This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: March 3rd, Ed Phelps, Aubrey Epps and Neal Heaton

Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date.

Matt Diaz, outfielder for the 2011 Pirates. He was a 17th round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 1999 out of Florida State, who made at least a brief appearances in the majors each season from 2003 until 2013. He debuted in pro ball at 21 years old with Hudson Valley of the short-season New York-Penn League, where he hit .245 in 54 games, with 22 runs, 15 doubles, 20 RBIs and a .635 OPS. He skipped to High-A in 2000, where he played for St Petersburg of the Florida State League. He hit .270 in 106 games that year, with 37 runs, 21 doubles, six homers, 53 RBIs and a .691 OPS. He was a total of 17 times during his first two seasons combined. Diaz played for Bakersfield of the High-A California League in 2001, where he batted .328 in 131 games, with 79 runs, 40 doubles, 17 homers, 81 RBIs and an .880 OPS. He was with Orlando of the Double-A Southern League in 2002, where he hit .274 in 122 games, with 71 runs, 28 doubles, ten homers, 50 RBIs, 31 steals, 34 walks and a .774 OPS. The 2003 season was split evenly between Orlando and Durham of the Triple-A International League. He hit .354 in 127 games that year, with 67 runs, 39 doubles, 13 homers, 86 RBIs, 15 steals and a .941 OPS, with strong results at both levels. Diaz saw very limited time in the majors in both 2003 and 2004 with Tampa, playing a total of 14 games. Four of those games came in 2003, and they all happened in July. He went 1-for-9, with a walk and two runs. His 2004 big league time came in September after he hit .332 in 134 games with Durham, finishing his minor league season with 81 runs, 47 doubles, 21 homers, 93 RBIs, 15 steals and a .947 OPS. He batted .191 for the Devil Rays that year, though three of his four hits went for extra bases, leading to a .768 OPS in 24 plate appearances.

The Devil Rays lost Diaz on release waivers to the Baltimore Orioles in February of 2005. He ended up with the Kansas City Royals just two days later, after he had the option to become a free agent or accept a position with the Orioles. He took free agency and signed with the Royals. Diaz hit .281/.323/.405, with seven runs, one homer and nine RBIs in 34 games for the Royals. He tore up Triple-A that season with Omaha of the Pacific Coast League, putting up a .375 average and a 1.069 OPS in 64 games. The Royals traded him to the Atlanta Braves in December of 2005. Diaz saw instant success with the Braves as a semi-regular in the lineup, who also saw a lot of time off of the bench. In 323 plate appearances over 124 games in 2006, he put up a .327 average, with 37 runs, 15 doubles, seven homers, 32 RBIs and an .839 OPS. The next year he hit .338 in 135 games, with 44 runs, 21 doubles, 12 homers, 45 RBIs and an .865 OPS. He started 140 of his 259 games during those two seasons. Diaz was limited to 43 games in 2008 due to a knee injury suffered in late May when he crashed into the outfield wall. He hit just .244 that year, with two doubles, two homers and three walks, leading to a lowly .568 OPS. He set career highs with 56 runs, 13 homers, 58 RBIs and 35 walks in 2009, while putting up a .313 average, 18 doubles and 12 steals in 125 games.

Diaz hit .250 during the 2010 season, with 27 runs, 17 doubles, seven homers and 31 RBIs in 84 games for the Braves. He signed a two-year contract with the Pirates on December 14, 2010. Diaz played exactly 100 games during his one partial season with Pittsburgh, hitting .259/.303/.324 in 231 plate appearances, with 14 runs, 12 doubles, no homers and 19 RBIs, resulting in a .627 OPS. He was traded to the Braves for minor league pitcher Eliecer Cardenas on August 31, 2011. Diaz remained in Atlanta through the end of 2012, then finished his big league career with a brief stint for the Miami Marlins in 2013. After the trade, he batted .286/.297/.314 in 16 games, with one double and one walk. Diaz hit .222/.280/.333 over 51 games in 2012, seeing more time off of the bench that year, with 23 starts all year. He signed with the New York Yankees in December of 2012, but he was cut during the middle of Spring Training in 2013. He then signed with the Marlins eight days later. He hit .341/.385/.489 in 24 games with New Orleans of the Pacific Coast League, but he hit just .167/.211/.222 in his final ten big league games. A left knee injury put him on the disabled list from May 20th until the end of the season. Diaz finished as a .290 hitter in 736 Major League games, with 212 runs, 98 doubles, 45 homers and 226 RBIs. He batted .297 as a starter during his career, and he hit .254 as a pinch-hitter.

