I wanted to win that pennant worse than I wanted any goddamned thing in my life. You'd think I could just this once, wouldn't you? I didn't care nothing about the Series. Win or lose, I would have been satisfied.
That quote is from Wilford Brimley's character, New York Knights' manager Pop Fisher, in the 1984 baseball movie, the Natural. Robert Redford starred as extraordinarily gifted baseball player, Roy Hobbs, who came out of nowhere to set the baseball world on its ear years after his once-promising career was derailed by a tragedy in his youth.
Tonight the 110 World Series kicks off in San Francisco between the Giants and Detroit Tigers. Being a 40 year old man, I've witnessed my fair share of things in life, including dozens of "Fall Classics," but as a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates, I'm sad to say I've never witnessed them play in the Series. Life is all about timing, and I began paying serious attention to the sports world mere months after the Buccos defeated the Baltimore Orioles in seven games to win the World Series in October of 1979.
--The first sports moment that I truly remember and treasure was witnessing my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers capture their fourth Super Bowl title in six years when they defeated the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl XIV in January of 1980. Since then, I've been lucky enough to witness Pittsburgh play in another four Super Bowls and capture two more Lombardi trophies.
--Thanks to Mario Lemieux's arrival in 1984, I've seen the Penguins go from one of the laughstocks of the NHL, to one of the flag-bearers of the league, complete with four Stanley Cup appearances and three titles. I've also been fortunate enough to watch the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin turn the City of Pittsburgh into a bona fide hockey town after many years of it being just a niche sport with pockets of fans scattered about the city.
--I've seen 18 Olympic games--both winter and summer--and the end of the Cold War.
--Unfortunately, I've also seen our country declare war three different times, and I remember where I was when the 911 tragedy occurred.
--I've seen a black man get elected President of the United States just months after a female gave him the fight of his life in the primaries.
Back to sports:
--I've witnessed the Pitt Panthers football program (yes the very same one that has gone through four coaches since December of 2010) get voted the preseason number 1 back in 1982. I've also seen Pitt play in two Fiesta Bowls, a Sugar Bowl, and even a Cotton Bowl.
--I've witnessed in action, all-time Pirates greats such as Willie Stargell, Dave Parker, Kent Tekulve and Barry Bonds.
--I was fortunate enough to see both Chuck Tanner and Jim Leyland manage the team.
--I've seen Doug Drabek win the Cy Young and Bonds win two MVPs. I've seen Freddy Sanchez win the NL batting title.
--I've witnessed the Pirates throw a 10-inning combined no-hitter.
--I've seen the Pirates capture three-straight NL East titles and play in two straight Game 7's in the NLCS.
--I remember where I was when Three Rivers Stadium was razed in February of 2001, and I was in attendance a few months later when PNC Park opened for the first time.
--I've seen the entire run of awesome shows such as Newhart, Seinfeld and Friends, and I remember where I was in 1983 for MASH's final episode.
I've seen a lot in my 40 years and during my 30plus years of REALLY paying attention to things. But to echo Pop Fisher's sentiments from that famous movie, I really want to witness the Pirates play in the World Series in my lifetime. Thanks to Hobbs, Fisher got to ride off into the sunset after finally capturing the pennant.
Maybe one of these days, a real life Roy Hobbs will make my dreams come true.