Just two former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus two trades of note and one milestone.
Bryan Bullington, pitcher for the 2005 and 2007 Pirates. He was the first overall pick in the 2002 draft out of Ball State, who battled through injuries to pitch parts of five seasons in the majors, followed by five more seasons in Japan. Before being selected by the Pirates, Bullington was a 37th round draft pick out of high school by the Kansas City Royals in 1999. He debuted in pro ball in 2003, splitting a successful season between Hickory of the Low-A South Atlantic League and Lynchburg of the High-A Carolina League. He combined for a 13-5, 2.52 record in 142.2 innings, with a 1.15 WHIP and 113 strikeouts. While he didn’t do bad at High-A, he was much better at the lower level, going 5-1, 1.39 in 45.1 innings for Hickory. He put up a 3.05 ERA over 97.1 innings in Lynchburg. He spent the entire 2004 season at Altoona of the Double-A Eastern League, where he had a 12-7, 4.10 record, a 1.43 WHIP and 100 strikeouts in 145 innings over 26 starts. He moved up to Indianapolis of the Triple-A International League in 2005, where he went 9-5, 3.28 in 17 starts, with 77 strikeouts and a 1.18 WHIP in 104.1 innings. He missed the first five weeks of the season due to shoulder tendinitis. He joined the Pirates for his big league debut in mid-September. His first big league appearance was a disaster, and that was only partially related to the results. He gave up two runs in 1.1 innings of relief work. Bullington needed Tommy John surgery after that game, which cost him the end of the 2005 season and all of 2006.
Bullington returned to Indianapolis for the 2007 season, where he had an 11-9, 4.00 record, a 1.36 WHIP and 89 strikeouts in 150.1 innings over 26 starts. He joined the Pirates for three starts and two relief outings in September. He went 0-3, 5.29 in 17 innings during that second big league trial, finishing with seven strikeouts and a 1.71 WHIP. Bullington was pitching poorly in Indianapolis in 2008, when he was lost on waivers to the Cleveland Indians in June. He had a 4-6, 5.52 record, 60 strikeouts and a 1.53 WHIP in 75.1 innings over 15 starts at the time. He finished that year with a 5.20 ERA, 107 strikeouts and a 1.51 WHIP in 128 innings at Triple-A, after going 1-3, 4.75 in 53 innings for Buffalo of the International League. He got his third shot at the majors when he made two starts and one relief appearance for the 2008 Indians, posting a 4.91 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP in 14.2 innings. He was a reliever for the Toronto Blue Jays during the 2009 season, spending most of the year at Las Vegas of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he went 3-1, 3.52 in 38.1 innings over 28 games, with 43 strikeouts and a 1.28 WHIP. He made four big league appearances that season, allowing two runs in six innings.
Bullington pitched mostly as a starter for Omaha of the Pacific Coast League during the 2010 season, while as a member of the Kansas City Royals organization. He also made five starts and eight relief appearances in the majors that year. He went 8-2, 2.82 in 102 innings with Omaha, finishing with 73 strikeouts and a 1.12 WHIP. He had a 1-4, 6.12 record, 29 strikeouts and a 1.59 WHIP in 42.2 innings with the Royals, which ended up being his last big league time. He finished out his pro career with five seasons in Japan, where he posted a 46-48, 3.21 record in 805 innings. Bullington had a big first season with Hiroshima in 2011, going 14-11, 2.43 in 211.1 innings, with 140 strikeouts and a 1.10 WHIP. He had odd results during the 2012 and 2013 seasons, putting up the same ERA in the nearly same amount of work, but with a much different success rate. He went 7-14, 3.23 over 175.2 innings in 2012, with a 1.20 WHIP and 137 strikeouts. He had an 11-9, 3.23 record in 2013, with 117 strikeouts and a 1.13 WHIP over 172.2 innings. He struggled a bit during the 2014 season, posting a 9-8, 4.58 record in 23 starts, with 85 strikeouts and a 1.34 WHIP over 131.2 innings. Bullington played for Orix during his final season in 2015, going 5-6, 3.01 over 113.2 innings, with 71 strikeouts and a 1.13 WHIP. His strikeout total went down every season in Japan. His big league record finished up as 1-9, 5.62 in 81.2 innings over ten starts and 16 relief outings, with a 1.58 WHIP and 54 strikeouts.
Pat Bohen, pitcher for the 1914 Pirates. He pitched two big league games, getting one start in the American League and one relief appearance in the National League. He debuted in pro ball right before his 21st birthday in 1911 with Oakland of the Class-A Pacific Coast League, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. He made three appearances on the mound, in which he went 0-1, 3.60 over 15 innings, with a 1.40 WHIP. He was a well-known semi-pro pitcher at the time, with a solid reputation for having speed, control and good curves. He was back in semi-pro ball on the west coast in 1912, then played for Helena and Missoula of the Class-D Union Association in 1913. He was dropping down four levels from the Pacific Coast League, which was considered to be Double-A by 1912. Bohen had a combined record of 18-21 over 292 innings in 1913. Despite getting good reviews for his control, it was said that he had 205 walks and 228 strikeouts that season, giving him the league lead in both categories. The Philadelphia A’s and manager/owner Connie Mack purchased his contract for $1,000 from Missoula on August 11, 1913. He was allowed to finish out the season with his minor league team before joining Philadelphia. Bohen debuted with the A’s on October 1, 1913, one day after his 23rd birthday. He took a tough loss that day, allowing just one run over eight innings, with the winning run scoring on a wild pitch in the eighth. The one-game scouting report was basically the same as before, except the locals noted that his changeup was also very good.
The Athletics won the World Series in 1913. Bohen received a cash award from the player’s pool, which was a bit odd for the day because players who barely spent time with the team, rarely received anything. He went to Spring Training with Philadelphia in 1914, where he made the team out of Spring Training. He didn’t pitch during the first two weeks, then was sold outright to the minors. Bohen went 20-9 for Reading of the Class-B Tri-State League in 1914, before joining the Pirates for his second/final big league game. The Pirates purchased him from Reading for $1,500 on August 26, 1914, after scout Billy Murray recommended him. Bohen was asked to immediately join the team (he arrived the next day in time for practice). He pitched for the Pirates in relief on September 6, 1914, taking part in an 8-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs. He gave up two runs in his only inning of work. Bohen and outfielder Eddie Mensor were at Forbes Field practicing to stay in shape on September 22nd, while the rest of the Pirates were on an east coast trip. They didn’t go on the trip that started six days earlier because teams often left extra players at home to save on travel expenses. They were told on the 22nd that they could leave for home because they wouldn’t be needed for the rest of the season, despite the fact that there were still 17 games left on the schedule. Bohen was sold back to Reading in early December of 1914. His pro career lasted just one more minor league season. He went 11-11 in 211 innings during the 1915 season, while playing for two teams in the Class-B Three-I League, seeing time with Peoria and Moline. He then played semi-pro ball on the west coast, twice signing with Pacific Coast League teams without appearing in a game. His actual name was Leo Ignatius Bohen, but the Pat nickname was used almost exclusively for him.
On this date in 1946, the Pirates pulled off a six-player trade with the Boston Braves, acquiring Hall of Fame second baseman Billy Herman in the deal. The Pirates lost this trade despite not only getting the most recognizable name in the deal, they also gave up two players to get four in return. Herman was a player-manager, who did very little playing in his final year in the majors, getting into just 15 games. He didn’t even finish the season as the manager, resigning from the position with one game left on the schedule. Pittsburgh gave up third baseman Bob Elliott in the deal. He would make the All-Star team and win the 1947 National League MVP award, followed by two more All-Star appearances in 1948 and 1951. Boston also received backup catcher Hank Camelli, who lasted one season with the Braves. The rest of the Pirates return included infielder Whitey Weitelmann, who hit .234 over 48 games in his only season with the team. They also got Stan Wentzel, who only played in the minors after the deal, and pitcher Elmer Singleton, who had a 5.54 ERA in 74 appearances with the Pirates during the 1947-48 seasons. By the end of Spring Training in 1949, all that the Pirates had to show for this trade was small amount of cash received for the three players who were sent to the minors. The total comparison in WAR for this deal saw the Pirates receive -0.7 WAR from their four players, and Braves received 25.9 from Elliott in five seasons. In addition to that production, the Braves were able to trade him before the 1952 season for one player and $50,000 cash. At least Camelli was no loss for the Pirates, as his 1947 season was worth -0.9 WAR.
On this date in 1986, the Pirates traded pitcher Jeff Zaske for pitcher Randy Kramer. While it wasn’t a big win for them, the Pirates got the best of this deal. Zaske pitched for the Pirates briefly in 1984, but never made the majors again. Kramer was a minor leaguer at the time of the deal. He debuted with the Pirates in 1988, then went on to post a 4.22 ERA in 147 innings over three seasons with the club. He was a small contributor to the 1990 National League East championship team. Most of his time came in 1989, when he made 15 starts and 20 relief appearances, finishing 5-9, 3.96 in 111.1 innings. He made two starts and ten relief appearances for the 1990 Pirates, posting a 4.91 ERA in 25.1 innings. The Pirates traded Kramer during the 1990 season for minor league pitcher Greg Kallevig. While the latter never made the majors, Kramer pitched just 36.2 innings over two seasons in the majors after the trade.
On this date in 1972, Roberto Clemente collected his 3,000th big league hit off of Mets pitcher Jon Matlack in a 5-0 Pirates win. It would be the final regular season hit for Clemente. Below is a video of the hit, along with an interesting note about something in the video. Early in the video, they showed a graphic that said that Clemente tied Honus Wagner for most games played in team history. That was thought to be true back then, but later research corrected Wagner’s game total to 2,433 (one more), which Clemente would actually tie three days later in his final regular season big league game. It was said that the Pirates got Clemente into that latter game so he could break the record. His final games in pro ball came during the 1972 postseason.