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Pirates Reader

Pirates Reader

Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Pirates Reader
    Book Description:

    Whether winning world championships or falling into last place, fielding teams with Hall of Fame players or trotting out bumbling boys of summer, the Pittsburgh Pirates have thrilled, frustrated, and fascinated generations of fans since 1876.

    To date, the Pirates have won five World Series and have a total of thirty-six players and managers in the Hall of Fame-including Honus Wagner, Pie Traynor, Lloyd and Paul Waner, Ralph Kiner, Willie Stargell, Roberto Clemente, and Bill Mazeroski.

    The Pirates Readeris a tribute to the fans, players, and teams who have forged the franchise's rich history. Richard Peterson has collected the writing of baseball's greatest storytellers and brings to life the players, games, and magical moments for this classic and well-loved team.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-8059-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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    (pp. 1-8)

    So many of my memories of Pittsburgh in the late 1940s and early 1950s are of playing ball on grassless city fields and hitchhiking out to Forbes Field to watch the Pirates. The seasons of my youth on the South Side flowed by to the rhythm of games played with baseballs and bats held together with masking tape and nails and the sound of batting practice as I walked toward Forbes Fieldʹs towering white clay facade on a knothole Saturday afternoon. In the spring and summer I lived to play softball and baseball at Ormsby playground and Quarry Field and...

  2. Writing Baseball

    • The Country of Baseball
      (pp. 11-17)

      Baseball is a country all to itself. It is an old country, like Ruritania, northwest of Bohemia and its seacoast. Steam locomotives puff across trestles and through tunnels. It is a wrong-end-of-the-telescope country, like the landscape people build for model trains, miniature with distance and old age. The citizens wear baggy pinstripes, knickers, and caps. Seasons and teams shift, blur into each other, change radically or appear to change, and restore themselves to old ways again. Citizens retire to farms, in the country of baseball, smoke cigars and reminisce, and all at once they are young players again, lean and...

    • Searching for January
      (pp. 18-24)
      W. P. KINSELLA

      The sand is white as salt but powdery as icing sugar, cool on my bare feet, although if I push my toes down a few inches, yesterdayʹs heat lurks, waiting to surface with the sun.

      It is 6:00 a.m. and I am alone on a tropical beach a mile down from our hotel. The calm ocean is a clear, heart-breaking blue. Fifty yards out a few tendrils of sweet, gray fog laze above the water; farther out the mist, water, and pale morning sky merge.

      It appears slowly out of the mist, like something from an Arthurian legend, a large,...

  3. From Backlots to Big Leagues:: Pittsburgh’s Early Baseball

    • Professional Baseball in Pittsburgh
      (pp. 27-32)

      Baseball is an informal game and must be discussed in an informal manner—even in its history. The game originated in 1839 at Cooperstown, New York, and today a baseball shrine stands in that town. Following the Civil War, the leading clubs in Pittsburgh were the Enterprise, Olympic, and Xantha teams. They played at the old Union Park in what was then the city of Allegheny. For a time the city was represented in the International League but for the most part baseball was independent and amateur in those days. In addition to competing with other strong clubs of this...

    • A Brilliant Victory
      (pp. 33-34)

      It is now a matter of history that the Alleghenies have played their first game in the league championship contest and scored a brilliant victory. Between 9,000 and 10,000 people saw the initial game at Recreation Park on Saturday, and were given an exhibition of ball playing that has not been excelled in this city. The home players even surprised their friends and astounded the Chicagos.

      Anson in the early part of the game insisted that Galvin was not in his correct position in the box; the Chicago captain claimed that Jimmy was illegally lifting his right foot. Umpire Quest,...

    • Louis Bierbauer
      (pp. 34-36)

      Louis Bierbauer, who led the second basemen of the National League in 1892 and 1893, was with the Pittsburgs those two years.

      Bierbauer won his first laurels while covering second for the Athletics of Philadelphia.

      At the time he was considered the greatest second baseman in the American Association.

      And he was a magnificent fielder and a fine batsman.

      Bierbauer, one-time king of second basemen and all around player, first blossomed into promise as a player with the old Erie Penn. Malleables, twenty-five years ago. His first engagement away from home was with the Warren, Pa., team, then in a...

    • ʺGodfather of Piratesʺ Lies in Unmarked Grave
      (pp. 36-38)

      Louie Bierbauer, who was responsible for the nickname of Pirates for the Pittsburgh club, lies in an unmarked grave in Erie, Pa., and some of his friends are planning to do something about it.

      One of these is John G. Carney, who writes feature articles for theErie Daily Times.

      ʺWhen the Pirates and Detroit Tigers played in the Worldʹs Series of 1909, Louie was working for me as a molder,ʺ Carney says, ʺand I kept him informed of the progress of the games as the reports came to me by telephone. Louie loved the Pirates and rooted for them...

  4. Building a Winning Tradition

    • Barney Dreyfuss Enters the Scene
      (pp. 41-46)

      After operating eight seasons as a twelve-club league, the National League again voted to cut down to an eight-team circuit in 1900. Andy Freedman, a Tammany politician in New York, who owned the Giants, had long sponsored a move in the old league ʺto cut off the deadwood.ʺ

      His campaign met with eventual success when the National League club owners voted to lop off Louisville and Cleveland in the West and Washington and Baltimore in the East. No piece of legislation passed in baseball ever had more far-reaching effects than this reduction to the present eight National League cities. It...

