Nine former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including a pitcher who won over 300 games. We also have one trade of note.
On this date in 1974, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded shortstop Jackie Hernandez to the Philadelphia Phillies for catcher Mike Ryan. Hernandez played three seasons for the Pirates, starting in 1971 when he became the everyday shortstop late in the year and helped lead the team to their fourth World Series title. He played 214 games in three years in Pittsburgh, hitting .205/.250/.286, with 50 runs, 25 extra-base hits and 48 RBIs. Ryan was 32 years old at the time of the trade, with ten seasons in the majors. He was strong defensively, with a great arm, but he was not much of a hitter. In fact, he had batted below .200 in six of his nine full seasons prior to the deal. After the trade, Ryan played just 15 games in 1974, then became the manager of the Pirates A-ball team in Charleston for the 1975-76 seasons. Hernandez was released before he ever played a game for the Phillies. He re-signed with the Pirates, then finished his career that 1974 season in Triple-A, although he did spend the next two seasons playing in Mexico before retiring as a player.
Guillermo Heredia, outfielder for the 2020 Pirates. He signed with the Seattle Mariners at 25 years old in 2016 out of Cuba. Heredia had five full seasons of pro ball at the highest level in his home country before defecting to Mexico in 2015. He hit .290 over 67 games during the 2009-10 season when he was 18 years old. He had 18 runs, 11 doubles, two homers and 16 RBIs. The next season he had a .235 average in 81 games, with 40 runs, 14 extra-base hits, 19 RBIs and a .633 OPS. Heredia had his best season in 2011-12, when he had a .343 average and a .966 OPS in 96 games. He finished with 91 runs, 19 doubles, nine triples, ten homers and 53 RBIs. He followed that up by .265 over 68 games, with 43 runs, 16 extra-base hits, 24 RBIs and a .765 OPS. He had ten steals that year, the only season he reached double digits. In his final full season in Cuba, he hit .255 in 61 games, with 39 runs, 14 extra-base hits, nine RBIs and a .725 OPS. He played just one game during the 2014-15 seasons before defecting. He signed with the Mariners in 2016, then began the season in the minors. He played 93 combined games between Double-A Jackson of the Southern League and Triple-A Tacoma of the Pacific Coast League, before making his big league debut on July 29, 2016. Heredia hit .250 in 45 games as a rookie, with 12 runs, one homer, 12 RBIs and a .664 OPS. He attended the Arizona Fall League after the season, where he hit .255/.387/.412, with five extra-base hits and nine walks in 14 games.
Heredia was a regular in the Seattle outfield for the entire 2017 season. He had a .249 average in 123 games, with 43 runs, 16 doubles, six homers, 24 RBIs and a .652 OPS. He established himself as a strong defensive player, splitting his time evenly between center field and left field. Despite a short stint back in Tacoma in 2018, Heredia saw a very slight bump in both his games played (125) and OPS (.661) that year, though he was actually seeing less playing time because more of his games came off of the bench. He batted .236 that season, with 29 runs scored, 14 doubles, five homers, 19 RBIs and 32 walks. He played more center field in 2018, when his dWAR went from 0.6 in 2017, to -0.6 in 2018. That latter number was below average, despite leading all American League center fielders with a 1.000 fielding percentage. He played winter ball in the Dominican after the season, where he hit .239/.271/.373 in 20 games, with three doubles and two homers.
Heredia was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays prior to the 2019 season. He saw his playing time cut that year to 89 games and 231 plate appearances, while playing all three outfield spots (mostly center field). He put up a .225/.306/.363 slash line, with 31 runs scored, 13 doubles, five homers and 20 RBIs. He was granted free agency after the season, then signed with the Pirates on January 9, 2020. Heredia went 3-for-16 in eight games for the Pirates before first being optioned to the Alternate Training Site in Altoona, which was used for extra players during the shortened 2020 season. He was then designated for assignment in late August, where he was picked up by the New York Mets. In seven games for the 2020 Mets, he went 4-for-18 at the plate, with two homers and three RBIs. The Atlanta Braves acquired him via waivers from the Mets in February of 2021. He hit .220 that year in 120 games, with 46 runs, 26 doubles, five homers, 26 RBIs and a .665 OPS. Heredia played ten playoff games that year, though he had just four plate appearances. He played four games without batting during the World Series, which was won by the Braves. He remained in Atlanta for 2022, where he saw a lot of time as a defensive replacement. Heredia batted 82 times in 74 games, finishing with a .158/.220/.342 slash line. He signed to play in Korea for the 2023 season. He’s a .231 hitter in 591 big league games, with 179 runs, 75 doubles, 27 homers and 114 RBIs.
