A Recent History of the 82nd Win – 1982

Continuing with the history of the joy of being above .500, let’s have a look at 1982.

After winning it all in 1979 and fading down the stretch in 1980, the 1981 season was nothing short of disastrous both for baseball and the Pirates. The 1981 strike commenced with the Pirates in fourth place and two games over .500. The split season continued with Pittsburgh finishing in last place in the second half of the season. The front office began reacting to right the ship as Johnny Ray was acquired from Houston in a trade that saw Phil Garner move over to the Astros. Ray, along with fellow 1981 acquisition Jason Thompson, would play a big role in the 1982 season.

Although the Pirates finished above .500 in 1982, they were never in first place. By the end of May, the Pirates were 11 games off the pace and nine games under .500. A solid summer effort left the Pirates three games in back of the Phillies after they split double header in Philadelphia on August 9. The Pirate were 3.5 games off the pace after a win from Randy Niemann (also acquired for Garner) on September 14. But the Pirates would drop seven of the next ten to fall 9.5 games back after a loss to Montreal on 9/25. The Cardinals went on a streak of 11 wins in 13 games to pull away from Montreal, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Side note: in 1982, baseball enjoyed parity that was unmatched in it’s recent history. Perhaps it was other factors, but my guess would be the biggest one was free agency. For the first time since divisional play began, no team in the Majors won more than 95 games (not counting the strike-shortened 1981 season). As a frame of reference, the Cincinnati Reds averaged 95 wins a year for the entire decade of the 1970s. 1978 began a stretch of ten straight years in a which a different franchise would take home a World Series – something that had never been done before or since. The winners, chronologically – Yankees, Pirates, Phillies, Dodgers, Cardinals, Orioles, Tigers, Royals, Mets and Twins.

Back in Pittsburgh, the offense was paced by four players. Thompson became one of the first players to hit 30 homers in both leagues. He knocked in 101 runs along with those 31 dingers. He also walked 101 times. Bill Madlock established career best with 95 RBI and hit .319. Rookie Johnny Ray played in all 162 games and finished second in the Rookie of the Year balloting to Los Angeles media darling Steve Sax (Ray finished first in the voting held by The Sporting News). Tony Pena continued the impressive arc of his young career with a .296 batting average.

The pitching staff was anchored by John Candelaria, who led the starters in ERA. Don Robinson posted a team best 15 wins despite an ERA that was lower than the league average. Rick Rhoden topped the staff in starts and innings pitched. Kent Tekulve and Rod Scurry formed a solid righty/lefty duo out of the bullpen. Teke had 20 saves and a 2.87 ERA. Scurry saved 14 and had a sparkling ERA of 1.76.

Larry McWilliams tossed a complete game shutout against Montreal and recently deceased Charlie Lea on September 26, 1982 to send the Pirates to 81 wins. After dropping both games of a two game set in Shea, the Pirates returned home September 29th to a lackluster audience (4,930) to square off against front running St. Louis. The Cards got a cheap one early. Tommy Herr singled and moved to third when Pena’s throw to second on a steal attempt was bungled by Dale Berra. Herr moved to third on the error and scored on a single from Dane Iorg. Pittsburgh jumped on St. Louis starter John Stuper with both feet. Omar Moreno walked (one of just 44 walks he would get on the year as he posted an OBP of just .292). He was balked to second. Rookie sensation Ray doubled him in. Rattled, Stuper uncorked a wild one and Ray moved up. Mike Easler walked and Thompson doubled home both runners. After Rich Hebner singled, Jim Morrison hit into a double play for the first two outs of the inning, scoring Thompson with the fourth run.

Hebner singled in Thompson in the third to make it 5-1. But Bucco starter Don Robinson hit some trouble in the fifth. Pinch hitting for Stuper, Gene Roof singled. Roof swiped second. Mike Ramsey singled to Berra. Roof attempted to move to third on Berra’s throw to first, but Hedi Vargas – who replaced Thompson at first – gunned him down for the first out. Steve Braun walked. After a harmless fly ball out from future Pirate Lonnie Smith, Robinson walked Iorg to load the bases. The Cardinals top rookie – Willie McGee – singled in two runs. That knock chased Robinson to the showers. Enrique Romo relieved him and proceeded to pitch 4-1/3 innings of one hit shutout baseball to slam the door for the win.

Vargas would contribute the first two RBI of his career later in the game as the Pirates pulled away to win 7-3.

The Pirates would split the last four games to finish 84-78. 1983 would bring big changes to the club. Willie Stargell retired, leaving a gaping leadership hole that the team didn’t adequately fill. Omar Moreno left via free agency after 1982. Of the primary starting eight from 1979, only two remained in 1983 – Madlock and Dave Parker.

Share This Article

Randy Linville

Randy is currently living and thriving in suburban Dayton, OH with his wife and two kids. He was raised in Cincinnati, OH and attended Anderson High School. He went to Miami University (Ohio) and received a degree in Paper Science Engineering from MU. He is a devout Christian and a pop culture buff. He coaches his son’s baseball and basketball teams and his daughters softball and basketball teams. Randy has been a Pirates fan since the late 1970s and has fond memories of the 1979 World Series team. He began blogging for Most Valuable Network in 5/2004 after stumbling across a help-wanted sign for a Pirates blogger. He wrote for Pittsburgh Lumber Co. until the site merged with Pirates Prospects in 2/2011.

Baseball In 1906: The Hall of Famers

Next Story »

Deacon Phillippe: By the Numbers

Latest Analysis

  • Austin Meadows

    Austin Meadows Lowered His Hand Position to Add More Power

    4 hours ago

    Ever since he was drafted, Austin Meadows was regarded as a prospect with power that you could dream about. He drew comps to Jay Bruce in the ...

    Read More
  • Tarpley Brault

    Will the Snider Trade Result in the Pirates Finally Having a Left-Handed Starting Prospect?

    20 hours ago

    Despite adding plenty of pitching through the draft over the last several years, the Pittsburgh Pirates have been short on the amount of quality left-handed pitching in their ...

    Read More
  • Connor Joe 2

    Meet Connor Joe: The First Round Pick You Know Nothing About

    1 day ago

    This site is now in its seventh year of existence. For the last four years, I’ve been doing this full-time, allowing me to see every affiliate throughout the year, along ...

    Read More
  • (Photo Credit: David Hague)

    What is the Difference Between Mel Rojas and Keon Broxton?

    2 days ago

    Mel Rojas Jr. was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the third round of the 2010 MLB draft. The son of the former big league closer had ...

    Read More
  • Jose Tabata

    The Details of Jose Tabata’s New Swing

    3 days ago

    On Friday I wrote about how Jose Tabata talked to Marlon Byrd over the off-season, aimed at changing his swing to add some leverage, lift the ball, ...

    Read More
  • (Photo Credit: David Hague)

    What Led to Keon Broxton’s Breakout Year in Altoona?

    4 days ago

    Keon Broxton used to be one of the top prospects in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ farm system. Baseball America ranked him as high as tenth in the system ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles

    More

    Advertisement