Earlier on Tuesday, The Stew passed along the info that the Pittsburgh Pirates were asking focus groups to help them re-design their logo. But did you know that another iconic mustachioed character was once the Bucs symbol? Back in 1976, in the middle of their most successful decade, the Pirates apparently hired Yosemite Sam of Looney Tunes fame to dress up in Pirates doubleknits and go swashbuckling around on the cover of their team yearbook. The proof is in the eBay pudding!
After doing some checking, other teams' yearbooks weren't using Sam in a league-wide promotion for the county's bicentennial year. The Phillies used Mike Schmidt with a perm on their yearbook. The Mets had Mr. Met wearing the cap George Washington used to cross the Delaware. This Yosemite Sam thing was a Bucs production.
But the image got me thinking. Where have I see Yosemite Sam in a Pirates uniform before? Certainly not in 1976 or earlier. But after? Yes, after! The Pirates were totally having a premonition about the acquisition of Phil Garner in 1977, one that helped set them up for a World Series championship two years later!
By the 1976 season, Garner had established himself as an up-and-coming infielder with the Oakland Athletics. Not just with his play but with his mustache — not to mention his perm — which already were among the best in the league. But the A's had been selling off good players for years, and Garner was becoming too much of a union muckraker for the taste of A's owner Charlie Finley. So, in March of '77 off Garner went to Pittsburgh, where his solid play, versatility and Theriot-like grit blended seamlessly with the power and style of Willie Stargell, Dave Parker and John Candelaria. By '79, the Pirates were one big fam-i-ly. And World Series champions.
And the '76 Pirates yearbook predicted it all, starting with Garner, with the accuracy of Nostradamus and the panache of Jimmy the Greek Snyder. It is the greatest team yearbook in Major League Baseball history, worthy of your respect and fear.
Big BLS H/N: Kevin West