The All 1993-2012 Pittsburgh Pirates Team…

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

With the 1-0 Pittsburgh victory tonight over the Rangers, the  Pirates won their 82nd game of the season. This is the first time the Bucs have reached such a height since 1992, when they were a Francisco Cabrera single away from the World Series.

Since then, Pittsburgh saw the defection of Barry Bonds, Doug Drabek and Andy Van Slyke and a lot of questionable draft picks (including number one overall selections used on Kris Benson and Bryan Bullington) and a parade of prospects who never panned out.

But despite a generation of losing, some players did contribute their share to turn things around in The Steel City.

This is a 25 man roster of the best players for the Pirates worst years. None of them played in the 1992 NLCS and none are on the current roster.

They all represent the franchise between Sid Bream’s slide and the electric 2013 squad.

The roster includes a starting player for each position, a five man rotation and bullpen and a bench. And only their Pirate years are considered for entry.

So let’s celebrate the Pirates when the fans had little to cheer for except these players’ efforts on a losing squad.

The All 1993-2012 Pittsburgh Pirates Team

AP Photo

AP Photo

Starting Catcher: Jason Kendall

Drafted in 1992, the son of former big leaguer Jason Kendall became a Pirate mainstay from 1996 to 2004. In his nine years with the Pirates, he finished third in the Rookie of the Year vote in 1996 and three times was Pittsburgh’s representative in the All Star Game.

A solid defensive catcher, he also was a consistent .300 hitter, topping the mark 6 times. Never much of a power threat (his home run high with the Pirates was 14 in 2000), he was a steady performer in some of the Pirates darkest years.

Later he appeared in three straight post seasons with three different franchises (2006 A’s, 2007 Cubs and 2008 Brewers) before retiring after the 2010 season.

Upper Deck

Upper Deck

Starting First Baseman: Kevin Young

He actually played 10 games with the 1992 Pirates, but those 9 plate appearances were not enough to disqualify him. (He wasn’t on the post season roster.)

Young played 11 of his 12 big league seasons with Pittsburgh from 1992 to 2003. He played one season for Kansas City in 1996. He had good power, hitting 20+ homers three straight seasons from 1998 to 2000. He also was 19th in the 1997 NL MVP race when the Pirates made a push for the division before fading below .500. He had a .909 OPS is 1999. That year he also drove in 106 runs and stole 20 bases.

His big league career ended when he was released during the 2003 season.

He was named as a user in the Mitchell Report in 2007.

Photo by Tony Firriolo/MLB Photos

Photo by Tony Firriolo/MLB Photos

Starting Second Baseman: Freddy Sanchez

Acquired from the Red Sox in a trade involving Scott Sauerbeck, Sanchez became a productive hitter for the Pirates from 2005 to 2009.

He won the National League Batting Title in 2006 and led the league in doubles with 53 that year.

Sanchez was named to three All Star Squads during his 4 1/2 full seasons in Pittsburgh before being dealt to the Giants midway through the 2009 season.

He played a big part in the Giants 2010 World Series Championship season.

Christian Petersen - Getty Images

Christian Petersen – Getty Images

Starting Shortstop: Jack Wilson

The one time Cardinals prospect made his big league debut with the Pirates in 2001. He would spend 9 seasons in Pittsburgh, with his best year being 2004. He hit .308, led the league with 12 triples, won the Silver Slugger and made the All Star Team.

Despite playing on losing team after losing team, he was devastated when the Pirates dealt him to the Seattle Mariners during the 2009 season.

He loved Pittsburgh and expected to be a Pirate for life. He finished his career with the 2012 Braves.

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Starting Third Baseman: Aramis Ramirez

The dynamic right handed power hitting third baseman emerged from the Pirates farm system in 1998. By 2001, he had developed into a legitimate star, clubbing 34 homers, driving in 112 and batting .300. He finished that season with an OPS of .885 and an OPS plus of 122.

In 2002 his production dipped to 18 homers and an OPS of .666. The Pirates panicked the next season and sent him packing to the Chicago Cubs in one of the most notorious deals in the losing streak.

Ramirez was sent to Wrigley with Kenny Lofton for Bobby Hill, Jose Hernandez and Mark Bruback. The Cubs got a star and the Pirates got close to nothing back.

Photo: Gene J. Puskar/AP

Photo: Gene J. Puskar/AP

Starting Left Fielder: Jason Bay

Probably the most famous of the losing era Pirates, Bay began his career as a Montreal farm hand. After being passed around between the Expos, Mets and Padres, he landed in Pittsburgh as a part of the Brian Giles trade.

He responded by winning the 2004 Rookie of the Year and finishing 12th in the 2005 NL MVP race. A right handed slugging outfielder was good for 25-35 homers a year.

