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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pittsburgh Pirates Uniform and Team History

Please click on the evolution of the Pirates uniform poster above for a close-up version of the poster. The descriptions below give you some insight and background about the uniforms and/or eras depicted in the poster.

Fall 2022: To purchase a reasonably priced 8" x 24" plaqued mounted version of the Pirates poster that's ready to hang on your wall, please visit Heritage Sports Stuff.


The Pittsburgh Pirates originally started out as the Alleghenys (also the Alleghenies) in 1882 as a member of the 27 team American Association. In 1887 the club jumped to the National League. Between 1887 and 1890 they were referred to as both the Alleghenys and the Innocents, but we believe the “official” nickname was always the Alleghenys. In 1891 Lou Bierbauer, a star player of that era, was lured away from the Philadelphia Phillies. The move gave Pittsburgh instant credibility and a new team nickname was born in 1891 - the Pirates.

1909 was the first season that the Pirates played in their wonderful new stadium, Forbes Field, and they finished first in the National league with a stunning record of 110-42. They initiated their new home with a World Series against the Detroit Tigers (this was the Pirates’ 2nd appearance in the World Series, having lost their first to the Boston Pilgrims [now Red Sox] in 1903).

The World Series pitted the Tigers’ Ty Cobb, who had just won his 3rd straight American League batting title, against the Pirates’ Honus Wagner, who had just won his 4th straight National League batting title. It was a great Series that saw Pittsburgh win the first game, only to have the Tigers tie it, then go up 2 games to 1, only to have the Tigers tie it, then 3-2 for the Pirates, then the Tigers tied it again at 3 apiece.

But in game 7, the Pirates left no doubt as they roared to an 8-0 victory and their first World Series Championship. Between the two future Hall of Famers, Wagner came out on top with a batting average of .333 vs. Cobb’s .231 average. But the hero of the Series wasn’t a slugger at all, it was Pirates’ pitcher Babe Adams, who gave up only 6 hits in each of the three games he started, completing and winning them all, (in the 7th and deciding game in Detroit, he threw a shutout).

One of the stars of the 1909 Pirates was the incomparable Honus Wagner, also known as The Flying Dutchman. Wagner joined the Pirates in 1900, and in his first season he led the NL with a .381 average, 45 doubles with 22 triples. He would go on to have 14 consecutive seasons of hitting .300 or better. Over his 18 seasons with the Pirates, he would lead the league in batting average 8 times, doubles 7 times, RBI 4 times and stolen bases 5 times. He would retire with a lifetime .327 average, and among the top 10 all time in at-bats, hits, doubles, triples and stolen bases.

The most expensive baseball card in the world is a Honus Wagner card – we wish it was solely because of his skill as a ballplayer, but there’s a bit more to the story. In the early years of the 20th century, baseball cards (and other types of cards) used to be given away in packages of cigarettes. That was all well and good, but Honus Wagner didn’t smoke and didn’t want to do anything to encourage smoking, so when he learned that his image was being used on a card being given away in cigarette packages, he demanded that his card be removed. The company in question complied with his wished, but not before a small number of cards had already gone into circulation. There are only a handful of these cards known to exist today – perhaps 18? - and because of their rarity, the mint condition Honus Wagner cards fetch enormous prices. Wayne Gretzky and his then team owner Bruce McNall jointly purchased one of these rare gems for almost a half a million dollars.

As for the 1909 jersey pictured here, has “P.B.C.” on the sleeve which stands for Pittsburgh Baseball Club. This is a pullover style home jersey with a full collar - even though the jersey has four buttons down the front, this is still a “pullover” style jersey that had to be pulled over the head – this was common in jerseys throughout baseball at this time. We believe the first major league team to wear a completely buttoned front jersey (ie one that didn’t have to be pulled over the head) was the 1909 Phillies, followed by the 1911 Cubs. The pullover style jersey finally disappeared after the 1939 season (the A’s were the last team to wear it), but of course pullovers resurfaced in a big way with the double knit era of the 70’s and 80’s.

Also, notice that the pants have a center belt loop, which was designed so that the belt buckle would be worn on the side, not in the front. Players of this era usually wore the belt buckle to one side to prevent injury when sliding into a base.


