|Dates:||October 10–October 17|
|MVP:||Willie Stargell (Pittsburgh, at 39, the oldest in history)|
|TV announcers:||Keith Jackson (Games 1–2, 6–7), Al Michaels (Games 3–5), Howard Cosell, Don Drysdale|
|Radio announcers:||Vin Scully, Sparky Anderson|
|Umpires:||Jerry Neudecker (AL), Bob Engel (NL), Russ Goetz (AL), Paul Runge (NL), Jim McKean (AL), Terry Tata (NL)|
|Future Hall of Famers:|| Pirates: Willie Stargell.|
Orioles: Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer.
|ALCS:||Baltimore Orioles over California Angels (3–1)|
|NLCS:||Pittsburgh Pirates over Cincinnati Reds (3–0)|
| World Series
The 1979 World Series matched the National League's Pittsburgh Pirates (98–64) against the American League's Baltimore Orioles (102–57), with the Pirates coming back from a three games to one deficit to win the Series in seven games. The Pirates were famous for adopting Sister Sledge's hit anthem "We Are Family" as their theme song.
Willie Stargell, pitcher Bruce Kison, and catcher Manny Sanguillen were the only players left over from the 1971 Pirates team that faced the Orioles. Orioles' pitcher Jim Palmer, Mark Belanger, and manager Earl Weaver were the only ones who were still with the team that faced the Pirates in 1971.
In this Series, it was the American League team's "turn" to play by National League rules, meaning no designated hitter and the Orioles' pitchers would have to bat. While this resulted in Tim Stoddard getting his first major league hit and RBI in Game 4, overall, it hurt the Orioles because Lee May, their designated hitter for much of the season and a key part of their offense, was only able to bat three times in the whole series.
Willie Stargell, the series MVP, hit .400 with a record seven extra-base hits and matched Reggie Jackson's record of 25 total bases, set in 1977.
These same two teams met at the beginning of the decade, in 1971. Earl Weaver's Orioles had won the first two games of that series only to lose to Danny Murtaugh's Pirates in seven. This time Pittsburgh manager Chuck Tanner was looking to win a Series of his own. Gone were the likes of slugger Boog Powell and defensive wizard Brooks Robinson—shortstop Mark Belanger and pitcher Jim Palmer were the only two remaining players from the 1971 roster. A young (23 year old) "Steady Eddie" Murray was a staple at first-base and an emerging superstar. The only other real "star" hitter on the team was right-fielder Ken Singleton who set career highs in home runs, 35, and runs batted in, 111, in the regular season. Center fielder Al Bumbry provided the speed, 37 swipes, and outfielder Gary Roenicke and third-baseman Doug DeCinces provided some additional power. The talented pitching staff was captained by veteran catcher Rick Dempsey. The starters were led by 1979 Cy Young Award winner, Mike Flanagan (23–9, 3.08), Scott McGregor (13–6, 3.35), Steve Stone (11–7, 3.77) and Jim Palmer (10–6, 3.30). The bullpen helped with 30 wins against only 13 losses led by Don Stanhouse (7–3, 21 saves) and Tippy Martinez (10–3, 2.88). The Orioles won the American League East rather easily, finishing eight games ahead of second place Milwaukee Brewers.
On the other hand, these Pittsburgh Pirates struggled early in the season eventually winning the National League East by just two games over the Montreal Expos. Only after getting infielders, Tim Foli (from the New York Mets) and Bill Madlock (from the San Francisco Giants), did the Pirates start winning consistently. The great Roberto Clemente had inspired the 1971 team toward the title and the key ingredient to this team was his successor and spiritual leader, 38-year-old Willie "Pops" Stargell. His clubhouse demeanor, a simple good-heartedness and friendly manner, helped keep the Pirates loose during a tight divisional race with a surprise sweep of the always powerful Cincinnati Reds in the divisional playoffs.
The Bucs lineup featured the National League leader in stolen bases, Omar Moreno with 77; team runs batted in leader, Dave Parker with 98, and two-time batting champion, Bill Madlock (1975, 1976). Madlock would add two more batting titles in 1981 and 1983. The pitching staff was a ragtag bunch led by the "Candy-Man", John Candelaria's fourteen wins (nine losses) with five other pitchers winning ten or more games. The tall and lean Kent Tekulve had 31 saves, good for second in the league, while winning ten games.
