This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: January 23rd, A Lefty Catcher; Pirates and Braves Swap Hall of Famers

Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus a trade of note involving two future Hall of Famers.

The Trade

On this date in 1921, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded infielder Walter Barbare, outfielders Billy Southworth and Fred Nicholson, along with $15,000 cash, to the Boston Braves in exchange for shortstop Rabbit Maranville. It was a lot to give up for one player, but the Pirates were picking up a star player. Southworth was an everyday outfielder who hit .284/.348/.374 over 146 games in 1920. Nicholson batted .360 that year in 99 games, with a .934 OPS. It was his first full season in the majors. He was held back a little by poor fielding, but he got a chance to play when Hall of Fame center fielder Max Carey was out due to illness. Barbare was a solid backup infielder with six years of experience in the majors, the last two years (1919-20) with the Pirates. All three were in their 20’s and younger than Maranville, who was 29 years old at the time. Maranville was a top-notch defensive shortstop (all-time, not just his era) and he was a decent hitter with some speed. The trade ended up helping both teams, giving the Pirates a much needed defensive upgrade in the infield, plus Maranville had his best offensive seasons while in Pittsburgh.

The Braves replaced one regular player with two everyday players, while Nicholson also saw plenty of time off the bench (plus the team really needed the cash). Boston saw their team in one season go from 92 losses in 1920, to a winning record (79-74) in 1921. The Pirates won 90 games in 1921 to finish in second place, while making an 11-game improvement in the win column. Maranville would play four seasons with the Pirates before he was traded to the Chicago Cubs. He put up 11.5 WAR during his time in Pittsburgh, plus he still had decent trade value at the end of his time with the team. The Braves received 9.3 WAR from their three players, who spent a combined seven seasons in Boston. Both Barbare and Nicholson would be sold to a minor league team in Toledo, while Southworth was traded in 1923 to the New York Giants in a deal that included three future Hall of Famers. Maranville had a 23-year career in the majors that led to the Baseball Writers of America inducting him into the Hall of Fame in 1954. Although he wasn’t inducted as a player, Billy Southworth also made the Hall of Fame in 2008, getting elected by the Veteran’s Committee as a manager.

The Players

Victor Cole, pitcher for the 1992 Pirates. He was a 14th round draft pick of the Kansas City Royals in 1988 out of Santa Clara University. While he went to school in the U.S., he was born in Russia, which has produced nine big league players, though he’s the only one since 1932. He had an outstanding debut after the draft, going 6-0, 1.84, with 68 strikeouts in 58.2 innings, while splitting his season over two levels. The 20-year-old right-hander pitched 15 games in relief for Eugene of the short-season Northwest League, before jumping to Baseball City of the Class-A Florida State League, where he went 5-0, 2.06 in five starts and five relief appearances. Cole moved to a full-time starting role in 1989, and had decent stats with Baseball City, going 3-1, 3.86 in 42 innings over nine starts. He then did poorly in Double-A that season with Memphis of the Southern League, posting a 1-9, 6.36 record in 63.2 innings over 13 starts. He had 82 strikeouts and a 1.73 WHIP in 105.2 innings that season. He spent the entire 1990 season in Memphis, seeing occasional starts that were mixed with long relief outings. He had a 3-8, 4.35 record that year in 107.2 innings over six starts and 40 relief appearances. He had 102 strikeouts, though he also issued 70 walks. He moved up to Omaha of the Triple-A American Association in 1991, but he wasn’t there long. Cole came to the Pirates on May 3, 1991 in an even up exchange for big league veteran OF/1B Carmelo Martinez.

With the Pirates, Cole split the 1991 season between Double-A Carolina of the Southern League and Triple-A Buffalo of the American Association. Including his brief time in Triple-A for Kansas City that year, he went 2-5, 3.03 in 65.1 innings over 45 appearances, with 12 saves, 48 walks and 68 strikeouts. The Pirates returned him to the starting role in 1992 for the first time since 1989. He went 11-6, 3.11 in 19 starts at Buffalo, with 69 strikeouts in 115.2 innings. In the middle of those minor league starts, the Pirates called him up in June. He pitched eight games (four starts) for the Pirates over a five-week span, finishing with an 0-2, 5.48 record in 23 innings, with a 1.61 WHIP, 14 walks and 12 strikeouts. That ended up being his entire big league career. He struggled badly back in the minors in 1993, posting a 7.21 ERA in 32.1 innings before getting released mid-season. Most of his time in Pittsburgh that year was spent back in Double-A Carolina, where he made 27 relief appearances. He had an 8.54 ERA in six starts with Buffalo. Cole finished the year in the Milwaukee Brewers system, posting a 10.50 ERA in six appearances with New Orleans of the American Association. After a very rough April in Double-A El Paso of the Texas League for the Brewers in 1994, he signed back with the Royals for the remainder of the season. They sent him back to Double-A Memphis, where he finished the season with a combined 7.21 ERA in 43.2 innings.

