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Waco Pirates

From BR Bullpen

Team History[edit]

The Waco Pirates affiliate were a Pittsburgh Pirates who played in the Big State League from 1948 to 1956.

On May 11, 1953, a deadly hurricane hit the city of Waco, TX, devastating its downtown area and leaving 114 dead and 597 injured in its wake. Katy Park was entirely destroyed and the Pirates had to relocate to Longview, TX where they played the remainder of the season as the Longview Pirates.

But Waco rebuilt its ballpark, and the team returned to a renovated Katy Park in 1954. It proved to be the start of an unforgettable season that saw the team win over 100 games and win the league championship. Its big star was future major leaguer Roman Mejias, who was then known as Ramon, who had a 55-game hitting streak from June 6th to August 1st, during which he hit .419. It was the third longest such streak in minor league history. Two other members of that team, pitchers Al Grunwald and Freddie Waters also made the majors, although their careers were brief. For all of its success, the team played with a very small roster, and manager Jack Paepke, normally a catcher, was pressed into service as a pitcher, including starting and winning a key playoff game. When Marshall Wright compiled a list of the 100 greatest minor league teams of all time in 2001, he put that season's Waco team at number 25.

Alas, the team disappeared when the working agreement with the Pirates expired after the 1956 season. The Big State League ended operations one year later, and there has not been organized baseball in Waco since that time.

Year-by-Year Record[edit]

Year Record Finish Manager Playoffs Notes
1948 82-64 3rd Buster Chatham Lost in 1st round
1949 76-72 4th Buddy Hancken League Champs
1950 72-76 6th Buddy Hancken
1951 75-73 5th Walt Tauscher
1952 29-118 8th Tedd Gullic
1953 16-17 (77-68 overall) -- Buster Chatham -- Team moved to Longview on May 22
1954 105-42 1st Jack Paepke League Champs
1955 74-69 2nd Stan Wentzel Lost League Finals
1956 78-62 3rd Monty Basgall Lost in 1st round

Further Reading[edit]

  • Sam Zygner: "Remembering the 1954 Waco Pirates and the Mejias Streak", The Baseball Research Journal, Vol. 43, number 2, Fall 2014, pp. 46-54.