Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date and five of them were significant contributors.
Zack Collins, first baseman/catcher for the 2022 Pirates. He was originally drafted by the Cincinnati Reds out of high school in the 27th round in 2013. He decided to attend the University of Miami, where he was selected in the first round (tenth overall) by the Chicago White Sox in 2016. Collins debuted in the rookie level Arizona League, where he went 1-for-11 in three games. The rest of the season was spent with Winston-Salem of the High-A Carolina League, where he had a .258/.418/.467 slash line in 36 games, with 24 runs, seven doubles, six homers and 18 RBIs. He put up a .227 average over ten games in the Arizona Fall League that off-season, though two homers and six walks helped him to an .893 OPS. Collins was a top 100 prospect in baseball for multiple sources going into the 2017 season. That year he hit .223 in 101 games for Winston-Salem, with 63 runs, 18 doubles, 17 homers, 48 RBIs, 76 walks and an .808 OPS. He also played 12 games for Birmingham of the Double-A Southern League, putting up a .235/.422/.471 slash line in 45 plate appearances. Collins spent the entire 2018 season with Birmingham. He hit .234 in 122 games, with 58 runs, 24 doubles, 15 homers, 68 RBIs, 101 walks and a .786 OPS. He struck out 158 times that year.
Collins played for Charlotte of the Triple-A International League for more than half of the 2019 season. He hit .282 in 88 games, with 56 runs, 19 doubles, 19 homers, 74 RBIs, 62 walks and a .951 OPS. He got called up to the White Sox in June for about a month, then returned to the majors when the rosters expanded in September. He hit .186/.307/.349 in 27 games for the 2019 White Sox. He was only catching until 2019, but starting playing some first base as well that season. Collins played nine big league games during the shortened 2020 season, going 1-for-16 with a double and two walks. He played just nine games for Charlotte in 2021 and did poorly, while spending the rest of the year in the majors. He hit .210 in 78 games for the White Sox, with 25 runs, 13 doubles, four homers, 26 RBIs and a .669 OPS. The White Sox traded Collins to the Toronto Blue Jays for Reese McGuire right before the 2022 season started. Collins split his Toronto time between the majors and minors. He hit .194/.266/.417 in 26 games for the Blue Jays, and he batted .195/.361/.398 in 36 games for Buffalo of the International League. The Pirates selected him off of waivers on September 7th. He played two games for Indianapolis of the International League, while hitting .040/.138/.040 in ten games with the Pirates. He was let go after the season, and he’s still a free agent at the time of this write-up. Collins is a .185 hitter in 150 games, with 45 runs, 21 doubles, 11 homers and 49 RBIs over four seasons in the majors.
Pedro Alvarez, third baseman for the 2010-15 Pirates. He was the first round draft pick of the Pirates in 2008, selected second overall out of Vanderbilt. The Boston Red Sox originally selected him in the 14th round out of high school three years earlier. Alvarez signed too late to play in 2008, then split his first season of pro ball between high-A Lynchburg of the Carolina League and Double-A Altoona of the Eastern League. He was rated as the 12th best prospect in baseball prior to his first pro game. Alvarez combined to hit .288 that first season, with 80 runs, 32 doubles, 27 homers, 95 RBIs, 71 walks and a .914 OPS, with better results at the higher level. He was ranked as the eighth best prospect in baseball by Baseball America going into the 2010 season. He moved up to Indianapolis of the Triple-A International League that year, where he hit .277 in 66 games, with 42 runs, 15 doubles, 13 homers, 53 RBIs and an .896 OPS. Alvarez made his big league debut on June 16, 2010. He hit .256 in 95 games for the Pirates, with 42 runs, 21 doubles, 16 homers, a .788 OPS and 64 RBIs, giving him 117 total runs batted in on the season. He struggled badly during the 2011 season, while also spending 50 days on the disabled list due to a quad injury. He was even optioned to the minors for part of the year, while also doing some rehab work when he returned from injury. He had a .787 OPS in 42 minor league games that year, mostly playing back in Indianapolis. In 74 games for the 2011 Pirates, he hit .191/.272/.289, with 18 runs, nine doubles, four homers and 19 RBIs. Alvarez rebounded to hit .244 in 2012, with 64 runs, 25 doubles, 30 homers, 85 RBIs and a .784 OPS in 149 games. He also struck out 180 times, setting a franchise single-season record.
