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Category Archives: Pittsburg Pirates

Bruce Kison – 1973 Topps #141


BruceKison_73topps#141_a Bruce Eugene Kison (born February 18, 1950 in Pasco, Washington) a former Major League Baseball pitcher. He pitched from 1971-1985 for three different teams, the Pittsburgh Pirates, California Angels and Boston Red Sox. He batted and threw right-handed. During a 15-year career, Kison compiled 115 wins, 1,073 strikeouts, and a 3.66 ERA.
Kison was 30-9 in the minors. He was called up in the middle of the 1971 BruceKison_73topps#141_bseason and was the winning pitcher when Pittsburgh beat San Francisco to make it into the World Series. He later became the winning pitcher in the first night game ever played in the classic.
After tearing his rotator cuff during winter ball, he spent 14 more years in the majors and changed his throwing motion. Kison was also a pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals and the Baltimore Orioles. A highly respected talent evaluator, Kison has spent the past decade as a Major League Scout for the Orioles.
Kison also gave up the 2,500th hit to Pete Rose on August 17, 1975.

Vic Davalillo – 1973 Topps #163


Víctor José Davalillo Romero (July 31, 1936 in Cabimas, Zulia), is a Venezuelan former professional baseball player. Davalillo batted and threw left-handed. Davalillo was a leadoff hitter known for his speed, base running and defensive ability. Later in his career, he became a valuable utility player and a record-setting pinch hitter. Davalillo also had an exceptional career in the Venezuelan Winter League where he is the all-time leader in total base hits and in career batting average.
In 1965, Davalillo led the league in batting at mid-season with a .345 batting average, earning him a place as the starting center fielder for the American League team in the 1965 All-Star Game. He ended the 1965 season with a .301 batting average, third-best in the American League behind Tony Oliva and Carl Yastrzemski, the only other players to break the .300 mark that year. Davalillo had an off year in 1966 and, the Indians began playing him only when they faced right handed pitchers. In 1967, he hit for a .302 average against right handed pitchers but, only managed a .188 average against left handers, for a .287 average overall.
Davalillo dropped to a .239 average on June 15, 1968 when the Indians traded him to the California Angels for former All-Star Jimmie Hall. He went on to lead the Angels with a .298 batting average after the trade, finishing the season with a .277 average overall, the sixth highest average in the American League. In an era dominated by pitching, Yastrzemski was the only player in the American League to hit for an average higher than .300 in 1968
At the age of 41 in 1978, Davalillo hit for a .312 average as a pinch hitter for the Dodgers as they once again claimed the National League pennant before, losing to the New York Yankees for a second consecutive year in the 1978 World Series. Davalillo finished out his major league career as a utility player and pinch hitter for the Dodgers. For the last four seasons of his career, he was the oldest player in the National League until retiring at the end of the 1980 season at the age of 43. Davalillo returned to play in the Mexican League well into his late 40s. In 1987, the ballpark in Cabimas, Venezuela was renamed Estadio Víctor Davalillo. The Most Valuable Player award in the Venezuelan Winter League is also named after him. Davalillo was inducted into the Venezuelan Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003.

Rennie Stennett – 1973 Topps #348


Renaldo Antonio Stennett Porte (April 5, 1951, in Colón, Panama), is a former second baseman. Stennett played with the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants. He batted and threw right-handed. A World Series champion with the Pirates in 1979, Stennett shares the major league record for most hits in a game and was a member of the first all-black starting lineup in the major leagues.
In an 11-season career, Stennett was a .274 batter, with 41 home runs and 432 RBIs in 1,237 games. On September 1, 1971, Pittsburgh faced the Phillies with the first major league all-black starting lineup. Stennett led off the game for the Pirates, who won 10–7. In his first three seasons with Pittsburgh, Stennett was used at shortstop and second base. He also played at all three outfield positions, with an average arm and great reaction speed. He showed progress in 1973, when he hit 10 home runs and 55 RBIs in 128 games. Finally, in 1974, Stennett took over the starting second base job, beating out Dave Cash and Willie Randolph. Batting from the leadoff spot, he responded with a .291 average, 84 runs, 56 RBI, and a career-high 196 hits. The following season, Stennett became the only player in the 20th century to go seven-for-seven in a nine-inning game. On September 16, 1975, Stennett went 7-for-7 as Pittsburgh beat the Cubs, 22–0. Pittsburgh also set a major league record for the largest winning score in a shutout game in the modern era. He was the third player to collect seven hits in a single game, and the second to do it in a nine-inning game.
On August 21, 1977, Stennett was batting .336 for the season, but he broke his right leg while sliding into second base. He was out for the year and had fewer than the required number of at bats or plate appearances, falling short of qualifying for the batting title, won by teammate Dave Parker. In that season, Stennett collected a career-high 28 stolen bases. A free agent at the end of the 1979 season Stennett, was signed by the Giants to a five year, $3 million dollar contract in what would be one of the first “busts” of the free agent era. After two years with San Francisco, he was released in April of 1982, with three years remaining on and $2 million left on the contract which the Giants still had to pay him as the contract was guaranteed.

