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1971 Baseball Season


More 1971 Baseball Season Headlines

Below are more headlines from the 1971 baseball season, including the Pirates World Series victory and stellar performances by Tony Oliva and others.

Catfish Hunter Reels in 21 Wins

Shortly after he was signed to a $75,000 bonus, phenom James Augustus Hunter was nicknamed "Catfish" by owner Charley Finley. Hunter was the best and most consistent pitcher on the Oakland A's from 1971-1974. During that four-year span, he won 88 games and lost just 35. His 21 victories in 1971 were second only to Vida Blue's club-leading 24 and tied for fourth in the American League.

Tony Oliva Wins Batting Title

On a team of such hitters as Rod Carew and Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva was considered to be the best pure hitter in Twins history. He won his third American League batting crown in 1971 with a .337 average.

"Pops" Stargell a Local Favorite

As Willie Stargell established an April record with 11 home runs in 1971, Bob Prince, a Pirate broadcaster, came up with the phrase "chicken on the hill" in connection with Stargell's fast-food restaurants. "Pops" promised free chicken to patrons every time he hit a home run that season. His 48 homers (best in the National League) and 125 RBI (second in the circuit) helped lead the Pirates to a 1971 World Championship and kept Pittsburgh well fed.

Pirates See the Light

Danny Murtaugh led the Pirates to their second World Championship during his ten-year stint as manager. On October 13, the Pirates and Orioles played the first night game in Series history.

Bobby Bonds: 33 HRs, 102 RBI

Bobby Bonds hit more than 30 homers and stole 30 or more bases five times in his career. He is the only player of the 20th century to hit a grandslam as his first major league hit. Bonds posted 110 runs scored in 1971 (second in the National League), totaling 33 homers and 102 RBI.

Steve Blass Wins Championship

The Pirates took the 1971 World Championship with a 2-1 triumph in game seven. Steve Blass was the pitching hero of the 1971 Series, earning victories in games three and seven. He posted a 1.00 ERA, allowing seven hits and striking out 13 batters in 18 innings. Blass pitched with a unique herky-jerky delivery that inexplicably deserted him in 1973. His record plummeted from 19-8 with a 2.49 ERA in 1972 to 3-9 with a 9.81 ERA in 1973.

Roberto Clemente Steals Show

A national television audience delighted in the performance given by Roberto Clemente in the 1971 World Series. The 37-year-old Pirates right fielder batted .414 with a pair of homers to snare Series MVP honors. He clubbed the sole home run of the seventh game.

Billy Williams Surefire at Plate

Billy Williams continued to endear himself to the Wrigley Field faithful with his sweet swing and quiet, dependable style in 1971. From September 22, 1963, to September 2, 1970, Williams played in 1,117 consecutive games to establish the National League record. Never in 18 years did Williams play in a World Series. In 1971, he posted a .301 average with 28 homer and 93 RBI.

Mike Cuellar Posts 20 Wins

Most of Mike Cuellar's deliveries could barely break a pane of glass, yet he hounded batters and pitched four seasons with 20 or more wins. In 1971, Cuellar went 20-9. When the 1971 World Series rolled around, however, Cuellar ran out of juice, losing a pair of games.

Check out additional highlights from the 1971 baseball season on the next page.

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