His best season, 2005, he added 21 steals to his .961 OPS production.

In the middle of another productive season in 2008, he was involved in a blockbuster three team deal. The Dodgers received Manny Ramirez, who electrified the team and the fan base as they stampeded to the NLCS. The Red Sox got Bay, who was outstanding in the Division Series and helped get the defending champs to Game 7 of the ALCS.

What did the Pirates get?

Andy LaRoche, Bryan Morris, Brandon Moss and Craig Hansen.

Good trade.

AP Photo

AP Photo

Starting Center Fielder: Brian Giles

Giles was an established big leaguer with World Series experience as an outfielder for the Cleveland Indians. He was shipped to Pittsburgh after the 1998 ALCS in a deal for Ricardo Rincon.

A role player with a star studded Indians team, he became the marquee player for the Pirates. He ranked among the top 25 MVP candidates for each of his four full seasons despite not appearing for a single contender.

His 123 RBI in 2000 fell just short of the Pirates record held by Paul Waner.

He became the first Pirate to hit .300 with 30 homers and 100 RBI in back to back season. That is pretty remarkable when you consider this is the franchise the produced Barry Bonds, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Ralph Kiner and the Waner brothers.

He was dealt to the Padres (bringing back Jason Bay) and helped San Diego reach back to back playoffs in 2005 and 2006.

Bowman Cards

Bowman Cards

Starting Right Fielder: Jose Guillen

A product of the Pittsburgh scouting department, he placed 7th in the Rookie of the Year vote in 1997 when the Pirates contended until a late season fade.

He had some power but also a rocket for an arm. His defense made him a highlight film regular with this clip against Colorado still frequently shown on MLB Network.

He was dealt to Tampa Bay during the 1999 season. Since leaving Pittsburgh, he has been passed from organization to organization, often times clashing with management.

Mike Scioscia of the Angels benched him in critical games and he was later found to be using performance enhancing drugs.

Starting Rotation

Photo: Peter Diana/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Photo: Peter Diana/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Zach Duke

A Rookie of the Year candidate in 2005, Duke burst onto the scene going 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA and looked like a potential ace for the struggling Bucs.

He was the National League Pitcher of the Month in July, 2005 as he posted a 0.87 ERA.

In all, Duke pitched for six seasons in Pittsburgh and was named to the 2010 National League All Star Team.

After stints with the Diamondbacks and the Nationals, he is now pitching for the Pirates’ divisional rival Cincinnati Reds.

Photo: Paul J. Bereswill, Associated Press

Photo: Paul J. Bereswill, Associated Press

Kevin Correia

The 8 year veteran arrived in Pittsburgh for the 2011 campaign. After being a reliever for the Giants and a starter for the Padres, he emerged as a staff leader for the Pirates.

By early July, he had an 11-6 record with a 3.74 ERA for a Pirates team that was only a game and a half out of first place. He made the All Star team in 2011 but faded, along with the Pirates in the second half.

In 2012, he finished with 12 wins and an ERA of 4.21 and then left in the off season for Minnesota.

AP Photo

AP Photo

Francisco Córdova

A veteran of the Mexican Leagues, Cordova made his big league debut in 1996 with the Pirates.

His great highlight came on July 12, 1997 when he pitched 9 no hit innings with 10 strikeouts against the Houston Astros. The game was scoreless after 9 and Ricardo Rincon kept the no hitter alive in the 10th. Pinch hitter Mark Smith homered in the bottom of the 10th to clinch the no no, which is to date the last one in Pirates history.

Cordova’s career was cut short with arm issues, but he has continued to pitch in Mexico.

Jonathan Daniel - Getty Images

Jonathan Daniel – Getty Images

Jon Lieber

Stan Belinda threw the pitch that Francisco Cabrera hit and crushed a generation of Pirate fan hearts. Belinda was eventually traded to Kansas City for Leiber.

In 1994, when the losing season streak was at one, he made his big league debut and pitched well for Jim Leyland’s squad. When the strike hit, his ERA was 3.73.

He was the opening day starter in 1995 and 1997 and posted a respectable 3.99 ERA in 1996 and 11 wins in 1997.

He was dealt to the Cubs where he became a 20 game winner and eventually pitched with the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS.




Jason Schmidt

A one time top prospect for the Braves, Schmidt joined the Pirates during the 1996 season as the biggest chip in the Denny Neagle trade.

He put up double digit victories on some miserable Pirate teams. He also tossed back to back 200 inning seasons in 1998 and 1999.

Eventually he was dealt to the Giants and pitched for San Francisco in the 2002 World Series.






AP Photo/Gene Puskar

AP Photo/Gene Puskar

Mike Williams

Williams was a journeyman pitcher with six years of big league experience when he joined the Pirates in 1998. He was sent to the bullpen and posted a 1.94 ERA over 51 relief innings.

