Pittsburgh Pirates induct inaugural class of 19 into team hall of fame
PITTSBURGH — The Pirates finally have a team hall of fame, inducting 19 members as part of the inaugural class on Saturday.
Of the 19, 16 had previously been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. The three living members of the class attended the ceremony: Steve Blass, Bill Mazeroski and Dave Parker.
“We have 135 years of history, we have so many great moments, so many great players to be able to officially celebrate it. I think we all thought, ‘They must have had one by now,'” the owners said. Pirates, Bob Nutting. “It was time to make it official. It was time to celebrate it. It’s just one of those pieces that tell the incredible story of the Pittsburgh Pirates.”
Blass spent his entire 10-year playing career (1964-74) with the Pirates, compiling a 103-76 record. He is best remembered for his complete victory in Game 7 of the 1971 World Series against the Baltimore Orioles.
In all, Blass has spent more than 60 years in the Pirates organization since signing a minor league contract in 1960 after graduating from high school. Since the end of his playing career, Blass has worked for the team as a broadcaster and community ambassador.
“I didn’t think of anything like that when I signed,” Blass said. “I just wanted to play Major League Baseball. I actually just wanted to graduate from high school and sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“Everything seemed to work, but when I think about it, it’s almost like a fairy tale. Everyone has a dream, but not everyone is lucky enough to be able to live it. I was lucky to live my dream, and I’m still living it.”
Mazeroski also spent his entire career with the Pirates, playing second base for 17 seasons (1956-72). He hit the game-winning home run late in the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series against the New York Yankees.
Mazeroski played in 10 All-Star Games, won eight Gold Gloves and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001.
Parker spent the first 11 seasons of his 19-year career with Pittsburgh from 1973 to 1983. He replaced Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente as the Pirates’ right fielder after Clemente died in a plane crash that night. New Year’s Eve in 1972.
Parker was the National League MVP in 1978. He was the All-Star Game MVP a year later when the Pirates also last appeared in the World Series, beating the Orioles.
The Pirates also inducted Negro League stars Oscar Charleston, Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard. They played for the Pittsburgh Crawfords or Homestead Grays. All three also signed honorary contracts with the pirates.
“The Negro leagues were such an important part of baseball history,” Nutting said. “I think it’s our responsibility to celebrate that legacy. They’re also some of the greatest players of all eras and in all leagues. They were fantastic, incredible athletes, and they deserve to be celebrated with our players.”