Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date. We start with two trades of note. Before we get into the former players, a 2021 (sort of 2022) player was born on this date. Catcher Taylor Davis went 2-for-5 in two games for the 2021 Pirates, then got called up for one day in 2022 without playing. He has also appeared in the majors with 2017-19 Chicago Cubs. He turns 33 years old. Davis will get a full bio next year unless he rejoins the Pirates for 2023, which is very possible.
On this date in 1927, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded star outfielder Kiki Cuyler to the Chicago Cubs for veteran infielder Sparky Adams and outfielder Pete Scott. Cuyler at the time of the trade had been benched by manager Donie Bush, who refused to use him in the World Series despite being swept in four games. The Cubs easily got the best of the deal, as Cuyler was a Hall of Fame caliber player in the prime of his career, and both players they received in return did very little for the Pirates.
Cuyler had been with the Pirates since September of 1921 although he had played just four full seasons and three partial years, totaling 525 games. Cuyler accumulated a .336 average while with the Pirates, he scored 415 runs, including a league leading 144 in 1925 when the Pirates won their second World Series title. That run total is the third highest in team history and most since 1894. He also drove in 92 runs in 1924 and 102 in 1925.
Adams had led the National League in at-bats three seasons in a row from 1925-27, and in each of those years he scored between 95-100 runs. In 672 games with the Cubs, he batted .292 with 401 runs scored and 201 RBIs. He played most of his games during that stretch at second base, although in 1927 he played at least 40 games at the three infielder spots (not first base). The big problem with acquiring him as the main piece for a star player was the age difference. Adams turned 33 years old three months before the deal, while Cuyler was four years younger. Scott made the majors in 1926 as a 28-year-old. He played just 144 games in his two years in Chicago, but he batted .299 in those games, including a .314 average in 1927.
Cuyler would go on to play eight years in Chicago, batting .325 during that time, including a .355 average in 1930, and a career high .360 in 1929. He led the NL in stolen bases for three straight seasons from 1928-30, and during the 1930 season he set career highs in hits (228), runs (155), doubles (50) and RBIs (134). He helped the Cubs get to the World Series in both 1929 and 1932. Adams hit .276 in 1928 for the Pirates in 135 games. He scored 91 runs that year, but the following year he lost his starting job and was sold to the St Louis Cardinals following the season. He lasted five more years in the majors, but he never offered more than minimal value. Scott hit .311 in 60 games in 1928, but he was injured for a large part of the year and never played in the majors again after that season.
In my opinion, this rates as the worst trade in Pirates history. That’s taking everything into account, including benching a star player, then selling low. The fact that he wasn’t getting paid a lot and there was no such thing as free agency, so they were just giving away a star in his prime with an unknown amount of success ahead of him. Their main return piece was an aging veteran who wasn’t a star player, more of a solid performer on the downside. The other player was a fourth outfielder. So not only was there no chance for this deal to work out right from the start, it ended up going worse than you would expect. The Pirates got a total of 1.8 WAR over three seasons from their returns for one of the best hitters in the game at the time, who was just entering his prime. To top things off, Cuyler was making just a little bit more in salary than Adams at the time. Two years after the deal was made, all the Pirates got from their two pieces was a minimal amount of cash, as Scott was sold to the minors and Adams was sold to the St Louis Cardinals after serving as a utility player in 1929. If they kept Adams (and he performed at the same level), they would have received 5.5 WAR for eight seasons of work. Scott was worth 1.0 WAR in his partial season, despite below average defense. Cuyler had 6.2 WAR in 1930 alone.
You could really stick a major fork in this wound by noting that the Pirates got rid of infielder Joe Cronin before the 1928 season, selling him to the minors. With Adams there, Cronin had no spot. If they kept him and Cuyler, they could have had two extra Hall of Famers during that time for zero cost, who combined to put up 94.7 WAR after the trade/sale. That WAR is the same as Roberto Clemente put up in his career.
On this date in 1962 the Pirates traded third baseman Don Hoak to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for infielder Pancho Herrera and outfielder Ted Savage. Hoak had spent four seasons in Pittsburgh. He struggled in 1962 on offense and he was 34 years old at the time of the deal. He was just two years removed from finishing second to teammate Dick Groat for the 1960 MVP. Herrera hit .281 with 17 homers and 71 RBIs in his rookie season in 1960. He hit .258 in 1961 with 13 homers, but he also struck out a lot both seasons. He spent the entire 1962 season in the minors, hitting 32 homers with 108 RBIs. Savage hit .266 with seven homers in 127 games as a 25-year-old during his rookie season in 1962.