By 1999 he was closing games for Pittsburgh, saving 20 or more games in five of six seasons in the Steel City. His career high was 46 saves for an 89 loss squad in 2002.

He was named to the 2002 and 2003 All Star Game, although his ’03 selection was notorious because he finished that year with an ERA over 6.00 and never came back to the majors.

Photo: Pat Sullivan - AP

Photo: Pat Sullivan – AP

Matt Capps

Capps emerged as a solid set up man as a rookie for the 2006 Pirates. The 22 year old posted a 9-1 record and by his second season, he became the closer.

He posted 18 saves in 2007, 21 in 2008 and 27 in 2009.

However in 2009, his ERA ballooned to an eye popping 5.80 and was non tendered at the end of the season.

He became an All Star with the 2010 Nationals before being dealt to the Twins for the stretch run.

Matt Freed - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Matt Freed – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Joel Hanrahan

A one time Dodger prospect, Hanrahan was struggling as a reliever for the Nationals when he was dealt to the Pirates in the Nyjer Morgan deal during the 2009.

A change of scenery was just what he needed. He posted a 1.72 ERA as a set up man in 33 games in ’09. Another effective season in 2010 made Matt Capps expendable, moving him to the closer role in 2011.

He responded with back to back All Star Seasons. He saved 40 games in 2011 with an ERA of 1.83. He saved 36 with a solid 2.72 ERA for the 2012 team.

He was dealt to Boston after the 2012 season. Injuries cut his Boston season after 9 disappointing games.

AP Photo

AP Photo

Evan Meek

After bouncing around several organizations, Meek made his big league debut with the 2008 Pirates.

In 2009 he became a solid middle reliever and in 2010 was selected to the NL All Star Team, a rarity for a set up man.

He finished with a 2.14 ERA over 80 relief innings.

Meek played the 2012 season with the Pirates but this season has been in the Rangers organization.

Getty Images

Getty Images

Ricardo Rincon

Rincon joined the 1997 Pirates after years of pitching in the Mexican League. He was a left handed reliever who compiled a few wins.

His 3rd credited victory of the season was a memorable one in Pirates history. As mentioned above, Francisco Cordova threw 9 no hit innings the game was scoreless after 9.

Instead of going out for the 10th, Rincon came out and pitched a scoreless ninth (Houston’s Derek Bell walked.) With 2 outs in the 10th, Mark Smith pinch hit for Rincon and hit a walk off 3 run homer to win the game and clinch the no hitter.

So the last no hitter in Pirates history, as of this writing, was won by Ricardo Rincon.

The Bench

Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Allsport

Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Allsport

Reserve Infielder: Tony Womack

Womack made cameos in the major leagues during the 1993, 1994 and 1996 seasons. But in 1997, he became a Rookie of the Year candidate. He made the most of his first full season, making the All Star team and leading the league with 60 stolen bases.

In 1998, he led the league with 58 stolen bases. That year he also led the National League with 149 singles.

Before the 1999 season he was traded to the Diamondbacks for Jason Boyd and Paul Weichard. Womack led the league in stolen bases for a third straight year and became a post season hero for the 2001 Arizona squad.

Photo: Ron Schwane, Associated Press

Photo: Ron Schwane, Associated Press

Reserve Infielder: Jose Castillo

The Venezuela native made the Pirates squad in 2004 and at age 23 became Pittsburgh’s starting second baseman.

One time the top prospect in Pittsburgh’s system, he struggled to find consistency in the big leagues. Sometimes spectacular in the field and with decent power, he struggled through slumps and injuries before being let go after the 2007 season.

He played with the Giants and Astros before moving to the Taiwanese and Japanese Leagues.

Upper Deck

Upper Deck

Reserve Outfielder: Al Martin

Martin had 12 plate appearances with the 1992 NL East Champs, but did not appear in the post season. In 1993, he was a Rookie of the Year candidate, giving Pirate fans false hope that rebuilding would be quick.

He slugged 18 homers and stole 16 bases while taking over left field for the departed Barry Bonds. He consistently provided the Pirates with double digit home run totals and 20+ stolen bases throughout the 1990s.

Later he got in trouble with the law when he was married to two women at the same time.

Joe Robbins - Getty Images

Joe Robbins – Getty Images

Reserve Outfielder: Nate McLouth

And all around talented outfielder, McLouth made his debut with the 2005 Pirates. He was a 20-20 left handed slugger who led the National League with 46 homers in 2008.

He made the All Star team that year and threw out a potential game winning run at the plate in extra innings.

He won the Gold Glove that season and even earned a few points in the MVP vote.

During the 2010 season he was dealt to Atlanta in a deal that sent Jeff Locke and Charlie Morton to Pittsburgh.

