1977 Pittsburgh Pirates
1977 Pittsburgh Pirates / Franchise: Pittsburgh Pirates / BR Team Page
Managed by Chuck Tanner
History, Comments, Contributions
The 1977 Pittsburgh Pirates were a very solid team that couldn't quite catch the superior Philadelphia Phillies. In line with the Pirates' habit during these years, the team got off to a slow start, and fell ten games out of first place in early July after the Phils swept them four straight at Veterans Stadium. Then came the charge, led by the red-hot bat of Bill Robinson, who hit grand slams to seal victories on both July 28th and July 30th. A doubleheader sweep of the Cincinnati Reds on August 5th put the Bucs one game out. But that would be as close as they got. The Phils went 22-7 in August, and not even multiple Pirate winning streaks could close the gap.
The 1977 Pirates set a franchise record for home victories with a record of 58-23 for a winning percentage of .716. Percentage-wise though, it is still only their third best behind the 1902 Pittsburgh Pirates who went 56-15 for an .829 percentage, and the 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates who went 56-21 at home for a .727 winning percentage.
This was the breakthrough year for Dave Parker, who led the National League in batting (.338), hits (215), doubles (44), and outfield assists (22). It was also the peak year for Robinson, a one-time New York Yankees prospect who finally found his groove with 26 HRS and 104 RBI. he had received a chance to play regularly because in the off-season the Pirates had traded OF Richie Zisk to the Chicago White Sox in return for relief pitchers Rich Gossage and Terry Forster. All three players involved in the trade were entering the final year of their contracts and became free agent after the season; Zisk and Gossage had outstanding years, both making the All-Star team, while Forster was good but not dominant. Pitcher John Candelaria won 20 games for the only time in his career and led the league with a 2.34 ERA.
If anything could have made a difference, it would have been a healthy Willie Stargell, who spent more than half the year on the disabled list with a pinched nerve. His 13 HRS were his lowest total since 1963.
One fashion note: 1977 marked the debut of the Pirates' new uniforms. With classic 1970s excess, the Pirates jettisoned the traditional white-at-home, gray-on-the-road unis for an array of options that included:
- Black uniforms with gold trim
- White uniforms with thick gold stripes, plus black and gold trim
- Gold uniforms with black and white trim. The "gold" looked suspiciously like banana.
The uniforms were topped off with a black pillbox cap with gold stripes going all the way around the head. That style of cap had actually been introduced in 1976 as a nod to the U.S. Bicentennial (the 1976 Cardinals sported a similar cap), with a yellow version with black stripes, and it would become a distinctive part of the Pirates uniform for the next decade. In time, the players would begin affixing gold "Stargell stars" to their caps, given out by the team's captain for game-winning hits and plays.