Herrera would spend three full seasons in the minors with the Pirates and a small part of 1966 before going to the Detroit Tigers organization, but he never played in the majors again. Savage was a backup outfielder used often as a pinch-hitter, and he was not successful in the role for the Pirates. He hit .195 with five homers in 149 at-bats in 1963, then spent the entire 1964 season in the minors, before being traded to the St Louis Cardinals in late 1964. Hoak hit just .231/.282/.324 in 115 games in 1963 as the Phillies third baseman. He lost his job going into 1964, and lasted just six more games, all as a pinch-hitter. That was his last season in baseball. While the Pirates received almost nothing from their return, they at least picked the right time to move on from Hoak.
Yefry Ramirez, pitcher for the 2019 Pirates. He was signed out of the Dominican at 17 years old by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011. He debuted in pro ball in 2012, and pitched his first two seasons in the Dominican Summer League. Ramirez had a 3.28 ERA in 24.2 innings as a reliever in 2012, then went 0-6, 3.00 in 60 innings as a starter in 2013, finishing with 62 strikeouts. He split 2014 between the rookie level Arizona League and Missoula of the short-season Pioneer League, going 6-3, 3.06, with 65 strikeouts in 67.2 innings combined between the two teams. He pitched in Missoula in 2015 and had a 5.35 ERA in 69 innings, with 61 strikeouts. The New York Yankees selected him in the minor league portion of the 2015 Rule 5 draft. He made 11 starts each for Charleston of the Low-A South Atlantic League and Tampa of the High-A Florida State League in 2016, with nearly identical results at both levels. He combined to go 7-9, 2.82 in 124.1 innings, with 132 strikeouts. He pitched most of the 2017 season with Trenton of the Double-A Eastern League, before being sold to the Baltimore Orioles at the 2017 trading deadline. Ramirez remained in the Eastern League with Bowie after the deal and finished the year with a 15-3, 3.47 record in 24 starts, with 117 strikeouts in 124.1 innings. He started the 2018 season with Norfolk of the Triple-A International League, but he spent slightly more time that year with the Orioles, where he went 1-8, 5.92 in 65.1 innings, making 12 starts and five relief appearances. He had a 3.88 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 72 innings with Norfolk.
Ramirez made four starts with Norfolk in the early part of 2019, and four appearances (one start) with the Orioles. He allowed nine runs in 10.1 innings with Baltimore that year, and a he had a 1.50 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 18 innings with Norfolk. The Pirates acquired him on May 27, 2019 in a trade for a player to be named later, which turned out to be minor league infielder Pat Dorrian. Ramirez went to the minors before joining the Pirates on July 30th for a week. He pitched once in long relief during that stint, allowing five runs in 3.2 innings. He returned on August 27th, went on the injured list after one appearance, then returned for seven games in September. He made nine relief appearances for the Pirates during his one season with the team, posting a 7.71 ERA in 14 innings. Ramirez had a 5.20 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 45 innings with Indianapolis of the International League that year. He became a minor league free agent at the end of the year and pitched well in the Dominican winter league, allowing two runs in 8.2 innings of relief work. He signed with the New York Mets for 2020, though he didn’t pitch in the majors during that shortened season, and he became a free agent after the season. He appeared in one big league game for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2021 and tossed two shutout innings, then became a free agent after the season. He spent the rest of 2021 in Triple-A, where he had a 5.02 ERA in 113 innings, with 115 strikeouts for Oklahoma City. He played winter ball in the Dominican, then spent part of 2022 back with Oklahoma City, going 2-1, 3.76 in 40.2 innings. The rest of the year was spent in Korea, where he had a 2-6, 4.13 record in 65.1 innings over 13 starts. In his brief big league time, he is 1-10, 6.19 in 91.2 innings over 13 starts and 18 relief appearances.
Angel Sanchez, pitcher for the 2017 Pirates. He was signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2010 at 20 years old. They skipped him right up to Low-A ball in 2011 for his first season of pro ball. Sanchez went 8-4, 2.82, with 84 strikeouts and a 1.12 WHIP in 99 innings for Great Lakes of the Midwest League that season. He played for Rancho Cucamonga of the High-A California League in 2012, where he went 6-12, 6.58, with 103 strikeouts in 130 innings over 23 starts and four relief outings. That ERA seems ridiculously high, but the league average ERA was 4.73 and Rancho Cucamonga had the highest team ERA in the league. Sanchez returned to Great Lakes in 2013 and had a 2-7, 4.88 record and 72 strikeouts in 70 innings over 14 starts. He also pitched nine innings that year with Rancho Cucamonga. On July 6th, he was traded to the Miami Marlins as part of a three-player package to acquire Ricky Nolasco. The Marlins sent Sanchez to Jupiter of the High-A Florida State League, where he went 4-3, 3.22 in ten starts, with 42 strikeouts in 50.1 innings. The 2014 season started off rough with Jacksonville of the Double-A Southern League, where he went 0-8, 6.88 in 52.1 innings over 12 starts. Sanchez was selected off waivers by the Tampa Bay Rays on June 13, 2014 and gave up eight runs over nine innings in two starts with Montgomery of the Southern League. On July 2nd, the Chicago White Sox picked him up off of waivers. He had a 6.60 ERA in 15 innings over three starts with Birmingham of the Southern League, after first going to High-A Winston-Salem of the Carolina League for two starts. On July 31, 2014, the Pirates picked him up off of waivers. So over a seven-week period, he was property of four different MLB organizations, and three of those teams had him pitching in the Southern League.
