 63 innings with Denver, and he had a 2-4 record in 34 innings over seven games with New Orleans. The Pirates traded him to Charleston of the Class-A South Atlantic League for catcher Bill Hall on October 13, 1952, but he soon ended up back in New Orleans. Carlsen went 8-6, 3.23 in 131 innings for New Orleans in 1953. His final season of pro ball in 1954 was spent with Williamsport, the Pirates affiliate in the Class-A Eastern League in 1954. He went 11-12, 3.56 in 197 innings that year, which was his highest total of innings in a season. He turned down a contract with Waco of the Texas League in 1955 to retire and become a teacher. He had a 2-4, 5.43 record in 53 innings during his two seasons in Pittsburgh.
Bill Henry, Pitcher for the 1968 Pirates. He was a lefty reliever for 16 years in the majors, pitching a total of 527 games for six different teams. He debuted in pro ball in 1948, playing two seasons for the Class-C Clarksdale Planters of the Cotton States League. He went 6-9, 4.58 in 119 innings during his first season, then came back with a 14-14, 3.23 record in 195 innings, with 192 strikeouts. Most of the 1950 season was spent in the Class-B Big States League with Greenville, where he went 11-7, 3.29, with 137 strikeouts in 164 innings. He pitched one game that season for Shreveport of the Double-A Texas League, then remained in Shreveport for the entire 1951 season. Henry had a 12-15, 4.44 record in 229 innings over 33 starts and nine relief outings in 1951. From there he moved up to the majors with the Boston Red Sox, though he spent most of the year with San Diego of the Pacific Coast League in 1952, where he went 7-9, 3.59 in 123 innings. The PCL was considered to be one step from the majors, but didn’t have a classification for a time during the 1950s. With Boston in 1952, he went 5-4, 3.87 in 76.2 innings, finishing with 36 walks and 23 strikeouts. In 1953, he split the season between the Red Sox and Louisville of the Triple-A American Association, where he went 7-3, 3.56 in 96 innings. He was 5-5, 3.26 in 85.2 innings over 12 starts and nine relief outings with the Red Sox that season. The 1954 season was also split between the majors and minors, though he spent a majority of the year with Boston, where he had a 3-7, 4.52 record in 95.2 innings over 13 starts and 11 relief appearances. He had a 2-2 record in eight games with Charleston of the American Association.
Henry spent all of 1955 in the majors, though he saw limited action, going 2-4, 3.32 in seven starts and ten relief games, throwing a total of 59.2 innings. The entire 1956 season was spent with San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League, where he had a 5-6, 4.71 record in 105 innings. He dropped down a level to Memphis of the Double-A Southern Association in 1957, where he went 14-6, 3.39 in 210 innings. He was traded to the Chicago Cubs system that season, and he also played winter ball in Puerto Rico, throwing an additional 140 innings. The 1958 season was split between Portland of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League and the Cubs. Henry went 5-3, 3.60 in 45 innings with Portland, and 5-4, 2.88 in 81.1 innings over 44 appearances in his return to the majors. His best season came in 1959 when he had a 9-8, 2.68 record over 134.1 innings for the Cubs. He led the National League with 65 games pitched that year. While it wasn’t an official stat at the time, he picked up 12 saves that season. His 115 strikeouts was a career high that he never even came close to approaching in his big league career, topping out at 58 in two other seasons. Henry was involved in a December 1959 trade with the Cincinnati Reds that also included Lee Walls and Frank Thomas, both of whom played for the Pirates earlier in their career. In 1960, he was selected to both All-Star games, back when they played two games per year. He went 1-5, 3.19 in 67.2 innings over 51 games, picking up a career high of 17 saves.
Henry went 2-1, 2.19 with 16 saves in 47 games, with 53.1 innings pitched in 1961. He pitched twice during the World Series that year, though he allowed five runs in 2.1 innings. In 1962, Henry had a 4.58 ERA and 11 saves in 37.1 innings over 40 outings. He went 1-3, 4.15 in 47 games in 1963, with 14 saves in 47 appearances. It was his fifth straight season with 11+ saves. He had an outstanding season in limited use in 1964, posting an 0.87 ERA in 52 innings over 37 appearances. He didn’t allow more than one earned run in any appearance, and he didn’t give up an earned run in his last 15 games, totaling 25.2 innings. Henry threw five more scoreless innings to start 1965, then got traded to the San Francisco Giants. He had a 3.64 ERA in 42 innings over 35 games with the Giants after the deal. In 1966, he had a 2.45 ERA in 22 innings over 35 games. He actually had three appearances of two innings each that season, so he pitched just 16 innings in his other 32 games. He faced just one batter in 14 of those games.
Henry was released at the end of the 1966 season, but ended up re-signing with the Giants right before the 1967 season opened. He went 2-0, 2.08 in 21.2 innings over 28 games in 1967. He allowed three runs over five innings in seven appearances with the 1968 Giants, seeing very little action due to a strong starting rotation for the Giants. Henry joined the Pirates in the middle of the 1968 season, coming over from the Giants on June 27th in a cash transaction, with Pittsburgh paying $25,000 to acquire him, which was the waiver cost at the time. He pitched ten games for the Pirates in 1968, throwing a total of 16.2 innings. He had an 8.10 ERA and no record. Henry was put on waivers on August 13th when the Pirates decided to call up catcher Chris Cannizzaro. He played just three more Major League games with the Houston Astros in June of 1969. His final two appearances actually came during a doubleheader on June 16th. At the time, he was the oldest player in the National League. Henry had signed with the Seattle Pilots for 1969, but quit baseball in April. He started pitching batting practice for the Astros and was signed to a contract during a time when two of their players had to leave for two-week stints with the Army. When the players returned, he went back to batting practice pitching. He finished his career with a 46-50, 3.26 record and 90 saves in 913 innings. He had 527 appearances, with 44 of those games being starts.
Gail Henley, outfielder for the 1954 Pirates. His big league career consisted of 14 games and 30 at-bats for the 1954 Pirates. He batted .300 and homered in his first big league start. Henley played 14 seasons in the minors. He originally signed with the New York Giants in 1948. He debuted in Class-A ball at 19 years old, hitting .295 with 53 runs, 23 extra-base hits, 45 RBIs and an .819 OPS in 64 games for Sioux City of the Western League. The next season was spent in Triple-A, splitting the year between Minneapolis of the American Association and Jersey City of the International League. He combined to hit .275 with 59 runs, 11 doubles, 18 homers, 52 RBIs and an .853 OPS in 106 games. Henley split the 1950 season between Jersey City and Sioux City, hitting .307 with 25 doubles and 25 homers in 128 games. He had a .764 OPS in 31 games with Jersey City, and he batted .318 with a .575 slugging percentage with Sioux City. The 1951 season was split between Sioux City and Minneapolis. He hit .274 with 36 extra-base hits in 100 games that year. He had a .797 OPS during his time in Minneapolis that season. Henley played for Tulsa of the Double-A Texas League in 1952, where he hit .274 with 43 extra-base hits in 137 games. Henley was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in October of 1952. The Pirates acquired him the very next day in a three-for-one deal that sent Gus Bell to Cincinnati.
