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In the western Pennsylvania steel city of Pittsburgh, the MLB’s Pirates are a staple of the National League. A charter member of the NL, the team was established in 1882. Over the course of more than 130 years of Pirates baseball, this franchise has seen everything there is to see, experiencing both the highs and lows of the game.
Achieving the momentous feat of nine National League pennant victories, the Pirates have stood atop the standings as the champions of baseball five times in their history. Considering that their most recent World Series title came in 1979, the team and its die-hard fans are eager to reach this plateau once again.
In his eighth year as the manager for the Pittsburgh Pirates, former Major Leaguer Clint Hurdle is trying to get his team to turn a corner. After three consecutive Wild Card appearances, his team failed to qualify for the postseason the last two years. The goal for this season is to not only make it to the playoffs, but to do so as the winner of the NL Central. Strong competition from the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers, and Cincinnati Reds is sure to make this a difficult accomplishment, but with nine players on the field all united under a common goal anything can happen.
There have been many great players to wear the Pirates uniform with its iconic “P” insignia on their hats. Among those most revered in Pittsburgh are Honus Wagner, Willie Stargell, Ralph Kiner, Pie Traynor, Bill Mazeroski, and the legendary Roberto Clemente. Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame posthumously following his tragic death in 1972, Clemente finished his career with 3,000 hits, leaving him with a batting average of .317. He was a 15 time all-star, two time World Series champion (including the 1971 series where he was the MVP). He won the NL MVP in 1966. Clemente also won 12 Gold Glove Awards and four National League batting titles.
Amazingly, the Pirates also had Honus Wagner on their roster. This first ballot Hall of Famer won the World Series with Pittsburgh in 1909. A career .329 hitter with 3,430 hits, Wagner was an eight time NL batting champions, five time NL RBI leader, and a five time stolen base leader. Along with Clemente, Wagner is remembered as one of the greatest baseball players of all-time.
The most famous moment in Pittsburgh Pirates history, however, belongs to another hometown favorite. A Hall of Famer with two World Series rings, 10 all-star appearances, and eight Gold Glove Awards, Bill Mazeroski’s name will go down in history in connection with one of the most exciting plays in the history of the game. In the bottom of the ninth inning in a tied seventh game of the World Series, Mazeroski hit a solo shot off Yankees pitcher Ralph Terry to win the World Series with a walk-off home run. The hair still stands up on the back of the neck on any Pirates fan who remembers this epic moment.
This year’s team is ready to emerge from the shadows of expectations and put on a show on the base path. There is some good talent on this team starting with Francisco Cervelli behind the plate. An accomplished and extremely capable catcher, Cervelli surveys the field and calls the pitches for Pittsburgh. First baseman Josh Bell played his first full season last year and has given Pirates fans reason to believe he will take the field for them for years to come. Third baseman Colin Moran, who was with Houston last season, hopes to follow his lead as he experiences his first year of serious action in the majors. Standing between them are Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer, two longtime Pirates that the younger players try to emulate.
Corey Dickerson joins an outfield staff that employs Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco, two well respected Pirates veterans. The pitching staff includes Jameson Taillon, Ivan Nova, and Trevor Williams, with the great Felipe Vasquez closing out the games for Pittsburgh. This roster hopes to make some big noise in the Steel City. For additional information pertaining to the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise click here.