On this date in 1979, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded shortstop Frank Taveras to the New York Mets for shortstop Tim Foli and minor league pitcher Greg Field. Foli was 28 years old and coming off a season in which he hit .257 with 27 RBI’s in 113 games for the Mets. As a 21 year old in AAA in 1978, Field went 6-6 4.94 in 21 starts. He was a fourth round draft pick of the Twins in the 1975 draft. Taveras was originally signed by the Pirates in 1968 and had played parts of eight seasons in the majors with the team. The 29 year old hit .278 for the Pirates in 1978, stealing 46 bases, but he was also caught a league leading 25 times. In 1977 he stole 70 bases to lead the NL.
After the trade, Taveras played three seasons with the Mets, hitting .263 in 378 games, with 184 runs scored and 90 stolen bases. Due to the timing of the trade, Taveras was able to play 164 games in 1979, a total that has been topped once(Maury Wills 1962) and tied just four times in major league history. Foli also played three seasons with his new team, getting into a total of 346 games for the Pirates. He hit .291 and drove in 65 runs during the Pirates World Series winning season in 1979. Foli led all NL shortstops in fielding percentage in 1980. He also played for the Pirates in 1985, coming over with Steve Kemp from the Yankees for Dale Berra and Jay Buhner in a trade that was covered here. Field never made the majors, retiring in 1984 after ten seasons in the minors.
Former Pirates players born on this date include:
Zach Duke(1983) Pitcher for the Pirates from 2005 until 2010. He was drafted by the Pirates in the 20th round of the 2001 amateur draft. Zach had a 15-6 1.46 record in 26 starts, split between A+/AA during the 2004 season. In 2005, he made 16 starts for AAA Indianapolis, going 12-3 2.92 in 108 innings. The Pirates called him up that July and watched him go 8-2 1.81 in 14 starts. Duke couldn’t replicate his strong start during his sophomore season. He went 10-15 4.47 in 34 starts and led the NL in hits allowed. His 2007 season was even worse and he was slowed by an injury. Zach went 3-8 5.53 in 107.1 innings that season. The 2008 season was another rough one as he went 5-14 4.82 in 31 starts. In 2009, Duke got off to a good start earning an all-star berth. After the AS break however, he went 3-8 5.17 and ended up leading the NL in losses. He returned for one final season in 2010, posting a career high 5.72 ERA, before the Pirates dealt him in the off-season to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Duke was signed by the Astros this past off-season as a free agent, but was released before the season started. He is currently pitching in AAA for the Nationals.
Joe Beimel(1977) Relief pitcher for the Pirates from 2001 until 2003 and then again in 2011. He was an 18th round draft pick of the Pirates in 1998. Joe was a starter during the three seasons he spent in the minors, prior to his major league debut. For the 2001 Pirates he made 15 starts and 27 relief appearances, going 7-11 5.23 in 115.1 innings. In 2002, he made eight more starts and 45 relief appearances. Since that season, he has pitched 472 more games without making a single start. Beimel made 69 appearances during the 2003 season, posting a 5.05 ERA. He was released during the following Spring Training and he signed with the Twins. Joe also pitched for the Devil Rays, Dodgers, Nationals and Rockies, before resigning with the Pirates on January 28,2011. For Pittsburgh that season, Beimel went 1-1 5.33 in 35 games, pitching a total of 25.1 innings. The Pirates released him at the end of August, ending his season. He signed with the Rangers this Spring, but was released prior to the start of the season and has yet to sign anywhere else. Joe has a 24-32 4.21 record in 567 games during his 11 season career.
Dennys Reyes(1977) Relief pitcher for the 2003 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Dodgers as an amateur free agent in 1993, pitching 25 games for them before being traded to the Reds in July of 1998. He played for Cincinnati until the end of 2001, then was traded to the Rockies. Colorado dealt him at the 2002 trade deadline to the Rangers. Reyes became a free agent that off-season after going 4-4 5.33 in 58 games. He signed with the Pirates on February 7, 2003. The big lefty allowed just one earned run for the Pirates through the end of April before things went south quickly. In four May outings, totaling three innings, Dennys allowed 11 runs, earning his way out of Pittsburgh. He signed with the Diamondbacks a month later and pitched just as poorly for them during a brief September trial. Reyes has pitched for five different teams since, and was just recently released by another, the Baltimore Orioles, who had signed him as a free agent this January. In 2006 for the Twins, Dennys had a career year, going 5-0 0.89 in 66 appearances. He has a career record of 35-35 4.21 in 673 games.
R.J. Reynolds(1959) Outfielder for the Pirates from 1985 until 1990. He was originally drafted by the Dodgers in the second round of the 1980 January draft. Reynolds hit .259 in 170 games for the Dodgers, spread out over the 1983-85 seasons. In August of 1985, the Pirates acquired him as the player to be named later, in the deal that sent Bill Madlock to Los Angeles. R.J. played 31 games for the Pirates that September, hitting .308 with 17 RBI’s and 12 stolen bases. In 1986, he played all three outfield positions, getting the majority of his time in left field. He hit .269 with 30 doubles, 48 RBI’s and 63 runs scored in 118 games that year. The 1987 Pirates were just under .500 as a team, but when Reynolds started, they had a 44-35 record. He played a career high 130 games in 1988, although 62 of those games he came off the bench. He spent most of his time in right field that year, hitting .248 with 51 RBI’s in 323 AB’s. R.J. hit .270 in 125 games in 1989, then followed it up with a .288 average during the 1990 season. He was never much of a power hitter, topping out at nine in 1986, but in 1990 he failed to hit one homer all year. After being released by the Pirates following the 1990 season, Reynolds played three seasons in Japan, one season in Mexico and he also managed one season in the minors. For the Pirates, he was a .269 hitter, with 234 RBI’s in 616 games.
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.