Here are 17 times the Pirates were the first

January 21st, 2021

It’s often said that one of the great things about baseball is that you can show up to the ballpark every day and witness something you’d never seen. Each game presents an opportunity for something new.

Throughout their long history, the Pirates have been able to claim more than their share of Major League “firsts" -- some historic, and some that simply serve as interesting trivia.

Here are some of the Pirates’ most notable Major League “firsts.”

First modern World Series game: Oct. 1, 1903

In Game 1 of the first World Series, the National League-champion Pittsburgh club beat the American League-champion Boston Americans, 7-3, at Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds in Boston. The best-of-nine series shifted to Pittsburgh for Games 4-7 before Boston clinched the series victory in Game 8.

First baseball game broadcast on the radio: Aug. 5, 1921

The Pirates’ 8-5 victory over the Phillies aired on KDKA in Pittsburgh, with Harold Arlin on the call. Arlin, 25, called the game from a box seat at Forbes Field using a telephone as a microphone.

First team to come back from a 3-1 deficit in a best-of-seven World Series: 1925

Yes, the Pirates stormed back to win Games 5-7 to beat the Washington Senators and capture the franchise’s second World Series championship. They did it again in 1979, overcoming a 3-1 deficit to top the Orioles.

First included in Hall of Fame class: Honus Wagner, 1936

The first five inductees into the National Baseball Hall of Fame were Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson and Wagner, who remains the greatest player in franchise history.

First pitcher to take a perfect game into extra innings: Harvey Haddix, 1959

You know the story: Haddix worked 12 perfect innings against the Milwaukee Braves on May 26, 1959, but lost his no-hitter -- and the game -- in the 13th. Pedro Martinez became the second to accomplish this feat, retiring the first 27 hitters he faced against the Padres on June 3, 1995, before giving it up in the 10th.

First team to win a World Series on a walk-off home run: 1960

Bill Mazeroski’s iconic walk-off homer downed the Yankees in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series. It remains the only Game 7 walk-off homer in World Series history; Joe Carter ended the 1993 Fall Classic in Game 6 with a famous walk-off homer of his own.

First Black man to manage in the Majors: Gene Baker, 1963

Frank Robinson is best remembered as the Majors' first African American manager, as he was hired for a full-time managerial role in 1975 with Cleveland. Technically, however, it was Baker, affiliated baseball's first Black manager (Batavia Pirates, 1961) and the Majors’ second Black coach after Buck O’Neil. But on Sept. 21, 1963, after Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh and coach Frank Oceak were ejected, Baker stepped in for an inning and a half, carving out a unique place in history.

First Latino named National League MVP and World Series MVP, and first inducted into the Hall of Fame: Roberto Clemente

Clemente was a pioneer for Latin American players in addition to being an iconic player and a world-class humanitarian. Clemente achieved these firsts in 1966 (NL MVP), ’71 (World Series MVP) and ’73 (Hall of Fame).


First all-minority lineup: Sept. 1, 1971

You probably know the names in this history-making starting nine: Rennie Stennett, Gene Clines, Clemente, Willie Stargell, Manny Sanguillen, Dave Cash, Al Oliver, Jackie Hernandez and Dock Ellis.

First World Series night game: Oct. 13, 1971

Exactly 11 years after Mazeroski hit his historic homer, the Pirates and Orioles took the field under the lights at Three Rivers Stadium for Game 4 of the World Series. Pittsburgh won, 4-3, to even the series at two games apiece.

First combined extra-inning no-hitter: July 12, 1997

Francisco Cordova worked the first nine innings and Ricardo Rincon finished the job in the Pirates’ 3-0 win over the Astros at Three Rivers Stadium.

First Major League organization to sign players from India: 2008

Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh, participants in the “Million Dollar Arm” reality show, signed with the Pirates and became professional pitchers in the Minors. Patel spent two years in Rookie-level ball. Singh, now a professional wrestler, made it to Class A ball in 2012.

First team to record 20 straight losing seasons: 1993-2012

Hey, not all history is good. The Pirates’ losing streak reached 20 years before they returned to the postseason in 2013, ’14 and ’15.

First 4-5-4 triple play: May 9, 2015

Second baseman Neil Walker snagged a line drive off the bat of Yadier Molina, but rather than step on second to force out Jason Heyward, he fired the ball to third baseman Jung Ho Kang, who touched third base to force out Jhonny Peralta. Kang headed back into the dugout, thinking the inning was over, but his teammates yelled at him to throw the ball back to Walker to complete the oddly historic triple play.

First born-and-raised Lithuanian player in Major League history: Dovydas Neverauskas

The native of Vilnius, Lithuania, debuted in relief for the Pirates on April 24, 2017. He struggled through parts of four seasons in Pittsburgh’s bullpen, but he made history nonetheless.

First African-born player in Major League history: Gift Ngoepe

Born in South Africa and raised inside the Randburg Mets’ clubhouse by his mother, Maureen, Ngoepe signed with the Pirates in 2008 and reached the Majors on April 26, 2017, at PNC Park.

First team to break up a no-hitter in extra innings with a walk-off homer: Aug. 23, 2017

Dodgers lefty Rich Hill carried a perfect game into the ninth inning and a no-hitter into the 10th, then Josh Harrison ended it all with one swing. Hill was the first pitcher since the Pirates’ Lefty Leifield in 1906 to lose a game with at least nine innings pitched, one hit or fewer and zero walks, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.