Jose Tabata = Dick Schofield
Today’s game gets underway, Jose Tabata steps in as the Pirates’ leadoff batter against Travis Wood, kisses a ball off the center-field fence for a triple … and I have this thought:
Jose Tabata is this wonderful season’s Dick Schofield.
History, at least baseball history, always repeats itself. Baseball life is cyclical, we’ve always heard. And here it is again.
On Sept. 6, 1960, while leading the Pirates’ pennant charge and on his way to earning National League MVP honors, shortstop Dick Groat is plunked on the left wrist by a pitch from Milwaukee’s Lew Burdette.
Groat is lost for the rest of the season, a devastating blow to a long-time doormat trying to win its first pennant in 33 years.
But — Dick Schofield, with only 39 at-bats all season until then, steps in for him and goes on to hit .381 (24-for-63) the rest of the season, helping the Bucs to a 12-8 finishing kick that raises the flag.
Flash forward 53 years …
Starling Marte is stepped on by Arizona third baseman Martin Prado on Aug. 18, when the Pirates are holding onto a slim NL Central lead, suffering a badly-bruised right hand from which he has yet to return to the starting lineup.
This is potentially a devastating blow to an even longer-time doormat trying to win its first pennant in 34 years.
But — Tabata is Marte’s primary replacement both in left field and atop the lineup, and in 23 games since has hit a hard .281, with eight extra-base hits, helping the Bucs to a 15-8 surge that keeps them tied for the division lead.
I love a deja vu like that, don’t you?