I am unsure when I woke as a Pittsburgh Pirates fan. I assume it was some time in the summer of 1979 but I can’t be sure. 1979 was the magical year when the Pirates last won a World Series. I was 9 and I remember watching quite a bit of baseball this year. It was my second year of little league and I was smitten with the game of baseball. It was a gift from my father who loved the game. I remember following baseball quite closely. It was a topic with my friends at school. It’s probably the reason I read the newspaper daily even now. In the summer of 1979 my little league team was the Pirates, maybe that’s when this crazy love affair began.
Being a Pirates fan is tough. I think it’s tougher than even being a Cubs fan. With the Cubs you can see their games on cable other places. Before this season I saw Pirates on TV maybe once or twice in 20 years and it was usually on TBS when they played the Braves. This year I have seen 5 games and none have been against the Braves.
The 1979 World Series was magical. The Pirates were down 3 games to 1 and won 2 games in a row to force a game 7. In game 7 Hall of Famer Willie Stargell hit a towering two-run home run to seal my love of the Pirates forever. I can still recite from memory their lineup. Who could forget Willie Stargell, Dave Parker, Bill Madlock, Kent Tekulve?
Oh yeah I had an old school Pirates hat in black of course. I remember begging my parents for it for months. I have a picture of me in it somewhere.
The Pirates struggled through the 1980’s but in 1990 the Pirates started a 3 year run making it to the National League Championship Series 3 times and losing all 3. In 1992, the Pittsburgh Pirates had the Atlanta Braves against the ropes with a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 9th. The Braves scored two runs with the final run being scored by notoriously slow runner Sid Bream beating an extremely close throw by Barry Bonds to the plate (Watch it). Since this play the Pirates have struggled.
The 1992 team was cleaned out due to free agency and no desire to spend any money. For the last 21 years later the Pirates have been notoriously bad. Last season things began to change.
Last season the Pirates made a pretty good effort to make the play offs and were in first place in July but the second half of the season the Pirates waned and finished 4th.
This year the Pirates have been on fire. They have been leading their division for most of the summer due mostly to their awesome performance in May (19-9) and June (17-9) . This year will be their first season above .500 in 20 years. Congratulations to my favorite baseball team.