This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: September 12th, Pirates Lose Smoky Burgess to the Chicago White Sox

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date and one transaction of note.

Franquelis Osoria, relief pitcher for the 2007-08 Pirates. He was signed out of the Dominican Republic as an 18-year-old amateur free agent in 1999 by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He pitched his first two seasons (2000-01) in the Dominican Summer League (no stats available), then skipped to Low-A South Georgia of the South Atlantic League for his debut in the U.S. He even got a brief taste of Vero Beach of the High-A Florida State League during that 2002 season. He combined that year to post a 3.20 ERA, a 1.16 WHIP and 40 strikeouts in 50.2 innings over 24 games (one start). The entire 2003 season was spent in Vero Beach, where he went 3-6, 3.00 over three starts and 30 relief appearances, with six saves, 53 strikeouts and a 1.17 WHIP in 75 innings. A large majority of 2004 was spent in Jacksonville of the Double-A Southern League, but he also got in four games at Las Vegas of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. Between both stops, Osoria went 8-5, 3.83 in 89.1 innings over 55 relief outings, finishing with five saves, a 1.15 WHIP and 76 strikeouts. He was in Las Vegas for the first two months of 2005, and another stretch from mid-July until the beginning of September. He posted a 2.62 ERA, 35 strikeouts and a 1.38 WHIP in 55 innings. He made it to the majors that year for two stints, in what ended up being his best big league season. He put up a career-low 3.94 ERA in 24 appearances, covering 29.2 innings. He had 15 strikeouts and a 1.21 WHIP. Osoria struggled badly with the Dodgers during the 2006 season, finishing with a 7.13 ERA and a 2.04 WHIP in 17.2 innings over his 12 outings, which led to him spending most of the season back in Triple-A. He had a 4.35 ERA, 28 strikeouts and a 1.97 WHIP in 51.2 innings with Las Vegas that year. He didn’t pitch in the majors after rosters expanded in September, but he did briefly play winter ball that year in the Dominican, in what amounted to 4.1 shutout innings.

The Pirates picked Osoria up off waivers in December of 2006. He was pitching well at Indianapolis of the Triple-A International League in 2007, including some work as the closer. He posted a 2.63 ERA, 33 strikeouts, a 1.28 WHIP and 11 saves in 54.2 innings over 39 appearances, before being called up by the Pirates in early August. He pitched 25 times for the Pirates that season, compiling a 4.76 ERA, a 1.45 WHIP and 13 strikeouts in 28.1 innings. He finished with an 0-2 record in each of his first three seasons in the majors. He did well during the 2007-08 winter in the Dominican, allowing one run in 10.2 innings. Osoria pitched a career high 43 games in 2008. While he had a 4-3 record to break his odd win/loss streak, he did not pitch well that season, finishing with a 6.08 ERA, a 1.63 WHIP and 31 strikeouts in 60.2 innings. He ended the season in Indianapolis, where he had a 3.55 ERA in ten appearances. He was released by the Pirates after the 2008 season. signed with the Kansas City Royals two months later, although he never pitched in affiliated ball again. Osoria played winter ball in the Dominican through the 2014-15 off-season, but he did not see any action during the summer over that stretch. He gave up nine runs over 13 innings during the 2008-09 winter, then made three brief appearances in the 2009-10 off-season. He had a 6.06 ERA over 16.1 innings during the 2010-11 winter. Osoria pitched once in 2011-12, then didn’t play the following winter. He finished off with a 4.26 ERA over 12.2 innings in 2013-14, then three runs over four innings during the 2014-15 winter. He played a total of eight seasons in the Dominican winter league. He ended up with a 4-9, 5.48 record in four big league seasons. He had 72 strikeouts and a 1.56 WHIP in 136.1 innings over 104 games.

