Tag Archives: Pittsburgh

On the Fourth, reporting on a first game in Pittsburgh


Here it is, the Fourth of July, 2017, and the day is perfect for baseball. I couldn’t make it out to a game today, but I was able to catch the San Francisco Giants defeat the Pirates 2-1 in Pittsburgh on Saturday.

The game — my first in Pittsburgh — was a delight. Under a sunny sky, we sat down the right field line looking out onto the field and getting a panoramic view of the whole park (photo above was snapped a bit before game time). PNC Park lived up to its reputation. The setting is dramatic, nestled along the rivers and amid the brides spanning them. The stadium pays homage to Pirates greats of the past with statues of Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell, and today’s players are featured on banners ringing the park.

Bars and restaurants hard by the park were busy if not packed before and after the game, and crossing the Clemente bridge into the downtown core afterwards we found a thrumming crowd at Market Square.

IMG_7883This thriving scene in central Pittsburgh is how things should be in American cities, with baseball bringing in big crowds of couples and families catching a game and maybe grabbing a beer or sandwich or two before and after.

For me, the visit to PNC Park had a sentimental side. As I’ve noted before, my father grew up a Pirates fan and had always wanted to take me to a game at old Forbes Field. As I finally made it to a Pirates’ game, I was pleased to have my younger son, one of my nephews and his wife and daughter with me.

So how could I not pick up a cap? I bought a late 70s-style gold and black Pirates cap for $10 off a vendor at the foot of the Clemente bridge. It will help keep alive the memory of fine day at the ballpark for many years to come.





A Labor Day salute to the American Rust Belt

As a tribute to working men and women this Labor Day weekend, I offer this tableau featuring a lunch pail and a U.S. Steel cap. The cap was a gift from my daughter, an engineer with the big Pittsburgh-based steelmaker.

This post is also a salute to the Rust Belt, that swath of mostly Midwestern cities that through much of the 20th Century belched toxic fumes into the air and dumped foul sludge into the the region’s rivers and the Great Lakes.

To me, Rust Belt roots are a badge of honor. These are not the “little soft cities” that Carl Sandburg mocked in his famous poem about Chicago, city of broad shoulders. These are hard-working urban cores: Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Erie, Akron, Toledo, Cincinnati, Detroit, Flint, Gary, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago and Joliet.

The Rust Belt’s capital city? My hometown, Cleveland, Ohio, the Mistake on the Lake, the place favorably compared with the Titanic only by virtue of its orchestra.

As tough and proud as all those other cities are, none had a river (the Cuyahoga) so polluted that it burst into flames. None had a mayor (Ralph J. Perk) who turned down dinner at the White House because it was his wife’s bowling night. None, as far as I know, defaulted on its loans.

Most Rust Belt cities declined precipitously in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Some — Cleveland, Indy and Pittsburgh — have clawed their way back to respectability. That didn’t happen without the hard work we recognize and honor on Labor Day weekend.