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12/19 From 1970: Huddy, Hart, Beimel, Meadows, Elster, Sluggo, Otis Sign; RIP Dock; HBD Jose

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  • 1973 – RHP Jose Silva was born in Tijuana, Mexico. Jose worked five years (1997-2001) for the Bucs, starting 53 of his 140 Pirate games. He finished 25-28-4 with a 5.41 ERA in his Pittsburgh years. He worked one more MLB campaign, and moved on to the Mexican League. 
  • 1983 - The Pirates signed 37-year-old OF Amos Otis. A five-time All-Star with the Kansas City Royals, Otis hit .165 in 40 games for the Bucs. He was released in August and never played in the majors again. Ironically, the Royals had agreed to a deal sending him and Cookie Rojas to the Pirates for Al Oliver after the 1976 season, but Rojas voided the transaction by exercising his 10-and-5 year veto rights; Pittsburgh was that close to landing Otis in his heyday. 
  • 1990 – 32-year-old C Don Slaught signed a three-year/$3M contract with the Pirates after coming over the year before from the New York Yankees and hitting .300 in a platoon role. Sluggo played six seasons in Pittsburgh and batted .305 between 1990-95 in 475 games as a platoon guy – he played in over 87 games in a season just once as a Buc. 
Kevin Elster – 1997 Circa Thunder
  • 1996 – Pittsburgh signed 32-year-old free agent SS Kevin Elster to a one-year/$1.65M deal. The veteran infielder was coming off a career season in Texas, hitting .252 with 24 HR and 99 RBI. But he never got a chance to carry that mojo forward. Elster hit .225 for the Bucs with seven homers, getting into just 39 games after breaking his wrist in mid-May. He never returned to duty and was released at the end of the campaign. His injury put a big dent in the “Freak Show” attack, with the 1997 club still managing to compete into September before finishing five games off the pace. 
  • 2002 – RHP Brian Meadows avoided arbitration by signing a one year/$800K deal, with a split time provision paying him $150K if he was in the minors. And that’s where he started, but after going 7-0 at Nashville, he was called up to collect his big league fee and stayed on the active roster through 2005. 
  • 2003 - LHP Joe Beimel signed a one-year/$535K contract after appearing in 69 games in 2003, although a second half meltdown left his slash at 1-3/5.05. He didn’t make it to the opener, being one of the last cuts in camp and then signing with the Twins. The Bucs had John Grabow, Mike Gonzalez and Mike Johnston coming up from the minors, and the youngsters all got showtime in 2004 to make St. Mary’s Joe expendable. In other contract action, LHP Mike Lincoln was non-tendered (he signed w/the Cards but was injured in May, missing the rest of 2004 and all of 2005, then came back in 2008 to toss parts of three years with the Reds). RHP Kip Wells, SS Jack Wilson and UT Craig Wilson were tendered, leaving the Pirates with four 40-man openings for FA’s. 
  • 2008 - One of the most colorful guys to put on a Bucco uniform, Dock Ellis, passed away in Los Angeles at the age of 63 of cirrhosis. Ellis tossed the first eight and then the final season of his 12-year big league career with Pittsburgh. His Pirates line was 96-80/3.16 with a no-hitter (while on LSD, per his retelling), All-Star appearance and World Series ring to his credit. The Docktor also left behind enough stories to fill a 2014 movie, “No No: A Dockumentary” and collaborated with Donald Hall on a 1976 book, “Dock Ellis in the Country of Baseball.” Ellis cleaned himself up after he left baseball following the 1979 campaign and became a drug counselor, working with prisoners and minor leaguers among others who were struggling with his familiar old demons. 
Corey Hart – 2015 Topps Heritage
  • 2014 – The Pirates signed free agent 1B/OF Corey Hart to a one- year/$2.5M contract with another $2.5M available in bonuses based on at-bats. Hart had microfracture knee surgery in 2013, missing that year, and hit just .203 with Seattle in 2014, but prior to that was a career .271 hitter and two-time All-Star playing for Milwaukee, swatting 30 homers twice. Hart got just 57 at bats with the Bucs before his knees gave out again, and he retired after the 2015 campaign. 
  • 2016 - Free agent RHP Daniel Hudson, 29, signed a two-year/$11M (w/$1.5M more possible based on games finished) deal with the Pirates. The flamethrower (96 MPH fastball) came from Arizona, where his days as a starter ended after a pair of TJ surgeries. Pittsburgh planned to plug him into the back end of the bullpen, which was in need of a righty arm. The deal was made official two days later when Brady Dragmire was DFA’ed to clear a roster spot for Hudson. After a 2-7/4.38 showing in 71 outings in his first campaign, he became more valuable as a trade piece when after the year he was sent to Tampa Bay as part of the Corey Dickerson deal. Since then, he’s been a Dodger, Blue Jay, Nat and Padre. The 34-year-old signed a deal to return to LA in 2022.


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