Notice the unusual blue stripe down the front of this home uniform. Note also the cadet collar, a small upright collar worn by many teams from about 1910 to the mid-late 20’s. The only logo on the entire jersey is a small red “P” on the pocket.

Honus Wagner would finish the season with a .334 average, thus claiming his 8th and final batting title, a National League record. As noted earlier, Wagner finish his career in 1917 with a career batting average of .327. The 1911 Pirates finished with an 85-69 record, good for 3rd place in the 8 team NL.


As we see on this 1912 home uniform, the jersey still has a cadet collar, but the team has switched to a classic blue pinstripe. As best we can tell, the first instance of pinstriped uniforms was in 1907. The Boston Braves road uniform were made from a gray flannel with a fine green pinstripe. Later that same year the Cubs had a new gray uniform with fine pin striping made for the World Series - they wore it for the World Series opener in Chicago and were later reprimanded by the league for not wearing a white uniform at home. The Yankees, most often associated with pinstripe uniforms, first wore a pinstriped uniform for one year at home in 1912 (the New York Times wrote about their 1912 home opener “The Yankees presented a natty appearance in their new uniforms of white with black pin stripes”), then every year from 1915 to the present.

Note the wonderful and unique method by which the Pirates displayed their city name on this uniform – it is written vertically along the buttoned front of the jersey.

The 1912 Pirates finished the season in 2nd place with a 93-58 record. The leading pitcher was Claude Hendrix who went 24-9. Honus Wagner hit .324 for his 13th straight season hitting .300 or better (he would end up hitting .300+ 14 straight years) but didn’t win the batting title (he had won 8 of the previous 12 NL titles). Owen Wilson of the Pirates sets a Major League record in 1912 with 36 triples, a record that still stands today.


This is a classic white home uniform. There is thin red double piping around the collar and down the buttons, and no logo on the front of the jersey. Instead, there is a simple a blue “P” on the right sleeve – it’s interesting to look at this entire poster at the variety of colors the Pirates have worn over the years – we often think of the Pirates as being entirely yellow and black, but this was clearly not always the case.

The rather large, and almost cumbersome, patch on the right sleeve celebrates the National League’s 50th anniversary, an anniversary known as the “Golden Jubilee”. All NL teams wore this patch. The centered belt loop seen on previous uniforms is now gone, and the Pirates now have belt tunnels on their pants. For those of you unfamiliar with this expression, a belt tunnel is really simply a very wide belt loop, perhaps even 4-8 inches in length.

The Pirates finish the season with a 95-58 record, winning the NL by 8 ½ games over the New York Giants, and in turn go on to face the post-season challenged Washington Senators for the World Series (the Senators actually won it all in 1924, so I should go a bit easier on them). This was the Pirates’ third appearance in the World Series – they lost in 1903, and won in 1909.

The Senators go up 3 games to 1 in the best of 7 series, on the strength of Walter Johnson who won games one and four surrendering only one run in both games – he pitched a complete game 5 hitter in game 1, and a complete game 6 hitter in game 6). Without Johnson pitching the Pirates take advantage, winning game five 6-3 in Washington and game six 3-2 back at home to tie the series at 3 games apiece and send things to a 7th and deciding game in Pittsburgh.

Walter Johnson started game 7 for the Senators, and despite the fact he was hit hard, the Pirates entered the bottom of the 8th on the losing end of a 7-6 score. But the Pirates had their eyes on the ultimate prize, and they scored 3 runs in the 8th and then held the Senators off the scoresheet in the top of the 9th to claim their 2nd Major League Championship.

The post-season Pirates were led at the plate by outfielders Max Carey, who hit .458 with 2 RBI, and Kiki Cuyler who hit .269 with 6 RBI. On the mound they were led in the series by Ray Kremer who went 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA and Vic Aldridge’s 2-0 and 3.93 ERA


The “Pittsburgh” on the front of this home jersey is now a written “Pirates” script. The team wore this style for only the ’38 and ’39 seasons. Note how the piping on this 1938 jersey only goes around the collar, which is unusual because it usually carries down the front of the jersey as well.

