This one was for Roberto Clemente. The Hall of Famer’s retired jersey is still the only 21 that matters for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
A home run in the ninth inning lifted the Pirates to a 4-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers, a win that clinched Pittsburgh’s first non-losing season in two decades.
Clemente played right field for Pittsburgh and finished his career with exactly 3,000 hits. He died in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve 1972 while trying to deliver food and relief supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
“The one family I’m happy for is the Clemente family,” said Clint Hurdle, the Pittsburgh manager. “They told me earlier in the season that we can’t have 21 losing seasons, that we’ve got to find a way to not have Roberto’s number tied to that.
“I told them we’d find a way to take care of that. It’s been taken care of.”
It was victory No 81 for the Pirates, in a 162-game season, ensuring they will not finish with a losing record for the first time since 1992, when the Barry Bonds-led Pirates finished 96-66. In the subsequent 20 seasons, the Pirates lost 424 more games than they won. This year’s team, however, is 81-57 and seemingly play-offs bound.
The 20 consecutive losing seasons is a North American professional sports record, the Pirates are happy to have it end.
– Associated Press