Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date and one of them was involved in one of the two big trades made on December 13th.
On this date in 1996, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals hooked up for a six-player trade that involved four Jeff’s and all six players first name started with the letter J. The Pirates sent shortstop Jay Bell and third baseman Jeff King to the Royals in exchange for third baseman Joe Randa and pitchers Jeff Granger, Jeff Martin and Jeff Wallace. The Pirates also paid $2.2M of Bell’s $4.8M salary. One year after the trade, only Wallace was still with the Pirates. King had two good years with the Royals, combining for 52 homers and 205 RBIs between the 1997-98 seasons, but he retired abruptly after just 21 games in the 1999 season, citing lost passion and a recurring back problem as the reason. Bell played one year with the Royals before reaching free agency. He hit .291 with 21 homers and 92 RBIs. Randa had a nice season for the Pirates, batting .302 with 43 extra-base hits and 60 RBIs in 126 games. On November 18, 1997, he was lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the expansion draft. Wallace pitched three seasons in Pittsburgh, posting a 4.67 ERA in 90 appearances and 86.2 innings. Martin never made the majors, while Granger gave up ten runs over five innings with the 1997 Pirates, then never pitched in the majors again. If you compare WAR, the Royals got 11.4 from their two players, while the Pirates got 3.5 WAR from their four. Part of that comes from the Royals signing King, who was set to become a free agent after the 1997 season.
On this date in 2001, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded starting pitcher Todd Ritchie and minor leaguer Lee Evans to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for pitchers Josh Fogg, Kip Wells and Sean Lowe. The White Sox got one very poor season out of Ritchie (5-15, 6.06 in 133.2 innings over 23 starts and three relief outings), and Evans didn’t make the majors. The Pirates cleaned up on the deal, with Fogg lasting four seasons, Wells pitching five, and Lowe canceling out Ritchie with a rough 2002 season (5.35 ERA in 69 innings) before he was released. While neither pitched great for more than a short stint at a time, Fogg and Well combined to make 247 starts for the Pirates. Their win-loss records show how tough those stats are for judging pitchers. Fogg went 39-42 with a 4.79 ERA. Wells comparatively had a much better ERA (4.20), but he had a 36-53 record. The Pirates got 10.2 WAR out of this deal, while Ritchie’s one season was worth -1.7 WAR.
Dale Berra, infielder for the Pirates from 1977 to 1984. He is the son of Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra. The younger Berra was a first round draft pick of the Pirates in 1975 out of Montclair HS in New Jersey, selected 20th overall. He debuted in pro ball with Niagara Falls of the short-season New York-Penn League, where he hit .257 with 36 runs, six doubles, three homers, 49 RBIs, nine steals and a .642 OPS in 67 games. He moved up to Charleston of the Class-A Western Carolinas League in 1976, where he hit .298 in 139 games, with 78 runs scored, 28 doubles, 16 homers, 89 RBIs and an .806 OPS. Berra skipped to Triple-A in 1977, playing for Columbus of the International League. He hit .290 in 125 games, with 68 runs, 18 doubles, seven triples, 18 homers, 54 RBIs, 12 steals and an .843 OPS. He earned a late season promotion to the Pirates in 1977 at 20 years old and hit .175/.195/.200 in 17 games, with no runs and three RBIs. He bounced between the majors and minors over the next two seasons, playing 110 games in the majors and 155 in Triple-A. He hit .207/.285/.356 with 16 runs, two doubles, six homers and 14 RBIs in 56 games for the 1978 Pirates, seeing almost all of his playing time at third base. That year he had a .280 average and an .844 OPS in 99 games for Columbus. Berra played 44 games for the 1979 World Series champs, but he didn’t see any postseason action. He hit .211/.272/.325 with 11 runs, five doubles, three homers and 15 RBIs, while splitting his playing time evenly between shortstop and third base, playing 22 games at each spot. The Pirates new Triple-A affiliate that year was in Portland of the Pacific Coast League, where he hit .324 with an .878 OPS in 56 games.
