This Date in Pirates History: January 25
Only two former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, no major transactions and I even checked the minor league rosters for a birthday today and couldn’t find one, so today will be a light day.
Dan Serafini (1974) lefty pitcher for the 2000 Pirates. He was originally a 1st round draft pick of the Twins in 1992 and he averaged just over a strikeout per inning his first three seasons as he worked his way through the low levels of the minors straight from high school. Dan struggled in the Pacific Coast League in 1996, posting a 5.58 ERA in 130.2 innings with a declining strikeout rate. He still got a call-up to the majors though, a mid-season spot start that resulted in a loss and five earned runs over 4.1 innings. He showed improvements his second time around in AAA in 1997 and was a September roster addition for the Twins. He posted a 2-1 3.42 record in six games, four of them starts, which included a complete game win over the A’s followed by seven shutout innings against the Rangers.
In 1998, he began in AAA but received an early June recall and remained with the Twins the rest of the year, pitching 28 total games, nine as a starter. Despite a 7-4 record his ERA was a very high 6.48 in 75 innings. Just prior to opening day in 1999 the Twins sold him to the Chicago Cubs, a deal that began a string of moves in his career that saw him play for 10 different organizations over an eight year span. The Pirates acquired him from the Padres on June 28, 2000 for a player to be named later which turned out to be minor league pitcher Andy Bausher 11 days later. Serafini had made three relief appearances for the Padres, allowing six runs in three innings during that 2000 season. With the Pirates he went 2-5 4.91 in 11 starts which included a win in his first start and 7.1 shutout innings against the Padres that resulted in a no-decision. Late in spring training 2001 the Pirates released him. He also pitched in the majors in 2003 with the Reds and then had a forgettable three game stint with the 2007 Rockies that resulted in just one out being recorded, two walks, a hit batter, a balk and an ugly 54.00 ERA for the season. He is still an active player, participating in the Mexican League this past season.
Buddy Pritchard (1936) middle infielder for the 1957 Pirates. He was signed by the Pirates in February 1957 directly out of college for a $30,000 bonus. Under the rules of the day, any amateur player signing for that amount fell under the “Bonus Baby” rule, which meant he had to spend the entire 1957 season on the Pirates major league roster. It was meant to keep teams with money from stockpiling all the best amateur talent but in reality it was usually bad for the player signing the contract. Most players who signed those contracts sat on the end of their team’s bench and Pritchard was no different. Despite being on the roster the entire season he played in just 23 games and only came up to bat 12 times. He started two games all year and did not play one complete nine inning game. He batted .091(1-11) but his only hit came off a pretty good pitcher, Brooklyn Dodgers starter Don Newcombe.
If Pritchard had signed his contract a year earlier he would’ve actually had to spend two full seasons on the major league roster but the Bonus Baby rule was rescinded in 1958 and he was shipped to the minors. He would end up playing eight seasons in the minors for the Pirates before he retired as a player, never making it back to the majors. He played just 652 games over those eight seasons, only breaking the century mark in games played three times and he finished with a .256 average and 30 homers in the minors. He would later manage for the Pirates in the Gulf Coast League for a couple season as well as do some scouting for the team before moving onto a job as an MLB scout. He turns 76 years old today.