1970 National League Championship Series

The 1970 National League Championship Series was a match-up between the East Division champion Pittsburgh Pirates and the West Division champion Cincinnati Reds. The Reds swept the Pirates three games to none and went on to lose the World Series to the Baltimore Orioles.

The series was notable for featuring the first postseason baseball played on artificial turf (which was used in both ballparks). It was also the first of ten NLCS series between 1970 and 1980 that featured either the Philadelphia Phillies or the Pittsburgh Pirates.[1][2] The only time neither team appeared in the NLCS during that period was in 1973, when the New York Mets won the NL East.

(Note: Due to a one-day strike by major league umpires, the series was begun using four minor league umpires, with the regularly assigned crew—including union president Wendelstedt—returning for Games 2 and 3.)

1970 National League Championship Series
Team (Wins) Manager Season
Cincinnati Reds (3) Sparky Anderson 102–60, .630, GA: 14½
Pittsburgh Pirates (0) Danny Murtaugh 89–73, .549, GA: 5
DatesOctober 3–5
UmpiresJohn Grimsley, Fred Blandford, Hank Morgenweck, George Grygiel (Game 1); Stan Landes, Paul Pryor, Doug Harvey, Bob Engel, Harry Wendelstedt, Nick Colosi (Games 2–3)
TelevisionNBC (national broadcast)
KDKA-TV (Pirates' broadcast)
WLWT (Reds' broadacast)
TV announcersNBC: Curt Gowdy, Tony Kubek (Games 1–2); Jim Simpson, Sandy Koufax (Game 3)
KDKA-TV: Nellie King and Bob Prince
WLWT: Joe Nuxhall, Pee Wee Reese, Jim McIntyre, and Ed Kennedy


Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

Cincinnati won the series, 3–0.

Game Date Score Location Time Attendance 
1 October 3 Cincinnati Reds – 3, Pittsburgh Pirates – 0 (10 innings) Three Rivers Stadium 2:23 33,088[3] 
2 October 4 Cincinnati Reds – 3, Pittsburgh Pirates – 1 Three Rivers Stadium 2:10 39,317[4] 
3 October 5 Pittsburgh Pirates – 2, Cincinnati Reds – 3 Riverfront Stadium 2:38 40,538[5]

Game summaries

Game 1

Saturday, October 3, 1970 1:00 pm (ET) at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 R H E
Cincinnati 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 3 9 0
Pittsburgh 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 8 0
WP: Gary Nolan (1–0)   LP: Dock Ellis (0–1)   Sv: Clay Carroll (1)

Cincinnati boasted dual heroes in subduing the Pirates in the opening game. Gary Nolan, an 18-game winner during the regular season, pitched nine shutout innings to edge Dock Ellis. Nolan departed for pinch-hitter Ty Cline in the 10th, which turned out to be a stroke of genius by Reds manager Sparky Anderson. Cline socked a triple to lead off the inning. He scored the decisive run on Pete Rose's single, and Lee May doubled to provide two insurance tallies, sealing Ellis' fate. Reliever Clay Carroll protected Nolan's victory by holding Pittsburgh hitless in the 10th.

Another key contributor was second baseman Tommy Helms. With Pirate runners on second and third inning, Dave Cash rifled a shot to Helms' right. Helms' diving stop and quick throw to first prevented two runs.

Game 2

Sunday, October 4, 1970 1:00 pm (ET) at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Cincinnati 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 3 8 1
Pittsburgh 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 5 2
WP: Jim Merritt (1–0)   LP: Luke Walker (0–1)   Sv: Don Gullett (1)
Home runs:
CIN: Bobby Tolan (1)
PIT: None

The Reds continued to pound the Pirates in Game 2. Bobby Tolan was a complete mystery to Buc starter Luke Walker. Bobby began his three-hit salvo with a single in the third inning. He stole second base and wound up at third on catcher Manny Sanguillén's wild peg into center field. Walker's wild pitch permitted Tolan to score. Bobby delivered his kayo punch in the fifth, belting a home run over the wall in right-center, and capped his big day with a single off relieve Dave Giusti in the eighth.

Lefty Jim Merritt, Cincinnati's lone 20-game winner, was the second-game starter. Arm trouble had kept Merritt on the shelf in the closing weeks of the regular season, but Manager Anderson had precedent going for him in this case. Merritt had beaten the Pirates six times in six starts over the two-year period. He made it seven for seven by lasting ​5 13 innings this time. Carroll relieved Merritt in the sixth, but gave up two hits and had retired only one batter when Anderson signaled for Gullett.

