No, not that one. Not to you, Clinton Merrick Hurdle, Pirates manager.
To Clinton Edwards Hurdle, your father.
Getting to spend four years in Pittsburgh covering the Bucs was a pleasure. Getting to know you even a little bit was a privilege.
The days around the ballpark in this 24/7 world tend to drag, and spirits and eyebrows both tend to sag. Entering the PNC Park clubhouse and running into your wide-grin greeting never failed to perk me up.
But it absolutely floored me to ever hear that you were actually looking for me, wanting to catch up. Just as I cowered with humility to be able to count you as a regular reader — and editor. Clint, who has neither the time nor the inclination to read about his team himself, would periodically point out mistakes I’d made and were reported to him by you.
Sharing stories or small-talk, the highlight of any day. Listening to you, watching that mischievous twinkle in your eye, it was easy to picture you and the tyke Clint playing backyard catch under a fading sun, or hear you laying down the law years later to the rambunctious Clint.
I never took for granted those fleeting minutes, a connection forged by our mutual love of the game. I got to see the world through your words, and I enjoyed the view. I don’t think we ever had to explain ourselves to each other. So, now, I probably don’t have to explain why I so much enjoyed your company.
I think a big part of it was the affection and pride in what your son had become. You looked upon Clint, in other words, pretty much the way I looked upon Pittsburgh.
Both relationships began about the same time. You and Louise “met” Clint in July 1957. I first arrived in Pittsburgh in July 1959. We both hence traveled a winding, traps-filled road only to arrive at the same destination, at the flagpole flying the Jolly Roger full-staff.
Sorry for the rant. But as Pittsburgh readies for a rite of winter, a PirateFest I will not be attending, my mind wandered to what I’ll miss about not covering the Pirates. And I thought of you.
I wish you a very happy holiday season. And many more happy summer afternoons at your son’s side on the North Side.