Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date.
Jose Castillo, second baseman for the 2004-07 Pirates. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Pirates out of Venezuela, shortly after his 16th birthday in 1997. After playing the 1998 season in the Venezuelan Summer League (no stats available), he made it to the states as an 18-year-old. He played in the rookie level Gulf Coast League in 1999, where he batted .266 in 47 games, with 27 runs, nine doubles, four homers, 30 RBIs and a .703 OPS. Pittsburgh moved him up to Hickory of the Low-A South Atlantic League for the 2000 season. He hit .299 that year, with 95 runs, 32 doubles, 16 homers, 72 RBIs, 16 steals (in 28 attempts) and an .826 OPS over 125 games. Castillo split his time between second base and shortstop prior to the 2000 season, before switching to full-time shortstop for three seasons. He moved up to Lynchburg of the High-A Carolina League for 2001, where he hit .245 in 125 games, with 57 runs, 34 extra-base hits, 49 RBIs, 23 steals and a .647 OPS. The Pirates had him repeat that level in 2002, and he put up big numbers, hitting .300 in 134 games, with 82 runs, 25 doubles, 16 homers, 81 RBIs, 27 steals and an .823 OPS. Castillo also showed better patience at the plate, doubling his walk rate over the previous season. He played well at Double-A in 2003 with Altoona of the Eastern League, hitting .287 in 126 games, with 68 runs, 24 doubles, 66 RBIs, 19 steals and a .728 OPS. Jack Wilson had established himself as the long-term shortstop in Pittsburgh at that time, so Castillo began to play more second base in Altoona. Without any Triple-A experience, he made the Pirates as their starting second baseman in Spring Training of 2004.
That rookie season saw Castillo play 129 games, with 105 starts at second base. He had a .256 average, with 44 runs, 15 doubles, eight homers, 39 RBIs and a devilishly average .666 OPS. He had two trips to the disabled list in 2005, with the first time occurring just two games into the season, when he strained an oblique muscle. The second injury happened as he was taken out by a runner attempting to break up a double play. That injury put him out from August 22nd until the end of the season. He was still able to hit .268 in 101 games, with 49 runs, 16 doubles, 11 homers, 53 RBIs and a .724 OPS. Castillo came into Spring Training 2006 healthy, then put up his best career numbers in numerous categories, though poor defense resulted in his worst career WAR numbers (-1.3 WAR for the season). He hit .253 in 148 games, with 54 runs, 25 doubles, 14 homers and 65 RBIs. His OPS dropped to .682, 42 points lower than the previous season. Castillo did well in winter ball in Venezuela during the 2006-07 off-season, putting up a .310 average and an .864 OPS in 52 games. He didn’t carry over into big league success, as he lost his starting job to Freddy Sanchez in 2007. Castillo would end up playing more third base than second base that year. He hit .244 in 87 games during the 2007 season, finishing the year without a home run or a stolen base, while picking up just six walks, leading to a .604 OPS. He had 18 runs, 18 doubles and 24 RBIs. He was released in December 2007, then spent one more season in the majors, splitting the 2008 campaign between the San Francisco Giants and Houston Astros. In 127 games that year (112 with the Giants), he put up a .246 average, with 46 runs, 29 doubles, six homers, 37 RBIs, and a .668 OPS. With Pittsburgh, he was a .256 hitter in 465 games, with 197 runs, 74 doubles, 33 homers and 181 RBIs. Despite four straight seasons of double-digit stolen base totals in the minors, he had just 13 steals (in 24 attempts) in the majors.
Castillo played in Japan, China, Italy, Mexico and Venezuela until his untimely passing at age 37 in December of 2018. He played a total of 21 seasons in pro ball, plus 13 years of winter ball. If you include all of his totals (the 1998 stats from Venezuela aren’t available online, but I have them for hits, games and average), he played 2,752 games, with over 11,000 plate appearances. Castillo hit .290 during that time, with 1,318 runs, 2,964 hits, 509 doubles, 257 homers, 1,477 RBIs and 225 steals. He spent the 2009 season in China, where he had a .314 average and an .846 OPS in 74 games. He crushed the ball during winter action in Venezuela before and after the 2009 season, posting a .942 OPS over 50 games in the 2008-09 winter, followed by a .972 OPS in 51 games during the 2009-10 winter. Castillo had a .756 OPS in 131 games for Yokohama (Japan) during the 2010 season. His winter magic disappeared during the 2010-11 off-season, as he had a .596 OPS in 43 games. He had a .674 OPS over 86 games in Japan during part of the 2011 season. He also played 86 games in Mexico that year, posting a .357 average and a .940 OPS. Castillo had a rough winter again during the 2011-12 off-season, finishing with a .237 average and a .623 OPS in 38 games. He spent the entire 2012 season with Veracruz of the Mexican league, where he had a .314 average and an .806 OPS. His winter was strong, with a .331/.382/.429 slash line over 59 games.
Castillo played 163 games total between Mexico and winter ball in Venezuela during the 2013 season/2013-14 off-season. He had a .369 average and an impressive 1.042 OPS over 102 games in Mexico, finishing with 29 doubles and 25 homers. He then had a .340 average and an .877 OPS in winter ball, giving him a total of 240 hits during that season. Castillo played 167 games in 2014/2014-15 winter combined. He played for two teams that year in Mexico, posting a .793 OPS in 36 games for Tobasco, and a .705 OPS in 71 games with Veracruz. He also dropped in winter ball, posting a .629 OPS in 56 games. He hit for a nice average, but low power/walks in the 2015/2015-16 seasons, putting up a .292 average and a .693 OPS over 111 games in Mexico, followed by a .302 average and a .756 OPS over 61 games in Venezuela winter ball. Castillo played just 37 games during the 2016 season, seeing time with two teams in Mexico. He saw regular winter action, hitting for a .332 average and an .822 OPS over 59 games. He had a .630 OPS over 18 games in Italy during the 2017 season, then finished out his pro career in winter ball, posting a .290 average, 13 extra-base hits and 35 RBIs for two teams in 2017-18, then ending with a .265/.287/.355 slash line over 43 games during his final season. He was struck down in late December of 2018 during a late-night highway robbery accident.
David Ross, catcher for the Pirates in 2005. He was drafted out of high school and college by the Los Angeles Dodgers, getting selected in the 19th round in 1995, and then the seventh round in 1998 out of the University of Florida. Ross spent three years in the majors with the Dodgers prior to being purchased by the Pirates at the end of Spring Training in 2005. He had an excellent pro debut, batting .309 in 59 games, with 31 runs, 14 doubles, six homers, 25 RBIs, 34 walks and an .899 OPS with Yakima of the short-season Northwestern League in 1998. He struggled with the jump to Vero Beach of the High-A Florida State League in 1999, hitting .227 in 114 games, with 47 runs, 19 doubles, seven homers, 39 RBIs and a .657 OPS. Ross did just slightly better in 2000, while splitting the season between High-A and Double-A. He put up a .754 OPS in 51 games at High-A, but that was helped by the Dodgers moving from the pitcher-friendly Florida State League to San Bernardino of the hitter-friendly California League. After getting promoted to San Antonio of the Double-A Texas League, he had a .209 average in 24 games. Between both stops, he had a .244 average in 75 games, with 38 runs, 13 doubles, ten homers, 33 RBIs and a .742 OPS. Ross turned a corner with an .831 OPS in 74 games for Jacksonville of the Double-A Southern League in 2001. He finished that year with a .264 average, 35 runs, 13 doubles, 11 homers, 45 RBIs and an .831 OPS. That was followed by a .297 average in 2002, with 48 runs, 16 doubles, 15 homers, 68 RBIs and a .903 OPS in 92 games for Las Vegas of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in 2002. That led to his first taste of the majors, getting into eight games with the Dodgers over stints in June/July and late-September. He went 2-for-10, with a double, homer and two walks.