Cole would spend the 1995-96 seasons in the minors for the San Diego Padres, while also playing independent ball each year. He ended up back in Memphis in 1995, after they switched affiliates from the Royals to the Padres that off-season. He also pitched for Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League, combining to go 1-2, 3.86 in 39.2 innings. His independent ball time was spent with Salinas of the Western League, where he had a 3.57 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 22.2 innings. Cole pitched 15 innings over eight appearances for Memphis in 1996, posting a 1.20 ERA. His indy ball time that year was spent with Pine Bluff of the Big South League, where he had an 0.77 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 23.1 innings. He pitched in Taiwan in 1997 (no stats available), then played in the minors for the Chicago Cubs in 1998-99, before splitting the 2000-01 seasons between Korea and Triple-A for the St Louis Cardinals. He then finished his 15-year pro career in Korea in 2002, ten years after his lone chance in the majors. Cole pitched 57 games in 1998, split between West Tennessee of the Southern League, and Iowa of the Pacific Coast League. He combined to go 4-4, 3.33, with 100 strikeouts in 97.1 innings. He pitched 36 games that were split between the same two teams in 1999. Cole went 5-2, 4.41 in 63.1 innings. He had a 2.89 ERA in 18.2 innings with Memphis of the Pacific Coast League (Cardinals) in 2000, while going 8-10, 6.14 in 114.1 innings in Korea, where he had 78 walks and 71 strikeouts. He gave up six runs over 5.1 innings with Memphis in 2001, then put together a 6-9, 5.04 record in 119.2 innings in Korea. Cole finished off his career in 2002 with a 12-6, 4.01 record in 27 starts in Korea, with 114 strikeouts in 157 innings.

Benny Distefano, 1B/OF for the Pirates in 1984, 1986 and 1988-89. He was drafted three times out of Alvin Community College before he finally signed with the Pirates after they made him their second round pick in 1982. The Los Angeles Dodgers took him in the 16th round of the January 1981 draft, then the Toronto Blue Jays took him in the second round of the June 1981 draft. Distefano debuted in A-Ball with Greenwood of the South Atlantic League in 1982, where he hit .289 in 136 games, with 74 runs, 23 doubles, 15 homers, 89 RBIs, 85 walks and an .862 OPS. He was a full-time first baseman during his first season, then moved to outfield as his main position in his second season. He skipped to Double-A Lynn of the Eastern League in 1983, where he hit .271 in 137 games, with 71 runs, 19 doubles, seven triples 25 homers, 92 RBIs, 63 walks and an .853 OPS, while striking out just 40 times in 556 plate appearances. His success in 1983 helped lead to him getting called up to Pittsburgh a month into the 1984 season. The Pirates gave him 86 plate appearances over a three-month span, before sending him back to the minors in early August, after he hit .167/.226/.346, with ten runs, three homers and nine RBIs. Distefano played with Hawaii of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League for the rest of that season, where he batted .304 in 66 games, with 40 runs, 27 extra-base hits, 33 RBIs and an .878 OPS.

Distefano spent all of 1985 in Hawaii, hitting for a .238 average, with 74 runs, 49 extra-base hits, 67 RBIs, 69 walks and a .749 OPS in 136 games. He would spend the majority of the 1986-88 seasons in Triple-A for the Pirates, as their affiliate moved to Vancouver of the Pacific Coast League in 1987, then Buffalo of the American Association in 1988. He received just 82 plate appearances in the majors over that three-year span. He batted .179/.191/.282 in 42 plate appearances over 31 games for the 1986 Pirates, while putting up a .259 average with Hawaii, with 58 runs, 25 doubles, nine triples, 13 homers, 57 RBIs and a .792 OPS in 111 games. The entire 1987 season was spent with Vancouver, where he hit .278 in 130 games, with 67 runs, 20 doubles, 15 homers, 77 RBIs, 77 walks and an .850 OPS. Distefano hit .345/.394/.621 in very limited time with the Pirates in 1988, getting 33 plate appearances in 16 games. He played 135 games that year for Buffalo, putting up a .264 average, with 69 runs, 26 doubles, 19 homers, 63 RBIs and a .784 OPS. His best season in the majors was in 1989 when he played 96 games, though 50 of those games were as a pinch-hitter. He spent just five games in the minors that year with Buffalo. He hit .257 for the Pirates, with 12 runs, eight doubles, two homers, 15 RBIs and a .671 OPS in 154 at-bats. He caught three Major League games that season. To this day, he is still the last left-handed throwing catcher in Major League history. All three appearances behind the plate came as defensive replacements late, and he caught a total of six innings.

