Pittsburgh Pirates Trade History: Houston Astros Edition

With the trade of three prospects for Wandy Rodriguez, I thought we would take a look back at the trade history between the Houston Astros and Pittsburgh Pirates. The Astros came to be in 1962, born as the Houston Colt .45’s before changing their name to the Astros for the 1965 season. The two teams have made six trades of note in the past. Thanks to the daily “This Date” column, many of the trades and players involved have been covered on this site recently, so I will include all the relevant links. Starting with the earliest trade first:

April 4,1963:  The Pirates send outfielder Howie Goss and cash to the Astros for outfielder Manny Mota. A one-sided deal in favor of the Pirates, Mota hit .297 over six seasons in Pittsburgh, while the Astros got one year out of Goss, who hit just .209

October 31,1973: The Pirates send catcher Milt May to the Astros for pitcher Jerry Reuss. May had two decent seasons for the Astros before they sent him in a trade to the Tigers. Reuss went 61-46 in five seasons for the Pirates before he was dealt to the Dodgers even up for Rick Rhoden, extending the victory for the Pirates in this deal into 1992, due to the fact Rhoden was part of the deal with the Yankees that brought Doug Drabek back to Pittsburgh. Both Reuss and May returned to Pittsburgh to end their careers.

December 12,1975: The Pirates trade infielder Art Howe to the Astros for veteran infielder Tommy Helms. This one was a win for the Astros, who got six full seasons out of Howe, while the Pirates got just 77 games out of Helm and very little production.

August 31,1981: The Pirates send Phil Garner to Houston in exchange for pitcher Randy Niemann, second baseman Johnny Ray and a minor leaguer named Houston, that being Kevin Houston, who never made the majors. Garner was a good player for the Pirates and he had some solid seasons in Houston, playing five full and two partial years there. On the other hand, Johnny Ray had slightly better production with his new team over the same time, at a fraction of the cost during the first few seasons after the deal. The Pirates got 28 games out of Niemann before they dealt him to the White Sox to reacquire Miguel Dilone.

August 18,1989: Pirates trade outfielder Glenn Wilson to the Astros for outfielder Billy Hatcher. The Pirates held on to Hatcher for just 27 games before dealing him to the Reds for pitcher Mike Roesler and infielder Jeff Richardson. Wilson hit .238 with 12 homers and 70 RBI’s in 146 games for the Astros. He returned to the Pirates in 1993 to finish out his major league career.

July 23,1996: The Pirates deal veteran pitcher Danny Darwin to the Astros for minor league pitcher Rich Loiselle. Darwin had a 5.95 ERA in 42.1 innings during the rest of the season, his only time spent in Houston. He was 40 years old at the time. The Pirates got six seasons, 49 saves and 202 appearances out of Loiselle.

July 31,2001:  The Pirates send closer Mike Williams to the Astros for a young starting pitcher named Tony McKnight. The Pirates got just 12 starts out of McKnight, but they were able to resign Williams as a free agent in the off-season and the following year he set the franchise record with 46 saves in a season.




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John Lease

Tony McKnight! Boy, was he bad. I loved Johnny Ray too, a very good trade at the time. Who did the Pirates send to the Giants to re-acquire Milt?


Steve Nicosia, “play me or trade me”…Didn’t like losing his job to Pena

John Lease

Ah yes. Well, at least Nic got to play some, but his career was over probably quicker than if he would have stayed and been a backup.


I was a big fan of Johnny Ray back when he played for the Bucs. He was my favorite player on those terrible teams of the mid-80s. Stargell had nice things to say in his biography about their brief time as teammates. I always thought he was underrated. The NL at that time seemingly had a solid to great 2B on every team – Sandberg, Herr, Samuel, Backman, Oester, Doran, Sax, Law, Thompson, Hubbard, Flannery. All those guys had long careers.

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