Pittsburgh Pirates


Pittsburgh Pirates
Pittsburgh Pirates
2012 Pittsburgh Pirates season
Established 1882
Pittsburgh Pirates MLB Logo.svg
Team logo
Pittsburgh Pirates Cap Insignia.svg
Cap Insignia
Major league affiliations
Current uniform
NLC-Uniform-PIT.PNG
Retired numbers 1, 4, 8, 9, 11, 20, 21, 33, 40, 42
Colors
  • Black, gold, white

              

Name
  • Pittsburgh Pirates (1912–present)
Other nicknames
  • The Bucs, The Buccos
Ballpark
Major league titles
World Series titles (5) 1979 • 1971 • 1960 • 1925
1909
NL Pennants (9) 1979 • 1971 • 1960 • 1927
1925 • 1909 • 1903 • 1902
1901
Central Division titles (0) None
East Division titles (9) 1992 • 1991 • 1990 • 1979
1975 • 1974 • 1972 • 1971
1970
Wild card berths (0) None
Front office
Owner(s) Robert Nutting, others
Manager Clint Hurdle
General Manager Neal Huntington

The Pittsburgh Pirates are a Major League Baseball club based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They play in the Central Division of the National League, and are five-time World Series Champions. The Pirates are also often referred to as the "Bucs" or sometimes the "Buccos" (derived from buccaneer, a synonym for pirate).

The franchise joined the National League in its sixth season in 1887 and was competitive from its early years, winning three National League titles from 1901 to 1903, playing in the very first World Series in 1903 and winning their first World Series in 1909 behind Honus Wagner. The Pirates have had many ups and downs during their long history, most famously winning the 1960 World Series on a walk-off home run by Bill Mazeroski, the only time that Game 7 of the World Series has ever ended with a home run. They also won the 1971 World Series behind Roberto Clemente and the 1979 World Series under the slogan "We Are Family", led by "Pops" Willie Stargell. Overall the Pirates have won five World Series and lost two. The five that the Pirates won were all seven-game Series. After a run of regular-season success in the early 1990s (making the NLCS three straight years), the Pirates have struggled more recently, with 19 consecutive losing seasons to date, the longest in North American professional sports.

Contents

Franchise history

19th century

Professional baseball has been played in the Pittsburgh area since 1876. The teams of the era were "independents", barnstorming throughout the region and not affiliated with any organized league, though they did have salaries and were run as a business organization.[1] In 1882 the strongest team in the area joined the American Association as a founding member. Their various home fields in the 19th century were in a then-separate city called Allegheny City, across the Allegheny River from Pittsburgh. The team was listed as "Allegheny" in the standings, and was sometimes called the "Alleghenys" (not the "Alleghenies") in the same generic way that teams from Boston, New York, and Chicago were sometimes called the "Bostons", the "New Yorks", and the "Chicagos", in the sportswriting style of that era. After five mediocre seasons in the A.A., Pittsburgh became the first A.A. team to switch to the older National League in 1887. At this time, the team renamed itself the Pittsburgh Alleghenys,[2] although Allegheny remained a separate city until it was annexed by Pittsburgh in 1907. At that time, owner-manager Horace B. Phillips sold the team to Dennis McKnight; Phillips stayed on as manager.[3]

In those early days, the club benefited three times from mergers with defunct clubs. The A.A. club picked up a number of players from a defunct Columbus, Ohio, team in 1885.

The Alleghenys were severely crippled during the 1890 season, when nearly all of their stars jumped to the Pittsburgh Burghers of the Players' League. With a decimated roster, the team experienced what is still the worst season in franchise history, going 23–113.[4] The battle nearly ruined McKnight, and he was forced to return his franchise to the league. However, almost immediately after this, McKnight joined the backers of the Burghers as a minority owner, which then repurchased the Pittsburgh National League franchise and rechartered it under a different corporate name. They were thus able to legally recover the services of most of the players who had jumped to the upstart league a year earlier.[3]

The new owners also signed several players from American Association teams. One of them was highly regarded second baseman Lou Bierbauer, who had previously played with the A.A.'s Philadelphia Athletics. The Athletics failed to include him on their reserve list, and the Alleghenys picked him up. This led to loud protests by the Athletics, and in an official complaint, an AA official claimed the Alleghenys' actions were "piratical".[5] This incident (which is discussed at some length in The Beer and Whisky League, by David Nemec, 1994) quickly accelerated into a schism between the leagues that contributed to the demise of the A.A. Although the Alleghenys were never found guilty of wrongdoing, they made sport of being denounced for being "piratical" by renaming themselves "the Pirates" for the 1891 season.[2] The nickname was first acknowledged on the team's uniforms in 1912. Around the time the team adopted the Pirates nickname, the United States Board on Geographic Names forced the city of Pittsburgh to undergo a controversial name change by having them drop the "h" at the end of the name, making the team's official name the "Pittsburg Pirates" from the adoption of the Pirates nickname until Pittsburgh was able to get the "h" restored to its name in 1911.

