As a kid growing up in Squirrel Hill, this was the weekend I always looked forward to.
The anticipation had nothing to do with NFL Playoffs. This was the mid-‘60s. The Steelers then were the Raiders now. John Henry Johnson and a bunch of future construction workers.
No, even in the bone-chilling cold and on the icy cobblestone streets, it became all about baseball. New Year’s Day was the hump. On one side, it was still hindsight to last season. On the other side, it was foresight, the official end to “Wait till next year.” It was all downhill to the Pirates and Opening Day in Forbes Field.
But there was more to the calendar flip than just a feeling. Like clockwork, the first wave of baseball annuals previewing the coming season would land on the first Tuesday of January. Street & Smith, SPORT, McMillan … they would glow like beacons on the sidewalk in front of the Murray Avenue News stand.
On my way to school that morning, I’d wait patiently as the wire around bales of magazines was snapped, grab my favorites and continue on with my prize to Taylor Allderdice, where I’d sit in homeroom sneaking peeks at the Table of Contents.
The cyber age changed the playing field a long time ago. Baseball is never out of season, regardless of the temperature. Information on and connection with your ball idols is always available.
But I still remember the thrill of walking down Beacon Street, crossing Murray, turning left — and seeing those stacks of magazines on the sidewalk in the distance.
Now it’s flying down to Bradenton, driving across US 301, turning left on 27th — and seeing Pirate City on the right in the distance. The thrill is NOT gone.