Diary of a long suffering Pirates fan: If you think the MLB team is bad, you should see the AAA club.

A Pirates AAA affiliate has not won a league championship since 1959
Philadelphia Phillies v Pittsburgh Pirates
Philadelphia Phillies v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages
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44 years is a long time not to win a championship. But that is the sorry lot of being a Pirates fan.  44 years of mostly mediocre baseball with no championships to point to.

But as I wrote yesterday, some of the Pirates-affiliated minor league squads have won League championships in the past 15 years.  However, one affiliated level has had a wee bit of a dry spell.  A dry spell that is even worse than the major league club. That would be the Pirates AAA-affiliated teams. 

A Pirates AAA affiliate has not won a League championship since 1959.  By my count, that is 64 years without a championship.

In 1959 the Salt Lake City Bees won the Pacific Coast League championship.  In 1959 the Pacific Coast League did not have playoffs.  So the Salt Lake City team was declared the champion by virtue of having the best won-loss record in the league.  As I will show below, the lack of a playoff in 1959 was fortuitous.  As subsequent history would show playoffs were not kind to Pirates AAA affiliates.

And less you think that the Salt Lake City team was a feeder team for the 1960 Pirates world championship, it was not.  Only one player—Jim Umbricht—actually saw playing time on the major league club in 1960.  Umbricht was a late-season call-up in 1960 and pitched in a handful of games.  But he did not make the Pirates World Series roster and thus did not play in the 1960 World Series.

But this is not a post to celebrate that 1959 Salt Lake City team. The last Pirates AAA team to win a championship.  Rather, it’s just one more anecdotal example of how the Pirates organization has a strong and troublesome association with “not winning championships.”  It’s as if the baseball gods have sprayed a good dose of championship repellant on the MLB and the AAA Clubs.

But I am perhaps a little too hard on the AAA Clubs.  While the AAA Pirates affiliated teams have not won a league championship, they have at least consistently made the playoffs.  In fact, in several years the Pirates AAA affiliate teams have not only made the playoffs, but they have made it all the way to their League championships, only to fall short.

Let’s review some of that history: