Five former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, all of them were pitchers. Starting with the most recent first…
Gene Garber, pitcher for the 1969-70 and 1972 Pirates. He pitched briefly in each of his three seasons in Pittsburgh before being traded to the Kansas City Royals. He won 96 games and picked up 218 saves during his 19-year career, all coming after he left Pittsburgh. The bulk of his big league success came in Atlanta, where he spent ten seasons and accumulated 141 saves. Garber was selected by the Pirates in the 20th round of the 1965 amateur draft out of high school in Elizabethtown, PA. . He made 137 starts in the minors for the Pirates, but during his Major League career, which spanned 931 games over 19 seasons, he started just nine games total. At 17 years old in 1965, he went 4-3, 3.47 in 72.2 innings split between two short-season teams, Batavia of the New York-Penn League and Salem of the Appalachian League. Garber played his first of two full seasons with Raleigh of the Class-A Carolina League in 1966. He went 4-4, 4.60, with 76 strikeouts in 94 innings during the 1966 season. He then came back with a much improved 8-6, 1.89 record in 138 innings in 1967, though he dropped down to 68 strikeouts. He completed six of his 18 starts and tossed three shutouts. He split the 1968 season between starting for York of the Double-A Eastern League, and pitching in relief for Columbus of the Triple-A International League. He combined for a 12-3, 1.88 record and 118 strikeouts in 177 innings over 39 games (17 starts). Garber was a starting pitcher for both York and Columbus in 1969, posting similar stats between each stop, with a 3.08 ERA in 73 innings with York, and 3.07 ERA in 123 innings with Columbus. He finished with a 12-9 record and he had 131 strikeouts. He joined the Pirates briefly in June and allowed three runs over five innings in two appearances.
Garber saw most of his work with the Pirates in 1970 when he pitched 14 games after making the team out of Spring Training. He was sent down to the minors in early June and did not return until 1972. He had a 5.24 ERA in 22.1 innings with the Pirates, and a 4.74 ERA in 95 innings over ten starts and 20 relief appearances with Columbus after being sent down. Garber spent the entire 1971 season with Charleston of the International League, going 14-6, 4.18, with 108 strikeouts in 170 innings over 24 starts. He was better in 1972 with Charleston, going 14-3, 2.26, with 103 strikeouts in 163 innings. He completed 13 of 18 starts and he threw three shutouts. He made one appearance with the Pirates in early June of 1972, and then three more outings in July. He played a total of just 20 games with the Pirates in his three seasons, going 0-3, 5.61 in 33.2 innings, before being traded to the Kansas City Royals for pitcher Jim Rooker following the 1972 season.
Garber went 9-9, 4.24 with 11 saves for the 1973 Royals, pitching a total of 152.2 innings over eight starts and 40 relief appearances. That was the last year that he made a start in the majors. He was sold to the Philadelphia Phillies in July of 1974. That year he combined to go 5-2, 3.08 in 76 innings over 51 games, with significantly better results in Philadelphia. Garber led the league with 71 games pitched in 1975, when he went 10-12, 3.60 with 14 saves in 110 innings. In 1976, he had a 9-3, 2.82 record and 11 saves in 92.2 innings over 59 games. He had 92 strikeouts that season, which was the only time he came close to recording and average of one strikeout per inning. The next year he had an 8-6, 2.35 record and 19 saves in 103.1 innings over 64 outings. Garber was traded to the Atlanta Braves straight up for pitcher Dick Ruthven in the middle of the 1978 season. He pitched well with both teams, combining to go 6-5, 2.15 with 25 saves in 117 innings over 65 games. Garber had a rough 6-16 record in 1979, to go along with a 4.33 ERA in 106 innings over 68 appearances. He picked up 25 saves, which was the third most in the National League. He appeared in 68 games for a second straight season in 1980, going 6-6, 3.83 in 82.1 innings, picking up just seven saves. During the strike-shortened 1981 season, Garber had a 4-6, 2.61 record in 58.2 innings. He saved two games and made 35 appearances.