Distefano was released by the Pirates after that 1989 season. His only other MLB experience was 52 games for the 1992 Houston Astros. He spent the 1990 season in Japan, where he had a .216 average and a .591 OPS in 56 games. He then spent the 1991 season at Triple-A with the Baltimore Orioles, where he hit .267 in 124 games for Rochester of the International League. That year he had 52 runs, 23 doubles, 18 homers, 83 RBIs and a .791 OPS. He played briefly in Triple-A in 1992 for the Astros (Tuscon of the Pacific Coast League) and Seattle Mariners (Calgary of the Pacific Coast League), but a majority of the season was spent as a bench player in the majors with the Astros, where he had a .233/.303/.300 slash line in 66 plate appearances. He had a .291 average and a .750 OPS in 32 minor league games that year. Distefano’s career ended in 1993 after playing for the Texas Rangers Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City of the American Association. He batted .222 in 116 games that year, with 51 runs, 28 extra-base hits, 34 RBIs and a .615 OPS. He caught one game in the minors while with the Mariners, and two games while with the Rangers, which were his only minor league catching appearances. While in Pittsburgh, Distefano had a .227 average, with seven homers and 35 RBIs in 188 games. Most of his playing time in Pittsburgh was at first base, though he saw starts in right field occasionally, and he also played some left field.

Alfonso Pulido, pitcher for the 1983-84 Pirates. He was pitching in the Mexican League when the Pirates called him up to the majors for the first time at 26 years old. His career began there in his home country in 1977, and he stayed there until his sale to the Pirates. His stats show a 6-6, 4.36 record in 99 innings over 14 starts in 1977. He had success in limited use by Cordoba in 1978, allowing one run over 12 innings. The rest of the year was spent with Matamoros, where he went 10-3, 2.11 in 111 innings over 16 starts and two relief appearances. He had ten complete games and three shutouts. He spent the 1979 season with Cordoba, where he had five starts and 15 relief outings. Pulido went 3-2, 4.21 in 47 innings that year. That was followed by a solid campaign for a team from Reynosa in 1980. He pitched 179 innings that year, going 12-10, 3.22 in 20 starts and 13 relief appearances, with 11 complete games and three shutouts. He had 17 starts and 14 relief appearances for Mexico City in 1981. His record that year stood at 5-6, 3.07 in 126 innings. He pitched in relief for Mexico City in 1982, posting an 8-8, 2.41 record in 93.1 innings over 43 appearances. He’s credited with one start that year, which was a complete game shutout. Pulido switched back to starting in 1983, where he had a 17-3, 1.89 record in 187.1 innings for Mexico City.

Pulido’s contract was purchased by the Pirates on July 22, 1983, though they allowed him to remain with his team in Mexico for five more weeks. Despite pitching in relief during the previous season, he already had 18 complete games at the time of his purchase by the Pirates. He ended up pitching one game that year for Pittsburgh on September 5th, allowing three runs in two innings as a starter. Milt May was his catcher in that game and they were having trouble with the signs because May didn’t know Spanish and Pulido didn’t know any English. It led to Tony Pena translating from the dugout, though at one point Pena came a little too far on to the field and the Pirates were charged with a visit to the mound. Pulido went 18-6, 2.54 in 216 innings at Triple-A Hawaii of the Pacific Coast League during the 1984 season. He made 28 starts, had 16 complete games and four shutouts. He had 123 strikeouts that year, which marked the only time he surpassed 100 strikeouts in a season.He got a September call-up, and once again he pitched just one game and two innings for the Pirates. He allowed two runs in relief during an 8-3 loss to the St Louis Cardinals on September 15th. Following the season, the Pirates traded him to the New York Yankees, along with Dale Berra and Jay Buhner, for Steve Kemp and Tim Foli.

Pulido spent the 1985 season with Columbus of the Triple-A International League, where he had an 11-8, 3.39 record in 146 innings over 20 starts and 11 relief appearances. He began the 1986 season back in Columbus, posting a 5-8, 2.92 record in 95.2 innings. Pulido came up to the majors in mid-June and pitched ten games (three starts) for the Yankees in 1986, which ended up being his only other big league time outside of Pittsburgh. Nine of those games came between June 12th and July 8th, while he appeared in one September game one the day he was recalled (September 1st), then didn’t pitch again. Pulido had a 4.70 ERA in 30.2 innings with the Yankees. He spent the entire 1987 season back in Columbus, going 9-5, 3.56 in 126.1 innings over 13 starts and 21 relief appearances. He then returned to his home country of Mexico and was active there in pro ball until 1994. His only available online stats from his last seven seasons show an 11-4, 2.52 record in 139.1 innings during the 1988 season. Pulido threw a pitch that you don’t often see now, relying on a screwball. However, he had three different types of screwballs that he used.

