This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: May 7th, Hall of Famer Traded, and a Triple Play

We have two Pittsburgh Pirates trades on this date, three former players, and one very special game to cover from 1925, with something you don’t see everyday.

The Trades

On this date in 1941, the Pirates traded future Hall of Fame center fielder Lloyd Waner to the Boston Braves for pitcher Nick Strincevich. Waner had been with the Pirates since 1927, but he was coming off of his worst season in 1940, when he hit .259 in 72 games, with just three extra-base hits (all doubles) and three RBIs, to go along with a .562 OPS. At age 35 in 1941, he had played just three games with the Pirates that season, going 1-for-4 with two walks. Strincevich was a 25-year-old rookie for the 1940 Braves. He went 4-8, 5.53 in 128.2 innings over 32 games (14 starts), with a 1.59 WHIP and 54 strikeouts. He pitched poorly for Boston in limited work during the early part of the 1941 season, allowing five runs in 3.1 innings over his three relief appearances.

The trade worked out well for the Pirates, although not right away. Waner never returned to his Hall of Fame form. He hit well for Boston, batting .412/.434/.431 in 19 games, before they quickly traded him to the Cincinnati Reds. After being released by the Brooklyn Dodgers early in the 1944 season, Waner re-signed with the Pirates, who used him off of the bench for the rest of 1944 and 1945. Strincevich didn’t pitch much for the Pirates between the 1941-42 seasons. He then spent all of 1943 in the minors, but the Pirates were rewarded for sticking with him. He won a total of 40 games from 1944 until 1946, pitching nearly 600 innings during that stretch. He fell off in 1947, then was sold to the Philadelphia Phillies a month into the 1948 season. You can read more about him in our Obscure Pittsburgh Pirates feature. The Pirates received 9.3 pitching WAR from Strincevich in his seven seasons. Waner’s entire time after the trade (including his time back in Pittsburgh) was worth 0.2 WAR total. So despite the name power favoring Boston, this deal was easily won by the Pirates.

On this date in 1962, the Pirates traded pitcher Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell to the New York Mets for first baseman Jim Marshall. Mizell was in his ninth season in the majors at the time, and the 1962 season was his third with the Pirates. He was a hard-throwing lefty, who had a 90-86 career record. He put up double-digit win totals six times in his career. At the time of the trade, the 31-year-old had a 1-1, 4.96 record in four games (three starts). Marshall was just shy of his 31st birthday at the time, playing well for the expansion Mets during their first season in existence. He never hit above .252 in his four previous seasons, while topping out at 11 homers during the 1959 season. He was hitting .344/.400/.656 in 17 games for New York at the time of the deal.

Marshall really fell off at the plate after the trade, hitting .220 in 55 games, with 13 runs, five doubles, two homers, 12 RBIs and a .669 OPS. The Pirates released him at the end of the season, and he never played in the majors again. Mizell was no better after the trade. He pitched 38 innings over 17 games for the Mets, finishing with an 0-2, 7.34 record and a 1.92 WHIP. New York released him in early August of 1962, ending his big league career. It was a trade that seemed to be significant at the time, but it turned out to be nothing for either team. Both players put up negative WAR numbers with their new team.

The Players

Keon Broxton, outfielder for the 2015 Pirates. Broxton was acquired by the Pirates as a minor leaguer in 2014 from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a cash deal. Arizona signed him as a third round draft pick in 2009 out of Santa Fe Community College. He was selected in the 29th round out of high school by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008, then improved greatly by going the college route. Broxton debuted in pro ball with Missoula in the short-season Pioneer League, where he showed big power numbers, but also had huge strikeout numbers as well, leading to a low average/OBP. He hit .246 in 72 games, with 38 runs, 11 doubles, nine triples, 11 homers, 37 RBIs and a .776 OPS. He moved up to South Bend of the Low-A Midwest League in 2010, where he had the same strikeout/low average issues. He hit .228 that year, with 172 strikeouts in 133 games. Broxton had 74 runs, 41 extra-base hits (19 triples), 32 RBIs, 65 walks, a .675 OPS and 21 stolen bases, though he was caught 13 times. Strikeouts were a major concern in 2011 with Visalia of the High-A California League. He also spent 20 games that year back with South Bend. His second straight 172-strikeout season was accompanied by a .248 average, 77 runs, 28 extra-base hits, 45 RBIs, 33 steals, 69 walks and a .690 OPS in 130 games. The lack of power seemed to be a major issues, mostly because he was playing in the hitter-friendly California League. He repeated Visalia for the entire 2012 season, where he hit .267 in 130 games, with 84 runs, 24 doubles, 19 homers, 62 RBIs and 21 stolen bases. He improved to a .763 OPS. He had 136 strikeouts that year, which gave him a slightly better strikeout rate over the previous two years.

