Pittsburgh Pirates


The World Series gets underway in Cleveland Tuesday night. Forty-five years ago though, it was Pittsburgh in the Fall Classic. The Pirates were not expected to win that year, until a moment of extreme on-field confusion turned the series in their favor.         

The 1971 World Series, a best of seven game affair, pitted the Pirates against the defending champions, the Baltimore Orioles. Baltimore had four pitchers who each won 20 games that year, which was only the second time to happen in Major League baseball.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

The 2016 Major League Baseball season has reached the playoff stage and for the first time in four years, the Pirates will not be part of it. But, at this time 45 years ago, the Pirates were on their way to winning the World Series with a diverse group of players that made history in a way that rivaled Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball.

WESA/Matt Nemeth

A wide pot made of red, earthy clay is decorated with geometric details. Maybe it's an ancient artifact, a tool from the past in a glass case. But then you spot the silver cursive letters.

This piece is clearly contemporary.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

  A judge has ruled that a foul ball lawsuit can continue against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Major League Baseball and a municipal authority that owns public sports and entertainment venues in the area.

An usher at PNC Park in April helped Wendy Camlin to her seat when a foul ball hit the netting behind home plate and struck her in the head.

The game was delayed more than 20 minutes while she was taken away on a stretcher.

David Brossard / flickr

Monroeville author David Finoli has been writing about Pittsburgh sports for about 15 years, but he says that his latest book, “Pirates By the Numbers: A Complete Team History of the Bucs by Uniform Number,” is one of the most interesting he’s worked on. The book chronicles Pirates players and the numbers they wore throughout the franchise history.

PghJared / flickr

Through the years, Pittsburgh-area sports have seen their fair share of team mascots. Some have been embraced by the city and others haven’t quite cut it. We’re joined now in studio by stand-up comedian and City Paper columnist Mike Wysocki. He’s written a column for the City Paper on the “best, worst and handsiest sports mascots” in Pittsburgh sports history.

Peter Rieke / flickr

If you’re a big league baseball fan, you have surely heard of the Pittsburgh Pirates, but what about the Chicago pirates or the Pittsburgh Burgers or the Cleveland Infants? They were members of the Players National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, popularly known as the Players League. The League emerged in 1890 from the Brotherhood of Professional Baseball Players and while it lasted only one season, it made a significant impact on the game. We’ll hear from associate professor of Global Cultural Studies at Point Park University Robert Ross, who’s written about the event in his book, “The Great Baseball Revolt: The Rise and Fall of the 1890 Players League.

Clemente's Social Significance Remembered

Jun 2, 2016
Anonymous / AP Images

May 31 is Roberto Clemente Day, a day set aside to remember one of the most prominent heroes in baseball history. A pioneer for Latino players, he was the first to reach the Hall of Fame, and he lived his life with a great sense of pride for his roots. David Maraniss, sports journalist and author of Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero, spoke of Clemente’s pride for his culture and his devotion to social justice.

Remembering Jackie Robinson's Debut At Forbes Field

Apr 15, 2016

Philadelphia is officially apologizing today to Jackie Robinson for the abuse he endured in the City of Brotherly Love when he and the Dodgers arrived to play the Phillies during Robinson's rookie year of 1947. In Philadelphia, Robinson was refused service by a local hotel and taunted by Phillies manager Ben Chapman, who, along with his players, hurled racial slurs at Robinson each time he came to bat. We'll talk with baseball author and historian Richard "Pete" Peterson about this and what happened when Robinson made his first big league appearance at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.


After Nine Months, Budget Battles Come To An End

Mar 24, 2016
Chris Knight / AP Images

Nearly nine months into the fiscal year, Pennsylvania's budget impasse will end this week. Governor Wolf has said he will allow a roughly six billion dollar supplemental funding plan to become law, but without his signature. "I cannot in good conscience attach my name to a budget that simply doesn't add up," said the Governor who insists the budget is unbalanced, exacerbating a nearly two billion dollar structural deficit for the fiscal year beginning July 1. We'll talk with Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai about the governor's decision and the end of the 2015-2016 budget impasse.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



Play ball - spring training starts in just two days. And Major League Baseball will continue its efforts to speed up the game with several new rules. NPR's Eyder Peralta reports.


Pittsburgh has been referred to as “the city of champions” by many, but a new index by Pittsburgh Today places the city’s professional sports scene behind Boston, Detroit and Philadelphia.

