The 1896 Pittsburgh Pirates, featuring
Louis Bierbauer (2nd row, 2nd from left). It was the
Bierbauer controversy, in 1891, that earned the organization the name
The Pittsburgh Pirates
An "Act of Piracy" it was called after
Manager Ed Hanlon signed a loose infielder claimed by the American Association.
Thus the Pittsburgh Pirates came into being. The year was 1891, and the
Alleghenys, as they had been known, were last in the National League, but
improving. In the previous season they had accomplished the distinctive feat
of winning 23 games while losing 113.
The Alleghenys were organized in 1876
as the city's first professional baseball club. Five years later they were
playing in the new American Association, called the "Beer and Whiskey League"
because most of its six teams were backed by liquor distillers. In 1887,
they joined the National League and moved into Exposition Park, a former
race track on the banks of the Allegheny River.
A Pirates baseball game at Exposition Park, which stood on the North Shore from 1890 to 1915.
The hapless Alleghenys were the
league's worst team, always finishing in last place. Then, in 1891, they
acquired Louis Bierbauer, the disputed player, and became known around the
league as the Pirates. The term stuck and soon was adopted as the team's
official name. The alleged theft helped the team to their only winning
season of the 19th century, a second place finish in 1893.
The Pittsburgh Pirates and Boston Red Sox
at the 1903 World Series. The Pirates lost the series, five games to three.
In 1900, Barney Dreyfuss brought his
team up from Louisville and merged with the Pirates. The Pittsburgh franchise
became instant winners, claiming National League Pennants from 1901 to 1903.
They won Pittsburgh's first World Series title in 1909 and posted winning
seasons in the first fourteen years of the 20th century.
Honus Wagner and the 1909 Pirates brought the
first World Series title home to the City of Pittsburgh.
In the decades that followed, Pittsburgh
won five more NL Pennants (1925, 1927, 1960, 1971, 1979) and another four
World Series championships. Thirteen Pirates are enshrined in the Baseball
Hall of Fame and many other HOF members had affiliations with the club.
The Pittsburgh Pirates Field of Dreams
- Front: Bob Friend, Kiki Cuyler, Willie Stargell, Roberto Clemente,
Ralph Kiner and Elroy Face. Back - Fred Clarke, Vernon Law, Paul Waner,
Lloyd Waner, Wilbur Cooper,
Honus Wagner, Pie Traynor, Arky Vaughan, Max Carey, Bill Mazeroski and
The dream venue chosen is Forbes Field, which stood in Oakland from 1909-1970.
Then, after unsuccessful playoff runs
in 1990, 1991 and 1992, the storied franchise embarked on a monumental
losing streak. From 1993 through 2012, the Pittsburgh Pirates posted losing
seasons. The twenty-year slide was the longest of any professional
franchise in North American sports history.
During those two decades of depression, the
Pirates often resembled the hapless Alleghenys of the late-1800s, and fans worried
that the club may have to resort to another act of piracy to somehow climb out
of the cellar of despair.
When all seemed lost, Manager Clint Hurdle,
Andrew McCutchen and a scrappy group of young ballplayers came together and posted
a spectacular 94-68 record in 2013. The Pirates not only broke the losing streak, they
earned a playoff spot. After a wild card victory over Cincinnati, the Battling Buccos
bowed out to St. Louis in the Divisional Series, three games to two.
The 2013 Pirates ended "The Streak"
and brought the winning tradition back to da 'Burgh.
After twenty years of pent-up frustration,
the Jolly Roger once again flew with pride over the City of Pittsburgh and the
long-dormant Pirate Fever proved to be alive and well. Wild Card playoff
appearances followed in 2014 and 2015 before the team fell back into a losing
Several key players from those winning
teams were traded away. After the 2017 season, when management traded pitcher
Gerritt Cole and outfielder Andrew McCutchen, fans knew that the long road to
recovery had begun again. Who knows what the future holds in store for the
Pirate faithful, but one thing is for certain, our beloved Buccos have built
quite a fantastic legacy in their 130-plus years as a professional
The Pirates Mural features Kiki Cuyler,
Ralph Kiner, Fred Clarke, Max Carey, Paul Waner, Lloyd Waner, Danny Murtaugh,
Josh Gibson, Arky Vaughn, Willie Stargell, Pie Traynor (kneeling),
Bill Mazeroski, Roberto Clemente and Honus Wagner.
