This Date in Pirates History: December 13
On this date in 2001 the Pittsburgh Pirates traded starting pitcher Todd Ritchie and minor leaguer Lee Evans to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for pitchers Josh Fogg, Kip Wells and Sean Lowe. For Fogg the date has double meaning as it is also his birthday. Ritchie, who was 30 at the time of the trade, was a starter for the Pirates for three seasons, going 35-32 4.29 in 90 starts. Evans was a catcher who had reached AA in his six seasons in the Pirates system. Wells was 24 years old and had a 20-21 5.14 record in three years with the White Sox. Fogg turned 25 on this date and he had just 11 career appearances, all in relief and all with the White Sox in 2001. Lowe had five seasons of major league experience and was coming off his best season in the majors in 2001, going 9-4 3.61 in 127 innings.
Following the trade Ritchie went 5-15 6.06 in 23 starts and three relief appearances. Following the season he left the White Sox as a free agent. Evans never made the majors, playing until 2005 in the minors. Fogg started for the Pirates for four seasons, going 39-42 4.79 in 125 games. He went 12-12 4.35 in 33 starts during the 2002 season, his best year in a Pirates uniform. Wells pitched very good his first two seasons in Pittsburgh, winning 22 games while posting a 3.43 ERA in 64 starts. He got progressively worse his last three seasons in Pittsburgh before he was traded to the Rangers for Jesse Chavez. In 2005 Wells led the NL with 18 losses. Lowe lasted only until September 2002 before he was released. He went 4-2 5.35 in 43 games before the release.
On this date in 1996, the Pirates and Royals hooked up for a six player trade that involved four Jeff’s and all six players first name started with the letter J. The Pirates sent shortstop Jay Bell and third baseman Jeff King in exchange for third baseman Joe Randa and pitchers Jeff Granger, Jeff Martin and Jeff Wallace. Only Wallace played in the majors with the Pirates after the 1997 season, although Randa returned in 2006 as a free agent. Granger posted an 18.00 ERA in 9 games for the Pirates in 1997 and Martin never made the majors but was in the organization until 2000. Wallace had a 3-0 4.67 record in 90 relief appearances in Pittsburgh before they lost him on waivers following the 2000 season. Randa hit .302 with 60 RBI’s but was lost to the Diamondbacks in the 1997 expansion draft.
King was a first overall pick in the 1986 draft who finally broke out in 1996 at the age of 31. He hit .271 with 30 homers, 111 RBI’s, 70 walks and 91 runs scored. He played a total of eight seasons in Pittsburgh, hitting .258 with 99 homers and 493 RBI’s in 894 games. Bell also spent eight years in Pittsburgh alongside King in the infield. He hit .269 over 1106 games and in 1993 he made the all-star team and won the gold glove. Bell played just one season in Kansas City before leaving as a free agent. He hit .291 with 21 homers and 92 RBI’s, the latter two stats were career highs at the time although he would top both two years later in Arizona. King had two good years with the Royals, combining for 52 homers and 205 RBI’s between the 1997-98 seasons. King retired abruptly after just 21 games in the 1999 season, citing lost passion and a recurring back problem as the reason
Born on this date in 1956 was infielder Dale Berra, who played for the Pirates from 1977 to 1984. He is the son of Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra. Dale was a first round draft pick of the Pirates in 1975, the 20th overall pick. As a 20 year old in AAA, he hit .290 with 18 homers, earning a late season promotion in which he hit .175 in 17 games. He bounced between the majors and minors the next two seasons, hitting .209 with nine homers in 100 combined games in the majors those years. He finally spent the entire season in the majors in 1980, splitting his time between 3B and SS. In 93 games he hit .220 with 31 RBI’s. In 1981 he also got time in at 2B as well as the other spots, playing at least 18 games at each position. He hit .241 with a career high 11 stolen bases during that strike shortened season.
