MLB Top 5: Pittsburgh Pirates Middle Infielders

This is the third article in a series that looks at the five best players at each position for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In this installment are second basemen and shortstops.

The Pirates have had their share of slick-fielding middle infielders over their 143-year history. Three Hall of Famers are featured, including a player whose career was defined by a World Series-winning home run and the greatest shortstop of all time.

The Best Second Baseman and Shortstops in Pittsburgh Pirates History

Second Basemen

Honorable Mentions – Lou Bierbauer is the reason the team is called the Pirates. He was a catcher in his semipro and minor league days before converting to second base and joining Philadelphia in the American Association. Bierbauer batted over .300 for both that team and Brooklyn in the Players League in 1890, then was signed away by Pittsburgh after he failed to sign a return contract with his AA club as most players did before joining the short-lived circuit. Although his average dropped 100 points in his first season with the Pirates, he eventually built back up to his earlier levels, batting .303 and driving in a career-best 109 runs in 1894 and 425 overall in six seasons with Pittsburgh (1891-96). Bierbauer was also stellar at his position, winning a fielding title and leading the league in assists three times. He suffered a broken ankle in 1896 sliding on the basepaths, which limited him to 59 games that season. Bierbauer played 16 more in two campaigns with St. Louis and spent four years in the minors. He worked as a factory night watchman until his death from pneumonia in 1923 at age 60.

George Cutshaw was solid both on offense and defense during his four years with the Pirates (1918-21). His best season was 1918, when he batted .285 with 68 RBIs and 25 stolen bases. Cutshaw’s average dropped the next year, but he amassed 36 steals. He posted a .340 average in a platoon role in 1921, but he was waived and signed by Detroit after the season. “Clancy” passed away in 1973 at age 87.

George Grantham played more games at first base during his Pirates career, but he had arguably his best two seasons at the keystone position. After posting a .308-12-90 stat line in 1929, he followed that by batting .324 and setting career highs with 18 home runs, 99 RBIs, 120 runs, 179 hits and 14 triples while earning MVP consideration. “Boots” also appeared in two World Series, winning a title in 1925 and totaling six hits in eight games.

Frankie Gustine spent time at third base and shortstop during his decade with the Pirates (1939-48), but his primary position was second base. He appeared in more than 500 games at the keystone position as made his first of three straight All-Star Games at the spot in 1946. Over his career, Gustine batted .268 with 523 runs, 1,152 hits, 208 doubles, 34 home runs, 451 RBIs and 1,548 total bases in 1,176 games. He also led the league in putouts, assists and double plays as a third baseman in 1947.

Phil Garner split time between second and third base early in his career with the Athletics and did the same following his trade to the Pirates in 1977. After an injury to incumbent Rennie Stennett, Garner took over the starting spot at second, earning two All-Star selections during his five-year tenure (1977-81). “Scrap Iron” was a key piece in the run to the World Series, batting .500 with four runs, 12 hits and five RBIs in the seven-game victory. Although he was an All-Star in 1981, his production suffered due to early season shoulder surgery, and he was going to be a free agent, leading to a trade to the Astros. Garner also spent time with the Dodgers and Giants before retiring in 1998.  He enjoyed a 15-year managerial career, going 985-1,054 with Milwaukee, Detroit and Houston and leading the Astros to a pennant in 2005.

Jose Lind was a light hitter known for his fielding during his six seasons in Pittsburgh (1987-82). He won both a gold glove and a fielding title in 1992 and led the league in putouts twice. Lind and the Pirates made three straight trips to the NLCS from 1990-92, with the second baseman totaling six runs, 15 hits, two homers and 10 RBIs in 20 games. He also played with the Royals before ending his career with the Angels in 1995. Lind got into some trouble, with his next three years including a domestic issue with his ex-wife, DUI and leaving the scene of an accident and multiple cocaine charges that led to him spending a year in jail. After turning his life around, he was a minor league coach and a manager with the Bridgeport Bluefish, a now-defunct independent club.

