Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus one one trade of note and some noteworthy games from the past.
On this date in 1960, the Pirates traded minor leaguers Julian Javier and Ed Bauta to the St Louis Cardinals for veteran pitcher Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell and infielder Dick Gray. Mizell was 29 years old at the time of the trade, coming off a season in which he went 13-10, 4.20 in 201.1 innings over 30 starts for the Cardinals. He pitched over 200 innings that season for the third time in his career. Before the trade, he made nine starts for the 1960 Cardinals, going 1-3, 4.55 in 55.1 innings. Gray was a 28-year-old infielder with three years of Major League experience. He hit .233/.313/.340 over 57 games in 1959, spending most of his time at third base. Javier was 23 years old,playing in his fifth season as part of the Pirates system. It was his second year at Triple-A. He was a light-hitting second baseman, who had a .274 average in 1959, with 17 walks and 103 strikeouts over 135 games with Columbus of the International League. Bauta was a 25-year-old relief pitcher, who just like Javier, was in his fifth season in the Pirates system, and second year at Triple-A. He had an 0.95 ERA in 12 appearances at the time of the trade
Both Javier and Bauta went right to the majors with the Cardinals. Bauta was seldom used, relegated to the back of the bullpen. He spent part of his time with St Louis back in Triple-A. They traded him to the New York Mets near the end of the 1963 season. He pitched a total of 97 games in the majors, posting a 4.35 ERA over 149 innings. Javier became a solid role player with the Cardinals, helping them to the World Series three times during the 1960’s. He played a total of 13 seasons in the big leagues (12 with St Louis) and twice made the National League All-Star team. He put up 13.8 WAR in his career, topping out at 2.6 WAR in two separate seasons. Gray never played in the majors again, spending the last three years of his career at Triple-A with the Pirates. Mizell served his purpose by helping the Pirates get to the 1960 World Series with his 13-5, 3.12 record in 155.1 innings over 23 starts. His production began to drop off the next season, then his Major League career was done by the end of the 1962 season. The Pirates traded Mizell to the Mets on May 7, 1962 for first baseman Jim Marshall.
Alex Hernandez, first baseman/outfielder for the 2000-01 Pirates. He was a fourth round draft pick of the Pirates in 1995 out of high school in Puerto Rico. Hernandez signed right away, then reported to the Gulf Coast League, where he hit .269 in 49 games, with 24 runs, one homer, 17 RBIs and a .674 OPS. He played for Erie of the short-season New York-Penn League in 1996, hitting .289 over 61 games, with 38 runs, 21 extra-base hits, 30 RBIs and a .780 OPS. He was skipped to high-A ball during the 1997 season. He hit .290 for Lynchburg of the Carolina League, with 75 runs, 37 doubles, four triples, five homers and 68 RBIs. He finished with a .730 OPS over 131 games, though he had a very poor walk to strikeout ratio (27:140). Hernandez then spent two full seasons in Double-A, while also starting a third season there in 2000. The Pirates affiliate was Carolina of the Southern League in 1999. He hit .259 that year, with 62 runs, 37 extra-base hits, 48 RBIs, 11 stolen bases and a .708 OPS in 115 games. He improved his BB/SO ratio greatly during that season, drawing more walks in slightly less playing time, while striking out just 81 times. The Pirates Double-A affiliate moved to Altoona of the Eastern League in 1999. He batted .257 that year, with 76 runs, 26 doubles, 15 homers, 63 RBIs, 54 walks, 11 steals and a .752 OPS in 126 games. Despite his batting average finishing two points lower, his OPS went up 44 points in 1999.
