Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus we also have a trade of note.
On this date in 1946 the Pittsburgh Pirates traded catcher Al Lopez to the Cleveland Indians for outfielder Gene Woodling. Lopez had a Hall of Fame career as a manager but he was also a fine player for 19 seasons, including seven in Pittsburgh. At the time of the deal, he was already 38 years old, though the 1946 season was his best at the plate while with Pittsburgh, albeit in somewhat limited time. Woodling lasted just 22 games with the Pirates, then went on to play another 14 seasons in the majors. Lopez only played 61 big league games after the trade. While the Pirates got the better return, almost all of that value came after he left Pittsburgh. He was traded to the minors as part of a large package to acquire pitching prospect Bob Chesnes, which did not go well. Woodling was just 25 years old at the time, and he went on to collect mild MVP support in six seasons after leaving Pittsburgh. He also picked up five World Series rings during his time with the New York Yankees, batting .300+ in four of the five series. We posted an in depth article about Woodling’s time in Pittsburgh here.
Steve Baron, catcher for the 2019 Pirates. He was a first round draft pick in 2009 by the Seattle Mariners, taken 33rd overall at 18 years old out of high school. Baron was known for his defense, but his bat never came around in the minors. He debuted in the short-season Appalachian League, where he hit .179 with 12 runs, six doubles, two homers and 13 RBIs in 30 games with Pulaski. Baron started the 2010 season in Low-A with Clinton of the Midwest League, then went to short-season ball with Everett of the Northwest League later in the year. He combined to hit .222 with 28 runs, 15 doubles, four homers, 36 RBIs, a .568 OPS and 107 strikeouts in 98 games, with much better results at the lower level. The 2011 season was spent mostly with Clinton, though he saw brief time with High Desert of the High-A California League. He hit .196 with 20 runs, 14 doubles, four homers, 21 RBIs and a .581 OPS in 62 games between both stops. Baron spent the entire 2012 season with Clinton, where he hit .241 with 29 runs, 18 doubles, four homers, 30 RBIs and a .657 OPS in 64 games. The entire 2013 season was spent with High Desert, where he batted .208 with 31 runs, 28 extra-base hits, 47 RBIs and a .586 OPS in 86 games. That was a high-offense park and his OPS was dead last among 14 players on the team who played 30+ games that year. Baron split 2014 between High Desert and Jackson of the Double-A Southern League. He combined to hit .261 in 60 games, with 23 runs, 17 extra-base hits, 29 RBIs and a .679 OPS, while actually showing better results in Double-A.
Baron had a breakout season of sorts in 2015. He moved up to Triple-A Tacoma of the Pacific Coast League after posting a .671 OPS in 35 games with Jackson to start the season. While in Triple-A, he hit .277 in 53 games, with 27 runs, 12 doubles, three homers, 20 RBIs and a .708 OPS, which led to another promotion. He made his big league debut in September of 2015 with the Mariners, going 0-for-11 in four games. Baron played winter ball in the Dominican after the season, putting up a .649 OPS in 13 games, then ended up back in Double-A for almost all of 2016. Despite playing strong defense, while hitting .280 with a .735 OPS in 66 games for Jackson, he played just one game with Tacoma in the middle of the season. He remained in the Mariners’ system through the end of 2017 without getting another big league trial, spending most of that season in Tacoma (54 games), though he also played 16 games with Arkansas of the Double-A Texas League. He combined to hit .242 in 70 games, with 18 runs, seven doubles, three homers and 22 RBIs.
Baron then signed as a free agent with the St Louis Cardinals for 2018. He got called up in May and collected his first MLB base hit on May 19th, before being sent down after playing just two games. The rest of the season was spent in Triple-A, though he was limited to 41 games. He had a .213/.262/.250 slash line that year with Memphis of the Pacific Coast League. Baron signed with the Pirates as a minor league free agent in January of 2019, after he put up a .690 OPS in 11 winter games in the Dominican. He hit just .181/.264/.248 in 45 games with Indianapolis of the International League that year, but he did great work with the pitching staff. He was rewarded for his defensive play in Triple-A with a September call up. He went 2-for-10 in seven games with the Pirates, with his first double and first RBI. He spent the shortened 2020 season with the Cleveland Indians, though he didn’t get into any big league games. He was released late in the season and did not play in 2021. His final big league stats show him going 3-for-26 with no runs or walks and one double, resulting in a .269 OPS. Baron threw out 39% of runners attempting to steal during his minor league career, but he went 0-for-5 in throwing out runners in the majors.