Mike Roesler, pitcher for the 1990 Pirates. He was selected in the 17th round of the 1985 amateur draft by the Cincinnati Reds out of Ball State University. He was a starter during his first two years in the Reds system, then moved to relief in 1987, which helped him get to the majors two years later. He debuted in short-season ball for Billings of the Pioneer League during the 1985 season, where he went 8-2, 2.33 in 88.2 innings over 13 starts, with 73 strikeouts and a 1.13 WHIP. He played for Cedar Rapids of the Class-A Midwest League in 1986, where he went 9-13, 4.58 over 163 innings, with 135 strikeouts and a 1.50 WHIP. Roesler made 24 starts and eight relief appearances that year. The 1987 season saw him split the year fairly evenly between Tampa of the Advanced-A Florida State League and Vermont of the Double-A Eastern League, with slightly better results at the lower level. He combined to go 11-4, 2.69 in 63.2 innings, with 48 strikeouts, a 1.30 WHIP and 22 saves in 50 appearances. He spent part of the 1988 season with Chattanooga of the Double-A Southern League, where he had a 2.21 ERA and nine saves in 20.1 innings over 16 appearances. The rest of the year was spent with Nashville of the American Association, where he put up a 5.01 ERA in 41.1 innings. He combined to go 4-3, 4.09 in 61.2 innings, with 44 strikeouts and a 1.54 WHIP. He was with Nashville to start the 1989 season, going 6-4, 3.25 over 40 relief outings, with ten saves, 53 strikeouts and a 1.47 WHIP in 69.1 innings. The Reds called him up in August of 1989, then used him 17 times out of the bullpen. Roesler went 0-1, 3.96 in 25 innings over the last two months of the season, with 14 strikeouts and a 1.24 WHIP. The Pirates acquired him on April 3, 1990, along with infielder Jeff Richardson, in exchange for outfielder Billy Hatcher.

Teams were allowed to carry 27 players on their roster during the first three weeks of the 1990 season due to the shortened Spring Training, which was caused by a lockout. Roesler and Tom Prince both made the team because of the new rule. Roesler made five relief appearances during those three weeks before being sent back down on April 29th (day before rosters reduced to 25). He gave up two runs over six innings of work. He never returned to the majors after being sent down. He spent part of that 1990 season back in Double-A with Harrisburg of the Eastern League, but the majority of the year was spent with Buffalo of the American Association. He finished the year with 4.39 ERA, 30 strikeouts and a 1.55 WHIP in 65.2 minor league innings. His 1991 season was also split between Triple-A (Buffalo) and Double-A (Carolina of the Southern League), with worse results at the lower level. He had a 4.91 ERA in 20 appearances for Carolina, while finishing the year with a combined 7-8, 4.03 record, 65 strikeouts and a 1.38 WHIP in 73.2 innings. He was in the Pirates system until late in the 1992 season, before finishing that year with the Kansas City Royals, who sent him to Omaha of the American Association. Roesler went 3-5, 5.50 in 54 innings over 34 appearances with Buffalo in 1992. The Pirates released him on July 25th, after he made an obscene gesture and cursed at fans behind the dugout the previous night. He finished the year 4-6, 5.19 in 76.1 innings, with seven saves, 47 strikeouts and a 1.41 WHIP. He played ball in Mexico for most of the 1993 season (no stats available), then spent the latter part of the season back in the Kansas City system, pitching seven games over two levels. He finished his pro career in China in 1994, though that experience lasted just one start in which he gave up four runs in 3.1 innings. Roesler finished his big league time 1-1, 3.77 over 31 innings, with a 1.23 WHIP and 18 strikeouts in 22 appearances.

Trench Davis, center fielder for the 1985-86 Pirates. He was signed by the Pirates in 1980 as a 19-year-old non-drafted amateur free agent. He batted .275 during his first year, with 16 runs, three doubles, one homer, 12 RBIs, 12 steals and a .664 OPS in 43 games at the rookie level Gulf Coast League. The Pirates sent him to full-season ball in 1981 with Greenwood of the Class-A South Atlantic League, where he put up strong numbers. He hit .298 over 141 games, with 70 runs, 24 doubles, nine triples, 73 RBIs, 31 stolen bases and a .749 OPS. Davis skipped two levels by moving up to Triple-A in 1982, where he hit .268 over 141 games for Portland of the Pacific Coast League. He had 80 runs scored, 23 extra-base hits, 46 RBIs and 42 stolen bases. He was playing in a friendly hitting environment, yet his .644 OPS was a 105-point drop from the previous season. Despite holding his own at a young age in Triple-A, he still ended up spending half of the next season with Lynn of the Double-A Eastern League. In 59 games with Lynn and 79 games with Hawaii of the Pacific Coast League during the 1983 season, he combined to put up a .266 average, 78 runs, 28 extra-base hits, 39 RBIs, 41 steals, 54 walks and a .697 OPS. From the time he joined Hawaii in 1983, Davis would spend 3 1/2 seasons with the team without getting much of a shot at the majors. The entire 1984 season was spent in Hawaii, where he hit .259 over 141 games, with 79 runs, 32 extra-base hits, 39 RBIs, 53 steals, 53 walks and a .657 OPS. He began and ended the 1985 season at Hawaii, hitting .270 over 132 games, with 59 runs, 30 extra-base hits, 56 RBIs, 33 steals and a .662 OPS. Davis played two June games in center field for the 1985 Pirates, going 1-for-7 at the plate. His total time with the Pirates was six days that year.