Alvarez won the National League home run crown with 36 homers in 2013, which was the most homers for the Pirates player since Brian Giles hit 38 in 2002. Alvarez set career highs with 70 runs and 100 RBIs that season. He won the Silver Slugger award for the only time in his career, and he made his lone All-Star appearance as well. He also had a .233 average, while striking out 186 times, which broke his own team record in the latter category. For the second straight year he led all of baseball with 27 errors. Despite the power numbers, he finished with a .770 OPS, which didn’t even come within 100 points of the top ten OPS numbers in the league that year. He had a foot injury late in 2014, which limited him to a .231/.312/.405 slash line in 122 games, with 46 runs, 13 doubles, 18 homers and 56 RBIs. Alvarez moved to first base in 2015, where he hit .243 in 150 games, with 60 runs, 18 doubles, 27 homers, 77 RBIs and a .787 OPS. He was let go after the season with one year remaining before free agency. He ended up signing with the Baltimore Orioles, where he played 168 games over the next three seasons.
The move to the American League helped Alvarez’s value because he was able to serve often as the DH, keeping him out of the field, where he compiled a -7.2 dWAR during his nine-year career. Overall, he had 5.1 WAR in his career, thanks almost solely due to his power. He batted .249 in 109 games during the 2016 season, with 43 runs, 20 doubles, 22 homers, 49 RBIs and an .826 OPS. Alvarez spent almost the entire 2017 season in Triple-A with Norfolk of the International League, where he hit .240 in 138 games, with 31 doubles, 26 homers and 89 RBIs. He played 14 games that year with the Orioles, hitting .313/.353/.438, with four runs, a double, a homer and four RBIs. The 2018 season was his last in pro ball. He split it evenly between Baltimore (45 games) and Norfolk (43 games). Alvarez hit just .180/.283/.414 for the Orioles that year, with 18 runs, two doubles, eight homers and 18 RBIs. He had a .285 average and a .798 OPS during his time with Norfolk in 2018. He finished with a .236/.309/.441 slash line in 742 games in Pittsburgh, and he put up a .794 OPS in Baltimore. Alvarez ranks 13th in Pirates franchise history with 131 homers. He scored 300 runs and had 401 RBIs for the Pirates. Despite a somewhat short stay in Pittsburgh, he ranks seventh in franchise history with 809 strikeouts.
Richie Zisk, outfielder for the 1971-76 Pirates. He was a third round draft pick of the Pirates out of high school in 1967. Zisk spent six seasons performing well in the minors, putting up a .300 average and 129 homers, before earning his first Opening Day job in the majors. He debuted in pro ball at 18 years old with Salem of the short-season Appalachian League in 1967. He hit .307 in 56 games, with 41 runs, nine doubles, 16 homers, 51 RBIs, 40 walks and a 1.052 OPS. He moved up to Gastonia of the Class-A Western Carolinas League in 1968, where he batted .281 in 53 games, with 32 runs, eight doubles, 13 homers, 41 RBIs and a .920 OPS. Zisk played for Salem of the Carolina League in 1969, where he hit .317 in 78 games, with 43 runs, 28 extra-base hits, 45 RBIs and a .919 OPS. He went to the Florida Instructional League after the season, back when they kept stats for the league, and he had a .958 OPS in 19 games. Zisk moved up to Waterbury of the Double-A Eastern League in 1970, where he hit .296 in 125 games, with 83 runs, 17 doubles, six triples, 34 homers, 88 RBIs, 57 walks and a .965 OPS
Zisk played 24 games with the Pirates between the 1971-72 seasons, mostly as a September call-up, though he did have a short stint in July in 1972. It was a bit surprising that it took him that long to finally earn a spot, and it took the passing of Roberto Clemente to open up a spot. Before his first September trial in 1971, he batted .290 in 135 games with Triple-A with Charleston of the International League, adding 90 runs, 15 doubles, 29 homers, 109 RBIs, 94 walks and a .953 OPS. Zisk stole just 36 bases in his entire 17-year pro career, but he ended up going 16-for-20 in steals that season. He batted .200/.368/.467 for the Pirates, with one homer and two RBIs in seven games. He did even better with his Triple-A OPS in 1972, putting up a .969 mark, yet his big league time was limited again because the Pirates were a playoff team. He batted .308 in 122 games with Charleston, collecting 83 runs, 30 doubles, 26 homers and 86 RBIs. For the Pirates that year, he hit .189/.318/.270 in 17 games, with three doubles and four RBIs. Zisk made the Pirates 1973 Opening Day roster, and he was the everyday right fielder for the last two months of the season. He played 103 games that year, finishing with a .324 average, 44 runs, 40 extra-base hits, 54 RBIs and an .890 OPS, leading to a ninth place finish in the Rookie of the Year voting.