    • The Mighty Honus
      (pp. 47-57)

      Barney Dreyfuss had no first-division clubs during his sojourn in Louisville. He had to call on all of his native shrewdness to get by, but even though his 1899 Louisville club finished ninth, two positions behind Pittsburgh, he was in the process of building a strong first-division club when the National League voted to streamline down to eight clubs.

      Major-league outfits had no full-time paid scouts in the nineties, and Dreyfuss, the Louisville owner, would have had little money for a scouting staff even if the system had then been in vogue. But from the first, Barney always believed he...

    • Pirates Wallop the Beaneaters
      (pp. 57-61)

      The Pittsburg champions were victorious today in the first of nine games with the Boston Americans for the world championship. There is gloom in old Boston town tonight, and the gloom is intensified by the knowledge that Pittsburg has a faster team in every respect. The work put up by the National League champions simply made the Boston men look like counterfeit money. This is no gush, but the downright truth, and it is this that makes the gloom so thick here. Local fans cannot see how their team is going to win a game, let alone the series.


    • Take Him Out
      (pp. 62-62)

      There is another element which enters into all forms of athletics. Tennis players call it nervousness, and ball players, in the frankness of the game, call it a ʺyellow streak.ʺ It is the inability to stand the gaff, the weakening in the pinches. It is something ingrained in a man that canʹt be cured. It is the desire to quit when the situation is serious. It is different from stage fright, because a man can get over that, but a ʺyellow streakʺ is always with him. When a new player breaks into the league, he is put to the most...

    • Tommy Leach
      (pp. 63-68)

      Listen, when you say the name Wagner to me, you better sayHonusWagner. Anybody else, you mention Wagner to them and they know right off who youʹre talking about. But not me. That very confusion resulted in me almost pulling one of the biggest boners of my whole life.

      It happened in 1898. 1 was a skinny twenty-year-old kid, only 135 pounds, playing third base for the Auburn Club of the New York State League. About a month before the end of the season the owner of the club sent down word that he wanted me to come in...

    • Chadwickʹs Chat
      (pp. 69-70)

      In my correspondence last week I found a letter from the official scorer of a Western college club who, in one of his three questions, asked me this, viz.: ʺWhich batsman would you give the palm to for the best record for really effective batting? To him who excelled in the figures of best percentage of base hits or him who had the best percentage in forwarding runners by his hits?ʺ

      The writer stated that in making up his averages for 1905 he had introduced the data of ʺpercent of runners forwarded by base hits,ʺ and that in accordance with...

    • Pirates Lose First Game on Forbes Field
      (pp. 71-75)

      Staid Oakland rang and rang again yesterday afternoon with frenzied cheering from 30,338 throats because of an unparalleled event, the dedication of wonderful Forbes Field, that triumphant exposition of Pittsburghʹs sportsmanship.

      The enormous throng, a record-breaker in attendance at a baseball game, enthusiasm and other things, intent in paying homage to King Baseball, refused to be subdued, even when Chicago carried off the victory after nine innings of sensational play by a score of 3 to 2.

      There may have been other parks opened with ceremonies imposing enough, attended by notables and having the usual ʺtrimmings,ʺ but previous events fade...

    • Pirates Outgame Tigers for Title
      (pp. 76-79)

      Once more the National League is triumphant. The Pittsburg Pirates today won the championship of the world by beating Detroit in the seventh and deciding game of the series, 8-0.

      To Babe Adams must be handed the palm. This young gentleman from Missouri, pitching his first season in the big leagues, was called on by Manager Clarke this afternoon to work for the third time in the series. He had two victories to his credit out of two attempts and was really the only Pirate pitcher who had puzzled Detroit at all. Game to the core, Babe came back and...

    • Babe Adams
      (pp. 79-82)

      About an hour and a half before the first game of the 1909 World Series at Pittsburgh, I was sitting on the bench with the other Pirate youngsters making jokes about how weʹd handle the Detroit Tigers if we could get in the series. It was strictly fooling, for we all knew the team was full of stars and we were only kids. I was 21, and never was what youʹd call highstrung—just a country boy who had been drawn to the game by all the interest around my home, Mount Moriah, Mo., and the near-by towns of Princeton,...

    • Hans Wagner
      (pp. 83-84)

      When a fellow has played 2,785 games over a span of 21 years itʹs not the easiest thing in the world to pick out a single contest and say it was his best or that it gave him his biggest thrill. But I was never sharper than in the last game of the World Series our Pirates played with the Detroit Tigers of 1909, and I never walked off any field feeling happier.

      It was the afternoon of October 16 and not only a big day for me but for all the sport fans, for on that same afternoon Big...

