The History and Evolution of the Pittsburgh Pirates Logo

The Pittsburgh Pirates is one of the baseball teams that can trace its existence to the late 19th century. In short, it started out in 1881 as the Allegheny Base Ball Club of Pittsburgh, which was one of the founding members of the American Association. In those times, the baseball team was called either the Alleghenys or the Alleghenies because of a popular custom of calling baseball teams by a pluralized version of either their city name or their club name.

Later, the best players on the Alleghenys’ roster bolted for the Players’ League’s Pittsburgh Burghers for the 1890 season. When the Players’ League collapsed, the Alleghenys merged with the Burghers to create a new club in Pittsburgh, thus enabling it to recover its best players as well as the second baseman Lou Bierbauer. Bierbauer had once been a player for the American Association’s Philadelphia Athletics, which is why his signing prompted one of the baseball team’s officials to call it “piratical” in nature. Amusingly, the Alleghenys started calling themselves the Pirates in the 1891 season, though this name change wasn’t reflected by their uniforms until the 1912 season.

How Has the Pittsburgh Pirates Logo Changed Over Time?

To say that the Pittsburgh Pirates have had a lot of logos would be an understatement. However, some of the changes have been much more noticeable than others.

From 1900 to 1935, the Pirates used various versions of a simple and straightforward “P,” which could represent both Pittsburgh and Pirates. These logos varied in both color and font, with some being simpler while others were fancier than the others. It is interesting to note a couple of stand-outs among them. First, there was the logo that was used from 1908 to 1909, which consisted of both a “P” and a “C” situated on top of a bigger “B” that stood for “Pittsburgh Baseball Club.” Second, there was the logo that was used from 1933 to 1935, which was interesting in that it was a red “P” with a blue border, thus making it one of the most complicated Pirates logo from the period.

In 1936, the Pirates started using a pirate for its logo for the first time. Said pirate possessed a number of notable characteristics. In short, he wore a blue shirt with both a red scarf and a red bandanna. Furthermore, he bore a mustache on his upper lip as well as a pair of arched eyebrows, while his right ear bore a gold earning. Finally, the pirate wore a black hat with a pair of crossed baseball clubs, thus evoking the iconic pirate symbol of the crossed bones.

Other logos incorporating pirates followed. For example, the one that was used from 1948 to 1959 was more stylized in nature, which retained the blue shirt but now had a yellow scarf as well as a red hat with a pair of crossed baseball bats. In its turn, it was followed by another logo that saw use from 1960 to 1966, which was a much more cartoonish rendering of a stubbled pirate. This time, the pirate was situated above a pair of crossed baseball bats situated behind “Pirates,” while the pirate bore gold earrings on both ears, a black eyepatch, a polka dotted bandanna, and a more stereotypical pirate hat. Later, this was swapped out for a much better-looking pirate with a much friendlier countenance, with the overall logo done up so that it looks like a bounty poster. Eventually, a new logo with a recognizable variation on the first pirate situated in a baseball diamond was used from 1987 to 1996, which was followed by a bandanna-ed pirate head situated before a pair of crossed baseball bats with “Pirates” looming in the background from 1997 to 2014.

In 2015, the Pirates returned to its earlier logos with a yellow “P.” However, it is worth mentioning that the letter is in an older-looking font, thus preventing it from looking as minimum effort as possible.

Final Thoughts

The Pittsburgh Pirates have seen continuing changes to its logo over the entire course of its existence. As a result, it will be interesting to see whether its next logo will continue to consist of “P” or make a return to pirate images.


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