1922 – RHP Forrest “Woody” Main was born in Delano, California. He pitched off and on for the Bucs in 1948, 1950, and 1952-53 after being claimed from the Yankees. Main was in the Bronx Bomber’s system as a Kansas City Blue, and when KC manager Billy Meyer was named skipper of the 1948 Pirates, he selected Main in that winter’s Rule 5 draft. Woody went 4-13-3 with a 5.14 ERA as a Pirate.
Woody Main 1953 Topps
1926 – C Joe Garagiola was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and spent the middle of his MLB career (1951-53) with Pittsburgh. Joe hit .262 over that span, but is best known as an announcer, a profession he began after his playing days in 1955. Garagiola grew up just a few doors down from his childhood friend Yogi Berra and later said, “Not only was I not the best catcher in the Major Leagues, I wasn't even the best catcher on my street!”
1952 – GM Cam Bonifay was born in St. Petersburg. After a brief minor league career, Cam toiled as a Cardinal & then Reds birddog before becoming the Scouting Director for the Pirates in 1990. He was named assistant GM in 1991 and got the top job in 1993 when Ted Simmons was felled by a heart attack. He held the position until 2001 when owner Kevin McClatchy replaced him with Dave Littlefield. Despite criticism for signing underperforming players to big contracts, he was named The Sporting News’ Executive of the Year in 1997 for building the “Freak Show” team with a payroll of just $9M. Since his Pittsburgh departure, he was worked for Tampa Bay, St. Louis and Cincinnati. His son Josh was a minor league catcher in the Pirates system and is now a coach in the Houston Astros organization.
1965 – RHP Stanley Fansler was born in Elkins, West Virginia. The youngster was the Bucs second round draft pick (34th overall) in 1983. By 1985, he was pitching for the Pirates, going 0-3 but with a respectable 3.75 ERA in five September starts. He gave up less than a hit per inning but had some control issues. And therein lies a cautionary tale. Instead of Fansler making the team out of camp the following season, GM Sid Thrift, without consulting the Pirates pitching coach, sent him to the minors to change his delivery and sharpen his control. The result was that Stan’s money maker went haywire from the mechanical tweaking and he subsequently underwent a pair of arm surgeries. He never pitched above Class AA afterward and retired to become a pitching coach in 1993 before giving up the pro game entirely four years later when he married.
Stan Fansler 1985 TCMA
1969 – The Bucs sealed one of their top Latino deals when Pirates scout C. Herbert Raybourn inked 18 year old 2B Rennie Stennett of Colon, Panama, to a contract. Rennie debuted as a 20 year old and played nine seasons (1971-79) with Pittsburgh, hitting .278. His Pirates red letter day was when he went 7-for-7 against the Cubs, a record-setter, in 1975. His career was derailed in 1977 when he broke his leg sliding, and 1981 was his last season in the show.
1981 – C Chris Snyder was born in Houston. He came to the Pirates at the 2010 deadline from Arizona as part of the DJ Carrasco deal. The Pirates plan was for him to become Ryan Doumit’s veteran caddy, but in 2011 an awkward slide caused him to miss most of the year with a bad back. His balky vertebra helped trigger the season of the catcher – the Pirates were forced to use eight players at the position after Snyder and Dewey were both injured. In his time with the Bucs, he hit .214 and the Pirates unsurprisingly declined his 2012 option. After a couple of seasons in a backup role for Houston and the O’s, Snyder retired in 2014.
1993 – The Bucs signed RHP John Ericks to a FA deal. After a couple of seasons on the farm, the 6’7’ Ericks worked 57 games for the Bucs between 1995-97, going 8-14-14 with a 4.78 ERA. The Pirates liked the Fighting Illini as a starter, but he had two shoulder surgeries and was switched to the pen. He was never 100% afterward and was out of baseball after working 10 games in 1997.