Pittsburgh is home to one of America's oldest and most successful professional baseball franchises. But while fans today root, root, root for the Bucs, the original home team played under a much different name.
Professional baseball in Pittsburgh dates back to the United States centennial in 1876. While the earliest Pittsburgh teams were run as businesses and the players received salaries, the barnstorming squads were not necessarily affiliated with organized leagues.
That changed in 1887 when a Pittsburgh team known as the Alleghenys joined the National League. The team's nickname referred to the location of its home field in Allegheny City, today's North Side.
During the 1890 season, most of the Alleghenys' best players left the team to join the Pittsburgh Burghers of the fledgling Players League. The Alleghenys competed with a limited roster that season, ending the year with 23 wins and 113 losses -- the worst record in franchise history.
The following season, the owners of the Alleghenys turned the tables by signing several players from rival American Association teams, including the Philadelphia Athletics star second baseman Lou Bierbauer. The Philadelphia team loudly protested the move, complaining to league officials that the Alleghenys' actions were "piratical."
Although the Alleghenys were never found guilty of any wrongdoing, they became informally known as "the pirates" before officially naming themselves the Pittsburgh Pirates for the 1891 season. The name stuck, and by the turn of the century, the Pirates went on to compete in the first World Series against the Boston Americans in 1903.
The team eventually won a total of five World Series titles in 1909, 1925, 1960, 1971 and 1979.
Visitors can learn more about the Pittsburgh Alleghenys and early Pirates history at the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Heinz History Center. To celebrate the team's historic season, the History Center is offering buy one, get one free admission for any visitor wearing Pittsburgh Pirates apparel from now through the end of the team's playoff run. For more information, visit www.heinzhistorycenter.org.