  5. The Greatast World Series Ever and the Damn Yankees

    • Hot Corner? Traynor, No Argument
      (pp. 87-96)

      Unflinchingly, the greatest of all third basemen, Harold (Pie) Traynor—let followers of Jimmy Collins stand aside—faced and felt the cold steel and hot slides of enemy base-runners. But he shivered with fear one time when he was driving with Charles J. (Chilly) Doyle and the Pittsburgh sports writer told him, ʺTurn right at the next corner, Pie.ʺ

      Traynor, who didnʹt mind getting shaken up out there at the hot corner, was considerably shaken up at Doyleʹs command for two good reasons: (1) It was absent-minded Chilly who was behind the wheel, and (2) Traynor never drove a car...

    • Big, Little, Young, Old—All Pay Tribute to Pie
      (pp. 96-98)

      Every few minutes a man in a dark suit would bring a basket of flowers into the room. With one large basket, peppermint carnations and red gladiolas, he paused before two of the mourners and said, ʺFrom Lloyd Waner.ʺ

      Old friends and teammates wherever they were remembered Pie Traynor yesterday. So did people who never knew him at all. Up the wet driveway to the Samson Funeral Home, the cars began coming at noon.

      Ken Smith had flown here from the spring training camps in Florida. Well over 60, Ken Smith is the director of the Baseball Hall of Fame...

    • Worldʹs Title Battle Never Equalled for Thrills, Heroic Action
      (pp. 98-104)

      Our wonderful Pirates were crowned champions of the world yesterday, but the real story probably never will be told by human endeavor. In the bright galaxy of writers from near and afar, there was none who could begin to describe the drama which was unfolded in the rain mists of October as the Pittsburgh athletes fought their way to the pinnacle of the sport in defeating the Washington team, until last evening, masters of all they surveyed in baseball.

      Fifty years of major league play have brought with them flag fights and struggles for the bigger emblems that have hardly...

    • Pirates Should Take Rank with the Greatest of Clubs, Runyon Says
      (pp. 105-107)

      In the wildest, and certainly the wettest finish ever seen in a Worldʹs Series, the Pittsburgh Pirates struggled through to victory and the baseball championship over the Washington Senators by a score of 9 to 7 yesterday afternoon.

      These pallid lines cannot hope to inform the reader of the scene that befell when young Hazen Cuyler, outfielder of the Pirates, came up and slugged one of old Walter Johnsonʹs fast shoots down the first base line, driving home the winning runs.

      It was equalled only by a scene produced a moment before when Carson Bigbee, a utility outfielder of the...

    • Paul Waner
      (pp. 108-114)

      I come from a little town right outside of Oklahoma City, a town by the name of Harrah. You can spell that backwards or forwards. From there I went to State Teachersʹ College at Ada. And you can spell that backwards or forwards, too. Which just naturally explains why Iʹve always been a fuddle-dee-dud!

      I went to State Teachersʹ College at Ada for three years, although I didnʹt really intend to be a teacher. Maybe for a little while, but not forever. What I wanted to be was a lawyer, and I figured sooner or later Iʹd go to law...

    • Lloyd Waner
      (pp. 115-121)

      Some people find it unusual for two brothers to have gone up to the big leagues and had long careers and in fact ended up in the Hall of Fame together. Well, the way I look at it, Paul and me had an advantage over most kids. There was only two years and eleven months difference in our ages, so we never lacked for somebody to play with. We loved baseball and we played together all the time. Seems we were always swinging something, be it a broomstick or a plain old stick or whatever was handy. Our Dad made...

    • Landis Dumps Lardnerʹs Novel ʺSeriousʺ Scheme
      (pp. 121-123)

      In a last minute effort to be of assistance to the friend of my youth, Donie Bush, in his ball clubʹs impending brawl with the big bruisers from the Bronx, this handsome writer gained audience last night with Judge Landis and presented a scheme which, if put into effect, may change the entire complexion of the series and probably of all future baseball.

      It would be clearly unfair to pit these two teams vs. each other on even terms. The Yankees won the pennant before the season opened and the only thing they have had to worry them since was...

    • Yanks Win Baseball Championship
      (pp. 124-126)

      Itʹs all over. The world series of 1927 has passed into baseball history and the New York Yankees are the premiers.

      They won the honors today in one of the most thrilling contests in all world series history. And yet the finish came in one of the most disappointing anti-climaxes the fans have ever seen.

      John Miljus was on the mound for the Pirates. He had replaced Carmen Hill earlier in the game. The ninth inning opened with the score tied at three runs each.

      Jovo opened the last half of the ninth by passing up Combs, then Mark Koenig...

    • Bambino Expected Quick End
      (pp. 126-128)

      Well, itʹs over and in four straight games, just as I predicted.

      But donʹt let anyone tell you we didnʹt have to work hard to win. And donʹt let anyone tell you them babies werenʹt tough either. When they came back and fought us to a standstill in that last game after losing three in a row, it was proof enough that theyʹre a fighting ball club. Donʹt make any mistake about that. Theyʹll give anybody a fight anytime they take the field.

      And, the man Iʹm sorriest for in the whole series is John Miljus. Thereʹs a pitcher. He...

