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August 01, 2013 8:27 am

MY LOUSY WORLD: The Pirates and I are not jokes

Written by Doug Blough

My name is Doug and I am a Buccoholic.

Born and raised in Pittsburgh Pirate Land, I suppose I was genetically predisposed, with Cody/Powell brothers and nephews Buc-addicted. Admitting the problem is the first step in getting help, but I don’t want help, especially not this year.

It’s undoubtedly the year of the Buc, and I’m no longer ashamed of who I am and who I love. In fact, I want to shout it from the rooftops, and actually occasionally do.

While shingling, I can be heard shouting to passersby: “Hey, I’m a Pirates fan; how do ya like that? I’m here, I’m sincere; get used to it!” (One elderly lady walking a dog called the cops).

Seriously though, I’m suddenly not hearing the derisive jeers anymore. Dave Beemer has been pretty mum on his sarcastic “Parrot” jokes these days. I guess it doesn’t matter how my Eastern accent mispronounces it when the Parrots have the second-best record in baseball. Move along, folks; nothing to laugh at here.

I also haven’t forgotten next-door neighbor Dana’s rude dig last summer when she invited me over for drinks with another couple. When I said, “No thanks, my Pittsburgh Pirates are on TV,” she cracked, “Did you say your Piss-Poor Pirates?”

Oh, how they all four cackled as I feigned a grin and went back inside to watch my Bucs fall to another shutout loss. But now it’s us pitching shutouts at a record pace. The experts didn’t even project the Pirates as pre-season long-shots, and now it’s Pedro Alvarez hitting long shots — 26 tape-measure, monumental blasts to be exact.

I’m out of the closet and I’m loving every minute of it. Pirate fans are long-suffering. Our people have wandered the desert for 20 years — the losingest stretch in all of sports.

There have been breathtaking starts followed by heartbreaking finishes, like the last two seasons when they inexplicably collapsed into a bad joke following the All-Star break they had entered as baseball’s “Cinderella story.” The Promised Land was a million miles away for us Pirastinians.

But through it all, we Bloughs have never forsaken our Bucs nor lost faith. Root for who you want, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Bucs.

I began this column a week after the All-Star Game, when they again started slowly, but I’m fully confident when this goes to press, we will have overtaken first place again.

I lost $80 betting on Alvarez to win the Home Run Derby, but I hold no grudge. The Pirastinians are a forgiving people.

And why not? We could never repay all the magical memories Pirates have brought Bloughs. Back in the days of the greatest ever, Roberto Clemente, and Bill “Maz” Mazeroski, I listened to every game on the same old, stove-sized radio in our hornet-infested, ungodly-hot attic that my older brothers Jess and Paul did.

We didn’t need no stinking TV — hearing golden-throated announcer Bob Prince’s electric play-by-play lacked nothing.

Paul tells of one close game when another radio station kept bleeding into KDKA-Pittsburgh, and it was opera no less. Prince would shriek, “Gene Alley hits it a mile! Going, going, and …” when suddenly the female opera singer — most likely a fat woman — would begin bellowing nonsense.

Super-fan Jess could stand it no longer. He began punching the radio and screaming, “Shut up, lady. Shut UP! I’ll kill you!”

That’s right — we Pirate fans would kill for our Bucs.

A new generation of Blough fans  — including 17-year-old great-nephew Trey —  will help us carry the pennant flag this year. In fact, it was Jess’ son Jay who suggested I write a long-overdue tribute to our unshakeable Blough, Buc loyalty. So I’m assuming he’d not want me to leave out his very first Pirate game as a 3-year-old.

I was 15 that summer when Jess and family were home visiting from a faraway place called Wyoming and he took us to Pittsburgh to watch the Pirates beat Hank Aaron and the Milwaukee Braves. Jay was wearing his trademark little blue shorts as Jess held his hand crossing a busy street on the way to old Forbes Field.

Walking a few steps ahead, I heard Jess say with a hint of urgency, “Jay, can’t you hold it? Jaaay …?”

I turned to see the tyke stopped dead in the middle of the street, legs spread and a blank, yet contented look on his face. The growing puddle below him finished the story.

You better believe it. We Pirate fans would pee our pants for our Bucs. In fact, if the Pirates do win the World Series, I vow to literally stand in the middle of Powell’s Main Street wearing blue shorts and reenact Jay’s public gaffe.

I will not cut my hair though. I would do anything for love … but I won’t do that.


  • Comment Link August 01, 2013 6:45 pm posted by Phoebe

    Good one matey! Not sure your nephew Jay would want us all to know about his "moment" but 3 year olds get a pass . . . . . .

  • Comment Link August 03, 2013 11:50 pm posted by Ron Blough

    Hey Cousin Jess-good one! I go back a little further than you. I listened to every Pirate game back when Rosie Rosewell would yell "Open the window Aunt Minnie here she comes" Then I'd hear the sound of broken glass. Those were the days! I won a trip to a game with cereal box tops bought at Kermit's Clover Farm store. I saw Ralph Kiner hit a home run-Stan Rojec at short, Danny Murtaugh at second, Gus Bell, Pete Castilone, Hank Greenburg, and Wally Westlake. They'd win I'd cheer they'd lose I'd cry. Dino Restelli came in during the season and hit a dozen home runs in his first 20 games-Rosie said "Dino's certainly found a home in Pittsburgh". I was in the stands in Forbes Field when Jackie Robinson hit 2 home runs. The Blacks sat in the same section in those days and when they stood to cheer those home runs I didn't know there were that many black people in the whole world. In Japan I'd walk around at 2 in the morning listening to games trying to get reception with short wave radio by my ear. I listened that way to the 1960 World Series when Maz hit the home run. I have the"Extra Innings" package-I tried to get it for just the Pirates but they wouldn't go for that.I wouldn't miss a game whatever the cost-even here in Alaska.

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