Sunday, February 13, 2011

Remembering Chuck Tanner

Chuck Tanner, who died the other day at age 82, was one of the nicest people around. He was a good center fielder for the old Milwaukee Braves and even a better manager for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In 1979, Tanner guided the Pirates to a World Series championship against a remarkable Baltimore Orioles team that was managed by Earl Weaver. During that season, the Pirates visited Los Angeles for a three-game series with the Dodgers. The team was a bunch of scoundrels and scalawags, led by Dave Parker, Bill Madlock, Tim Foli, John Candelaria, Manny Sanguien, Kent Tekulve and Don Robinson.
Before the first game of the series, Times sports columnist Jim Murray, who had lost his eyesight that year, visited the Pirates clubhouse, which was in its usual bedlam. Murray worked his way into Tanner's office to say hello to the manager. Tanner took Murray by the arm and walked him around the clubhouse, introducing Jim to each Pirate player. When they got to Willie Stargell's cubicle, the great Pittsburgh first baseman, who was sitting on the floor, slowly stood up. The clubhouse suddenly turned quiet as Stargell took Murray's hand and said, "Hello, Mr. Murray."
It was a moment to remember and it showed what a decent person Tanner was and how much he respected Murray.

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