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.
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.