This Date in Pirates History: March 21

Two trades for the Pittsburgh Pirates and three former players born on this date. One of the players though, stands out above the rest. On this date in 1944, Pirates catcher Manny Sanguillen was born. He played for Pittsburgh in 1967, 1969 until 1976 and then 1978-80. The Pirates signed him as an amateur free agent in October 1964 out of Panama. Manny didn’t hit much his first season in the low minors but he turned it around quickly, raising his average nearly 100 points in 1966 and getting promoted to AAA late in the year, skipping right over AA. He repeated AAA to start 1967, hitting .258 through 71 games before getting his first chance in the majors in July. Sanguillen played 30 games for the Pirates that year, hitting .271 in 96 AB’s and he showed a strong arm behind the plate, throwing our 8 of 14 would-be basestealers. Despite those numbers, he spent the entire 1968 season in AAA where he hit .316 with 60 RBI’s in 105 games. He would not return to the minors again after that season.

In 1969 he became the everyday catcher two weeks into the season and would end up hitting .303 with 57 RBI’s over 129 games. He had a little bit of trouble behind the plate, making a league leading 17 errors but he still threw out 44% of attempted basestealers. Manny followed that up with a .325 average in 1970, helping the Pirates to the playoffs for the first time in ten seasons. He finished 11th in the NL MVP voting that year, one spot ahead of Roberto Clemente. The 1971 season would be a magical one for Manny and the Pirates. He hit .319 with 81 RBI’s in 138 games, made his first all-star appearance and finished eighth in the MVP race. The Pirates won their fourth world championship and Sanguillen had 11 hits in the World Series

The 1972 season saw him make his second all-star appearance, thanks to his strong defense and .298 average with 71 RBI’s. The Pirates again made the playoffs and he hit .313 in the NLCS. The Pirates suffered the tragedy of losing Clemente in the off-season and it was his good friend Sanguillen that tried to take his spot in right field. It didn’t work out defensively and he was moved back behind the plate after two months. He would hit a career high 12 home runs that season, driving in 65 runs as well. In 1974 he caught a career high 151 games, again helping the Pirates to the playoffs. In 1975 he made his third, and final, all-star appearance, hitting a career high .328 that year. He played just 114 games in 1976, missing the last 20 games and he led NL catchers in errors.The Pirates traded Sanguillen on November 5,1976 in exchange for Chuck Tanner, which was summarized here. He played only one season in Oakland before the Pirates acquired him back for three players just before the 1977 opening day.

With the return to Pittsburgh, his catching days were all but over. Manny caught just 26 games over the next two seasons and spent more time at first base and in the pinch hitting role. The Pirates won the World Series again in 1979 and Manny had the game winning pinch hit in the ninth inning of game two to tie the series up one game apiece. On December 9,1980 Sanguillen was traded to the Cleveland Indians, along with Bert Blyleven, in a deal that was covered here. Manny was released by the Indians two months later having played 1448 career games, 1296 with the Pirates. He had a .299 average with Pittsburgh, scoring 524 runs and driving in 527 runners in 4491 AB’s.

Transactions on this date:

On this date in 1982, the Pirates traded infielder Vance Law and pitcher Ernie Camacho to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for pitchers Ross Baumgarten and Butch Edge. The trade really only benefited the White Sox, as Baumgarten pitched just 12 games in Pittsburgh, going 0-5 with a 6.55 ERA. He was released during the next Spring Training. Prior to the trade he had been in the Sox rotation for parts of four seasons. Edge was the sixth overall pick in the 1974 amateur draft. He had previously pitched in the majors with the 1979 Blue Jays but that would end up being all of his major league experience. With the Pirates, he spent two seasons in AAA before he retired. Camacho had pitched seven games in 1981 for the Pirates, his second season playing in the majors. After the trade he played parts of eight more years in the big leagues but for Chicago he spent just one season in the minors before being released. Law, the son of Pirates great Vernon Law, played three seasons in Chicago before they traded him to the Expos for pitcher Bob James. In 1982 Law saw plenty of time at shortstop, then the next two seasons he moved over to third base. Vance hit .281 in 1982 and then the year prior to being traded, he hit 17 homers and drove in 59 runs in 151 games. The White Sox made the playoffs in 1983 and Law went 2-11 with a walk in the series loss to the Orioles.

On this date in 1893, the Pirates acquired pitcher Frank Killen from the Washington Senators in exchange for catcher Duke Farrell and cash. For more on this trade, and also the career of Frank Killen, please check out this link.

Other former Pirates players born on this date include:

Shawon Dunston(1963) Shortstop for the 1997 Pirates. The 34 year old Dunston was in his 13th season in the majors when the Pirates acquired him on August 31,1997 from the Chicago Cubs. After play on the date, the Pirates had a 68-69 record but they trailed the first place Houston Astros by just 2.5 games in the standings. Dunston was hitting .284 with nine homers, 41 RBI’s and 29 stolen bases in 114 games for the Cubs prior to the trade. For the Pirates he stepped right into the starting shortstop role and hit .394 with five homers and 16 RBI’s, collecting at least one hit in 17 of the 18 games he played for Pittsburgh. The Pirates went 11-14 the rest of the way despite his hot hitting, ending the season five games back in the standings. Shawon became a free agent at the end of the season, playing five more years in the majors before he retired as a player.

Bill Brandt(1915) Pitcher for the Pirates from 1941 until 1943. He signed with the Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1938 and pitched over 200 innings each season in the minors from 1938 until 1942, winning at least 13 games each season. He was a September call-up in both 1941 and 1942, pitching a total of five games, four as a starter, with 23.1 innings pitched. In 1943, Bill spent the entire season on the Pirates roster, pitching 29 games, three as a spot starter. He threw 57.1 innings and had a 4-1 record with a 3.14 ERA. Brandt then spent the next two years serving in the military during WWII, returning to the minors in 1946. He would retire from baseball for two years before returning for one final season in 1949, playing in Independent Ball.

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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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