This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: September 14th, Lefty Relievers, Gregory Polanco and an Original Player

Today is a popular day in team history for lefty relievers, plus we also have a player who took part in the first game in franchise history. We start with the most recent player first.

Gregory Polanco, outfielder for the 2014-21 Pirates. Polanco signed with the Pirates at 17 years old in 2009, as a tall/skinny outfielder out of the Dominican. He played in the Dominican Summer League during his first year, where he batted .267 over 63 games, with 34 runs, eight doubles, six triples, no homers, 24 RBIs, 12 steals and a .727 OPS. He moved up to the rookie level Gulf Coast League for the next two seasons. He didn’t impress with his stats, but the tools started to show up in game action. That led to him being called a sleeper prospect by the end of 2011. Polanco hit .202/.245/.287 over 53 games in 2010, with 21 runs, five doubles, three homers, 23 RBIs and 19 steals. That was followed by a .229 average over 51 games in 2011, with 34 runs, 11 extra-base hits (three homers), 35 RBIs, a .669 OPS and 18 steals in 18 attempts. The Pirates bumped him up to State College of the short-season New York-Penn League for the final three games of the 2011 season. Polanco was part of a high upside group of prospects at West Virginia of the Low-A South Atlantic League during the 2011 season. He became a top prospect that year by hitting .325 over 116 games, with 84 runs scored, 26 doubles, 16 homers, 85 RBIs, 40 steals and a .910 OPS . He played winter ball in the Dominican that year, seeing action in a league filled with much older players who had Triple-A/MLB experience. He had a .400 OPS over 36 plate appearances that winter. Polanco played for Bradenton of the pitcher-friendly High-A Florida State League in 2012, where he hit .312 over 53 games, with 23 extra-base hits and 24 steals. He moved up to Altoona of the Double-A Eastern League mid-season, then hit .263 over 68 games, with 21 extra-base hits and 13 steals. He got to play the final two games of the year at Indianapolis of the Triple-A International League. He hit .285 over 127 games between all three stops, with 66 runs, 30 doubles, 12 homers, 71 RBIs, 38 steals, 52 walks and a .791 OPS.

Polanco followed up his strong 2013 season at three levels by putting up a .331 average and a .922 OPS in 44 games of winter ball in the Dominican during the 2013-14 off-season. He began the 2014 season in Indianapolis, but ended up spending more time in the majors. He hit .329/.390/.504 in 69 games with Indianapolis, with 51 runs, 29 extra-base hits, 51 RBIs and 16 steals. He hit .235 as a rookie for the 2014 Pirates, with 50 runs, nine doubles, seven homers, 33 RBIs, 14 steals and a .650 OPS in 89 games. He batted .256 over 153 games in 2015, with 83 runs scored, 35 doubles, nine homers, 52 RBIs, 27 stolen bases, 55 walks and a .701 OPS. Polanco hit .258 over 144 games in 2016, with 79 runs, 34 doubles, 22 homers, 86 RBIs, 17 steals, 53 walks and a .786 OPS. His 2017 season was marred by multiple left hamstring strains. He was limited to 108 games, in which he put up a .251 average, 39 runs, 20 doubles, 11 homers, 35 RBIs and a .695 OPS. He was having a strong 2018 season until an awkward slide caused multiple injuries, including a shoulder problem that required surgery. He batted .254 over 130 games that season, with 75 runs, 32 doubles, 23 homers, 81 RBIs, 12 steals, 61 walks and an .839 OPS. His rehab work carried into the 2019 season, which was cut short even more by shoulder discomfort later in the year. Polanco hit .242/.301/.425 over 42 games that year, with 23 runs, eight doubles, six homers and 17 RBIs. He also put in 17 rehab games of minor league ball that season.

