Eleven years after defeating the Yankees to win the World Series, the Pirates took the title again. Once again they bested the favorites, the Baltimore Orioles, in the first World Series ever to be played at night. At 39, Clemente was the oldest player in the World Series, but he proved his prowess yet again by being named the most valuable player of the series.

Blass, Clemente and Pagan Star in 7th Game
By Joseph Durso The New York Times October 18, 1971

BALTIMORE, Oct. 17 — The Pittsburgh Pirates completed one of the most dramatic reversals in baseball history today when they defeated the favored Baltimore Orioles, 2-1, and won the 68th World Series in the seventh and final game.

The National League champions did it in the face of long odds against the team that had taken three straight American League pennants, had entered the Series as 2-to-1 choices and had swept the first two games.

But the Pirates came storming back to win four of the next five, and they dethroned the Orioles today in a tingling duel behind the four-hit pitching of Steve Blass…

Clemente’s 12th Hit
Blass enjoyed outrageous support from Roberto Clemente, the 37-year-old Puerto Rican outfielder, who capped his 17th season in a Pittsburgh uniform by hitting a home run that put the Pirates ahead in the fourth inning. It was the 12th hit and second home run of the series for Clemente, who finished with a batting average of .414 and won acclaim as the outstanding performer of either side.

The Pirates’ other run was driven home in the eighth on a double by José Pagan, a 36-year-old Puerto Rican infielder who was the oldest Pittsburgh player next to Clemente. It proved to be the deciding run as the Orioles finally scored in the last half of the eighth, but Blass retired the last six batters to prevent any last-minute upset…

The Pirates, who have a talent for adventure, also became the only team to take all their series titles — four in their case — in the maximum distance of seven games. The last time they did it was in 1960, when they beat the New York Yankees in the last inning of the last game, and in that series a younger Clemente made nine hits.

Clemente Swings Harder
“I say to the fellows,” Clemente said, standing besieged alongside a huge bouquet of yellow chrysanthemums in the jubilant locker room, “that we are not trying to beat the pitching. We are out to beat the whole club. And when you play in close games like these, you swing the bat harder…”

...It was a tense, winner-take-all match in a series that the Orioles had deadlocked at three apiece in a 10-inning thriller yesterday. The only relief was supplied by Earl Weaver, the bouncy Baltimore manager, who rushed out in the first inning to protest that Blass was not toeing the rubber mound when he delivered.

Blass, who seemed rattled by it all, walked Don Buford in the first inning and Brooks Robinson in the second. But he was rescued by a running catch by Clemente, and then by a double play started by his second baseman, Dave Cash. And he survived a single by Buford in the third, the first hit of the game.

Then with two out in the fourth, Clemente swung at Cuellar’s first pitch and bombed it over the 360-foot sign on the green fence in left-center field. It was his second home run in two days, his 12th hit in 27 times at bat and his 21st hit in two series going back to 1960 when he also hit safely in every game.

It was also his last hit of the series, leaving him one short of the record of 13 by Bobby Richardson of the Yankees and Lou Brock of the St. Louis Cardinals. But it gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead, and Baltimore never overtook them.


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