Henley hit .290 with 98 runs, 47 extra-base hits, 82 RBIs, 62 walks and a .781 OPS in 151 games for New Orleans of the Double-A Southern Association in 1953. That helped him make the Pirates Opening Day roster in 1954. He was starting every day for a short time until he ran into a wall and needed ten stitches to close a cut over his left eye. He missed a week, then had just two pinch-hitting appearances before being sent back to New Orleans on May 12th, ending his big league career. Henley was bitter over the decision to send him down, saying that he was doing well, going all out for the team when he got injured, and he never got a chance to play again after that. His stats at New Orleans dropped from the previous season. He hit .224 in 109 games, with 52 runs, 15 doubles, seven homers, 52 RBIs, 59 walks and a .667 OPS. On October 14, 1954, the Pirates traded Henley to Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League as part of the purchase price to acquire outfielder Tom Saffell. Henley was playing for Pirates affiliates for the next three seasons, starting with Hollywood in 1955-56, followed by New Orleans for most of 1956, and Columbus of the International League in 1957. He hit just .200 in 32 games with Hollywood in 1955, then spent the rest of the season playing in Mexico. In 1956, he batted .214 in 13 games for Hollywood, followed by a .307 average, 92 runs, 48 extra-base hits and 90 RBIs in 130 games for New Orleans. His numbers dropped when he returned to Triple-A in 1957 with Columbus, hitting .232 in 126 games, with 58 runs, eight doubles, 15 homers and 52 RBIs.
Henley spent the 1958-60 seasons with Birmingham of the Southern Association. He batted .264 in 147 games in 1958, with 88 runs, 28 doubles, eight homers, 65 RBIs and 86 walks. In 1959, he hit .291 in 138 games, finishing with 93 runs, 23 doubles, 20 homers, 68 RBIs and 69 walks. In his final season with Birmingham, Henley hit .260 in 138 games, with 89 runs, 26 doubles, 18 homers, 77 RBIs and 81 walks. That was followed by finishing his career in 1961, playing briefly in Class-D ball with Montgomery of the Alabama-Florida League. That 1961 season was the start of his minor league managerial career. He managed during 12 season between 1961 and 1983, including three separate stints with Lethbridge of the Pioneer League, which was an affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He turns 94 years old today
Red Swanson, pitcher for the 1955-57 Pirates. He was done with his big league career by age 20, after debuting at 18 years old with the 1955 Pirates. Swanson played another six years in the minors after his final big league game. He had a 4.90 ERA in the majors (all spent with the Pirates), making 34 relief appearances and eight starts. Swanson signed as a bonus baby out of high school on August 23, 1955, meaning that he got a large bonus and had to spend his first two full years (from the date of signing) in the majors. He had quite an amateur record before joining the Pirates, going 30-3 in high school, 40-5 in American Legion ball, and 10-3 for a semi-pro team during the summer of 1955. He pitched just once for the Pirates over the final five weeks in 1955, giving up four runs over two innings. He was with the Pirates all season in 1956, pitching a total of nine games, with his appearances spread out over five months, and none of them came after August 14th. He pitched just two innings over the final 110 games of the season, finishing the year with 13 runs allowed in 11.2 innings. Despite the limited use in 1956, Swanson made eight starts and 24 relief appearances in 1957, posting a 3-3, 3.72 record in 72.2 innings. He had 42 walks and 34 strikeouts during his 86.1 innings in the majors.
Swanson went to Spring Training with the Pirates in 1958, and gained 30 pounds over the off-season, saying that he was coming into camp much stronger. He was cut from big league camp on March 28th and spent most of the season in Triple-A with Columbus of the International League, where he had a 5.02 ERA in 86 innings over nine starts and 21 relief appearances. He pitched better in A-Ball that year, posting a 3.60 ERA in seven starts and 50 innings for Lincoln of the Western League. On October 1, 1958, Swanson and pitcher Luis Arroyo were traded to Columbus for pitcher Al Jackson. Swanson spent most of 1959 pitching in the Class-A South Atlantic League, where he went 10-7, 3.65 in 147 innings for Columbus/Gastonia. He also had an 0-4 record for Triple-A Columbus, which was in Ohio, while the Class-A Columbus played in Georgia. Swanson remained with Pirates affiliates through the end of his career in 1963. He was a Spring Training invite of the Pirates in 1960, but didn’t come close to making the roster of the World Series champs.
