Thursday, December 31, 2009

9/2/70 Pittsburgh Pirates 7, Montreal Expos 10

Jarry Park, Montreal, Canada

The ne’er-do-well Expos (in the second year of their franchise existence) host the nearly unstoppable Pirates in a free-for-all that was less than calculated and more of a ‘heaping on’ of circumstance. The Pirates were well on their way through what might have been their first championship season in 10 years – in fact, they captured the NL east but fell to the Reds in a sweep for the NL pennant.

PIT 7 9 1
MON 10 8 0

While the Expos scored first (one run in the 1st inning), the Pirates retaliated in a chaotic 6-run 6th inning, remembered best for SS Gene Alley’s inside-the-park Grand Slam against Carl Morton. Morton lasted one more inning, to be relieved by the ever-fantastic (Dr) Mike Marshall. Marshall’s performance was the true turning point for the Expos, who laid down an offensive attack in the 8th inning that gave them a one-run lead over the Pirates.

The Pirates tied the game with a solo HR by pinch hitter Bob Robertson. The Expos’ late-inning lineup shuffle seemed a bit shocking, especially since Bob Bailey (3 for 3!), Boots Day, Bobby Wine, and Jim Gosger were batting very well –and had marvelous sideburns, too- but it was a 9th inning substitution that made this game a memorable one. John Boccabella (he was a CUB!!) entered the game as Catcher, batting 5th to replace pinch-hitter Adolfo Phillips, with 2 men on base (both walked by Joe Gibbon). Boccabella hit all of 26 HR in his 12-year career, but this one shook the rafters…a huge 3 run walk-off HR that stunned the crowd of 15K Canadian baseball fans.

A mini-highlight for me was the introduction in late innings of Freddie Patek and Bruce Dal Canton by the Pirates. Dal Canton allowed Boccabella’s HR blast, but Gibbon got the L because he owned the other 2 guys on base who scored. Patek and Dal Canton (along with Jerry May) were traded to the Royals the following year; of course Patek was the true lopsided end of that deal.

The game was called on CBC-TV by Hal Kelly and Don Drysdale, in his first year out of the majors as a color commentator. In the Expos’ 7th, pinch-hitter Mack Jones was in the box, and lost the call on a checked swinging strike 2. Jones looks at the ump and his mouth goes “What was that?” Hal Kelly mentions this, and Drysdale responds “I don’t care what it was, he was way in front of it.”

I scored this game on 12/20/09.

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