Milt May – 1973 Topps #529


 

ImageMilton Scott May (born August 1, 1950 in Gary, Indiana) professional baseball player and coach who played from 1970 to 1984. May was a catcher who hit for a fairly high batting average during the era in which he played. May drove in the one-millionth run in Major League Baseball history on May 4, 1975, with three-run home run. He was reputedly the slowest runner in the majors for much of his career. May was a member of the Pirates team that won the 1971 World Series. In the seventh inning of Game Four of that series, his pinch-hit single drove in Bob Robertson with the winning run in a 4-3 Pirate victory. Tragedy struck the Pirates in late 1972, when outfielder Roberto Clemente died in a plane crash. May was slated to replace Clemente in the Pirates’ lineup in 1973, with catcher Manny Sanguillén moving to right field. ImageHowever the experiment ended by July when it was determined that Sanguillen could not adjust to playing in the outfield and May was back on the Pirates’ bench. In a 15 year career, May played in 1192 games, accumulating 971 hits in 3693 at bats for a .263 career batting average along with 77 home runs and 443 runs batted in. He ended his career with a .986 fielding percentage. May became a coach for the Pirates in 1987, serving under manager Jim Leyland. He was major-league hitting coach for ten seasons in Pittsburgh and two with the Florida Marlins. He spend the first half of the 1999 season with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and was later named a pitching coach for the Colorado Rockies. May was a scout for the Rockies in 2000, then spent the 2001 season as a Pirates minor-league hitting coordinator.

Gene Alley – 1973 Topps #635

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ImageLeonard Eugene Alley (born July 10, 1940 in Richmond, Virginia) is a former Major League Baseball shortstop who played his entire career for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was a modest hitter and an exceptionally steady shortstop with good range and an accurate throwing arm. He won two Gold Glove Awards at shortstop and also two All-Star appearances on the strength of his glove. ImageHe spent most of his career turning double plays with Baseball Hall of Fame second baseman Bill Mazeroski, and the two set a MLB record of 161 double plays in a season in 1966 that still stands. They also joined a select list of eight shortstop-second baseman duos to each win a Gold Glove the same season while playing together twice. Shoulder and knee problems ultimately ended his career and prevented him from realizing his full potential. On September 2, 1970, Alley hit an inside the park grand slam at Jarry Park in Montreal,against the Montreal Expos. With the bases loaded, facing Carl Morton, Alley hit a line drive which landed in front of center fielder Boots Day, who slipped on the wet grass. The ball rolled all the way to the wall in deepest center field, and all the baserunners and Alley scored.

Dave Guisti – 1973 Topps #465

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ImageDavid John Giusti, Jr., (born November 27, 1939, in Seneca Falls, New York) is a retired Major League Baseball pitcher who played from 1962 to 1977. He signed out of a college as a free agent with the Houston Colt .45s (later the Houston Astros), and played in Houston from 1962-68. Shortly before the 1968 expansion draft, Giusti was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals, who left him unprotected, and he was then drafted by the San Diego Padres. Two months later, Giusti was then traded back to the Cardinals. After the 1969 baseball season, Giusti was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates. With the Pirates, he was converted into a relief pitcher by manager Danny Murtaugh, and Giusti soon became one of the leading relief pitchers in the National League. Using his sinking palmball heavily, Giusti recorded 20 or more saves in each of the next four baseball seasons, and he led the National League with 30 saves in 1971 for the Pirates. Giusti appeared in three games for Pittsburgh in the 1971 World Series, earning a save in Game Four. Giusti was awarded The Sporting News Reliever of the Year Award in 1971. In 1973, ImageGiusti was selected for the National League’s All-Star Team. Giusti pitched a one-two-three seventh inning as the National League won the game 7-1.
Shortly before the beginning of the 1977 season, he was traded to the Oakland Athletics as part of a ten-player trade. One that also sent outfielder Tony Armas to Oakland, and sent infielder Phil Garner to Pittsburgh. In August, the Athletics sold Giusti’s contract to the Chicago Cubs where Giusti finished the season, and after being released by the Cubs in November, Giusti retired from baseball. After his baseball career, Giusti became a corporate sales manager for American Express. As of 2002, he was retired and living in Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania.

Bob Robertson – 1973 Topps #422

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ImageRobert Eugene Robertson (born October 2, 1946 in Mt. Savage, Maryland) is a former first baseman in Major League Baseball. Robertson, who batted and threw right-handed, played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays. Robertson broke into the Pirates’ regular lineup in 1970 playing alongside future Hall-of-Famers Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell. He batted .287 with 27 home runs and 82 runs batted in on a team that won the National League East Division, the Pirates’ first trip to the post-season since winning the 1960 World Series. In 1971 Robertson hit .271 with 26 home runs and 72 RBIs. That year, the Pirates defeated the San Francisco Giants, and the Baltimore Orioles 4 games to 3 to win the World Series. In the NLCS he hit four home runs (a record later tied by Steve Garvey in 1978 and Jeffrey Leonard in 1987), three of them in the Pirates’ Game Two victory. He also added a double, setting the record for most total bases in a post-season game, as well as tying the record of 4 long hits a post-season game. Robertson would hit two more home runs in the World Series; one of those came in Game Three of Baltimore starter Mike Cuellar with Clemente on second and Stargell on first. Third-base coach Frank Oceak had given Robertson the bunt sign in this at-bat, but Robertson, Imagewho had no sacrifice bunts on the season and only one the year before, missed it. Television replays would show that Clemente had appeared to call time-out just before that pitch; however, Cuellar was already in his windup at the time. Steve Blass, the winning pitcher in Game Three, was sitting next to manager Danny Murtaugh in the Pirate dugout. The pitcher offered to pay the fine if Murtaugh imposed one on Robertson for missing the bunt sign. Murtaugh didn’t.
In the years following the World Series title, however Robertson slumped, hitting only .193 with 12 home runs and 41 RBI in 1972, .239 with 14 home runs and 40 RBIs in 1973 and .229 with 16 home runs and 48 RBIs in 1974. After having surgery done on both knees in 1974 he was reduced to only a part-time player.

Nelson Briles – 1973 Topps #303

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ImageNelson Kelley Briles (August 5, 1943 – February 13, 2005) was a pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Kansas City Royals, Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles. Briles batted and threw right-handed. In a 14-year career, Briles compiled a 129-112 record with a 3.44 ERA in 2,111 innings pitched. A hard thrower whose best pitch was a slider, he also exhibited excellent control. He posted a respectable 2.126 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Briles began his Major League career with the Cardinals as a reliever and spot starter. In 1967, Dick Hughes was promoted into the starting rotation after Bob Gibson suffered a broken leg when hit by a Roberto Clemente line drive on July 15. Briles responded by winning nine straight games, leading the National League in winning percentage and the Cardinals staff in ERA. He also tossed a complete game for the Cardinals in Game 3 of their 1967 World Series win over the Red Sox. In 1968, Briles won 19 games and 15 in 1969, but he slumped badly in the next two years. Before the 1971 season, the Cardinals traded Briles, along with Vic Davalillo to the Pirates for Matty Alou and George Brunet. ImageHe was 8-4 for the Pirates that season and pitched a complete-game two-hit shutout against Baltimore in Game 5 of the 1971 World Series. Briles won 14 in 1972 and 1973, and was sent to Kansas City. He also pitched with Texas and finished his career with the Orioles.
Following his retirement as a player, Briles worked as a television color commentator for the Pirates, Seattle Mariners, and USA Network. He joined the Pirates’ front office in 1986 as director of corporate sales, and was also the director of the team’s annual fantasy camp. Briles collapsed and died of an apparent heart attack in Orlando, Florida, while participating in the annual Pirates alumni golf tournament. He was 61.

Gene Clines – 1973 Topps #333


Eugene Anthony “Gene” Clines(born October 6, 1946 in San Pablo, California) In a 10-season career, Clines posted a .277 batting average with 187 RBI, 71 stolen bases, and five home runs in 870 games. A fast runner with excellent defensive skills, Clines debuted in 1970 with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a reserve outfielder, hitting .405 (15-for-37) in 31 games in his rookie year. He went to the postseason with Pittsburgh in the 1971, 1972 and 1974 National League Championship Series, winning a World Series ring with the Pirates in 1971.

Bill Virdon – 1973 Topps #517

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William Charles Virdon(born June 9, 1931 in Hazel Park, Michigan) is a former outfielder, manager and coach in Major League Baseball. A premier defensive outfielder during his playing days (1955–65) as a center fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates (winning a Gold Glove in 1962), Virdon also had a long tenure in the major leagues as a manager, with the Pirates (1972–73), New York Yankees (1974–75), Houston Astros (1975–82), and Montreal Expos (1983–84). He was the American League Manager of the Year in 1974, his only full season working for the Yankees of George Steinbrenner. Bill also was named National League Manager of the Year in 1980 while with the Houston Astros. As a manager, he led the Pirates to the 1972 NL East title, but the Buccos dropped the NLCS to the Cincinnati Reds when Pittsburgh pitcher Bob Moose unleashed a wild pitch in the final inning of Game 5, allowing the winning run to score. His 1980 Astros won the NL West championship, but fell to the Philadelphia Phillies in a five-game NLCS. His career managerial record, over all or parts of 13 seasons, was 995–921 (.519). He also served three different terms as a Pirates coach. He has the unusual distinction of having been replaced on two separate occasions by the manager he replaced; in Montreal (Jim Fanning) and in Pittsburgh (Danny Murtaugh).

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