On this date in both 1971 and 1979, the Pirates defeated the Baltimore Orioles in game five of the World Series. Both games occurred at Three Rivers Stadium but under different circumstances. In 1971 the series was tied two games apiece. The Pirates went with Nelson Briles for his first start of the series while the winner of game one, Dave McNally, took the mound for the Orioles.
The Pirates got to McNally early with a solo homer by Bob Robertson to lead off the 2nd inning followed later on in the inning by a single by Briles that scored Manny Sanguillen. They scored again in the 3rd with help from the Orioles. An error by Brooks Robinson set up a wild pitch by McNally that scored Gene Clines. The Pirates scored their fourth and final run in the 5th on an RBI single by Roberto Clemente that brought home Clines who tripled to lead off the inning. Briles needed just one run to win as he pitched great all game, allowing just two singles and two walks for the complete game shutout.
In 1979 the Pirates trailed 3 games to 1 in the series, so game five in Pittsburgh was a must win. They went with 36 year old veteran Jim Rooker, who had not made a start in 19 days. During the season he was ineffective in 17 starts, winning four games overall and just two of his last 14 starts. Rooker came through for the Pirates pitching brilliantly, allowing just one run over five innings before Bert Blyleven took over and threw four scoreless innings to finish the game.
The Pirates scored their runs late in the game in bunches. The Orioles led 1-0 going into the bottom of the 6th when the Pirates put two men on for Willie Stargell. Pops brought home the tying run with a sacrifice fly and Bill Madlock followed him with a single that scored Dave Parker. In the 7th they scored two more runs on an RBI triple from Tim Foli that scored Omar Moreno and a double from Parker that scored Foli. In the 8th they plated three runs, the first coming on an RBI single from Phil Garner and the last two from a single by Foli. The score would stay 7-1 and the series would now shift to Memorial Stadium in Baltimore for games six and seven.
Born on this date in 1946 was Al Oliver, who played for the Pirates from 1968-1977. He signed as a 17 year old in June of 1964 and made his debut the next year in Gastonia where he hit .309 in 123 games. He played for Raleigh in the Carolina League in 1966 and hit .299 in 117 games. He repeated the level to start the next year but was promoted to AA to finish the 1967 season where he struggled. Despite hitting just .222 in AA he was promoted to AAA for 1968 and by the end of the year he was in the majors with the Pirates.
In 1969 Oliver was in the majors to stay and he played well, finishing 2nd in the NL rookie of the year voting with his .285 average, 17 homers and 70 RBI’s in 129 games. He mainly played first base his rookie season but after that year the position he played most was center field with the Pirates. In his time in Pittsburgh he made three all-star games, received MVP votes in five different seasons and batted over .300 four times. He played a total of 1302 games in a Pirates uniform and his 1490 hits during that time ranks him 12th in team history.His 276 doubles ranks 10th in team history and his 717 RBI’s is the 13th highest total.
The Pirates dealt Oliver in December of 1977 to the Texas Rangers as part of a four team trade that brought Hall of Fame pitcher, Bert Blyleven and outfielder John Milner back to Pittsburgh. Oliver finished his 18 year career with a .303 average, 529 career doubles which ranks 34th all-time and his 2743 hits still ranks 53rd all-time in baseball history. He made seven all-star games and won three silver slugger awards in his career.