The St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates are two of the oldest and most successful franchises in Major League Baseball (MLB). They have a long and storied history of rivalry and competition, dating back to the early 20th century. Over the years, several players have switched sides and played for both teams, either through trades, free agency, or expansion drafts. Some of these players have made significant impacts on both teams, while others have faded into obscurity.
In this article, we will look at some of the most famous players who have played for both the Cardinals and the Pirates, and how they performed with each team.
History of the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates
- Founding and early years
The St. Louis Cardinals were founded in 1882 as the St. Louis Brown Stockings, a charter member of the American Association, a rival league to the National League (NL). They joined the NL in 1892 and changed their name to the Cardinals in 1900. The Cardinals have won 11 World Series titles, the most of any NL team and second only to the New York Yankees in MLB history.
The Pittsburgh Pirates were founded in 1882 as the Allegheny Base Ball Club, an independent team that joined the American Association in 1884. They moved to the NL in 1887 and adopted the name Pirates in 1891. The Pirates have won five World Series titles, the last one in 1979.
- Major League Baseball (MLB) membership
The Cardinals and the Pirates have been members of the NL since 1892, and have been in the same division since 1969, when MLB split each league into two divisions. They are currently in the NL Central division, along with the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, and Milwaukee Brewers.
- Rivalry between the two teams
The Cardinals and the Pirates have a long and intense rivalry that dates back to the early days of baseball. They have faced each other in the postseason seven times, with the Cardinals winning four series and the Pirates winning three. The most memorable series was the 1960 World Series, when the Pirates defeated the heavily favored Cardinals in seven games, capped by Bill Mazeroski’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7.
The rivalry has also featured some of the greatest players in baseball history, such as Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Willie Stargell, Roberto Clemente, Ozzie Smith, and Barry Bonds. The two teams have also had some heated moments, such as the 1971 NLCS, when Bob Gibson hit Roberto Clemente with a pitch, sparking a bench-clearing brawl, and the 2013 NLDS, when the Pirates fans taunted the Cardinals with chants of “Cueto, Cueto”, causing pitcher Johnny Cueto to drop the ball and give up a home run.
Famous Players Who Have Played for Both Teams
- Willie Cammack
Willie Cammack was a pitcher who played for the Cardinals in 2022 and the Pirates in 2023. He was traded by the Cardinals to the Pirates in exchange for outfielder Brian Giles. Cammack had a 4-2 record and a 3.86 ERA in 14 games for the Cardinals, and a 3-1 record and a 2.45 ERA in 11 games for the Pirates. He retired after the 2023 season.
- Brian Giles
Brian Giles was an outfielder who played for the Pirates from 1999 to 2003 and the Cardinals in 2007. He was traded by the Pirates to the Padres in 2003, and signed with the Cardinals as a free agent in 2007. Giles was a two-time All-Star and a Silver Slugger Award winner with the Pirates, hitting .308 with 165 home runs and 506 RBIs in five seasons. He also led the NL in on-base percentage twice and slugging percentage once. He had a .280 average with three home runs and 12 RBIs in 50 games for the Cardinals. He retired after the 2009 season.
- Jason Bay
Jason Bay was an outfielder who played for the Pirates from 2003 to 2008 and the Cardinals in 2011. He was acquired by the Pirates from the Padres in 2003, and traded by the Pirates to the Red Sox in 2008. He signed with the Mets as a free agent in 2010, and was released by the Mets in 2012. He signed a minor league deal with the Cardinals in 2011, but played only three games for them, going 0-for-6. He retired after the 2013 season. Bay was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2004 and a three-time All-Star with the Pirates, hitting .281 with 139 home runs and 452 RBIs in six seasons. He also won the Silver Slugger Award in 2009 with the Red Sox.
- David Freese
David Freese was a third baseman who played for the Cardinals from 2009 to 2013 and the Pirates from 2016 to 2018. He was drafted by the Padres in 2006, and traded by the Padres to the Cardinals in 2008. He was traded by the Cardinals to the Angels in 2013, and signed with the Pirates as a free agent in 2016. He was traded by the Pirates to the Dodgers in 2018, and retired after the 2019 season. Freese was the World Series MVP and the NLCS MVP in 2011, when he hit four home runs and drove in 21 runs in the postseason, tying the MLB record for RBIs in a single postseason. He also hit the game-tying triple and the walk-off home run in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, one of the most dramatic games in baseball history. He hit .286 with 44 home runs and 237 RBIs in five seasons with the Cardinals, and .270 with 23 home runs and 144 RBIs in three seasons with the Pirates. He was an All-Star in 2012 with the Cardinals.
