Nine former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including a member of the first World Series winning team in franchise history.
Gary Redus, first baseman/outfielder for the 1988-92 Pirates. He played five years in Pittsburgh, including all three National League East pennant winning seasons in the early 90’s. He was originally drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 17th round in 1977, but he decided to return to the college ranks for one more year. Redus got his pro career off to an amazing start, hitting .462 in 68 games with Billings of the short-season Pioneer League in 1978 after being drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 15th round of the amateur draft that year. He had a 1.346 OPS, with 100 runs scored, 17 homers, 62 RBIs, 62 walks and 42 steals. Despite that quick start, it still took him four more full seasons to make the majors. He spent most of 1979 with Greensboro of the Class-A Western Carolinas League, where he batted .278 with 79 runs, 17 doubles, 16 homers, 52 RBIs, 58 walks and 41 steals in 83 games. He spent a short time in Double-A Nashville of the Southern League that year and batted .174/.295/.211 with no homers and eight steals in 36 games. Redus played for Tampa of the Class-A Florida State League in 1980, where he hit .301 with 78 runs, 18 doubles, nine triples, 16 homers, 68 RBIs, 66 walks and 50 steals in 128 games. He moved up to Double-A Waterbury of the Eastern League in 1981, and batted .249 that season, with 71 runs, 26 doubles, 20 homers, 75 RBIs, 48 steals and 82 walks. Redus was in Triple-A in 1982 with Indianapolis of the American Association, where he batted .333 in 122 games, with 112 runs scored, 29 doubles, nine triples, 24 homers, 93 RBIs, a 1.003 OPS and 54 steals in 59 attempts. He made it to the majors in September and batted .217/.258/.337 in 20 games, with 12 runs and 11 steals.
Redus hit .247 in his first full season in the majors in 1983. He finished with 90 runs, 20 doubles, nine triples, 17 homers, 51 RBIs, 39 steals, 71 walks and a .795 OPS in 125 games, finishing fourth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting. That would be his best overall season prior to joining the Pirates in a 1988 mid-season trade. Redus batted .254 in 123 games in 1984, with 69 runs scored, 31 extra-base hits, 48 steals, 52 walks and a .712 OPS. He played 101 games during the 1985 season, hitting .252 with 51 runs scored, 24 extra-base hits, 48 steals and 44 walks, leading to a .781 OPS. He was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in December of 1985 in a four-player deal. Redus hit .247 with 62 runs, 22 doubles, 11 homers, 25 steals and a .775 OPS in 90 games with the 1986 Phillies. He would be traded to the Chicago White Sox near the end of Spring Training in 1987. He hit .236 that season in 130 games, with 78 runs scored, 44 extra-base hits, 69 walks and a career high of 52 steals. Redus hit .263 in 77 games with Chicago in 1988, stealing 26 bases in 28 attempts. The White Sox sent him to the Pirates on August 19, 1988 in exchange for Mike Diaz. The latter played just 40 more Major League games after the trade, so it turned out to be a major win for the Pirates, though that was only true because they were able to sign Redus twice as a free agent after the trade.
Redus was a key utility player with the Pirates during their three playoff runs, though he was never a full-time player for any long stretch during that time. He played all three outfield positions and first base, but never had more than 279 at-bats in a season. Redus provided the team with speed besides his versatility. He stole 69 bases while with the Pirates and had 322 steals total in his career. Things didn’t go well in 1988 after the deal. He posted a .197 average and a .651 OPS in 30 games to finish out the season. He batted .283 in 98 games in 1989, with 42 runs scored, 31 extra-base hits, 25 steals and 40 walks. His .834 OPS that season was a career best. He helped the Pirates back to the playoffs for the first time in 11 years in 1990 by putting up a .759 OPS in 96 games. Redus had a .247 average, with 32 runs, 24 extra-base hits, 23 RBIs and 11 steals, with most of his time coming at first base that season. He went 2-for-8 with a walk and a stolen base in the postseason. The next year he batted .246 in 98 games, with 45 runs scored, 12 doubles, seven homers, 24 RBIs, 17 steals and a .717 OPS. He went 3-for-19 in the playoffs, with one walk and no extra-base hits, leading to a .358 OPS.
Redus saw his least amount of time with the Pirates during the 1992 season, hitting .256 in 76 games, with 26 runs, 13 extra-base hits, 11 steals and a .702 OPS. In the postseason, he hit .438 with four runs scored and three RBIs. In his five seasons in Pittsburgh he batted .255 with 157 runs, 54 doubles, 24 homers and 96 RBIs in 398 games. He left the Pirates via free agency after the 1992 season and spent his last two years with the Texas Rangers. He had a solid 1993 season in a limited role, batting .288 in 77 games, with 28 runs, 22 extra-base hits, 31 RBIs and an .810 OPS. He played sparingly in his final season, batting .273/.351/.303 in 18 games during the strike-shortened 1994 season. He missed a majority of the season with a hamstring injury. He stole just four bases in his two seasons with the Rangers. After his playing days, he took up coaching, including seven years in the Pirates minor league system, starting in 2001. Redus was a .252 hitter in 1,159 games, with 591 runs scored, 183 doubles, 51 triples, 90 homers and 352 RBIs.
