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1966 Pittsburgh Pirates

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[edit] 1966 Pittsburgh Pirates / Franchise: Pittsburgh Pirates / BR Team Page

Record: 92-70, Finished 3rd in National League (1966 NL)

Managed by Harry Walker

Ballpark: Forbes Field

[edit] History, Comments, Contributions

Few teams in Pirate history had as much offensive power as the 1966 team, which boasted a constellation of star players in their prime. Newly-acquired Matty Alou led the league in batting (.342), while Roberto Clemente responded to manager Harry Walker's request for more power with a career high 29 home runs and 119 RBI. Young Willie Stargell had his best year yet (.315, 33 HR, 102 RBI). Other players having peak years included Bill Mazeroski, Gene Alley, Donn Clendenon and Manny Mota. In the run-starved sixties, the Pirates' 759 runs scored and .279 team batting average were a truly impressive accomplishment, and a testament to the renowned batting skills of manager Walker. It was the first Pirate team to have three 25-homer men with Stargell, Clemente and Clendenon; the feat would not be matched until the 2012 Pirates' Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Jones.

Clemente won the NL MVP award, but it was second baseman Mazeroski who turned in the season's most enduring achievement -- a major-league leading 161 double plays. That remains the major-league record to this day (2005).

1966 was also the year Pirates announcer Bob Prince introduced "The Green Weenie," a plastic green frankfurter Pirates fans were to point at the field whenever the Bucs needed a rally. In '66, the weenie was clearly powerful. Pittsburghers responded to the fun atmosphere around the team, and attendance rose by nearly 300,000 to just under 1.2 million -- solid attendance for the time.

The team's pitching wasn't as solid as its hitting, but the Pirates stayed in the pennant race to the end, fighting the Sandy Koufax-led Dodgers and the Willie Mays-led Giants. A doubleheader sweep of the Phillies on Sept. 28 put the Pirates just 1.5 games behind the Dodgers entering the final weekend. Unfortunately, the Bucs proceeded to lose three straight to the Giants in Pittsburgh. It was a disappointing end to an otherwise magnificent season.

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