The ’38 Pirates finish with a record of 86-64, two games behind the Chicago Cubs. The Pirates had some terrific records in the 30’s - they finished above .500 7 out of 10 times (the exceptions were 1931, 1934 and 1939), but this relative success wouldn’t translate into post season appearances.


The zipper we see on this road uniform was a trend that took the world of baseball by storm in the 40’s. During the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s many teams used zippered jerseys instead of the more traditional button front jerseys, while a handful of teams wore them well into the 70’s and even the 80’s. The Reds were one of three pre-1977 major league teams that never wore zippers, the others being the Yankees and A’s. The 1937 Cubs were the first team to wear a zippered jersey, and as far we can tell the 1988 Phillies were the last to wear one.

The handsome Pirate crest pictured here was only worn on the front of the jersey for the ’40 and ’41 seasons, on both home and road uniforms. This was unusual because the trend in baseball is for teams to wear their town/city name on their road uniforms and the city name on the front of their home uniform.

On the field, the Pirates finish the season with a 78-76 record, good for 4th place in the 8 team NL.


The Pirates have stuck with the zipper on this 1942 home uniform, as they will until 1947 and then again in 1952 and 1953 for their road uniforms only. Notice the piping around the belt tunnels, quite an unusual but effective touch.

During the Second World War, the question is raised, should able-bodied athletes of baseball be fighting for their country rather than playing baseball? Baseball Commissioner Landis asked President Franklin D. Roosevelt what to do - here is part of Roosevelt’s reply:
“I honestly feel it would be best for the country to keep baseball going. There will be fewer people unemployed and everybody will work longer hours and harder than ever before… Here is another way of looking at it - if 300 teams use 5,000 or 6,000 players, these players are a definite recreational asset to at least 20,000,000 of their fellow citizens - and that in my judgment is thoroughly worthwhile.”

Wartime sleeve patches were worn by all levels of professional baseball teams between 1942 and 1945. As seen on this jersey, a “Health” patch was worn during the 1942 season, part of a war-time health and fitness awareness campaign, and from 1943-1945 a “Stars and Stripes” patch was worn.

The 1942 Pirates finish 6th in the NL with a 66-81 record, while the ’44 Pirates compile an impressive 90-63 record, but still finish 2nd to the 105-49 Stan Musial-ed St. Louis Cardinals.


As seen on this home uniform, the Pirates’ colors have shifted from red, white and blue to yellow and black. This change first occurred in 1948 when the Pirates joined the NFL’s Steelers in adopting black and yellow as their official color. The Steelers had been using yellow and black since the ‘30’s and this was the primary influence in their color change. As of the 80’s all Pittsburgh teams had adopted these colors. The NHL’s Penguins started in ’67 using 2 shades of blue, then switched to yellow and black in the ‘70’s.

The Pirates finished the 1955 season in 8th and last place in the National League with a 60-94 record, 38½ games behind the eventual World Series Champion Brooklyn Dodgers.

1955 would be a memorable year for true Pirates fans as it was this season that future Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente started his career as a 20-year-old rookie, playing in 124 games, and batting .255 with 5 home runs and 47 RBI.


This 1960 road uniform is unusual in several ways. Typically when a team goes on the road it wears its city name on the jersey. As you can see here, the Pirates thought their reputation would precede them and thus wore “Pirates” on the road instead of the traditional “Pittsburgh”.

But it’s even more unusual, in our opinion, because it is a vest jersey instead of the more traditional button-down-the-front jersey. The Pirates first wore vests in 1957 and continued to do so until 1971.

The ’60 Pirates enjoy a 95-59 season and finish in first, seven games ahead of the Milwaukee Braves. The Bucs were led by Roberto Clemente, who hit .314 with 16 home runs and 94 RBI, and shortstop Dick Groat, who hit a league leading .325. On the mound, Vern Law led the team with a 20-9 record.

In the 1960 World Series the New York Yankees out-hit the Pirates, outscored the Pirates, out-homered the Pirates and out-pitched the Pirates. But the Pirates still won!

