Nine former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date.
Gus Suhr, first baseman for the 1930-39 Pirates. He is considered by some as the best first baseman in team history. He was with his hometown San Francisco Seals of the Double-A Pacific Coast League (highest level of the minors at the time) for four full seasons (1926-29) and a few games in 1925, before being acquired by the Pirates. He debuted at 19 years old in 1925, spending most of the season with Quincy of the Class-B Three-I League, where he hit .282 in 132 games, with 41 extra-base hits. After playing three games for San Francisco in 1925, Suhr was a regular in the Seals lineup in 1926. He hit .282 in 173 games that season, with 33 doubles, four triples and 14 homers. He played 195 games in 1927, when he hit .293 with 42 doubles, nine triples and 27 homers. That type of season seems like it would have got him a shot at the majors, but it still took two more years. Before having a huge 1929 campaign, Suhr hit .314 in 191 games in 1928, with 64 doubles, nine triples and 22 homers. He was acquired by the Pirates after hitting .381 with 299 hits, 62 doubles and 51 homers for San Francisco in 1929. Those totals are obviously extremely impressive, but a little bit misleading. The PCL was a high offense league and they played approximately 200 games per year, with Suhr playing in 202 during that season. On December 7, 1929, the Pirates paid $20,000, plus the rights to first baseman Earl Sheely, to acquire the 23-year-old (almost 24) Suhr from San Francisco.
The 1930 season was one of the highest offense seasons in Major League history, so Suhr broke in at the right time. He hit .286 during his rookie campaign, with 93 runs scored, 26 doubles, 14 triples, 17 homers, 107 RBIs, 80 walks and an .860 OPS. A leg injury cost him part of the 1931 seasons and his numbers really suffered, hitting only .211 in 87 games, with 26 runs, 21 extra-base hits, 32 RBIs and a .642 OPS. That OPS was 218 points lower than his rookie season. He was a mainstay in the Pittsburgh lineup after that down season, averaging 152 games played per season over the next seven years. He led the National League in games played three times. He hit .263 in 154 games during the 1932 season, with 78 runs, 31 doubles, 16 triples, 81 RBIs, 63 walks and a .735 OPS. During the 1933 season, he started a streak that is unequaled in Pirates history. He had four straight seasons of 30+ doubles and double digits in both triples and homers. That year he batted .267 in 154 games, with 72 runs, 31 doubles, 11 triples, ten homers, 75 RBIs, 72 walks and a .763 OPS.
Suhr drove in 103 runs during the 1934 season, reaching the century mark for the second of three times in his career. That year he batted .283 in 151 games, with 67 runs, 36 doubles, 13 triples, 13 homers, 66 walks and an .819 OPS. He hit .272 over 153 games in 1935, with 68 runs, 33 doubles, 12 triples, ten homers, 81 RBIs, 70 walks and a .794 OPS. He had his best season in 1936, hitting for a .312 average, with 111 runs, 118 RBIs, 95 walks and an .877 OPS. Those totals set career highs in all five categories. He had 33 doubles, 12 triples and 11 homers that year, while playing a career high 156 games. He also made his only All-Star appearance during that 1936 season, though the All-Star game didn’t start until his fourth season in the league. Suhr hit .278 over 151 games in 1937, with 69 runs, 28 doubles, 14 triples, 97 RBIs, 83 walks and a .771 OPS. He followed that up in 1938 by batting .294 in 145 games, with 82 runs, 35 doubles, 14 triples, 64 RBIs, 87 walks and an .824 OPS. During each of his eight full seasons in a Pirates uniform, Suhr finished in the top six in the National League in both walks and triples, although surprisingly (after you hear that fact), he never led the league in either category.
The Pirates traded Suhr to the Philadelphia Phillies in the middle of the 1939 season in exchange for pitcher Max Butcher, who had a 28-46 career record at the time of the trade. Despite the stats seemingly making this a one-sided trade, the Pirates actually got the better of the deal, as Butcher went 67-60 in seven seasons in Pittsburgh, while Suhr played 70 games for the Phillies before they released him. Before the deal, he was batting .289 in 63 games for the 1939 Pirates, with 23 runs and 31 RBIs. After the deal, he batted .318/.421/.444 with the Phillies in 60 games. However, his time in the majors was done after just ten games in 1940. He hit .160 in that brief 1940 campaign, though two homers and five walks gave him a .700 OPS. In ten seasons in Pittsburgh, he hit .278 with 689 runs, 276 doubles, 112 triples and 789 RBIs over 1,365 games. He ranks eighth in Pirates history in RBIs and eighth in walks with 679. He also ranks 13th in games played, 18th in hits, 19th in runs, 11th in both doubles and triples, and 16th in total bases. He played 822 consecutive games with the Pirates, which was an NL record at the time. His streak only ended when he attended his mother’s funeral during the early part of the 1938 season.
