Yesterday wasn’t much fun for Pirates’ fans, as Milwaukee clocked their team 20-0. Today, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s account of the game declares it’s the worst lost in the franchise’s 124 year history. Ooph.
The headline is wrong. On two counts actually.
It’s the second worst loss in franchise history. They lost 25-2 to Cincinnati on September 12, 1883.
That leads to the second problem: the franchise is older than 124 years. This is their 124th year in the NL, but it began in the now defunct American Association (which shouldn’t be confused with the current minor league AA). They jumped in the 1886-87 off-season Hurlers Ed Morris and Pud Galvin, who accounted for 113 of the team’s 140 starts (welcome to the 19th century!) in Pittsburgh’s last year in the AA key pitchers for them again in their first year in the NL. Three of their starting infielders in 1886 were still in the everyday lineup in 1887, as was one outfielder. Their main catcher in 1886 was on the team as well. Folks, this was the same team, just in a different league.
It’s an understandable mistake for the Post-Gazette to make, but yesterday wasn’t quite the worst loss in franchise history, just in their time as an NL team.
If anyone cares, the Pirates previous worst losses as an NL team were a pair of 19-run debacles to Brooklyn: losing 20-1 on August 1, 1890, and 25-6 on May 20, 1896.
In the 20th century, the franchise’s worst game were a pair of 18-run drubbings. The Phillies beat them 18-0 on July 11, 1910 (this was the worst shutout in franchise history until yesterday), and the Reds creamed them 19-1 on July 14, 1955. The 1955 game makes sense – the Pirates were not long removed from a dreadful 42-112 season. The 1910 game came when they were defending world champions, though.
(Actually, half the pre-expansion NL teams began as AA teams – Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Brooklyn).