The 2020 season was shortened due to the pandemic. Polanco struggled through it, hitting .153/.214/.325 over 50 games, with 12 runs, six doubles, seven homers and 22 RBIs . He put up a .197 average and a .618 OPS in 21 winter ball games during the 2020-21 off-season. Those struggles continued throughout the 2021 season, before he was released in late August. He hit .208 over 107 games for the 2021 Pirates, with 38 runs, 12 doubles, 11 homers, 36 RBIs, a .637 OPS and 14 steals in 15 attempts. Polanco signed a minor league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays just days after being cut by the Pirates, then spent the rest of the season with Triple-A Buffalo, where he hit .374/.436/.747 in 24 games. He signed to play in Japan for 2022, where he batted .240 over 138 games, with 55 runs, 21 doubles, 24 homers, 58 RBIs and a .762 OPS. He returned to Japan for the 2023 season, switching teams from Yomiuri to Chiba Lotte. Through early September in 2023, Polanco had a .256 average over 101 games, with 38 runs, 13 doubles, 23 homers, 65 RBIs and an .813 OPS. He hit .241 over 823 games in Pittsburgh, with 399 runs, 159 doubles, 96 homers, 362 RBIs and 98 steals.

Jerry Don Gleaton, lefty reliever for the 1992 Pirates. He was a first round draft pick in 1979 by the Texas Rangers. He actually went right to the majors for one game, before making his minor league debut. Despite that quick debut, Gleaton didn’t spend a full season in the majors until 1990 with the Detroit Tigers. He was originally drafted out of high school by the Baltimore Orioles in 1976 in the second round, but he decided to attend the University of Texas, where he moved up to the 17th overall pick three years later. After his pro debut in the majors, in which he allowed three runs in three innings, he made five starts (4.89 ERA in 35 innings) for Tulsa of the Double-A Texas League. He then returned to the Rangers in August for four more outings. He was with the Rangers in September, but his last appearance came on August 15th. He went to the Fall Instructional League before the season ended. He ended up allowing seven runs in 9.2 innings during that first year in the majors. Gleaton made 25 starts in Tulsa during the 1980 season, going 13-7, 3.64 in 178 innings, with 138 strikeouts and a 1.39 WHIP. He made five relief appearances for the Rangers that year, allowing two runs in seven innings. He was part of an 11-player trade with the Seattle Mariners in December of 1980.

Gleaton set a career high with innings during his first season in Seattle, though it was also his only year as a starter in the majors. He went 4-7, 4.75 in 85.1 innings over 13 starts and seven relief appearances during the strike-shortened 1981 season. He had a 1.48 WHIP and a 38:31 BB/SO ratio. He also made 13 starts for Spokane of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, posting a 4.15 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP in 91 innings. He was still a starter in the minors during the 1982-83 seasons, but he only spent three games in the majors during that time. He went 15-7, 2.72 during the 1982 season, with 132 strikeouts and a 1.26 WHIP in 182 innings for Lynn of the Double-A Eastern League. His big league time that year consisted of seven runs allowed in 4.2 innings of relief work. The entire 1983 season was spent with Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League, where he had a 6.68 ERA, a 1.97 WHIP and an 81:73 BB/SO ratio in 137.1 innings. Gleaton started 1984 back in Salt Lake City, where he stayed until a June trade sent him to the Chicago White Sox. He had a 3.44 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP in 18.1 innings over 11 outings (one start) for the White Sox during the 1984 season. He posted a 4.65 ERA, 49 strikeouts and a 1.48 WHIP in 69.2 innings at Triple-A that year, splitting his time between Salt Lake City and Denver of the American Association. He actually did much better in the thin air of Denver, putting up a 1.80 ERA in 20 innings.

