Trade History Between Pirates and Yankees

It seems like recently the New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates have been trade partners often but that wasn’t always the case between the two teams. During the early part of the Yankees existence, the franchise started as the Baltimore Orioles in 1901, the two teams almost never made a transaction of any kind. The first deal between the two teams actually involved a future Hall of Fame pitcher, as the Pirates sold 24 year old pitcher Dazzy Vance to the Yankees in April of 1915, just days after he made his major league debut, his only game for the Pirates. The deal wasn’t so bad in hindsight because Vance didn’t win his first game in the majors until 1922.

After a couple more transactions involving the sale of player’s contracts, the two teams finally made their first trade 45 years after the Yankees franchise played their first game. On October 24,1946 the Pirates traded pitcher Cookie Cuccurullo to the Yankees for pitcher Tiny Bonham. The deal was a one-sided win for the Pirates as Bonham gave them three seasons while Cookie crumbled in the minors.

There would be three more deals between the two teams involving player sales in 1947 alone, then one each in 1949 and 1950 before the teams would go 15 years without making another transaction together. On December 10,1965 the Pirates traded long-time pitcher Bob Friend to the Yankees for reliever Pete Mikkelsen. Friend pitched just 12 games for the Yankees while Pete had a decent year and a half in a Pirates uniform before they put him on waivers.

Another five years later the two teams hooked up for a huge deal on paper but one that turned out to be nothing more than a footnote in each team’s history. Seven players were exchanged between the two teams but only one made the majors. Catcher Charlie Sands played 29 games for the Pirates over two seasons, starting just two games. An early season trade in 1973 saw the teams exchange two minor leagues with major league experience, Tony Solaita to the Pirates and George Kopacz to the Yankees. Neither played put on the uniform of their new team in the majors.

The next trade is one most older Pirates fans would like to forget. In December 1975 the Pirates sent Dock Ellis, Ken Brett and Willie Randolph to the Yankees for pitcher Doc Medich. Doc went 8-11 in his only season in Pittsburgh before he was traded to the A’s while Randolph alone made this a huge win for the Yankees.

Another seven years went before the next deal when the Pirates got Lee Mazzilli from the Yankees for four minor leaguers. ¬†Mazzilli played 3 1/2 years for the Pirates while none of the minor leaguers played for New York. One of them however did have a decent career starting a few years later with the Expos, reliever Tim Burke. December seemed to be a popular time for trades between the two teams with a stretch of four out of six deals happening in the last month of the year. The next of which occurred in 1984 when the Pirates got Tim Foli and Steve Kemp for Al Pulido, Tim Foli and Jay Buhner. The trade didn’t help either team much but Buhner would have a strong career once he got to Seattle.

On November 26,1986 the Pirates gave up Pat Clements, Cecilio Guante and Rick Rhoden in exchange for Logan Easley, Brian Fisher and Doug Drabek. The deal swung heavily in the Pirates favor due to Drabek who won 92 games over his six seasons in Pittsburgh and was named the 1990 NL Cy Young award winner.

Two years later the teams exchanged Hipolito Pena and Orestes Destrade, a deal I really liked at the time but turned out to be nothing. Destrade was blocked by Don Mattingly in New York but in Pittsburgh he hit just .149 in 36 games. A year later the Pirates won another deal by getting Don Slaught for pitcher Jeff Robinson and minor leaguer Willie Smith. Slaught hit .305 in six seasons in Pittsburgh and played on three pennant winners.

The teams would go seven years without another deal, ended by the late August 1996 trade of Charlie Hayes to the Yankees for minor league pitcher Chris Corn, who never made the majors. In 2000-01 the Yankees picked up one middle infielder each year from the Pirates, Luis Sojo and Enrique Wilson. The Pirates got a minor league pitcher back in each deal, Chris Spurling who never made the majors with the Bucs and Damaso Marte who played four years in Pittsburgh and would be a key piece in a later deal between the two teams.

The more recent trades most people know about so I will just list them:

2006: Craig Wilson to the Yankees for Shawn Chacon

2008: Marte and Xavier Nady to the Yankees for Jose Tabata, Ross Ohlendorf, Daniel McCutchen and Jeff Karstens

2009: Eric Hacker to the Pirates for Romulo Sanchez

2009: Eric Hinske to the Yankees for Eric Fryer and Casey Erickson

Now in 2012 with the AJ Burnett deal the two teams have hooked up for their 7th trade since 2000 after just 11 trades the first 99 years the teams co-existed.


  • I believe Tiny Bonham would be a good extended story.¬† I think he died from appendicitis John.

    • He was an interesting story, big guy despite the nickname and he pitched through back pain most of his career. As the story goes, he was going to retire following the 1949 season but before the year could end he was too weak to pitch and was thought to have appendicitis, when he went in to get it checked out they found out he had intestinal cancer and he died the next week. His obit said he died from complications from the surgery while his death certificate said cardiovascular failure.
      The Pirates manager at the time, Billy Meyer, was his minor league manager for three seasons while with the Yankees.