Five former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus a major trade made during the end of the 19th century.
On this date in 1897 the Pittsburgh Pirates made a seven-player trade, sending star outfielder Elmer Smith and 30-game-winner Pink Hawley, along with cash ($1,500), to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for five players. The Pirates acquired Bill Gray, Jack McCarthy, Billy Rhines, Pop Schriver and Ace Stewart in the deal.
Hawley was just shy of his 25th birthday at the time and he had a 71-61 record for the Pirates in three seasons. He went 30-58 for the St Louis Browns prior to joining the Pirates in 1895. Smith had started his career as a pitcher with the Reds, going 69-50 in four seasons. He switched to offense mid-career and he was an above average outfielder with the Pirates. He was a local boy from Pittsburgh (and popular with the fans), who hit .325 over seven seasons with the Pirates, with 644 runs scored and 174 stolen bases.
This trade didn’t really pan out for either team, at least not long-term. Ace Stewart never played for the Pirates. Pitcher Billy Rhines, who replaced Hawley in the rotation, went 12-16, 3.52 in 1898. He made just nine starts the next season, going 4-4, 6.00, before being released. Bill Gray was the everyday third base for the Pirates in 1898, but he hit just .229/.283/.280 in 137 games and made the second most errors in the league at his position. Despite playing everyday, that 1898 season was the end of his big league career. Jack McCarthy played two full seasons in the outfield for the Pirates before the “Honus Wagner trade” in 1899 made him expendable. He was sold to the Chicago Orphans (Cubs) following the 1899 season. With the Pirates he hit .298 with 147 RBIs in 276 games.
Pop Schriver made the biggest impact with the Pirates among the five returning players in the trade. He was the only player who lasted until 1900, hitting .260 with 93 RBIs in 224 games, spending most of his time as a catcher. Following the 1900 season he was sold to the St Louis Cardinals, leaving the Pirates with no players left from the trade three years later.
Smith hit .342 with 79 runs, 32 extra-base hits, 66 RBIs and 69 walks in 1898, but quickly went downhill. By his last season in 1901, he played just 20 games, including a brief return for four games to the Pirates. Hawley went 27-11, 3.37 in 331 innings during the 1898 season, then he went 39-49 over the following three seasons, while playing for three different teams. He too saw his big league career end in 1901. The Reds got great results in 1898, though their victory in the deal was short-lived due to both players falling off quickly afterwards. In terms of WAR after the deal, the Pirates gave up 15 WAR in eight combined seasons for Smith/Hawley, while the players they received put up 14.4 WAR in 17 total seasons. The deal was a loss for the Pirates, but it could have been much worse, because Smith and Hawley had 10.1 WAR in 1898 alone. There’s also the cash portion of the deal to factor in, with $1,500 being a decent amount of change back then.
Matt Pagnozzi, catcher for the 2011 Pirates. He was originally a 40th round draft pick of the Chicago Cubs out of high school in 2001, but he decided to attend college. Two years later he was taken in the eighth round by the St Louis Cardinals out of Central Arizona College and signed. It took him six years to make the majors, getting a brief taste during the final week of the 2009 season. Pagnozzi debuted in pro ball in 2003 with New Jersey of the short-season New York-Penn League. He hit just .178 in 59 games, with one homer, 19 RBIs and a .539 OPS. He did a strong job on defense, throwing out 51% of the 69 runners attempting to steal that year. He played for Peoria of the Low-A Midwest League in 2004, where he batted .209 in 74 games, with 29 runs, ten doubles, no homers, 14 RBIs and a .542 OPS. The next year was split between High-A Palm Beach of the Florida State League and Double-A Springfield of the Texas League. Pagnozzi combined to bat .184 with 17 runs, 12 doubles, one homer, 19 RBIs and a .520 OPS in 76 games. He spent the entire 2006 season back with Palm Beach, where he hit .216 with 25 runs, 21 extra-base hits, 27 RBIs and a .612 OPS in 77 games. He threw out 47% of runners that year (41-for-87). He played 13 games with Springfield in 2007, and spent the rest of the year with Memphis of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. He had a combined .570 OPS in 60 games that season, finishing with a .217 average, 15 runs, nine doubles, two homers and 12 RBIs. He played three games with Memphis and 68 with Springfield in 2008, hitting .235 with 24 runs, 11 doubles, three homers, 20 RBIs and a .624 OPS.
