This Date in Pirates History: April 3

Two Pittsburgh Pirates trades and five former players born on this date, plus a special mention at the end. Starting with the 1986 trade on this date, the Pirates sent outfielder Marvell Wynne to the San Diego Padres in exchange for pitcher Bob Patterson. Wynne came up with the Pirates in June of 1983 and stepped right into the starting center field role, playing 103 games that rookie season and 154 in 1984. He hit .266 with 11 triples and 24 doubles in 1984, stealing 24 bases as well although he was caught stealing 19 times. He struggled in 1985, hitting .205 with a .505 OPS in 103 games. Patterson was a 26 year old lefty reliever, who made his major league debut in September of 1985, getting hit hard in three appearances.

Patterson bounced between the minors and majors his first four seasons in Pittsburgh. They tried him as a starter but his eventual value with the team, came as a reliever for the three pennant winners from 1990-92. During those three seasons he made 169 appearances, winning 18 times and saving another 16 games. In six seasons with Pittsburgh, he had a 3.97 ERA in 331 innings over 207 games. Wynne spent 3 1/2 seasons in San Diego, getting plenty of playing time at all three outfield positions. In 468 games with the Padres, he hit .258 with 138 RBI’s, 107 runs scored and 29 stolen bases(in 51 attempts). His best season came in 1988 when he hit .264 with a .752 OPS and career high 42 RBI’s.

On this date in 1990, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded outfielder Billy Hatcher to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for pitcher Mike Roesler and infielder Jeff Richardson. Hatcher was 29 at the time, coming off a season he split with the Pirates and Astros, in which he hit .231 with four homers, 51 RBI’s and 24 stolen bases in 135 games. In 1987 with the Astros he hit .296 with 53 stolen bases but never came close to that any other season. Roesler was a 26 year old reliever with a 3.96 ERA in 17 appearances in 1989 for the Reds, his rookie season. Richardson was a rookie in 1989 as well. He hit .168 with two homers in 53 games for the Reds, spending most of his playing time at shortstop.

The Pirates didn’t get much from this deal. Richardson was in AAA at Buffalo for three seasons, getting just six games and four AB’s with the Pirates during the 1991 season. He was dealt in 1993 for Daryl Irvine, a pitcher that never played for the Pirates in the majors. Roesler pitched only six innings for the Pirates during the 1990 season, his last year in the majors. He was in the Pirates system through the middle of 1992, finishing his career in 1993 as a member of the Royals farm system. Hatcher helped the Reds to the 1990 World Series, hitting .333 in the NLCS against the Pirates, then batting .750 in the WS against the Oakland A’s. He hit .276 with 30 stolen bases and 68 runs scored during that regular season. He was with the Reds until July of 1992 when he was traded to the Red Sox for pitcher, Tom Bolton.

Former Pirates players born on this date include:

Ryan Doumit(1981) Catcher for the Pirates from 2005 until 2011. He was a second round draft pick of the Pirates in the 1999 amateur draft and lasted in the system until this past off-season. In 611 major league games over seven seasons, he hit .271 with 67 homers and 266 RBI’s. Ryan’s best season came in 2008 when he hit .318 with 15 homers, 34 doubles, 71 runs scored and 69 RBI’s in 116 games. He suffered numerous injuries during his time in Pittsburgh, but in 2010 he was able to play a career high 124 games. It was only the second time he played over 83 games in a season. Doumit was signed by the Twins as a free agent on November 23, 2011.

Bobby Hill(1978) 2B/3B for the Pirates from 2003 until 2005. He was originally a second round draft pick of the Cubs in 2000. Hill made his major league debut in 2002, hitting .253 with four homers and 20 RBI’s in 59 games. He spent most of 2003, while with the Cubs, in AAA where he hit .288 with 40 RBI’s in 92 games. On August 15,2003 he was sent to the Pirates as the player to be named later in the Aramis Ramirez deal made two weeks earlier. In 2004, he played 126 games for the Pirates, 76 off the bench. Most of his playing time in the field was at second base, occasionally playing 3B and he made just two errors all season. In 233 AB’s he hit .266 with 27 RBI’s. Bobby played 58 games for the Pirates in 2005, then was traded in the off-season to the Padres for pitcher Clayton Hamilton. After spending all of 2006 in AAA, he didn’t play in 2007, returning in 2008 to play Independent ball, where he has been the last four seasons.