Neal Heaton, pitcher for the 1989-91 Pirates. He was a second round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians in 1981 out of the University of Miami. He made his Major League debut just one season later. Heaton was originally drafted in the first round by the New York Mets out of high school in January of 1979. He was selected first overall, but he decided to attend college instead. He went straight to Double-A Chattanooga of the Southern League after signing with the Indians in 1981. He went 4-4, 3.97 in 77 innings over 11 starts, finishing with 50 strikeouts and a 1.14 WHIP. Heaton was in Triple-A with Charleston of the International League for the 1982 season, going 10-5, 4.01 in 172.2 innings over 29 starts, before joining the Indians in September for four starts and four relief appearances. He didn’t exactly dominate during the Triple-A time, finishing with 105 strikeouts and a 1.51 WHIP. He had a 5.23 ERA in 31 innings during his first cup of coffee, with 16 walks, 14 strikeouts and a 1.55 WHIP. Heaton went 11-6, 4.16, with 75 strikeouts and a 1.35 WHIP in 149.1 innings over 16 starts and 23 relief appearances during his first full season in the majors in 1983. He threw three shutouts that year and he picked up seven saves. He moved into the starting role full-time for the next two seasons, where he did not pitch well, but was also hurt by some poor teams behind him. He posted a 12-15, 5.21 record in 198.2 innings over 34 starts and four relief outings in 1984. He had 75 walks, 75 strikeouts, and a 1.54 WHIP. He went 9-17, 4.90 in a career high 207.2 innings over 33 starts and three relief appearances. Heaton was never much of a strikeout pitcher, and he had just 82 strikeouts during the 1985 season. He also had 80 walks and a 1.56 WHIP.

Heaton was traded to the Minnesota Twins in June of 1986, after posting a 4.24 ERA in 74.1 innings over 12 starts, with 24 strikeouts and a 1.44 WHIP. After the deal, he went 4-9, 3.98 in 124.1 innings for the 1986 Twins. He threw a total of 198.2 innings that year, finishing with 90 strikeouts and a 1.42 WHIP. He was dealt to the Montreal Expos in February of 1987. They kept him until late spring of 1989, when he was then shipped to the Pirates in exchange for 24-year-old pitcher Brett Gideon. Heaton went 13-10, 4.52 in 32 starts in 1987. Up to this season, he basically average one walk for every strikeout. He not only set a career high with 105 strikeouts in 193.1 innings in 1987, his walk rate was cut in half, going from 3.7 walks per nine innings in 1986, down to 1.7 in 1987. That helped him to a 1.26 WHIP. He spent the first two months of the 1988 season in the starting rotation, then moved to a relief role on June 17th, after putting up a 6.12 ERA in ten starts. He finished the year off fine in relief, but still ended up going 3-10, 4.99 in 97.1 innings. As quick as he improved his walk rate, it went right back to previous standards, finishing with a 43:43 BB/SO ratio and a 1.45 WHIP.