The 1974 season would see Zisk finish ninth in the MVP voting, as he drove in 100 runs for the first time, while putting up a .313 batting average, which was the sixth highest average in the National League. He scored 75 runs and collected 50 extra-base hits, which included 30 doubles and 17 homers. Zisk batted .300 during the NLCS series that year. He hit .290 in 1975, with 69 runs, 27 doubles, 20 homers, 75 RBIs, an .848 OPS and a career high 68 walks in 147 games, helping the Pirates to the playoffs for the second straight year. They would lose both years in the NLCS, but Zisk hit .500 this time in the playoffs. Those two brief series would end up being the only playoff experience of his 13-year career. Zisk set career highs with 91 runs and 35 doubles in 1976. He hit .289 that year, with 21 homers (his high while with the Pirates), 89 RBIs and an .808 OPS. He received mild MVP support, finishing 25th in the voting. With Omar Moreno establishing himself as an everyday outfielder, and Zisk having just one season left before he hit free agency, the Pirates traded him to the White Sox for Goose Gossage and Terry Forster on December 10, 1976. The Pirates needed pitching at the time, so they traded from their surplus of outfielders.
Zisk went on to hit .290 in 1977, with 78 runs, 17 doubles, six triples, 30 homers, 101 RBIs and an .869 OPS in 141 games during his only year in Chicago, making the All-Star team for the first time in his career. He finished 14th in the MVP voting that season. He signed a ten-year deal for $2,750,000 with the Texas Rangers on November 9, 1977. He played the first three seasons of that deal in Texas, before he was traded to the Seattle Mariners, where he finished his career in 1983. During the first year of his big contract, he hit .262 in 140 games, with 68 runs, 19 doubles, 22 homers, 85 RBIs, 58 walks and a .770 OPS. He made his second All-Star appearance during that 1978 season. Zisk put up very similar numbers to the previous year in 1979, hitting .262 again, this time with 69 runs, 21 doubles, 18 homers, 64 RBIs, 57 walks and a .752 OPS. During his final season in Texas, he batted .290 in 135 games, with 48 runs, 17 doubles, 19 homers, 77 RBIs and an .804 OPS. On December 12, 1980, he was part of a ten-player deal with the Mariners, which saw five players going each way.
Zisk hit .311 in 94 games for the Mariners during the strike-shortened 1981 season. He finished with 42 runs, 12 doubles, 16 homers, 43 RBIs and an .851 OPS. He batted .292 in 1982, with 68 runs, 28 doubles, 21 homers, 62 RBIs, 49 walks and an .831 OPS in 131 games. The Mariners were awful in 1983, and they sent Zisk and veteran outfielder Steve Henderson to the bench in June so younger players could get playing time. Zisk hit .242 in 90 games that season, with 30 runs, 12 doubles, 12 homers, 36 RBIs and a .722 OPS. A knee injury kept him out of action in 1984, then the Mariners released him with three years remaining on his contract in January of 1985. Zisk hit .271 in 419 games for the Rangers, with 69 homers and a 226 RBIs. He hit .286 in 315 games with the Mariners, collecting 49 homers and 141 RBIs. He was a career .287 hitter with 792 RBIs in 1,453 games over 13 seasons. With the Pirates, he finished with a .299 average, 285 runs, 119 doubles, 69 homers and 324 RBIs in 578 games. After his playing days, he became a hitting coach in the minors for the Cleveland Indians at the end of the 1985 season. He also spent 15 seasons coaching (two years managing) for the Daytona Cubs. He’s also done scouting work for the Chicago Cubs.
