GREENVILLE, Pa. — Chuck Tanner said his 1985 ouster after nine years as the Pittsburgh Pirates' manager made him feel like a stranger when he returned to Three Rivers Stadium last season.
Tanner, now the Atlanta Braves' manager, said many Pittsburgh fans "probably think I was a poor manager but, hey, we won a world championship. Some people you can give a million dollars to and still not satisfy."
Tanner, hired in 1976, managed the Pirates to a National League championship and World Series title in 1979. The Pirates were pennant contenders throughout his tenure until tumbling to consecutive last-place finishes in 1984 and 1985.
"The biggest thing I learned from being in Pittsburgh is that you can't please everyone," said Tanner, who continues to make his off-season home in New Castle, Pa. "Yes, I do feel like a stranger when I walk into the stadium. I still have friends there but the feeling is different."
Before being fired in October 1985 by the Pirates' new ownership, Tanner and several Pennsylvania business partners attempted to buy the team from its longtime owners, the John W. Galbreath family of Columbus, Ohio.
"I wanted to stay in Pittsburgh," Tanner said. "The main thing I wanted was to see the team stay in Pittsburgh for the fans . The fans are great. I wanted to stay, but when the new owners came in, I didn't have a chance to stay."
A public-private coalition headed by Malcolm Prine and formed at the urging of Pittsburgh Mayor Richard Caliguiri purchased the Pirates 14 months ago.
"I wanted to buy the Pirates and the mayor wanted to buy the Pirates and guess who won?" Tanner said during a recent appearance before a Greenville civic group.
Tanner said the Braves talked to the Pirates last season about obtaining pitcher Rick Rhoden, who wound up remaining in Pittsburgh after asking to be traded.
"Sure we were interested and sure we checked into it," Tanner said. "But the Pirates want you to give them three players for one and you just can't do that. They are trying to build their club and they want too much, and they know that."