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Jolly Roger isn't going anywhere

January 10, 2014 - Matthew Peaslee
The lede in a Jan. 8 Associated Press story said the Pittsburgh Pirates intend to make their Jolly Roger logo walk the plank.

That couldn't be farther from the truth.

Within the past two years the Pirates have brought up the idea of altering their logo. Even overhauling it altogether was an option. However, after consulting with a focus group of fans it was decided that the emblems would remain the same.


It was recently announced that instead of a new, fresh pirate logo for the Pittsburgh baseball club, the franchise was going to make the 'P' logo its primary emblem.

That AP article said the 'P' would replace the "eye-patch wearing sailor who has been the club's main symbol for nearly 80 years."

In actuality, the grinning swashbuckler isn't going anywhere. He'll still adorn jersey sleeves and many merchandise items. The club has said that the pirate will be the team's secondary logo and remain part of the style guide.

Being a longtime, die-hard Pirates fan, I have no problem with this move. I see no issue with it, really, much to the surprise of my friends who call me a "Bucco Bozo."

Even my younger brother called me in distress about this over-the-top predicament.

"What are they doing!?!?!" he screamed into the phone. "They're not going to have a logo?!?! They're getting a new one?!?!? They're mixing up the 'P'!?!?!?"

He's not the only one with questions or concerns.

"Was there fear of a public relations backlash due to complaints of discrimination from seafaring bandits?" - said TimG, a commenter on

"I don't like the P. It looks better with the Jolly Roger," tweeted Leah Bailey (@Leah4658)

The best way I can sum up the logo switch (and I hate to call it a switch because, really, nothing is being done in the first place) is to channel my inner video game nerd. When playing MLB The Show or MLB 2K14, the gamer can scroll through all 30 teams to choose one to play as in the game. In years past, the pirate logo would pop up representing the Pittsburgh Pirates. Now, the 'P' will mark the Pirates.

This also goes for MLB branding. I own a lamp, poster, area rug and jacket (yes, I'm a baseball nerd) that have logos of all 30 Major League teams. On them, the pirate is symbolic of the Pirates. Now, those items, and similar products, will simply have the 'P.'

Another misconception about this whole move is that the so-called "Jolly Roger" that everyone is talking about, isn't even a real Jolly Roger. The Jolly Roger is a white skull and cross bones against a black background. The flag that is raised in the center field batters eye at PNC Park after each Pirates win is a Jolly Roger. As is the many flags that fans wave at games and hoist on there own front porch flag poles.

The eye-patch wearing, slightly smirking, facial-haired pirate that serves as an official Pittsburgh baseball logo is not a Jolly Roger. No pirate guy logo that has represented the franchise has ever been a Jolly Roger. Not the fat, stubbled, confused-looking pirate of the 1960s, nor the clean-cut, stoic, optimist buccaneer of the 1970s.

Not even the Rollie Fingers look-alike of the 1980s.

They weren't Jolly Rogers.

If the Pirates didn't even announce this tactic, fans would not notice any difference. Admittedly, I have been aware of this transition. Yes, transition. That's the best word for this logo adaptation. For the Pirates 150th anniversary a couple of years ago a Pirates Baseball Club round logo became more and more prevalent. It's sticking today with the recent announcement.

There may just be more 'P' merchandise available than pirate items, nowadays.

"We will continue to produce merchandise featuring the current Jolly Roger logo," team spokesperson Brian Warecki said in a release.

See, it's not going anywhere. Apparently, even Warecki isn't quite sure what a Jolly Roger is, either.

There's been an uproar over this announcement and a lot of unwarranted criticism. It's overblown. Nothing drastic is changing. The pirate won't be diving into a pit of sharks at the end of that wooden board.

So, clear the deck, Bucco Nation. Cannonball averted.


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