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25th Anniversary

'79 Fall Classic
World Series Recap

Year In Review
Baseball - Beyond

Team Profile
The Bucs

Pops Tribute
Willie Stargell

The Song
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The 1979 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates

by Michael Aubrecht
Excerpts from World Series and Year In Review written for and The Highlander's '79 Pirates 25th Anniversary Sources: Pittsburgh Pirates Encyclopedia, The Bucs (The Story of the Pirates), Post Gazette, Sporting News Vault, Baseball-Almanac, The Baseball Timeline, The Baseball Library, The Baseball Chronicle,,

1979 Year In Review

"The 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates, emphasizing the team concept to the point that they thought of themselves as a family (and even adopted a popular disco record as their theme song), parlayed their togetherness into a World Series championship. And, fittingly enough, a fellow known affectionately as 'Pops' was the big man in this family." The Sporting News

 Off the field…

The construction of nuclear power plants in the United States temporarily came to a halt after a nuclear accident occurred at the Three Mile Island facility near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. After several tense days of emergency cleanup, the leak was completely contained, but raised the concern about the safety of people living near such volatile energy sources. After a media frenzy erupted, the facility was toured by President Jimmy Carter in an effort to calm the panic stricken public.

On July 26th, U.S. President Jimmy Carter signed the Trade Act Bill in response to trade negotiations with Tokyo. The bill reduced further tariffs on a wide range of items, and introduced a new policy to handle unfair trade practices.

Militant Iranian students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Teheran (taking 52 Americans hostage) in protest after the Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Shah of Iran. The hostages were subjected to 444 days of brutal conditions amidst repeated negotiation failures. A rescue attempt called "Operation Desert One" was aborted in the Iranian desert the following year resulting in the deaths of eight Americans.

In the American League…

On April 5th, the Baltimore Orioles defeated the Chicago White Sox 5-3 giving Earl Weaver his 1000th win as a major league skipper.

Thurman Munson, the team captain of the New York Yankees, died when the Cessna Citation twin-engine jet he was piloting crashed outside of Canton, Ohio 200 feet short of the Akron Airport runway. The 32 year-old catcher was a three-time Golden Glove winner, the 1976 American League MVP and a seven-time All-Star. His lifetime batting average was .357 and included an incredible .529 average in the 1976 World Series.

On July 24th, Red Sox sensation Carl Yastrzemski hit his 400th career home run off of the Oakland A's Mike Morgan at Fenway Park. On September 12th, "The Yaz" totaled his 3000th hit becoming the first American League player to tally both numbers.

In the National League…

St. Louis Cardinal Gary Templeton became the first player in major league history to have 100 hits from each side of the plate in the same season. The switch hitter batted strictly right-handed in his last nine games to aid his own cause in setting the record.

Pete Rose, then with the Philadelphia Phillies, totaled over 200 hits for the 10th season in his career breaking Ty Cobb's record of 9 years.

Willie Stargell hit a 2-run homer in the sixth inning of Game 7 to push the Pittsburgh Pirates ahead for good in a 4-1 World Series victory over the Baltimore Orioles. The championship title capped off a Cinderella season in which "Pops" and his "Family" brought fun back to baseball.

Around the league…

On May 17th, the 45-day umpires strike concluded after 14 hours of negotiation. The official's new agreement included a pay increase of approximately $7000, a heightened cap on maximum salaries from $40,000 to $50,000, 2 weeks of vacation during the regular season and improved pension benefits. One controversial issue remained though as the league presidents voted to add some of the replacement umpires to the regular roster.

WLUO-FM's promotional "Disco Demolition Night" at Chicago's Comiskey Park went terribly wrong as 50,000 fans turned up to receive a $.98 ticket for the doubleheader with records and eventually rioted on the field. After a delay of one hour and sixteen minutes, the umpires determined that the field was unplayable and called the second game between the White Sox and visiting Detroit Tigers. The following day, American League President Lee MacPhail awarded the Tigers a 9-0 forfeit win.

Walter O'Malley, the man who moved the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, died at the Mayo Clinic on August 9th at the age of 75. The team's still acting Chairman of the Board was still considered a sellout in New York and was quoted as saying that, "Baseball wasn't a business, but more like a disease."

Writer Daniel Okrent drew up the first set of official rules for a new pastime based on the actual day-to-day statistical play of real major leaguers. The "rotisserie league" would eventually evolve into the phenomenon known as "Fantasy Baseball".

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Copyright © 2004 Pinstripe Press. All Rights Reserved.
All essays researched and written by Michael Aubrecht.
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