Freddy Sanchez overcame issues with both feet as a baby to play 10 seasons in the major leagues, six with the Pirates (2004-09). He was traded from the Red Sox but suffered ankle and foot injuries which cost him nearly a full season. Sanchez started at third base his first two seasons, which included an All-Star selection in 2006 after leading the league with a .344 average and 53 doubles to go along with career-high totals of 85 runs, 200 hits and 85 runs batted in. He converted to second base and made two more All-Star teams before he was traded to San Francisco in 2009. Sanchez batted .301 with 338 runs, 777 hits, 175 doubles, 37 home runs, 289 RBIs and 1,093 total bases in 676 games. He played three seasons with the Giants and was part of their title team in 2010. Injuries to his back and shoulder ended his playing career in 2012, but he didn’t retire until three years later. Sanchez now coaches youth baseball in Arizona.

Josh Harrison has been a jack-of-all-trades, playing every position but catcher during a 13-year major league career, eight of which were spent in Pittsburgh (2011-18). After being traded by the Cubs in 2009, he was a two-time All-Star with the Pirates, once as a third baseman in 2014, when he set career highs with a .315 average, 77 runs and 164 hits, and the other at second base in 2017, when he batted .272 and hit a personal-best 16 home runs. Harrison went 2-for-7 with a run scored in four playoff games with the Pirates. He played for five other teams since leaving Pittsburgh as a free agent and has not appeared on a roster since being released by his hometown Reds in March 2024.

5. Johnny Ray – He was one of the pieces Pittsburgh acquired in the Garner trade with Houston, and he turned into a solid starter during his seven seasons with the franchise (1981-87). Ray was the Rookie of the Year runner-up in 1982 and won a silver slugger the following year, his first of two straight leading the league with 38 doubles. His best offensive season was 1984 when, in addition to the two-baggers, he batted a career-best .312 average with 75 runs, 173 hits and 67 RBIs. With the Pirates, Ray batted .286 with 414 runs, 1,009 hits, 202 doubles, 37 homers, 391 RBIs and 1,374 total bases in 931 games. He was traded to the Angels in 1987, made his only All-Star team the following year and finished his major league career in 1990. After two seasons in Japan, Ray returned to his native Oklahoma.

4. Neil Walker – He was a local boy who was a first-round pick of the Pirates in 2004, played in the MLB All-Star Futures Game two years later and joined Pittsburgh for a brief callup in 2009. Walker became a solid run producer, reaching double-digit home runs and driving in at least 50 runs in each of his six full years in the black and yellow (2009-15). His best season was 2014, when he won a silver slugger after batting .271 with 76 RBIs and a career-best 23 home runs. With the Pirates, he had a .272 average, 405 runs, 833 hits, 174 doubles, 93 home runs, 418 RBIs and 1,320 total bases in 836 games. He also appeared in eight postseason contests, totaling one run, two hits and a run batted in. Walker was traded to the Mets and then the Brewers and also appeared with the Yankees, Marlins and Phillies before retiring in 2021. The following year, he was hired as a commentator with the Pirates.

3. Rennie Stennett – The Panama native went to the same school as Hall of Famer Rod Carew and was a pitcher on a sandlot time that include future Pirates teammate Manny Sanguillen as the catcher. Stennett joined Pittsburgh in 1971 and was a part of history shortly after his callup. On September 1, he was batting leadoff when the Pirates fielded baseball’s first all-minority starting lineup. Stennett was more of a platoon player in his early years but took over as a starter in 1974. The following year, he did something that tied a record (and set one for modern times). He went 7-for-7, scored five runs and drove in two during a 22-0 road win over the Cubs.

Stennett earned MVP consideration after setting career highs with a .336 average and 28 stolen bases in 1977, but his season ended early after he broke a bone in his right fibula and dislocated his ankle while sliding into second base. The injury resulted in a platoon with Garner over his final two years with the Pirates and he saw limited action as his team won the World Series in 1979. In nine seasons with Pittsburgh (1971-79), Stennett batted .278 with 458 runs, 1,122 hits, 164 doubles, 38 home runs, 388 RBIs and 1,478 total bases in 1,079 games. He also appeared in 14 postseason contests, totaling three runs, 11 hits and a run batted in. Stennett spent two years with the Giants, played in Mexico and the minors and had a failed return tryout with the Pirates in 1989. He owned a carpet cleaning business in Florida and coached baseball in his native country. Stennett passed away in 2021 at age 72.