Doug Heuck, director of Pittsburgh Today, which measured Pittsburgh against 15 “benchmark" U.S. cities, said the Steel City came in fourth in their recent Pittsburgh Sports Town Index.

Honoring A Pirates World Series Win And Forbes Field

Oct 13, 2015
University of Pittsburgh Archives

On this date 55 years ago at Forbes Field in Oakland,  Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski hit his legendary homerun at the bottom of the ninth inning, clinching the World Series title for the Pirates over the New York Yankees.

In commemoration of the event, the University of Pittsburgh has set up a permanent photo exhibit in Posvar Hall celebrating the history of Forbes Field. Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer traveled to Pitt’s campus to meet with history professor and sports historian Rob Ruck.  The two toured the permanent photography exhibit and discussed the field’s impact on Pittsburgh sports history.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Pirates will take on the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park on Wednesday with the winner advancing to the best-of-five National League Division series against St. Louis. A large crowd of cheering fans gathered in Downtown Pittsburgh on Tuesday to support the Bucs.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Brandon and Vanessa Marlin’s daughter Braylee was born 2 ½ weeks early, but the couple from Upper St. Clair is OK with that.

“I was trying to coerce her out,” the proud papa said. “I said ‘Braylee, you’ve got to come because the Pirates are going to be playing here in Buctober, so hurry up.’ That same night she came.”

The Marlins were among the new parents to snap family photos with the Pirate Parrot when he visited West Penn Hospital in Bloomfield Monday morning. Every baby born since Saturday will take home a bib identifying them as the “Littlest Pittsburgh Pirates fan.”

The city’s tourism agency, VisitPittsburgh, has proposed creating a non-profit organization tasked with attracting major sporting events to the area.

Executive Vice President Jason Fulvi said the city needs an organization dedicated solely to sports promotion.

“We had over a million overnight visits last year in Allegheny County and all of that brings money and revenue into the community," he said. "It helps to support not only our hotels, but restaurants, bars (and) attractions.”

June 21 is Father’s Day, and a local group says celebrating Dad should also mean taking a stand to end domestic violence.

The Father’s Day Pledge to End Gender Violence encourages people, particularly men, to sign a pledge that indicates their commitment to the prevention of domestic and sexual violence and abuse.

Essential Pittsburgh: The Pirates Hit the Field

Apr 6, 2015
Dan Gaken/Flickr

The decision to uphold the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate PA State Attorney General Kathleen Kane is the latest setback in her once rising political career.  We’ll get an update on the current troubles of the beleaguered attorney general with WESA’s capitol reporter Mary Wilson.

Mary Wilson talks about the next steps for Kane and how she plans to proceed :

“Well there is no date that I would circle [on a calendar]… Kane says she is not going to resign. Her attorney and spokesman Lanny Davis says that, ‘She’s not stepping down and she’s not going to give into the fight.’ The line from her office is that she’s under siege by people who feel insulted about her rise to power ...”

Also in this hour, Al Yellon talks about the history and future of AstroTurf in baseball, we talk to George Coury, a 46-year Pirates season ticket holder, and Post-Gazette Sportswriter Bob Dvorchak shares his predictions for the performance of the Pirates this season.

Pirates, Volquez Fall Flat in Wild-Card Loss to San Francisco Giants

Oct 2, 2014
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

The Pittsburgh Pirates believe they're building something special. The San Francisco Giants provided a reminder that much work remains to be done before a contender becomes a champion.

Geared up for another run at "Buctober," Pittsburgh's postseason journey lasted all of 3 hours, 12 minutes, just long enough for Madison Bumgarner and the Giants to overpower the Pirates for an 8-0 victory in the NL wild-card game Wednesday night.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

“I’ve done a little bit of research: the old, old pirates back in the old days, whenever they made somebody walk the plank, it was on a Wednesday night – so welcome to Pittsburgh you San Francisco Giants!”

The crowd that had flooded Market Square at noontime Tuesday erupted into cheers as Steve Blass, former Pirates pitcher, made his threat and then walked off the stage.

Such was the tone of the rally, which was declared “Pittsburgh Pirates Pride Day,” as the city prepared for the wild-card game against the San Francisco Giants Wednesday.

Two Musicals Trace The Life of Roberto Clemente

Sep 22, 2014
The Associated Press

Roberto Clemente died on Dec. 31, 1972, but you’d never know it from the hundreds of people who show up to Pirates games wearing jerseys with his name and number — 21 — printed on them. 

