I am a Pittsburgh Pirates fanPosted: May 21, 2012
Given that this is a blog about disgust and disappointment, I reckon it’s high time I talk about my baseball team. While I have been disappointed for the last 19 years, I am no longer disgusted given that the Dave Littlefield era is over. I love the Pirates.
My love for the Pirates can be traced back to one man: Mike Lybarger. Mike was a history professor* at Edgewood College in Madison, a friend of my father’s, our across-the-street neighbor during my childhood, and a Pittsburgh area native. There was a group of boys my age in the neighborhood, and Big Mike raised us all to cheer for the Pirates. He regaled us with stories of hitchhiking to the 1961 World Series, and had us over every Pirates’ opening day for fudgesicles which we would use to ceremoniously make P’s to the East. I was hooked.
Back in the mid eighties my dad and Mike took my brother and me down to Chicago to see the Pirates play at Wrigley–this was back before the Brewers switched over to the NL. I was about eight years old and decked out in my flat-topped gold-banded Pirates hat, carrying my prized 1979 Pirates’ World Series Champions pennant**. On that trip I learned that drunken middle aged men in Chicago have no shame in subjecting young children to a barrage of foul language. Also, how much fun it was to cheer for the Bucs.
I was in middle school back when the Pirates had their last winning season in 1992. After a number of years of success with such notable players as Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla, the Pirates decided in the mid nineties to invest in the future with a number of young prospects. Roughly twenty years later, they are in that same position.
People often ask me why I stick with the Pirates. For a number of years, I must admit, I didn’t follow baseball at all, so following the Pirates meant little. I’ve been back at it as a dedicated Pirates fan for ten years now, and all I can say is that dedication means something in this life. (What exactly it means, however, remains to be seen.) As cheesy as it is, I enjoy telling my eighth grade students that just like I’ve never given up on my Buccos, I’ll never give up on them–this usually gets a pretty good eye-roll in response.
*Mike studied and wrote about the history of social studies education. I had known he was a historian growing up, but didn’t realize his field until I got my first reading in my masters in social studies education program: Origins of the Modern Social Studies: 1900-1916 by Michael Lybarger.
**This pennant currently hangs in my classroom. Back in 2007 I took it out to Pittsburgh on a motorcycle trip east. I took the pennant to a game at PNC and held it proudly aloft cheering: “You’re still my World Champions!” A fair amount of Yuengling was involved.