Garber went 8-10, 2.34 in 119.1 innings over 69 games in 1982. He picked up a career high 30 saves. That led to a seventh place finish in the Cy Young voting and a 19th place finish in the MVP voting, the only time he got votes in either category. That strong season was followed up by his highest single-season ERA. Garber went 4-5, 4.60 in 1983, finishing with nine saves. He made 43 appearances and pitched 60.2 innings. In 1984, he improved to a 3.06 ERA in 106 innings over 62 games, with 11 saves. He had just one save in 1985 when he posted a 6-6, 3.61 record in 97.1 innings over 59 appearances. He was back in the closer role for 1986 and picked up 24 saves, while putting up a 5-5, 2.54 record in 78 innings over 61 games. Garber struggled a bit in 1987, then was traded to the Kansas City Royals in late August. He went 8-10, 4.41 with ten saves before the deal, then posted a 2.51 ERA in 13 appearances to finish the season. In his final year in the majors with the 1988 Royals, he finished 0-4, 3.58 in 26 appearances, with six saves. Garber went 96-113, 3.34 in 1,510 innings in the majors over 931 appearances. He ranks 23rd all-time in games pitched and 46th in saves. He went by his middle name (Eugene). His first name is Henry.
Ted Wilks, pitcher for the 1951-52 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball at a high level as a 22-year-old in 1938. Wilks played for Rochester of the Double-A International League (highest level of the minors at the time) and Houston of the Class-A Texas League that year, combining for a 7-7, 3.39 record in 154 innings. He remained in Houston for the next three seasons. Wilks went 14-15, 2.60 in 235 innings in 1939, making 23 starts and 22 relief appearances. He had a 13-10, 2.51 record in 197 innings over 47 appearances in 1940. His best year came in 1941 when he put together a 20-10, 2.50 record in 248 innings. He moved up a level to Columbus of the American Association in 1942, where he had a 12-9, 2.41 record in 164 innings over 20 starts and 12 relief appearances. Wilks remained in Columbus for 1943, going 16-8, 2.66 in 240 innings over 26 starts and 12 relief appearances, finishing with 132 strikeouts. That earned him his first big league shot with the St Louis Cardinals. As a 28-year-old rookie in 1944, he had a 17-4, 2.64 record in 207.2 innings for the Cardinals, leading the league in winning percentage (.810) and WHIP (1.07), which helped him gain mild MVP support (he finished 24th in the voting). He had 16 complete games and four shutouts that season. In the rest of his big league career, he threw six complete games and had one shutout. Wilks helped the Cardinals to a World Series title that year, though he allowed four runs in 6.1 innings during the postseason.
Wilks had a 4-7, 2.93 record in 98.1 innings in 1945, making 16 starts and two relief outings. He pitched just twice in the last two months due to a bone chip in his pitching elbow. He was healthy in 1946, but he moved to a relief role, where he put together an 8-0, 3.41 record in 95 innings over 40 games (four starts). The Cardinals won the World Series again that year, and this time he allowed one unearned run in one inning during his only postseason appearance. Wilks went 4-0, 5.01 in 50.1 innings over 37 relief appearances in 1947. While it wasn’t an official stat at the time, he picked up five saves. After that down year, he rebounded in 1948 to go 6-6, 2.62 in 130.2 innings over 57 games, with 13 saves. He set a career high with 71 strikeouts that season, which he would tie in 1949. Wilks lost his last appearance in 1945 and his first in 1948, so his 12-0 record during the 1946-47 seasons was exactly a two-season streak without a loss. He went 10-3, 3.73 in 118.1 innings in 1949, while leading the National League with 59 appearances and nine saves. Wilks finished 19th in the MVP voting that season. He missed a large part of the 1950 season due to a bone spur on his pitching elbow, and he was ineffective when he did return later in the year. He had a 2-0, 6.66 record in 24.1 innings over 18 games. He was strong to start 1951, posting a 3.00 ERA in 18 innings over 17 outings through the first two months of the season. Wilks then came over to the Pirates in a seven-player trade with the Cardinals in June of 1951.
