"I wasn't a Pirate fan per se, but I love their uniforms forever."
-Joe Maddon, talking about the 1979 Pirates during the 2016 World Series
This is a listing of what colors the Pittsburgh Pirates wore during their multi-colored uniform period of 1977-1984. Most of the information comes from photographs, especially from newspapers. Some gaps were filled in from the "rules" described below.
The primary source is the Google News Archive, which includes the two daily Pittsburgh papers of the time (the Press and Post-Gazette). Some suburban Pittsburgh newspapers are also archived. The only other major daily from an NL city they have is the Montreal Gazette, which was useful for Pirate-Expo games. (There are also some French-language Montreal papers.) Many random papers also have occasional helpful wire photos, and every now and then one would pop up in something like the Press-Courier from Oxnard, CA which features wire coverage of the Dodgers (and Angels) the same way the Youngstown Vindicator features the Pirates (and Indians). The Press-Courier was a source for Pirate-Dodger games.
There are, unfortunately, holes in the Google archive. The Pittsburgh papers are on microfilm at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, which includes the editions that Google doesn't have. The library also has the New York Times, which was useful for Pirate-Met games. Some research has also been done in the much larger collection of the Library of Congress.
The online AP, Getty, and Corbis archives had several photos with dates and too many more without. There are also some Ebay sellers of wire and press photos who had useful pictures. retrosheet.org was invaluable for matching players and game situations to the correct dates.
What They Wore
The Pirates always wore black caps and sleeves with gold jerseys and gold caps and sleeves with black jerseys. (There are two known exceptions, when they wore black caps with black jerseys June 20, 1977 at San Diego, and when they wore gold caps with gold jerseys on September 12, 1977 at Philadelphia.) Similarly, they wore black stirrups with gold pants, and gold stirrups with black pants. Helmets were always gold, which was a holdover from the gold-capped days of the early '70s.
No names on backs. The Pirates would mix and match any combination of gold, black, and (striped) white shirts and pants, both at home and on the road. Either color of cap, sleeves, or stirrup was worn next to a white jersey or pants.
Like 1977, except that they didn't wear white shirts with white pants on the road; they'd still mix the (striped) white with black or gold, though.
Names appeared on backs. The striped white jersey and pants were only worn with each other, and only at home. There were a couple of games with gold caps and white jerseys, but black caps were much more prevalent. Black and gold shirts and pants were still mixed and matched, both at home and on the road.
Names remained on backs. The stripes were dropped from the white uniforms, which were now worn at all home games with black caps, sleeves, and stirrups. Black and gold shirts and pants were still mixed and matched on the road.
In September of 1980, the Pirates did mix and match black, gold, and white shirts and pants at home. According to the September 4, 1980 Pittsburgh Press, "For the first time all year, the Pirates did not wear their all-white uniforms with black hats at home. 'The players wanted to do it, so I figured "Why not?"' explained equipment manager John Hallahan." There's at least one game where they wore gold caps with white jerseys. After 1980, it was back to white jerseys and pants at home.
The Pirates wear gold jerseys and black pants as a throwback for all Sunday home games after Opening Day. The pillbox caps and sleeves are black. Players who choose to wear socks use historically inaccurate black socks with gold stripes.
Please send additions, corrections, and questions to BucTracker@gmail.com.
Thanks to Paul Lukas and Phil Hecken for all their help and support. Thanks also to Tim Brulia, Dan Cichalski, Matt Gajtka, Will Graves, Rich Loup, Jerry Reuss, Tom Shieber. and Brad Straubinger for their contributions.