Broxton moved up to Mobile of the Double-A Southern League in 2013, where he hit .231 in 101 games, with 40 runs, 21 extra-base hits and 41 RBIs. He had just five steals all season, and he posted a .656 OPS. He played winter ball in Australia during the 2013-14 off-season. He put up nearly identical average/OPS numbers in 31 games, with a .231 average and a .647 OPS. Broxton joined the Pirates On March 26, 2014. He went to Altoona of the Double-A Eastern League, where he had .275 average in 127 games, with 67 runs, 46 extra-base hits, 52 RBIs, 59 walks, 25 steals and an .853 OPS. He batted .302/.365/.464 in 45 games at Altoona in 2015, then played 88 games with Indianapolis of the Triple-A International League, where he had a .256 average, 30 extra-base hits, 47 walks, 28 steals and a .776 OPS. That earned him a trip to the majors in September of 2015. Broxton played seven games with the 2013 Pirates. He saw brief time at all three outfielder spots, while going 0-for-2 at the plate. He was used as a pinch-runner six times, and he scored three runs. He was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers after the 2015 season with minor league pitcher Trey Supak, in exchange for infielder/outfielder Jason Rogers. Broxton split three seasons between Triple-A and the majors while in Milwaukee. He put up a .242 average for the 2016 Brewers, with 28 runs, 20 extra-base hits, 19 RBIs, 23 steals and a .784 OPS over 75 games. He played 47 games that year for Colorado Springs of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he had a .287 average, 26 extra-base hits, 18 steals and a .924 OPS.

Broxton spent most of the 2017 season in the majors. His time with Colorado Springs amounted to a 1.077 OPS in seven games. He hit .220 in 143 games for the Brewers, with 66 runs, 15 doubles, 20 homers, 49 RBIs, 40 walks, 21 steals and a .719 OPS. He struck out 175 times in 463 plate appearances. He hit just .179 in 51 games for the Brewers during the 2018 season, though he managed to put up a .410 slugging percentage and a .691 OPS in his 89 plate appearances. He had more runs (15) than hits (14), while finishing with four homers, 11 RBIs and five steals. He hit .254/.323/.421 in 82 games for Colorado Springs that year. Broxton played for three different teams in 2019, seeing time with the New York Mets, Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles. The Brewers traded him to the Mets in January of 2019. The Mets traded him to Baltimore on May 22nd, then the Orioles lost him on waivers to the Mariners on July 27th.  Between all three stops, he had a .167 average and a .517 OPS in 228 plate appearances over 100 games. He had 24 runs, four doubles, six homers, 16 RBIs and ten steals. Broxton re-signed with the Brewers as a free agent during the 2019-20 off-season, but he did not play during the shortened 2020 season. He signed with the Minnesota Twins for the 2021 season, but they released him after he put up a .186 average and 113 strikeouts in 73 games for Triple-A St Paul. He played the final month of the season back in the Brewers system, though he managed to hit .111 over 18 games. He signed to play in Mexico in 2022, where he hit .356 over 73 games for Monclave, with 64 runs, 18 doubles, 20 homers, 48 RBIs, 59 walks and a 1.150 OPS. He played winter ball in Mexico during the 2022-23 off-season, but that amounted to him going 1-for-20 with 13 strikeouts in five games. He’s a career .209 hitter in 376 big league games, with 136 runs, 31 doubles, 39 homers, 95 RBIs and 60 steals.