    • Thereʹs P1enty of Life in the Old Boy Yet; Drives in Six Boston Runs
      (pp. 129-132)

      George Herman Ruth—the Great Man of Baseball—lighted the twilight of his career with a fantastic display of home run hitting at Forbes Field yesterday—a gaudy exhibition that was dimmed not one whit because his Boston mates could not prevent the Pirates from winning, 11 to 7.

      The Bambino pyramided three home runs, equalling his best previous record set back in the days when he was a young giant and not a man of 40. When he piled on the third and final home run it was the longest drive ever seen in the Oakland flats—a prodigious...

  6. From Depression Baseball to Depressing Baseball

    • Pirates Wonʹt Be the Same without ʺMost Valuableʺ Rosey
      (pp. 135-137)

      Forbes Field and the Pirate games wonʹt be the same this year now that ʺAunt Minnieʹsʺ favorite nephew is gone.

      Something went out of Pittsburgh with the death yesterday of Albert Kennedy (Rosey) Rowswell, for 20 years broadcaster of the Pirate games.

      The first thought that struck me when I heard of the passing of the lovable Rosey was that the Pirates had lost their ʺmost valuable player,ʺ the blithe spirit and voice that brought the fans pouring into the park across the years in the face of mediocre performances.

      I do not think I am wrong in stating that...

    • World Series Ticket Rush Swamps Pirate Officials
      (pp. 138-139)

      Talk about war in Central Europe, an up-and-down stock market and other important world happenings were set aside yesterday locally, as Pittsburghʹs pennant-hungry baseball fandom made a mad rush for world series tickets following the Pirate managementʹs announcement that it would accept orders for the big games.

      The rush was on. But definitely! Post offices and banks first carried the brunt of the fansʹ attack to get in line for the baseball classic as they prepared money orders and certified checks for the number of tickets they wanted. Later in the afternoon, ball club officials, headed by Vice President Sam...

    • Rip Sewell
      (pp. 139-142)

      You say you want to know the story of the famous blooper pitch? Well that started with a shot gun blast in the Ocala National Forest on December 7, 1941. So thatʹs a date Iʹll remember for more than one reason. I was out deer hunting that day. I was walking through the woods when another hunter spotted something moving. What he spotted was me, but he didnʹt realize that until he had turned suddenly and discharged two loads of buckshot out of a twelve-gauge shotgun at about thirty feet. Caught me in both legs. That shot tore holes in...

    • Pittsburgh Prexy Favors Ending Jim Crow
      (pp. 143-144)

      The first big league magnate has spoken out in favor of admitting Negro baseball players to the game:

      The President of the Pittsburgh Pirates of the National League, William E. Benswanger, in response to a query from theDaily Worker, says:

      ʺIf the question of admitting colored baseball players into organized baseball becomes an issue, I would heartily be in favor of it.

      ʺI think the Negro people should have an opportunity in baseball just as they have an opportunity in music or anything else.ʺ

      This simple statement by a big league owner, the first of its kind, follows the...

    • The Sports Beat
      (pp. 144-148)

      During the three-game series with the Pirates in Pittsburgh the Dodgers found the going rather rough, losing two out of three games to Billy Hermanʹs hustling crew. If the Brooklyn team had anything to be happy about it was the playing of Jackie Robinson who banged out six hits in thirteen trips to the plate. It was the best series Robinson has had and it was obvious to every one who saw him perform that, with some of the early tension gone, he has found himself and from now on is going to be a tough customer for the opposition...

    • The Traveling Casino
      (pp. 148-154)

      I wouldnʹt say the other players on the Pittsburgh Pirates led me astray, but I wouldnʹt call them a steadying influence either. The first year, in 1947, we werenʹt going any place in the National League race, but we sure had a lot of fun along the way. We loosened up pretty good most every night, and I am sure we did not lose any games that year because we were too tight. We won 154 and lost none in the night league.

      The sports writers called us the ʺtraveling casinoʺ when we were on the road. We usually had...

    • Hank Greenberg
      (pp. 155-158)

      I had a pretty good year the following year, 1946. I hit under .300 for the first time since Iʹd been with the Tigers, but I still led the league in both home runs and runs batted in.

      After the season ended, though, I got one of the biggest shocks of my whole life. In January of 1947, I heard on the radio that Iʹd been sold to the Pittsburgh Pirates. I wasnʹt even sold, really. Given away would describe it better. I was waived out of the American League and picked up by Pittsburgh for practically nothing. Evidently nobody...

    • The Home Run Iʹd Hate to Hit
      (pp. 159-161)

      Will I break the Babe Ruth home-run record? Thatʹs the question I get from all sides these days, sometimes a dozen times a day, from everybody from the kids in ragged pants who hang around the clubhouse to white-haired old ladies of 80. All I can tell them is what I believe: ʺI might—with luck.ʺ

      You canʹt escape the fact that no ballplayer can get close to or match the Babeʹs 60 homers in one season without everything going in his favor. Jimmy Foxx, among many others, can vouch for that. Foxx was on his way to surpassing the...

    • Sidelights on Sports
      (pp. 162-163)

      It was the once proud boast of the late Barney Dreyfuss, ʺPittsburgh is a first division town; Iʹm a first division man and I want my clubs to finish in the first division.ʺ

      The little man who built baseball in Pittsburgh backed up his boast by finishing in the first division in 26 of his 31 years. Six of his clubs won pennants and six finished second.