Bill Koski, pitcher for the 1951 Pirates. He was rushed to the majors as a 19-year-old, after pitching just ten lower level minor league games in 1950. While playing for Mayfield of the Class-D Kentucky-Illinois-Tennessee League that year, he went 8-2, 2.42 in 78 innings. The Pirates were one of 13 teams interested in signing him right out of high school in June of 1950 (one paper said 14 teams), so they used some star power to get his name signed to a contract. At the time, legendary actor Bing Crosby was a part owner of the Pirates, so the club had him call Koski’s father to help convince him to sign with Pittsburgh. It worked, and by July 10th, Koski was starting for Mayfield. The Pirates gave him the maximum bonus allowed without him qualify as a Bonus Baby player (reportedly he received $6,000), which would have meant that the Pirates would have to immediately add him to the big league roster. Despite avoiding that rush to the majors, Koski didn’t take long to join the big league club. The Pirates assigned him to New Orleans of the Double-A Southern Association during the off-season, then purchased his contract on a 30-day trial basis. He began the 1951 season on the Pirates Opening Day roster, starting his career with a three no-hit innings in relief during his first appearance. That earned him a start a week later. He picked up his only career decision in a loss to the New York Giants that day, going 4.1 innings, with four runs on four hits and six walks. Koski was with the Pirates through early June before returning to the minors.
The Pirates made a 2-for-5 player swap with the St Louis Cardinals on June 15, 1951. Koski was one of the players sent to the minors (New Orleans) to make room for all of the new players. He came back to Pittsburgh on September 5th, and had two more relief outings before the season ended. That would turn out to be his only season in the majors. He struggled with his control during his brief big league time, walking 28 batters in 27 innings with just six strikeouts. He had a 6.67 ERA and a 2.00 WHIP. While in New Orleans that season, he went 4-9, 5.24 in 91 innings over 15 starts, with 70 walks. Koski spent 1952 in the minors with Burlington-Graham of the Class-B Carolina League, where he went 8-16, 3.51 in 187 innings. He went to Spring Training with the Pirates that year, but he was cut on March 20th, 26 days before Opening Day. He then served in the Korean War, missing the entire 1953 season, before returning to minor league baseball for four more seasons. He actually rejoined the Pirates on July 14, 1954, reaching the team ahead of a doubleheader, when the Pirates were short-handed. It was said that he was out of options and was placed on waivers immediately upon arriving with the Pirates. The reason for the move was that minor league waiver claims cost $500 and big league claims cost $10,000, so if they were going to lose him, they wanted the most money that they could receive. When he wasn’t claimed after ten days, the Pirates released him by sending him outright to Waco of the Class-B Big State League. Koski actually ended up back in Burlington-Graham that season before joining the Pirates, while also spending some time with St Jean of the Class-C Provincial League after not wanting to play for Waco. He went 3-2, 4.50 in 52 innings with St Jean. His only stats with Burlington-Graham that are available, show him with a 2-2 record in four appearances. While many baseball players entertained the troops with baseball games, Koski noted that he didn’t touch a baseball all year until returning to the minors in June.
Koski gave up 19 runs in 13 innings for Burlington-Graham in 1955, while spending the rest of the year with Brunswick of the Class-D Georgia-Florida League, where he went 8-6, 2.47 in 102 innings. He had 55 walks and 58 strikeouts that season. Koski played for Kinston of the Carolina League and Modesto of the Class-C California League in 1956. Limited stats for Modesto show an 0-2 record in two games, while he went 2-2, 4.71 in 42 innings for Kinston. He then finished his career in 1957 with Las Vegas of the Class-C Arizona-Mexico League, where he went 4-6, 6.35 in 85 innings. As it turned out, his one season with the Pirates/New Orleans, was also the only year that he played above Class-B ball. Koski noted years after he retired that all he did was throw fastballs with strong velocity.
Smoky Burgess, catcher for the 1959-64 Pirates. He came to the Pirates in January 1959 from the Cincinnati Reds as part of the seven-player Harvey Haddix/Don Hoak trade. The 32-year-old Burgess already had nine years of big league experience at that point. He signed with the Chicago Cubs at 17 years old in 1944, and debuted in the majors five years later. In his first season of pro ball, playing with Lockport of the Class-D Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York League, Burgess had a .325 average, with 31 runs, 11 extra-base hits, 32 RBIs and a .768 OPS in 54 games. He played with Class-B Portsmouth of the Piedmont League in 1945, where he batted .400/.438/.622 in 12 games before joining the Army during WWII. He returned from service just in time for one game in 1946, playing for Los Angeles of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. He knocked the rust off quickly, batting .378 in 115 games during the 1947 season, splitting his time between Fayetteville of the Class-B Tri-State League (99 games) and Macon of the Class-A South Atlantic League. He had 82 runs that year, with 31 doubles, 11 homers, 83 RBIs and a .990 OPS. Burgess topped that high average from 1947 by putting up a .386 average in 1948, while playing 116 games for Nashville of the Double-A Southern Association. That year he had 93 runs, 38 doubles, 22 homers, 102 RBIs and a 1.082 OPS, with 22 strikeouts in 465 plate appearances. Burgess played some with Los Angeles in 1949, putting up a .753 OPS in 19 games, but the majority of the season was spent in the majors with the Cubs. He saw limited time during his first season in the majors in 1949, starting five of his 46 games, while accumulating just 60 plate appearances total. He batted .268/.317/.321, with a homer and 12 RBIs.