Hernandez broke out in 2000, hitting .337 in 50 games for Altoona, with 28 runs, 21 extra-base hits, 34 RBIs and an .863 OPS. He moved up to Nashville of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he batted .275 over 76 games, with 29 runs, 27 extra-base hits, 37 RBIs and a .744 OPS. That performance earned him a September call-up to the Pirates. He played 20 big league games that year, hitting .200/.200/.300 over 60 plate appearances, with four runs, three doubles, one homer, five RBIs and no walks. He made 11 starts at first base, one in right field, and he played three games in left field off of the bench. Hernandez got called up to the Pirates in August of 2001, when he played his last seven Major League games. He went 1-for-11 at the plate, while starting two games in right field. He spent the rest of the year in Nashville, where he hit .295 in 88 games, with 45 runs, 25 extra-base hits, 36 RBIs and a .743 OPS. He was released after the season, then signed with the Cincinnati Reds for 2002. Hernandez spent most of 2002 with the Chattanooga Lookouts of the Double-A Southern League, while also getting in ten games for Louisville of the Triple-A International League. He combined to hit .254 in 99 games, with 39 runs, 20 doubles, five homers, 34 RBIs and a .707 OPS.
Hernandez played independent ball in 2003 with Somerset of the Atlantic League, where he had a .281 average and a .704 OPS over 74 games. He played winter ball in Puerto Rico during the 2003-04 off-season, but a line drive to head during infield practice caused a significant injury and nearly ended his pro career. He didn’t play pro ball in 2004-05, but he returned to independent ball in 2006, after playing winter ball briefly in Puerto Rico during the 2005-06 off-season. He went 0-for-9 during that winter, with six strikeouts. His finished his career by playing 20 games for Lancaster of the Atlantic League, where he hit .261/.338/.391 over 77 plate appearances. His time there ended when he had to go home to Puerto Rico for a family issue and decided not to return. The low walk rate early during his time in the minors was a sign of things to come with Hernandez. He did not draw a single walk in his 71 plate appearances while with the Pirates. He batted .183 in 27 big league games, with four runs, three doubles, a homer and five RBIs.
Kirk Gibson, outfielder for the 1992 Pirates. He was signed as a first round pick in 1978 by the Detroit Tigers, selected 12th overall out of Michigan State. He would make it to the majors by the end of the 1979 season, but it took five seasons in the majors before he reached his potential. Gibson went right to the Class-A Florida State League out of college, where he hit .240 in 54 games for Lakeland, with 27 runs, eight homers, 40 RBIs, 13 steals and a .780 OPS. He played with Evansville of the Triple-A American Association in 1979, hitting .245 in 89 games, with 50 runs, 13 doubles, nine homers, 42 RBIs, 20 steals and a .724 OPS. He got called up to the majors in September for 12 games before the season ended. He had a .237 average for the 1979 Tigers, with three runs, three doubles, a homer, four RBIs and three steals. Gibson spent the entire 1980 season in the majors, though a sprained wrist ended his season in mid-June. He had a .263 average during his partial season, with 23 runs, nine homers and 16 RBIs. The home runs boosted him to a .743 OPS, but he had just 12 extra-base hits total, while drawing ten walks. He went 4-for-11 in steals, after being caught just three times in 36 attempts during his two minor league seasons. He hit .328 during the strike-shortened 1981 season, with 41 runs, 11 doubles, nine homers, 40 RBIs, 17 steals and an .848 OPS in 83 games. He finished 12th in the American League MVP voting. He hit .278 in 1982, with 34 runs, 16 doubles, eight homers, 35 RBIs, nine steals and a .785 OPS in 69 games. His old wrist injury ended his season early again, this time finishing him on July 8th. Gibson was healthy in 1983, but saw his average dip to a .227 mark over 128 games. He had 60 runs, 12 doubles, nine triples, 15 homers, 51 RBIs, a .734 OPS, and he stole 14 bases in 17 attempts. He also walked 53 times, which was more than twice as many walks as any previous season.
