’79 Champs Witness Bucs Rise to 5th Place

I was supposed to be in the audience tonight. But a business trip looms tomorrow. Thusly, I witnessed the game courtesy of Fox Sports Ohio. 22 members of the 1979 World Series champs were honored before the game and they got to watch Zach Duke, Ryan Doumit and Garrett Jones pitch and pound the Reds into submission. And into the cellar.

The Pirates took over 5th place with their fifth straight win. Duke allowed two runs on eight hits and no walks in seven innings. The Pirates got on Justin Lehr in the first inning with three runs. Doumit was in the middle of it. With the Pirates already up 1-0, one gone in the first and Jones on third, Doumit hit a high bouncer back to Lehr. The Reds hurler wanted to get two and end the inning, but Doumit hustled down the line and was credited with a fielder’s choice RBI. He then swiped second based and scored on a single from Lastings Milledge.

Doumit hit a two run homer high into the seats in right in the fifth to make it 6-1. Jones added a two run double in next frame and the route was on. The Pirates added four more in the 7th. Steve Pearce had a two run single. Had it not been for an acrobatic stop by Brandon Phillips off the bat of Delwyn Young that Phillips helped turn into a double play, it could’ve been worse.

Lehr allowed six runs on 8 hits in five innings.

The Good

Five straight wins.

Fifth place.

Doumit had three hits, scored three times and drove in three.

Jones also had three hits and three runs knocked home.

Duke picks up win #10.

The Bad

Nothing at all, other than me not being in the Steel City tonight.

The Rest

The 19 players from the 1979 team on hand were:

Matt Alexander, Dale Berra, Bert Blyleven, John Candelaria, Mike Easler, Phil Garner, Grant Jackson, Bruce Kison, Lee Lacy, Bill Madlock, Omar Moreno, Steve Nicosia, Ed Ott, Dave Parker, Don Robinson, Jim Rooker, Manny Sanguillen, Rennie Stennett and Kent Tekulve. Chuck Tanner and coach Al Monchak were there along with trainer Tony Bartirome. Willie Stargell’s wife was also there.

Among the deceased in addition to Stargell are Bill Robinson, John Milner, Dave Roberts and Dock Ellis (not on post-season roster). Living players who did not come back were Jim Bibby, Doe Boyland (not on post-season roster), Joe Coleman (not on post-season roster), Tim Foli, Gary Hargis (not on post-season roster), Alberto Lois (not on post-season roster), Rick Rhoden (disabled most of the season), Enrique Romo, Frank Taveras (traded early on for Foli), Ed Whitson (traded for Madlock in June)

This was Doumit’s fifth career game with three runs scored. It was the third time he reached three RBI and three runs scored in one contest.

Jones has six RBI in the last two games.

Duke reached double figures in wins for the second time in his career.

Each of the starting 8 had a hit and scored a run.

Last five game winning streak was May 15 to 20th against Colorado and Washington. Each of the starters were the winning pitcher during the current winning streak.The bullpen picked up three wins during the earlier winning streak.

Luis Cruz got his third start of the year in place of Ronny Cedeno who has a fractured finger.

Welcome back Phil Dumatrait who pitched a scoreless inning, his first game since July 7, 2008.

 

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American Experience: Roberto Clemente

I hope everyone either watched, taped, TIVO-ed or DVR-ed last night’s PBS show “American Experience: Roberto Clemente”. Given the number of words committed to print about Clemente, there isn’t a whole lot that can be said in 60 minutes that hasn’t already been expressed in print. The result was a limited number of teammates were interviewed – Al Oliver, Steve Blass and Manny Sanguillen. The main advantage of TV vs. print is motion and I was impressed by some of the video footage that was part of the program.
Overall I thought the piece was good. There was only one statement that I took exception to and that was David Maraniss stating essentially that baseball was it for Clemente from a young age. While I wouldn’t disagree that Clemente began playing baseball at a young age – as a lot of kids do – to suggest that all he did was play that sport would be inaccurate. Most biographies discuss in depth his work ethic. In his elementary years he did a couple of odd jobs to earn money. Sometimes that money was spent on baseball supplies. Other times it would be spent getting to San Juan to watch the Winter League games. Additionally, Roberto was gifted at throwing the javelin in high school – no surprise given how well he threw a baseball. In some biographies, it is suggested that he would have been good enough to make it to the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki.
Osvaldo Gil gets the final word, as the Post-Gazette reports. One thing that isn’t noted in the program is that Clemente had asked Gil to accompany him on the fateful flight to Nicaragua. According to Maraniss’ tome, Gil agreed to go but then changed his mind when his wife balked at the idea.