Burgess, whose real first name was Forrest, spent the entire 1950 season in the minors, where he had a .327 average, 55 runs, 33 extra-base hits, 52 RBIs and a .900 OPS in 88 games for Springfield of the Triple-A International League. He returned to the Cubs in 1951, where he batted .251 in 94 games, with 21 runs, eight extra-base hits, 20 RBIs and a .632 OPS. After the 1951 season, he was part of a seven-player deal that sent him to the Philadelphia Phillies. He immediately did better at the plate with his new team, batting .296 in 110 games in 1952, with 49 runs, 27 doubles, six homers, 56 RBIs, 49 walks and an .809 OPS, with 21 strikeouts in 424 plate appearances. Burgess hit .292 in 1953, with 31 runs, 26 extra-base hits, 36 RBIs and a .787 OPS in 102 games. He posted a .368 batting average in 345 at-bats over 108 games during the 1954 season. He also made his first All-Star appearance that year. Burgess didn’t have enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title race, but his average was 23 points higher than league leader Willie Mays that season. Burgess had 41 runs, 36 extra-base hits (27 doubles), 46 RBIs, a .942 OPS, and an incredible 42:11 BB/SO ratio that year.
Burgess was traded to the Cincinnati Reds just seven games into the 1955 season, He would make his second straight All-Star appearance with his new team. He hit .301 that season, with 70 runs, 17 doubles, 50 walks and an .864 OPS, while setting career highs with 21 homers and 78 RBIs. His playing time dropped off during the next three seasons in Cincinnati, failing to reach 100 games or 275 plate appearances in any of those years, though he still saw some decent time each year. He hit .275 in 1956, with 28 runs, ten doubles, 12 homers, 39 RBIs and an .822 OPS in 90 games. He played 90 games in 1957 as well, finishing with a .283 average, 29 runs, 14 doubles, 14 homers, 39 RBIs and a .919 OPS. In the season before joining the Pirates, Burgess had a .283 average, with 28 runs, 12 doubles, six homers, 31 RBIs and a .753 OPS in 99 games, though he started just 53 of those games.
Burgess hit .297 in 114 games for the 1959 Pirates, with 41 runs, 28 doubles, 11 homers, 59 RBIs and an .834 OPS in 377 at-bats. He also made the All-Star team for the first of three consecutive seasons. They played two All-Star games during the 1959-62 seasons, so he was technically a six-time All-Star during that three-year stretch. He hit .294 in 1960, with 33 runs, 24 extra-base hits, 39 RBIs and a .769 OPS in 110 games, then helped the Pirates to a World Series title by hitting .333 (6-for-18) in the postseason. He received mild MVP support for the only time in his career, finishing 20th in the voting. Burgess hit .303 in 1961, with 37 runs, 17 doubles, 12 homers and 52 RBIs in 323 at-bats. He put up an .851 OPS that season, but he would be even better in 1962. He had 360 at-bats during that 1962 campaign, hitting .328 in 103 games, with 38 runs, 19 doubles, 13 homers and 61 RBIs, setting his high in all three Triple Crown categories while with the Pirates. He finished with an .875 OPS, which was also his high in Pittsburgh.
Burgess saw his playing time decreased in 1963, and his average dropped to a .280 mark. He finished with 20 runs, 17 extra-base hits and 37 RBIs in 91 games, accumulating 293 plate appearances that year. He finished with a .732 OPS, which was his lowest mark since 1951. He played sparingly for the 1964 Pirates before he was put on waivers in early September. He finished that year with the Chicago White Sox. Burgess hit .246/.303/310 in 188 plate appearances over 66 games with the 1964 Pirates, then was used seven times as a pinch-hitter with the White Sox. He spent the next three years in Chicago, serving almost exclusively as a pinch-hitter, with just three starts during that time. He played a lot though, getting into 80, 79 and 77 games during those seasons. He was an effective pinch-hitter during that time, putting together a .734 OPS with Chicago, while driving in 51 runs in 252 plate appearances. He actually put up strong results during his first two seasons, then finished poorly in his final year. Burgess had a .286 average and a .786 OPS in 1965, followed by a .313 average and an .801 OPS in 1966. His final season saw him put up a .133/.303/.250 slash line in 76 plate appearances. He hit .295 in 18 Major League seasons, with 485 runs, 230 doubles, 126 homers and 673 RBIs in 1,691 games. He pinch-hit 551 times in his career, hitting .278 with 138 RBIs. During his time with the Pirates, he batted .296 in 586 games, with 178 runs, 51 homers and 265 RBIs. Burgess led all National League catchers in fielding percentage in 1953 with the Phillies, and 1960-61 with the Pirates. He finished with a career 33.4 WAR.
