This Date in Pirates History: January 20
Born on this date in 1971 was outfielder Brian Giles who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1999 until 2003. He was an amateur draft pick of the Cleveland Indians in 1989 and it took until 1995 for him to make his major league debut. He played four seasons in Cleveland, hitting .284 with 39 homers in 299 games before they traded him to the Pirates on November 18, 1998 in exchange for Ricardo Rincon. That trade was covered here. Brian immediately became a star for the Pirates, hitting ,315 with 95 walks, 39 homers, 115 RBI’s and 109 runs scored that first season. He followed that up with his first all-star season, hitting .315 again while breaking the century mark in walks(114) RBI’s(123) and runs scored with 111. His 123 RBI’s that year are tied for the 7th highest single season total in franchise history.
In 2001 Giles made his second all-star team, hitting .309 with 37 homers and a career high 116 runs scored. In 2002 he hit 38 homers, batted .298 and walked 135 times, falling just short of Ralph Kiner’s team record of 137 walks set in 1951. During the 2003 trading deadline, the Pirates traded Giles to the Padres for Oliver Perez, Jason Bay and Corey Stewart. He has the highest OPS in team history with his 1.018 mark and three of his single season home run totals are among the top ten in Pirates history. He hit .308 with 501 runs scored, 506 RBI’s and 519 walks in 715 games with Pittsburgh. Overall in his 15 year career he hit .291 with 1121 runs scored, 1078 RBI’s and 1183 walks in 1847 games.
Other players born on this date include:
Cecil Espy (1963) outfielder for the 1991-92 Pirates. He was a 1st round draft pick of the White Sox in 1980, the 8th overall pick. Before he could play a game for Chicago he was traded to the Dodgers and he made a brief 20 game appearance for them in 1983. He was traded to the Pirates in September 1985 along with Sid Bream in exchange for Bill Madlock. The following season they lost him to the Rangers in the rule 5 draft. After four seasons in Texas in which he hit .241 with 91 steals in 331 games, he was allowed to leave via free agency. He signed with the Pirates on February 11, 1991 and hit .244 in 43 games in Pittsburgh, spending most of the year in AAA. In 1992 Espy got into 112 games, mostly off the bench, and he hit .258 in 194 AB’s. He played four games during the NLCS against the Braves that year and went 2-3 at the plate. After the season he was put on waivers where he was picked up by the Reds. He played one season for Cincinnati and another in the minors before retiring. In 546 major league games he hit .244 with 103 stolen bases.
Carl Taylor (1944) catcher for the 1968-69 and 1971 Pirates. Taylor was signed by the Pirates in early 1962 as an amateur free agent. It took him five full minor league seasons before he made the majors with the Pirates as a member of the 1968 opening day roster. He spent the entire season on the major league roster but he only played 44 games and received just 82 plate appearances. The following season he hit .348 in 104 games, playing first base, outfield and was often used as a pinch hitter. Right after the 1969 season ended, the Pirates traded Taylor to the Cardinals in a four player deal that got them longtime reliever Dave Giusti in return. Taylor played one year for St Louis before they trade him to the Brewers who in turn traded him to the Royals. On September 3, 1971 the Pirates bought him from the Royals and he went 2-12 in seven games to finish the season. Just prior to the start of the 1972 season the Pirates sold him back to Kansas City, where he finished his playing career in 1973. He was a .266 hitter in 411 major league games.
Jesse Gonder (1936) catcher for the 1966-67 Pirates. He started his major league career with the team that the Pirates beat in the 1960 World Series but he was originally signed by the Cincinnati Reds as a teenager. He played parts of two seasons for the Yankees before they traded him back to the Reds prior to the 1962 season. He was traded to the Mets during the 1963 season then traded for a fourth time to the Braves during the 1965 season. The Pirates picked him up in November 1965 during the rule 5 draft. He had played only 314 games during his first six seasons in the majors prior to joining Pittsburgh. In 1966 he played 59 games, 52 of them behind the plate and he hit .225 with seven homers. He spent half of the 1967 season in the minors, getting into 22 games with the Pirates before he was sent down after hitting .139 in 36 AB’s. He played two more seasons in the minors before retiring as a player.
Denny Sothern (1904) outfielder for the 1930 Pirates. A .322 hitter in seven minor league seasons, Sothern made his major league debut for the Phillies in 1926, spent 1927 in the minors before becoming their regular centerfielder for the 1928 season. He played 90 games with them in 1930 before they traded him to the Pirates on August 7,1930 in exchange for 23 year old outfielder Fred Brickell. Denny was hitting .280 at the time of the trade but with the Pirates in 17 games he hit just .176, going 9-51 at the plate. He played 19 games with the Brooklyn Dodgers the following season but after hitting .161 his major league career was over. He finished his playing career in 1933 and later managed in the minors.