He had a short second stint with the Pirates in 2012 and has been with Baltimore for the past year and a half.



Reserve Outfielder: Jermaine Allensworth

When Doug Drabek left the Pirates for the Houston Astros, Pittsburgh used one of the compensation picks to select Allensworth from Purdue University.

A right handed center fielder with speed, Allensworth made the Pirates big league squad in 1996. He showed flashes of speed and defensive abilities.

Later he was dealt to the Kansas City Royals.

In an episode of Saturday Night Live, Tracy Morgan inexplicably portrayed Allensworth in the underrated recurring sketch “Perspectives.”

He may not have been an All Star but how many ballplayers were portrayed by Tracy Morgan?

Photo:  J. Meric/Getty Images North America

Photo: J. Meric/Getty Images North America

Reserve Catcher: Ryan Doumit

A solid if injury prone catcher for seven years in Pittsburgh, Doumit also started several seasons and could play the outfield and first base.  He would even DH in interleague games.

He did bring some power to his game, three times hitting double digit homers.

He remains active and has been the Minnesota Twins’ starting catcher for the past two seasons.

Topps Inc

Topps Inc

Utility OF/INF: Rob Mackowiak

A classic utility player, Mackowiak scrapped his way to the big leagues and did what he needed to stay there.

A 53rd (!) round draft pick out of South Suburban College in Illinois in 1996, he climbed slowly up the Pirates system. After six seasons, he got the call to join the 2001 Pirates.

He showed some power, with a 16 and 17 home run season. He showed some speed, swiping 13 bases in 2004. But most of all he showed resolve and an attitude to stay in the big leagues no matter where he was needed.

In five seasons with the Pirates, he started games in right field, second base, left field, third base and center field.

In a blue collar, hard working town, a player like Mackowiak personified the city better than anyone.

If the Pirates had fielded all 25 of these players at once, maybe they would have had a few more winning seasons.

Congratulations Pirates. Now don’t spent decades getting another winning year!

The All "He played in the postseason with WHAT team?" Roster

Frank Thomas had his number retired in a ceremony in Chicago and was rightfully remembered as one of the greatest White Sox players of all time.

He played 16 of his 19 big league seasons in the South Side and will no doubt have the letters S-O-X on his cap when he gets his Hall of Fame plaque.

And no doubt it will surprise baseball fans in the future that he actually had his biggest post season hits wearing a different uniform. His homers lifted Oakland to the ALCS in 2006. And as well as he played in Oakland, it looked a little strange seeing him play for a title in another uniform.

And that got to me to thinking… I wonder what other players that are strongly associated with another team played in October in a strange uniform… one they just looked out of place in.

So that naturally meant I had to write a 25 man Roster.

Now before I write this up, let me explain what this roster ISN’T.

I am not talking about super stars who hopped from team to team, bringing their clutch post season karma with them.

Reggie Jackson brought his star from Oakland to New York and Anaheim and looked right at home each place.

Curt Schilling was post season money whether he was in Philadelphia, Arizona or Boston.

I’m not talking about them.

Nor am I talking about superstars who just couldn’t stick on with one team for whatever reason.

Robbie Alomar… Gary Sheffield… Randy Johnson… Jeff Kent… they put up great numbers wherever they went and wound up playing with a bunch of different teams in October.

I’m not talking about them.

Nor am I talking about a player who was associated with a team and rather famously changed uniforms.

Pete Rose to the Phillies… Frank Robinson with the Orioles… Tom Seaver to the Reds… Barry Bonds to the Giants… Mickey Cochrane to the Tigers… Willie Mays to the Mets… Catfish Hunter and Wade Boggs to the Yankees…
That fellow named Babe Ruth…

I’m not talking about them.

I’m not talking about stars who were associated with one team but had their signature World Series moments with a new team.

Kirk Gibson with the Dodgers… Jack Morris with the Twins… Paul Molitor and Dave Winfield with the Blue Jays… Pudge Rodriguez with the Marlins… Grover Cleveland Alexander with the Cardinals.

I’m not talking about them.

And I am not talking about those guys with the obscene good fortune of constantly landing on teams that play in October.

Guys like Lonnie Smith, Danny Jackson, Mariano Duncan, Mike Stanton, Lenny Harris, Alan Embree, Mike Timlin and Bobby Bonilla jumped from team to team and always managed to be playing ball in October.

Nope. Not talking about them.

I’m talking about the players who the second you hear their name you think of one team… and seeing them play for a title (and sometimes winning one) in a uniform you have no clear memory of them wearing.

If I haven’t been clear, then just take a look at the roster I put together. I am sure there are a few players wearing a uniform that will make you shake your head and said “Man, that just looks STRANGE!”

