Forty years ago, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Baltimore Orioles faced off in an unprecedented World Series contest. No, it wasn’t the greatest or the longest or the high-scoring game of them all. In fact, what made this game so unprecedented had nothing to do with what happened on the field itself. It had everything to do with when the playing occurred.
On Oct. 13, 1971, in Game Four of the World Series, the Pirates and Orioles began playing under the stadium lights for the first ever night game in the history of World Series.
Nowadays, the idea of a World Series day game is as outdated and antiquated as, well, as either the Pirates or Orioles winning the pennant. But it took until 1971 for it to happen.
It’s rather strange it would take so long. After all, night games during regular-season play started in the 1930s. Aside from the Cubs, all stadiums had lights by the 1940s. The legacy of day-only World Series games was just tradition surviving by inertia. It was profitable enough and gained the league enough exposure, so the powers that be didn’t see any reason to move away from day games.
As for the game itself, it got off to a rollicking start. In the top of the first in Pittsburgh, the Orioles rattled three consecutive singles to begin the game and load the bases. A passed ball and consecutive sacrifice flies then scored all three runs and drove Pirate starting pitcher Luke Walker from the game.
Pittsburgh’s relievers would provide one of the greatest bullpen performances in postseason history. In 8.2 innings, they not only held the Orioles scoreless, but they only allowed one hit the entire rest of the way, a second-inning double by Paul Blair. The Pirate relievers didn’t even walk anyone.
Bruce Kison deserves most of that credit. He lasted from the first all the way to the seventh, keeping Baltimore off the bases. Actually, though he allowed merely one double and no walks while recording 19 outs, he did make one bit of unwanted baseball history. He hit three batters in his time on the mound, setting a new record (since tied) for most HBP by one pitcher in a postseason game. None of them advanced to second, and one got rubbed out in a GIDP, so it didn’t hurt anything.
With the bullpen performing brilliant shutdown baseball, the Pirate hitters had a chance to crawl back into the game, and crawl back they did. They didn’t waste much time. Down 3-0 in the bottom of the first, a walk and a pair of Pirate doubles made the score 3-2 before the second inning began. In the third, a trio of singles tied the score.
After that, Baltimore just held on for dear life, trying desperately to snuff out a series of Pirate rallies. Pittsburgh catcher Manny Sanguillen led off the fourth with a single and then quickly stole second base but could advance no further.
In the fifth, the Pirates loaded the bases with one out on two singles and an intentional walk, only to see a pop up and groundout end the threat.
In the sixth, the Pirates loaded the bases yet again behind two more singles, a stolen base, and a walk. With star slugger Willie Stargell at the plate, however, the Pirates again couldn’t score any runs as Stargell grounded out to second.
Finally, in the seventh, the Pirates broke through for that long-sought go-ahead run. With one out, they laced three singles and benefited from an error to go ahead, 4-3.
And that’s how it ended. Pittsburgh’s win evened the Series at two games apiece and put the Pirates on the path to an eventual world championship in seven games.
Aside from that, plenty of other events celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary (which is something that occurred X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you just want to skim.
2,000 days since Kenny Lofton belts his 100th triple.
4,000 days since the Diamondbacks name Bob Brenly their new manager.
15,000 days since Chuck Tanner manages his first big league game.
15,000 days since Don Baylor makes his big league debut.
20,000 days since the Indians release Bob Feller.
1876 Hall of Fame pitcher Rube Waddell is born.
1876 Wild Bill Donovan, quality pitcher (though no Rube Waddell), is born.
1894 Swede Risberg, Black Sox shortstop, is born.
1900 Ban Johnson accepts most of the terms of a burgeoning player union in order to woo talent from the NL to his rising AL. This will last until he achieves parity with the NL, and then it’s all downhill for the players.
1903 The Red Sox becomes the first World Series champions. They defeat the Pirates, 3-0, in Game Eight of the best-of-nine World Series. Boston’s Bill Dineen tosses his second consecutive shutout of the Series.
1905 The Giants top the A’s, 1-0, in Game Four of their World Series, putting the Giants one game from the first NL triumph in the Fall Classic. Every game in the Series will be a shutout. Both winning pitcher Iron Man Joe McGinnity and losing pitcher Eddie Plank allow only five hits, and the run is unearned.
1915 The Red Sox pull off a late comeback to beat the Phillies, 5-4, in Game Five to become world champions. The Phillies led 4-2 after seven innings, but Boston scored a pair in the top of the eighth to tie it, and Harry Hooper homers in the ninth to win it all.
1921 The Giants top the Yankees, 1-0, in Game Eight of the World Series to finish off the best-of-nine affair. New York scores in the top of the first, and that’s enough for Art Nehf, who hurls a four-hit shutout. The game ends when the Giants throw out the Yankees’ Aaron Ward, who attempts to advance from first to third on a routine infield ground out. That isn’t a very smart play.
