Pittsburgh Pirates put their own spin on history

From Michael Sanserino at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on June 11, 2013, with SABR members John Thorn, Gary Gillette and Steve Hirdt:

Pittsburgh’s major league baseball team could win its 10,000th game later this week.

But there won’t be any fanfare or celebration at PNC Park should the Pirates win two games this week. That’s because the Pirates don’t count any franchise wins or records that were set when the team played in the American Association from 1882-86.

The Pirates are one of four National League teams that started playing baseball in the American Association. None of the others count those wins toward their franchise totals, though Major League Baseball’s official historian, John Thorn, called it puzzling that they don’t.

“My bet would be they think the American Association is not a major league, which flies in the face of MLB policy,” Thorn said.

In 1969, MLB’s special records committee determined the American Association of the 1880s and other leagues — the Union Association, the Players’ League and the Federal League — should be considered major leagues, like the American and National leagues.

Gary Gillette, an author and editor who co-edited ESPN’s Baseball Encyclopedia and co-edits SABR’s annual Emerald Guide to Baseball, said the league in 1969 merely was ratifying a practice that had gone on for more than 70 years.

“Because the American Association is a major league, I don’t see why those records shouldn’t be counted by the Pirates or anyone else,” Gillette said.

The Pittsburgh Alleghenys went 236-296 in five seasons in the American Association. According to the Pirates, two more victories would give them only franchise wins 9,763 and 9,764, not 9,999 and 10,000.

Read the full article here: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/pirates/team-puts-own-spin-on-history-records-691187/

Originally published: June 11, 2013. Last Updated: June 11, 2013.