Rivalry Renewed: Chicago Cubs Vs. Pittsburgh Pirates – a Century of Baseball Battles

Kevin Smith

cubs vs pirates

The storied rivalry between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates is a captivating chapter in the annals of Major League Baseball.

Spanning over a century, this matchup has witnessed unforgettable moments, iconic players, and fervent fanbases that have stood the test of time.

From their early encounters in the late 19th century to thrilling postseason clashes, the Cubs and Pirates have left a lasting impact on the sport’s history.

This introduction sets the stage for a journey into the intense competition, passionate rivalries, and enduring legacies that define the timeless and enthralling rivalry between two of baseball’s most celebrated franchises.

History: Chicago Cubs Vs Pittsburgh Pirates

The history of the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates is intertwined with the long and storied tradition of Major League Baseball.

Both franchises have deep roots dating back to the late 19th century and have experienced their fair share of successes and struggles over the years.

Here’s a comparison of the histories of the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates

Founding and Early Years

  • Chicago Cubs: The Cubs were established in 1870 as the Chicago White Stockings and became one of the founding members of the National League in 1876.
    They changed their name to the Chicago Cubs in 1903. The team’s early years were marked by success, winning the World Series in 1907 and 1908.

  • Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates were founded in 1881 as the Pittsburgh Alleghenys and joined the American Association before becoming a part of the National League in 1887.
    They adopted the name “Pirates” in 1891. The Pirates also enjoyed early success, winning their first World Series in 1909.

World Series Championships

  • Chicago Cubs: The Cubs have won three World Series titles in their history, with their first two coming in 1907 and 1908.
    Their third and most recent championship victory was in 2016, breaking a 108-year championship drought.

  • Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates have won five World Series titles, with victories in 1909, 1925, 1960, 1971, and 1979.
    They had a particularly dominant stretch in the early 1900s under the leadership of Honus Wagner.

Championship Droughts

  • Chicago Cubs: The Cubs endured one of the most infamous championship droughts in sports history, lasting from 1908 to 2016. The 108-year gap between their 1908 and 2016 World Series victories was a defining narrative for the franchise.

  • Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates, while not experiencing as lengthy a drought as the Cubs, had their own struggles. After winning the 1979 World Series, the team faced a prolonged postseason absence and a streak of losing seasons.

Fanbase: Chicago Cubs Vs Pittsburgh Pirates

Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs have an incredibly devoted and loyal fanbase. Despite a century-long championship drought, Cubs fans continued to support the team with unwavering enthusiasm.

Wrigley Field, their iconic home stadium, attracts fans from all over the country, creating a sea of blue and white during games. “Cubs Nation” extends far beyond Chicago, making the team one of the most popular and recognizable in MLB.

The 2016 World Series victory, ending the historic drought, solidified the bond between the Cubs and their fans. The scenes of celebration inside Wrigley Field and throughout Chicago showcased the deep emotional connection between the team and its supporters.

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates also boast a devoted and passionate fanbase. Known as the “Pirate Nation,” their supporters have shown unwavering loyalty to the team over the years, even during periods of struggle.

Pirates fans have a strong sense of community, and PNC Park, the team’s home stadium, provides an inviting and picturesque setting for baseball.
The stadium’s beautiful view of downtown Pittsburgh and its modern amenities have contributed to making it one of the most beloved ballparks in MLB.

While the Pirates have faced challenges and have had stretches of less successful seasons, their fans continue to rally behind the team.
Pittsburgh has a rich baseball history, and the memory of the Pirates’ dominant years, particularly the 1970s when they won multiple World Series titles, remains cherished by their dedicated fanbase.

Iconic Moments: Chicago Cubs Vs Pittsburgh Pirates Rivalry

The rivalry between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates has produced several iconic moments that have left a lasting impact on Major League Baseball.

Here are some of the most memorable moments from their historic matchups

Roberto Clemente’s Heroics (1960)

In a crucial game during the 1960 World Series, Roberto Clemente, the Pirates’ legendary outfielder, made a spectacular catch in Game 7 against the New York Yankees.

His diving catch robbed Yankees’ first baseman Yogi Berra of a potential hit and helped the Pirates secure a 10-9 victory. The catch became an iconic moment in baseball history and showcased Clemente’s exceptional fielding abilities.

Bill Madlock’s Batting Titles

Bill Madlock, who played for both the Cubs and the Pirates during his career, won batting titles with both teams. He first won the National League batting title with the Cubs in 1975, hitting an impressive .354.

Madlock was then traded to the Pirates, where he won two more batting titles in 1981 and 1983, solidifying his place as one of the league’s best hitters during that era.

2015 National League Wild Card Game

In the 2015 National League Wild Card Game, the Cubs and the Pirates faced off in a winner-takes-all matchup. The tension was high as both teams were eager to advance in the postseason.

The Cubs dominated the game, with pitcher Jake Arrieta throwing a complete-game shutout, leading the Cubs to a 4-0 victory. The win marked the Cubs’ first postseason victory in over a decade and signaled the team’s resurgence as a postseason contender.

Honus Wagner Vs. Joe Tinker

During the early 1900s, the rivalry between the Cubs and the Pirates was highlighted by the competition between two legendary shortstops, Honus Wagner and Joe Tinker.

Wagner, playing for the Pirates, and Tinker, a member of the Cubs’ famous double-play combination with Johnny Evers, were two of the best shortstops of their time.

Their performances against each other added excitement to the rivalry and solidified their places as baseball legends.

