Nobody supports sports teams better than Pittsburgh
W ith the Pirates baseball season reaching the playoffs, the older generation can finally tell stories of when the players in 1960 were, among others, Dick Stuart, Vernon Law, Harvey Haddix, Elroy Face, Don Hoak, Bob Friend and Roberto Clemente.
Tales of the World Series’ winning home run by Bill Mazeroski has been told over and over and over again. It’s like Woodstock. Someone is always telling of how they witnessed the event firsthand.
Times were different more than 50 years ago when there was no Internet or cellular telephones, and social media sounded more like a disease than a way to communicate.
A transistor radio on a hot summer’s eve was the best way to listen to the games. There weren’t 800 television channels and air conditioning was pretty much limited to the “air cooled” movie theaters.
In 1960, the Pirates and other baseball teams played 154 games, not like today’s 162 games, during the regular series. In 1960, the Pirates won 95 games and lost only 59 in the now defunct and demolished Forbes Field. Since the 1960 series, baseball has been played in two other stadiums, the now-demolished Three Rivers Stadium and the current PNC Park.
Times have indeed changed when it comes to salaries. Pitcher Harvey Haddix made a mind-boggling, for the time, salary of $25,000. That was for a year and not just for one game.
One of the most famous outfielders, Roberto Clemente received $17,500 a year, and Dick Stuart was paid $16,000. Add several zeroes and today’s salaries appear.
No matter who is playing, when a sports team in Pittsburgh makes the playoffs, the news stops. The first 21 minutes of a 6 p.m. news program last week was devoted, not to blood and guts, but to baseball. And the second story of the news was about the oversized rubber yellow duck that is moored at the point.
Pittsburghers love baseball. And, hockey. And, football. The Steelers are 0-4 and 0-8 when counting the pre-season, but no one is giving up hope. Pittsburghers can get mad about a losing season, but their loyalty never ends. The entire city is awash in black and gold pretty much all year round.
With the ongoing squabbles among federal elected officials, the rising costs of food and utilities, and unemployment still a reality for many, taking a deep breath and sitting back to enjoy a sporting event is a great way to escape the realities of life. The price of a ticket for any professional sporting event is high, but watching the game on television is free, not considering the price of cable, and there is always the radio, no longer transistor.
This is one of the best times of the year. The days are warm; the nights are cool and crisp, perfect for any type of game. In early October, the Pirates continue to progress through the playoffs, the Steelers are coming off a bye week, and the Penguins are just beginning their season.
The “Burgh” may no longer be the City of Champions, but when it comes to supporting a sports team, no one does it better than Pittsburgh.