Kurt Bevacqua, utility fielder for the 1974 and 1980-81 Pirates. He spent 15 seasons in the majors for six different teams. He was drafted three times and traded six times, yet he played just 970 total games, many of those off of the bench. Bevacqua was first drafted by the New York Mets in 1966 in the 32nd round out of Miami-Dade College. The Atlanta Braves selected him in the sixth round of the January 1967 draft. He finally signed after the Cincinnati Reds picked him in the 12th round of the June 1967 draft. Before he made the majors, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians in May of 1971. He played his first two seasons with Tampa of the Class-A Florida State League. Bevacqua hit .221 in 65 games in 1967, with 13 runs, three extra-base hits, 11 RBIs and a .503 OPS. He improved in 1968 to a .251 average, along with 18 runs, 15 extra-base hits, 26 RBIs and a .653 OPS in 91 games. He moved up to Asheville of the Double-A Southern League in 1969, where he hit .316 in 133 games, with 72 runs, 26 doubles, 16 homers, 91 RBIs and an .856 OPS. He attended the Fall Instructional League after the season, back when it was run like an actual league, and he hit just .209/.265/.327 in 41 games. That’s poor when you consider that most of the players in the league had less experience than him, while playing at lower levels. Bevacqua moved up to Triple-A Indianapolis of the American Association in 1970, where he hit .261 in 135 games, with 62 runs, 26 doubles, 15 homers, 67 RBIs and a .741 OPS. He played briefly at Indianapolis in 1971 before the trade to Cleveland, then saw time with their Triple-A affiliate (Wichita of the American Association) before getting his first shot in the big leagues. Between both stops, he had a .302 average in 60 games, with 36 runs, 16 doubles, nine homers and 38 RBIs.

Bevacqua debuted in the majors with the 1971 Indians, hitting .204/.222/.307, with nine runs, three doubles, three homers and 13 RBIs in 55 games, while playing five different positions. He saw limited time in Cleveland in 1972, spending most of the year with their new Triple-A affiliate in Portland of the Pacific Coast League, where he hit .313 in 145 games, with 57 runs, 27 doubles, seven triples, nine homers, 72 RBIs and a .790 OPS. In 15 games with the Indians that year, he batted .114/.184/.200, with a solo homer being his only extra-base hit. Bevacqua got traded to the Kansas City Royals shortly after the 1972 season ended. He played 99 games for the Royals during the 1973 season, compiling a .257 average, with 39 runs, 13 extra-base hits, 40 RBIs and a .647 OPS, while playing five positions. He was acquired by the Pirates in a December 1973 trade that involved five players, with Nelson Briles going to the Royals as the main piece in the deal. Bevacqua was then traded back to the Royals on July 8, 1974 after batting .114/.162/.143 with one run and no RBIs in 18 games with the Pirates. In the second deal, the Pirates got a minor league player who never made it (Calvin Meier), and cash. He batted .211/.290/.211 in 39 games with the 1974 Royals, finishing the year with one extra-base hit (a double) in 137 plate appearances.

Bevacqua was sold to the Milwaukee Brewers in March of 1975. He hit .226 over 116 games in Milwaukee, with a large majority of that time coming during the 1975 season. That first year he had a .229 average, with 30 runs, two homers, 24 RBIs, a .606 OPS and a career high 14 doubles, while seeing time at all four infield spots. His big league time in 1976 was limited to seven at-bats over 12 early-season games, while mostly being used as a pinch-runner. He played 95 games for Spokane of the Pacific Coast League that season, where he put up a .337 average, 70 runs, 24 doubles, 12 homers, 49 RBIs and a .931 OPS. Bevacqua was sold to the expansion Seattle Mariners right after the 1976 season ended, but they released him during Spring Training. He then signed with the Texas Rangers, where he put up a .333 average, 28 RBIs and a .970 OPS in 39 games during the 1977 season. Before getting called up in late July, he had a .352 average, 75 runs, 76 RBIs and a .968 OPS in 94 games for their Triple-A affiliate in Tuscon of the Pacific Coast League. His stats slipped back to earth in 1978 with the Rangers, batting .222/.271/.343 in 90 games, though he managed to hit a career high six homers, to go along with 21 runs, 12 doubles and 30 RBIs. He got traded to the San Diego Padres in October of 1978, in a five-player deal that also included a large cash sum ($300,000) for the time. Bevacqua played a career high 114 games during the 1979 season, mostly playing third base. He hit .253 that year, with 12 doubles, a homer, 34 RBIs, a .661 OPS and a career high 38 walks, while striking out just 25 times in 346 plate appearances. He also hit four triples that year, which is impressive for the fact that he hit just seven more triples in the rest of his 15-year career.

