11/28: Bell-Fermin Swap; Ribant; Tiger, Kiki Dealt; Mazzaro, Pizarro Join; Pitt Buys Forbes Field; HBD Yefry, Taylor, Angel, Jose, Sixto, Dave, Max, Leo & Heinie
- 1870 – C Heinie Peitz was born in St. Louis. Heinie was versatile – he played every infield position at some point in his career, a little outfield and even pitched four times – and spent the final two (not counting a three-game final bow in 1913 with the Cards) of his 16 big league seasons with the Pirates in 1905-06 after Pittsburgh sent C Ed Phelps to the Reds for his services. He had a rep as a great game manager from behind the dish, but hit just .228 as a Bucco and could barely run after all his years spent in a crouch. He played for minor league Louisville for four years before embarking on an umpiring/coaching/scouting career.
- 1876 – C Leo Fohl was born in Lowell, Ohio, but learned to play baseball in Pittsburgh where he was raised. Leo was one of those guys who barely appeared in the majors – he played five games with 17 MLB at-bats, going 0-for-3 with the Pirates in 1902, and toiled for 11 seasons in the minors – but had big league squads entrusted to his care. After his playing days, he spent 11 years as a field manager for the Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Browns, and Boston Red Sox with three second-place finishes to his credit. He finished his career with three campaigns of minor league skippering before retiring to Cleveland, where he passed away at age 88 in 1965.
|Max West (top left w/Johnny Hopp & Dixie Walker) – 1948 Bettman/Getty|
- 1916 – 1B Max West was born in Dexter, Missouri. He closed the book on his seven-year MLB career in Pittsburgh in 1948 as a 32-year-old, batting .178 in 87 games after hitting .306 for San Diego of the Pacific Coast League the year before. Max then spent the final six years of his pro career in the PCL with San Diego and Los Angeles. West had been an All Star in 1940 with the Braves and even swatted a three-run homer in the ASG, but gave up 1943-45 to the Army Air Corp. He operated a sporting goods firm with Ralph Kiner in California after retiring from baseball, and passed away at the age of 87 in Sierra Madre.
- 1927 – Hall of Famer OF Kiki Cuyler was traded to the Chicago Cubs for journeymen IF Sparky Adams and OF/1B Pete Scott. He had bumped heads with manager Donie Bush, even being benched during the World Series, and owner Barney Dreyfuss was looking to dump salary with the Waner brothers on the payroll, so it was bye-bye Kiki. Cuyler competed for 12 more seasons, hitting .300+ in six of them. Adams batted .272 in two Bucco campaigns before being sold to the Cards and played through 1934. Scott, 30, played his final year in the show and hit .311 as a backup OF.
- 1949 – OF Dave Augustine was born in Follansbee, West Virginia. His MLB career lasted from 1973-74, getting 29 at bats with the Bucs and hitting .207. He’s best known for the “ball on the wall” against the Mets. In the heat of a late September pennant race in 1973, he hit a ball at Shea in the 13th inning that appeared ticketed for the seats. Instead, it landed on the top of the wall and bounced back into play. Richie Zisk was thrown out at home, the Pirates lost the contest, and the Mets eventually took the National League crown by 2-1/2 games over the Bucs. That ball was the closest Augustine ever came to hitting a major league dinger.
- 1953 – OF Sixto Lezcano was born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. The 12-year vet finished out his big league days in Pittsburgh in 1985, hitting .207 off the bench. His contract was one of a handful of bad deals brokered by the Bucs that created dead money woes in the late 80s – Sixto had signed a two-year FA agreement, and the Bucs ate the second season’s salary of $500K when they released him.
|Forbes Field – photo via Historic Markers Project|
- 1958 – The sale of Forbes Field to University of Pittsburgh was approved; the Pirates were allowed to stay on for five years, until the new Northside stadium was built. The Bucs had discussed replacing Forbes Field as far back as 1948 because of both its deteriorating condition (it was built in 1909) and smallish seating capacity of 35,000. In reality, the Pirates stayed on not for five but for 12 years, until TRS opened in 1970. The stadium was a political hot potato for a decade as politicians wrangled over location, costs, and design until ground was finally broken in 1968. The Bucs lost a preferred open center field view of town from TRS when the Steelers vetoed that design in search of more seats; the Pirates made up for that lost scenery when PNC Park was built.
- 1962 – The Pirates traded 3B Don Hoak, 34, to the Philadelphia Phillies for IF Pancho Herrera and OF Ted Savage. It ended up a minor deal; The Tiger was at the end of his career while Herrera and Savage never established themselves as regulars in MLB. Hoak got his nickname from Bob Prince for his relentless, hard-nosed play augmented by his background as an ex-Marine and boxer.