2. Claude Ritchey – The Pennsylvania native began his career with Brooklyn and spent one year with Cincinnati before he was traded to Louisville. Ritchey reunited with former amateur teammate Honus Wagner with the Colonels, and he converted from shortstop to second base to accommodate the “Flying Dutchman,” who was a better fielder. Ritchey and Wagner were part of a massive trade to the Pirates after owner Barney Dreyfuss got word the Colonels were one of four teams disbanding after the 1899 season. With Pittsburgh, Ritchey was a solid run producer, despite being just 5-foot-6, earning him the nickname “Little All Right.” He was a part of three straight pennant winners and appeared in the first World Series, totaling two runs, four hits and two RBIs in a loss to the Boston Americans. During the series, he set records that have been tied but never broken by amassing eight assists and 13 chances by a second baseman in a nine-inning game.

Ritchey spent seven seasons in total with the Pirates (1900-06), batting .277 and amassing 427 runs, 965 hits, 150 doubles, 46 triples, 420 RBIs and 1,222 total bases in 977 games. He was also solid in at second base, winning four fielding titles and leading the league in assists and double plays twice each. Ritchey was traded to the Boston Nationals following the 1906 season and spent three seasons with the newly renamed Doves (later Braves). Following his release, he played three years in the minor leagues before retiring. In his later years, Ritchey owned a clothing store and an oil farm. He was a drinker during his playing days and passed away due to cirrhosis of the liver in 1951 at age 78.

1. Bill Mazeroski – He was a rags-to-riches story, growing up as the son of a coal miner and living in a one-room house with no electricity or indoor plumbing. Mazeroski fished to help provide food for his family, but baseball helped him get signed by the Pirates in 1954. Two years later, after converting from shortstop, he spent half a season in Pittsburgh as a 19-year-old. “Maz” was a fantastic fielder and worked to improve his hitting early in his career. Arguably his best season came in 1958, when he batted .275 with 68 RBIs and a career-high 19 home runs. That year, he earned his first of 10 All-Star selections and won his first of eight gold gloves.

Mazeroski regressed a bit after a leg injury the following year, but bounced back in 1960, batting .273 with 64 RBIs and helping the “Battlin’ Bucs” reach the World Series while being known as a team that excelled at late-inning comebacks. At no time was that more evident than in Game 7 against the heavily favored Yankees. Pittsburgh grabbed an early lead, but New York fought back. The teams traded runs in the late innings with the Yankees tying the score with two runs in the ninth. Mazeroski led off the bottom half by smacking the first pitch over the left field fence for a 10-9 win and the first title-winning home run in World Series history.

“Maz” became team captain in 1962 and continued his solid offense and stellar defense over the next decade. By the time the Pirates returned to prominence in the early 1970s, he was coming off the bench and had just one at-bat in 1971 when Pittsburgh beat Baltimore for another championship. Mazeroski spent his entire 17-year career with the Pirates (1956-72), winning three fielding titles and leading the league in assists nine times, putouts five times and double plays eight times (he is the all-time leader in that category with 1,706 in his career). He ranks fifth in franchise history in games (2,163), sixth in RBIs (853), eighth in hits (2,016) and total bases (2,848), ninth in doubles (294) and tenth in home runs (138) to go with a .260 average, 769 runs and 62 triples. Mazeroski also appeared in 12 postseason games, totaling five runs, 10 hits, two homers and five runs batted in. In 1972, he helped instruct Stennett at second base and retired after the season.

Mazeroski was the third base coach for the Pirates the following year and later spent two seasons at the same spot for the Mariners. He was a spring training instructor for Pittsburgh and finally got the call to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001 thanks to a Veterans Committee vote, extolling the virtues of defense during his induction speech. A statue of Mazeroski was erected outside PNC Park in 2010, and he was one of the inaugural members of the Pirates Hall of Fame in 2022.


