Pittsburgh Pirates: The 10 Proudest Moments in Franchise History
The Pittsburgh Pirates have won nine National League pennants and five World Series titles over their long history.
Pirates' fans of this generation may find that hard to believe given the Pirates' recent woes, but the Pirates have a storied franchise just like any other team in the world of baseball.
Many memorable moments have arisen through the years, but many stick out as the proudest moments in franchise history.
Here are the 10 best moments for the Pirates' franchise:
Doug Drabek's Cy Young
Doug Drabek became the first Pirate since Vern Law to win the Cy Young Award when he took home the honor in 1990.
Drabek went 22-6 with a 2.76 ERA. He led the league in wins, and led the Pirates to the NLCS before they lost to the Cincinnati Reds.
The award was Drabek's highest honor of his career. His 22 wins were seven more than his previous single-season high.
Pirates fans should be proud about Drabek receiving this honor. The franchise is known largely for their star hitters rather than their electric arms.
Drabek's 1990 season stands out among other Pirates' single-season performances.
Firing of Dave Littlefield
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Kevin McLatchy did not help the Pirates during his reign as majority owner, but Dave Littlefield butchered the Pirates in his reign as General Manager from 2001 to 2007.
Littlefield is notorious for awful personnel decisions in the draft, and through trades.
He traded players such as Aramis Ramirez, Chris Young, Jason Schmidt, Brian Giles, and managed to lose Jose Bautista in the 2003 Rule 5 draft.
Littlefield also passed over several players in the draft because of signability issues. He took Daniel Moskos over top hitting prospect Matt Wieters. He also took Bryan Bullington over guys like Prince Fielder, Matt Cain, Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke.
Andrew McCutchen, Paul Maholm and Neil Walker were all drafted under Littlefield, but that does not soften the damage Littlefield did to the Pirate franchise.
He not only cut payroll as instructed, he lost a ton of talent in the process.
Whether you like Neil Huntingdon or not, fans should be happy Littlefield is no longer calling the shots.
PNC Park's Construction
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PNC Park opened on March 31, 2001 when the Pirates faced the Cincinnati Reds.
Pirates fans should be proud of this moment because the park was quickly known as one of the best parks in baseball.
Three Rivers Stadium had worn out its welcome. Its 30-year history did not stand up to the inconvenience of its location.
PNC Park has not housed a winning team yet, but fans can at least watch their team inside a beautiful park with a view of a sightly skyline.
Fans can also be proud of the unique out-of-town scoreboard, and that PNC Park is the fastest modern stadium ever built.
Roberto Clemente's Hall of Fame Induction
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Roberto Clemente is the heart and soul of the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise. His death on December 31, 1972 is one of the most tragic days in the history of the franchise.
Clemente's unbelievable resume and tragedy of his death led the baseball Hall of Fame to waive their five-year waiting period, and elect Clemente after his death in 1973.
He won 12 Gold Glove Awards, was a 15-time All-Star and won four National League batting titles. He still holds the record for most outfield assists, and is considered the best right fielder to ever play the game.
Pirate fans were stunned when Clemente was gone. His 18-year Pirates' career was unparalleled in the eyes of the Pirate fanbase, and still is to this day.
First All-Minority Lneup
The Pittsburgh Pirates became the first team to use an all-minority lineup on September 1, 1971.
The lineup consisted of Rennie Stennett, Gene Clines, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Manny Sanguillen, Dave Cash, Al Oliver, Jackie Hernandez and Dock Ellis.
Breaking down barriers is a good thing. Pirate fans should be proud of their franchise for diving head first, and making sure this barrier was not an issue.
1971 World Series Title
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The Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Baltimore Orioles to win the 1971 World Series. The championship was the fourth of the Pirate franchise's history.
The Pirates won the title behind the arm of Steve Blass and the bat of Roberto Clemente.
Clemente hit .414 for the series, and Blass threw two gems en route to two Pirate victories.
The Pirates began their return to dominance in 1970 as Willie Stargell entered his prime in the middle of the Pirate lineup. However, 1971 is the year it all came together.
Pirate fans should be proud of their franchise for winning their first of two World Series titles in the 1970s.
First Place in July
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The Pirates do not have much to hang their hat on in the last 19 seasons, but they can be proud of their brief run among the contenders in 2011.
Pride should swell not only because of the success, but because of the improbability of it happening.
The Pirates were sitting atop the NL Central on July 18th. That is the latest the Pirates graced the top of the standings since 1997.
The young nucleus of the current Pirates squad began to come together in 2011. Without Umpire Jerry Meals' questionable call on July 26th against the Atlanta Braves, who knows if the Pirates could have rode the momentum even further?
Either way, this was a rare bright period among some very dark Pirate years.
1925 World Series Comeback
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The Pittsburgh Pirates became the first team in baseball history to erase a three to one deficit, and win the World Series when they knocked off Walter Johnson's Washington Senators.
The Pirates were led by Kiki Cuyler, Pie Traynor and Max Carey at the plate. Vic Aldridge and Ray Kremer led the pitching staff.
Pirate fans can be proud of the resiliency of their franchise in order to win the 1925 title. All-everything shortstop Honus Wagner was declining, but younger players took the torch and ran with it.
The Pirates deep pitching staff was the backbone of this team, but it was an overall team effort to earn the Pirates their second World Series title in franchise history.
1979 World Series Title
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The Pirates 1979 World Series team is the most memorable championship team in the franchise's history. Not only for the team unity, but because of the three to one deficit erased to win the title.
Adopting the "We Are Family" song by Sister Sledge, the Pirate team rallied together and brought the fans into the fold with the iconic team anthem.
The Pirates defeated the Montreal Expos to win the National League pennant, and defeated the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series just as they had in 1971.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have had great teams throughout their franchise. The 1979 championship team ranks near the top, or at the top, among the best of the best.
1960 World Series Title
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The 1960 World Series is the most memorable for the Pirates franchise for a few reasons.
The Pirates defeated the mighty New York Yankees, and Bill Mazeroski became the first player to ever win a World Series with a Game 7 walk-off homerun.
Joe Carter hit a walk-off shot to win the World Series for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993, but Mazeroski's walk-off remains the only Game 7 winner in World Series history.
The Yankees had scored two runs in the top of the ninth, and sent Ralph Terry to the mound in the bottom half of the inning. The rest is history as Mazeroski planted one over the left-field fence.
The dramatic World Series victory is memorable because of Mazeroski's shot. Mazeroski's decisive homerun in Game 4 is forgotten in the midst of his Game 7 heroics, but the Pirate victory is what counts in the end.