Ted Power, pitcher for the 1990 Pirates. The Pirates signed the nine-year veteran in November 1989 as a free agent. The 35-year-old right-hander went 1-3, 3.66 in 40 relief appearances in 1990. He threw a total of 51.2 innings and recorded seven saves. The Pirates made the playoffs that season, and Power pitched three games in the NLCS, including starting game six, which was his only start all year. He would leave via free agency following the season. He pitched a total of 13 years in the majors with a 68-69, 4.00 record in 1,160 innings over 564 games (85 starts), but that 1990 season was his only postseason experience.
Power was a fifth round draft pick out of Kansas State by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1976. He debuted in High-A after the draft, then spent 2 1/2 seasons in Double-A before reaching Triple-A for the first time in 1979. At 21 years old in 1976, he went 1-3, 4.59, with a 44:58 BB/SO ratio in 51 innings for Lodi of the California League. Power had a 5-3, 3.88 record in 72 innings over 12 starts with San Antonio of the Texas League in 1977, finishing with 55 walks and 60 strikeouts. He made 13 starts and 12 relief appearances for San Antonio in 1978, going 6-5, 4.01 in 101 innings, with 75 walks and 97 strikeouts. He did poorly in ten starts with San Antonio in 1979, and only slightly better in Triple-A with Albuquerque of the Pacific Coast League in 17 starts, combining to go 10-6, 4.85 in 165 innings, with 125 walks and 121 strikeouts. Power would spend all of 1980 in Triple-A, as well as parts of the next two seasons. He went 13-7, 4.53 in 155 innings over 26 starts in 1980, showing the same strikeout rate (6.6 per nine innings), but a decent improvement in his walk rate (5.5 per nine innings). For Albuquerque during the strike-shortened 1981 season, he went 18-3, 3.56 in 187 innings over 26 starts and one relief outing. He showed a very slight improvement in his walk rate, but a drop in his strikeouts, going from 6.6 per nine innings in 1980, down to 5.3 in 1981.
Power debuted in the majors in 1981, pitching a total of 48 innings over two seasons with the Dodgers. He went 1-3, 3.41 in 14.1 innings for a Dodgers team that went on to win the World Series in 1981, then followed that up with a 1-1, 6.68 record in 33.2 innings over four starts and eight relief appearances in 1982. The rest of 1982 was spent back in Albuquerque, where he went 5-4, 5.18 in 73 innings over 14 starts. Power was traded to the Cincinnati Reds after the 1982 season ended. He spent the next five years there, serving in multiple roles during that time. He had a season where he pitched in long relief, another where he saved 27 games, and another in which he made 34 starts and threw 204 innings. Power did much better in the relief roles than he did as a starter. He went 5-6, 4.54 in 111 innings over six starts and 43 relief appearances in 1983. He led the National League with 78 appearances during the 1984 season, doing some closing work in the middle of the year, before taking over the role in September. He went 9-7, 2.82 in 108.2 innings, with 11 saves. The 1985 season was his year in the closing role full-time, and he went 8-6, 2.70, with 27 saves in 80 innings over 64 games. Power made ten starts and 46 relief appearances in 1986, posting a 10-6, 3.70 record in 129 innings. He moved to a full-time starter for the only time in his career in 1987, when he had a 10-13, 4.50 record in 204 innings. His 133 strikeouts that year marked the only time that he crossed the century mark in strikeouts in the majors. On November 6, 1987, he was traded to the Kansas City Royals in a deal that included Danny Jackson, who would later join the Pirates.
Power had a rough 1988 season split between the Royals and Detroit Tigers, which included a 5.91 ERA in 99 innings over 14 starts and 12 relief appearances. He spent the 1989 season with the St Louis Cardinals, before joining the Pirates. He made 15 starts and eight relief appearances that year, going 7-7, 3.71 in 97 innings. Those starts were the last of his big league career. After leaving the Pirates as a free agent after the 1990 season, he played for the 1991 Reds, the 1992-93 Cleveland Indians and the 1993 Seattle Mariners. Power was a full-time reliever for the 1991 Reds, going 5-3, 3.62 in 87 innings over 68 games. His two seasons in Cleveland had vastly different results, with a 2.54 ERA and six saves in 99.1 innings over 64 games in 1992, followed by a 7.20 ERA over 20 innings in 1993. He was released in late July of 1993, then signed with the Mariners five days later. He finished out his big league career with a 3.91 ERA and 13 saves in 25.1 innings for the 1993 Mariners. He finished his pro career with two starts in the independent Heartland League in 1998 at 43 years old, though it wasn’t any attempted comeback. He was working with the Huntington team, and tried to help the attendance by putting a former MLB pitcher on the mound, while promoting it ahead of time.