Swanson spent the 1960 season with Salt Lake City of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, going 6-7, 3.77 in 86 innings over 57 games (one start). In 1961, he had 10-3, 3.26 record in 152 innings for Asheville of the South Atlantic League. He also pitched 35 innings for Macon of the Double-A Southern Association, posting a 2-4, 5.91 record. He nearly made the Pirates Opening Day roster in 1962 out of Spring Training after getting highly recommended by Don Hoak, who coached him and saw him do well in winter ball in the Dominican over the 1961-62 off-season. Swanson ended up with Asheville for most of that season, going 4-4, 5.37 in 57 innings, while posting a 3.79 ERA in 19 innings with Columbus. He lasted just one game with Asheville in 1963 before his career ended at 25 years old, giving up two runs in one inning during that final game. He became a baseball coach at LSU shortly after his career ended. Swanson turns 86 years old today. His real first name is Arthur.
Mitchell Page, pinch-hitter for the 1984 Pirates. He was originally with the Pirates, before he was part of a nine-player deal with the Oakland A’s prior to the 1977 season. The A’s drafted him in the fourth round in 1970 out of Compton Community College, but he passed on signing. Page was drafted in the third round by the Pirates in 1973 out of Cal State Poly. He played just 24 games in A-Ball during the 1973 season, batting .247/.337/.420 for Charleston of the Western Carolinas League (18 games) and Salem of the Class-A Carolina League (six games). He then spent 1974 season with Salem, where he hit .296 with 80 runs, 15 doubles, nine triples, 17 homers, 75 RBIs, 15 steals, 70 walks and an .894 OPS in 123 games. Page moved up to Shreveport of the Double-A Texas League in 1975, where he batted .291 with 73 runs, 24 doubles, 23 homers, 90 RBIs, 23 steals and a .906 OPS in 122 games. He moved up to Triple-A Columbus of the International League in 1976. That year he hit .294 with 76 runs, 21 doubles, 22 homers, 83 RBIs, 23 steals and an .860 OPS in 126 games. After the season, the Pirates sent six players to the A’s, including Page, Tony Armas, Doc Medich, Doug Bair, Dave Giusti and Rick Langford. The return basically amounted to Phil Garner, as the other two pieces combined to play 77 games with the Pirates. It was a one-sided deal in the favor of the A’s, but it gets lost in the mix because Garner helped the Pirates to the World Series, then got traded to the Houston Astros in a good deal for Johnny Ray.
Page went right to the majors with the A’s and hit .307 in 145 games as a rookie in 1977, with 85 runs scored, 28 doubles, eight triples, 21 homers, 75 RBIs, 78 walks, 42 stolen bases and a .926 OPS, finishing second in the Rookie of the Year voting to Eddie Murray, despite a 6.1 to 3.2 advantage in WAR. Page never approached those stats during the rest of his career. In 1978, he hit .285 with 62 runs, 25 doubles, 17 homers, 70 RBIs and an .814 OPS in 147 games. He stole 23 bases that season, but he was caught 19 times, after getting caught just five times in the previous season. He stolen base success rate was even worse in 1979 when he went 17-for-33 in steals. Page moved from left field to the DH role, where he hit .247/.323/.335 in 133 games that season, seeing a drop of 157 points in his OPS. He had 51 runs, 22 extra-base hits, 42 RBIs and 52 walks. He was a full-time DH in 1980, though he didn’t play every day. In 110 games that year, he hit .244 with 58 runs, ten doubles, 17 homers, 51 RBIs and 14 steals (in 21 attempts). During the strike-shortened 1981 season, Page played just 34 games, and he had a .141 average, with four homers and a .483 OPS. He spent part of the year with Tacoma of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he had a 1.004 OPS in 71 games.