Bevacqua was being used mostly off of the bench in 1980, where he hit .268/.321/.380 in 79 plate appearances over 62 games. The Pirates got him from the Padres on August 5, 1980, in a four-player deal. He hit .163/.260/.186 over 22 games after the trade, and even saw limited time with Triple-A Portland of the Pacific Coast League. That was followed by limited playing time in the strike-shortened 1981 season, when he received just 34 plate appearances in 29 games. He went 7-for-27, with a double, homer and four RBIs. When Pittsburgh released him after the 1981 season, he signed back with the Padres, where he remained for his final four seasons. Bevacqua spent most of his late career as a pinch-hitter, starting a total of 90 games during the 1982-85 seasons. He hit .254 in 64 games in 1982, with 15 runs, nine doubles, 24 RBIs and a .659 OPS. He saw his most playing time during that four-year stretch in the 1983 season, and he responded by hitting .244 in 156 at-bats, with 17 runs, seven doubles, two homers, 24 RBIs and a .647 OPS in 74 games. His playing time and results really dropped in 1984, with a .200/.326/.275 slash line in 95 plate appearances over 59 games. He had a great finish to that season. Bevacqua got 18 plate appearances in the 1984 World Series against the Detroit Tigers, and he hit .412/.444/.882, with  four runs, two homers and four RBIs. He finished up his career with a .239 average in 71 games in 1985, with 17 runs, six doubles, three homers, 25 RBIs and 25 walks in limited plate appearances, which led to a .349 OPS.

Bevacqua was a career .236 hitter, though as a pinch-hitter he hit .258 in 376 games. He played a total of 69 games in his three seasons with the Pirates, hitting .171/.258/.229 in 121 plate appearances. He started 253 games during his career at third base, while also seeing 76 starts at second base, 63 at first base, 30 in left field, 14 in right field and two at shortstop. From the low offensive numbers and long career, you would assume that he was a strong defensive player, but his career dWAR is -4.2, giving him an overall career -3.9 WAR. As you would expect from the previously mentioned low career triple numbers, he wasn’t much of a runner. He was successful on just 12 of his 32 attempted stolen bases during his career. He ended up with 214 runs, 90 doubles, 27 homers and 275 RBIs.

Sam Jethroe, outfielder for the 1954 Pirates. He began his career in the Negro Leagues, debuting in pro ball in 1938. He signed his first minor league contract when he was 31 years old in 1948 with the Brooklyn Dodgers, after spending seven seasons with the Cleveland Buckeyes of the Negro American League. With the new rules put into place that declared the Negro Leagues to be Major League Baseball, Jethroe’s big league debut recently changed from 1950 to 1938. Stats are incomplete from those years and new games are continually added to the totals, but as of right now they show him hitting .314 in 158 games for the Buckeyes, with 136 runs scored, 46 doubles, nine homers, 91 RBIs and 38 stolen bases in seven seasons (1942-48). His Negro League time before 1942 amounted to one game with the Indianapolis ABC’s in which he went 1-for-3 with a double in 1938. He was playing semi-pro ball before joining Cleveland in 1942. After signing with the Dodgers in 1948, Jethroe reported to the Montreal Royals of the Triple-A International League, where he hit .322 in 76 games, with 52 runs, 31 extra-base hits, 25 RBIs, 18 steals and an .858 OPS. He hit .326 for Montreal in 1949, with 154 runs scored, 207 hits, 34 doubles, 19 triples, 17 homers, 83 RBIs, 79 walks, 89 stolen bases and a .923 OPS in 153 games. Brooklyn traded him to the Boston Braves in the 1949-50 off-season. He would go on to win the National League Rookie of the Year award in 1950 at 33 years old. He led the National League in stolen bases in each of his first two seasons.

Jethroe batted .273 in 141 games in 1950, with 100 runs, 28 doubles, 18 homers, 58 RBIs, 35 steals, 52 walks and a .780 OPS. He then followed that up in 1951 with a .280 average, 101 runs scored, 29 doubles, ten triples, 18 homers, 35 steals, 57 walks and an .816 OPS in 148 games. He got in those two good seasons before his age started to catch up to him in the majors. He slumped down to a .232 average in 1952, and he had 112 strikeouts, which was a huge number for that time. He still had 79 runs scored, 23 doubles, 13 homers, 68 walks and 28 stolen bases that year, but he finished with a .675 OPS, which was well off of his OPS over his first two seasons. Jethroe spent the 1953 season in the minors, hitting .309 with 137 runs, 70 extra-base hits, 27 steals, 109 walks and a .994 OPS for Toledo of the Triple-A American Association. The Braves traded him and five other players, as well as $100,000 cash, to the Pirates in exchange for young infielder Danny O’Connell on December 26, 1953. Pirates GM Branch Rickey wanted to add speed to his team and he believed that Jethroe would be able to add that specialty to the team. He ended up playing just two games for the Pirates, getting into two early season contests in 1954. He went 0-for-1 at the plate and played two innings in the outfield. He was sent to the minors on April 18th and finished his playing career there five seasons later, never making the majors again. Jethroe spent the 1954 season with Toronto of the International League, where he had a .305 average in 154 games, with 113 runs, 36 doubles, eight triples, 21 homers, 84 RBIs, 23 steals, 70 walks and an .883 OPS.