The mural is located underneath the Boulevard of the Allies viaduct at
Ross Street and Second Avenue.
Pittsburgh - The City of Champions
So what's in a name? The Pittsburgh
Pirates may be synonymous with Major League Baseball, but the legacy of the
Pirates of Pittsburgh reaches beyond the baseball diamond and also has roots
in two other well-known professional sports.
When modern NFL professional football
came to the city on September 20, 1933, the first game was played at Forbes
Field in front of 25,000 fans. The final score: New York Giants 23, Pittsburgh Pirates 2. The team, owned by Arthur J. Rooney, changed
their name to Steelers in 1940.
Thirty-nine years later, the Pittsburgh
Steelers combined with the Pittsburgh Pirates to give the city a new name. After
the Pirates won the 1979 MLB championship and the Steelers won the 1979 NFL
championship, Pittsburgh became known as the "City of Champions."
"City of Champions" proved
a difficult title to hold on to. In the 1980s, the Pirates quickly fell into
obscurity and the Steeler's championship years had run their course. In 1991
and 1992, the resurgent Pirates and the Pittsburgh Penguins came close to bringing
the prestigious double-title back to the 'Burgh. Mario Lemieux and the Penguins
hoisted the Stanley Cup as champions of the NHL after both seasons, but the Pirates
fell short of a trip to the World Series in three consecutive playoff
Mario Lemieux of the Penguins was Mr. Hockey in 1992,
while former-Pirate Sid Bream, then with the Atlanta Braves,
slides in safely at home plate to defeat Pittsburgh in Game 7 of the 1992 National
League championship series.
Then came 2009, the year of Big Ben and Sid
the Kid. In February, Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers to their second Super Bowl
championship of the new millenium and sixth overall. The Penguins followed in June
when Sidney Crosby and the Comeback Kids brought the Stanley Cup to Pittsburgh
for the third time. On June 12, 2009, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, holder of the
Lombardi Trophy and the Stanley Cup, was once again dubbed the
"City of Champions."
Ben Roethlisberger hoists the Lombardi
Trophy and Sidney Crosby brings home the Stanley Cup, both in
History taught us that the official
title was as fleeting this time as it was thirty years ago. Like before, it
was here and then it was gone. Then, after nearly a decade, Sidney Crosby
led the Penguins to two more Stanley Cup Championships in 2017 and 2018,
but Big Ben and the Steelers came up short both years in the NFL playoffs,
falling in the AFC championship game in 2017 and the divisional
playoffs in 2018.
But, when all is said and done,
what's really in a name? For those of us who live in the land of Black and
Gold, Pittsburgh will ALWAYS be the City of Champions and we're proud of
What's In A Name?
A Final Note On The Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pittsburgh Penguins joined the National
Hockey League as an expansion team in 1969. This was not, however, Pittsburgh's
first entry in the league. Back in 1925, the City of Pittsburgh became the seventh
franchise in the young NHL, which was entering only it's ninth season. The club
lasted a mere five seasons before being sold and relocated in 1930. The name of
the city's first NHL team was ... The Pittsburgh Pirates!
The NHL Pittsburgh Pirates are shown below
on Opening Night, December 2, 1925.
Believe it or not, the Pirate naming
saga does not end with the NHL Pirates. In 1907, the Western Pennsylvania Hockey
League, the first professional ice hockey league in North America, was in need of
two new teams in order to continue as a viable association. One of the teams to
enter the league was called the Pittsburgh Lyceum, and the other team was
the Pittsburgh Pirates. The franchise competed for only one
History of Pittsburgh Professional Sports
The City of Pittsburgh has always been a
a town with a rich professional sports history. It doesn't matter if the event is
baseball, football, hockey or any of a variety of other athletic competitions,
Pittsburghers have always rallied to support the home team. Historically,
collegiate athletics have always been popular among the home crowd. But, when
it comes to professional sports, Steel City fans can take fanaticism to fantastic
The National Pastime
Professional baseball in North America
began in 1871. Here in Pittsburgh, athletic clubs formed independant professional
teams beginning in 1876. The Pittsburgh Alleghenies Baseball Club was established
in October 1881, and became a charter member of the American
In 1887, the team left the A.A. to join
the big East Coast cities in the emerging National League. The Alleghenies,
would soon changed their name to the Pittsburgh Pirates. They were the City of
Pittsburgh's first official professional sports franchise and one of the
longest standing clubs in the history of the game.
