Although the Pittsburgh Pirates struggled through another disappointing season, it’s worth noting that the club has a rich history stretching back 135 years. Several world championship titles, all-time great players and contributors, and the impact the team has had on the city help them stand out as a staple in Major League Baseball. These players and contributors were finally officially recognized as the inaugural Pirate Hall of Fame chapter was enshrined and immortalized in panels outside PNC Park.
This inaugural class features 19 players, 16 of whom are members of the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame. Of the nineteen members, only three players were alive, and all of them were present at the ceremony. Steve Blass, Bill Mazeroski and Dave Parker spoke at the ceremony, being entered and wearing the yellow Hall of Fame jacket symbolizing their impact on society and their incredible careers as members of the Pirates organization.
Bill Mazerowski claims to represent one of baseball’s greatest moments as he ran out of the house in Game Seven of the 1960 World Series against the New York Yankees. This was the first time a world championship has been decided with a homerun, and it remains the only time a seventh match of the championship series has been won.
Obviously a very significant event, but Mazeroski was truly known for being a healthy second base defender, playing for the Pirates from 1956-1972, and winning eight Gold Glove Awards. Mazeroski was retired from his jersey by the Pirates in 1987 and inducted into Cooperstown in 2001.
Steve Blass has been a staple of the hacker organization for 60 years. Blass played in 1964, then from 1966 to 1974 with Pittsburgh and became a symbol of his playing prowess.
By far the most memorable part of Blass’ career came during the 1971 World Championships against the favorite Baltimore Orioles. Blass will cast two full matches in Game Three and Game Seven of the series, helping the Pirates hard to win the title.
Following his football career, Blass joined the Pirates radio team in 1983 and called the games until 2019 when he retired after six decades with the team.
Dave Parker was a super athlete in Major League Baseball and made a lot of highlights for the Buccaneers from 1973-1983. The “cobra” was famous for its strong arm and striking ability.
Parker was a seven-time All-Star, two-time batting champion, National League MVP, and two-time World Series champion, once with the Pirates in 1979.
Parker became the second athlete to earn an average of $1 million a year, drawing huge criticism from fans after lackluster years for Pittsburgh. Despite this, Parker retired with a batting average of 0.290, with 2,712 hits, and his 166 home run puts him in the club’s all-time top ten list.
Besides the amazing Pirate players that were recruited, there were many Negro Baseball League members who all played in the area for either the Pittsburgh Crawfords or the Homestead Grays. Owner Bob Notting touched on the influence and legacy of these players and how important it is for them to receive this recognition.
Ray Brown, Oscar Charleston, Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard were Negro League players inducted into the Pirates Hall of Fame and throughout their careers have been praised for the amazing awards they have received despite not being given the opportunity to play in MLB.
With the recent struggles the club has faced, it is a pleasure to celebrate something surrounding piracy, and this Hall of Fame is long overdue. It’s a bit of a shame that there are only three members alive to be recognized, but in the 135 years of the Baseball Pirates, these 19 members were forever immortalized as legends of the game in Pittsburgh.
In total, the opening chapter includes Honus Wagner, Paul Waner, Lloyd Waner, Fred Clark, Jake Beckley, Max Curry, Bay Traynor, Roberto Clemente, Ralph Keener, Archie Vaughan, Willie Stargill, Bill Mazrusky, Josh Gibson, Ray Brown, Buck Leonard Oscar Charleston, Dave Parker, Danny Murtaugh and Steve Blass.