By Bob Barrickman
Beaver County Times Sports Correspondent
June 29, 2011
Clines started in place of Al Oliver against Baltimore left-handed starter Mike Cuellar in Game 7 of the 1971 World Series. Pirate manager Danny Murtaugh platooned Clines, a right-handed hitter with the lefty swinging Oliver.
Clines wasn’t surprised to be Murtaugh’s choice.
“That’s the way it was all year,” said Clines, 64. “Why change once you get to the World Series?”
The Pirates beat the Orioles, 2-1, to win the Series. Clines recalled his thoughts after shortstop Jackie Hernandez fielded a ground ball and threw the ball to first baseman Bob Robertson to record the game’s final out.
“It’s finally over and I’m a member of a world championship team,” Clines said during his return to Pittsburgh last week to take part in the Pirates 40th anniversary celebration of the ‘71 world champs at PNC Park. Clines batted .308 in 273 at bats and had a career-high 15 stolen bases that season.
Clines has been a senior advisor with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the past five years.
“I work with the kids throughout (the Dodgers) minor-league system,” he said.
The Pirates train during the spring in Bradenton, Fla., where Clines makes his home. But Clines doesn’t get to see his old team since he is in Arizona with the Dodgers.
Though Clines batted .334 with the N.L. East champion Pirates in 1972, he couldn’t crack the lineup full time in a crowded Pittsburgh outfield. Two years later, he was traded to the New York Mets for catcher Duffy Dyer. Clines had a career-high 446 at bats with the Texas Rangers in 1976 and finished his 10-year career in 1979 following three seasons with the Chicago Cubs. His career average was .277.
Clines was the hitting coach for 11 years under manager Dusty Baker, the first four with the Cubs and then seven seasons with the San Francisco Giants. Thirty-one years after the Bucs won the ‘71 Series, Clines was in the dugout with San Francisco for Game 7 of the 2002 Fall Classic. The Giants came out in the short end to the then-Anaheim Angels.
When Clines played center for the Pirates in his first three of five seasons with the club, he was flanked by late Hall of Famers Willie Stargell in left and ‘71 Series MVP Roberto Clemente in right.
“Roberto and Willie were leaders by example,” Clines said. “You watch two superstars like they were go about their job, you say, if they can play that hard, I should play even harder.”
Clines recalled the “togetherness” of the ‘71 Bucs.
“The camaraderie we had and that we all played as one,” he said. “We were on the same page and were on the same mission to get to the World Series.”
Once the Pirates got down 2-0 to the Orioles, the intangibles took over.
“There was no sign of panic with our club all year,” Clines said. “We never doubted ourselves no matter what the media said about (the Orioles’) four 20-game winners (Cuellar, Jim Palmer, Dave McNally and Pat Dobson).”
Pirates starter Steve Blass outperformed them all by hurling complete-game victories in games three and seven.
“I was drafted in this system and it was tough to leave,” admitted Clines, who was the Pirates sixth-round pick in 1966. “Even though I was traded, I was drafted as a Bucco and I’ll be a Bucco ‘til the day I die.”