The Pirates get kudos for doing something neither the Tigers or Yankees did. They have a partnership with the local ‘Bradenton Boosters’ civic organization and each team is given a retired senior ‘booster’ who serves as your scorekeeper, equipment manager and your cheerleader for the week. Thanks to our Bill Carlin. Very nice gentleman and very nice touch by the Bucs.
Camp wasn’t the same without being able to play games at McKechnie Field, the spring home of the Pirates. The stadium is under renovation to be ready for the first grapefruit league game later this month (is it really February already?) and was unavailable to the camp. It was a big loss as nothing says major league like playing in a major league ballpark. Today’s Legend’s games should have been in the big ballpark.
The other thing the Pirates can do to add some spice is what the Tigers and Yankees have done for the past two years; play an inter-camp game. It really brings a new competitive atmosphere to camp and if schedule and reasonable location of another camp can be arranged it’s something the Pirates should look at for next year. This Pirate group of campers are very competitive and would relish it for a day. I know Detroit wanted to try and schedule it this week but the Pirates couldn’t accommodate. I hope both sides take a look for 2014 and find a window. It’s a great big league touch.
Some thank you’s for the week before I give the keyboard a rest:
To my wife Andi- Thanks for supporting this silly hobby of mine not only during the actual camp week but the other 51 weeks thinking about how soon it would get here. What did you mean when I left home last Saturday and you asked “Can’t you find a camp that lasts two weeks?”
To my sons Jason and Scott- Thanks guys for not thinking I’m totally off my rocker and in your own way supporting this pursuit. And yes one day it would mean everything to me if we can do this together- arm, hip and legs permitting. Jason- congrats on your ‘Happy Endings’ script that concluded production today and Scott congrats on your promotion to a key executive spot at the swank Peninsula Hotel- Beverly Hills. Very proud of both of you!
To my Dad- Thanks for passing along the Pittsburgh Pirates genes to me at a very young age. That allowed me to enjoy this week so much. Even though my allegiance has shifted to the Bronx, it’s pretty special to be walking around with Bill Mazeroski, Vernon Law, Elroy Face and Bill Virdon. I’m 10 years old again and lovin’ it!
To my colleague and friend Dan Mitchell- We’ve known each other for almost 30 years and Dan used to be a college baseball pitcher and shortstop at Tennessee-Martin back in the day. His goal when I started this camp run three years ago was for him to be well enough for he and I to do the SF Giants camp together. Dan’s knees won’t cooperate and he has finally given up the dream. Well old buddy- this week was for you!
To Ruth Dmitrzak for sharing your camera with me.
To everyone who has commented on this journal- It’s a lot of work and it helps keep my college degree in journalism finely tuned but I’m not sure for what. Thanks for the feedback it means a lot to me. Some of your remarks were just priceless. And to one in particular- Lew Matusow- a classmate of mine at The U in the early 70′s and in fact my former college newspaper boss. Thanks Lew for keeping me on my journalistic toes!
To longtime friends from Long Island- Ken, Larry and Allyson Howard. I’ve known your Mom since 1955. She was my Mom’s best friend. A great lady. Please know I was thinking about your loss all week. May she finally be comfortable and pain free and you have nothing but wonderful memories.
Time to wind it down and go find the IcyHot. Four years and the aches and pains of this year in particular is telling me it’s time to hang up the glove and find something a bit safer and less painful to do. I don’t want to stop but the reality is it’s time. It’s a great week every year and something I will truly miss.
Excuse me for a minute. I have to go leave a deposit for next year.
Keep reading, with Part 1 on Berger’s Return to the Pittsburgh Pirates Camp and Part II Return to the Pittsburgh Pirate Camp and Part III: Let the Games Begin and Part IV: Learning from Legends and Part V: Comparing Pirates, Yankees & Tigers and Part VI: Weathering Injuries.
By Roy Berger for PeterGreenberg.com