Ross spent most of 2003 as a backup in the majors to All-Star Paul Lo Duca. Despite playing in a hitter-friendly ballpark with Las Vegas, Ross had a .221 average and a .755 OPS in 24 minor league games that year. He hit .258/.336/.557 during his time in the majors that year, finishing with 19 runs, seven doubles, ten homers and 18 RBIs in 40 games. He spent the entire 2004 season with the Dodgers, but had his share of trouble at the plate. He hit .170/.253/.291 in 70 games during his final season in Los Angeles, striking out 62 times in 190 plate appearances. He started his time with the 2005 Pirates as the backup to Benito Santiago, but quickly took over the starting job when Santiago was placed on the disabled list a week into the season. Ross drove in seven runs in the first four games after taking over, but he quickly fizzled out and ended up with a .222/.263/.380 slash line in 40 games, adding just eight more RBIs to his total. On July 28th, the Pirates traded him to the San Diego Padres in exchange for minor league infielder JJ Furmaniak. Ross hit .353/.389/.471 in 11 games with the Padres, then got traded in the off-season to the Cincinnati Reds. He had his best season in 2006, batting .255 over 90 games, with 37 runs, 15 doubles, 21 homers, 52 RBIs and a .932 OPS. He hit 17 homers the next year with the Reds, though it came with a .203 average and a .670 OPS in 112 games. Despite the power and semi-regular playing time, he had just 32 runs and 39 RBIs that season. The Reds released Ross mid-season in 2008, despite a respectable .747 OPS in 173 plate appearances over 52 games. He signed with the Boston Red Sox, where he lasted just eight games in 2008, but he would return to Boston a few years later. He hit .225/.369/.352 in 60 games during the 2008 season, with 18 runs, nine doubles, three homers and 13 RBIs.
Ross was the backup for the Atlanta Braves from 2009 to 2012. He played between 52 and 62 games each year, finishing between 145 and 191 plate appearances each season. In four years there, he hit .269 in 227 games, with 24 homers and 94 RBIs. He put up an .888 OPS his first season in Atlanta, hitting .273 over 54 games, with 18 runs, nine doubles, seven homers, 20 RBIs and 21 walks in 158 plate appearances. He also did well in 2010, batting .289 in 59 games, with 15 runs, 17 extra-base hits, 28 RBIs and an .871 OPS. Ross hit .263 over 52 games in 2011, with 14 runs, seven doubles, six homers, 23 RBIs and a .761 OPS. He hit .256 during his final season with the Braves, with 18 runs, seven doubles, nine homers, 23 RBIs and a .770 OPS in 62 games. He signed with the Red Sox as a free agent for the 2013-14 seasons, holding a backup role during that time. His hitting fell off, but he was strong defensively. He helped Boston to a World Series victory in 2013, while starting seven games behind the plate during the playoffs. He batted just .216/.298/.382 during the regular season, with 11 runs, five doubles, four homers and ten RBIs in 36 games. He batted .184 in 2014, with 16 runs, seven doubles, seven homers, 15 RBIs and a .629 OPS in 171 plate appearances over 50 games.
Ross moved on to the Chicago Cubs in 2015, where he really struggled at the plate, though he was there more for his defense. He hit .176/.267/.252 that year, with six runs, nine doubles, one homer and six RBIs in 72 games. He helped the Cubs to the World Series title in 2016 by putting up a .784 OPS in 67 games, finishing with a .229 average, 24 runs, six doubles, ten homers, 32 RBIs and 30 walks. He then hit two homers in the playoffs, while driving in four runs. He retired following the 2016 season. In 883 career games over 15 seasons, he was a .229 hitter, with 254 runs, 116 doubles, 106 home runs and 314 RBIs. He stole three bases in his career, collecting his first during his 11th season in the majors. Ross is currently the manager of the Cubs, in his second season at that position. He went 34-26 during the shortened 2020 season, then had a 71-91 record during the 2021 season. He led them to a 74-88 record in 2022.
