Pittsburgh Pirates
2020 Pittsburgh Pirates season
Established in 1882
Pittsburgh Pirates logo 2014.svgPittsburgh Pirates Cap Insignia.svg
Team logoCap insignia
Major league affiliations
Current uniform
MLB-NLC-PIT-Uniforms.png
Retired numbers
Colors
  • Black, gold, white[1][2][3]
                  
Name
  • Pittsburgh Pirates (1891–present)
  • Pittsburgh Alleghenys (1887–1890)
  • Allegheny (1882–1886)
Other nicknames
  • Bucs
  • Buccos
Ballpark
Major league titles
World Series titles (5)
NL Pennants (9)
Central Division titles (0)None
East Division titles (9)
Wild card berths (3)
Front office
Principal owner(s)Robert Nutting
ManagerDerek Shelton
General managerBen Cherington
President of baseball operationsTravis Williams

The Pittsburgh Pirates are an American professional baseball team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League (NL) Central division. Founded as part of the American Association in 1881 under the name Pittsburgh Allegheny, the club joined the National League in 1887 and was a member of the National League East from 1969 through 1993. The Pirates have won five World Series championships, nine National League pennants, nine National League East division titles, and made three appearances in the Wild Card Game.

Despite their struggles in the 1800s, the Pirates were among the best teams in baseball at the turn of the century, winning three NL titles from 1901 to 1903, playing in the inaugural World Series in 1903 and winning their first World Series in 1909 behind Honus Wagner. The Pirates took part in arguably the most famous World Series ending, winning the 1960 World Series against the New York Yankees 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, led by the talent of Roberto Clemente, and the 1979 World Series under the slogan "We Are Family", led by "Pops" Willie Stargell. After a run of regular-season success in the early 1990s, the Pirates struggled mightily over the following decades, with 20 consecutive losing seasons from 1993 to 2012—the longest such streak in American professional sports history[4]. The Pirates returned to the postseason in 2013 and advanced to the NLDS. The team qualified for the postseason again in 2014 and 2015. The Pirates currently have the longest World Series appearance drought in Major League Baseball among any team with at least one appearance and the longest pennant drought in the National League,[5] their most recent showing being their victory in the 1979 World Series From 1882 to 2019, the Pirates have an overall record of 10,545–10,405 (a .503 winning 'percentage').[6]

The Pirates are also often referred to as the "Bucs" or the "Buccos" (derived from buccaneer, a synonym for pirate). The team plays its home games at PNC Park in Pittsburgh's North Side, its home since 2001. The Pirates previously played at Forbes Field from 1909 to 1970 and at Three Rivers Stadium from 1970 to 2000. Since 1948 the Pirates' colors have been black, gold and white, matching the other professional sports teams in Pittsburgh, the Steelers and Penguins.

Franchise history

Professional baseball in the Pittsburgh area began in 1876 with the organization of the Allegheny Base Ball Club, an independent (non-league) club based in a then-separate city called Allegheny City, across the Allegheny River from Pittsburgh. The team joined the minor league International Association in 1877, only to fold the following season.[7] On October 15, 1881, Denny McKnight held a meeting at Pittsburgh's St. Clair Hotel to organize a new Allegheny club,[8] which began play in 1882 as a founding member of the American Association. Chartered as the Allegheny Base Ball Club of Pittsburgh,[9] the team was listed as "Allegheny" in the standings, and was sometimes called the "Alleghenys" (rarely the "Alleghenies") in that era's custom of referring to a team by its pluralized city or club name. 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 the time, William A. Nimick was club president and Horace Phillips manager.[10]

Before the 1890 season, nearly all of the Alleghenys' best players bolted to the Players' League's Pittsburgh Burghers. The Players' League collapsed after the season, and the players were allowed to go back to their old clubs. However, the Alleghenys also scooped up highly regarded second baseman Lou Bierbauer, who had previously played with the AA's Philadelphia Athletics. Although the Athletics had failed to include Bierbauer on their reserve list, they loudly protested the Alleghenys' move. In an official complaint, an AA official claimed the Alleghenys' signing of Bierbauer was "piratical".[11] 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.[12] The nickname was first acknowledged on the team's uniforms in 1912.