Ken Gables, pitcher for the 1945-47 Pirates. He spent his entire big league career with the Pirates. He debuted in pro ball in 1938, but his first big season came in 1942 for Binghamton of the Class-A Eastern League at 23 years old. He is credited with two seasons of pro ball before 1942, though no stats are available from either team, and he actually played three years. Gables played for Paducah of the Class-D Kentucky-Illinois-Tennessee League (KITTY League) in 1938. He was with Twin Falls of the Class-C Pioneer League in 1940. He played for Carthage of the Western Association in 1941, and also saw time in semi-pro ball that year. It appears that Gables stats with Carthage are currently being credited to a long-time minor league player named Glen Gabler, who was active until 1940 in pro ball, then played semi-pro in 1941. If the stats for Gabler are actually his (which appears to be correct through my research), then Gables had a 5-4, 3.53 record in 74 innings.
With Binghamton in 1942, Gables went 9-9, 3.17 in 159 innings over 19 starts and eight relief appearances. He spent the 1943 season serving in the military during WWII. He returned in 1944, when he played for Kansas City of the Double-A American Association (highest level of the minors at the time), where he allowed 29 runs in 19 innings. His career quickly turned around with a move across country. The Pirates acquired him from Oakland of the Double-A Pacific Coast League on September 8, 1944, in exchange for cash and a player to be named later. He had a 6.10 ERA over 93 innings that season, but his ERA dropped to 4.99 in 74 innings with Oakland. While that still wasn’t a strong number, it was a big improvement over his early season numbers. The Pirates had multiple scouts recommend signing him after first-hand views. He didn’t join the Pirates until Spring Training of 1945. His rookie season in the majors was his best, going 11-7, 4.15 in 138.2 innings over 16 starts and 13 relief appearances. He was one of five Pirates starters to win at least ten games that year. Gables didn’t make his first start until July 15th during a doubleheader, which he won 15-3 over Brooklyn, while pitching a complete game. His longest outing over the first three months of the season was five innings. From July 22nd to August 26th, he had four complete game starts with one run allowed, posting a 2.41 ERA over 74.1 innings during that stretch.
Gables mostly pitched in relief in 1946, posting a 5.27 ERA in 100.2 innings over seven starts and 25 relief appearances. He had a 4.08 ERA at Forbes Field that year, and a 6.26 ERA on the road. He had a similar half-season split, posting a 6.57 ERA during the first half of the year, followed by a 4.01 ERA in the second half. Gables pitched just once during the 1947 season, giving up two runs on April 20th, while recording just one out, in what turned out to be his final big league game at 28 years old. He was sent to the minors on May 5th, where he split the rest of the season between Atlanta of the Double-A Southern Association and Indianapolis of the Triple-A American Association. He went 8-11, 4.70 in 155 innings that year, with similar results at both levels. Following the 1947 season, he was traded along with two other players and cash to San Francisco of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in exchange for pitching prospect Bob Chesnes. Gables had a 13-11, 4.69 record in 62 big league games, 23 as a starter. He spent a total of ten seasons in the minors and compiled a 68-96, 4.01 record in 350 games (that doesn’t include the 1938, 1940-41 seasons). His last seven years were spent in the Pacific Coast League, where he had a run of three straight seasons (1951-53) with 205+ innings pitched each year. His previous high for innings pitched was the 159 he threw during his rookie year in pro ball. His final five years were spent with Sacramento, where he had some rough run support.
Gables pitched 34 games for San Francisco in 1948, going 6-7, 4.97 in 96 innings. He had a 6-6 record in 1949, with 130 innings pitched over 51 appearances. He pitched 22 games for San Francisco and 29 games for Los Angeles of the Pacific Coast League. The 1950 season was split between Los Angeles and Sacramento. He went 2-6, 5.30 in 73 innings over 43 appearances. In his first full season with Sacramento in 1951, Gables had an 11-13, 3.53 record in 237 innings. His 101 strikeouts that year are his career high for seasons with known pitching stats. From 1946 until 1951, the Pacific Coast League was classified as a Triple-A level, after previous being a Double-A level from 1912 until 1945. It became an Open level over his final three seasons of pro ball, though it was still basically Triple-A. Gables had a 9-11 record during the 1952 season, despite a 2.55 ERA in 205 innings. He then went 9-17, 3.01 over 230 innings in 1953. He struck out 100 batters that season, one short of his known career high. He finished up his career by going 3-7, 5.26 in 106 innings for Sacramento in 1954.
Donald Songer, pitcher for the 1924-27 Pirates. He pitched a total of 49 games for the Pirates, 16 as a starter, over four seasons. He was a member of two Pittsburgh clubs that went to the World Series, but did not participate in either postseason. He debuted in pro ball in 1920 at 21 years old, starting off at a high level. He played for Kansas City of the Double-A American Association that season, which was the highest level of minor league play at the time. He pitched 14 games that year and had a 3-2 record (available stats are limited). Songer pitched twice for Kansas City in 1921, but the majority of the season was spent with Augusta of the Class-B South Atlantic League, where he went 12-18, 3.82 in 245 innings. The next year he dropped down a level to Class-C, playing for the Enid Harvesters of the Western Association. He absolutely dominated the easier competition, posting a 31-4 record in 336 innings. His ERA isn’t available for that year, but we know he allowed just 1.98 runs per nine innings.