"Pops" Stargell would hit three home runs in this series becoming the oldest player to win both the regular season MVP and the World Series MVP. His "Family" would come back after losing the first three out of four games giving Earl Weaver and his Orioles a déjà vu nightmare, the Bucs coming back to win in seven games.
|1||Pittsburgh Pirates – 4, Baltimore Orioles – 5||October 10||Memorial Stadium||53,735|
|2||Pittsburgh Pirates – 3, Baltimore Orioles – 2||October 11||Memorial Stadium||53,739|
|3||Baltimore Orioles – 8, Pittsburgh Pirates – 4||October 12||Three Rivers Stadium||50,848|
|4||Baltimore Orioles – 9, Pittsburgh Pirates – 6||October 13||Three Rivers Stadium||50,883|
|5||Baltimore Orioles – 1, Pittsburgh Pirates – 7||October 14||Three Rivers Stadium||50,920|
|6||Pittsburgh Pirates – 4, Baltimore Orioles – 0||October 16||Memorial Stadium||53,739|
|7||Pittsburgh Pirates – 4, Baltimore Orioles – 1||October 17||Memorial Stadium||53,733|
HRs: PIT – Willie Stargell (1) BAL – Doug DeCinces (1)
On a cold wet October night, the 1979 World Series got off to an ugly start. The Orioles scored five runs in the first, two on a throwing error by second baseman Phil Garner, one on a wild pitch by starter Bruce Kison, and the final two on a homer by Doug DeCinces. The Pirate relief corps held the Orioles in check as the Pirates clawed their way back on the strength of four hits by Dave Parker and a homer by Willie Stargell. The rally fell short, and the O's escaped with a 5–4 win.
HRs: BAL – Eddie Murray (1)
This time, the Pirates struck first with two in the second on an RBI single by Bill Madlock and a sacrifice fly by catcher Ed Ott. The Orioles countered in the bottom half of the inning with an Eddie Murray solo homer. Murray would also tie the game in the sixth by doubling in Ken Singleton. Murray tried to put the Orioles ahead in the same inning by tagging and attempting to score on a line-out to right by John Lowenstein, but Dave Parker threw him out easily. Making the decision to send Murray that much more odd was the fact that Parker's throw to the plate arrived well ahead of him. Murray tried to bowl Ott over at the plate, but the stocky Ott held fast, staying on his feet.
Murray also made a questionable base running decision in the eighth. With Murray on second with no outs, Lowenstein grounded into the hole between short and third and Tim Foli made a sensational stop. Murray inexplicably stopped between second and third, and Foli threw to Madlock to force him out, and then Madlock threw to Phil Garner at second to force Doug DeCinces and complete an unusual double play. Murray would not collect another hit or RBI for the rest of the Series.
The Pirates went ahead in the top of the ninth on a two-out single by Ott, a walk to Garner, and a clutch single by pinch-hitter Manny Sanguillen. Ott barely slid past the outstretched arms of catcher Rick Dempsey to score the winning run. Kent Tekulve retired the side in the ninth for the save.
HRs: BAL – Benny Ayala (1)
With left-hander John Candelaria taking the mound for the Pirates, Oriole manager Earl Weaver made a couple of lineup changes, hoping to spark more offense. He led off with Kiko Garcia, playing shortstop in place of light-hitting Mark Belanger, and used Benny Ayala in place of Al Bumbry. Ayala and Garcia were both right-handed hitters. The moves paid off as Ayala slammed a two-run homer in the third, and Garcia sparked a five-run rally in the fourth with a bases-loaded triple as part of a 4-for-4, four RBI evening. O's starter Scott McGregor pitched a complete game for the victory.
HRs: PIT – Willie Stargell (2)
The Pirates jumped on starter Dennis Martinez for four runs in the second on a homer by Stargell, a two-run double by Ott, and an RBI single by Omar Moreno. The Orioles struck back with three in the third off Jim Bibby on a two-run double by Game 3 hero Garcia, followed by an RBI double by Ken Singleton. The Pirates stretched the lead to 6–3 on single runs in the fifth and sixth on RBI doubles by John Milner and Dave Parker.
In the eighth, Earl Weaver once again showed some strategic genius. With one out and the bases loaded, Pirates manager Chuck Tanner sent in submarining relief ace Kent Tekulve to face right-handed hitting Gary Roenicke. Weaver countered by pinch-hitting lefty John Lowenstein, figuring the lefty would be better able to hit Tekulve's sidewhip pitches. Lowenstein made the move pay off by slamming a two-run double. After a walk loaded the bases again, Weaver sent another lefty hitter, Terry Crowley, to bat for Dave Skaggs. Crowley smashed another two-run double off Tekulve to give the Orioles the lead. To add insult to injury, pitcher Tim Stoddard, batting because Weaver was out of pinch hitters at that point, followed with an RBI single. An RBI force-out by Bumbry ended the scoring.
With a world championship on the line and Game 1 starter Bruce Kison injured, Chuck Tanner decided to go with little-used veteran left-hander Jim Rooker as his starter. He would let Rooker go as long as possible, then bring in Bert Blyleven to finish, saving his two best pitchers, sore-shouldered John Candelaria and Jim Bibby for Games 6 and 7, if played. The risky move more than paid off as Rooker gave Tanner five good innings, holding the Orioles to one run in the fifth when Gary Roenicke scored on a double play grounder. The Pirate bats finally came alive against Mike Flanagan in the sixth on a Dave Parker RBI single and a sacrifice fly by Willie Stargell. The Pirates added two more in the seventh on a RBI triple by Tim Foli and a RBI double by Parker, and then three more in the eighth on a RBI single by Phil Garner and a two-run single by Foli. Thanks to the unexpected performance from Rooker, a 4-for-4 day from Bill Madlock, and Foli's three RBIs, the Pirates had staved off defeat.
