1948 Pittsburgh Pirates
1948 Pittsburgh Pirates / Franchise: Pittsburgh Pirates / BR Team Page
Managed by Billy Meyer
History, Comments, Contributions
After World War II, the Pittsburgh Pirates settled into a rut that saw the team finish last or next-to-last an ugly 10 times in 12 seasons; however, the 1948 Pittsburgh Pirates were the lone bright spot in this stretch, the single time the Pirates challenged for the pennant during the period.
It was something of a fluke season. As always in the late 1940s, the Pirates' offense was buoyed by slugger Ralph Kiner, who led the National League in home runs with 40 and was second in RBIs with 123. But this time Kiner got some unexpected offensive support. 37-year-old outfielder Dixie Walker came over from the Brooklyn Dodgers and hit .316; shortstop Stan Rojek and second baseman Danny Murtaugh each hit a career-high .290; and young center fielder Wally Westlake chipped in with 17 homers and a .285 average.
An otherwise shaky pitching staff was steadied by 41-year-old Rip Sewell, he of the famous "eephus" or blooper pitch. In 17 starts, Sewell went 13-3. Only the much younger Bob Chesnes (14-6) won more.
The Bucs began the year playing far better than anyone had expected, posting winning records in both April and May before falling back to .500 by late July. Then the team caught fire, taking 22 of 31 games. On September 1st, the Pirates were just 1.5 games out of first, locked in a tight three-way race with the Boston Braves and Brooklyn Dodgers for the lead. Waterloo finally came in mid-September, when the Bucs were swept in key two-game series against both of their main competitors. The team finished in fourth place - still a very respectable finish, a 21-game improvement over 1947.