Dale Long, first baseman for the 1951 and 1955-57 Pirates. He was in the minors for seven seasons before he got his first chance at the majors for the Pirates in 1951. He spent time playing for the minor league affiliates of the Cincinnati Reds, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees between 1945 and 1950. Long played one game at 18 years old in 1944 with Milwaukee of the Double-A American Association, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. That was quite a starting spot, but he quickly dropped down to the bottom of the minor league ladder. He played 103 games total split between Lima and Mansfield of the Class-D Ohio State League. While some stats are incomplete, he’s credited with a .306 average, 54 runs, 35 extra-base hits and 78 RBIs. Long hit .330 in 116 games with Ogden of the Class-C Pioneer League in 1946. He had 65 runs, 32 extra-base hits, 62 RBIs and a .798 OPS. He also played briefly that season with Columbia of the Class-A South Atlantic League. Most of 1947 was spent with Oneonta of the Class-C Canadian-American League, where he hit .311 in 90 games, with 49 runs, 24 extra-base hits, 60 RBIs and a .782 OPS. He also played 16 games for Providence of the Class-B New England League, where he had a .767 OPS in 70 plate appearances. Long spent the entire 1948 season with Lynn of the New England League, where he hit .302 in 125 games, with 97 runs, 22 doubles, 18 homers, 119 RBIs, 56 walks and an .842 OPS. The 1949 season was spent with Williamsport of the Class-A Eastern League. He hit .288 in 140 games, with 35 doubles, 11 homers, 81 RBIs, 87 walks and an .829 OPS.
Long played for Binghamton of the Eastern League in 1950, where he hit .287 in 133 games, with 26 doubles, five triples and 27 homers. He was taken by Pittsburgh in the December 1950 Rule 5 draft. He played just ten games with the 1951 Pirates before he was put on waivers, where he was picked up by the St Louis Browns on June 1st. The Pirates cut Long after they claimed outfielder Jack Maguire off waivers, only to lose Maguire on waivers to the Browns just five weeks later. The Pirates attempted to make Long a left-handed catcher during Spring Training, but it ended up being a failed experiment, though he was still the team’s emergency catcher early in the season. He lasted just 34 games in St Louis before the Pirates reacquired him on December 6, 1951, and assigned him to their affiliated team in New Orleans of the Double-A Southern Association. The Pirates received $10,000 when he was claimed on waivers, and they paid just $1,000 to get him back six months later. He hit .231/.297/.368 during his rookie season, with three homers and 12 RBIs in 44 games. He also had a .720 OPS in 36 games for San Francisco of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League during that 1951 season.
Long became a feared slugger for the minor league affiliates of the Pirates during the 1952-54 seasons, but never got a second shot at the majors during that time. He hit .254 in 1952, with 34 doubles, six triples and 33 homers in 153 games for New Orleans. He then hit smacked a total of 61 doubles and 58 homers for Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League during the 1953-54 seasons. He hit .272 over 172 games in 1953, with 106 runs, 34 doubles, seven triples, 35 homers, 116 RBIs, 71 walks and an .878 OPS. He followed that up in 1954 with a .281 average, 69 runs, 27 doubles, 23 homers, 68 RBIs, 76 walks and a .932 OPS in 129 games. The Pirates gave Long his second chance in Pittsburgh in 1955 and he excelled. He hit .291 in 131 games, with 59 runs, 19 doubles, 16 homers, 79 RBIs, an .875 OPS, and he led the National League with 13 triples.He finished 19th in the MVP voting. He made his only All-Star appearance in 1956 when he slugged 27 homers and drove in 91 runs. From May 19th until May 28th, he homered in eight straight games, setting a still standing (since tied) record for consecutive games with a home run. Long struggled after the home run streak ended. He had a .411 average and a 1.288 OPS after play on May 28th. From May 29th through the end of the season, he had a .653 OPS in 114 games. He finished with a .263 average and an .812 OPS in 148 games that year. He received mild MVP support, finishing 26th in the voting. He was traded to the Chicago Cubs in early 1957, as part of a four-player deal that brought Gene Baker and Dee Fondy to the Pirates. Long would play in the majors until 1963, seeing time with the Cubs, Washington Senators, San Francisco Giants and New York Yankees after leaving Pittsburgh. After the trade in 1957, he hit .305 in 123 games, with 55 runs, 19 doubles, 21 homers and 62 RBIs. He had a .524 OPS in seven games prior to the deal.
