1971 National League Championship Series
|Dates:||October 2 – 6|
|TV announcers:||Curt Gowdy and Tony Kubek (Games 1–2)
Jim Simpson and Sandy Koufax (Games 3–4)
|Umpires:||Tom Gorman, Shag Crawford, Lee Weyer, Andy Olsen, Dick Stello, Satch Davidson|
|1971 World Series|
The 1971 National League Championship Series was a best-of-five series that pitted the East Division champion Pittsburgh Pirates against the West Division champion San Francisco Giants. The Pirates won the Series three games to one and won the 1971 World Series against the Baltimore Orioles. The Giants did not return to the postseason until 1987.
Pittsburgh Pirates vs. San Francisco Giants
Pittsburgh won the series, 3–1.
|1||October 2||Pittsburgh Pirates – 4, San Francisco Giants – 5||Candlestick Park||2:44||40,977|
|2||October 3||Pittsburgh Pirates – 9, San Francisco Giants – 4||Candlestick Park||3:23||42,562|
|3||October 5||San Francisco Giants – 1, Pittsburgh Pirates – 2||Three Rivers Stadium||2:26||38,222|
|4||October 6||San Francisco Giants – 5, Pittsburgh Pirates – 9||Three Rivers Stadium||3:00||35,487|
|WP: Gaylord Perry (1–0) LP: Steve Blass (0–1)
SF: Tito Fuentes (1), Willie McCovey (1)
With aces Gaylord Perry and Steve Blass taking the mound for their respective teams, Game 1 looked to be a pitchers duel. It somewhat was for four innings; the Pirates struck for two in the top of the third when Dave Cash doubled home Jackie Hernández. Cash scored the second run when Richie Hebner grounded to Tito Fuentes at second, but Willie McCovey, who attempted to field the ball and had to scramble back to first because Perry forgot to cover the bag, dropped Fuentes' throw. The Giants halved the lead in their half of the third when Chris Speier singled, went to second on a Perry sacrifice, and scored on a Ken Henderson single.
Fuentes and McCovey would redeem themselves in the fifth by each slamming two-run homers off Blass for a 5–2 lead. Al Oliver cut the deficit to 5–4 for the Pirates with two-run single in the seventh, but that was it as Perry went the distance for a complete game win.
|WP: Dock Ellis (1–0) LP: John Cumberland (0–1)
PIT: Bob Robertson 3 (3), Gene Clines (1)
SF: Willie Mays (1)
In front of an NBC-TV audience, Pirate first baseman Bob Robertson grew into a star in Game 2. Robertson smashed three homers, becoming the first to do so in a playoff game. His solo homer in the fourth tied the game at 2–2 and his three-run blast in the seventh made the score 8–2 and essentially put the game out of reach. Robertson also homered in the ninth, and Gene Clines added a homer for the Pirates.
A pivotal play occurred just prior to the Pirates' 4-run seventh, when Willie Mays, batting in the bottom of the sixth with two out and his team trailing, 4-2, saw his bid for a bases-clearing double grabbed by right fielder Roberto Clemente.
|WP: Bob Johnson (1–0) LP: Juan Marichal (0–1) Sv: Dave Giusti (1)
PIT: Bob Robertson (4), Richie Hebner (1)
The Pirates' Bob Johnson and the Giants' Juan Marichal locked into a tight pitcher's duel for eight innings. Bob Robertson hit a solo homer, his then-record fourth of the series, in the second, and the Giants tied it in the sixth when Ken Henderson singled and scored when third baseman Richie Hebner threw wildly past Robertson at first after fielding a bunt by Tito Fuentes.
Hebner would atone for the error, however, by slamming a game-winning solo homer in the eighth off Marichal. Dave Giusti came on in the ninth and saved it for Johnson and the Pirates.
|WP: Bruce Kison (1–0) LP: Gaylord Perry (1–1)
SF: Chris Speier (1), Willie McCovey (2)
PIT: Richie Hebner (2), Al Oliver (1)
Another anticipated pitching duel between Gaylord Perry and Steve Blass quickly went by the wayside. Blass lasted only two innings, giving up five runs. Willie McCovey had a three-run homer and Chris Speier also homered.
The Pirates, however, got Blass off the hook in their half of the second. Richie Hebner tied the game with a three-run homer, but not before 1960 World Series hero Bill Mazeroski provided a thrill by pinch-hitting for Blass and singling and later scoring on Hebner's home run.
The score stayed at 5–5 until the sixth when the Pirates pushed across four runs on a Roberto Clemente RBI single and a three-run homer by Al Oliver. Meanwhile, Bruce Kison and Dave Giusti pitched the last seven innings of shutout baseball to close out the series.
|San Francisco Giants||2||5||1||0||4||1||0||0||2||15||31||4|
|Total attendance: 157,248 Average attendance: 39,312|
- "1971 NLCS Game 1 – Pittsburgh Pirates vs. San Francisco Giants". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "1971 NLCS Game 2 – Pittsburgh Pirates vs. San Francisco Giants". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "1971 NLCS Game 3 – San Francisco Giants vs. Pittsburgh Pirates". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "1971 NLCS Game 4 – San Francisco Giants vs. Pittsburgh Pirates". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- Addie, Bob. "Bob Addie... Fully Recovered". The Washington Post. October 4, 1971. Retrieved September 13, 2015. "'The key play,' said Giants manager Charlie Fox, 'had to be in the sixth inning when we had the bases loaded. There were two out, remember, after Tito Fuentes struck out. That brought up Willie Mays and who would you like to have up in that situation? Willie, right? So Willie crashed the ball and Clemente made a great catch of the line drive. If that ball had been up a little bit… but that's the way it goes, doesn’t it?"
- Christine, Bill. "Robby Snaps Out Of It Just In Time". The Pittsburgh Press. October 4, 1971. Retrieved September 13, 2015. "A walk to Ken Henderson loaded the bases, but Miller fanned Tito Fuentes and Clemente caught up with Willie Mays' screamer into right center. Clemente had moved about five yards closer to center before Mays came to the plate. 'It's a good thing he did,' Danny Murtaugh said, "because if he had to go five yards more, he wouldn’t have made the play. The great ones have that instinct about where to play.'"