This Date in Pirates History: November 29
Born on this date in 1950 was Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Mike Easler, who played for the team from 1977,1979-83. He was drafted by the Astros in 1969, made his major league debut in 1973 but played just 26 games over three seasons with them before being traded to the Cardinals. He never played in the majors with the Cardinals who traded him to the Angels in September. The Angels used him all September but traded him to the Pirates just before the 1977 season for minor league pitcher Randy Sealy.
With the Pirates Easler spent almost all of 1977-78 in the minors. He batted .302 with 18 homers in AAA in 1977 then topped his performance back there the next year hitting .330 with 18 homers and 84 RBI’s. The Pirates sold him to the Red Sox in October 1978 but decided to trade back for him during spring training in 1979. During the season Easler made the opening day roster and was used almost exclusively as a pinch hitter, getting just three starts the entire year. He earned the starting LF job shortly after the 1980 season started and hit .338 with 21 homers in 132 games.
Easler batted .286 during the strike-shortened 1981 season then down to .276 the following year. In 1983 Easler hit .307 with 10 homers in 115 games. Following the season the Pirates traded him to the Red Sox again, this time getting back pitcher John Tudor. In his six seasons in Pittsburgh Easler hit .302 in 549 games
Also born on this date in 1931 was Paul Pettit, a bonus baby amateur signing who would win just one game during parts of two seasons in the majors. Pettit was signed by the Pirates for $100,000 as a 18 year old in early 1950. He went just 2-7 5.17 in the minors that year but made the Pirates early in 1951, although he lasted just two games. He won 15 games in the minors in 1952 which earned him an opening day roster spot in 1953. He pitched 10 games, posting a 7.71 ERA in 28 innings and spent most of the year back in the minors. He never played in the majors again, spending eight more seasons in the minors with most of his time spent as an outfielder.
Born on this date in 1910 was Ed Leip, an infielder who played for the Pirates from 1940-42. He made his debut for the Senators in 1939 and hit .344 in 9 games. The Pirates bought him just prior to the start of the 1940 season but he spent most of the year in the minors, playing just three games in late September. He was a September call-up in 1941 as well but made the opening day roster in 1942. Unfortunately for him he was used just three times as a pinch runner and never played in the majors again. He spent three years in the military and another five years in the minors before retiring as a player after the 1950 season.
Born on this date in 1884 was shortstop Marc Campbell who played briefly for the 1907 Pirates. He was in a position no one wanted to be in back then, a young shortstop trying to make it on the Pirates with Honus Wagner firmly entrenched at that position. He made his debut on September 30th,played just two games with the Pirates over a two day stretch, collected one hit, a single and never played in the majors again. He played four years in the minors before retiring.
Finally, born on this date in 1864 was pitcher Bill Sowders, who played for Pittsburgh from 1889-90. The Alleghenys bought him from the Boston Beaneaters for $1,000 mid-season 1889. He went 19-15 2.07 as a rookie in 1888 but struggled with both Boston and Pittsburgh in 1889, going a combined 7-7 6.37 in 20 games. When the Player’s League formed in 1890 Sowders decided to stay with Pittsburgh while most of his teammates jumped to the PL. He went 3-8 for a team that went 23-113 and never pitched in the majors again.
Two transactions of note on this date. In 1989, the Pirates signed Walt Terrell as a free agent. With the Tigers from 1985-87, he won at least 15 games each season. Terrell slipped in 1988, going 7-16, though his 3.97 ERA was eight points lower than in 1987 when he went 17-10. In 1989, he split the year between the Padres and Yankees, finishing 11-18, 4.49 in 32 starts. His time with the Pirates was not good. He finished 2-7, 5.88 in 16 starts and was released at the end of July. Terell finished his career with a 111-124 record over 11 seasons.
In 1967, the Pirates acquired catcher Chris Cannizzaro in exchange for minor league OF/1B Mike Derrick, who was signed by the team out of high school in 1962 and spent six years in the farm system. Cannizzaro ended up hitting .241 for the Pirates over 25 games. He was then dealt to the San Diego Padres in Spring Training of 1969 in a four player deal covered here. A brief bio of Cannizzaro and his time with the Pirates can be found here. Derrick ended up briefly making the majors in 1970 with the Boston Red Sox.