Sanchez finished the 2014 season with Double-A Altoona of the Eastern League, where he went 0-2, 4.32 in 33.1 innings over five starts and a relief appearance. Over the full season, he went 2-14, 5.96 in 122.1 innings. He went to the Arizona Fall League after the season and pitched well, posting a 2.25 ERA in eight relief appearances, picking up 11 strikeouts in 12 innings. Sanchez returned to Altoona in 2015 and his AFL success carried over to the next season. He went 8-1, 2.79 in 77.1 innings over 13 starts, which led to a promotion to Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League. In ten starts there, he had a 5-1, 2.55 record in 60 innings. In one season, his record went from 2-14 to 13-2. He had 99 strikeouts on the season, with a better rate at the higher level. It looked like he was well on his way to making the majors with the Pirates late in 2015, but an elbow injury turned into Tommy John surgery, which cost him the entire 2016 season. When he returned to action in 2017, the Pirates switched him to a relief role and he went right to Indianapolis. In 39 games, he had a 3.74 ERA in 55.1 innings, with 65 strikeouts. Sanchez debuted in the majors on August 24, 2017, pitching against the team that first signed him (Dodgers). In his only big league season, he made eight relief appearances for the Pirates, posting an 8.76 ERA in 12.1 innings, with one walk and ten strikeouts, while serving up five homers. Sanchez was released after the 2017 season so he could sign to play in Korea.
Sanchez played in Korea in 2018-19, then spent the 2020-21 seasons playing Japan. He went 8-8, 4.89, with 124 strikeouts in 145.1 innings in 2018. During the 2019 season, he had a 17-5, 2.62 record in 165 innings, racking up 148 strikeouts. He was second in the league in wins that year, trailing only Josh Lindblom, who was his teammate in Indianapolis in 2017 and also pitched briefly for the Pirates that year. Sanchez went 8-5, 3.90 in 97 innings over 17 games in 2020. He had a 5-5, 4.50 record in 76 innings over 15 games in 2021. He didn’t pitch during the 2022 season, but he’s currently playing winter ball in the Dominican at 32 years old. Sanchez has pitched 1,184 innings during his pro career.
Jose Parra, pitcher for the 2000 Pirates. He played five years in the majors for five teams from 1995 until 2004. Parra is listed as being signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers one week after his 17th birthday in 1989, though he’s credited with time in the Dominican Summer League during that 1989 season before signing. Parra was in the U.S. in 1990, pitching for the Gulf Coast League Dodgers, where he went 5-3, 2.67, with 50 strikeouts in 57.1 innings. That next year he moved up to Great Falls of the short-season Pioneer League, where he went 4-6, 6.16, with 55 strikeouts in 64.1 innings. He jumped to High-A in 1992, spending a majority of the season with Bakersfield of the California League, while also seeing time with San Antonio of the Double-A Texas League. He combined to go 9-8, 3.82 in 157.2 innings. His 114 strikeouts that year were a season high during his 16-year career in pro ball. Parra spent the 1993 season with San Antonio, going 1-8, 3.15 in 111.1 innings over 17 starts. He had 87 strikeouts and just 12 walks that season. He moved up to Albuquerque of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in 1994, where he had a 10-10, 4.78 record in 145 innings over 27 starts. He spent time back with Albuquerque in 1995, going 3-2, 5.13 in 52.2 innings, but a majority of the season was spent in the majors.
Parra made his Major League debut on May 7, 1995. That was shortly after the season started late due to the strike that wiped away the end of the 1994 season. He pitched one game, then went back to the minors until the early part of July when he returned for four weeks and seven more relief appearances. He was traded to the Minnesota Twins on July 31st in a six-player deal at the trade deadline. Parra had a 4.35 ERA in 10.1 innings before the trade. He moved to the starting rotation in Minnesota and had his issues, going 1-5, 7.59 in 12 starts to finish out the season. He pitched in more of a relief role in 1996, putting up a 6.04 ERA in 70 innings over 27 appearances (five starts). Parra spent 1997 at Triple-A Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League, where he had a 2-8, 6.03 record in 94 innings over 50 appearances for the Twins affiliate. He then spent 1998 in Korea and had some success with a 3.67 ERA in 95.2 innings, then moved to Japan in 1999, where he had a 5.32 ERA in 47.1 innings. He returned to the U.S. with the Pirates in 2000. He mostly pitched in Triple-A with Nashville of the Pacific Coast League that season, going 6-5, 5.22 in 101.2 innings. He spent just over three weeks with the Pirates, making his two starts at the end of April, then four relief appearances in the beginning of May, before being sent back to the minors for the rest of the season. He had a 6.94 ERA in 11.2 innings during his time with the Pirates.
