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Monday, November 28, 2022

This Date in Pirates History: January 21

On this date in 1933 the Pittsburgh Pirates signed pitcher Waite Hoyt, two months after he was released by the New York Giants. He was 33 at the time and had a career record of 195-141, 3.71 in 15 seasons, ten of them with the Yankees. Hoyt would go on to pitch four full seasons with the Pirates, posting an ERA under 3.00 in three of them. His best season was 1934 when he went 15-6, 2.93 in 40 games, 17 as a starter. In 190.2 innings that year he struck out a career high 105 batters. In 1937 he had a 1-2 4.50 record in 11 games before Pittsburgh sold him to the Brooklyn Dodgers on June 21st. Hoyt had a 35-31, 3.08 record in 156 games for the Pirates and overall in his career he was 237-182, 3.59 in 21 seasons. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1969 by the Veterans Committee despite never receiving more than 19.2% of the votes from the writers. Hoyt’s career record was helped greatly by pitching most of it with the Ruth/Gehrig era Yankees, where he went 157-98, as opposed to the 80-84 he went when pitching for other teams.

Hoyt pitched in seven different World Series

Players born on this date include:

Chase d’Arnaud (1987) infielder for the 2011-12 Pirates. He was a fourth round draft pick of the Pirates in 2008, three years after being taken by the Dodgers in the 44th round but not signing. In 2009, d’Arnaud hit .293 with 60 walks and 31 stolen bases, split between low-A and high-A ball. He hit .247 with 91 runs scored for Altoona in 2010 then hit .264 with 20 steals for Indianapolis in 2011 before being called up by the Pirates in late June. He would hit .217 with 12 steals in 48 games for the Pirates, splitting his time between shortstop(29 games) and third base(12 games). In 2012, d’Arnaud played eight games for the Pirates, going 0-for-6 at the plate, with two runs scored and an RBI. He spent all of 2013 in the minors. In 2014, he returned to the Pirates for the playoff run and played eight games without a plate appearance. He pinch-ran seven times and finished a game on defense at shortstop. After the season, d’Arnaud signed as a free agent with the Phillies.

Wil Ledezma (1981) relief pitcher for the 2010 Pirates. He was a seven-year major league veteran when he signed with the Pirates as a free agent in November 2009. He had a combined record of  15-22, 5.07 in 160 games, 40 as a starter, prior to signing with Pittsburgh. Ledezma pitched most of the year in AAA where he posted a 0.94 ERA in 35 relief appearances. The Pirates called him up in late July and he went 0-3, 6.86 in 27 games, striking out 22 batters in 19.2 innings. He was selected off waiver by the Toronto Blue Jays in early 2011 and in December he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but was cut before ever pitching in the majors. Ledezma pitched in Japan in 2013. Assuming it’s over, he finished his big league career with 99 straight appearances without a win, which immediately followed  three straight relief appearance victories while with the Detroit Tigers from April 11-17, 2007.

Jeff McCurry (1970) pitcher for the 1995 and 1998 Pirates. He was a 14th round draft pick of the Pirates in 1990, spending his first four seasons in the minors working his way up to AAA to start 1995. After just three games in the minors he joined the Pirates and remained on the major league roster the entire season. He went 1-4, 5.02 in 55 relief appearances, pitching 61 total innings. The Pirates put him on waivers following the season where he was taken by the Detroit Tigers. He pitched just two games for the Tigers, allowing nine runs in one three inning relief appearance. He was taken by the Rockies in the 1996 minor league draft and after one season in Colorado he was granted free agency. The Pirates signed him on December 18, 1997 and in 16 relief appearances during the 1998 season he went 1-3, 6.52 in 19.1 innings. He signed with the Astros for the 1999 season, his last in the majors. At the time of McCurry’s major league debut, he was just the sixth player in major league history that was born in Japan.

Danny O’Connell (1927) infielder for the 1950 and 1953 Pirates. He played four years in the minors for Brooklyn before the Pirates acquired him on October 1,1949 in exchange for minor league second baseman Jack Cassini and $50,000. As a rookie in 1950 he hit .292 with 32 RBIs and 39 runs scored in 79 games, earning himself a third place finish in the NL rookie of the year voting. He then spent the next two years in the Army during the Korean War before returning to the Pirates for the 1953 seasons. O’Connell played 149 games that year, hitting .294 with 55 RBIs and 88 runs scored. On December 26,1953 the Pirates traded him to the Milwaukee Brewers for six players and $100,000 in a trade that was covered here. O’Connell played another eight seasons in the majors, finishing his career with a .260 average in 1143 games.

Fern Bell (1913) outfielder for the 1939-40 Pirates. Bell spent eight seasons in the minors, playing for nine different teams, before he got his first shot in the majors with the 1939 Pirates. He hit .321 with 37 doubles, 17 triples and 14 homers in 173 games in 1938 to earn an opening day spot for the Pirates. That 1939 season, Bell hit .286 with 42 walks and 44 runs scored in 83 games playing all three outfield positions. He began the 1940 season with the Pirates but just three weeks in, after playing only six games in which he went 0-for-3 with a walk at the plate, he was sold to the Philadelphia Athletics. Bell never played in the majors with them, instead spending the next four seasons in the minors before he joined the Navy during WWII, thus ending his baseball career.

Jimmy Zinn (1895) pitcher for the 1920-22 Pirates. Zinn was a very good minor league pitcher who could never translate that success to the majors. He began his pro career in 1915 pitching for Fort Worth, moving to Waco of the Texas League the next season where he was picked up by the Athletics in 1919. He pitched five games that year in the majors, going 1-3, 6.31 in 25.2 innings. He returned to the Texas League and went 18-10, 2.20 in 34 games in 1920, earning a late season look with the Pirates. In six games, Zinn went 1-1, 3.48, earning a spot on the 1921 Pirates opening day roster. He made 32 appearances that year, nine as a starter and he went 7-6, 3.68 in 127.1 innings. Zinn had a 1.68 ERA in five early season relief appearances in 1922 before the Pirates released him to Kansas City of the American Association. He spent seven seasons there, winning at least 14 games each year. He would get one more major league chance, in 1929 with the Cleveland Indians. He went 4-6, 5.04 in 18 games there, ending his major league career but his baseball career was far from over. Zinn pitched another nine seasons in the minors, retiring after the 1939 season with 295 minor league wins to go along with his 13 major league wins. He also managed eight seasons in the minors.

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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.


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