Five former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date. We also have a transaction involving a Hall of Fame pitcher.
On this date in 1933, the Pittsburgh Pirates signed pitcher Waite Hoyt, two months after he was released by the New York Giants. He was 33 years old at the time of the signing, and he had a career record of 195-141, 3.71 in 15 seasons. Ten of those years were spent with the New York Yankees. Hoyt would go on to pitch four full seasons with the Pirates, posting an ERA under 3.00 in three of them. His best season was 1934 when he went 15-6, 2.93 in 190.2 innings over 40 games, 17 as a starter. He struck out a career high 105 batters. He had a 1-2, 4.50 record in 11 games to start the 1937 season, before Pittsburgh sold him to the Brooklyn Dodgers on June 21st. Hoyt had a 35-31, 3.08 record in 6161.1 innings over 156 games (45 starts) for the Pirates. Overall in his 21-year career, he went 237-182, 3.59 in 3,762.1 innings. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1969 by the Veterans Committee, despite never receiving more than 19.2% of the votes from the writers. Hoyt’s career record was helped greatly by pitching most of it with the Ruth/Gehrig era Yankees, where he went 157-98, as opposed to the 80-84 record he had while pitching for other teams.
Chase d’Arnaud, infielder for the 2011-12 and 2014 Pirates. He was a fourth round draft pick of the Pirates in 2008 out of Peppedine. Three years earlier, the Los Angeles Dodgers drafted him in the 44th round out of high school. He played for State College of the short-season New York-Penn League in 2008, where he hit .286 in 43 games, with 26 runs, 16 extra-base hits, 21 RBIs, 14 steals and a .756 OPS. D’Arnaud hit .293 in 2009, with 77 runs, 33 doubles, seven triples, seven homers, 57 RBIs, 31 stolen bases, 60 walks and an .852 OPS in 116 games, splitting his season between Low-A West Virginia of the South Atlantic League and High-A Lynchburg of the Carolina League. The Pirates sent him to the Arizona Fall League after the season, where he batted .296/.383/.383 with 11 walks and 13 steals in 20 games. He hit .247 in 2010, with 91 runs, 33 doubles, nine triples, six homers, 48 RBIs, 33 steals, 56 walks and a .708 OPS in 132 games for Double-A Altoona of the Eastern League. D’Arnaud hit .264 in 2011, with 43 runs, 22 extra-base hits, 37 RBIs, 20 steals and a .717 OPS in 74 games for Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League, before being called up by the Pirates in late June. He would hit .217 in 48 games for the Pirates that year, with 17 runs, eight extra-base hits, six RBIs, 12 steals and a .528 OPS. He split his time between shortstop (29 games) and third base (12 games). He played winter ball in the Dominican that year, though he went hitless in three games during his brief time. D’Arnaud played eight games for the 2012 Pirates, going 0-for-6 at the plate, with two runs scored and an RBI. The rest of the year was spent with Indianapolis, where he hit .252 in 98 games, with 63 runs, 34 extra-base hits, 38 RBIs 34 steals and a .709 OPS.
D’Arnaud spent all of 2013 in the minors, hitting just .231/.287/.346 over 67 games, while playing at three levels. His playing time was limited that season due to multiple injuries. After putting up a .250 average, 59 runs, 27 extra-base hits, 30 steals and a .670 OPS in 118 games with Indianapolis in 2014, d’Arnaud returned to the Pirates in September for the playoff run. He played eight games without a plate appearance, pinch-running seven times, while finishing another game on defense at shortstop. He became a free agent after the season, and signed a minor league deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. He spent most of the 2015 season in Triple-A, before getting called up in mid-September. D’Arnaud batted .268 in 120 games for Lehigh Valley of the International League, finishing with 77 runs, 28 extra-base hits, 35 RBIs, 28 steals and a .671 OPS. He hit .176/.222/.294 in 11 games for the Phillies. He signed with the Atlanta Braves for the 2016 season, where he had his best year in the majors, though he still played 22 games that year with Triple-A Gwinnett of the International League. In 84 games that year for the Braves, d’Arnaud had a .245 average, with 24 runs, 14 doubles, 21 RBIs, nine stolen bases and a .652 OPS. He began 2017 with the Braves, playing 11 games before he was lost on waivers to the Boston Red Sox. He played just two games in Boston before the San Diego Padres picked him up on waivers. They got him into 22 more big league games. For the 2017 season, he hit .190/.242/.276 in 35 games, with 12 runs, three extra-base hits, three RBIs and five steals.
