Before the Pittsburgh Pirates ever swung a bat, the Pittsburgh Allegheny fielded one of the very first baseball teams in the city. However, the team wasn’t technically based within city limits but in Allegheny (today known as the North Side) which wasn’t annexed by Pittsburgh until 1907. The team was created because Pittsburgh lost a bid for a professional franchise in the newly established National League, and local organizers instead joined the minor league International Association after paying a $25 entry fee, a little over $600 today.
The Allegheny played its first full season in the International Association in 1877 finishing with the second-best record in the league at 13-6. The team was coached by Denny McKnight who would go on to coach the 1884 Pittsburgh Alleghenys, the future major league club. Unfortunately, all twelve players from the 1877 season left to play in the majors, forcing the Allegheny to field a new roster which included Chappy Lane and George Strief, who eventually would hit the very first home run for the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.
After the first Allegheny baseball team folded in 1878, a new Allegheny ball club formed in 1882 and competed in the American Association before eventually joining the National League. Before the 1890 season, the Alleghenys signed star second baseman Lou Bierbauer from the American Association’s Philadelphia Athletics in what was described as a “piratical” move at the time. This description followed the club and eventually inspired a name change – the Pittsburgh Pirates were born.