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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 everything there is to see, experiencing both the highs and lows of the game.
Achieving the momentous task 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 seventh year as the manager for the Pittsburgh Pirates, former Major Leaguer Clint Hurdle is trying to make his team turn a corner. After three consecutive Wild Card appearances, his team failed to qualify for the postseason last year. 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.
Today’s squad is teeming with young talent. It will be the job of Clint Hurdle to figure out how to harness this raw talent and turn it into a competitive professional team. Veteran Andrew McCutchen looks to bounce back after a tough season last year to show these young players how to succeed at the highest levels. Coming off a great rookie year, Josh Bell is determined to show that it wasn’t a fluke. He fully expects to become an everyday player and make his name known around the league. The rest of the roster hopes to do the same as a cast of young and unknown players look to make some big noise in the Steel City. For additional information pertaining to the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise click here.