Miguel Dilone, outfielder for the 1974-77 and 1983 Pirates. He had two stints with the Pirates covering five seasons, yet it amounted to 69 at-bats. Dilone was signed as an amateur free agent in 1972 by the Pirates and he hit well enough in high-A ball as a 19-year-old in 1974 to earn his first promotion to the big leagues that year. He debuted in pro ball with Niagara Falls of the short-season New York-Penn League in 1972, where he hit .224 with 50 runs, 41 steals, 38 walks and a .590 OPS in 61 games. He had six extra-base hits and they were all doubles. He moved up to Charleston of the Class-A Western Carolinas League in 1973, where he hit .272 with 94 runs, 14 extra-base hits, 61 walks, a .683 OPS and 95 steals (in 113 attempts) in 115 games. Dilone moved to Salem of the Class-A Carolina League in 1974 and batted .333 in 132 games, with 106 runs, 27 doubles, nine triples, 73 walks, an .838 OPS and 85 steals in 108 attempts. He played 12 games for the Pirates, but mostly as a pinch-runner, getting just three plate appearances. He spent most of the next two years at Triple-A, but got brief call-ups to the Pirates as well. He couldn’t approach those big numbers on offense with Charleston of the International League in 1975, hitting just .217 with 61 runs, 18 extra-base hits, 48 steals and a .561 OPS in 125 games. The Pirates still brought him up for 18 games that season and this time he batted just six times. He went 0-for-6, but he managed to score eight runs.
Dilone’s second season with Charleston was a success. He hit .336 in 100 games, with 63 runs, 61 steals and a .785 OPS. That led to a slight increase in at-bats with the Pirates, but only compared to his first two seasons in the majors. He batted 17 times in 16 games, going 4-for-17 with no extra-base hits, seven runs and five steals. He was with the Pirates to start the year and end the year in 1977, but it amounted to just 29 games played and only seven starts. He batted .136 with a .310 OPS, though he was able to go 12-for-12 in steals. In between MLB stints, Dilone scored 28 runs and stole 34 bases in 38 games in Triple-A, while playing with Columbus of the International League. The Pirates traded Dilone to the Oakland Athletics just prior to the start of the 1978 season, going there along with two other players in exchange for Manny Sanguillen. In November of 1976, the Pirates traded Sanguillen (and cash) to the A’s in exchange for manager Chuck Tanner, so they were reacquiring their former All-Star catcher. Dilone saw plenty of time with the A’s in 1978, playing 135 games, with 71 of those coming as a starter. He batted .229 with 34 runs, eight doubles, a homer, 14 RBIs and 50 stolen bases, though he led the league with 23 caught stealing. He split the 1979 season between the A’s and Chicago Cubs, hitting just .187/.237/.275 in 30 games before being sold on July 4th. After moving to Chicago, he put up a .306 average and 15 steals in 43 games (seven starts).
Dilone was sold to the Cleveland Indians in May of 1980 and ended up having a career year out of nowhere. He batted .341 in 132 games, getting 566 plate appearances. He scored 82 runs, had 30 doubles, nine triples and 61 steals (in 79 attempts). His .807 OPS was easily the best of his career. He even received mild MVP support that season, finishing 22nd in the voting. During the strike-shortened 1981 season, he batted .290 in 72 games, with 33 runs scored, ten extra-base hits, 19 RBIs and 29 steals. It was a solid overall season, but he also saw a 127-point drop in his OPS. Dilone batted .235 in 104 games in 1982, with 50 runs, 18 extra-base hits, 25 RBIs and 33 steals.He had a .592 OPS that season. He saw limited usage in 1983, and batted just .191/.295/.265 in 32 games with the Indians before they traded him to the Chicago White Sox on September 1st. Dilone played just four games off of the bench for Chicago before being reacquired by the Pirates on September 7, 1983 in exchange for pitcher Randy Neimann. Dilone was used solely as a pinch-runner during his second stint in Pittsburgh, getting into seven games. He scored one run and had two steals. He was declared a free agent following the season and signed with the Montreal Expos, where he played 88 games in 1984, finishing with a .278 average, 28 runs, 11 extra-base hits, ten RBIs and 27 steals in 29 attempts. He batted 91 times in 51 games for the 1985 Expos and posted a .190/.242/.238 slash line before being released in July. He signed with the San Diego Padres two weeks later and hit .217/.280/.261 with ten steals in 27 games.
Dilone played a total of 82 games for the Pirates over five seasons without recording an extra-base hit or an RBI. In fact, he had just 75 plate appearances over that time, with ten singles to his credit. He stole 23 bases with the Pirates, and he had 267 steals in his Major League career. He had a total of 399 stolen bases in the minors, giving him a lucky total of 666 steals during his pro career. Dilone was a .265 career hitter in 800 MLB games, with 314 runs, 98 extra-base hits and 129 RBIs.
Robert “Ham” Hyatt, outfielder/first baseman for the 1909-10 and 1912-14 Pirates. He was a rookie on the first Pirates team to win the World Series in 1909. Hyatt spent his first two seasons of pro ball playing in Vancouver of the Class-B Northwestern League before joining the Pirates. He hit .300 with 32 extra-base hits in 115 games in 1907 at 22 years old. He did better in 1908, batting .323 with 21 doubles, ten triples, 15 homers and 46 steals in 149 games. He was taken by the Pirates in the 1908 Rule 5 draft, one of ten players selected by the Pirates in late August. Hyatt was used mainly as a pinch-hitter in 1909, playing just eight games in the field all year. Despite being a rookie, he was able to hit .299/.329/.463 in 71 plate appearances over 49 games for the season in that role, though he did better as a starter (.375 vs .256 off the bench). He played almost all of game seven in the World Series after lead-off hitter Bobby Byrne left the game following a first inning hit-by-pitch. Hyatt drove in the first run of the game on a second inning sac fly and it turned out to be the game winning run of the game, as the Detroit Tigers were shutout 8-0.
Hyatt got his most playing time while in Pittsburgh in 1910, starting 38 games at first base, while also getting his share of pinch-hit at-bats again. He hit .263 with 19 runs, 12 extra-base hits, 30 RBIs and a .684 OPS in 175 at-bats. Hyatt spent the entire 1911 season in the minors, getting into 166 games with the Kansas City Blues, after the Pirates released him on option to the Blues on February 18, 1911. He batted .327 with 159 runs scored, 210 hits and 58 extra-base hits for Kansas City. He was recalled by the Pirates after the season and had his same occasional start/pinch-hitting role for three more years in the majors. In 1912, he hit .289/.330/.340 with 13 runs and 21 RBIs in 105 plate appearances spread over 46 games. He played just ten games in the field in 1913, but he was still able to hit .333 in 81 at-bats, with four homers and 16 RBIs in 63 games. Hyatt struggled in his pinch-hitting role in 1914, hitting .215/.295/.316 in 74 games, getting a total of 90 plate appearances all season. The Pirates put him on waivers following the 1914 season, where he was picked up by the St Louis Cardinals. Over his five seasons in a Pirates uniform, he batted .277 in 306 games with 51 runs and 89 RBIs in 499 at-bats.
Hyatt had a .268 average, 23 runs, 19 extra-base hits, 46 RBIs and a .714 OPS in 106 games with St Louis in 1915, then spent the next two full seasons in the minors with Chattanooga of the Class-A Southern Association. He hit .290 in 143 games in 1916, with 25 doubles, 13 triples and seven homers. In 1917, he hit .334 with 28 doubles, 13 triples and ten homers in 149 games. After opening the 1918 season with Little Rock of the Southern Association, Hyatt saw his last big league action that year with 53 games for the New York Yankees. He hit .324 in 64 games for Little Rock, then batted .229 with 11 runs, eight doubles, two homers and ten RBIs for the Yankees. He played pro ball until retiring after the 1923 season, seeing time with Toledo of the Double-A American Association (1919-20) and Vernon of the Double-A Pacific Coast League (1920-23). He batted over .300 in each of his final five seasons. Hyatt hit .328 in 149 games in 1919, with 36 doubles, nine triples and nine homers. At the time, Double-A was the highest level of the minors, but those solid results didn’t get him back to the majors. In 1920, he hit .318 in 164 games split between Toledo and Vernon, with 40 doubles, 13 triples and ten homers. He hit .323 in 148 games in 1921, with 31 doubles and 17 homers. The 1922 season saw him hit .318 in 166 games, with 37 doubles, six triples and 15 homers. His finals season at 38 years old was limited to 63 games. He hit .303 with 15 extra-base hits. The “Ham” nickname came from his middle name, Hamilton.