Gleaton posted a 5.76 ERA, 22 strikeouts and a 1.69 WHIP in 29.2 innings over 31 appearances for the 1985 White Sox. He spent half of that year with Buffalo of the American Association, where he had an 8-2, 2.44 record in 55.1 innings, with 37 strikeouts and a 1.50 WHIP. He spent all of 1986 in Buffalo, going 4-3, 3.22 in 46 games (three starts), with 77 strikeouts and a 1.46 WHIP in 78.1 innings. Gleaton signed with the Kansas City Royals as a free agent after the 1986 season. Most of the 1987 season was spent in the majors, where he went 4-4, 4.26 in 50.2 innings over 48 appearances with the Royals, finishing with 44 strikeouts and a 1.30 WHIP. He also earned five saves that season. After making just six appearances with Omaha of the American Association during the 1987 season, Gleaton spent the first seven weeks of the 1988 season in Omaha before rejoining the Royals. He earned that trip back with a 1.45 ERA, 40 strikeouts and a 1.18 WHIP in 37.1 innings. He went 0-4, 3.55 over 42 big league outings that season, with  a 1.32 WHIP, 29 strikeouts and three saves in 38 innings. He spent the majority of the 1989 season in Omaha, where he had a 1.11 ERA, 57 strikeouts and a 1.09 WHIP in 56.2 innings. He pitched 15 times for the Royals that year, posting a 5.65 ERA and a 1.81 WHIP in 14.1 innings. The Royals traded him to the Detroit Tigers right before Opening Day in 1990, which proved to be a bad decision short term for Kansas City. He posted a 2.94 ERA in 82.2 innings over 57 relief appearances that season, with a 1.05 WHIP and 13 saves. His 56 strikeouts that year were his career high in the majors. Prior to that performance, he had compiled a 10-18, 4.72 record in 180 games over parts of nine seasons, so the results were quite surprising at 32 years old.

Gleaton’s numbers slipped in 1991, dropping down to a 4.06 ERA, 47 strikeouts and a 1.50 WHIP in 75.1 innings over 47 outings. He was let go after the season, then remained a free agent for all of the off-season. Pittsburgh signed him just days after Opening Day in 1992. He ended up making five scoreless appearances for Buffalo of the American Association and 23 games for the Pirates before being released on July 26th. He went 1-0, 4.26 in 31.2 innings at the big league level, with 18 strikeouts and a 1.67 WHIP. His release was part of a youth influx for the Pirates, as they went for their third straight National League East pennant. Gleaton and Jeff Robinson were released, while Zane Smith was placed on the disabled list, which led to three rookies joining the team. Gleaton was signed by the San Francisco Giants for the rest of the 1992 season, but he didn’t pitch in the majors. He spent the rest of the year at Phoenix of the Pacific Coast League, where he had a 3.26 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP in 19.1 innings. He then inked a deal with the Florida Marlins in 1993, but his days in Pittsburgh would end up being his last Major League experience. Gleaton spent that 1993 season with Edmonton of the Pacific Coast League, going 3-1, 3.99 over 46 appearances, with a 1.52 WHIP, 46 strikeouts and seven saves in 65.1 innings. He finished with a 15-23, 4.25 record in 307 appearances (16 starts), with 265 strikeouts, a 1.41 WHIP and 26 saves over 447.1 innings pitched during his 12 seasons in the majors. Including his minor league stats, he made 113 starts and 521 relief appearances during his 15-year pro career.

Frank Carpin, lefty reliever for the 1965 Pirates. He spent exactly one year with the Pirates. He pitched well during that time, but his Major League career lasted just ten more games elsewhere. He debuted in pro ball in 1959 at 20 years old in the New York Yankees farm system, playing for Greensboro of the Class-B Carolina League. He had a 12-9, 3.24 record in 175 innings, with a 1.47 WHIP, 103 walks and 143 strikeouts. He moved up to Binghamton of the Class-A Eastern League in 1960, where he went 11-8, 3.69 in 166 innings over 23 starts, with 86 walks, 88 strikeouts and a 1.52 WHIP. From there he headed to Richmond of the Triple-A International League in 1961. He had a 7-9, 3.52 record in 143 innings that season, improving to 92 strikeouts and 49 walks, while posting a 1.25 WHIP. The 1962 season was split between Richmond and Amarillo of the Double-A Texas League. He combined to go 3-14, 5.69 in 125 innings, with worse stats at the lower level. He had a 1.74 WHIP, 71 walks and 104 strikeouts that season. Carpin played for two teams in the Double-A South Atlantic League (Augusta and Lynchburg) during the 1963 season, going 15-9, 3.12 in 196 innings, with 142 strikeouts and a 1.24 WHIP. He was back at Richmond as a full-time reliever for the 1964 season, where he had a 5-3, 2.78 record, a 1.39 WHIP and 87 strikeouts in 97 innings over 69 appearances.