Berra finally spent the entire season in the majors in 1980, splitting his time between third base and shortstop. In 93 games that year, he hit .220 with 21 runs scored, 16 extra-base hits, 31 RBIs and a .612 OPS. He got a chance to play more often that season when Tim Foli was injured in May/June. He got time in at second base as well as the other spots in 1981, playing at least 18 games at each position. He hit .241 in 81 games during that strike-shortened season, finishing with 21 runs, 12 doubles, 27 RBIs, a .621 OPS and a career high 11 stolen bases. Berra became the team’s regular shortstop starting in 1982, and continuing through the 1984 season. That first year he set career highs in nearly every category, hitting .263 with 63 runs, 25 doubles, ten homers, 61 RBIs and a.692 OPS in 156 games (150 starts). He played a career high 161 games (160 starts) in 1983, hitting .251 with 51 runs scored, 25 doubles, ten homers, 52 RBIs and a career high 61 walks, which was nearly double what he accumulated in any other season. His .684 OPS was just eight points below his career high. Berra played all but 29 of the team’s innings that season at shortstop.
Berra’s average dropped to .222 in 136 games during the 1984 season, and his .591 OPS was the lowest of his career for any season in which he played 20+ games. He had 31 runs, 16 doubles, nine homers and 52 RBIs. Following the 1984 season, the Pirates traded him to the New York Yankees in a five-player deal that brought Tim Foli back to Pittsburgh. That deal ended up going sour when the minor leaguer in the deal (Jay Buhner) turned into an All-Star slugger seven years later in Seattle. Berra hit .230 in New York over two seasons, playing just 90 games total. His time in 1985 was limited in the second half of the season due to the ugly drug trials that were going on in baseball at the time. He had a .597 OPS that year in 48 games. He was a bench player in 1986, until being released in late July after hitting .231 with two homers, 13 RBIs and a .646 OPS in 42 games. A week after being released, he signed a minor league deal with the Houston Astros. His dad was a bench coach in the majors for the Astros during the 1985-87 seasons. Dale finished up the 1986 season by hitting .244/.279/.317 in 22 games with Tuscon of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League.
Berra finished his big league career with the 1987 Astros, where he hit .178/.296/.244 in 19 games. He spent a majority of that season back in Tuscon, where he hit .270 in 116 games, with 60 runs, 19 doubles, nine homers and 59 RBIs. His pro career ended in 1988 in Triple-A with the Baltimore Orioles, where he hit just .181 with a .506 OPS in 69 games with Rochester of the International League. In 744 games with the Pirates, he hit .238 with 215 runs, 94 doubles, 46 homers and 255 RBIs. He made exactly 30 errors in each of his three full seasons at shortstop in Pittsburgh, though modern defensive metrics credits him with a very impressive 5.0 dWAR over that stretch. In his 11-year big league career, Berra hit .236 in 853 games, with 236 runs scored, 109 doubles, 49 homers and 278 RBIs.
Josh Fogg, pitcher for the 2002-05 Pirates. He was a third round draft pick of the Chicago White Sox in 1998, and it took him just three years to make the majors. He pitched at three levels in 1998, starting in rookie ball in the Arizona League for four no-hit innings, then spending most of his time in Low-A Hickory of the South Atlantic League, before making one relief appearance in High-A with Winston-Salem of the Carolina League. He combined to go 2-4, 1.94, with 36 strikeouts in 46.1 innings over eight starts and three relief outings. Fogg split the 1999 season between 17 starts at Winston-Salem, and ten starts for Birmingham of the Double-A Southern League. He had vastly different results, with a 10-5, 2.96 record in High-A and a 5.89 ERA in 55 innings with Birmingham. He managed to strike out 149 batters in 158.1 innings that season, but he was never a strikeout pitcher in the majors. He spent the entire 2000 season with Birmingham, going 11-7, 2.57, with 136 strikeouts in 192.1 innings over 27 starts. Prior to his big league debut in 2001, Fogg went 4-7, 4.79, with 89 strikeouts in 114.2 innings for Charlotte of the Triple-A International League. He made 16 starts and 24 relief appearances.
