Pirates Notebook: 1979 players moved by ceremony

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The Family had quite the reunion.

Chuck Tanner, the 80-year-old patriarch of those famed 1979 Pirates, arrived at PNC Park in a wheelchair, the result of heart surgery in March, but he insisted on walking to the field for the 30th anniversary ceremony before the game last night at PNC Park.

"Wouldn't miss this for the world," Tanner said, customarily smiling wide. "Look at this turnout, too, how many are here. Doesn't surprise me a bit. No, sir."

All but three of the team's living former players were on the field: Dave Parker, Omar Moreno, Phil Garner, Bill Madlock, Manny Sanguillen, Rennie Stennett, Mike Easler, Lee Lacy, Matt Alexander, Dale Berra, Steve Nicosia, Ed Ott, Bert Blyleven, Grant Jackson, Bruce Kison, John Candelaria, Kent Tekulve, Jim Rooker and Don Robinson, The lone living players not on hand were Tim Foli, Jim Bibby and Enrique Romo.

Also here were coach Al Monchak, trainer Tony Bartirome and Margaret Stargell, wife of Willie Stargell.

"I'm so happy to see everybody," Sanguillen said. "Some of them, I don't see in a long time."

Tanner's introduction was saved for last and drew the loudest ovation, as well as warm embraces from the players surrounding him and a gathering around the World Series trophy.

The current state

Moreno, who squeezed the final out of Game 7 in Baltimore, was one of several on hand to express disappointment with the current state of the franchise.

"It's sad," Moreno said. "I remember playing in Pittsburgh those years, and everything was different. We were winners. The children here had players they knew, they loved. Money has changed the game a lot, you know."

Ott spoke of money, too, specifically as it relates to the Pirates' commitment to keeping players.

"You'd like to say there's a light at the end of the tunnel here, especially those of us who have been part of this. But you don't know, and it hurts a little bit," Ott said. "I know the price to keep players is high these days. Minimum wage was $16,000 when I was a rookie, and I don't know what it is now."

He was told it is $400,000.

"Wow. Well, there still comes a point where you have to take pride in the ball club, especially with all the revenue sharing in baseball now. You can't just keep moving Jason Bay, Aramis Ramirez and players like that. You have to hold onto them. There's no Willie here. There's no Parker. Until they bring it back to getting those kinds of talents -- and keeping them -- nothing's going to change here."

Cedeno out until Tuesday

Shortstop Ronny Cedeno has a hairline fracture in his right pinky, but he should miss no more than the games last night and today.

Cedeno was hurt Friday when a Micah Owings bouncer jammed him on the throwing hand. He stayed in the game, but the finger swelled yesterday, and X-rays revealed a tiny fracture on the tip.

Manager John Russell said that, because it was in the tip rather than a joint, it will be no more than a matter of waiting for pain and swelling to subside. Cedeno could return Tuesday.

Buried treasure

• There remains no timetable for pitcher Jose Ascanio (shoulder) to resume throwing. If he does not do so soon, he probably will not pitch again this season.

• Luis Cruz took Cedeno's place for just his third start.

• The crowd of 32,570 was the Pirates' seventh of more than 30,000 in 60 home dates.


Catch more on the Pirates at the PG's PBC Blog . Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at dkovacevic@post-gazette.com .


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