Yesterday I celebrated my tenth wedding anniversary with my lovely wife Megan. It’s been the best time of my life and it feels great knowing there will be many more. Since I couldn’t afford a direct message from Antonio Brown for her on Cameo, she’ll have to settle for a Top Ten dedicated to her.
This list is all the “best” Pirates to spend ten seasons in the Black and Gold. It will obviously not have a large representation in the modern era, and it should be pretty obvious, if you’re on this list, you were a damn good ball player.
10. Roberto Clemente 1955-1972 – What can I write about The Great One that hasn’t already been said? Just sit back and enjoy that he is a baseball icon, a humanitarian icon and all Pittsburgh’s. OK, we’ll share.
9. Steve Blass 1964-1974 – Mr. Pirate himself. When you really think about how synonymies Blass is with Pittsburgh Pirates baseball and lore, its hard to believe he only spent 10 years in uniform, and that’s with an admitted stretch to include 1974.
8. Max Carey 1910-1926 – Max is probably the best player in Pirate’s history most have never heard of. In fact, the 1925 World Series Champion team is the least spoken of in the club’s history. He was moved during the 1926 season to the Brooklyn Robins finishing his career there in 1929 but let me lay down his career stats for you. 54.5 WAR, 2,665 Hits, .285 BA, 738 SB. In the 1925 season he hit .343 with 186 hits and led the league in stolen bases a total of 10 times.
7. Pie Traynor 1920-1937 – Hey why not double up with one of Max’s teammates. This list will only contain two of the three Hall of Famers that led to the Series, Kiki Cuyler will have to get his due another time. Pie was another burner, and his lifetime .320 BA sure helped make the most of that speed. Holding down the hot corner in Pittsburgh for all 17 years of his career.
6. John Candelaria 1975-1985, 1993 – The Candyman was somehow only an All-Star one time, but Pittsburgh understood his value, so does the prism of history. 41.9 WAR, 177 Wins, 3.33 ERA, what else can you say beside the Candyman can.
5. Roy Face 1953-1968 – This 6X All-Star and 1960 World Series Champion was instrumental in securing victory. Most of his body of work came from the pen but this was long before the one inning outing it would become. It was also before glory was attached to the save.
4. Vern Law 1950-1967 – Vern is arguably the best argument the Pirates have for “franchise ace”. A Cy Young winner and 2X All-Star, Law eclipses Bill Mazeroski for reasons they got there in 1960.
3. Honus Wagner 1900-1917 – It’s hard to make a list about Pirate’s greats without including the Flying Dutchman. Want to overlook him? Try this on for size, 130.8 WAR, 3,420 Hits, 101 HR, .328 BA, 723 SB. He won the batting title 8 times and the 1909 World Series. In 1900 he hit .381, with 45 doubles and 22 triples, out of his 201 total hits. It’ll never happen again. Period.
2. Paul Waner 1926-1940 – 3X batting champion and Outfielder extraordinaire for your Pittsburgh Pirates, a lifetime 73.9 WAR, 3,152 Hits and a .333 batting average. He was lightning and consistent topping .360 three times in his career.
1. Willie Stargell 1962-1982 – Pops was the leader on and off the field. 57.5 WAR, 2,232 Hits, drilling 475 homeruns while maintaining a .282 BA is unheard of. His iconic left-handed swing hit some of the longest home runs the league had ever seen and much like Roberto, what more can I say.
I am 100% confident I missed some, because I fought myself on some of these, like Bill Virdon 1956-1968, or Bob Veale 1962-1972. I could have gone with Bill Mazeroski 1956-1972 or Manny Sanguillen 1967-1976, 1978-1980. But quite possibly the hardest to eliminate for me was Dave Parker 1973-1983. That’s not it, but this one was actually hard.