On January 4, 1955, Jethroe was sold outright to Toronto, officially ending his time with the Pirates. He spent each of his final five seasons playing in Toronto, wrapping up his pro career at 41 years old in 1958. He batted .262 in 1955, with 88 runs, 16 doubles, 16 homers, 66 RBIs, 24 steals, 72 walks and a .775 OPS in 145 games. He played 149 games in 1956, finishing with a .288 average, 105 runs, 25 doubles, 19 homers, 68 RBIs, 22 steals, 91 walks and an .843 OPS. Jethroe played 130 games in 1957, compiling a .277 average, 83 runs, 16 doubles, 15 homers, 39 RBIs, 24 steals and a .799 OPS. His final season saw a sharp decline, down to a .234 average and a .630 OPS in 68 games. In his 12-year big league career (with incomplete stats for the Negro Leagues included), Jethroe hit .275 in 601 games, with 416 runs, 226 extra-base hits, 272 RBIs and 136 steals. He’s credited with 177 homers and 368 steals in his entire pro career.

Jack Saltzgaver, second baseman for the 1945 Pirates. He began his pro career back in 1925. When he finally made the majors in 1932 at age 29, he was lucky to get another shot. At 22 years old, he debuted in the Class-D Mississippi Valley League with Ottumwa, where he hit .288 in 101 games, with 21 doubles, 11 triples and seven homers (minimal stats are available for most of his minor league seasons). He stayed with Ottumwa in 1926, where he had a .299 average, with 24 doubles, four triples and seven homers in 118 games. Saltzgaver moved up three levels in 1927 to Oklahoma City of the Class-A Western League. He hit .302 that year, with 26 doubles, 15 triples and six homers in 156 games. He stayed in Oklahoma City during the 1928-29 seasons. He hit .334 over 163 games in 1928, with 43 doubles, 22 triples and seven homers. He then batted .332 in 155 games in 1929, with 38 doubles, 14 triples and ten homers. Saltzgaver  moved up to St Paul of the Double-A American Association (highest level of the minors at the time) for the 1930 season, where he hit .309 in 154 games, with 43 doubles, 11 triples and 19 homers. He then batted .340 in 167 games during the 1931 season, with 37 doubles, 13 triples and 19 homers. He had 231 hits that year, the fourth straight season with 200+ hits. That led to his first big league try, which did not go well.

Saltzgaver made the Opening Day roster of the 1932 New York Yankees as a reserve. He lasted two months with the team. He hit just .128/.281/.213 in 60 plate appearances over 20 games, which included 12 starts at second base. He then finished the year with Newark of the Double-A International League, where he hit .318 in 109 games, with 26 doubles, eight triples and 13 homers. He spent all of 1933 in Newark, batting .305 in 165 games, with 31 doubles, five triples and 11 homers. He played 27 games with Newark in 1934, before getting his second chance in the majors. He didn’t exactly do great during that minor league time, putting up a .250 average and seven extra-base hits. Saltzgaver had his most productive Major League season in 1934, hitting .271 in 94 games, with 64 runs, 15 extra-base hits, 38 RBIs, 48 walks and a .711 OPS for the Yankees. He played another three seasons in New York, but saw less playing time each year, going from 94 games down to just 17 games by the 1937 season. He batted .262 in 1935, with 17 runs, six doubles, three homers, 18 RBIs, 23 walks and a .730 OPS in 61 games. Saltzgaver hit .211 over 34 games in 1936, with 14 runs, six extra-base hits, 13 RBIs, 13 walks and a .611 OPS. He was buried deep on the Yankees bench in 1937, sporadically getting pinch-running or pinch-hitting appearances throughout the year. He batted just 14 times all season and 11 of those plate appearances came in the final week. The Yankees won the 1936-37 World Series. They also won in 1932, but he wasn’t around for the final half of that season. He didn’t play either year in the postseason.

Saltzgaver was still playing with a Yankees affiliate from 1938-1945, but spent the entire time in the minors until the Pirates acquired him at age 42 to play second base. Those seven full seasons and the start of 1945 were spent with Kansas City of the American Association, where he put up decent numbers during the 1938-40 seasons, struggled in limited time in both 1941 and 1942, then started to hit well as the talent in the league dropped, with players leaving to serve in the military during WWII. Saltzgaver batted .277 in 129 games during the 1938 season, with 81 runs, 39 extra-base hits, 69 RBIs, 71 walks and an .807 OPS. He hit .289 in 1939, with 18 doubles, eight triples and four homers in 129 games. The 1940 season saw him bat .244 in 103 games, with 16 extra-base hits. He played just 51 games during the 1941 season, putting together a .255 average and a .698 OPS. He played 84 games in 1942, finishing with a .204 average, 18 runs, nine extra-base hits, 30 RBIs and a .512 OPS. Saltzgaver hit .263 over 103 games in 1943, with 44 runs, 18 extra-base hits, 22 RBIs and a .760 OPS.

