Pittsburgh Pirates: 30 greatest players in franchise history

(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) /
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Pittsburgh Pirates
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4. . OF. 1900-15. Fred Clarke. 12. player

Fred Clarke’s name may sound common enough. However, he was anything but your typical baseball player. His career ended more than 100 years ago. So if you’re reading this right now and you can say you saw him play, I’m not going to believe you.

Clarke spent parts of 15 seasons with the Pirates. If we eliminate the 12 games he played over his final three seasons, his numbers actually look a little more impressive, as he was able to do more over less time.

When it comes to WAR, Clarke ranks eighth in Pirates history. He’s also 10th in hits and in the top-10 of a few other categories.

Perhaps his best season, Clarke led the league in 1903 with 32 doubles, a .532 slugging percentage and a .946 OPS. He was with the team for two World Series appearances, winning it all for Pittsburgh in 1909.

Clarke is a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame for his playing skills. One could argue he deserves a spot in there for his managing career as well. During his tenure with the Pirates, Clarke was a player and manager at the same time. His .595 winning percentage with the Pirates is the highest in franchise history. To accomplish this over a 16-year span is tremendous.

The days of player/managers are well in the past. Clarke may be the best baseball has ever seen in terms of how long he did both at an elite level. As a true legend in Pirates history, it’s no surprise to see him land on this list.