An admirer of Pirate president Barney Dreyfuss, prolific baseball writer Frederick G. Lieb consorted with the club’s biggest stars, christened the legendary Dreyfuss “the first-division man,” and produced The Pittsburgh Pirates, one of the fifteen celebrated histories of major league teams commissioned by G. P. Putnam’s Sons in the 1940s and 1950s. Originally published in 1948, Lieb’s history ranges from the ball club’s earliest professional days in the late nineteenth century as the Pittsburgh Alleghenies to its spring training session in preparation for the 1948 season, a span that included six National League pennants and two World Series championships, as well as a loss to the Boston Red Sox, then the Pilgrims, at the inaugural World Series a century ago.
“This reprint of Fred Lieb’s The Pittsburgh Pirates is an invitation for baseball readers to enjoy Lieb’s wonderful stories of the great Pirate teams of the first half of the twentieth century,” writes Richard “Pete” Peterson in the new foreword to this edition. “Lieb’s book is rich with accounts of World Series triumphs and disappointments, of epic encounters on the playing field, like that between Wagner and Cobb, of mutinies in the clubhouse, of courageous comebacks, and of devastating defeats, including the infamous ‘homer in the gloaming.’”
In Lieb’s personable and anecdotal prose, honed over the course of his sustained sportswriting career, the book conveys “baseball drama of the highest order,” including the pre-Dreyfuss days of Captain Kerr, Ned Hanlon, and Connie Mack; Dreyfuss’s dynasty in the early twentieth century; the dramatic World Series triumphs of 1909 and 1925; the end of the Dreyfuss era and the sale of the club to a syndicate headed by John Galbreath and Bing Crosby; and the purchase of Hank Greenberg and the emergence of slugger Ralph Kiner. Aided by twenty-five black-and-white photographs, this rare history revisits the glories and stories of “fabulous old Pirates” such as Honus Wagner, Tommy Leach, Fred Clarke, Babe Adams, Max Carey, Kiki Cuyler, Pie Traynor, Paul and Lloyd Waner, and Arky Vaughan.