1925 The Cubs officially name Joe McCarthy their new manager despite his having no big league playing or managing experience. It’s a good move.
1925 The San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League send Paul Waner to the Pirates as part of a conditional deal.
1926 Eddie Yost, infielder, is born.
1931 Eddie Mathews, Hall of Fame third baseman, is born.
1952 The Yankees release Charlie Keller, a tremendous hitter whose possible Hall of Fame career has been derailed by back problems.
1953 The Tigers release veteran pitcher Fred Hutchinson. Well, they release him as a pitcher anyway—he’s still their manager.
1955 The Kansas City A’s release Vic Raschi.
1958 The Dodgers send Maury Wills to the Tigers as part of a conditional deal. Detroit will return him to LA just before Opening Day, 1959.
1960 The most famous Game Seven of them all occurs, as the Pirates upset the Yankees, 10-9, with a Bill Mazeroski walk-off home run to finish it.
1965 The Phillies release Lew Burdette.
1967 Trevor Hoffman is born.
1970 Brooks Robinson enjoys his most famous fielding game ever. In Game Three of the World Series, Robinson has an array of jaw-dropping plays. He gets a leaping grab from first for a double play, snags a slow ground ball for a tough 5-3 out, and makes a diving catch on a Johnny Bench liner. The Orioles win, 9-3. Robinson later says he never had a five-game stretch of great fielding plays like he had in the 1970 World Series.
1974 In Game Two of the World Series, an Oakland rally is thwarted in rather interesting fashion. They trail the Dodgers, 3-0, entering the ninth inning, but quickly turn it into a 3-2 game. With one out, and the tying run on first, the A’s insert Herb Washington, their pinch runner. He is immediately picked off by reliever Mike Marshall, who then fans a batter on three pitches to preserve LA’s win.
1974 Hall of Fame outfielder Sam Rice dies at age 84.
1974 The Cardinals trade Joe Torre to the Mets for Ray Sadecki and Tommy Moore. There’s a background reason here, as St. Louis owner Gussie Busch is anti-union and Torre is a very active player’s rep in the union.
1975 Swede Risberg, the last surviving Black Sox, dies on his 81st birthday.
1978 Graig Nettles puts on a fielding clinic at third base in Game Three of the World Series, preventing as many as seven runs on four spectacular plays. The Yankees win, 5-1, over the Dodgers.
1983 The Mets hire Davey Johnson to manage them.
1984 George Kelly, arguably the worst Hall of Famer of them all, dies.
1985 Down three games to one in the ALCS, the Royals top the Blue Jays, 2-0, in Game Five. Danny Jackson tosses a complete game shutout.
1985 Before a playoff game, one of the strangest injures off all time occurs, as Cardinals speed demon Vince Coleman somehow gets tangled up in the tarp machine.
1987 St. Louis tops San Francisco, 1-0, in Game Six of the NLCS to force a final game (which the Cardinals will also win in a shutout). The Cards get their run when Tony Pena leads off the second inning with a triple, and Jose Oquendo flies out to drive him in.
1991 In Game Four of the NLCS, the Pirates top the Braves, 3-2, in 10 innings. The Braves score twice in the bottom of the first, and the Pirates chip away the rest of the way.
1993 The White Sox release outfielder George Bell.
1995 The Mariners top the Indians, 5-2, in 11 innings in Game Three of the ALCS. It’s the best of times and worst of times for Jay Buhner. He made an error that allows the Indians to tie it but then hits the homer than wins it for Seattle.
1996 In Game Four of the NLCS, the Cardinals rally for a victory over the Braves. They win, 4-3, after trailing 3-0 at the seventh-inning stretch.
1999 For the first time in the history of their rivalry, the Yankees and Red Sox face off in the postseason. It’s a really good game, too, as the Yankees top Boston, 4-3 in 10 innings, in Game One of the ALCS.
2002 Adam Kennedy, of all people, belts three homers in one postseason game, as the Angels destroy the Twins, 13-5, in Game Five of the ALCS to clinch the franchise’s first ever pennant.
2006 In Game Three of the ALCS, the Tiger pitchers dominate the A’s hitters. Kenny Rogers and two relievers combine to allow only two hits as Detroit wins, 3-0.
2006 The Cardinals will not say die in Game Two of the NLCS. The Mets lead them 3-0, 4-2, and 6-4, but the Cardinals win, 9-6. They tie it 6-6 with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth and score three more times in the top of the ninth for the win.
2007 The Indians have an all-time great extra-inning performance. In Game Two of the ALCS they top the Red Sox, 13-6, in 11 innings thanks to a massive seven-run rally in the top of the 11th.
2008 The Phillies rally to top the Dodgers, 7-5, in Game Four of the NLCS, putting them just one game from the pennant. LA leads, 5-3, after seven innings, but the Phillies push four runs across the plate in the top of the eighth. Matt Stairs belts a massive two-run shot to put the Phillies ahead.