City: Pittsburgh (1970-2000)

First game: Reds 3, Pirates 2 (July 16, 1970)

Pittsburgh's Richie Hebner scored the first run at Three Rivers when he singled in the first and scored on a double by Al Oliver. The Reds took a 2-1 lead in the fifth on a two-run homer by Tony Perez, and Willie Stargell tied it in the sixth with a solo homer and won a $1,000 reward offered by a fan for the Pirates player to hit the first home run at Three Rivers. The Reds won the game with a run in the ninth.

World Series: 1971, 1974

All-Star Games: 1974, 1994

Capacity: 47,972 First-season attendance: 1,341,947 Worst-season attendance: 735,900 (1985) Best-season attendance: 2,065,302 (1991)

Stadium factoids and feats

  • The original scoreboard at Three Rivers was 30 feet high and 274 feet across. It cost $1.5 million.

  • The first World Series night game was played at Three Rivers Stadium on October 13, 1971. It was Game 4 of the World Series the Pirates beat the Orioles 4-3.

  • On April 27, 1971, Willie Stargell hit his 11th homer in April, a new major league record.

  • St. Louis' Bob Gibson pitched the first no-hitter at Three Rivers as the Cardinals beat the Pirates 11-0 on August 14, 1971.

  • John Candelaria was the first Pirate to pitch a no-hitter at Three Rivers when he beat the Dodgers 2-0 on Aug. 9, 1976.

  • Pirates infielder Phil Garner hit grand slams in consecutive games Sept. 14-15, 1978.

  • Braves owner Ted Turner managed the Braves for one game against Pittsburgh on May 1, 1977. The Pirates won the game 2-1.

  • Roberto Clemente doubled for his 3,000th hit Sept. 30, 1972. It turned out to be the final hit of Clemente's career.

  • Going into the 2000 season, only 13 homers had been hit into the upper deck at Three Rivers. Willie Stargell has hit four of those, including the three longest homers. The longest home run was hit by Stargell on August 9, 1970 -- a 469-foot shot off the Mets' Ron Taylor.


    1. Clemente gets his 3,000th hit (Sept. 30, 1972)

    The end of the Pirates' 1972 regular season didn't have much suspense in terms of postseason implications -- Pittsburgh had already clinched the NL East. However, the 13,119 fans at Three Rivers Stadium for this Saturday afternoon game against the New York Mets were hoping to see Pirates star Roberto Clemente become the 11th member of the 3,000-hit club.

    Clemente almost got hit No. 3,000 in the first inning on Sept. 29. He reached safely on a high bouncer that was bobbled by Mets second baseman Ken Boswell. Clemente thought it was a hit but the official scorer, Luke Quay, charged Boswell with an error. Clemente would later say scorers around the league had robbed him of two batting titles during his career.

    In the season's last game, Clemente delivered. In the fourth inning, Clemente doubled off New York lefthander Jon Matlack into the left-center field gap. After the game, Clemente said, "I dedicated the hit to the Pittsburgh fans and to the people in Puerto Rico."

    This great moment became bittersweet just three months later when Clemente was killed in a plane crash delivering earthquake relief to Nicaragua.

    2. Mike Schmidt hits his 500th home run (April 18, 1987)

    Although Schmidt's 500th career homer may not have brought great joy to Pittsburgh fans, it was still one of the most significant events at Three Rivers Stadium.

    The Phillies had a comfortable 5-0 lead over the Pirates, but Pittsburgh rallied for six runs in the bottom of the eighth, the last three on a home run by Johnny Ray, to take a 6-5 lead.

    In the ninth, Juan Samuel kept the game alive for the Phillies with a hard slide into second base to break up a potential a game-ending double play. After a walk to Von Hayes, the Phils had two on and two out, and Schmidt came to the plate looking for his 500th homer and a chance to win the game.

    Pirates reliever Don Robinson fell behind 3-0. Schmidt pounded the next pitch over the wall in left for No. 500 and an 8-6 Phillies victory. After the game, Schmidt told reporters the homer was "the greatest thrill of my lifetime."

    3. Game 4 of the 1971 World Series (Oct. 13, 1971)

    The first night game in World Series history was a thrilling one for Pittsburgh fans. The Pirates, playing in their first Fall Classic since 1960, lost the first two games of the Series at Baltimore but won Game 3, 5-1, on a three-hitter by Steve Blass.

    In Game 4, Pirates starter Luke Walker gave up three runs, thanks in part to a pair of infield singles and a passed ball, and was pulled after just two-thirds of an inning. Pittsburgh came back in its half of the first with RBI doubles by Willie Stargell and Al Oliver to make the score 3-2. Oliver tied the game with an RBI single in the third.

    The Pirates then took the lead, 4-3, in the seventh on an RBI single from Milt May. Pirates relievers Bruce Kison and Dave Giusti pitched 8 2/3 scoreless innings and allowed just one hit –- a double in the second -- to give Pittsburgh a 4-3 win and even the series at 2.

    Pittsburgh won Game 5 at Three Rivers 5-0 before heading back to Baltimore. After losing Game 6, 3-2, the Pirates won the world championship with a 2-1 victory in Game 7.

    4. Smith's homer saves no-hitter (July 12, 1997)

    In 1997, the Pirates weren't expected to be close to .500, much less first place, but before their game against the Astros on July 12, Pittsburgh was just one game back of Houston in the NL Central standings.

    For the first time in the history of Three Rivers, the stadium was sold out for a game that wasn't the home opener, and the Pirates didn't disappoint their fans.

