1953 Pirates part of a string of futility

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The 1953 team that gave General Manager Branch Rickey a Bible probably should have kept it in the clubhouse and studied it for divine intervention instead.

They were in the middle of a run of three consecutive 100-loss seasons, starting in 1952. That team lost 112 times in 154 games. The 1953 squad went 50-104.

From 1949 to 1957, the Pirates lost more games than they won each year.

Rickey, who was known for breaking baseball's color line with Jackie Robinson in Brooklyn, could work no magic in Pittsburgh. His teams became known as the Rickey dinks.

The '53 team did feature home run king Ralph Kiner, and even if the Bucs were losing badly, fans would stay at Forbes Field until his last at-bat.

Also on the team was catcher Joe Garagiola, who had a much more successful career as a broadcaster. He frequently spoke self-deprecatingly about the Rinkey dinks.

"We'd be a couple of runs behind before they finished playing the national anthem. ... Opposing pitchers would get into fistfights over who was going to start against us. ... People would get up to leave after Ralph Kiner's last at-bat and walk across the field -- while we were still on it."

Three years after the string of haplessness, the Pirates won the World Series against the New York Yankees in 1960.



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