Thursday, January 15, 2009

#1 -- Pirates Team Card

1972 Pittsburgh Pirates

For a few years Card #1 belonged to the previous year’s World Series Winners. The Pirates beat the Orioles in 1971 in a 7 game thriller. This was the first Series I remember watching. It's funny, but I only have 2 clear memories of it. One was Frank Robinson sliding into home under Manny Sanguillen as Manny was jumping to get a high throw. The other was Roberto Clemente, particularly his throw from the right field wall to home. That guy was amazing, but more on him later. This card looks to be the unusual team picture that was taken after the gates had opened and fans were milling around in the background.

I usually remember The Lumber Company with guys like Stargell, Clemente, Sanguillen, Oliver and Hebner, but you should also remember they didn’t have a regular shortstop (Gene Alley and Jackie Hernandez) or second baseman (Dave Cash and Rennie Stennett on their way up and Mazeroski on his way out), one outfielder was a platoon between Vic Davalillo and Gene Clines and their pitching staff was good, but not one that was able to consistently lock a team down. However they had a good righty-lefty bullpen combination with Dave Guisti and Ramon Hernandez shutting down the end of the game.

Bill Virdon took over managing the team in 1972 from Danny Murtaugh. Murtaugh ended up coming back when the Pirates were disenchanted with Virdon. Virdon went on to become the first manager fired by George Steinbrenner, but he was amazing with the Astros in 1980. The Pirates had 3 future Hall of Famers on this team (Willie Stargell, Roberto Clemente and Bill Mazeroski). Clemente was the only Gold Glove winner. Stargell started the All-Star Game in left field and the Pirates were also represented by Clemente, Steve Blass, Manny Sanguillen and Al Oliver. The Pirates won the NL East by 11 games over the Cubs and met the Reds in the NLCS. They were 3 outs away from a second consecutive World Series, but that belonged to the Reds.

There were a few teams from 1972 that I would play when I'd get in the vacant lot next door. The Cardinals were my favorite team, so they always played. The Reds played a lot as did the A's and Orioles. The Pirates were usually in the mix. I saw those teams play a lot on the Game of the Week and knew their lineups forwards and backwards.

1972 Feature

1972 was one of those years that had a lot going on. As a leap year, it had Summer and Winter Olympics and a Presidential election. We were at war in Vietnam and involved in a Cold War with the Soviet Union. There was violence and bombings between England and Ireland. We were still sending men to the moon. Hippies were still demonstrating on college campuses. Chess became a big deal. Baseball only had one nationally televised game a week and no designated hitter. ABC's Wide World of Sports was a must watch each week. A miracle occurred in Pittsburgh. Finally, an earthquake in Nicaragua led to an international outpouring of aid.

As we go through this blog, we'll visit some of these events in detail and a few more.

No comments:

Post a Comment