    Pittsburgh starter Francisco Cordova pitched nine no-hit innings, but when Cordova got the third out in the ninth, there was no wild celebration. Instead, the Astros took the field for the bottom half of the inning because the Pirates had also failed to score. Cordova threw 121 pitches, and Pittsburgh manager Gene Lamont had no choice but to pull Cordova despite his great performance. Pirates reliever Ricardo Rincon pitched a perfect 10th to keep the no-hitter alive.

    In the bottom of the 10th, the Pirates had two on and two out when Lamont summoned Mark Smith to pinch hit. Smith hit a pitch off Astros reliever John Hudek into the third level of seats in left field for a 3-0 Pittsburgh win and the first combined extra-inning no-hitter in major league history.

    5. Milner's grand slam beats Phillies (Aug. 5, 1979)

    The Pirates were in a tight race for the NL East pennant with the Montreal Expos and were wrapping up a five-game series with the Phillies, who were very much in the race and had won the division the past three years. Pittsburgh won the first three games and the series was finishing up with a Sunday doubleheader.

    In the first game, Philadelphia's Greg Luzinksi hit a grand slam to help put Philadelphia on top 8-3. The Bucs then rallied against Steve Carlton and tied the game 8-8. In the bottom of the ninth, the Pirates had the bases loaded and one out. Steve Nicosia, who was 4-for-4 in the game, was the scheduled batter, but Pittsburgh manager Chuck Tanner decided to pinch-hit with John Milner. The Phillies brought in reliever Tug McGraw, and Milner belted McGraw’s first pitch for a game-winning grand slam. The Pirates won the second game, 5-2, to complete a five-game sweep, but many credit Milner's slam as the hit that led the Pirates to the division title.

    Other closing stadium: County Stadium

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    A memory from Steve Blass:

    TSN Archives

    Steve Blass has seen a lot of games at Three Rivers Stadium. He was one of Pittsburgh's best pitchers when the team moved from Forbes Field to Three Rivers Stadium in 1970. He pitched two complete-game victories in the 1971 World Series and won 78 games in a five-year period from 1968-72. He has been an analyst for Pirates television broadcasts since 1986. Blass recently talked with TSN's Jared Hoffman about his memories of Three Rivers Stadium. The Pirates play their final game at Three Rivers on Sunday and move into a 38,000-seat PNC Park in 2001.

    TSN: You played at Forbes Field and Three Rivers Stadium. What did you think of Three Rivers when it first opened?

    Blass: Well, we were very excited. Even though Forbes was a plus for the pitchers, it was like a 1,000 years old. Everything about Three Rivers was new and exciting, including air-conditioning in the clubhouses.

    It was an exciting time. Anything new is exciting and we were curious about what it was going to be like to play on Astroturf. We also knew we had a pretty good team taking shape.

    As a pitcher, I knew the ball was going to fly a little better because the walls at Three Rivers didn't have those big numbers like Forbes. I also knew the faster surface was going to lead to more hits.

    However, there were some things that happened that we hadn't thought about. As a pitcher, you were able to get a lot more double-play ground balls. Also, sometimes hits would get to the outfielders so fast that runners would have to be held up at third.

    TSN: What was your favorite memory of Three Rivers as a player?

    Blass:I would have to say when I threw a three-hitter in Game 3 of the 1971 World Series (against Baltimore) when we were down two games to none.

    Another kind of more subtle memory was after we won the seventh game in Baltimore. We got back into Pittsburgh late and we were going to have a Big party on a yacht but to get there we had to walk through Three Rivers. Well, there was some kind of competition between these marching bands, so it was a real surreal experience. We're walking across the field after winning the World Series and there are all these marching bands around. It was kind of a weird scene.

    TSN: What was your favorite memory of Three Rivers as a broadcaster?

    Well, one of the most exciting was back in 1997 with (Francisco) Cordova and (Ricardo) Rincon teaming up for a no-hitter and Mark Smith hitting a home run in the 10th inning to win it.

    The playoff game in 1992 where Bob Walk beat the Braves was a great one -- I have never heard so much noise. The portable bleaches they brought out that were normally used for football were shaking up and down it was so loud.

    TSN: If there was something you could take home from Three Rivers to put in your basement, what would it be?

    Blass: You know, I've been thinking about that. When attendance started going down here, they covered the upper deck seats in the outfield with these big tarps with the different World Series championships on them. I wouldn't mind having the 1971 one although that would take a pretty big basement. I think having the pitching rubber would be pretty neat, too.

    I remember when we were playing our last games at Forbes Field. The on-deck circle wasn't just a piece of rubber but was actually embedded in the surface. I decided I wanted that and earmarked it by writing my name on it with a laundry marker. However, when I went to get it, it was gone. It is hanging up in Copperstown now and my name is still on it. Now, I can say I'm in the Hall of Fame. That's as close as I'm going to get.

    TSN: What will the new ballpark mean for the city of Pittsburgh and specifically Pirates baseball?

    Blass: Well, for the Pirates, I think it is going to really jump-start fan interest and for the city it should be a shot in the arm. If those things happen, it is money well-spent. When you build something like this, you want it to be something the whole city can be proud of. The new park will help attendance, but you'd better be good in a couple of years.

    I have mixed feelings about leaving Three Rivers. I have a lot of great memories there but time marches on. I like the idea of having a baseball-only stadium and it will have a lot of neat things. The wall in right field will be 21 feet high in honor of Roberto Clemente.