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4/7 From 1976: #40 Retired; Rhoden Deal; Squeaker Openers; PNC Groundbreaking; Pops Statue; Cobra Cover; TV Package

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  • 1977 – Danny Murtaugh’s #40 was retired on Opening Day in front of 35,186 fans at TRS the year following his death. He won a pair of World Series and was twice Manager of the Year. Known for his dry wit, The Whistling Irishman attributed his success to “brilliant managerial thinking and dumb Irish luck.” The game wasn’t much of a testimonial, though, as the Bucs lost 12-6 to the Cards in the last time St. Louis played a home opener in Pittsburgh until 2016. It was also the home debut of Chuck Tanner, who watched Jerry Reuss, Larry Demery and Terry Forster serve BP. The bats weren’t bad, though, as Duffy Dyer homered while Rennie Stennett and Dave Parker each banged out three hits. The season wasn’t a wash, either, as the Pirates finished second in the NL East with a record of 96–66. 
  • 1978 – The Candy Man tossed a seven-hit shutout to thwart Rick Reuschel and the Cubs 1-0 in the Pirates home opener at TRS. Bill Robinson was the hero; his hard slide into second after a Willie Stargell grounder broke up a potential inning-ending DP and allowed Frank Taveras to score the game’s only run. The Bucs collected just three hits in front of the 39,082 fans who got home happy and quickly; the game took one hour and 52 minutes to complete. 
  • 1979 – The Pirates traded LHP Jerry Reuss to the Los Angeles Dodgers for RHP Rick Rhoden. Both sides got dependable starters out of the deal, as Rhoden won 79 games for Pittsburgh between 1980-86 (he was injured in 1979) and Reuss notched 84 victories in LA from 1979-85. Rick made one All-Star club with Pittsburgh and won three Silver Sluggers; he hit .251 as a Bucco and banged five long balls. 
  • 1979 – Dave Parker shared the cover of The Sporting News in its “Baseball Is Back” issue with the Padres’ Gaylord Perry, Boston’s Jim Rice and the Yankee’s Ron Guidry. It sure was for the Cobra, who hit .310 w/25 HR, was an All Star, Golden Glove awardee and World Series champion. 
  • 1983 – The Bucs had to put on their rally caps at the Astrodome to overcome a late 2-1 deficit to take home a 3-2 win against Houston. The Buccos leadoff hitter in the final frame, Dale Berra, banged a homer to tie the game. Lee Mazzilli’s two-out knock sent Lee Lacy home with the game-winner after he had reached on a forceout and then stole second. Rod Scurry showed off his nasty curve for the win, striking out four ‘Stros in his 1-1/3 IP while leaving a pair stranded in the bottom of the ninth. Rick Rhoden and Alan Ashby started the contest before the bullpens determined the outcome. 
  • 1983 – Rolls in, rolls in…Major League Baseball, ABC, and NBC agreed to terms of a six-year television package worth $1.2B. The two networks continued to alternate coverage of the playoffs, World Series, and All-Star Game through the 1989 season with each of the 26 clubs receiving $7M per year, up from the last package that netted each club $1.9M per campaign according to BR Bullpen. 
  • 1984 – The Dodgers banged out nine hits, but they couldn’t get on the scoreboard, losing 3-0 to the Bucs at Dodger Stadium. Pitchers John Candelaria and Don Robinson had something to do with that, but not as much as Amos Otis, who brought back a potential Steve Yeager homer and threw out two LA runners at second. Tony Pena caught another left coaster stealing; it was no wonder Big Blue was a little gun shy on the basepaths. The Pirates got a run in the fourth when a pickoff try went astray, allowing Marvell Wynne to come all the way around from first. They iced it in the seventh on Dale Berra’s two-run bloop single. It was a sure double off the bat, but Berra hit the brakes at first. “I saw four guys thrown out at second (Johnny Ray had also been caught stealing),” Dale explained, “and I wasn’t going to be number five.” 
Otis’ gloves LA – 1984 Topps
  • 1999 – It was a party night in Pittsburgh with an hour of speechifying featuring Senator Rick Santorum, Governor Tom Ridge, Mayor Tom Murphy, County Commissioners Mike Dawida & Bob Cranmer and owner Kevin McClatchy, a 10-minute fireworks display and a laser show with rock music to celebrate the groundbreaking of PNC Park. The cherry on top was the renaming of the Sixth Street Bridge to the Roberto Clemente Bridge during the festivities, with wife Vera and sons Luis & Roberto Jr. there to rechristen the span. 
  • 2001 – Two days before Willie Stargell died, his statue was unveiled at the Pirates’ new stadium, PNC Park, as part of the opening-week ceremonies. Chuck Tanner and former players Bobby Del Greco and Nellie Briles were on hand, as was Vera Clemente, wife of Pirates’ legend Roberto Clemente, and their two sons, Luis and Roberto Jr. Pirates GM Cam Bonifay, Pittsburgh City Councilman Sala Udin and the statue’s sculptor, Susan Wagner, were also there to unveil the 12-ton statue on Federal Street. 
  • 2008 – The Pirates lost the first Home Opener of the Frank Coonelly/Neal Huntington era in exciting fashion, dropping a 10-8 decision to the Cubs at PNC Park in 12 innings. The Bucs fell behind 7-0, rallied to tie the score, and were set to win it in the ninth when Jose Bautista laid down a squeeze with Brian Bixler at third. Bix inexplicably lost his nerve and retreated back to the bag, costing Pittsburgh its last grab at the day’s brass ring. Rule 5 reliever Evan Meek walked four batters in the 12th frame, giving Chicago two runs w/o a hit, to take the loss. 
  • 2012 – Jeff Karstens and four relievers held the Phils scoreless for 9-2/3 innings to take a 2-1, 10-inning decision at PNC Park. After Juan Cruz stranded a pair in the top of the final frame, Rod Barajas led off the tenth with a double. Mike McKenry ran for him, and Alex Presley brought him home by legging out a bleeder to third with two outs for the walk-off win.


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