After the 1899 season, the Pirates made what is arguably the best player transaction in franchise history when they picked up nearly all of the star players from the Louisville Colonels. Louisville owner Barney Dreyfuss had been told that the Colonels were slated for elimination when the N.L. contracted from 12 to 8 teams. He secretly purchased a half-interest in the Pirates, then after the season sent nearly all of the Colonels' stars up the Ohio River to Pittsburgh. Since the transaction occurred before the Colonels officially folded, it was structured as a trade; the Pirates sent four relatively unknown players to Louisville.[3] Despite their nickname, the Pirates at least waited until after the season to pull off this blockbuster trade. This is unlike what happened in 1899 to the Cleveland Spiders and, to a lesser extent, the Baltimore Orioles, who were also part of two-team ownerships. Dreyfuss later bought full control of the team and kept it until his death in 1932.

1901–1945

Bolstered by former Colonels shortstop Honus Wagner (who was born and raised in the Pittsburgh area) and player/manager Fred Clarke, the Pirates completely dominated the National League, in part because they lost few star players to the rival American League. However, owing to injuries to their starting pitchers, they lost the first modern World Series ever played, in 1903, to Boston. Deacon Phillippe pitched five complete games, winning three of them, but it was not enough. With largely the same star players, the Pirates would continue to be a strong team over the next few years, and won their first World Series title in 1909, defeating the Detroit Tigers in seven games. The same year, the club opened Forbes Field, which would be its home stadium for the next 61 years.

The 1909 Pirates in a poster celebrating their National League pennant. Frank Chance of the Chicago Cubs and John McGraw of the New York Giants, two teams the Pirates beat for the pennant, are being made to walk the plank.

The Pirates originally played in Recreation, Union and Exposition Parks, all in what was then Allegheny City. Allegheny City was annexed by Pittsburgh in December 1907. Accordingly, the Pirates did not play their first major league game in Pittsburgh until 1908 – over 25 years after their founding.[6]

The decline of Honus Wagner, considered by many to be the greatest shortstop ever, led to a number of losing seasons, culminating in a disastrous 51–103 record in 1917; however, veteran outfielder Max Carey and young players Pie Traynor and Kiki Cuyler, along with a remarkably deep pitching staff, brought the Pirates back into the spotlight. The Pirates recovered from a 3–1 deficit to win the 1925 World Series over the Washington Senators, and reached the 1927 World Series before being swept by the New York Yankees, who at that time had built the most dominant team in baseball. The 1927 season was the first for the sharp-hitting combination of brothers Lloyd Waner and Paul Waner, who along with shortstop Arky Vaughan ensured that the Pirates had plenty of Hall of Fame-caliber position players through 1941. However, the Pirates' crushing defeats in 1927 and 1938 (when they lost the pennant to the Chicago Cubs in the final days of the season) were tremendous setbacks.

1946–1969

The post-World War II years were not kind to the Pirates, despite the presence of a genuine star in Ralph Kiner, who led the National League in home runs for seven consecutive seasons (1946 through 1952). While attendance at Forbes Field rose to among the top in the NL, the team built around Kiner placed in the first division only once – in 1948 – and in 1952 compiled one of the worst records in major league history, winning 42 and losing 112 games (.273) and finishing 54½ games out of first place. In 1946, the long era of ownership by the Barney Dreyfuss family came to an end when it sold the team to a syndicate headed by Indianapolis businessman Frank McKinney that included entertainer Bing Crosby. By 1950, Columbus, Ohio-based real estate tycoon John W. Galbreath emerged as majority owner, and his family would run the team for another 35 years and supervise its rise to the top of the NL.

Galbreath's first major move, the hiring of Branch Rickey as general manager after the 1950 campaign, was initially a great disappointment to Pittsburgh fans. Rickey had invented the farm system with the Cardinals and broken the baseball color line with the Dodgers, building dynasties with each club. In Pittsburgh, though, he purged the roster of its higher-salaried veterans (including Kiner in 1953) and flooded the team with young players. Many of those youngsters faltered, but those who fulfilled Rickey's faith in them – pitchers Vern Law, Bob Friend, and Elroy Face, shortstop Dick Groat, second baseman Bill Mazeroski, and especially outfielder Roberto Clemente, drafted from Brooklyn after his only minor league season (1954) – would form the nucleus of the Pirates' 1960 championship club. Moreover, as in St. Louis and Brooklyn, Rickey put into place one of baseball's most successful farm and scouting systems, keeping the Pirates competitive into the late 1970s. However, all this was not evident when Rickey retired due to ill health in 1955, with the Pirates still struggling to escape the NL basement.

