Category Archives: Baseball

Time to change the Cleveland baseball mascot

It is time to change the mascots of a number of teams. Past time.

The Cleveland baseball team is one of them.

A recent story on Indian Country Today Media Network, based on a report in Deadspin, addresses this question:

A Cleveland Indians fan, painted in redface and donned in a faux Native American headdress, justified his brazen actions Friday afternoon by stating his attire was not racist – just “Cleveland Pride.”

The photo with the story says it all. Check it out.

Here are three responses to the Cleveland mascot.

From Indian Country Today Media Network:

A campaign to remove the image of Chief Wahoo, aptly titled “DeChiefing,” has gained momentum again as the 2014 season launched across the nation.

From Deadspin:

There is a lesson here, and that lesson is: For fuck’s sake, don’t do this.

From the National Congress of American Indians:

Change the Mascot.

Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry has a petition campaign to address the NFL about the Washington football team. Hopefully a similar campaign will address the Cleveland team.

It is time to change. Past time.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Antiracism, Baseball, Current Events, Football

Proud to Be – National Congress of American Indians

It is time to change the names and mascots of a number of teams. It is past time.

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the oldest, largest, and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization serving the broad interests of tribal governments and communities, produced this video.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Antiracism, Baseball, Football

The Pirates made me happy, very happy

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ play on the field this year made me happy.

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ call on Spirit Day for an end to bullying against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered young people made me very happy.

On October 9, I watched in Louisville as the Pirates improbable season came to an end.

As have others who bleed black and gold, I have seen the Buccos endure a challenging stretch. After twenty years of futility that included promising beginnings and late season collapses in 2011 and 2012, I did not have high hopes for this year.

Things began well. That has happened before. On April 28, we held first place in our division.

The season continued and the Pirates played well. By mid-August, a winning season seemed likely. The day after Labor Day, the Pirates won game 81, guaranteeing the first non-losing season since 1993. And that made me happy. I dared to dream of the playoffs.

Four straight losses followed. Three of those games St. Louis won. Those losses knocked us back in the race for first-place. They did not eliminate us but it made a wild-card spot seem the most logical possibility.

Gerrit Cole, Tony Watson, and Mark Melancon combined for a four-hit shutout on September 9. Win 82. A winning season. And that made me happy.

The wins kept coming. We lost some, too. Meaningful Pittsburgh Pirates baseball in September made me happy.

September 23 brought the win that clinched a wild card spot. There would be Buctober! And that made me happy.

Five days later we beat Cincinnati to gain the home field advantage in the wild card game. And that made me happy.

My friend Bob came by with Iron City Beer and on October 1, the Pirates beat Cincinnati again to advance in the playoffs. And that made me happy.

The Pirates met St. Louis in the divisional series. We took a two game to one lead. Then St. Louis won the last two games and the series and our season ended. And that made me sad.

Taking the year as a whole, I am happy. The Pirates played exciting baseball and achieved far more than I had expected.

However, on October 17, the Pittsburgh Pirates organization did something that made me very happy. They joined Major League Baseball and other teams to offer a game-changing statement of support through social media yesterday for GLAAD’s annual Spirit Day, asking fans to take a stand on bullying against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth.

Go purple for #SpiritDay 10/17! Support LGBT youth and stand against bullying. Join us now: http://glaad.org/spiritday 

They added a purple frame to their Facebook icon. I should note that the Pittsburgh Penguins also participated in Spirit Day.

As do all people and institutions from the dominant culture, the Pittsburgh Pirates struggle with issues of race and diversity. But they have done things right as well. On Sept. 1, 1971, the Pirates became the first Major League franchise to field a starting lineup of nine players who were either African-American or Hispanic/Latino.

My favorite Pirate is Roberto Clemente – an amazing player and an even greater humanitarian and human rights activist. Each year since 1973, Major League Baseball has presented the Roberto Clemente Award to the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team. The award recognizes those individuals who truly understand the value of helping others.

The Pirates’ stand for justice and dignity made me very happy.

Then I learned that the Pirates had taken such a stand before in 2011:

And that makes me very happy too.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Baseball, Current Events, Human Rights

Living the past in the present

Fifty years ago, on Thursday, October 13, 1960, my father took a day off and took me out of my first-grade class.

From Neville Island we journeyed to Forbes Field in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood.

There we watched the Pittsburgh Pirates take on the New York Yankees in Game 7 of that year’s World Series (an interesting name now, but even more so at that time when all the teams vying for the title were located in the United States).