      After his death in 1932, Bill Benswanger, Dreyfussʹ son-in-law, carried on the first division tradition. The Pirates won no additional pennants but Billʹs clubs finished among the upper four in 11 of 15...

    • Inside the Clubhouse
      (pp. 164-166)

      The keeper of the clubhouse is each player. He spends more time here than in his own home during baseball season. Itʹs where twenty-five guys battle every day but have to live like one. Itʹs a continually changing scene, the clubhouse, because trades are such an important part of baseball. It is in the clubhouse that trade announcements are usually made.

      The big Ralph Kiner trade between the Pirates and the Cubs was finally announced in the clubhouse. I was with the Pirates and had reported for the dayʹs game as usual (and in 1953 that took courage) but had...

    • Were the 1952 Pirates the Worst Ever? Maybe So
      (pp. 166-168)

      One of my favorite events on baseball schedules is Old-Timersʹ Day. Many clubs hold theirs in connection with an event, like the 20th anniversary of winning a pennant.

      With that in mind, I donʹt see how the Pittsburgh Pirates can pass up the chance to mark the 25th anniversary of the 1952 Pirates. As a member of that team, I feel we made genuine contributions to baseball, not only in Pittsburgh, but elsewhere.

      Letʹs take the matter of batting helmets. We were the first big league team to wear them. The theory was that when pitchers threw at batters, the...

    • 32,221 See Long Set HR Mark
      (pp. 168-170)

      Dale Long rewrote his amazing home run record and Bob Friend twirled a two-hitter last night at Forbes Field as the equally amazing Pirates bumped off the Brooklyn Dodgers, 3-2, before a delirious throng of 32,221.

      The largest night game turnout since July 21, 1950, saw Long ram out his eighth home run in as many consecutive contests to crack his own mark of seven which he set only last Saturday in Philadelphia.

      The big first sackerʹs blow came in the fourth inning with none on base, but it tied the score at 2-all. It barely cleared the barrier in...

    • Haddix Loses ʺGreatest Gameʺ
      (pp. 170-172)

      Harvey Haddix, a slightly built 33-year-old Pirate left-hander, lost the greatest game ever pitched in the long history of baseball here last night but he took the defeat like the man he is.

      Haddix regretted the loss of the one-hit game more than he appreciated the glory of pitching 12 perfect innings before the Braves won the bitterly contested battle in the 13th inning on an error, an intentional walk and a ʺdouble.ʺ

      ʺI knew I had a no-hitter because the scoreboard was in plain view but I wasnʹt so certain about it being a perfect game.ʺ Haddix calmly related...

  7. A Miracle Season and the End of an Era

    • Bucs Bump Reds Twice, 5–0, 6–5
      (pp. 175-177)

      Bob Friend pitched a fbur-hit shutout for a 5-0 victory in the first game but it was just an Easter Sunday sidelight at Forbes Field yesterday.

      What happened while Friend was cooling out from his first victory was—well, just about unbelievable. Especially the scene at home plate where Skinner was welcomed after his ninth inning home run ended a six-run inning and brought a 6-5 victory over Cincinnati.

      There must have been a thousand kids and grownups there trying to pat Skinner on the back at the same time.

      Rousing finishes have come to be expected at Forbes Field...

    • Whatʹs Got into the Pirates?
      (pp. 177-187)

      In March 1947, seven months after a syndicate headed by portly Indianapolis banker Frank E. McKinney had bought control of the Pittsburgh Pirates, McKinney speculated that it might take five years to build the Pirates into a pennant contender, although he was hopeful that the job could be done in three.

      In 1952, when McKinney had long since staggered from the Pirate scene, his successor as president, John W. Galbreath, said, ʺI can see the future forming for us now. Another rough year is coming up, but by 1953 we should start moving in the right direction.ʺ

      The year 1953—...

    • Pirate Champs ʺTeam of Destinyʺ
      (pp. 188-190)

      Team of Destiny? Well, can you think of a better word to describe the brand new World Champion Pirates?

      This surely was a team of destiny with tremendous spirit and unmatched desire. They bolted through the National League like true champions, then carried the power-packed Yankees to seven games before beating them yesterday at Forbes Field, 10-9, with their very own weapon, the home run.

      And with it, they won the greatest prize baseball has to offer—the world championship in their first opportunity since 1927 when the same Yankee organization humiliated them in four straight

      Mark it: Debt repaid...

    • City Bats Cleanup in Series
      (pp. 190-193)

      If Pittsburgh has some kind of a hangover today, why shouldnʹt it?

      The celebration started at 3:36 p.m. yesterday with the crack of Mazeroskiʹs bat and police were still trying to get the celebrants to go home to bed at 4 a.m. today.

      A few people did sleep last night in the worldʹs happiest city, but not since Colonel Bouquet saved Fort Pitt has there been such joy unconfined in the Triangle.

      People who had seen samples of such happy madness before compared it to V-J Day, New York Times Square on New Yearʹs Eve and New Orleans in the...