While pitching for Oklahoma City of the Class-A Western League in 1923, Songer had an 18-9 record, with 233 innings pitched. The league was clearly high offense that year judging by his record, as he allowed 6.18 runs per nine innings. The 1924 season back in Oklahoma City would help launch his big league career. He would win 22 games (with 15 losses) and throw 295 innings that season, while allowing 4.85 runs per nine innings. On August 15, 1924, it was noted by the team’s local paper that Pirates scout Chick Fraser was in attendance and he had to be impressed by Songer allowing two runs over a 10-inning complete game victory. Four weeks later on September 13th, the Pirates acquired Songer and pitcher Joe Brown from Oklahoma City in exchange for pitcher Buckshot May and a pile of cash. Fraser noted that day to the local Pittsburgh press that Songer was the best pitching prospect he saw all summer.
Songer joined the Pirates days after being acquired in the trade. He pitched four games that September, allowing seven runs in 9.1 innings, though six runs came in one outing. He made eight relief appearances during the first five weeks of the 1925 season, then didn’t pitch after May 19th. However, he started an exhibition game for the Pirates on June 3rd, before being optioned back to Oklahoma City exactly one week later. The Pirates were able to recall him with five days notice first, though he never returned that season. He had a 10-9 record and a 1.39 WHIP in 146 innings over 30 appearances for Oklahoma City that season, while allowing 5.30 runs per nine innings. Most of his playing time with the Pirates came during the 1926 season, when he made 15 starts and 20 relief appearances. He had a 7-8, 3.13 record that year in 126.1 innings. After his solid 1926 season, the Pirates sold him to the Giants on May 9, 1927, which turned out to be a smart move long-term, though he was solid after the deal. Before being sold, he made two relief appearances for Pittsburgh, allowing ten runs over 4.2 innings. He finished his Major League career later that season, throwing another 22 games for New York, where he had a 2.86 ERA in 50.1 innings. With the Pirates, he finished 7-9, 3.55 in 152 innings. He had 67 walks and 35 strikeouts during that time.
Songer played two years in the minors after his final big league game before retiring. He struggled through limited time with Toronto of the Double-A International League in 1928, going 2-2, 6.81 in 37 innings over 20 appearances. He also played seven games for Toronto during the 1927 season, though no pitching stats are available. He then he finished his career in 1929 with Tulsa of the Class-A Western League, where he allowed nearly a run per inning (ERAs aren’t available for the league). He went 1-5 in 71 innings over 20 games. Songer won a total of 99 games over eight minor league seasons (not including any possible time with Toronto in 1927. The Pirates manager Donie Bush said that they put Songer on waivers in early 1927 because the lanky lefty lost his fastball.
Stuffy Stewart, second baseman for the 1922 Pirates. He played parts of eight big league seasons over a 14-year span. His pro career began in 1915 at age 21, playing 71 games split between two teams in the Class-D Florida-Alabama League (Valdosta and Waycross). He batted .244 between both stops, with 11 doubles, one triple and two homers. Despite being five levels away from the majors that year, he made his big league debut in September of 1916. Stewart played the majority of that 1916 season with Jacksonville of the Class-C South Atlantic League, so his jump to the majors that year was a huge one, the equivalent now of going right from Low-A to the majors. He hit .267 that season, with 20 extra-base hits in 110 games for Jacksonville. Stewart played a total of 22 games for the St Louis Cardinals during the 1916-17 seasons, then didn’t play in the majors again until joining the 1922 Pirates. He went 3-for-26 at the plate during his two partial seasons with the Cardinals, starting four of his 22 games. He batted .177/.177/.177 in nine games in 1916, with no runs and one RBI. He then went 0-for-9 with four runs in 13 games in 1917. He was with St Louis from Opening Day through late June that year. The rest of the 1917 season was spent with Denver of the Class-A Western League, where he hit .297 in 30 games, with five doubles and two triples. Stewart didn’t play in 1918 due to a contract holdout, which was then followed by spending the next three seasons in the minors. He was actually traded by the Cardinals to the Philadelphia Phillies in January of 1919, though he never played in Philadelphia. He ended up playing the 1919 season with Sanford of the Class-D Florida State League, where he hit .298 in 68 games, with ten doubles, two triples and two homers.