Page’s average bounced back in 1982 in limited time, hitting .256 with four homers and an .808 OPS in 31 games. He also put up big numbers again in Tacoma, posting a .926 OPS in 85 games. In 1983, he had 92 plate appearances for the A’s, which were spread out throughout the season, along with some pinch-running appearances. In 57 games, he batted .241/.341/.279 and drove in just one run. The Pirates signed Page as a free agent in May of 1984, two months after the A’s released him during Spring Training. He was with the 1984 Pirates in August and September, and all 16 of his appearances came as a pinch-hitter, with no time spent in the field. He went 4-for-12 with three walks in 16 games for the Pirates. Page was with the Pirates through the end of 1985, though he spent almost all of his two years with the team in Triple-A with Hawaii of the Pacific Coast League, where he had the odd stat line of going 39-for-151 (.258 average) in each season. He had nearly identical OPS numbers those two years (.884 vs .895), despite putting up a higher OBP the first year and then a high slugging percentage (by 40 points) during the second year. He finished his eight-year big league career as a .266 hitter, with 294 runs scored, 84 doubles, 21 triples, 72 homers, 259 RBIs and 104 steals in 673 games.
Carlos Garcia, infielder for the 1990-96 Pirates. He was signed by the Pirates as an international free agent at 19 years old out of Venezuela in 1987. While he was a member of three straight playoff teams (1990-92) to start his career, a large majority of his time with the Pirates came during the following four seasons. In fact, he was still eligible for the Rookie of the Year award in 1993. He debuted in pro ball in Low-A in 1987, playing for Macon of the South Atlantic League, where he hit .255 with 44 runs, 20 extra-base hits, 38 RBIs and 20 steals in 110 games. He spent half of the 1988 season in the same league with Augusta, then saw 62 games with Salem of the Carolina League, one step higher in Advanced-A. He combined to hit .283 with 53 runs, 29 extra-base hits, 73 RBIs, 19 steals and a .684 OPS in 135 games. In 1989, Garcia split the year between Salem and Double-A Harrisburg of the Eastern League. He batted .283 that season in 135 games, with 73 runs scored, 36 extra-base hits, 74 RBIs, 25 steals and a .735 OPS. He split 1990 between Harrisburg and Triple-A Buffalo of the American Association. He hit .271 with 59 runs, 33 extra-base hits, 43 RBIs, 19 steals and a .722 OPS in 128 games. The Pirates gave him four at-bats in four late season games and he picked up two singles. In 1991, he batted .266 with 62 runs, 34 extra-base hits, 60 RBIs and a .704 OPS in 127 games for Buffalo, while playing one July game and 11 September games for the Pirates. He batted .250/.280/.417 with two triples and an RBI during his time with the Pirates.
Garcia hit .303 with 73 runs, 28 doubles, nine triples, 13 homers, 70 RBIs, 21 steals and an .844 OPS in 113 games for Buffalo in 1992, while playing for the Pirates in May/June and September. He hit .205/.195/.231 in 42 plate appearances over 22 games for the Pirates that season. Garcia played a total of 38 games for the 1990-92 Pirates and appeared in one playoff game, going 0-for-1 off the bench in game two of the 1992 NLCS. Still considered a rookie in 1993, he hit .269 with 77 runs scored, 25 doubles, 12 homers, 47 RBIs, 18 stolen bases and a .716 OPS in 141 games. He finished ninth in the Rookie of the Year voting. His offensive stats weren’t strong in 1994, but his 0.9 dWAR helped earn him his All-Star spot. In fact, Garcia had a career -1.1 dWAR, never coming close to approaching his success on defense in 1994. During that strike-shortened season, he hit .277 with 49 runs, 23 extra-base hits, 28 RBIs, 18 steals and a .676 OPS in 98 games. Garcia played 104 games in 1995, hitting .294 with 41 runs, 24 doubles, six homers, 50 RBIs and a .760 OPS. He played three infield spots in 1996 (not first base), hitting .285 with 66 runs, 28 extra-base hits, 44 RBIs, 16 steals and a .727 OPS in 101 games. The Pirates traded him to the Toronto Blue Jays in a nine-player deal after the 1996 season in which they received six young players back in exchange for three veterans, which also included Orlando Merced and Dan Plesac.