    • Series Greatest—Even Beats 1925 Win over Johnson
      (pp. 193-195)

      While the Community was rapidly coming apart at the seams last night, the atmosphere in Jerryʹs Joint for Juices and Jerks was one of commendable calm.

      Jerry himself absent-mindedly spooned a martini in a small glass as he spoke.

      ʺThese have been days to tear menʹs hearts out by the roots,ʺ he said, half to himself and half to those of his clients who were listening. ʺAnd they havenʹt been so easy on the women, either. A fellow just didnʹt know whether to organize another parade or promote a panic.ʺ

      Several heads nodded and one voice interrupted to say, ʺYes,...

    • Our National Pastime
      (pp. 196-198)

      As I ponder the start of yet another baseball season, what is left of my mind drifts back to the fall of 1960, when I was a student at Harold C. Crittenden Junior High (ʺWhere the Leaders of Tomorrow Are Developing the Acne of Todayʺ).

      The big baseball story that year was the World Series between the New York Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Today, for sound TV viewership reasons, all World Series games are played after most people, including many of the players, have gone to bed. But in 1960 the games had to be played in the daytime,...

    • Dick Shuart
      (pp. 199-201)

      I once did an experiment in Biology in which we imprinted baby chicks just out of the shell on something other than their mothers. The first thing they saw moving and making noise became their mother figures and role models. It could have been a lab assistant or windup toy or a vacuum cleaner (though the latter tends to be dangerous when chicks are very little). There is a similar sensitive period in the life of a baseball fan, usually coming between the ages of five and ten, when he imprints on a certain team and certain player. I was...

    • My 16 Years with Raberto Clemente
      (pp. 202-206)

      Sometimes it seems as if Roberto Clemente and I have been teammates longer than bacon and eggs. He came up to the Pirates in 1955 and I followed a year and a half later, so weʹve been sharing the same clubhouse for 16 years, probably longer than any two players still active. You get to know a person in 16 years—his strengths and weaknesses, how he plays the game and how he feels about it, when he hit the high spots and when he was low.

      In 16 years you also become a good judge of his talents, the...

    • Ballpark Figures: The Story of Forbes Field
      (pp. 207-208)

      The era of new ownership in Pittsburgh coincided with the end of World War II, the start of Pittsburghʹs urban renewal called the ʺRenaissance,ʺ the western expansion of baseball, and new developments in Oakland. Each played a role in the demise of Forbes Field.

      In 1945, Pittsburgh Mayor David L. Lawrence joined with Pittsburghʹs wealthiest and most Republican native, Richard K. Mellon, in a major effort to revitalize the region. Their efforts resulted in the redevelopment of the Golden Triangle, the lower Hill District, and the near North Side. The latter included construction of Three Rivers Stadium, an idea first...

    • An Interview with Art McKennan
      (pp. 209-210)
      Art McKennan, JIM HALLER and ED LUTERAN

      ED & JIM: The destruction of Forbes Field must have been a serious loss to you personally.

      ART: Right before the last doubleheader played at Forbes between the Bucs and the Cubs, I told everybody that I was going to stay in the park all night, just like sitting up with a dying friend. I just wanted to look over the place for the last time. I really didnʹt want to leave. I wanted to hold the hand of my dying friend. That is how I felt.

      I grew up at Forbes Field. I had been going there for more than...

  8. Winning It All—and Losing Much More

    • Clemente Drives Pirates to Title
      (pp. 213-216)

      Roberto Clemente needs another automobile like he needs a stronger throwing arm. Cadillacs and foreign sports cars are accumulating at his Puerto Rican home faster than flies swarming to a dropped ice-cream cone, and later this week the Piratesʹ superb right fielder will be handed the keys to a Dodge Charger.

      ʺRoberto, if you donʹt get that car, Iʹll buy you one myself,ʺ Willie Stargell was saying yesterday in Baltimore. Stargellʹs cash reserve is safe.Sportmagazine, the donor, couldnʹt have possibly honored anyone else after Clementeʹs 12th World Series hit, a fourth-inning home run, had fired the Pirates to...

    • Pitching Did It
      (pp. 216-218)

      Steve Blass was telling them how he threw mostly sliders after getting his rhythm in the first inning, et cetera, giving them all those technical details that baseball writers like to carry off and present to their readers as jewels, when suddenly in the middle of a sentence he stopped, mouth agape.

      ʺItʹs all over…ʺ he said.

      ʺWe won the World Series…ʺ he said.

      ʺIʹm very happy to be a part of the Pittsburgh Piratesʹ no-name pitching staff,ʺ he said.

      By holding the Baltimore Orioles to one run and three hits in the third game and to one run on...

    • Adios Amigo Roberto
      (pp. 218-223)

      Vera Clemente sat quietly at horne as hope faded away. Manny Sanguillen was inconsolable and assisted in a desperate search for his friend. Indeed, Puerto Ricoʹs first day of 1973 was an anxious one as crowds gathered on the beaches of San Juan offering prayers that Roberto Clemente might still be alive. Only twenty-four hours earlier, the great outfielder had been gathering food and supplies to be flown to Nicaragua where a devastating earthquake had killed thousands of citizens and rendered many others homeless. Clemente, who headed a relief program, had worked tirelessly to aid his fellow Latins. His interest...