Stewart played for Birmingham of the Southern Association during the 1920-21 seasons. He had a .241 average, with 23 extra-base hits in 129 games in 1920, before crushing the ball at a .323 clip in 154 games in 1921, when he had 23 doubles, 15 triples and three homers. He was purchased by the Pirates on September 15, 1921, and was among a large group of minor league players added that day. Despite just over two weeks still being left on the 1921 schedule, Stewart did not join the Pirates until Spring Training in 1922. He started the first three games of the 1922 season at second base for the Pirates, going 2-for-13 with two errors, before losing his starting job to Cotton Tierney. He got his chance at second base late in Spring Training, when Pie Traynor was moved off second base and sent to third base. Manager George Gibson sent Stewart to second base that same day and the rest is history. On April 22nd (seven days after his final game with the Pirates), Stewart was sent back to his Birmingham team, with word that the Pirates and Birmingham manager Carlton Molesworth couldn’t come to an agreement on his purchase price, so instead he was optioned back to the minors, where he would remain the rest of the season. Stewart hit .299 in 137 games with Birmingham, with 33 extra-base hits. The Brooklyn Robins took him in the Rule 5 draft once the season was over, though his stay there lasted just four games in 1923 before being sent back to Birmingham with a 1.144 OPS in his 12 plate appearances. His hit his only big league homer at the Polo Grounds in his next to last game with Brooklyn.
Stewart was a player/manager for Birmingham during the 1923-24 seasons. He batted .306 over 121 games in 1923, with 22 extra-base hits. He hit .326 in 1924, with 26 doubles, 11 triples and six homers in 139 games. He was with Birmingham for their entire season in 1925, before returning to the majors with the Washington Senators in mid-September. That was a club that lost to the Pirates in the World Series that year (Stewart didn’t participate in the postseason). He played three seasons with Washington, mostly serving as a backup at second base and third base. Stewart joined the 1925 Senators after hitting .304 for Birmingham, with 44 extra-base hits in 137 games. He batted .353/.389/412 in seven September/October games for the Senators. He batted 73 times in 62 games during the 1926 season, with a .270 average, 27 runs scored, seven extra-base hits, nine RBIs, eight steals and a .725 OPS. He actually scored more runs than combined hits/walks/HBP that year, thanks in part to numerous pinch-running appearances. Stewart hit .240 over 56 games in 1927. He received 140 plate appearances that year, which was almost half of his big league total (289) over eight seasons. He had 24 runs, eight extra-base hits, four RBIs and a .603 OPS.
Stewart was back in Birmingham for all of 1928. He hit .318 that year, with 38 extra-base hits in 152 games. He returned to the majors for his final stint in 1929 with the Senators, where he received seven plate appearances in 22 games, scoring ten runs during that time due to multiple pinch-running appearances. He then finished his career out in the minors, playing his final games in 1932, seeing time with five different teams in four leagues during those final three seasons. He played 16 minor league games during the 1929 season, splitting time between Birmingham and Baltimore of the Double-A International League, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. Stewart split 1930 between Baltimore and Jersey City of the International League, combining to hit .269 in 123 games, with 18 doubles, nine triples and five homers. He split the 1931 season between Seattle of the Pacific Coast League and Knoxville/Mobile of the Southern Association. He had a .289 average and 28 extra-base hits that season, with better results at the higher level. In his final season of pro ball in 1932, he played 41 games for Knoxville, and 17 games for the Shreveport/Tyler club of the Class-A Texas League. He batted .253 that year, with 13 extra-base hits. Stewart hit .238 in 176 Major League games, with 74 runs scored, 18 RBIs and 21 stolen bases. Of those 176 career games, just 50 were as a starter. He played 15 seasons in the minors and collected over 1,700 hits. He batted .300 six different times, though he also finished seasons with a .297, .298 and .299 average. His real first name was John.
Jimmy Zinn, pitcher for the 1920-22 Pirates. Zinn debuted in pro ball in 1915 at 20 years old, and spent his first five seasons in the minors before getting a September 1919 trial with the Philadelphia Athletics. He pitched four of those years for Waco of the Class-B Texas League, though he missed most of 1918 and half of 1919 while serving in the military during WWI. His 1915 season was spent with Fort Smith of the Class-D Western Association, where he went 12-3, 1.61 in 190 innings. With Waco in 1916, he went 11-5, 1.95 in 129 innings. He threw 227 innings in 1917, finishing up with a 14-8, 2.30 record. His time in Waco in 1918-19 seasons was limited to 96 innings, with a 4.50 ERA in 1918, and a 1.60 ERA in 62 innings before joining the Athletics in August of 1919. His first big league trial was a little rough, with a 6.31 ERA in 25.2 innings over three starts and two relief outings. Zinn spent the 1920 season in the minors with Wichita Falls of the Texas League, where he went 18-10, 2.20 in 262 innings. He was purchased by the Pirates, along with outfielder Johnny Mokan, on August 20, 1920. Both players were to report to Pittsburgh at the end of his minor league season a few weeks later. However, Zinn was allowed to leave his team early after the Pirates requested on September 2nd that he report to them immediately. He made three starts and three relief appearances for the Pirates that September, going 1-1, 3.48 in 31 innings. During the second game of a doubleheader on October 2nd, Zinn started in right field and went 1-for-3 with a run scored. The game was limited to six innings and played in 61 minutes, called on account of darkness. He pitched the first game of that doubleheader and lost 7-3, with all seven runs (five earned) scoring in the seventh inning, yet he stayed in to complete the contest.