Honorable Mentions – William Frederick “Bones” Ely was from a well-to-do family whose mother traced her roots to the Mayflower pilgrims. He a late bloomer, not earning a full-time baseball role until 1890 at age 27. He joined the Pirates via trade in 1896, batting .285 with 153 hits, 77 RBIs and 85 runs, which tied a career high. Despite a trade that infused Pittsburgh’s roster, Ely was still the starter at shortstop despite batting .244 in 1900. The following year, he was suspected of trying to recruit players to the new American League and he was promptly released, a move that opened up shortstop for the top player on this list. Ely spent time with the Athletics and Senators, was a player and part-owner in the Pacific Coast League, was a traveling telephone salesman and owned a hotel. He suffered from dementia later in life and passed away in 1952 at age 88.

Glenn Wright was the son of a lumber yard and hardware store owner whose shop supplied the town’s baseball team. He earned his “Buckshot” nickname in the minor leagues for his strong but erratic throwing arm, and he signed with the Pirates in 1923. The following year, Wright was starring with Pittsburgh, posting his first of three 100-RBIs seasons over a four-year stretch. He earned serious MVP consideration in 1925 after posting a .308-18-121 stat line, setting career highs with 97 runs and 189 hits and turning the fourth unassisted triple play in major league history. Wright spent five years with the Pirates (1924-28), batting .298 with 391 runs, 793 hits, 121 doubles, 55 triples, 50 home runs, 480 RBIs and 1,174 total bases in 676 games. He also appeared in the World Series twice, totaling four runs, seven hits, one homer and five RBIs in 11 games. Wright was traded to Brooklyn but had injured his shoulder slamming into a concrete wall while playing handball in the offseason and missed nearly a full season. He returned to form in 1930 but injury and illness shortened his career. His numbers declined over his final three seasons with the Dodgers and after a year in the minors, he played in nine games with the White Sox in 1935, then four more minor league seasons. Wright was a minor league manager before and after serving in the Navy during World War II and was a scout and coach with the Red Sox until the 1970s. He suffered a stroke and died of throat cancer in 1984 at age 83.

Gene Alley did all the little things well, such as bunting and sacrificing, using the hit-and-run and defense. He signed with the Pirates in 1959 but had to move to the outfield and second base because of arm pain. Alley returned to his natural position on a full-time basis in 1965 and began to improve as a hitter. His best season was 1966, when he drove in 43 runs and set career highs with a .299 average, 88 runs and 173 hits. Alley earned All-Star selections in each of the next two years and earned two gold gloves while setting a league record with Mazeroski for most double plays turned. The right arm continued to bother him, but he was a reserve when the Pirates made three straight playoff appearances in the early 1970s. Alley retired after the 1973 season, finishing his 11-year Pittsburgh (1963-73) with 442 runs, 999 hits, 140 doubles, 55 home runs, 342 RBIs and 1,392 total bases in 1,195 games. He worked for many years as a sales representative for an industrial packaging company.

Frank Taveras was known for his speed during an 11-year career, with eight coming with the Pirates (1971-72 and 74-79). After brief callups his first two years and spending all of 1973 in the minors, he replaced Alley at shortstop and showed off his base stealing prowess. Taveras earned the nickname “Pittsburgh Stealer” after producing four straight seasons with at least 40 stolen bases, including 58 in 1976 and a league-best 70 the following year. He appeared in the NLCS twice, going 1-for-9 with an RBI in five games. Taveras was erratic as a fielder and always near the top of the league in errors. He ended his Pirates career with 310 runs, 626 hits, 141 RBIs and 206 stolen bases (tenth in franchise history) in 724 games. Taveras was traded to the Mets early in the 1979 season and finished his major league career with the Expos three years later. Following his retirement, he coached in his native Dominican Republic, spent three years as a Latin American field coordinator for the Pirates, served as a preacher and became a competitive fisherman.

