SI Vault
 
PITT, THE CITY WHERE THEY HIT
April 09, 1979
Pittsburgh has had swashbucklers at the plate dating back to 1883, when Edward Swartwood won the first of its record 23 batting championships. And the tradition is far from dead, as Dave Parker's titles in '77 and '78 attest
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
April 09, 1979

Pitt, The City Where They Hit

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue

Pittsburgh has had swashbucklers at the plate dating back to 1883, when Edward Swartwood won the first of its record 23 batting championships. And the tradition is far from dead, as Dave Parker's titles in '77 and '78 attest

Honus Wagner, the game's best shortstop, was the first of the great Pirate line-drive hitters. From 1900 to 1912 he averaged .345, won eight batting titles and led the league in RBIs five times.

Pitchers never discovered an antidote for Paul Waner's bat. He was poison to all fields—in the 1932 season Waner sprayed out 62 doubles—and he had three batting championships during his 15 years as a Pittsburgh outfielder.

Although he hit .300 or better in each of his 10 seasons with the Pirates, Arky Vaughan, a shortstop, might have gone unnoticed in the Pittsburgh of the Waner brothers had he not averaged a title-winning .385 in 1935.

Pittsburgh hadn't won a pennant in 32 years when Dick Groat, another shortstop, cranked up his line-drive stroke and hit a league-leading .325 in 1960. He became the MVP, and the Pirates became the world champions.

Though he won four batting crowns and three times hit better than .350 during his 18 Pirate seasons, Roberto Clemente's most glorious moment was the 1971 World Series, when he averaged .414 and sparkled in rightfield.

Not one of the other Pittsburgh batting kings could match reigning champion Parker's ability to hit for both average and distance. During the last two seasons he has batted .336 while crashing a total of 51 home runs.

1