It was clear by those numbers on offense that persistence and defense kept Pagnozzi around, which led to a stint with the Cardinals in late September of 2009. That was after he hit .221 with 21 runs, seven doubles, five homers and 32 RBIs in 86 games for Memphis that season. He played each of the final five games of the 2009 season off of the bench for St Louis, going 0-for-3 with a walk and a sacrifice hit. In 2010, he had a .647 OPS in 68 games with Memphis, and a crazy .359/.405/.487 slash line in 15 games for the Cardinals, with all of that time coming in September. He became a free agent after the season and signed quickly with the Colorado Rockies. The Pirates had a plethora of catching injuries in 2011, and Pagnozzi was one of the players who got a chance during that time. He split the 2011 season between the Rockies and Pirates in the majors, and Colorado Springs of the Pacific Coast League in the minors. He played seven games for the Rockies in June/July, putting up a .286/.348/.286 slash line in 25 plate appearances. The rest of the years was spent with Colorado Springs, where he had a .275 average and a .758 OPS in 54 games. Pittsburgh selected him off waivers on September 14th. He started two of his five games with the Pirates, while going 2-for-8 at the plate with two singles.
Pagnozzi became a free agent at the end of the season and signed with the Cleveland Indians in December of 2011. He spent the entire 2012 season in Triple-A with Columbus of the International League, where he hit .225 in 79 games, with 27 runs, 19 extra-base hits and 32 RBIs. He threw out 49% of the 74 runners attempting to steal that season. He then signed a free agent deal with the Atlanta Braves in December of 2012. He played almost all of the 2013 season with Gwinnett of the International League, where he hit .210 with 31 runs, 17 extra-base hits and 31 RBIs in 90 games. Pagnozzi played briefly for the Houston Astros in 2013 after the purchased his contract in September from Atlanta. He batted .143/.182/.143 in nine games for the Astros. He signed with the Milwaukee Brewers in December of 2013 and played one big league game in 2014 as a defensive replacement, without getting an at-bat. The rest of 2014 was spent with Nashville of the Pacific Coast League, where he hit .215 in 71 games, with 29 runs, 16 extra-base hits and 29 RBIs. He finished his career with the Arizona Diamondbacks in the minors in 2015, playing ten games for Mobile of the Double-A Southern League and 63 games for Reno of the PCL. He combined to hit .250 with 19 runs, 13 extra-base hits and 25 RBIs. Pagnozzi batted .272/.323/.326 in 43 big league games over five seasons, seeing time with five different teams. He had eight runs, two doubles, one homer and 13 RBIs. He had a .221 average in the minors over 938 games. He pitched three times in the minors, throwing a total of 4.1 shutout innings. He is the nephew of Tom Pagnozzi, who caught 12 seasons for the St Louis Cardinals. Both of them wore #19 in St Louis.
Junior Noboa, infielder for the 1994 Pirates. He was signed at 16 years old as an international free agent out of the Dominican in 1981 by the Cleveland Indians. It took him just three years to make the majors, playing his first game at the end of the 1984 season before his 20th birthday. Despite the quick rise through the system, he didn’t play in the majors again until the middle of the 1987 season. Noboa had an impressive debut in pro ball, batting .303/.352/.352 in 50 games with Batavia of the short-season New York-Penn League in 1981, where he was five years younger than the average player in the league. He was in A-Ball by 17 years old in 1982, hitting .249 with 69 runs scored, 17 extra-base hits, 44 stolen bases and a 62:61 BB/SO ratio in 121 games with Waterloo of the Midwest League. He remained with Waterloo in 1983, where he hit .256 with 64 runs scored, 22 doubles, 47 steals and 48 walks in 132 games. Noboa showed a little more power than the previous year, but the lower walk rate led to a two point difference in OPS from the previous season (.661 vs .659). He began 1984 with Double-A Buffalo of the Eastern League, where he batted .253 with 55 runs scored, 23 extra-base hits, 45 RBIs and a .639 OPS in 117 games. He joined the Indians in late August and mostly served as a defensive replacement, getting just one start over the final 5 1/2 weeks of the season. He had 11 at-bats in 23 games. He had four hits and all of them were singles. Despite steal 44 and 47 bases in the two previous seasons, Noboa had just 70 steals over his last 11 seasons combined, and he was thrown out nearly half the time, with 66 caught stealing during that stretch.
