The Pioneering Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pioneering Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates are one of the oldest sports teams in the United States and they have never been afraid of trying new things.  Some things that are taken for granted today are thanks to the Pirates’ experimentation and a few impressive feats are first credited to Pirates games.  To prove their age and demonstrate one of the oldest rivalries in professional sports, on August 5, 1921 the Phillies hosted the Pirates for the first ever Major League Baseball game to be broadcast on the radio.  KDKA AM broadcast the game which the Pirates won 8-5.

In 1925 the Pirates became the first MLB team to recover from a 3 to 1 deficit to win the World Series, a best of seven championship.  They were also the first team to repeat that accomplishment when they did so in 1979.  The Pirates were the first team to wear batting helmets which they adopted during the 1953 season.  Their general manager Branch Rickey (who happened to own stock in the helmet making company) required players to wear the helmets on offense and defense.  The trend stuck with hitters, but within a few weeks the defending players gave them up as awkward and heavy.

The Pirates were the first to win the World Series in its 7th game with a home run in 1960.  Only one other team has ever won the World Series with a home run, the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993, but they did so in game 6.  On September 1, 1971 the Pirates fielded the first all-minority lineup in MLB history and they continued their tradition of diversity by being the first MLB team to sign Indian players.  Perhaps most impressively, the Pirates are the first and only MLB team to pitch a combined, extra-inning no hitter.  On July 12, 1997 Francisco Cordova pitched nine no-hit innings and Ricardo Rincon pitched one against the Houston Astros.  Mark Smith hit a three-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the tenth inning to seal the legendary game.


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