Heaton started 18 games for the 1989 Pirates, while also pitching another 24 games out of the bullpen. He had a career best 3.05 ERA in 147.1 innings pitched that year. He had 67 strikeouts and a 1.24 WHIP. He went 12-9, 3.45, with a 1.24 WHIP in 146 innings over 24 starts and six relief outings in 1990, helping the Pirates to their first division title since 1979. He also made his only All-Star appearance that season. He pitched out of the bullpen all year in 1991, posting a 3-3, 4.33 record, 34 strikeouts and a 1.35 WHIP in 68.2 innings over 42 games (one start). Despite being with the team during two playoff seasons, he did not appear in a postseason game. In fact, Heaton didn’t pitch in the playoffs once in his 12-year career. The Pirates traded him during Spring Training of 1992 to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for Kirk Gibson. Heaton played in the majors until July 1993, seeing time with the 1992 Royals, the Milwaukee Brewers (one inning in 1992) and the 1993 New York Yankees. He went 3-1, 4.17 in 41 innings over 31 games with the Royals, before throwing a shutout appearance with the Brewers. The Royals released him on July 30th, then he signed with Milwaukee 13 days later. He pitched in the minors for the first time in ten years that season, posting a 3.52 ERA in 23 innings with Denver of the Triple-A American Association. His lone big league appearance came on September 18th. He had a 6.00 ERA in 27 innings over 18 games for the 1993 Yankees, before being released in July, which ended his big league career. In 382 career appearances (202 starts) and 1,507 innings, he went 80-96, 4.37, with 22 complete games, six shutouts and ten saves. With the Pirates, he went 21-19, 3.46 in 362 innings.

Ron Wotus, infielder for the 1983-84 Pirates. He was a 16th round draft pick of the Pirates in the 1979 amateur draft, selected out of the best high school name ever, Bacon Academy in Colchester, Connecticut. Wotus didn’t hit much his first two years in the minors, but he turned into a prospect in 1981. He debuted in pro ball with the Gulf Coast League Pirates during that 1979 season, where he hit .272 in 40 games, with 16 runs, seven extra-base hits, 14 RBIs and a .692 OPS. He also got in eight games with Salem of the Class-A Carolina League that year, where he hit .308/.379/.308 in 30 plate appearances. He spent the 1980 season with Shelby of the Class-A South Atlantic League, hitting .228 in 45 games, with 19 runs, eight extra-base hits, 19 RBIs and a .584 OPS. Wotus split the 1981 season between two Carolina League teams, playing for Alexandria and Hagerstown. He hit .283  that year in 134 games, with 72 runs, 28 extra-base hits, 63 RBIs and 63 walks. He improved upon those overall stats during the 1982 season, while splitting the year between Double-A Buffalo of the Eastern League (86 games) and Triple-A Portland of the Pacific Coast League (42 games). In 128 games over the two levels, he put together a .296 average, with 77 runs, 19 doubles, 11 homers, 62 RBIs and an .809 OPS. Wotus hit .301 in Triple-A during the 1983 season (Pirates switched affiliates to Hawaii of the Pacific Coast League), finishing with 94 runs, 28 doubles, ten homers, 62 RBIs, 63 walks and an .831 OPS in 125 games.

Wotus got a September call-up for the 1983 Pirates. He went 0-for-3 at the plate in five games off the bench. He finished two games on defense at shortstop, and another at second base, after coming in as a pinch-runner. He started back in Hawaii in 1984, then got a late June recall to Pittsburgh after Rafael Belliard fractured his fibula. Wotus remained with the team through the end of the season, but received very little playing time. At one point he went 34 games without an at-bat, getting into just three games as a late inning defensive replacement during that time. Wotus ended up playing 27 games for the 1984 Pirates, hitting .218/.290/.327 in 64 plate appearances. The Pirates went 75-87 in 1984, but they managed to go 10-5 during the 15 games started by Wotus. His chances of making it back to the majors after 1984 took a serious hit during Spring Training when a shoulder injury limited him to just 37 games in Double-A with Nashua of the Eastern League, where he hit just .186/.315/.255 in 128 plate appearances. He played in the minors with the Pirates through the end of 1986, hitting .315/.398/.415 in 125 games for Hawaii during that final year. He had 75 runs, 31 extra-base hits, 57 RBIs and 58 walks.  After leaving the Pirates, Wotus spent 1987 in Triple-A with the Kansas City Royals, then the 1988-89 seasons were spent with the San Francisco Giants in Triple-A.

