1980 Pittsburgh Pirates
1980 Pittsburgh Pirates / Franchise: Pittsburgh Pirates / BR Team Page
Managed by Chuck Tanner
History, Comments, Contributions
The 1980 Pittsburgh Pirates were a weak echo of the team that roared to a World Series victory in 1979. Nearly all the key players slumped significantly from their previous year's performance, including superstar right fielder Dave Parker, whose batting average fell under .300 for the first time in six years. Team leader Willie Stargell, now 40, battled both knee and weight problems and was limited to 11 home runs in 67 games. Only the efforts of pitcher Jim Bibby (19-6) and super-subs Mike Easler (.338) and Lee Lacy (.335) kept the team strong enough to compete.
After a so-so start, the team rallied in July and moved into first place in the National League East. On August 24th, the Pirates finished a three-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds (in Cincinnati) that gave them a two-game lead over the Montreal Expos. But the following day, the team returned home and began a free fall that saw them lose 13 of their next 15 games. A six-game losing streak that began September 25th sealed the Pirates' doom. The home stretch was the reverse of the team's pattern from 1976 through 1979, when the Pirates mounted furious pennant charges every year starting in August.
In retrospect, 1980 marked a sad watershed for the Pirates franchise. The farm system came up bare that year after producing good players throughout the 1970s. Stargell was growing old and would never have another productive year. And fans were starting to turn against Parker, symbolized by a July 12th incident at Three Rivers Stadium when a fan threw a nine-volt battery at the star right fielder. A sour atmosphere gathering around the team would send attendance plummeting from 1.6 million in 1980 to less than half that five years later.