Zinn was with the Pirates for all of 1921. He went 7-6, 3.68 in 127.1 innings, making nine starts and 23 relief appearances. On May 30th, he threw his only shutout for the Pirates in a 13-0 win over the Chicago Cubs. Zinn had a 1.68 ERA in 9.2 innings over five early-season relief appearances in 1922, before the Pirates released him outright to Kansas City of the Double-A American Association on June 2nd. That was the highest level of the minors at the time. It was said at the time that the Pirates had an abundance of quality pitchers and no innings for Zinn. At the time of his release, they had eight other pitchers on the roster. He spent seven seasons with Kansas City, winning at least 14 games each year, with three 20-win seasons. He finished the 1922 season by going 18-5, 3.98 in 217 innings. He put together a 27-6, 3.94 record in 297 innings during the 1923 season. He had a losing record in 1924, despite a better ERA than the previous season when he was 21 games over the .500 mark. He went 14-16, 3.71 in 255 innings in 1924. That was followed by a 16-16, 4.80 record in 1925, when he pitched 274 innings. Zinn posted a 16-13, 3.77 record over 258 innings in 1926. He improved to a 24-12 record in 1927, finishing with a 3.08 ERA in 330 innings. In his final season with Kansas City in 1928, he had a 23-13, 3.48 record in 323 innings.
Zinn would get one more Major League chance in 1929 with the Cleveland Indians based off of that 1928 success. He went 4-6, 5.04 in 105.1 innings over 18 games (11 starts) with the Indians. That was the end of his big league career, though his baseball career was far from over. Zinn pitched another nine seasons in the minors, retiring after the 1939 season with 295 minor league wins to go along with his 13 major league wins. He spent 5 1/2 seasons with San Francisco of the Double-A Pacific Coast League, where he had two 20-win seasons and three years with 300+ innings. He started his time there with a 26-12, 4.07 record in 306 innings in 1930. He saw less time than usual in 1931 due to a mid-season arm injury, going 9-7, 3.33 in 146 innings when he was healthy. Zinn was 18-15, 4.47 over 258 innings in 1932. He followed that up with a 20-19, 4.12 record in 317 innings. He posted a 14-17, 3.49 record in 320 innings during the 1934 season. He split the 1935 season between San Francisco and Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League, going 7-7 in 134 innings over 26 games. Zinn pitched until age 44, the last three years as a player/manager in Class-D ball (1937-38 with El Paso of the Arizona-Texas League, 1939 with Sioux City of the Western League), though he threw just 64 innings total during that time. He also played 12 games for Jacksonville of the Class-D East Texas League in 1939, though no pitching stats are available. He managed a total of eight seasons in the minors. Zinn went 13-16, 4.30 in 299 big league innings. He was a .283 hitter in 76 big league games and he hit over .300 during seven straight minor league seasons, topping out at a .366 mark in 1926. His known minor league stats show a .307 career average. He threw 4,578 innings in pro ball, a total topped just 21 times in the majors.
Jot Goar, pitcher for the 1896 Pirates. He made his MLB debut three games into the 1896 season with the Pirates in relief. He would pitch only three games that year, all in relief, losing one. In 13.1 innings, he gave up 36 hits, eight walks, hit a batter and allowed 33 runs. His 16.88 ERA with the Pirates is the second highest in team history for any pitcher with more than five innings pitched. He only pitched one other game in the majors, a two-inning relief appearance for the Reds on May 1, 1898. The Pirates purchased Goar for $3,500 on September 5, 1895 from Terre-Haute of the Class-A Western League, after he had a 3.38 ERA in 288 innings during the 1895 season. Before he played a game for the Pirates, a newspaper in Cincinnati circulated an unfounded rumor that he was going to retire, which caused a lot of confusion back then when teams had to either write letters or travel to visit players in the off-season. Goar refuted those rumors, saying that he was ready to show Pittsburgh fans that he belonged with the team. He also mentioned that their hopes might be too high due to the praise he received after the signing, and they should save their judgement for after they see him pitch.
One of Goar’s relief appearances for the Pirates was on May 20th, when he pitched the last six innings of a 25-6 loss to Brooklyn in Pittsburgh. The Pirates manager Connie Mack told Goar to lob the ball over the plate, allowing the Brooklyn hitters to pile up runs. The reason was that the game was already 6-0 Brooklyn and it started to downpour. The Pirates were trying to stall, hoping for the game to be called before five innings were played, which would make the game official. The move backfired when the weather cleared up. By the end of the fifth, the Pirates were already down 17-0. So while Goar pitched poorly with the Pirates, he wasn’t half as bad as the numbers indicate. In mid-June of 1896, the Pirates loaned out Goar to Grand Rapids of the Western League. The Pirates also sent three other players there, so that team was acting as a minor league affiliate at the time. His time with the Pirates ended in January of 1897 when he was sold to Indianapolis of the Western League for $1,000.