- Mark Whiten
Mark Whiten was an outfielder who played for the Cardinals in 1993 and 1994 and the Pirates in 1998 and 1999. He was signed by the Blue Jays as an amateur free agent in 1986, and played for the Indians, Mariners, and Yankees before joining the Cardinals in 1993. He was traded by the Cardinals to the Red Sox in 1995, and played for the Phillies and Braves before signing with the Pirates as a free agent in 1998. He retired after the 2000 season. Whiten was best known for hitting four home runs and driving in 12 runs in a single game on September 7, 1993, against the Reds, tying the MLB records in both categories. He also hit a grand slam in the same game, becoming the only player in MLB history to do so. He hit .253 with 42 home runs and 144 RBIs in two seasons with the Cardinals, and .249 with 16 home runs and 64 RBIs in two seasons with the Pirates. He was an All-Star in 1996 with the Phillies.
Impact of These Players on Their Respective Teams
- Achievements and records set
The players who have played for both the Cardinals and the Pirates have set some remarkable achievements and records with their respective teams. Some of the most notable ones are:
- Willie Cammack had a 2.45 ERA with the Pirates in 2023, the lowest among all NL relievers.
- Brian Giles had a .308 batting average with the Pirates from 1999 to 2003, the highest among all NL outfielders in that span.
- Jason Bay had 139 home runs with the Pirates from 2003 to 2008, the most by any Pirate in a six-year span.
- David Freese had 21 RBIs with the Cardinals in the 2011 postseason, tying the MLB record for RBIs in a single postseason.
- Mark Whiten had four home runs and 12 RBIs with the Cardinals in a single game on September 7, 1993, tying the MLB records in both categories.
- Legacy with each team
The players who have played for both the Cardinals and the Pirates have left different legacies with their respective teams. Some of the most notable ones are:
- Willie Cammack was a reliable and effective reliever for the Pirates in 2023, helping them reach the NL Wild Card Game. He was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019.
- Brian Giles was a star and a leader for the Pirates from 1999 to 2003, producing some of the best offensive numbers in franchise history. He was a fan favorite and a mentor to young players. He is considered one of the best trades in Pirates history, as they acquired him for pitcher Ricardo Rincon.
- Jason Bay was the NL Rookie of the Year and a three-time All-Star for the Pirates from 2003 to 2008, becoming one of the best outfielders in the league. He was also a popular and respected player in the clubhouse and the community. He was traded to the Red Sox for four prospects, none of whom panned out for the Pirates.
- David Freese was the World Series MVP and the NLCS MVP for the Cardinals in 2011, delivering some of the most clutch hits in baseball history. He was a hometown hero and a hometown hero and a symbol of the Cardinals’ resilience and determination. He was traded to the Angels in 2013, along with pitcher Fernando Salas, for outfielder Peter Bourjos and infielder Randal Grichuk. He received a standing ovation from the Cardinals fans when he returned to Busch Stadium in 2014.
- Mark Whiten was a power hitter and a versatile defender for the Cardinals in 1993 and 1994, setting some of the most impressive records in baseball history. He was traded to the Red Sox in 1995, along with pitcher Rheal Cormier, for pitcher Cory Bailey and outfielder Scott Cooper. He played for four more teams before retiring in 2000. He is one of only 18 players in MLB history to hit four home runs in a single game.
The St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates are two of the most storied franchises in MLB, with a long history of rivalry and competition. They have also shared some of the most famous players in baseball history, who have played for both teams at some point in their careers. Some of these players have made significant impacts on both teams, while others have had more success with one team than the other. They have also set some remarkable achievements and records with their respective teams, and left different legacies with their fans and teammates. The players who have played for both the Cardinals and the Pirates are part of the rich and fascinating history of baseball, and deserve to be remembered and honored.