Suhr returned to the minors in 1940, playing off and on until 1948. He had a brief stint as a manager in the minors when he was 42 years old in 1948. He finished off the 1940 season with Montreal of the Double-A International League, where he hit .264 with 32 extra-base hits in 122 games. Suhr played for Milwaukee of the Double-A American Association in 1941, where he batted .234 in 27 games, with 11 runs, five extra-base hits and nine RBIs. He retired after being released, but he was talked into rejoining San Francisco in 1943 after they had lost their first baseman to service during the war. Suhr played 149 games that season, putting up a .247 average, with 60 runs, 33 extra-base hits, 65 RBIs, 81 walks and a .675 OPS. He remained with San Francisco for the next two seasons as well. He hit .279 in 1944, with 81 runs, 36 doubles, five triples, 75 RBIs, 87 walks and a .729 OPS in 164 games. He played 138 games during the 1945 season, hitting for a .311 average, with 64 runs, 31 extra-base hits, 56 RBIs, 81 walks and an .828 OPS. He was released in January of 1946, and was offered a coaching job by San Francisco, but his wife passed away a week later, and he did not play that season, though he saw some semi-pro action. His pro career wound up in 1948 when he managed Pittsburg/Roseville of the Class-D Far West League. He went 6-for-15 with a double, homer and eight RBIs in 18 games as a player. He played pro ball for a total of 21 seasons.
AJ Burnett, pitcher for the 2012-13 and 2015 Pirates. He was already a veteran of 13 big league seasons by the time he joined the Pirates, debuting in the majors at 22 years old with the 1999 Florida Marlins. Just four years earlier, he was an eighth round draft pick of the New York Mets out of high school in Arkansas. The Marlins acquired him in a five-player trade that involved pitcher Al Leiter heading to New York. Burnett debuted in the Gulf Coast League in 1995, going 2-3, 4.28 in 33.2 innings, with 23 walks and 26 strikeouts. He moved up one step to Kingston of the short-season Appalachian League in 1996, where he had a 4-0, 3.88 record in 58 innings, with 54 walks and 68 strikeouts. Burnett spent his third season in short-season ball in 1997, seeing time in the Gulf Coast League and the New York-Penn League with Pittsfield, combining to go 3-2, 4.39 in 55.1 innings, with 43 walks and 63 strikeouts. Things clicked once he joined the Marlins system in 1998. He played for Low-A Kane County of the Midwest League that year, where he went 10-4, 1.97 in 20 starts, with an incredible 186 strikeouts in 119 innings. The Marlins jumped him to Double-A Portland of the Eastern League in 1999, though he had a 6-12, 5.52 record in 120.2 innings, with 121 strikeouts. He still got a shot in the majors at the end of that year, going 4-2, 3.48 in 41.1 innings over seven starts. Burnett played seven seasons with the Marlins, though he had trouble staying healthy most of that time.
Burnett made three minor league rehab starts and 13 big league starts in 2000, going 3-7, 4.79 in 82.2 innings. He had to have thumb surgery right before the season started. He threw a no-hitter in 2001 as part of his 11-12, 4.05 record in 173.1 innings over 27 starts. He missed the start of that season due to a foot injury, then required two rehab starts before joining the Marlins in May. He had a big season in 2002, going 12-9, 3.30 in 204.1 innings, with a league leading five shutouts, along with 203 strikeouts. Burnett then missed most of the 2003 season due to Tommy John surgery, going 0-2, 4.70 in 23 innings over four starts. That injury cost him a chance to be part of their 2003 World Series run, and he also got a late start to the 2004 season. He went 7-6, 3.68, with 113 strikeouts in 120 innings, after returning in 2004. Burnett had a 12-12, 3.44 record in 209 innings over 32 starts in 2005, finishing with 198 strikeouts. He went 49-50, 3.73 in 131 starts and 853.2 innings with the Marlins. He signed as a free agent with the Toronto Blue Jays on December 7, 2005, and spent the next three seasons there.
Burnett missed time during each of his first two seasons in Toronto, though he was relatively healthy. He went 10-8, 3.98 in 135.2 innings over 21 starts in 2006, missing time due to an elbow problem that came up in April. That was followed by a matching 10-8 record in 2007, this time with a 3.75 ERA in 165.2 innings over 25 starts. A shoulder injury cost him six weeks that season. He was healthy for all of 2008 and had a big season, going 18-10, 4.07 in a career high 221.1 innings, while leading the American League with 231 strikeouts, which was also a career high. Burnett became a free agent and t he New York Yankees signed him to a five-year deal in December of 2008. He pitched well in his first season, posting a 13-9, 4.04 record in 33 starts and 207 innings. However, his results dropped off during the next two years, posting a 5.26 ERA in 186.2 innings in 2010 and a 5.15 mark in 190.1 innings in 2011. He led the league in hit batters in 2010 and wild pitches in 2011. Despite the Yankees being a combined 60 games over .500 during the 2010-11 seasons, Burnett had a 21-26 record during that time.
