- 1972 – At Three Rivers Stadium, Roberto Clemente hit a fourth-inning double off a Jon Matlack 0-1 curve to become the 11th player in major league history (there are now 32) to reach the 3,000 hit plateau. As an added bonus, Clemente scored and his run was the game winner when Manny Sanguillen chased him home with the Pirates’ first tally. Take it with a grain of salt if someone told you they were there for the big occasion. Only 13,117 people showed up to watch the 5-0 win over the Mets on a raw Saturday afternoon. Dock Ellis took home the W and Bob Johnson worked three innings for the save; the pair combined on a two-hitter.
- 1972 – Al Oliver was featured on the cover of The Sporting News for the story “Swat Artist.” That he was; the Bucco center fielder slashed .312/18/89 and scored 88 times on the way to his first of seven All-Star selections.
- 1977 – John Candelaria became the first Bucco since Vern Law in 1960 to win 20 games (and it would take until 1990 for Doug Drabek to become the Pirates next) when he downed the Cubs 3-1 at TRS. Al Oliver, Kenny Macha and Frank Taveras chased home the Pittsburgh runs. Candy Man scattered seven hits to go with seven whiffs, and his only mistake was a 3-0 meatball that Steve Swisher smacked into the seats. Candelaria went all the way to become the first Puerto Rican pitcher to notch a 20-win season. He finished the year 20-5/2.34, both the best marks in the league. Jim Rooker didn’t have such a good day; he broke his arm and leg in a car accident. He returned hale and hearty for the following season.
- 1978 – The Phillies clinched their third consecutive NL East title by eliminating the Pirates, 10-8, at TRS. The victory, fueled by Phil pitcher Randy Lerch’s two home runs, snapped Pittsburgh’s 24-game home winning streak. The Bucs went down fighting. They scored four times in the ninth and got the tying run to the plate twice, but Willie Stargell, who had earlier swatted a grand slam, whiffed and Phil Garner bounced out to end the rally.
- 1979 – The Pirates clinched the NL East crown with 5-3 win over the Cubs on the last day of the season in front of 42,176 jubilant fans at TRS. Bruce Kison and Kent Tekulve got the win and save, Dave Parker had three hits, Phil Garner added an RBI, and Bill Robinson’s two-run single in the seventh was the key blow as the Bucs finished the season two games ahead of the Montreal Expos, who dropped a 2-0 decision to Steve Carlton and the Phils. Willie Stargell became the Pirates all-time RBI leader when he bombed a solo homer in the fifth to overtake Honus Wagner. Pops’ pair of RBI were numbers 1,475 and 1,476; he would finish his career with 1,540.
- 1980 – RHP Bryan Bullington was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Ball State junior was the Bucs top pick and first selection overall in the 2002 draft. He made his debut in 2005 for the Bucs, then returned to toss some in 2007 after labrum surgery, going 0-3/5.89 in six games (three starts) as a Pirate. BB never made much headway in the show, winning just one game. After pitching for KC in 2010, he went to Japan where he tossed until a shoulder injury in 2015.
|Darnell Coles – 1988 Topps|
- 1987 – The Pirates split a doubleheader with the Chicago Cubs at TRS. They won the opener 5-3 behind Brian Fisher as Jose Lind chased two runs home and Spanky LaValliere scored twice. They dropped the nitecap 10-8 despite Darnell Coles tying a team record by blasting three homers and driving in six runs. Pirate pitching gave up just nine hits, but six were for extra bases and they added 11 walks.
- 1988 – President Ronald Reagan tossed out two ceremonial first pitches before the Cubs lost 10-9 to the Pirates at Wrigley. “Dutch,” a former play-by-play announcer, joined Harry Caray for an inning and a half in the WGN booth. Jose Lind and Andy Van Slyke combined for seven hits in the win, spoiling the Prez’s day. It was a wild finish; Pittsburgh and Chicago each scored five times in the eighth and ninth innings to end up with a 9-9 regulation stalemate. Andy Van Slyke drove in Rafael Belliard with the winner in the 10th. Scott Medvin claimed the W while Goose Gossage took the loss.
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