Bo Belinsky, pitcher for the 1969 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Pirates in 1956, but didn’t play for the team until 13 years later. Belinsky gained instant fame by throwing a no-hitter as a rookie in 1962, then built on that by dating famous actresses and appearing in TV roles. His baseball career was considered a disappointment though. After a 7-2 start to his career, he went 21-49 over eight seasons. The Pirates signed him as an amateur in May of 1956 at 19 years old and he pitched poorly during his only season in their system. He actually quit mid-season, then got sold to the Baltimore Orioles. He was in the minors until 1962 before the Los Angeles Angels took him in the Rule 5 draft after their first season in existence. Belinsky had a 2-3 record in 11 games for Brunswick of the Class-D Georgia-Florida League in 1956. In his first year with the Orioles, he went 13-6, 3.00 in 195 innings, with 202 strikeouts for Pensacola of the Class-D Alabama-Florida League. He spent most of 1958 with Aberdeen of the Class-C Northern League, going 10-14, 2.24 in 181 innings, with 184 strikeouts. He also pitched briefly with Knoxville of the Class-A South Atlantic League, where he had an 0-2 record in seven appearances. Belinsky saw brief time with four different teams in 1959, playing in four different leagues, at three levels. He went 1-3 in nine games with Amarillo of the Double-A Texas League. He had a 1-0, 6.81 record in 37 innings with Stockton of the Class-C California League. He went 0-2 in four games with Aberdeen of the Class-C Northern League. He was also 4-4, 3.00, with 57 strikeouts in 54 innings in a return to Pensacola.
Belinsky’s 1960 season was limited to a 4.50 ERA over 32 innings for Vancouver of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. He missed some time due to serving in the Army Reserves, as well as missing more time with an injury he suffered after he returned. Belinsky pitched for Little Rock of the Double-A Southern Association in 1961, where he went 9-10, 3.72 in 174 innings, with 182 strikeouts. That performance led to his Rule 5 selection by the Angels. They had room in their rotation to give him a starting role, and he took full advantage of that opportunity. Belinsky was an immediate success in 1962, starting off with a 5-0, 1.72 record, including his May 5th no-hitter in his fourth career start. Over the rest of the season, he went 5-11, 4.00 in 150.2 innings, with 110 strikeouts and 102 walks. His second season saw him go 2-9. 5.75 in 76.2 innings, and he even spent some time back in Triple-A with Hawaii of the Pacific Coast League, where he had a 2.50 ERA in 54 innings. He bounced back in 1964 to go 9-8, 2.86, with 91 strikeouts in 135.1 innings over 22 starts (and one relief outing). He moved around a lot after that season, going to the Philadelphia Phillies, Houston Astros, St Louis Cardinals, then back to the Angels, before being purchased by the Pirates on July 30, 1969.
The Angels traded Belinsky to the Phillies in December of 1964 for two players. He went 4-9, 4.84 in 109.2 innings over 14 starts and 16 relief appearances for the 1965 Phillies. He spent most of the 1966 season in Triple-A with San Diego of the Pacific Coast League, where he went 2-4, 4.83 in 54 innings. He made just nine appearances (one start) for the Phillies that season, posting a 2.93 ERA in 15.1 innings. Belinsky was taken by the Astros in the November 1966 Rule 5 draft. He went 3-9, 4.68 in 115.1 innings over 18 starts and nine relief appearances during the 1967 season. The entire 1968 season was spent back with Hawaii, where he went 9-14, 2.97, with 181 strikeouts in 176 innings. The Cardinals selected him in the Rule 5 draft in December of 1968, but he was sold back to the Angels before the 1969 season started. Despite changing teams twice, he remained in Hawaii for more than half of the 1969 season. He went 12-5, 2.82 in 147 innings over 23 starts, before the Pirates purchased his contract and brought him to the majors. In three starts and five relief appearances for the 1969 Pirates, he went 0-3, 4.58 in 17.2 innings. He pitched fine in his relief appearances, allowing two runs over nine innings, but he lost all three starts and lasted a total of 8.2 innings in those outings. In February of 1970, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Dennis Ribant. Belinsky lasted eight innings with the 1970 Reds before finishing his baseball career later that season in the minors. He allowed six runs in his brief time with the Reds, then had a 7-8, 4.11 record and 119 strikeouts in 116 innings, splitting his time between Indianapolis of the Triple-A American Association, and Asheville of the Double-A Southern League. In his big league career, he went 28-51, 4.10 in 665.1 innings over 102 starts and 44 relief appearances. Belinsky had 14 complete games, four shutouts, two saves and 476 strikeouts.