Berra became the team’s regular shortstop starting in 1982 and continuing through the 1984 season. That first year he set career highs in nearly every category, hitting .263 with 10 homers, 61 RBI’s and 63 runs scored. His overall numbers were almost as good the following season when he played a career high 161 games. In 1984 his average dropped to .222 and following the season the Pirates traded him to the Yankees for former Pirate Tim Foli and slugger Steve Kemp. In 744 games with the Pirates he hit .238 with 255 RBI’s. He made exactly 30 errors in each of his three full seasons at shortstop in Pittsburgh.
Also born on this date in 1960 was pitcher Jeff Robinson, who played for the Pirates from 1987-89. The Pirates got Robinson from the Giants in exchange for pitcher Rick Reuschel. He was 19-26 3.81 in 169 games with the Giants, 34 of those games were as a starter. After the trade, he pitched out of the pen for the Pirates and went 2-1 3.04 in 18 games. The following year he was used often, pitching 75 games and 124.2 innings, all in relief, going 11-5 3.03 with 9 saves. The Pirates used Robinson out of the pen again to start the 1989 season but by late June they moved him to a starting role, where he went 4-7 in 18 starts. After the season he was traded to the Yankees in exchange for catcher Don Slaught.
Dave Hamilton (1947) Relief pitcher for the 1978 Pirates. Hamilton wasn’t with the Pirates long. He was purchased from the Cardinals in late May of 1978 and was a free agent at the end of the season. He pitched 16 games out of the bullpen for Pittsburgh, going 0-2, 3.42 in 26.1 innings. Hamilton was used sparingly as a back end of the bullpen guy, getting most of his time in mop-up duty. He began his big league career as a starter for the Oakland A’s in 1972, going 19-14 over his first three seasons. He moved on to the Chicago White Sox during the 1975 season, then on to the Cardinals three years later. Hamilton finished his nine year career back in Oakland in 1980. He had a 39-41, 3.85 record in 301 games, 57 as a starter.
Born on this date in 1935 was outfielder Joe Christopher, who played for the Pirates from 1959 to 1961 and appeared in the 1960 World Series. Joe was signed by the Pirates as a 19 year old prior to the 1955 season and he hit .329 in 140 games that year in the minors, playing for three different teams. He worked his way through the minors, making his debut for Pittsburgh in late May of 1959. He played 15 games, starting just three and went 0-12 at the plate. He was used sparingly the next season, playing 50 games but getting just 61 plate appearances. He started 10 games and the Pirates actually won all 10 games. In the WS he pinch ran twice and was used as a pinch hitter in another game, scoring two runs and getting hit by a pitch. In 1961 he was used more often, getting into 76 games, starting 44 times. He hit .263 with 14 RBI’s and 25 runs scored. Following the season he was drafted by the New York Mets in the expansion draft.
Bill Windle (1904) First baseman for the 1928-29 Pirates. His big league career lasted one calendar year, making his debut on September 27,1928 and playing his last game exactly one year later. In between, he only played one other game. Windle got two at-bats during his career, hitting a double in his first plate appearance and striking out in his last. His only hit came off Lou Koupal, who was a member of the 1925 World Champion Pirates team. Koupal was making his first start since leaving the Pirates after the 1926 season. Windle played minor league ball until 1933 and later managed in the minors.
Finally, born in 1899 was Pirates pitcher William “Buckshot” May, who played his only inning of major league baseball for the Pirates on May 9, 1924. The Pirates bought him out of the minors in December of 1923 after he went 18-15 in 51 games for Seattle of the Western League. In the 22nd game of the 1924 season the Pirates took on the Boston Braves at Forbes Field. With the team down 10-6 going into the 9th inning and having already used four pitchers, Hall of Fame manager Bill McKechnie called on May to make his major league debut. He allowed a single to the first batter he faced then retired the next three batters, striking out fellow pitcher Joe Genewich to end the inning. Buckshot returned to the minors where he pitched until 1935. In 13 minor league seasons he went 178-136 in 490 games.