Garcia hit .220 in 103 games with the 1997 Blue Jays, finishing with 29 runs, 23 extra-base hits, 23 RBIs, 11 stolen bases and a .562 OPS. He became a free agent and signed with the Cleveland Indians, though they released him near the end of Spring Training in 1998. He signed with the Anaheim Angels five days later and hit .143/.231/.171 in 19 games, while spending half of the year in Triple-A with Vancouver of the Pacific Coast League, where he had a .644 OPS in 44 games. He signed with the San Diego Padres in 1999, but he was limited to six big league games at the start of the season, going 2-for-11 with two singles and a walk. He finished the year in Triple-A Las Vegas of the PCL, putting up a .713 OPS in 78 games. He then spent the 2000-01 seasons in Triple-A with the New York Yankees affiliate (Columbus of the International League) before retiring. Garcia had a .694 OPS in 93 games in 2000, and a .652 OPS in 61 games during the 2001 season. He was a .278 hitter in 482 games with the Pirates, with 240 runs, 83 doubles, 30 homers, 60 steals and 174 RBIs. He finished as a .266 hitter in 610 games. He had a career 3.4 WAR with the Pirates, and he was below replacement level with each of his other three teams, leaving him at 1.0 WAR for his career.
Mendy Lopez, infielder for the 2001-02 Pirates. He signed with the Kansas City Royals as an international free agent from the Dominican in 1992 at 18 years old. His first two seasons were spent in the Dominican Summer League (no stats available), before moving to the Gulf Coast League in 1994, where he hit .362 with 56 runs, 27 extra-base hits, 50 RBIs, 19 steals and a .947 OPS in 59 games. In 1995, he jumped to the High-A Carolina League with Wilmington and batted .271 with 42 runs, 29 doubles, 36 RBIs, 18 steals and a .689 OPS in 130 games. Lopez was promoted to Double-A in 1996, where he hit .281 with 47 runs, 31 extra-base hits, 32 RBIs, 14 steals and a .769 OPS in 93 games for Wichita of the Texas League. Most of 1997 was spent back in Wichita, with a 17-game stint in Triple-A Omaha of the Pacific Coast League as well. He combined to bat .232 with 62 runs, 27 extra-base hits, 48 RBIs and a .643 OPS in 118 games. He hit just .180/.262/.267 in 60 games with Omaha in 1998, but that didn’t stop him from getting promoted to the majors for the first time. Lopez hit .243 with 18 runs, 13 extra-base hits, 15 RBIs and a .612 OPS in 74 games for the Royals that season, while making 66 starts at shortstop. He was injured for part of the 1999 season, limiting him to 64 minor league games and seven big league contests. He did well at Omaha that year, hitting .311 with an .870 OPS, and he hit .400/.429/.500 in 21 plate appearances with the Royals, but they still ended up releasing him in December of 1999. He signed with the Florida Marlins one month later for the 2000 season.
Lopez spent most of 2000 in the minors, hitting .324 with an .877 OPS in 56 games for Calgary of the Pacific Coast League. He played just four games in the majors and they came in four consecutive days from July 29th to August 1st, before being designated for assignment and sent back to Calgary. He missed the beginning of the season with a Spring Training hamstring injury. He signed with the Houston Astros in 2001, and played ten big league games between June 30th and August 7th, going 4-for-15 with a homer and two walks, before he was acquired by the Pirates off of waivers. The rest of the season was spent with New Orleans of the Pacific Coast League, where he hit .279 with 11 doubles, 14 homers and 36 RBIs in 63 games. Lopez played 22 games for the 2001 Pirates, seeing time at second base, third base and shortstop. He hit .233/.292/.349 with four RBIs in 48 plate appearances. He became a free agent after the 2001 season, then re-signed with the Pirates on a minor league deal. He saw just three late April pinch-hit appearances with the Pirates in 2002, striking out in all three at-bats. The rest of the year was spent in Triple-A Nashville of the Pacific Coast League, where he hit .252 with 60 runs, 26 doubles, 11 homers and 72 RBIs in 101 games.
