Four former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus two significant trades of interest.
On this date in 1976, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded outfielder Richie Zisk and pitcher Silvio Martinez to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for pitchers Goose Gossage and Terry Forster. Martinez was a minor leaguer at the time while the other three were just one year away from free agency. None of the four players were with their new team by 1978. Despite that fact, the two clubs got big production from the big names in the deal. Zisk hit .290 with 30 homers and 101 RBIs for the White Sox. He was an All-Star and finished 14th in the MVP voting. Gossage pitched 133 innings in relief, posting a 1.62 ERA with 26 saves and 11 wins. In the modern metric called Win Probability Added, his one season in Pittsburgh rates as the best pitching season in team history. We took a closer look at Gossage’s season here. Forster had a 4.43 in 87.1 innings over 33 games (six starts) for the Pirates, while Martinez pitched just ten games with the Sox in 1977, then was traded to the St Louis Cardinals in the off-season. He looked like a rising star by 1979 when he won 15 games as a 23-year-old, but he won just seven more Major League games in his career. The deal basically worked out as a draw for the two teams.
On this date in 1965, the Pirates traded longtime pitcher Bob Friend to the New York Yankees for relief pitcher Pete Mikkelsen and cash. Friend was 35 years old at the time of the trade, and had an 8-12, 3.24 record in 222 innings in 1965. In 15 seasons in Pittsburgh, he won 191 games, which is the fourth highest total in team history. He is the team’s all-time leader in strikeouts, innings pitched and games started, though he also leads in losses, hits, walks and home runs allowed. Mikkelsen was 26 years old at the time of the trade, and he had a 3.42 ERA with 13 saves in 91 games for the Yankees. Friend struggled with the Yankees, going 1-4, 4.84 in 44.2 innings over eight starts and four relief appearances, before they sold him to the New York Mets in mid-June. He finished the year with the Mets and was released in October, ending his Major League career. Mikkelsen had a strong first season for the Pirates and he was used a lot, going 9-8, 3.07 with 14 saves in 126 relief innings. His 71 appearances that year were a team record until surpassed by Goose Goosage and Kent Tekulve in 1977. Mikkelsen didn’t pitch as well in 1967, posting a 4.31 ERA in 56.1 innings, before he was put on waivers in early August, where he was taken by the Chicago Cubs.
Pedro Florimon, infielder for the 2015-16 Pirates. He was signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic by the Baltimore Orioles in 2004 at 17 years old. Florimon debuted in the majors with the Orioles in September of 2011, so it took some time for him to work his way through the minors. He debuted in pro ball in short-season ball in 2006, playing 33 games for Bluefield of the Appalachian League and 26 games for Aberdeen of the New York-Penn League. He combined to hit .293 in 59 games, with 36 runs, 13 extra-base hits, 41 walks and a .772 OPS. He moved up to Low-A Delmarva of the South Atlantic League in 2007, for the first of two full seasons with that club. He hit .197 that year in 111 games, with 50 runs, 14 doubles, four homers, 34 RBIs, 16 steals and a .529 OPS. During the 2008 season in Delmarva, he batted .223 in 81 games, with 28 runs, 18 doubles, 19 RBIs, 13 steals and a .595 OPS. Florimon spent most of 2009 with Frederick of the High-A Carolina League, where he batted .267 in 115 games, with 76 runs, 32 doubles, nine homers, 68 RBIs, 26 steals and a .764 OPS. He got a late promotion to Double-A Bowie of the Eastern League and played seven more games, putting up a .221 OPS in 24 plate appearances. He split the 2010 season between Frederick and Bowie, posting a .785 OPS at the lower level, while seeing that number drop to .483 in Double-A. He also had a five-game rehab stint back in Aberdeen. Combined between all three stops, he hit .247 in 104 games, with 49 runs, 22 extra-base hits, 45 RBIs and a .663 OPS.
Florimon spent the entire minor league season in 2011 with Bowie, where he hit .267 in 133 games, with 53 runs scored, 39 extra-base hits, 60 RBIs, 51 walks and a .741 OPS. He had 15 steals, but he was also caught 12 times. He got a late boost to the majors in September, where he went 1-for-8 with a double, walk and two RBIs in four games. Over the 2011-12 off-season, Florimon was lost on waivers to the Minnesota Twins. He also had an impressive winter in the Dominican, putting up a .324 average and an .859 OPS in 29 games. The majority of his big league time came in Minnesota, where he played a total of 210 games. Florimon split the 2012 season between Double-A New Britain of the Eastern League (30 games), Triple-A Rochester of the International League (83 games) and the majors. He had a combined .259 average in 113 games in the minors, with 49 runs, 20 doubles, five homers, 35 RBIs and a .670 OPS. He hit .219/.272/.307 in 43 games for the Twins that season, collecting 16 runs, eight extra-base hits and ten RBIs. Florimon played 38 games of winter ball in the Dominican during the 2012-13 off-season, hitting .260 with a .629 OPS. He then spent the entire 2013 season in the majors, playing 134 games, in which he batted .221 with 44 runs scored, 17 doubles, nine homers, 44 RBIs, 15 steals and a .611 OPS. Most of the 2014 season was spent back in Rochester, where he hit .257 in 85 games, with 38 runs, 25 extra-base hits, 29 RBIs and a .717 OPS. He hit .092/.179/.132 with one RBI in 86 plate appearances over 33 games for the Twins. Despite the rough stats, he went 6-for-6 in stolen bases.