Wilks was used often in relief by the 1951 Pirates, pitching 82.2 innings over his 48 games, after joining the team in mid-June. He went 3-5, 2.83 with 12 saves. He compiled a total of 13 saves in 1951, which led the National League. He also led the league with 65 appearances. His 2.83 ERA was more than a full run lower than any other regular pitcher for the Pirates that season. Wilks pitched 44 games in relief in 1952, going 5-5, 3.61 in 72.1 innings, before being traded to the Cleveland Indians in August to help with their playoff run. He went 8-10, 3.19 in 155 innings with Pittsburgh over 92 appearances in his two partial season. He started one game for the Pirates and pitched a complete game victory over the Chicago Cubs. After the deal to Cleveland in 1952, he had a 3.86 ERA in 11.2 innings over seven games. He pitched poorly in extremely limited use in 1953, allowing four runs in 3.2 innings over four games. Wilks was sold to the Indianapolis of the Triple-A American Association on August 7, 1953, where he stayed until the end of 1955, before he finished his pro career in 1956 with Austin of the Double-A Texas League.
It was said that Wilks loudly protested his sale to the minors because he was closing in on ten full seasons in the majors, which came with extra benefits, such as denying sales to the minors without his consent. Then if he was released, he would be able to sign the best deal possible, instead of accepting the salary of the team that acquired him. He never got to ten full years, retiring with a 59-30, 3.26 record in the majors, with 913 innings over 385 appearances. He made 44 starts and saved 46 games. He pitched just 14 games with Indianapolis after being sent down in 1953. During the 1954 season, he went 5-2, 2.66 in 44 innings over 30 appearances. Wilks saw limited work in 1955, going 1-4, 4.88 in 24 innings over 14 games. His final season was limited five appearances with Austin. He did work as a coach during his later seasons and stepped into that role once his playing career ended. He took a job coaching Wichita of the American Association in June of 1956.
Jack Hallett, pitcher for the 1942-43, and 1946 Pirates. He also pitched briefly for the 1940-41 Chicago White Sox and 1948 New York Giants. In between stints with the Pirates, he spent 30 months serving in the Navy during WWII. He debuted in pro ball in the Class-A Western League at 19 years old in 1934, pitching briefly for St Joseph and Cedar Rapids. His limited stats show a 1-4 record in 54 innings over 17 appearances. Hallett dropped down three levels in 1935 to play for Crookston of the Class-D Northern League, where he posted a 9-14 record in 184 innings. His ERA isn’t available for that year, but we know that he allowed 7.14 runs per nine innings. He also put in one inning that year for Milwaukee of the Double-A American Association, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. The 1936 season was spent mostly with Fieldale of the Class-D Bi-State League, where he had an 8-12 record in 34 appearances (stats are very limited from that league). He also spent part of the year with Clarksdale of the Class-C Cotton States League, going 1-5, 6.00 in 30 innings. Hallett was still in Class-D ball in 1937, playing for Hopkinsville of the Kentucky-Illinois-Tennessee League. He went 11-9, 3.77 in 196 innings. He moved up in 1938 to Bloomington of the Class-B Three-I League, where he posted a 16-9, 4.25 record in 237 innings. He had 111 strikeouts that season, the only year that his strikeouts are available before he reached the majors.
