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Ron Poniewasz Jr.: Column by Tanner deserves his place in Pirates Hall of Fame ahead of Leyland

May 23—Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.

That's a staple on side mirrors on a car.

To that point, things in life may seem more clear to others than they do for me.

What really is a catch in a football game?

Where can a catcher stand at a play at the plate so he's not ruled blocking the plate?

And why in the world would the Pittsburgh Pirates induct former manager Jim Leyland before fellow former manager Chuck Tanner into the franchise's Hall of Fame?

However, the Pirates organization announced Tuesday that Leyland, along with Barry Bonds and Manny Sanguillén, would comprise the latest Pirates Hall of Fame class later this year.

We will circle back to Sanguillén.

I'm a Pirates fan, just like most of you. I was born 50 years ago, so my memories of the 1979 World Series championship by the Pirates may not be as clear as others. Thankfully, I have seen the games via VHS and highlights as well.

Tanner, a Shenango High graduate, was the manager of that Pirates team that defeated Baltimore in seven games, 4-3. Pittsburgh trailed three games to one in the series and all appeared lost.

But, the Pirates turned it around and won three games in a row to win the franchise's last World Series. And, the way things are going, that may hold up for quite some time.

Tanner managed the Pirates for nine seasons, compared to 11 seasons for Leyland. Tanner posted a 711-658 overall record as Pittsburgh's manager.

Leyland's mark as Pirates skipper was 851-863.

Tanner's Pittsburgh teams made the playoffs just one time during his managerial tenure in 1979. Three other times, the Pirates took second place in the National League East. That's pretty good. But, back then, if you didn't win the division, you didn't get an invitation to the playoffs. There weren't participation trophies like there are today.

Leyland led the Buccos to three-straight National League East titles, 1990 through 1992. But, try as they did, the Pirates never once reached the World Series under Leyland. A large reason why was Barry Bonds stunk in the postseason. Another miscarriage of justice is putting Bonds in ahead of Tanner.

The main item on the scoreboard, which refers to World Series championships as a Pirates manager, reads: Tanner 1, Leyland 0.

I'm a Leyland fan. As are a lot of Pirates fans. I was happy for Leyland when he led the Florida Marlins to the World Series title over the Cleveland Indians. It felt like, on a small scale, the Pirates won the World Series. After all, there were other ex-Pirates on the Marlins roster, like Bobby Bonilla, John Wehner, John Cangelosi and Moises Alou. Yes, Alou chewed a couple of pieces of gum with the Pirates for two games in 1990.

But, the order of induction should be Tanner going in ahead of Leyland.

Let's get back to Sanguillén. Putting Sanguillén in along with Tanner in the same class would have made the most sense. Why, you ask? On Nov. 5, 1976, the Oakland A's traded Tanner to the Pirates for Sanguillén and a hundred grand. Tanner was the A's manager at the time.

Sanguillén ultimately made his way back to Pittsburgh in 1978 and was a Bucco through 1980.

Sanguillén and Tanner were tied to that 1979 World Series championship, with both winning a ring on that "We Are Family" 1979 team.

We will see Tanner inducted into the Pirates Hall of Fame, count on it. It's just a matter of when.

Inducting them in the same class would have been a slam dunk. It would have made a lot of sense.

But, far be it from the Pirates organization to make any sort of sense. Whether it's dealing with their Hall of Fame class or any activity related to the current product.

(Ron Poniewasz Jr. is the sports editor of the New Castle News. Email him at rponiewasz@ncnewsonline.com.)

rponiewasz@ncnewsonline.com