Friday, February 11, 2011

Chuck Tanner

Chuck Tanner, who managed the Pittsburgh Pirates to one of the greatest comebacks in World Series history, has died. He was 82.

The Pirates said Tanner's family informed them of his death on Friday at his home in New Castle, Pa., after a long illness.

Before his 17 years in the big leagues, Tanner managed the Hawaii Islanders, leading the AAA franchise to their first Pacific Coast League title in 1970.

That team won the Southern Division title and drew a then minor-league best 467,217 at the old Honolulu Stadium, which is now a park in Moiliili. The Islanders lost the overall title to Northern Division champion Spokane, which featured manager Tommy Lasorda and star player Bobby Valentine. The Islanders broadcaster then was Al Michaels.

Tanner left the Islanders and began his illustrious major league career in late September 1970 with the Chicago White Sox.

Tanner managed the White Sox, Oakland Athletics, Pirates and Atlanta Braves during his 17-year career, winning 1,352 games. His crowning achievement came in 1979, when his "We Are Family" Pirates rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to beat the Baltimore Orioles for the World Series championship.

Facing elimination in Game 5, Tanner awoke that morning to learn his mother had died in a nursing home. He remained with the team, made all the right moves, and the Pirates outscored the Orioles 15-2 in sweeping the final three games.

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