40 years ago, the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Baltimore Orioles in 7 games to win the 1971 World Series and to celebrate the 40th anniversary, there was no better time than this week when the Orioles came into town. Prior to the game on Monday, they had a question and answer session just outside the ballpark with members of the 1971 team. Before the game on Tuesday, all of the living players and representatives of Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente, were on the field to take part in remembering the great team. With over 34,000 in attendance, the Pirates put the final play of the series on the scoreboard for all too see and relive. The ovation was loud throughout the stadium and you could see just how much that team meant to the storied baseball franchise and their fans.
While the celebration was going on, my dad, whom I took to the game, was telling me all about these players.
“Bob Robertson, man could he ever hit the ball and Richie “Grave-Digger” Hebner, he used to be a grave-digger in the offseason up in Boston,” he would say reliving his fond memories of his childhood.
Maybe it’s just me or maybe it’s just that I’m younger, but isn’t it time that we get over the championships of the past? Now I’m not taking away from anything that the 1960, 1971 or 1979 Pirates teams did by defeating the Orioles twice and Yankees once, but I feel the city holds on to those memories too much. I was down at a rain-delay earlier this year when the Los Angeles Dodgers were in town, and during the delay, they replayed the 1979 World Series on the jumbotron. When the final out happened and the Pirates won the series, you would have thought it was present day by the standing ovation given by the remaining 10,000 people.
I’ve had this discussion with many people and I make sure to point out that the teams do deserve recognition and we should be proud of what they have done. You want to celebrate the anniversary every 10 years, go for it; I have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with is every year mentioning the teams from 40 and 50 years ago. Baseball in this town has notoriously been horrid for the past 18 years and that’s what the fans have to hold on to. The Pirates are turning it around this year and are looking to be a respected franchise, so it’s time to let go of the past and concentrate on the future.
Do you really think the Yankees will celebrate all 27 of their World Series titles? Maybe it is just the city of Pittsburgh as a whole that likes to hold on to the past. For example, currently the hot topic is about a possible return of Jaromir Jagr to the Penguins. The fans don’t care if he is 39-years-old or if he was 45, they want him back because of what he did before. Pittsburgh Steelers’ fans constantly remind the rest of the league that their team has 6 Super Bowl titles, more than any other team. Never mind that 4 of them were won in the 1970′s and it took almost 30 years until they won another one. It’s a pride thing more than anything and wanting to show that our team did this and our team is better than yours.
If I had grown up around that time and was able to watch a winning team, I may feel different and it would be more special to me is what my dad said to me. But I witnessed the Penguins win the cup in 2008-2009 and it was great, but I don’t think I’ll hold onto that memory 40 years later like the Pirates fans do with their championships. It’s a great memory that happened and should be recognized and applauded every 10 years. But like @DannyDimaio told me on Twitter, “It’s nice, but we do need to start making new winning memories.”
About the Author
Written by Michael Waterloo
I'm currently pursuing my Master's degree in Communication and Journalism from Clarion University. I currently work for Ohio Valley Athletics where I serve as the West Virginia Football Beat Writer and cover West Virginia Men's Basketball as well. I'm a big Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers and Oregon Ducks fan. Follow me on Twitter at @MichaelWaterloo or visit www.ovathletics.com