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5/31 From 1970: Clemente Day; Review Preview; Pops Rocket; Jose Streak; BB's 1st; Coke Trail Over; Game Stories

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  • 1973 – The Bucs topped the Atlanta Braves 3-1, backing up Nellie Briles three-hitter with Willie Stargell’s three-run blast in the eighth at TRS. Stargell’s ball went 468’ and landed in the upper deck. Of the 12 shots that carried into the cheap seats in TRS history, Pops launched the most; this was his fourth and final second-tier homer. It broke up a gem by Gary Gentry; he had a shutout going into the eighth when a one-out infield single and 3-2 walk that raised the hackles of Bravo manager Eddie Matthews was followed by Willie’s blast. Briles went the distance for the win, sending Atlanta to their seventh straight loss. 
Willie Stargell – 1973 Topps Pin Up
  • 1985 – A Federal grand jury indicted seven for cocaine distribution and sales in baseball, none of which were Pirates (the players that testified were granted immunity). GM Joe Brown hoped the indictments would “…remove the shadow that has existed over the Pirates…” but his hope was in vain. The coke trials tainted the team’s freewheeling clubhouse culture and several Bucs, notably Dave Parker and Rod Scurry, in the eyes of the fans. 
  • 1986 - Barry Bonds collected his first MLB hit, a first-inning double off Rick Honeycutt, as the Bucs beat the LA Dodgers 4-0 at PNC Park. Bonds must have been excited; he was picked off a batter later. BB had debuted a day earlier, but went 0-fer. Bill Almon’s two-run homer and Bob Kipper’s eight shutout innings keyed the win. Bob Kipper got the victory and Pat Clements earned the save. 
  • 1994 – It wasn’t a good day to be a Pirate pitcher. San Diego scored 13 runs in the second inning on the way to a 15-5 whipping of the Bucs at Jack Murphy Stadium. Steve Cooke and John Hope were the hapless hurlers in that unlucky frame. 
  • 1999 – Umpire Frank Pulli anticipated video review by a decade when he looked at a TV replay of a disputed home run in the Marlins-Cards game at Pro Player Park. The dispute was whether a ball Cliff Floyd drilled cleared the scoreboard or not. The blue crew met, reversed themselves, and apparently still uncertain, peeked at a monitor in the St. Louis dugout to get the call right, ruling it a double. The league tut-tutted the procedure, but allowed it to stand. Pulli told the Washington Post that “I sure don’t want to make a habit of it, but at that moment, I thought it was the proper thing to do. … I hope I don’t have to go to the replay again.” He didn’t; home run video reviews didn’t become MLB law until 2009, well after he retired. 
  • 2006 – Jose Castillo homered in his fifth straight game as the Pirates defeated Milwaukee 6-1 at PNC Park. Castillo hit a two-run shot off Chris Capuano in the second inning to continue a streak that began on the 26th against Houston’s Taylor Bucholtz, the third longest in franchise history behind Dale Long’s eight game streak and Jason Bay’s six-gamer (which had ended the day before). Ian Snell and three relievers combined on a three hitter against the Brew Crew. 
Jose Castillo – 2007 Topps
  • 2008 – SS Luis Rivas had four RBI, two runs scored, a homer and double as the Bucs pounded St. Louis 14-4 at Busch Stadium to ruin Tony LaRussa’s 2,000th game as St. Louis skipper. Ronny Paulino added three RBI with three hits and a homer of his own while Jose Bautista chipped in with four raps. Xavier Nady and Freddie Sanchez had three hits each as the Pirates pounded out 19 knocks. 
  • 2016 – Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that this date would be Roberto Clemente Day throughout Major League Baseball. The highlight of the celebration was to be a game between the Pirates and Miami Marlins at San Juan’s Hiram Bithorn Stadium. Unfortunately for Roberto’s homeland, the game was moved to Miami after a Zika outbreak on the island, and his special day was pushed back. The day of remembrance began in 2002, and beginning in 2009 was marked by pre-game ceremonies around MLB with the teams presenting their Roberto Clemente Award to its nominee, with the overall winner announced after the World Series.


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