Larry French, pitcher for the Pirates from 1929-34. He pitched three years in the minors prior to joining the Pirates. During that time, he had a losing record plus a high 4.65 ERA. French actually saw his winning percentage get worse each year, while his ERA improved each season. He debuted at 18 years old in 1926 in the Class-C Utah-Idaho League with Ogden, where he went 8-7, 5.91 in 134 innings. He also pitched briefly for Portland of the Double-A Pacific Coast League that season (highest level of the minors at the time), then spent the next two years there. French went 11-12, 4.77 in 181 innings in 1927. Before joining the Pirates, he had an 11-17, 4.05 record during the 1928 season, with 251 innings pitched. He was purchased from Portland in December of 1928 in a deal that also included three players going to Portland, with the final two pieces being sent there in April of 1929. Once in the majors in 1929, he started out in the bullpen, before the Pirates let him get his first start on May 7th. He threw a 10-inning complete game 3-2 win over the New York Giants that day. He also pitched complete game wins in his next two starts, although it took exactly three months for him to pick up his fourth career win. He finished his rookie season 7-5, 4.90 in 30 games, 13 as a starter, with 123 innings pitched. He had 62 walks and 49 strikeouts. The 1930 season was one of the biggest years for offense in baseball, and French posted a 17-18, 4.36 record. The ERA might sound high but teammates Ray Kramer (20-12, 5.02) and Erv Brame (17-8 4.70) obviously got much more run support than French, who actually led the National League in losses that year. He threw 274.2 innings, with 35 starts, seven relief appearances, three shutouts and a career high 21 complete games.
In 1931, French started a stretch of three straight seasons in which he not only posted a better winning percentage each year, but also lowered his ERA each year. He 4.90 rookie ERA, and 4.36 sophomore mark, dropped down to a 3.26 ERA in 1931. He went 15-13 and pitched 275.2 innings that season. He completed 20 of 33 starts, while pitching six times in relief. He had a crazy coincidence with his 1932 season. In both year (1931-32) he led the league with 301 hits allowed, and he also gave up 127 runs each season, while making 33 starts and throwing 20 complete games. He improved his record in 1932 to 18-16, 3.02 in 274.1 innings, with three shutouts and 14 relief appearances. He led the league that year with 47 games pitched. While it wasn’t an official stat at the time, he also led the league with four saves. French gave up 290 hits in 1934, which led the league for the third straight year. However, it was a strong season, with an 18-13, 2.72 record in a career high 291.1 innings. He led the league with 35 starts, matched his career high with 21 complete games, and he tossed five shutouts. He finished 15th in the MVP voting that season. French went 12-18, 3.58 in 263.2 innings for the 1934 Pirates, a team that finished in fifth place, one season after going 87-67 for a second place finish. He made 34 starts and 15 relief appearances, finishing with 16 complete games and three shutouts. He had 103 strikeouts that season, the first of four times he reached the century mark in strikeouts. He was traded to the Chicago Cubs after the 1934 season, along with future Hall of Famer Freddie Lindstrom, for Guy Bush, Babe Herman and Jim Weaver. French played the best among the whole group after the trade going 95-84 over seven seasons for his new team. While with the Pirates, French had an 87-83, 3.50 record in 1,502.2 innings.
With the 1935 Cubs, French went 17-10, 2.96 in 246.1 innings, with a league leading four shutouts. He completed 16 of his 30 starts and pitched 12 times in relief. The Cubs went to the World Series that year and he picked up two losses, though he had a 3.38 ERA in the series. He had his best record in Chicago in 1936, going 18-9, 3.39 in 252.1 innings. He completed 16 of 28 starts, pitched 15 times in relief, and led the league with four shutouts. French went 16-10, 3.98 in 208 innings in 1937, throwing 11 complete games and four shutouts. That was a large drop in innings from the previous year (44.1), despite making 28 starts in both years (1936-37), and pitching 15 times in relief in 1936 and 14 times in relief in 1937. The Cubs returned to the World Series in 1938, edging out the Pirates late in the year for first place. Even though they won it all with an 89-63 record, he went 10-19, 3.80 in 201.1 innings, with 27 starts, 16 relief appearances, ten complete games and three shutouts. Fellow Chicago starter Tex Carleton had a 10-9 record with a 5.42 ERA, so there was clearly some bad luck involved in French’s record. He pitched in relief in the World Series, allowing one run in 3.1 innings. French went 15-8, 3.29 in 194 innings in 1939, with 21 starts, 15 relief appearances, ten complete games and two shutouts. He posted a 3.29 ERA for the second straight year in 1940, this time while throwing 246 innings. Despite the matching ERA from his 15-8 record in 1939, his record dropped to 14-14 that season, though his solid pitching was rewarded with his only All-Star appearance. He picked up 107 strikeouts that season, the fourth time he reached triple digits, though that ended up being his career high, so each time he just barely cracked the mark.
French pitched most of 1941 with the Cubs, but they put him on waivers in August after posting a 5-14, 4.63 record in 134 innings. He was picked up by the Brooklyn Dodgers, where he gave up six runs in 15.2 innings over the rest of the season. He got to pitch in the World Series again and he tossed one scoreless inning over two outings in relief. He went 15-4, 1.83 in 14 starts and 24 relief outings with the 1942 Dodgers, throwing a total of 147.2 innings. He threw four shutouts. Even though he had a very successful 1942 season at 34 years old, his baseball career ended there. He enlisted in the Navy and never returned to the majors. He ended up staying in the Navy until 1969. He finished his 14-year career with a 197-171, 3.44 in 383 starts and 187 relief appearances. He had 199 complete games, 40 shutouts (ranks 44th all-time) and 3,152 innings pitched. Despite all of that success, he never had a 20-win season and he made just one All-Star appearance. French finished with 45.4 WAR, which is interesting to note with the way his career ended. He was still a strong pitcher when he retired, and the competition level in the majors in 1943-45 was at an all-time low due to so many players serving in the war. Even if his performance dropped off, he still would have been able to add onto that WAR and push himself into Hall of Fame consideration. Despite Baseball-Reference’s Similarity Score saying that French’s most comparable player all-time is Hall of Fame pitcher Rube Marquard, French never received a single Hall of Fame vote.
Eddie Williams, first baseman for the 1997 Pirates. His travel through baseball is a long list (get ready for it). Williams was drafted in the first round (fourth overall pick) in 1983 by the New York Mets out of high school. Almost a year to the day he was drafted, the Mets traded him to the Cincinnati Reds. Then 18 months later, the Cleveland Indians selected him in the Rule 5 draft. He received three trials (1986-88) with the Indians, but failed to hit over .200 in any season. He was then traded to the Chicago White Sox, who released him after one season. He signed with the San Diego Padres in 1990 and played four big league games. Williams was purchased by a team in Japan and spent the 1991 season overseas. Over the next two seasons, he bounced around the minors with the Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers and two stints in Mexico. He finally made it back to the majors in 1994, but continued to bounce around, playing for the Padres, Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Dodgers, before joining the Pirates in an August 9, 1997 deal for a minor league player. After the season ended, Williams was released by the Pirates. He signed with the Padres for a third time, finishing his big league career with 17 games in 1998. He spent 1999 in the minors with the Minnesota Twins. Williams played in Mexico, Korea and independent ball over the next three seasons before retiring.
Before he made his tour of the majors and overseas, Williams debuted in the minors at 18 years old in 1983, hitting .263 with 30 runs, six homers, 28 RBIs and a .759 OPS in 50 games for Little Falls of the short-season New York-Penn League. In 1984, he played in A-Ball with Columbia of the South Atlantic League (Mets) and Tampa of the Florida State League (Reds). He combined to hit .217 with 37 runs, 19 extra-base hits, 40 RBIs, 40 walks and a .654 OPS in 93 games. He spent the 1985 season with Cedar Rapids of the Class-A Midwest League, where he batted .261 with 71 runs, 13 doubles, 20 homers, 83 RBIs and 62 walks in 119 games. Williams played for Waterbury of the Double-A Eastern League in 1986, hitting .238 with ten doubles, seven homers and 30 RBIs in 62 games. He played five early season games for the Indians, going 1-for-7 at the plate in his first big league trial. As a Rule 5 pick, he had to stay on the big league roster and he saw almost no playing time for two months until the Indians made a trade with the Reds that allowed them to send Williams to the minors. He had a strong season in Triple-A in 1987 with Buffalo of the American Association. He hit .291 with 90 runs scored, 29 doubles, 22 homers and 85 RBIs in 131 games, before rejoining the Indians at the end of the season. He played 22 games for Cleveland and hit .172/.280/.281 with one homer and four RBIs. In 1988, Williams hit .301 with 53 runs, 39 extra-base hits and 58 RBIs in 101 games for Colorado Springs of the Pacific Coast League (new Triple-A affiliate of the Indians). He batted .190/.227/.190 in ten games with the Indians.
Williams split the 1989 season between the White Sox and Triple-A Vancouver of the Pacific Coast League, batting .274 with three homers and a .699 OPS in 66 games in the majors, while putting up a .686 OPS in 35 games in Vancouver. Most of the 1990 season was spent in Triple-A Las Vegas of the PCL for San Diego, where he hit .316 with 29 doubles, 17 homers, 75 RBIs and a .952 OPS in 93 games. In the majors that year, he batted .286 with three doubles, three homers and a .933 OPS in 14 games. The next three years were spent in the minors, Japan and Mexico. He had a .722 OPS in 49 games in Japan in 1991. His stats from Mexico aren’t available from 1992-93, but he did see some affiliated ball each season. He played 24 games for Richmond of the Triple-A International League (Braves) in 1992 and had a .527 OPS. He played eight games for New Orleans of the Triple-A American Association in 1993.
