After playing just three games for the Mets in 1979, Foli and a minor league player were traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for shortstop Frank Taveras. The trade sent Foli from the worst team in the league to one of the best. Pittsburgh was locked in a season-long battle with Montreal for first place, but took the lead for good in the final days of the season. Foli set career highs in batting average, RBI, runs, hits and on-base percentage. He also struck out once every 38 at bats, a strikeout ratio which has not been bested since.
Pittsburgh went on to sweep the 1979 National League Championship Series, with Foli driving in a run in all three games. In the World Series, Foli had a hit in six of the seven games, but the Pirates were trailing three games to one. Facing 23-game winner and 1979 Cy Young Award winner Mike Flanagan, Foli scored the tying run and drove in three insurance runs to keep the Pirates alive in Game 5. Foli then scored a run in Game 6 against Jim Palmer and the Pirates forced a Game 7, which they won the next day to capture the fifth World Championship in team history.
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