The Pirates released Lopez after the 2002 season and he returned to the Royals for his final two big league seasons. In 2003, he played six positions for the Royals, getting 100 plate appearances over 52 games, hitting .277/.306/.447, with three homers and 11 RBIs. He played just 18 big league games at the start of 2004 and hit .105/.209/.184 in 44 plate appearances. Lopez was done with the majors at that point, but he played pro ball until 2013. He played parts of 2004 with Omaha and in Korea, putting up a .162 average and a .537 OPS overseas. He didn’t play at all in 2005, then started a string of playing both summer and winter ball in Mexico and the Dominican until his career ended in 2013. He had some big success in Mexico, including a 1.161 OPS in 99 games in 2006, a .986 OPS in 90 games in 2007, a .983 OPS in 105 games in 2008, a 1.070 OPS in 103 games in 2011, a .992 OPS in 93 games in 2012, and a final .990 OPS in 83 games in 2013. His worst mark in Mexico was an .890 OPS in 2009. He did not have the same success in winter ball, topping out at an .801 OPS during the 2006-07 off-season. Lopez became a DSL manager for the Pirates in 2015 and has remained in the system since, coaching at Bradenton during the 2022 season. He batted .242 with 45 runs, 18 doubles, six homers and 40 RBIs in 190 big league games.
Juan Cruz, relief pitcher for the 2012 Pirates. He was signed as an international free agent by the Chicago Cubs out of the Dominican at 18 years old in 1997. He made it to the majors within four years as a starter, then moved to relief the next season. Cruz saw some starting time (15 games) with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2006, then never started again. He debuted in pro ball in the rookie level Arizona League in 1998, where he had a 6.10 ERA and a 1.81 WHIP in 41.1 innings. That’s not the type of start that you expect from someone who played 12 seasons in the majors. In 1999, he had a 5-6, 5.94 record and a 162 WHIP in 80.1 innings for Eugene of the short-season Northwest League, where he made 15 starts. Cruz moved up to Low-A Lansing of the Midwest League for 17 starts in 2000, then seven more starts in High-A with Daytona of the Florida State League. He combined to go 8-5, 3.27 in 140.1 innings, with 160 strikeouts. He made 23 starts for West Tennessee of the Double-A Southern League in 2001. He went 9-6, 4.01 in 121.1 innings that year, with 137 strikeouts. From there it was eight starts for the Cubs, where he finished off the 2001 season with 3-1, 3.22 record and 39 strikeouts in 44.2 innings.
Cruz spent the entire 2002 season in the majors, making nine starts and 36 relief appearances. He went 3-11, 3.98 in 97.1 innings, with 81 strikeouts and a 1.47 WHIP. He did great in nine starts at Triple-A Iowa of the Pacific Coast League in 2003, going 4-0, 1.95 in 50.2 innings, but his big league time that year amounted to a 2-7, 6.05 record in 61 innings over six starts and 19 relief outings. The Cubs traded him to the Atlanta Braves in a four-player deal at the end of Spring Training in 2004. He spent the entire 2004 season in the majors, going 6-2, 2.75 in 50 relief appearances, throwing 72 innings, with 70 strikeouts. In December of 2004, he was traded to the Oakland A’s as part of a large return for star pitcher Tim Hudson. Cruz went 0-3, 7.44 in 32.2 innings over 28 games with the 2005 A’s. He spent part of that season in the minors, where he went 5-1, 2.40 with 90 strikeouts in 75 innings/13 starts for Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League, which was a high offense park/league. The A’s traded him to the Diamondbacks at the end of Spring Training in 2006. He went 5-6, 4.18 in 94.2 innings with Arizona that season, with 15 starts and 16 relief outings. Cruz did well with the 2007-08 Diamondbacks once he was back in a full-time relief role. He went 6-1, 3.10, with 87 strikeouts in 63 innings over 53 games in 2007. That was followed by a 4-0, 2.61 record and 71 strikeouts in 51.2 innings over 57 outings in 2008.