The 1948 team was the only postwar Pirates squad with a winning record until 1958, Danny Murtaugh's first full season as manager. Murtaugh is widely credited with inventing the concept of the closer by frequently playing Elroy Face late in close games. The 1960 team featured eight All-Stars, but was widely predicted to lose the World Series to a powerful New York Yankees team. In one of the most memorable World Series in history, the Pirates were defeated by ten or more runs in three games, won three close games, then recovered from a 7–4 deficit late in Game 7 to eventually win on a walk-off home run by Mazeroski, a second baseman better known for defensive wizardry. The 1960 Pirates were the only team between 1945 and 2001 to have not succumbed to the so-called "Ex-Cubs Factor" in the postseason. They also became the first team to win a World Series on a home run, a feat later achieved by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993, although Joe Carter's home run came in Game 6 of the 1993 Series. Mazeroski's homer remains the only walk-off home run in Game 7 of a World Series.

The 1960s would continue with extremely solid defensive play by Mazeroski and the great offensive and defensive abilities of Clemente, baseball's first Puerto Rican superstar. Clemente was regarded as one of the game's best all-time hitters, and possessed a tremendous arm in right field. Although not the first black-Hispanic baseball player (an honor belonging to Minnie Miñoso), Clemente's charisma and leadership in humanitarian causes made him an icon across the continent. During his playing career, Clemente was often overlooked, but today many consider him to have been one of the greatest right fielders in baseball history.

Even with Clemente, however, the Pirates struggled to post winning marks from 1961 to 1964, and Murtaugh was replaced by Harry Walker in 1965. With Walker, a renowned batting coach, at the helm, and the hitting of Clemente, Matty Alou, Manny Mota and others, the Bucs fielded contending, 90-plus win teams in both 1965 and 1966, with Clemente claiming the National League MVP Award in the latter year. However, Pittsburgh had no answer for the pitching of the Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants, and finished third both seasons. In 1967, they fell back to .500, and did not contend through the rest of the 1960s.

1970–1979 and "The Family"

Aerial view of Three Rivers Stadium.

1970–73

Slugger Willie Stargell became a fixture in the Pittsburgh lineup in the late 1960s, and the Pirates returned to prominence in 1970. Murtaugh returned as manager and the Pirates' home field, Forbes Field, was demolished in favor of the multi-purpose Three Rivers Stadium. In 1970, the Pirates won their first of five National League East division titles over the next seven years, and won their fourth World Series in 1971 behind a .414 Series batting average by Clemente. They also thought they had a genuine superstar pitcher (historically rare for the Pirates) in Steve Blass, who pitched two masterful games in the World Series against Baltimore and had excellent seasons in 1968 and 1972.[7] That lineup, on September 1, was Rennie Stennett, Gene Clines, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Manny Sanguillen, Dave Cash, Al Oliver, Jackie Hernández, and Dock Ellis.[8]

Clemente died in a plane crash on December 31, 1972 while accompanying a shipment of relief supplies to the victims of an earthquake in Nicaragua. He had reached a milestone by rapping his 3,000th career hit, a stand-up double off Jon Matlack of the New York Mets on September 30, 1972, in what would prove to be his last regular-season at-bat. The Baseball Hall of Fame waived its usual waiting requirement and inducted Clemente immediately. Pittsburgh would erect a statue and name a bridge and park near the stadium after him, as well as a street in the Oakland neighborhood near the former site of Forbes Field.

In 1973, Blass suffered a mysterious decline in his pitching abilities, posting a 9.85 ERA. To this day, pitchers who suddenly lose the ability to throw strikes are said to have "Steve Blass disease."[9] Blass retired soon after; he has since, for almost two decades, been one of the Pirates' radio and TV announcers.

1974–78

The Pirates made the playoffs in 1974 and 1975, but lost the National League Championship Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds, respectively. The speedy Omar Moreno and the power-hitting Dave Parker joined Stargell in the lineup during this period. After the 1976 season, in which the Bucs finished in second place behind the cross-state Philadelphia Phillies, Danny Murtaugh died. The Pirates struck a trade with the Oakland Athletics in which catcher Manny Sanguillen was sent to Oakland for manager Chuck Tanner. The Pirates would finish second to the Phillies once again in 1977, with Parker winning a batting title. It was also in 1977 that the Pirates began wearing yellow and black uniforms with pillbox caps. Stargell would award teammates with "Stargell Stars" on their caps for excellent plays on the field. The following year, the Pirates turned the end of the 1978 season into an impromptu race for the NL East, as they tried to chase down the collapsing Phillies, who ultimately won the division, only to fall short during the final home stand of the season (ironically against the Phillies). Despite this, Parker won another batting title and was named National League MVP to go with it.

1979

Adopting the popular song "We Are Family" by the Philadelphia disco group Sister Sledge as their theme song, the 1979 Pirates held off the Montreal Expos to claim the pennant. "We Are Family" was elevated from theme song to anthem status (and is still nearly synonymous with the '79 Pirates), with fans chanting "Fam-a-lee!" from the stands. The Pirates faced the Baltimore Orioles again in the World Series, which (like 1971) they won in seven games, on October 17, 1979. During the 1979 championship season, a Pirate player was designated as Most Valuable Player in every available category: All-Star Game MVP (Dave Parker), NL Championship Series MVP (Willie Stargell), World Series MVP (Willie Stargell), and National League MVP (Willie Stargell, shared with Keith Hernandez of the Cardinals).