Long hit .271 for the 1958 Cubs, with 68 runs, 26 doubles, 20 homers, 75 RBIs, an .824 OPS, and a career high 66 walks in 142 games. His production began to drop off in 1959, when he batted .237 in 110 games, with 34 runs, ten doubles, 14 homers, 37 RBIs and a .739 OPS. He had a limited bench role in 1960 after being sold to the Giants in April, then sold again to the Yankees in August. After batting .253/.336/.495, with ten runs, three doubles, six homers and 16 RBIs in 63 games during the season, he played against the Pirates in the 1960 World Series, going 1-for-3 in a pinch-hitting role. The Yankees lost him to the Senators in the December 1960 Expansion draft. He got to play full-time with Washington in 1961, where he hit .249 in 123 games, with 52 runs, 20 doubles, 17 homers, 49 RBIs and a .776 OPS. He began 1962 with the Senators, but the Yankees got him back in a mid-season trade. He would end up winning a World Series ring that year. He combined to hit .260 in 108 games that season, with 29 runs, 12 doubles, eight homers, 41 RBIs and a .727 OPS. He was released in 1963 after batting 16 times in 14 games. He played one season of minor league ball before retiring, putting up a .213 average and a .614 OPS in 24 games for Jacksonville of the Triple-A International League. Long finished his career with a .267 average, 384 runs, 135 doubles, 132 homers and 467 RBIs in 1,013 games. In his four seasons in Pittsburgh, he had a .272 average, with 44 homers and 176 RBIs in 296 games. He played two games at catcher during the 1958 season, making him one of the last lefty catchers in MLB history to this day. Just Mike Squires (1980 Chicago White Sox) and Benny Distefano of the 1989 Pirates have been lefty catchers since then.
Glenn Wright, shortstop for the Pirates from 1924 until 1928. He had played three seasons of minor league ball before the Pirates purchased his contract from the Kansas City Blues of the Double-A American Association, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. Wright had a .316 average, 24 doubles, 13 triples and 22 homers in 120 games during the 1921 season at 20 years old, spending most of the year in the Class-D Southwestern League, playing for a team called the Independence Producers. He saw some brief time with Kansas City that year, making a jump over three levels of the minors to his new team. He did well with Kansas City in 1922, hitting .299 in 142 games, with 40 extra-base hits. He followed that up with a .313 average in 153 games in 1923, collecting 34 doubles, nine triples and 15 homers. Right before the Pirates acquired him, the local Kansas City papers ran a story talking about Wright going up to the majors next year, saying that he took mean cuts at the plate, hitting the ball hard and far, and that he had a great arm and ran well. In particular, the story focused on the arm and on how he always played the cutoff man on throws from the outfield. There was a story in March of 1923 that Wright asked to remain in Kansas City for the 1923 season because he felt he wasn’t ready yet for the Major Leagues, so the team reportedly turned down a large offer from the Washington Senators to keep him one more year. However, the next month the Pirates were said to have acquired him for four players (plus cash reported to be no less than $40,000), with the understanding that he would remain in Kansas City for the entire season on option.
Wright had an outstanding rookie season in 1924 with the Pirates, finishing third in the National League with 111 RBIs, third with 18 triples, and he led the league with 616 at-bats. He also added 80 runs, 28 doubles and seven homers, to go along with his .287 average and .740 OPS. On defense, he set a record for assists by a shortstop with 601, a total that has been topped only once since (Ozzie Smith in 1980). Wright would finish 11th in the National League MVP voting that season. His 4.0 dWAR that season ranks second all-time in Pirates history behind Jack Wilson, who put up a 4.1 mark in 2005. Wright’s season is tied for the 19th best all-time in baseball for defense. His second season was even better on offense than his first. He had a .308 average, drove in 121 runs, while scoring a career high 97 runs. He collected 60 extra-base hits (32 doubles, ten triples and 18 homers), posted an .816 OPS, and he led NL shortstops again in assists. He led the league with 153 games played. He finished fourth in the NL MVP voting that season. The Pirates went to the World Series that year, where Wright struggled with a .185 average, but the Pirates still took the series in seven games. On May 7, 1925, he turned an unassisted triple play, just the sixth in MLB history at the time.