After almost two decades of mediocre baseball, the Pirates' fortunes began to change at the turn of the century. The Pirates acquired several star players from the Louisville Colonels, who were slated for elimination when the N.L. contracted from 12 to 8 teams.[13] Among those players was Honus Wagner, who would become one of the first players inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Pirates were among the best teams in baseball in the early 1900s, winning three consecutive National League pennants from 1901 to 1903 and participating in the first modern World Series ever played, which they lost to Boston. The Pirates returned to the World Series in 1909, defeating the Detroit Tigers for their first ever world title. That year, the Pirates moved from Exposition Park to one of the first steel and concrete ballparks, Forbes Field.

As Wagner aged, the Pirates began to slip down the National League standings in the 1910s, 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 to relevance in the 1920s. The Pirates won their second title in 1925, becoming the first team to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the World Series.[14] The Pirates returned to the World Series in 1927 but were swept by the Murderer's Row Yankees. The Pirates remained a competitive team through the 1930s but failed to win the pennant, coming closest in 1938 when they were passed by the Chicago Cubs in the final week of the season.

Despite the slugging prowess of Ralph Kiner, the Pirates were mostly miserable in the 1940s and 1950s. Branch Rickey was brought in to rebuild the team, which returned to the World Series in 1960. Despite being outscored over the course of the series by the Yankees, the Pirates won on a walk-off home run by Bill Mazeroski in the bottom of the 9th inning in Game 7. As of 2019, it is the only Game 7 walk-off home run in World Series history.

Led by right fielder Roberto Clemente, the Pirates remained a strong team throughout the 1960s but did not return to the World Series until 1971. Playing in the new Three Rivers Stadium, the Pirates defeated the favored Baltimore Orioles behind Clemente's hitting and the pitching of Steve Blass. That same year, the Pirates became the first team to field an all-Black and Latino lineup.[15]

Despite Clemente's death after the 1972 season, the Pirates were one of the dominant teams of the decade, winning the newly-created National League East in 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, and 1979. Powered by sluggers such as Willie Stargell, Dave Parker, and Al Oliver, the team was nicknamed "The Lumber Company." Behind Stargell's leadership and disco song "We Are Family", the Pirates came back from a 3-1 deficit to once again defeat the Orioles in the 1979 World Series for the franchise's fifth championship.

The Pirates sank back to mediocrity in the 1980s, but returned to relevance in the early 1990s behind young players like Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, and Doug Drabek. The Pirates won three straight division titles from 1990 to 1992 but lost in the National League Championship Series each time, notably coming within one out of advancing to the World Series in 1992. Several of the team's best players, including Bonds and Drabek, left as free agents after that season.

With salaries rising across baseball, the small-market Pirates struggled to keep pace with the sport and posted a losing record for 20 consecutive seasons, a record among North American professional sports teams. Even the opening of a new stadium in 2001, PNC Park, did little to change the team's fortunes. The Pirates finally returned to the postseason in 2013 behind National League MVP Andrew McCutchen, defeating the Cincinnati Reds in the Wild Card Game. They were eliminated in five games in the next round by the St. Louis Cardinals. That season, the Pirates also became the seventh MLB team to reach 10,000 all-time wins.[16] On Opening Day 2015 the Pirates' loss was the team's 10,000th[17] making the Pirates the fourth MLB team to achieve this distinction, following the Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, and Chicago Cubs.[18] The Pirates returned to the postseason in 2014 and 2015 and lost the Wild Card game both times, and have not qualified for the playoffs since.

