When I was a little girl I used to watch baseball games with my Dad and brothers. In particular we watched the Pittsburgh Pirates, commonly known as the “Buckos.” My Dad had the recliner chair, my brothers had the couch, and that meant I had the floor. I used to make a little bed for myself on the floor with an afghan my Mom crocheted and an off-white pillow with a mallard duck embroidered on the front.
We used to watch a lot of baseball, and I remember drifting in and out of sleep during the games. Not that I was totally bored, I just knew that even if I fell asleep that when something exciting happended I would quickly be woken and caught up to speed by my brothers reaction to whatever pivital moment occurred.
Circa 1992, Mark usually rooted for either the Atlanta Braves or the New York Mets. Why? I have no idea, but I think it had something to do with Dale Murphy and Daryl Strawberry. But Keefe, Keefe always rooted for the Buccos. I did, too. And these were during the days of Bobby Bonilla, Barry Bonds, Jay Bell, Orlando Merced, Andy Van Slyke, Spanky LaValleire, Doug Drabek and the likes. These names easily come tumbling out of my mind as if it were yesterday that I was lying on the floor of our living room, my freshly washed hair leaving a wet mark on the mallard pillow. These names, ingrained in my memory, are as clear as the first Pirates game I ever attended.
Tonight as I am watching the World Series and drifting in and out of blogging (as opposed to sleep), I have vivid memories of my first trip, not only to a Pirates game, but to Pittsburgh itself. I was in sixth grade, and it was my first time to a big city. My friend Allison invited to me to go a game with her and her family. This was a big deal since I led a pretty sheltered life in small-town Coudersport, where I grew up riding my bike to and from the town pool with no parental supervision and the only curfew I had had up to that point was just to “be home by dark.”
Upon arriving to downtown Pittsburgh I remember seeing my first homeless person and being in complete disbelief. Before the game at Three Rivers Stadium, I remember going to Station Square and buying a short-sleeved red t-shirt at The Limited. I remember staying at the William Penn Hotel downtown. It was by far the nicest hotel I had ever been to up to that point in my life. I remember walking to Kaufman’s from the hotel after we checked in. I remember that Allison and I had our own room, and we stayed up way too late sitting on the windowsill of our room and watching people walking by the fountains below our room. We wondered what they were doing or where they were going at that late hour.
During the game, I remember Allison’s dad bringing us vanilla ice cream in mini-plastic Pirates hats. I’d have to take a look, but I believe that ice cream hat still sits on one of my shelves in the “The Shrine.” Even though I cannot remember who won the game (too much pre-game excitement for a 12-year-old girl?!) we attended, I do know that it was very exciting to be sitting in the plastic bleacher seats watching our team play. It was a far cry from the living room floor to say the least.
The Pirates finished first in the National League East that year, but lost a riveting game seven to the Atlanta Braves during the postseason National League Championship. So although it was a disappointing end to a very successful season for Jim Leyland and crew, the excitement of the game and the season still live vividly in my mind.
Just as Lanny Frattare would say, “… there was no doubt about it.”
Editor’s Note: As of 9:30 p.m., the St. Louis Cardinal are on top, 3-2, of the Texas Rangers, heading into the fifth inning. I am on the couch with my feet on the coffee table watching baseball, America’s pastime.