History on the Pirates
Following was a period of decline until the Pirates were regarded as the worst team in baseball during the mid-1980s. Jim Leyland took over as manager, and the Pirates gradually climbed out of the cellar behind mostly young and exciting players such as "outfield of dreams" Bobby Bonilla, Barry Bonds (also known as the "Killer B's" due to their prowess at the plate), and Andy Van Slyke; infielders Jay Bell, Steve Buechele, Mike LaValliere, Sid Bream, and Jose Lind; 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 5th-place finish. Among the low points of the season was a game 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.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.
The Pirates would win the first three division titles of the 1990s, but failed to advance to the World Series each time, the second two losing closely contested seven-game series to the Atlanta Braves.
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The Pirates have assembled powerful teams in virtually every era of their 100-plus year history. The club won its first World Series championship in 1909 and claimed its fifth in 1979. Pittsburgh has fielded many great players, from early stars Jim Pud Galvin, Rabbit Maranville, Pie Traynor, Arky Vaughan, Honus Wagner, and Lloyd Waner and Paul Waner (the only pair of brothers in the Baseball Hall of Fame) to modern-day heroes Barry Bonds, Roberto Clemente, Ralph Kiner, Bill Mazeroski, and Willie Stargell.
Many Pittsburgh standouts were known for their consistency. Wagner was a seven-time batting champion and career .327 hitter. The Waner brothers batted .300 or better in 25 of their combined 29 complete seasons with the Pirates. Vaughan hit at least .300 in each of his 10 seasons in Pittsburgh, while Traynor bettered .300 in 10 of 13 seasons. In each of his seven years with the Pirates, Kiner led or tied for the NL lead in home runs. Clemente, Wagner, and Paul Waner each eclipsed the prestigious 3000-hit milestone during their careers. With sluggers Clemente, Stargell, and Dave Parker the Pirates were a formidable power during the 1970s, capturing six division titles, two NL pennants, and two World Series championships.
Professional baseball in Pittsburgh dates to April 15, 1876, when the Alleghenies played their first organized game at Union Park. The team disbanded in 1877 and re-formed in 1882 as part of the new American Association, established as a rival to the NL. The club joined the NL in 1887 and three years later became known as the Pirates, after coaxing Philadelphia Athletics second baseman Louis Bierbauer to move to Pittsburgh.
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