1986-1996: The Leyland era

Barry Bonds played the first 7 seasons of his career with the Pirates, beginning in 1986.

After the 1979 World Series, the Pirates entered a period of decline, steadily declining until they were regarded as the worst team in baseball during the mid-1980s. Jim Leyland took over as manager in 1986, and under his guidance the Pirates gradually climbed out of the cellar. They featured young and exciting players such as the "outfield of dreams" Bobby Bonilla, Barry Bonds, and Andy Van Slyke; infielders Jay Bell, Steve Buechele, Sid Bream, and José Lind; catcher Mike LaValliere, and pitchers Doug Drabek, John Smiley, and Stan Belinda.

As a rookie in 1982, Johnny Ray played in every game and was named the Rookie of the Year by the Sporting News.

In 1988, the young team finished 85–75 and seemed ready to compete for a pennant. However, the 1989 season was a major setback, with injuries depleting the squad and leading to a fifth-place finish. Among the low points of the season was a game against rival Philadelphia Phillies in Philadelphia on June 8, 1989, where the Pirates became the first team in major-league history to score 10 runs in the first inning and nevertheless lose the game.[10] Pirates broadcaster (and former pitcher) Jim Rooker famously vowed that if the team blew the lead, he would walk home from Philadelphia—a vow he fulfilled after the season while raising money for charity.[11]

Pirates clinch the Division Title in St. Louis, 1990.

The Pirates would win the first three NL East titles of the 1990s, but failed to advance to the World Series each time. In both 1991 and 1992, they lost closely contested League Championship Series to the Atlanta Braves.

1996–2007: The McClatchy/Littlefield era

After the 1992 season, the front office set out to rebuild the team, giving up several high-payroll players in favor of a younger crew. The Pirates have been unable to produce a winning season since, accumulating an 19-year losing streak — the longest in any of the four major professional North American sports leagues.[12] The closest the Pirates have come to fielding a winning team during this period was the 1997 team, which finished second in the NL Central despite having a losing record and a payroll of $9 million. The 1997 team was eliminated from playoff contention during the season's final week.

2001–04

PNC Park opened in 2001.

In 2001, the Pirates opened a new stadium, PNC Park. Due to its simple concept and strategic usage of the Pittsburgh skyline, it is frequently regarded as the best park in baseball.[13]

General manager Dave Littlefield was installed July 13, 2001, midway through the 2001 season, and began overhauling the team to comply with owner Kevin McClatchy's dictum to drastically reduce the payroll. Enigmatic but talented third baseman Aramis Ramírez was traded to the Chicago Cubs in 2003 for a fairly minimal return under pressure to dump his $6 million salary for 2004, and he proceeded to become a star for the Cubs. Brian Giles was one of the National League's best hitters for several years, but he and his $9 million salary were also traded in 2003 to the San Diego Padres for youngsters Oliver Pérez, Jason Bay, and Cory Stewart. Pirate fans found this trade much more palatable in the short run, as Pérez led the majors in strikeouts per inning and Bay won the Rookie of the Year Award award in 2004, while Giles put up a subpar season by his standards. After the 2004 season, Jason Kendall went to the Oakland Athletics in a cross-exchange of high-salary players.

2005

Illustrating the Pirates' rebuilding efforts, at the close of the 2005 season, the team fielded the youngest roster in baseball, with an average age of 26.6. (The next youngest team was the Kansas City Royals, with an average age of 27.1.) During the course of the season, 14 players were called up from its Triple-A affiliate, the Indianapolis Indians, 12 of whom made their first major league appearance. On September 6, manager Lloyd McClendon was fired after 5 losing seasons as manager. On October 11, Jim Tracy was hired as the new manager.

2006

The 2006 season got off to a slow start with the Pirates losing their first six games. Manager Jim Tracy earned his first win as the new Pirate's skipper on April 9 against the Cincinnati Reds. The Pirates hosted the All Star Game at PNC Park. The Pirates went into the game with a disastrous and disappointing 30–60 record. During the second half of the season, the Pirates made a successful turn around and finished the second half with a 37–35 record. This is the first time the Pirates have finished the second half of the season with a winning record since 1992. Third baseman Freddy Sanchez won the National League batting title for the 2006 season with an average of .344.

2007

2007 was a year of transition for the Pirates. After 52 seasons with Newsradio 1020 KDKA AM, the Pirates switched their flagstation affiliate to WPGB FM Newstalk 104.7.