I’m talking about THEM!

As with all of my rosters, there will be 25 members. 1 starter for each position (including DH)… 5 starting pitchers… 5 relievers… 2 reserve infielders… 2 reserve outfielders… 1 reserve catcher and a 25th man who could be any position.

The All “He played in the postseason with WHAT team?” Roster


MIKE PIAZZA, 2006 San Diego Padres

When Piazza’s glorious 7 1/2 year run with the Mets came to an end after the 2005 season, he returned to Southern California. Not to the Dodgers but to the Padres, fresh off of a Division Title.

Piazza supplied some pop but also needed to sit many games. In the playoffs he was reduced to a part time player and wasn’t a factor. The Padres were eliminated, as was any hope of a Mike Piazza vs. the Mets NLCS. He went to Oakland the next year and then retired.


WILL CLARK, 2000 St. Louis Cardinals

When I was living in the Bay Area during the late 1980s and early 1990s, I can honestly say I saw no ballplayer loved as much as Will Clark. He was the heart beat of the Giants and carried them right into the 1989 World Series. But evidently San Francisco wasn’t big enough for the Thrill and Bonds and off he was exiled to Texas and Baltimore. But the Cardinals needed a bat at first when his former cross Bay rival Mark McGwire went down to injuries (what could have been wrong with his body?) Clark excelled in his cameo in St. Louis, posting a 1.081 OPS, hitting .345, hitting 12 homers and driving 42 in only 51 games. He continued his hot hitting in the playoffs, batting .412 with a 1.206 OPS against the Mets in the NLCS. He clearly had his stroke back… but oddly never played again.

He still gets long ovations in San Francisco, where he belonged.

ROGERS HORNSBY, 1929 Chicago Cubs

I always associate Hornsby with the Cardinals and with good reason. In the 15 seasons where he played 100 or more games, 12 with were the Cardinals. He won 6 batting titles with the Cardinals and batted over .400 three times with the Redbirds (including his .424 campaign in 1924.) He also was the player manager of the 1926 World Series champs, the first in St. Louis’ history. But after that series he got traded around a bit. He had one spectacular season with the Giants in 1927 and another great season with the Braves in 1928.

In 1929 he won the MVP with the Cubs and led them to the World Series against Connie Mack’s A’s. In the World Series he wasn’t much of a factor, striking out twice to Howard Ehmke in Game 1 and the Cubs were taken care of in 5. Hornsby never played more than a 100 games in a season after 1929 and he played a little bit here and there over the next 8 years, falling 70 hits shy of 3,000.

BERT CAMPANERIS, 1979 California Angels

“Campy” was one of the big pieces to the A’s brilliant run of the 1970s. He had speed, he had defense and a clutch bat. And he threw one of those bats at Tigers’ Lerrin LaGrow in the 1972 ALCS.

And like all of the A’s stars, he was shipped off elsewhere by the time free agency took hold.

He ended up in Anaheim and playing in the 1979 ALCS for the Angels’ first ever Division winner. I literally had no clue he played for the Angels until I started researching for this post. I literally paused and said “He played for the Angels? REALLY?” That’s as good a reason as any to be included here.

EDDIE MATHEWS, 1968 Detroit Tigers

The future Hall of Famer played for the Braves in Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta. Somehow he ended up in Houston and then in Detroit for the 1967 pennant run.

He was a part time player and only played 33 games in 1968, but 2 of them were in the World Series where he got to finish his career on a champion.

Later he returned to the Braves where he was the manager when Hank Aaron hit his 715th homer.

RICKEY HENDERSON, 1993 Toronto Blue Jays, 1996 San Diego Padres, 1999 New York Mets and 2000 Seattle Mariners

It’s so easy to think of Rickey Henderson with the A’s (where he spent 14 years and played in the post season under Billy Martin and Tony LaRussa).

And perhaps you have a recollection of his brief time with the Blue Jays (where he was on base for Joe Carter’s homer)… and maybe you remember him being Bobby Bonilla’s card playing partner in the 1999 NLCS. But do you remember him with the Padres in the ’96 post season? Or playing in the 2000 ALCS in Seattle along side A-Rod? I doubt it.

KEN GRIFFEY JR., 2008 Chicago White Sox

I have no problem listing Ken Griffey Jr. as one of the all time great talents in baseball history. And his brief cameo with the White Sox should rank with the other “Great players in uniforms you don’t remember them wearing” through history.

In football you have Franco Harris and Jerry Rice with the Seahawks and Johnny Unitas with the Chargers. In hockey there is Wayne Gretzky with the St. Louis Blues and Bobby Orr with the Chicago Blackhawks. How about Michael Jordan with the Wizards or Shaq with the Suns (or Cavs or Celtics for that matter.)