Goar had a somewhat brief pro career on record, going from 1895-1900, though he actually started in 1890 at 20 years old under the name “Gore” in most game recaps, pitching in the Indiana State League for a team from Muncie. He was called Kid Gore at the time. He made a great early impression with a 15-strikeout game on May 2, 1890, though by the end of the month, a sore arm ended his season early. Goar played for teams in Muncie in 1891-94, and even had a 17-strikeout game on July 16, 1892. The local papers started calling him Jot instead of Kid by 1893. He pitched three years in the Western League (1895-97) and spent the 1900 season with Indianapolis of the American League, which was considered to be a Class-A minor league level, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. He was with Indianapolis for all of 1897 after being sold off by the Pirates. He pitched great there, going 25-9, 1.39 in 310 innings. His one game with the 1898 Reds is his only pro game on record from the 1898-99 seasons. Goar went home in May due to a sore arm (a sore wrist was also mentioned as an issue) and then it was announced a month later that he was done for the season due to illness. He was playing some semi-pro ball in mid/late 1899 in his hometown of New Lisbon, Indiana, before joining the American League for his final season. That 1900 season was his last pro experience. He put together a 7-2 record in 83 innings over ten starts. There’s no ERA available for the time, but he’s credited with allowing 5.31 runs per nine innings. He retired to go into business in 1901, as well as start a post office career. His real first name was Joshua. We posted a memorabilia article on Goar, who was featured on a pin during his time with the Pirates.
Al Buckenberger, manager for the 1892-94 Pirates. He began his career as a player-manager in the minors for four years, debuted in pro ball at 23 years old in 1884 with Terre Haute of the Northwestern League. He played second base for Toledo of the Western League in 1885, while also seeing some time in semi-pro ball. His two pro stops during those 1884-85 seasons saw him play seven games each year, while putting up a .130 average (6-for-46). Buckenberger played for the Guelph Maple Leafs in 1886, then took over as the player-manager for Kalamazoo of the Ohio State League. That year he batted .301 in 72 games, with 71 runs scored, nine extra-base hits and seven steals. He moved on to Wheeling of the Tri-State League in 1888, during his last year as a player-manager. Buckenberger got his first big league job in 1889, guiding the Columbus Solons of the American Association to a 60-77 record. He was the first of three managers used by Columbus in 1890, leading them to a 38-42 record, before being replaced. Before joining the Pirates in 1891, he managed for Sioux Falls of the Western Association. He was named the manager of the Pirates in late October of 1891, then managed the club through May 20, 1892 to a 15-14 record. Tom Burns signed with the Pirates as a player-manager, then took over for Buckenberger, who remained on with the team, helping to run the club. On June 1, 1892, it was announced that Buckenberger was taking over running the Pirates from owner William Temple, with one paper saying he would become team president, though he was still referred to as “manager” in the local papers. Burns didn’t last long with the Pirates, as it was said that he was too lenient with the players, not as good of a player as before, and he made some poor managerial decisions. Burns is credited now with a 27-32-1 record, but his actual record was 24-30-1, as he gave up the managerial spot before his final game with the team. Buckenberger took over on July 25th and would turn the team around, finishing with a 41-29 record the rest of the way.
Buckenberger led the 1893 team to their best finish since joining the National League in 1887, going 81-48, which was good enough for second place, five games behind Brooklyn. The team’s .628 winning percentage that year is the sixth best in franchise history. However, the team record the next year was a disappointing 53-55 after a doubleheader on September 1st, when he lost his managerial job to the team’s catcher, Connie Mack. For Mack, it was the start of a 53-year career as a manager. A few weeks after his release, there was talk that Buckenberger was approached to manage a Pittsburgh team in a new league that could form in 1895 as a rival to the National League, much like the Player’s League did four years earlier. That rumor apparently led to his departure from the Pirates. That new league never formed, and he managed the 1895 St Louis Browns (current day Cardinals) instead. Buckenberger lasted just 50 games that year, posting a 16-34 record with the Browns. He spent the 1896-1901 seasons managing in the Class-A Eastern League, taking the helm of three different teams during that time. At the time, Class-A was the top level of the minors. He was in charge of Toronto in 1896, Syracuse in 1897-98, and Rochester in 1899-1901.