Parra became a free agent in October of 2000. He re-signed with the Pirates in February of 2001, but he was released in July without a big league or minor league appearance. He ended up pitching in Mexico and China that season, going a combined 5-7, 2.44 in 77.1 innings over 67 appearances, with 33 saves and 73 strikeouts. Parra saw time in the majors with the 2002 Arizona Diamondbacks and 2004 New York Mets, posting an identical 3.21 ERA over 14 innings in both seasons. A majority of 2002 was spent in Korea, where he had a 6.00 ERA in 39 innings. He also pitched 9.1 scoreless innings that year with Tuscon of the Pacific Coast League. Just like in 2001, he split the 2003 season between Mexico and China. Parra went 6-4, 2.48 in 108.2 innings that season between both stops. Besides his brief time with the Mets in 2004, he also had a 1.63 ERA and 16 saves in 24 appearances with Norfolk of the Triple-A International League. He finished his 16-year pro career in Japan in 2005, going 4-2, 4.09 in 33 innings. His big league time resulted in a 7-12, 6.09 record in 189.2 innings, with 19 starts and 63 relief appearances.
Sixto Lezcano, outfielder for the 1985 Pirates. Lezcano spent 12 years in the majors, mostly with the Milwaukee Brewers. He was originally signed as a international free agent out of Puerto Rico at 16 years old in 1970, years before Puerto Rico became part of the amateur draft. He debuted in pro ball with Newark of the short-season New York-Penn League in 1971, where he hit .289 with 24 runs, seven homers, 23 RBIs and an .864 OPS in 53 games. He moved up to Danville of the Class-A Midwest League in 1972 and batted .270 in 114 games, with 67 runs scored, 35 extra-base hits, 56 RBIs, a .737 OPS and 21 steals in 24 attempts. Lezcano moved up to Double-A in 1973, playing for Shreveport of the Texas League. He hit .293 in 134 games, with 69 runs, 35 doubles, 18 homers, 90 RBIs and an .879 OPS. He had no stolen bases in 1973, yet he was caught stealing three times, just like in 1972. He played for Sacramento of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in 1974, where he batted .325 in 131 games, with 100 runs scored, 23 doubles, 34 homers, 99 RBIs and a .995 OPS.
Lezcano made it to the majors by age 20 in September of 1974 and hit .241/.283/.389 in 15 games. He was Milwaukee’s everyday right fielder by 1975. During his first full season in the majors, he batted .247 in 134 games, with 55 runs scored, 33 extra-base hits, 43 RBIs and 46 walks, leading to a .706 OPS. After a decent rookie season, he put together a four-year stretch (1976-79) in which he compiled most of his career value. He had a 3.2 WAR in 1976 thanks in part to a .285 average in 145 games. He had 53 runs scored, 31 extra-base hits, 56 RBIs, 51 walks, a .730 OPS and 14 stolen bases, which represented more than 1/3 of his career stolen base total. His WAR went up to 3.7 in 1977 when he hit .273 with 50 runs, 21 doubles, 21 homers, 49 RBIs 52 walks and an .861 OPS in 109 games. Lezcano had a .292 average with 62 runs, 21 doubles, 15 homers, 61 RBIs, 64 walks and an .837 OPS over 132 games in 1978. He hit .321 in 138 games during the 1979 season, with 84 runs, 29 doubles, 28 homers and 101 RBIs, while winning the Gold Glove award and finishing 15th in the MVP voting. He set career highs in all five of those offensive categories in 1979, plus his .987 OPS was 126 points higher than his second best career mark. Despite winning the Gold Glove that year, it actually rated as his worst defensive season of his career, with a -1.1 dWAR. He had a total of 9.6 WAR during the 1978-79 seasons combined.
Lezcano saw a huge slide in his stats in 1980, batting .229 in 112 games, with 51 runs, 19 doubles, 18 homers and 55 RBIs. His OPS dropped 268 points from the previous season, down to a .719 mark. On December 12, 1980, he was part of a seven-player trade with the St Louis Cardinals that saw Hall of Famers Rollie Fingers and Ted Simmons both go to Milwaukee. In his lone season with the Cardinals, Lezcano hit .266 with 26 runs, eight doubles, five homers, 28 RBIs and 40 walks in 76 games, with time lost due to the mid-season strike that limited teams to approximately 110 games each.
Lezcano was once again part of another trade involving a Hall of Famer, with Ozzie Smith going to St Louis in a deal in December of 1981. In his first season with the Padres in 1982, Lezcano had his best season by WAR (5.9), hitting .289 with 73 runs, 26 doubles, 16 homers, 84 RBIs, an .860 OPS and a career high 78 walks. His numbers dropped off the following season, which was split between the Padres and Philadelphia Phillies. He hit .239 with 49 runs scored, 22 extra-base hits, 56 RBIs and 52 walks in 1983, finishing with a .685 OPS. He rebounded for a year, finishing with a .277 average, 36 runs, 14 homers, 40 RBIs and an .851 OPS in 109 games for the 1984 Phillies. The Pirates signed him as a free agent in January of 1985 and he hit .207/.392/.302 over 72 games in his final big league season in 1985. He had 16 runs, two doubles, three homers, nine RBIs and 35 walks in 153 plate appearances. He competed for a job during Spring Training in 1986 before being released on April 4th, which ended his big league career. He made a brief comeback attempt in Japan in 1987, putting up a .598 OPS in 20 games, before calling it quits. Lezcano was a .271 hitter in 1,291 big league games over 12 seasons, with 560 runs, 184 doubles, 148 homers, 591 RBIs and 576 walks. His cousin Carlos Lezcano played outfield for the 1980-81 Chicago Cubs.
Dave Augustine, outfielder for the 1973-74 Pirates. He was drafted out of college in the 33rd round in 1968 by the Cleveland Indians, but he didn’t sign. The Pirates signed him as a free agent in 1969 at 19 years old and he struggled at the lower levels in his first year, hitting .227 with 61 runs, 17 extra-base hits, a .589 OPS in 110 games for Gastonia of the Class-A Western Carolinas League. He also had a .563 OPS in 13 games for the Gulf Coast League Pirates. He struck out 116 times that season, which was very high for the low level of the minors at the time. He had a breakout of sorts in 1970 with a .309 average in 86 games with Gastonia, adding 175 points to his OPS. He had 35 runs, 17 extra-base hits, 26 RBIs, ten steals and he struck out just 30 times all season. Augustine saw his average drop to .247 for Salem of the Carolina League in 1971, and his OPS dropped 120 points to a .644 mark. He didn’t show much power at that point (23 extra-base hits), but he managed to steal 36 bases that season, which was more than double any other single season output during his 15-year pro career. He also had 79 runs scored. Augustine moved up to Double-A Sherbrooke of the Eastern League in 1972, where he hit .301 with 88 runs scored, 27 doubles, 12 homers, 52 RBIs and a .766 OPS in 140 games. His stolen base magic disappeared quickly, going 12-for-20 in steals that season. He had a .276 average, 59 runs, 34 extra-base hits, 52 RBIs and a .712 OPS in 125 games in Triple-A Charleston of the International League in 1973, which earned him a September look in the majors that year. He went 2-for-7 in 11 games for the Pirates, seeing time as a pinch-runner and a defensive replacement.
Augustine had two stints with the Pirates in 1974, spending most of July with the team, then returning in September, when he saw very little use and failed to record an at-bat. He went 4-for-22 with three runs and no walks or extra-base hits. The rest of the year was spent in Charleston, where he managed just a .217 average and a .608 OPS in 86 games. He made a total of four starts in the majors during his two seasons in Pittsburgh. He batted 29 times over 29 games in his big league career, all spent with the Pirates. He went 6-for-29 at the plate with four runs scored, a double, no walks and no RBIs, though he almost had a big RBI on his double in the 13th inning of a game, but Richie Zisk got thrown out at the plate on the play to end the inning. Augustine played all three outfield spots during his brief big league career. He spent nine seasons in the minors after his final big league game. He was with the Pirates organization from 1969-77 and then again from 1981-83. While he was an outfielder when he came up to the Pirates, he switched positions a lot in the minors and eventually took a utility role hoping to get back to the majors. He was signed as a catcher, but put at shortstop. According to a 1978 article, a knee injury caused him to move to third base, before he finally ended up in the outfield, which then turned into a utility role.
Augustine struggled with Charleston in 1975, hitting .236 with one homer and a .570 OPS in 75 games. He did a bit better in 100 games with Charleston in 1976, hitting .259 with 40 runs scored, 17 extra-base hits and a .651 OPS, while going 10-for-11 in steal attempts. Augustine played 127 games in Triple-A (Pirates affiliate moved to Columbus of the International League) in 1977, where he hit .229 with 52 runs scored, 29 extra-base hits, 44 RBIs, ten steals and a .636 OPS. Just prior to the 1978 season, he was traded to the Houston Astros for outfielder Jim Fuller, who had slightly more MLB time than Augustine, but Fuller never played in the majors again. The Astros affiliate in Triple-A was in Charleston, so he returned to the team after a one-year absence. Augustine hit .264 in 99 games in 1978, finishing with 25 runs, 14 extra-base hits, 32 RBIs and a .637 OPS. He continued his success as a mild stolen base threat, going 8-for-8 in steals, giving him 28 steals in 32 attempts during the 1976-78 seasons combined. He improved to a .702 OPS in 121 games in 1979, thanks in part to a .291 average, along with 33 extra-base hits. He had 46 runs and 49 RBIs that season. He split the 1980 season between Triple-A with the Kansas City Royals (Omaha of the American Association) and Texas Rangers, struggling in both spots, finishing with a .579 OPS in 111 games. He just happened to be back in Charleston during his time with the Rangers, after the affiliate switched teams again.
By the time Augustine rejoined the Pirates in 1981, their Triple-A affiliate was Portland of the Pacific Coast League. He had a solid first season, batting .282 in 92 games, with 45 runs scored, 28 extra-base hits, 27 RBIs and a .774 OPS. He took up a part-time role during his final two seasons of pro ball and batted just 166 times during those two season combined. He had a .231 average and a .701 OPS in 30 games in 1982 with Portland. The Pirates moved their Triple-A affiliate to Hawaii of the Pacific Coast League in 1983, and he finished his career with a .209 average and a .632 OPS in 26 games. He was released on June 17, 1983, which ended his career. When he was traded to the Astros, Augustine blamed the Pirates mindset of being a power hitting team for his lack of chances in 1974 and beyond, saying that it was frustrating to watch players pass by him in the system, while he thought he provided bench value as a solid defender who could play multiple positions.
Max West, 1B/OF for the 1948 Pirates. His began his pro career at 18 years old in 1935 in the Double-A Pacific Coast League with Sacramento, where he hit .266 with 21 extra-base hits in 105 games. West hit .307 with Mission in the PCL in 1936, with 79 runs, 22 doubles, 11 triples and 91 RBIs in 158 games. He remained with Mission in 1937, where he batted .330 with 84 runs, 61 extra-base hits, 95 RBIS in 151 games. That performance earned him a trip to the majors. West played for the Boston Braves (also called “Bees” at that time) from 1938-42, then missed three years due to WWII. As a rookie in 1938, he saw the majority of the team’s games in left field. He batted .234 in 123 games, with 47 runs scored, 31 extra-base hits and 63 RBIs, putting up a .668 OPS. West played all three outfield spots in 1939, though he saw more time in right field than anyone else on Boston. He hit .285 in 130 games, with 67 runs scored, 26 doubles, six triples, 19 homers, 82 RBIs and 51 walks, leading to a career best .861 OPS. That performance earned him mild MVP support, finishing 23rd in the voting. He hit .261 in 139 games during the 1940 season, with 72 runs scored, 27 doubles, five triples, seven homers, 72 RBIs, 65 walks and a .716 OPS. Most of his playing time was in center field that year, but he also saw some action at first base. He made the All-Star team for the only time in his career and he once again received mild MVP support with a 26th place finish. His All-Star appearance consisted of one at-bat and he hit a three-run homer off of Hall of Famer Red Ruffing, helping the National League to a 4-0 win.
West hit .277 in 138 games in 1941, with 63 runs scored, 28 doubles, 12 homers, 68 RBIs, 72 walks and a .798 OPS. In his final season before leaving for WWII, he hit .254 with 54 runs, 22 doubles, 16 homers, 56 RBIs, 68 walks and a .764 OPS in 134 games. He finished 27th in the MVP voting that season. He was out of action for the entire 1943-45 seasons. West was with Boston for one game after he returned in 1946, then moved on to Cincinnati to finish his season. He played 73 games in 1946, hitting .212 with 16 runs, 13 doubles, five homers, 18 RBIs, 32 walks and a .672 OPS. He then spent the 1947 season in the minors before joining the Pirates for his final big league season. Playing for San Diego of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in 1947, he hit .306 with 43 homers, 124 RBIs, 120 walks and a 1.037 OPS. West was acquired by the Pirates as a Rule 5 pick in November of 1947. In 87 games in Pittsburgh in 1948, he batted .178/.310/.370 with 19 runs, four doubles, eight homers and 21 RBIs, while seeing most of his time off of the bench. He made 22 starts at first base and six between both corner outfield spots. He was with the team until January 28, 1949, when the Pirates gave him his unconditional release. West spent the next six seasons in the PCL. Returning to San Diego in 1949, he hit .291 with 48 homers and 166 RBIs, while drawing 201 walks (that’s no misprint). The league played an extended schedule, but that’s still extremely impressive for 189 games. He finished the year with a 1.052 OPS. The next year he hit 30 doubles and 30 homers in 162 games, with 109 RBIs and 91 walks, leading to a .925 OPS.
West spent his final four seasons with Los Angeles, where he hit 35 homers in both 1951 and 1952, before taking a part-time role during his final two seasons. He batted .282 in 138 games in 1951, with 107 runs, 21 doubles, 110 RBIs, 95 walks and a .979 OPS. He had a .262 average in 149 games during the 1952 season, finishing with 76 runs, 21 doubles, 91 RBIs, 101 walks and a .911 OPS. A leg injury relegated him to bench duty for most of 1953. He hit .241/.406/.519 that year in 38 games. In his final season in 1954, West batted .260 in 89 games, with 12 homers, 37 RBIs and an .892 OPS. He was released at the end of the season and said that he would only sign for 1955 if he got a great offer, either as a player or a scout. When no offers came, he ran a sporting goods store he co-owned with Ralph Kiner in California. He is credited with hitting 307 homers during his pro career. In the majors over seven seasons, West hit .254 in 824 games, with 338 runs, 136 doubles, 77 homers, 380 RBIs and 353 walks.
