Inside Conditions…Tale of two centuries and two teams

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The sun’ll come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun!

Just thinkin’ about tomorrow clears away the cobwebs and the sorrows ’til there’s none!

When I’m stuck in a day that’s gray and lonely I just stick out my chin and grin and say: Oh the sun’ll come out tomorrow so ya gotta hang on ’til tomorrow.  Tomorrow, tomorrow!

I love ya tomorrow you’re always a day away…from Annie

aubreybruce-columnpic
AUBREY BRUCE

 

On Monday afternoon, I sat in the press box at PNC Park for the last game of the 2009 season. The day started out drizzly, wet and miserable. As the clouds peeked through the skyscrapers, I felt a strange new sense of optimism. Sometimes, instinct and gut feelings are more of an accurate barometer than dollars and “sense.”

The Pirates won the game convincingly, 11-1. The Dodgers left Pittsburgh sporting a 91-65 record and the Bucs left home with a staggering 59-96 mark.

People always want to remind me of the 1970s-80s Pirates so-called glory teams with their battle cries of “Arriba, Arriba” and “We are Familee.” Sort of reminds me of the constant pining for the days of the old Negro Leagues. Hey ladies and gents and anyone else who might be listening, Satchel and Josh are goooooooone… They will not be coming back.  Plus, I want to go back a tad further than a mere 30 years, which was the last time that the Pirates won a world championship.

Lets hit REW (rewind) and mosey on back 100 years and some change.

The Pittsburgh Pirates Baseball Club had a another futile period from 1887-1909. During the industrial revolution, the Pirates struggled to win a MLB championship. It took them all of 23 years to do so.

There were a few “newbies” during 1907 which was obviously a very good year.

In 1907, the Pittsburgh Courier. one of the oldest and most prestigious Black newspapers in the United States, was established by Edwin Harleston, a guard in the H.J. Heinz food-packing plant. This new upstart publication gave minorities a new voice.

Also in 1907 the Pirates posted a solid record of 91-63 but finished a distant second place, 17 games out of first. However, two short years later on June 30, 1909, an overflow crowd of 30,338 witnessed the Pirates fall to the Chicago Cubs, 3-2, in the first game played at Forbes Field, the nation’s first ballpark made completely of poured concrete and steel. The Pirates would go on to win a franchise record 110 games  en route to their second World Series, in a showdown between two of baseball’s premier players (Pirate Honus Wagner vs. Ty Cobb of the Tigers). However, the star of the series was Pirates unheralded pitcher Babe Adams who won three key games including an 8-0 shutout in the decisive Game 7 as the Pirates downed the Tigers to become world champions for the first time.

You do the math. In 1927, 18 years after the Pirates won their first championship they reached the World Series once again. They were led by National League MVP Paul Waner.  They advanced to the World Series with a 94-60 record. However, the Pirates could not compete with a New York Yankees team led by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, and were demolished by probably the greatest team in baseball history.

Steelers fans, suck it up, quit whining because there will always be winners and losers in every era because if there were not any losers there could not be any winners.

In contrast it took the Pittsburgh Steelers 40 years and a few wakeups to win their first NFL championship.

From the 1933-1974, the Steeler franchise was literally known as the laughingstock of the world of professional football. They were hardnosed but the result was almost always the same—losers. In the first three games of the 2009 season they have dropped two of them. A few wide receivers have dropped a few passes. The quarterback has misfired a few passes and the defensive secondary has allowed the opposing quarterback to complete a few passes.  Oh, my, the sky is falling…

Steelers Nation, before your beer mugs overflow with tears, think about many of the Pittsburgh professional football fans from the wartime 1940s. The Steelers did not even have a winning record for the first 11 years. If the Steelers Nation from times past cried like the fans of today there would have been a salt water driven tsunami flooding the Steel City.

The first winning record in the history of the Steelers came in 1942, 11 long years after the franchise was established. Pittsburgh finished with a 7-4 record, led by rookie running back Bill Dudley. There was a player shortage because of WWII and Art Rooney merged the Steelers with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1943 (Phil-Pitt “Steagles”) and with the Chicago Cardinals (Card-Pitt) in 1944 in order to continue competing. When the Steelers temporarily teamed up with the Cardinals their record was 0-10.  They have never had a winless season before or since.

Pittsburgh lost to the Bengals last weekend and the Pirates were less than stellar in 2009 but you know what? The sun’ll come out tomorrow bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun! Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya tomorrow you’re always a day away.

(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: abruce@newpittsburghcourier.com.)

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