Nine former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, six of them were pitchers. Earlier this morning I covered Vic Willis, a four time 20 game winner for the Pirates, who went on to gain election to the Hall of Fame. The rest of today’s group are here in order of youngest first.
D.J. Carrasco(1977) Pitcher for the Pirates in 2010. He was originally drafted by the Orioles in 1997, released in 1998 and signed with the Indians. After one season in their system he was released again, signing with the Pirates. Carrasco spent four seasons in the Pirates system before they lost him in the 2002 rule 5 draft to the Royals. He pitched three seasons for the Royals, going 14-15 4.81 in 101 games. D.J. spent 2006 in the minors with Kansas City, 2007 at AAA for Arizona and began 2008 at AAA for the White Sox. He was called to the majors in July and went 1-0 3.96 in 31 relief appearances. In 2009, he went 5-1 3.76 in 49 outings and 93.1 innings. The White Sox let him go following the season and he signed with the Pirates on January 20,2010. In Pittsburgh, he went 2-2 3.88 in 45 games prior to being traded to the Diamondbacks along with Bobby Crosby and Ryan Church for Chris Snyder and Pedro Ciriaco, at the 2010 trading deadline. Carrasco became a free agent after the 2010 season and signed with the Mets for two years, struggling in 2011 with a 6.02 ERA in 45 appearances.
Jeff Wallace(1976) Pitcher for the 1997 and 1999-2000 Pirates. The Pirates acquired him in the six player deal with the Royals on December 13,1996 that saw Jay Bell and Jeff King go to Kansas City. Wallace was drafted by the Royals one year earlier in the 25th round. His first season with the Pirates, he pitched great at Lynchburg, earning a quick promotion to AA where he had a 5.40 ERA in 43.1 innings of relief work. The Pirates called him up to the majors in late-August 1997 despite the high ERA at AA and lack of experience. The move paid off initially, in 11 outings he pitched 12 innings, striking out 14 and allowing just one earned run. Wallace had to have elbow surgery during Spring Training of 1998, missing the entire season. He returned healthy in 1999 to go 1-0 3.69 in 41 games, pitching a total of 39 innings. The 2000 season however, was a tough one. He had a 7.07 ERA out of the bullpen and the Pirates put him on waivers following the season, where he was picked up by the Reds. Twenty days later, he was released, eventually signing with the Devil Rays for 2001, his last season in the majors. Jeff pitched 90 games with the Pirates without picking up a loss, the highest total of games pitched without a loss in team history.
Tommie Sisk(1942) Pitcher for the Pirates from 1962 until 1968. Pittsburgh signed him as an amateur free agent before the start of the 1960 season. He pitched well for Asheville of the South Atlantic League in 1961, going 12-3 3.81 in 144 innings, earning a late promotion to AAA Columbus. Sisk started 1962 in AAA, getting his first shot at the majors in July of that season as a spot starter during a doubleheader. After two relief appearances, he returned to AAA to finish the minor league season, rejoining the Pirates in September. In the Pirates bullpen for 1963, Sisk made 57 appearances, pitching a total of 108 innings. He had a 1-3 record with a 2.92 ERA. He had troubles in 1964, earning a brief demotion back to AAA but was back to form the following season, when he began to see more time on the mound. In 1966, Tommie made 25 starts, going 10-5 4.14 in 150 innings.
The 1967 was the best of his career, he threw a career high 207.2 innings, posting a 13-13 3.34 record. The next season his playing time started to diminish despite pitching decent through mid-June with a 4-2 3.75 record. In his last 24 appearances of the 1968 season, 21 of them came during Pirates losses. One of the wins during that stretch was a start in which he gave up just one run through 8.1 innings. The Pirates traded Sisk to the Padres in a four player deal on March 28, 1969. He pitched one season in San Diego, was traded to the White Sox for 1970 and they in turn traded him to the Indians in June of that season. The Indians sent him to the minors, where he finished his career following the 1971 season. With the Pirates, Tommie had a 37-35 3.69 record in 246 games, 85 as a starter.
Woodie Fryman(1940) Pitcher for the 1966-67 Pirates. The Pirates signed him as an amateur free agent in July of 1965. He had pitched semi-pro ball before signing his first pro contract at the age of twenty-five. It took just 64 innings in the minors to convince Pittsburgh he was ready for the majors at the start of the 1966 season. Woodie would pitch 36 games that rookie season, 28 as a starter, getting in a total of 181.2 innings. He had a 12-9 record and a 3.81 ERA for the third place Pirates. In 1967, Fryman initially struggled while also missing a month of the season. He turned things around with a complete game win over the Astros in late July, his first victory of the season. He finished with a 3-8 4.05 record in 118.1 innings. The Pirates traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies on December 15,1967 along with three other players in exchange for Jim Bunning. Fryman ended up pitching another 16 years in the majors, finishing his career in 1983 with a 141-155 record in 625 games, 322 as a starter. He began closing games late in his career, picking up 58 saves.
Joe Vitelli(1908) Pitcher for the Pirates in 1944-45. He pitched seven seasons in the minors from 1932 until 1939, missing the 1936 season. Joe was with the Pirates organization playing in Albany in 1940 but did not play in 1941. He served in the army in 1942-43, returning to the Pirates in 1944 as a coach, pitching batting practice. With the majors decimated by the losses of players serving in the military during the war at that time, the Pirates actually used Vitelli in four games during the 1944 season despite the fact he hadn’t pitched in five years and was 36 years old. All four of his appearances came during blowout losses in relief, getting in a total of seven innings. He was with the Pirates in the same role in 1945, but they used him just once as a pinch runner on May 30th. He asked for, and received his release two weeks later, ending his baseball career.
Bill Clancy(1879) First baseman for the 1905 Pirates. The Pirates took Clancy in the September 1904 rule 5 draft from Montreal of the Eastern League. It was said the Clancy played baseball just for the money and he would go wherever he was paid best, even if that meant staying in the minor leagues. He got a reputation from some, who said he couldn’t handle the pressure of major league baseball and that he would rather play in the minors, where he was a star player. For the Pirates in 1905, Clancy hit .229 with 34 RBI’s in 56 games, drawing just four walks, leaving him with a .246 on base percentage. On July 22,1905, the Pirates sold his contract to Rochester of the Eastern League, ending his big league career after only three months. Bill would spend the next seven seasons in the minors despite having numerous offers to play in the majors, all of which he turned down.
Also born on this date, 1961 outfielder Walt Moryn and 1993-94 catcher Jerry Goff. Moryn finished his eight-year career with the Pirates in 1961, coming over from the Cardinals on June 15th that year in a cash deal. He hit .200 with three homers in 40 games, though he was mostly coming off the bench, making just ten starts. He played right field five times and left field five times. Moryn played pro ball for a total of 14 seasons, starting his career in 1948 in the Dodgers system. Goff played a total of six seasons in the majors, two each with the Expos, Pirates and Astros. He was never a regular, playing a career high 52 games with the Expos in 1990. He hit .297 with two homers in 14 games with the 1993 Pirates, then batted .080 in eight games the following season. The Pirates signed Goff as a free agent prior to the 1993 season and let him go via free agency following the 1994 season.
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.