Angel Mangual, outfielder for the Pirates in 1969. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Pirates in 1966 at 19 years old out of Puerto Rico. He hit .228 during his first year in pro ball, with 30 runs, 16 extra-base hits, 28 RBIs and a .628 OPS in 80 games for Clinton of the Class-A Midwest League. Mangual moved to Raleigh of the Class-A Carolina League for 1967, where he improved to a .285 average, with 71 runs scored, 29 extra-base hits, 46 RBIs and a .704 OPS in 136 games. He spent all of 1968 and most of 1969 at Double-A, showing a drastic improvement the second time through the league. That first year he hit .249 in 128 games for York of the Eastern League, with 43 runs, 21 extra-base hits, 27 RBIs, 12 steals and a .616 OPS. Mangual hit .320 over 133 games for York in 1969, with 88 runs, 24 doubles, 26 homers, 102 RBIs, 15 steals and a .909 OPS. He then played three games at Triple-A Columbus of the International League,going 2-for-9 with two singles and two walks, before he was called up by the Pirates in September of 1969. Mangual played six games off of the bench for the 1969 Pirates, going 1-for-4 at the plate with a double and a run scored. He spent the entire 1970 season at Columbus, where he hit .281 in 135 games, with 74 runs, 19 doubles, 20 homers, 87 RBIs and an .807 OPS. Shortly after the 1970 season ended, he was sent to the Oakland A’s as the player to be named later in an earlier trade for veteran pitcher Mudcat Grant.
Mangual spent six seasons in the majors with the A’s, getting into 444 games. He finished third in the American League Rookie of the Year voting in 1971, after hitting .286 in 94 games, with 32 runs, 13 extra-base hits, 30 RBIs and a .686 OPS. He batted .167 in the postseason, though his two hits were a double and a triple. He had a similar platoon role in 1972 when the A’s won their first of three straight World Series titles. Mangual hit .245 that year, finishing with 19 runs, 13 doubles, five homers, 32 RBIs and a .649 OPS in 91 games. He improved his defense that season, which helped give him his best season of WAR (1.3) during his career. He went 0-for-3 in the ALCS that year, then went 3-for-10 in the World Series. His average dropped to .224 in 1973, and he saw a little less playing time due to that performance. He had 20 runs, eight extra-base hits, 13 RBIs and eight walks, posting a .560 OPS in 74 games. He struggled in the postseason as well, going 1-for-15 with a single and no walks. Mangual was a bigger part of the 1974 champions, setting career highs with 115 games and 387 plate appearances. He had a .233 average, with 37 runs, 14 doubles, nine homers, 43 RBIs and a .632 OPS. He went 1-for-5 in the postseason that year, striking out in his only World Series at-bat.
Mangual’s playing time dropped in 1975, as he made just 17 starts all season. He hit .220/.241/.275 in 62 games, with 13 runs, three doubles, one homer and six RBIs. He played just eight games in the early part of 1976, before spending the rest of the season in the minors with Tuscon of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he had a .735 OPS in 42 games. He went 2-for-12 with a double and an RBI in his brief big league time that year. He played in Mexico in 1977, and briefly in Puerto Rico in 1979, before retiring. He hit .245 over 42 games in Mexico, collecting ten runs, six doubles and ten RBIs. His time in Puerto Rico amounted to five games in which he went 4-for-21, with four singles. He hit .245 in 450 big league games, with 122 runs, 44 doubles, 22 homers and 125 RBIs. He had a few double-digit stolen base seasons in the minors, but he went 5-for-13 in his stolen base attempts at the big league level. He played a total of 20 playoff games, though he had a .156 average and no walks in 46 plate appearances. He is the brother of Pepe Mangual, who spent six seasons in the majors. He’s also the cousin of Coco Laboy, who played five seasons for the Montreal Expos. We posted a Card of the Day article looking at the rookie card of Angel Mangual.
