The gift of an endless Pirates summer
Two Christmases ago, Jim Banks, one of the executive editors at MLB.com, gave me a gift that was much better than a necktie.
Jim gave me the Pittsburgh Pirates.
For nearly 10 years, I had done general writing for MLB.com, features and columns and the like. I hadn’t been full-time on a team beat for nearly a quarter-century.
But Jenifer Langosch, for years the Pirates’ reporter, was going back to her roots to cover the Cardinals in St. Louis.
At MLB Advanced Media’s annual Christmas party, Jim cornered me about whether I’d be interested in doing likewise – even though my roots went a lot deeper- and taking on the Pirates?
It piqued me right away. Piqued me a lot less when my wife made it clear she had no interest in moving from Scottsdale, Arizona. I would be on my own in the summers.
Tough call. But one thing, one thought kept bringing me back to it: “If, after 20 years, the Bucs broke through and I happened to be part of it, at least as the chronicler, it would be a wonderful punctuation for a career and a treasured flashback to my youth.”
And there was one other thing: As a kid, I was convinced I brought the Bucs luck. Supersition, or supernatural?
Whatever … I did it, and now so have the Bucs. Echoing what players often say at times like these, I don’t think I’ll be able to truly appreciate a Monday night in old Wrigley Field until it’s all over, and distance will endow it with perspective.
But I already know one thing.
I haven’t really been on my own these last two years, kept company by that little kid who would spend nights in Forbes Field and wake up in the mornings to grab the Pittsburgh Press to read about the game he had seen hours earlier.
Thanks, Jim Banks. I owe you more than a necktie.