Tag Archives: 1979 World Series

The return of the prodigal fan?

Glory days well they’ll pass you by
Glory days in the wink of a young girl’s eye
Glory days, glory days

Bruce Springsteen

Roberto Clemente

I watched the last two innings of tonight’s Pirates-Mets game. A couple years back, my friend Wayne Gnatuk and I journeyed from Louisville to attend two games in PNC Park. Other than that trip, I have not watched the Pirates for some time – not an easy confession for one spent seven years on Neville Island in the Ohio River and most of my life in Western Pennsylvania.

It was not always that way. I faithfully followed the Pirates for years. As a child – when I would have to go to bed before the games ended – my father would write the final score on a piece of paper and leave it by my place at the breakfast table.

The Pittsburgh Pirates had glory days. I remember some of them:

  • The “Family” winning the 1979 World Series (Tricia and I had Lew Mudge over for dinner and to watch the decisive seventh game – he fell asleep!)
  • The 1971 World Series where Roberto Clemente demonstrated why Pittsburghers loved him as a baseball player   (my first hero – and one of my enduring heroes – Clemente was an even better man than he was a player and that is saying something)
  • The 1960 World Series with game seven won by Bill Mazeroski‘s walk-off home run (I was there for that game with my father – I still have our ticket stubs – of course I was young – my only clear memory that I know is a real memory and not a memory of a film clip is my father getting me out of school)

Beyond those three high moments, the Pirates were usually competitive and generally exciting in the years between and beyond. In 1992, they lost to Atlanta in the seventh game of the League Championship Series when Sid Bream, a former Pirate and one of the slower runners in the game, scored from second base on a hit to left with two outs in the ninth inning.

Since that game, the Pirates have not had a winning season. Year after year, they have lost more than they have won. 19 years – the longest continuous streak of non-winning seasons in any of the four major professional sports in the U.S. At some point that I don’t remember, I gave up. I am not proud of that, but I did.

Tonight I noticed that the Pirates and Mets were playing in Pittsburgh. I found the game on one of the New York cable stations and caught the end.

Has the prodigal returned? I am not sure, but they play again tomorrow. I plan to watch again.

Please note that this is not a case of jumping on a winner’s bandwagon. After tonight’s game, the Pirates’ record stands at 20-22.

See you along the Trail.

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