Lee Fohl, catcher for the 1902 Pirates. He lasted one game in Pittsburgh, going 0-for-3 on August 29, 1902. The rest of his big league career consisted of four games with the 1903 Cincinnati Reds. He played 12 seasons in the minors and managed for 22 seasons total, including 11 years in the majors. He was a player/manager during his last six years in the minors. He had almost no pro experience before his first big league game, but the 25-year-old Fohl had plenty of baseball experience going into that day. His only minor league time came four years earlier for Warren of the Class-F Iron and Oil League, which was as far as you could get from the majors at that point. Before joining the Pirates, he was playing for a local amateur team called the Pittsburgh Junctions in 1902, where he was a teammate of Harvey Cushman, who was the starting pitcher during Fohl’s only game with the Pirates. The August 29th game was called a tryout by manager Fred Clarke, who already had the Pirates well on the way to their second National League title in a row at that point. While Fohl played well behind the plate, he was back with the Junctions days later. Cushman was given three more starts and he lost them all. After the season, it was announced that the Junctions battery received “flattering” offers to play for Des Moines of the Class-A Western League in 1903, which is where they both ended up playing. Fohl ended up hitting .296 in 103 games that year, which earned him his late-season look with the Reds, who paid $1,000 for his services. He was the backup in Cincinnati to Heinie Peitz, who was also born on November 28th and played for the Pirates (see below). Fohl started three games for the Reds and came off of the bench in another. All four games came during game one of doubleheaders. He went 5-for-14 (.357 average) with three runs, a double, triple and two RBIs.
Fohl was sent to play with the Detroit Tigers in early April of 1904, after the Reds signed another catcher to take his place, but he jumped his contract when he wasn’t getting paid as early as he thought the pay would start. He ended up playing semi-pro ball near Pittsburgh that year instead for a team called Homestead, which joined the Class-C Ohio-Pennsylvania League in 1905, bringing him back to the minors. He also played for Youngstown in that same league in 1905 (no stats available for either team), while seeing time with a third team that year, hitting .302 in 15 games for Binghamton of the Class-B New York State League. He was with Youngstown in 1906 and hit .285 in 131 games. Fohl must have liked the Ohio area, because that’s where he played from 1905 through part of the 1913 season, seeing time with Columbus of the Class-A American Association (1907-08), Lima of the Class-D Ohio-State League (1909), Akron of the Ohio-Pennsylvania League (1910-11), then stayed in Akron in the Class-B Central League in 1912, before playing back in Columbus in 1913 in the Class-B Interstate League. He finished his playing career in 1914 with Waterbury of the Class-B Eastern Association.
Fohl hit .277 in 71 games with Columbus in 1907, finishing with 33 runs and 16 extra-base hits. He struggled back there in 1908, hitting .221 with 21 runs and five extra-base hits in 61 games. The move to Lima was a drop three levels in play. Fohl hit .225 with 16 extra-base hits in 110 games during the 1909 season. His hitting improved with Akron, despite moving up a level in 1910. He batted .253 with 33 extra-base hits (27 doubles) in 128 games that season. He did even better in 1911, batting .317 in 126 games, with 57 runs, 36 doubles, 16 steals and 54 walks, leading to an .844 OPS. Fohl then had an even more impressive 1912 season at 35 years old, hitting .329 in 122 games, with 44 extra-base hits. The difference between those two seasons is that the team moved up a level of play during that 1912 season, making those stats even more impressive. Besides his time with Columbus in 1913 (no stats available), Fohl also played 72 games for Huntington of the Class-D Ohio State League, where he hit .271 with 11 extra-base hits. His final season with Waterbury shows a .321 average in 103 games, with 53 runs and 20 extra-base hits.
Fohl was a player-manager during his last six seasons in the minors, which led to a Major League managerial job over the next five seasons with the Cleveland Indians. He took over during the 1915 season and lost the job during the 1919 season. His best full season finish was second place. In 1921, he took the helm of the St Louis Browns and stayed there through late in 1923. He had a 226-183 record there and another second place finish. In 1924, he took over the cellar-dwelling Boston Red Sox and didn’t finish higher than seventh (out of eight teams) in any of his three seasons. That brought his career record down to a 719-792 mark by the time he was done.
