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7/31 From 1965: Vander Wal Signs; Pops HoF; AJ 1 Hitter; Strike Ends; Trip Dip; Scoops Cover; Gems & Game Tales; HBD JJ

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  • 1968 – The Pirates used a triple play to squelch a Reds comeback in a tight contest and then turned it on to run away from Cincinnati at Crosley Field 10-1. Up 2-1 with Dock Ellis on the mound, a pair of Reds aboard on walks were off and running on a 3-2 pitch to Tommy Helms. He lined the ball to Gene Alley, who flipped it to Bill Mazeroski and then on to Donn Clendenon to defuse the jam. Roberto Clemente and Clendenon homered in a victory that wasn’t iced until the Bucs scored six times in the last two frames. It secured a twin bill split as Bob Moose and the Buccos were dusted 8-2 in the opener. Clendenon had five hits on the day and Manny Mota collected four. 
  • 1969 – Five Pirates pitchers (Luke Walker, Joe Gibbon, Bob Moose, Lou Marone and winner Chuck Hartenstein) held the Dodgers to six hits over 15 innings and hung on until Al Oliver’s sinking liner dropped to score Matty Alou to claim a 2-1 victory at Forbes Field. The teams exchanged runs in the seventh on Bill Sudakis’ solo shot and Jose Martinez’s pinch-hit single that plated Freddie Patek. The Bucs banged out 15 hits, 14 of which were singles, hit into three DPs, had a runner thrown out at home, and left 13 ducks on the pond until Scoops’ walk-off game winner. Roberto Clemente had four hits while Oliver and Freddie Patek banged out three each. Old Bucco hurler Al McBean picked up the loss. 
  • 1976 – Al Oliver was featured as the cover story of The Sporting News in an article titled “Batting Demon.” It was his third AS year, and he finished the season with a.323 BA and .839 OPS. He played 18 years of MLB ball and finished up with a .303 lifetime batting average, .795 OPS and seven All-Star appearances. 
  • 1979 – IF Jason Joseph “JJ” Furmaniak was born in Naperville, Illinois. A three-time All-Star in the minors, Furmaniak had a cup of coffee with the Bucs in 2005, getting into 13 games and hitting .192 after being dealt to Pittsburgh for David Ross. He signed with Oakland in 2007 and played 16 games for them before going to Japan for a season. JJ then finished out his career in the minors with 2011 being his last campaign. 
  • 1981 – The player’s strike ended after 42 days. In the settlement, teams that lost a top free agent would be compensated from a pool of players left unprotected from all of the clubs (who could protect 26 players) rather than just the signing club, a procedure that lasted until 1985. The union agreed to restrict free agency to players with six or more years of major league service. Reportedly, the negotiations were so bitter that after the deal, Players Association rep Marvin Miller and the owners’ negotiator Ray Grebey refused to pose with each other for the traditional “done deal” photo. The year became “split season” with first-half winners meeting second-half titleists to determine the champs. It was a weird year; the Pirates and Cards played 102 games during the season while the Giants got in 111. 
  • 1983 – Rookie Jose DeLeon held the Mets hitless for 8-1/3 innings before Hubie Brooks singled, but Mike Torrez countered with 11 shutout innings as New York won 1-0 in 12 frames. In his previous start, DeLeon had held the Padres hitless for 6-1/3 innings. Manny Sarmiento took the loss when the Pirates opted to go for a DP with an out in the 12th, but George Foster beat the relay to first. The day was a double defeat for the Bucs as they lost the twin bill’s lidlifter 7-6, blowing a 6-1 lead. Jim Bibby took the loss in the 11th on Bob Bailor’s walk off single to waste Jason Thompson’s first-inning grand slam. 
Jose DeLeon – 1984 Fleer
  • 1985 – The Pirates scored twice in the bottom of the 10th to rally past the Phillies 4-3 at TRS. Cecilio Guante picked up the win in spite of himself, allowing a home run in the top of the 10th and tossing a wild pitch in the ninth that tied the game. Former Bucco Kent Tekulve suffered the loss after Steve Kemp lined a two-out walk-off single to left to bring home Larry McWilliams, pinch running for Jason Thompson. The batter before Kemp, Marvell Wynne, hit into a force that plated Lee Mazzilli and knotted the score again. 
  • 1988 – Willie Stargell was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as the sole honoree that year. Stargell played his entire 21-year career (1962-1982) with the Pirates, batting .282 with 2,232 hits, 475 home runs and 1,540 RBI. His home run and RBI totals remain first on the club’s all-time list, as are his 937 walks and 953 extra-base hits. 
  • 1992 – Knuckleball specialist Tim Wakefield made his debut against the Cards at TRS, replacing Zane Smith, who was hurt, and pitched his way to a 3-2 win. He was in hot water early, giving up a couple of unearned runs in the fifth after working his way out of second and third frame jams. But he left the bases full of Redbirds in the fifth and cruised afterward. He got all his support from a pair of bombs, a two-run shot by Barry Bonds and a solo homer off Jay Bell’s bat, and made the three scores stand up. The Bucs went into first after the win and never looked back. 
  • 1997 – Kevin Young played through a case of the flu, and the pregame chicken soup worked its magic as his three-run, eighth-inning homer carried the Bucs to a 4-1 win over the Colorado Rockies at TRS. Jason Schmidt went eight frames for the win with Rick Loiselle earning the save. 
  • 2000 – 1B/OF John Vander Wal signed a two-year contract extension valued at $3.7M with another $300 K available in bonus money. JVW would end the year slashing .299/11 HR/94 RBI and hit .278 the next season until he was traded to the Giants at the 2001 deadline at the age of 35. He finished his career in 2004, playing for five different teams over his final four campaigns. 
John Vander Wal – 2001 Topps Heritage
  • 2012 – AJ Burnett held the Cubs hitless through 7-2/3 innings before giving up his only knock, a single to right by Adrian Cardenas, as the Bucs won 5-0 at Wrigley Field. Burnett tossed a 108-pitch complete game while a clutch Neil Walker had all five RBI with a first-inning granny and a sixth inning sac fly. 
  • 2013 – The Pirates won their fourth straight in a five-game series (they would lose the next day 13-0) over St. Louis with a 5-4 win at PNC Park. With Card ace Adam Wainwright on the hill, Pittsburgh rallied three times from early deficits to tie the game 4-4 in the fifth. The score stayed that way until the bottom of the eighth. Neil Walker opened with a single and tagged to second after Pedro Alvarez’s drive to left died in the corner for the second out. Russell Martin turned on a slider and lined it into short left center for the game winner. The Pirate bullpen tossed five scoreless innings in the victory, with Tony Watson getting the win and Mark Melancon earning the save. The Pirates extended their NL Central lead to 2-½ games with the decision. 
  • 2015 – Behind Starling Marte’s ninth-inning defensive prowess and Jung-Ho Kang’s stick, the Pirates snapped a six game losing streak at GABP by hanging on to beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-4. Marte threw out Brandon Phillips at home for the second out of the ninth, then made a tumbling, grass-top grab of Todd Frazier’s low, hooking liner to end the game, giving Mark Melancon his 31st straight save conversion. JHK ripped three straight doubles, scored twice (once on a heads-up sprint home following a short wild pitch) and drove in a run. Kang finished July with a .379 BA & 13 extra-base hits, the most productive month for a Pirate rookie since Paul Waner hit .381 with 14 multi-base contests in September of 1926. Jeff Locke got the win for the Bucs.


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