It has been impossible now for decades to do this but back in the day they used to schedule doubleheader baseball games on the major summer holidays- Memorial Day- The 4th of July and Labor Day. When I was young I’d get the Pirates schedule as soon as if the Pirates were home on any of those holidays and he was off- work on him to take me to the doubleheaders. Nothing was as great as a doubleheader for a young fan who could never get enough of baseball.
The most memorable of the doubleheaders we went to- was on July 4, 1969. The Pirates were playing the Miracle Mets. In the first game of the doubleheader the Mets had their great pitcher- future Hall of Famer Tom Seaver pitching. My dad, uncle Dave and Whitey-[my grandfather} went to the game as I recall. My dad and Whitey were casual fans- Uncle Dave was a stone called fanatic. Everytime I saw him I’d pick his brain on baseball. We were sitting on the first base side. What makes this day memorable is not who won- the Mets won both games of the doubleheader- but what happened in the bottom of the 4th inning.
My hero Willie Stargell came up to lead off the Pirates bottom of the 4th inning and hit a Tom Seaver pitch over the right field roof. This was a rare happening. In the history of Forbes Field- 1909 to 1970 only 18 balls had been hit over the 86 foot high roof. The first to do it was Babe Ruth. Willie Stargell did it a total of 8 times. I can still picture the ball leaving the bat- it was like a rocket and I can still close my eyes and see the ball going and going and disappearing over the roof.
I don’t know how many holiday doubleheaders I got to attend. As a kid you don’t think to keep track of these things but I know I went to quite a few. Then years later when I was old enough to drive I would go with friends. Those were great times too but looking back it wasn’t as memorable as going with my dad- uncle and Whitey. I can’t recall going to any holiday doubleheaders after the early 1980’s- they quit scheduling doubleheaders- when they realized giving the fan 2 games for the price of 1 was cutting into the bottom line $$$$$$.
To this day and forever Willie Stargell will be my favorite baseball player ever. At the time I became a fan The Great One- Roberto Clemente was still going strong and I certainly admired him a great deal but for some reason I gravitated to Stargell- he seemed more approachable to a 7 year old plus he was a big guy- left handed and at times then played some first base and hit home runs. I was built like a minute Stargell and left handed, played first base and pictured myself as down the road when Willie retired as being his replacement.