During the entire 1971 baseball season- there were only 35 players who appeared in uniform for the Pittsburgh Pirates. During the last full baseball season in 2019 there were 34 pitchers who pitched at least a game for the Pirates. During the season I will on off-days profile the 35 players on the 1971 Pirates. With this being the 50th anniversary I wonder if the Pirates will have a reunion? In 1970 I went to the 10th anniversary of the 1960 World Series- the old Yankees and Pirates were all there- and they even had an Old Timers Game with the players. I wouldn’t expect any game this year- there are 23 of the 35 Pirates from 1971 who are still living- and they range in age from Milt May who is now 70 to Bill Mazeroski who is 84- and Bob Veale and Mudcat Grant who are 85. Of the 13 who have died the first two died tragically in the 1970’s- Roberto Clemente in the plane crash that was taking relief supplies to earthquake stricken Nicaragua and Bob Moose in a car accident in 1976.
The first Pirates I will profile is third string catcher Charlie Sands. Back in 1971 it was easy to forget that Sands was on the roster. In the entire season he appeared in only 28 games and came to bat 32 total times. He was used mostly as a pinch-hitter. As a catcher he appeared in 3 games- starting 2 games- and he caught a grand total of 16.1 innings in 1971. He was kept on the post-season roster and had an at-bat in the World Series.
- Charles Duane Sands was born on December 17, 1947 in Newport News, Virginia. He was 23 years old during the 1971 season.
- Sands was drafted in the first ever MLB Draft in 1965- in the 21st round by the Baltimore Orioles out of Newport News High School. After the 1966 season in which he played in the minors the New York Yankees took him in the Rule 5 Draft. In 1967 he would at the age of 19 make his major league debut with the Yankees- he had one at bat and struck out. He would go back to the minor leagues until the Pirates traded for him in the 1970 off-season. A trade involving only minor league players and Sands is the only one involved who would ever play in The Show.
- Charlie Sands was 6’2″ 200. He was a left-handed batter/ right handed thrower.
- I already detailed his playing time in 1971 for the Pirates. Today teams usually carry two catchers back then it was normal to have three. Sands was behind Manny Sanguillen an All-Star in 1971 and 20 year old Milt May who would go on to have a 15 year playing career in the majors.
- Sands in his 32 at bats had 1 home run 5 RBI’s and hit .200. He scored 4 runs. 25 of his 28 game appearances were at a pinch-hitter.
- In 1972 he only had game with the Pirates- spending most of the year in the minor leagues. On April 2, 1973 the Pirates traded him to the Detroit Tigers for pitcher Chris Zachary- then 17 days later on April 19th the Tigers traded him to the California Angels. He would play sparingly with the Angels in 1973 and 1974 before being released. He would finish his major league career with the Oakland A’s-having three at bats with them in 1975. He had played his last game in the majors at the age of 27.
- Career Stats- Sands played a total of 93 major league games. 6 home runs 23 RBI’s in 145 at bats. His career batting average .214.
- I am assuming that Sands strength as a player was with a glove. But then again in his entire career in the majors he never had enough at bats to prove much with the bat.
- After retiring from baseball Charlie opened a chain of restaurants in Virginia and North Carolina. The first being in Charlottesville, Virginia. It appears that Charley’s Restaurants are still in business.
- Charlie Sands died on August 22, 2016 at the age of 68 in Naples, Florida. He was cremated.