The Pittsburgh Pirates honored 19 members of baseball lore on Sunday, unveiling the first-ever Pirates Hall of Fame class.
The selections were derived from the Bucs’ rich history and local stars representing the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords of the Negro Leagues.
Of the 19 players, 16 are in the Baseball Hall of Fame, four represent the Negro Leagues, and 15 identify with Pirates baseball transcending generations.
Jake Beckley, Honus Wagner, Fred Clarke, Max Carey, Paul Waner, Lloyd Waner, Oscar Charleston, Pie Traynor, Ray Brown, Arky Vaughan, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Ralph Kiner, Bill Mazeroski, Danny Murtaugh, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Steve Blass, and Dave Parker make up the first-ever class.
Beckley donned a Pittsburgh uniform in two different stints from 1888-89 and 1891-96. A left-handed first baseman who was 62 hits shy of 3,000 during his 20-year career, Beckley stole 315 bases, hit 244 triples, and drove in 1,581 runs. He holds the MLB record for putouts by a first baseman at 23,696 and ranks second all-time in Pirates history in games played at first with 1,045 appearances.
Regarded as potentially the greatest shortstop in Major League history, Wagner (1900-1917) hit .300 or higher 15-straight seasons from 1899-1913. He joined the Pirates organization in 1900 after making his debut three years earlier. Nicknamed “The Flying Dutchman” and the face of the highest selling baseball card in history ($6.6 million) in 2021, Wagner played more games than anyone at short in franchise history (1,887), totaled 3,420 career hits, and 723 stolen bases, owning the club record for runs scored with 1,521 and 231 triples.
Clarke was a representation of an old-school way of doing business being a player-manager. Clarke played for the Bucs from both 1900-11 and 1913-1915 while also managing the club during his entire tenure (1900-15). He is the all-time leader in victories for a manager in franchise history (1,422) and guided the Pirates to their first-ever World Series Championship in 1909. The left-handed batting outfielder was a major threat at the plate. In an era where home runs were not nearly as prevalent as today, batting average and stolen bases were king. Clarke stole 509 bags and hit .312 in 2,246 career games played.
Carey, a switch hitter, is the franchise leader in stolen bases (690) and still is the record holder for the most stolen base titles in the National League with 10. Carey (1910-26) stole 738 bases including stealing home 33 times, also an N.L. record. He’s fourth on the Pirates’ hit list (2,418) and totaled 2,665 in his entire career.
The seventh player to reach the iconic 3,000-hit plateau, Waner was one of Pittsburgh’s best pure hitters. The outfielder hit .300 or higher in his first 12 years of pro ball and was named NL MVP in 1927. Waner (1926-1940) played 15 years for the Pirates, earning a lifetime .340 average in Pittsburgh, the best in team history. His 3,152 career hits is 19th on the all-time list.
Baseball ran in the family for the Waner’s. Paul’s brother Lloyd Waner was a lefty-swinging outfielder who collected a franchise-record 223 hits during his rookie season. Waner (1927-41, 1944-45) hit .316 and was coined as “Little Poison” to his brother’s “Big Poison” as the best hitting brothers in baseball history, especially in the same lineup.
Charleston played for both the Homestead Grays (1929) and Pittsburgh Crawfords (1933-38, becoming a Hall of Famer in center field and first base. He hit a whopping .364 in 18 Negro League seasons and won the 1924 (,405) and 1925 (.427) batting titles. The lefty played in only 916 games but drove in 853 runs and played on the 1935 Crawfords team considered by some historians as the best team in league history.
Third baseman Traynor is one of the position’s best hitters and played his entire career with the Pirates, winning the 1925 World Series. Traynor (1920-35, 1937) hit .320 in 1,941 games with 371 doubles and was a two-time All-Star. His fielding was a major plus and has played more games at the hot corner than any other Pirate.
Brown, like the other three Negro League players, is also in the Hall of Fame. Both a pitcher and outfielder, Brown (Homestead Grays 1932-45) led the Grays to eight pennants in nine years and registered a remarkable 121-45 overall record, pitching a perfect game in his final season with the club. He played 20 games in the outfield, but was an All-Star on the mound, recording a lifetime .306 ERA and 139 complete games in 156 starts.