Wotus hit .256 over 91 games with Omaha of the American Association in 1987, finishing with 27 runs, 12 extra-base hits (all doubles), 16 RBIs and a .640 OPS. His final two seasons were spent with Phoenix of the Pacific Coast League, where he had a .287 in 1988, with 46 runs, 12 extra-base hits, 33 RBIs and a .734 OPS. He had just 41 games played and 137 plate appearances during his final season in 1989. Wotus hit .257 that year, with 17 runs, four doubles, ten RBIs and a .683 OPS. After his playing days were over, he managed for seven seasons in the minors with the Giants, starting two years after his final game as a player. He became a Major League coach for the Giants in 1998 and he was at the helm of the Giants briefly during the 2006 season. Wotus also served as their manager for a few games during the 2016-17 seasons. He served as the Giants bench coach until 2017, and then their third base coach for the 2018-21 seasons. He decided in 2022 to take a lesser role in the system.

Jesse Jefferson, pitcher for the Pirates on October 3, 1980. He was a fourth round draft pick in 1968 by the Baltimore Orioles at 19 years old out of Carver HS in Virginia. He struggled during each of his first two seasons of pro ball, starting with Bluefield of the short-season Appalachian League in 1968, where he went 3-7, 5.09 in 69 innings, with a 1.88 WHIP, 66 walks and 99 strikeouts. He posted an 0-7, 7.02 record in 1969, while spending almost all of the season back in Bluefield. In 41 innings that year (including seven innings with Miami of the Florida State League), he had a 2.17 WHIP, 59 walks and 63 strikeouts. He had an 8-16 record in the Class-A California League with Stockton in 1970, though that came with a nice 3.67 ERA in 157 innings. He had 123 walks and 177 strikeouts that year, while improving to a 1.61 WHIP. Jefferson moved up to Double-A the next year with Dallas-Fort Worth of the Dixie Association, where he continued to improve, going 12-11, 3.45 in 172 innings over 27 starts. While his strikeout rate dropped with 150 on the season, he also cut his walk rate down to 109 for the year (5.7 per nine innings), which was easily his best rate to that point. His 1.47 WHIP was also his best mark through his first four seasons.

Jefferson split the 1972 season between Double-A Asheville of the Southern League and Triple-A Rochester of the International League, performing better at the higher level. He had a 3.30 ERA in 71 innings with Asheville, then went 6-3, 2.45 in 103 innings over 17 starts after being promoted. On the year, he had 101 walks and 121 strikeouts in 174 innings, while slightly lowering his WHIP to a 1.44 mark. He was back at Rochester to start 1973, before debuting in the majors in late June after ten starts. He went 6-2, 3.41 in 66 innings with Rochester, though that came with a 1.59 WHIP due to allowing 53 walks. He went 6-5, 4.11 in 100.2 innings over 15 starts and three relief appearances as a rookie with the Orioles. Despite seeing more work in the majors, he finished with fewer walks (46) that season with Baltimore. He saw limited work for the 1974 Orioles, getting some spot starts and long relief appearances, amounting to 57.1 innings over 20 games (two starts). He went 1-0, 4.40, with a 38:31 BB/SO ratio and a 1.62 WHIP. Jefferson had a 7-5 record through his first two seasons, but by the time he joined the Pirates six years later, he had a career record of 36-77 in 210 games. The Orioles traded him to the Chicago White Sox in June of 1975, and he struggled with his new team. In his 1 1/2 seasons in Chicago, he went 7-14, 6.35 in 170 innings. That 1975 season saw the control issues return, as he combined between Baltimore and Chicago to go 5-11, 4.92 in 115.1 innings, with a 1.79 WHIP, 102 walks and 71 strikeouts. Jefferson had a 2-5, 8.52 record in 62.1 innings during the 1976 season, making nine starts and ten relief appearances. He didn’t debut that season until getting a start in the 25th game of the season, but he was healthy the entire time. The Toronto Blue Jays selected him in the Expansion Draft after the 1976 season.