The Pirates won game one in Pittsburgh 6-4, then lost game two at home 16-3 and game three 10-0 in New York. But the Bucs came back to win game four 3-2 in NY and game five 5-2 (also in NY). Continuing with the see-saw nature of the series, NY clobbered the Pirates 12-0 in game 6 in Pittsburgh.

This set the stage for the seventh and deciding game, which was played in Pittsburgh. The Pirates had a 4-0 lead by the end of the 2nd, and looked to be well on their way to their 3rd World Series title. But the Yankees responded with 7 unanswered runs to take a 7-4 lead in the 8th. Things looked bleak for the Pirates.

But the Pirates put on their rally caps and scored a remarkable 5 runs in the bottom of the 8th, grabbing a 9-7 lead. But sure enough, in the top of the 9th the Yankees reply with 2 runs of their own, and the score was tied going into the bottom of the 9th, setting the stage for some bottom of the 9th heroics.

On deck was 2nd baseman Bill Mazeroski with no one on base. What happened next is arguably the most famous home run in World Series history, Bill Mazeroski belted one to left off of Yankee pitcher Ralph Terry to give Pittsburgh a 10-9 win and its third World Series Championship (previous World Series victories were in 1909 and 1925).

A wonderful prologue to this home run is the fact that Mazeroski and Terry have become good friends and have made guest appearances together at card shows across the country.


This home jersey is of a double-knit style that most major league teams succumbed to during the 70’s and early 80’s. It was a pullover style, made of stretchy, synthetic material. The pants were called “Sans-a-Belt”’s because the elasticized waistline eliminated the need for a belt. The 1970 Pirates were the first double-knit sans-a-belt team, and the Cards and Astros joined them in 1971. By 1975 two thirds of major league teams had succumbed.

This is also the first time on the poster that we see numbers on the front of the jersey, (the Pirates began wearing uniform numbers on the front of their jerseys in 1962). Uniform numbers first made their appearance on the front of a uniform in 1952 - the Brooklyn Dodgers were the first team to wear uniform numbers on the front of their jersey. The Braves followed suit in 1953, and the Reds joined in beginning in 1956. The 1916 Cleveland Indians actually wore a uniform number on their sleeve, but it wasn’t until the ’52 Dodgers that the number made it to the front.

The Pirates finish the ’71 regular season in first in the NL East with a 97-65 record, thereby earning the right to play the NL West Champion San Francisco Giants for the NL Pennant. In game one of the best of five series, San Fran prevail at home 5-4. But the Pirates storm back to take game 2 in San Francisco, then games 3 & 4 in Pittsburgh, thus advancing to the World Series to face the Baltimore Orioles.

The first two games were in Baltimore, and the Pirates lost both (5-3 and 11-3). The series headed back to Pitt. Paced by a brilliant 3-hit complete game pitching performance by Blass in game 3, the Pirates make it 2 games to 1. In game 4 rookie pitcher Bruce Kison was called upon to relieve starter Luke Walker after just 2/3rds of an inning, and he replied by tossing 6 1/3 innings of one hit ball, leading the Bucs to a 4-3 win in game 4. The series was squared at 2 apiece.

Game 5 was still in Pittsburgh, and starter Nellie Briles tossed a masterful 2 hit shut-out to stake the Pirates to a 3 games to 2 lead. It was now back to Baltimore for game 6 and perhaps game 7. Thus far in the series the home team had won, so Pirates fans had every reason to be worried.

Sure enough, the O’s tied the series by winning game 6 in dramatic fashion in ten innings (the final score was 3-2 after the Pirates were up 2-0 going into the bottom of the sixth!), thus sending the series to a seventh and deciding game.

Game 7 turned out to be everything baseball purists want - a pitchers dual. The Pirates’ Steve Blass threw a four hitter, and Clemente hit a homer, pacing the Pirates to a 2-1 win and their 4th Championship (previous World Series victories were in 1909, 1925 and 1960). Roberto Clemente is named the Series MVP on the strength of his .414 batting average and two home runs, while Steve Blass chipped in with 2 complete 1 run games.