The Washington Nationals picked Florimon up off of waivers in September of 2014, but the Pirates got him tow months later off of waivers from the Nationals, so he never actually played there. He mostly played in the minors while with the Pirates, getting into 171 games for Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League. He played 64 games for Indianapolis in 2015, hitting .245 in 196 at-bats, with 21 runs, 17 extra-base hits and 18 RBIs. He went 2-for-23 at the plate in 24 games with the Pirates that season. He did a little better in the majors in 2016, going 5-for-24 in 18 games. He had a .255 average in 107 games with Indianapolis that year, with 36 runs, 21 extra-base hits and 36 RBIs. He played 42 games in two seasons with Pittsburgh and posted a .149 average. During that time he wore four different uniform numbers (17, 18, 23 and 51). He was granted free agency after the 2016 season and played 65 games over two years with the Philadelphia Phillies. During his brief time with the 2017 Phillies (15 games), he put up a .348 average and an .866 OPS. He played 90 games with Lehigh Valley of the International League that season and had a .265 average and a .756 OPS. He spent most of 2018 with the Phillies, with his minor league time being limited to 15 games of rehab work spread over five affiliates of the Phillies. He had just 76 plate appearances in his 50 big league games that year, finishing with a .225/.276/.423 slash line.
Florimon played eight seasons in the majors (2011-18), where he hit .211 in 321 games, with 96 runs scored, 35 doubles, 12 homers, 73 RBIs and 26 steals. He spent the 2019 season with Triple-A Gwinnett of the International League, playing in the Atlanta Braves system. He batted .265 in 120 games, with 62 runs, 31 extra-base hits, 68 RBIs, 60 walks and a .768 OPS. He then played winter ball in the Dominican, hitting just .182 with a .542 OPS in 25 games. He didn’t sign anywhere during the shortened 2020 season, though he played 12 games of winter ball. Florimon then inked a minor league deal with the San Diego Padres in 2021. He spent the season in Triple-A with El Paso, where he hit .228 in 102 games, with 52 runs, 30 extra-base hits and 43 RBIs. He put up an .886 OPS in 17 winter ball games during the 2021-22 off-season, then played 14 games in Mexico during the 2022 summer, hitting .292 with a .746 OPS. He’s currently playing winter ball in the Dominican now. He played every position except catcher and first base in his big league career, though he only played shortstop and second base with the Pirates, with most of that time at shortstop.
Bob Priddy, pitcher for the Pirates in 1962 and 1964. He was a Pittsburgh, PA. native who signed with the Pirates at 19 years old in 1959. It took him four seasons to make the majors, debuting with the Pirates on September 20, 1962. Priddy played nine years in the majors, seeing time with six different clubs. He debuted in pro ball in 1959 with the San Angelo/Roswell club of the Class-D Sophomore League, where he went 3-11, 7.01 in 131 innings, with 144 walks and 118 strikeouts. He improved only slightly the next year while making the jump to the Class-B Three-I League with Burlington. He went 9-12, 6.21 in 155 innings, with 156 walks and an impressive 184 strikeouts. Most of 1961 was spent back in Burlington, with a brief stop of five relief appearances for Asheville of the Class-A South Atlantic League. He cut down his walks in Burlington and posted a 2.76 ERA, but in 21.2 innings with Asheville, he had a 9.97 ERA and 23 walks. Despite those struggles in A-Ball, Priddy jumped to Triple-A in 1962 and had a 10-6, 3.13 record, with 93 strikeouts in 92 innings and 56 appearances for Columbus of the International League. That led to his first cup of coffee in the majors.
