Inside Conditions…The Pirates of Penzance

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Starling Marte (6) heads home to score on a double by Andrew McCutchen in the eighth inning of the baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday, June 30, 2013, in Pittsburgh. The run tied the game as the Pirates went on to win 2-1 in 14 innings. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

by Aubrey Bruce

Hello “dere” my faithful students, school is officially “in” you diggg. It’s now “Howdy Doody” time.

According to dictionary.com the definition of the word penzance is; Pen•zance [pen-zans], (noun); A seaport in SW Cornwall, in the SW extremity of England: resort.

Isn’t it ironic that Pittsburgh sits in the southwest corner of Pennsylvania and is one of the United States most valuable industrial shipping ports?

Also Wikisource.com informs me that one of the theatre productions of the play ‘Pirates of Penzance’ was put on at Comique, London, 3 April 1880. It is also no coincidence that the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates are no joke!

I see you scratching your “noggins” now you have to connect the dots.

The Pirates joined the National League in its sixth season in 1887, six years after the NL was formed in 1881. The Pirates were competitive from the jump and won three National League titles from 1901 to 1903, playing in the very first World Series in 1903 and winning their first World Series in 1909 lead by future MLB hall-of-famer Honus Wagner.

“Pour, oh, pour the pirate sherry; Fill, O fill the pirate glass; And, to make us more than merry, let the pirate bumper pass. For today our pirate ‘prentice rises from indenture freed; Strong his arm, and keen his scent is he’s a pirate now indeed!”

Let’s weave this fabric together, yinz. Sometimes the students have to instruct the instructors.

There is a communal spirit that is beginning to develop around the city and around PNC Park in regards to the chances and I mean very possible chances for the Pirates to make a serious run at a MLB title.

“Pour, oh, pour the pirate sherry; Fill, O fill the pirate glass.” Everybody has to get in on the act.

 

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AUBREY BRUCE AND NAT JEFFRIES CIRCA 1979

One of my fondest memories was from the year 1979, the year that the Bucs’ won their last MLB title. There is a world famous watering hole in Lawrenceville formerly named “Nat’s” now known as “Art’s.” The late Nathaniel “Nat” Jeffries and Arthur “Art” Jeffries are brothers. When Mr. Nat retired his brother Art assumed ownership.

Anyway, in “79,” Nat’s daughter “Cookie” Jeffries would ask anyone entering the establishment; “Did the Pirates win?” When the patron would answer “yes,” Cookie would yell, “okay yaw’ll, the boys’ have kicked a– again, it is time for refills, pour the corn.”

What a very ingenious way to sell more “juice” but she really did not have to go through that because double shots of well whiskey were only $1.25 at Nat’s anyway, so it did not take too much salesmanship from “princess Cookie” or anyone else in order to be convinced to refill their glasses with “hole-lee” water while the Pirates fight song for that year the ‘Sister Sledge tune; ‘We are Family’ was almost always (at least every 15 minutes or so) blaring from the jukebox.

“And, to make us more than merry, Let the pirate bumper pass.”

See guys and dolls, in 1979 the Pirates had a certain kind of swagger. Teams either got out of their way or were run over.

It was nearing the end of the disco era. Society and sports teams played hard and partied harder. However this time of winning was more than just scores on a scoreboard because as the Pirates were winning the region was losing and was in the process of reinventing itself. There was not much to celebrate from an economic perspective in Pittsburgh in 1979 but the “79″ Bucs’ were truly a comforter for all of the other things that were going wrong during that vital “make love and not war” era.

The motto of the Pittsburgh Pirates squad of 1979 was not “turn the other cheek,” no it was just the opposite. Their attitude was; “break the other jaw.

The only time that you would find the Pirates drinking mint juleps with the opposition during the era of “Pops” Stargell was after they had knocked out all of the teeth of the opposition and their opponents were unable to eat solid food.

“For today our pirate ‘prentice rises from indenture freed.” the young Bucs’ of 2013 have been freed from the past. They have used the “blowtorch of youth” to cut loose the shackles of losing. When a blowtorch has to be utilized to cut shackles there is going to be some pain involved but the old saying has never been more true than now; “No pain, no gain.”

“Strong his arm, and keen his scent he’s a pirate now indeed!”

The strength of youth is beginning to show very well alongside the stability of experience that the 2013 Pirates have. Pittsburgh is beginning to smell blood in the water and they are now salivating at just the thought of biting into the “bloody steak” of winning. They resemble a bunch of Pit Bulls ready not for bear but for blood.

See I am not one of the “fly by nighters.” Ya know, loving the Pirates now that they are showing some promise.

This past spring I went to Bradenton, FL to see the Bucs’ compete in a few “grapefruit” league skirmishes. The previous time that I visited Bradenton to see Pittsburgh in action was in 2009. I could smell the “jelly” then and I can still smell it now.

In light of my previous health issues I have been hoping that I would be blessed with the opportunity to cover one more MLB World Series or even one NLCS series featuring the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“No Englishman unmoved that statement hears, because, with all our faults, we love our House of Peers. I pray you, pardon me, ex-Pirate King! Peers will be peers, and youth will have its fling.” The time for talking and teaching is over. “Yinz” guys and gals have been really good today………..Class dismissed.

Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: abruce@newpittsburghcourier.com or 412.583.6741

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