Paul Smith, first Baseman/outfielder for the 1953 and 1957-58 Pirates. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Pirates in 1950 at 19 years old. He spent that first season playing for the Tallahassee Pirates of the Class-D Georgia-Florida League. Smith hit for a .319 average, with 24 doubles, eight triples and seven homers in 139 games. He won the league’s Rookie of the Year award. He hit .322 in 1951, with 28 doubles, eight triples and ten homers in 143 games for Waco of the Class-B Big State League. He continued his rise through the system, playing at Double-A New Orleans of the Southern Association in 1952, where he hit .323 in 153 games, with 27 doubles, seven triples and five homers. He received a Spring Training invite that season, which helped him in 1953 when he won an Opening Day job in Pittsburgh. Smith spent all of 1953 with the Pirates, hitting .283 in 118 games, with 44 runs, 12 doubles, seven triples, four homers, 44 RBIs and a .710 OPS. He played 74 games at first base, and saw some time in the outfield as well. He then spent all of 1954 in the minors, batting .321 in 122 games for Havana of the Triple-A International League, with 68 runs, 22 doubles, seven homers, 62 RBIs, 66 walks and an .832 OPS. Smith then served two years in the Army, causing him to miss the entire 1955-56 seasons. He was actually expected to join the service in early April of 1954, but he failed the physical due to a concussion he suffered on March 21st while covering first base, when a pick-off throw hit him in the head. His induction into the Army was put off until January 28, 1955. He served until early November of 1956.
Smith returned to the Pirates for the 1957 season. He hit .253 in 81 games, making 24 starts (all in the outfield). He had 12 runs, seven extra-base hits, 11 RBIs and a .653 OPS in 167 plate appearances. Smith was used just six times during the first month of the 1958 season, all as a pinch-hitter, prior to being sold to the Chicago Cubs on May 6th for a reported price of $20,000. The main reason for the sale was that teams were allowed to have a bigger roster until May 15th. They needed to get down to a 25-man roster by that date, and the Pirates were carrying 29 men at the time of Smith’s sale. He played 18 games (two starts) with Chicago before they sent him to the minors, where he finished out his career in 1964. He hit .174 in 23 at-bats during his final big league season, though six walks gave him a .345 OBP. He played two years in the Triple-A American Association (1959-60), then his last four years of pro ball were spent in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, splitting the time between Seattle and Tacoma. He played in both of those leagues to finish out the 1958 season. In 79 games with Minneapolis of the American Association, Smith had a .275 average, with 40 runs, 19 extra-base hits, 43 RBIs and a .732 OPS. He also batted .231 in seven games for Portland of the Pacific Coast League.
Smith spent all of 1959 in Charleston, where he batted .290 over 152 games, with 61 runs, 28 doubles, five homers, 40 RBIs and a .730 OPS. He split 120 games in 1960 between Charleston and Minneapolis, finishing with a .302 average, 63 runs, 22 doubles, 58 RBIs and 58 walks. He spent the entire 1961 and 1962 seasons with Seattle. Smith batted .289 over 119 games in 1961, with 52 runs, 17 doubles, four homers, 54 RBIs, 56 walks and a .764 OPS. He hit .255 in 1962, with 64 runs, 22 doubles, eight homers, 49 RBIs, 56 walks and a .677 OPS in 140 games. He played five games for Seattle in 1963, and then 107 games with Tacoma. Smith hit .297 that year, with 49 runs, 19 doubles, seven homers and 38 RBIs. He finished up with a .240 average for Tacoma in 1964, collecting 18 runs, eight doubles, five homers and 31 RBIs in 99 games, while posting a .647 OPS. He hit .298 in 1,385 minor league games. He played 223 big league games over three seasons. He hit .275 for the Pirates, with 53 runs, 16 doubles, seven triples, seven homers and 55 RBIs, finishing with exactly 600 plate appearances. Smith was born in New Castle, PA (Birthplace of Chuck Tanner), but he was referred to as a Pittsburgh native while with the Pirates, living in Wilkinsburg. An August 1952 article talked about the potential for an all-Pittsburgh district outfield with Smith, Frank Thomas and Bobby Del Greco. The three never played together because Del Greco was only with the Pirates during the 1952 and 1956 seasons.