Williams hit well back in Las Vegas in 1994, batting .352 with 20 homers and a 1.107 OPS in 59 games. He did almost as well in the majors with the Padres that year, batting .331 with 32 runs, 11 doubles, 11 homers, 42 RBIs and a .986 OPS in 49 games. The strike that year in mid-August ended his season early. When MLB returned in late April of 1995, Williams hit .260 with 35 runs, 11 doubles, 12 homers and 47 RBIs in 97 games for the Padres. He struggled in 1996 with the Tigers, batting .200 with 22 runs, six homers, 26 RBIs and a .574 OPS in 77 games. Before joining the Pirates in 1997, he played eight big league games for the Dodgers, all as a pinch-hitter, going 1-for-7 with a single and a walk. He also spent three months in Triple-A with Albuquerque of the PCL before being acquired in an August 9th trade for minor league pitcher Hal Garrett. He put up huge numbers in Albuquerque, hitting .366 with 73 runs, 17 doubles, 29 homers, 76 RBIs and a 1.189 OPS in 76 games. Williams hit .247/.333/404 with three homers and 11 RBIs in 30 games during his short time in Pittsburgh. The Pirates let him go after the season and he finished his big league time by hitting .143/.194/.143 in 17 games for the 1998 Padres. He had his third stint in Las Vegas that year and posted a 1.011 OPS in 90 games.
Williams spent all of 1999 with Salt Lake City of the PCL (Twins), where he hit .316 in 97 games, with 56 runs, 24 doubles, 17 homers and 57 RBIs. He spent part of 2000 in Korea, where he homered 12 times in 37 games, leading to a .248 average and a .949 OPS. He also played briefly for Solano of the independent Western League. In 2001, Williams split the season between Mexico and Solano, playing a total of 119 games, collecting 83 runs, 24 doubles, 19 homers and 86 RBIs. He finished up in 2002 with 39 games in the independent Northern League Central, playing for Fargo-Moorhead and Sioux Falls. He had a .294 average and a .719 OPS that year at 37 years old. He was a .252 hitter, with 146 runs scored, 47 doubles, 39 homers and 150 RBIs in 395 games spread over ten seasons in the majors. Williams is credited with 255 homers and 980 RBIs in 1,686 games of pro ball, though two years of Mexican League stats are missing.
Howie Goss, outfielder for the 1962 Pirates. He debuted in the minors at 18 years old in 1953. He would soon become a member of the Pirates organization, though it took him a total of nine minor league seasons before he reached the majors. He was held back by high strikeout numbers, especially for the era when 100+ strikeout seasons weren’t common. Goss played for Visalia of the Class-C California League in 1953, hitting .247 with 18 homers, 60 RBIs and a .771 OPS in 86 games. That led to him getting a look with the Pirates during Spring Training in 1954, when manager Billy Meyer said that he was the most intriguing player in camp early on, but he was more of a player of the future, who could one day be a star. In 1954, he played for Salinas of the California League, where he hit .266/.331/.416 with 38 extra-base hits, 74 RBIs and 23 steals in 123 games. He also played eight games for Phoenix of the Class-C Arizona-Texas League that year. The next year saw him played most of the year back with Salinas. He also got time with Waco of the Class-B Big State League. He combined to hit .300 with 96 runs scored, 39 doubles, 14 triples, 27 homers, 118 RBIs and 34 steals in 146 games. Goss saw his batting average drop to .231 in 1956, as he advanced to Lincoln of the Class-A Western League for most of the year, while also playing 23 games for New Orleans of the Double-A Southern Association. Despite the low average, he still managed to hit 27 homers and drive in 86 runs, while posting a .786 OPS. He played winter ball over the 1956-57 off-season in Mexico and put on a power display there, with 15 homers in his first 42 games.
Goss played for Columbus of the Triple-A International League for the entire 1957 season. He batted .258 with 53 runs, 40 extra-base hits, 67 RBIs and a .743 OPS in 131 games. He returned to Columbus in 1958, where he hit just .239 with 59 runs, 49 extra-base hits and 54 RBIs in 149 games. He had 29 walks and 123 strikeouts that season, while posting a .683 OPS that was a drop of 60 points compared to the previous season. Goss saw most of his playing time in A-Ball with Columbus/Gastonia of the South Atlantic League in 1959, though he played for a time in Triple-A with Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League. He hit just .218 with five homers and a .598 OPS in 88 games, which obviously wasn’t a good sign during a season he dropped down in competition. Goss was with Vancouver of the Pacific Coast League in 1960, hitting .262 with 77 runs, 27 doubles, 29 homers and 85 RBIs in 143 games. After hitting .299 with 93 runs, 18 doubles, eight triples, 27 homers and 100 RBIs in Vancouver in 1961, the Pirates acquired the contract of Goss from San Diego of the Pacific Coast League in exchange for pitcher Curt Raydon on October 14, 1961.