5. Jack Wilson – He was drafted by the Cardinals in 1998, was traded to the Pirates two years later and made his debut in 2001. Wilson was solid, both at the plate and in the field, and he led the league in assists and double plays twice each. His best season was 2004, when he earned his only All-Star selection and silver slugger after hitting 11 home runs, driving in 59 runs and setting career highs with a .308 average, 82 runs, 201 hits, 41 doubles and a league-leading 12 triples. Wilson was traded to the Mariners in 2009, ending his nine-year Pirates’ career (2001-09) with a .269 average, 508 runs, 1,158 hits, 217 doubles, 60 home runs, 389 RBIs and 1,619 total bases. He retired in 2012 and has spent his post-playing days as a coach in high school, college, with USA Baseball and in the amateur ranks. Wilson is currently the manager of the Greenville Flyboys, a collegiate summer team in Tennessee. His son Jacob was drafted sixth overall by the Athletics in 2023.

4. Jay Bell – He was a first-round pick of the Twins in 1984 and was traded to the Indians the following year for Bert Blyleven. The two faced one another after Bell was called up late in the 1986 season, with the infielder hitting a home run in his first major league at-bat off the future Hall of Famer. After three years in Cleveland, he was traded to Pittsburgh and became one of the better fielding shortstops in baseball, winning a gold glove and two fielding titles while leading the league in assists five times and in putouts on three occasions. In addition to the gold glove, Bell won a silver slugger and was named an All-Star in 1993 after driving in 51 runs, scoring 102 and setting career highs with a .310 average, 187 hits and 16 stolen bases.

Bell was traded to the Royals after the 1996 season and finished his eight-year career with the Pirates (1989-96) with a .269 average, 623 runs, 1,124 hits, 233 doubles, 78 home runs, 423 RBIs and 1,679 RBIs in 1,106 games. His power numbers picked up later in his career, especially after signing with the Diamondbacks. Bell was an All-Star in 1999 and was a reserve on Arizona’s championship team two years later. He finished his career with the Mets in 2003 and was a coach for nearly the next two decades with the Diamondbacks, Pirates, Reds, Yankees and Angels. Bell is also involved with the Baseball Assistance Team, a non-profit organization that helps former players who have financial and medical needs.

3. Dick Groat – As a two-sport athlete, he was mentored by two of the greatest minds of his respective sports: Arnold “Red” Auerbach, who was coaching at Duke before embarking on a Hall of Fame career with the NBA’s Boston Celtics, and Branch Rickey, the revolutionary Dodgers and Cardinals general manager who was slowly assembling a juggernaut team with the Pirates. Groat never played a single day in the minor leagues, joining the Pirates after basketball season at Duke ended in 1952 and finishing third in the Rookie of the Year voting. He was also drafted by the NBA’s Pistons with the third pick of the 1952 and showed promise during his 26-game stint in Fort Wayne.

Groat spent two years in the Army during the Korean War playing basketball and baseball on military teams in Virginia, then was persuaded to focus on the National Pastime upon his return. The move would pay off, as he would earn six All-Star selections in nine years with Pittsburgh (1952 and 55-62). Groat put everything together in 1960, being named the National League MVP after winning the batting title with a .325 average, tying a career-high with 85 runs and totaling 186 hits and 50 runs batted in. The Pirates also had a stellar year, winning 95 games and upsetting the Yankees for their third championship. Groat amassed three runs, six hits and two RBIs in the World Series and later took home the Lou Gehrig Award.

Although Groat did not have much power, he was a productive batter, amassing 150 or more hits in six straight seasons and batting .300 or better three times. While he led the league in errors five times, he also topped the circuit in putouts and double plays four times each. When Pittsburgh dropped in the standings following their title, Groat was traded to the Cardinals following the 1962 season and finished his time with the Pirates batting .290 with 554 runs, 1,435 hits, 226 doubles, 30 home runs, 454 RBIs and 1,831 total bases in 1,258 games. Following three seasons with St. Louis (including a runner-up finish in the MVP voting in 1963), he played with Philadelphia and San Francisco before retiring in 1967 due to inflammation in his right ankle. Groat filled his time after his playing career by working as a salesman for a steel company, building a golf course and amusing listeners as an analyst on University of Pittsburgh basketball broadcasts for more than 30 years. He passed away in 2023 at age 92.

