Born on this date in 1893 was Pirates pitcher Vic Aldridge, who only spent three seasons in Pittsburgh but twice he helped the Pirates to World Series appearances. The Pirates acquired him after the 1924 season as part of a six-player trade with the Cubs that saw Hall of Famer Rabbit Maranville and the Pirates all-time wins leader, Wilbur Cooper, go to Chicago. Vic had won 47 games in his last three seasons with the Cubs and he didn’t miss a beat with the Pirates, going 15-7 and helping them to a World Series appearance. He went 2-0 in the series although he couldn’t get out of the first inning of game seven, allowing four runs but the Pirates came back to win. He had a down year in 1926 going just 10-13 but bounced back in 1927 again helping the Pirates to the WS with his 15 wins. He lost his only start of the series in what was his last game for the Pirates. Just prior to spring 1928 the Pirates traded Aldridge straight up for Burleigh Grimes. Vic won four games that year, his last in the majors while Grimes won 25 and would eventually be elected to the Hall of Fame.
Also born on this date in 1978 was J.J. Davis, a first round pick of the Pirates who played for the team from 2002-04. J.J. was picked 8th overall in 1997 out of HS and signed quickly, getting in a full season in the Gulf Coast League before a late promotion to A ball. Davis was a power hitter, putting up four season in the minors with at least 19 homers and he was considered a top prospect in the system at one point. In 2002 he hit a career high(minors) .287 with 20 homers in just 101 games in AA , earning his first trip to the majors. He went 1-10 in his limited time, getting his first career hit off Ryan Dempster. The next year he hit .284 at AAA with 26 homers and 23 stolen bases, both career highs. He earned an August promotion, hitting .200 in 35 AB’s with his only career home run. In 2004 he made the opening day roster but hit just .143 in 35 AB’s. He was traded to the Nationals following the season and finished his career in 2005 in the Rockies system.
On this date in 1972 the Pirates traded pitcher Gene Garber to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for pitcher Jim Rooker. Garber joined the Pirates organization in 1965 when he was taken in the 20th round of the amateur draft. He made his major league debut in June of 1969 when he was used as a starting pitcher during a doubleheader. He made just two appearances that year, 14 in 1970 and then another four in 1972 but never stuck in the majors with the Pirates due to ineffectiveness. Garber went on to a long career, mostly as a reliever but he lasted less than two years in the Royals system before being sold to the Phillies.
Prior to the trade, the 29-year-old Rooker had a 21-44 3.93 record in 106 games(68 as a starter) over five seasons. While with the Pirates Rooker would turn his record around as he went from four straight losing seasons prior to joining the Pirates to five straight winning seasons, all of them consisting of double-digit win totals. His biggest start for the Pirates however, came during his worst season. During the 1979 World Series, with the Pirates down 3-1 in the series, Chuck Tanner went with Rooker to start and he would throw 5 solid innings, helping the Pirates to a win and an eventual comeback to win the entire series. He was just 4-7 4.60 that year and had won only two of his last 14 starts. In his eight years in Pittsburgh he went 82-65 3.29 in 187 starts and 26 relief appearances.