1992: "The last time the Pirates reached the playoffs"
Until two days ago, some Pirates fans may have thought the playoffs were unreachable for their favorite team. Others, who’d witnessed it before, forgot how it feels to cheer on such a winner.
Yes, once upon a time… a looong time ago… 21 years to be precise, was the last time the Pirates didn’t have a losing season and were a playoff team.
In 1992, the Pirates finished first in the National League East, their third consecutive division title.That was the team of legendary stars such as Barry Bonds, Bob Walk, and Don Slaught (pictured above). The postseason was heartbreaking, though, as the Pirates lost a seven-game National League championship series to the Atlanta Braves.
As remarkable as it was, there is little material in our photo archives about the Pirates from the summer or fall of 1992. Most of the photos come from the Associated Press.
That season, as Gainesville (Fla.) Sun reported in an October issue, “The Pirates found out what every big league employee must have always realized, but never dared to admit. Despite the daily hounding of the local press, newspapers give baseball teams an amount of free publicity every day that others in the entertainment business can only dream about.
"Pirates’ general manager Ted Simmons admitted as much Thursday. Commenting on the Teamsters’ strike that has shut down the Press and Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh’s two newspapers, since early May, Simmons said, ‘It killed us.’
" ‘We’re working very hard to take a small market and put people in the park, but when a newspaper strike hits, I believe people get out of custom of following their team.’ "
Despite their third consecutive NL East title in 1992, the Pirates fell 237,907 from their record attendance total of 2,065,302 in 1991.
And then … for more than two decades the Pirates were losers. Not a single winning season. With all the newspaper coverage and the city’s competitive media market, they were still losing. In the Steel City, it was called the curse of Barry Bonds … the losing season streak began after the Pirates outfielder signed with the San Francisco Giants in December, 1992.
But it’s 2013 and the Pirates are back. Baseball fans in the Steel City haven’t had this much fun since a young Barry Bonds patrolled left field at Three Rivers Stadium. The Pirates are losers no more.
Long live Buctober!
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