Despite the talent drop around baseball, Saltzgaver was still 41 years old in 1944 when he hit .348/.481/.457 in 85 games for Kansas City. He had 42 runs, 17 extra-base hits, 22 RBIs, and he walked 53 times, which led to a .481 OBP. He was also the team manager at the time. Pittsburgh gave up cash and outfielder Bill Rodgers to pick up Saltzgaver from Kansas City on May 8, 1945. He had an .858 OPS in 11 games before the deal. The Pirates were worried about losing more players to the war effort when they acquired him, saying that they wanted experienced players as insurance in the infield. He remained with the team for the rest of the year, though he rarely played after May 31st, starting just nine games the rest of the way. Despite the lack of playing time, he hit .325 in his 117 at-bats. He had 20 runs, five doubles, three triples, ten RBIs and a .787 OPS. The Pirates released him outright on January 3, 1946. He returned to the minors to play one more season as a player/manager with Wilmington of the Class-B Interstate League, where he had a .293 average and a .797 OPS in 18 games. He then managed in the minors until 1950, staying with Wilmington for 1947, followed by three seasons with Little Rock of the Double-A Southern League. Saltzgaver finished with a .304 average in 2,036 minor league games, collecting 384 doubles, 138 triples and 116 homers. He batted .260 in the majors, with 131 runs scored, 26 doubles, ten homers and 82 RBIs in 278 games over six seasons. He had 105 walks and 80 strikeouts in the majors. A slight majority of his big league time was spent at third base. He played mostly second base with the Pirates.

Bill Regan, second baseman for the 1931 Pirates. He didn’t make the majors until age 27, when the Boston Red Sox acquired him in late May of 1926 for two players. That was after he hit .318 in 38 games for Columbus of the Double-A American Association, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. Regan debuted in pro ball in 1921 at 22 years old. He served in the military during WWI, and played semi-pro ball in his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA., before signing his first contract to play minor league ball. After his playing career, he also served in the military during WWII. His first season in the minors saw him hit .203 in 20 games for Bridgeport of the Class-A Eastern League. He had three doubles and a homer in his limited time. He spent the rest of the season with Kitchener of the Class-B Michigan-Ontario League, where he a .276 average in 113 games, with 61 runs, 17 doubles, 14 triples, five homers, 57 RBIs and a .743 OPS. He remained in Kitchener in 1922, where he hit .294 in 81 games, with 18 doubles, nine triples and four homers. He played for Flint of the same league during the 1923-24 season. Regan hit .325 over 94 games in 1923, with 16 doubles, seven triples and six homers. He then batted .323 in 1924, with 78 runs, 16 doubles, 18 triples, 16 homers, 76 RBIs and a .951 OPS in 102 games. He moved up two levels in 1925, where he had a .297 average in 149 games for Columbus. Regan had 33 doubles, ten triples and 12 homers that season. His online stats claim that he played 139 games for Portsmouth in the Class-B Virginia League in 1926, but he split the entire year between Columbus and the majors. Those Portsmouth stats actually belong to Red Rollings, who would end up as Regan’s teammate on the 1927-28 Red Sox.

After his strong start to the 1926 season in Columbus, Regan put up a  .263 average in 108 games during his rookie season in Boston, while playing full-time at second base. He had 40 runs, 28 extra-base hits, 40 RBIs and a .668 OPS. He would receive mild MVP support during each of the next two seasons, finishing 22nd and 25th in the voting. He batted .274 in 1927, with 43 runs, 37 doubles, ten triples, 66 RBIs and a .718 OPS in 129 games. He followed up that performance with a .264 average in 1928, with 53 runs, 43 extra-base hits (30 doubles), a .677 OPS and a career best 75 RBIs in 139 games. Current metrics rate Regan’s defense slightly below average in 1927, but he was above average every other year during his brief big league career. He had his best hitting season in 1929, when he had a  .288 average, with 38 runs, 27 doubles, seven triples, 54 RBIs and a .735 OPS in 104 games. The 1930 season was a very high offense year in the majors and Regan’s stats dropped off from the previous season, so an otherwise decent .266 average and 48 extra-base hits, probably hid the fact his skills were in decline. His .692 OPS in 134 games was 75 points below league average.