Cruz became a free agent after the 2008 season and signed with the Kansas City Royals. He went 3-4, 5.72 in 50.1 innings over 46 appearances in 2009. The Royals released him in 2010 after just five outings, in which he allowed two runs in 5.1 innings, and he did not pitch for the rest of the season. He signed with the Tampa Bay Rays prior to the 2011 season, where he posted a 5-0, 3.88 record and 46 strikeouts in 48.2 innings over 56 games. The Pirates signed him as a free agent in February of 2012 and he was released at the end of August. He was injured for a short time in July/August, then returned to pitch six times in eight days to end his big league career. He had a 2.78 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 35.2 innings over 43 games for the Pirates, yet it still ended up being the final season of his 12-year career. His only other pitching experience after the Pirates came in the Dominican winter league, where he made seven scoreless appearances over two seasons. Cruz had a 38-36, 4.05 record, with 659 strikeouts in 655 innings over 447 games (38 starts), seeing time with seven different teams. He had six career saves, and three of them came during his time with the Pirates.
On this date in 1925 the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Washington Senators by a 9-7 score at Forbes Field in game seven of the World Series to win their second championship. To win the series, they had to defeat the great Walter Johnson, who had already won games one and four of the series. The lineups for this game included seven total future Hall of Famers. The Senators had Johnson, Goose Goslin, Sam Rice and Bucky Harris, while the Pirates had Kiki Cuyler, Pie Traynor and Max Carey.
Vic Aldridge started the game for the Pirates. He won games two and five over another Hall of Famer, Stan Coveleski. On this day however, he did not have his best stuff. He lasted just six batters and four of them would score, putting the Pirates in an early hole. Johnny Morrison relieved him to finish out the first inning. The Pirates got on the board in the third inning when Morrison scored on an Eddie Moore double. Moore would score the second run on a Max Carey single, and Carey would score two batters later on a Clyde Barnhart single to make it 4-3 after three innings.
The Senators scored two runs in the fourth to chase Morrison and take a three-run lead. The Pirates then went to Ray Kremer, who had won game six just two days earlier, and the move paid off. Pittsburgh would score a solo run in the fifth inning when Cuyler drove home Carey with their fourth run of the game to pull them within two. The score would stay 6-4 until the bottom of the seventh inning. Eddie Moore reached on an error and was driven home by a double from Carey to make it a one-run game. With two outs, Pie Traynor came to the plate and hit a ball into right field that got away from outfielder Joe Harris. Carey scored to tie the game, but Traynor was cut down at home plate to keep the score tied going into the eighth inning.
In the top of the eighth inning with one out, Senators shortstop Roger Peckinpaugh hit a solo home run to left field to put his team up by one. Despite struggling, the Senators stuck with their ace to try to shut down the Pirates for just two more innings, but Pittsburgh had other ideas. The first two batters were retired before catcher Earl Smith hit a double. Pitcher Emil Yde pinch-ran for him and Carson Bigbee batted for Kremer. Bigbee hit a double to tie the game. Johnson walked the next batter and then got a ground ball to Peckinpaugh, who botched the throw to second base for the force and gave the Pirates a chance with the bases loaded and Kiki Cuyler up at bat. Cuyler sent a long drive to right field, which went for a ground rule double and put the Pirates up by two. Red Oldham came in for the ninth inning and retired three Hall of Famers in a row, Rice, Harris and Goslin, to end the game and give Pittsburgh their second World Series title.