Birthplace Of Professional
Football And Ice Hockey
On a national level, the origin of
professional football has its roots right here in Pittsburgh. On November 12,
1892, a player from Chicago and three-time Yale All-American named William "Pudge" Heffelfinger signed a contract, and was paid a $500 bonus, to
play in a game for the Allegheny Athletic Association against the Pittsburgh
Athletic Club. He was the first footballer to be openly employed to play the
The milestone is honored with a plaque near
the location of old Recreation Park on the North Side. The teams were members of the Western Pennsylvania Circuit, a loose association of reportedly amateur
Athletic Clubs operating in the local area.
After 1892, the member clubs all began
the practice of covertly recruiting and signing players to contracts. In 1896,
the Allegheny Athletic Club, owned by William Chase, became the first openly
professional team. From then on the practice of member clubs paying players
became standard, and the league was hence known as the Western Pennsylvania
Professional Football League.
Pudge Heffelfinger, the first professional
football player, and William Chase,
the first sole owner of a professional football team.
The sport of professional ice hockey also
has its origin in Pittsburgh. The Western Pennsylvania Hockey League, at the turn the 20th Century, was the first
association to openly employ professionals. Pittsburgh was the first city in
North America to have an artificial ice surface, located in the Schenley Park Casino. Ice Hockey was later played at the Duquesne Gardens. In 1925, the Pittsburgh Pirates hockey club was granted the seventh
franchise in the fledgling National Hockey League.
Another little-known first for the city
of Pittsburgh was the introduction of sideline cheerleaders to the world of
NFL football. The Pittsburgh Steelerettes were formed in 1961 in an effort to
prop up sales for the then-struggling franchise. The girls were students at the
Robert Morris School of Business. The conservatively-dressed Steelerettes
cheered at home games until the group was disbanded in 1970.
Over A Century Of Steel City
Let's face it. Professional sports are big
in the 'Burgh, and it's not just baseball, football and hockey. Over the past
century-plus, the City has been represented in a number of professional
franchises in a variety of sports.
Basketball, soccer, team tennis, lacrosse,
roller derby, rugby, roller hockey, women's football and arena football have all
seen pro teams here in Pittsburgh. Many of these organizations have lasted only a
year or two. Some, like the Pittsburgh Riverhounds soccer club and the Pittsburgh
Passion football team, have been around for several years and have
Over sixty individual
professional franchises have been identified as being
from Pittsburgh. This is not an all-inclusive list. There may be more.
These are the teams that we've uncovered so far:
Pittsburgh Pirates (1882-present)
Homestead Grays (1912-1950)
Pittsburgh Crawfords (1930-1938)
Pittsburgh Keystones (1922)
Pittsburgh Rebels (1914-1915)
Pittsburgh Stogies (1913)
Pittsburgh Filipinos (1912)
Pittsburgh Burghers (1890)
Pittsburgh Stogies (1884)
Pittsburgh Penguins (1967-present)
Pittsburgh Hornets (1961-1967)
Pittsburgh Hornets (1937-1956)
Pittsburgh Yellow Jackets (1935-1937)
Pittsburgh Shamrocks (1935-1936)
Pittsburgh Yellow Jackets (1930-1932)
Pittsburgh Pirates (1925-1930)
Fort Pitt Hornets (1924-1925)
Pittsburgh Yellow Jackets (1915-1925)
Pittsburgh Duquesnes (1908-1909)
Pittsburgh Bankers (1907-1909)
Pittsburgh Lyceum (1907-1909)
Pittsburgh Athletic Club (1907-1909)
Pittsburgh Pirates (1907-1908)
Pittsburgh Professionals (1904-1907)
Pittsburgh Victorias (1902-1904)
Pittsburgh Keystones (1901-1904)
Pittsburgh Bankers (1899-1904)
Western University of Pennsylvania (1896-1900)
Pittsburgh Casino (1896)
Pittsburgh Athletic Club (1896-1904)
Pittsburgh Duquesne (1896-1901)
Pittsburgh Steelers (1945-present)
Pittsburgh Maulers (1984)
Phil-Pitt Steagles (1943)
Pittsburgh Steelers (1940-1942)