Fogg had just 13.1 innings of big league time prior to joining the Pirates. In 11 relief appearances with Chicago in September/October 2001, he posted a 2.03 ERA and 17 strikeouts. He came to the Pirates on his 25th birthday in a five-player trade that included Todd Ritchie going to the White Sox and Kip Wells coming back to Pittsburgh. The Pirates immediately put Fogg in their rotation and he stayed there for four years. His first year with the Pirates was his best season. He had a 12-12, 4.35 record and set career highs with 33 starts and 194.1 innings. He had 113 strikeouts that year, the only time he reached the century mark in a season. He had a 10-9 record in 2003, despite a 5.26 ERA in 142 innings over 26 starts. That win/loss really defied the odds that year, as the Pirates were 12 games under the .500 mark, and the league had a 4.28 ERA. He followed that up with an 11-10, 4.64 record in 2004 in 178.1 innings over 32 starts. Fogg went 6-11, 5.05 in 2005 when he made 28 starts and six relief appearances, throwing a total of 169.1 innings. He had a 39-42, 4.72 record in 684 innings over 119 starts and six relief appearances during his time in Pittsburgh.
Fogg was granted free agency after the 2005 season and went to the Colorado Rockies, where he continued his crazy ability to pick up wins without the ERA to back them up. He went 11-9, 5.49 in 172 innings in 2006, for a team that finished ten games under the .500 mark. He then had a 10-9, 4.94 record in 165.2 innings in 2007, though that year the Rockies won 90 games. He pitched poorly for the Cincinnati Reds as a free agent signing in 2008, going 2-7, 7.58 in 78.1 innings over 14 starts and eight relief appearances. A back injury cost him all of June, and a right groin strain suffered while running the bases, ended his season in early September. He then finished his career back with the Rockies in 2009 as a reliever, posting a 3.74 ERA in 45.1 innings on 24 appearances (one start). He was used as a starter that year with Triple-A Colorado Springs of the Pacific Coast League, where he went 3-1, 5.80 in 40.1 innings over eight starts. Fogg finished up 62-69, 5.03 over 1,159 big league innings, with 194 starts and 49 relief appearances. He had two complete games and he threw his only shutout during his first season in Colorado. He finished his pro career with three poor starts for the Philadelphia Phillies Double-A team (Reading of the Eastern League) in 2010, giving up 16 runs in 10.1 innings. That 2010 season started with the New York Mets, but they released him during the middle of Spring Training. The Phillies signed him days later, though they kept him in Extended Spring Training until June 1st.
Jeff Robinson, pitcher for the Pirates from 1987-89. He is/was often confused with Jeff Robinson, another right-handed pitcher for the 1992 Pirates. This Jeff Robinson was originally drafted in the 14th round out of college by the Detroit Tigers in 1982. He decided not to sign, which paid off with a second round pick in 1983 by the San Francisco Giants. He was in the majors as a full-time starter just ten months after being drafted. He debuted with Fresno of the Class-A California League in 1983, where he went 7-6, 2.28 in 94.2 innings, with seven complete games, two shutouts and 78 strikeouts. Robinson made the big league Opening Day roster in 1984. He went 7-15, 4.56 in 33 starts (one relief appearance) and 171.2 innings as a rookie. He set a career high with 102 strikeouts that year. Despite that quick ascent to the majors, he spent almost all of 1985 in Triple-A with Phoenix of the Pacific Coast League, where he made 29 starts and had a 5.14 ERA in 161 innings. He came back to the majors in September as a reliever for eight games, posting a 5.11 ERA in 12.1 innings. Robinson did well with the Giants as a full-time reliever in 1986, going 6-3, 3.36, with 90 strikeouts in 64 appearances (one start) and 104.2 innings, while picking up eight saves. The Pirates got Robinson from the Giants in exchange for pitcher Rick Reuschel on August 21, 1987. When he was picked up by the Pirates, Robinson had a 2.79 ERA, ten saves and 82 strikeouts in 96.2 innings over 63 appearances for the Giants that year. He was 19-26, 3.81 in 385 innings over 169 games (34 starts) with the Giants. After the trade, he pitched out of the pen for the Pirates and went 2-1, 3.04 in 26.1 innings over 18 games to finish out the 1987 season. He picked up a total of 14 saves in that season, and his 101 strikeouts were one short of his career high.