The Pirates picked Carpin up from the Yankees in the November 1964 Minor League draft. They lost him to the Houston Astros in the Rule 5 draft held in November of 1965. He went 3-1, 3.18 in 39 games for the 1965 Pirates, with 27 strikeouts, a 1.49 WHIP and three saves over 39.2 innings. He was also 4-0, 2.67 in 27 innings for the Pirates Triple-A affiliate (Columbus of the International League) that season. He had some shaky control, walking 24 batters in his limited time with the Pirates, but he was still able to keep the damage to a minimum. Carpin was technically with Columbus when he was picked up by the Astros. The Pirates sold his contract to their Triple-A team on October 12th, then he was lost in the draft six weeks later. He had a 7.50 ERA in ten games for the 1966 Astros, pitching a total of just six innings. He was with the team on Opening Day, staying in the majors for the first four weeks before being sent down to Triple-A. He then returned to the Astros in mid-August. That would be the extent of his Major League time, and he never pitched in pro ball after the 1966 season. He spent the rest of the 1966 season with Oklahoma City of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he went 3-5, 2.92 in 77 innings over 44 games, with 54 strikeouts and a 1.35 WHIP. Carpin pitched eight seasons in the minors, going 60-57, 3.55 in 279 games, 113 as a starter. A sore arm ended his career, though he played semi-pro ball for a few years after his final pro game. He even considered a comeback to pro ball in 1970. He turns 85 today.

Fred Green, lefty reliever for the 1959-61 and 1964 Pirates. He was signed by the Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1952, but it took him seven seasons to make it to the majors for the first time. Green started off with Brunswick of the Class-D Georgia-Florida League, where he went 20-12, 2.54 in 269 innings, with a 1.40 WHIP, 190 walks and 265 strikeouts. He moved up to Waco of the Class-B Big State League in 1953, where he had a 13-8, 3.24 record over 203 innings, with 107 walks, 169 strikeouts and a 1.44 WHIP. He played for Williamsport of the Class-A Eastern League during the 1954 season, when he went 11-11, 4.30 in 180 innings, with 81 walks, 131 strikeouts and a 1.46 WHIP. He continued his slow climb in 1955 by moving up to New Orleans of the Double-A Southern Association, where he had an 8-15, 5.02 record, a 1.57 WHIP and 111 strikeouts over 174 innings. After getting a look at Spring Training with the 1956 Pirates, he had a 5-4, 4.72 record, 53 strikeouts and a 1.59 WHIP in 82 innings for Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League. That league was classified as an Open level, though it was basically Triple-A. He was a starter in each of his first four years of pro ball, then moved to more of a relief role for the 1956 season, when he made five starts and 28 relief appearances. He missed the entire 1957 season to military service, then went back to the Pacific Coast League for 1958. He had a 10-8, 4.27 record that year in 22 starts and two relief appearances for Salt Lake City, after they acquired him from Hollywood. He finished up the year with a 1.49 WHIP and a 74:75 BB/SO ratio in 137 innings. The Pirates announced a huge deal with Salt Lake City on September 29, 1958. They acquired the rights of six of their players, in exchange for seven players being sent to Salt Lake City. They were an affiliate with the Pirates, though in some cases that just meant that the Pirates had first crack at their players, depending on whether the players were optioned or sold outright to the team. Optioned players just needed to be recalled, while players sent there outright had to be reacquired.

Green made the Opening Day roster for the Pirates in 1959, though he didn’t last long before being sent down to Columbus of the Triple-A International League. He made just two relief appearances during his first big league cup of coffee. He had a 3.46 ERA, 63 strikeouts and a 1.18 WHIP in 78 innings for Columbus that year. He ended up returning to the Pirates for the final two months of the 1959 season. He pitched 17 big league games that year, posting a 3.17 ERA, a 1.39 WHIP and 20 strikeouts in 37.1 innings. The World Series winning 1960 season ended up being his only full season in the majors. He went 8-4, 3.21 in 45 relief appearances, with 49 strikeouts, a 1.34 WHIP and three saves over 70 innings. Green got hit hard in the World Series, allowing ten runs in four innings. He struggled with the 1961 Pirates, before getting sent to the minors on June 29th. He put up a 4.79 ERA, a 1.74 WHIP and four strikeouts in 20.2 innings for the 1961 Pirates. He was eventually was put on waivers, where the Washington Senators picked him up on September 25, 1961. In between his big league time and waiver pickup, he went 7-3, 4.77 in 66 innings for Columbus, with 39 strikeouts and a 1.61 WHIP. Green threw five early season games for Washington in 1962. He then spent the rest of his time with the Senators in the minors prior to his May 1963 release. He gave up six runs over seven innings during his brief time with the 1962 Senators, then split the rest of the season between Jacksonville and Syracuse of the International League. His finished his 1962 minor league season with a 4-7, 5.13 record, a 1.54 WHIP and 38 strikeouts in 79 innings over 36 games.