The Pirates acquired Burnett in February 2012 from the New York Yankees for two minor league players who combined to play nine big league games. After joining the Pirates, he went 16-10, 3.51 in 31 starts and 202.1 innings in 2012, with 180 strikeouts. It was the second best win total during his career. He actually pitched better the next season, though it didn’t show in his record. He went 10-11, 3.30 in 30 starts, helping the Pirates to their first postseason appearance in 21 years. He had 209 strikeouts in 190 innings. After the season, he signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Phillies, where things did not work out at all. He led the league in losses, earned runs allowed and walks in 2014, going 8-18, 4.59 in 213.2 innings. Burnett returned to the Pirates as a free agent in 2015 and went 9-7, 3.18 in 164 innings over 26 starts, helping the team to its third straight playoff appearance. He decided to retire after the season. He pitched three seasons in Pittsburgh, going 35-28, 3.34 in 87 starts, with 532 strikeouts in 557.1 innings. Burnett won 164 games during a 17-year career, yet he didn’t make an All-Star team until his final season in the majors (2015) at 38 years old. He ranks 38th all-time with 2,513 strikeouts, one spot ahead of the great Christy Mathewson. Just two players on that strikeout list ahead of him pitched for the Pirates, Hall of Famers Bert Blyleven and Jim Bunning. Burnett finished up 164-157, 3.99 in 2,731.1 innings.
Dick Colpaert, pitcher for the 1970 Pirates. He was only in the majors for three weeks, pitching 10.2 innings over eight relief appearances, but he was actually in the Pirates system for ten seasons. He was drafted by the Pirates from the Baltimore Orioles in November of 1962 during the first-year draft (which does not exist anymore), and he stayed around until November of 1972, when he was sold to the Kansas City Royals. Colpaert debuted in 1962 at 18 years old, playing for Appleton of the Class-D Midwest League, where he went 5-6, 2.69 in 77 innings over 36 appearances (two starts). He recorded 85 strikeouts, which likely helped draw the attention of the Pirates. In his first season in the Pittsburgh organization, he had a 3.60 ERA in 80 innings with Kinston of the Class-A Carolina League. He also had a 2.86 ERA in 22 innings with Double-A Asheville of the South Atlantic League that year. Asheville moved to the Double-A Southern League in 1964, and Colpaert remained with the team, going 4-3, 4.94 in 93 innings over 42 games. He stayed there for the next two seasons as well, going 3-3, 3.87 in 79 innings over 48 games in 1965, followed by an 8-6, 3.64 record in 84 innings over 53 games in 1966. He played for Macon of the Southern League in 1967, but that was just the Pirates changing affiliates, leaving him at the same level for a fifth straight season. Colpaert went 3-2, 1.58 in 74 innings over 45 games in 1967. That still wasn’t enough to get him to Triple-A, though he ended up pitching three games at the level in 1968. He was with the Pirates new Double-A affiliate in 1968, playing for York of the Eastern League, where he went 3-8, 2.52 in 50 innings and 38 appearances. He gave up five runs over four innings in his brief time with Columbus of the Triple-A International League in 1968.
The 1969 season was Colpaert’s first year since 1962 that he didn’t spend the majority of the year in Double-A, but he still spent time at the level. In 61 innings over 34 appearances for Columbus in 1969, he had an 8-2, 2.95 record. He also had a 2.70 ERA and two saves in ten innings over six appearances with York. He began 1970 back in Columbus, but he would make his big league debut mid-season. The Pirates called him up on July 17, 1970, when Steve Blass went down with an injury that cost him a full month. They were also without Bob Moose for a time, as he was nursing a sore elbow. Colpaert debuted four days later, retiring all six batters he faced in a 3-1 loss to the Houston Astros. His only big league win came when he pitched a scoreless eighth inning against the Atlanta Braves in his second game. The Pirates were trailing 5-3 going into the bottom of the eighth, and they were able to take the lead with three runs. Dave Giusti came in for the ninth inning and saved the game. Colpaert allowed runs in three of his final six appearances, pitching his last big league game on August 10th, when he allowed four runs over 1.1 innings against the New York Mets. The next day he was sent to the minors to make room for the return of Steve Blass. Colpaert ended up going 12-3, 2.28, with ten saves and 68 strikeouts in 79 innings over 46 relief appearances with Columbus during that 1970 season, but he never made it back to the majors.
After the Pirates switched Triple-A affiliates for the 1971 season, Colpaert spent the season with Charleston of the International League. He had a 7-4, 3.93 record and 11 saves in 94 innings that year. He made four starts and 44 relief appearances. He won 14 games and picked up 21 saves in 61 relief outings during the 1972 season with Charleston. Colpaert had a 2.31 ERA in 109 innings that season. His time with the Pirates ended on September 25, 1972, when he was sold to the Kansas City Royals. He struggled with two Triple-A teams in 1973, playing for Oklahoma City of the American Association, and Hawaii of the Pacific Coast League. Colpaert combined to go 1-3, 6.27 in 41 innings over 30 appearances. He pitched 12 games for Pawtucket of the International League in 1974, posting a 5.63 ERA in 16 innings, before getting released in early July. That was his final season in pro ball. He spent a total of 13 seasons in the minors, going 76-60, 3.37 in 546 games. His big league time saw him post a 5.91 ERA in 10.2 innings. His best pitch was a palm ball, which you rarely see today.
