This picture gives me chills. It is everything I love about the Pirates of the 1970’s and it reminds me of a moment where my fandom was in its infancy.
I should have been a Pirates fan.
1978 was the first year I collected baseball cards. It was the first year I understood there were baseball teams and cities that had baseball teams.
I was a Red Sox fan. I called myself one for as long as I could remember. Before we moved to Massachusetts, I was called a Red Sox fan. We lived closer to New York when I had my first memories of being a baseball fan. Why wasn’t I a Yankees fan? Or a Mets fan?
When we moved to Massachusetts when I was 4, I had my Red Sox hat and watched the local games. Yet something always drew me to the Pittsburgh Pirates. They had cool funky hats, bright yellow and striped uniforms mixed with the black to make them look like Bees.
They played in those multipurpose round stadiums that I thought were so much cooler than dumpy Fenway Park (Remember, I was a kid.)
1978, a 6 year old version of your pal Sully was collecting baseball cards and kept seeing the Pirates, a more integrated team than the Red Sox with cooler looking players. Rennie Stennett, Willie Stargell, Al Oliver, Dave Parker et al were included in this team pic.
Rich Gossage was as well, but his 1978 card was airbrushed to have him in a Yankees uniform. The team pic had them in their yellow unis in Three Rivers Stadium with the classic 1970’s logo behind them.
In 1979, the Pirates would be in the World Series, the first World Series I watched every game of. I was drawn to that Pittsburgh team and have rooted for them whenever they made it to the post season (especially during the Barry Bonds years where you would have assumed I grew up in Pittsburgh.)
The history of the Pirates from Honus Wagner to Pie Traynor to Roberto Clemente to Dock Ellis to Willie Stargell to Barry Bonds has always fascinated me. And a lot can be traced back to those early days, seeing the Pirates from this series of Topps cards.
All things being equal, I would have been a Pirates fan.