Glove and Bat

From Honus Wagner to Barry Bonds: Pittsburgh Pirates Baseball Legends

Pittsburgh Pirates Baseball History

The Pittsburgh Pirates, often affectionately referred to as the “Bucs,” have a storied history in Major League Baseball (MLB), spanning over a century since their establishment in 1882. Over the years, the Pirates have become known for their winning traditions and outstanding baseball talent.

In this article, we will explore the Pirates’ past and present, dive into the team’s championship history, and look at some of the greatest players to wear the black and gold.

Established in 1882

The Pittsburgh Pirates are one of the oldest clubs in MLB history, with a rich legacy dating back to the late 19th century. Founder William A.

Nimick named the team the Pittsburgh Alleghenys, a nod to the Allegheny River, which flows through the city. The Alleghenys played their first game in 1882, losing to the Cleveland Blues in a lopsided 10-9 game.

The Alleghenys took on the Pirates moniker in 1891, after winning their first National League pennant. The club became known as the Pittsburgh Pirates, a name they have kept to this day.

The Pirates’ home field has also gone through several name changes, from Exposition Park to Forbes Field and Three Rivers Stadium, to their current home, PNC Park.

World Series Champions

The Pirates have a long history of winning, having won five World Series championships in their history. In 1909, the Pirates won their first championship under the leadership of manager Fred Clarke.

The team featured future Hall of Famers

Honus Wagner and Fred Clarke and defeated the Detroit Tigers in seven games. The Pirates’ second championship came six years later in 1915.

The team was led by the “Daffy” Dean brothers, Wilbur and Charles, who helped stop the formidable powerhouse of the Boston Red Sox, led by pitcher Babe Ruth. The Bucs had to wait until 1960 for their next championship, but when it finally came, it was a dramatic one.

The team faced off against the New York Yankees in the World Series, and in Game 7, Bill Mazeroski hit a walk-off home run, securing the Pirates’ third

World Series Championship in a 10-9 victory. In 1971, led by the iconic Roberto Clemente, the Pirates won their fourth championship, defeating the Baltimore Orioles in seven games.

Clemente was named the World Series MVP, after hitting .414 and being an anchor in the Pirates outfield. The Pirates’ last championship came in 1979, when the team, managed by Chuck Tanner, defeated the Baltimore Orioles once again in seven games.

The team featured the likes of

Willie Stargell, Dave Parker, and Tim Foli, who helped the Pirates win their fifth World Series championship.

Great Baseball Talent

Throughout their history, the Pittsburgh Pirates have been home to some of the greatest baseball talent. In 1947, the team became the first in MLB to sign an African-American player, Jackie Robinson, to a professional contract.

The move was a significant milestone in baseball history and helped pave the way for more diversity in the sport. One of the Pirates’ most beloved players is Roberto Clemente.

The Puerto Rican outfielder spent his entire career with the Bucs, from 1955 until his untimely death in 1972. In his 18 seasons with the Pirates, Clemente accumulated a slew of accolades, including 12 All-Star selections, 12 Gold Glove Awards, four batting titles, and two

World Series Championships.

Off-Field Legacy

Clemente’s legacy transcends beyond his playing career. His philanthropy work was extensive and focused on improving the lives of people in his homeland of Puerto Rico and other countries in need.

He frequently sent aid to underprivileged children and was instrumental in raising funds for the victims of the 1972 earthquake in Nicaragua. Tragically, on December 31, 1972, Clemente lost his life in a plane crash, while on a humanitarian mission to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

The Pirates retired his number 21 in honor of his memory, making him the only Pirates player to have their number retired, aside from Jackie Robinson’s number 42, which is retired league-wide.


The Pittsburgh Pirates have had a long and successful history in Major League Baseball. The team’s championship history and great baseball talent have cemented them as a significant player in the sport’s history.

The legacy of Roberto Clemente also endures, reminding us of the power of baseball to inspire and unite people from all over the world.

Honus Wagner

Honus Wagner is considered one of the greatest shortstops in baseball history, with a career that spanned over two decades in the early 1900s. He is known for his all-around game, including his hitting, base running, and fielding, which had a significant impact on the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise.