Back home at Memorial Stadium, the Oriole bats continued to be unexpectedly cold as John Candelaria and Jim Palmer locked into a scoreless duel through six innings. Dave Parker broke the ice with a RBI single in the seventh, followed by a Stargell sacrifice fly. The Pirates added two more runs in the eighth on a Bill Robinson sac fly and a RBI single by Omar Moreno.
HRs: PIT – Willie Stargell (3) BAL – Rich Dauer (1)
The Pirates capped an amazing comeback on the strength of Willie Stargell, who went 4 for 5 with a single, two doubles, and a towering two-run homer in the sixth off Scott McGregor. For insurance in the ninth, Omar Moreno collected an RBI single, while another run scored when Dave Parker and Bill Robinson were hit by pitches back-to-back, scoring Moreno. The O's only run came on a Rich Dauer solo homer in the third, the team's only RBI in the last three games. Significantly, Eddie Murray, the Orioles' main offensive threat, was 0 for 21 in the final five games of the Series. Following their six run outburst in the eighth inning of Game 4, the Birds scored only twice more over the series' final 28 innings.
<tr><td style="text-align:left;" colspan="13">Total attendance: 367,597 Average attendance: 52,514</td></tr> <tr><td style="text-align:left;" colspan="13">Winning player’s share: $28,264 Losing player’s share: $22,114</td></tr>
- Five Pirates had ten or more hits in this series, a World Series record.
The Pirates wore four different uniform combinations during the series:
- gold cap, black jersey and gold pants for Games 1 & 5
- black cap, gold jersey and black pants for Games 2, 6 & 7
- black cap and solid white pinstriped uniform for Game 3
- black cap and solid gold uniform for Game 4.
This was the first World Series in which the participating teams' announcers were not involved in the play-calling on national radio, (Network television had done the same in 1977.) For the '79 Classic, Vin Scully and Sparky Anderson handled the play-by-play work for the CBS Radio Network. But because of their lead-announcer status for CBS Radio, Scully and Jack Buck did wind up calling their regular teams' Series games on CBS Radio in the 1980s—Scully in 1981 (his Los Angeles Dodgers vs. the New York Yankees) and Buck in 1985 and 1987 (Buck's St. Louis Cardinals against the Kansas City Royals and Minnesota Twins), as would Jon Miller for ESPN Radio in 2002 (his San Francisco Giants against the Anaheim Angels). The Series was televised by ABC, with play-by-play announcers Keith Jackson (in Baltimore) and Al Michaels (in Pittsburgh), and color commentators Howard Cosell and Don Drysdale.
- In 2006 a "collector's edition" DVD box set, featuring the complete ABC telecasts of all seven games, was issued by Major League Baseball and A&E Home Video.
One-nothing, Baltimore, and a man aboard and Stargell at the plate. McGregor comes to him. And there's a high fly ball into deep right-center field! Back goes Singleton, way back, to the wall! It's gone! He's done it! Pops has hit it out!
Now when they walk down the street, the people of Pittsburgh can say that we come from a city that has nothing but champions!
- ↑ 1979 World Series Game 1 - Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Baltimore Orioles. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-08.
- ↑ 1979 World Series Game 2 - Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Baltimore Orioles. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-08.
- ↑ 1979 World Series Game 3 - Baltimore Orioles vs. Pittsburgh Pirates. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-08.
- ↑ 1979 World Series Game 4 - Baltimore Orioles vs. Pittsburgh Pirates. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-08.
- ↑ 1979 World Series Game 5 - Baltimore Orioles vs. Pittsburgh Pirates. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-08.
- ↑ 1979 World Series Game 6 - Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Baltimore Orioles. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-08.
- ↑ 1979 World Series Game 7 - Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Baltimore Orioles. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-08.
- Neft, David S., and Richard M. Cohen. The World Series. 1st ed. New York: St Martins, 1990. (Neft and Cohen 377–382)
- Reichler, Joseph, ed. (1982). The Baseball Encyclopedia (5th ed.), p. 2209. MacMillian Publishing. ISBN 0-02-579010-2.
- Forman, Sean L.. 1979 World Series. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information.. Retrieved on 2007-12-09.
- 1979 World Series at Baseball-Reference.com
- 1979 World Series at WorldSeries.com (MLB.com)
- 1979 World Series by Baseball Almanac
- Rising from the Ashes at SI.com
- History of the World Series - 1979 at SportingNews.com
- 1979 World Series box scores and play-by-play at Retrosheet.org
- 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates at baseballlibrary.com
- 1979 Baltimore Orioles at baseballlibrary.com