This Date in Pirates History: March 16

Not only was Hall of Famer Lloyd Waner born on this date, but another Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder that also had a real strong career shares the same birth date. Patsy Donovan(1865) outfielder for the Pirates from 1892 until 1899 batted over .300 six times during his time in Pittsburgh. He was part of one of the best, yet nearly unknown outfielders in team history. The 1893 Pirates outfield consisted of Donovan, a .301 career hitter with 518 stolen bases, Mike Smith, a .310 career hitter in 14 seasons, Jake Stenzel, the Pirates all-time leader in batting average and George Van Haltren, one of the best players from the 19th century not in the Hall of Fame. Donovan, with a .317 average, was the “worst” hitter among the group that year.

Patsy began his pro career in the minors in 1886, taking four seasons to make it to the majors. His first two seasons in the majors, he would play for four different teams. It wasn’t until he reached Pittsburgh, early in 1892, that he was finally able to settle down in one spot.  In 1891, playing for the Louisville Colonels of the American Association, Patsy hit .321 in 105 games with 73 runs scored and 27 stolen bases. Despite those stats, he was released by the Colonels in mid-September and he signed with the Washington Statesman of the AA to finish the season. The Statesman became the Senators the next season when the franchise moved to the National League after the AA folded. Donovan played two months there before he was sent to the Pirates. In 90 games for Pittsburgh in 1892, he hit .294 with 40 stolen bases and 77 runs scored.

In 1893, Donovan scored 114 runs in 113 games played. He stolen 46 bases and walked 42 times, while striking out just eight times all season in 544 plate appearances. The 1894 season was a huge season for offense in the NL, pitchers were having a hard time adjusting to the new pitching distance(from 50 feet to 60 feet 6 inches) and skilled batters, that were used to pitches coming in much quicker, were having a field day at the plate. That year Donovan was able to score 147 runs in 133 games played. He also drove in 76 runs and it didn’t hurt that the Pirates put out one of the most talented lineups in their history that year. His runs scored total that year would be a Pirates all-time record if it weren’t for Stenzel scoring 150 times that same year.

Donovan scored a team leading 115 runs in 1895, hitting .310 with 36 stolen bases. The 1896 season was just another typical year from him as well. He hit .319 with 113 runs scored and 48 stolen bases. The Pirates broke up their star outfield from 1897, shipping out Stenzel and bringing back Steve Brodie, who was a good hitter but more known for his outstanding defense in center field. Donovan led the Pirates with a .322 average but without the bat of Stenzel, or future Hall of Famer Jake Beckley, who was also shipped out, he scored just 82 runs. Patsy was able to break the century mark in runs scored in 1898, thanks in part to a longer NL schedule. After an 1899 season, in which he hit below .300 for the first time since 1892, the Pirates sold Donovan to the St Louis Cardinals for the low price of just $1,000. It was a great deal for the Cardinals, who got four straight .300 seasons out of Patsy. He also led the league in stolen bases in 1900. Pittsburgh was able to make the deal due to the fact they acquired most of the Louisville Colonels(NL) roster in the Honus Wagner trade.

Donovan for the most part, finished his career in 1904 with the Washington Senators of the American League. That gave him the distinction of playing for a major league team from Washington in three different leagues. He later played eight games over two seasons with the Brooklyn Superbas(Dodgers) from 1906-07. With the Pirates, he hit .307 in 982 games with 842 runs scored and 312 stolen bases. In his career he had 2256 hits and 1321 runs scored in 1824 games. Donovan was a longtime manager in the majors and minors. Among the teams he coached were the 1897 Pirates that finished 60-71 and the 1899 team that went 7-15 before he took over the reins and led them to a 69-58 record. Patsy had 214 career outfield assists, which still ranks 37th all-time in baseball history.

Other former Pirates players born on this date include:

Abraham Nunez(1976) Infielder for the Pirates from 1997 until 2004. He was originally signed as an amateur free agent by the Blue Jays in 1994 and came to the Pirates in the nine player deal that sent Carlos Garcia and Orlando Merced to the Blue Jays in November of 1996. Nunez spent his first four seasons in Pittsburgh bouncing between the minors and majors, getting into a total of 173 games with the Pirates over that time.  He was never able to hit well in any of those first four seasons in the big leagues, topping out at .225 in 1997. In 2001 he finally got a full-time gig in the majors, playing 48 games and both shortstop and second base. He hit .262 with 21 RBI’s and eight steals in 301 AB’s and while he didn’t provide much offense, he was solid in the field at both positions. Nunez had three more similar seasons with the Pirates before he left via free agency after the 2004 season. He played between 112-118 games each season and hit between .233 and .248 all three years. His best season actually came in 2005 when he played 139 games for the Cardinals and hit .285 with 44 RBI’s and 64 runs scored, all career highs in each category. Abraham played in the majors until 2008 and as of last year he was still playing Independent Ball. He hit .238 in 630 games with the Pirates.

Bill Duggleby(1874) Pitcher for the 1907 Pirates. He was in his eighth season in the majors in 1907 when the Pirates purchased his contract from the Phillies in July. He was 0-2 7.45 in two starts and three relief appearances prior to the purchase. Despite a 13-19 record in 1906, he had a 2.25 ERA in 280.1 innings. Bill had a little more luck the previous season when he went 18-17 2.46 in 289.1 innings. With the Pirates he pitched nine games, three as a starter and went 2-2 2.68 in 40.1 innings. On September 4th, during the first game of a doubleheader against the Reds, he threw a 2-0 shutout. After the season ended, he returned to the minors for five more seasons before retiring. Duggleby earlier in his career had won 20 games for the 1901 Phillies. Prior to the next season he jumped to the Philadelphia Athletics of the American League, a brand new major league at the time that was a rival to the NL. After just two starts, he was returned to the Phillies. The two teams had a lawsuit over players jumping from one team to the other at the time and most of the players involved were either traded away or returned to their old team. Duggleby had a career record of 92-103 in the majors and he threw 17 shutouts.

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