The 1972 season would see Roberto Clemente notch his 3000th hit in nearly the last game of the season, a magical cap to a marvelous career. As every true Pirates fan knows, Clemente would die tragically while in a plane crash on December 31, 1972 as he was flying relief supplies to Nicaraguan earthquake victims.


A somewhat new “fashion trend” seems to have been introduced to baseball in this era – the trend towards teams having 3 and 4 and even 5 uniforms in the same season. The Indians, for instance, had three, while the White Sox had four. But the Pirates led the parade with 5 different uniforms this season.

We have depicted one of the home jersey ensembles – a pinstriped white top with yellow pants. The five uniforms were:
1) pinstriped white top with yellow pants
2) pinstriped white top with black pants
3) yellow top with yellow pants
4) yellow top with black pants
5) black top with black pants

October 2010 update from super fan Jerry Wolper, who wrote:
“They actually wore nine combinations of pants and jersey in 1977 and '78. (Since they would wear either cap or sleeves with the white jersey, and either color of stirrups with the white pants, there were actually more, but that's beside the point.) In 1979, they only wore the white jerseys with the white pants (and only at home), so they were down to five combinations: white/white, gold/gold, gold/black, black/black, and black/gold. In 1980, they dropped the pinstripes and always wore white at home, while still mixing and matching the black and gold on the road. (In September of 1980, they mixed and matched, including the white, at home.) This remained the uniform though 1984.”
Thanks for the update Jerry!

1977 would be the first time since 1914 the Pirates would wear pinstripes and they were only worn for the ’77-’79 seasons, yet they became well known because of the success of the Pirates (especially the ’79 Pirates). This jersey is of a double-knit style that most major league teams succumbed to during the 70’s and early 80’s. It was a pullover style, made of stretchy, synthetic material. The pants were called “Sans-a-Belt”’s because the elasticized waistline eliminated the need for a belt. The 1970 Pirates were the first double-knit sans-a-belt team, and the Cards and Astros joined them in 1971. By 1975 two thirds of major league teams had succumbed.

The Pirates finish the 1977 in second place in the NL East with a 96-66 record, only five games back of the Philadelphia Phillies. The team led the NL with 260 stolen bases - Frank Taveras lead the league with 70 steals! Dave Parker led the league with a .338 average, and John Candalaria leads the Pirates’ pitching staff with a 20-5 record and a league leading 2.34 ERA.


We are family!!!

As in 1977 and 1978 the Pirates still have their five uniforms – please see the 1977 jersey text above for the five different combinations. This one we have depicted here is a road version featuring a yellow top with black pants. This road is of a double-knit style that most major league teams succumbed to during the 70’s and early 80’s. It was a pullover style, made of stretchy, synthetic material. The pants were called “Sans-a-Belt”’s because the elasticized waistline eliminated the need for a belt. The 1970 Pirates were the first double-knit sans-a-belt team, and the Cards and Astros joined them in 1971. By 1975 two thirds of major league teams had succumbed.

After narrowly missing post season play in 1978 when they finished 1.5 games behind the Phillies, the 1979 Pirates made amends as they finished the regular season two games up on the Expos in the NL East with a 98-64 record. This earned the Pirates the right to face the NL West champion Cincinnati Reds in a best of five National League Championship series.

The Reds were no match for the Pirates as they rolled by the Reds in three straight games – 5-2, 3-2 and 7-1. Willie Stargell went 5 for 11 with 2 home runs and Phil Garner went 5 for 12 with 1 homer, while the Pirates’ pitching staff combined for a 1.50 ERA, holding the Reds to a collective .215 batting average.

Next up were the Baltimore Orioles who went a league leading 102-57 in the regular season. Games 1 & 2 were in Baltimore, with the O’s winning the first 5-4 and the Pirates winning game two 3-2 on the strength of a two out top-of-the-ninth single by Manny Sanguillen.

The series shifted back to Pittsburgh for 3 games, and the Orioles pounded the Pirates pitchers for 13 hits in a 8-4 O’s win in game 3, then added 12 more hits in a 9-6 Baltimore win in game 4. Thus the Pirates had their backs against the wall needing to win 3 in a row.