Gibson helped the Tigers to the World Series in 1984 by hitting .282 in 149 games, with 92 runs, 23 doubles, ten triples, 91 RBIs, 63 walks and an .879 OPS. He just missed out on the 30/30 HR/SB club, with 27 homers and 29 steals. He finished sixth in the MVP voting. He hit .417 in the ALCS, then followed that with a .333 average and seven RBIs in the World Series, as the Tigers beat the San Diego Padres in five games. He homered twice in game five, including his second most famous homer, which came off of Hall of Famer Goose Gossage. Gibson approached the 30/30 HR/SB club three seasons in a row, but never reached it. He hit .287 in 1985, with 96 runs, 37 doubles, 29 homers, 97 RBIs, 30 steals, 71 walks and an .882 OPS. He set career highs in doubles, homers and RBIs that season, while finishing 18th in the MVP voting. He hit .268 during the 1986 season, with 28 homers and 34 steals. He could have approached the 40/40 club that season if he was healthy all year, but he was limited to just 119 games. Despite the missed time, he still finished with 84 runs scored, 86 RBIs, 68 walks and an .863 OPS. Gibson hit .277 in 1987, with 95 runs, 25 doubles, 24 homers, 79 RBIs, 26 steals, 71 walks and an .861 OPS over 128 games.
Gibson moved on to the Los Angeles Dodgers as a free agent in 1988, where he forever became part of baseball history. After having an MVP regular season, an injured Gibson hobbled to the plate in game one of the World Series and hit one of the most memorable homers in baseball history, a walk-off shot against Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley. It was his only plate appearance of the series. He won the MVP award and his only career Silver Slugger award by hitting .290 in 150 games, with 28 doubles, 25 homers, 31 steals and an .860 OPS. He scored 106 runs that year, marking the only time he topped 100 runs during his career. His 76 RBIs that year were his lowest total in five seasons, but the highest total over his final eight seasons in the majors. Gibson saw his stats drop off after 1988, as he was barely healthy during his final two seasons with the Dodgers. He hit .213 during the 1989 season, with 35 runs, eight doubles, nine homers, 28 RBIs, 12 steals and a .679 OPS in 71 games. He then batted .260 in 1990, with 59 runs, 20 doubles, eight homers and 38 RBIs. He finished with a respectable .745 OPS, plus he managed to steal 26 bases in 28 attempts.
Gibson moved on to the Kansas City Royals for one year, signing a free agent deal after the 1990 season. He hit .236 over 132 games in 1991, with 81 runs, 17 doubles, six triples, 16 homers, 55 RBIs, 69 walks, 18 steals and a .744 OPS. The Pirates traded veteran pitcher Neal Heaton to the Royals on March 10, 1992, in exchange for Gibson. His stay in Pittsburgh was a short one. He lasted just 16 games, finishing his time with a .196 average and .541 OPS before being released. He retired, but it was only temporary as he came back for three more seasons with the Tigers before his playing career ended. He saw a majority of his time in the DH spot after returning to Detroit. Gibson batted .261 in 1993, with 62 runs, 18 doubles, 13 homers, 62 RBIs, 15 steals and a .769 OPS in 116 games. He hit for a .276 average in 1994, while playing 98 games during the strike-shortened season. He had 71 runs, 17 doubles, 23 homers and 72 RBIs. His .906 OPS that season was the highest of his career. He batted .260 during his final season in 1995, finishing with 37 runs, 12 doubles, nine homers, 35 RBIs and an .808 OPS over 70 games. Gibson had a lifetime average of .268 in 1,635 games, with 985 runs scored, 260 doubles, 255 homers, 875 RBIs, 718 walks, 284 steals and an .815 OPS. Despite some very strong seasons during his career, he was never voted to the All-Star game. After his playing days, Gibson was the manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks for five years, including winning National League Manager of the Year award in 2011. He compiled a 353-375 record during that time.