    • Gone for Good
      (pp. 224-251)

      The photograph shows a perfectly arrested moment of joy. On one side—the left, as you look at the picture—the catcher is running toward the camera at full speed, with his upraised arms spread wide. His body is tilting toward the center of the picture, his mask is held in his right hand, his big glove is still on his left hand, and his mouth is open in a gigantic shout of pleasure. Over on the right, another player, the pitcher, is just past the apex of an astonishing leap that has brought his knees up to his chest...

    • The Prince of Pittsburgh
      (pp. 251-255)

      It has been 10 years since Bob Princeʹs death and 20 years since he was unceremoniously—and incredibly—ejected from the Piratesʹ broadcasting booth. Baseball died a little bit in Pittsburgh on that day. So did Bob Prince.

      A generation has grown up since Prince was fired by KDKA and the Pirates after the 1975 season, which means there are thousands, maybe tens of thousands, who know little of this unforgettable man. Itʹs time to take a look back at a true Pittsburgh legend.

      The only part of Bob Princeʹs body bigger than his mouth was his heart. He was...

    • Murtaugh: Manager and Man
      (pp. 256-258)

      Danny Murtaugh may be the least impressive looking person in baseball. His whole body seems rumpled and older than its 58 years. His craggy, hawk-nosed face looks like something slept on it and forgot to straighten the covers.

      In Pittsburghʹs dugout manager Murtaugh seldom moves and often appears asleep. His coaches go to the mound to make pitching changes. Even chewing out an umpire seems like too much effort. After a game he sits in a rocking-chair and sips milk.

      Murtaugh is a teetotaler, a grandfather, with a heart condition, an Irishman so outwardly mild that his players seem to...

    • Wilverʹs Way
      (pp. 259-262)

      The Cincinnati Reds showed grit in the first two games of their playoffs against the Pirates, forcing each of them into extra innings before succumbing by 5-2 in eleven and 3-2 in ten. (The Reds, by the way, won their division this year with a new manager, John McNamara, and a new third baseman, Ray Knight; their immediate predecessors were Sparky Anderson and Pete Rose. Unawed by his burdens, Knight batted .318. The club also got some useful work from Tom Seaver, who won eleven straight games in midsummer.) The opener was an austere, tautly played game, with thoughtful, excellent...

    • Whew, Itʹs Over! Bucs Are Champs
      (pp. 263-264)

      If the Piratesʹ 4-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles in the seventh game of the World Series was dramatic, well, thatʹs the only way it could be.

      ʺWhen we fell behind three games to one,ʺ said right-fielder Dave Parker, ʺI could feel something dramatic bUilding. And it couldnʹt be more dramatic than this.ʺ

      The Pirates battled the Orioles tooth and nail last night, starter Jim Bibby throwing strike after strike until Rich Dauer hit one of them over the left-field wall for a 1-0 lead in the third.

      And things were tense still when Bill Robinson singled with one out...

    • Stand-Up Pirates Set Down Birds
      (pp. 265-267)

      For four games of the 76th World Series, the Pirates bungled their way against the Baltimore Orioles. A fan might have been justified in wondering if they were impostors.

      He might have asked, even, if the real Pirates would please stand up.

      They did stand up, first in Game 5 at Three Rivers Stadium, their backs to the wall, in a sudden-death situation, and they didnʹt sit down until they had won the World Series.

      And last night, before an incredulous, disbelieving crowd at Municipal Stadium, the Pirates, for the second time, beat the Orioles in a World Series, repeating...

    • ʺWhere I Come From, Where I Am Goingʺ
      (pp. 267-272)

      Wilver Darnell Stargell, at the age of 38, won most every prize usually reserved for far-younger athletes. He was co-winner (with Keith Hernandez) of the 1979 National League Most Valuable Player Award. He wonSportmagazineʹs World Series MVP Award. He was acclaimed byThe Sporting Newsas The Man of the Year.

      More to the point, however, ʺPopsʺ Stargell is probably the first MVP to be recognized for his leadership in the lockerroom. The statistics will show that Willieʹs bat won a multitude of games for the Pittsburgh Pirates, including the seventh game of the 1979 World Series. But...

  9. Trouble, Transition, and a New Beginning

    • The Pirate Problem
      (pp. 275-286)

      Next year is supposed to be the 100th season in which Pittsburgh has been a member of the National League.

      What if they gave a centennial party and nobody came?

      Donʹt laugh.

      Recently, the Pittsburgh Pirates decided to offer their partisans a fantasy camp, a week in the sun that would enable fans to pay for the pleasure of matching muscles with past Pirates heroes.

      Only seven people signed up.

      Why? It could be lack of interest, lack of money or lack of heroes, perhaps all of the aforementioned.

      At any rate, the fantasy fiasco was a microcosm of the...