Harry Fisher, pitcher/pinch-hitter for the 1951-52 Pirates. He was signed by the Pirates in 1947 at 21 years old as an amateur free agent out of Canada. During his first year of pro ball in 1947, he won 16 games (with nine losses) while pitching for the Tallahassee Pirates of the Class-D Georgia-Florida League. That would end up being his career high for victories in a pro season. He had a 3.15 ERA in 197 innings, with 209 strikeouts that year for Tallahassee. He also saw brief time with Selma of the Class-B Southeastern League. He spent most of 1948 with Davenport of the Class-B Three-I League, where he had a 6-12, 4.40 record in 135 innings, with 89 walks and 119 strikeouts. He also saw time with New Orleans of the Double-A Southern Association, posting a 5.35 ERA in 37 innings, with 29 walks and 28 strikeouts. Fisher spent the entire 1949-50 seasons with New Orleans. He went 8-8, 5.10 in 97 innings over 21 appearances in 1949, finishing with 74 walks and 55 strikeouts. He had a 5-8, 6.13 record in 113 innings over 23 appearances in 1950. With Indianapolis of the Triple-A American Association in 1951, he had a 6-9, 5.15 record in 131 innings, with more walks (68) than strikeouts (60). He was a decent pitcher who could really swing the bat, occasionally playing outfield during his minor league career. Before he was sent to the minors in 1951, there was talk of switching him from the mound to either first base or the outfield. Fisher was called up to the Pirates late in 1951 and never took the mound, but he did pinch-hit three times, going 0-for-3 at the plate. During that time, the talk was that he would either switch to becoming an outfield or catcher in 1952.
Fisher pitched eight games for the Pirates during the 1952 season, with three of those coming as a starter. While he fared poorly on the mound, going 1-2, 6.87 in 18.1 innings, he was used seven times as a pinch-hitter, going 5-for-15 at the plate that year. Fisher began that season with Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League. He’s credited with going 0-1 in seven appearances, while posting a .682 OPS in 23 plate appearances. He was recalled by the Pirates on June 12th and debuted nine days later. He remained with the Pirates through August 9th, when they sent him to Toronto of the Triple-A International League. That demotion would wind up being the end of his big league career. He finished out his career in the minors in 1959 with a 65-79 record in 264 games. During his final three seasons, he saw more outfield time than mound time. Fisher went 0-1, 8.25, with 15 walks in 12 innings for Toronto in 1952. He played for Hollywood for the entire 1953 season, going 10-10, 3.66 in 155 innings spread over 19 starts and 14 relief appearances. He missed time in 1954 due to a sore arm and was voluntarily retired at the time. He threw a total of ten games that season split between Hollywood and Williamsport of the Class-A Eastern League. He also didn’t play pro ball during the 1955 season, though he pitched up in Canada.
Fisher was back in New Orleans in 1956, where he went 3-6, 4.31 in 94 innings over four starts and 29 relief appearances. He pitched 19 games in 1957, which were split between Louisville of the American Association, and Tulsa of the Double-A Texas League. He was 0-2 in seven appearances with Louisville, while going 2-0, 3.45 in 47 innings with Tulsa. He remained in Tulsa for 1958, though he was limited to an 0-1 record in seven appearances. Most of his time was spent on offense, where he hit .326 in 123 games, with 52 runs, 23 doubles, 19 homers, 65 RBIs and a .979 OPS. He did double duty in his final season of pro ball in 1959, playing for Asheville of the Class-A South Atlantic League. He went 4-4, 2.71 in 63 innings as a pitcher, and he hit .261 in 107 games, with 43 runs, 11 doubles, 15 homers, 57 RBIs and an .807 OPS. His minor league highlights as a batter were his back-to-back seasons in which he hit .397 and .423 in 1949-50. Those weren’t just very limited seasons either, as he record 89 hits in 214 at-bats over the two seasons combined. Despite his limited big league time, he wore three different numbers with the Pirates (35, 39 and 19).
Kirby White, pitcher for the 1910-11 Pirates. The Pirates acquired White early in the 1910 season from the Boston Doves for pitcher Sam Frock and first baseman Bud Sharpe. There were a few teams after his services at the time, and it was said that the Boston owner took his time to make sure he got the best return of young MLB players, refusing to take any minor leaguers or veterans in the deal. White debuted in pro ball just four years earlier at 22 years old in 1906, where he played for Lancaster of the Class-C Ohio-Pennsylvania League. No stats are available for that year, but in 1907 he had a 15-16 record in 34 appearances for Lancaster. Prior to his rookie season in the majors with Boston, he pitched a third season in Lancaster (then of the Class-D Ohio State League), where he won 28 games (with 12 losses) and struck out 262 batters, while pitching 363 innings in 1908. His ERA isn’t available, but he’s credited with allowing just 1.74 runs per nine innings. He was taken in the Rule 5 draft by the Chicago Cubs in September of 1908, but he was put on waivers before pitching a game for them. He was picked up by the Doves in February of 1909. White had a 6-13, 3.22 record in 148.1 innings in 1909, completing 11 of his 19 starts, while also pitching four times in relief. That ERA doesn’t sound bad, but 1908 was the middle of the deadball era, and the league had an average of a 2.59 ERA.