Bob Kuzava, pitcher for the 1957 Pirates. He originally signed with the Cleveland Indians as an 18-year-old in 1941. He spent that first year pitching with Mansfield of the Class-D Ohio State League, where he had a 5-7 record and a 1.44 WHIP in 100 innings. He went 21-6 the next year with Charleston of the Class-C Middle Atlantic League, while posting a 1.72 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP in 235 innings. Kuzava then served in the military during WWII, missing three full seasons before returning in 1946. He moved up the minor league ladder upon his return, going 14-6, 2.36 in 217 innings for Wilkes-Barre of the Class-A Eastern League. He had 207 strikeouts and a 1.15 WHIP. He joined the Indians in September for two starts, going 1-0, 3.00 in 12 innings, although he walked 11 batters. Kuzava was also a September call-up in 1947, after going 14-13, 3.17 in 214 innings for Baltimore of the Triple-A International League. He had 112 strikeouts that year, while posting a 1.22 WHIP. That second cup of coffee with the Indians saw him put up a 4.15 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP in 21.2 innings over four starts. He had better control during his second trial with the Indians, walking nine batters. He spent the entire 1948 campaign in the minors with Baltimore. He struggled a bit, going 9-16, 4.83 in 192 innings, with a 1.52 WHIP, 113 walks and 154 strikeouts.
Kuzava was traded to the Chicago White Sox after the 1948 season. The move allowed him to get his first real shot at pitching full-time in the majors. The Indians at the time were a much better team than Chicago. They won the World Series in 1948, while the White Sox finished 51-101 in last place. Chicago was only slightly better in 1949, when Kuzava made 18 starts and eleven relief appearances for them. He went 10-6, 4.02 in 156.2 innings that year, with 83 strikeouts and a 1.47 WHIP. That performance earned him a fourth place finish in the Rookie of the Year voting. He started off slowly in 1950, then was dealt to the Washington Senators at the end of May. He went 9-10, 4.33 in 199.1 innings between the two teams that season. He had a 1.51 WHIP, while setting career highs in innings and strikeouts (105), though he also set a high with 102 walks. He caught a big break in the middle of the 1951 season when he was traded to the New York Yankees. Kuzava was able to collect three World Series rings in his first three seasons with New York. He had a 11-7, 3.61 record, 72 strikeouts and a 1.40 WHIP over 134.2 innings in 1951, doing much better after the trade. He was 3-3, 5.80 in eight starts with the Senators, then had an 8-4, 2.40 record in 82.1 innings over eight starts and 15 relief appearances with the Yankees. That was followed by an 8-8, 3.45 record, 67 strikeouts and a 1.34 WHIP in 133 innings during the 1952 season, when he made 12 starts and 16 relief appearances. The 1953 season saw him put up a 3.31 ERA, 48 strikeouts and a 1.36 WHIP in 92.1 innings over six starts and 27 relief appearances. He saved a total of 12 games during that stretch with the Yankees. He pitched just one time each year (1951-53) in the World Series, ending up with one run allowed over 4.1 innings.
Kuzava was a member of three different organizations during the 1954-55 seasons, then joined a fourth right after the 1955 season ended. He started the 1954 season with the Yankees, before being lost on waivers to the Baltimore Orioles in August. He combined to go 2-6, 4.97 in 63.1 innings over seven starts and 17 relief appearances, finishing with 37 strikeouts and a 1.66 WHIP. The Philadelphia Phillies selected him off waivers from the Orioles in May of 1955. He finished out the season with the Phillies, before being sold to the Kansas City Athletics. He went 1-1, 6.25 in 1955, with 18 strikeouts and a 1.63 WHIP in 44.2 innings over five starts and 18 relief appearances. Kuzava then spent the entire 1956 season in the minors, going 10-8. 3.57 in 169 innings for Columbus of the Triple-A International League, with a 1.36 WHIP and 99 strikeouts. The Pirates signed him prior to the 1957 season, but only after he made the Opening Day roster by pitching on a trial basis. Kuzava didn’t last long, making four relief appearances for the Pirates before being sold outright back to Columbus. During his brief time in Pittsburgh, he allowed two runs in two innings of work. In the middle of September, Columbus sold him to the St Louis Cardinals, where he pitched his last three Major League games, giving up one run in 2.1 innings. He went 8-1, 3.41 for Columbus that year, with 48 strikeouts and a 1.11 WHIP in 95 innings.
