On December 22, 1982 — 1982 – Versatile Lee Mazzilli is traded for the third time this year. The New York Yankees send him to the Pittsburgh Pirates for four minor leaguers, including pitcher Tim Burke.
Mazzilli was just 28 years old at the time of the trade but he was two years removed from his last good season, when he hit .280 with 76 RBIs and 41 stolen bases for the 1980 Mets. In 1982, he played for both the Yankees and Rangers, hitting .251 with 34 RBI’s in 95 games. The trade worked out well for the Pirates in the sense that three of the four players they gave up never reached the majors Tim Burke was the fourth player and he was a reliever, who didn’t make the big leagues until 1985 after the Yankees had traded him to the Expos.
Mazzilli played 3 1/2 seasons in Pittsburgh before he was released in the middle of the 1986 season. He was used quite often as a pinch-hitter with the Pirates but he also got time in at 1B/LF/CF as well. The choice to keep him around as a pinch-hitter after 1983 was an interesting one because he had just six hits in 49 pinch hit appearances that year. He was hardly any better in 1984 in the role, hitting just .188 in 38 games as a pinch-hitter, but the Pirates persistence to use him that way paid off finally in 1985. He started just 15 times all season but in 72 pinch hit appearances he hit .286 with 15 walks for a .437 OBP. He played 61 games for the Pirates in 1986 before his release, with 48 of those games off the bench. All told, he hit .244 in 373 games with Pittsburgh. Mazzilli played 1,475 games in his 14-year career, 415 of them in the pinch-hit role.
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