In addition, Robert Nutting replaced McClatchy as majority owner, becoming the sixth majority owner in Pirates history. On July 6, 2007, Kevin McClatchy announced he was stepping down as the Pirates CEO at the end of the 2007 season.[14]

On September 7, 2007, Nutting fired general manager Dave Littlefield.[15]

2007–2010: Nutting/Huntington era

The Pittsburgh Pirates began to shape their organizational management team late in the 2007 season. On September 13, Frank Coonelly, chief labor counsel for Major League Baseball, was introduced as the team's new president.[16] On September 25, 2007, the Pirates announced the hiring of Neal Huntington, formerly a scout in the Cleveland Indians organization, as the team's new general manager.[17] On October 5, 2007, Jim Tracy was fired by the Pirates, leaving them with another search for a manager. Torey Lovullo had originally been named as a leading candidate for the position,[18] but his name was gradually replaced by others in the minor league ranks, one being Ottawa Lynx manager John Russell, who eventually was named the new manager November 5, 2007. He had originally been the third base coach under previous manager Lloyd McClendon from 2003 to 2005 until he was fired by the previous General Manager Dave Littlefield.[19]

2008

As the Pirates once again failed to produce a winning record, the team began another round of rebuilding. Prior to the trade deadline, the Pirates made several deals that sent several accomplished veterans to other franchises. On July 26, 2008, the Pirates traded left fielder Xavier Nady and pitcher Dámaso Marté to the New York Yankees in return for Jose Tabata, Ross Ohlendorf, Dan McCutchen, and Jeff Karstens. Karstens began his career with the Pirates at 2–0 and came within 4 outs of pitching the first perfect game in franchise history on August 6, 2008.[20]

On July 31, Jason Bay was traded to the Boston Red Sox in a three-team deal that sent Manny Ramírez to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Andy LaRoche and Bryan Morris to the Pirates from the Dodgers and Brandon Moss and Craig Hansen to the Pirates from the Red Sox.

On November 24, the Pirates signed Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel as undrafted free agents, making them the first Indian citizens to sign a contract with any American professional sports team.[21] Both men are pitchers, who were first spotted in the "Million Dollar Arm" contest organized in India by J.B. Bernstein earlier in 2008.

2009

The team shed payroll and traded away players for prospects. On June 3, the team's only 2008 All-Star Nate McLouth was traded to the Atlanta Braves for prospects Jeff Locke, Charlie Morton and Gorkys Hernández.[22] On June 30, the team dealt Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett to the Washington Nationals, as well as sending utility player Eric Hinske to the New York Yankees. This upset some Pirates players, including Adam LaRoche and Jack Wilson, who questioned the direction of the team.[23] LaRoche was later traded to the Red Sox in exchange for minor leaguers Hunter Strickland and Argenis Díaz.[24] On July 29, Wilson was traded to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for shortstop Ronny Cedeño and Minor League players Jeff Clement, Aaron Pribanic, Brett Lorin, and Nathan Adcock. The same day, the Pirates traded Sanchez to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for Tim Alderson.[25]

On July 30, the Pirates traded pitchers John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Kevin Hart, and minor leaguers José Ascanio and Josh Harrison.[26]

On September 7, 2009, the Pittsburgh Pirates were defeated by the Chicago Cubs 4-2. The loss was the Pirates' 82nd of the year, and it clinched for them the longest streak of consecutive losing seasons in any North American professional sport.[12]

2010

On April 22 the Pirates suffered their worst loss in franchise history, losing to the Milwaukee Brewers 20-0.[27] During that series against the Brewers, they were outscored 36-1. On April 27 the Pirates broke a 22 game losing streak at Miller Park, beating the Brewers 7-3. On July 20, they scored nine runs in the first inning, the first time they accomplished that feat since 1989.[28] The very next night, Pedro Alvarez became the first Pirate rookie in history to have multi-home run games on consecutive nights.[29] On August 20, 2010, the Pirates clinched their 18th straight losing season in a row, extending the all-time record in the history of major sports. On September 24, 2010, the Pirates fell to the Houston Astros 10-7 to reach the century mark in losses for the first time since 2001.[30] On October 4, 2010, the Pirates fired the team's manager, John Russell. Russell went 186-299 in three seasons, equaling a franchise record set by Fred Haney's teams from 1953 to 1955.[31] The 2010 Pirates picked up the third most losses in franchise history, trailing only the 113-loss teams of 1890 and 1952. They also had the sixth worst winning percentage in team history and their worst since 1954.

2011–present: Hurdle era

2011

In the off season of 2010 Pirates hired a new manager Clint Hurdle. Hurdle was a part of the Colorado Rockies 2007 NL Pennant. On May 9, 2011, the Pirates defeated the Dodgers to bring the team's W-L% to .514, the first time over .500 in May since 2004. On July 8, the Pirates defeated the Cubs to enter the All-Star break above the .500 mark for the first time since 1992. The Pirates also sent three players to the 2011 Major League Baseball All-Star Game with the selections of Kevin Correia, Joel Hanrahan and Andrew McCutchen. This marked the first time since 1990 that the team had three All-Stars on the National League team.[32] On July 15, and again on July 18, the Pirates moved into first place of the NL Central. This marked the first two times that the Pirates were in first place this late in the season since 1997.[33]