Gene Clines: One of the 9, Two Times Over

Not sure why exactly, but I’ve been thinking about Gene Clines recently. So, to continue with a somewhat random (both in time and in quality of play) string of posts on ex-Pirates from back in the day, let’s talk Gene Clines.
Notables
How acquired: Buccos pick in the 6th round of the 1966 draft
Switcheroo: He was originally chosen as a pitcher but switched to OF because he could rake. He led the Salem (rookie) loop in hitting in 1966.
The jump: After spending parts of three seasons at AA, Clines made the jump to the Show in 1970.
First ML game: June 28, 1970. He appeared as a pinch runner in the 7th inning against the Padres replacing Jose Pagan who had doubled home what would be the winning run.
First ML hit: 7th inning pinch hit single (batting for Orlando Pena) off Jerry Koosman of the Mets in a losing effort
Keep your glove in your locker: In his rookie year, Clines appeared in 31 games, but played the field just seven times.
Super PH: Clines filled the role of pinch hitter quite well throughout his career. He topped ten pinch hits in a single season three times and finished his career with 59 pinch hits. That was good enough for top 40 all-time when he retired. He has since been passed numerous times.
Brush with greatness, part 1: Clines was one of nine minorities to start on 9/1/71, which is believed to be the first all-minority starting nine in the history of MLB.
Brush with greatness, part 2: Clines was one of nine Bucco players to amass 100 hits in 1972, which I believe is a record for most players reach triple digits in safeties in a single year for teams that didn’t employ a DH.
What might have been: He appeared to be the next in a mold of high average/marginal power outfielders in the mold of Matty Alou and Manny Mota. After playing well in the role of fourth outfielder in 1971 and 1972, Clines became the primary right fielder in 1973 after the Manny Sanguillen in RF experiment was ended. Unfortunately for Clines, that gig lasted all of about a month from mid-June to July 10. Against the Padres on 7/10/73, Clines tore ligaments in his ankle in a bizarre play. Clines was on first attempting to steal on a pitch that turned out to be ball four to Dave Cash. Clines aborted his slide into second and tore up his ankle in the process. He would miss the rest of the month and never be the same player again (he was hitting .291 at the time of the injury and hit .227 after coming off the DL). By the time he was healthy, Richie Zisk and Dave Parker were on the scene and Clines would once again be the spare OF in 1974.
How he got away: Clines didn’t hit very well in 1974. He made just five starts after the All-Star break and wound up with a .225 BA and just six XBH in 276 at bats. He was traded to the Mets that off-season for catcher Duffy Dyer.
Bouncing around: He spent a year in the Big Apple and then won in Arlington. He was dealt to the Cubs and played for them for two full years. He was released in May 1979 and stayed on with the Wriglies as a coach. He has coached for several teams including, most recently, the Cubs again.
Last ML Hit and last ML appearance: Clines had a pinch hit single on 5/8/79 off Doug Bair (then of the Reds, formerly of the Pirates). Clines was released on 5/11. All 10 of his at bats in 1979 were in the form of pinch hitting appearances.