The heavily favored Yankees had won 10 pennants in 12 years. They won three games in this series: 16-3, 10-0, and 12-0. The Pirates won the other three games by much closer scores: 6-4, 3-2, and 5-2.

photo (49)Game 7 proved  a classic. The Pirates took the lead. The Yankees came back and went ahead. The Pirates regained the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Yankees tied it in the ninth.

Bill Mazeroski led off the bottom of the ninth inning for the Pirates. He took the first pitch for a ball. Then he drove the second pitch over the left-field wall. And the Pirates were the champions.

How much do I remember because I saw the game in person? How much do I remember because I have seen the pictures and the film and heard the stories? I will never know.

On the anniversary of the game, Pirates fans gather in Pittsburgh to relieve, remember, and recreate.

In 2009, a kinescope of the telecast was discovered in Bing Crosby’s wine cellar. Crosby owned a portion of the Pirates. A DVD appeared with the game. Tricia gave me a copy as a gift.

Tonight I celebrated the past in the present as on the anniversary, I watched the game all the way until, “There’s a drive into deep left field, look out now… that ball is going, going gone! And the World Series is over! Mazeroski… hits it over the left field fence, and the Pirates win it 10–9 and win the World Series!” Mel Allen on NBC TV

And I remembered my father. And my spirit warmed. And the smile has not left my face or my heart.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Baseball, Family

Fathers, friends, Pirates

photo (48)Tomorrow night, the Pittsburgh Pirates host the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Baseball Division Series. A Pirates win captures the series for them and moves them into the League Championship series for the first time since 1992.
When the Pirates take the field to begin the game, my high school friend Lois will be there with her father.
Lois and I attended Grove City High School in Western Pennsylvania. We had many classes together, including band where she played clarinet and I played the baritone horn. Upon graduation, Lois went to Penn State. I went to Westminster. She has landed in the field of library science. I followed a call into ministry. We lost touch fairly quickly after that.
Our class celebrated its 40th anniversary last year and Lois found me on Facebook. Through that medium, we have discovered that we both still bleed black and gold. The Pirates. The Steelers. They were our teams in high school. They are our teams now.
We each shared our support for the Pittsburgh teams with our fathers. Each of our fathers worked for the public school system.
My dad was the Assistant Superintendent of schools until his death in 1974. And a very good musician. He started his career as a public school instrumental music teacher.
Mr. Thompson, Lois’ father, was our band director. And a very good musician. 

Mr. Thompson and my father were good friends. As in any work situation, friendships form. There was a whole group of folks who were friends with my dad. But my dad was especially close to all the instrumental musicians in the system, Mr. Thompson among them. My father played for them when they needed help. Mr. Thompson played in the town band when my dad directed it.

My father and I went to Pirates games – along with my mother, brother, aunt, and grandfather. We made it a family affair. I know now that something similar happened in the Thompson household.

After the Pirates won on Friday, Lois sent me a message saying that she has tickets for Game 4 in Pittsburgh and that she will take her dad along. He is 87.

While that pricks my heart a little thinking of all the games my dad and I never saw, it also brings back a whole host of great memories. And I am really thrilled for Lois and Mr. Thompson. His first name is Grant but I can’t call him anything else but Mr. Thompson even after all these years.

Pretty cool. I count on Lois and Mr. Thompson to bring the Pirates home.

See you along the Trail.

A word about the photo. Yes. My father and I attended Game 7 of the 1960 World Series. We lived on Neville Island at the time. Dad took a vacation day and took me out of my first grade class. We were there for the Kubek hop, for Hal Smith’s three-run home run that put the Pirates ahead in the 8th inning and for Bill Mazeroski’s game-winning home run in the 9th inning. We saw history. And the most important word in that sentence then, and now, is “we.”

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I saw Clemente play

In the aftermath of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ first playoff win since 1992 (6-2 over Cincinnati), comments of pride and joy have filled my Facebook feed. I already know that some of my friends supported the Bucs. Tonight I discovered many new fans. Long-term fans, or hidden fans, or fans of baseball captured for a moment by a team ending a 20-year streak of losing seasons and making the playoffs at the same time.

One friend posted a video clip of Roberto Clemente, the Pirates’ great right fielder from 1955 until his untimely death in 1972. A great human being, Clemente died on a humanitarian mission to aid the people of Nicaragua.

Another friend posed a question in response: “You saw Clemente play?”

To which I respond, “I did.”

At Forbes Field and at Three Rivers Stadium, I had the privilege to see Clemente play with skill and grace and passion that few brought to the game.