Hallett spent the 1939 season with Tulsa of the Class-A Texas League, where he had an 11-12, 2.52 record in 182 innings. He also saw time with Los Angeles of the Pacific Coast League, throwing a total of 14.1 innings over two starts and two relief outings. He had a 12-21 record in 244 innings of work in the Texas League in 1940, seeing time with Tulsa and Shreveport. He joined the Chicago White Sox in September for his big league debut and made two starts, picking up a win and loss, while throwing 14 innings, with ten runs allowed (6.43 ERA). Hallett spent the entire 1941 season with the White Sox, making six starts and 16 relief appearances. He went 5-5, 6.03 in 74.2 innings, finishing with 38 walks and 25 strikeouts. Hallett went 11-16, 2.88 in 219 innings, with 187 strikeouts, for Toronto of the Double-A International League in 1942, before he made his debut with the Pirates on September 12, 1942. On September 7th, the Pirates purchased Hallett and outfielder Frank Colman from Toronto in exchange for cash and what was called “several players to be named later”. Hallett went 11 innings in his debut with the Pirates, in a game that ended in an 11-inning tie. He made two more starts before the season ended, allowing five runs each time, with one being a nine-inning complete game loss, and the other being 2.1 innings in a no-decision.
Hallett started off well in 1943 by posting a 1.70 ERA in 47.2 innings over four starts and five relief appearances, before he put his career on hold to serve in WWII. He missed the entire 1944-45 seasons, then returned to the Pirates for 1946, when he went 5-7, 3.29 in 115 innings over 35 games (nine starts). Despite the solid season, Hallett spent almost all of 1947-49 in the minors, briefly making a two-game return with the 1948 Giants, which marked the end of his Major League career. The Pirates cut him on the final day of Spring Training in 1947, sending him to Indianapolis of the Triple-A American Association, where he spent the entire year. He went 10-11, 3.79 in 152 innings that season. In November, the Giants selected him in the Rule 5 draft. He pitched four innings over two relief appearances for New York in April, then returned to Indianapolis, where he went 11-5, 4.91 in 132 innings. He finished his career with Oklahoma City of the Double-A Texas League in 1949, posting an 8-9, 4.07 record in 126 innings. Hallett went 6-10, 3.06 in 185 innings with the Pirates over 31 starts and 16 relief appearances. His big league records over six seasons show a 12-16, 4.05 record in 277.2 innings, with 24 starts, 49 relief appearances, 11 complete games and two shutouts.
Ray Steineder, pitcher for the 1923-24 Pirates. His online records show that he never played minor league ball, but he had quite a track record before joining the Pirates for the first time. He played in the Eastern Maryland League in 1916, the moved to the Atlantic League in 1917. After serving in the military during the 1918 season/WWI, he spent the 1919 season in the Virginia League. There are no records available, but it was said in a May of 1920 article that he went 37-5 during the 1919 season, which drew the attention of Pirates scout Billy Murray, as well as the interest of two other big league teams. He was in Spring Training with the Pirates in 1920 at 25 years old, where he was referred to as the “New Jersey semi-pro”. He was signed by the Pirates for the 1920 season, but he jumped the team to play independent baseball when he found out he would be a bench player, or possibly end up in the minors. Steineder later said that the salary/bonus offered to him to play independent ball was too lucrative to pass up. He played for a team from Oil City, Pa., where he stayed until mid-August when he quit to return home to his restaurant business. He had suffered an ankle injury and wasn’t playing at the time.
Steineder was suspended from baseball for his actions, but was reinstated for the 1923 season when he re-signed with the Pirates. There’s no record of him playing in 1921 (though it was said that he played semi-pro ball), but in 1922 he starred for a semi-pro team in Mt Holly, NJ. Steineder was reinstated by Commissioner Judge Landis on March 16, 1923 and returned to the Pirates on May 3rd after a salary holdout. He didn’t debut until July 16th, and then he went 2-0, 4.75 in 55 innings over two starts and 13 relief appearance. He went 7-for-15 at the plate, giving him a .467 average. In those two months before signing and debuting, he was allowed to pitch for local independent teams to get in work. He also appeared in an exhibition game for the Pirates on July 8th, pitching a complete game victory against a team from Paterson, NJ. In 1924 he was used out of the bullpen and struggled badly, making three appearances in which he didn’t retire a single batter. After posting a 13.50 ERA in just 2.2 innings with 11 base runners allowed, the Pirates sold him to the Philadelphia Phillies, where he pitched nine more games and had a 4.40 ERA in 28.2 innings. He batted .300 with the Phillies, giving him a career .400 batting average. Steineder did not pitch in pro ball before or after his brief 29 game Major League career. The Phillies planned to send him to the minors, but he signed to play semi-pro ball instead. He was opposed to playing in the minors, claiming he would rather play close to home if he wasn’t in the majors.