Two weeks into the start of the 1910 season, White had a 1-2, 1.38 record in 26 innings over three complete games for the Doves. He made his last appearance for Boston on April 27th, then debuted in Pittsburgh against the Chicago Cubs seven days later. For the Pirates during the 1910 season, he had a 10-9, 3.46 record in 153.1 innings over 21 starts and nine relief appearances. He had seven complete games and three shutouts. The ERA around the National League went up in 1910 to 3.02, but he was still 44 points above average that year. He wasn’t able to pitch until May of the 1911 season due to an arm injury, and when he finally made a start May 24th he was ineffective, getting pulled from the game early and taking the loss. That was his last Major League game. His only other game for the Pirates that season was one inning in relief on May 19th. Just four days after his poor start, the Pirates sold him to Indianapolis of the Class-A American Association, which was the highest level of the minors until Double-A was created in 1912.
White saw limited work after leaving the Pirates in 1911 due a summer-long suspension for not being in good enough shape to pitch games. His limited available stats show that he had a 2-2 record for Indianapolis that season. He finished his pro career playing four seasons (1912-15) for the Sioux City Indians of the Class-A Western League. He averaged 260 innings per year during the 1912-14 seasons. White went 16-12 in 1912, throwing 259 innings over 38 appearances. He allowed 4.86 runs per nine innings. His win/loss record is unavailable for 1913, but he’s credited with a 3.03 ERA in 258.2 innings over 43 games. His 1914 stats show an 18-10, 3.14 record in 261 innings spread over 38 appearances. He fell off a bit in results and work during his final season in 1915, going 2-7, 4.58 in 76.2 innings. White was known for his impressive curve ball, but his control issues kept him from being more effective in the majors. He was said to look tall and athletic, with a free and easy delivery. His actual first name was Oliver, but he preferred to go by his middle name. He was introduced to Pirates fans as “Red White” due to his hair color, though they also shortened his middle name to Kirb.
Luis Sojo, infielder for the 2000 Pirates. He was signed as an international free agent out of Venezuela by the Toronto Blue Jays on his 21st birthday in 1986. It took him four years to make the majors, then he lasted just 33 games with Toronto before he was traded. He debuted in the Dominican Summer League in 1986 (no stats available), then jumped to Low-A to play with Myrtle Beach of the South Atlantic League in 1987. He hit just .211 in 72 games that year, with 23 runs, 11 extra-base hits, 15 RBIs and a .562 OPS. He remained in Myrtle Beach for the 1988 season and improved greatly, finishing with a .289 average, 83 runs, 32 extra-base hits, 56 RBIs and a .709 OPS in 135 games. He struck out 35 times in 586 plate appearances. Sojo jumped to Triple-A Syracuse of the International League in 1989. He hit .276 in 121 games, but it came with low power/walk numbers that led to a .661 OPS, as well as nine steals in 23 attempts. He finished with 54 runs and 54 RBIs. He improved with Syracuse in 1990 by adding 77 points to his OPS, batting .296 in 75 games, with 39 runs, 21 extra-base hits, 25 RBIs and ten steals in 12 attempts. That earned him time with the Blue Jays, where he hit .225/.271/.300 in 85 plate appearances. After the 1990 season, he was part of a six-player trade with the California Angels. Almost two years to the day of that trade, the Angels traded him back to the Blue Jays.
Sojo spent the entire 1991 season in the majors with the Angels, hitting .258 in 113 games, with 38 runs scored, 18 extra-base hits, 20 RBIs and a .622 OPS. He batted .272 in 1992, with 37 runs, 22 extra-base hits, 43 RBIs and a .677 OPS in 106 games, while spending a small part of the season back in Triple-A with Edmonton of the Pacific Coast League. He was mostly a shortstop during his entire time with the Blue Jays, but he saw the majority of the starts at second base for the Angels. He was a utility player after rejoining the Blue Jays for the 1993 season, splitting the year between the majors and Syracuse, while also missing time due to injury. He hit just .170/.231/.213 in 19 games with the Blue Jays. Sojo became a free agent after the 1993 season, and signed with the Seattle Mariners for the 1994 strike-shortened season. He hit .277 in 63 games that year, with 32 runs, 17 extra-base hits, 22 RBIs and a solid .731 OPS. He also had an .877 OPS in 24 games with Calgary of the Pacific Coast League.