Robinson was used often in 1988, pitching 75 games in relief that year. He threw 124.2 innings, going 11-5, 3.03 with nine saves. The Pirates used him out of the pen again to start the 1989 season, but by late June they moved him to a starting role, where he went 4-7 in 18 starts. He finished the year with a 7-13, 4.58 record and four saves in 141.1 innings over 50 games. He was traded to the New York Yankees after the 1989 season in exchange for catcher Don Slaught. After leaving the Pirates, he pitched for the 1990 Yankees, the 1991 California Angels and the 1992 Chicago Cubs. Robinson went 3-6, 3.45 in 88.2 innings over 54 games with the Yankees (four starts). With the Angels, he went 0-3, 5.37 in 57 innings over 39 games. In his year with the Cubs, he had a 4-3, 3.00 record in 78 innings over 49 appearances (five starts). He also made ten appearances at the beginning of that season with Iowa of the Triple-A American Association. He finished out his pro career in 1993 with the Houston Astros in Triple-A, posting a 5.06 ERA in 21.1 innings for Tuscon of the Pacific Coast League. In his nine-year big league career, Robinson went 46-57, 3.79 in 62 starts and 392 relief appearances. He threw a total of 901.1 innings, finishing with 691 strikeouts. He had 39 saves, two complete games and one shutout, which came against the Pirates midway through his rookie season.
Dave Hamilton, pitcher for the 1978 Pirates. He was drafted in the fifth round out of high school in 1966 by the Kansas City A’s. He debuted at 18 years old with Lewiston of the short-season Northwest League, where he went 6-6, 4.10 in 90 innings, with 103 strikeouts. He played for Burlington of the Class-A Midwest League in 1967, where he posted a 3-5, 3.30 record and 62 strikeouts in 60 innings over 15 starts. Hamilton split the 1968 season evenly between two Class-A clubs, Peninsula the Carolina League and Leesburg of the Florida State League. He had an 0-7, 2.57 record in 63 innings in the FSL, while his Carolina League stop resulted in a 4.43 ERA in 67 innings. Between both stops, he had 96 strikeouts in 130 innings. The 1969 season was spent with Lodi of the Class-A California League (22 starts) and Birmingham of the Double-A Southern League (five starts). He went 10-10, 3.66, with 155 strikeouts in 160 innings, putting up much better results at the higher level. Hamilton pitched at Birmingham in 1970, going 6-4, 2.42, with 86 strikeouts in 106 innings over 14 starts and seven relief outings. From there he moved up to Iowa of the Triple-A American Association in 1971. He went 12-4, 3.79, with 88 strikeouts in 121 innings that year, making 17 starts and 13 relief appearances. He was 5-1, 2.29 in eight starts with Iowa in 1972, collecting 60 strikeouts in 59 innings, before debuting in the majors on May 9th.
Hamilton began his big league career as a part-time starter for the Oakland A’s in 1972, going 6-6, 2.93 in 101.1 innings over 14 starts and 11 relief appearances. The A’s won the World Series that year, though he allowed four runs over 1.1 innings in his postseason work. Half of his 1973 season was spent as a starter with Tuscon of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he went 8-5, 3.77 in 105 innings. He went 6-4, 4.39 in 69.2 innings over 11 starts and five relief outings for the 1973 A’s, who also won the World Series. He didn’t pitch in the postseason that year. Hamilton had a 7-4, 3.15 record in 1974, pitching 117 innings that were spread over 18 starts and 11 relief appearances. The A’s won their third straight World Series title, but he was once again missing from the postseason play. He moved on to the Chicago White Sox in a trade during the middle of the 1975 season, where he saw mostly relief work. He had a 4.04 ERA with the A’s in 35.2 innings before the deal, then put up a 2.84 ERA in 69.2 innings over 30 appearances. He finished that season with a career high 71 strikeouts. Hamilton made just one start total between the 1976-77 seasons, while appearing in 100 games. He went 6-6, 3.59 in 90.1 innings over 45 games, with ten saves during the 1976 season. He was 4-5, 3.61, with nine saves in 67.1 innings over 55 games in 1977. He moved on to the St Louis Cardinals in November of 1977, as one of two players to be named later in a deal that originally occurred on August 31, 1977. Hamilton made just 13 appearances with the Cardinals and had a 6.43 ERA in 14 innings.
