Pittsburgh Pirates: "The Burg" Has Always Been A Baseball Town

By James Williams

Tonight when the Pittsburgh Pirates host the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Wild Card game you can bet that PNC Park will be rocking. It is the first time since 1992 that the Bucs are playing in the postseason, and it really feels good to have them back.

Despite the lack of winning Pirates fans have been very loyal to their team. Bucs fans have filled the beautiful park on the three rivers despite years of sub .500 teams. The Pirates’ television and radio ratings have continued to stay strong despite the playoff drought.

Long before the Pittsburgh Steelers were winning Super Bowls and the Pittsburgh Penguins were hoisting the Stanley Cup there were the Pirates filling Forbes Field and then Three Rivers Stadium. Pittsburgh was a baseball town first, and the fans love their Bucs.

The Steelers won their first of six Super Bowls in 1974. The Pirates had already won five World Series titles, and they picked up their sixth in 1979, beating the Baltimore Orioles in seven games.

Baseball fans in “The Burg” are happy that this city has all of their sports karma focused on the Bucs. Two generations of Pittsburgh baseball fans have very little history to draw on. They know the names of  Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell, but unless you are in your 40s, 50s or older then you did not see them play in a Pirates uniform.

In the 1960s the Steelers played the home games in old Forbes Field where they often worked hand in hand with the Pirates to help them sell tickets to the football games. The Steelers often used the Pirates’ training facilities, and until the team started winning in the 1970s Pittsburgh football team used marketing ideas started by the Pirates to help build their fan base.

The Steelers’ iconic rally sign, the black and gold ‘terrible towel,” was an idea based on the Pirates  “babushkas.” The late great voice of the Pirates Bob Prince came up with “babushkas” in 1974 to help rally the team. His good friend and Steelers broadcaster, Myron Cope, came up with the “terrible towel” one year later in 1975, and to his credit, he said that he got the idea from what Prince had done with the Pirates.

Tonight postseason baseball is back in Pittsburgh, and that is a great thing for longtime Pirates fans and even better for MLB. “The Burg,” is one of America’s best sports cities and a Pirates team that is competitive is vital to baseball.

Rant Sports columnist James Williams is a seven time Emmy Award winning producer, director and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Wordmandc and add him to your Google circles.

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