Goss made the Pirates Opening Day roster in 1962 at 27 years old. He was on the bench for the first 15 games, then started both ends of a doubleheader in place of Roberto Clemente. He had another string of starts in right field in late May, then moved over to center field when Clemente returned, before serving as a defensive replacement in left field for the next three weeks. Goss had just four starts total in June/July because he had to contend with an outfield of Clemente, Bill Virdon and Bob Skinner ahead of him. From August 6 through September 27, he made four starts total. Then over the final three days of the season, he started once at each outfield spot. He hit .243 with 19 runs, two homers, ten RBIs and a .657 OPS in 122 plate appearances spread over 89 games. He was traded to the Houston Colt .45s on April 4, 1963 in exchange for Manny Mota, which turned out to be a one-sided deal for the Pirates. Goss lasted one more season in the majors, while Mota hit .297 over six seasons with the Pirates. For Houston in 1963, he batted .209 with 37 runs, 18 doubles, nine homers, 44 RBIs and a .592 OPS in 133 games. He spent the 1964 season in the Pacific Coast League, splitting the season between Oklahoma City and Arkansas, hitting .246 in 134 games, with 54 runs, 18 doubles, 12 homers and 50 RBIs. The Washington Senators purchased his contract in January of 1965 and assigned him to their Hawaii affiliate in the Pacific Coast League, but Goss never played again. He injured his leg/heel early in Spring Training, then re-injured himself a month later, which led to him retiring.
Clarence Berger, right fielder for six late-season games with the 1914 Pirates. The Pirates purchased him on August 21, 1914 from Richmond of the Class-C Virginia League for $2,500, which was said to be one of the highest purchase amounts from that league at the time. The 19-year-old Berger was allowed to stay with his team in Richmond until the end of their season. He batted .298 in 136 games, though he had just 16 walks all season, so his OBP was .319 for the season. At the time of his purchase, he was leading the league in batting average (said to be .318) and fielding percentage (for outfielders). He had 28 extra-base hits and stole 34 bases. It was Berger’s first season of pro ball after playing college ball at Richmond College. There was an interesting note from the start of that season that said he was on the bench to begin the year due to being nervous about getting into games, but they thought he would need just a few days to get settled in and play well. He didn’t start hitting until June, beginning the year with an average that was around the .200 mark, but within two months of his first game, it was said that 2-3 big league teams were already showing interest. According to him manager in an article released 18 days before he signed with the Pirates, Berger hit like a Major League player for two months straight, batting around .320 during that stretch.
Just before he joined the Pirates, it was announced that Berger had already signed a deal for the rest of 1914 and for the 1915 season. The Pirates gave him a pinch-hit appearance on September 23rd, seven days after he reported to the team, then he went nine straight games without playing. That was followed by three starts and two bench appearances in the final five days of the season. Despite being 19 years old at the time, it ended up being his only big league experience. Berger went 1-for-13 with a single and a walk, and somehow managed to get just two chances in the outfield over his five games played on defense. The Pirates released Berger on February 13, 1915, sending him back to his Richmond team. Two months later, he was sent to a team from Newport News of the Virginia League, where he hit .172 with two extra-base hits in 23 games. That’s the end of his pro career according to Baseball-Reference, but I was able to track him down playing in Norfolk in the second half of 1915 for a short time, and then he joined a team from Rocky Mount, NC of the Virginia League in 1916, where he batted .220 in 42 games.
Earl Blackburn, catcher for the 1912 Pirates. His big league debut was catching the final inning on September 17, 1912, as the third catcher used by the Pirates that day. In fact, the 19-year-old Blackburn was pinch-hit for in the ninth inning, so he didn’t even get a chance to bat. He played just one more game in 1912, but it came as a member of the Cincinnati Reds six days later. The Reds were short on catchers and purchased Blackburn from the Pirates on September 22nd. He got to bat once and walked. He also saw limited big league time with the Reds in 1913, Boston Braves in 1915-16 and Chicago Cubs in 1917. His only significant playing time came in 1916 when he hit .273 with 12 runs, eight extra-base hits, seven RBIs and a .710 OPS in 47 games. In five big league seasons, he hit .262 with 13 runs and ten RBIs in 71 games. All eight of his career extra-base hits came during the 1916 season. The Pirates purchased his contract in August of 1912 from Springfield of the Class-B Central League, where they also picked up three of his teammates. Blackburn batted .274 in 74 games for Springfield. The players joined the Pirates after their season ended, and the first mention of Blackburn with the Pirates occurred on September 9th when he was part of a “large group” of 25 players going on a road trip with the team.