In baseball you have Babe Ruth with the Braves, Ty Cobb with the A’s, Pete Rose with the Expos.

But unlike Ruth, Cobb and Rose, Griffey actually played in October with his strange pit stop team.

Junior came to Chicago, didn’t do much in the regular season. Didn’t do much in the playoffs and the White Sox were eliminated in 4 games by the Rays. He finished his career, one of the best I ever saw, in Seattle where he belonged.


WILLIE McGEE, 1990 Oakland A’s and 1995 Boston Red Sox

Willie McGee might not have been as flashy as Ozzie Smith, but anyone who saw him play for his 13 years with the Cardinals knew that in many ways he was “The Man.” A Gold Glove winner and batting champion, he helped win the 1982 World Series with his home runs and leaping catches. He led the Cardinals to the 1985 pennant as the NL MVP. And also was a big part of the 1987 NL Champs and the 1996 Cardinals who came within a game of another World Series.

Sandwiched in between his two tours in St. Louis were brief cameos in October. In 1990, while qualifying for the NL batting title he was almost traded to the Red Sox who needed a spark. GM Lou Gorman, showing his usual imagination, reportedly said “Where do we play him?” Ahhh the Yawkey era. No room for an MVP batting champ! The A’s, who also had a crowded outfield, pulled the trigger on the trade. McGee helped the A’s sweep the Red Sox (thanks Lou!) before Oakland lost the World Series.

Under Dan Duquette, McGee finally did show up to Boston in 1995. It took me literally days to find a single image of him in a Sox uniform. It wasn’t a memorable stay but he DID get a hit in the Division Series against Cleveland, which is more than Mo Vaughn and Jose Canseco could say that October!

BILLY WILLIAMS, 1975 Oakland A’s

Swing Swinging Billy from Whistler put together a Hall of Fame career in his 16 years with the Cubs. He was a Rookie of the Year, an MVP runner up, a batting champion and an All Star many times over. His number is retired by the Cubs and he has a statue outside of Wrigley.

But because he was a Cub in that stretch between 1945 and 1984, he never played an October game in the North Side.

After the 1974 season, he was dealt to the three time defending World Champion Oakland A’s for Manny Trillo. When the A’s won their 5th straight Division Title, it looked like October glory was right around the corner for Williams. It was short lived. The A’s were swept by Boston and Billy went 0-7 with a walk. Alas the Billy Goat found its way to the East Bay.


DON SUTTON, 1982 Milwaukee Brewers and 1986 California Angels

Sutton’s #20 is retired at Dodger Stadium and he has more wins than any other pitcher in the storied franchise’s history.

The Hall of Famer pitched 15+ seasons in Chavez Ravine, beginning as a member of the 1966 NL Champs and ending with the 1988 team that would go on to win the World Series.

But he made several pit stops along the way and wore an array of uniforms that looked odd on him. He wore the Orange Astros uniform for the team that lost the 1981 Division Series to his former Dodger mates, but he didn’t get into a game. The next year he helped pitch the Brewers into their only World Series while wearing the cool M-B glove hat. Then back to California (back then the Angels didn’t play in Los Angeles) and he helped get the Angels to within one pitch of the World Series.

All the while, he never changed his look with the white guy afro sticking out of each hat.

DIZZY DEAN, 1938 Chicago Cubs

The biggest star of the Gashouse Gang era Cardinals broke his arm during the 1937 All Star Game and looked washed up going into the 1938 season. The Cubs owner wanted Dean on the team as a box office draw.

He came back from injuries to go 7-1 and pitched well in Game 2 before Joe DiMaggio’s home run in the 9th inning padded the Yankees lead. He came out of the bullpen in Game 4 but couldn’t stop the Yankees. He played a few injury shortened seasons before becoming a broadcasting star.

GREG MADDUX, 2006 and 2008 Los Angeles Dodgers

I have no hesitation saying that Greg Maddux is one of the greatest pitchers of all time. He put up Hall of Fame caliber numbers… 200+ innings a year, double digit complete games a year, around 20 wins a year, many sub 2.00 ERAs… and he did it at the height of the steroid era.

He won the Cy Young as a Cub and a Brave, and yet finished his career as a middle reliever in L.A. He started in the 2006 playoffs and came out of the pen in 2008. His last appearance was in relief in the 5th inning of the final Game 5 of the NLCS. Rafael Furcal committed 2 run scoring errors. The next inning Jeff Kent pinch hit for Maddux and that was the end of BOTH of their carrers.

DAVID WELLS, 1995 Cincinnati Reds, 1996 Baltimore Orioles, 2005 Boston Red Sox and 2006 San Diego Padres

Didn’t it seem like David Wells was a Yankee for a long time? He played 21 years in the bigs and only 4 of them were in the Bronx.