Buckenberger returned as a big league manager in 1902 with the Boston Beaneaters (current day Atlanta Braves), and had a successful first season in a year dominated by the Pirates. He led Boston to a 73-63 record that year. When the Pirates went to the World Series in 1903, he had a 58-80 record. In his final season in Boston, the team finished with a 55-98 record. He then managed Rochester of the Eastern League for the 1905-07 seasons (1906 is missing from his online stats, but he was there). He went 190-146 at the helm of Pittsburgh in three season (online stats say 187-144, but they are missing the five games mistakenly credited to Burns in 1892). In nine big league seasons, he had a 491-541 record (also adding the five missing games). The Pirates went by the team nickname “Braves” during the entire 1894 season (it appeared infrequently during the 1893 season as well, and lasted into Spring Training in 1895). They were often called Buck’s Braves by the local papers.
Bob Ferguson, utility fielder for the 1884 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He was a star baseball player before the first Major League was organized in 1871, beginning his amateur career at least eight years earlier. Ferguson was 26 years old before the National Association was formed in 1871, and 31 years old before the National League first played a game. In fact, the schedules were so short during the era he played in, that he played 824 Major League games over 14 seasons, and twice led the league in games played. His big league totals, not surprisingly, don’t look like those of a star player, but the man they nicknamed “Death to Flying Things” was one of the best fielders of his time (he mostly played third base) and he could handle the bat too. He is regarded by most as the first switch-hitter in baseball, a lifetime .265 hitter with 544 runs and 357 RBIs. He was the team’s manager during every season he played in pro ball.
Playing for the 1871 New York Mutuals of the National Association in the first year of big league ball, Ferguson led the league with 33 games played. He hit .241 that year, with 30 runs, seven extra-base hits and 25 RBIs. He played for the Brooklyn Atlantics for the first of three straight seasons in 1872. He hit .280 that first season, with 33 runs, three doubles and 19 RBIs in 37 games. While strikeouts weren’t common back then, he went the entire season (167 plate appearances) without a strikeout. Ferguson hit .259 over 51 games in 1873, with 36 runs, three doubles, five triples and 25 RBIs. He played 56 games during the 1874 season, when he had a .261 average with 34 runs and 19 RBIs. Ferguson had just four extra-base hits (all doubles) in 245 at-bats. Along with his low walk rate, it led to a .545 OPS. During the final season of the National Association in 1875, he played for the Hartford Dark Blues, where he hit .240 in 85 games, with 65 runs, ten doubles, four triples and 43 RBIs. Hartford was an original member of the National League in 1876, and Ferguson stayed there for two years. He batted .265 in 69 games in 1876, with 48 runs, 13 extra-base hits, 32 RBIs and a .592 OPS. He hit .256 over 58 games in 1877, with 40 runs, nine extra-base hits, 35 RBIs and a .564 OPS. His best season at the plate was 1878 for the Chicago White Stockings, when he hit .351, with 44 runs, 12 extra-base hits and 39 RBIs in 61 games. That ended up being his only .300+ season in the majors. He led the league with a .375 OBP that season. His .781 OPS was easily his career high.
Ferguson moved on to the Troy Trojans in 1879, for the first of four seasons with the team. He hit .252 over 30 games that first year, with 18 runs, seven extra-base hits, four RBIs and a .601 OPS. He saw his only minor league time that season, playing 15 games for Springfield of the National Association, where he was also serving as the manager. He played 82 games for Troy in 1880, hitting for a .262 average, with 55 runs scored nine doubles, 22 RBIs and 24 walks, which led the National League. His .601 OPS matched his first year with Troy. He led the league with 85 games played in 1881. He batted .283 that year. with 56 runs, 13 doubles, five triples, 35 RBIs and a career high of 29 walks. His .700 OPS was his second best career mark. In his final season with Troy, he batted .257 in 81 games, with 44 runs and a career best 15 doubles, as well as 32 RBIs, 23 walks and a .624 OPS. Before joining the Alleghenys for his final season in the majors, Ferguson spent the 1883 season with the Philadelphia Quakers (Phillies). That year he played a career high 86 games, hitting for a .258 average, with 39 runs, 11 extra-base hits and 27 RBIs.
By the time he joined the Alleghenys, Ferguson was at the end of his career, already 39 years old, and the oldest player in the majors at the time. He played ten games for Pittsburgh, seeing time at four different spots. He hit just .146, with six singles and two runs in 41 at-bats. He played his final game on July 1st, then he was relieved of his managerial duties on July 16th, officially ending his big league playing career. He managed for parts or all of 16 seasons in the majors, including an 11-31 record as the second of five managers the 1884 Alleghenys had that season. His big league managerial record stands at 417-516, and his best finish was third place in three of his seasons. He played every position in the majors except left field, though most of his time was spent at third base earlier in his big league career and second base later. The only home run Ferguson hit in his Major League career came in 1881 off of another great nickname in baseball history, Ed “The Only” Nolan, who it was said that he always wanted to be the only starting pitcher for the team he was on, though my own extensive research debunked that nickname origin story. Ferguson’s nickname came from his ability to catch fly balls back before any type of gloves were worn. With a birth date on January 31, 1845, he has the earliest date of birth for any player in Pirates history. He had the unusual middle name of Vavasour.