Don Cardwell, pitcher for the Pirates from 1963 to 1966. He pitched for some poor teams during his 14-year career, which led to a 102-138 lifetime record, despite a career total of 16.9 WAR. His pro career began at 18 years old in 1954, playing in the Philadelphia Phillies system with Pulaski of the short-season Class-D Appalachian League, where he dominated, going 12-3, 1.91 in 132 innings, with 146 strikeouts. He was promoted three levels in 1955, playing for Schenectady of the Class-A Eastern League, where he went 10-9, 3.77 in 160 innings, with 152 strikeouts. Cardwell spent 1956 with Miami of the Triple-A International League. He went 15-7, 2.85 in 205 innings, though his strikeout rate dropped, with 139 punch outs on the season. He would spent the entire 1957 season with the Phillies, going 4-8, 4.91, with 92 strikeouts in 128.1 innings. He made 19 starts and 11 relief appearances, finishing with five complete games, a shutout and a save. He split the 1958 season between the Phillies and Miami. He had a 12-5, 2.34 record over 150 minor league innings, before returning to the majors in July. He then went 3-6, 4.51 in 107.2 innings for the Phillies, making 14 starts and two relief appearances. Cardwell went 9-10, 4.06 in 153 innings in 1959, with 22 starts and three relief appearances. The Phillies traded him to the Chicago Cubs in mid-May of 1960 and he debuted with his new team two days later with a no-hitter at Wrigley Field. He would end up going 9-16, 4.38 in 205.1 innings that season, with a 4.37 ERA after joining Chicago. He made 30 starts and six relief appearances, finishing with six complete games, one shutout (the no-hitter) and he had 150 strikeouts, which was his second highest season total.
Cardwell had his best season outside of Pittsburgh in 1961, going 15-14, 3.82 in a career high 259.1 innings, with 38 starts, 13 complete games, three shutouts and a career high 156 strikeouts. The Cubs finished 64-90 that season, despite four future Hall of Famers as regulars in the lineup. Cardwell’s 5.8 WAR was the best on the team that season. In 1962, he went 7-16, 4.92 in 195.2 innings, with 29 starts and 12 relief appearances. The Pirates acquired Cardwell from the St Louis Cardinals in November of 1962 as the main return for Dick Groat, but he actually never played for St Louis. He was traded by the Cubs in a six-player deal to the Cardinals on October 17, 1962. The Pirates-Cardinals trade then happened 33 days later. Cardwell had a strong first season in Pittsburgh, though it didn’t show in the record, going 13-15, 3.07 in 213.2 innings. He completed seven of 32 starts, with two shutouts. He had shoulder issues during Spring Training in 1964 and got a late start to the season, followed by a brief shutdown. When he returned, the Pirates sent him to Triple-A to get his arm back in condition. That minor league stay ended up being 16 starts before he rejoined the Pirates in September for four starts over the final three weeks of the season. He went 5-8, 2.64 in 109 innings with Columbus of the International League. Cardwell had a 1-2, 2.79 record in 19.1 innings with the Pirates.
Cardwell was healthy for the entire 1965 season. He went 13-10, 3.18 in 240.1 innings, with 34 starts, 12 complete games and two shutouts. He switched to a relief role for part of 1966, going 6-6, 4.60 in 101.2 innings over 14 starts and 18 relief appearances. He had one complete game that season. The Pirates traded him to the New York Mets for Gary Kolb and Dennis Ribant in December of 1966. In his first season in New York, Cardwell went 5-9, 3.57 in 118.1 innings over 16 starts and ten relief appearances. He had three complete games and all of them were shutouts. He had a 7-13, 2.95 record in 180 innings over 25 starts and four relief games in 1968. The New York Mets won the World Series in 1969, and he had an 8-10, 3.01 record in 152.1 innings over 30 games (21 starts). Teammate Gary Gentry had a 13-12 record with a 3.43 ERA that season, so there was some bad luck involved in Cardwell’s losing record. He pitched just one inning in the postseason that year, throwing shutout ball in the World Series. The 1970 season was his last, and he spent part of the year with the Atlanta Braves, who purchased him from the Mets in July. He combined to go 2-3, 7.69 in 48 innings over 32 games (three starts), with poor results with both teams. He finished with a 102-138, 3.92 record in 301 starts and 109 relief outings, throwing a total of 2,123 innings. He tossed 72 complete games and had 17 shutouts. While he wasn’t much of a hitter overall, finishing with a .135 average in 698 at-bats, he managed to hit 15 homers.
Hal Smith, catcher for the 1960-61 Pirates. Smith came to the Pirates in a trade with the Kansas City A’s prior to the World Series winning 1960 season. He had a decent bat, but defensively he had his problems. In the 1960 World Series, he went 3-for-8, including the three-run homer he hit in the eighth inning of game seven, helping to set up Bill Mazeroski’s famous home run.
Smith was signed by the New York Yankees in 1949 at 18 years old. He didn’t debut in the majors until April of 1955, five months after he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles in a 17-player deal (yes, 17 players in one trade). There are limited stats available for Smith’s first season of pro ball, which he split between two Class-C teams. He played just 17 games total that year, which included a .219 average in ten games for Ventura of the California League. He also spent brief time with Twin Falls of the Pioneer League. He played for Newark of the Ohio-Indiana League in 1950, where he hit .363 with 45 doubles, four triples, seven homers and 108 RBIs in 121 games. The 1951 season was spent with Quincy of the Class-B Three-I League, where he batted .308 with 48 runs, 32 extra-base hits, 59 RBIs and a .795 OPS in 109 games. He moved up to Beaumont of the Double-A Texas League in 1952, where he .259 with 26 extra-base hits in 129 games. Smith stayed at Double-A in 1953, playing for Birmingham of the Southern Association. He hit .311 in 127 games, with 49 runs scored, 29 extra-base hits, 61 RBIs and a .760 OPS. He played for Columbus of the Triple-A American Association in 1954 and hit .350 in 110 games, with 51 runs scored, 39 extra-base hits, 50 RBIs and an .870 OPS.
After the 17-player trade to the Baltimore Orioles, Smith went right to the majors as a full-time player. In his rookie season in 1955, he hit .271 in 135 games, with 41 runs scored, 31 extra-base hits, 52 RBIs and a .691 OPS. Smith played 1 1/2 seasons in Baltimore, then got traded to the Kansas City A’s in August of 1956. He was hitting .262 with a .677 OPS in 77 games at the time of the deal, then hit .275 with 11 extra-base hits and 24 RBIs in 37 games with Kansas City to finish the season. Combined he had a .267 average in 114 games, with 31 runs, 23 doubles, five homers, 42 RBIs and a .683 OPS. Smith put up strong offensive numbers in 1957, which helped combat major defensive issues. He led the league in errors, passed balls and stolen bases allowed that year. He also batted .303 in 107 games, with 26 doubles, 13 homers and 41 RBIs. His .811 OPS that year was the second best of his career. In 1958, he hit .273 with 32 runs, 26 extra-base hits, 46 RBIs and a .717 OPS in 99 games. He had a solid season in 1959, hitting .288 in 108 games, with 36 runs, 12 doubles, five homers, 31 RBIs and a .747 OPS. He spent three full years with the A’s, hitting .287 with 25 homers and 142 RBIs in 351 games. In December of 1959, the Pirates traded Hank Foiles, Dick Hall and Ken Gables to the A’s for Smith.
