21-3K: FOLLOWING CLEMENTE'S 3000 HITS
PIRATES BEGIN DEFENSE OF WORLD CHAMPS CROWN
CLEMENTE BEGINS CHASE OF 3000 HITS
PITTSBURGH - The defending World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates will open the 1972 season on the road. They’ll take on the New York Mets for a weekend series at Shea Stadium. Dock Ellis (19-9) will start against Tom Seaver (20-10) in Saturday’s game (April 15th). Steve Blass (15-8) will battle Gary Gentry (12-11) in Sunday afternoon’s game (April 16th).
Roberto Clemente, the series MVP, needs only 118 hits to become a member of baseball's 3,000 hit club. Should he make it, he'll join former Pirates Honus Wagner (3,415) and Paul Waner (3,152) as well as Donora's own Stan Musial (3,630) on the list.
In 18 seasons, Roberto Clemente led the National league in batting average four times. His most recent title was in 1967, when he got 209 hits for a .357 batting clip. In 1971, Clemente hit .341 with178 hits.
Clemente hit safely in all seven games. He finished with a .414 batting average, hit two home runs and drove in four RBI’s as well as making one of his famous strong throws in game six. Finally, Clemente got the recognition he was due. After seeing Clemente’s throw, in the ’71 series, a reporter asked, “Did you see that throw?” A Pittsburgh reporter replied, “Yes. Every day in Pittsburgh”.
Clemente had hit in every World Series game he had played. Adding to the twelve hits he got in the 1971 World Series were the nine hits he got in the fall classic of 1960. Ironically, his total hits in the World Series came to his uniform number, 21.
Clemente was one of just three members of the Pirates left over from 1960. Bill Mazeroski, the series hero, was now a utility player set to retire at the season’s end. Danny Murtaugh, who had managed the Bucs in 1960 had retired after the 1971 season. Murtaugh’s replacement was Bill Virdon, who played centerfield for Murtaugh in 1960 and was his bench coach in 1971.