Miguel Garcia(1967) Pitcher for the Pirates from 1987 until 1989. The Pirates acquired Miguel, and minor league third baseman Bill Merrifield from the Angels in exchange for second baseman Johnny Ray in August of 1987. Prior to that, Garcia had pitched one game in the majors, allowing four runs in 1.2 innings. In the minors during the 1987 season, he went 10-6 2.59 in 50 relief appearances at AA Midland. After coming over to the Pirates, he pitched one game, retiring the only two batters he faced. In 1988 he pitched one early season game for the Pirates, spending the rest of the year at AAA. Garcia started the 1989 season in the minors, getting recalled in early June. He made 11 appearances, posting an ERA of 8.44 in 16 innings before being sent back down. Miguel spent the 1990 season in AA for the Pirates as a starting pitcher. That was his last season of pro ball, except for a brief five game comeback in 1995, pitching at AAA for the Expos.

Dick Conger(1921) Pitcher for the 1941-42 Pirates. He was signed as a teenager by the Tigers in 1940 and went right to the majors to start his career. After two appearances, Conger went to the minors to finish the season. The Pirates picked him up in the rule 5 draft in October 1940. He pitched two seasons with the Pirates, spending most of the time in the minors. Conger made two appearances with the Pirates each year, one as a starter both seasons. He had no record and a 1.46 ERA in 12.1 innings with Pittsburgh. After the 1942 season, Conger was traded to Toronto of the International League in exchange for the rights to Burgess Whitehead, a veteran second baseman who was serving in the military. Dick was purchased by the Phillies during the 1943 season and finished his major league career later that year. He spent  another six seasons in the minors before retiring from baseball.

Guy Hecker(1856) Pitcher/1B and manager for the 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He had a 175-146 record in nine seasons in the majors, one of those seasons was a very special one though. In 1884, Hecker, while pitching for the Louisville Colonels of the American Association, had one of the best overall seasons in baseball history. He won an amazing 52 games, led the league with a 1.80 ERA, 670.2 innings pitched and 385 strikeouts. For reference, most baseball sources will quote the single season strikeout record to be Nolan Ryan with 383 in 1973 but that is just a modern record. Hecker also batted .297 with 42 RBI’s that season and led all AA pitchers in assists and putouts.

In 1886, Hecker won 26 games and led the AA with a .341 batting average. He qualified for the batting title by playing first base and outfield when he wasn’t pitching. On August 15,1886 he hit three homers in one game. After the 1889 season, with his skills declining, he was released by Louisville. He signed on to manage the Alleghenys, who lost most of their team to the newly formed Player’s League. The Alleghenys were one of the worst teams in baseball history and Hecker suffered through the whole season at the helm of the team. They went 23-113, he went 2-9 on the mound and hit .226 in 86 games, in what would be his last season in the majors. Guy played minor league ball until 1895.

Finally, I usually only mention guys who actually played with the Pirates but I’m going to make an exception right now. Larry Littleton, a left fielder for the 1981 Cleveland Indians turns 58 today, He was a first round draft pick of the Pirates in the 1976 January Secondary draft. Pittsburgh traded him to the Indians in late December 1979 for pitcher Larry Andersen. Littleton played 26 of the Indians first 36 games in 1981 and he went to bat 27 times. Three times he drew a walk, once he hit a sacrifice fly and the other 23 times he went back to the dugout without getting a hit. He never made the majors again, retiring after the 1983 season with a .000 career batting average. The not-so-funny but ironic part about that was the fact his cousin Gordy Coleman, also made his major league debut with the Indians. He started his big league career in 1959 and batted .533 as a September call-up. He tripled in his first career AB. They may have been related but their careers surely had nothing in common besides the Indians connection.

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About John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

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