It’s a light day for the players born on this date who have played for the Pirates, just four players who played a combined total of 22 games for the Pirates so I threw a bonus one in at the end. Starting off with the oldest player of the bunch, pitcher Bill Garfield, who played for Pittsburgh in 1889, was born on this date in 1867. The 1889 Pittsburgh Alleghenys were not a horrible team, they finished 61-71 but in the midst of a 12 game losing streak in the beginning of July they called upon Garfield to make his major league debut during a one-sided loss. Seven days later, they gave him his first major league start and he lost 10-4 to the Washington Nationals. He made his second, and last start with the Alleghenys on August 2nd, during the 2nd game of back-to-back doubleheaders and he lost 10-5 to the Indianapolis Hoosiers. He signed with the Cleveland Spiders the next year and went just 1-7 with his last loss coming on August 6th when he pitched the 2nd game of a doubleheader. The first game was started by a 23-year-old making his major league debut named Denton True “Cy” Young. Garfield’s only career victory came against Hall of Famer Mickey Welch, who won 307 games in his career.
Next up is a player who may sound a little familiar but you’re probably confusing him with his older brother. On this date in 1884, pitcher Harry Camnitz was born. His brother Howie won 109 games for the Pirates over nine seasons, that is exactly 109 more wins than Harry had with the Pirates. Harry pitched just one game for the Pirates but it came in 1909 so he was a member of the first World Series winner in franchise history. He made his major league debut on September 29th pitching in relief of Nick Maddox, who gave up 4 runs in the first five innings. Camnitz allowed a run in the 6th and the 8th as the Pirates went on to lose 6-1 that day. In the minors that year he had gone 27-9 for the McKeesport Tubers. He pitched two more major league games for the Cardinals in 1911 and he had a total of 99 wins in the minor leagues.
Batting third today is Jack Cassini, a spot in the batting order he wouldn’t have minded because it would’ve meant he actually got a major league AB. Born in 1919, Jack played 8 games in his major league career, all for the 1949 Pirates and all eight as a pinch runner. He was able to score three runs so his stat line isn’t completely empty. The odd thing is that he was actually a pretty good hitter in the minors, batting .304 career with over 5000 at-bats. He made his debut on April 19th and scored the only run of the game running for Dixie Walker in the top of the 9th inning. During a doubleheader on May 1st he ran for Danny Murtaugh in both games. He played a total of 14 seasons in the minors and managed 11 years in the minors as well.
Last but not least among the major leaguers is Marty McLeary, who pitched nine games for the Pirates between 2006-07. He was signed as a free agent in January 2006 and prior to joining the Pirates he had just 3 games of major league experience, all in relief for the 2004 San Diego Padres. He spent most of 2006 in AAA earning a late August callup and making his debut on August 29th in relief. He got his first major league win the next day when the Pirates scored three runs in the bottom of the 11th to come back from a 9-7 deficit over the Cubs. On the next to last day of the season McLeary got the start and shutout the Reds for 7 innings picking up his 2nd win in a 3-0 game.He spent all but two weeks in May of 2007 in the minors with the Pirates. He pitched 4 times in relief with the Pirates and allowed runs in all four games. He signed with the Blue Jays following the season and did not make in back to the majors. He did not play in 2011. Marty turns 37 today.
Finally for the extra bonus is a guy who just started celebrating his birthday on October 26th, at least as far as the Pirates knew. Back in 2008 the Pirates signed a 16-year-old out of the Dominican named Yoldi Sierra. He was a pretty good pitcher, especially for his age but there was a problem. Yoldi Sierra, born on April 26,1992 was actually Diomedes Mateo, born on this date in 1989. He served a suspension in 2009 and 2010 because of the age difference. Prior to being suspended he was able to pitch three games and he looked real good, striking out 10 batters in 8 innings with no runs allowed. He returned to playing during the 2011 season in the GCL, while also making brief stops in the Dominican Summer League to start the year, and the NYPL at the end of the year. He struggled for the most part but he basically went two years without playing any real games so that could’ve been expected. Mateo did not pitch in the system in 2012.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.