What I Learned From The Pirates


Given such long droughts, it was no wonder that when the team exploded in victory, as it did when Bill Mazeroski’s ninth-inning homer toppled the Yankees in the 1960 World Series, rioting and mayhem broke out in the streets of Pittsburgh. On that occasion, and again when the team beat the Baltimore Orioles in the Series of 1971 and 1979, people who knew me and my affliction, even if they didn’t know the Pirates from the ladies of the Bloomer League, showered congratulations on me as if I had personally pitched two or three of the games. Far removed as I was from the baseball scenes of my boyhood, I graciously accepted the congratulations as a tribute to my endurance.


After the triumph of ’79 things became very sour indeed. The Pirates plunged into a trough so deep and wallowed there for so long that there were doubts that major league baseball could remain in the city that had hosted the first World Series, back in 1903. Yet only in the dead of night, after dining too well, did I admit an occasional nightmare of the team’s returning as one of those raw expansion clubs in some unlikely spot like Butte, Montana, or, even less likely, as the Pascagoula Pirates, potential champions of the Southeastern Mississippi League.

Even if such is to be their fate, they will have at least one fan on Long Island, a crotchety old fellow who remains sympathetic, recalling like an aging parent the pleasures and pains he has had from their few ups and many downs. But, I hasten to add, that may not be their fate after all. Only last year they finished a season in second place, and I can’t think the world is quite as badly off as from time to time it seems.