MY FAVORITE 4TH OF JULY MEMORY- JULY 4, 1969

Overview of Forbes Field

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.

 

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