While writing about the nine player trade between the Oakland A’s and Pittsburgh Pirates from yesterday, I noticed two of the players sent to Oakland, returned to Pittsburgh to finish their career. Mitchell Page and Doug Bair were part of the trade that brought back Phil Garner and both finished their career back in Pittsburgh. Only Bair had played for the Pirates before the trade, Page was still a minor leaguer at the time. Then today, I wrote about Hall of Famer Lloyd Waner, who also finished his career back in Pittsburgh where he started. That got me wondering, just how many times has a player started and finished his major league career with the Pirates but also played for a different team in between? Off the top of my head I could think of only a few other examples, among them Dock Ellis, who was also mentioned this week. The answer to the question is 18 players have returned to the Steel City to finish their career. One of them comes with an asterisks and that is Joe Beimel, who has a minor league deal with the Rangers after he pitched poorly for the Pirates last year, so he could be off the list. The rest of the list is as follows:
Kevin Young, started in 1992, was released in 1996. He signed with the Royals who released him after just one season and he resigned with the Pirates. He finished his career in 2003, playing 11 of his 12 seasons in Pittsburgh
Doug Bair, pitched four games for the Pirates in 1976, was traded away prior to the next season and didn’t return until 1989. He also played for Pittsburgh in 1990. He played three of his 15 seasons with the Pirates.
Dock Ellis, pitched for the Pirates from 1968 until 1975, was traded to the Yankees for Doc Medich. He returned in September 1979 to finish his career. He played nine of his 12 seasons with the Pirates.
Jason Boyd, pitched four games for the Pirates in 1999, 12 games in 2004 and played for three teams over three seasons in between.
John Candelaria, pitched for the Pirates from 1975 until he was traded away during the 1985 seasons. He returned for 24 relief appearances in 1993 with an 8.24 ERA. He pitched 345 of his 600 career games for the Pirates.
Jim Gray, he should come with an asterisks too because he never actually left the city but he still played for another team. His career consisted of one game for the 1884 Pittsburgh Alleghenys of the American Association, same franchise as the current Pirates, just the name(1891) and league(1887) has since changed. Then he played for the Pittsburgh Burghers of the Player’s League for two games in 1890. After that he played one game for the Alleghenys again later that season, then he got in two games for the 1893 Pirates. That was his entire career, six games, three seasons, three different leagues.
Fred Green, pitched 75 games for the Pirates from 1959 until 1961, even got into three games during the 1960 World Series. The Washington Senators took him off waivers in 1962 then released him in 1963 and he resigned with the Pirates. He pitched eight games in 1964 for Pittsburgh.
Burleigh Grimes, this Hall of Famer has a unique story among the players on this list. He played for the Pirates in 1916-17, then returned in 1928 for two seasons before he left again, only to return in 1934 to finish his career. He pitched 616 career games, 132 for the Pirates. He is the only player on this list with three stints in Pittsburgh.
Jerry Lynch, outfielder for Pittsburgh from 1954-56, then went to the Reds until May of 1963 when he was traded back to the Pirates. Finished his 13 year career in 1966 having played 544 games for Pittsburgh, 640 for Cincinnati.
Milt May, catcher for the Pirates from 1970 until 1973. Was traded to the Astros even up for Jerry Reuss in October 1973. The Pirates traded Steve Nicosia to the Giants in August 1983 to get May back. He finished his career in 1984. He played 1192 career games, 269 for the Pirates.
Al McBean, pitched for the Pirates from 1961 until 1968. Was lost to the Padres in the October 1968 expansion draft. He was traded to the Dodgers in April 1969 and released by Los Angeles in April 1970. Signed with Pirates and pitched eight games in one month before being released.
Alex McCarthy, infielder for the Pirates from 1910 until September 1915, when he was sold to the Cubs. Pittsburgh bought him back the following July and he lasted until the end of the 1917 seasons. He was traded to a minor league team in February 1918.
Bill McKechnie, infielder for the Pirates from 1907,1910-12. Pittsburgh sold him to a minor league team in August 1912, then purchased him back in 1918. He sat out the 1919 season, then returned for one more year with the Pirates in 1920. He also managed the team from 1922 until 1926, winning the 1925 World Series along the way.
Bob Purkey, pitched for the Pirates from 1954 until 1957. Was traded to the Reds in December 1957. The Pirates bought him from the Cardinals in April 1966. He pitched 110 of his 386 games for Pittsburgh but only 16 of his 129 career wins came for the Pirates.
Manny Sanguillen, catcher for the Pirates from 1967 until 1976. He was traded to the A’s for manager Chuck Tanner in November 1976 then returned to the Pirates in April 1978 in exchange for three players. He played for the Pirates until 1980, then was traded to the Indians in December 1980(this link also includes the Purkey trade and information on Doc Medich,mentioned above). He was released two months later before he played a game for Cleveland.
Lloyd Waner, the third Hall of Famer on this list(Grimes,McKechnie). He played for the Pirates from 1927 until May 1941 when he was traded to the Braves. In June 1944, the Dodgers released him and he signed with the Pirates, playing through to the end of the 1945 season. He played 1803 of his 1993 career games for the Pirates.
John Wehner, played for the Pirates from 1991 until 1996. He was put on waiver in October 1996, picked up by the Dodgers, who released him before he played a game. Signed with the Marlins for two seasons before returning to the Pirates as a free agent in 1999. He played three more seasons before retiring, finishing with 364 of his 461 career games in a Pirates uniform.