Davis returned to the Pirates for 15 more games in May of 1986. This time he spent 17 days in the majors before he was sent down on May 25th. He was replaced on the roster by Barry Bonds, who was recalled for the first time in his career. Davis hit .133/.129/.133 in 17 games over two seasons for the Pirates,with three runs, no extra-base hits, an RBI and no walks, giving him a lower OBP than average due to one sacrifice fly. He became a free agent after the 1986 season, then signed with the Atlanta Braves shortly after hitting the market. He played his last six Major League games with the Braves in late June/early July of 1987, getting three pinch-hit appearances and three pinch-running spots, going 0-for-3 at the plate. He hit .256 in 114 games for Richmond of the Triple-A International League that year, finishing with 51 runs, 21 extra-base hits, 29 RBIs, 44 steals and a .638 OPS. Davis went to Mexico to play in 1988. He finished his playing career there four years later without another chance in affiliated ball. The only available stats from his time in Mexico are from 1988, when he batted .371 in 127 games, with 81 runs, 23 doubles, 51 RBIs, 34 steals and an .875 OPS for Monterrey. He split 1989 between Saltillo and Tabasco. He was with Saltillo in 1990, didn’t play in 1991, then finished with Veracruz in 1992. He’s the only known pro baseball player with the first (or middle) name of Trench. According to Davis, he got his unique name from the hospital nurse who put the wrong name down on his birth certificate.

George Freese, third baseman for the 1955 Pirates. He was a member of four different organizations before joining the Pirates, playing just one Major League game prior to his trade to Pittsburgh. Freese was originally signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers at 21 years old in 1948, staying with them until the St Louis Browns took him in the December 1952 Rule 5 draft. He debuted with Johnstown in the Class-C Middle Atlantic League during the 1948 season, where he hit .349 over 96 games, with 91 runs, 30 extra-base hits, 76 RBIs, 64 walks and a .957 OPS. He spent almost all of the 1949 season with Lancaster of the Class-B Interstate League, where he hit .309 in 121 games, with 92 runs, 25 extra-base hits, 53 RBIs and a .755 OPS. He also put up a .140 average and a .390 OPS in 15 games with Newport News of the Class-B Piedmont League. Freese moved up to Elmira of the Class-A Eastern League in 1950, where he hit .285 over 110 games, with 70 runs, 16 extra-base hits, 32 RBIs, 59 walks and a .737 OPS. He remained in Class-A with Pueblo of the Western League in 1951, where he batted .338 over 135 games, with 104 runs, 37 doubles, 15 triples, 12 homers, 106 RBIs and a .920 OPS. He also hit .240 in eight games that year with Fort Worth of the Texas League. His slow climb to the majors continued in 1952 at Mobile of the Double-A Southern Association. He hit .313 over 150 games that year, with 84 runs, 37 doubles, 14 triples, eight homers, 91 RBIs and an .835 OPS. That led to the Rule 5 pick by the Browns over the 1952-53 off-season. From there he was purchased by the Detroit Tigers in early April of 1953, then sold to the Chicago Cubs a month later. He made his big league debut with the Tigers as a pinch-hitter on April 29th, which ended up being his only big league game that season.

