Happy Father's Day, Chuck Tanner. Tanner, manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, had a heavenly reprieve last Wednesday when rain washed out a game against St. Louis at Three Rivers Stadium. The rain not only spared the Bucs another probable loss, but also gave Tanner a chance to watch via satellite dish as his son, Bruce, made his major league debut as a starting pitcher for the Chicago White Sox in Seattle's Kingdome.
"I was never so nervous in my life," said the elder Tanner. "After Bruce retired the first nine batters he faced, I relaxed just a little bit, but when Seattle got runners on base, I got nervous again." Not to worry. The White Sox rookie pitched 6? innings, gave up seven hits, two walks and two runs, struck out three and earned the win.
"It was a bigger thrill for me than winning the World Series," the Bucs' manager said. "It was a bigger thrill than when I hit a home run in my first big league at bat." Yes, the Tanners have a shared predisposition for great debuts. On Opening Day, 1955, pinch-hitting for Warren Spahn, Chuck homered for Milwaukee in the eighth inning to tie a game the Braves eventually won. After that game, the 25-year-old outfielder was quoted as saying, "There'll never be another thrill to beat this one."
After watching Bruce's victory, dad rushed home for an expected phone call. "It seems like everybody was on the line," Tanner said. "First, [ Chicago G.M.] Roland Hemond got on the line, then [manager] Tony La Russa, then [broadcaster] Don Drysdale. Imagine that, a Hall of Famer like Drysdale. Then they put Bruce on [the line]."
Tanner couldn't recall Bruce's first words. "But I remember," Tanner said, "he told me that he was on a radio or TV show after the game and he said they gave him two pairs of blue jeans."
Bruce can thank dad for his old hand-me-down genes.