Posted in Dave Cash, Dave Parker, Doug Bair, Duffy Dyer, Gene Clines, Jose Pagan, Manny Sanguillen, Matty Alou, Orlando Pena, Richie Zisk. Comments Off on Gene Clines: One of the 9, Two Times Over

Gene Clines: One of the 9, Two Times Over

Not sure why exactly, but I’ve been thinking about Gene Clines recently. So, to continue with a somewhat random (both in time and in quality of play) string of posts on ex-Pirates from back in the day, let’s talk Gene Clines.
Notables
How acquired: Buccos pick in the 6th round of the 1966 draft
Switcheroo: He was originally chosen as a pitcher but switched to OF because he could rake. He led the Salem (rookie) loop in hitting in 1966.
The jump: After spending parts of three seasons at AA, Clines made the jump to the Show in 1970.
First ML game: June 28, 1970. He appeared as a pinch runner in the 7th inning against the Padres replacing Jose Pagan who had doubled home what would be the winning run.
First ML hit: 7th inning pinch hit single (batting for Orlando Pena) off Jerry Koosman of the Mets in a losing effort
Keep your glove in your locker: In his rookie year, Clines appeared in 31 games, but played the field just seven times.
Super PH: Clines filled the role of pinch hitter quite well throughout his career. He topped ten pinch hits in a single season three times and finished his career with 59 pinch hits. That was good enough for top 40 all-time when he retired. He has since been passed numerous times.
Brush with greatness, part 1: Clines was one of nine minorities to start on 9/1/71, which is believed to be the first all-minority starting nine in the history of MLB.
Brush with greatness, part 2: Clines was one of nine Bucco players to amass 100 hits in 1972, which I believe is a record for most players reach triple digits in safeties in a single year for teams that didn’t employ a DH.
What might have been: He appeared to be the next in a mold of high average/marginal power outfielders in the mold of Matty Alou and Manny Mota. After playing well in the role of fourth outfielder in 1971 and 1972, Clines became the primary right fielder in 1973 after the Manny Sanguillen in RF experiment was ended. Unfortunately for Clines, that gig lasted all of about a month from mid-June to July 10. Against the Padres on 7/10/73, Clines tore ligaments in his ankle in a bizarre play. Clines was on first attempting to steal on a pitch that turned out to be ball four to Dave Cash. Clines aborted his slide into second and tore up his ankle in the process. He would miss the rest of the month and never be the same player again (he was hitting .291 at the time of the injury and hit .227 after coming off the DL). By the time he was healthy, Richie Zisk and Dave Parker were on the scene and Clines would once again be the spare OF in 1974.
How he got away: Clines didn’t hit very well in 1974. He made just five starts after the All-Star break and wound up with a .225 BA and just six XBH in 276 at bats. He was traded to the Mets that off-season for catcher Duffy Dyer.
Bouncing around: He spent a year in the Big Apple and then won in Arlington. He was dealt to the Cubs and played for them for two full years. He was released in May 1979 and stayed on with the Wriglies as a coach. He has coached for several teams including, most recently, the Cubs again.
Last ML Hit and last ML appearance: Clines had a pinch hit single on 5/8/79 off Doug Bair (then of the Reds, formerly of the Pirates). Clines was released on 5/11. All 10 of his at bats in 1979 were in the form of pinch hitting appearances.

Posted in Dave Cash, Dave Parker, Doug Bair, Duffy Dyer, Gene Clines, Jose Pagan, Manny Sanguillen, Matty Alou, Orlando Pena, Richie Zisk. Comments Off on Gene Clines: One of the 9, Two Times Over

Downfall of the Fam-A-Lee – Part 16

The Buccos were in it in 1982. They didn’t win it, but they played meaningful games in September – something that the club has failed to do in recent times. And as Willie Stargell once said, “I love September, especially when we are in it.” Pops retired following 1982. With a strong offense (2nd in the NL in runs scored) and a decent pitching staff in place (John Candelaria, Larry McWilliams and Rick Rhoden were slated for the rotation), what were the Bucs looking for heading into 1983?
After the jump you have more than 4,000 words including over 1,000 on Lee Mazzilli.
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Pirates making home run history

It is widely known that the Pirates set a team record with 45 home runs in the month of August. It was a fun time to watch Pirate baseball, as the team seemingly scored at will. However, even with that eruption of power, the Bucs are currently tied for 20th in Major League Baseball with 135 home runs. Overall, it does not seem like a historically significant season. But take a look at the team’s individual leaders in home runs:

