This Date in Pirates History: December 18
Born on this date in 1969 was third baseman Joe Randa, who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1997 and then again in 2006. Randa started his career with the Royals, getting 144 major league games in before the Pirates traded Jeff King and Jay Bell to Kansas City to acquire Joe and three pitchers named Jeff. Randa had a solid season for the surprising Pirates team in 1997. The team got within 1.5 games of first place in September and Randa hit .302 with 60 RBI’s in 126 games. Following the season the Pirates lost him in the expansion draft to the Arizona Diamondbacks. That same day he was traded along with two other players to the Detroit Tigers for Travis Fryman.
Randa had begun his career of bouncing around that year, already with four teams in three seasons. He would last just one year in Detroit before they traded him to the Mets who in turn would trade him back to the Royals just six days later. He had some success in Kansas City, hitting over .300 his first two years and driving in at least 80 runs for four straight seasons. In 2005 he signed with the Reds who traded him to the Padres at the trade deadline. Granted free agency, he signed with the Pirates for the 2006 season. Randa struggled as the regular third baseman until an injured foot put him out from May 2- June 12. While it was a bad break for Joe, it opened the door for Freddy Sanchez to take over the position and he would go on to win the NL batting crown. When Randa returned he was mostly off the bench, getting some games at 3B and 1B while also pinch hitting and playing DH during the interleague games. He hit .267 in 89 games that year, his last season in the majors.
Also born on this date, in 1929, was Pirates outfielder Gino Cimoli, who was a member of the 1960 World Series winning team. The Pirates traded pitcher Ron Kline to the Cardinals for Cimoli and pitcher Tom Cheney in late 1959. Gino had four major league seasons in at the time and was coming off his best when he hit .279 with 40 doubles and 72 RBI’s in 143 games for St Louis in 1959. In 1960 he played all three outfield positions, getting into 101 games and he hit .267 with 28 RBI’s. In the World Series he played all seven games, hitting .250 with four runs scored, helping the Pirates to their third title. In 1961 Gino got limited time, hitting .299 in 21 games before the Pirates traded him to the Braves in mid-June for shortstop Johnny Logan. Cimoli spent 10 seasons in the majors, hitting .265 with 321 RBI’s in 969 games.
Josh Rodriguez (1984) Shortstop for 2011 Pirates. Rodriguez had a brief stint with the Pirates, who picked him up in December 2010 in the Rule V draft. Rodriguez made the team out of Spring Training, but after a slow start, he was returned to the Cleveland Indians. He went 1-for-12 with eight strikeouts. Rodriguez has spent the rest of his eight year pro career in the minors, playing the 2013 season in AA for the Mets. He went from a 39th round draft pick out of high school(did not sign) to a second round pick three years later out of Rice University.
Finally, born on this date in 1915 was Pirates outfielder Johnny Barrett, who played for the team from 1942 to 1946. Johnny played five seasons in the minors before the Pirates bought him from the Hollywood Stars in September of 1941. In his rookie season in 1942 he played mostly RF hitting .246 with 56 runs scored in 111 games. He played 130 games the next season although he got just 290 AB’s and his average dropped to .231.
With the level of play dropping due to the war, Barrett got even more playing time in 1944 despite dropping down in average the previous year. Johnny led the NL in 1944 in both triples with 19 and stolen bases with 28. He also drove in 83 runs, scored 99 runs and walked 86 times. He finished 21st in the NL MVP voting that year then followed it up with a 20th place finish in 1945 when he hit .256 with 67 RBI’s and 97 runs scored. With the level of play back to normal standards in 1946 Barrett struggled, hitting just .169 in 32 games before the Pirates traded him to the Braves for Chuck Workman. Both Workman and Barrett lasted until the end of the season with their new team before finishing their careers in the minors