Pete Meegan, pitcher for the 1885 Alleghenys. Back before Pittsburgh moved to the National League, Meegan was a starting pitcher during the 1885 season in the American Association. He was the third pitcher on a team that had Ed “Cannonball” Morris, who is the franchise leader in numerous single-season categories, and Hall of Fame pitcher James “Pud” Galvin. Meegan pitched 14 complete games in 16 starts that year, while also appearing twice in relief. He had a 7-8, 3.39 record in 146 innings. His only other big league time was 22 starts for the 1884 Richmond Virginians of the American Association, where he’s the all-time wins leader for the short-lived franchise. That year he went 7-12, 4.32 in 179 innings over 22 starts. Meegan did some umpiring during his career as well, though never in the majors. He started his pro career in the minors in 1881 playing in California, where he spent most of his baseball playing days from 1881-1892. It was said in 1883 that he first went east to pitch due to the strong salary he was offered, but after a few years, he turned down a larger salary from the Detroit Wolverines (National League) to remain out west to pitch. While the teams he played for during that time are known, there are almost no minor league records available for his career,
The only pitching stats available for Meegan in the minors came from early in the 1884 season when he was pitching for Reading of the Eastern League, where he went 15-14, 2.07 in 252 innings, before joining Richmond in August. Between both stops in 1884, Meegan threw 431 innings and he had 304 strikeouts. His first big league win came against the Alleghenys on August 27, 1884, one day after he pitched a complete game in a 4-4 tie in six innings against Pittsburgh. That was one of three ties he pitched complete games in that season. An 1886 article claimed that he discovered a new curveball that was very effective that he called a “rise-drop”. A short time later, a report of his pitching said that he had one of the best “up-curves” in the country and he threw it with little effort.
On July 15, 1885, he shutout Baltimore 5-0 and struck out 15 batters. It was noted back then in multiple papers that it was the highest Major League total on record, though the record was actually 19 at the time, set a year earlier. His pitching hand is unknown and I tried to confirm it, but came up with nothing definitive. However, that fact could be important for team history. There are two photos of Meegan in which he is set up like a right-handed pitcher. Also, numerous newspapers referred to other southpaw pitchers often in articles that also included his name, but with all of the press that he got in California at that same time, he never got that tag. It seems unlikely that he was a lefty, yet no one ever mentioned it during his career, despite it being a popular practice in newspapers to mention when a left-handed pitcher was throwing. Assuming then that he was a right-handed pitcher (which feels like a safe assumption), then his strikeout total in that July 15th game is a Pirates record for right-handed pitchers in a game. Right now the recognized record is 14 by Bob Moose and Jose DeLeon.
Meegan played his first three seasons of pro ball for teams in San Francisco, which was the center of the west coast baseball universe at the time. He was an amateur player for many teams before his pro debut. He played for the Mystics in the New California League in 1881, then joined the Nationals in the California League in 1882. That was followed by the Haverlys of the California League in 1883. After his two big league seasons, he returned to San Francisco and the California League to finish out 1885, playing for the Haverlys and the Occidental. He doesn’t have 1886-87 teams listed online, but he was a player/manager for a team in San Francisco in 1886 called the Knickerbockers, while also seeing time with a club called the Altas against the Haverlys, before rejoining the Haverlys in September. He played for the Haverlys in 1887 as well after turning down a deal to play with Milwaukee of the Northwestern League. The Alleghenys tried to sign him during the 1888 season, but got no response, so they signed Phil Knell instead, who lasted all of three starts in Pittsburgh. Meegan played for the Haverlys in 1888, 1889 and 1892, with the team playing in the Central California League in that last season. He was with Oakland of the California League in 1890, and the oddly named San Francisco Friscos in 1891.