Jefferson was a regular in the Toronto rotation during his first two years with the team, posting a 4.31 ERA in 217 innings in 1977, as the Blue Jays went 54-107 in their inaugural season. His record was in line with the team, finishing 9-17 in his 33 starts. He had a career high 114 strikeouts that year, the only season he topped the century mark in the majors. That year was followed by a 7-16, 4.38 record in 211.2 innings in 1978. He had 30 starts, nine complete games and two shutouts that season. He had a 1.41 WHIP during his first season in Toronto, followed by a 1.42 WHIP in 1978, though they were only 0.002 apart from each other. His results were in a decline during the 1979 season, so he got moved to the bullpen. Jefferson had a 2-10, 5.51 record and a 1.68 WHIP over 116 innings in 1979, making ten starts and 24 relief appearances. That was followed by a 4-13, 5.47 record and a 1.50 WHIP over 121.2 innings in 1980, with 18 starts and 11 relief outings. He had a  22-56, 4.75 record during his four seasons in Toronto. The Blue Jays put him on waivers late in 1980, where he was picked up by the Pirates on September 11, 1980. He pitched just one game for Pittsburgh, a start on October 3rd. He gave up one run over 6.2 innings and picked up the win. The Pirates allowed him to leave via free agency once the season ended. Jefferson played just one more year in the majors with the 1981 California Angels, where he went 2-4, 3.62 in 77 innings, while pitching mostly in relief.

Jefferson continued to pitch in pro ball until 1984, spending the next three years in Mexico, with a brief stint back with the Angels in Triple-A during the 1983 season. He went 5-3, 3.27 over 63.1 innings in 1982 for Nuevo Laredo. He was actually signed by the Orioles prior to the 1982 season and assigned to Rochester, but he was released at the end of Spring Training. He went there knowing he had an offer in Mexico to fall back on, but he was trying to make it back to the majors. Most of 1983 was spent with Leon of the Mexican League, where he had a 10-6, 2.65 record in 112 innings over 16 starts, throwing seven complete games and three shutouts. Jefferson also had a 5.40 ERA in 13.1 innings with Edmonton of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League that season, joining the team in August, where he was give two stats before being sent to the bullpen. His last seasons saw him back in Leon, where he finished off his career with an 11-4, 3.56 record in 124 innings. In his nine-year big league career, he went 39-81, 4.81 in 1,085.2 innings. He made 144 starts, 93 relief appearances, finishing with 25 complete games, four shutouts and one save.

Aubrey Epps, catcher for the Pirates on September 29, 1935. He had a nine-season minor league career, hitting .290 in 944 games, but his big league career lasted just one game. The Pirates let him catch the last game of the 1935 season, which was also the second game of a doubleheader. He had an amazing debut at the plate, collecting three hits and driving in three runs, but he was just the opposite in the field. He allowed three stolen bases on three attempts and committed two errors, as the Pirates lost by a 9-6 score. You would assume that someone who played one big league game didn’t spend a lot of time with the team, but that’s not true at all here. He debuted in pro ball at 21 years old in 1933 with 30 games for Birmingham of the Class-A Southern Association, and six games for Longview of the Class-C Dixie League. He batted .245 between both stops, finishing with seven extra-base hits, including four triples. The Pirates originally acquired him in September of 1934, after he hit .301 in 152 games for Birmingham, with 24 doubles, 11 triples and three homers. Epps went to Spring Training with the 1935 Pirates, but he was limited due to a mid-March hand injury. He was sent back to Birmingham after manager Pie Traynor decided two days before Opening Day that more minor league seasoning would be better for him than serving as the third-string catcher. The Pirates called him to the majors on August 1, 1935, which was 59 days before he actually got into the lineup. He had a .324 average and 12 extra-base hits in 59 games for Birmingham, but he also played 26 games for Fort Worth of the Texas League, where he had a .203 average and four extra-base hits.