Now two musicals will trace the life of "The Great One" from his childhood in Puerto Rico to his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates from the mid-50’s to his untimely death at age 38.

Composer Alki Steriopoulous to spend nearly a decade writing a musical about Clemente.

It's called "21."

No No: A Dockumentary Comes to the Harris Theater

Sep 5, 2014
No No: A Dockumentary

No No: A Dockumentary is opening in Pittsburgh, Saturday night at the Harris Theater.

The film tells the story of former Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis, who pitched a no-hitter on June 12, 1970 - supposedly while under the influence of LSD. After retiring he became a counselor, helping other addicts in their recoveries. Hear from director Jeffrey Radice and view the film trailer.

Fall Travel -- with a “Sports” Theme

Sep 4, 2014
Wally Gobetz / Flickr

Summer may be winding down, but with autumn comes plenty of fun for Pittsburgh sports fans. Travel contributor Elaine Labalme offers up some travel ideas for the fall with a distinctly “sports” theme.

Whether it’s a college football game, a little pre-season hockey, or taking a one-tank trip to follow the Pirates, she talks about travel destinations that are sure to please sports fans and their families.

Check out some of the highlights she suggests:

An Assassination of Character

Aug 18, 2014
Boston Public Library / Flickr

The movie “42” tells the story of Jackie Robinson's first season in the big leagues. The film also portrays former Pirates pitcher Fritz Ostermueller, unfairly cast as a racist.

The movie shows Ostermueller beaning Robinson in the head, which never happened. Baseball writer Richard “Pete” Peterson talks about the unfortunate depiction and how the situation really happened.

He says that Robinson was never hit in the head his entire career.

“None of that happened. The pitch actually hit Robinson in the wrist. He was stunned for a moment, the Dodgers thought that perhaps it had hit him in the head, but it hadn’t. He dusted himself off, he trotted down to first base, and the game went on. He stayed in the game, he delivered a base hit, he had a bunt single, he played the rest of the season.”

Peterson describes how the inaccurate depiction of Ostermueller has affected his family.

100 Things About the Pirates Every Fan Should Know

Jun 9, 2014
Ben Beard / Flickr

A new generation of Pirates fans were born with their successful run into the postseason last fall. In 100 Things Pirates Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die, a new book written by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sunday sports editor Steve Ziants, assembles various facts, traditions and achievements to educate and entertain true fans, or the new wave of fans jumping onboard. Mr. Ziants was in studio to discuss the “ultimate resource guide for true Pirates fans.”

“This is a history book that isn’t told in chronological order, we tell it from the most important to maybe the most obscure, but still stories that have a good texture to them, or maybe have a nice twist. As I’ve told people before, a lot of things Pirates fans forgot they knew, or maybe forgot they remembered.”

More than one-third of all U.S. children grow up without their fathers, according to the U.S. Department of Census.

That’s a statistic that Urban Impact, a faith-based community organization in Pittsburgh, wants to change.

Former Pirate Dick Groat Revisits 1960 World Series Win

Apr 24, 2014

As the 1960 World Series exhibit continues at the Heinz History Center, we spoke with former Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Dick Groat, who was the National League's Most Valuable Player during that memorable season.

Much of his memorabilia, including his jersey worn that season, is included in the exhibit. At one point in his career, Groat played in both the NBA and the Major Leagues and was an All-American basketball player at Duke University.

Is Video Replay in Major League Baseball Worth the Wait?

Apr 14, 2014

A challenge flag is thrown, the Major League Baseball officials talk to the coach who throws it, and one official goes to a screen and reviews the play. The official comes back and rules the runner out at first base.

That scene can and did happen at the Pirates' opening day Major League Baseball game, thanks to new rule changes that have increased the use of video replay in umpiring.

Are all of these replays really necessary or is it not worth the price of slowing down the game? Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sportswriter emeritus Bob Dvorchak has covered the Pirates for many years and shared his opinion on the hot topic.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Following their first playoff appearance in more than 20 years, the Pittsburgh Pirates hosted the Chicago Cubs on Opening Day Monday.

Fans flooded the North Shore for the game, with some stopping to share some thoughts on what they expect from their team this season.

Heinz History Center

The 1960 World Series Champions Commemorated at the Heinz History Center

The 2014 baseball season opens Monday. Coming off their first winning season in years, hopes are high for the Pirates.

An exhibit of one of the greatest moments in the team’s history just opened at the Senator John Heinz History Center.

On display are artifacts from Bill Mazeroski’s ninth inning home run, which led to the defeat of the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series.