So, I know what the city is like during the playoffs. I love what the city is like during the playoffs. The Steelers are so great, and the Pirates are so pitiful, it’s easy to forget, or at least want to forget, what baseball has meant to the city of Pittsburgh over the years.
But we’re a baseball city.
We’re a baseball city because of our history. The history of the city is rich with baseball. We had not one but two great Negro League teams, boasting such Hall of Fame legends as Josh Gibson and Cool Papa Bell. The Pirates played in the first modern World Series (though we lost to the Boston Americans), and have won the fall classic five times, including the mythic 1960 upset of the Yankees.
We’re a baseball city because of the people. Honus Wagner. The Waner Brothers. Branch Rickey. Baseball’s first “closer” Elroy Face. Bill Mazeroski. Danny Murtaugh. Willie Stargell. Dock Ellis. Bobby Bonilla (and that other guy whose name starts with B… whatshisface).
And number 21.
And your favorite Pirate.
We’re a baseball city because we have the best ballpark in America. It may not right now be the place to watch the best baseball, but it’s the best place to watch baseball, and I’ve been to a lot of ballparks. And in this time of economic hardship, not everyone can afford to see a Steeler game. But anyone can decide on their way home from work that they want to catch a Bucs game, park for five bucks downtown and walk across the Roberto Clemente Bridge, buy a ticket for nine dollars (and the PNC Park “cheap seats” are great freakin’ seats), and get a whole evening’s worth of entertainment. And if you take me, they’ll win!
More than anything, we’re a baseball town because of how we feel about baseball. If we didn’t care, we wouldn’t have named the Sixth Street Bridge after Roberto. If we didn’t care, the outfield wall of Forbes Field wouldn’t be preserved, and we wouldn’t go down to sit by it on October 13 and listen to Maz’s walk-off home run. If we didn’t care, it wouldn’t hurt so much that our team is such a shadow of its former glory.
Love the Steelers. I do.
Cheer for the Steelers. I do.
But don’t forget.
We’re a baseball town.