- 1879 - RHP Fred “Cy” Falkenberg was born in Chicago. He worked his 1903 rookie campaign for the Pirates, going 1-5 with a 3.86 ERA. It would be the fewest wins and highest ERA compiled in a single season for ol’ Cy, who tossed 12 big league years, winning 130 games (20+ victories twice) with a 2.68 lifetime ERA. Those 20-win tallies in 1913-14 were sparked by a new pitch that he came up with – a scuffed “emery” ball. The delivery was declared illegal after the 1914 season, and Cy was out of MLB two years later (in justice, hitting the age of 38 probably had as much with his descent as did the rulebook). So far as the Cy moniker, SABR’s Eric Enders speculates that it was another Cy Young knock-off, the old-timey ace whom many promising youngsters were likened to.
|Rebel Oakes – 1915 Cracker Jack|
- 1883 – CF Ennis “Rebel” Oakes was born in Lisbon, Louisiana. He played five years for the Reds and Cards, then jumped to the Federal League when it was established in 1914. After two seasons as the player-manager for the Pittsburgh Rebels, perhaps named in his honor, the league folded and Oakes never returned to MLB despite his .295 BA. SABR writer Phil Williams believes “Rebel Oakes was effectively blacklisted” after the Federal League’s demise. Btw, he didn’t earn his nickname by being particularly iconoclastic. When he was in the minors, an Iowa sportswriter dubbed him Rebel because of his Deep South birthplace.
- 1891 – The American Association, the home of the Pittsburgh Alleghenys through 1886, ceased as a major league after a 10-year run when a settlement was reached with the National League for a semi-merger. Four AA clubs (St. Louis, Louisville, Washington, and Baltimore) joined the NL to form a twelve-club league. The other four AA clubs were bought out for about $130,000.
- 1896 - C Jim Mattox was born in Leesville, Virginia. Jim was a back-up in 1922-23 for the Pirates, hitting .253 off the bench. He was released after the year and retired rather than report to the minors again. Jim may have missed his true calling – in 1919, he was an All-Conference quarterback at Washington and Lee.
- 1947 - C/PH Charlie Sands was born in Newport News, Virginia. Charlie played for the Bucs in 1971-72, going 5-for-33 (.192) and was on the ‘71 WS roster. He hung around the league for three more seasons, but only got into 63 more games. Fun fact: Sands caught all 29 innings of what at the time was the longest game in professional baseball. Playing for the Class A, Florida State League Miami Marlins on June 15th, 1966, Sands held the fort as Miami beat the St. Petersburg Cardinals (coached by Sparky Anderson), 4-3.
|Charlie Sands – 1972 Topps|
- 1947 - The Pirates bought the AA New Orleans Pelicans, including 37 players (none of which ever made the Bucco roster), for an estimated $200K. In an era when farm systems were deep, The Big Easy became the Pirates 19th farm club in 1948. Oddly, in 1947 the club didn’t field a AA team, so NOLA was a needed addition to fill the gap between AAA Indy (which was replaced by Hollywood in 1951) and Single A Albany (which moved to Charlestown in 1950).
- 1959 – CF Marvell Wynne was born in Chicago. He started his career with the Pirates, playing from 1983-85. Projected as a leadoff hitter, he stole 46 sacks but batted just .245 with an OBP of .297 before being traded to San Diego for Bob Patterson, and there he put together a solid four-year run. Marvell’s last season was 1991, played in Japan. His son, also named Marvell, became a pro jock, too, but as an MLS soccer player.
- 1959 – ElRoy Face, 31, became the fourth consecutive Pirate (Dale Long, Dick Groat, Danny Murtaugh) to win the Dapper Dan Award as the athlete who did the most to publicize the region through his exploits. All the Baron of the Bullpen did was win 17 straight games to run his streak to 22 before a September loss, slash 18-1-10/2.70 and earn his first All Star berth. His main competition was in-house as he eased past runnerup Harvey Haddix, who tossed a 12-inning perfecto that same season.
- 1967 – RHP Steve Parris was born in Joliet, Illinois. Steve started his eight-year MLB run in Pittsburgh between 1995-96 with a 6-9/5.82 slash as a starter. After a year in the minors, he tossed three solid seasons with the Reds and three not-so-solid seasons with Toronto and Tampa Bay.
|Steve Parris – 1996 Fleer|
- 1980 - Scout & suit Larry Broadway was born in Miami. The Montréal Expos chose him from Duke in the 3rd round (77th overall) of the 2002 draft. Larry got to AAA and had a couple of good years but was up-and-down after a 2005 knee injury. He never got a chance in the show, and Broadway signed with the Pirates for 2009 to play at Indy. He lost his batting eye and even tried pitching but retired and became a scout with the Bucs in 2010. In 2014, he became Pittsburgh’s Senior Director of Minor League Operations. He held that post until 2020, when the new Cherington regime moved him to another unspecified spot in the organization.
- 1993 - 3B Jeff King avoided arbitration by signing a one year/$2.4M contract. He lost an arbitration hearing the previous year, asking for $2M but being awarded $675K. He hit cleanup during the season, batting .295 with 9 HR and 98 RBI to earn the pay bump.
- 1997 - OF Turner Ward was signed to a two-year/$1.6M contract after hitting .353 off the bench during the season. Ward earned the money when he turned in a highlight-reel play in the ‘98 campaign when he crashed through the wall at TRS. He batted .262 in 1998 and was released in August of 1999 after posting a .209 BA. He rebounded to have a great season with Arizona to help them win the NL West, then played two more years before retiring after 2001. In all, he had 12 big league years with a .251 career BA.
- 2010 – RHP Kevin Correia officially signed as a FA with Pittsburgh to a contract of two years/$8M deal with another $1M available in incentives, which he and the FO had agreed to 10 days earlier during the Winter Meeting. In those two seasons, he would post a line of 24-22/4.49 before joining the Twins after losing his spot in the rotation to Wandy Rodriguez. He started 54 games, appeared 59 times, represented the Pirates at the 2011 All-Star Game and was the Opening Day pitcher that same season. KC worked for three more teams afterward, retiring after the 2015 season.
|Jason Rogers – 2017 camp photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates|
- 2015 – The Pirates sent CF Keon Broxton and RHP Trey Supak to the Milwaukee Brewers for 1B Jason Rogers. The speedy Broxton is an on-again, off-again major leaguer with a great glove, some power and a huge K rate who spent ’21 in the Brewer system and is now a FA while Supak made the Brew Crew’s 40-man roster, though he was released after the 2020 season from the Brewers’ alternate camp and is now in the A’s organization. Roger’s 2016 MLB path was effectively blocked when the Bucs later signed David Freese. He got just 33 PAs and hit .080 for the Bucs that year, was later released and has played in Japan, Mexico, Australia, Puerto Rico and the indie leagues since 2017.
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