Epps came down with a very bad case of pneumonia during the 1935-36 off-season, which resulted in him losing 32 pounds over the winter. He made the Pirates Opening Day roster in 1936, though he was the fourth catcher at the time. He only lasted 18 days before being sent to Scranton of the Class-A New York-Penn League for the rest of the season. He batted .332 in 111 games that year, with 57 runs, 22 doubles, eight triples, three homers, 86 RBIs and an .841 OPS. He won an Opening Day job again in 1937, this time lasting with the club until May 15th before being sold to Memphis of the Southern Association, officially ending his time with the club. His actual time spent on the Major League roster was 103 days, but he played just that one game. He batted .259 over 86 games for Memphis in 1937, finishing with 24 runs, 18 extra-base hits, 33 RBIs and a .710 OPS Epps dropped down to Jackson of the Class-B Southeastern League in 1938, where he hit .287 in 142 games, with 88 runs, 39 doubles, six triples, 11 homers, 78 RBIs, 77 walks and an .850 OPS. He returned to Memphis in 1939, where he hit .301 in 115 games, with 22 doubles, four triples and five homers. Epps spent most of his last two seasons in pro ball (1940-41) in Double-A, the highest level of the minors at the time. He hit .246 for Jersey City of the International League in 1940, collecting 16 extra-base hits in 72 games. He hit .240/.375/.392 in 54 games for Milwaukee of the American Association in 1941, while spending the rest of the year back in the Southern Association with Knoxville. He hit .281 on the season in 144 games, with 26 doubles, seven triples and 19 homers. Epps moved to the outfield during his final year. He then served in the military after his playing days ended. We posted an Obscure Pittsburgh Pirates article on Epps here.

Bill Brenzel, catcher for the 1932 Pirates. He played five season in the minors before the Pirates gave him his first chance at the big leagues to start the 1932 season. Brenzel debuted in pro ball at 17 years old, playing eight games in the Double-A Pacific Coast League in 1927, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. It was an incredibly advanced league for someone his age. He ended up playing in the Pacific Coast League in each of his first five seasons of pro ball, slowly improving until he had a strong showing during the 1930 season. Brenzel also played briefly in the Utah-Idaho League with Twin Falls in 1927, to go along with his time with Mission of the Pacific Coast League. He combined to hit .269 in 20 games, with two doubles in 52 at-bats (his available stats in the minors are somewhat limited) He split the 1928 season between Mission and Idaho Falls of the Utah-Idaho League, combining to hit .257 in 59 games, with three doubles and two homers. He spent the entire 1929 season with Mission, though current stats only credit him with 81 at-bats in 83 games. Brenzel had a .272 average, with two doubles and a homer. He got more plate time in 1930, and responded by hitting .307 in 84 games, with nine doubles and four homers. He saw even more playing time in 1931, which resulted in a .284 average and 24 extra-base hits in 109 games for Mission. The Pirates announced his purchase on August 3, 1931, noting that he came highly recommended from their former scout Joe Devine, who was the manager for Mission. It was said that Brenzel would only join the Pirates in 1931 if it was an emergency situation, otherwise he would report during Spring Training in 1932. Local papers reported that the purchase price was $50,000, plus a player to be named later, with some sources saying that Mission was after young first baseman Gus Suhr. Luckily for the Pirates, they didn’t part with Suhr, who some consider to be the best first baseman in team history.

