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2024 Inductees To Pirates Hall of Fame Announced

The Pittsburgh Pirates have announced the 2024 class of inductees into the Pirates Hall of Fame. The Pirates created their Hall of Fame in 2022 and jump-started it with 19 inductees. Those included 15 former Pirates and, in a nice gesture, four former Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays. The Negro Leagues players were signed to Pirates “contracts” by their descendants so they may be inducted. There were four more inductees in 2023. Here are the 2024 inductees, announced before Tuesday’s game against the San Francisco Giants at PNC Park. Beside each name, the reader will find the years he played for Pittsburgh and his statistics while a Pirate.

2024 Inductees To Pirates Hall of Fame Announced


His Time Was Short But Worthy of Pirates Hall of Fame

Barry Bonds, LF/CF, 1986-1992; .275/.380/.503, 176 HR, 556 RBIs, 251 SB, 147 OPS+. As Bonds with the Pirates for just seven years, his inclusion comes as a mild surprise. Although he achieved greater heights with the Giants after he left Pittsburgh, his Pirates years were nothing to sneeze at. His Giants career is clouded with suspicion of PED use, which is what’s kept him out of the Baseball Hall of Fame so far. But there were no such reservations about his time with the Pirates. As a Pirate, Bonds won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1990 and 1992. He also won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards in 1990-1992.

No Mr. Nice Guy

Those were the same years the Pirates won the National League East Division but never advanced beyond the League Championship Series. Unfortunately, Bonds was a failure in the postseason. In three postseason series with the Pirates, he hit 13-for-68, 1 HR, and 3 RBI. During the 1992 postseason, Bonds was open about his desire to leave Pittsburgh. Combined with his postseason failures and often surly attitude, he remains a polarizing figure in Pittsburgh. During spring training 1991, TV cameras caught manager Jim Leyland famously cussing him out over an incident of misbehavior. In Pittsburgh, the city where everybody knows everything that goes on, there are tales of Bonds not treating some people right. Yet, this is the Pirates Hall of Fame we’re discussing here, not an all-Emily Post or all-Andrew Carnegie team.

Regardless, Bonds could beat a team with his speed, power, and ability to hit for average. His throwing arm was suspect, causing Leyland to move him from center field to left field, but eventually, Bonds excelled at retrieving the ball from the left field corner and quickly throwing a strike to second base. There can be no doubt Bonds was one of the great players of his era, if not the greatest.

Resurrecting The Dead

Jim Leyland, manager, 1986-1996; 851-863. Leyland was hired in 1986 to resurrect a moribund Pirates team that had lost 104 games the previous year. With the help of some shrewd trades by general manager Syd Thrift, also hired in 1986, Leyland turned it around. As the Pirates improved, Thrift declared immodestly, “It ain’t easy to resurrect the dead.” However, Thrift wasn’t around when Leyland led the Pirates to three straight NL East Division titles in 1990-92. Unfortunately, as noted above, the Pirates suffered losses in the NLCS in each of those years, none more heartbreaking than in 1992. After the 1992 season, the team’s core was lost to free agency or payroll-reducing trades. Leyland decided to bolt himself in 1996 when he was informed the Pirates would undergo another rebuilding cycle.

Two Hall Of Fame Inductions In 2024

Leyland will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on July 21 in Cooperstown. For this writer, his inclusion there is highly questionable. He finally won a World Series in 1997 with the Florida Marlins. Later, he won two American League pennants with the Detroit Tigers. However, the standard was set by the first two managers inducted into the Hall. John McGraw won 10 pennants and three World Series in 33 years. Connie Mack won nine pennants and five World Series in 53 years. Few managers meet this standard. In any event, Leyland is plenty good enough for the Pirates Hall of Fame.

If we sometimes disagreed with Leyland’s game strategy – this writer could write an entire treatise on why he never should have had Orlando Merced bunt in Game 6 of the 1991 NLCS – there was no doubt that he was a great motivator whose teams played hard. His arguments with umpires could be fun to watch. He also left no doubt about who was in charge when he confronted Bonds as discussed above. It’s on YouTube if the reader would like to see it. The video is not embedded here out of a desire to maintain a site that’s safe for work, children, and clergy.

The Roadrunner

Manny Sanguillen, C/1B/RF, 1967, 1969-76, 1978-80; .299/.329/.403, 59 HR, 527 RBI. Sanguillen was a three-time All-Star who, in his day, was considered the second-best catcher in baseball behind Johnny Bench. A notorious bad-ball hitter and overly aggressive base runner, his prime years were 1969-75, when he hit .305/.333/.415, 54 HR, and 461 RBI. For a catcher, he had exceptional speed in his younger days. Legendary Pirates broadcaster Bob Prince dubbed him “The Roadrunner.” Sanguillen was a member of six East Division winners and two World Series champions. In the 1971 and 1979 Series, he was 12-for-32.

Sanguillen was close to Pirates star Roberto Clemente. When Clemente died in a tragic airplane crash on New Year’s Eve, 1972, Sanguillen spent days scuba diving off the Puerto Rican coast in search of the body. To start the 1973 season, Sanguillen was installed as the Pirates’ right fielder. The front office had tossed the idea around for years that Sanguillen would be Clemente’s ultimate replacement there because of his speed and strong arm. Sanguillen never pushed back on that notion. However, he looked uncomfortable replacing his idol and never took to the position. By mid-season, he was back behind the dish. After that, he was never again the same catcher, although he continued to get high marks for his game-calling.

Two Trades And One Final Great Moment

But Sanguillen continued to hit, hitting .328 as late as 1975. That year, he made his final All-Star team and received MVP votes for the fourth time. After the 1976 season, the Pirates traded him to the Oakland Athletics for manager Chuck Tanner. The Pirates reacquired Sanguillen in 1978 after which he began to serve as a pinch hitter and a reserve catcher/first baseman. He had one final great moment up his sleeve in Game 2 of the 1979 World Series. That’s when his ninth-inning pinch-hit single off Orioles ace Don Stanhouse drove in the winning run in Baltimore. Today Sanguillen is regularly found at Manny’s BBQ behind the outfield stands at PNC Park. With his knees wrapped in ice packs, he’ll sign autographs and talk baseball.

The Last Word

The 2024 Pirates Hall of Fame class joins past inductees Jake Beckley, Steve Blass, Ray Brown, Max Carey, Oscar Charleston, Fred Clarke, Clemente, Roy Face, Bob Friend, Josh Gibson, Dick Groat, Ralph Kiner, Buck Leonard, Bill Mazeroski, Danny Murtaugh, Dave Parker, Willie Stargell, Kent Tekulve, Pie Traynor, Arky Vaughan, Honus Wagner, Lloyd Waner, and Paul Waner.

Main Photo Credits: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports


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