Noboa spent the entire 1985 season in Triple-A with Maine of the International League. He hit .288 with 62 runs, 18 extra-base hits and 32 RBIs in 122 games. His .708 OPS was the best of his first five seasons, but he went 14-for-29 in stolen base attempts. He repeated Maine in 1986 and had similar results in 106 games, hitting .286 with 44 runs, 26 extra-base hits, 32 RBIs and a .686 OPS, while going 10-for-24 in steals. Cleveland moved their Triple-A franchise to Buffalo of the American Association and Noboa spent half of the 1987 season there and the other half in the majors. He hit .225/.253/.275 with seven runs scored and seven RBIs in 39 games for Cleveland, while putting up a .315 average and a .770 OPS in 43 games with Buffalo. Noboa played for the California Angels in 1988 after being acquired in a trade at the end of Spring Training. His big league time that season was limited to 21 games (six starts) and he went 1-for-16 at the plate (.063/.063/.063 slash line), though he was able to score four runs due to pinch-running opportunities. He spent the rest of the year with Edmonton of the Pacific Coast League, where he hit .296 in 50 games, with a .687 OPS. He became a free agent after the 1988 season and then spent the next three years with the Montreal Expos, where he saw his most big league time.
Noboa hit .227/.244/.227 in 21 games for the 1989 Expos, with a total of ten starts and 45 plate appearances. He spent most of that year with Indianapolis of the American Association, where he put up a big average (.341) in 117 games, with low power/walk numbers that led to a .799 OPS. His best big league season was 1990 when he made 24 starts at second base and added outfield to his resume. He hit .266 in 81 games, with 15 runs scored and 14 RBIs, the only time he reached double-digits in either category in the majors. He had 173 plate appearances that year, which was the only time he reached triple digits in plate appearances in the majors. Noboa played sparingly all season in 1991, seeing time at six different positions, getting 96 plate appearances in 67 games. He hit .242/.250/.305 and connected on his only big league homer. The New York Mets selected Noboa off of waivers right after the 1991 season ended. He only played infield in 1992, and he had just five starts in 46 games played, with 52 plate appearances all season. He hit .149/.212/.149 and scored seven runs while collecting seven hits. He was sent to the minors in late July and lasted just six games with Tidewater of the International League before suffering a stress fracture in his leg, which ended his season early.
Noboa became a free agent after the 1992 season and spent 1993 in Triple-A for the Cincinnati Reds, playing back with Indianapolis, where he had a .692 OPS in 45 games. He was injured in the beginning of the season and didn’t debut until mid-July. He then played for the Oakland A’s in April of 1994, where he hit .325/.357/.400 in 17 games, before joining the Pirates as a free agent in early May. After signing, Noboa played in Triple-A Buffalo, which switched to a Pirates affiliate since he last played there in 1987. He was in Buffalo until joining the Pirates in early August, hitting .288/.329/.333 in 67 games during that time. He lasted just two games with the 1994 Pirates, going 0-for-2, while playing one inning at shortstop. That ended his eight-year big league career. His final game came just a week before the season-ending strike that lasted into the start of the 1995 season, though he was still with the Pirates when the strike started. Noboa finished his pro career with six minor league games for the 1995 Baltimore Orioles, playing with Triple-A Rochester of the International League. He was a .239 hitter in 317 big league games, with 47 runs scored, 13 doubles, one homer and 33 RBIs. Despite some big stolen base numbers early in his career, he had just nine steals in the majors. His actual first name is Milciades, and he’s the only big league player with that name.
Eddie Eayrs, pitcher for the 1913 Pirates. He was signed as an amateur free agent in 1913 by the Pirates and joined the team in late June. He was pitching at Brown University before making his pro debut, helping them to an 18-3 record that season. He was just a freshman when he signed (though he was 22 years old), impressing scouts as a lefty with two strong pitches, a sinker and a changeup. Eayrs was a gifted athlete, who also excelled at football. He was a pitcher/outfielder who lasted just four games for the Pirates before going to the minors for seven seasons. During his brief time in Pittsburgh, he went 1-for-6 at the plate and allowed two runs in eight innings over two games on the mound. On July 7th, just 19 days after he was signed, Eayrs was traded to a minor league team in Columbus (American Association) for veteran pitcher George McQuillan, who had five seasons of big league experience. The Pirates probably should have given him a bigger chance, because Eayrs ended up batting .449 in 27 games with Columbus in 1913, while posting a 9-4 record. His stats really dropped off in 1914 back with Columbus, hitting .226 in 81 games, while putting up an 11-9, 4.01 record in 182 innings
Eayrs played for three Double-A teams in 1915, which put him one step below the majors at the time. Besides Columbus, he was also with Louisville of the American Association and Providence of the International League. Only his Providence stats are available for that season, and they show a .272 average and a .670 OPS, along with 7-6 record in 103.1 innings pitched. He remained in Providence for the next four full seasons, despite the level of play changing twice during that time. The team moved to the Eastern League in 1918, which was a Class-B level of play at the time, though in 1919 the league was reclassified as Class-A. As you would expect, his stats improved as the level of play dropped. Eayrs missed some time during his stay in Providence, as he served in the Navy during WWI. He batted .284 with 22 extra-base hits in 113 games in 1916, and then hit .244 with 12 extra-base hits in 87 games during the 1917 season. He batted .355 in 47 games in 1918 (season was shortened due to the war) and .335 with 28 extra-base hits in 100 games during the 1919 seasons. He was also the team’s manager during those final two seasons. He went 4-1 in 61 innings in 1916, and he had a 3.63 ERA in 129 innings in 1917, but his mound time after that year was sporadic, amounting to fewer than 100 innings total over his final ten seasons in pro ball.
