PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Pirates finally have a team Hall of Fame.
The Pirates inducted 19 members as part of the inaugural class Saturday. Of the 19, 16 had already been enshrined in 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 formally celebrate it. I think all of us thought, ‘They must have already had one,’” Pirates owner Bob Nutting said. “It was time to formalize it. It was time to celebrate it. This is just one of those pieces that tell the amazing story of the Pittsburgh Pirates.”
Blass spent his entire 10-year playing career with the Pirates from 1964-74, compiling a 103-76 record. He is best remembered for his complete-game victory in Game 7 of the 1971 World Series against the Baltimore Orioles.
In all, Blass has spent over 60 years in the Pirates organization since signing a minor league contract in 1960 following his high school graduation. Since his playing career ended, Blass has worked for the team as a broadcaster and community ambassador.
“I didn’t think about anything like this when I signed,” Blass said. “I just wanted to play major league baseball. Actually, I just wanted to graduate from high school and sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“It seemed to all work out but when I look back on it, it’s almost like a fairytale. Everybody has a dream but not everybody is fortunate to get to live it out. I’ve been 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 from 1956-72. He hit the winning homer in bottom of 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 1973-83. He replaced Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente as the Pirates’ right fielder following Clemente’s death in an airplane crash on New Year’s Eve in 1972.
Parker was the National League MVP in 1978. He was the MVP of the All-Star Game a game 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 either the Pittsburgh Crawfords or Homestead Grays. All three also were signed to honorary Pirates contracts.
“The Negro Leagues were such an important part of baseball history,” Nutting said. “I think it’s our responsibility to celebrate that legacy. Those were also some of the greatest players of any era and any league. They were fantastic, incredible athletes, and they deserve to be celebrated right along with our players.”
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports