|The Pirates have fielded some of the best and most exciting teams in National League history. The first great Pirate of the 20th century was Honus Wagner.
The Hall of Fame shortstop was the best player in the NL for a number of years. Other great Pirates early on where Fred Clarke (who also managed the team to four flags), Tommy Leach, Deacon Phillippe, Sam Leever, and Vic Willis. In 1909 the Pirates defeated Ty Cobb and the Tigers in the World Series for their first title.
The 1920s Pirates featured a fierce batting attack led by Hall of Famers Pie Traynor, Kiki Cuyler, Max Carey, Paul Waner, and Lloyd Waner. In 1925 they beat the Senators in the World Series. The 1930s continued with the Waner brothers and Arky Vaughan providing fireworks from the batters box. The team failed to win a title, finishing second three times. The 1940s and 1950's continued that drought, despite the home run exploits of Ralph Kiner, and the play of Roberto Clemente.
In 1960 the Pirates returned to prominence, winning the pennant and defeating the Yankees in the World Series on Bill Mazersoki's dramatic home run. Clemente, Dick Stuart, Bill Virdon, and Smoky Burgess paced the Buc attack; Bob Friend, Vern Law, Harvey Haddix, and Elroy Face led the pitching staff; Danny Murtaugh was the manager.
Clemente was one of the best outfielders in baseball during the 1960s, winning four batting titles. He also won several Gold Gloves for his outfield play. In 1966 he was voted NL MVP when he hit 29 homers and drove in 119, while batting .317 and collecting 202 hits. His career ended prematurely after the 1972 season when he was killed in a plane crash. The other star in the 1960's was Willie Stargell, who arrived to stay in 1963 and played 21 seasons in Pittsburgh. He finished with 475 homers and more than 1,500 RBI. In the 1970s he was one of the most feared sluggers in the game.
The 1970s were the most successful decade in team history. Six times the team finished first, three times second, and once third. In 1970, 1972, and 1975 the Pirates lost to their chief nemesis (Cincinnati), in the playoffs. In 1971 and 1979 the Pirates advanced to the World Series, defeating the Orioles on both occasions. Murtaugh and Chuck Tanner managed the team in that era. A significant event occurred in the early 1970s when Pittsburgh fielded the first all-black lineup. Manny Sanguillen, Stargell, Dave Cash, Al Oliver, Clemente, Dave Parker, Frank Taveras, Omar Moreno, and Bill Robinson were some of the minorities who played regularly for the team in the decade. The 1979 team rallied from a 3-1 deficit to top the Orioles in an exciting seven-game series. Stargell led "The Family" - one of the more colorful teams in baseball history.
The 1980s failed to match the phenomenal success of the 1970s, but some bright spots were Bill Madlock, Johnny Ray, and Rick Rhoden. A drug scandal rocked the Pirate organization early in the decade, resulting in Parker's eventual dismissal to Cincinnati. By the end of the decade the team had turned to youth with the emergence of Bobby Bonilla (acquired in a shrewd deal with the White Sox), Jose Lind, Andy Van Slyke, Sid Bream, Doug Drabek, and John Smiley. The most talented player to arrive on the scene was Barry Bonds, son of former outfielder Bobby Bonds. Bonds soon developed into the best player in baseball, stealing bases, drawing walks, slugging home runs, and driving in runs, all while playing a Gold Glove outfield.
Helped by Bonds' pair of MVP awards and the guidance of manager Jim Leyland, the team won three straight AL East titles from 1990-1992. Unfortunately they lost each playoff series, two of them in sickening fashion in the final game. Bonds left the team in 1993 and the rest of the decade was spent trying to catch up. Jason Kendall, Brian Giles, and Kevin Young hold hope for the future but through 2001 the team had yet to return to the post-season.
In 2004 the Pittsburgh Pirates finished 5th in the 6 team National League Central Division with a 72-89 record.
In 2006 the Pittsburgh Pirates finished 5th in the 6 team National League
Central Division with a 67-95 record.