“Each day through my window I watch her as she passes by. I say to myself, “You’re such a lucky guy.” To have a girl like her is truly a dream come true, out of all of the fellas in the world she belongs to me. But it was just my imagination, running away with me. It was just my imagination, running away with me.” —From the Temptations; ‘Just my Imagination’
I will be in Bradenton, FL (Pirates City) next week to check on the evolution or continued dissolution of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Unlike most of the “objective” sports scribes hailing from the steel city; I wear my heart on my sleeve when it comes to the Buc’s.
When I think of the Pirates more memories come to mind than just athletes striking out, hitting homeruns or making great defensive plays. I continue to visualize my father in his pitch black bedroom; I was the last of 12 children and by the time I came along he and my mother inhabited separate bedrooms only coming together for what they both described as “occasional celebrations.” His new “mistress” displayed multi-personalities daily and had names like; Vernon Law, Bill Mazeroski, Donn Clendenon, Elroy Face, Bob Friend, Willie Stargell, John Candelaria, Steve Blass, Al Oliver, Manny Sanguillen. Let’s forget about individuals; he loved the Pittsburgh Pirates, period. The only thing visible in that “lightless chamber” that he retired to every evening to be transported to his own personal pirate ship was the lighted red power button on his Zenith radio. My nostrils “smile” as I recall the smell of cherry tobacco filling the air almost allowing the sound waves from the broadcast of the game to “piggyback” on the aromatic smoke as it wafted toward baseball” heaven.” Even amidst the blackness of the room dad may not have been sitting in the stands at Forbes Field or Three Rivers Stadium (he never lived to see PNC Park) but he had faith and believed that between the 1st and 9th inning someone was going to emerge as one of the Pirates heroes of the night. It might have been a nasty Elroy Face forkball that would end a promising rally for the opposition or a sliding “basket” catch somewhere out in right center field by Roberto “the great one” Clemente. Pirates’ manager Danny Murtaugh could almost always count on a “bloop” by Roberto Clemente and a “blast” by Wilver Dornell Stargell to almost always keep the Pirates in the game. By the way in 1971 Willie Stargell hit 48 home runs and the only “steroids” that he required was a plate full of collard greens and ham hocks and a nice cold pitcher full of vodka and orange juice. Every night, on my knees I pray “Dear Lord, hear my plea. Don’t let them take Joel Hanrahan away from me or I will surely cry.” The Pirates have to win now. Pittsburgh no longer has ex-Pirates GM Dave Littlefield to blame for stupid money motivated deals. For the life of me I cannot comprehend how management could even consider allowing super reliever Joel Hanrahan to slip out of their grasp.