- 1870 - LHP Frank “Lefty” Killen was born in North Side, then still Allegheny City. He spent six seasons with the Bucs (1893-98) and twice led the NL in wins, with 36 (a team record) in ‘93 and 30 in ‘96. Lefty’s line with Pittsburgh was 112-82/3.97. The team released him during the 1898 campaign, and his last of 10 MLB seasons was 1900. He ended Wee Willie Keeler's 44-game hitting streak on June 19th, 1897 when Lefty and the Bucs stopped the Orioles 7-1.
|Lefty from 1896 team photo|
- 1877 - C Clifford “Tacks” Latimer was born in Loveland, Ohio. Tacks played 13 years of organized ball with five whistle stops in the show, including a four-game visit with Pittsburgh in 1900, when he was part of the trade that moved most of Louisville’s roster to Pittsburgh. Latimer wasn’t much of a batter, but his Pirates audition was short-circuited by a bout of malaria caught during spring camp rather than a bad stick as he went 4-for-12. He got his nickname in the minors: though he was a quiet man, one of his teammates dubbed him Tacks, a name usually reserved for guys who play to (and sometimes over) the line in the same vein that a 6’6” player is sometimes called Shorty. He did get tacky after he retired, though. He got a job as a railroad cop, and his boss got into a confrontation with Tacks, ending badly when Latimer shot his knife-wielding foe four times, killing him. Unfortunately, the slugs were in the back and he got life in prison. But Tacks was a model con, siding with the warden & guards during a violent gang escape, then later helping during a prison fire to eventually win a parole. He kept clean after that, passing away in Loveland in 1936. Tack trivia: Ex-Pittsburgh catcher Doggy Miller managed him at minor-league Minnesota and converted Tacks from the OF to C.
- 1901 - Pirate coach and scout Clyde Sukeforth was born in Washington, Maine. A long time member of the Brooklyn Dodger organization, he came to Pittsburgh as a coach/scout in 1952 and was one of the main players in the selection of Roberto Clemente in the 1954 Rule 5 draft. He turned down the chance to succeed Pirate skipper Bobby Bragan in 1957 and retired as a coach after the season, but remained with the Pirates as a scout and minor league manager through 1962.
|Mooney 1909 Silks|
- 1931 - George “Mooney” Gibson (he earned the nickname either through his moon-shaped face or because one of his early teams was called the Mooneys; take your pick) returned for his second spin as Bucco manager, replacing Jewel Ens. He lasted until early in 1934, posting a 200-159 record and two second place finishes. Overall, the Canadian Gibson (he was from Ontario) had a 401-330/.549 record with Pittsburgh. He got his start as a long-time Bucco catcher, playing from 1905-1916 in Pittsburgh, hitting .238 but leading the NL in fielding three times with a toss-out rate of 46% against would-be base stealers. Mooney was the Pirates everyday catcher in 1909 when they won the World Series against the Tigers.
- 1950 - Pittsburgh signed the Boston Braves’ OF Harold “Pistol Pete” Reiser, who had been a three-time all-star for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the early-to-mid 40s, as a FA. Reiser hit .271 in 74 games as a Bucco bench player and was released following the season. Per Mark Stewart of SABR “As a boy, his friends and family called him Pete, after the cowboy movie hero Two-Gun Pete. He loved westerns, and as a child often walked around the neighborhood with a pair of toy six-shooters holstered to his belt. Eventually his nickname became Pistol Pete.”
- 1954 - Coach Joe Kerrigan was born in Philadelphia. A first round draft pick of the Expos in 1974, Joe tossed for five seasons before coaching. He was John Russell’s pitching coach in Pittsburgh from 2008-10 after serving as PC for Montreal, Boston (briefly as Red Sox manager in 2001) and Philly with a bullpen coaching gig for the Yankees.
|Joe Kerrigan (photo Rob Trangali/Getty)|
- 1959 - The KC Athletics drafted Dave Wickersham from the Pirates in the minor league Rule 5 draft. The righty went on to have a 10 year MLB career (including 1-0-1, 3.48 with Pittsburgh in 1968 though most of the year was spent in AAA Columbus) highlighted by a 19-win season in 1964 with the Detroit Tigers.
- 1971 - OF Matt Lawton was born in Gulfport, Mississippi. Matt spent a few months of his 12-year career in Pittsburgh in 2005, coming to the Bucs from the Indians for Arthur Rhodes and then getting sent to the Cubs at the 2005 deadline for Jody Gerut. Lawton swung a decent stick while here, batting .273 w/10 HR. But after the 2005 season, he received a 10-game suspension after testing positive for PEDs. He played in 11 games for Seattle in 2006 and that was the end of his MLB road.
- 1976 - OF/1B Craig Wilson was born in Fountain Valley, California. He played as a semi-regular for the Bucs from 2001-06 with a line of .268/.360/.486, 94 HR and 284 RBI, along with a 28% career K rate. Wilson tied the MLB single-season record for pinch-hit home runs with seven in 2001. Hand injuries in 2005 and shoulder surgery in 2007 ended his career.
|Craig Wilson 2005 Cracker Jacks|
- 2012 - The Pirates signed free agent catcher Russell Martin, a three-time All-Star, to a two year, $17M deal, the largest free agency contract they had ever negotiated. He got a $2M signing bonus, $6.5M for 2013 and $8.5M for 2014. Russ was among the league's top defensive catchers and had a .290/.402/.430 slash in his final Pirate season. He left after the 2014 campaign, signing a five year, $82M deal with Toronto.