Pittsburgh Americans (1936-1937)
Pittsburgh Pirates (1933-1939)
Pittsburgh Lyceum (1906-1910)
Pittsburgh Stars (1902)
Homestead Athletic Club (1895-1901)
Duquesne Country and Athletic Club (1895-1900)
Pittsburgh Athletic Club (1891-1898)
Allegheny Athletic Association (1890-1896)
Steel City Yellow Jackets (2014-present)
Pittsburgh Bullets (2011-present)
Pittsburgh Phantoms (2009-2010)
Pittsburgh Xplosion (2005-2008)
Pittsburgh Piranhas (1994-1995)
Pittsburgh Condors (1970-1972)
Pittsburgh Pipers (1969-1970)
Pittsburgh Pipers (1967-1968)
Pittsburgh Rens (1961-1963)
Pittsburgh Ironmen (1946-1947)
Pittsburgh Riverhounds (1999-present)
Pittsburgh Stingers (1994-1995)
Pittsburgh Spirit (1978-1986)
Pittsburgh Phantoms (1967)
Pittsburgh Power (2011-2014)
Pittsburgh River Rats (2007)
Pittsburgh Gladiators (1987-1990)
Pittsburgh Passion (2003-present)
Three Rivers Xplosion (2011-present)
Pittsburgh Force (2009-2014)
Steel City Renegades (2010-2011)
Pittsburgh Triangles (1974-1977)
Pittsburgh Colts (1979-present)
Pittsburgh Lyceum (1911-1924)
J.P. Rooneys (1921-1932)
Pittsburgh Sledgehammers (2011)
Pittsburgh Vipers (2010)
Pittsburgh Phantoms (1994)
Steel City Derby Demons (2006-present)
Pittsburgh CrosseFire (2000)
Pittsburgh Bulls (1990-1993)
Pittsburgh Sports Logos Throughout The Years
Pittsburgh Pirate Baseball Logos Since 1900
Pittsburgh Pirate Alternate Logos Since 1936
Pittsburgh Penguins Hockey Logos Since 1967
Pittsburgh Steelers Football Logos Since 1933
During World War II, The Art Rooney and the
Pittsburgh Steelers were forced by financial necessity to merge with other teams in
order to continue operations. In 1943, the team merged with the Philadelphia Eagles
to form a team called the Pittsburgh-Philadelphia Steagles. In 1944, the team merged
with the Chicago Cardinals to for a team called Card-Pitt. In 1945, with the war
over, the Pittsburgh Steelers once again stood on their own.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and The Steelmark Logo
Regarding logos, while some teams prefer to
change their standard every ten years or so, the Pittsburgh Steelers football
franchise has only had one logo. The Steelmark was introduced in 1962. Prior to
that the team's helmets were solid gold, with no emblem.
The Steelers are the only NFL team that
puts its logo on just one side of the helmet (the right side). A year after the
introduction of the Steelmark, in 1963, the team switched to black helmets to
make their new logo stand out. It's been that way ever since. When you come up
with a winner, stick with it!
Pittsburgh Championship Rings
To the victors go the
spoils. Below are images of the championship rings awarded
to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Pittsburgh Penguins and Pittsburgh Steelers
after their title winning seasons. Diamonds and Gold!
(1909, 1925, 1960, 1971, 1979)
Note: The 1925 Pittsburgh
Pirates received a championship pin instead of a championship ring.
For a website that shows
images of all of the World Series rings over the years.
World Series Highlights - 1903
World Series Highlights - 1925
A Look Back At The 1925 World Series
Bill Mazeroski's World Series Winning Homer - 1960
Radio Broadcast - Game 7 - 1960 World Series
Final Three Innings - Game 7 - 1960 World Series
Full Broadcast - Game 7 - 1971 World Series
Full Broadcast - Game 7 - 1979 World Series
The 1909 Pittsburgh
The 1925 and the 1960 Pittsburgh
The 1971 and the 1979 Pittsburgh
(1991, 1992, 2009, 2016, 2017)
Full Broadcast - Game 6 - 1991 Stanley Cup Finals
Pittsburgh Penguins 1991-1992 Highlights
Full Broadcast - Game 7 - 2009 Stanley Cup Finals
Full Broadcast - Game 6 - 2016 Stanley Cup Finals
Pittsburgh Penguins 2017 Stanley Cup Champions
The 1990/1991 and the 1991/1992 Pittsburgh
The 2008/2009 Pittsburgh
The 2015/2016 and the 2016/2017 Pittsburgh
(1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 2005, 2008)
For a website that shows
images of all of the Super Bowl rings, including
both the rings awarded to the winning team and the losing team.
