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The 1979 Reunion

August 24, 2009 - John Mehno

People always want the gossip from a reunion -- who looked good, who skipped it, etc.

So here's the dish on the Pirates' 1979 reunion over the weekend.

--Dale Berra was the one nobody recognized. He has a very short haircut, no mustache and looks leaner than he did when he played. He's 52, and looks 20 years younger. Berra approached Omar Moreno in the hotel lobby and started talking to him. At some point, Berra said, "You don't know who I am, do you?" Moreno didn't, Most people didn't.

--Don Robinson always battled weight issues when he was pitching. He's given up the fight. He's a very large man.

--Robinson, by the way, still has his collection of disco records. He said there are about 3,000 of them in his garage.

--A couple of the non-attendees had good reasons. Jim Bibby has had major health problems and his doctors wouldn't clear him to travel. Bob Skinner had committed to a San Diego reunion event before the Pirates scheduled the '79 gathering.

--Most guys still have their hair, although it's mostly gray these days.

--John Candelaria is married for a fifth time.

--Trainer Tony Bartirome got a lot of mileage out of this line: "People ask me if I was the team trainer. I tell them, no, I was the team psychiatrist."

--Broadcaster Lanny Frattare was invited, but did not attend.

--The happiest guy in the room was manager Chuck Tanner. He's had a tough time since heart surgery during spring training and was getting around in a wheelchair. But when it came time to go onto the field, Tanner left the wheelchair behind and walked out to stand with his players.

--The spirit of Willie Stargell was everywhere. Every player had a favorite Stargell story to tell. Thirty years after the championship season and nearly 10 years after his death, Stargell is still touching the lives of his teammates.

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