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.[19][20][21] The rivalry started when the Pittsburgh Pirates entered the NL in 1887, four years after the Phillies.[22]

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 (1969–1993), 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.[21][23][24] 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.[23]

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.[20][21] However, many fans, especially older ones, retain their dislike for the other team, with regional differences between Eastern and Western Pennsylvania still fueling the rivalry.[25]

Within the Central Division

The Pirates have lacked a consistent rival during their time in the Central Division, as the team has posted a losing record in the majority of its seasons since moving over from the East Division in 1994. Arguably the Pirates' biggest rival is the Cincinnati Reds, given the two teams' proximity, the carryover of the cities' football rivalry, and the fact that the Reds and Pirates have met six times in the postseason,[26] most recently in the 2013 National League Wild Card Game. In the 2010s, the two teams frequently hit each other with pitches, occasionally resulting in brawls.[27]

From 2013 to 2015, the Pirates battled with the St. Louis Cardinals for the Central Division title, with the Cardinals narrowly winning the division each year. The two teams faced off in the 2013 National League Division Series, which the Cardinals won in five games. The Pirates had a contentious[28] battle with the Milwaukee Brewers for a Wild Card spot in 2014 and faced off against the Chicago Cubs in the 2015 National League Wild Card Game. The Cubs were major rivals for the Pirates earlier in their history, as both were among the best teams in baseball in the early 1900s and the Cubs eliminated the Pirates from the pennant race in the last week of the 1938 season.

Interleague

The Pirates play an annual series against the Detroit Tigers. While the Pirates and Tigers only became "natural rivals" because the other AL and NL Central teams were already paired up, it has become popular with fans of both teams, possibly due to the rivalry between the National Hockey League's Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins. The two teams have several other connections as well. The Tigers' AA Minor League affiliate, the Erie SeaWolves, located near Pittsburgh, is a former affiliate of the Pirates and has retained the logo of a wolf wearing a pirate bandanna and eye patch. Additionally, Jim Leyland, former manager of both the Pirates (1986–1996) and the Tigers (2005–2013), remains popular in Pittsburgh where he resides. The Pirates lead the regular season series, 36–29. The two teams played in the 1909 World Series.

An on-and-off rivalry with the Cleveland Indians stems from the close proximity of the two cities, and features some carryover elements from the longstanding rivalry in the National Football League between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers. Because the Indians' designated interleague rival is the Reds and the Pirates' designated rival is the Tigers, the teams have played periodically, with one three-game series per season from 1997 to 2001, 2003, 2006, 2009 to 2012, 2015, and 2018. Since 2012, the Indians and Pirates play three or four games every three seasons when the AL Central plays the NL Central as part of the interleague play rotation. The Pirates lead the series 21–18. The teams will play six games in 2020 as MLB instituted an abbreviated schedule focusing on regional match-ups, and an additional three games in Pittsburgh in 2021.[29]

Roster

Pittsburgh Pirates roster
Active roster Player pool Coaches/Other

Pitchers
Starting rotation

Bullpen

Catchers

Infielders

Outfielders


Pitchers

Catchers

Infielders

Outfielders


Manager

Coaches

45-day injured list


Restricted list

28 active, 28 player pool

Injury icon 2.svg 7- or 10-day injured list
dagger Suspended list
# Personal leave
* Not on 40-man roster
Roster and coaches updated September 27, 2020
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 Clarke *
Roberto Clemente *
Joe Cronin

Kiki Cuyler
Barney Dreyfuss *
Frankie Frisch
Pud Galvin
Goose Gossage
Hank Greenberg
Burleigh Grimes
Ned Hanlon
Billy Herman

Waite Hoyt
Joe Kelley
George Kelly
Ralph Kiner *
Chuck Klein
Freddie Lindstrom
Al López
Connie Mack
Heinie Manush

Rabbit Maranville
Bill Mazeroski *
Bill McKechnie
Hank O'Day
Branch Rickey
Ted Simmons
Billy Southworth
Willie Stargell *
Casey Stengel
Pie Traynor *

Dazzy Vance
Arky Vaughan *
Rube Waddell
Honus Wagner *
Lloyd Waner *
Paul Waner *
Deacon White
Vic Willis

  • Players and managers listed in bold are depicted on their Hall of Fame plaques wearing a Pirates or Alleghenys cap insignia.
  • * Pittsburgh Pirates listed as primary team according to the Hall of Fame

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

Al Helfer

Bob Prince

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

Team captains