His two stints in Toronto were memorable as well, but he played for 9 organizations all together and played in October with 6 of them. If you blinked, you missed his time in Cincinnati (where he won a playoff game in 1995), Baltimore (where he won 2 playoff games in 1996) and with the 2005 Red Sox and 2006 Padres, where he started games in October both years without much luck.

He’s best remembered as a fan favorite (and a tormentor of Joe Torre) with the Yankees, but he was good luck almost everywhere he went (and kept the caterer in business too.)

DWIGHT GOODEN, 1998 Cleveland Indians

It is impossible to hear Doc Gooden’s name and NOT think about New York… whether it was the crazy partying 1980s and his time with the Mets or his redemption with the 1990s revived city and the Yankees.

Along with Strawberry, he is the only other player to play in a World Championship post season with two different New York franchises.

But between the 1986 and 2000 World Series, he found himself in Cleveland for a few years. He started the critical Game 4 of the 1998 ALCS with the Indians up 2-1 on the heavily favored Yankees. Doc could ironically K-O the Yankees. It didn’t happen. El Duque got the win and the Yankees never lost again that year. In a few years, Gooden would be back in New York… where he belonged.


SPARKY LYLE, 1981 Philadelphia Phillies

This is one that, like Campaneris, I literally had no memory of and did a double take while looking at the stats.

Lyle, the former Red Sox reliever who starred in the Bronx after one of the worst trades in Red Sox history (which is saying something) was possibly the most disrespected Cy Young winner in history.

He dominated out of the bullpen for the 1977 World Champion Yankees… and his reward was having Steinbrenner bring in Goose Gossage to replace him. (“Cy Young to Sayonara” according to Graig Nettles.) He was dealt away to the Rangers and ended up with the Phillies in 1980 (but didn’t play in the World Series.) He DID however play in the Division Series mandated by the 1981 strike. Lyle pitched in a losing cause against Montreal. The next year he pitched for the White Sox and then retired, his time with Philadelphia mostly forgotten.

DENNIS ECKERSLEY, 1984 Chicago Cubs, 1996 St. Louis Cardinals and 1998 Boston Red Sox

Here’s why I am including Hall of Famer Eckersley. I am a huge Eck fan… at least during his Sox days. I had him sign my glove when I was 12 and I love how he has becoming a wonderful TV personality with a great sense of humor about himself.

Of course he broke in with Cleveland, became a star with Boston and a Hall of Famer in Oakland. His cameos in Chicago and St. Louis (where he pitched in near miss NLCS’s in 1984 and 1996) were not as well known.

But when researching for this post I saw him in the 1998 Red Sox… a team I followed day in and day out. MY TEAM. And I found myself thinking “Wow… he finished his career with the Red Sox. I almost forgot that!”

I am sure many of you DID forget it.

JOHN SMOLTZ, 2009 St. Louis Cardinals

Like his former Braves teammate Greg Maddux, Smoltz finished his wonderful (and in my opinion Hall of Fame worthy) career doing a long relief appearance on a team that NOBODY remembers he played for.

After 20 years in Atlanta, Smoltz had a disastrous half season in Boston before coming over to St. Louis where he was “eh.” In the third and final game of the 2009 Division Series, Tony LaRussa brought in Smoltz from the pen to pitch the 6th and 7th innings. He let up an RBI single to Manny Ramirez and got Casey Blake to pop up for the final out of his career.

FERNANDO VALENZUELA, 1996 San Diego Padres

As I go to several Dodger games a year, I think the most popular jersey worn by fans at Chavez Ravine remains #34. Fernando is simply beloved in Los Angeles. He just LOOKS like a lot of the fans. I don’t mean that as a racist statement. It’s true. He looks like a regular guy with a belly who loves baseball. And oh yeah, he won a Cy Young Award a World Series and threw a no hitter!

When his career was winding down, the Padres picked him up and gave him an incentive clause for attendance when he pitched, assuming that he would draw a large Mexican audience. (Safe to say that wouldn’t fly in Arizona.)

So he did indeed pitch in San Diego and appeared out of the bullpen during the 1996 Division Series sweep by the Cardinals. No word on how the attendance was in the one playoff game in San Diego that year.

OREL HERSHISER, 1999 New York Mets

Like Fernando, Hershiser was an incredibly Cy Young winner of a World Champion Dodger team who bounced from team to team. He helped lead the Indians back to the World Series (and was 1995 ALCS MVP) before arriving on the Mets, a team he kept FROM the 1988 World Series.

A starter most of the season he came out in relief and had his highlight as a Met in Game 5 of 1999 NLCS. With the Mets on the verge of elimination, he pitched 3 1/3 shutout inning from the pen, striking out 5 and keeping them in the game. The Mets would win that one in 15 innings but lose Game 6. Hershiser retired the next year as a member of the Dodgers, his time as a Met lost to obscurity.


