This Date in Pirates History: February 4
On this date in Pittsburgh Pirates history five former players have been born as well as one new player just signed last month. Starting with the newest former player first, relief pitcher Dan Plesac was born on this date in 1962. He was a lefty reliever with nine years experience already when the Pirates signed him as a free agent on November 9, 1994. He went 2-3 4.61 in 54 games for the Cubs in 1994 and had been a closer with the Brewers for five seasons earlier in his career. Dan went 4-4 3.58 in 58 games for the Pirates in 1995, striking out 57 batters in 60.1 innings. In 1996, Plesac led all Pirates pitchers in games pitched with 73 and had a 6-5 4.09 record with 11 saves. Almost two years to the date they signed him as a free agent, the Pirates traded Plesac to the Blue Jays in a nine player deal that was mentioned here. Dan played another seven seasons in the majors, finishing with 1064 games pitched and 158 saves.
Other players born on this date include:
Dennis Konuszewski (1971) relief pitcher who threw his only career game with the 1995 Pirates. He was a 7th round draft pick of the Pirates in 1992 and spent his entire minor league career in their farm system, throwing 207 games from 1992 until 1997. Dennis actually played just four games above AA ball ever, three AAA games in 1996 and his one major league game on August 4,1995. He came into the game to start the 7th inning against the Astros with the Pirates down 3-2. He walked the first batter he faced, gave up a single, the a sacrifice bunt, then two more singles and two runs before being pulled from the game leaving him with a career 54.00 ERA and the only one out he recorded was given to him on the sac bunt. Dennis didn’t have much success in AAA either, allowing 13 hits, 11 runs and five walks in only 3.1 innings. He was mentioned in a recent article here about one game wonders in Pirates history.
Steve Brye (1949) outfielder for the 1978 Pirates. He was originally a first round draft pick of the Twins in 1967 and had played eight seasons in the majors already when the Pirates signed him as a free agent on April 4,1978. He played his first seven seasons with Minnesota and then one year with the Brewers in 1977 when he hit .249 in 94 games and played errorless ball in 83 games in the outfield. For the Pirates in 1978 he played 66 games, mostly off the bench and he split his time between all three outfield positions. He hit .235 with 9 RBI’s in 130 plate appearances. He was released shortly after the season ended and would go on to play one more season in AAA for the Padres before retiring as a player. He was a career .258 hitter in 697 major league games.
Possum Whitted (1890) utility fielder for the 1919-21 Pirates. George was in his 8th season in the majors when the Pirates traded an outfielder named Casey Stengel of the Phillies for him on August 9,1919. Both players were 29 years old at the time and Stengel was also in his 8th major league season. Possum was hitting .249 in 78 games with Philadelphia prior to the trade and had never batted higher than .281 in a season but in the last 35 games of the year for the Pirates he had 51 hits and a .389 batting average. He took over the Pirates third base job in 1920 and hit .261 with 74 RBI’s in 134 games and he had as many triples(12) as doubles and homers combined. In 1921 he moved back to the outfield and hit .283 with 63 RBI’s in 104 games. Despite the strong stats, the Pirates sold him to Brooklyn prior to the 1922 season and they must’ve known his major league career was nearing the end because he lasted one pinch hit appearance before going back to the minors where he played until age 41 in 1931.
Lefty Davis (1875) outfielder for the 1901-02 Pirates. He began his minor league career in 1896 and wasn’t signed by a major league club until 1901 but in a three month span from late March of that year until the end of June he was a member of three different organizations. He signed with the Philadelphia Athletics early in 1901 as they prepared to play their first season in American League history(the league existed prior to 1901 but was not considered a major league). Before he ever played a game for the Athletics he jumped to the National League to play for the Brooklyn Superbas. After hitting .209 in 25 games he was released and quickly signed with the Pirates. He started in right field and hit .313 in 87 games with 87 runs scored and 22 stolen bases. The Pirates won their first NL title that season. Davis returned for 1902 and hit .280 with 52 runs scored and 19 stolen bases in 59 games as the Pirates not only won their second straight NL crown but they also posted their best record ever going 103-36. Prior to the start of 1903 Davis jumped the the New York Highlanders of the American League. He lasted just two more season in the majors and ended up playing another eight years in the minors while also managing for four seasons.
Finally, Doug Slaten, a relief pitcher who has pitched six seasons in the majors, four with Arizona and the last two with the Nationals, turns 33 today. He signed with the Pirates on January 11,2012 after going 0-2 4.41 in 31 relief appearances last year. He had a career record of 7-8 3.60 in 137.2 innings over 206 appearances coming into the 2012 season. For the Pirates, Slaten pitched ten games, going 0-0, 2.71 in 13 innings, with nine hits allowed, eight walks and he recorded six strikeouts. Slaten was let go via free agency following the season.