The date was July 28, 1996. Jeff King, Orlando Merced and Mark Johnson led the 47-55 Pittsburgh Pirates against Gregg Jefferies, Todd Zelie and Jim Eisenreich of the 42-62 Philadelphia Phillies in a wild contest at Three Rivers Stadium showcased on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, the last time the Sunday showcase was played by the Golden Triangle.
Pittsburgh would pull out a 12-8 win during manager Jim Leyland's final season, as Merced went 3-for-5 with a pair of home runs and four RBI. Mark Johnson went 4-for-5, and Al Martin went 4-for-5 with three RBI.
Jon Lieber would get the start for the Pirates, going 3.2 innings while allowing six runs to the Phillies. Zelie and Jefferies both went deep for Philadelphia.
Ruben Amaro Jr., currently the general manager of the Phillies, had an RBI single coming off of the bench. The Pirates rolled out a lineup that also included former hitting coach and current Cincinnati Reds bench coach Jay Bell as well as the team's all-time leader in games caught, Jason Kendall, who batted eighth. Elmer Dessens and Francisco Cordova, who would later be involved in the last no-hitter in Pirates history, made appearances out of the bullpen.
Philadelphia's lineup also included the likes of Benito Santiago, who would have a very brief stint with the Pirates roughly a decade later, and former top draft pick Pete Incaviglia, who would hit more than 200 Major League home runs.
Flash forward 18 years, and the Pirates are preparing to host the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday Night Baseball on the night of Mother's Day. Pittsburgh won't have to wait another decade to appear on ESPN's game of the week, as the team will be making their next Sunday Night appearance June 1 against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.
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