TONY LAZZERI, 1938 Chicago Cubs

“Poosh Em Up” had a Hall of Fame career as a member of the Yankees and was a starter on 6 pennant winners and 5 Champs in the Bronx as a member of “Murderer’s Row”, including the 1937 World Series winners.

But in 1938 Joe Gordon took his job and he was off to Chicago where he met his former club in the World Series. He was not a factor and neither were the Cubs for that matter as the Yankees swept Chicago. At that point Cubs fans had been waiting 30 whole years for another title!

WILLIE RANDOLPH, 1975 Pittsburgh Pirates and 1990 Oakland A’s

Willie Randolph was a fixture with the Yankees for so long, and became one of the few Captains in team history, that it is easy to forget that he neither started nor ended his playing career in the Bronx.

Willie was a 1975 September call up in Pittsburgh and played in the NLCS against the Big Red Machine. He was dealt to the Yankees that winter with his rookie eligibility in tact. After Steinbrenner pushed Willie out the door in favor of Steve Sax, Willie eventually landed in Oakland during the 1990 stretch run and started in the World Series after an injury sidelined Walt Weiss and forced Mike Gallego to shortstop.

He’s coaching in Milwaukee now… but he will find his way back to the Bronx.

CHUCK KLEIN, 1935 Chicago Cubs

Klein’s entire Hall of Fame career seemed to be boosted by being a Philadelphia Phillie. He played in the Baker Bowl, which was a band box, and his power numbers were obscene there. He was an MVP once and a runner up twice and won the triple crown in his first 6 year run in Philly.

Then he was dealt to the Cubs where he had his lone taste of Post Season play. He played in the 1935 World Series. He got a 9th inning pinch hit single that helped sparked a game tying rally in Game 3 and in Game 5, his 2 run homer off of Detroit’s School Boy Rowe gave the Cubs the lead.

That was at least ONE homer you couldn’t credit to the Baker Bowl!


MOOKIE WILSON, 1989 and 1991 Toronto Blue Jays

As a Red Sox fan, you are DAMN RIGHT I think of Mookie Wilson as a member of another team. I think of him fouling off approximately 3,291 pitches… each one could have won the 1986 World Series for the Red Sox.

That at bat is probably the greatest moment in Mets history. And just saying his name invokes smiles to Met fans everywhere.

So why the hell is he in a Blue Jays uniform? The Mets inexplicably decided to rip the heart and soul of the championship team out midway through the 1989 season. Jesse Orosco and Kevin Mitchell (the ’89 MVP) were already gone and producing elsewhere. Lenny Dykstra, Roger McDowell and Rick Aguilera were on the block. And Mookie, not liking the odd rebuilding, didn’t want any part of it. So he was sent packing to Toronto where he played in the 1989 and 1991 ALCS.

By 1991 each of the Mets deals had backfired and they were becoming one of the laughingstocks in baseball. Just goes to show you don’t deal away players like Mookie… guys whose value can’t all be found on the back of a baseball card.

ELSTON HOWARD, 1967 Boston Red Sox

Howard was a significant figure in Yankees lore. Not only did he break the color barrier for the Bombers, but he was an AL MVP, World Series hero and became Yogi Berra’s heir. Later he was a coach for two more Yankee World Series winners and stayed in the organization until his death. His #32 is retired in Monument Park.

However he helped take part in the revival of the Red Sox, who had not made the World Series since integration. Ellie joined the Red Sox in August of 1967. He was terrible at the plate (batting .147, 1 HR, 11 RBI) but he handled the pitching staff well down the stretch. The Red Sox trailed the White Sox by 2 1/2 games when he arrived, but finished the season winning the pennant by 1 game over the Twins and Tigers.

The Red Sox franchise was revived, and Elston Howard was there.

25th MAN
JOSE CANSECO, 2000 New York Yankees

I always wondered what Don Mattingly thought about the fact that he never got a ring after all his time with the Yankees and Jose Canseco got one after a few months there.

The Yankees tried to block his trade elsewhere by claiming off of waivers from Tampa. They expected Tampa to take him off waivers. Instead they said “Have fun with him” and Canseco was on the defending champs with nowhere to play. He didn’t play much. If you blinked, you missed his playoff appearance… a pinch hit appearance in the 2000 World Series. And I am betting most fans at Shea that night were thinking “Wait, Jose Canseco is on the Yankees? Since when?”

He got a Ring. Poor Mattingly.

So there you have another roster.
Maybe someday soon someone will be saying “Frank Thomas played in the post season for the A’s? Jim Thome was on the Dodgers? When did I miss THAT?”

You’ve got to have good eyes, my friend.

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