- 1855 - OF Charlie Eden was born in Lexington, Kentucky. He joined the Alleghenys for two seasons, 1884-85, hitting .258 after a five season minor league stint. Charlie could do it all - he played a little corner infield and also pitched some, going 1-3/5.53 with Pittsburgh. Those campaigns ended the 30-year old Charlie’s four-year MLB career; we presume that he went back to barnstorming through the minors.
|Eddie Moore 1923-26 (photo Mears Collection/The Sporting News Archives)|
- 1899 - Utilityman Eddie Moore was born in Barlow, Kentucky. Moore hit .301 as a Bucco from 1923-26 and was a starter on the 1925 WS club, but he clashed a couple of times with management and was sold to the Boston Braves after getting into a shouting match with Fred Clarke, who was not only awkwardly a club exec but a coach on the bench.
- 1931 - RHP Laurin Pepper was born in Vaughan, Mississippi. A football star drafted by the Steelers (he was an All-America halfback at Mississippi Southern), Pepper was inked for $35K by the Bucs as a bonus baby, as the Pirates easily topped the Steelers’ $15K bid. Probably should have stuck with the pigskin, though: in four MLB seasons (1954-57), he worked just 109-⅔ IP, going 2-8/7.09 with 98 walks. He then spent some time in the minors, finally becoming a long-time HS football coach and AD back home in Mississippi.
- 1947 - The Pirates purchased Hank Greenberg, the original “Hammerin’ Hank,” from the Tigers for $75,000 after a contract dispute. To celebrate the move, team co-owner Bing Crosby recorded a song, "Goodbye, Mr. Ball, Goodbye" with Groucho Marx and Hank after the Bucs signed him to a reported $90,000 deal, the biggest in history at that time. In his one season with Pittsburgh, he hit .249 with 25 HR/74 RBI to become the first player with a 25 homer season in both leagues, walked a league-high 104 times and served as a mentor to a young Ralph Kiner. He inspired “Greenberg Gardens” when the Bucs shortened Forbes Field’s left field for him and when he retired after the season, his garden was renamed “Kiner’s Korner.”
|Wandy Rodriguez 2012 Topps|
- 1979 - LHP Wandy Rodriguez was born in Santiago Rodriguez, Dominican Republic. Wandy joined the Bucs in 2012 when he was acquired in a deadline deal from the Astros. He didn’t become a major contributor as hoped, as his 2013 season derailed after a dozen starts with arthritis in his pitching arm, and contributed just 11 wins in 25 outings, with a 3.66 ERA, as a Pirate before being released in May of 2014.
- 1980 - SS Gift Ngoepe was born in Randburg, South Africa. Ngoepe became the first black South African to sign a professional baseball contract when he agreed to a deal with the Pirates in October 2008. You could say he was born to be a ballplayer. Ngoepe's mom was a clubhouse attendant for the Randburg Mets, and they lived in one of the clubhouse rooms, so he grew up in a ballyard. Gift has proven to be a brilliant fielder but hasn’t been able to solve MiLB pitching yet, w/a career .232 BA and 731 whiffs in 689 games. A 2016 post-season bar brawl didn’t boost his stock, either. The Pirates signed his brother Victor last year, a confirmation that the sport must run in the Ngoepe blood.