Priddy made just two appearances after joining the 1962 Pirates in mid-September, allowing one run in three innings of work. He struggled with Columbus in 1963, going 5-2, 5.06, with 44 walks and 61 strikeouts in 64 innings over 40 appearances, and didn’t see any big league time that year. He split the 1964 season fairly evenly between Columbus and the majors, though he was a starter in the minors and pitched in relief for the Pirates. Priddy made 19 appearances for the Pirates between May 15th and July 13th. He was called up two days before his first appearance and sent back down to the minors on July 15th, two days after his last appearance. He went 6-4, 3.28, with 85 strikeouts in 85 innings for Columbus. Priddy was not called up in September when the rosters expanded. He went 1-2, 3.93 in 34.1 innings for the 1964 Pirates. He had a 3.86 ERA in 37.1 innings over 21 appearances in two seasons with the Pirates, before being traded to the San Francisco Giants for All-Star catcher Del Crandall on February 11, 1965. The Pirates also included minor league outfielder Bob Burda in the deal.
Priddy spent most of the 1965 season back with Columbus, but he began and ended the year in the majors with the Giants. He was strong in the minors that year, going 8-4, 2.76 in 111 innings. He had a 1.74 ERA in 10.1 innings over eight appearances with the Giants, which helped secure him his first full season in the majors. He went 6-3, 3.96 in 91 innings over 38 appearances (three starts) for the 1966 Giants. Priddy was traded to the Washington Senators in December of 1966. He went 3-7, 3.44 in 1967, with 110 innings pitched over eight starts and 38 relief outings. The Senators dealt him to the Chicago White Sox over the off-season in a six-player deal. His best season came in 1968 when he had a 3.63 ERA in a career high 114 innings (18 starts, 17 relief appearances), though that came with a 3-11 record for an eighth place White Sox squad that lost 95 games. Priddy played for three different teams in 1969, starting with the White Sox, who dealt him to the California Angels in May, who then traded him to the Atlanta Braves in September. The latter deal also included Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm going to the Braves. Priddy saw some minor league time in 1969 as well. His big league time amounted to a 4.72 ERA in 34.1 innings over 19 appearances, which was mostly accumulated with the Angels. He would see regular relief work with the Braves over his final two seasons in the majors. He went 5-5, 5.42 with eight saves in 73 innings over 41 appearances in 1970. Priddy had a 4-9, 4.22 record in 64 innings over 40 games in 1971. The Braves dropped him from the big league roster after the season and he went unclaimed in the Rule 5 draft, which made him property of Triple-A Richmond of the International League. He decided to retire to run his own business instead of reporting to the minors. He had a 24-38, 4.00 record in 536 innings over nine seasons in the majors, with 29 starts and 18 saves in 249 appearances. He turns 83 years old today.
Stan Gray, first baseman for the 1912 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball in 1909 at 20 years old, playing for Shreveport of the Class-C Texas League and hit .186 with no extra-base hits in 15 games. I was able to track him down in El Paso in 1910, playing for a semi-pro team. He worked mainly as a pitcher in 1911, going 14-10, while throwing 226.2 innings for San Antonio of the Texas League (switched to Class-B by then). He also had a .315 average that year in 184 at-bats, so he seemed like a potential two-way player. He was a Rule 5 pick by the Pirates in September of 1911, who was assigned to play for Springfield of the Class-B Central League in 1912. The interesting part about his late-season 1912 trial as a first baseman with the Pirates is that he was a .230 hitter in the minors that season, while pitching 192 innings, finishing with an 11-11 record. There is no ERA available, but he’s credited with allowing 4.41 runs per nine innings. Despite the fact that a majority of his work came on the mound, he didn’t get a chance to pitch in the majors. He played just six games in the majors, debuting in mid-September of 1912 at 23 years old. He went 5-for-20 with a triple at the plate and handled all 39 chances in the field without an error. He scored four runs, drove in a pair, and he posted a .600 OPS. He was with the Pirates for two weeks before he got his chance to play, which came after first baseman Dots Miller suffered a hand injury. Prior to starting four straight games (September 28 – October 1), Gray’s only playing time was two pinch-hitting appearances.
Gray’s pro career didn’t last long after his time with the Pirates either. He went to Spring Training in 1913 as a pitcher and he got an early start to help his chances of winning a spot, but he developed a sore arm late in the spring and pitched poorly. On April 6th, it was announced that he would be shipped to Montreal of the Class-A Eastern League, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. When he left the team on April 9th, he assured the local scribes that he would be back with the Pirates by Spring Training of 1914. He played back in San Antonio in 1913 after developing a sore arm that caused Montreal to part ways with him. He was released by San Antonio in mid-July. He batted .246 with seven doubles and two triples in 43 games. After that, his only other known records say that he finished his career in 1915, hitting .280 with two doubles in six games with El Paso in the Class-D Rio Grande Association. El Paso said just a few days before he was released that he would remain with the team indefinitely, but days later it was said that “his legs have gone back on him and his days in fast company were over”. He was supposed to play for Dayton of the Class-B Central League in 1914, but he spent his time with a semi-pro team from Fort Bayard, NM instead. An early 1915 article said that he was playing for Terre Haute of the Central League in 1915, but he was with El Paso by early May. He got the nickname “Dolly”, which was part of an odd early baseball ritual of giving players with the same last name the same nickname. Dolly Gray was a Major League pitcher from 1909 until 1911.