Hamilton wasn’t with the Pirates long. He was purchased from the Cardinals in late May of 1978, and he was a free agent at the end of the season. He pitched 16 games out of the bullpen for Pittsburgh, going 0-2, 3.42 in 26.1 innings. The Pirates used him just four times after July 22nd, all in one-sided losses. His first appearance with the Pirates came just hours after he arrived at the stadium following his purchase. He ended up taking the loss in the 14th inning on a bases loaded walk-off walk. Hamilton finished his nine-year career back in Oakland in 1980. He actually signed free agent deals with the A’s prior to the 1979, 1980 and 1981 seasons, though his final year consisted of just four relief appearances in Triple-A. He went 3-4, 3.70 in 82.2 innings in 1979, with seven starts and 33 relief outings. In 1980, he made 21 appearances and had an 11.40 ERA. Part of that season was spent in Triple-A with Ogden of the Pacific Coast League, where he had a 3.48 ERA in 31 innings. Hamilton gave up seven runs over nine innings with Tacoma of the Pacific Coast League in 1981. He had a 39-41, 3.85 record in 301 big league games (57 as a starter), with 31 saves and 704 innings pitched.
Joe Christopher, outfielder for the Pirates from 1959 to 1961. He was signed by the Pirates as a 19-year-old prior to the 1955 season. He was a shortstop at first, but that lasted a short time. At the time, he became the first MLB player who was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands, though modern history has changed that to just first in the National League. With the Negro Leagues reclassified as Major Leagues in December of 2020, Alphoso Gerard, who debuted in 1945, became the first player from the U.S. Virgin Islands to play in the majors. Christopher hit .329 in 140 games that first year in the minors, playing for three different teams, including two Class-A clubs. He played 28 games each with Lincoln of the Western League and Williamsport of the Eastern League, while spending the rest of the year with Phoenix of the Class-C Arizona-Mexico League. He had 145 runs scored, 41 extra-base hits and 104 walks. He worked his way through the system, hitting for a high average at every level, before making his debut for Pittsburgh in late May of 1959. In 1956, he hit .283 with 67 runs scored, 18 extra-base hits, 54 walks and a .713 OPS in 120 games for Williamsport. Christopher played for Mexico City in the Mexican League in 1957, while also seeing brief time with Columbus of the Triple-A International League, and a return trip to Lincoln. He had a .799 OPS in 38 games with Lincoln, a .748 OPS in 64 games with Mexico City, and he went 1-for-10 at the plate in nine games with Columbus. The 1958 season was spent with Salt Lake City of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he batted .327 in 132 games, with 71 runs, 33 extra-base hits, 58 RBIs, 57 walks and an .882 OPS. He played winter ball in Puerto Rico that 1958-59 off-season and hit .318 in 217 at-bats.
Christopher played most of 1959 in Columbus, where he hit .301 with 69 runs, 31 extra-base hits, 26 steals and a .776 OPS in 107 games. He spent approximately seven weeks with the Pirates that season and played 15 games, while going 0-12 at the plate with one walk, resulting in an .077 OPS. His big league debut came on May 26th during the famous Harvey Haddix game, in which Haddix threw 12 perfect innings. Christopher was used sparingly by the Pirates during the 1960 season, playing 50 games, while getting just 61 plate appearances. Interestingly, he started ten games and the Pirates won all of them. Christopher didn’t pick up his first base hit until June 30th, one year, one month and four days after his big league debut. A decent portion of his plate time came in one game when he went 5-for-7 with a walk on September 27th, in a game that lasted 16 innings. In the 1960 World Series, he pinch-ran twice and was used as a pinch-hitter in another game, scoring two runs and getting hit by a pitch. He was used more often during the 1961 season, getting into 76 games, with 44 of those coming as a starter. He hit .263 with 25 runs, ten extra-base hits, 14 RBIs and a .660 OPS. He was selected by the New York Mets in the expansion draft following the 1961 season. He spent four seasons in New York, including the best year of his career there in 1964.