Mark Smith, outfielder for the 1997-98 Pirates. He was a first round draft pick of the Baltimore Orioles in 1991, taken ninth overall out of USC. He made his Major League debut three seasons later. Smith began his pro career by playing 38 games with Frederick of the High-A Carolina League during his draft season. He batted .250/.296/.378, with 20 runs ten extra-base hits, and 29 RBIs. He was in Double-A to start his first full season in pro ball, where he had a .288 average, with 51 runs, 32 doubles, 62 RBIs, 15 steals, 45 walks and a .758 OPS in 128 games for Hagerstown of the Eastern League. He moved up to Rochester of the Triple-A International League in 1993, where he hit .280 in 129 games, with 69 runs, 27 doubles, 12 homers, 68 RBIs and a .756 OPS. He repeated Triple-A/Rochester for most of the strike-shortened 1994 season, hitting .247 in 114 games, with 69 runs, 27 doubles, 19 homers and 66 RBIs. His .755 OPS was one point lower than the previous season. He had a brief stint with the Orioles in May, getting into his first three big league games. He went 1-for-7, with two RBIs. Most of the 1995 season was spent in Rochester, though he played 37 games with the Orioles. He batted .278 in 96 games for Rochester, with 55 runs, 25 doubles, 12 homers, 66 RBIs and a .790 OPS. He hit .231/.314/.365 for the Orioles, with 11 runs, five doubles, three homers and 15 RBIs. Smith was injured for part of 1996, which limited him to 73 games total between the majors and three levels of the minors. That included a rehab stint at the lower levels after taking a foul ball off of his left shin. The injury ended his big league time for the season. He hit .244/.298/.423 for the Orioles, with nine runs, two doubles, four homers and ten RBIs in 27 games. He tore up Rochester in limited time that year, posting a 1.075 OPS in 39 games. His lower level time didn’t go as well, with two hits in 23 at-bats.

Smith played a total of 67 games with the Orioles before they shipped him to the San Diego Padres in January of 1997 for a low-level minor league catcher (Leroy McKinnis), who lasted just one season of pro ball after the deal. The Pirates acquired him two months later from the Padres, along with Hal Garrett, in exchange for Trey Beamon and Angelo Encarnacion. Smith began the 1997 season in the minors. He would get called up in mid-June for good after getting a one-game shot in May. In 42 minor league games that season (39 with Calgary of the Pacific Coast League), he had a .376 average, with 15 doubles, 17 homers, 42 runs, 46 RBIs and a 1.292 OPS. He hit .285 in 71 games for the 1997 Pirates, with 29 runs, 13 doubles, nine homers, 35 RBIs and an .877 OPS. None of those homers would be more dramatic than the one he hit on July 12th against the Houston Astros. He came to bat as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the 10th inning with no score and two men on base. With two outs and an 0-1 count, Smith took a pitch from the Astros John Hudek and deposited it over the left field wall for a walk-off homer. Smith was batting for Ricardo Rincon, who just threw the Pirates 10th no-hit frame in the top of the inning. Francisco Cordova threw nine no-hit innings before he was pulled.

Smith struggled at the plate in 1998, hitting just .195/.264/.289 in 59 games, with 18 runs, six doubles, two homers and 13 RBIs. He was never a stolen base threat in the majors, but he managed to go 7-for-7 in steals that year. He tore the cover off of the ball in Triple-A that year, putting up a 1.177 OPS in 24 games for Nashville of the Pacific Coast League. The Pirates let him go via free agency after the season ended. After leaving Pittsburgh, he spent 1999 in Japan, where he hit 20 homers in a season for the only time in his career. He had a .259 average and an .833 OPS in 98 games for Yakult. Smith returned to the U.S. to play for the 2000 Florida Marlins, where he hit .245/.310/.375 in 213 plate appearances over 104 games, with 22 runs, eight doubles, five homers and 27 RBIs. He was with the Montreal Expos in 2001, hitting .242 over 80 games, with 28 runs, 13 doubles, six homers and 18 RBIs in 222 plate appearances. Smith spent 40 games that year with Ottawa of the International League, where he had a .207 average and a .676 OPS. He played for the Marlins in Triple-A in 2002, posting a .291 average in 115 games, with 60 runs, 30 doubles, 12 homers, 55 RBIs and an .829 OPS, while back in Calgary. He then played his final 33 big league games with the 2003 Milwaukee Brewers, where he had a .238 average, with eight runs, four doubles, three homers, ten RBIs and a .720 OPS. Most of that 2003 season was spent with Indianapolis of the International League, where he had a .294 average, 46 runs, 25 doubles, 15 homers, 62 RBIs and an .821 OPS in 103 games. Smith played in Triple-A for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2004, hitting .281 in 116 games for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre of the International League, with 54 runs, 29 doubles, 11 homers, 62 RBIs and an .801 OPS. He finished his pro career in Korea in 2005, where he had a .220 average and a .705 OPS in 30 games with Hanwha. He hit .243 in eight big league seasons, with 125 runs, 51 doubles, 32 homers and 130 RBIs in 414 games.

