This Date in Pirates History: February 12

There have been eight former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, among them two very recent ones. Chris Snyder (1981) spent two seasons with the Pirates after coming over in the five player deal the Pirates made at the 2010 trading deadline with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Pirates gave up DJ Carrasco, Ryan Church and Bobby Crosby in the deal and along with Snyder, they received Pedro Ciriaco. Snyder played 40 games with Pittsburgh after the trade, hitting just .169 with five homers. In 2011 he played in only 34 games before he was sidelined with a back injury that required surgery. He was hitting .271 with 17 RBIs at the time of his injury. He was let go after the season and has since signed with the Astros for 2012. Argenis Diaz (1987) played for the Pirates in 2010. He came to the Pirates from the Red Sox in the Adam LaRoche deal in 2009. He played 22 games for the Pirates in his only season in Pittsburgh, 15 of those games came as a shortstop. He hit .242 in 36 plate appearances with two RBIs and no runs scored. He was released following the 2010 season and has spent the next three seasons at AAA as a member of the Detroit Tigers organization.

Other players born on this date include:

Stan Fansler (1965) pitcher for the 1986 Pirates. He was a second round draft pick of the Pirates out of high school in the 1983 amateur draft. Stan had a disastrous beginning to his career, going 0-10, 8.05 in 14 starts in the NYPL. Returning to the level a year later, he again made 14 starts, this time with a 5-1 2.01 record. In 1985 the Pirates jumped him over two levels to AA and in 24 starts he posted a 3.01 ERA, earning a late season promotion to AAA. He started the 1986 season in AAA and went 8-9, 3.63 in 156 innings, earning a September call-up. The Pirates put him in the rotation and in five starts he went 0-3, 3.75, walking 15 batters in 24 innings. Fansler put up decent overall numbers in 1987 in AAA but his control was very poor. By 1988 he was pitching down in AA and even though the Pirates kept him around for four more seasons, he never pitched above AA from 1989-92. He pitched briefly in the Rangers farm system before retiring in 1994.

Joe Garagiola (1926) catcher for the Pirates from 1951 until 1953. He had played for the Cardinals since 1946 when the Pirates acquired him on June 15,1951 in a seven player deal that saw star outfielder Wally Westlake and pitcher Cliff Chambers, who had just thrown a no-hitter, both go to the Cardinals. Joe hit .255 with nine homers and 35 RBIs in the last 72 games of the 1951 season. In 1952 he hit .273 with 54 RBIs in 118 games for the last place Pirates. He began the 1953 season with the Pirates but he would be included in the Ralph Kiner trade to the Chicago Cubs in early June. That was a ten-player deal that also saw the Cubs send $150k to the Pirates. Garagiola finished his nine season major league career in 1954 with the Giants. He was a .257 career hitter in 676 games. He is still in baseball to this day, occasionally broadcasting for the Arizona Diamondbacks, a job he originally took up with the Cardinals in 1955.

Woody Main (1922) pitcher for the Pirates in 1948-49 and 1952-53. He had signed to play minor league ball in 1941 but after two seasons he would spend the next three years serving in the military during WWII. The Pirates drafted him out of the Yankees system in December 1947 in the rule 5 draft. He was used infrequently that year, 17 games for a total of 27 innings with an 8.33 ERA. He returned to the minors for 1949 and struggled with a 5.04 ERA but turned it around in 1950, at least in the minors, posting a 1.90 ERA. He had begun the year with the Pirates but after a month they sent him back to AAA, where he also spent all of the 1951 season. He had his best year in 1952 playing for a Pirates team that lost 112 games. His record was poor at 2-12 but he had a career low 4.46 ERA and he threw 153.1 innings. In 1953 he pitched poorly in two early season games before the Pirates sent him to the minors where he would finish his career the following season.

Dutch Dietz (1912) pitcher for the Pirates from 1940 until 1943. He went 9-13, 5.01 in the minors for Syracuse of the International League  in 1940, one season after going 3-17 5.89 for Toledo of the American Association, both high levels of the minor leagues at the time. Despite the poor pitching stats, the Pirates called him up in September and he pitched four games, started two, with a 0-1, 5.87 record in 15.1 innings. Dietz had actually made his major league debut earlier in the season as a pinch runner before he was sent to the minors. He pitched well for the Pirates in 1941, going 7-2, 2.33 in 100.1 innings. He pitched 33 games that year, six as a starter. He got more work and more starts in 1942, pitching 40 games total(13 as a starter) and 134.1 innings. Dutch went 6-9, 3.95, the highest ERA among any Pirates pitcher who made ten starts that season.

He was being used sparingly the first 40 games of the 1943 season, pitching just nine innings total when the Pirates traded him to the Phillies for pitcher Johnny Podgajny. Neither pitcher did well for their new team and Dietz’s major league career was done after that 1943 season. He served two years in the army during WWII and then played another four minor league seasons when he returned before he retired.

Earl Sheely (1893) first baseman for the 1929 Pirates. He was a star player in the Pacific Coast League prior to making his major league debut in 1921. Earl’s first six seasons in the majors he hit at least .296 every year and drove in at least 80 runs each season while playing for the White Sox. He struggled through the 1927 season and decided to return to the PCL where he hit .381 with 21 homers in 1928. The Pirates picked him up in the rule 5 draft and put him at 1B for the 1929 season. In his only season with the Pirates he hit .293 with 75 walks and 88 RBIs.  The Pirates picked up slugger Gus Suhr in the off-season to play 1B and sent Sheely back to the PCL. Suhr went on to play ten seasons with the Pirates and is considered by some to be the best first baseman in team history. Earl hit .403 in the PCL in 1930 with 29 homers. He played one more season in the majors with the Braves in 1931 before finishing his career in the PCL in 1934.

It is likely under the current system of baseball a player like Sheely would’ve had a long productive, possibly Hall of Fame career but back then players could make a good living in the PCL and some chose to stay there instead of playing in the majors away from home. Sheely was a .324 minor league hitter in 1935 games and a .300 hitter in 1,234 major league games. He had over 3,600 hits between the two levels and he accumulated 670 doubles and over 200 homers. His son Bud Sheely played in the majors from 1951 until 1953 with the Chicago White Sox

Ray Miller (1888) lifelong native of Pittsburgh who played first base for the 1917 Pirates. He played minor league ball for ten seasons before he got his first chance at the majors in 1917. He was acquired early in that season by the Cleveland Indians who used him in 19 games, mostly off the bench in a pinch hitting role. He batted .190 with eight walks in 29 plate appearances. He was picked up by the Pirates who gave him six starts at first base but after hitting .148 they sent him to the minors. He was sent by the Pirates to the Kansas City Blues of the American Association in February 1918 to complete an earlier trade between the two teams that happened in August 1917. Miller never played in the majors again and he played just two seasons of pro ball after the trade, 1920 and 1925.

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.

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