That did it. Gullett shut off the Pirate threat immediately, striking out the side in the seventh and finishing with ​3 13 hitless innings for the save.

Game 3

Monday, October 5, 1970 2:30 pm (ET) at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Pittsburgh 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 10 0
Cincinnati 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 X 3 5 0
WP: Milt Wilcox (1–0)   LP: Bob Moose (0–1)   Sv: Don Gullett (2)
Home runs:
PIT: None
CIN: Tony Pérez (1), Johnny Bench (1)

The Pirates started the Game 3 scoring by a run in the first inning off Tony Cloninger, who averted disaster three times before Anderson finally yanked him for a pinch-hitter in the fifth with the score 2–2. The slugging Reds uncorked their only power show of the playoffs in the first inning, Tony Pérez and Johnny Bench smacking successive homers off Bob Moose. Pirate starter Moose showed more courage than stuff in the early going. But he hung on and proceeded to halt the Reds until he had two outs in the eighth. Then he walked pinch-hitter Ty Cline and gave up a single to Pete Rose.

With Tolan coming up, Pirate manager Danny Murtaugh brought in lefty Joe Gibbon. Tolan whacked a single to left. Cline took off from second and sped for the plate. he arrived just a hair ahead of Willie Stargell's peg, and the Reds had a 3–2 lead. The Reds had a pitching star in this one, too, young Milt Wilcox, who worked three shutout innings in relief of Cloninger and earned the victory. Wilcox vanished for pinch-hitter Cline in the eighth. Wayne Granger tried to protect the Reds' 3–2 lead in the ninth, but was removed with two down and a runner on first. Gullett was Anderson's choice to wrap it up. The teenager wasn't invincible this time, yielding a single to Stargell. But with runners on first and third, Al Oliver swung at Gullett's first pitch and grounded to Helms and the NL pennant belongs to the Reds, their first in nine years.

Composite box

1970 NLCS (3–0): Cincinnati Reds over Pittsburgh Pirates

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 R H E
Cincinnati Reds 2 0 1 0 1 0 0 2 0 3 9 22 1
Pittsburgh Pirates 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 3 23 2
Total attendance: 112,943   Average attendance: 37,648


  1. ^ Von Benko, George (July 7, 2005). "Notes: Phils–Pirates rivalry fading". Phillies.MLB.com. Major League Baseball. Retrieved January 3, 2011. From 1974–80, the Phillies and Pirates won all seven National League East titles (Phillies four, Pirates three).
  2. ^ "Pirates perform rare three-peat feat 4–2". USA Today. September 28, 1992. p. 5C. The Pirates...won three (NL East titles) in a row from 1970–72.
  3. ^ "1970 NLCS Game 1 – Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  4. ^ "1970 NLCS Game 2 – Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  5. ^ "1970 NLCS Game 3 – Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.

External links

1970 Cincinnati Reds season

The 1970 Cincinnati Reds season consisted of the Reds winning the National League West title with a record of 102–60, 14½ games ahead of the runner-up Los Angeles Dodgers. The Reds defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates in three straight games in the 1970 National League Championship Series to win their first National League pennant since 1961. The team then lost to the Baltimore Orioles in the 1970 World Series in five games.

The Reds were managed by first-year manager George "Sparky" Anderson and played their home games at Crosley Field during the first part of the year, before moving into the then-new Riverfront Stadium on June 30.

Al Oliver

Albert Oliver Jr. (born October 14, 1946) is an American former professional baseball outfielder, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Pittsburgh Pirates (1968–1977), Texas Rangers (1978–1981), Montreal Expos (1982–1983), San Francisco Giants (1984), Philadelphia Phillies (1984), Los Angeles Dodgers (1985), and Toronto Blue Jays (1985), over the course of his 18-year MLB career. Nicknamed "Scoop", Oliver batted and threw left-handed.

Although Oliver played all three outfield positions, he was primary a center fielder, who also occasionally filled in at first base. He was signed by the Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1964. From 1970 to 1976 he played on five Pirates division champions, including the team that defeated the Baltimore Orioles in the 1971 World Series.

Cincinnati Reds award winners and league leaders

This article is a list of baseball players who are Cincinnati Reds players that are winners of Major League Baseball awards and recognitions, Reds awards and recognitions, and/or are league leaders in various statistical areas.

Dock Ellis

Dock Phillip Ellis, Jr. (March 11, 1945 – December 19, 2008) was an American professional baseball player. A pitcher, Ellis played in Major League Baseball from 1968 through 1979 for the Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers, and New York Mets. In his MLB career, he had a 138–119 (.537) record, a 3.46 earned run average, and 1,136 strikeouts.