The 1912 season wasn’t the first time that Blackburn was with the Pirates. He joined the team on June 10, 1911 with no prior pro experience. The only information on him on the day he signed was that he was from Massillon, Ohio and he came to the Pirates highly recommended. His local papers announced his signing and said that he was a three-sport star (football and basketball) and still in high school at the time at age 18, with one year left before graduating. There were mentions of his name with the team through October 3rd, but he never actually played a game until he rejoined the team in 1912. He was basically used as a bullpen catcher during his first stint in Pittsburgh. In January of 1913, Blackburn became ill with diphtheria and his local papers even went as far as saying he was expected to die, but he was in Spring Training with the Reds and he played 17 games as their third-string catcher. He batted .259/.310/.259 in 29 plate appearances that season.
Blackburn split the 1914 season between two minor league clubs, seeing time with Lincoln of the Class-A Western League and Indianapolis of the Double-A American Association, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. He combined to hit .252 in 113 games, with 56 runs, 40 extra-base hits (31 doubles) and a .737 OPS. He was with Indianapolis again in 1915, batting .238 with 39 runs, 14 extra-base hits and 40 walks in 81 games, before joining Boston for three late-season games, in which he went 1-for-6 with two walks. Despite 1916 being his biggest season in the majors (see stats above), half of the year was spent with Providence of the Double-A International League, where he hit .254 in 58 games, with 14 doubles and five triples. After spending almost all of 1917 with the Cubs, while getting just two pinch-hit appearances (one in April, one in July), Blackburn finished his pro career with Kansas City of the American Association in 1918. He batted .280/.349/.307 in 25 games during that final season.
In July of 1918, Blackburn signed to play with a semi-pro team from Bethlehem, Pa. He was still reserved to Kansas City, who tried to trade him to Minneapolis of the American Association prior to the 1920 season, but Blackburn decided to continue playing semi-pro ball, while working at a factory. He was put on the baseball ineligible list at the time. By 1921, he was back playing in Massillon. He played for two different semi-pro teams in Ohio and Illinois in 1922, and then a team from Jackson, Tennessee in 1923 that claimed to be the best independent team around. He played in Hazelton, Pa and Mount Carmel, Pa in 1924, then back to Ohio for 1925 and the early part of 1926. By 1927, he was managing a team in Ohio. He was reinstated from the baseball ineligible list in 1928 and joined Tulsa of the Class-A Western League, but he was released early in the season and was back in semi-pro ball in Ohio by mid-May. Blackburn was out of baseball by 1929, making the news that year only for being arrested and filing a divorce. His obituary in 1966 noted that he was a star athlete in football and basketball, as well as baseball.
Mike Hopkins, catcher for the Pirates on August 24, 1902. His only big league game was also his only game as a pro. Hopkins was an amateur player in Pittsburgh, who Honus Wagner recommended should get a tryout. He was first mentioned playing in 1899 for a railroad club team called the McCartys. He got more than that on August 24, 1902 when he went into a one-sided game for the final four innings and went 2-for-2 at the plate. He was credited with an error that day, and it was still listed in the team stats later that season, though for some reason it’s no longer part of his career records. One paper from Cincinnati notes that one of his singles was lost in the sun by first baseman Jake Beckley, then they also noted that Hopkins tried to score from second base on a single by Fred Clarke and he got thrown out at the plate. Hopkins got his shot because catcher Jack O’Connor was suspended the day before and third-string catcher Harry Smith broke a toe days earlier, plus the Pirates had a doubleheader in Cincinnati. The Pirates took just 13 players total to Cincinnati for that one-day trip. When the second game got out of hand early, starter Chief Zimmer was pulled and Hopkins got his one big league game. The game was called after seven innings due to the Pirates needing to catch the train to get back home for a game the next afternoon.
Hopkin’s debut/lone game was also the big league debut of pitcher Harvey Cushman, who had an 0-4 record for a 1902 Pirates team that finished with a 103-36 record. The Pirates were able to test Cushman and Hopkins in this game because they were up 20 games in the standings with just 37 games left in the schedule. In the papers the next day, Hopkins was called the “Carnegie boy” who played for the local McCullough Railroad team, and has been playing for local teams for many years. On June 28, 1902, he made the local papers by throwing out six runners attempting to steal in one game. By August 27th, Harry Smith was back in the lineup playing with his injury and Hopkins was gone without another mention. He was playing for a local club called Idlewood by September. A story told by Honus Wagner in 1937 said that Hopkins quit the Pirates after one day because of the hot playing conditions that day (Wagner said it was 103 degrees) and that was enough Major League ball for him. Wagner also said that manager Fred Clarke begged him to stay, but he refused. Some of that might not be true (as in faded memories from 35 years earlier), as Wagner also said that Hopkins caught both games and went 6-for-9 at the plate. The article was about the best local players and Wagner named Hopkins the best catcher from Carnegie. Hopkins was born in Glasgow, Scotland, while Harry Smith was born in England.