It's been 30 years since Kent Tekulve retired the final batter for the Pirates in the 1979 World Series and 20 since he made his last relief appearance, but the hardest-working pitcher in Pittsburgh history can't stop punching in at the ballpark. Once celebrated equally for his unorthodox submarine delivery and his unusual durability—he pitched in 1,050 games, eighth alltime—Tekulve, 62, now is the president of the Pirates Alumni Association, a postgame analyst for the local Fox Sports affiliate and a community liaison at PNC Park. One of the former closer's responsibilities? That he wear his trademark photochromatic aviator glasses, just as he did atop the mound the last time the Pirates were world champions. "It's all a part of my image," says Tekulve, chuckling. "But I did all that for function, never style. I needed an unorthodox motion to get hitters out, and I really couldn't see."
Tekulve had substance as well as style—a kind unheard of in today's era of single-inning saves. He had a stellar career ERA of 2.85 and routinely entered games in the seventh inning to close them out. In '79 he had 31 saves and 10 wins and appeared in a major-league-high 94 games. "Maybe that's what the fans identify with most," says Tekulve, who had three saves in the Pirates' seven-game Series win over the Orioles in '79, including one in Game 7 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. "Like a lot of people, I just showed up and went to work every day."
WALTER IOOSS JR. (TEKULVE '79)
LONG HAUL Tekulve, who pitched in five games against Baltimore and saved three, ranks eighth alltime in appearances.
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (TEKULVE NOW)
[See caption above]