I have an old scratchy record — a thing made of vinyl with a hole in the middle that used to play music — on which Rosey Roswell says, “Open the window, Aunt Minnie, here it comes!”
And Bob Prince adds, “How sweet it is!”
Now I get to riff on Roswell’s biggest hit. “Open your arms, Pittsburgh, here I come.”
How sweet it is.
I’m pleased and proud to take a bow as MLB.com’s new beat reporter for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the natural destination of an 11-year journey with this dynamic company.
I grew up in Pittsburgh. Although I spent relatively few of my overall years there, they were the most important, formative years.
There were two major influences luring me into becoming a writer: Roy McHugh, who as columnist with the Pittsburgh Press mesmerized me with his bare-knuckles and literate reports from seedy billiard halls, and Tom Jones (seriously), my English — what else? — teacher at Taylor Allderdice High School.
Then there was the afternoon I came home from Colfax Elementary and plopped in front of the living room TV to watch cartoons and was disappointed to see Bugs Bunny preempted by some baseball game.
But before Elmer Fudd could pop up Bill Mazeroski hit a home run over Yogi Berra’s head past the Longines clock, car horns immediately went off outside the window, and I was hooked.
I was in Forbes Field’s bleachers for Willie Stargell’s first Major League at-bat. Heck, I watched Pete Rose’s Major League debut on KDKA-TV, from Crosley Field. I worshipped at the Church of Roberto Clemente, loved seeing Jerry Lynch come off the bench, and danced to Sister Sledge
So, yeah, I’ve been around the block a few times. But there isn’t a back-in-the-day bone in my body.
Been around a few warning tracks, too. I’ve been blessed to be able to spend my entire adult life as a writer, from newspapers to magazines to wire services. I’ve covered entertainers, politicians, CEOs.
But you know first loves. Never lost my passion for baseball, and was again blessed when MLB.com came along in 2001 and asked me to jump aboard.
I covered the Angels in my adopted hometown — the opportunity to attend UCLA had lured me out of Pittsburgh, the wonder of hippie-era Saturday nights on Sunset Strip kept me from going back — my first year with MLB.com, after which I transferred to New York as an East Region feature writer and then fulfilled the same role in Arizona.
MLB.com enabled me to cover the game in which Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s record for career homers. A “few” years earlier, while with the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, I covered the game in which Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s record.
I believe I’m the only reporter to have covered both of those. Which kinda makes me proud.
But not as much as this new opportunity to cover the heirs of my boyhood heroes, and to bond with their fans.
Jenifer Langosch is a writer I tremendously admire. I join you in wishing her nothing but the best at her own new adventure, covering the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals.
She will be a tough act to follow.
But I’ve been rehearsing for this act all my life. Curtain up.