- 1966 – The Bucs completed an October deal that sent knuckleballer Wilbur Wood to the White Sox for a PTBNL by getting Juan Pizarro and sending the Sox $30,000. Pizarro pitched a season and some change in Pittsburgh (10-12-9/3.55 in 69 overall Pirates outings) before being sold to Boston in 1968; he would return in late 1974, ending his 18-year career at age 37.
- 1967 – In a reliever swap, Pittsburgh dealt Dennis Ribant to the Detroit Tigers for Dave Wickersham. Both were near the end of their careers and while they had solid 1968 campaigns, they were out of the MLB following the 1969 season.
|Dave Wickersham – 1968 KDKA promo|
- 1972 – RHP Jose Parra was born in Jacagua, Dominican Republic. Parra got in pieces of five MLB campaigns, stopping in Pittsburgh for six games in 2000, going 0-1/6.94 as a reliever after working most of the year at AAA Nashville as part of the rotation. He could never quite figure out where to toss – beside his big league stops, he spent 11 years in the minors, four in Mexico, two in Japan and one in Korea before hurling his last pitch in 2005.
- 1988 – The Pirates sent UT Denny Gonzalez and SS Felix Fermin to the Cleveland Indians for SS Jay Bell. Gonzalez was the only player actually traded on the day of the deal. He was out of options and had to go to clear roster space for RHP Bob Walk, who had inked a contract with the Bucs the day before. Fermin and Bell were PTBNL and weren’t officially named until March 25th. Bell solidified the SS spot for the Bucs, batting .269 over eight years and earning an All-Star and Gold Glove during that spell. Fermin started 4-of-5 years for the Tribe, hitting .256, while Gonzalez got into eight games in ‘89 to end his MLB career.
- 1989 – RHP Angel Sanchez was born in Tenares, Dominican Republic. He had a minor-league breakout in 2015, but it was followed by TJ surgery. He came back in 2017 and got his MLB baptism with a handful of games for the Bucs, giving up five homers in 12-⅓ IP but also whiffing 10. His 2017 birthday gift was his release: the Pirates seemed poised to give him another year to knock off the rust, but he got a $850K deal from the KBO’s SK Wyvern club and hopped the pond.
- 1989 – C/IF Taylor Davis was born in Tampa, Florida. He turned down the Marlins, who drafted him late in 2008 as a prepster, went to Morehead State and later signed with the Cubs in 2011 as an undrafted FA. Davis played 20 MLB games with Chicago from 2017-19 (.222 BA, one HR, seven RBI) and was DFA’ed. He signed a minor league deal with the Orioles for 2020, and was traded to the Bucs in June of 2021 for minor league OF Jose Berroa. Taylor got the call up when Jake Stallings was placed on a concussion protocol in September after posting a line of .253 BA, two HR, 22 RBI between AAA clubs Norfolk and Indy. He was released, re-signed for 2022 and is now a FA.
|Yefry Ramirez – 2019 photo via MLB.com|
- 1993 – RHP Yefry Ramirez was born in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Signed in 2011 by Arizona, he ended up with Baltimore, where he went 1-10/6.07 between parts of 2018-2019 as a starter/long man. The Pirates picked him up for cash/PTBNL in late May. He was added to the roster on June 16th as an insurance policy, wasn’t needed, and returned to Indy on the 18th when Chris Stratton returned from the IL, then was recalled again in July. Y-Ram was released at the end of the season after turning in a 7.71 ERA in nine outings. He joined the Dodgers in 2021 and pitched for Hanwha of the Korean League in ‘22.
- 2012 – The Pirates acquired RHP Vin Mazzaro & 1B Clint Robinson from Kansas City in a waiver deal for two pitchers from the Dominican Summer League (Luis Rico & Luis Santos), also adding RHP Zach Stewart from Boston for a PTBNL (RHP Kyle Kaminska). Vin was a Pirate from 2013-14, with most of the second year spent at Indy, slashing 8-2-1/2.89 in 62 outings. His moment of glory was in 2013 against Milwaukee. After a rain delay, he set down all 15 batters he faced in order in a game that the Pirates eventually won in the 14th. Robinson never made it to PNC Park, lost as a late cut at the end of camp to Toronto. Stewart left the same way. Two months after getting him, the Pirates tried to slip him through waivers to create 40-man roster room, but were foiled by the White Sox.
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