2. Joseph “Arky” Vaughan – The Arkansas native (a fact that teammates used as his nickname) joined the Pirates as a 20-year-old in 1932, quickly taking over the starting spot and becoming a solid hitter while also leading the league in errors his first two seasons. Vaughan never had a bad season at the plate, hitting .300 or better in each of his 10 seasons with the Pirates (1932-41) and worked on his defense with the help of one of the greats at the position (and the next player on this list). He led the league with 19 triples in 1933, the first of three times topping the circuit in that category, and he also was a three-time N. L. leader in on-base percentage and walks and a two-time leader in runs scored. Vaughan had arguably his best season at the plate in 1935 when he finished in third place in the MVP voting, won his only batting title with a .385 average, led the league with a .491 on-base percentage and 97 walks, scored 108 runs and set career highs with 192 hits, 19 home runs and 99 runs batted in. He also was a third-place MVP finisher three years later.

Starting in 1934, Vaughan had a run of nine straight All-Star Game selections, with the first eight coming with Pittsburgh. He also improved his defense through the years, leading the league in putouts and assists three times each. Despite Vaughn’s fantastic hitting, the Pirates did not win a pennant during his tenure, but they finished second on three occasions. Although he hit .316 in 1941, his season was interrupted due to a spike wound and a concussion after being hit in the head by a pitch. Vaughan made his final All-Star Game with the Pittsburgh squad a memorable one, hitting two home runs and driving in four runs, only to see the National League lose on a ninth-inning home run by Ted Williams. He was traded to the Dodgers after the season, but his time in Brooklyn was marred by constant arguing with manager Leo Durocher.

Vaughan ended his time in Pittsburgh tied for third in franchise history in on-base percentage (.415), seventh in batting average (.328), eighth in triples (116), ninth in hits (1,709) and total bases (2,484) and tenth in runs (936), doubles (291) and RBIs (764) to go with 84 home runs and 86 stolen bases in 1,411 games. Vaughan’s .318 career batting average is second among shortstops in baseball history. During his tenure with the Dodgers, Durocher went to the press to talk about pitcher Bobo Newsom, and Vaughan responded by sitting in the stands in street clothes for a game. Following two stellar seasons, he retired and sat out for three years until Branch Rickey coaxed him to come back. Vaughan was a reserve for a Dodgers team that won the pennant but lost to the crosstown rival Yankees in the World Series. He spent one more season in Brooklyn and one in the Pacific Coast League before retiring for good.

The shortstop ran a cattle ranch and fished following his playing days, and it was his hobby that led to his demise. Vaughan and a friend were fishing on a lake in northern California that was in the crater of an extinct volcano. Their boat began to sink, and the pair began swimming to shore. While Vaughan could swim, his friend could not, and in his effort to help, both drowned before reaching the sore, with the former player passing away at age 40. Despite his accomplishments, he never was voted in by the Baseball Writers but was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1985.

1. Johannes (John) “Honus” Wagner – He got his start playing on his older brother’s minor league team in Ohio in 1895 and was soon moving up the baseball ladder, joining the Louisville Colonels two years later. Using a split-handed grip that allowed him to slap the ball for more hits, Wagner began a 21-year career that would take him to levels rarely seen even at the highest of levels. His barrel-chested, bow-legged build belied his speed, with led to more than a few doubles, triples and stolen bases. After three stellar seasons in Louisville he, like many of his most talented teammates, were sent to Pittsburgh when owner Barney Dreyfuss found out the Colonels were going to be disbanded after the 1899 season.