Green made five appearances for Toronto of the International League in 1963 before being released. He re-signed a short time later with the Pirates, then finished the year back in Columbus, where he made another 29 appearances. He had a 9-2, 3.03 record over 34 appearances, with 65 strikeouts and a 1.14 WHIP in 107 innings. He had one more big league chance left in him. Green pitched well in eight early season appearances with the 1964 Pirates, allowing one run and no walks in 7.1 innings. Despite that success, he was still sent back to the minors in June. He ended up pitching in the Pirates system until the end of the 1965 season, which was also his last year in pro ball. Green finished off the 1964 season with Columbus by going 7-9, 4.28 in 120 innings over ten starts and 26 relief appearances, with 82 strikeouts and a 1.32 WHIP. He had a 1-4, 4.66 record, a 1.52 WHIP and 43 strikeouts in 87 innings for Columbus during the 1965 season, while pitching mostly in relief. He went 98-88 over his 12 minor league seasons. He had a 9-6, 3.33 record in 135.1 innings over 83 appearances (one start) for the Pirates, with 75 strikeouts and a 1.42 WHIP. His son Gary Green played five seasons in the majors and he managed five years (2006-10) in the Pirates minor league system. He’s been a coach in the Pirates system since 2011.

Don Williams, pitcher for the 1958-59 Pirates. He was signed by the Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1953. After pitching 30 innings that year for Charleston of the Class-A South Atlantic League, he missed two full seasons to military service. Williams was signed on the same exact day by the Pirates (June 18, 1953) as his twin brother Deward, who was also a pitcher. Don graduated from the University of Tennessee, where he had a 6-2 record in 1953. The twins were scouted by three scouts of the Pirates, including Frank Rickey (the brother of GM Branch Rickey) and Billy Meyer, whose number is retired by the Pirates. Don Williams was out of the military by June of 1955, but he didn’t pitch that season due to a back injury. He pitched well for Lincoln of the Class-A Western League when he returned to action in 1956, going 11-8, 3.39 over 122 innings, with 102 strikeouts and a 1.41 WHIP. Despite the solid results, he still returned to Lincoln for the entire 1957 season. Williams went 15-6, 2.98 over 60 relief appearances during his second season for Lincoln. He had 135 strikeouts and a 1.35 WHIP in 142 innings that year. He went to Spring Training with the 1958 Pirates, but he got cut just three days before Opening Day. He was assigned to Salt Lake City of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League on April 12, 1958. He had a strong 1958 season, going 8-5, 2.62 in 103 innings over 43 games, with 76 strikeouts and a 1.19 WHIP. That performance earned him a call-up to the Pirates on September 8th. He pitched twice in relief for Pittsburgh over the final three weeks of the 1958 season, allowing three runs over four innings of work.

