1979 World Series – Pirates and Orioles


In a rematch of the 1971 World Series the Baltimore Orioles 102-57 still managed by Earl Weaver met the Pittsburgh Pirates 98-64 managed by former Pirate player Chuck Tanner.

The Pirates had swept the Cincinnati Reds in the Championship Series 3-0 and were led by 39 year old Willie Stargell 32 HR/82RBI, Bill Robinson 24 HR/75RBI, Bill Madlock .328 BA, Omar Moreno 110 RS and Dave Parker 25 HR/94 RBI/.310 BA/109RS.

Curveballer Bert Blyleven had a 12-5 record and John Candalaria was 14-9. Bruce Kison compiled a 13-7 record and submariner Kent Tekulve 10-8 was in the bullpen where he recorded 31 saves.

The Orioles featured Eddie Murray 25HR/99RBI/.295BA, Gary Roenike 25 HR, Ken Singleton 35HR/ 111 RBI/.295 BA and former Red Lee May 19HR/69RBI.

Their pitching staff was anchored by Mike Flanagan 23-9, Steve Stone 11-7, Scott McGregor 13-6, Jim Palmer 10-6 who 13 years earlier had started the second game of the WS against Sandy Koufax, and Tippy Martinez 10-3 in the bullpen with Don Stanhouse who had 21 saves.

Oriole manager Earl Weaver liked to go for the big inning and use his starters as far into the game as he could. His volatile personality and arguments with umpires always made for an interesting game.

The Pirates adopted a popular song “We are Family” by disco group Sister Sledge as their motto as the teams squared off in game one in Memorial Stadium in Baltimore.

Mike Flanagan faced Bruce Kison and Kison had a rough day lasting only a third of an inning and by time the first inning was over the Orioleshad a 5-0 lead which behind Flanagan who pitched a complete game victory was enough as they held on for a 5-4 win with Willie Stargell getting a solo home run.

Game two was still in Baltimore and two Hall of Famersfaced off in Jim Palmer and Bert Blyleven but neither would figure in the decision as the game wastied 2-2 in the ninth when pinch hitter Manny Sanguillen singled Pittsburgh catcher Ed Ott in for a 3-2 win.

Game three was in Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh with Scott McGregor facing John Candalaria who was driven from the game in the fifth inning as the Orioles erupted for five runs to go on to an 8-4 victory with Benny Ayala adding a home run with one on for the winners and the Orioles go up 2-1 in the series.

Jim Bibby started against Dennis Martinez for the Orioles and the Pirates built up a 6-3 lead after seven innings but the Baltimore bats exploded against DonRobinson and Kent Tekulve for six runs and Baltimore wins 9-6 despitean another home run by Willie Stargell and the Pirates are on the verge of elimination with the series at 3-1.

The Pirates were in a similar situation in 1971 and won the series and they rallied the next day, holding the Orioles to one run while scoring seven of their own for a 7-1 win to bring the series to 3-2.

Game six was in Baltimore and again the Pirates got good pitching as John Candalaria together with Tekulve combined for a seven hit shutout to even the series and force a seventh game with a 4-0 victory.

Scoot McGregor got the ball for Baltimore and Jim Bibby started for Pittsburgh. McGregor pitched masterfully until he gave up a sixth inning home run to Willie Stargell with one base runner aboard and that proved to be the winning run as Baltimore could not score against the Pirate relief pitchers and the Pirates win the game 4-1 and the series.

Using a combination of starters and relievers Pittsburgh had held the Orioles to only two runs in the final three games. Bespectacled closer Kent Tekulve saved two of those games while Willie Stargell got the series MVP.

Pittsburgh has not been back to the Fall Classic but Baltimore returned in the Cal Ripken Jr. era in 1983.


By Ron Griffitts

Contributing Columnist

Ron Griffitts a contributing columnist for the Daily Advocate

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