February 2, 2010

The Decade in Bobbleheads: 2002

PITTSBURGH, Pa. / February 2, 2002

Continuing the bobblehead retrospective, let's look at 2002, the first year the Pirates did better in the bobblehead department than on the field.

After issuing only one bobblehead per season in 2000 and 2001, the Pirates truly got on the bobblehead bandwagon in 2002 with a total of five giveaways. Quality was up as well, with all statues looking at least somewhat like the real player depicted despite some obvious flaws. The fans responded with solid attendance for all giveaways.

Willie Stargell
April 10, 2002
Worthiness: A+
Execution: B-

While Clemente's all-around game makes him the best Pirates player of all time, Willie Stargell gets my vote as the best Pirates hitter ever. His 2002 bobblehead, though not great, was easily the Pirates' best effort to date. The statue's face looks like Stargell, complete with 1979 era 'stache, and the 1979 jersey and hat are well done complete with Stargell Stars.

Unfortunately 2002 was still part of the "two fat legs stuck together" era of bobbleheads, causing the attempt at high stirrups to make it appear that the slugger is wearing black shorts and black work boots. As always I would prefer an action pose or at least a batting stance, but apparently technology didn't allow such things back in those days of yore.

The Pirates gave these away at the second home game of the season - traditionally one of the worst days of the year for attendance - and drew 36,000 fans. With a decent bobblehead and 62 degree weather, it hardly mattered that starter Kip Wells got rocked on the way to an 8-5 victory. Overall, this was a worthy giveaway and the best example of an early bobblehead before poses became more complex.

Jason Kendall
June 26, 2002
Worthiness: A
Execution: C+

After honoring three Hall of Famers, the Pirates made another worthy choice in depicting Jason Kendall as the first 2000s era bobblehead. Kendall is the greatest catcher in Pirates history, a three-time All-Star with a .306 batting average and .387 on base percentage during nine years in the Steel City. On a more dubious note, this giveaway began the tradition that any Pirate honored with a bobblehead is destined to be traded. At least Kendall stuck around for two more years after this giveaway.

Here the Pirates have done a pretty good job of depicting what Jason Kendall would look like if he was Puerto Rican. He looks pretty good as a Puerto Rican. Bonus points for finally producing a bobblehead that has an accurate mouth, i.e. including both lips and teeth. Catcher's gear is pretty well done too.

Kendall led off that day and got a walk, a hit, a run and an RBI as the giveaway drew 37,000 fans for a midweek 7-4 win over Montreal.

Brian Giles
September 6, 2002
Worthiness: A
Execution: B-

It seems like so long ago that Brian Giles batted in the middle of the Pirates' order. While he was still a useful player until 2008, his recent years have eroded memories of the level of star he was. In his five years in Pittsburgh, he never had an on base percentage below .404 or slugged less than .514. He averaged over 100 runs, RBI and walks a season and actually got MVP votes four years in a row - all astounding for a player who toiled for last place teams with little protection in the lineup. He even was part of two good trades, as the Pirates got him from the Indians for Ricardo Rincon and then after the five great years of production swapped him to San Diego for a package including future bobblehead Jason Bay.

The Brian Giles face is pretty well done, assuming he played for the Pirates when he was 16. Also I know that the fat attached legs era bobbleheads had limitations on pose, but get that ball to the infield already! When would he ever stand around with the ball during a game? Do they think Brian was a pitcher? Still, this cartoon 16-year-old Brian Giles bears a remarkable resemblance to the real guy and that's good for a B-. At this point I'm just going to assume the Pirates used to play in work boots.

33,000 fans turned out for this giveaway and were rewarded with an 11-0 rout of the Marlins. Giles batted third and went 1-for-3 with a walk, an RBI and a run scored.

Pokey Reese
September 21, 2002
Worthiness: C
Execution: B

I'm not sure why, but the Pirates were really pleased with their signing of Pokey Reese in 2002. He hit .237 with one home run in the first half, and the Pirates responded by adding a Reese bobblehead giveaway that September. Sure he was a good defender and a fan favorite, but Pokey Reese just isn't a name you would expect to see accompanied by the phrase "Pirates Great." I could understand the choice if the Pirates had honored five or six players from the '02 team, but there's no reason to honor Reese before Ramirez, Kevin Young, even Craig Wilson or Kris Benson.

Perhaps this bobblehead itself reflects the reason Pokey was chosen. Who else would be so proud to stand in a Pirates uniform, holding his hat and glove? While the Mazeroski bobblehead of 2000 appeared to be in great pain, this Pokey Reese radiates joy. It's also the most realistic proportioned bobblehead of the year, as the trademark early 2000s fat legs stuck together are a bit skinner than all other examples.

Over 33,000 fans turned out, and Pokey went 0-for-4 with a walk and a run scored out of the leadoff spot in a 4-2 loss to the Cubs.

Pirate Parrot
September 22, 2002
Worthiness: F
Execution: B

Do we really need a bobblehead of the Pirate Parrot? I just can't believe anyone cares that much about a mascot. This giveaway was nothing but shameless pandering for attendance by a bad team. The fact that this Pirate Parrot depiction is better done than the Mazeroski, Clemente and Stargell statues just adds insult to injury. The Pirate Parrot did not play as 25,000 fans saw a 5-4 victory over the Cubs.

Be sure to check out the previous years:
The Decade in Bobbleheads: 2001
The Decade in Bobbleheads: 2000

Again, sorry to disappoint anyone who came for the 1979 World Series Live Blog. For unavoidable reasons I had to postpone the Game 3 Live Blog to next week, Tuesday February 9 at 7:00 p.m.


  1. If there's one for Pokey Reese then I wantz one for Robinzon Diaz.

  2. New Castle - Why do you always have to troll these comments? You're an asshole.

  3. Pokey!!! I'm pretty sure I recall Perry loving this guy back in the day.

    As an owner of the Parrot bobble belly, I feel like you missed on the execution grade...should be an A all the way.

  4. I like Pokey, but NCF is a real homo.