The Red Sox lost 102 games in 1930. They put Regan on waivers after the season, where he was picked up by the Pirates on February 19, 1931. Owner Barney Dreyfuss said that the Pirates picked him up to be a backup to second baseman George Grantham, who eventually moved over to first base for the rest of the season. For the 1931 Pirates, Regan hit .202/.239/.308 in 28 games, which were all spent at second base, where he had nine errors. The lack of hitting  earned him a trip back to the minors, where he would finish his playing days in 1935. He played his last big league game on June 14th, and then on the 15th he was sold outright to Baltimore of the Double-A International League. He had a .321 and 41 extra-base hits in 109 games over the rest of the 1931 season. Regan stayed in Baltimore for the 1932 season, where he put up a .282 average in 135 games, with 35 doubles, eight triples and 27 homers. He then played for three different International League teams during the 1933-34 seasons. He had a .261 average, 13 doubles, two triples and 12 homers in 118 games during the 1933 season, splitting his time between Buffalo and Montreal. Regan had a .251 average over 101 games in 1934, collecting 16 doubles, four triples and nine homers. He split that season between Buffalo and Toronto. He finished his career up in 1935 with Birmingham of the Class-A Southern League, which had a working agreement with the Pirates at the time. He hit .306 in 57 games that year, collecting 12 extra-base hits. In six seasons in the majors, Regan hit .267 in 641 games, with 236 runs scored, 158 doubles, 36 triples, 18 homers and 294 RBIs.

Ed Barney, outfielder for the 1915-16 Pirates. He began his pro career in the minors in 1913 at 23 years old, playing for two different teams in the Class-B Eastern Association, where he hit .273 in 127 games, with stats that show 19 extra-base hits (all doubles). He split that season between Meriden and Hartford. He hit .326 for Hartford in 1914, with 66 runs, 15 extra-base hits (12 doubles) and 46 stolen bases in 118 games. Barney made a jump of two levels in competition in 1915, moving up to Jersey City of the of the Double-A International League, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. He hit .335 in 62 games that season, with 29 runs, 12 doubles, one triple and 25 walks. That early season performance at a high level of the minors earned Barney a Major League job with the New York Yankees. He joined them in late July, but after hitting .194/.256/.194 in 11 games, they put him on waivers. The Pirates picked him up for the waiver price on August 20th, and he debuted with the team three days later. He got off to a rough start with the Pirates, going 1-for-18 in his first six games, which landed him on the bench. Two weeks later, he went 3-for-3 with two walks in his first start in 15 days. He would end up playing the final 21 games of the season in center field, hitting .307 during that stretch. That performance helped earn him a spot on the 1916 Pirates. His final full season big league stats show a .252 average in 43 games, with 17 runs, three extra-base hits, 13 RBIs, nine steals and a .624 OPS.

Barney played 45 games during his second season in Pittsburgh. He drew 23 walks and stole eight bases, but he hit just .197 with only four extra-base hits (all doubles). He finished with a .539 OPS in 166 plate appearances. He started 20 of the team’s first 24 games in center field, then moved to left field for another 18 starts. He was sent to the minors after playing his last Major League game on July 2nd. The Pirates traded Barney to Louisville of the Double-A American Association in an even up deal for infielder Jack Farmer on July 3rd. Barney had a .245 average and ten extra-base hits in 60 games with Louisville to finish out the season. He played for Little Rock of the Class-A Southern Association in 1917, where he hit .239 in 59 games, with six extra-base hits. He played for an independent team in 1918 called the Grayber baseball club, where he also played briefly in 1917. He was back in pro ball in 1919, playing the first of three straight seasons with Buffalo of the Double-A International League. At that time period, Double-A was the highest level of minor league play. He hit .274 in 1919, with 91 runs, 17 extra-base hits and 35 steals in 148 games. Barney followed that up with a .311 average in 1920, with 76 runs, 27 extra-base hits and 35 steals in 125 games. He then batted .329 in 1921, with 40 doubles, 12 triples and eight homers. That strong performance at 31 years old didn’t get him another chance at the majors.

Barney spent the 1922-23 seasons with Seattle of the Double-A Pacific Coast League. He hit .286 in 1922, with 17 doubles, three triples and eight homers in 132 games. He played just 34 games during the 1923 season, putting up a .291 average and three extra-base hits, which were all doubles. He finished out his career by seeing time with three clubs during the 1924-25 seasons, with most of that time spent back in Class-B. Barney hit .194 in ten games with Shreveport of the Class-A Texas League in 1924. The rest of the years was spent with Quebec of the Class-B Quebec-Ontario-Vermont League, where he hit .318 in 12 games, with three doubles and four triples. His final year was spent with Elmira of the New York-Penn League as a player-manager. He batted .307 that year in 109 games, with 18 doubles, two triples and three homers. His big league stats show a .224 average in 88 games, with 33 runs, five doubles, two triples, no homers, 22 RBIs and 17 steals.