Sojo saw more big league playing time in 1995, hitting .289 in 102 games, with 39 RBIs, and career highs of 50 runs, 18 doubles and seven homers. His .751 OPS that year was also his career best. Sojo started off 1996 by hitting just .211/.244/.263 in 77 games, with 20 runs, eight doubles, one homer and 16 RBIs. He was then selected off waivers by the New York Yankees in August of 1996, which turned out to be the best move of his career. He played a total of seven seasons in New York, compiling just 274 games during that time, but he was a member of the 1996 and 1998-2000 World Series champs. He played just 18 games for the Yankees in 1996, hitting .275/.286/.325 in 44 plate appearances. Most of his time with the Yankees came during the only season in which they didn’t win a title during that five-season span. The 1997 season saw him hit .307 in 77 games, with 27 runs, nine extra-base hits, 25 RBIs and a .727 OPS. Sojo hit .231 in the backup utility infielder role during the 1998 season. He had 16 runs, four extra-base hits, 14 RBIs and a .515 OPS that year, and then played just one playoff game. He hit .252/.275/.347 in 133 plate appearances over 49 games in 1999. That year he had one postseason at-bat.
Sojo signed with the Pirates as a free agent in January of 2000. He hit .284 that year, with 14 runs, 11 doubles, five homers and 20 RBIs in 61 games for the Pirates, before being traded to the Yankees in early August for pitcher Chris Spurling. He played more second base and shortstop during his career, but with the Pirates, all but one game he played on defense was at third base. He remained with the Yankees through 2003, but he played a total of just 76 big league games after leaving Pittsburgh. Sojo had a .288 average and a .729 OPS in 34 games with the 2000 Yankees. He struggled at the plate in 39 games during the 2001 season, hitting .165/.214/.190 in 84 plate appearances. He didn’t play in 2002, then returned in 2003 to play 22 games in Mexico and three games with the Yankees. At age 41, he played winter ball in Venezuela during the 2006-07 off-season. Sojo played a total of 848 Major League games over 13 seasons, hitting .261 with 300 runs scored, 103 doubles, 36 homers and 261 RBIs. He won four World Series titles while with the Yankees and drove in 15 runs in 43 playoff games. He has done coaching and minor league managing since retiring in 2003. In nine seasons as a manager in the minors for the Yankees, he has won three league titles. While he spent most of the 1993 season in the minors, and he didn’t see any postseason action, the Blue Jays won the World Series title that year, so he has five rings to his credit.
Mark Dewey, pitcher for the 1993-94 Pirates. The San Francisco Giants selected him in the 23rd round of the amateur draft out of Grand Valley State in 1987. He debuted at 22 years old in the short-season Northwest League in 1987, where he went 7-3, 3.30, with 67 strikeouts in 84.2 innings, split over ten starts and nine relief appearances. Dewey played A-Ball for Clinton of the Midwest League in 1988, where he had a 10-4, 1.43 record in 119.1 innings over seven starts and 30 relief appearances. The next season was spent with San Jose of the Class-A California League, where he went 1-6, 3.15, with 30 saves and 60 strikeouts in 68.2 innings over 59 appearances. The 1990 season saw him advance quickly through the system. He started with Double-A Shreveport of the Texas League, where he had a 1.88 ERA and 13 saves in 38.1 innings over 33 games. He moved up to Triple-A Phoenix of the Pacific Coast League and had a 2.67 ERA in 30.1 innings. Dewey debuted in the majors in late August of 1990, and did well, posting a 2.78 ERA in 22.2 innings over 14 appearances. Despite that brief success, he spent the entire 1991 season in Triple-A, mostly with Tidewater of the International League, after joining the New York Mets organization as a waiver pickup in early May.
Dewey didn’t pitch poorly for the 1991 Giants in Phoenix, so it was a bit surprising that they moved on after just ten appearances. He finished the 1991 season with a 13-5, 3.43 record in 76 innings over 58 games, with 13 saves. He had a career high 43 walks that season, though 11 of them were intentional walks. He made it back to the majors with the Mets in 1992 for a 4.32 ERA in 33.1 innings over 20 appearances, seeing multiple stints with the club throughout the season. He went 5-7, 4.31 with Tidewater that season, picking up nine saves and 55 strikeouts in 54.1 innings. The Pirates picked Dewey up off waivers from New York in May of 1993. He actually retired earlier that season after learning that the Mets were going to send him to the minors on April 3rd. He reconsidered five weeks later and New York was hoping to sneak him through waivers, but it didn’t work. He had a 2.36 ERA in 26.2 innings over 21 appearances for the Pirates during the 1993 season, after debuting with the club on August 2nd. He spent the first part of the season with Triple-A Buffalo of the American Association, where he had a 1.23 ERA and six saves in 29.1 innings. Dewey saw more big league action in 1994, when he posted a 3.68 ERA in 51.1 innings during the strike-shortened season. In 66 games for the Pirates over two seasons, he had a 3-3, 3.23 record and eight saves in 78 innings.