Starting in late July rumblings of "America's Team" began to surface, with ESPN television picking up 2 of their games for their nightly baseball telecast. This was in part due to the record length of prior losing seasons and in part due to the no salary cap policy of MLB. People from different parts of the country were sympathetic towards the Pirates as they still had one of the lowest payrolls in baseball (approximately one fourth of the Yankees that same year). Pirates picked up two big names off the market during the Trade Deadline on July 31. The two were Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick. The Pirates gave up Single A first basemen Aaron Baker for Derrek Lee and a "to be determined" player for Ryan Ludwick.[34]

On July 26, a controversial call at home plate was made that lead to an extra inning loss against the Atlanta Braves. The Pirates then won only one game between July 26 and August 8, including a season-high 10 game losing streak in that span. Despite a promising season, with a loss to the St Louis Cardinals on September 14, 2011, the team lost its 82nd game of the season, ensuring a 19 year long losing season streak.

Historical rivalries

Philadelphia Phillies

The rivalry between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Pirates was considered by some to be one of the best rivalries in the National League.[35][36][37] The rivalry started when the Pittsburgh Pirates entered play in 1887, four years after the Phillies.[38]

The Phillies and the Pirates had remained together after the National League split into two divisions in 1969. During the period of two-division play (1969 to 1993), the two National League East division rivals won the two highest numbers of division championships, reigning almost exclusively as NL East champions in the 1970s and again in the early 1990s.[37][39][40] the Pirates nine, the Phillies six; together, the two teams' 15 championships accounted for more than half of the 25 NL East championships during that span.[39]

After the Pirates moved to the National League Central in 1994, the teams face each other only in two series each year and the rivalry has diminished.[36][37] However, many fans, especially older ones, retain their dislike for the other team and regional differences between Eastern and Western Pennsylvania still fuel the rivalry.[41]

Current roster

Pittsburgh Pirates 2012 Spring Training rosterview · talk · edit
40-man roster Spring Training
non-roster invitees
Coaches/Other

Pitchers

Catchers

Infielders

Outfielders


Pitchers

  • 48 Tim Wood





Manager

Coaches



34 Active, 0 Inactive, 1 Non-roster invitees

* Not on active roster
Injury icon 2.svg 7- or 15-day disabled list
Roster updated November 10, 2011
TransactionsDepth Chart
All MLB rosters


Players

Baseball Hall of Fame

Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famers
Affiliation according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Pittsburgh Pirates

Jake Beckley*
Bert Blyleven
Jim Bunning
Max Carey
Jack Chesbro
Fred Clarke1
Roberto Clemente
Joe Cronin

Kiki Cuyler
Barney Dreyfuss
Frankie Frisch1
Pud Galvin
Goose Gossage
Hank Greenberg
Burleigh Grimes
Ned Hanlon2

Billy Herman1
Waite Hoyt
Joe Kelley
George Kelly
Ralph Kiner
Chuck Klein
Freddie Lindstrom
Al Lopez2
Connie Mack2

Heinie Manush
Rabbit Maranville
Bill Mazeroski
Bill McKechnie2
Branch Rickey
Billy Southworth2
Willie Stargell
Casey Stengel2

Pie Traynor1
Dazzy Vance
Arky Vaughan
Rube Waddell
Honus Wagner*1
Lloyd Waner
Paul Waner*
Vic Willis

Players listed in bold are depicted on their Hall of Fame plaques wearing a Pirates or Alleghenys cap insignia.
* – depicted on Hall of Fame plaque without a cap or cap insignia due to not wearing a cap or playing when caps had no insignia; Hall of Fame recognizes Pittsburgh as "Primary Team"
– inducted as Executives/Pioneers due in part to their contributions to baseball as executives with the Pirates; depicted on their plaques without a cap.
1 – inducted as player; managed Pirates or was player-manager
2 – inducted as manager; played for Pirates/Alleghenys or was player-manager

Ford C. Frick Award recipients

Pittsburgh Pirates Ford C. Frick Award recipients
Affiliation according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

Milo Hamilton

Bob Prince

Names in bold received the award based primarily on their work as broadcasters for the Pirates.

Retired numbers

Pirate Billy Meyer.png
Billy Meyer,
Manager, 1948–1952
Pirates Ralph Kiner.png
Ralph Kiner,
OF, 1946–1953
Pirates Willie Stargell.png
Willie Stargell,
OF-1B, 1962–1982; Coach, 1985
Pirates Bill Mazeroski.png
Bill Mazeroski,
2B, 1956–1972; Coach, 1973

Pirates Danny Murtaugh.png
Danny Murtaugh,
IF, 1948–1951; Coach, 1956–1957;
Manager, 1957–1964, 1967, 1970–1973, 1973–1976
Pirates Pie Traynor.png
Pie Traynor,
3B, 1920–1934; Manager, 1934–1939
Pirates Roberto Clemente.png
Roberto Clemente,
OF, 1955–1972

