September 1, 2014

Introducing SABR’s Baseball Games Project

January 22, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

One of the benefits of a membership in the Society for American Baseball Research is not just learning about the game, but also the satisfaction of sharing what you know with others.  The organization is offering its members yet another such opportunity with the SABR Baseball Games Project. This project is a spinoff of the […]

Book Review: 60’6″

May 4, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

                    60’6″: Balls, Strikes, and Baseball Mortality, the debut novel from former college and semipro pitcher Mike Arsenault, is a portrait of a young man clinging to an impossible dream and wondering what lies beyond.  Arsenault uses baseball as his backdrop, but his story transcends the […]

Crowning Achievement: The Man Behind the Kansas City Royals’ Logo

December 7, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

At Kauffman Stadium not long ago, someone introduced Shannon Manning to a fan and his young son.  The boy had never heard of Manning and couldn’t understand why he was supposed to be so impressed.  The father just pointed to his kid’s Royals cap and explained wryly, “Without this fellow, your hat would just be […]

The Pittsburgh Pirates by Eras: 1901-2011

July 13, 2011 by · 3 Comments 

Last year Rob Neyer, then of ESPN.com, began a series of columns in which he divided each franchise’s history into eras that are tied to particular players.  As he explained: I’m not talking about identifying each franchise’s best player over a number of years; that’s easy and doesn’t tell us much that we don’t already […]

The 2011 Pirates: Baby Steps

February 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Among the first things new Pirate manager Clint Hurdle preached to his men at a January minicamp was some rubbish about how “championship teams make good outs.”   Really, what championship teams do is get on base, hit the ball over the fence, and prevent their opponents from doing the same.  Pittsburgh’s trouble has been the […]

“We Had to Pay the Price:” How the Pirates Traded for Chuck Tanner

February 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Chuck Tanner’s death last Friday struck particularly close to the hearts of longtime Pirate fans.  He was the down-to-earth local kid who went away, made good, and then returned to lead his hometown club to a World Series title in 1979.  But as the Pittsburgh media reminisced about Tanner’s life and career last week, they […]

The Gunner Returns: A New CD Honors the Pirates’ Iconic Voice

December 20, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

In 1985, a decade after his short-sighted and hard-headed bosses flung him to the curb, legendary broadcaster Bob Prince made a poignant return to the Pittsburgh Pirates’ booth.    For younger fans who were hearing the 68-year-old Prince for the first time, it was hard to figure what all the fuss was about.   Cancer surgery and […]

“The Only Real Sport Out There”: Pie Traynor’s Life in Pro Wrestling

October 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

If you want to see someone’s face light up, find a middle-aged man who grew up in Pittsburgh and mention Pie Traynor.  When he hears that name, he won’t recall Traynor’s sparkling play at third base or all the clutch hits he delivered for the Pirates.  Those are the memories of a different generation.  No, […]

Rattled in the Clinches: Manager Pie Traynor and the Epic Collapse of the 1938 Pirates

September 7, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

On the evening of September 29, 1938, inside the funereal visitors’ clubhouse at Wrigley Field, a despondent Pie Traynor leaned back, fired up a cigarette, and prepared to lie through his teeth. His Pittsburgh Pirates had just lost three crushing games to the Chicago Cubs thanks to Gabby Hartnett’s famous “Homer in the Gloamin’” and […]

They Belong to the Ages: The 2010 Pittsburgh Pirates

July 14, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Sometimes we notice incompetence only when it assumes its most spectacular forms.  The chemist who blows up her lab.   The surgeon who amputates the wrong leg.  The mechanic who fills your radiator with wiper fluid. But often we overlook the grinding, day-to-day manifestations of ineptitude, the kind you live with and suffer through until one […]

Rogue Pierogies: The Blundering Bucs Strike Again…and Again

June 24, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

Most Pittsburghers don’t regard the Pirates as lovable losers – just losers.  The Bucs rank well below the Steelers in popularity, well below the Penguins, and perhaps a step or two above tuberculosis.  It’s not just the losing; it’s the perceived hubris of the men who run the organization, and their clumsy attempts at deluding […]

Major League Baseball….in Altoona?

June 6, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

Altoona, Pennsylvania is the kind of place Bruce Springsteen sings about – a cold, gray blight, best experienced through the rear-view mirror at about 80 miles-an-hour.  When the Pennsylvania Railroad crumbled after World War II, Altoona crashed down right along with it.  Today, the garish lights of its endless chain restaurants and strip malls are […]

The Sixth Tool: Measuring the Mind

May 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Of all the prospects Pittsburgh received in its 2009 fire sale, possibly the most alluring was 25-year-old right-hander Charlie Morton.    Morton came armed with a knee-buckling curve, a swooping slider, and a darting fastball that blazed past hitters at 95 miles-per-hour.   He dominated Triple-A in 2008 and 2009.   Word was he was the ideal pitcher […]

It Ain’t Easy Raising the Dead: The Labors of Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington

April 16, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

In the 1980s, Pirate general manager Syd Thrift, an old Southern gentleman with a dry wit, looked at the rebuilding task in front of him and moaned, “It ain’t easy raising the dead.” Relatively speaking, Thrift’s task was a breeze.  He took over a team that had a winning record two seasons earlier, and was […]