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1/5 From 1970: Esteban, Gary, Ravello, Coaches Signed; Gravedigger Goes; HoF Bert; RIP Phil; HBD Nogo, Mark & Danny

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  • 1974 – LHP Mark Redman was born in San Diego. He was part of the return from the Jason Kendall trade with Oakland, but in his one year (2005) with the Pirates, he went 5-15/4.90, the worst counting numbers season of his career. That prompted an off season deal with the Royals. He rallied there, earning a spot on the 2006 All-Star team, but that was his last hurrah. He made 17 more starts over two campaigns post-AS and retired after the 2008 season, after playing for 10 years and eight teams in MLB. 
  • 1984 - Richie Hebner signed a two-year deal with the Cubs which was made official on the 17th, marking the second time he left Pittsburgh via free agency. “I wanted to end my career in Pittsburgh,” claimed the 15-year vet. He said GM Pete Peterson was working on clearing a bench spot for him, but with camp approaching “They never got back to me and the Chicago deal came up.” The Grave Digger hit .264 over his last two years. He lost his job in 1986 when he signed up for one more year with Chicago but was released before the season and never caught on elsewhere. 
Danny Ortiz – 2017 Topps Update
  • 1990 – OF Danny Ortiz was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico. A fourth-round draftee of the Twins in 2008, he signed a minor league deal with the Pirates during the 2015 off season. Danny got into nine games in 2017, going 1-for-12. He left after the campaign and has spent his career in the Latin leagues ever since. 
  • 1993 - 1B John Nogowski was born in Tallahassee, Florida. The Bucs bought him after the Cards DFA’ed him in July, 2021, when injuries thinned the first base spot. Nogo hit just .096 in 20 games for St. Louis, but he got off to a hot start with Pittsburgh, collecting 21 hits in his first dozen contests for a .438 Bucco BA, then cooled off in his last 21 games, hitting just .127. He was released in September, claimed by the Giants, and later moved to the Atlanta organization via the Minor League Rule 5 draft. 
  • 1994 - The Pirates signed LHP Ravello Manzanillo and OF Gary Varsho to minor league contracts. Manzanillo, who had been on a two-year hiatus from baseball, got into 51 games over the next two seasons, with a line of 4-2-1/4.19, and that was his last MLB slash. For Varsho, it was a return to the Pirates, where he played in 1991-92, and he said “There’s no place else I wanted to go.” He hit .256, used mostly as an extra outfielder and pinch hitter, before moving on to Philly for his final campaign in 1995. Gary did have a Steel City jones; he came back as John Russell’s bench coach from 2008-10, was axed along with JR’s staff, and then was resurrected as a Bucco scout in 2016. 
Esteban Loaiza – 1998 Pacific
  • 1998 - The Pirates signed RHP Esteban Loaiza to a two-year/$1.9M deal with $500K due the first year and $1.4M in the second. He had earned $200K in 1997 while posting an 11-11/4.13 slash. He went 6-5/4.52 in ‘98 before being flipped to the Texas Rangers in mid-July for 2B Warren Morris and RHP Todd Van Poppel. 
  • 2009 – Sportswriter Phil Musick passed away at age 71. The Duquesne grad started locally as sports editor of the Greensburg Tribune-Review. In 1969, he joined the Pittsburgh Press and later wrote for the Post-Gazette during the time the Steelers won four titles in six years and the Pirates prevailed in two World Series. Musick was named Pennsylvania Sports Writer of the Year in 1975 by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association. He wrote books on Roberto Clemente, Hank Aaron and Tony Dorsett, articles for Sports Illustrated, People, Time and Newsweek magazines and was the first sports columnist for USA Today. Musick later taught journalism at LaRoche College, per Robert Dvorchak of the Post-Gazette
  • 2011 – After a 14 year wait, curveball king RHP Bert Blyleven was elected to the Hall of Fame. He won 34 games for Pittsburgh between 1978-80, his stay cut short because the Dutchman publicly disagreed with Chuck Tanner, who went to his bullpen earlier and more often than the righty preferred. Blyleven, who was inducted into the Hall on July 24th, posted 287 victories and 3,701 strikeouts during a 22 year MLB career. 
Dave & Rick Eckstein – 2019 photo/Pirates
  • 2019 - The Pirates added a little grit to their operations department, hiring former 10-year vet David Eckstein and then bringing back former Bucco lifer Jeff Banister, both as special assistants for baseball operations. Eckstein had prior coaching experience with the Angels, Diamondbacks & USA Baseball, and joined his brother Rick, who had been hired as the batting coach in November. David left baseball to spend more time with his family while Rick is now with the Angels. Banny had spent 29 years with the Pirates, wearing several different hats, before taking over the reins at Texas for four years. His reunion didn’t last long, either; he was let go in 2020 when the FO reduced its administrative staff.


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