Breaking down accolades of inaugural Pirates HoF class

August 7th, 2022

The suspense is over.

For the past couple of months, Pirates fans have had fun wondering who would be included in the inaugural class that will be inducted into the team’s new Hall of Fame in early September. 

Since the franchise joined the National League back in 1887, over 2,000 players have worn a Pirates uniform. That includes batting champions, home run champions, MVPs, Gold Glove Award winners, Cy Young Award winners, 20-game winners, and scores of players who contributed greatly to Pittsburgh’s five World Series championships. 

Members of the Homestead (PA) Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords, two of the most successful teams in Negro Leagues baseball history, were also eligible for induction into the Pirates Hall of Fame. That provided additional food for thought.  

Well, on Sunday, the Pirates revealed that the inaugural class consists of 19 all-time greats, spanning many decades and generations. The list features 15 former Pirates -- Jake Beckley, Steve Blass, Max Carey, Roberto Clemente, Fred Clarke, Ralph Kiner, Bill Mazeroski, Danny Murtaugh, Dave Parker, Willie Stargell, Pie Traynor, Arky Vaughan, Honus Wagner, Lloyd Waner and Paul Waner -- plus four members of the Crawfords and Grays -- Ray Brown, Oscar Charleston, Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard.

“The Pirates have been a part of the fabric of Pittsburgh for more than 135 years. During that time, the game has brought generations of families and friends from our community together to cheer on some of the greatest players who have ever played,” said Pirates Chairman Bob Nutting. “We are proud to celebrate these players and managers, and provide an avenue to continue to share their stories with our fans for generations to come.” 

The class, which includes 16 members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, will be inducted into the Pirates Hall of Fame on Saturday, Sept. 3 at PNC Park. Special ceremonies will take place on the Riverwalk, during which the ballpark’s new Hall of Fame display will also be unveiled. In addition, the Pirates Hall of Famers will be honored on the field prior to the 6:35 p.m. game vs. the Toronto Blue Jays.  

Plans for the Pirates Hall of Fame were originally announced in 2019, but its creation was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Here's more information about the individuals who were selected for the inaugural class:

Jake Beckley -- Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971…Compiled a .308 batting average and collected 2,938 hits during his 20-year career (1888-1907)…Batted .300 or better in five of his eight seasons with the Pirates, including a career-high .345 mark in 1894…Ranks second on club’s all-time list for games played at first base (1,045).

Steve Blass -- A member of the Pirates organization for 60 years, the former pitcher compiled a record of 103-76 in 282 games over 10 seasons with Pittsburgh (1964, 1966-1974)…1972 National League All-Star, who won 78 games during the five-year period between 1968 and 1972…Led the NL with .750 winning pct. in 1968…Registered complete-game victories in Game 3 and Game 7 of 1971 World Series championship over Baltimore…Has the most years of service (34) as a Pirates broadcaster (1986-2019).

Ray Brown -- Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006…All-Star pitcher who helped lead the Homestead Grays to eight pennants in a nine-year span during his 14 seasons with the club (1932-1945)…Finished his Negro Leagues career with a 122-45 mark and pitched a perfect game in 1945…Ranks among the all-time Negro Leagues leaders in wins, winning percentage, and shutouts.

Max Carey -- Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1961…Pirates all-time leader in stolen bases (690)…Holds the NL record for most years leading league in steals (10)…Ranks fourth on Pittsburgh’s all-time list in games played (2,168) and runs scored (1,414) and fifth in hits (2,418) and doubles (375)…Stole home more times than any other player in National League history (33).

Oscar Charleston -- Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976…Compiled a .364 batting average in 18 seasons in the Negro Leagues…Won back-to-back batting titles in 1924 (.405) and 1925 (.427)...Also managed several teams during his 40 years in Negro Leagues baseball, including 1935 Pittsburgh Crawfords squad that many consider to be the best Negro Leagues team of all time.

Fred Clarke -- Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945…Owns the most career victories among Pirates managers (1,422)…Also compiled a .312 batting average in 21 seasons as a player (1894-1911, 1913-1915)…Guided the Pirates to three straight National League pennants (1901-1903) and a World Series championship in 1909 when the team compiled 110-42 regular-season mark before defeating Detroit in the World Series.

Roberto Clemente -- Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973…Widely regarded as one of greatest players ever to wear a baseball uniform…Topped the .300 mark 13 times, won four batting titles and amassed 3,000 hits in 18 years with the Pirates (1955-1972)…15-time All-Star and the winner of 12 Gold Glove Awards…National League MVP in 1966 and two-time World Series champion (1960 & 1971)…Pirates all-time leader in at bats (9,454), hits and total bases (4,492) and ranks in the top 5 in nearly every other offensive category.

Josh Gibson -- Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972…Regarded as the greatest slugger in history of the Negro Leagues…12-time All-Star and four-time batting champion during his 17-year career in independent baseball and the Negro Leagues…Led the league in home runs and RBIs six straight seasons with the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays (1933-1938) and had a career-high 109 RBIs with the Grays in 1943.

Ralph Kiner -- Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975…Won or shared National League home run title in each of his first seven years with the Pirates (1946-1952)…Remains the only player in Major League history to accomplish the feat…Topped the 50-home run mark twice -- with 51 in 1947 and a career-high 54 in 1949…Six-time All-Star who averaged better than 100 RBIs a season and led the NL in slugging three times…His 301 homers with Pittsburgh rank second on club’s all-time list behind Willie Stargell (475).

Buck Leonard -- Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972…One of best pure hitters ever to play in the Negro Leagues…Part of the Homestead Grays’ dynasty of the 1930s and 1940s…Spent entire 15-year career with Grays (1934-1958), which is the longest term of service for any player with one team in Negro Leagues history…Compiled a .345 lifetime batting average and played in a record 11 East-West All-Star Games.

Bill Mazeroski -- Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001…Won eight Gold Glove Awards during his 17-year career (1956-1972) and earned a reputation as one of finest fielding second basemen in history…Holds National League records for most seasons leading league in assists (nine), most seasons leading league in double plays (eight) and most double plays turned in a single season (161 in 1966)…Seven-time All-Star who hit one most famous home runs in baseball history -- a ninth-inning, game-winning blast against the New York Yankees in Game Seven of the 1960 World Series.

Danny Murtaugh -- Managed more than 2,000 games for the Pirates and posted the second-most victories (1,115) in team history behind Fred Clarke (1,422)…Led Pittsburgh to nine winning records and five league or division titles in 12 full seasons as manager…Guided the Pirates to World Series championships in 1960 and 1971…Named The Sporting News Manager of the Year in 1960 and 1970…Spent parts of 29 years with Pirates as a player, coach, manager and front-office executive.

Dave Parker -- Spent 11 seasons (1973-1983) in a Pittsburgh uniform (1973-1983) and ranks among the Pirates all-time leaders in home runs (166), doubles (296), RBIs (758) and extra-base hits (524), while producing a .305 batting average…Named National League MVP in 1978 and captured back-to-back batting titles with the Pirates in 1977 (.338) and 1978 (.334)…A World Series champion with Pittsburgh in 1979, the “Cobra” also won three Gold Glove awards and was named to the All-Star team four times as a Pirate.

Willie Stargell -- Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988…Spent his entire 21-year career in a Pittsburgh uniform and is the Pirates all-time leader in home runs (475), RBIs (1,540) and extra-base hits (953)…Seven-time All-Star who led the National League in home runs in 1971 (48) and 1973 (44)…Won World Series championships with the Pirates in 1971 and 1979…Shared NL MVP honors in 1979 and was also named Most Valuable Player of both the LCS and World Series that season.

Pie Traynor -- Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1948…Recognized as one of the greatest third basemen of all time…Compiled a .320 lifetime batting average in his 17 seasons (1920-1935, 1937) with the Pirates…Club’s all-time leader in games played at third base (1,864) and ranks fifth in hits (2,416) and extra-base hits (592) and sixth in doubles (371)…Hit .300 or better 10 times, while knocking in 100 or more runs seven times.

Arky Vaughan -- Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985…Holds the Pirates record for highest batting average in a single season, posting a league-leading .385 mark in 1935…Led NL in OBP (.491), slugging (.607) and OPS (1.098) in 1935…Named to the All-Star team nine times…Ranks second on club’s all-time list with 1,381 games played at shortstop…Compiled a .324 batting average in 10 seasons with the Pirates (1932-1941) and led the league in walks and on-base percentage three straight years (1934-1936).

Honus Wagner -- Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936…Considered by many to be the greatest all-around player in baseball history…Hit .300 or better for 15 consecutive seasons (1899-1913) and won eight National League batting titles…Stole more than 700 bases, led the league in RBIs four times and slugging percentage six times …Pirates all-time leader in games played at shortstop (1,887)…Ranks second on the club’s all-time list in hits (2,970) and doubles (556) while the topping the charts in runs (1,521) and triples (231).

Lloyd Waner -- Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967…Produced a batting average of .309 or better in 10 of his first 12 seasons with the Pirates (1927-1938)…His 223 hits during his rookie season of 1927 remain club rookie record…Also set club rookie record while leading National League with 133 runs scored that year…Ranks fourth on club’s all-time list with 1,680 games played in the outfield…Ranks sixth on club’s all-time list with 2,317 hits.

Paul Waner -- Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1952…Four-time All-Star with the Pirates who captured three National League batting titles, collected 200 or more hits eight times, and hit .300 or better in each of his first 12 seasons (1926-1937) …Seventh player in Major League history to reach the 3,000-hit plateau…Collected a club-record 237 hits in 1927 and led the NL with 131 RBIs that year…Compiled .340 batting average in 15 seasons with the Pirates, a figure that still ranks first on club’s all-time list.