D’Arnaud signed with the San Francisco Giants for 2018. He played 76 games in Triple-A (Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League), and 42 games with the Giants. He had a .293 average, 54 runs, 14 doubles, 12 homers, 43 RBIs, 15 steals and a .915 OPS in his half season with Sacramento. He put up a .215 batting average and a .618 OPS during his big league time, finishing with nine runs, five doubles, three homers, nine RBIs and a .618 OPS. He split the 2019 season in the minors, seeing time in Triple-A with the Texas Rangers (Nashville of the Pacific Coast League) and Kansas City Royals (Omaha of the Pacific Coast League). He hit .218 in 93 games, with 45 runs, ten doubles, ten homers, 11 steals and a .669 OPS. That was his last season of pro ball. He played 236 MLB games over seven seasons, split between six teams, finishing with a .222 average, 68 runs scored, 37 extra-base hits, 40 RBIs and 29 steals. His brother Travis d’Arnaud has played ten seasons in the majors, mostly spent with the New York Mets, though he helped the Atlanta Braves to a World Series title in 2021.
Wil Ledezma, relief pitcher for the 2010 Pirates. He was a seven-year Major League veteran when he signed with the Pirates as a free agent in November 2009. He had a combined record of 15-22, 5.07 in 160 games (40 as a starter), prior to signing with Pittsburgh. Ledezma was originally signed as an international amateur free agent at 17 years old by the Boston Red Sox in 1998. He debuted in the Dominican Summer League in 1998 (no stats available), then moved to the U.S. in 1999, where he went 5-1, 3.30 in 57.1 innings, with 52 strikeouts for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox. Ledezma made 14 starts for Augusta of the Class-A South Atlantic League in 2000, putting up a 2-4, 5.13 record and 60 strikeouts in 52.2 innings. He was out with an injured arm for all of 2001, then returned in 2002 for five starts with Augusta and a relief appearance in the GCL. He had a 4.05 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 26.2 innings. Despite all of that missed time, the Detroit Tigers took a shot on him in the Rule 5 draft. He stuck in the majors in 2003, posting a 3-7, 5.79 record in 84 innings over eight starts and 26 relief outings. Once he satisfied his Rule 5 roster requirements, he returned to the minors. The Tigers sent him to Erie of the Double-A Eastern League in 2004. He went 10-3, 2.42, with 98 strikeouts in 111.2 innings, before returning to the majors after the All-Star break. In eight starts and seven relief appearances for the 2004 Tigers, he went 4-3, 4.39 in 53.1 innings.
Ledezma split the 2005 season between the majors and Triple-A Toledo of the International League, struggling in both spots. He finished the big league year with a 7.07 ERA in 49.2 innings over ten starts. He went 5-3, 5.29 in 51 innings for Toledo. He made 12 starts with Toledo in 2006, while making seven starts and 17 relief appearances that year for the Tigers. The results were much better at both levels that season, finishing up with a 4-3, 2.52 record in 71.1 innings with Toledo, and a 3-3, 3.58 record in 60.1 innings with Detroit. Ledezma started the 2007 season with the Tigers, then got traded to the Atlanta Braves on June 20th, before they flipped him to the San Diego Padres on July 31st. He combined to go 3-3, 5.61 in 59.1 innings over 44 games (one start), with his best results coming in Detroit. Ledezma made six starts and 19 relief appearances for the 2008 Padres, before they put him on waivers in late August. He was picked up by the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he made three shutout appearances to finish the season. Before being placed on waivers, he had a 4.47 ERA in 54.1 innings. He tossed four scoreless innings during his brief time in Arizona. Ledezma signed with the Washington Nationals for 2009, but they released him in April after just five games, in which he allowed seven runs in 5.2 innings. He signed with the Toronto Blue Jays, but spent the rest of the season in the minors with three different affiliates, combining for a 3.49 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 38.2 innings.
Ledezma pitched most of the 2010 season in Triple-A with Indianapolis of the International League, where he posted a 0.94 ERA in 35 relief appearances, with eight saves and 50 strikeouts in 38.1 innings.. The Pirates called him up in late July. He went 0-3, 6.86 in 27 games, striking out 22 batters in 19.2 innings. He was selected off of waiver by the Blue Jays in early 2011, then pitched poorly during his brief time in the majors that season, allowing ten runs in six innings. It ended up being his last seasons at the big league level. He spent the rest of 2011 with Las Vegas of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he went 1-1, 4.50 in 48 innings, with 64 strikeouts. He signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers for 2012, where he pitched poorly in Triple-A, posting a 6.99 ERA in 38 appearances for Albuquerque of the Pacific Coast League. Ledezma pitched in Japan at the end of 2012 and all of 2013. He had a 2.40 ERA in 15 innings in 2012, followed by a 2.34 ERA in 57.2 innings during the 2013 season. He then played summer ball in Mexico during the 2014-17, 2019 and 2021 seasons. He was last active in baseball during the 2021-22 off-season, and he pitched winter ball in Venezuela for 16 seasons.