Wright played just 119 games in 1926, missing some time in August after suffering an injury during a clubhouse scuffle. He was hitting .324 prior to the injury, but upon returning three weeks later, his average dropped down below .300, only coming back to .308 by going 6-for-8 in the last two games of the season. He finished the year with 73 runs, 15 doubles, 15 triples, 77 RBIs and a .786 OPS. Healthy for the entire 1927 season, he hit for a .281 average 143 games, with 78 runs, 26 doubles, nine homers and a .708 OPS. He drove in 105 runs that year, topping the century mark in RBIs for a third time in four years. He led all NL shortstops in games played, putouts and errors, though he was still well above average defensively. The Pirates made the World Series for the second time in three years, and once again Wright had his postseason troubles. He hit .154 in the series, with a run and two RBIs, as the Pirates lost in four games to the New York Yankees. Wright played just 108 games in 1928, missing some time with off-field problems, as well as being in the manager’s doghouse. He had a nice .310 average, with 63 runs, 20 doubles, eight triples, eight homers, 66 RBIs and a .793 OPS. After the season, the Pirates traded him to the Brooklyn Robins/Dodgers in exchange for pitcher Jesse Petty and a backup infielder named Harry Riconda. It was an awful return for a star shortstop, but it wouldn’t go as poorly as it could have for the Pirates.
Wright would be injured almost all of 1929, as he was relegated to a pinch-hitting role when he was able to play during the first half of the year. He batted just 30 times total in 24 games, then had surgery on his ailing arm that caused him to miss the rest of the season. He had a .200 average and a .587 OPS in his limited time. He came back healthy in 1930 to hit .321 in 135 games, with 83 runs, 28 doubles, 12 triples, 22 homers, 126 RBIs and a career best .896 OPS, though the arm injury limited his value on defense. That injury would effectively end his days as a star shortstop, and multiple ailments/injuries limited his effectiveness after 1930. He posted a .284 average, 36 runs, 22 extra-base hits, 32 RBIs and a .772 OPS in 77 games during the 1931 season, and even got some mild MVP support (finished 25th in the voting), but he saw his value on defense drop along with his hitting. Wright had a .732 OPS over 127 games in 1932, which was his last productive year in the majors at age 31. He hit .274 that year, with 50 runs, 31 doubles, 11 homers and 60 RBIs. He batted .255/.299/.339, with 19 runs, 13 doubles, one homer and 18 RBIs in 71 games for the Dodgers/Robins in 1933, then finished his big league career with nine games for the 1935 Chicago White Sox. He spent the 1934 season back in the American Association with Kansas City, where he hit .281 in 89 games, with 32 extra-base hits. He was a career .294 hitter, with 584 runs, 203 doubles, 76 triples, 94 homers and 723 RBIs in 1,119 games.
Wright played most of 1935 with Syracuse of the Double-A International League, where he hit .251 in 64 games, with 18 extra-base hits. His time with the White Sox came in the beginning of the season, getting into nine of the first 39 games. He went 3-for-25 at the plate, with a double and an RBI. Wright was done as a big league player at that point, but he continued playing in the minors until 1939, the last three years as a player-manager. He also managed in the minors in 1946 and 1955, and he scouted for a long time for the Boston Red Sox. He spent the 1936 season with Seattle of the Double-A Pacific Coast League, where he batted .274 in 103 games, with 40 runs, 34 extra-base hits and 57 RBIs. His last three seasons were spent with Wenatchee of the Class-B Western International League, where limited stats are available. Wright batted .309 over 71 games in 1937, with 36 runs, 27 extra-base hits, 59 RBIs and a .968 OPS. No stats are available for 1938, then he batted .255 in 33 games in 1939, with a double and three homers. With the Pirates, he hit .298 in 676 games, with 391 runs, 226 extra-base hits and 480 RBIs. Despite his arm injury costing him some of his defensive abilities, he finished with 13.5 dWAR in his career. His 9.1 dWAR with the Pirates is 13th best all-time for the franchise. His actual first name is Forest, but he went by his middle name.