Franco Harris' Immaculate Reception - 1972
1974 Pittsburgh Steelers Highlights
Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl IX Full Game
1975 Pittsburgh Steelers Highlights
Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl X Highlights
1978 Pittsburgh Steelers Highlights
Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl XIII Full Game
1979 Pittsburgh Steelers Highlights
Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl XIV Full Game
Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl XL Highlights
Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl XLIII Full Game
The 1974 and the 1975 Pittsburgh
The 1978 and the 1979 Pittsburgh
The 2005 and the 2008 Pittsburgh
Other Pittsburgh Championship Sports Teams
NNL Champions - 1931, 1937, 1938, 1939,
1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1948
World Series Champions - 1943, 1944, 1948
The 1931 and the 1937 Homestead
The 1939 and the 1942 Homestead
The 1943 Homestead
NNL Champions - 1935, 1936
USBL Champions - 1913
ABA Champions - 1967/68
The 1967-68 Pittsburgh Pipers, featuring
MVP Connie Hawkins.
AHL Calder Cup Champions - 1951/1952,
The 1951-52 Pittsburgh
The 1954-55 and the 1966-67 Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh Yellow Jackets
USAHA Champions - 1923/1924, 1924/1925
NWFA Champions - 2007; IWFA Champions - 2014, 2015
The 2007 and 2014 Pittsburgh Passion, owned by
former-Steeler Franco Harris.
The 2015 Pittsburgh Passion, back-to-back
WTT Champions - 1975
The 1975 Pittsburgh Triangles (left); Evonne
Goolagong and Coach Vic Edwards hoist the WTT Cup in 1975.
Triangles General Manager Dan McGibbeny stands in the back.
Western Pennsylvania Hockey
The original professional hockey
league, made up of athletic clubs from Western
Pennsylvania. Players from across North America were contracted to play.
The season title-holder was considered the national champion.
WPHL Champions - 1902/03, 1907/08
The 1907/1908 Pittsburgh Bankers.
Pittsburgh Athletic Club
WPHL Champions - 1898/99, 1899/00, 1900/01
The 1900/1901 Pittsburgh Athletic Club.
WPHL Champions - 1901/1902
The 1901/1902 Pittsburgh Keystones.
WPHL Champions - 1908/1909
WPHL Champions - 1903/1904
Professional Football Circuit
The original professional football
league, made up of athletic clubs from Western
Pennsylvania. Players from around the country were contracted to play.
The season title-holder was considered the national champion.
WPPFC Champions - 1907, 1908
WPPFC/NFL Champions - 1902
Homestead Athletic Club
WPPFC Champions - 1900, 1901
Duquesne Country and Athletic Club
WPPFC Champions - 1895, 1898, 1899
Pittsburgh Athletic Club
WPPFC Champions - 1891
Allegheny Athletic Association
WPPFC Champions - 1890, 1892, 1894, 1896
GFL Champions - 2009
WPSIFC Champions - 1931, 1932
Note: The J.P. Rooneys team was founded in 1921
by Art Rooney, who was a player-coach. Rooney played alongside his two brothers, James
and Dan. Originally known as Hope-Harvey, then Majestic Radios, in 1931 the name was
changed to J.P. Rooneys.
In 1933, the team morphed into the Pittsburgh Pirates
when Rooney paid the $2,500 franchise fee and brought NFL football to the Steel City. Several
of the J.P. Rooney players joined the roster of the city's new professional football team.
In 1940, the team name was changed to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Art Rooney, who in his later years was affectionately
known to Pittsburghers as "The Chief," was one of the premier quarterbacks on the Western
Pennsylvania sandlot circuit in the 1920s. He and his brother Dan were also members of the
Pittsburgh Lyceum football team in 1924, pictured below. In 1964, Art Rooney was elected
into the National Football League Hall of Fame.