Heinie Peitz, catcher for the 1905-06 Pirates. He had a 16-year career in the majors, spending two years with the Pirates, while also playing nine seasons with the Cincinnati Reds and five years for the St Louis Cardinals. Peitz’s pro career began in 1892 at 21 years old. He played one game for the Cardinals (then called the Browns) that season, after spending the year with the Montgomery Lambs of the Class-B Southern Association, where he hit .226 with 64 runs scored, 27 extra-base hits and 16 steals in 113 games. He wouldn’t play another minor league game until 15 years later. Peitz has one of the latest in the year big league debuts, playing his lone game in 1892 on October 15th. He remained with St Louis in 1893, where he batted .254 in 96 games, with 53 runs scored, 22 extra-base hits, 45 RBIs, a .698 OPS and a career high 54 walks. He hit .263 in 99 games in 1894, with 52 runs scored, 31 extra-base hits, 49 RBIs and a career high of 14 steals. His .748 OPS sounds like a good mark, especially for a 19th century catcher, but that was a huge year for offense in baseball and his OPS was actually 64 points below league average. The next year he improved to a .284 average in 90 games, with 44 runs scored, 14 doubles and a career best 12 triples. His 65 RBIs were also a career high. He improved to a .761 OPS, while the league average OPS dropped to that same .761 mark. In November of 1895, he was traded to the Reds along with pitcher Red Ehret (he played for the 1892-94 Pirates), for four players and cash. Peitz hit .299 in 1896, though his 68 games played were a low during his first 13 full seasons in the majors. His .817 OPS that year was a career best. He had 33 runs, 19 extra-base hits and 34 RBIs.
Peitz hit .293 in 77 games in 1897, with 35 runs, 19 extra-base hits, 44 RBIs and a .739 OPS. He led all catchers in fielding percentage for the only time in his career. The next year he played 105 games, hitting .273 with 49 runs, 21 extra-base hits, 43 RBIs and a .705 OPS. He batted .270 in 94 games in 1899, with 45 runs, 16 extra-base hits, 43 RBIs, a .710 OPS and a 46:11 BB/SO ratio. He led all catchers in putouts that season. During the 1900 season, Peitz hit .270 with 34 runs, 17 extra-base hits, 34 RBIs and a .648 OPS in 91 games. His OPS was the lowest of his first 11 full seasons in the majors. He bounced back a little in 1901, batting .305 in 83 games, with 24 runs, 19 extra-base hits, 24 RBIs and a .765 OPS. He followed that up by playing a career high of 112 games in 1902, while posting his best average (.315). He also set personal bests with 54 runs scored and 22 doubles, while adding 60 RBIs and a .775 OPS. He split that season between second base (48 starts) and catcher (46 starts). Peitz played 105 games in 1903, but saw a major dip in production, with a .649 OPS, and most of his work was behind the plate (77 starts). He had 45 runs, 18 extra-base hits and 42 RBIs. In his final season in Cincinnati, he batted .243 in 84 games, with 32 runs, 16 extra-base hits and 30 RBIs. He fell to a .598 OPS that season.
Peitz joined the Pirates on December 14, 1904, in a straight up trade with the Reds for catcher Eddie Phelps. In his first season in Pittsburgh, he hit .223/.290/.259 in 88 games, while throwing out 47% of runners attempting to steal. His .548 OPS that season was the lowest of his career. He had 18 runs, ten extra-base hits (all doubles) and 27 RBIs. He saw limited time in 1906, as newcomer George Gibson began to see regular time behind the plate. Peitz batted .240/.321/.304 in 40 games that year, with 13 runs and 20 RBIs. He was purchased from the Pirates on January 7, 1907 by Louisville of the Class-A American Association (highest level of the minors at the time), along with pitcher Doc Moskiman, who never got a chance to play for the Pirates. Peitz spent the next four seasons in Louisville. He hit .241 in 101 games in 1907, with 35 runs and ten extra-base hits. He had a .242 average in 78 games in 1908, with 17 runs, 15 extra-base hits and nine steals. He dropped to a .202 average in 1909, when he had 21 runs, eight doubles and three homers in 90 games. His final season with Lousiville also saw him play for Lancaster of the Class-D Ohio State League. He combined to hit .282 with six doubles and a triple in 83 games.
Peitz would end his big league career in 1913, playing three games for the Cardinals at 42 years old. He was a coach for the Cardinals at the time, getting called into duty twice off the bench and once as a starter. During his time in Pittsburgh, he failed to collect a triple or a homer, then he tripled for his only hit when he came back seven years later. His brother Joe Peitz was his teammate in the middle of 1894 and hit .423/.531/.731 in six games, yet never played in the majors again. Heinie Peitz was a .271 career hitter in the majors over 1,235 games. He had 532 runs scored, 190 doubles, 66 triples, 560 RBIs and 410 walks. During his two seasons in Pittsburgh, he hit .228 over 128 games. Peitz averaged exactly one home run per season in the majors, and his career high was three in 1894. His last home run came in 1904 against the great Christy Mathewson.