Shortstop Vaughan was another left-handed hitter with a pure swing able to put the ball in play and find gaps. Vaughan (1932-41) came to the big leagues with the Pirates and posted the Bucs single-season record for batting average at .385, a mark still standings today with no sign of being broken anytime soon. A .318 lifetime hitter, Vaughn owns a career .859 OPS with 937 walks and 356 doubles, leading the N.L. in walks from 1934-36.
Arguably the greatest player in Negro League history, Gibson was a dominant force behind the plate and at the dish for both the Crawfords (1933-36) and Grays (1937-46). A 12-time All-Star who won four batting titles and led the league in homers and RBI for six-straight years from 1933-38, Gibson is only credited with 165 home runs. Some historians have estimated Gibson actually hit around 800 for his career. In 598 games, Gibson owns an incredible slash line of .374/.458/.720 and a 1.178 OPS.
The final Negro League player inducted, Leonard was a first baseman for the Grays from 1935-48. The lefty played his entire career for Homestead and hit .345. He also played in 11 East-West All-Star Games, a Negro League record. His average (.345) and OPS (1.042) went along with strong defense at first.
One of the greatest home-run threats in Pirates history, Kiner brought the home run to life during his time in Pittsburgh. Kiner (1946-53) won or shared the home run crown every year until his final season representing the Pirates, the only player to do so. He hit 50 home runs twice and was a draw for fans at Forbes Field despite the Bucs’ lackluster records. Kiner hit 301 home runs in his career, second in team history behind Willie Stargell, and 369 for his career.
The owner of the greatest home run in World Series history, Mazeroski played his entire 17-year career with the Pirates and remains one of the organization’s best ambassadors. The second baseman from West Virginia donned the Pirates logo from 1956-72, walking off the New York Yankees in game 7 of the 1960 World Series at Forbes Field. Maz also won the 1971 World Series, collected 2,016 hits, and holds the National League record with eight seasons leading the league in double plays turned.
One of three members of the inaugural class not in the MLB Hall of Fame, joining Steve Blass and Dave Parker, Murtaugh played for the Pirates from 1948-51 and managed the team on four separate occasions. Murtaugh managed from 1957-64, 1967, 1970-71, and 1973-76. He won two World Series in 1960 and 1971 managing more than 2,000 games.
Next up, The Great One. Clemente is the most recognizable face in the history of Pirates baseball in the modern era. No. 21 collected exactly 3,000 hits before tragically passing away in a plane crash attempting to assist the people of Nicaragua following a devastating earthquake. Clemente (1955-1972) was a dynamic defender in right field with one of the strongest arms around, winning 12 Gold Gloves. Clemente hit .300 13 times, was a 12-time All-Star, won the 1966 National League MVP, and won the 1960 and 1971 World Series, being named MVP of the 1971 Fall Classic.
The driving force of “The Lumber Company”, Stargell holds multiple records in Pirates history. The franchise leader in home runs (475) and RBI (1,540) as well as extra-base hits (953), “Pops” (1962-1982) was a power bat both in the outfield and first base. Stargell was the 1979 MVP, LCS MVP, and World Series MVP to claim his second championship, also on the 1971 team. A seven-time All-Star, Stargell was a dynamite home run hitter at Forbes Field and Three Rivers Stadium.
Pitcher Blass is best known both for his celebratory leap following the clinching of the 1971 World Series as well as a Pirates broadcaster for decades. The right hander pitched 57 complete games and went 103-76 in 1964 and from 1966-74. Blass delivered critical victories for the Pirates in game three and game seven, pitching complete games to secure the ring.
Finally, Parker broke into the majors with the Pirates as a left-handed power bat in 1973. A major part of the 1979 World Series, Parker (1973-1983) made seven All-Star teams and won two batting titles in 19 seasons, 11 with the Bucs. “The Cobra” hit 339 career home runs and drove in 1,493 runs while hitting .290 and stealing 154 bags. Missing out on the Hall of Fame on a few different occasions, Parker could still be enshrined in baseball’s greatest museum but will forever be homered as a Pirates icon.
An induction ceremony will take place on Sept. 3 along the PNC Park Riverwalk where the Hall of Fame will be revealed in left-center field. The members will also be honored in a pregame ceremony prior to first pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays.