This Date in Pirates History: April 26

Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date and in 1995, baseball returned from the strike that wiped out the end of the 1994 season and post-season.

Francisco Cordova(1972) Pitcher for the Pirates from 1996 until 2000. He signed with the Pirates in January of 1996 after spending four seasons pitching in Mexico. Cordova pitched mostly out of the bullpen in 1996, making 59 total appearances(six starts) and posting a 4-7 4.09 record in 99 innings. He moved to the starting role in 1997 and had a memorable season that year. He went 11-8 3.63 in 29 starts and on July 12th, he threw nine hitless innings against the Astros. The game was tied after nine and Ricardo Rincon finished off the no-hitter in the tenth, as the Pirates won the game on a three run homer from Mark Smith. Cordova had his best season in 1998, going 13-14 3.31 in 33 starts, with 220.1 innings pitched and 157 strikeouts. He couldn’t match those numbers in either of his next two seasons and he saw his pitching time decrease as his ERA increased. Since spending all of 2001 in the minors for Pittsburgh, he has pitched back in Mexico, still active as of 2011. During his five years in Pittsburgh, he went 42-47 3.96 in 166 games, 112 as a starter.

Curt Wilkerson(1961) Infielder for the 1991 Pirates. He spent six seasons with the Rangers and another two with the Cubs before signing with the Pirates as a free agent on January 9,1991. The Cubs acquired him from Texas in a nine player deal that included Jamie Moyer, Rafael Palmeiro and Mitch Williams. In 1990, Curt played 77 games for the Cubs, with most of his games coming as a third baseman, but he also played four other positions. He hit .220 with 16 RBI’s in 196 AB’s. For the Pirates, Wilkerson was the backup at three infield positions(2B/SS/3B). He hit .188 with 18 RBI’s in 85 games. He homered twice that year, tying a career high. In 972 major league games he hit just eight home runs. The home run he hit on September 19th was a special one for Curt. With the score tied at 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth, he hit a walk-off grand slam against Lee Smith. In the post-season that year, he batted four times in the NLCS, going 0-4 with three strikeouts. Following the season, Wilkerson left via free agency. He played two years in Kansas City and another two seasons in the minors before ending his playing career. He has since managed for five seasons in the minors and Independent ball.

Amos Otis(1947) Outfielder for the 1984 Pirates. He was originally a fifth round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox in 1965. Amos was taken by the Mets in the 1966 minor league draft and made his major league debut with New York the next season. After spending all of 1968 in the minors, Otis played 48 games for the 1969 Mets, hitting .151 in 93 AB’s. New York traded him in December 1969, along with Bob Johnson(who was covered here yesterday) to the Royals for third baseman Joe Foy. The trade turned out to be a disaster for the Mets as Foy played one season in NY and Otis established himself as a star in Kansas City, spending 14 seasons in a Royals uniform. Amos played in five all-star games and won three Gold Glove awards in center field. He played the third most games in Royals history and ranks in the franchises top four in hits, runs, doubles, triples, home runs, walks,RBI’s and stolen bases. In 1983, Otis hit .261 with 41 RBI’s in 98 games for Kansas City. After the season he was granted free agency and signed with the Pirates on December 19, 1983. He was the Pirates starting left fielder in April, but saw his playing time decrease and twice spent time on the disabled list before being released on August 5th, ending his playing career. Otis played 40 games for Pittsburgh, hitting .165 with 10 RBI’s in 109 plate appearances.

Season Opener

On this date in 1995, the Pirates played their first game since August 11,1994 due to the strike that canceled the end of the season and the entire post-season. The April 26th opening date, was the latest the Pirates opened their season since 1893, when they opened on April 27th. The Pirates lost this game 6-2 at home against the Montreal Expos, with starter Jon Lieber allowing all six runs in his 4.2 innings of work. Jay Bell had the Pirates only extra base hit that day, a fourth inning solo home run. The Pirates lineup that day was as follows:

Jacob Brumfield,cf
Carlos Garcia,2b
Al Martin,lf
Jeff King,3b
Jay Bell,ss
Orlando Merced,rf
Rich Aude,1b
Mark Parent,c
Jon Lieber,p

For today’s article, we have an added contribution from one of the site’s readers. John Fredland provides details and links for a wild game from April 26,2000:

On this date in 2000…

Brian Giles’ ninth-inning single drove in John Vander Wal with the winning run in a 9-8 victory the Padres at Three Rivers Stadium.

Giles and Vander Wal’s heroics bailed out Pirate closer Mike Williams, who had squandered an 8-5 lead in the top on the inning by allowing a three-run, pinch-hit home run to Ryan Klesko. In fairness, Williams’ ninth-inning downfall was no solo performance: the two Padres scoring ahead of Klesko, Damian Jackson and Tony Gwynn, had reached base, respectively, on errors by the Bucco double-play combination of Pat Meares and Warren Morris.

The first eight innings of the contest were only marginally less eventful than the final frame. The Padres had rolled to an 3-0 first-inning lead off Buc starter Jimmy Anderson, with the big hit a two-run double by Ed Sprague, the Pirates’ representative at the previous summer’s All-Star Game. (Sprague wound up with three doubles that night, but sat for pinch-hitter Klesko in the ninth inning.)

The Pirates, however, seemed to take the game back with a series of home runs off Padre starter Woody Williams, starting with Jason Kendall’s two-run shot in the bottom of the first. After San Diego increased the margin to 4-2 on Bret Boone’s fourth-inning RBI single, the Bucs surged ahead with two mid-game homers by historically maligned Pirates: Chad Hermansen’s two-run shot in the fifth and Meares’ grand slam in the sixth. When the dust cleared, the Pirates had an 8-4 advantage to turn over to the back end of the bullpen, but relievers Brad Clontz (one run in the seventh) and Williams would ultimately require even more offense that night.

Here’s the box score and play-by-play

Here’s the Post-Gazette’s game story

  • I loved AO when he played in KC. He played very hard – that entire Royals team from the 70s  ran the bases with abandon – McRae, Brett, they all were threats to take an extra base. When the Bucs released Otis, he had fewer hits than Rick Rhoden.