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.

4 Comments

Georges Bernanos wrote that all he wanted in life was “to be faithful, to the end, to the child I used to be. Yes, what honour I have, and my bit of courage, I inherit from the little creature, so mysterious to me now, scuttling through the September rain across streaming meadows, his heart heavy at the thought of going back to school.”

Your beautiful penultimate paragraph echoes that thought. We’re the same age and my experience as a long distance fan of the Pirates is similar to yours. The Pirates were my boyhood team but I jilted them when a team called the Expos moved in next door. I then jilted the whole game after the 1994 debacle, but was brought back my one of my sons. I returned in the John Russell era and haven’t missed watching or hearing a Pirate game since. (Well, maybe a few when I married off one of my daughters.) All of which is to say that I was a kindred spirit Monday night.

Thank your for your prose. You are the Roger Angell of the Yinzers.

you didn’t read the Press in the morning cause it was the evening paper…

You’re right, of course, and I should’ve remembered because delivering the Press was my very first job. The Post-Gazette is what I’d grab on my way to school.

“Thanks, Jim Banks. I owe you more than a necktie.”…….echo that and what we owe YOU is double that.

It’s been a joy Tom these past two season,the last one memorable beyond words that not only saw a winning season,”Buctober” ,but the worst fear vanquished of the Great Ones number being associated with losing.;something any ones who’s blood group is classed as Black & Gold will never forget.
Your style took getting some used to after the erudite Ms Langosch headed West,especially when you wrote about a win at the end of that first season saying something along the lines of” a taste & a tease the Pirates would offer next season”…only to get a reply from yours truly that “teases” belonged in Strip Joints ! …..Of Course you were right & an unreserved apology Tom ( I went 76-86 for this season)
Enjoy( well try ) the off season and the more friendlier Winter of Arizona with your good Lady, and “Haste Ye Back” next season to your City of Bridges & Steel..

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