As a platoon catcher in 1960 with Smoky Burgess, Smith hit .295 with 37 runs, 18 doubles, 11 homers and 45 RBIs in 77 games, before his World Series heroics. His .859 OPS that season was his career best. His stats really dropped off in 1961, hitting .223 with 12 runs, ten doubles, three homers, 26 RBIs and a .588 OPS in 67 games. He was lost to the Houston Colt .45s in the expansion draft shortly after the season ended. With the Pirates, Smith hit .264 with 14 homers and 71 RBIs in 144 games. He played three more seasons in the majors, finishing up with the 1964 Cincinnati Reds. He batted .235 with 32 runs, 14 doubles, 12 homers and 35 RBIs in 109 games with Houston in 1962. He took a smaller role in 1963, hitting .241/.290/.276 in 31 games. He spent more than half of the year with Oklahoma City of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he had a .901 OPS in 81 games. He was released by Houston following the season and signed with the Reds, who ended up releasing him in late July of 1964 after he batted .121/.256/.136 in 32 games. He played 11 more games that season with San Diego of the Pacific Coast League before his playing career ended. In his ten-year career Smith hit .267 with 269 runs scored, 148 doubles, 58 homers and 323 RBIs in 879 games. There have been three players named Hal Smith in MLB history, and all three played for the Pirates. One was a catcher in 1965, the other a pitcher in 1932-35. Smith’s nephew is Tim Flannery, who played 11 years in the majors, all with the San Diego Padres.
Vinnie Smith, catcher for the 1941 and 1946 Pirates. He was one of many players from that era who had his career cut short due to service during WWII. Smith also missed significant time when he returned due to injuries. His big league career consisted of his two seasons with the Pirates. He played 16 games total in Pittsburgh, hitting .259 with five RBIs. Smith went on to become an MLB umpire after his playing days ended in 1953, which led to him being part of a famous game in Pirates history. He was the home plate umpire during Harvey Haddix’s 12-inning perfect game.
Smith debuted in pro ball in 1938, playing two seasons for Greenville of the Class-D Coastal Plain League. He batted .238 with 39 runs, 17 extra-base hits and 36 RBIs in 87 games during his pro debut. He batted .246 in 113 games in 1939 (only available stats). He moved up three levels to Memphis of the Class-A Southern Association in 1940, where he spent two seasons. He had a .244 average and ten extra-base hits in 67 games in 1940. The 1941 season was his first big year at the plate. He hit .282 in 85 games, while collecting 17 extra-base hits (14 doubles). The Pirates acquired him on September 6, 1941 for cash and a player to be named later, which turned out to be seldom-used catcher Joe Schultz. Smith joined the Pirates on September 9th and debuted the following day. He ended up hitting .303 with three runs, a double and five RBIs in nine games, all as a starter. Six of his starts came during doubleheaders. In January of 1942, he joined the Navy and remained there through mid-December of 1945, potentially costing him four full seasons at the Major League level. Some players in the service during that time entertained the troops through playing baseball. According to Smith, he caught approximately 500 games during his time in the service. Bob Feller called him the best catcher serving in the military during WWII.
Despite that praise from the legendary pitcher, Smith lasted just seven more games in the majors upon his return to the Pirates. On April 27, 1946, he suffered a knee injury in a game against the Cincinnati Reds and had to leave early. He ended up having an operation, then required a second operation, and he was still receiving treatment on the knee well into the off-season. In January of 1947, he had his third operation on the knee. He didn’t officially join the Pirates again until April 15, 1947, but he was immediately placed on the 60-day disabled list and never played that year. Smith went to Spring Training in 1948 trying to win the #1 catching spot, but on April 12th the Pirates placed him on waivers. The Boston Braves offered him a shot, but he ended up finishing his career in the minors, playing for Richmond of the Class-B Piedmont League (1948-50) and Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League (1951-53), playing his last games at 37 years old.
