October 17, 1979: Pirates Are World Series Champs!

Four pitchers held Baltimore to a total of four hits and Series MVP Willie Stargell had the big blow to give the Pirates a 4-1 win in game seven of the World Series.  In the process, the Pirates became the fourth team ever to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Series and the first franchise to do it twice, having previously staged such a comeback in 1925.

The Bucs had more incentive than just creating history.  Before the game, an obscure editor for a little-known rag called the Baltimore Sun ridiculed the team’s and its fans’ habit of referring to the Pirates as “The Family,” calling it “a cheap grandstand play.”  The little rag might better have held off, as the Pirates clearly outclassed the Orioles for the third game in a row.

With Bert Blyleven and John Candelaria having pitched in the previous two games, and Bruce Kison unavailable due to circulatory problems, the Pirates went with Jim Bibby to start.  Bibby gave the Bucs four good innings, allowing just three hits.  One of them, though, was a home run by Rich Dauer leading off the bottom of the third to put Baltimore ahead, 1-0.

The Pirates had chances against Orioles’ starter Scott MacGregor, but couldn’t get on the board in the first five innings.  They failed to capitalize on leadoff singles in the first and second.  In the fourth, Stargell doubled with one out and went to third on an error by shortstop Kiko Garcia.  Steve Nicosia, though, lined out and  Phil Garner was called out for batter’s interference.

With his team still trailing, Chuck Tanner hit for Bibby in the top of the fifth.  Don Robinson took the mound in the bottom of the inning, but left with two out and two on.  Grant Jackson relieved and got the last out.

In the top of the sixth, the Bucs finally got on the board.  Bill Robinson singled with one out and Pops belted his third home run of the series to right-center.  That put the Pirates ahead, 2-1.

Jackson retired Baltimore in order in both the sixth and seventh.  Stargell, meanwhile, hit his second double of the game in the top of the eighth, but was stranded.

In the bottom of the eighth, Jackson tired with one out and walked two.  Tanner went to Kent Tekulve and Earl Weaver countered with left-handed pinch hitter Terry Crowley.  Teke got Crowley on a grounder and, after walking Ken Singleton, got Eddie Murray to hit a fly to deep right that Dave Parker caught after stumbling a bit.

The Pirates added two insurance runs in the ninth against five Baltimore relievers.  Omar Moreno singled in Phil Garner, who’d doubled.  Another single and a hit batsman loaded the bases, and Dennis Martinez then hit Bill Robinson to force in a run.  The Bucs led, 4-1, and Teke made quick work of the Orioles in the bottom of the inning.  He fanned Gary Roenicke and Doug DeCinces, and got yet another left-handed pinch hitter, Pat Kelly, to fly out to Moreno to end the Series.

Stargell was named Series MVP, having batted 400/375/833 with seven RBIs and the Pirates’ only three home runs.  The Pirates hammered the Orioles’ vaunted pitching staff, batting .323 as a team.  They beat Baltimore’s three best pitchers — MacGregor, Mike Flanagan and Jim Palmer — in the final three games, while their own staff held the Orioles to two runs.  Garner batted .500 for the Series, Madlock .375, Parker .345, and Moreno, Tim Foli and Ed Ott all .333.  Teke saved three games and threw the third-most innings of any Pirate pitcher in the Series, just one less than the team leader, Bibby.  Jackson got the game seven win, and allowed no runs and one hit over four outings.