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Roy Blount Jr.
August 10, 1970
Eyeing his slaphappy band of plucky Bucs across a generation gap, tobacco-chewing Danny Murtaugh agrees they deserve to have a style all their own. But please don't spit on the artificial turf
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August 10, 1970

No Disgruntlements Round Here

Eyeing his slaphappy band of plucky Bucs across a generation gap, tobacco-chewing Danny Murtaugh agrees they deserve to have a style all their own. But please don't spit on the artificial turf

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Sanguillen has a Spanish translation of Billy Graham's World Aflame in his locker and he has discussed it with Matty Alou, Jose Pagan and Roberto Clemente. "Before I was a Christian I was on motorcycles," he says, "like Marlon Brando. Today some of my friends back there, they are crazy. Yes."

Sanguillen hit .303 last year and is hitting .305 this year. He knows he needs to correct his tendency to swing at anything thrown to him, but he is no more uptight about free-swinging than he is about Christianity. He goes after the first pitch so often, he explains, with a big smile, "because it make me feel good."

The Pirates are even relaxed about race. Freddie Patek is a reserve infielder, white and 5'4" tall, but in the course of a locker room conversation the other day he hurled what is generally considered to be a classic racial slur at Pitcher Bob Veale, who is black and 6'6", and Veale did not appear to be disgruntled at all. So, heady, Patek called after rookie Outfielder John Jeter that the same thing applied to him. Of course, Patek gets his occasionally. Apparently at random, when the spirit moves him, Sanguillen will just swoop down on Patek with his arms and pick him up for idle exercise. The Pirates are always grabbing each other and picking each other up off the ground.

Steve Blass is one of the two regular Pirate starters who have been sidelined with arm trouble. (Bob Moose, with something known as a dislocated nerve, is the other one.) Blass contributed to a typical mock-angry racial argument by alternately screaming "now wait a minute" and having the breath squeezed out of him by Veale. For variety, Blass then read to his assembled teammates from the amusements guide of a local newspaper: "Hey, here's an interesting comment from Mrs. Aubrey Woods of Manhattan. She says, 'I am happy Dinah Shore is returning with a daily talk show, because I sometimes enjoy seeing the various leading stars voice their opinions to many subjects.' "

Blass is, he says, not only the first major-leaguer from Falls Village, Conn., he is "the only person ever to leave Falls Village, Conn." On a team flight last week he tucked in his tie so that only a very short piece of it was showing. Then he told the stewardesses, "I am the one in the short tie."

So Blass is loose, but he is bespectacled and Ivyish in dress. On the other hand, Willie Stargell, Dave Cash, Ellis and sometimes Veale wear such things as see-through shirts, red jersey-knit outfits, planter-style straw hats, huge floppy caps and glistening bell-bottom white suits. Murtaugh, who affects the sort of conservative wear appropriate to a 5'9" 52-year-old, bay-windowed Irishman, says: "Young people have to wear the clothes that are in style. In my day we had the zoot suits and the pegged trousers, and I don't guess the older people approved of all that."

Then there are the new Pittsburgh uniforms. Of a nylon and cotton material, knit and nearly formfitting, they have been compared to "ski pants, only all over" and to long Johns. The shirt is a pullover and the pants have an elastic band, a drawstring and no fly. "It's like taking off a girdle," says one Pirate. They do not flatter a fat man. The Pirates like them.

The new uniforms were first worn on July 16, which was the night 48,846 fans showed up to see Pittsburgh's new Three Rivers Stadium open. The stadium lacks access roads and parking, so that patrons have to come in by foot, boat or bus from at least a half a mile away. When it rains, great lakes accumulate in the dirt fields around the stadium. The situation is somewhat reminiscent of New Guinea—you can get dust in your eye and mud on your feet at the same time.

The original estimate of the stadium's cost was $28 million, but so far it has cost $36 million plus $26 million for land redevelopment in the area. Political shenanigans dumped the whole cost of the stadium on residents of Pittsburgh exempting the suburbanites of surrounding Allegheny County. But after nine games in the new stadium the Pirates have drawn an average of 29,000 and total attendance is up 150,000 compared to corresponding dates of last year.

One of those nine games was Roberto Clemente Night, which drew 43,290 people. For the occasion Clemente made a great sitting-down catch to go with a great skidding-on-his-knees catch, and ex-Pirate Manager Harry Walker said, "I have never seen a greater player than Roberto Clemente." Which isn't news. News would be Harry Walker saying, "I have seen a greater player than Roberto Clemente," or Roberto Clemente saying, "I have never seen a greater player than Harry Walker." The public at large has gotten used to Clemente. He is hitting .356 and fielding and throwing as well as he ever has, which is to say about as well as anyone ever has. But, then, that is the same old story, too.

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