Missing Opening Day

April 7, 2011 at 11:38 am 5 comments

It’s Opening Day for the Pittsburgh Pirates. I can’t help recalling what it would be like to be at the ballpark. The sun is shining after a couple of wintry spring days. I suddenly have a hankering for a steamed hot dog in a mushy bun. At this moment, I’d like to be playing hookie at a turnstile, showing my ticket, part of the frenetic crowd, chatting with an usher. I’d like to see pristine grass on the ground and that train whistle guy on the JumboTron.

Being born in the 60s into a family that loved baseball and knew it well, I was taught to swing a bat before I could lift one, and I learned to catch and throw before we had figured out if I were left or right handed. (I used to catch a ball, take off the glove, and throw with the same hand.) When we’d sorted that out, my Dad took me to Honus Wagner to pick out my very own baseball glove.

That was a BIG day.

I became cognizant of the Pirates when they were winners. When they were a respected organization. Pirates Fan was as equivalent to the term Pittsburgher then as Steelers Fan is now (believe that or not those of you who buy most of the beer at sporting events these days). Pirates Fans cheered and screamed and grieved together. We remember—too clearly still—the day Roberto Clemente died. We remember “Chicken on the hill” and “By a gnat’s eyelash” and “We Are Family”—which truly was something more than an advertising slogan.

The Pirates were winners. I knew each player’s name and number and position.

I attended the last game ever in Three Rivers Stadium. And on groundbreaking day for PNC Park, I was there for the re-naming of Clemente Bridge and the digging ceremonies. And when I saw Willie Stargell walk through the crowd, I was in awe.

I will admit to you that I was one of the people who thought financing the new ballpark was a great idea. I believed when they told us how it would help the team. And this city’s economy. I believed. And I loved baseball. And the Pittsburgh Pirates have always resided in a very special place in my heart. They were a Life Preserver. I was a Fan.

But. You know the old saying:  Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me 18 times, shame on the Nuttings.

Last year was the year I gave up. Last year was the year it became too personally unethical to give Pirates ownership any more of my money. Last year was the first year in my life that I did not attend a single game. Nor watch one on TV. Nor even listen to one on the radio. (Which I find to be one of the most singularly pleasing sounds in the universe; I’m not sure why, but it reminds me of the radio at home on the kitchen counter, when the cabinets were green and my grandparents were alive.)

Today, I heard a lot of hoopla, stirred up by advertising dollars and, god bless them, a few who still seem to believe. I am willing to admit that some of the young guys may be good players, exciting even. I wish them well, but I will not be sucked into the lies yet again.

If the Pirates win a lot and all these exciting young men are still around after the trade deadlines, perhaps I will try to learn their names. Perhaps, when the owners stop spitting on the history of a once proud organization and decide to care more about America’s past time than bobble heads and fireworks and overpriced food, perhaps I will pay them some attention.

It’s opening day in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And I am missing it.

Entry filed under: Life Preservers. Tags: , , , .

Dear Proud Parents of Nathan Lavezoli Booya

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Tom  |  April 7, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    Great one, girl! I think there are a lot of folks who can relate to what’s become of baseball.

    And the last line is fantastic.

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  • 3. Ken Jordan  |  April 8, 2011 at 1:09 am

    It’s been almost three years since my Dad passed on. A few years before his death he began listening to the Pirate games on the radio. He would sit at the kitchen table smoking cigarettes, sipping coffee or cold beer while he listened to the game. It reminded him of the good old days. Gave him a feeling of home. That’s what his father did.

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  • 4. boatdrinkbaby  |  April 8, 2011 at 1:55 am

    Ah, Ken — exactly.

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  • 5. WritingbyEar  |  April 8, 2011 at 9:26 am

    When I was a little girl, I had pictures of Pirates (cut out from the Parade and Roto magazines from the Sunday Press) on my bedroom wall. I had one of the 1971 World Series rings they gave out on Ring Day, and assorted other give-away chachkes. I didn’t know any of the Steelers until they started winning Super Bowls years later. The Boys of Summer were IT — and Bob Prince’s voice floated from every open window in the neighborhood and was always on the radio at my grandparents (even if the TV was on, Grandpap would have the ballgame on the radio at the same time). It’s sad what’s become of the team — don’t think they could be more disconnected from the city or their roots.

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