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In honor of actor Andy Garcia and his (unintentionally) hilarious reaction to Sofia (Mary Corleone) Coppola's death scene in "The Godfather, Part III."
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May 31,1974

Posted 12-19-2017 at 08:18 AM by TommyJohn
Updated 07-05-2018 at 08:27 PM by TommyJohn

May 31,1974
vs. Boston Red Sox
at Fenway Park

In 1980, while giving an interview to Tribune writer Bob Vanderberg, then-Pittsburgh Pirates manager Chuck Tanner remembered this game. Sort of...

"I got to the ballpark early" Tanner told Vanderberg. "And Danny Murtaugh, who was scouting for the Pirates, was telling me 'How can you guys be fighting for a pennant? You don't have any speed, the defense is poor.' I said 'Don't tell the ballplayers that. They don't know that. They think we're gonna win it. Besides, I've got something up my sleeve for you today.' He said 'What's that?'"

Tanner then showed Murtaugh his lineup card for that night, which had Allen at leadoff and Melton batting second. Murtaugh just shook his head and walked away. "Wilbur Wood was pitching that day and we were down a run going into the ninth and there were two out. And Allen came up and hit a home run and then Melton hit a home run and we won by one run." Tanner said.

After that, Tanner tore up the lineup and told Murtaugh "Lightning can't strike twice."

This is the game that Tanner was talking about in that interview. He got a few facts wrong. Allen and Melton did clout back-to-back home runs that night off Boston's Bill Lee, but they came in the top of the 3rd, not the 9th, Allen's was a two run job that gave the Sox a 2-1 lead, Melton's increased it and the Sox had to escape a 9th inning threat by Boston to win it. Other than that, his memory was on the money. (NOTE: Also, Vanderberg wrote that this game had taken place in 1973).

Tanner's idea to bat Allen first was because he felt that too many pitchers were pitching around Allen, who was drawing a high number of walks. Tanner also figured Bucky Dent, the number 9 hitter, would get better pitches to hit.

Tanner's gambit paid off in the aforementioned 3rd inning. The Sox were trailing 1-0 thanks to a solo home run by Carlton Fisk off Wilbur Wood when Bucky, playing in the park where he was destined to cause so much heartache, pain, misery, despair, woe, weeping, gnashing of teeth, rending of garments and sitting in sackcloth and ashes four years hence, rapped a sharp two out single off Bill Lee.

Allen followed it with a thunderous blast that soared high up into the night and clanged off the left field light tower, his first ever home run over the Green Monster in the illustrious, sacred cathedral that is Fenway Park. Melton followed with another shot over the Monster to give the White Sox a 3-1 lead.

Boston made it a one run game again in the 7th when Carlton Fisk again took Wood deep for a solo home run. That is how it stood in the 9th when Wood got two outs, then issued a walk to Rico Petrocelli to bring up Fisk. Not wanting lightning to strike a third time, Tanner came out and relieved Wood with Terry Forster.

Terry started off by giving up a single to Fisk, which perched the tying run at third base. He got Tommy Harper to hit a harmless tap back to the mound, and Forster tossed to Allen to get the 3rd out and the win.

Tanner's lineup idea had worked to perfection, but Chuck was modest about it. "But I'm no genius." He said after the game. "Those guys out there are the geniuses."

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