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12/14 From 1960: Overbay, Cordero, Kingery Sign; Lieber, Haddix Dealt; Sauerbeck Drafted; Dapper Roberto; Xmas ElRoy; Money Matters; HBD Fraze & Jeff

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  • 1961 – RHP Jeff Robinson was born in Ventura, California. He finished out his six year career with a few weeks as a Bucco after being claimed off waivers from Texas in June of 1992, getting seven starts (eight outings) with a 3-1/4.46 line and then being waived again in July. Robinson went on to become the pitching director, coach and instructor with the Natural Baseball Academy in Kansas. He just missed the three-year Pirates stint of fellow Golden State hurler Jeff Robinson (1987-89), and the two were often differentiated by their middle initial – Jeff M was the starter and Jeff D the reliever. 
  • 1961 - Baseball players may be rolling in long green now, but for many decades, even the stars had a winter job. ElRoy Face earned a Post-Gazette sports column mention on this date by selling Christmas trees grown on his Indiana farm at the corner of Bouquet Street and Forbes Avenue in Oakland, a block from the ballyard. He was a carpenter during the off season and it became his full-time job after he retired from baseball. 
ElRoy — 1959 Post Gazette photo
  • 1963 - The Pirates sent P Harvey Haddix to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for SS Dick Yencha and cash. The Kitten, then 38 and a reliever, spent the last two years of his career in Baltimore, going 8-7-11/2.63 before retiring because of arm problems, while Yencha never made it past AA. Haddix later followed his rookie mentor Harry Brecheen (as St. Louis teammates, veteran Brecheen was “the Cat” and his protege, the young Haddix, was “the Kitten”) as a pitching coach, working with the Mets, Reds, Red Sox, Indians, and Pirates before passing away in 1994. 
  • 1966 – Roberto Clemente won his second Dapper Dan Man of the Year award (he also won in 1961). He left the runner up, his skipper Harry “The Hat” Walker, in the dust by a 59-19 count; they were the only two local sportsmen to earn more than four votes. Clemente, the 1961 recipient of the DD, was the eighth Pirate in the past 12 years to claim the honor; Vern Law was the 1965 winner. 
  • 1991 – 2B Adam Frazier was born in Athens, Georgia. He was selected from Mississippi State in the sixth round (179th overall) of the 2013 draft and was signed for the slot value of $240,600. Fraze was known for his 24/7 stick and it earned him a call up in 2016, slashing .281/.344/.412 during his five+ Bucco campaigns. He’s played a half dozen positions, but he claimed Josh Harrison’s second base spot with a solid 2019 (.278 BA, +6 DRS) campaign. After an All-Star breakout in ‘21, he was traded to San Diego; at the end of the year, the Padres flipped him to Seattle. 
  • 1993 – The State legislature cut the City’s amusement tax from 10% to 5%; one state senator said that the Pirates had informed him that without the lower rate that they could be forced to leave the City in two years. GM Mark Sauer told the Post Gazette that the team wouldn’t be cutting ticket prices (neither did the Steelers) and then ran down a financial wish list featuring revenue sharing and a salary cap from the MLB to go with a new stadium and lease for the team. They got three-out-of-four wishes granted eventually; good luck on the cap. 
Mike Kingery – 1996 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice
  • 1995 – Pittsburgh signed 35-year-old free agent CF Mike Kingery to a two year/$1.5M contract, planning to use him as a platoon/bat & glove off the bench player. It didn’t quite work out; Kingery, who had been a .272 lifetime hitter before the deal, hit .246 in 117 games and was released after the season. He opened Solid Foundation Baseball School the year after he retired, and makes appearances with the Kingery Family, a gospel/bluegrass group. 
  • 1998 - RHP Jon Lieber was traded to the Chicago Cubs for OF Brant Brown. Lieber tossed nine more years in the show, winning 20 games for the Cubs in 2001 while Brown was one and done in Pittsburgh. After his breakout campaign, workhorse Lieber had TJ surgery and only reached the 30-start, 200 IP mark once more in his career. 
  • 1998 – The Pirates chose LHP Scott Sauerbeck from the New York Mets in the Rule 5 draft. Sauerbeck stuck with the Pirates until 2003, going 19-15-5/3.53 in his 4-1/2 year Bucco career before he was traded to Boston. Sauerbeck missed 2004 after surgery, and after a fairly ineffective campaign in 2006, the LOOGY’s MLB career ended. 
  • 1999 – “Wil Cordero, a good hitter who has had difficulty staying healthy and out of trouble, signed a $9 million, three-year contract yesterday with the Pittsburgh Pirates, his fourth team in four years…” per the New York Times. Cordero in reality was a good pick up, as the left fielder banged 16 HR with 51 RBI before he was traded in late July to the Indians for Alex Ramirez (who hit .209 and was out of baseball the following year) and Enrique Wilson, a reserve infielder who hit .262 in 1-1/2 Pirates seasons. Cordero ended up having one more strong year left in him as a Montreal Expo in 2003. 
Wil Cordero – 2000 Upper Deck MVP
  • 2001 – The Giants did what the Bucs couldn’t afford to do by signing RHP Jason Schmidt to a four-year/$31M contract (it became official on the 18th). The Pirates had flipped him to the G-Men at the deadline of his 2001 walk year for Ryan Vogelsong. Jason wasn’t done mastering the art of the deal; he signed a three-year/$47M agreement with the LA Dodgers in 2006. He pulled in about $92M in his career; $8M was from his five Bucco campaigns. 
  • 2010 - The Pirates agreed to terms with 1B Lyle Overbay on a one-year/$5M contract; he was waived in August after hitting .227, with his last MLB campaign in 2014. The Bucs also signed 32-year old OF Matt Diaz to a two year deal worth up to $5M. He was sent back to the Braves at the deadline for P Eliecer Cardenas after hitting .259 with no homers and finished his career there in 2013.


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