This Date in Pirates History: December 19

Born on this date in 1964 was relief pitcher Mike Fetters, who pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2001-02. Fetters was in his 13th season in the majors when the Pirates acquired him from the Dodgers along with Adrian Burnside in exchange for Terry Mulholland on July 31, 2001. Mike finished the year going 1-1, 4.58 in 17.2 innings over 20 games with the Pirates, recording eight saves. In 2002 Fetters went 1-0, 3.26 in 32 games before the Pirates traded him to the Diamondbacks in early July for reliever Duaner Sanchez. Fetters pitched 620 games over 16 major league seasons, saving exactly 100 games in his career.

Jose Silva (1973) Pitcher for the 1997-2001 Pirates. Silva came to the Pirates in a nine player deal with the Toronto Blue Jays in November of 1996. His big league experience at the time consisted of two relief outings for Toronto. For the Pirates, Silva spent five seasons in Pittsburgh, making 53 starts and 87 relief appearances. He had a 24-28, 5.44 record in 402 innings. Two of his seasons stood out. In 1998, he went 6-7, 4.40 in 18 starts, his lowest season ERA. Two years later, he went 11-9 in 19 starts and 32 relief appearances, though he amassed that record while posting a 5.56 ERA. After the 2001 season, the Pirates traded Silva to the Cincinnati Reds for minor league pitcher Ben Shaffar. Silva played for the 2002 Reds, his last season in the majors. He has played in the minors and Mexico since then, last playing in 2012.

Fetters had a 3.75 ERA in 52 games with the Pirates

Also born on this date, in 1918, was outfielder Tommy O’Brien who played for the Pirates from 1943-45. He had spent three seasons in the minors when the Pirates got him just prior to the start of the 1943 season. He played 89 games that rookie season, hitting .310 with 26 RBIs. The following year O’Brien got into 85 games but received  just 178 plate appearances, in which he hit .250 with 21 walks. In 1945, he hit .335 in 58 games, but missed most of both June and July. He spent the entire 1946 season in the minors, being sold to the St Louis Cardinals following the season. He next played in the majors in 1949 for the Red Sox, getting into 61 games between the 1949-50 seasons before finishing his career in the minors in 1955.

Born on this date in 1925 was Lou Koupal, a pitcher for the World Series winning 1925 Pirates team. The Pirates paid $40,000 for Koupal, a large sum for the day, after he went 22-10 for Omaha of the Western League. He was used sparingly the first two months of his major league career, getting into six games, all in relief. He pitched a total of nine innings, giving up 14 hits, seven walks and he failed to record a strikeout. He finished the 1925 season in the minors, then began the 1926 season there as well. After going 13-5 for Buffalo of the International League, the Pirates brought him back to the majors in September of that year. He went 0-2, 3.20 in six games, in what would be his last year with the Pirates. He had a career record of 10-21, 5.58 in six major league seasons. He won 175 minor league games, playing until the age of 42.

Eddie Yount (1915) Pinch-hitter for the 1939 Pirates. Yount didn’t get much of a chance with the Pirates, striking out as a pinch-hitter in consecutive games. He spent the 1939 season with Portsmouth of the Piedmont League, where he hit .350 with 27 doubles, 11 triples and 11 homers in 137 games. His only other major league experience came with the 1937 Philadelphia A’s and that was just four games. The interesting part about that fact is that when Yount joined the Pirates, the local paper thought it was his major league debut. He was also referred to as Floyd Yount, which is his given name, though most baseball sources call him Eddie. Yount played 12 years in the minors, retiring after the 1952 season. He missed three years during WWII. He was a .302 hitter in the minors.

Ray Poat (1917) Pitcher for the 1949 Pirates. Poat came to the Pirates in a mid-season trade with the New York Giants that sent Bobby Rhawn to Pittsburgh and Kirby Higbe the other way. Poat had only been used twice in the first two months of the season by the Giants and he got hit hard each time. With the Pirates, he also saw limited time, getting two starts and nine relief appearances. He was 0-1, 6.25 in 36 innings. That would end up being his last season in the majors. He played one more year in the minors before retiring. Poat pitched a total of six years in the majors, going 22-30, 4.55 in exactly 400 innings. He picked up half of his career wins during the 1948 season.

Finally, born on this date in 1887 was Art Butler, an infielder who played for the 1912-13 Pirates. The Pirates acquired him in August 1912 in a trade for infielder Bill McKechnie, the future Hall of Fame manager who had spent parts of four seasons in a Pittsburgh uniform. Prior to the trade Butler’s major league experience consisted of just 26 games with the Boston Rustlers(Braves) in 1911. He was the Pirates everyday second baseman after the trade, playing 43 games in which he hit .273 with 17 RBIs. For the 1913 season, Art backed up at both 2B and SS, getting into 82 games, hitting .280 with 40 runs scored. Following the season, he was part of an eight player trade with the St Louis Cardinals that also included Dots Miller and Chief Wilson. That trade was covered here.

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John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

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