As Pirates honor inaugural 19-member Hall of Fame class, ceremony disrupted by protester

The Pittsburgh Pirates celebrated their 135-year history Saturday afternoon with a long-awaited Hall of Fame induction that included a historic gesture of signing four Black League players to honorable contracts and adding them to the inaugural class.

The Buccaneers unveiled plaques for each winner on the wall inside the Roberto Clemente Gate at PNC Park. They also presented gold jackets to living inductees Steve Blass, Bill Mazeroski and Dave Parker.

“The Pirates have been part of this community since 1887, and during those 135 years Pittsburgh has been home to some of the greatest players who have played in the sport and hosted some of baseball’s greatest moments,” Buccaneers president Bob Nutting said. “Perhaps no team has a richer baseball history than the Buccaneers.

“This Hall of Fame is dedicated to honoring, honoring and celebrating these players and those stories. Perhaps no other city has a deeper or prouder legacy than the great legacy of the Black League era. The Crawfords and Grays are historic teams with teams from any era or any Some of the greatest players in the league. We are proud to acknowledge their history and fully welcome these great players to our Pirates family.”

Outside the gates, a protester disrupted the hour-long ceremony.

When Buccaneers broadcaster Greg Brown introduced National Baseball Hall of Fame President Josh Ravitch, a man with a megaphone repeatedly asked what Nadine would do for the black community. Pirates try to calm the situation, offering a man claiming to be Will Parker to meet Nadine later, but this is rejected.

“I didn’t (hear). I was listening to Josh and Greg, and I really wanted to celebrate these 19 incredible players that we put into the lobby,” said Nutting, who declined to discuss the Buccaneers streak 4th losing season, 6th in seven years and 26th 30. “I really think today is the day to celebrate the Hall of Fame. I really don’t want anything to distract us or make us Stay away from it.”

On Saturday night, the Buccaneers paid tribute to their Hall of Fame rank ahead of their game against the Toronto Blue Jays. The class has 12 Pirates inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame – Honus Wagner, Lloyd Waner, Paul Waner, Jake Beckley, Max Carey, Fred Clarke, Arky Vaughan, Pie Traynor, Ralph Kiner, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and Mazeroski – and Four of the Black League Hall of Famers Ray Brown and Buck Leonard of the Homestead Grays and Oscar Charleston and Josh Gibson of the Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords.

Josh’s great-grandson and Sean Gibson, who serves as the foundation’s director in his name, said Black League families fear being inducted into the Hall of Fame for teams their ancestors didn’t play on. Gibson said the Pirates “graciously accepted” their request that the family sign the contract with the team at the ceremony.

“It’s a huge honor,” Sean Gibson said. “These guys never got a chance to play for another MLB team, especially the Buccaneers, because they have two great teams in Pittsburgh. So for the Buccaneers to really come out and sign these guys Next contract – we know these guys don’t play for the Pirates, it’s more of a token thing for our family.

“If only I could bring some money!”

Gibson said it was “horrible” that the ceremony was interrupted by protesters — though he made it clear he didn’t know or questioned whether it was for a legitimate reason — and that the Buccaneers were paying tribute to African-American pirates like Parker and Stagle. Tribute to team players, Clement of Puerto Rico and four Black League legends.

“Yeah, maybe he’s got a point. Maybe the pirates should do more for the African-American community. I don’t know,” Gibson said. “All I know is what they’ve done for the Josh Gibson Foundation, and they’ve got us in trouble right now, and that’s important to us…”

The Buccaneers also paid tribute to three franchise legends: Blass, Parker and Danny Murtaugh, managers of the 1960 and ’71 World Series champions. Before his death in 1976 at age 59, Murtaugh led the Pirates to nine winning seasons and five division titles in 12 seasons.

Parker was a two-time NL batting champion, a three-time Gold Glove winner, and a four-time All-Star in 11 seasons, and the Buccaneers remain in the top 10 in home runs, RBIs, doubles and outside runs. He finished his 19-year career with 2,712 hits and 339 home runs.

“The Buccaneers are the most elite team I’ve ever played for,” said Parker, who collapsed while posing for a photo at the end of the ceremony, but gave the interview while seated. “They have unique players — Dock Ellis, Willie Stargell and myself. I used to walk into the club and tell people that only three things will happen today: the sun will shine, the wind will blow, and Big Dave will go 4-4 .”

Blass was with the organization for 60 years, winning 78 games from 1968-72, beating the Baltimore Orioles in Games 3 and 7 of the 1971 World Series, and serving as the Buccaneers for 34 seasons Team broadcaster. He said he was honored and humbled to be selected.

“I’m being honest when I say seeing my name on the list,” Blass said. “I’m proud to be a part of this team and every team that comes in.”

Perhaps the biggest cheer came from Mazeroski, who won eight Gold Gloves and is considered the best defensive second baseman in baseball history but is better known for beating Ben, who beat the New York Yankees in Game 7 at Forbes Field. Hit the 1960 World Series.

“I’m just a player. That’s all I’ve ever been, just an old player. I tried to play well and things worked out: a couple of World Series, a couple of All-Star games, a statue and (Pirates) retirement got my number,” Mazelowski said. “All that stuff — it doesn’t happen often. It’s about making dreams come true. It doesn’t happen often, and I’m so excited about it. I’m so excited to be in this Hall of Fame.”

Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Forum Reviews. You can contact Kevin via email [email protected] or via Twitter .

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