First Pitch: Pittsburgh Baseball Network Updates

It’s been a bit since I’ve posted an official update on Pittsburgh Baseball Network. That feels like all I’ve been focused on behind the scenes the last few weeks, and the new site is coming closer to being finished.

My original goal with the site was to release it in phases, with No Quarter coming out first, followed by the next few sites. I then found it would work better if all of the sites are released at the same time, cutting down on potential site issues.

That last part largely became my goal around mid-December. Rather than trying to speed the site up, I slowed things down to do it right. I treated it like I was building a brand new site, rather than taking this current site that has been around for 11 years and building onto it.

I think this approach is going to make things much better on your end. That’s not only from a navigation standpoint, but also dealing with reducing errors or glitches with member accounts. The only downside is that I would have liked PBN to be launched by the start of Spring Training, especially with so many new things going on inside the organization.

Despite this, I decided to slow down. I found myself in “No Man’s Land”, focusing on coverage for the short-term, while also trying to build the best site for the long-term. The latter is more important. I built the first version of this website in 2009, and part of that site has been transferred from one hosting company to the next since that point.

I’m not building PBN for the next year or two. I’m building it for the next decade and hopefully longer. Thus, I wanted my sole focus on getting it right, rather than getting it posted fast.

The good news? I’m about finished with the design of the final site I need to build, which is the last step of building the network. From there I have a few things to do to connect the network of sites, along with some testing to make sure everything is working. And then you’ll wake up one day to the news of a new site. I personally can’t wait.

The comments below are open for general discussion, as usual. However, I’ll also check back throughout the day for PBN-related questions and future ideas.





By John Dreker

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date.

Chris Stewart, catcher for the 2014-17 Pirates. He played a total of 12 seasons in the majors, playing for eight different teams. Stewart spent more time in Pittsburgh than anywhere else. He was acquired from the New York Yankees for minor league pitcher Kyle Haynes in December of 2013. In 192 games for the Pirates, Stewart batted .250 with one home run and 36 RBIs. Between the Yankees and Pirates, he was on four straight playoff teams, though his only postseason appearance during that time consisted of two innings on defense and no plate appearances. He was a career .230 hitter in 457 games.

Joe “Home Run” Marshall, shortstop for the 1903 Pirates. He made his Major League debut with the 1903 Pirates as a September call-up. He had played in pro ball as early as 1897 and had spent the 1903 season playing in the Pacific National League for a team aptly named the San Francisco Pirates. That year for San Francisco his teammates hit a combined 22 homers, and that was a group of players that included nine other future or former MLB players. Marshall hit 25 home runs on his own that year, earning a look with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In ten games, he hit .261 with two triples. He played three games at shortstop, a position manned most of the year by Honus Wagner.

Marshall’s home run feats had started two years prior to his big 1903 season. In 1901 he hit 15 homers as the player/manager for Spokane of the Pacific Northwest League. After his stint with the Pirates, Joe returned to the minors in 1904 and hit ten homers in 83 games for the Boise Fruit Pickers, the only player with double figures in homers for the team. The following season he homered seven times for the Vancouver Veterans of the Northwestern League, a team that had just 16 total homers on the year. He spent the 1906 season with the St Louis Cardinals where he hit .158 over 33 games with no homers. It was his last season in the majors, finishing his big league career without hitting a home run in 125 plate appearances. Marshall played in the minors until 1913. During the 1911 season, playing for the Butte Miners of the Union Association, he led the team with 37 doubles, 17 triples and 12 homers. No one else on that team hit more than five homers that season.

Miguel Batista, pitcher for the 1992 Pirates. He signed as an amateur free agent in 1988 with the Montreal Expos and was taken by the Pirates in the December 1991 Rule 5 draft. During the 1991 season, Miguel went 11-5, 4.04 in 23 starts in A-ball. For the Pirates he made his debut in relief of Doug Drabek during a 7-4 loss to the Phillies in the fifth game of the season. Batista pitched the last two innings of the game, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks. Just 12 days later, without making another appearance, the Pirates sent him back to the Expos.His next appearance in the majors was with the 1996 Florida Marlins and he lasted until 2012. He pitched for 11 teams over 18 big league seasons. Batista had a career record of 102-115, 4.48 in 658 games, 248 as a starter.

Chris Zachary, pitcher for the 1973 Pirates. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the expansion Houston Colt .45’s and was in the majors as a teenager in 1963 before he ever played a minor league game. He pitched 22 games that rookie season, seven as a starter, going 2-2, 4.89 in 57 innings. The next four seasons were split between Triple-A and the majors with Houston. After the 1968 season, the expansion Kansas City Royals purchased his contract, six months before their first game in franchise history. Zachary spent most of the next two years in the minors, during which time the Royals traded him to the Cardinals on July 1, 1970. He spent 1971 in the majors with the Cardinals, then went 1-1, 1.41 in 25 games for the Tigers in 1972. Just prior to the start of the 1973 season, the Pirates traded catcher Charlie Sands to the Tigers in exchange for Zachary. He would spend most of the season in Triple-A, going 14-7, 3.18 in 25 starts. He pitched six September games for the Pirates, all in relief, posting a 3.00 ERA in 12 innings. After the season the Pirates traded him to the Phillies in exchange for Pete Koegel, a minor league catcher with 62 games of major league experience. Zachary spent the 1974 season at Triple-A, before he retired as a player.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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