Smith was able to catch during those final six seasons, though it took him some time to get back into the swing of things after the surgeries/missed time. Despite being four levels from the majors in 1948, he hit just .198 with two extra-base hits in 57 games for Richmond. He batted .249 with 32 runs, 14 doubles, four homers, 39 RBIs and a .639 OPS during the 1949 season. The four homers don’t sound significant, but he’s credited with ten homers total in his pro career. After hitting .278 with 19 extra-base hits in 104 games for Richmond in 1950, he was able to return to a high level of play in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. The league was classified as an open league in 1952-53, though it was basically Triple-A at the time. Smith was a platoon player during that time in Sacramento, playing 205 games total, hitting .246 with one homer and 45 RBIs. His best season was 1951 when he hit .269 in 84 games, with 12 runs, seven extra-base hits, 18 RBIs and a .635 OPS. He batted .226 over 90 games in 1952, finishing with 13 runs, 12 doubles, 22 RBIs and a .524 OPS. Smith’s final season was limited to 47 plate appearances over 31 games. He had a .268 average and a .616 OPS during that time. After retiring, he umpired a total of 1,243 regular season games, two All-Star games, and seven games in the 1964 World Series. He once ejected Roberto Clemente for a call at first base, and his final ejection was Danny Murtaugh.
Johnny Gee, pitcher for the Pirates in 1939, 1941 and 1943-44. At 6’9″, he was the tallest player in Major League history until Randy Johnson came along. Gee debuted in pro ball in 1937 with Syracuse of the Double-A International League (highest level of the minors at the time) at 21 years old. He went 4-3, 2.90 in 62 innings that year, with seven starts and nine relief outings. He had 33 walks and 30 strikeouts that season. In 1938 with Syracuse, he had a 17-11, 2.71 record in 226 innings, with 126 strikeouts and 83 walks. He made 30 starts that year, throwing 18 complete games and three shutouts. Gee spent three seasons in the minors with Syracuse before the Pirates purchased his contract on July 31st, with the understanding that he would join them on September 10th, or later if Syracuse made the playoffs. Reports said that the Pirates gave up cash (reportedly $75,000) and three players (some said four players). He finished out the minor league year by going 20-10, 3.11, with 133 strikeouts in 240 innings. He had 18 complete games and five shutouts. Gee joined the Pirates on September 13th, and he debuted four days later. He played three games in the majors that first year, going 1-2, 4.12 in 19.2 innings, including his debut of eight innings and seven unearned runs. He missed the entire 1940 season with arm pain and barely pitched in 1941 and 1942, getting into a combined seven minor league and three big league games. He was suffering from a dead arm during Spring Training in 1940 and was optioned back to Syracuse. He worked out with the team, but never pitched and he was sent home. On July 15th, the Pirates optioned Gee to Albany of the Class-A Eastern League, though he refused to go, saying that his arm wasn’t better yet, so he ended up never pitching that season.
Gee was back in 1941, though he pitched a total of 13.1 innings between the Pirates and the minors. He reported that his arm felt better in January of 1941, but that didn’t last long. The Pirates had another issue with him refusing an optional assignment. This time it was with him being sent to Dallas of the Class-A Texas League in July of 1941. After refusing to go there in 1940, Gee agreed to go to Albany instead. He gave up ten runs (five earned) in 7.1 innings with the 1941 Pirates, and he also made one start and one relief appearance for Portland of the Double-A Pacific Coast League (his Albany stats are unavailable). All of his big league appearances in 1941 came in September. He was optioned to Toronto of the Double-A International League before Spring Training in 1942. He stayed there a short time before he had to be moved to a different club. For the third year in a row, Gee refused a minor league assignment (this time Atlanta of the Class-A Southern League) and he decided to retire instead, though he was back by early 1943. He went 2-2 in 34 innings over five games with Toronto in 1942.
Gee missed the first two months of the 1943 season, but ended up pitching a career high 15 games for the Pirates, going 4-4, 4.28 in 82 innings. He made ten starts that season and he threw two complete games. He pitched poorly for the Pirates in May of 1944, posting a 7.15 ERA in four relief appearances, before they sold him on June 12th to the New York Giants. He finished out 1944 with four appearances for the Giants in which he allowed one unearned run in 4.2 innings. Most of the 1945 season was spent on the voluntarily retired list. He pitched just two games, allowing three runs in three innings. Gee made six starts and seven relief appearances for the 1946 Giants. He went 2-4, 3.99 in 47.1 innings His pro career was basically over at that point, with a brief return to pro ball in his future. He pitched six games in 1951 with Auburn of the Class-C Border League, five years after his final big league game. His total record with the Pirates was 5-8, 4.64 in 120.1 innings over 15 starts and ten relief appearances. After his pro career ended, he played some semi-pro ball. He also played pro basketball for one season in the National Basketball League.
