The longest losing-season streak of any professional American sports team in history is over. After 20 years — 20 solid years — of posting fewer than 81 wins, the Pittsburgh Pirates and their long-suffering fans not only have a winning season on their hands; they might just have a pennant in their near future.
As of this writing, the Bucs boast an 83-60 record, and are in a battle with both St. Louis and Chicago for the National League Central pennant.
Here, in celebration of a storied franchise shattering a 20-year curse of utter mediocrity, LIFE.com presents George Silk’s magnificent photo of Bucs fans cheering the Pirates’ 1960 World Series victory over the Yankees from atop the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning. Silk’s picture is beautiful, thrilling and vertiginous — not unlike the Pirates’ 2013 season thus far — and might be the single greatest portrait of baseball fans ever made.
Today, at least, it’s certainly the most apropos.
— Ben Cosgrove is the Editor of LIFE.com