Brenzel played nine games for the 1932 Pirates. He made six starts and the Pirates lost all six of those games. He had just one base hit in 24 at bats, which was an RBI double. He was forced into action in early May with starting/backup catchers Earl Grace and Hal Finney both out of action. For a short time, Brenzel was the only healthy catcher, and his backup was said to be either manager George Gibson, who last caught in the majors in 1918, or coach Grover Hartley, who was 43 years old, but only two years removed from his last big league game. Brenzel started five games in a row, then the Pirates were off five days in a row, mostly due to the weather. When they resumed play on May 15th, Earl Grace was back and Brenzel never played again. On May 21st, the Pirates acquired minor league catcher Tom Padden from Newark of the Double-A International League. Brenzel was sent to Newark in his place, though the Pirates still held his rights. Pittsburgh sold his contract to San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League on July 4, 1932, officially ending his time with the Pirates. Brenzel hit just .221 in 22 games with Newark, followed by a .295 average in 55 games with San Francisco. He had 11 extra-base hits between both stops. He then played for Kansas City of the Double-A American Association in 1933 and 1934, before coming back to the majors in September of 1934.

Brenzel hit .262 in 106 games for Kansas City in 1933, finishing with 16 doubles and four triples. He batted .284 in 113 games in 1934, collecting seven doubles and six triples. That performance helped lead to his second big league chance. He hit .216/.245/.275 in 15 games for the 1934 Cleveland Indians, starting nearly every game during the final three weeks of the season. He then had a .218 average in 52 games for the 1935 Indians, finishing with 12 runs, five doubles, a triple, 14 RBIs and a .518 OPS. Brenzel returned to the minors for another nine seasons, retiring from playing after the 1946 season. He played the 1936-37 seasons for Milwaukee of the American Association, then joined Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League, staying there for six full seasons. He had a .288 average in 77 games for Milwaukee in 1936, adding 24 runs, 21 extra-base hits (17 doubles), 42 RBIs and a .709 OPS. He batted .254 over 91 games in 1937, with 40 runs, 18 extra-base hits, 44 RBIs and a .629 OPS. Brenzel hit .251 during the 1938 season with Hollywood, putting together 32 runs, 16 doubles, one triple and 52 RBIs in 123 games. He played 101 games in 1939, compiling a .262 average, with 12 doubles, two triples and a homer. He hit .294 in 1940, with 12 doubles, a triple and three homers in 77 games.

Brenzel played 77 games during the 1941 season, putting up a .268 average, with 22 runs, six doubles, four homers, 22 RBIs and a .679 OPS. His 1942 season shows a .227 average in 98 games, with 19 runs, 12 extra-base hits, 20 RBIs and a .563 OPS. He finished up his time in Hollywood with a .247 average in 1943, with 18 runs, six doubles, two homers, 26 RBIs and a .586 OPS in 88 games. After not playing during the 1944-45 seasons, Brenzel appeared briefly for Pocatello of the Class-C Pioneer League in 1946, hitting .351/.415/.405 in 13 games. He also managed in the minors for three years, including Pocatello in 1946. Along with his long career as a player and a manager, he was a longtime scout.

Ed Phelps, catcher for the 1902-04 and 1906-08 Pirates. He spent five seasons in the minors before getting his first shot at the majors with the 1902 Pirates as a September roster addition. His career started at 19 years old in 1898 in Class-F ball for Danbury of the Connecticut State League (no stats available). The next season saw him jump to the Class-A Eastern League, where he remained until his big league debut. That was the highest level of the minors at the time. He played Springfield in 1899, then Springfield, Montreal and Rochester in 1900, followed by staying in Rochester during the 1901-02 seasons. His stats are very limited during that time period, but we know that he hit .248 over 86 games in 1899, with 45 runs, 14 extra-base hits and 13 steals. There’s nothing available from the 1900 season. He hit .290 in 93 games during the 1901 season, with 18 extra-base hits. Before joining the Pirates, he was hitting .255 through 91 games in 1902. The Pirates purchased Phelps from Rochester on August 26, 1902, in what was a controversial signing at the time. The owner of Rochester apparently made a verbal agreement to sell Phelps at the end of the Eastern League season, which was one week later, to the National League Boston Beaneaters (Braves). Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss swooped in and purchased his contract, which didn’t sit well with the Boston management, who had no idea of the purchase until it was announced by the league.