Ledezma went 2-3, 1.91 in 28.1 innings in Mexico in 2014. He had a 3.55 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 38 innings during the 2015 season. He played for two different teams in the Mexican league in 2016 with vastly different results. He had a 4.91 ERA in 21 games with Puebla, and a 2.03 ERA in 30 games with Veracruz. His 2017 season saw him post a 3.27 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 22 innings with Veracruz. He last two stints were both brief and did not go well. He gave up six runs over 6.2 innings in 2019, and 12 runs in 11 innings in 2021. Ledezma finished his big league career with 99 straight appearances without a win, which immediately followed three straight relief appearance victories with the Detroit Tigers from April 11-17, 2007. Over all levels of pro ball, including winter league action, he has made a total of 788 appearances, including 174 starts. Those numbers don’t include his 1998 stats from the Dominican Summer League, which are unavailable online. In his nine big league seasons, Ledezma posted a 15-25, 5.40 record in 396.1 innings, with 40 starts and 152 relief appearances. Despite making over 600 relief appearances over the years, he has just 28 saves to his credit, all in the minors or winter ball.
Jeff McCurry, pitcher for the 1995 and 1998 Pirates. He signed as a 14th round draft pick of the Pirates in 1990 out of San Jacinto College, but he didn’t debut until a year later. The Pirates also selected him in the 20th round in 1989 out of San Jacinto. He came out of college as a reliever, and he started just three games (all in the minors) during his nine-year career in pro ball. The Pirates began his career in the Gulf Coast League at age 21. He had a 2.57 ERA in 14 innings over six appearances. He moved up to Welland of the short-season New York-Penn League, where he allowed one run in 15.2 innings, while picking up 18 strikeouts. McCurry split the 1992 season between Low-A Augusta of the South Atlantic League and High-A Salem of the Carolina League, combining for an 8-3, 3.01 record, 86 strikeouts and ten saves in 92.2 innings over 49 appearances, with similar results at each level. He was back in Salem to start 1993, then moved to Double-A Carolina of the Southern League mid-season, after posting a 3.89 ERA in 44 innings. McCurry made a total of 64 appearances in 1993. He picked up 22 saves (all with Salem) that year, while posting a 3.45 ERA in 73 innings. After averaging nearly a strikeout per inning the previous season, he had 5.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 1993. He spent all of 1994 with Carolina, going 6-5, 3.21 in 81.1 innings, with 11 saves in 48 appearances (two starts).
McCurry played just three games in Triple-A with Calgary of the Pacific Coast League before making his big league debut on May 6, 1995. As a rookie for the 1995 Pirates, he went 1-4, 5.02 in 55 relief appearances, pitching 61 total innings. He issued 30 walks and struck out 27 batters. The Pirates put him on waivers following the season, where he was taken by the Detroit Tigers. McCurry pitched two mid-July games for the Tigers, retiring the only batter he faced in his season debut, before giving up nine runs over three innings in his last game. The rest of the year was spent with Toledo of the Triple-A International League, where he had a 4.76 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 58.2 innings. He was taken by the Colorado Rockies in the December 1996 minor league draft, then split the 1997 season between Colorado and Colorado Springs of the Pacific Coast League. He actually put up better stats in the majors that season, though Colorado Springs was also a hitter-friendly park, just like Coors Field. McCurry had a 5.09 ERA in 17.2 innings over 16 appearances with Colorado Springs. He had a 4.43 ERA in 40.2 innings over 33 appearances with the Rockies during the 1997 season, finishing with 20 walks and 19 strikeouts.
