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
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.
To learn more about baseball, see:
- 1970 Baseball Season
- 1972 Baseball Season
- Baseball History
- How Baseball Works
- How the Baseball Hall of Fame Works
- How Minor League Baseball Teams Work
- Babe Ruth