On this date in 1950 the Pittsburgh Pirates signed Pete Reiser, a three-time all-star outfielder for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1941-42,1946. In each of those seasons he finished in the top 10 in NL MVP voting as well. He was 31 at the time of the signing and had spent the past two seasons with the Boston Braves in a part-time role. Reiser had twice led the NL in stolen bases and three times hit over .300 but he hit just .205 in 1949. For the Pirates, Pete hit .271 in 74 games and played mostly off the bench. He played all three outfield positions and spent some time at third base. He played one more season, for the Indians, before retiring as a player and becoming a minor league manager for seven seasons.
On this date in 1972 the Pirates traded Dick Sharon, their first round draft pick from 1968, to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for pitchers Jim Foor and Norm McRae. Sharon was a minor leaguer all five years with the Pirates while Foor and McRae each pitched briefly in the majors with little success.
Following the trade Sharon played three years in the majors, two for the Tigers where he hit .231 in 151 games. He spent the 1975 season with the Padres, hitting just .194 in 91 games. McRae never suited up for the Pirates organization. He played in the Mexican League for five years before retiring as a player. Foor pitched just three games for the Pirates in 1973, facing a total of eight batters and never pitched in the majors again. The Pirates traded him away the following spring training.
Born on this date in 1976 was former Pirates Craig Wilson, who played for the team from 2001-06. He came to the Pirates in a 1996 trade with the Blue Jays that involved nine players including Orlando Merced and Carlos Garcia going to Toronto. Wilson was a catcher in the minors but rarely played the position in the majors, spending his time at first base and right field. He pinch hit a lot his rookie season, hitting .310 with 13 homers in 88 games. He gained more playing time in 2002 finishing with 16 homers and a .264 average in 131 games while leading the NL in HBP. He hit 18 homers in 2003 then followed that up with his best season of his career. In 2004 he hit 29 homers, drove in 82 runs, scored 97 runs and led the NL again in HBP with 30.
Wilson was injured in 2005 and played just 59 games. The following year he was traded to the Yankees for pitcher Shawn Chacon. He signed a minor league deal with the Pirates in 2008 but never made it back to the majors and was traded to the Mariners in July of that season. While with the Pirates he hit .268 with 94 homers and 282 runs scored and RBI’s in 634 games.
Matt Lawton (1971) of the 2005 Pirates was born on this date. He came to the Pirates from the Indians in exchange for Arthur Rhodes, who was acquired two weeks earlier in exchange for Jason Kendall. Lawton didn’t stick around Pittsburgh too long. He played right field and hit .273 with ten homers and 16 stolen bases in 101 games, before being dealt at the trading deadline for Jody Gerut. Lawton spent 12 years in the majors, hitting .267 with 138 homers and 165 stolen bases in 1334 games.
Also born on this date in 1877 was Pirates catcher Clifford “Tacks” Latimer, who played for the team in 1900. He was included in the Honus Wagner trade in December of 1899, one of 12 players the Pirates acquired in the deal. He lasted just four games with his new team, hitting .333(4-12) and missed a lot of time that year due to malaria. Tacks played in the majors from 1898-1902 playing for a new team each year but accumulated just 27 major league games. He was no different in the minors, playing 12 seasons split between 26 different teams, never playing for the same team more than one year.
Finally, born on this date in 1870 was Pirates pitcher Frank Killen, who played for the team from 1893-98. He was a thirty game winner twice, finishing his time in Pittsburgh with a 112-82 record. A full bio from this site of Killen can be read here
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.