The Pirates signed McCurry on December 18, 1997 as a free agent. In 16 big league relief appearances during the 1998 season, he went 1-3, 6.52 in 19.1 innings, with a 1.71 WHIP. He spent the rest of the year in Triple-A with Nashville of the Pacific Coast League, where he had a 4.96 ERA and 23 saves in 45.1 innings. He signed with the Houston Astros for the 1999 season, which ended up being his last in the majors. He gave up eight runs over four innings in five big league games in late May/early June, then spent the rest of the season in Triple-A with New Orleans of the Pacific Coast League. He had a 4.15 ERA and 14 saves in 43.1 innings over 40 appearances with New Orleans. That also ended up also being his final season in pro ball. McCurry went to Spring Training with the Atlanta Braves in 2000. He was slated to go to Triple-A, but he didn’t play that season. He finished up his five-year big league career with a 3-12, 5.89 record in 128.1 innings over 111 appearances. He had a 5.38 ERA in 80.1 innings with the Pirates. At the time of McCurry’s Major League debut, he was just the sixth player in Major League history who was born in Japan.
Danny O’Connell, infielder for the 1950 and 1953 Pirates. He played four years in the minors for the Brooklyn Dodgers before the Pirates acquired him on October 1, 1949 in exchange for minor league second baseman Jack Cassini and $50,000. O’Connell batted between .292 and .327 while playing 121+ games during those four seasons with Brooklyn. He debuted at 17 years old in 1946 with Bloomingdale of the Class-D North Atlantic League, where he hit .327 in 121 games, with 91 runs, 43 extra-base hits, 78 RBIs and an .870 OPS. He moved up to Trois-Rivieres of the Class-C Canadian-American League in 1947, where he hit .311 in 133 games, with 67 runs, 30 doubles, seven triples, 49 RBIs, 66 walks and an .800 OPS. O’Connell skipped a level to Greenville of the Class-A South Atlantic League in 1948. He hit .292 in 146 games that year, with 91 runs, 34 doubles, nine triples, ten homers, 62 RBIs, 47 walks and a .785 OPS. In his final season with Brooklyn, he batted .314 in 148 games for St Paul of the Triple-A American Association. He had 89 runs scored, 29 doubles, 17 homers, 102 RBIs, 61 walks and an .874 OPS.
As a rookie with the Pirates in 1950, the 21-year-old O’Connell put up a .292 average, with 39 runs,16 doubles, eight homers, 32 RBIs and a .768 OPS in 79 games, earning himself a third place finish in the National League Rookie of the Year voting. He debuted in the majors on July 14th, after hitting .351/.413/.512 in 84 games for Triple-A Indianapolis of the American Association. O’Connell took the starting spot at third base for the Pirates that year, then soon switched over to shortstop, where he started 65 games. He then spent the next two years in the Army during the Korean War, before returning to the Pirates for the 1953 seasons. O’Connell played 149 games that first year back, putting up a .294 average, with 88 runs, 41 extra-base hits, 55 RBIs, 57 walks and a .762 OPS. He made 104 starts at third base and 45 at second base. On December 26, 1953, the Pirates traded him to the Milwaukee Braves for six players and $100,000. Outside of the huge sum of money by 1953 standards, the Pirates received very little for their return. O’Connell played another eight seasons in the majors, finishing his career with a .260 average, 527 runs, 181 doubles, 31 triples, 39 homers and 320 RBIs in 1,143 games. The Pirates dealt him at his peak offensively, though he became a strong defender at second base, which helped add value. He had a .764 OPS while with the Pirates, and he topped out at a .688 mark during his eight seasons after the trade.
O’Connell hit .279 in 146 games for the 1954 Braves, compiling 61 runs scored, 34 extra-base hits, 37 RBIs and a .683 OPS. He played 124 games the next year, finishing up with a .225 average, 47 runs, 25 extra-base hits, 40 RBIs and a .592 OPS. He batted .239 in 1956, with 71 runs, 17 doubles, nine triples, 42 RBIs, 76 walks and a .663 OPS in 139 games. O’Connell’s best season at the plate outside of Pittsburgh came in 1957, when he was traded (along with two other players) mid-season to the New York Giants in exchange for Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst. O’Connell hit .256 in 143 games that year between both stops, with 86 runs, 27 doubles, eight homers, 36 RBIs, 52 walks and a .688 OPS. His results were much better after the trade, with a .720 OPS in 95 games with New York. He batted .232 in 107 games during the 1958 season, with 44 runs scored, 17 extra-base hits, 23 RBIs, 51 walks and a .654 OPS. His 1959 season was limited to 66 plate appearances over 34 games, with a .195 average and a .495 OPS. He was buried on the bench that season, getting into just 11 of the first 108 games, before seeing some extra playing time in August/September.
