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This statue commemorates Pirates Hall-of-Famer Honus Wagner (1874-1955). Born just outside of Pittsburgh, he is considered the greatest shortstop to ever play the game and one of the best all-around players in the history of the National League. Wagner played eighteen of his twenty-one major league seasons with the Pirates. During his time with the club, the right-handed slugger won eight National League batting titles and led the league in RBIs four times. Nicknamed “The Flying Dutchman” because of his German ancestry and speed on the diamond, he bested all National League players in stolen bases five times. Wagner powered the Pirates to three consecutive National League pennants in 1901, 1902, and 1903, and a World Series title in 1909. He retired after the 1917 season, finishing with 3,420 hits, 723 stolen bases, and a career batting average of .328. In 1936, he was part of the first class elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Prior to Wagner’s death, the Pittsburgh Professional Baseball Association commissioned a statue of him. Designed by artist Frank Vittor, the bronze sculpture depicts the Pirate great at the plate. As he follows through on his swing, he watches the flight of the ball he just hit. Dedicated on April 30, 1955, it originally stood in Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park, beyond Forbes Field’s left field fence. Following the demolition of the Forbes Field and the Pirates move to the North Shore in the early 1970s, the statue was moved to Three River Stadium, where it stood outside Gate C. Today, the sculpture stands proudly outside of PNC Park’s home plate entrance at the intersection of General Robinson Street and Mazeroski Way.


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Johannes Peter “Honus” Wagner was born on February 24, 1874 just outside of Pittsburgh in what is now Carnegie. The son of working-class German immigrants, he dropped out of school at the age of twelve to work in the coal mines to help support his family. During his precious leisure time, Wagner often played baseball with his older brothers and boys from the neighborhood on the sandlots around town. 

In 1895, his brother, Al, was playing for a professional team in Steubenville, Ohio. When the team needed players, Al recommended his younger brother. In his first year of professional baseball, Wagner played for a handful of teams in three different leagues. Despite the constant change of scenery and teammates, he hit consistently over .300 and demonstrated his versatility by playing nearly every position on the diamond. Wagner’s performance that season caught the attention of Edward Barrow, who worked with a team based in Wheeling, West Virginia. He persuaded the young ballplayer to follow him to Paterson, New Jersey the next year and play for the team there. Recognizing Wagner’s major-league potential, Barrow contacted the Louisville Colonels of the National League during the 1897 season and swayed the team’s manager and members of its front office to travel east to see Wagner play. After the trip to Paterson, they signed him to a contract. Wagner made his major league debut for the team on July 19. He hit an impressive .338 in the club’s final eighty-one games that year. 

Following the 1899 season, the Louisville Colonels folded and Wagner joined his hometown major league team, the Pittsburgh Pirates. In his eighteen seasons with the club, he won eight National League batting titles and led the league in RBIs four times. Lightning quick on the base pads, Wagner bested all National League players in stolen bases five times. He powered the Pirates to three consecutive National League pennants in 1901, 1902, and 1903. Although the Boston Americans (later the Boston Red Sox) defeated the Pirates in the 1903 World Series, Wagner led the team back six years later, this time capturing the franchise’s first World Series title. He retired after the conclusion of the 1917 season, finishing with 3,420 hits, 723 stolen bases, and a career batting average of .328. Wagner later served as a coach on the team from 1933 to 1951. In 1936, he was part of the first class elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Wagner passed away in Carnegie on December 6, 1955 at the age of eighty-one. 

Prior to Wagner’s death, the Pittsburgh Professional Baseball Association commissioned a statue of him. The group of current and former big leaguers raised the requisite amount of money through donations from individuals, organizations, and companies. Designed by artist Frank Vittor, the bronze sculpture depicts the Pirate great at the plate. As he follows through on his swing, he watches the flight of the ball he just hit. Dedicated on April 30, 1955, it originally stood in Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park, beyond Forbes Field’s left field fence. Following the demolition of the Forbes Field and the Pirates move to the North Shore in the early 1970s, the statue was moved to Three River Stadium, where it stood outside Gate C. Today, the sculpture stands proudly outside of PNC Park’s home plate entrance at the intersection of General Robinson Street and Mazeroski Way. 

Berry, Adam. "History Behind Pirates Statues at PNC Park: Wagner, Clemente, Stargell, Mazeroski Immortalized in Bronze." mlb.com. Major League Baseball. 5 December 2020. Web. 10 June 2021 <https://www.mlb.com/news/pirates-statues-at-pnc-park-history>.

Finkel, Jan. "Honus Wagner." sabr.org. Society for American Baseball Research. Web. 10 June 2021 <https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/honus-wagner/>.

"Honus Wagner." baseballhall.org. National Baseball Hall of Fame. Web. 10 June 2021 <https://baseballhall.org/hall-of-famers/wagner-honus>.

"Honus Wagner." Encyclopædia Britannica. Web. 10 June 2021 <https://www.britannica.com/biography/Honus-Wagner>.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

https://www.post-gazette.com/sports/pirates/2020/07/02/allegheny-county-covid-19-cases-rise-pittsburgh-pirates-pnc-park-camp/stories/202007020158

https://baseballhall.org/discover-more/stories/baseball-history/honus-is-on-you

https://newsinteractive.post-gazette.com/thedigs/2014/01/27/the-twilight-years-of-pittsburghs-first-baseball-superstar-honus-wagner/