Pirates Vault: Bonilla tags and scores from ... second?

March 10th, 2022

MLB.com is digging back into its massive video vault to uncover classic plays that you have loved, forgotten about or, perhaps, are discovering for the very first time. Watch these moments and many, many more on the MLB Vault YouTube page.

Sept. 26, 1987: Bonilla scores on sac fly from ... second?
Bobby Bonilla is not known for his speed. In 2,113 games, he only stole 45 bags. Baserunning metrics aren't an exact science, but Bonilla wasn't a net positive in that department either.

On a sunny afternoon in Queens, though, he flashed some baserunning guile. Bonilla took advantage of Darryl Strawberry's laissez-faire approach to catching Sid Bream's deep fly ball, sprinted to third, then kept on going. The Mets weren't ready, and Bonilla scored easily.

This, of course, is not the first thing that comes to mind for Mets fans when they think of Bonilla.

Oct. 14, 1971: Briles falls off mound, still K's Robinson
Nelson Briles put everything he had -- and then some -- into this fastball to Orioles superstar Frank Robinson in the fourth inning of Game 5 of the 1971 World Series. The right-hander fell to the ground after he released the pitch, but he still got enough on it to strike out the future Hall of Famer. That punchout was part of a career day for Briles, who twirled a two-hit shutout (while also driving in a run at the plate) to give the Pirates a 3-2 lead in the Series.

This wasn't the first time Briles had fallen after delivering a pitch; he'd actually developed a reputation for it before the 1971 Series and told the New York Times following Game 5 that he couldn't explain why it happened.

"I've knocked the wind out of myself and I've cut the inside of my mouth from falling," Briles admitted. "I just hope someone doesn't hit a line drive where I'm lying some day.”

Upright or collapsed on the ground, Briles got the job done for the eventual world champions.

Sept. 2, 1970: Alley's inside-the-park grand slam
Gene Alley was a solid shortstop for the Pirates in the 1960s and early '70s, but he was not a power hitter. His career ended with only 55 home runs in 3,927 at-bats. But with the bases loaded against Expos starting pitcher Carl Morton on this date, Alley connected for a hit that should have been held to a single by center fielder Boots Day. However, Day stumbled trying to field the ball and it rolled all the way to the center-field wall at Jarry Park, which was 420 feet from home plate. (For reference, that's the same distance as the deep right-center-field corner at Fenway Park.) Alley trotted in standing up. Roberto Clemente's blistering inside-the-park grand slam four years earlier eclipses Alley's in notoriety, but the latter's shouldn't be forgotten.

April 17, 1964: Stargell records first hit at Shea
Two years after they were founded, the Mets moved to a brand new home in 1964 after playing two seasons at the historic Polo Grounds. A packed house of more than 50,000 spectators came to watch the first game at Shea Stadium on April 17, 1964, when the Mets hosted the Pirates. Willie Stargell spoiled any chance at a New York player getting the first hit at the stadium, though, as he blasted a leadoff homer off Jack Fisher to right field in the second inning, marking the venue's first hit. Then, the Pirates spoiled the stadium's opener by downing the winless Mets, 4-3.

Sept. 21, 1991: The Hayes connection
The 1991 Pirates were one of the strongest Pittsburgh teams of the final two decades of the 20th century. Who else better to secure that squad's National League East title than ace Doug Drabek, who won the NL Cy Young Award the year before? However, what Pirates fans may forget is who he struck out to clinch that title: Swinging through strike three was none other than Phillies infielder Charlie Hayes, the father of current Bucs third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes.

July 12, 1997: Bucs team up to no-hit Houston
The ceremony to retire Jackie Robinson's number and a postgame fireworks show led to the first non-Opening Day sellout crowd in Pittsburgh in two decades. Little did everyone know they'd be witnessing history. Francisco Cordova, who proved to be the Pirates' most reliable starter that season, struggled with command in his warmup, but he diced up the visiting Astros for nine innings, holding them to no hits with 10 strikeouts and two walks. However, the Bucs were also held scoreless, and with Cordova at 121 pitches, manager Gene Lamont did not want to risk his starter's health. Lamont sent out Ricardo Rincon, who pitched a hitless 10th, then Mark Smith walloped a walk-off three-run homer to secure Pittsburgh's most recent no-hitter to date.

June 6, 1986: Rhoden gets into a scuff-le
Rick Rhoden was in the middle of a career season in 1986, when he earned his first and only Cy Young Award votes and his second All-Star nod, but he was at the center of a fracas on June 6. Rhoden held the visiting Mets to one run through five innings, ending that fifth frame with his fourth strikeout of the day. As he walked to the dugout, he and Mets first-base coach Bill Robinson -- former teammates with the Bucs from 1979-82 -- exchanged words that didn't last too long, as Robinson quickly shoved Rhoden multiple times to empty the benches. According to reports at the time, the Mets were suspicious that the Pirates' righty was scuffing up the baseball. "They've done that to me for years," Rhoden told The New York Times after the game. "I'm glad. It gives them something extra to worry about." Rhoden and the Bucs won, 7-1.

Sept. 29, 1978: A timely Little League homer
The Pirates needed to win out against the Phillies in their season-ending four-game set at Three Rivers Stadium in order to best Philadelphia for the NL East division title and earn a spot in the postseason. The series began with a doubleheader, both games of which were decided by walk-off blunders by Philadelphia. The second game ended in a balk, but the first ended with a crazy dash around the bases by catcher Ed Ott, who hit what was ruled a triple but appeared to be a misplayed pop fly out to right-center field. The throw to third base by Garry Maddox was off the mark, and Ott trotted home on the error to keep the Pirates' postseason hopes alive.

Oct. 16, 1979: Parker pokes a clutch single
With the Orioles up three games to two entering Game 6 of the 1979 World Series, the Pirates couldn't afford to spoil scoring chances against Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer. Alas, they did so twice with runners in scoring position through six innings, but they were picked up by John Candelaria, who hurled six scoreless innings. In the seventh inning, the Pirates gave themselves a third chance with two on and one out vs. Palmer, and the '78 NL MVP stepped to the plate in Dave Parker. "The Cobra" sent a ball to second baseman Rich Dauer that should have been turned for an inning-ending double play. However, Parker put just enough juice on it, and Dauer's misplay cost the Orioles the game. Pittsburgh went on to win Game 7 and its fifth World Series title in club history.

July 13, 2001: Ritchie flirts with no-no
When Todd Ritchie came to the Pirates in 1998, it was unfortunately as a free agent who was released after only two MLB seasons. The 12th overall pick in 1990 had not reached the ceiling the Twins had expected he might reach; pitching from the bullpen, he recorded a 4.83 ERA before he was let go.

But with the Pirates, he had his best seasons and he was back in the rotation. One of Ritchie's best moments came in 2001 at PNC Park, when the Bucs hosted the Royals. He held the Royals without a hit through eight innings before affording a single in the ninth inning. However, he kept a scoreless duel between him and Kansas City's Chad Durbin alive. The Royals, on the other hand, turned to the bullpen in the bottom of the frame, and Aramis Ramirez secured a one-hit shutout for Ritchie.