I saw Clemente. And it was wonderful!

See you along the Trail.

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Buctober

Pirates LogoAfter 20 years of frustration, the Pittsburgh Pirates finally played meaningful baseball games in September. The Pirates remained in the race for a playoff spot.

We also won meaningful baseball games in September. And tonight, we finally won enough that we clinched a spot in the playoffs. It remains unclear what that spot will be. Most likely it will be one of the wildcard spots. Hopefully the home spot. The wildcard teams play one game with the winner advancing and the loser ending their season. That makes the home team advantage all the more important.

The next five games will decide that. For now, we are  in. And that is good.

There will be meaningful baseball in October. Or as the Pittsburgh Pirates Twitter account has apparently dubbed the days ahead: Buctober!

See you along the Trail.

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Once and done, probably

Thanks to Tricia for reminding me of two more parks.

It never reached the status of my bucket list. But I live in New York. It seemed something I should do. Once. Just so I could say I had done it.

IMG_1191 (800x420)Today, it happened. Eric and DeLaina went with me and I watched my first, and probably only game – that may change should the Pirates play the Yankees some day, in Yankee Stadium. It is not the House That Ruth Built. But it is the House That Those Who Followed in Ruth’s Footsteps Built.

It is a good stadium. We sat in the right-field, lower grandstand. Good seats except when the ball was hit to deep right. The Show does have lefties who pull. They hit to right fairly often.

We all wanted to see Mariano Rivera pitch since this is his last season. But it was not to be. Ivan Nova threw a three-hit complete game shutout. That wasn’t bad to see.

Great company. Baseball. A historic franchise. Good times!

As I surveyed the stadium, I found myself wondering about the places where I have seen baseball. I start with Pittsburgh stadiums. Then I move to other teams in no particular order.

Pittsburgh – Forbes Field
Pittsburgh – Three Rivers Stadium
Pittsburgh – PNC Park
Philadelphia – Connie Mack Stadium
St. Louis – Busch Memorial Stadium
Chicago – Wrigley Field
Chicago – Comisky Park
Denver – Coors Field
Houston – Astrodome
New York – Yankee Stadium
Kansas City – Royals Stadium (as it was called at the time)
Cleveland – Cleveland Municipal Stadium (but never to the new stadium until the team changes its name and iconography)

On the one hand, it makes an impressive list. On the other, I have many stadiums left to see. It may happen.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Baseball, Family, Friends, Travel

Baseball, Brooklyn style

The Dodgers have long since left Brooklyn, although my friend Jose insists they will return. That may happen someday.

photo (46) (800x421)But baseball  - part of our past in so many ways – remains part of our present in Brooklyn. A couple of strong throws and good relays away from Coney Island’s famed Cyclone, the Brooklyn Cyclones play. Affiliated with the New York Mets, the Cyclones play in the Class A Short-Season New York-Penn League. Interestingly enough, teams come from seven states, not just New York and Pennsylvania.

The Cyclones were league co-champions in their first season, 2001. They have not achieved such success since.

The team puts on a show: four mascots (as opposed to two umpires), cheerleaders, hot dog races, and more entertain fans between and during innings. Promotional giveaways happen often. I got a hat and a drawstring bag tonight. MCU Park puts fans right on the edge of the action. It also provides views of Coney Island rides, the beach, and the ocean. An awesome atmosphere.

And they play baseball.

Tonight, at the invitation of one of my summer interns, Marissa, and her father Bill, I joined members of Fourth Avenue Presbyterian Church and Bay Ridge United Church and watched the Cyclones beat the Vermont Lake Monsters 6-4.

Each team manufactured their runs from base-hits (and a couple doubles) and aggressive base running. Two spectacular catches took place in the outfield with a Cyclone player running into the wall and holding the ball. Errors and walks also played a role. The Lake Monster outfielders threw out two Cyclones at the plate. A Cyclone outfielder, trying for a play at third, threw the ball into the stands.

Vermont opened the scoring. The Cyclones came back and took the lead. I the eight, Vermont scored three times and went ahead. The Cyclones answered with three runs and retook the lead. They then held on defense to win the game.

They play baseball. And that is very, very good.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Baseball, New York

My hero’s bat

Clemente

When the hotel fitness center closed early,I took to the streets of Louisville for exercise.
On Main Street,
I trailed the Walk of Fame.
I sought,
and found
my childhood hero.
Recuerdo Roberto.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Baseball, Louisville, Photo