Errors in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette headline and article

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).

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Comments

  1. Jim C said...

    Thank you for that. Let’s hope someone in mainstream media reads it. It always irritates me when a team is having a very bad season, and the ‘62 Mets are always mentioned as having the worst W-L record ever, and no one in the mainstream ever mentions the real record of the 1899 Cleveland Spiders. Good job Chris.

  2. Chris J. said...

    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.

    This is why I need editors.  There are at least two problems with the above. 

    First, it should be two sentences.  There should be a period after “off-season” and the word “Hurlers” should begin a new sentence.  (That’s why it’s capitalized).  Sorry for any confusion. 

    Second, there’s a missing word.  I’ll include it in bold below:

    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 were key pitchers for them again in their first year in the NL.

    Sorry for any confusion.

  3. Chris J. said...

    I find it a little ironic that I made two errors (and counting!) in a piece where I note the Post-Gazette made two errors.  Sure, my errors are only grammatical, but then again that’s a bit more obvious than their errors.

    Lucky me I said their mistakes were understandable or I’d feel even sillier.

  4. Bob T said...

    It seems to be established practice for NL teams that came over from the AA to ignore that part of their past. The Cardinals and Dodgers don’t regard any of their AA pennants in their team totals.

  5. Don Stewart said...

    The Post-Gazette and other media reports is not an “error” but a difference in judgment as to when their franchise began. The Pittsburgh baseball club marks its own history in 1887, the first year it competed in the National League. The same is true for Brooklyn/LA and St. Louis. The only one of the four franchises mentioned above that recognizes the AA competition as their beginning.

  6. MarkInDallas said...

    If the Reds can claim 1869 as their founding, and that wasn’t even the same team (the original team became the Braves), then the Pirates should claim 1882 as their founding date since they actually were the same team that jumped to the NL in 1887.

    All in all, though, anytime you are making comparisons of futility with 19th century baseball teams, it’s an embarrassment of historic proportions.

  7. Chris J. said...

    I think we can all agree with MarkinDallas’s final thought.

    I still think it’s an error, though a defensible one.  Yeah, they’re just following the Pirates mark their own history as beginning in 1887, but the 1886 team is clearly the same as the 1886 squad. 

    Given that yesterday’s game was against the Brewers, an analogy can be made: the Pirates saying their franchise began in 1887 is like the Brewers saying their franchise began in 1998.  They can say that if they want, but it ain’t true.

  8. Brian said...

    It’s not an error, just a difference of opinion on when exactly the Pirates began.

    Regardless, I would argue 20-0 is worse than 25-2.  There’s no meaningful difference between allowing 20 and 25 runs; there is between 0 and 2.

  9. Jim C said...

    I disagree Brian. If you were a member of the losing team, I don’t think you could take much gratification over scoring 2 when you gave up 25. The margin is as key a factor as the shutout.

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