Apologies for the dearth of posting this past week, but life has a funny way of shifting gears at times. Four weeks ago my previously-healthy grandmother went to the hospital with a tummy ache, and today we buried her next to my grandfather. Unbeknownst to us and her, a cancerous tumor had been growing in her liver, totally consuming it by the time it was diagnosed. An initial six months survival became four weeks, then one week, and finally hours. At least she did not suffer.
There’s no horse racing angle to this story, and she wasn’t even much of a Steelers fan. For her it was baseball, specifically the Pittsburgh Pirates (god bless her)—talk about a suffering fan for the past couple decades! During undergrad, I spend two summers living with my grandparents, working in a department store, and one of the things I’ll remember most was those hot summer evenings spent sitting on the front porch, watching lightning bugs and listening to Lanny Frattare call the Pirate game on the radio. Why is baseball so much better via the radio airwaves rather than in person or on the television?
Those were the transitional years of Sid Bream, Rafael Belliard, Bill Madlock, Bob Walk and Rick Rhoden—and of newly-arrived Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla, before the Pirates regularly began to claim division titles in the early 90s. Still, she stuck with them, through the championship years and then through the subsequent appalling decline of baseball’s once proudest team, decimated by poor management decisions and a scandalous lack of financial commitment.
We shared a love of baseball—that was our bond. Just as sports have served as unifiers for so many others, baseball brought us together when our very different views of life seemingly divided us. That’s what I will always remember.
“Go ball, get outta here—it’s gone!”