Kuzava played three more years in the minors, the last as a player/manager, before retiring at 37 years old. He was with Rochester of the International League in 1958, where he had a 5-3, 3.31 record over 87 innings, with 54 strikeouts and a 1.13 WHIP. He followed that up with 3-4, 3.57 record for Indianapolis of the Triple-A American Association in 1959. He had 44 strikeouts and a 1.34 WHIP over 68 innings that year. He split his final season between 12 games with San Diego of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, and two appearances as a player/manager for Charleston of the Class-A South Atlantic League. Kuzava went 0-3, 6.00 over 15 innings with San Diego. He Charleston time was limited to two innings. In ten seasons in the majors, he went 49-44, 4.05 in 862 innings, while making 99 starts and 114 relief appearances. He had 34 complete games, seven shutouts and 13 saves. He had 446 strikeouts and a 1.47 WHIP.
Steve Nagy, pitcher for the 1947 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1942. After one season in the minors, he spent the next three years serving in the military during WWII. He was already 23 years old at the time of his pro debut. Nagy pitched at Seton Hall before going pro, where he coach and pitching mentor was Al Mamaux, pitcher for the 1913-17 Pirates. Nagy spent part of that first season playing for Montreal of the Double-A International League, just one step from the majors (Triple-A didn’t exist until 1946). Combined with his time that year for Durham of the Class-B Piedmont League, he had an 11-6, 2.16 record in 121 innings, with a 1.26 WHIP. Nagy returned to baseball in 1946, going 17-4, 3.01 in 214 innings for the Montreal, which was then a Triple-A club. He had 130 strikeouts and a 1.39 WHIP. Right after the 1946 season ended, the Pirates purchased his contract on October 1st from Montreal, where he was still playing in the league’s championship series. They were able to purchase him after the Dodgers released him outright to Montreal earlier that season. Nagy made three relief appearances over the first month of the 1947 season for the Pirates, allowing runs in all three games. He was optioned to Indianapolis of the Triple-A American Association on May 14th. At the time, teams could carry extra players to start the year. They couldn’t have more than 25 active players after May 15th, at least until rosters expanded in September. He spent 3 1/2 months in Indianapolis where he had a 4.43 ERA, 90 strikeouts and a 1.49 WHIP in 132 innings. Nagy returned to Pittsburgh in September, where he made another three appearances. He got his only start on the next to last day of the season, going eight innings in a 3-1 loss to the St Louis Cardinals. He went 1-3, 5.79 in 14 innings for the 1947 Pirates.
Nagy pitched in the minors for the Pirates before they traded him (along with cash) to San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League for pitcher Bill Werle in September of 1948. Nagy had a sore arm that prevented him from pitching during much of Spring Training that year. He briefly went to Indianapolis, but he played the large majority of the 1948 season for Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League, going 5-10, 3.56 in 149 innings, with a 74:56 BB/SO ratio and a 1.50 WHIP. He went 15-14, 2.66 over 244 innings for San Francisco in 1949, with a 1.38 WHIP, 117 walks and 123 strikeouts. Nagy was picked up by the Washington Senators in the 1949 Rule 5 draft shortly after the season ended. He would make nine starts for the 1950 Senators, going 2-5, 6.58 in 53.1 innings, before being sent back to San Francisco. That would be his final season in the majors. He didn’t do much better in the minors that year, posting a 3-4, 6.19 record over 48 innings, with 46 walks and a 2.10 WHIP. He pitched another eight years in the minors before retiring, finishing with 121 minor league wins over 14 seasons. He wound up with 2,012 innings in pro ball. Nagy played four full seasons for Seattle of the Pacific Coast League (1951-54), then he finished his career with three years for Buffalo of the International League (1956-58). He had a 5-5, 4.50 record in 1951, with 104 innings pitched over nine starts and 21 relief appearances. He did well in 1952, posting a 16-16, 3.04 record, with 115 strikeouts and a 1.23 WHIP over 231 innings. Nagy had a 13-8, 4.16 record, 80 strikeouts and a 1.58 WHIP over 186 innings in 1953. He finished his Seattle time with a 7-11, 3.75 record in 1954, with a 1.52 WHIP and 53 strikeouts over 132 innings.
