For The Tribune-Democrat
Fall is almost here and the world somehow seems different, and brighter. After 21 years, our beloved Bucs are back in the pennant chase, and hopefully, the World Series.
If history is any indication, if the Bucs make it to the World Series they are as good as gold.
During the past 110 years, the Pittsburgh Pirates have won five of the seven World Series they have participated in.
After winning three pennants (1901-1903), the Bucs played in the first official World Series in 1903 against Boston, losing five games to three (best of nine).
Pirate owner Barney Dreyfuss was the chief architect of the World Series. He was finally enshrined in baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2008.
Pirate superstar, batting champion Honus Wagner, had a lackluster Series due to a leg injury. Honus, who won the National League batting title that year (.355), hit a paltry .222 in the Series. Boston had the immortal Cy Young pitching for them, and player/manager Jimmy Collins. Besides Wagner, the Bucs had other sluggers: player/manager Fred Clarke (.351) and outfielder Ginger Beaumont (.341).
Not only was Wagner was injured, two of the Bucs ace pitchers were injured as well.
But the Bucs had the last laugh.
Owner Dreyfuss donated his share of the gate to the players, so they took home more money than their winning opponents.
The home games for the Bucs were played at the third incarnation of Exhibition Park, built near the site of the future Three Rivers Stadium.
The problem with these parks was flooding of the outfield area from the three rivers. The games were played during these times, with ballplayers sometimes playing in water up to their thighs in the outfield.
Redemption for Honus and the Bucs came six years later, when the Pirates, moving to spacious Forbes Field in 1909, defeated Ty Cobb (AL batting champ) and the Detroit Tigers in seven games. Cobb (.231) had a horrible Series, while Honus (NL batting champ) had an amazing Series, hitting .333.
Incredibly, the Most Valuable Player for the Series was Babe Adams, a rookie pitcher in his 20s, who threw three complete games, winning all three, including Game 7 in Detroit.
In 1925, the Bucs finally made it back to the World Series, taking on Hall of Fame pitcher Walter Johnson and the Washington Senators.
While the legendary “Big Train” did win two games for the Senators that Series, he lost his third attempt in Game 7, many feel because he was overused by manager Bucky Harris.
Game 7 was played in what became a downpour (after two games were called on account of rain).
Senator outfielder Goose Goslin complained that fog prevented him from seeing the infield clearly during the last three innings at Forbes Field that game.
Still, both sides were affected by the same weather, and the Bucs prevailed, with immortal sluggers like The Waner Brothers (Paul and Lloyd) and Pie Traynor.
Interestingly, Babe Adams, the Bucs 1909 Series MVP, was still with the team, and the
44-year-old veteran pitched a scoreless inning in relief in this Series.
In 1927, the Pirates made it back to the Fall Classic once again. The bad news was that their opponent was the legendary “Murderers’ Row” Yankees, with a couple of guys named Ruth and Gehrig in their lineup.
It is the team that baseball historians called the greatest of all time, with no easy out in the lineup.
The outcome was not pretty. The Bucs put up a valiant fight, losing half of the games played by only one run. And the final game (and Series) was won on a wild pitch. The Bucs were swept in four games.
But 33 years later the Bucs would gain revenge on another formidable Yankee team, again at Forbes Field. This time we had angels in the outfield. Also guys named “Maz” and Clemente.
Next time: 1960, 1971 and 1979 World Series.