“The Flying Dutchman” took to his new home quite well, leading the league with a .381 average, 45 doubles, 22 triples a .573 slugging percentage and 302 total bases as an outfielder. He moved to shortstop in 1901 and continued hitting, putting together a run of 14 straight seasons with a batting average of .300 or better. The first decade of the 20th century belonged to Wagner, and he won seven batting titles, led the league in doubles seven times, slugging percentage and total bases six times each, stolen bases five times, RBIs and on-base percentage four times apiece, triples three times, runs twice and hits once. The following decade, he finished in the top 10 of the MVP Award voting three times, including a tie for third in 1911 and a runner-up finish the following year, but he most certainly would have won an award during the previous 10-year period had one been given.

Wagner helped the Pirates succeed on the field, winning the first three National League pennants of the new century and playing in the first modern World Series. While the shortstop was stellar in the first four games, three of which were won by Pittsburgh, the pitching fell apart, and he went into a slump as the Boston Americans (later Red Sox) won the final four contests to become champions. The Pirates remained competitive for the rest of the decade and Wagner put up great numbers year after year. His 1908 season was one of the greatest in baseball history, with Wagner leading the league with a .354 average, 39 doubles, 19 triples, 109 RBIs, 53 steals, 201 hits and 308 total bases, the last two numbers being career highs. His 100 runs and 10 homers were both second in the league. However, Pittsburgh lost the pennant on the final day of the season.

Not only did Wagner have another stellar season the following year (he batted .339 to win his seventh batting title and led the league with 39 doubles, 100 RBIs and 242 total bases), but he helped the Pirates put up their greatest campaign. The team posted a 110-42 record, still a franchise best, then toppled Ty Cobb and the Tigers in the World Series. Wagner outplayed the young future star, batting .333 with four runs, eight hits and six RBIs, and the two were subjects of a story (later proven false) about Wagner tagging Cobb so hard on a stolen base attempt that he cut open the lip of the “Georgia Peach.”

Although the “Flying Dutchman” continued to produce, his alcohol use and weight gain was noticeable in later seasons. In 1910, the team’s secretary sent a picture of Wagner to the American Tobacco Company, so cards of him could appear in cigarette boxes, a common practice at the time. Although Wagner smoked cigars and chewed tobacco, he did not smoke cigarettes and did not want children having to buy them to get his card, so he stopped production, making the T-206 card rare and, as seen in modern auctions, VERY valuable. Following three seasons with MVP consideration, Wagner and the Pirates fell off, with the shortstop’s average dropping below .300 and Pittsburgh plummeting in the standings. He got his 3,000th hit in 1915, becoming just the second player to reach the mark, managed the team briefly two years later and retired after the 1917 season.

Wagner is the all-time franchise leader in runs (1,521) and triples (232), is tied for first in games (2,433), ranks second in hits (2,967), doubles (551), RBIs (1,474), stolen bases (639) and total bases (4,428) and sits fourth in both batting average (.328) and walks (877) to go with 82 home runs. He retired as baseball’s all-time leader in games, at-bats, extra-base hits and total bases, was the National League record-holder in doubles, triples and batting titles (later tied by Tony Gwynn) and was second behind Cap Anson in runs, hits and RBIs.

Wagner’s retirement included owning several rental properties, working as the Pennsylvania State Fish Commissioner, coaching high school football and college baseball and basketball and owning a short-lived sporting goods store. Like many others, he was hit hard financially by the Great Depression and was hired by the Pirates as a coach, specifically to work with Vaughan. Wagner’s grand career was recognized in 1936, when he was one of five players in the inaugural induction class of the Baseball Hall of Fame, joining Cobb, Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson. In April 1955, the Pirates unveiled a statue of him to sit outside Forbes Field and he passed away in December at age 81. The statue has since been moved, first to Three Rivers Stadium then PNC Park.

