Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Reds-Bucs Rivalry Made for a Fun Mixed Marriage

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Reds-Bucs Rivalry Made for a Fun Mixed Marriage

Article excerpt

Who was on first? Tony Perez, of course. And Willie Stargell.

It was July 23, 1972, my first ballgame in Three Rivers Stadium, and I paid rapt attention to only half of each inning, when the Cincinnati Reds were at bat. I was a transplant, a June bride uprooted to metropolitan Pittsburgh from another river city and another stadium. That one was named Riverfront .

The stadiums were virtually identical: circular, multi-sport and too large for the intimacy of baseball. I felt right at home in Three Rivers sitting next to my new husband, who was a Pirates fan from childhood.

We kept score. We bought the Pirates Official Scorebook, costing 35 cents. I scored the top half of the inning (visiting Reds), he scored the bottom. I had learned to keep score from my father - he from his uncle, a Brooklyn Dodgers and Yankees fan. Final score on that July day 43 years ago was Pirates 3, Reds 2.

In 1972, the Pirates were fresh off their world championship year. The Reds were creating the Big Red Machine. They would go on to beat the Pirates that year in the National League Championship Series on a ninth-inning wild pitch.

My husband and I were young, in love, competitive when it came to baseball. It was a mixed marriage, and July 23 was a teasing, playful kind of day.

We had no idea then what would happen to Roberto Clemente at year's end, what shame would be heaped upon Pete Rose in years to come. I think we only vaguely understood the caliber of play we were witnessing from future Hall of Famers, how rare it really was.

Imagine these men taking the field -a field of dreams by any fan's estimation:

For the Reds (insert boos here), the starting lineup consisted of Rose, Joe Morgan, Bobby Tolan, Johnny Bench, Perez, Cesar Geronimo, Dave Concepcion and Darrel Chaney.

The Pirates sent out - to a chorus of hosanna-like cheers and intense clapping - Gene Clines, Bill Mazeroski, Clemente, Stargell, Manny Sanguillen, Al Oliver, Bobby Robertson and Gene Alley, plus Steve Blass pitching.

Baseball was America's pastime back then. One of my earliest memories is of attending a Reds' game in old Crosley Field and my father yanking me back into my seat. …

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