The Pirates acquired Freese from the Cubs on June 4, 1953 in the Ralph Kiner deal, so in a matter of six months he was with the Dodgers, Browns, Tigers, Cubs and Pirates. Despite changing teams three times during the season, he spent the entire minor league season with Springfield of the International League, where he batted .266 over 132 games, with 53 runs, 37 extra-base hits, 66 RBIs and a .693 OPS. He would remain in the minors until Opening Day in 1955, when he made the Pirates as a bench player. Pittsburgh sent him to New Orleans in the Southern Association in 1954, where he hit .324 over 134 games, with 98 runs, 26 doubles, 23 homers, 104 RBIs, 62 walks and a .928 OPS. That performance earned him a spot with the 1955 Pirates. Sid Gordon was at third base to begin the 1955 season, but quickly lost the starting job due to a poor start. Freese would start every game for the Pirates from April 24th until June 12th at third base. He was sent to the Pirates farm team in Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League (Open level of play, but basically a Triple-A league) two days after his last game, while the Pirates got back Cuban pitcher Lino Donoso. The Pirates also got back twin infielders Johnny and Eddie O’Brien at the same time. They were serving in the Army prior to the season, then they were working their way back into shape, prior to rejoining the team. Freese finished with a .257 average over 51 games for the 1955 Pirates, with 17 runs, eight doubles, three homers, 22 RBIs and a .701 OPS. The Pirates lost him to the Chicago Cubs in the 1955 Minor League draft after the 1955 season ended. He would go six seasons before he played in the majors again, making his last nine appearances with the 1961 Cubs at the beginning of the season. He then began to manage in the minors, the first three years as a player/manager, followed by another nine seasons as a manager.

Freese finished off the 1955 season by hitting .302 in 79 games for Hollywood, with 37 runs, 17 doubles, ten homers, 40 RBIs and an .888 OPS. He spent the 1956 season with Los Angeles of the Pacific Coast League, batting .291 in 137 games, with 87 runs, 31 doubles, 22 homers, 113 RBIs and an .878 OPS. He moved on to Portland of the Pacific Coast League for the next 3 1/2 seasons, starting off with a .261 average in 1957, when he had 27 runs, 23 extra-base hits, 39 RBIs and a .735 OPS in 71 games. Freese hit .305 over 146 games in 1958, with 94 runs, 23 doubles, 35 homers, 81 RBIs and a .932 OPS. He followed that up with a .319 average over 120 games in 1959, with 65 runs, 17 doubles, 21 homers, 80 RBIs and a .903 OPS. The 1960 season was split between Portland and San Diego of the Pacific Coast League. He batted .255 over 127 games between both stops, with 68 runs, 36 extra-base hits and 87 RBIs. Freese played nine early season games for the 1961 Cubs, all as a pinch-hitter. He went 2-for-7 with an RBI and a walk. He played the rest of the year with Houston of the Triple-A American Association, hitting .314/.394/.547 in 99 plate appearances over 58 games. His last three seasons combined saw him bat 26 times in 27 games. He played with St Cloud of the Class-C Northern League in 1962, Wenatchee of the Class-A Northwest League in 1963, and Treasure Valley of the Pioneer League in 1964. He remained with Treasure Valley for two more years as a manager, then stayed in the same league with Caldwell, where he managed the next three years. His last two seasons of managing were with Bakersfield of the California League in 1973-74. Freese is the brother of Pirates infielder Gene Freese, who was his teammate on the 1955 Pirates. Gene played second base while George was with the team, then started playing third base in early July and remained there through the end of the season. They are one of 26 groups of relatives to play for the Pirates.

The Transaction

On this date in 1964, 37-year-old catcher Smoky Burgess was selected off waivers by the Chicago White Sox, ending his six-year stint with the Pirates. Burgess is known as one of the best pinch-hitters in baseball history, but he was an All-Star during the 1959-61 and 1964 seasons. He hit .294 over 110 games during the 1960 season, with seven homers and 39 RBIs. He then batted .333 in the World Series. At the time that the Pirates lost him on waivers, he had a .246 average, two homers and 17 RBIs in 68 games. He started just ten games in the six weeks leading up to his departure to Chicago. Burgess hit .296/.352/.445 in 586 games with the Pirates. He had 164 walks and 92 strikeouts during that time. He played just seven games with the White Sox in 1964, pinch-hitting every time. He then remained in Chicago for another three seasons in which he was used almost exclusively as a pinch-hitter. He caught a total of 31 innings during the 1964-67 seasons with the White Sox, while playing in 243 games over that time.