Pirates Honus Wagner.png
Honus Wagner,
SS, 1900–1917; Manager, 1917; Coach, 1933–1951
(This was his number only as a coach)
Pirates Paul Waner.png
Paul Waner,
OF, 1926–1940
Pirates Jackie Robinson.png
Jackie Robinson*
*retired throughout all Major League Baseball

Franchise records

Won-loss records

First-in-MLB accomplishments

  • First ever Major League Baseball game broadcast on the radio, a game between the Pirates and the host Philadelphia Phillies aired August 5, 1921, on KDKA (AM) Pittsburgh. The Pirates won the game 8–5.
  • In 1925, the Pirates became the first MLB team to recover from a 3-games-to-1 deficit in winning a best-of-seven World Series; they then became the first MLB team to repeat that feat, in 1979.[42][43][44][45]
  • During the 1953 season, the Pirates became the first team to permanently adopt batting helmets on both offense and defense. These helmets resembled a primitive fiberglass “miner’s cap”. This was the mandate of general manager Branch Rickey, who also owned stock in the company producing the helmets. Under Rickey’s orders, all Pirate players had to wear the helmets both at bat and in the field. The helmets became a permanent feature for all Pirate hitters, but within a few weeks the team began to abandon their use of helmets in the field, partly because of their awkwardly heavy feel. Once the Pirates discarded the helmets on defense, the trend disappeared from the game.[46]
  • First franchise to win a World Series on a home run (1960 World Series) in the decisive 7th game. The only other team to meet this feat is the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993, though they accomplished it in game 6.
  • The first all-minority lineup in MLB history took the field on September 1, 1971.[47] The lineup was Rennie Stennett, Gene Clines, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Manny Sanguillen, Dave Cash, Al Oliver, Jackie Hernandez, and Dock Ellis.[8]
  • The first World Series night game was played in Three Rivers Stadium on October 13, 1971—eleven years to the day since Mazeroski's walk-off homer brought the Pirates their last World Series title in 1960. In this case, however, it was Game 4 between the Pirates and the Baltimore Orioles, rather than a decisive Game 7. Apparently, good things happen for the Pirates on this date, as they knotted the '71 Series at two games apiece on their way to their fourth title.
  • The first combined extra inning no-hitter in MLB history took place at Three Rivers Stadium on July 12, 1997. Francisco Cordova (9 innings) and Ricardo Rincon (1 inning) combined to no-hit the Houston Astros, 3–0 in 10 innings. Pinch-hitter Mark Smith's three-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning sealed the victory and the no-hitter for the Pirates. It remains the only such no-hitter to date.[48]
  • In November 2008, the Pirates became the first MLB team to sign Indian players when they acquired the non-draft free agents of Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel.[21][49] This was also seen by Pirates General Manager, Neal Huntington, as "not only add[ing] two prospects to our system but also hope to open a pathway to an untapped market."[50]
  • The Pirates became the first team in MLB history (as well as all professional sports) to have 19 consecutive losing seasons with a record of 72-90 in 2011.

Minor league affiliations

Level Team League Location
AAA Indianapolis Indians International League Indianapolis, IN
AA Altoona Curve Eastern League Altoona, PA
Advanced A Bradenton Marauders Florida State League Bradenton, FL
A West Virginia Power South Atlantic League Charleston, WV
Short Season A State College Spikes New York-Penn League University Park, PA
Rookie GCL Pirates Gulf Coast League Bradenton, FL
VSL Pirates Venezuelan Summer League Venezuela
DSL Pirates Dominican Summer League Dominican Republic

Fanbase

Despite having some notable fans including former part-owner Bing Crosby and more recently Regis Philbin,[51] the Pirates are considered by most to be a distant third in Pittsburgh behind the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Penguins in popularity among Pittsburgh's three major professional sports teams. Many surveys have backed up this finding as well.[52] However, due to their long history in Pittsburgh dating back to 1882, the team has retained a strong loyal following in the Pittsburgh region.

While the team's recent struggles compared to Pittsburgh's other two teams can be partly to blame (since the Pirates last World Series championship in 1979, the Steelers have won the Super Bowl and the Penguins the Stanley Cup three times each, including both in 2009), distractions off the field have also caused the team's popularity to slip in the city. While the team was ranked first in Pittsburgh as recent as the late 1970s,[53] the Pittsburgh drug trials in 1985 and two relocation threats since are believed to have also seen the team's popularity dipped.[54] The team's standing among fans has, however, improved since PNC Park opened in 2001.[55]

Community activities

Each year, the Pirates recognize six “Community Champions” during a special pregame ceremony.[56]

Radio and television

In 2007, the Pirates chose to end the longest relationship between a team and a radio station in American professional sports. KDKA first broadcast the Pirates on August 5, 1921; with Westinghouse foreman Harold Arlin behind the mic. Broadcasts ended in 1924, but returned in 1936. Except for a few years on WWSW in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the Pirates were on KDKA for 61 years. KDKA's 50,000-watt clear channel enabled Pirates fans across the eastern half of North America at night to hear the games.

