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4/9 From 1970: PNC's First Opener; Sweep; Petey, Russ, AVS Double Dingers; Kris & Larry Sharp; Youth City; RIP Willie

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  • 1973 – Bob Prince and Nellie Briles (who sang a solo piece during the program) organized a benefit youth concert to help fund Roberto Clemente’s “Youth City” complex dream. It featured the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra and was broadcast live from Heinz Hall by WIIC-Channel 11 while being recorded for a record album sold to support the cause. 
  • 1983 – Tough to toss the ball much better than Larry McWilliams did at the Astrodome, pitching the Bucs to a 1-0 win against Houston. McWilliams never allowed a runner to reach second, struck out seven without a walk and retired the last 22 Astros to face him. And he needed to be on top of his game; Joe Niekro pitched a three-hit gem of his own, with the only run coming in the first when Lee Lacy tortured Houston catcher Luis Pujols. Lee walked, stole second and went to third on a bad throw by Pujols, then scored on a passed ball. 
Larry McWilliams – 1983 Fleer
  • 1990 – The Bucs turned Doc Gooden every which way but loose as they won 12-3 at Shea Stadium behind Doug Drabek’s arm and homers by Andy Van Slyke (2 HR, 2B) and Bobby Bo. That pair plus Jay Bell and Jose Lind collected three hits each. At 0-1, Gooden had a losing record for the first time in nine seasons. It was also the first time in 21 years that the Mets lost a home opener. 
  • 1999 – Rookie RHP Kris Benson beat the Cubs 2-1 in his first MLB start. He became the second #1 draft pick to win his debut, following Texas’ David Clyde who did the deed in 1973. Benson went six innings, giving up a run on two hits with three walks and three K, before Chris Peters and Mike Williams finished it up. Kevin Young doubled home the first run and Warren Morris’ homer was the game winner. 
  • 2001 – PNC Park, the fifth home of the Pittsburgh Pirates since 1887, opened for business along the North Shore of the Allegheny River when its first regular season game was held just hours after Pirate icon Willie Stargell passed away. Local boy Sean Casey had four hits and five RBI to lead the Reds to an 8-2 win in the park’s debut match against Todd Ritchie. The game was played in summerlike 77-degree weather and 36,954 came out to catch the action. Team owner Kevin McClatchy threw out the first pitch. PNC Trivia: Casey homered, the first regular season blast at PNC Park, three days after he banged the first longball at Miller Park. They were both off the same bat, which was sent to the Hall of Fame. 
  • 2001 – Willie Stargell, who suffered from a host of medical conditions, passed away at the age of 61. Cap’n Willie spent his career (1962–1982) as a Pirate. Over his 21 years, he batted .282 with 2,232 hits, 423 doubles, 475 home runs and 1,540 RBI, helping his team to six NL East division titles, two pennants and two World Series titles (1971, 1979). Pops is the all-time Pirate career leader in home runs, RBIs, extra-base hits and was the oldest player at age 39 to win a MVP award. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988. 
RIP Willie – 2004 Donruss Blast From The Past
  • 2014 - The Pirates hit five home runs at Wrigley Field but lost the game 7-5 to the Cubs. Pedro Alvarez and Russ Martin each had a pair of long balls while Travis Snider added a dinger. It was the first time since 2004 that two Bucs had multi-homer games during the same contest. The tally was a case of go long or go down for Pittsburgh – the Pirates had only one other hit and never put a runner in scoring position. 
  • 2017 – The Bucs swept the Braves at PNC Park, but the final win was a struggle. Down 4-2 after seven, the Pirates put up individual markers in the eighth and ninth to tie the game only to see the Bravos score in the 10th to regain the lead. But the Pirates rolled up their sleeves and two batters later sent Jose Ramirez and Atlanta to defeat when Adam Frazier led off with a double and Starling Marte smacked a first-pitch, walk off dinger to ice the series, nine days before he was spanked with an 80 game PED suspension. It was, if you’re keeping count, the 100th walk-off in PNC Park history. Felipe Rivero, who was in line for the loss, instead picked up the win.


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