This Date in Pirates History: February 1

Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, six of them pitchers and the oldest one was an outfielder.

Cecilio Guante (1960) pitcher for the 1982-86 Pirates. He was signed by the Pirates as an amateur free agent in November 1979 out of the Dominican Republic. He shot through the minors as a reliever, going from low-A ball to AAA in less than a year and a half. The Pirates move him to a starting role in AAA and he went 6-6, 5.37 in 104 innings for Portland of the PCL. He was back to the relief role in 1982 and jumped between AAA and the majors all season, getting called up four times but pitching just ten games for the Pirates. He started 1983 in the minors, getting called up in early May and ending up with just over 100 innings pitched in relief by the time the season was over.

Guante on his 1984 Topps card

Cecilio had a 2.61 ERA through 27 games in 1984 when he hurt his shoulder in early July which ended his season. Healthy in 1985 for a very bad Pirates team, he was one of a few bright spots, pitching 109 innings in relief over 63 games with a 2.72 ERA. Following another strong showing in 1986 the Pirates traded him along with Rick Rhoden in a six player deal that got them Doug Drabek from the Yankees. Guante would pitch another four seasons in the majors, finishing his career with the Indians in 1990. In five seasons with the Pirates he had a 13-17, 3.06 record in 201 games with 20 saves.

Ernie Camacho (1955) pitcher for the 1981 Pirates. He spent 10 seasons in the majors, starting with a brief cup of coffee with the 1980 Oakland A’s. The Pirates acquired him early in  the 1981 season for pitcher Bob Owchinko. He spent most of the year in AAA working out of the bullpen but the Pirates would use him seven times during the 1982 season including the only three starts in his major league career. Less than a year after they traded for him, Pittsburgh dealt him to the White Sox, along with Vance Law, in a four player deal. Camacho played in the majors until 1990, finishing with a 10-20 4.21 record in 193 games with 45 saves.

Jim McKee (1947) pitcher for the 1972-73 Pirates. He was a big 6’7″ righty, drafted in the fourth round of the 1969 amateur draft. Jim got off to a rough start his first year going 0-6, 7.88 in 40 innings with Salem in A-ball. Repeating the level in 1970 he had an 8-15 record in 26 starts but a respectable 3.59 ERA. In 1971 in AA he posted a 3.85 ERA in 152 innings with 172 strikeouts. The following year he had a 2.63 ERA in 26 AAA starts, 11 of them were complete games. He earned a September call-up and in two relief appearances he pitched five scoreless innings, getting the win in his second game in the majors. He split the 1973 season between the Pirates and AAA, going 0-1, 5.67 in 15 games for Pittsburgh, pitching a total of 27 innings. McKee would spend the entire 1974 season in AAA going 10-12, 3.61 in 23 starts in what would be his last season in baseball.

Bob Smith (1931) lefty pitcher for the 1957-59 Pirates. He had seven games of major league experience when the Pirates purchased his contract from the Cardinals in May of 1957. Smith posted a 2-2, 3.11 record in 20 games, four as a starter, to finish out the 1957 season with the Pirates. He was used mostly in relief in 1958, pitching a total of 35 games with a 4.43 ERA in 61 innings. He started the 1959 season off strong but after allowing runs in eight of his last 12 relief appearances he was put on waivers, where the Tigers picked him up. That would be his last season in the majors, although he pitched another five years in the minors.

Chuck Churn (1930) fellow pitcher of Bob Smith on the 1957 Pirates. Churn pitched parts of 18 seasons in the minors starting in 1949 when the Pirates signed him as an amateur free agent and sent him to Uniontown, Pa to pitch as a 19-year-old. In 1950, Churn won 16 games for Hutchinson of the Western Association. In 1952, he served in the military during the Korean War. He returned in 1953, but wouldn’t make the majors until 1957, when the Pirates used him as a reliever early in the season. In five games, he had no record and a 4.32 ERA in 8.1 innings. Following the season he was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the Rule V draft, then was taken by the Cleveland Indians off waivers. He would play parts of two more seasons in the majors(1958-59) after leaving Pittsburgh, pitching 25 games total, spending 1958 in Cleveland and 1959 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Churn pitched 548 career minor league games, picking up 111 victories. He also managed in the minors for four seasons.

Dixie McArthur (1892) pitcher for the 1914 Pirates. He started his career in 1913 right out of college, going 17-6 in the low minors. By July of the next season he was in the majors with the Pirates. On July 10th during an 11-2 loss in Boston, McArthur was called on by manager Fred Clarke to pitch the bottom of the 8th. He faced four batters, allowed one unearned run and struck out one batter in his only inning of work. It literally was his only inning of work in the majors. He spent the next three seasons playing for the Grand Rapids Black Sox of the Central League. In 1915-16 seasons he went a combined 43-20. McArthur was mentioned here in a recent article about one game wonders for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Jim Kelly (1884) outfielder and teammate of Dixie McArthur for the 1914 Pirates. Kelly would play 16 seasons in the minors, starting his pro career at the age of 27 in 1911. In September 1913 the Pirates drafted him in the rule 5 draft after he hit .333 in 121 games playing for the Great Falls Electrics of the Union Association. For the Pirates in 1914 he spent most of his time on the bench, being used in the pinch hitter role. He started just seven games and in 44 at bats he hit .227 with three RBIs. After the season ended, he jumped to the Pittsburgh team in the upstart Federal League, a major league at the time which would fold after the 1915 season. He spent 1916-17 in the minors, returning to the majors with the Boston Braves for 35 games, only that season he played under his real name, Robert Taggert. He was a .299 career hitter in the minors over 1755 games.

Since this article was originally published, Stolmy Pimentel has been added to this list. After being acquired for Joel Hanrahan in December of 2012, Pimentel made his major league debut in September 2013. He pitched five times in relief for the Pirates, allowing two earned runs in 9.1 innings.

John Dreker

Author: 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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  • http://twitter.com/jlease717 John Lease

    I always loved Guante, it’s hard to imagine him being 52 though.  A tremendous competitor.