This Date in Pirates History: August 26

We have two former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, infielders from different eras. We also have one trade of note and a Jolly Roger Rewind from John Fredland, dealing with the 1992 season and a pair of knuckleball pitchers squaring off. Before we get into everything else, we have one current player celebrating a birthday. Pirates catcher Eric Fryer turns 27 today. He is currently the backup catcher at AAA to Tony Sanchez. Fryer has played in the majors each of the last two seasons, getting into a total of 14 games. He came to the Pirates in the June 2009 trade for Eric Hinske.

The Trade

On this date in 2003, the Pirates traded All-Star outfielder Brian Giles to the San Diego Padres for Jason Bay, Oliver Perez and minor league pitcher Corey Stewart, who was a player to be named later in the deal. The 32 year old Giles had played five seasons with the Pirates, hitting .308 with 165 homers, 501 runs scored, 519 walks and 506 RBI’s in 715 games. At the time of the deal, he was hitting .299 with 16 homers and a .951 OPS. Perez and Bay each had minimal major league experience at the time. Bay, at age 24, had played just three games for the Padres. He was in AAA, batting .303 with 20 homers and 23 stolen bases in 91 games. Perez had an 8-12 4.51 record in two years with the Padres and he had just turned 22 years old. Stewart didn’t come over until October. He was a 23 year old lefty, who spent the 2003 season in AA.

After the deal, the Pirates got two minor league seasons out of Stewart, who never made it to the majors. Perez paid off huge his first full season(12 wins, 2.98 ERA, 239 K’s), then went downhill quickly, having three poor seasons before the Pirates dumped him on the Mets in the Xavier Nady deal. Bay ended up being the key to the deal, hitting .281 with 139 homers and 452 RBI’s over his six seasons(four full years) in Pittsburgh. Giles played seven years in San Diego, and while he was still a strong hitter, his numbers fell way off from his Pirates days, especially the power numbers playing in his new spacious ballpark. He hit .279 with 83 homers in 833 games for the Padres.

The Players

Jeff Richardson (1965) Infielder for the 1991 Pirates. He was originally a seventh round draft pick in 1986 of the Cincinnati Reds. Jeff made it to the majors in July of 1989 and saw plenty of time over the rest of the season. In 53 games, he hit .168 with two homers and 11 RBI’s, seeing most of his time at shortstop in place of the injured Barry Larkin. On April 3,1990, the Pirates traded outfielder Billy Hatcher to get Richardson and pitcher Mike Roesler. Nearly his entire time with the Pirates, from 1990-93, was spent with AAA Buffalo, but he did make a brief appearance in the majors during the 1991 season. When Jeff King went on the DL in mid-May, the Pirates called up Richardson and got him into six games. He batted four times, collecting a single and striking out the other three times. When King returned after 15 days, Richardson was sent down, ending his major league time with the Pirates. Almost exactly three years to the day they acquired him, the Pirates dealt Jeff to the Red Sox for pitcher Daryl Irvine. He hit .208 in 15 games for Boston in 1993, missing most of the year with back problems. In 1994, Richardson spent the entire year in the minors, playing in the Cardinals system. He then finished his playing career in 1995 with a brief stay at AAA for the Pirates. Jeff managed the next three seasons(1996-98) in the Pirates farm system.

Sparky Adams (1894) Infielder for the 1928-29 Pirates. He came to the Pirates on November 28,1927, as the main return in the deal for Hall of Fame outfielder Kiki Cuyler. Adams got a late start in his pro career, not playing his first minor league game until age 24, and he didn’t make the majors until weeks after his 28th birthday. He spent his first six years with the Cubs, where he hit .292 with 401 runs scored and 201 RBI’s in 672 games. He saw plenty of time at shortstop, third and second base during his career, playing at least 297 games at each position. In the three years prior to the Pirates acquiring him, Adams led the league in AB’s every single year. He also scored between 95 and 100 runs each season. With the Pirates in 1928, Sparky(first name was Earl) got most of his playing time at shortstop, making 105 starts there. He batted second to begin the year, then moved to the lead-off spot in early July. Adams hit .276 with 64 walks, 38 RBI’s and 91 runs scored in 135 games. In 1929, he was being used more in a utility role, seeing time at all three infield positions and being used off the bench. It was a down year for Sparky, who hit .260 with 11 RBI’s and 37 runs scored in 74 games. After the season, he was sold to the St Louis Cardinals. He immediately had two strong seasons in St Louis, hitting .314 his first year there, then finishing ninth in the NL MVP voting the following year. Adams had three more average years in the majors, then finished his career off in 1935 in the minors. He was a .286 career hitter in 1424 games, with 844 runs scored and 1588 hits.

Jolly Roger Rewind: August 26, 1992

Tim Wakefield continued his impressive first month in the major leagues, pitching a six-hit, complete-game shutout in a 2-0 defeat of the Dodgers and fellow knuckleball pitcher Tom Candiotti at Dodger Stadium.

In the first match-up of knuckballers since Phil Niekro and Joe Niekro opposed each other in a Braves-Astros game in September 1982, Wakefield came out ahead with his first major-league shutout and third complete game in his first six starts.* He struck out three Dodgers, and short-circuited a two-on, none-out rally in the fourth inning by picking Brett Butler off second and, two pitches later, Lenny Harris off first. Wakefield, who lowered his ERA to 2.02, needed only 107 pitches to face 32 batters.**

Candiotti countered with a solid six innings, surrendering only single runs in the fifth and sixth frames. Light-hitting Bucco second baseman Jose Lind, who entered the night’s play with a dreadful batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage line of .232/.270/.270, was integral to both runs. In the fifth inning, he led off with an infield single off Candiotti, and, two outs later, came around to score on Jay Bell’s double down the left-field line. One inning later, Lind increased the lead to 2-0 with a two-out RBI single, scoring Mike LaValliere from third base.

The first-place Pirates maintained a two-and-a-half game lead over the second-place Expos.

Box score and play-by-play

Los Angeles Times game story

* After debuting on July 31 with a complete-game shutout of the Cardinals, Wakefield had also gone the distance to defeat Atlanta on August 16.

** The Associated Press game story noted that Wakefield’s slowest offering had registered at fifty-eight miles per hour on the radar gun; Candiotti’s slowest pitch traveled only fifty-three miles per hour.

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