That changed for the 2007 season, when the Pirates moved to FM talk radio station WPGB. The Pirates cited the desire to reach more people in the 25–54 age bracket coveted by advertisers. The acquisition of the rights means that Clear Channel Communications holds the rights to every major sports team in Pittsburgh. The Pirates have long had a radio network that has extended across four states. Stations for the 2007 season include Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland radio broadcasters.[57]

On October 1, 2011, Clear Channel announced that they will not renew their deal with the Pirates. It was speculated that the club's radio broadcasting rights would likely be transferred back to CBS Radio via FM sports radio station KDKA-FM,[58] which became official on October 12.[59]

Games are televised on Root Sports Pittsburgh, the Pirates' cable television outlet since 1986, when it was known as KBL. There has been no over-the-air coverage of the Pirates since 2002, when some games were on WCWB. KDKA-TV aired Pirates games for 38 years (1957–1994). Games aired on WPXI from 1995 to 1996 and on WPGH-TV and WCWB from 1997 to 2002.

Announcers Greg Brown, Bob Walk, John Wehner, and Steve Blass shuttle between the radio and TV booths. Also, Tim Neverett began calling Pirates games in 2009 after Lanny Frattare, also known as the voice of the Pirates, retired after the 2008 season. He was the longest working announcer in Pirates history (33 seasons). Neverett, has called NHL, MLB, and Olympic games. Former Pirates closer Kent Tekulve, a member of the team's 1979 World Series Championship team, serves as a post-game analyst for the team on Root Sports Pittsburgh.

On October 1, 2008, longtime play-by-play announcer Lanny Frattare retired after 33 seasons, having called Pirates' games since the 1976 season. He is the longest-tenured announcer in Pirates' history, surpassing the man he replaced, the late Bob Prince (28 seasons, 1948–1975).

On December 18, 2008, the Pirates hired former Colorado Rockies broadcaster Tim Neverett as the new play-by-play announcer. Neverett joined Greg Brown in calling Pirates games on radio and television.[60]

Logos & uniforms

The Pirates have had many uniforms and logo changes over the years, with the only consistency being the "P" on the team's cap. It was adopted in the mid-1940s. Aside from style changes in the cap itself, the "P" logo has remained since.

The Pirates have long been innovators in baseball uniforms. In 1948, the team broke away from the patriotic "Red, White, & Blue" color scheme when they adopted the current black & gold color scheme, to match that of the colors of the Flag of Pittsburgh and, to a lesser extent at the time, the colors of the then-relatively unknown Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL. While they were not the first baseball team to do this, they were one of the first to do this permanently. Along with the San Francisco Giants, the Pirates are one of two pre-expansion National League teams that completely changed their colors, although red returned as an "accent color" in 1997 and remained until 2009.

In the late 1950s, the team adopted sleeveless jerseys. While not an innovation by the team (that honor goes to the Cincinnati Reds), the Pirates did help to popularize the look. The team brought back the vested jerseys in 2001, a style they retained until 2009, although the away jerseys said "Pittsburgh" in script instead of "Pirates." In 2009, they introduced a new home, away and alternate black jersey all with sleeves. However, they kept the pinstriped sleeveless vest for Sunday home games.

To coincide with the move into Three Rivers Stadium in 1970, the team introduced pullover spandex uniforms, the first such team in baseball, and a look that would quickly be adopted by most other teams by the end of the decade. The Pirates ditched the pullover style in favor of the traditional button-down style in 1991, one of the last teams to switch.

The Pirates were also innovators in third jerseys. Even though it would be the Oakland A's that would beat them to having such jerseys, the Pirates, by 1977 had different uniform styles that included two different caps, two different undershirts, three different jerseys and three different pairs of trousers. They would actually rotate (and sometimes mix, with painful results) these styles daily until returning to the basic white and gray uniform ensemble in 1985.

In 1976, the National League celebrated its 100th anniversary. To coincide with it, certain NL teams wore old-style pillbox hats complete with horizontal pinstripes. After the season, the Pirates were the only team to adopt the hats permanently, (alternating between a black hat and a gold hat for several seasons until keeping the black hat in 1985) and kept the hat through the 1986 season, which would be Barry Bonds rookie season with the team. The hats, which recall the team's last World Series championship season (1979), remain popular items in the throwback market.

See also

References

General
  • Markusen, Bruce. The Team That Changed Baseball: Roberto Clemente and the 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates.[61] Yardley: Westholme Publishing. 2005. ISBN 1-59416-030-9
  • McCollister, John (1998). The Bucs!: The Story of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Lenexa: Addax Publishing Group. ISBN 1-886110-40-9. 
  • Nemec, David (2004). The Beer and Whisky League : The Illustrated History of the American Association—Baseball's Renegade Major League. Guilford: The Lyons Press. ISBN 1-59228-188-5. 
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