Eayrs resurfaced in the majors in 1920 for the Boston Braves and hit .328/.410/.377 in 87 games while also pitching seven games, posting a 5.47 ERA in 26.1 innings. He played 63 games in the outfield that year split between all three spots. He played for two teams during the 1921 season (Boston and Brooklyn), and hit .095/.174/.095 in 23 plate appearances over 23 games, while allowing ten runs in 4.2 innings, with all of his pitching that year coming with Boston. He then returned to the minors for six more seasons before retiring. Eayrs played for New Haven of the Eastern League in 1922, where he hit .330 with 23 doubles and four triples in 146 games. He had a 2-1 record on the mound. He split 1923 between Toronto of the Double-A International League and Worcester of the Eastern League. Eayrs combined to hit .328 with 15 extra-base hits in 101 games, though he did much better with Worcester, batting .402 with nine extra-base hits in 35 games. He was back in New Haven in 1924, hitting .304 with 11 extra-base hits in 91 games. He then returned to Worcester for 1925, where he batted .357 in 122 games, with 24 extra-base hits. From there, Eayrs went to Providence of the Eastern League for his final two season. He hit .291 with 14 extra-base hits in 116 games in 1926, and he batted .320 with 18 extra-base hits in 99 games during his final season as a player. He was a .310 minor league hitter in 1,210 games, while also winning 41 games on the mound. He also managed for three seasons. Despite his brief big league time and versatility, he hit .306 in 114 games in the majors. He hit just four homers in pro ball, with his only big league homer being an inside-the-park homer while with Boston in 1920.
Billy Earle, catcher for the 1892-93 Pirates. He was the backup to Connie Mack during his time in Pittsburgh. Earle made his pro debut at 18 years old in 1886 and played his final game 22 years later. He began his pro career with two teams from the Class-B Southern Association (Nashville and Memphis), combining to hit .194 in 25 games in 1886. He played for Duluth of the Northwestern League in 1887, where he hit .331 with 112 runs scored, 47 extra-base hits and 55 steals in 104 games. Earle played for St Paul of the Class-A Western Association in 1888 (highest level of the minors at the time), where he hit .254 in 88 games, with 60 runs scored, 28 extra-base hits and 48 steals. That led to a utility role with the 1889 Cincinnati Red Stockings of the American Association, where he hit .266 in 53 games, with 37 runs scored, 15 extra-base hits, 31 RBIs, 26 steals, 30 walks and an .830 OPS. Part of the 1890 season was spent with the St Louis Browns of the American Association. Earle hit .233 in 22 games, with a .618 OPS. The rest of the year was spent with Tacoma of the Pacific Northwest League, where he hit .308 with 59 runs and 29 extra-base hits in 62 games.
Earle spent the entire 1891 season in the minors with Sioux City of the Western Association, where he batted .248 in 119 games, with 73 runs, 24 extra-base hits and 30 steals. Most of the 1892 season was spent in the minors, where he played eight games for Birmingham of the Southern Association and 40 games for Seattle of the Pacific Northwest League, which was a Class-B league that season. Earle hit .260 with 39 runs, 21 extra-base hits and 23 steals between both stops. He joined the Pirates for five early season games in 1892 and did well at the plate, going 7-for-13 with four walks. The Pirates still released him in May because they had a solid 1-2 punch behind the plate in Connie Mack and Doggie Miller. The next season Earle played 27 games for the Pirates after rejoining the club on August 12th. He hit .253 with 15 RBIs during his second stint. The rest of the year was spent back in Birmingham, where he hit .313 in 84 games, with 80 runs and 33 extra-base hits.
