Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2002
On this date in 1996, the Pirates signed free agent shortstop Kevin Elster to a one year contract. Elster was signed after the Pirates traded regular shortstop Jay Bell to the Royals. Kevin was coming off a year where he set career highs in avg (.252) hr's (24) and rbi's(99). Unfortunately Kevin would struggle in his limited time, hitting just .225 in 39 games, but did drive in 25 runs. He also made just 1 error in the field. On May 17th, he was placed on the 60 day disabled list with a broken wrist. He was replaced by Kevin Polcovich.
On this date in 1983 the Bucs signed 5 time all-star Amos Otis to a one year contract. Otis was a 16 year veteran spending all but 67 games of his career with the Royals for whom he had over 2000 hits, 1000+ runs and drove in 997 runs. Amos would struggle his only year with the Bucs and get into just 40 games, 32 in left field a position which he had only played 31 games before 1984. He batted .165 with 10 RBI's with the Bucs and missed significant time with a rib injury. 1984 would be his last season in the majors.
Former Bucs players born on this date include Mike Fetters who turns 38 today. He joined the team in 2001 from the Dodgers and pitched in 52 games for the Bucs before being traded to the Diamondbacks this past season. He compiled a 2-1 record with 8 saves in his days with the Pirates.
Former Bucs pitcher Jose Silva, who pitched for them from 1997-2001, was born on this date in 1973. He came to the Pirates on Nov 14th, 1996 in a 9 player deal that sent Carlos Garcia, Orlando Merced and Dan Plesac to the Blue Jays (for more on this trade check out the Nov 14th article in the archived story section). Jose had a 24-28 record with the Pirates in 140 games, 53 as a starter.
Jose went 11-9 in 2000, but had an ERA of 5.56. Just once in his 5 seasons did he post a sub 5.00 ERA when he went 6-7 4.40 in 1998. He saved 4 games in 1999, but went just 2-8. He played with the Reds in 2002 and went 1-0 in 12 games with a career low 4.24 ERA.
Eddie Yount, born in 1915, played 2 games for the 1939 Pirates, both as a pinch hitter and struck out in both at-bats. It was his last major league experience which included just 4 other games for the 1937 Phillies.
Lou Koupal, born on this date in 1898, played for the Pirates in 1925 and 1926. The '25 team won the World Series. Lou made the 1925 team out of spring training, but struggled giving up 9 runs in 9 innings, walking 7 and striking out none. He did not appear in the postseason. In 1926 he went 0-2 3.20 in 6 games.He finished 10-21 career and spent 6 full seasons in the minors before making it back to the majors with the Browns in 1937 where he finished his career. He also pitched for the Dodgers and Phillies.
Art Butler, born in 1887, played for the Bucs from 1912-13. He joined the Pirates after playing for the Dodgers the previous season. Butler played 2nd base his first season with the club and hit .273 in 43 games with 17 RBI's. The next season he split time between 2b and shortstop (occasionally filling in for Honus Wagner who was 39 at the time). Art batted .280 that year with 20 RBI's in 82 games. He was part of an 8 player trade with the Cardinals that was featured in my Dec 12th article. He played 3 seasons with the Cardinals and retired a .241 hitter over 454 games.
Ray Poat, a right handed pitcher for 6 years joined the Pirates midseason in 1949, his only year with the team. He went 11-10 the previous season for the Giants, but struggled in 2 appearances before coming over to the Pirates. In 11 games for the Bucs, he went 0-1 6.25 in what would be his last ML experience. Ray was born in 1917 and finished 22-30 4.54 over 116 games.
Finally, Tommy O'Brien, born in 1918, started his major league career with the Pirates in 1943 and played 3 seasons with them spent as a backup left and right fielder. Tommy batted .310 as a rookie in 89 games. He hit .335 with 18 RBI's in 58 games in 1945, but did not make the team the next year and spent 3 straight years in the minors before resurfacing briefly with the Red Sox, then Senators in 1949-50. He batted .277 over 293 games.