Ellis threw a no-hitter on June 12, 1970, and later stated that he accomplished the feat under the influence of LSD. Reporters at the game say they do not believe the claim. Ellis was the starting pitcher for the National League in the All-Star Game in 1971 and later that year, the Pirates were World Series champions. Joining the Yankees in 1976, he helped lead the team to the American League pennant, and was named the league's Comeback Player of the Year.

Ellis was an outspoken individual who advocated for the rights of players and African Americans. He also had a substance abuse problem, and he acknowledged after his retirement that he never pitched without the use of drugs. After going into treatment Ellis remained sober and devoted the remainder of his life to counseling others with substance use disorder in treatment centers and prisons. He died of a liver ailment at age 63 in 2008.

Hank Morgenweck

Henry Charles "Hank" Morgenweck (April 9, 1929 – August 7, 2007) was an American umpire in Major League Baseball who worked in the American League from 1972 to 1975.

He made his major league debut officiating in the first game of the 1970 National League Championship Series on October 3, when an umpires' strike forced the league to use minor league baseball umpires for the first game of the series before the regular umpires returned for Game 2.

Jim Merritt

James Joseph Merritt (born December 9, 1943) is a former left-handed Major League Baseball pitcher.

Joe Gibbon

Joseph Charles Gibbon (April 10, 1935 – February 20, 2019) was an American professional baseball player. A left-handed pitcher, he spent all or parts of 13 seasons (1960–72) in Major League Baseball as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants, Cincinnati Reds and Houston Astros. Gibbon was born in Hickory, Mississippi; he was listed as 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m) tall and 200 pounds (91 kg).

Mel Behney

Melvin Brian Behney (born September 2, 1947) is an American former professional baseball player. Behney was a left-handed pitcher who had a five-game trial, one as a starting pitcher, with the 1970 Cincinnati Reds of Major League Baseball. He stood 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) tall and weighed 180 pounds (82 kg).Behney is a 1965 graduate of Verona High School in Verona, New Jersey, where he was a two-time all-state selection in baseball and also starred in basketball. He received a four-year baseball scholarship to Michigan State University, where he studied chemistry and business. He played on the Spartans' baseball teams in 1967 and 1968 and was named all-Big Ten during the latter season. He was later named one of the top 100 MSU athletes of the 20th century. He later earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics.

The Cincinnati Reds chose him with their first selection in the June secondary phase of the 1968 Major League Baseball draft, and Behney began his professional career at the Short Season-A level. In 1969, he won 14 games for the Asheville Tourists, to finish one game behind the Southern League's leader in victories, Bill Zepp.

The following season, 1970, Behney made his debut in the Major Leagues with the first incarnation of the Reds' "Big Red Machine" team that dominated the National League West Division race, winning by 14​1⁄2 games, then swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1970 National League Championship Series. In his debut on August 14 at Riverfront Stadium against the Philadelphia Phillies, he relieved starter Wayne Simpson in the fourth inning of a scoreless contest, but gave up five hits and five runs (three of them earned), and was pinned with the defeat in a 5–4 Philadelphia win.Four days later, in his only MLB starting assignment, at home against the Montreal Expos, Behney lasted 4⅔ innings and gave up six hits and five runs — but only one run was earned as the Reds committed three errors behind him. The Reds could not overcome the five-run deficit, losing 7–4. Behney then appeared in three more MLB games that season in relief and surrendered only one more earned run in four innings. He did not appear in the postseason. In 10 innings for Cincinnati, Behney gave up 15 hits, five earned runs, and eight bases on balls and struck out two.

After spending the full seasons of 1971–1972 at the Triple-A level, Behney was traded to the Boston Red Sox during spring training in 1973 for pinch hitter and utility man Phil Gagliano and reserve outfielder Andy Kosco, who were role players on Cincinnati's 1973 NL West championship team. Behney played one more season of Triple-A before leaving the game.

After his pro baseball career ended, he became a licensed real estate appraiser and from 1987 to 2000 he was Commercial Department Manager for the Tarrant County, Texas Appraisal District. He was the department's Litigation Specialist from 2000 to 2003. In 2005, he was elected to the Verona High School Alumni Association Hall of Fame.He currently lives in Arlington, Texas and since 2007 has been a manager at First American Commercial Real Estate Services.

Richie Hebner

Richard Joseph Hebner (born November 26, 1947) is an American former Major League Baseball (MLB) third baseman and the current batting coach for the Toronto Blue Jays' Triple-A affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons. Hebner was known for working as a gravedigger at a cemetery run by his father and brother, Dennis, during the offseason.


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