Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date. Among them are two guys who played the same position for the 1949 Pirates, another who played on a World Series team and one who pitched for the worst team in franchise history. Starting with the youngest first:
Al Grunwald(1930) pitcher for the 1955 Pirates. The Pirates signed him as an amateur free agent prior to the 1947 season. He began his career as a first baseman but seven years later was switched to the mound where he went 9-3 2.89 in 19 starts and two relief appearances his first season as a pitcher in the minors. He made the Pirates out of spring in 1955 although he would’ve liked to forget his first game. Coming in during the fourth inning on April 18th against the Giants already trailing 5-0, the Giants sent five men to the plate and hit for the cycle off him. Both inherited runners scored and Grunwald allowed four runs of his own before being pulled. He pitched 5.1 innings of scoreless relief in his next appearance two weeks later then threw two scoreless innings against the Giants during another blowout loss a week later. He went back to the minors and returned to first base while still occasionally pitching. The Pirates sold him to the Kansas City A’s during the middle of the 1957 season and with them he made one more brief appearance in the majors during the 1959 season. He went on to play baseball in Japan following the 1961 season.
Pete Castiglione(1921) third baseman for the Pirates from 1947 until 1953. He was signed by the Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1940 but just like the next two players on this list, he lost a good portion of his early years while serving in the military during WWII. After three years of service he returned for the 1946 season and hit .342 in 134 minor league games. The Pirates then sent him to Indianapolis of the American Association where he spent the next two seasons, making a September appearance with the big club each year. In 1949 he made the club out of spring and would play 98 games at third base that year. He played a total of 118 games and hit .268 with 57 runs scored. In 1950 he hit .255 in 94 games and made starts at all four infield positions. The following year he was again the regular third baseman for most of the year, getting 94 starts. He played 134 games on the year and set career highs in runs(62) hits(126) and home runs(7) while posting a .261 batting average. He played 67 games in 1952 before an injury sidelined him for the season. When he returned in 1953 he struggled and the Pirates would end up trading him in June to the Cardinals for outfielder Hal Rice. Castiglione played the rest of the year for St Louis, then five more games in 1954 before going to the minors where he finished his career in 1958.
Bobby Rhawn(1919) third baseman for the 1949 Pirates. He got a late start to his major league career due to almost five full seasons serving in the military during WWII. Rhawn had played 63 games over three partial seasons with the Giants when the Pirates acquired him on June 6,1949 for an aging pitcher named Kirby Higbe. Bobby made two starts at third base the first two days with Pittsburgh, going 1-7 with an error before he went to the bench. He pinch hit three days later, then was put on waivers where he was picked up by the Chicago White Sox. After 24 games with the Sox, they traded him across town to the Cubs, who sent him to the minors. Rhawn played ball until 1952, never making the majors again.
Oadis Swigart(1915) pitcher for the 1939-40 Pirates. He began his minor league career in 1935 and had just gone 17-10 3.90 for Knoxville of the Southern Association when the Pirates decided to give him his first chance at the majors in September of 1939. He made three starts during the last 20 games of the year, all during doubleheaders. He had a poor first start and didn’t do any better his third time out allowing seven runs in each game but in between those two starts he would throw a 7-0 shutout over Boston. He made the 1940 Pirates squad out of spring but was being used only in mop-up work, getting four relief appearances in which he allowed seven runs in 4.1 total innings. They sent him down to pitch for Syracuse of the International League, bringing him back up for three September appearances, including a 2-1 loss in which he pitched eight innings without allowing an earned run. He then served in the military until 1946 when he returned for five games in the minors before retiring from baseball.
Herman Layne(1901) outfielder for the 1927 Pirates. He was a star hitter in the minors, hitting at least .341 in each of his five seasons prior to being picked up by the Pirates. Pittsburgh paid a heavy price for him, acquiring him from Toronto of the International League for $30,000 and two players. The planned on giving him a starting job but he was beaten out by a rookie named Lloyd Waner in spring training. Layne went to the bench for the first two months of the season, getting just one start before the Pirates returned him to the minors. He would spend the next seven seasons in the minors, never returning to the big leagues despite a minor league career average of .327 in 1696 games. For the Pirates he went 0-6 with a walk and three runs scored in 11 games.
Harl Maggert(1883) outfielder for the 1907 Pirates. The Pirates drafted him in the 1906 rule 5 draft after one season in pro ball. Maggert spent most of 1907 playing for the Wheeling Stogies of the Central League, where he hit .270 in 111 games. The Pirates called him up in early September and he played just three games over the next month, two in left field and one off the bench. He went 0-6 with two walks and a stolen base. It would be five seasons later when he was finally able to pick up his first major league hit playing with the 1912 Philadelphia Athletics.Harl spent 14 seasons in the minors and collected over 2000 hits. He is the father of Harl Maggert who played for the 1938 Boston Bees(Braves).
Frederick “Crazy” Schmit(1866) pitcher for the 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. As you may know, the 1890 team was by far the worst team in Pirates franchise history. They used a ton of players to get through that season( a recap of that season can be read here and here) and Schmit was one of seven pitchers to get at least 10 starts, a group that won a combined 16 games. Schmit went 1-9 5.83 in 10 starts and one relief appearance. He was an eccentric player who drank a lot and moved around from team to team even more, playing for 22 different teams from 1889-1896. The Alleghenys were bad in 1890 but the Cleveland Spiders were even worse in 1899 and Schmit made 19 starts for them on their way to a 20-134 season. He went 2-17 that season and had a 7-36 career record in the majors.