And things looked bleak going into the bottom of the 6th as the Pirates trailed 1-0. But their bats exploded for 2 runs in the 6th, 2 in the 7th and 3 more in the 8th and they cruised to a 7-1 win. The Series now shifted back to Baltimore. On the strength of 6 innings of strong pitching by Tom Candelaria and three innings of shut-out relief by Kent Tekulve, the Pirates won 4-0 and evened the Series at 3 apiece.

Game 7. Baltimore. Trailing 1-0 going into the 6th inning of game seven, Willie Stargell smacked a 2-run homer off of Oriole Scott McGregor to take the lead for the Pirates. Meanwhile four Pirates’ pitchers staff teamed up to four hit the O’s and the Pirates added two more runs in the top of the ninth for a 4-1 victory and the Pirates’ fifth World Series championship (1909, 1925, 1960, 1971 and 1979) vs just two losses (1903 and 1927).

Willie Stargell earned the Series MVP, with a batting average of .400, 3 homers, and 7 RBI. On the mound, Kent Tekulve had three saves and four Pirates pitchers each won a game – Bert Blyleven, John Candelaria, Don Robinson and Grant (Buck) Jackson.

And “We Are Family”? This was the great Sister Sledge song that the Pirates and Pirates’ fans adopted as their team song. It embodied the great team spirit and camaraderie that characterized the ’79 Bucs, and 20+ years later baseball fans just have to hear the 5 notes “We are fam-il-ly” and the ’79 Pirates immediately spring to mind.

We also have to tip our cap to Dave Parker, who in 1979 recorded his 5th consecutive .300+ season. The 6’ 5” 230 pound Parker ended his 19 year Major League career (11 with the Pirates) with a .290 average and a .471 slugging percentage, and he will best be remembered for his tremendous offensive seasons with the 1975-1980 Bucs.

On a sad note, Willie “Pops” Stargell passed away in April 2001 after battling kidney disease. He was 61 and will forever be remembered as a team leader and gentlemanly father figure.


As we see on this road jersey, the Pirates finally got rid of the double-knit sans-a-belt uniforms of the 70’s and 80’s, and have called back their “pirate” logo from the 1940 and 1941 seasons. Last worn in 1953, a “Pittsburgh” script adorned the Pirates’ 1992 road uniforms, a style the team re-introduced in 1990. Note also the patch on the left shoulder.

The 1992 season, saw the Bucs finish the regular season atop the NL East with a 96-66 record, thus pitting them against the Atlanta Braves in the best-of-seven National League Championship.

The Braves jumped out to 2-0 and 3-1 leads, but the Pirates battled back to square the series at 3 and force a dramatic game 7 in Atlanta. And dramatic is an understatement.

In what would turn out to be a decisive moment in the history of the Pirates’ franchise, the Braves overcame a 2-0 deficit in the bottom of the ninth, scoring the tying and winning runs with two out in the bottom of the 9th after Stan Belinda came in to relieve starter Kent Drabek who had loaded the bases with none out. Who knows how history might have changed had Belinda been able to get one more out – where might Barry Bonds be playing today?

The Pirates’ manager Jim Leyland was credited with much of the team’s success, and was awarded the NL manager of the year award. The team’s best player, Barry Bonds, earned his second NL MVP award in three years (the first coming in 1990 with later MVP awards coming with the San Francisco Giants in 1993 and 2001).


This black jersey is a pullover style jersey known as a “third jersey”. A 3rd jersey is a concept that became commonplace in baseball by the mid 90’s. Most 3rd jerseys are worn occasionally at home as well as on the road, giving a team a third option as to what uniform to wear. And of course, the addition of a third jersey adds to the options fans can buy, thereby increasing apparel revenues and ultimately benefiting the team. More recently, teams have begun adding 4th and even 5th jerseys to their roster of uniform possibilities, although we have to point out that the Pirates were ahead of their time as far back as the late 70’s when they used 5 different uniform combinations.

This jersey has several interesting characteristics: There is a thin red border around the yellow lettering and numbers; the letters themselves are flat across the top and curved underneath (quite unique); there are two buttons in the area of the neck of the jersey, again, quite unique; and the pirate patch on the left shoulder has been reincarnated with an angry face, an eye patch and a bandanna. This uniform also demonstrates a fashion trend that started in the mid-late ’90’s, with the teams names and/or logos embroidered on the neck/collar of the undershirt.

