clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Did 2007 Protest Against Pirates Ownership Have An Impact?

New, 48 comments
PITTSBURGH - JUNE 03:  A general view of PNC Park during play between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 3, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH - JUNE 03: A general view of PNC Park during play between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 3, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Getty Images

There isn't much going on today, obviously, and when that's the case, I find myself checking Google News to make sure nothing fell through the cracks. There's almost never anything there that I don't see first on my regular website crawl or on Twitter, so hey. But today the Denver Post featured an odd reference to a strange bit of Pirates history. 

In 2007, Pittsburgh Pirates fans tried to organize a walkout. Fans upset with decades of losing and cheapskate ownership were urged to wear green shirts and leave the stadium en masse after the third inning. But in a game the Pirates were winning 6-1 after the second inning, most of the 26,000 fans at the game ended up staying.

(This got me to hunting around for information on the protest. The two paragraphs of corrections appended to this Bob Smizik article are hiarious.)

It's true that, if you were watching the game broadcast at the time, the protest looked pretty dumb, because the vast majority of fans stayed. (Some of those who stayed were morons who actually booed the protesters.) But I've often wondered what the real impact of the protest was. I suppose we'll never know for sure. But it drummed up a ton of publicity, even at the national level, for the Pirates' losing ways. 

It took place on June 30, 2007. A few weeks later, Dave Littlefield pulled off his ridiculous trade for Matt Morris. On September 7, 2007, Littlefield was fired. Who knows whether Nutting was affected by the protest, but he certainly knew about it - he was interviewed on the game broadcast that day as a kind of defensive measure. 

I'm not saying the protest had an impact, because I can't know that. But it wouldn't surprise me if the protest actually had a profound impact, despite the fact that most people who watched it actually perceived it as a failure. Of course, the Pirates are still waiting on that first winning season since 1992, and the Pirates' payroll is still among the lowest in baseball, but Littlefield is long gone, and the way the team is run has changed dramatically.