Saturday, November 26, 2016

World Series: Did You Know?

Roberto Clemente got a hit in every game. And his Fall Classic appearances were eleven years apart.

Clemente was on the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates who faced off against the New York Yankees in that year's World Series. Clemente was wielding a hot bat!

The home team at Forbes Field saw Roger Maris put the Yankees up 1-0 in the top of the first, but back came the Bucs in the bottom of the frame. Facing Art Ditmar, and having watched his pals score twice, Clemente delivered a single to make it 3-1. That was the end for Ditmar and the Yankees. Pittsburgh won the game 6-4.

New York snapped right back in the next two games, winning 'em 16-3 and 10-0. Roberto did collect two hits in the second contest, and another in game three at Yankee Stadium. But it did little. Pittsburgh won the next two games, however, and were heading home up 3-2, with a chance to finish 'em off in game six.

Clemente had just a hit in games four and five, collecting his second RBI of the postseason in the last game at the Stadium. His team was blown out for a third time, 12-0 in game six, but Roberto got two hits of Whitey Ford, who'd shut 'em out in game three.

So, in the winner-take-all game seven, Clemente popped out in the bottom of the first as Pittsburgh got two runs off Bob Turley. Two more runs in the second seemed good, but Roberto wasn't doing anything. He hit into a double play to end the third. The Yankees seized up on this and scored seven runs to take a 7-4 lead into the bottom of the eighth.

Clemente's single scored the second run of that inning, as the home team refused to die. Trailing still, 7-6, Hal Smith hit a three-run home run off Jim Coates to make it 9-7! Three more outs!

Well, the Yankees refused to die, too. They scored twice in the top of the ninth to tie it at 9. Bill Mazeroski then won it for Roberto and company with a walk-off home run off Ralph Terry in the last of the ninth. Clemente sort of had to take a back seat to Maz's big hit. But so too, did Bill Virdon's great defence and Harvey Haddix's excellent pitching.

The sad thing out of all this for Pittsburgh was, they had a team that seemed destined for a rematch in 1961. The Yankees, of course, were back. The Pirates? Not quite. They dropped below .500 (75-79). New York kept returning until 1965, when the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Minnesota Twins. The Dodgers boasted pitchers Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. They'd won in 1959, again in 1963, and finally, '65. They reached back to the Fall Classic the next year, only to be swept by the Baltimore Orioles.

The Yankees fell to Bob Gibson and the St. Louis Cardinals in 1964, and that put 'em on the map. The Cards hadn't made it to the World Series since 1946. They'd return again in 1967 and 1968. The New York Mets amazed the world with a five-game win over the Baltimore Orioles in 1969. The Cincinnati Reds, who were in the 1961 World Series instead of the Pittsburgh Pirates, made it back in 1970. But let me tell you about the next year!

The Pirates had a much different team. Now, they had Willie Stargell, Al Oliver and Bob Robertson. Their pitching staff was great. Dock Ellis, Steve Blass were there. Nelson Briles, who'd helped the Cards make it to the Fall Classic in 1967 and 1968 was there with his experience. Mudcat Grant, there on the Twins in '65 was now a Pirate. Bob Johnson, Luke Walker and Bob Moose completed the lucky seven.

So, after beating the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS, it was off to the Wordl Series against the Baltimore Orioles.

This time, it was on the road for games one and two. The Orioles won 'em both. Clemente lashed two hits in game one, and another pair of 'em in the second contest. Baltimore won game two, 11-3.

So in Pittsburgh, Clemente got just one hit. Willie Stargell got none (Although he walked three times). However, just take a look at the final score: 5-1 for Pittsburgh! Steve Blass had himself a fine 3-hitter!

Game four was close, but Roberto Clemente was all over the place. 3 hits, a walk. Surprisingly, he didn't knock in a run or touch home. But his team did four times to the O's three. And game five? It wasn't close. Pittsburgh won, 4-0. Nelson Briles trumped Mr. Blass. He allowed Baltimore two hits. Speaking of hits, our favourite player on the Pirates had one, and it knocked home the final run of the ballgame in the bottom of the fifth. The Pirates had this contest from the get-go!

In Baltimore for game six, Pittsburgh got a big blow off the bat of Roberto. He tripled his first time up off the great Jim Palmer, who'd whipped Pittsburgh in the second contest. Clemente was stranded, the Pirates scored the next inning. Here's where Roberto took over. He hit a solo home run in the third to make it 2-0. Palmer though, had 'em in the bag after that. He handcuffed the Pittsburgh Pirates the rest of the contest. It took extras, but Roberto Clemente and the Pirates were denied, 3-2.

No denials in the seventh game, however.

It came down to Steve Blass going on the hill for Pittsburgh vs. Mike Cuellar for Baltimore. Clemente could only ground out in the top of the first.

But in the top of the fourth, it was a different story. He took Cuellar out of the park for a home run. That marked the second straight game that Roberto had helped the Pirates with the long ball.

It was still 1-0 Pittsburgh in the top of the eighth when Willie Stargell singled to start the inning. Jose Pagan singled him home. The insurance run was needed, for the Orioles scored a run off Blass in the bottom of the frame.

Steve settled down, and Clemente had to settle for one hit. But when Baltimore was retired 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth, the Pittsburgh Pirates had won the 1971 World Series.

Roberto Clemente finished the 1971 Fall Classic with 12 hits, 2 home runs, and a splendid batting average of .414 to nab the MVP honours. He was just so dominating. Sadly, he'd die little more than a year later, and the young age of 38. The Pirates have only won the World Series one more time since, and that was in 1979. But although the time inbetween the World Series was more than a decade for Clemente, he made the most of all seven games each time.


Sports Reference LLC. - Major League Statistics and Information. Web. 26 Nov. 2016.

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