Dewey became a free agent after spending his two seasons with the Pirates. He returned to the Giants, where he spent the final two years of his big league career. He had a 3.13 ERA in 31.2 innings over 27 appearances in 1995. He missed two months of the season due to a rib stress fracture that occurred in mid-June. He then finished off his big league career with 78 appearances for the 1996 Giants, going 6-3, 4.21 in 83.1 innings. He went to Spring Training with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1997, but he was cut late in camp and retired. He was actually contemplating retirement after the 1996 season because he had three young kids at home and another on the way. He pitched 205 career games in the majors (all in relief) and those eight saves with the Pirates were the only ones that he recorded during his big league career. He went 12-7, 3.65 in 249 big league innings. Dewey made a comeback in 2001 after five years of retirement, pitching 11 games for the Pirates in Triple-A with Nashville of the Pacific Coast League. He did well by allowing two earned runs in 10.1 innings, but he was still released on June 1st. His comeback actually started with playing off-season ball in Australia in 2000, where he dominated the league with an 0.63 ERA. He played again six years later in Independent ball in 2007 (he was also the team’s pitching coach), but he lasted just 18 games before cutting short that final comeback. Dewey has been a pitching coach coach off and on since 2000.
Michael Restovich, outfielder for the 2005 Pirates. He was a second round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins in the 1997 draft out of Mayo High School in Rochester, Minnesota. In took him five years to make it to the majors as a September call-up in 2002. He debuted in pro ball in 1998, hitting .369 in 76 games, with 77 runs, 25 doubles, 13 homers, 70 RBIs, 58 walks and a 1.102 OPS. His season was mostly spent in the short-season Appalachian League with Elizabethton, but he also saw brief time with Fort Wayne of the Low-A Midwest League. Baseball America rated him as a top 100 prospect in all of baseball four times, starting in 1999 when he hit .312 with Quad City of the Midwest League. He had 91 runs scored, 30 doubles 19 homers, 107 RBIs, 74 walks and a .925 OPS in 131 games. He had a down year in the pitcher-friendly High-A Florida State League in 2000, batting .263 in 135 games, with 27 doubles, eight homers, 64 RBIs, 19 steals, 61 walks and a .758 OPS. Restovich bounced back in Double-A with New Britain of the Eastern League during the 2001 season, batting .269 in 140 games, with 69 runs, 33 doubles, 23 homers, 84 RBIs, 15 steals, 54 walks and an .834 OPS. He earned his first big league trial after batting .284 for Triple-A Edmonton of the Pacific Coast League in 2002, finishing with 95 runs, 32 doubles, 29 homers, 98 RBIs, 53 walks and an .896 OPS . He batted .308/.357/.539 in eight September games with the Twins.
Restovich saw big league time in 2003 and 2004 with the Twins, though it was limited to a total of 115 plate appearances over 54 games. His numbers in Triple-A also fell off each year, though that was partially due to the Minnesota affiliate moving from the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League to the more neutral International League with Rochester. He hit .275 for Rochester in 2003, collecting 75 runs, 34 doubles, 16 homers and 72 RBIs, while posting an .811 OPS in 119 games. He hit .283 with five extra-base hits in 24 games for the Twins that season. He batted .247 in 106 games with Rochester in 2004, finishing with 65 runs, 20 doubles, 20 homers, 62 RBIs and a .740 OPS. His time with the Twins that year saw him hit .255 in 29 games, with three doubles, two homers and six RBIs. Despite not getting an extended look from his hometown team, he had an .807 OPS in 61 games with the Twins. That amounted to 129 plate appearances.
Minnesota lost Restovich on waivers to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at the end of Spring Training in 2005. Just six days later, without playing a game for them, the Devil Rays lost him on waivers to the Colorado Rockies. Before joining the Pirates that season, he hit .290/.353/.452 in 14 games for Colorado. The Pirates picked him up from the Rockies in May of 2005 for future considerations. Over 52 games in Pittsburgh, Restovich hit .214/.283/.345 with two homers and five RBIs in 92 plate appearances. He was released following the 2005 season, then spent the next two seasons bouncing between the minors and majors, seeing time with the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals. His big league time was limited to 13 plate appearances over ten games with the 2006 Cubs and 29 plate appearances over 15 games with the 2007 Nationals. Restovich did well in the minors in 2006, putting up a .294 average and a .933 OPS in 120 games for Iowa of the Pacific Coast League. He played for Columbus of the International League for most of 2007, where he hit .270 with an .834 OPS in 97 games. He had a .351 OPS during his brief time with the Nationals.
Restovich originally signed with the Philadelphia Phillies after the 2007 season, but they released him 16 days later so he could spend 2008 in Japan. He hit .262 in 87 games in Japan, while putting up a .798 OPS. He then played another three years in the minor leagues without making it back to the majors, spending that time with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks. Restovich was with Charlotte of the International League in 2009 (White Sox), where he hit .290 in 135 games, with 83 runs, 36 doubles, 21 homers and 61 RBIs. He played in the Dodgers system with Albuquerque of the Pacific Coast League in 2010, hitting .305 in 111 games, with 52 runs, 38 extra-base hits, 50 RBIs and an .882 OPS. Part of 2011 was spent back with Charlotte, while the rest of the season was with Reno of the Pacific Coast League. He didn’t do well in either spot, finishing with a .616 OPS in 44 games. Restovich had a .239/.313/.377 line in 152 Major League games over six seasons, finishing with 37 runs, 13 doubles, six homers and 21 RBIs.