Williams made six appearances for the Pirates early in the 1959 season, posting a 6.75 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP in 12 innings. He spent the rest of the season with Columbus of the Triple-A International League, going 7-3, 2.67 in 81 innings over 47 appearances, with 57 strikeouts and a 1.32 WHIP. He remained with Columbus for the entire 1960 season, putting up a 7-6, 3.50 record in 121 innings over 59 games, with 83 strikeouts and a 1.27 WHIP. Williams began 1961 back in Columbus, before he was sold to the San Diego of the Pacific Coast League on May 17, 1961. He was actually traded by the Pirates to Columbus of the International League on April 8, 1960, four days before Opening Day of that World Series winning season, so the sale was from one minor league team to another. Williams finished the 1961 season with a combined 8-6, 4.50 record and a 1.68 WHIP in 80 innings over 46 games. He had 36 strikeouts over his 75 innings with San Diego. He made it back to the majors for a brief time in 1962, which consisted of three August appearances for the Kansas City Athletics. He gave up four runs over four innings in his last big league trial. The rest of the year (and all of 1963) was spent with Dallas-Fort Worth, which was in the Triple-A American Association in 1962, before moving to the Pacific Coast League in 1963. Williams went 8-8, 4.17 in 138 innings for Dallas-Fort Worth during the 1962 season, with 59 strikeouts and a 1.40 WHIP. That was followed by a 5.82 ERA and a 1.82 WHIP over 17 innings during his final year. His big league career amount to an 0-0, 7.20 record in 20 innings over 11 games. He had identical 6.75 ERAs in each of his two brief trials with the Pirates. His twin Deward pitched six seasons in the minors, but never made the majors. The pair were teammates during the 1953 and 1956-57 seasons. As an odd coincidence, there was a pitcher named Don Williams who played for the 1963 Twins. Both were on Dallas-Fort Worth during the 1963 season, but they weren’t teammates at any point.

Jake Goodman, first baseman for the 1882 Pittsburgh Alleghenys, and the fifth-place hitter in the first game in franchise history. Goodman started his pro career in 1877 by playing for the first minor league team in baseball history, the Pittsburgh Allegheny (no “s” at the end like the Major League team five years later). He hit .176 in 19 games that year, with six runs and two doubles. He played two seasons in the majors, the first coming in 1878 with the Milwaukee Grays of the National League. He hit .246 over 60 games that year, with 28 runs scored, eight extra-base hits, 27 RBIs and a .564 OPS. He made 42 errors at first base, the most in the league at that position. It’s important to remember that there were no gloves of any kind then, and official scorers were brutal compared to today’s standards, but that was still a very high amount. He was the everyday first baseman for Milwaukee, playing all but one game that season for a team that finished 15-45 (one tie). He originally signed to play for the Pittsburgh Allegheny for a $1,000 contract for the 1878 season, but he ended up in the majors instead.

Goodman played in the minors in 1879 with Rockford of the Northwestern League (no stats available). He then next appeared in pro ball as the Alleghenys’ Opening Day first baseman on May 2, 1882. He was also the team captain at the time. There was word in September of 1881 that he had numerous offers from teams for the 1882 season, but by December the newly-formed Alleghenys were said to be after him. He was called at that time “the well-known player of the old Actives base ball club”, which was a team he joined in Reading, Pa. during the 1874 season. He did well in his limited time with the Alleghenys, hitting .317/.349/.463 in ten games, with five runs, four extra-base hits and two walks. Goodman injured his knee in the fifth inning of his final game on May 29th. He had to be removed, with Chappy Lane taking his place to finish the game. It was called a “severe cut on his knee while playing first base”. He was soon replaced permanently by Lane, who was an outstanding fielder, but he could barely hit. Goodman never appeared in another Major League game, finishing his career off in the minors in 1886. He played for Trenton of the Interstate Association in 1883, where he hit .356 in 65 games, with 22 doubles and two triples. Goodman played for Lancaster of the Eastern League in 1884, where he hit .345 in 60 games, with 24 doubles, two triples and two homers. That was followed by splitting the 1885 season between Trenton and Lancaster, with both teams residing in the Eastern League. He hit a combined .221 in 28 games, with ten runs and two doubles.

Goodman was playing his third season in a row in his hometown of Lancaster, Pa. during his final season in 1886, though the team moved to the Pennsylvania State Association that season. He was released in late May of 1886, then never played pro ball again. He had a .192 average over seven games, with five singles and six runs scored. Goodman, who is listed as being 6’1″, went by the nickname “Big Jake”. In the first Spring Training game for the 1882 Alleghenys, which was also their first ever game together as a team, Goodman missed hitting a double cycle by the second homer. In an eight-inning game, he had a homer, two triples, two doubles and three singles. The game was actually called in the ninth after the Alleghenys put up another nine runs, but those didn’t count in the boxscore. No account of how they scored those nine runs exists, so it’s possible that he had more than eight hits before the game was called, which wiped away that final inning.