Christopher played 119 games for the 1962 Mets team that finished 40-120. He hit .244 with 36 runs scored, 18 extra-base hits, 32 RBIs and a .699 OPS. He spent part of that season in Triple-A, posting a 1.053 OPS in 24 games with Syracuse of the International League. He played 85 games in Triple-A Buffalo of the International League in 1963, and 64 games in the majors, where he hit .221 with 19 runs, five doubles, one homer and eight RBIs. His minor league time saw him hit .288, with a .951 OPS. Christopher was back in the majors full-time in 1964, and he hit .300 that year, with 78 runs scored, 26 doubles, eight triples, 16 homers, 76 RBIs and an .826 OPS in 154 games. The next season he saw a 176-point drop in his OPS (down to .650), batting .249 in 148 games, with 38 runs, 26 extra-base hits and 40 RBIs. He then moved on to the Boston Red Sox in a November 1965 trade, where he played his final 12 big league games during the 1966 season. The Red Sox traded him to the Detroit Tigers on June 14, 1966, but he already played his final big league game five days earlier. He went 1-for-13 with two walks during that last season. He finished the season with 43 games total at Triple-A, split between Syracuse and Richmond of the International League. Christopher played in the minors through the end of the 1968 season. He played briefly for Columbus in 1967, which was still the Triple-A affiliate of the Pirates at the time. He had a .462 OPS in 26 games during his return to Columbus. The rest of the year was spent with Tulsa of the Pacific Coast League, where he had a .788 OPS in 68 games. His final season was spent with Reading of the Double-A Eastern League, where he hit .258 in 102 games, with 44 runs, 20 extra-base hits and 43 RBIs. Christopher hit .244 with 52 runs, nine doubles, one homer and 17 RBIs in 141 games for the Pirates. In his eight-year big league career, he hit .260 in 638 games, with 224 runs scored, 68 doubles, 17 triples, 29 homers, 173 RBIs and 29 steals. He turns 87 years old today.
Bill Windle, first baseman for the 1928-29 Pirates. His big league career lasted one calendar year, making his debut on September 27, 1928 and playing his last game exactly one year later. In between, he only played one other game. Windle got two at-bats during his career, hitting a double in his first plate appearance and striking out in his last. His only hit came off Lou Koupal, who was a member of the 1925 World Champion Pirates team. Koupal was making his first start since leaving the Pirates after the 1926 season. Windle’s first game came as a defensive replacement at first base in the sixth inning, when the Pirates went down 6-0 early in the game. He ended up scoring their only run in the 8-1 loss. He pinch-hit and played first base late in a one-sided win on September 20, 1929, then played first base late without getting an at-bat in his final big league game.
Windle’s pro career began in 1927, and he played minor league ball until 1937, the last year as a player-manager. The Pirates purchased his contract from Salisbury of the Class-C Piedmont League on September 10, 1927. He was going to join them a few days later, but an operation for appendicitis ended his season early. He batted .309 with 48 doubles, 12 triples and nine homers in 143 games that season. The Pirates optioned him to Columbia of the Class-B South Atlantic League on January 28, 1928. Before joining the Pirates in late 1928, he hit .306 with 29 extra-base hits in 126 games for Columbia. He rejoined the Pirates on September 17th, ten days before his MLB debut. He went to Spring Training with the Pirates in 1929, but he was among the last players cut on April 6th. During the 1929 season, he spent the year with Omaha of the Class-A Western League, where he hit .342 with 29 doubles, eight triples and 21 homers in 151 games. He rejoined the Pirates on September 17th, though the original plans called for him to return home after the Omaha season instead. Windle asked the Pirates for permission to join the club and they agreed. On November 4, 1929, he was sold to the Newark Bears of the Double-A International League (highest level of the minors at the time), ending his time with the Pirates. Despite that strong season, and a terrific 1930 season for Newark, putting up a .331 average and 53 extra-base hits in 152 games, he never got another big league shot.
Windle played for Newark in 1931 and hit .269 with 28 extra-base hits in 117 games. The next season saw him play a total of 68 games split between three teams, including two clubs in the International League (Rochester and Toronto) and part of the time was spent in Class-B ball with York of the New York-Penn League. He noted in an article late in life that an injury from an awkward slide that season basically ended his effectiveness as a baseball player. Windle spent the 1933 season with Oklahoma City of the Class-A Texas League and hit .278 with 28 extra-base hits in 119 games. After not playing in 1934, he played Class-C ball for his final three seasons of pro ball, with some semi-pro ball mixed in during the 1935 season. He had a .310 average and 17 extra-base hits in 60 games for Shreveport/Gladewater in 1935. Windle then hit .288 in 135 games for Gladewater of the East Texas League in 1936. He had 95 runs, 45 extra-base hits (34 doubles), 56 RBIs, 31 steals, 76 walks and a .778 OPS. He stayed in the East Texas League in 1937, hitting .247 in 90 games with Texarkana, adding 50 runs, 22 extra-base hits, 36 RBIs, 23 steals and a .701 OPS. He retired after that season to run a tourist motel in Corpus Christi for the rest of his days, before passing away in 1981.
