I was raised a Pittsburgh Steeler fan. There was never any question about it. My dad grew up just outside Pittsburgh in Washington, Pennsylvania and he passed the black and yellow on to us. We didn’t have a choice we just followed suit. My poor mother was the lone non-Steeler in our hours rooting for Shula and her Dolphins. My brothers an I always were Steelers when we played football in the front yard. We had Bradshaw, Swann and Stallworth jerseys that we proudly wore to school. To follow and cheer for the Pittsburgh Pirates was just as natural to us. Florida didn’t have a baseball team when I was a kid so cheering for the Pirates was easy. They had the same cool colors of black and yellow and they were in the National League Central which I didn’t have a team in so why not cheer for the Pirates.
I have been able to visit Pittsburgh a few times to watch both Steeler and Pirate games. The city is always welcoming to me and filled with sports fans who love their hometown guys. Looking back now I feel incredibly fortunate that in 2000 I was able to attend the final Pirate game at Three Rivers Stadium. It was so memorable from Willie Stargell throwing out the first pitch to the Rocket Man taking home plate skyward and flying over to where it would be placed in the new PNC Park. They went big and brought out all the history from beginning to end, entertaining us with video memories, Sister Sledge singing “We Are Family,” fireworks, and having former players and coaches at the gate thanking the fans.
Another trip to Pittsburgh was in 2013 and I was able to attend my first game at PNC Park. It was a late season game against the St Louis Cardinals that mattered as the playoffs were looming and every win counted. If you have never seen a game at PNC I highly recommend it. The views of the Allegheny River, downtown and the Roberto Clemente bridge are not only breathtaking but uniquely Pittsburgh. It’s one of my favorite ballparks to go see a game at. I remember seeing Cutch shirt after Cutch shirt that night on all the Pirate fans. Number 22 was definitley a fan favorite. It was the same year he won the National League MVP and the Pirates would go on to make the playoffs that season and the following two seasons mostly because of McCutchen.
Cutch spent 13 seasons with the Pirates organization. In today’s league playing 9 seasons on the field for one team is becoming rare. He was a first round draft pick by the Pirates in 2005 drafted right out of high school. Pittsburgh became his home and the only place he played professionally. He supported the city and its other sports. He was a vocal cheerleader for the Steelers and their players on Twitter. He and his wife most recently named his newborn son Steel a fitting tribute to the city that had his back and cheered him all these years in center field.
Yesterday it all changed when the Pirates traded him to the San Francisco Giants. Andrew McCutchen will no longer wear #22 in black and yellow and will no longer be raising the jolly roger after a win. Today he is a San Francisco Giant still playing in the National League but in another park that has it’s own unique water view. He’ll get to return to Pittsburgh in May. The Giants have a three game home stand against the Pirates on May 11-13. He was as much a land mark at PNC Park as the Roberto Clemente statue outside the left field gates. As a Pirate fan I want to thank him for staying out of the limelight all these years . He put his head down and did his thing, played baseball. The City of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Pirates fans will miss you and your presence Cutch. Your number 22 will be long remembered and can never be replaced in the steel city.