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12/18: Vogelsong, Lopez, Kuwata, Herrera Sign; Neverett Hired; HBD Josh, Joker, Gino & Johnny

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  • 1915 – OF Johnny Barrett was born in Lowell, Massachusetts. He played from 1942-46, with all but 24 games as a Pirate, and hit .251. His best years were 1944-45, when he swiped 53 bases (he led the NL in steals in 1944 with 28) and scored 196 runs. But when WW2 ended and the players returned from the service, Barrett’s career came to an end. He hit .193 in 1946, his last big league campaign that was split between the Buccos and the Boston Braves. 
Gino Cimoli — 2002 Topps Super Team Refractors
  • 1929 – OF Gino Cimoli was born in San Francisco. He only played a season and some change (1960-61) for the Bucs, but was their fourth outfielder for the 1960 Series champs, hitting .267 as a Pirate and .250 in the series. He scored the first tally in Pittsburgh’s five-run eighth inning in the deciding game seven and started several games in place of the injured Bob Skinner. He was one of Bob Prince’s favorites – everytime Cimoli came through on the field, The Gunner would, in his best faux Italian accent, gush “Thatsa my boy, Gino!” 
  • 1969 – IF Joe “The Joker” Randa was born in Milwaukee. Joe played early and late with the Pirates – he spent his third big league season, 1997, and his MLB finale in 2006 in Pittsburgh, hitting a solid .291. Tony Muser, Joe’s skipper in KC, gave him his nickname because he reminded him of “The Joker” character, always with a smile on his face. 
  • 1984 - IF Josh Rodriguez was born in Houston, Texas. His MLB career was short; he went 1-for-12 in six games for the Bucs in 2011 and that was it. The Pirates took him from the Indians as a Rule 5 selection and he beat out Pedro Ciriaco for the middle infield bench spot in camp. It was a short-lived victory; the Bucs returned him to the Tribe in late April as he was replaced on the roster by Brandon Wood. Josh returned in June in a cash deal with Cleveland and played for Indy and Altoona. He then bounced around several minor league systems and has played in the Mexican League since 2018 
  • 2006 - Cuban RHP Yoslan Herrera, 25, agreed to a three-year/$1.92M contract with the Pirates, Pittsburgh’s first Cuban signing of the Castro era. He had defected in July of 2005 and was signed by scouts Rene Gayo and Louie Eljaua after posting a combined record of 18-7/3.27 between the Cuban Youth Team (1999-2000) and the Cuban National Team (2001-2004). His numbers didn’t translate in the US, and he won just one game for the Bucs. In a nice bounce-back tale, Herrera was signed to a minor league deal by the LA Angels in 2013 after last pitching in the majors in 2008, put together a nice run at the end of 2014 (1-1/2.70 in 20 outings) for the Halos, then moved across the Pacific to toss in the Nippon League for the final two years of his career. 
Masumi Kuwata – Topps 2007 Rookie 
  • 2006 - On the same day, the Bucs announced another dip into the international market by inking 38-year-old Japanese RHP Masumi Kuwata to a one year/$500K minor-league contract. He chose the Pirates over the Red Sox and Dodgers because he thought he had a better shot at making the club, but an ankle injury in the spring delayed his MLB call until June. He was 39 then, the oldest rookie to appear since Diomedes Olivo and the first Japanese player to suit up for the Bucs. After 19 games, his ERA was 9.43 and he was sent down. He returned for camp in 2008, but went back home to Japan after failing to make the final roster cut and rejecting an offer by the Bucs to remain as a coach. 
  • 2008 – Tim Neverett was hired as the Pirate play-by-play man, replacing Lanny Frattare. Prior to joining the Pirates, Neverett spent four years working for FSN Rocky Mountain, where he spent the 2008 campaign serving as both the pre and post-game studio host for Colorado Rockies games along with calling many other sports. Neverett began his baseball on-air career in 1985 at the age of 19 with Pittsburgh’s Class AA affiliate in the Eastern League, the Nashua Pirates. The New England native left to man the booth in Boston after the 2015 campaign, leaving that post after the 2018 Sox season in a beef with management. He rebounded quickly and is now part of the LA Dodgers’ broadcast squad. 
  • 2009 – The Pirates signed LHP Javier Lopez to a one-year/$775K contract. The LOOGY reestablished his credentials in Pittsburgh and then was traded to the Giants at the deadline for OF John Bowker and RHP Joe Martinez. The southpaw was the only active player to have played on four or more World Series championship teams, winning three times with the G-Men and once with Boston. He retired after the 2016 campaign and joined the SF broadcast team. 
Javier Lopez – 2010 photo McClatchy Tribune/Getty
  • 2015 - The Pirates and RHP Ryan Vogelsong officially agreed to a one-year/$2M contract, bringing him back home after he had been gone for a decade following stints in Japan and San Francisco. In what would prove to be his final MLB season, he went 3-7/4.81 as a starter/long man, with his season shortened when he broke an orbital bone after being beaned by then-Rockie Jordan Lyles. At the end of the 2017 campaign, after he had been released from AAA by the Twins, the Giants signed him to a one-day contract in September and held a tribute for him at AT&T Park.


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