William “Buckshot” May, pitcher for the Pirates on May 9, 1924. He didn’t have a lot of minor league time before joining the Pirates. He debuted in pro ball at 22 years old in 1922 with Seattle of the Double-A Pacific Coast League (highest level of the minors at the time), though that experience was limited to eight innings over four games. Seattle sent him to Vancouver of the Class-B Western International League to start the season, where he had a 5-4 record in 91.2 innings over 12 games. He was then sent by Seattle to Des Moines of the Class-A Western League, where he went 2-2 in 45 innings over 12 games. That last team is missing from his online records. Scouting reports from the day said he had a lot of velocity and a good curveball, but he was still very raw. The Pirates bought May out of the minors on December 1, 1923 after he went 18-15 in 294 innings over 51 games for Omaha of the Western League. He made the Pirates out of Spring Training in 1924. The Pirates took on the Boston Braves at Forbes Field in the 22nd game of the season. With the team down 10-6 going into the 9th inning, and having already used four pitchers, Hall of Fame manager Bill McKechnie called on the 24-year-old May to make his Major League debut. He allowed two hits, but threw a shutout frame, striking out fellow pitcher Joe Genewich to end the inning. Two days before his first and only big league game, May helped the Pirates in a different way. He threw an extremely long batting practice session to Pie Traynor and Clyde Barnhart, who were both in early season slumps. Traynor hit .421 over the next nine games.
May remained with the Pirates from Opening Day until June 2nd, when he was optioned to Oklahoma City of the Western League. He made one more appearance for the Pirates before his return to the minors. On May 26th, he pitched a complete game in an exhibition contest against Penn State. The Pirates won 11-1, and May struck out nine batters. After going 15-10 in 225 innings over 42 games with Oklahoma City in 1924, the Pirates traded him (along with cash) to Oklahoma City on September 13, 1924 for pitchers Don Songer and Joseph Brown. Despite never playing in the majors again, May was a successful minor league pitcher. We don’t have an ERA for him for many years (runs per nine innings are available), but we can see that he pitched often and posted strong records back when guys were throwing complete games most of the time. In 1925, he went 19-18 for Oklahoma City in 296 innings over 39 games. He allowed 5.32 runs per nine innings, which was slightly better than a 22-year-old named Carl Hubbell, who went on to have a Hall of Fame career. May remained with Oklahoma City in 1926, when he had a 26-12 record and 304 innings pitched over 58 appearances. That year he allowed 4.71 runs per nine innings.
May went to San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League in 1927, where he went 20-16, 3.74 in 298 innings over 55 appearances. He remained with San Francisco in 1928, posting an 11-13, 4.74 record in 205 innings over 50 games. May played for Memphis of the Southern Association in 1929, where he posted a 7-4, 4.06 record in 122 innings. He had a 12-12 record while playing for two teams in the Western League in 1930 (Pueblo and Des Moines), then returned to the Pacific Coast League in 1931, and saw time with two clubs. He pitched 104 innings that year over 32 games, putting up a combined 2-5 record with Oakland and Seattle, where he started his career nine years earlier. He then bounced back to the Western League, playing for St Joseph during the 1932-33 seasons. May went 16-11 in 249 innings in 1932, and 24-6 in 244 innings in 1933. He made a total of 72 appearances with St Joseph. An auto accident in California right before the 1934 season changed his plans, and he mostly played semi-pro ball that year. He returned to St Joseph for the 1935 season, which was his last in pro ball. May went 8-14 in 160 innings for St Joseph, allowing 4.84 runs per nine innings. He also saw some time with Minneapolis of the American Association that season, though that was limited to three innings over two games. In 13 minor league seasons he went 178-136 in 490 games. It was said that his nickname was given to him by fans in the minors after seeing his “lightning fast delivery”, with the ball coming out of his hand like buckshot. He was already going by that nickname by early 1922.