O’Connell spent the 1960 season in the minors with Tacoma of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. He hit .312 in 143 games that year, with 74 runs, 35 doubles, four homers, 59 RBIs, 78 walks and an .815 OPS. He then returned to the big leagues in 1961 as a member of the expansion Washington Senators (now the Texas Rangers), seeing most of his time there at third base. He batted .260 in 138 games in 1961, with 61 runs, 30 doubles, 37 RBIs, 15 steals, a .692 OPS and a career high 77 walks. He played his final big league season in 1962, batting .263 in 84 games, with 24 runs, 11 extra-base hits, 18 RBIs and a .662 OPS. He then finished his career in the minors the next year with York of the Double-A Eastern League, where he had a .266 average and a .746 OPS in 26 games. He passed away at 40 years old from a combo of a heart issue while driving and auto accident that resulted.
Fern Bell, outfielder for the 1939-40 Pirates. He came into pro ball as an inconsistent power hitter, though he started with a bang, belting 35 doubles and 24 homers as an 18-year-old in 1931. That year he hit .310 in 161 games, splitting his time between two Class-C clubs (Beckley of the Middle Atlantic League and Charlotte of the Piedmont League) and Memphis of the Class-A Southern Association. He played in Memphis during each of the next two years, though he played just 106 games total and hit a total of four homers. Bell batted .294 in 1932, with 18 doubles, six triples and two homers in 78 games. An illness caused him to miss some time from July through September. He played 28 games for Memphis in 1933, hitting for a .257 average and seven extra-base hits. The rest of the season was spent back with Beckley, where he put up a .343 average in 91 games, with 24 doubles, five triples and 15 homers (these stats are missing from his online page). Bell had a .350 average, 50 doubles, 12 triples and 28 homers over 151 games in 1934, with most of those results coming with Tyler of the Class-C West Dixie League, though he also played 43 games with Hollywood of the Double-A Pacific Coast League (highest level of the minors at the time), where he put up solid results. Bell played 81 games for Newark of the Double-A International League, and 40 games with Oakland of the Pacific Coast League, during the 1935 season. He combined to hit .287 that year, with 19 doubles, six triples and six homers, with slightly better results with Oakland. The 1936 season was spent entirely with Oakland, where he hit .313 in 133 games, with 63 runs, 26 doubles, 11 triples, nine homers and 80 RBIs.
Bell played 56 games for Oakland, and 75 games for Kansas City of the Double-A American Association during the 1937 season. He also saw two games back in Newark, though stats are unavailable. He combined to hit .291 in 131 games, with 64 runs, 20 doubles, nine triples, six homers and 51 RBIs. Bell spent eight seasons in the minors, playing for nine different teams, before he got his first shot in the majors at 26 years old with the 1939 Pirates. He split the 1938 season between Louisville of the American Association (129 games) and Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League, hitting a combined .321 in 173 games, with 101 runs, 37 doubles, 17 triples, 14 homers and 120 RBIs. Those big numbers drew the attention of the Pirates during the National League draft held on October 4, 1938, which in turn helped earn him an Opening Day spot for the 1939 Pirates. During that 1939 season, Bell had a .286 average, with 44 runs, 15 extra-base hits, 34 RBIs, 42 walks (just 18 strikeouts) and a .770 OPS in 83 games. He played all three outfield positions, with most of his time coming in center field. He began the 1940 season with the Pirates, but after playing only six games during the first three weeks, he was sold outright to Toronto of the Double-A International League on May 6th. Teams were allowed to carry 30 players to start the season that year, but they had to be down to 25 players by May 15th. Bell was the first cut to get from 30 down to 25. While with the Pirates that season, he went 0-for-3 with a walk, pinch-hitting four times and pinch-running twice.
Bell never played in the majors again after his time with the Pirates. He spent the next four seasons in the minors before he joined the Navy during WWII, which in turn ended his baseball career. He played 133 games for Toronto during that 1940 season, posting a .250 average, with 18 doubles, six triples and four homers. He played 151 games for St Paul of the American Association in 1941, finishing with a .284 average, 96 runs, 31 doubles, 18 homers, 80 RBIs and a .789 OPS. He’s credited online with playing for Zanesville of Middle Atlantic League that year, but that was an outfielder named Fred Bell, who played baseball from 1940 until 1955 without making the majors. Fern Bell played for Oakland, Hollywood and Los Angeles of the Pacific Coast League in 1942. He combined to hit .246 in 128 games, with 41 runs, 30 extra-base hits and 43 RBIs. His final season was spent with Oakland, where he hit .263 in 147 games, with 44 runs, 36 extra-base hits, 72 RBIs and a .662 OPS. In the winter between his two seasons with the Pirates, he worked as a post office clerk in Los Angeles. His name Fern was just a shortened version of his first name (Fernando).