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This Date in Pirates History: March 28


For the second day in a row, we have two Pittsburgh Pirates trades and two players born on this date to talk about. Starting with the most recent trade first, the Pirates traded 25 year old pitcher, Brett Gideon to the Montreal Expos in exchange for veteran lefty starter, Neal Heaton. Heaton had already played seven seasons in the majors, winning in double figures three times with a high of 13 in 1987. In 1988 he went 3-10 4.99 in 32 games, 11 as a starter. Gideon pitched for the Pirates in the majors in 1987, throwing 29 games in relief with a 4.66 ERA. He spent all of 1988 in the minors, splitting the year between AA and AAA. He went 4-8 2.53 with 15 saves in 49 games.

Gideon spent most in 1989 in the minors, getting four appearances for the Expos in June. In 1990 he made the team out of Spring. In the second game of the season, a 4-2 loss to the Cardinals in which he allowed one run in one inning, he injured his elbow and would require surgery that put him out the entire season. Gideon never pitched in the majors again and lasted just 23 minor league appearances before retiring. Heaton made this trade a one-sided win for the Pirates. In three seasons he had a 21-19 3.46 record in 114 games, 43 as a starter. He won 12 games and made the all-star team in 1990, the first time the Pirates made the playoffs since the 1979 season. Then he made 41 relief appearances for the 1991 Pirates, the second straight NL East winner for the city of Pittsburgh. During Spring Training of 1992, the Pirates traded Heaton to the Royals in exchange for Kirk Gibson, a deal that was discussed here.

On this date in 1969 the Pirates traded pitcher Tommie Sisk and catcher Chris Cannizzaro to the San Diego Padres in exchange for outfielder Ron Davis and infielder Bobby Klaus. Sisk, at age 26, had spent seven seasons with the Pirates, compiling a 37-35 3.69 record in 264 games, 85 of them as a starter. He went 5-5 3.28 in 96 innings in 1968. Cannizzaro, age 30, played in the majors from 1960-65 before spending two full seasons in the minors. The Pirates traded for him in November, 1967 and he played 25 games with the team in 1968. Davis was 26 years old and had split the 1968 season between the Cardinals and Astros, hitting .203 with one homer and 17 RBI’s in 85 games. Klaus was 31 years old and had spent the last three seasons in the minors after spending all of 1964-65 in the majors.

The Pirates didn’t get much from this deal. Klaus played one season at AAA before retiring. Davis in 1969 hit .234 with four RBI’s in 62 games, with just ten of those games coming as a starter. He spent the 1970-71 seasons playing for the Pirates AAA team before retiring. The 1969 Padres were an expansion team in their first season and they were bad. They finished with a 52-110 record and Sisk saw his performance fall off greatly with his new team. He went 2-13 4.78 in 13 starts and 40 relief appearances. The Padres traded him to the White Sox in 1970 and by 1971 his career would be over. Cannizzaro made the all-star team in 1969 and his career lasted another six seasons in the majors after the trade. In 1970 he hit .279 with 42 RBI’s in 111 games, making this trade as easy win for the Padres.

The former Pirates players:

Bill Macdonald(1929) Pitcher for the Pirates in 1950 and 1953. He originally signed with the Tigers and pitched two years in the minors before signing with the Pirates as a free agent in early 1949. The Tigers let him go before his 20th birthday despite the fact he won 27 games over his two seasons in their system. Bill went 13-11 3.28 for New Orleans of the Southern Association in 1949. He made the Pirates out of Spring Training in 1950 but was used just once the first month of the season. On May 23rd, Bill made his first major league start and he threw a shutout with seven strikeouts over the Phillies. A week later he made his second start and couldn’t make it out of the third inning before he was chased from the game. Macdonald ended up making twenty starts and 12 relief appearances, finishing with a record of 8-10 4.29 in 153 innings. His .444 winning percentage that year led one of the worst team’s in franchise history. During the 1951-52 seasons, Bill served in the military. Returning in 1953, he went 0-1 12.27 in four games for the Pirates before they shipped him to Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League. Just four appearances into the 1954 seasons, after allowing eight runs in 2.2 innings, he retired from baseball.

Moses “Chief” Yellow Horse(1898) Pitcher for the 1921-22 Pirates. He was a full-blooded Pawnee Indian, one of a handful of American Indian major leaguers during the early years. Moses pitched just one full season in the minors before the Pirates signed him for the 1921 season. In 1920, pitching for Little Rock of the Southern Association, he went 21-7 in 46 games, pitching 278 innings. With the Pirates in 1921, he went 5-3 2.98 in 48.1 innings. Moses made four starts and six relief appearances that year, with his time limited due to an arm injury. He had a bigger role with the 1922 Pirates after pitching well in Spring Training. He would again make four starts on the year but he made 24 relief appearances and ended up pitching 77.2 innings that season. He injured his arm again and was sent to play for Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League in 1923. Yellow Horse went 22-13 3.68 in 311 innings pitched that season. A third arm injury effectively ended his career. He would pitch briefly in both 1924 and 1926 in the minors before retiring.

John Dreker
John Dreker
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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