In between his multi-year stints with Seattle and Buffalo, Nagy spent the 1955 season back with San Francisco. He went 6-12, 4.05 that year in 140 innings, with 67 strikeouts and a 1.48 WHIP. He had a 3-3, 4.37 record during his first season for Buffalo, with 18 strikeouts and a 1.40 WHIP over 68 innings. He improved to 10-6, 3.71 in 1957, with 79 strikeouts and a 1.39 WHIP over 114 innings. He finished up his pro career with a 1-5, 4.88 record in 30 relief appearances for Buffalo during the 1958 season. He had 28 strikeouts and a 1.42 WHIP over 59 innings that year. Nagy had a 3-8, 6.42 record in the majors, with 67.1 innings spread over ten starts and five relief appearances.
King Brady, pitcher for the 1906-07 Pirates. Brady made his debut in pro baseball with the 1905 Philadelphia Phillies, making two late season starts in which he went 1-1, 3.46 in 13 innings. He was already 24 years old at the time, with plenty of experience pitching semi-pro ball in the Philadelphia area. He went 14-24 in 39 games (the only available stats) for the Little Rock Travelers of the Class-A Southern Association during the 1906 season. That was the highest level of the minors at the time, until Double-A was created in 1912. The Pirates took him in the 1906 Rule 5 draft, then brought him right to the majors. He got two late season starts, both during a six-game series in Brooklyn. In the first game of a doubleheader on September 28th, King (first name was James, sometimes referred to as “Jeems”) went seven innings, allowing five runs on 12 hits in a 5-4 loss. He won his second game, throwing a complete game in a 5-1 win. The papers said he pitched well, and the run was only because of an error by Honus Wagner. However, Brady gave up 12 hits for the second game in a row, plus he also walked three batters, leaving Brooklyn with 14 runners left on base. Brady pitched two innings in relief during his only game with the 1907 Pirates, which was played on May 30th. He pitched a complete game in a 5-3 exhibition loss to Newark of the Eastern League on May 19th. He was then hit in the temple with a pitch two days later before a game. That knocked him out, requiring him to make a hospital visit.
Brady spent the rest of the 1907 season with Johnstown of the Class-B Tri-State League, who purchased him on June 9th, with the understanding that the Pirates could purchase him back during the season. His limited stats show a 6-15 record over 28 appearances with Johnstown. He was with Johnstown again in 1908, going 20-10 in 41 games. He was chosen by the Boston Red Sox in the 1908 Rule 5 draft. He threw a shutout over the New York Highlanders on October 5th, in what ended up being his only game with the Red Sox. Brady spent the next three years in the minors, before finally getting another shot in the majors during the 1912 season with the Boston Braves. He spent the 1909 season with Newark of the Class-A Eastern League, going 10-8 in 160 innings, posting a 1.23 WHIP, while allowing 3.99 runs per nine innings (ERA isn’t available). The 1910 season was spent with Wilkes-Barre of the Class-B New York State League, where no stats are available. Brady then had a 17-8 record over 35 appearances for Albany of the New York State League in 1911, before getting his final shot at the majors. In his only outing for the Braves on April 13, 1912, he allowed six runs in 2.2 innings of relief work. He soon joined Atlanta of the Class-A Southern Association, where he had a 10-13 record in 24 games. He went 8-6 in 105 innings over 18 games for Atlanta in 1913, finishing with 36 strikeouts and a 1.58 WHIP. Brady retired after playing for three different teams in the New York State League during the 1914-15 seasons. No stats are available for his time with Scranton (1914), Wilkes-Barre (1914) and Elmira (1915). Despite the fact he played five years in the majors for four different teams, he appeared in just eight Major League games. He had a 3-2, 3.08 record in 49.2 innings, with 20 strikeouts and a 1.49 WHIP.
On this date in 1956, Pirates slugger Dale Long sets a Major League record that still stands by homering in his eighth consecutive games. Here’s our Game Rewind article for that record setting day against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
On this date in 2004, the Pirates and Chicago Cubs hooked up to play a doubleheader on what is now known as Rob Mackowiak Day. Here’s our Game Rewind article looking at his amazing day.