Tony Piet, second baseman for the 1931-33 Pirates. He began his pro career in 1928 at 21 years old, playing 96 games for Corsicana of the Class-D Lone Star League and 12 games for Waco of the Class-A Texas League. He combined to hit .305 with 21 doubles, one triple and 16 homers that season. Piet played for three different teams in 1929, including Waco again, as well as Sherman of the Lone Star League. A majority of the year was spent with Monroe of the Class-D Cotton States League. He combined to bat .310 with 16 doubles, one triple and 13 homers in 126 games, with his best results coming outside of Monroe. Piet hit .319 with 29 doubles, eight triples and 26 homers in 150 games for Waco in 1930. The Pirates purchased his contract on September 12, 1930. Three days earlier, Piet was purchased by Fort Worth of the Texas League for $5,000. They received $7,500 from the Pirates, making a quick $2,500 on their pricey purchase. He reported to the Pirates during Spring Training of 1931. After failing to make the team, he was sent to Wichita of the Western League on April 9th (five days before the season opener), where he hit .336 with 36 doubles, four triples and 15 homers in 105 games. He was recalled by the Pirates on August 13th, and hit .299 with 22 runs, 16 extra-base hits, 24 RBIs and ten stolen bases in 44 games.
Piet led the National League with 154 games played in 1932. He hit .282, with 66 runs scored, 40 extra-base hits, 85 RBIs, 19 steals and a .733 OPS during the 1932 season. He then batted .323 in 107 games in 1933, with 45 runs scored, 27 extra-base hits and 42 RBIs. His .784 OPS that season was his best in Pittsburgh, though he had just two at-bats over the final five weeks of the season because he was having defensive issues at second base. After being benched, it was no surprise what happened next. On November 17, 1933, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds along with outfielder Adam Comorosky, for pitcher Red Lucas and outfielder Wally Roettger. In 305 games for the Pirates, Piet hit .298 with 133 runs, 83 extra-base hits, 151 RBIs and 41 stolen bases. After leaving Pittsburgh, his numbers fell off dramatically, finishing with a career .277 average five years later. Piet split his time between second base and third base after leaving Pittsburgh. He batted .259 in 106 games with the 1934 Reds, finishing with 58 runs, 26 extra-base hits, 38 RBIs and a .644 OPS, showing a drop of 140 points in his OPS from the previous season. He played just six games with the 1935 Reds, then spent time with Toronto of the Double-A International League (highest level of the minors at the time), before being traded to the Chicago White Sox, where he remained through the end of the 1937 season. Piet went 1-for-5 with a double and two RBIs in his time with the 1935 Reds. He had a .310 average in 17 games with Toronto.
Piet hit .298/.375/.421 in 77 games after joining the 1935 White Sox. He had 47 runs, 25 extra-base hits, 27 RBIs and a .794 OPS. He hit .273 in 109 games during the 1936 season, finishing with 69 runs scored, 24 extra-base hits, 42 RBIs, 15 steals and 66 walks. His .787 OPS that year was his career high, as were his runs and walks totals. He saw a major drop in production in 1937, posting a .235 average, 34 runs, 20 extra-base hits, 38 RBIs and a .636 OPS in 100 games. In December of 1937, he was part of a six-player trade between Chicago and the Detroit Tigers, with three players going each way. He was a bench piece in his only season with Detroit, hitting .213/.351/.288 in 97 plate appearances over 41 games. Piet was traded to Seattle of the Pacific Coast League after the season, but he didn’t play after 1938. He finished as a .277 hitter in 744 big league games, with 352 runs scored, 132 doubles, 30 triples, 23 homers, 312 RBIs and 80 stolen bases over eight seasons. According to newspapers from the day, his real name was Anthony Francis Pietruszka.