Earle went to Spring Training with the Pirates in 1894, but he was released on April 9th, ten days before the season started. It was said that he was unhappy with his salary. He ended up playing for two different National League teams in 1894, while hitting .348/.428/.409 in 35 games. He started the year with the Louisville Colonels, then finished the season with the Brooklyn Grooms. Despite the high average, he never returned to the majors. He retired for a brief time and played semi-pro ball, then returned to play minor league ball until 1908, spending much of that time as a player-manager in the low levels of the minors, including five years in Class-D ball. He also had some other managerial time in the minors and did some umpiring. Earle played the 1895 season with Grand Rapids of the Class-A Western League, where he hit .331 with 34 runs and 16 extra-base hits in 33 games. No stats are available for 1896 when he played for Dallas of the Class-C Texas Association, then he’s credited with one game in 1897 for Columbus of the Western League. Earle returned to pro ball in 1902, playing for Vicksburg of the Class-D Cotton States League for three seasons. His 1902 stats are missing, but his very limited stats in 1903-04 show that he hit .224 in 268 at-bats in 1903 and .256 in 227 at-bats in 1904.
Earle batted .174 in 50 games for Columbia of the Class-C South Atlantic League in 1905, where at 37 years old, he was 10.8 years older than the average age of the league. He returned to Vicksburg in 1906 and hit .159 in 48 games. That’s his last year of available stats, but he put in some time with Scottdale of the Class-D Western Pennsylvania League in 1907 and Ottumwa of the Class-D Central Association. He was a player-manager for each of those last seven seasons. Earle hit .286 in 142 big league games, with 102 runs scored, 20 doubles, 12 triples, six homers, 74 RBIs and 41 stolen bases. He hit two homers for the Pirates in his 108 at-bats with the team and they came in back-to-back at-bats, plus both were inside-the-park homers.
Fred Roat, third baseman for the 1890 Alleghenys, who was born on the same day as the aforementioned Billy Earle in 1867. Roat hit .223/.286/.261 as a rookie in 1890 for the Alleghenys, playing in 57 games. His only other big league time was eight late-season games for the 1892 Chicago Colts. Roat made the Opening Day roster in 1890, but didn’t see his first game until two weeks later. He actually wasn’t traveling with the team early in the year, which was a move done to save on traveling expenses. He got off to a great start, but an injury, followed by an illness caused him to leave the team for a time, then a side injury in August ended his season. He was one of the few players who remained with the team after the Player’s League folded, though the Alleghenys sold him to the Cincinnati Reds in early 1891 in a strange deal. Roat had received $125 advanced pay before being sold to Cincinnati. The Reds agreed to pay Pittsburgh that money back, but they cut Roat before the season started and refused to make payment. During the season, the two teams went back-and-forth shaving $125 of the road gate receipts, with Pittsburgh claiming victory because they hosted the last series between the teams, though all they actually received was the agreed upon amount. Roat hit two homers in the majors and they came during the first and second game of a doubleheader on June 16, 1890. At the time, the Alleghenys had just one home run all season. He also hit their first home run during Spring Training that year.
Roat played 11 seasons of minor league ball. He debuted in 1888 at 20 years old with a team from Danville, Illinois in the Central Interstate League. He remained with Danville, as they moved to the Illinois-Indiana League in 1889. No stats are available from that year, but an article profiling the players of the 1890 Alleghenys said that Roat was the leading hitter in the league. After his season in Pittsburgh, he split the 1891 season between Lincoln of the Western Association and Rockford of the Illinois-Iowa League, playing a total of 83 games, with a .243 average, 51 runs scored and 19 stolen bases. The majority of his 1892 season was spent with Milwaukee of the Class-A Western League (highest level of the minors at the time), where he hit .337 with 18 runs, seven extra-base hits and eight steals in 26 games. His big league time with Chicago came later in the year and he batted .194/.242/.258 in his final eight big league games. Roat hit well over the next three seasons at a high level of play. He batted .322 with 49 runs and 20 extra-base hits in 73 games for New Orleans of the Class-B Southern Association in 1893. He then hit .286 with 47 runs, 14 extra-base hits and 12 steals in 64 games for New Orleans in 1894, before finishing that season with Indianapolis of the Western League, where he batted .330 with 42 runs and 16 extra-base hits in 54 games. In 1895, he hit .388 with 127 runs scored and 46 extra-base hits in 120 games for Indianapolis.
Roat’s stats after that point are a bit spotty, with nothing available for Indianapolis in 1896, and partial stats over his final three seasons, which were spent with four different teams, three of which were in the Western League. Roat split 1897 between Minneapolis and Grand Rapids, hitting .237 with 66 runs, 24 extra-base hits and 19 steals in 118 games. He played for Omaha/St Joseph (same team, relocated during the season) in 1898, hitting .223 in 135 games, with 53 runs and 21 extra-base hits. He batted .241 with 24 runs and seven extra-base hits in 71 games in 1899 with Toronto of the Eastern League.