  • Adam LaRoche – 21
  • Jason Bay – 20
  • Xavier Nady – 17
  • Jose Bautista – 14
  • Nate McLouth – 12
  • Freddy Sanchez – 11
  • Ronny Paulino – 10
  • Jack Wilson – 9
  • Ryan Doumit – 9

What is noteworthy about these numbers? This is only the third team in the history of the franchise that has boasted seven players with ten or more home runs. If Wilson can hit one more in the final few weeks, it will be the first to have eight. The other two occasions in which seven players achieved the feat were in 1973 (Willie Stargell-44, Richie Hebner-25, Al Oliver-20, Bob Robertson-14, Manny Sanguillen-12, Rennie Stennett-10, Richie Zisk-10) and 1964 (Willie Stargell-21, Jerry Lynch-16, Roberto Clemente-12, Donn Clendenon-12, Bob Bailey-11, Bill Mazeroski-10, Jim Pagliaroni-10).
Keep in mind that these numbers do not indicate that the Pirates are developing into a powerful lineup. The fact that this has occurred only three times in the team’s history simply highlights the Pirates’ consistently feeble offense during Major League Baseball’s power explosion over the past 20 years. In fact, having seven or more players reach double digits in home runs is fairly common among the rest of the league. Taking a quick look around the league, I counted ten other teams that have accomplished the feat in 2007 alone. The New York Yankees have achieved the mark every year since 1996.
So let us enjoy watching this edition of the Pittsburgh Pirates make franchise history. However, as we are conditioned to do as Pirate fans, we must keep the feat in perspective. We are still taking baby steps when compared with the rest of the league.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference Play Index

Downfall of the Fam-A-Lee – Part 11

The last member of the 1979 post-season roster that was picked up via trade was Manny Sanguillen
The Trade
The Pirates acquire Sanguillen from Oakland on April 4, 1979 for Miguel Dilone, Mike Edwards and Elias Sosa.
The Background
Sanguillen was amateur free agent signing out of Panama, one of a host of players the Bucs signed from the Canal Country. He was a boxer in his youth and the speed and agility he learned while boxing suited him well as a catcher. One of my favorite things to do every year is to watch my VHS tape of the 1971 World Series highlights so I can hear Curt Gowdy (I think its Curt Gowdy) refer to him as the “smiling Panamanian.” He hit .379 in that Fall Classic. The free swinger helped the Pirates win division titles in 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974 and 1975.
Sanguillen was among, along with Johnny Bench and Ted Simmons, the best NL catchers in the first part of the 1970s. Sangy made three All-Star teams and should’ve made the All-Star team in 1974. That contest was played in Three Rivers. NL skipper Yogi Berra chose his own catcher, Jerry Grote, over Sangy. He spent the first part of 1973 in right field following the death of Roberto Clemente.
He was nearing the end of his useful life as a catcher following 1976 when the Pirates traded him and $100,000 to the A’s for manager Chuck Tanner. Pirate manager Danny Murtaugh had retired following 1976 and would unfortunately die that off season. The Galbreath family felt the Bucs would be in good hands with Tanner and got him from Charlie Finley.
In his last season as a full time player, Sangy and Jeff Newman split catching duties with the A’s, with Manny also appearing numerous times as DH in 1977.
Before the start of the 1978 campaign, Sangy was reacquired by Pittsburgh. He was the third string catcher behind Ed Ott and Duffy Dyer. He appeared in 40 games at first, but was behind the plate in just 18 contests.
His role was more limited in 1979 as he was primarily a pinch hitter. He was in just 13 games in the field. He didn’t appear in the 1979 NLCS, but came up big with a game winning pinch hit in Game 2 of the 1979 World Series.
After 48 ABs in 47 games in 1980, Sangy was traded along with Bert Blyleven to the Indians in a disastrous trade. Sangy retired without appearing in a contest with the Tribe.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Bert Blyleven, Duffy Dyer, Ed Ott, Frank Taveras, Manny Sanguillen, Miguel Dilone, Omar Moreno, TZPlayers - Pittsburgh Pirates - Past. Comments Off on Downfall of the Fam-A-Lee – Part 11