    • The Pitcher
      (pp. 287-292)

      Jim Leyland was Gottʹs manager. The pipe-smoking Leyland is a lean, fine-featured man with salt-and-pepper hair and mustache. When strong sunlight causes him to squint, the crowʹs-feet at the corners of his eyes crinkle like those of a captain who has just stepped onto the conning tower of a submarine. The Pirates are on the low side in terms of complete games because, Leyland says, ʺWeʹve got two real horses down there.ʺ By ʺdown thereʺ he means the bull pen. The horses snorting and pawing the dirt were then Jeff Robinson and Jim Gott. ʺSometimes—and I donʹt mean this...

    • Give Him a Break: Donʹt Boo Bonds
      (pp. 292-294)

      When he takes the field tomorrow night before the Piratesʹ opener, it will have been 180 days since Barry Bonds last walked across the Three Rivers Stadium turf. Thatʹs about six months since Pittsburgh fans have seen him in the flesh in a Pirates uniform. Thatʹs half a year since they have had a chance to let Bonds know what they think of him.

      When Bonds last walked across the turf of Three Rivers it was after a Piratesʹ 3-2 victory against the Cincinnati Reds in the fifth game of the National League Championship Series. He was seven weeks away...

    • Saying Goodbye Would Be Hard
      (pp. 295-299)

      If that really was the Piratesʹ last home game—ever—Iast night…

      ʺI would be devastated,ʺ said Sally OʹLeary, scheduled to retire next May after 32 years in the Pirates front office. ʺI would be very hurt to think baseball would not be in Pittsburgh. Itʹs been part of the scene for 109 years. It doesnʹt seem right it wouldnʹt be here anymore.ʺ

      But the possibility the Pirates will leave does exist and has existed for some time.

      ʺOne day youʹre up. The next day youʹre down,ʺ OʹLeary said. ʺItʹs been like a roller coaster—because my future is affected,...

    • The Education of Kevin McClatchy
      (pp. 299-303)

      When the Pirates take to the field on opening day, the most recognizable face connected to the club will belong to its CEO and managing partner, Kevin Soerensen McClatchy. Hailed as a savior when he gained control of the team on Valentineʹs Day 1996, the 34-year-old scion of a California newspaper family has since been savaged by sportswriters and fans incensed over the departure of Jim Leyland et al., and fearful that the Bucs are not long for this town.

      McClatchyʹs motives have been impugned and his intelligence questioned.Post-Gazettecolumnist Bruce Keidan, certainly one of the best-connected sportswriters in...

    • Letʹs Go Bucs!
      (pp. 304-311)

      The year 1990 marks a dividing line in my life as a fan. Until then I had lived in other cities. But shortly after that playoff game against the Reds, I found an apartment in Pittsburgh, on a bluff overlooking the confluence of the rivers, Three Rivers Stadium, the skyscrapers of downtown. It was a difficult time for me. My husband had died several years before, and I knew I didnʹt want to start again in New York without him. The playoff games against the Reds had brought me home. For the first time in my life the Pirates would...

    • Blass Delivers a Final Pitch to Stargell
      (pp. 311-313)
      RON COOK

      What a shame they didnʹt ask Steve Blass to speak at Willie Stargellʹs funeral yesterday.

      What a story he could have told.

      It goes back to 1974, Blassʹ final spring training with the Pirates. In 1971, he had been a World Series hero, pitching complete-game victories against the Baltimore Orioles in Games 3 and 7. Now, mysteriously, he couldnʹt throw a strike. He couldnʹt come close, actually.

      ʺNo one wanted to take batting practice against me,ʺ Blass said. ʺI could see the fear in their eyes. No one wanted to be hit in batting practice. It wasnʹt comfortable for me....

    • Fans Will See a Different Brand of Baseball
      (pp. 314-318)

      Itʹs like meeting a new heartthrob. There is an instant physical attraction, and you canʹt wait to discover more about this charming personality. But as with any new love interest, youʹll need more time to find out what sheʹs really like.

      Introducing PNC Park and its grass field, short foul lines and intriguing proximity to the Allegheny River. Its spacious outfield likely will produce more triples and will require fielders to be fleet of foot. The distances from home plate to the outfield fences seem fair but beg the question of how much of a factor the wind will be....

    • The Reluctant Hero
      (pp. 318-322)

      Late on the night of August 10, Bill Mazeroski could finally exhale.

      The life of the Pittsburgh Pirate all-time great second baseman had finally settled down. At last, the quiet man from tiny Tiltonsville, OH could get away from the hoopla that had surrounded him since way back in March and try to become a normal person again.

      ʺBoy, this has been a little tough,ʺ Mazeroski said with a smile. ʺIʹm just not used to people making a fuss over me. It has all been great, but I donʹt know how to take it.ʺ

      Mazeroskiʹs wild ride began on the...

  10. Touched by Magic

    • Bang for the Bucs
      (pp. 325-338)

      Toward the end of that autumn afternoon at old Forbes Field, near the close of a record-breaking World Series that had already emerged as the weirdest, wildest, most improbable ever played, Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman William Stanley Mazeroski, the 24-year-old son of an Ohio coal miner, sensed that he had been through all this before, felt heʹd already lived and seen it. Sensed it as he stepped off the field and inhaled the momentʹs bitter, ascending air of gloom.How did this happen?he thought.How is it they always come back?

      It was 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 13,...