Upcoming Stories

Pittsburgh Pirates Catchers and Managers
Pittsburgh Pirates First and Third Basemen
Pittsburgh Pirates Second Basemen and Shortstops
Pittsburgh Pirates Outfielders – coming soon
Pittsburgh Pirates Pitchers – coming soon

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A look back at the Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies Catchers and Managers
Philadelphia Phillies First and Third Basemen
Philadelphia Phillies Second Basemen and Shortstops
Philadelphia Phillies Outfielders
Philadelphia Phillies Pitchers

A look back at the Oakland Athletics

Oakland Athletics Catchers and Managers
Oakland Athletics First and Third Basemen
Oakland Athletics Second Basemen and Shortstops
Oakland Athletics Outfielders and Designated Hitters
Oakland Athletics Pitchers

A look back at the New York Yankees

New York Yankees Catchers and Managers
New York Yankees First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
New York Yankees Second Basemen and Shortstops
New York Yankees Outfielders
New York Yankees Pitchers

A look back at the New York Mets

New York Mets Catchers and Managers
New York Mets First and Third Basemen
New York Mets Second Basemen and Shortstops
New York Mets Outfielders
New York Mets Pitchers

A look back at the Minnesota Twins

Minnesota Twins Catchers and Managers
Minnesota Twins First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Minnesota Twins Second Basemen and Shortstops
Minnesota Twins Outfielders
Minnesota Twins Pitchers

A look back at the Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers Catchers and Managers
Milwaukee Brewers First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Milwaukee Brewers Second Basemen and Shortstops
Milwaukee Brewers Outfielders
Milwaukee Brewers Pitchers

A look back at the Miami Marlins

Miami Marlins Catchers and Managers
Miami Marlins First and Third Basemen
Miami Marlins Second Basemen and Shortstops
Miami Marlins Outfielders
Miami Marlins Pitchers

A look back at the Los Angeles Dodgers

A look back at the Los Angeles Angels

Los Angeles Angels Catchers and Managers
Los Angeles Angels First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Los Angeles Angels Second Basemen and Shortstops
Los Angeles Angels Outfielders
Los Angeles Angels Pitchers

A look back at the Kansas City Royals

Kansas City Royals Catchers and Managers
Kansas City Royals First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Kansas City Royals Second Basemen and Shortstops
Kansas City Royals Outfielders
Kansas City Royals Pitchers

A look back at the Houston Astros

Houston Astros Catchers and Managers
Houston Astros First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Houston Astros Second Basemen and Shortstops
Houston Astros Outfielders
Houston Astros Pitchers

A look back at the Detroit Tigers

Detroit Tigers Catchers and Managers
Detroit Tigers First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Detroit Tigers Second Basemen and Shortstops
Detroit Tigers Outfielders
Detroit Tigers Pitchers

A look back at the Colorado Rockies

Colorado Rockies Catchers and Managers
Colorado Rockies First and Third Basemen
Colorado Rockies Second Basemen and Shortstops
Colorado Rockies Outfielders
Colorado Rockies Pitchers

A look back at the Cleveland Guardians

Cleveland Guardians Catchers and Managers
Cleveland Guardians First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Cleveland Guardians Second Basemen and Shortstops
Cleveland Guardians Outfielders
Cleveland Guardians Pitchers

A look back at the Cincinnati Reds

A look back at the Chicago White Sox

Chicago Cubs Catchers and Managers
Chicago Cubs First and Third Basemen
Chicago Cubs Second Basemen and Shortstops
Chicago Cubs Outfielders
Chicago Cubs Pitchers

A look back at the Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox Catchers and Managers
Boston Red Sox First and Third Basemen
Boston Red Sox Second Basemen and Shortstops
Boston Red Sox Outfielders and Designated Hitters
Boston Red Sox Pitchers

A look back at the Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Orioles Catchers and Managers
Baltimore Orioles First and Third Basemen
Baltimore Orioles Second Basemen and Shortstops
Baltimore Orioles Outfielders and Designated Hitters
Baltimore Orioles Pitchers

A look back at the Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Braves Catchers and Managers
Atlanta Braves First and Third Basemen
Atlanta Braves Second Basemen and Shortstops
Atlanta Braves Outfielders
Atlanta Braves Pitchers

A look back at the Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona Diamondbacks Catchers and Managers
Arizona Diamondbacks First and Third Basemen
Arizona Diamondbacks Second Basemen and Shortstops
Arizona Diamondbacks Outfielders
Arizona Diamondbacks Pitchers

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