Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Jose Pagan (#482)

Jose Pagan had 2 careers – first as an every-day shortstop for the Giants (1961-64), then as a top-notch utility infielder and pinch-hitter for the Pirates (1965-72).

Pagan began his career in the New York Giants’ farm system in 1955. After 4 seasons in the low minors, he was promoted to AAA Phoenix in 1959, and by early-August made his major-league debut.

After playing parts of 5 games in April 1960, he played most of the season with triple-A Tacoma, returning in late-September to start the season’s final 10 games at shortstop.

Pagan was the team’s regular shortstop from 1961 to 1964. In 1962 he started 164 (of the team’s 165) games there! In the final month of 1964 he shared the post with Jim Davenport, but was back as the everyday shortstop at the start of the 1965 season. That is, until he was traded to the Pirates in late-May for shortstop Dick Schofield.

Jose never had a position of his own with the Pirates, who had Gene Alley, Bob Bailey, and Willie Stargell firmly entrenched at Jose’s positions (SS/3B/LF). He did manage to start most games at 3rd base during June/July/August 1966 while Bailey was out of the lineup. Mostly he was a pinch-hitting specialist and backup at those 3 positions for the next several seasons.

From 1970-72, he had dropped shortstop and outfield from his repertoire, but started 113 games at the hot corner over those 3 seasons in relief of Richie Hebner.

The Pirates released Pagan in October 1972, but he was signed by the Phillies the following month. The Phillies were rolling out a rookie 3rd baseman for 1973 (Mike Schmidt) so maybe they wanted a veteran mentor and insurance policy at 3rd base.

Turns out, that Schmidt guy was the real deal after all, so Pagan only made 8 starts at 3B in his final season, but did play in 46 games. The Phillies released him in early-August.

After his playing career, Jose was a coach for the Pirates from 1974-78, and later managed minor-league and winter-ball teams.

He passed away in 2011 at age 76.

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