Sandberg’s Game-tying Home Run (1984)

In a memorable game on June 23, 1984, between the Cubs and the Pirates, Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg hit a game-tying two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning off Pirates’ closer Kent Tekulve.

Sandberg’s clutch homer helped the Cubs come back from a two-run deficit and eventually win the game in extra innings. The moment is often cited as one of the most thrilling and iconic in Cubs history.

Future Outlook: Chicago Cubs Vs Pittsburgh Pirates

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs’ recent success, including multiple playoff appearances and a World Series title in 2016, has been fueled by a core group of star players.
However, with several key players approaching free agency or having opt-out clauses in their contracts, the team may face challenging decisions in retaining their talent.

The Cubs’ front office will need to navigate these contract situations carefully to ensure they maintain competitiveness.
Depending on how they address these issues, the Cubs could remain strong contenders in the division or may enter a transitional phase that could impact their immediate success.

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates’ recent performance has been marked by struggles, finishing last in the NL Central for several seasons.
However, they have a promising group of young and talented players who are under team control for the foreseeable future.

The development and progression of players like Ke’Bryan Hayes, Bryan Reynolds, Mitch Keller, and others will be key to the Pirates’ resurgence.

Additionally, the Pirates boast one of the top farm systems in baseball, providing a strong foundation for their future.
If they can develop their prospects effectively, the Pirates may build a competitive core that can challenge the Cubs and other division rivals.

Recent Performance: Chicago Cubs Vs Pittsburgh Pirates

Game 1 (June 20, 2022)

  • Venue: PNC Park, Pittsburgh.

  • Result: Pittsburgh Pirates 12, Chicago Cubs 1.

  • Notable Highlights: The Pirates dominated the Cubs, scoring seven runs in the first inning and five more in the fifth. Mitch Keller was the winning pitcher, allowing one run on three hits, while Zach Davies struggled, giving up seven runs on six hits in just two-thirds of an inning.

Game 2 (June 23, 2022)

  • Venue: Wrigley Field, Chicago.

  • Result: Chicago Cubs 8, Pittsburgh Pirates 7.

  • Notable Highlights: The Cubs staged a thrilling comeback, rallying from a 6-3 deficit in the eighth inning. Alfonso Rivas had a crucial pinch-hit, two-run single, and Patrick Wisdom’s walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth secured the Cubs’ victory.

    Ke’Bryan Hayes’ solo homer tied the game for the Pirates in the ninth.

Game 3 (July 25, 2022)

  • Venue: Wrigley Field, Chicago.

  • Result: Chicago Cubs 3, Pittsburgh Pirates 2.

  • Notable Highlights: Nico Hoerner’s tiebreaking double in the eighth inning was the difference-maker, propelling the Cubs to a narrow 3-2 win. Ian Happ’s two-run homer in the first gave the Cubs an early lead, but the Pirates fought back to tie the game in the fourth on Jacob Stallings’ two-run single.

Chicago Cubs Vs Pittsburgh Pirates Rivalry

1907Oct 8, 1907Chicago (Playoff)Chicago Cubs4-0
1908Sep 23, 1908PittsburghChicago Cubs5-1
1925Oct 13, 1925Pittsburgh (WS)Pittsburgh6-3
1960Oct 13, 1960Pittsburgh (WS)Pittsburgh10-9
1979Oct 2, 1979Pittsburgh (NLCS)Pittsburgh5-4
1984Jun 23, 1984ChicagoChicago Cubs12-11
2015Oct 7, 2015Pittsburgh (NLWC)Chicago Cubs4-0
2016Apr 21, 2016PittsburghChicago Cubs6-2
2019Aug 17, 2019ChicagoPittsburgh3-2
2021Aug 29, 2021PittsburghChicago Cubs6-5


When did the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates first play against each other?

The Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates first played against each other on April 22, 1887, in a National League matchup.

How many World Series titles have the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates won combined?

The Chicago Cubs have won three World Series titles (1907, 1908, and 2016), while the Pittsburgh Pirates have won five World Series titles (1909, 1925, 1960, 1971, and 1979).

What is the most iconic moment in the Cubs vs. Pirates rivalry?

One of the most iconic moments in the rivalry is Roberto Clemente’s diving catch during Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, which helped the Pirates secure a victory against the New York Yankees.

How many times have the Cubs and Pirates faced each other in the postseason?

The Cubs and Pirates have faced each other once in the postseason. It was during the 2015 National League Wild Card Game, which the Cubs won 4-0.

Who are some of the legendary players associated with the Cubs-Pirates rivalry?

The rivalry has featured many legendary players, including Honus Wagner (Pirates), Roberto Clemente (Pirates), Ernie Banks (Cubs), Ryne Sandberg (Cubs), and Bill Madlock (played for both teams). These players have left a lasting impact on the history of both franchises.

To Recap

The rivalry between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of Major League Baseball.

Throughout their rich histories, both teams have boasted loyal and passionate fanbases, iconic players, and unforgettable moments on the field.

From dramatic postseason showdowns to historic World Series victories, the Cubs and Pirates have left an indelible mark on the sport.

Despite the ups and downs, their rivalry exemplifies the heart and competitiveness that define baseball.

As the teams continue to meet on the diamond, the tradition of this storied rivalry lives on, captivating fans and contributing to the timeless allure of America’s pastime.

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Kevin Smith

I am a dedicated learner who is constantly pursuing my dreams in many areas of life. I am a Finance major at the University of Maryland, a professional baseball player for the Toronto Blue Jays and the owner of my personal brand, Elevate Baseball. I hope to inspire younger learners of all sports and interests to tirelessly pursue their dreams, whatever that may be. LinkedIn