The Pittsburgh Pirates announced their inaugural Hall of Fame class on Sunday and they went heavy on the Hall of Famers. A total of 19 players make up the first class, which will be celebrated on September 3rd.
The class includes many of the all-time greats in franchise history, including the names you would automatically expect at the top, with Hall of Famers Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, Paul and Lloyd Waner, Willie Stargell, Max Carey, Pie Traynor, Fred Clarke, Ralph Kiner, Jake Beckley and Bill Mazeroski. They are joined by Danny Murtaugh, Dave Parker and Steve Blass among other Pirates greats. What’s interesting about this group is that the only pitcher is Steve Blass, and his long history broadcasting for the team is the main reason that he landed in the first class.
There are also names you wouldn’t expect in the Pirates Hall of Fame, Negro League stars Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Oscar Charleston and Ray Brown, who all played in Pittsburgh during their time. They all played for the Homestead Grays and/or the Pittsburgh Crawfords. All four are Hall of Famers as well, with Gibson recognized as one of the greatest sluggers ever, while Charleston was often called the best all-around player in the league. Leonard wasn’t far behind, getting comparisons to Lou Gehrig during his career.
If you go by WAR during their time in Pittsburgh, the Pirates put in all of their top six players. In order, they are Wagner, Clemente, Paul Waner, Vaughan, Stargell and Carey. Clarke, Kiner, Traynor, Mazeroski and Parker are also among the top 20 players in history.
There are some unfortunate snubs for the inaugural class. I don’t want to put any names out there into the universe, but there are a few all-time Pirates greats in their 90s who would enjoy actually celebrating the honor with their family and friends. I think it’s wrong to make them wait and possibly chance that they can’t show up to their inevitable induction.
The most noteworthy Hall of Fame snubs for this class have to be Bill McKechnie and Kiki Cuyler. McKenchie put in six seasons as a player and five seasons as a manager (plus other time as a coach) and led the team to the 1925 World Series. Cuyler owns team single-season records and helped the club to two World Series, including that 1925 club. Of course, Cuyler’s trade to the Chicago Cubs is the worst trade in franchise history, and the Pirates unceremoniously ripped the name of McKechnie off of their Spring Training home, so they have already treated both of these players poorly in the past. Maybe they can go in together in the second class.