Remembrance Of Things Past- Monday night August 9, 1976. I was an irregular church goer growing up but once a year the church chartered a bus and took a group to see a Pittsburgh Pirates game. I never missed that. We had tickets for the Los Angeles Dodgers vs the Pittsburgh Pirates and we had a great location. Our tickets were on the second level directly behind home plate. There was also a little added excitement this game was going to be telecast on ABC’s Monday Night Baseball. The pitching match-up was Doug Rau for the Dodgers and young John Candelaria for the Pirates who went into the game with a 10-4 record and was the finest young pitching prospect in a generation for the Pirates. He was 22 years old and in his second season with the Pirates.
The game turned out to be a pitchers duel- the only scoring was in the bottom of the 5th when Bill Robinson doubled in Richie Zisk and Dave Parker to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead. Earlier- in the top of the 5th when the Dodgers came to bat I looked at my scorecard and noticed that John Candelaria had went through the first four innings without giving up a hit. The game wasn’t half over- nothing to get excited about yet but something to keep an eye on.
As the game went into the late innings Candelaria was masterful. In the end he would only allow 2 base runners- one on a walk the other wasn’t his fault- it was on an error. The innings went by and Candelaria was putting the Dodgers down without much problem. There were no great plays behind him or really hard hit balls. From the 7th inning on the crowd even though it was a small crowd 9, 860 were into it. Finally the bottom of the 9th inning and the top of the Dodgers batting order. Davey Lopes grounded out to shortstop, Ted Sizemore hit a pop fly into foul territory in right field which Dave Parker caught. One out to go- Dodger shortstop Bill Russell. When the ball went off Russell’s bat my heart sunk for a second. It was a weakly hit fly ball to center field my first thought was it was going to be trouble but center fielder Al Oliver- got a good jump on the ball snagged it in shallow center. A No-Hitter! It was the first Pirate no-hitter ever that happened in Pittsburgh. Seeing a no-hitter in person is a fans dream! I saw a no-hitter. On the ride home the bus was so crowded I had to stand the entire way home. I was so pumped I didn’t mind at all.