Records and Achievements

During his career, Wagner won eight batting titles, still the most by any National League player. In addition, he stole 722 bases, batted in 1,731 runs, totaled 3,420 hits, and helped the Pirates win four pennants.

In 1908, he had a batting average of .354, which led the league, and he was instrumental in helping the Pirates win their first of three World Series championships.

World Series Contributions

Wagner’s contributions continued into the 1909 World Series, where he helped lead the Pirates to victory. In Game 3, Wagner recorded three steals, including a daring theft of home plate in the first inning, which kickstarted the Pirates’ 8-6 victory.

With a .333 batting average, two RBIs, three stolen bases, and a key defensive role, Wagner helped the Pirates defeat the Detroit Tigers in seven games to become

World Series Champions.

Hall of Fame Induction

Wagner’s contributions to the sport were recognized when he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936. His legacy has endured, with his baseball card among the most sought-after and valuable in the world.

The card, printed by the American Tobacco Company in 1909, was withdrawn from circulation after Wagner requested the company to do so, with some estimates putting the number of remaining copies at less than 60.

Willie Stargell

Willie Stargell, fondly known as “Pops,” spent his entire 21-year career as a left fielder and first baseman with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Stargells impact on the field and in the community made him a beloved figure in the city of Pittsburgh and a franchise icon.

Franchise Records

Stargell was a central figure in the Pirates’ teams of the 1970s, who won six division titles and two World Series championships. He holds several franchise records, including the most home runs (475), RBIs (1,540), walks (937), and hits (2,232).

He was known for his powerful swing, launching many tape-measure home runs over the course of his career.

1979 World Series Performance

Stargell’s most memorable performance was during the 1979 World Series. In Game 1, he homered to lead off the second inning, and his two-run blast in the sixth broke a 2-2 tie, propelling the Pirates to a 5-4 victory.

In Game 7, he hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning, giving the Pirates the lead, which they never relinquished, securing their fifth World Series championship.

Honors and Recognition

Stargell retired in 1982, and the Pirates retired his number 8 jersey shortly after. In 1988, the Pirates honored Stargell with a statue outside Three Rivers Stadium, which was moved to PNC Park when it opened in 2001.

In 2009, the City of Pittsburgh designated September 6th as “

Willie Stargell Day,” with the Pirates wearing retro uniforms in his honor.


Honus Wagner and

Willie Stargell contributed to the success of the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise in different eras but left an indelible impact on the team and the sport of baseball. Their performances on the field and their contributions to their communities helped them become beloved not only by the fans but by the baseball world as a whole.

Their legacies will continue to inspire generations of players to come.

Arky Vaughan

Arky Vaughan was a talented shortstop who played for both the Pittsburgh Pirates and Brooklyn Dodgers. Known for his impressive hitting and abilities in the field, Vaughan is considered one of the best shortstops in baseball history.

Batting Achievements

Vaughan was one of the most skilled hitters of his time, winning multiple batting titles over his career. He led the National League in batting average twice, with a .385 mark in 1935 and a .385 average in 1938.

In addition, Vaughan’s slugging percentage and on-base percentage were among the best in the league.

Shortstop Career

Vaughan spent the majority of his career with the Pirates, playing for the team for 9 seasons. In 1941, he was named captain of the team, a rare honor for a shortstop.

However, in 1943, Vaughan was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers, where he spent the final two seasons of his career. Vaughan’s skills as a shortstop were highly regarded, and he was known for his range in the infield.

Tragic Death

Tragically, Vaughan’s life was cut short in 1952 when he drowned in a boating accident while on a fishing trip. Vaughan was just 40 years old at the time of his death and had a promising career in baseball.

He was posthumously inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985.

Barry Bonds

Barry Bonds is considered one of the most talented and controversial players in baseball history. He spent the majority of his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates before moving on to the San Francisco Giants, where he broke numerous MLB records.

Accomplishments with Pirates

During his time with the Pirates, Bonds was already a standout player. He won the Golden Glove Award for his defensive abilities and the Silver Slugger Award for his hitting.

