Corey J. Corbin
New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
New Castle’s James Dotson is treating the 2013 baseball postseason like something that happens once in a lifetime.
For Dotson and many other locals crammed into the Crane Room in Neshannock Township last night, watching the Pittsburgh Pirates beat Cincinnati 6-2 in the National League Wild Card game was a once in their lifetime event.
“I was two years old the last time they made the playoffs and I remember absolutely nothing about it,” the 23-year-old said. “I look at this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, because for me, that’s what this is.”
For Jamie McVicker, it’s been a painful almost 21-year wait since Sid Bream ended his dreams of watching the World Series in person back in the fall of 1992.
“I remember in ’92 before Sid Bream scored the winning run that I would get to go to the World Series,” the 37-year-old New Castle resident said. “I woke up in the morning and my dad told me they lost. It was devastating to me as a 16-year-old at that time. Now, I’m 37 and my son Jamie loves the Pirates, too. To watch them win together makes it all worth it.”
Lifelong New Castle resident Nancy Young says she has stuck with the Pirates through thick and the thin during her 50 years as a diehard fan.
“The first Pirate game that I went to, I was 18,” she said. “I’m going to be 68 in three days. I used to take busloads to Pirates games. I did that up until 1992. I did it, because I loved the Pirates. Another reason is we loved (late Pirates manager) Chuck Tanner.
“But, I’ve always been nuts about the Pirates. I met someone who worked for the Pirates and he wanted me to move to Pittsburgh to take a job in human resources, because I was good with people. I didn’t go, because I didn’t want to take my baby away from my family.”
Despite turning the Pirates down all those years ago, Young has remained a huge fan of the Bucs — proudly displaying a pair of buttons and a towel from the 1979 World Series.
“I have a signed contract from the Pittsburgh Pirates,” Young said. “They came and honored me at the Lockley School (for her contributions in Lawrence County). I was in a parade with Bill Mazeroski, Kent Tekulve, Phil Garner, Bill Madlock and Lanny Frattare the night they honored me.
“I have the program book from the 1979 championship team. It cost 50 cents. I was at the last game and I almost had a heart attack when they won. It was exciting. That was one of the most exciting days of my entire life.”
For many of her younger counterparts, last night’s win over the Reds will be remembered much like the 1979 World Series title.
“I’ve been waiting 21 years for this,” Neshannock native Mitch Biasucci said after the game. “I didn’t think this would happen for another five years. I’m very happy it went this way this year. It’s great to beat the Reds.”
“This is the first recollection I have of them being anywhere near the playoffs,” 23-year-old Marty Krisuk of Edinburg. “I’ve seen the replays of the game they lost in ’92 and it’s been all downhill since then.”
Despite all the losing over the past two decades, Dotson said there’s nothing like seeing the Pirates finally succeed.
“There’s nothing like following your hometown team,” he said. “That’s the team you always follow, because it’s easy — they’re always on TV. That’s the team you follow from Day 1. For me, that’s back in the Tony Womack days.
“It’s been tough. You went to Pirates games for fireworks night or for the food or for the postgame concert. Now, you go to watch these players do what they’re supposed to do. They’ve kept the fan base, because of all the gimmicks. But now, the product on the field has been great and the fans who have stuck around for 21 years are being rewarded.”
For the past 20 years, Pirates fans have had to wonder when the team would be back in the playoffs.
“You hope for it,” McVicker said. “The last few years, they’d tease us and then, they’d tucker out at the end. This year has been different going to the ball park knowing they made the team better without giving up anybody. So far, they’re doing what we expected.”
Now with their first playoff victory in 20 years in their pockets, the Pirates can turn their attention toward NL Central champion St. Louis for a best-of-five series starting tomorrow.
“I think they have a great shot against the Cardinals,” McVicker said. “I believe they have the season series against them and they hit them. I don’t think they’re afraid of the Cardinals’ pitching staff. I think they’re more afraid of our pitching staff. It’ll be a great series.”
“I don’t think St. Louis has much of a chance,” Biasucci said. “They’re going to be rusty after having so many days off.”
Masters and Krisuk have other plans for the Pirates.
“I feel pretty good about their chances,” Krisuk said. “I was listening to the pundits and only one guy has them going to the World Series. I think the doubts and negativity gives them the will to win.”
“This is how it was supposed to unfold,” Masters agreed. “The Pirates have this vibe. We have something special going. This is the Pirates’ year. I can feel it.”