Bobby Schang, catcher for the 1914-15 Pirates. He wasn’t much of a hitter during his time in Pittsburgh, batting .194 with five RBIs over 67 games. Schang spent most of his 16-year pro career in the minors. He had a long stretch between major appearances that is worth noting. The Pirates sold him to the New York Giants near the end of the 1915 season. After appearing in a few games for the Giants that season, he went to the minors and didn’t return to the big leagues until a three-game stint with the 1927 Cardinals. He played one more season in the minors before retiring. Schang began his career in 1912, playing for Erie of the Class-B Central League, where he hit .260 with 28 extra-base hits in 83 games. He split the 1913 season between Erie of the Class-B Interstate League and St Joseph of the Class-A Western League. Only the St Joseph stats are available, and they show a .195 average and six extra-base hits in 48 games. Schang was playing for St Joseph in 1914 before debuting with the Pirates on September 23rd. He had a .283 average in 124 games, with 60 runs, 30 extra-base hits, 25 steals and 61 walks. He was purchased by the Pirates on July 24th from St Joseph. He was allowed to stay with his team until their season ended.
A big headline from a local Pittsburgh paper read “Pirates Get George Schang”. His name was Robert Martin Schang, so it’s a bit strange to see that headline. On September 13th, the papers said he was on his way to Pittsburgh, only to find out the next day that St Joe’s refused to give him up until their season ended because they were battling for the title. He finally showed up on the 21st and got into a game two days later. Schang batted .229/.229/.314 with a double and triple in 11 games for the Pirates over the final two weeks of the season. He was the starter for much of May during the 1915 season, then saw more of a platoon role through mid-August, when he dropped down to a .184 average. Exactly one week after his final Pirates game, Schang was purchased by the New York Giants. Exactly one week after that, he played his first game for the Giants. He hit .184/.271/.280 in 56 games with the Pirates. He went 3-for-21 in 12 games to finish out the season in New York. He joined Indianapolis of the Double-A American Association in 1916, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. He was remarkably consistent there at the plate, though you see why he didn’t get a return trip back to the majors for quite some time. Schang hit between .225 and .229 in three seasons with Indianapolis. That high mark came in 1916, when he hit .229 in 122 games, with 17 extra-base hits. He had a .225 average and nine extra-base hits in 86 games in 1917, then hit .227 with 18 runs, four extra-base hits and 11 RBIs in the war-shortened 1918 season.
Schang headed to the west coast in 1919, where he played in the Double-A Pacific Coast League until 1925. He hit .215 with six extra-base hits in 53 games during the 1919 season, splitting his time between Seattle and Sacramento. He played for Sacramento for all of 1920-24, along with a partial season in 1925. He hit .220 with 28 extra-base hits in 134 games in 1920. He followed that up with a .297 average and six extra-base hits in 57 games in 1921. He had a .272 average, 19 doubles, nine triples and two homers in 129 games during the 1922 season. Schang hit .348 with 22 extra-base hits in 115 games in 1923. His online stats show him playing 27 games for Frederick of the Class-D Blue Ridge League that season, but that was actually his younger brother Will Schang, who doesn’t even have his own Baseball-Reference page due to the mix-up. Bobby Schang had a .302 average and 23 extra-base hits in 94 games for Sacramento in 1924. He split the 1925 season between Sacramento and Vernon, also of the Pacific Coast League. He combined to hit .245 with six doubles in 62 games.
At 39 years old in 1926, Schang played for Houston of the Class-A Texas League, where he hit .212 with ten extra-base hits in 69 games. The St Louis Cardinals, who had an affiliation with Houston, purchased Schang shortly after the 1927 season started. One of the local papers made the prediction that he was brought back so they could use him as a trade piece. That turned out to be true five weeks later when he was one of three players traded to Syracuse of the International League for catcher John Schulte, who was 30 years old at the time. Schang played just three games before the trade, going 1-for-5 at the plate. He played briefly with Syracuse (seven games), but a majority of the 1927 season was spent with Danville of the Class-B Three-I League, where he hit .250 with 11 extra-base hits in 68 games. He played just one more season and half of the year was spent as a player-manager for Class-D Laurel of the Cotton States League, while the rest was spent with Dayton of the Class-B Central League. He hit .216 in 114 games that year, with 44 runs, 25 extra-base hits and a .632 OPS, putting up similar stats in each spot. His younger brother Wally Schang (who was also older than Will) was a catcher for 19 seasons in the majors.