Dave Barbee, left fielder for the 1932 Pirates. He played briefly in the minors in 1925 for the Greensboro Patriots of the Class-C Piedmont League, after graduating from Oglethorpe University. That’s a school that has produced nine Major League players, but none have appeared in the majors since the 1950 season. He had a .333 average and 11 extra-base hits in 16 games during the 1925 season for Greensboro. Barbee played 90 games for Greensboro in 1926, before joining the Philadelphia Athletics in late July. He had a .372 average at the time, with 26 doubles, two triples and 29 homers. That success didn’t carry over into the majors, though that’s not a big surprise, as the Piedmont League was four levels from the majors. That would be like making the jump from Low-A to the majors now. He hit .170 in 19 games for the Athletics, with seven runs, one homer, five RBIs and a .518 OPS. Barbee returned to the minors in 1927. He didn’t make it back to the majors until the Pirates came calling six years later. That was despite spending all of those years one step from the majors (Double-A was the highest level at the time). He hit .262 in 1927, with 20 doubles, three triples and 14 homers over 119 games for Reading of the Double-A International League. He then moved to the Pacific Coast League in 1928. He hit .327 that year, with 32 doubles, 11 triples and 16 homers in 144 games, while splitting the season between Portland and Seattle. He played for Seattle in 1929, where he had a .316 average in 180 games, along with 42 doubles, ten triples and 22 homers. Barbee hit .325 during the 1930 season, with 30 doubles, three triples and 41 homers in 149 games, yet that didn’t earn him a big league job. He split that season between Seattle and Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League.

Barbee hit .332 for Hollywood in 1931, finishing with 216 hits, 42 doubles, two triples and 47 homers. The Pirates selected him in the Rule 5 draft on September 30, 1931. Barbee saw plenty of time in left field for the 1932 Pirates, playing in the same outfield as Lloyd and Paul Waner most games. He was the everyday left fielder from May 6th through July 24th, starting 66 of 71 games during that time. He had zero starts in the first 19 games of the season, then he started just ten of the team’s final 64 games. Barbee hit .257 in 97 games, with 37 runs, 22 doubles, five homers, 55 RBIs and a .706 OPS. It was said that he didn’t show the bat to stick in the majors, though even if he showed slightly more offense, his defense was still subpar. Modern metrics give him a 0.6 WAR for the season, with 0.0 on defense. Pittsburgh sent him to Toronto of the International League on option on February 14, 1933. They decided not to pick up that option in September, after he played part of the season with Tulsa of the Class-A Texas League. That made him a free agent. He batted .247 that year in 120 games, finishing with 32 extra-base hits between both stops. He actually put up better stats in 87 games with Toronto at the higher level. Barbee ended up playing the next two years in the minors. He had a .276 average and 26 extra-base hits in 1934, splitting 80 games between Birmingham of the Class-A Southern Association and Minneapolis of the Double-A American Association. His 1935 season consisted of just 12 games and a .178 average for Atlanta of the Southern Association. Then after a seven-year layoff from pro ball, he played one more minor league season at Class-D ball in 1942 at 37 years old with Burlington of the Bi-State League. He played/managed semi-pro ball during that entire seven-year stretch, while also opening his own gas station in Burlington after retiring from pro ball in 1937.

The Play

On this date in 1925, the Pittsburgh Pirates took on the St Louis Cardinals, in what turned out to be a slugfest at Forbes Field. The Pirates had a comfortable lead going into the eighth inning. St Louis turned that 9-4 Pittsburgh lead into a one-run deficit, then they held the Pirates scoreless in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Cardinals looked to add on to the score in the ninth inning, and they were getting help from Pirates pitcher Vic Aldridge. St Louis shortstop Jimmy Cooney walked to open the inning. Aldridge then walked one of the greatest hitters ever, Rogers Hornsby. That brought up future Hall of Fame first baseman Jim Bottomley, who worked the count to 2-2. That’s when some Major League history happened.

Bottomley hit a line drive that looked like it was sure hit, and the runners took off on the play. The Pirates shortstop that day was Glenn Wright, who made a magnificent leaping catch, then ran towards second base and touched the bag, then tagged out Hornsby as he reached the base. The crowd sat in a stunned silence, not knowing what had just happened because it transpired so quickly. That was until the players started running off the field, then Forbes Field erupted in cheer. It was just the sixth* unassisted triple play in baseball history (*After researching it, I believe the one by Paul Hines in 1878 to be legit, but some sources don’t count it).

The ironic part of that triple play was the fact the first runner, Jimmy Cooney, was the next big league player to turn an unassisted triple play. He did it against the Pirates two seasons later. Unfortunately for the Pirates during that day in 1925, they still lost 10-9 to the Cardinals. However, the 1925 season ended well with their second World Series title.