On this date in 1970, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Kansas City Royals completed a six player trade with Bruce Dal Canton, Jerry May and Freddie Patek going to the Royals and Jim Campanis, Jackie Hernandez and Bob Johnson coming back to Pittsburgh. Campanis was a backup catcher who had trouble hitting major league pitching over five partial seasons, batting just .147 with nine RBIs in 107 games. Hernandez was a 30-year-old light hitting shortstop at the time of the trade, a career .209 hitter in 404 games. Johnson was a 27-year-old pitcher who just completed his first full season in the majors, going 8-13 3.07 in 40 games, 26 as a starter. May was a backup catcher for the Pirates, spending seven seasons in Pittsburgh, two as the regular starter behind the plate (1967-68). He was a .237 hitter in 417 games. Dal Canton was a 29-year-old pitcher who had a 20-8, 3.57 record in 113 games over four season with the Pirates. Patek played shortstop for the Pirates for three years hitting .244 with 41 stolen bases in 292 games.
Patek was by far the best player involved in the trade. He went on to make three all-star teams with the Royals and he stole 336 bases in nine seasons, including a league leading 53 in 1977. Dal Canton was used often as a starter with the Royals, going 26-27 3.76 over five seasons in Kansas City. May hit .223 in 135 games over three seasons with the Royals with a high of .252 in 1971. Johnson was the best return for the Pirates, going 17-16 3.34 in 112 games, 40 as a starter before he was traded away following the 1973 season. Hernandez also played three years with the Pirates, hitting .205 in 214 games. He stole 17 bases in 1969 with the Royals but did not steal one base with the Pirates. Campanis played just six games with the Pirates, all during the 1973 season
Born on this date in 1934 was Pirates infielder Andre Rogers, who played for them from 1965-67. Rogers had been in the majors for eight seasons when the Pirates acquired him from the Cubs for minor league infielder Roberto Pena. He was coming off a season in which he set career highs in homers with 12 and RBIs with 46 although he hit just.239 on the year. With the Pirates, Rogers was a backup all three seasons, playing a total of 158 games with just 288 at-bats. He played in the minors for the Pirates AAA team in 1968, then finished his playing career in Japan. For the Pirates, Rogers hit .257 including a career high .287 in 1965.
Also born on this date(1896) was catcher Mike Wilson, who played for the Pirates in 1921 right out of college. Wilson went directly to the majors playing just five games for the Pirates over a three month stretch, including both games of a September doubleheader. He didn’t start any games and went 0-for-4 at the plate during his only major league season. He played baseball for seven more seasons in the minors while also playing in the NFL for three seasons from 1922-24.
Johnny Welch (1906) pitcher for the 1936 Pirates. Welch came to Pittsburgh as a waiver pickup in June of 1936 after going 2-1, 5.51 in three starts and six relief appearances with the Boston Red Sox. For the Pirates, he made nine appearances, one as a starter, posting a 4.50 ERA and no record in 22 innings. That was the end of his big league career, which began back in 1926 for the Chicago Cubs. Welch finished his career going 35-41, 4.66 in 63 starts and 109 relief outings. He pitched one more year in the minors before retiring. Welch passed away shortly after his career ended, succumbing to a combination of tuberculosis and meningitis.
Born on this date in 1876 was Roscoe Miller, starting pitcher for the 1904 Pirates. Miller won 23 games as a rookie for the Detroit Tigers in 1901 but by the middle of the 1902 season he was just 6-12 and he decided to jump to the National League, joining the Giants. He went just 1-8 for New York. He went 2-5 for the Giants in 1903 and was released in late August allowing him to sign with the Pirates one month later. He pitched for Pittsburgh until the end of July, going 7-7 3.35 in 17 starts. He pitched five more seasons in the minors, winning as many as 28 games in 1906 for Des Moines of the Western League.
Finally, two brief mentions of players also born on this date. Turning 31 today is Wyatt Toregas, who caught for the 2011 Pirates. He went 0-for-4 in three games. He was signed as a free agent in January of 2011 and resigned with the Pirates in November. Also, born way back in 1875 was Mike Kelley, who never actually played for the Pirates but he was one of the 12 players coming to Pittsburgh in the 1899 Honus Wagner trade. Prior to the 1900 season he was sold to Indianapolis of the American League, a minor league at the time. He played just one season in the majors, 1899 for the Louisville Colonels where he batted .241 in 76 games. He played 12 seasons in the minors and managed for another 30 years.
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.
While the 6 player deal that occurred on Dec 2, 1970 clearly fell more in favor of the Rpyals, primarily because of Patek’s solid career in Kansas City, it was Jackie Hernandez’ excellent play at short late in 1971 and during the postseason that year that helped the Bucs win a World Series. Don’t sell Hernandez short just because of weak stats in total as a Pirate. Jackie was clutch in the field when the Buccos needed him most, October 1971.
Good stuff Marco. I encourage people to ask about these players listed here daily because I usually just give a brief summary in most cases unless the article is player specific. If I had wrote as much as I could about all the players mentioned above I’d be here forever each day but I’ll gladly answer any specific questions and I appreciate any comments, especially if people have certain memories of some of the older players