He was also named the National League MVP in 1990 and 1992, and led the Pirates to three straight National League Championship Series appearances from 1990-1992.

MLB Records

Bonds is perhaps most famous for breaking the MLB home run record, finishing his career with 762 home runs, surpassing Hank Aaron’s previous record of 755. He also holds the record for most home runs in a single season with 73 in 2001.

Bonds’ incredible performance at the plate earned him 14 All-Star selections, nine Silver Slugger Awards, and seven National League MVP Awards.

Steroid Controversy

Despite his impressive career, Bonds’ legacy has been marred by allegations of steroid use, which has left him out of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was indicted in 2007 on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice relating to his use of performance-enhancing drugs.

While he was not convicted on all charges, the allegations have left a shadow over his incredible accomplishments on the field.


Arky Vaughan and

Barry Bonds are two players that made a significant impact on the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise and in baseball history. Vaughan’s abilities as a hitter and fielder, and Bonds’ stunning accomplishments at the plate and defensive skills helped solidify their places in baseball history.

However, their legacies have been complicated due to different circumstances. Vaughans untimely death cut short his promising career, while Bonds’ association with allegations of performance-enhancing drugs has overshadowed his unprecedented achievements in baseball.

Paul Waner

Paul Waner, often referred to as “Big Poison,” was a prolific hitter and a valuable member of the Pittsburgh Pirates for over a decade in the 1920s and 1930s. With his impressive hitting ability and athleticism, Waner became one of the best players in baseball history.

Batting Title and MVP Win

In 1927, Waner had an outstanding year and was crowned the National League MVP. He led the league with 237 hits, a .380 batting average, and had 131 RBIs. It was one of the finest seasons for any player in baseball history.

He also won the batting title again in 1936, posting a remarkable .373 batting average.

Career Stats

Paul Waners career stats are impressive. He had 3,152 hits overall, with 605 doubles, 191 triples, 1,309 RBI, and a .333 batting average.

His high triples count was due to his speed and impressive athletic ability. Waner was also an excellent outfielder with a career fielding percentage of .975.

Brother as Teammate

Paul Waners younger brother, Lloyd Waner, also played alongside him in the Pirates’ outfield. The pair’s chemistry was exceptional, and they quickly became one of the most formidable duos in baseball history.

Known as “Big Poison and Little Poison,” they helped the Pirates win the National League pennant in 1927 and again in 1936.

Ralph Kiner

Ralph Kiner was a talented outfielder and one of the most consistent power hitters in baseball history. He played for various teams throughout his career, but his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates was his most memorable.

Home Run Achievements

Kiner is well-known for his prodigious home runs, leading the National League in home runs for seven consecutive seasons from 1946 to 1952. He set the MLB record for fastest player to hit 100 home runs, doing so in just 414 games.

Kiner is also one of the few players to hit 40 or more home runs in five consecutive seasons. His power-hitting ability made him one of the most feared sluggers of his era.

Career Length

Kiner’s career lasted a relatively short period, playing for ten seasons in the MLB. Despite his relatively brief career, he remains one of the most impactful and iconic players in baseball history.

Kiner’s batting average during his productive years with the Pirates was .280, and he recorded 369 home runs and 1,015 RBI during his ten seasons.

Stats and Honors

Kiner’s incredible home run rate during his prime was unparalleled, and he remains one of the most impressive home run hitters in baseball history. Beyond his impressive stats, Kiner was honored with several accolades throughout his career.

He was a six-time All-Star and the National League leader in home runs on multiple occasions. In 1975, Kiner was inducted into the Cooperstown Hall of Fame to recognize his incredible contribution to the sport.


Paul Waner and

Ralph Kiner were two incredible players who made significant contributions to Pittsburgh Pirates and baseball history. Their impressive hitting ability, tremendous power, and impressive stats, coupled with their unique abilities in the field, made them some of the most feared and respected players of their time.

Despite their brief careers, both Waner and Kiner will always be remembered as two of the most skilled and impactful players in baseball history.

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