Billy Colgan, who was once known as Ed Colgan, was a catcher/outfielder for the 1884 Alleghenys. He had a completely unknown birth date until research uncovered it in 2021. It’s now known that he was born on March 19, 1862. He was said to have developed as a catcher while playing ball for the East St Louis Nationals before going pro. He debuted in pro ball at 21 years old in 1883, playing for Springfield of the Northwestern League (no stats available). On January 18, 1884, the Pittsburgh Alleghenys received the signed contracts from Colgan and pitcher Fleury Sullivan, with the local papers noting that they would be a battery for the team that year. Colgan was described as being from East St Louis, and together with Sullivan, they were considered to be among the finest pitcher-catcher duos. The 1884 season was an interesting year in that teams in the American Association had reserve squads that basically served as a minor league team in each team’s city, so teams were signing extra players. There was also a third Major League running at that time, with the Union Association in business for one year, which opened up more big league jobs that season. Colgan lasted just that one year in the majors. He hit .155 in 48 games, with ten runs scored, four extra-base hits and three walks, resulting in a lowly .363 OPS, which wasn’t even the worst on the team for regular position players. With those results, it was no surprise that the Alleghenys finished 30-78 that year, though my own extensive research shows that their record should be 31-78 due to a missing game in which Colgan played left field.
Colgan was said to have signed with the St Louis Maroons of the National League in March of 1885, along with Sullivan, but neither played in the majors again. Both appeared for Kansas City of the Western League in 1885, then went their separate ways. Colgan played for Memphis of the Southern League in 1885 as well, getting into 20 games with each of his teams with very similar results, batting .256 with Kansas City and .257 with Memphis, collecting four extra-base hits with both teams. He played briefly for Memphis in 1886, then returned to the Northwestern League, where he played for Milwaukee and St Paul. He was lucky to play that year at all, as he was shot in a hunting accident in April. His only stats from that year show an .083 average and two runs scored in seven games. He was out of pro ball in 1887, running a saloon in St Louis, while playing some ball for a semi-pro team from Decatur, Illinois. He teamed back up with Fleury Sullivan in 1888, and the two formed a battery for the semi-pro Lotus club of East St Louis. Colgan returned to pro ball in 1889, playing for Chattanooga of the Class-B Southern League, where he hit .281 in 39 games, with 26 runs, 15 extra-base hits and six steals. He also played briefly for Evansville of the Central Interstate League that year, going 1-for-18 in five games. He batted .273 in 34 games for Spokane of the Pacific Northwest League in 1890. He had 24 runs, eight doubles, a triple and 13 steals.
Colgan remained out west in 1891, where he played for the (wait for it) Walla Walla Walla Wallas of the Pacific Interstate League. His pro career ended at 30 years old in 1892, as he split the season between Butte and Missoula of the Class-B Montana State League. No stats are available for his final two seasons. He was said to be trying to get a team organized for the 1893 season while living in Great Falls, Montana, but there was no mention of him again in that area until his untimely passing on August 8, 1895. He was working as a switchman at the railroad station, when a car he was standing on went off the tracks and hit another car, pinning him between the two cars. Part of the mystery with his age over the years perhaps came from the story that said he was about 37 years old at the time, when he was actually 33 years old. On local Montana paper said that his nickname back in 1892 was “Little Willie”. His height is unknown (as are his throwing/batting sides), but his weight is said to have been 180 pounds.