It's been mighty tough being a Pirates fan lately. Losing teams. Lousy trades. Bad GMs. Crummy ownership. A generation of Pittsburgh kids has gone to grade school, junior high, high school and college and not seen the Pirates above .500 at the end of a season. Fifteen straight losing seasons. That's ugly.
Well, some of us are old enough to remember the greatness of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The '71 team led by the incomparable Roberto Clemente beat the Orioles in the World Series. The "We Are Family" '79 champs that again beat the Orioles in the World Series. Hey, notice a pattern there?
So given that the current state of the Pirates and figuring I'll be dead by the time the Bucs have another winning season, I decided today to make the five-hour trek (3 1/2 hours if you can read a map) to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., to soak up the greatness of the outstanding Bucco teams of the past. Clemente, Stargell, Honus Wagner, Ralph Kiner. Pie Traynor. Oooooo, it gave me goose bumps. I had my picture taken in front of the plaques of all the Bucco Hall of Famers.
The one at the top is me with Clemente, who had the best outfield arm in baseball history. The next shot is one Wilver Dornell Stargell, one of the great non-'roided up home run hitters ever. And, of course, who can forget Lloyd "Little Poison" Waner? And then there is the great Pie Traynor, third baseman extraordinaire. As a kid, I used to see Pie at the bus stop in downtown Pittsburgh chatting it up with fans. Next, we have Lloyd's brother, Paul. He was called "Big Poison."