The Pirates finished the 1998 season at the bottom of the NL Central Division with a 69-93 record, 29½ games behind the first place Houston Astros. In a season that saw the Cardinals Mark McGwire break the single season home run record, collecting 70 dingers, the Bucs were led offensively by Kevin Young who hit .270 with 27 home runs and 108 RBI.


Wow or Yikes – you tell us!

We couldn’t do a Pirates’ poster without showing what is arguably the most unique jersey in the history of Major League Baseball. This jersey, known as the “futuristic” uniform, was worn only a few times in 1999. Due to the predominant use of the color red, people might have thought that Pittsburgh was changing their colors, but this was not the case – this was simply an outrageous, eye-popping jersey designed to shock everyone who saw it.

Also unique was the fact that the players’ names and numbers ran vertically on the back of the jersey, as opposed to the traditional horizontal layout.

In April 1999, groundbreaking takes place for the Pirates’ new home, later to be known as “PNC Park”. PNC Park would open the 2001 season, replacing the testament to the 70’s, Three Rivers Stadium.

On the field, the 78-83 ‘99 Pirates are led by 28 year old star-in-the-making Brian Giles, who batted .315 with 39 home runs, and Kevin Young’s .298 with 26 dingers. Defensively, Todd Ritchie’s 15-9 record and 3.49 ERA led the Pirates who haven’t been able to reach the .500 mark since the heartbreaking ‘92 season (75-87 in ’93; 53-61 in ’94; 58-86 in ’95; 73-89 in ’96; 79-83 in ’97; 69-93 in ’98, 69-83 in 2000; 62-100 in 2001).


This 2005 home uniform is a classic vest design that honors the past while also managing to be quite contemporary in style – a winner!

Now if we could just replicate that on the field. The Pirates last playoff appearance was in 1992 (and 1991 and 1990) under the tutelage of Jim Leyland and with a slim Barry Bonds in the lineup. Since 1992, the Pirates have failed to reach the 500 mark, and in 2005 the squad went 67-95. The Pirates’ day will come, however, and a day at the ballpark is still better than a day at work.


Celebrate the Pirates' uniform history by owning a piece of history:
If you love the Pittsburgh Pirates and the history of the Pirates franchise, you might really love to own an original piece of artwork celebrating the team's historic uniforms as seen in the poster at the top of this blog - you can actually own one of those original pieces of art! There are only 16 pieces of original art available for sale, and when these 16 are sold, that's it, they're all sold out.

These original watercolor paintings would make a great gift (birthday gift, anniversary gift, retirement gift, Christmas gift, etc.) for someone you love or even a great gift for yourself (one of these framed pieces would look fantastic in your home or office). Each piece can be bought one of three ways:
1. As unframed art that you could have framed or mounted yourself (the one on the left)
2. Framed in our "Classic" framed version (the middle version)
3. Framed in our "Deluxe" framed version (the version on the right)

If you would like more information about this great artwork including the three ways you could purchase each piece, please visit our Pittsburgh Pirates YouTube video at or go directly to the artwork website where you can see and purchase the artwork.

And if someone you know loves the history of sports uniforms (but maybe another team) and loves great art, please let them know that we have over 1500 pieces of great original artwork for sale at (all NFL teams, all MLB teams, all NHL teams, all CFL teams, select NCAA football teams) or check out each team's video at the Heritage Sports Art YouTube Channel

And please search my blog archive for other blogs on the history of the Pirates.


This text was written by Scott Sillcox and was last updated August 15, 2010. I have tried to ensure the accuracy of the information, but I am human and can make mistakes. If you believe I have made a mistake, please let me know by email at !

Many thanks!!!


  1. Why don’t the Pirates have a dot over the lower case “i” on their Pittsburgh road jerseys?

  2. Help me out a bit here - what season are you asking about?

  3. What MLB Teams owns the most Uniform??


Thank you for taking the time to add a comment - all input is welcome, especially the constructive kind! All the best - Scott