Phelps hit .213/.284/.230 in 70 plate appearances over 18 games for the 1902 Pirates, the team with the best record in franchise history at 103-36. The 1903 Pirates won the National League pennant for a third time in a row, as he split the catching duties with Harry Smith. Phelps hit .282 in 81 games that year, with 32 runs, 12 extra-base hits, 31 RBIs and a .689 OPS. He then batted .231/.259/.308 in the World Series, getting into all eight games. His .980 fielding percentage was the second best for all National League catchers that season. He caught a career high 91 games in 1904, when he finished with a .242 average, 29 runs, eight extra-base hits, 28 RBIs and a .567 OPS. The Pirates traded Phelps to the Cincinnati Reds in February of 1905, in exchange for veteran catcher Heinie Peitz. Phelps hit .231/.306/.301 in 44 games for the 1905 Reds. He finished with five doubles, three triples and no homers for the second straight season, except he had 146 fewer at-bats during the 1905 season. He played with Cincinnati until May of 1906, when the Pirates purchased his contract, so he could serve as the backup to George Gibson for three seasons. Phelps played a total of 120 games over that stretch, with Gibson doing the bulk of the catching. Just 82 of those 120 games came as the starting catcher.

Phelps had a .275/.326/.450 slash line in 12 games with the 1906 Reds before rejoining the Pirates. After joining Pittsburgh, he hit .237/.302/.280 in 43 games over the rest of the season. He also played 43 games for the 1907 Pirates, hitting .212 that year, with 11 runs, 12 RBIs and just one extra-base hit (a double). He hit .234/.269/.328 in 34 games during the 1908 season, though he batted just 68 times all year. Phelps was a .247 hitter over his six seasons for the Pirates, collecting 89 runs, 19 doubles, nine triples, two homers and 100 RBIs in 313 games. He was released by the Pirates on January 6, 1909. He played in the majors until 1913, seeing time with the 1909-10 St Louis Cardinals and 1912-13 Brooklyn Dodgers/Superbas. The 1909 season was the only time he played more than 100 games (104) in a season, though he saw plenty of time as a pinch-hitter that year. He hit .248 that season, setting career highs with 43 runs, 13 doubles and 39 walks, to go along with 22 RBIs and a .648 OPS. He batted .263 in 93 games for the 1910 Cardinals, with 25 runs, 37 RBIs and 36 walks. He had just six extra-base hits (four doubles and two triples) all year, leading to a .649 OPS. Phelps spent the 1911 season in the minors with Toronto of the Eastern League, where he hit .271 in 96 games, with 18 extra-base hits.

Phelps played 52 games for Brooklyn in 1912, hitting .288.388/.378 in 133 plate appearances, with eight runs, seven extra-base hits and 23 RBIs. His last season in the majors saw him bat just 19 times in 15 games. He went 4-for-18, with four singles and a walk. His pro career finished in the minors with Albany of the Class-B New York State League in 1914-15, and Sioux City of the Class-A Western League for 18 games in 1915. He was a player-manager during the 1914 season, when he hit .233 in 70 games, with 17 runs and 16 walks. He combined to hit .234 over 59 games in 1915, with better results during his limited time with Sioux City. Phelps hit a total of three homers in 2,096 plate appearances over 11 seasons in the majors, and two of those were inside-the-park homers. He had two seasons in the minors in which he hit four homers. During the 1903 season, Phelps caught 56 straight scoreless innings, which is a Pirates record that was tied in 2015 by Francisco Cervelli. Phelps had the middle name Jaykill, which as you might expect, makes him unique in Major League history.