Carlos Maldonado, catcher for the Pirates during the 2006-07 seasons. He was signed as a 16-year-old out of Venezuela by the Seattle Mariners in 1995, and he ended up playing a total of 20 seasons in pro ball. He debuted in the rookie level Arizona League in 1996, where he batted .220 with two homers, 18 RBIs and a .541 OPS in 29 games. He was up in A-Ball in 1997 at 18 years old, hitting .190/.236/.228 with 15 runs, ten extra-base hits and 25 RBIs in 97 games for Wisconsin of the Midwest League. Most of the 1998 season was spent a level lower in short-season ball with Everett of the Northwest League, but he played briefly for Wisconsin again, as well as a three-game stint with Triple-A Tacoma of the Pacific Coast League. He combined to bat .258 that year, with 23 runs, ten doubles, five homers and 25 RBIs in 52 games. He spent the entire 1999 season back with Wisconsin, where he hit .308 in 92 games, with 35 runs, 13 doubles (no triples or homers), 33 RBIs, a .743 OPS and a 43:32 BB/SO ratio. Maldonado was traded to the Houston Astros during Spring Training in 2000, and they skipped him up to Double-A Round Rock of the Texas League. He batted .270 with 46 runs, 31 extra-base hits, 52 RBIs and a .700 OPS in 116 games in 2000. He then hit .286 with Round Rock in 2001, finishing with 29 runs, 14 doubles, four homers, 33 RBIs and a .741 OPS in 76 games. The 2002 season was mostly spent with Round Rock, though he got a shot at Triple-A with New Orleans of the Pacific Coast League. Maldonado hit .237 that year, with 14 runs, eight doubles, four homers, 22 RBIs and a .698 OPS in 59 games total between both stops. He became a free agent after the 2002 season, and signed with the Chicago White Sox, where he spent the 2003-04 seasons with Double-A Birmingham of the Southern League. He hit .262 in 2003, with 50 runs, 24 doubles, six homers, 63 RBIs and a .705 OPS in 120 games. He followed that up by hitting .265 in 108 games, with 48 runs, 30 doubles, 12 homers, 68 RBIs and a .794 OPS in 2004.
The Pirates signed Maldonado as a free agent shortly after the 2004 World Series ended. He was in the Pirates system from 2005 through 2008, splitting most of his time between Double-A Altoona of the Eastern League and Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League. The entire 2005 season was spent with Altoona, where he hit .252 in 82 games, with 27 runs, 14 doubles, seven homers, 34 RBIs and a .716 OPS.He batted .282 in 108 games (103 with Indianapolis/five with Altoona) in 2006, with 38 runs, 18 doubles, six homers, 47 RBIs and a .740 OPS. That helped lead to his first big league shot. When he was called up in September of 2006, it was called a reward for the hard work he put in that season in the minors, as well as giving a shot to someone who was in his 11th season of pro ball without a big league appearance. The Pirates added a third catcher in September just like every other team in baseball and Maldonado filled that role, getting 19 at-bats over eight games, including six games as a starter. He had two singles and a walk. He spent slightly more time with the Pirates in 2007, coming up in mid-August when Ryan Doumit was placed on the disabled list. Maldonado remained in the majors through the end of the season, playing 13 games total, eight as a starter. During his two seasons in Pittsburgh, he hit .163 with two homers in 43 at-bats. He had a .210 average and a .572 OPS in the minors that season, playing 46 games with Indianapolis and three with Altoona. He spent all of 2008 with Indianapolis, hitting .248 with a .704 OPS in 46 games.
After leaving the Pirates via free agency after the 2008 season, Maldonado spent the 2009 season in the minors for the Boston Red Sox. He had a .225/.304/.325 slash line in 24 games that season with Pawtucket of the International League. Maldonado spent the next four seasons with the Washington Nationals, briefly appearing in the majors in both 2010 and 2012, playing four games each year. He had a .223 average and a .607 OPS in 63 games for Syracuse of the International League in 2010. His 2011 season was limited to 38 games with Syracuse. He hit .234 with a .703 OPS in 134 plate appearances. Maldonado had a .210 average and a .696 OPS in 51 games with Syracuse in 2012. His 2013 season was limited to an .098 average over 14 games with Syracuse. He retired after playing winter ball in Venezuela for the tenth year during the 2015-16 off-season. He also played in Italy during the 2015 season. He was a .159 hitter with three homers and eight RBIs in 29 big league games. He scored three runs in the majors, all resulting from his own home runs. He played over 1,600 games in his pro career.