Frank Shugart, shortstop for the 1891-93 Pirates. His career in pro ball stretched from 1888 when he was 21 years old, until 1908. He was from Luthersburg, PA., the only Major League player born in that town. He debuted with Elmira of the Central League in 1888 (no stats available), then stayed in town as the team played in the New York State League in 1889. That year he hit .295 with 55 runs scored, 15 extra-base hits and 40 steals in 52 games. He began 1890 with Burlington of the Central Interstate League, where he hit .295 in 83 games, with 80 runs scored, 45 extra-base hits and 41 steals. Shugart debuted in the majors in the Player’s League in 1890, where he batted .189/.232/.330, with eight runs, ten extra-base hits and 15 RBIs in 29 games with the Chicago Pirates. He began 1891 with Minneapolis of the Western Association, before joining Pittsburgh in July. He hit .336 in 69 games with Minneapolis, putting up 77 runs, 30 extra-base hits and 40 steals. His team was said to have a $4,000 price tag for his release at the start of July. The local papers were calling him the finest shortstop ever developed in the league. The two teams finally settled for $5,000 on July 7th according to reports, though a few days later it was said that they “only” paid $2,800, and the initial price was inflated to fool the public. Shugart was acquired after Pittsburgh owner J. Palmer O’Neill went to see him play first-hand. He joined the Pirates on July 10th and hit .275 with 57 runs, 30 extra-base hits, 33 RBIs and 21 steals in 75 games.
Shugart played 137 games (134 at shortstop) for the 1892 Pirates, batting .267 with 94 runs, 19 doubles, 14 triples, 62 RBIs, 28 steals and a .681 OPS. After his strong 1892 season, he lasted 52 games with the 1893 Pirates before he was traded to the St Louis Browns for veteran shortstop Jack Glasscock. Shugart was hitting .262 with a .670 OPS at the time. He batted .268 with 188 runs scored and 127 RBIs in 264 games for the Pirates. To finish out the 1893 season, he hit .280 with 41 runs scored and 28 RBIs in 59 games for St Louis. In 1894, he hit .292 in 133 games, with 103 runs scored, 19 doubles, 18 triples, seven homers, 72 RBIs and a .785 OPS. Those are solid numbers, but 1894 was a huge year for offense around baseball due to new rules for pitchers that greatly helped the batters, so it was actually an average season overall. Shugart played for the Louisville Colonels in 1895, where he hit .264 in 113 games, with 61 runs, 31 extra-base hits, 70 RBIs and a .689 OPS. The entire 1896 season and part of 1897 was spent with St Paul of the Class-A Western League, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. There are no 1896 stats available from that league. He hit .314 in 88 games with St Paul in 1897, with 82 runs, 41 extra-base hits and 31 steals. He finished that year with the Philadelphia Phillies and hit .252/.287/.417 with five homers and 25 RBIs in 40 games.
Shugart returned to St Paul, where he played the 1898-99 seasons. He hit .254 in 139 games in 1898, with 89 runs, 39 extra-base hits and 30 steals. The league stats from 1899 are unavailable. He joined the Chicago White Sox of the American League in 1900, though the league was considered to be a Class-A minor league for that one year. He hit .284 in 98 games, with 54 runs, 27 extra-base hits and 16 steals. The American League was reclassified as a Major League in 1901, and Shugart stayed with Chicago, where he batted .251 in 107 games, with 62 runs scored, 23 extra-base hits, 47 RBIs and a .646 OPS. That ended up being his final big league time. He played for San Francisco of the California League in 1902, where he hit .235 in 112 games, then returned to the Western League for the 1903-06 seasons, which he spent with five different teams. Stats are limited from this time. He batted .239 in 120 games in 1903, split between Peoria and Omaha. Shugart hit .262 in 58 games for Des Moines in 1904. He had a .292 average in 117 games with Des Moines in 1905. He’s credited with a .313 average in 71 games in 1906, which were split between Lincoln and Pueblo. He played semi-pro ball in a strong league in Chicago in 1907. He finished his playing career at age 41 in 1908 by playing for Rockford of the Class-D Wisconsin-Illinois League, where he posted a .173 average as a player-manager. In his eight-year big league career, he hit .267 in 745 games, with 483 runs scored, 110 doubles, 79 triples, 22 homers, 384 RBIs and 131 stolen bases.