Growing up a Todd in Evansville, I was taught at an early age to root for the Cardinals. Much like being a fan of the Hoosiers, I kind of get the sense that you can’t really “be” a Todd if you aren’t a fan of the Cardinals.
That being said, there was a short period in the early 90s where I found myself cheering for another team in the National League. It all started with a simple visit to a baseball stadium in 1990. Many of our family vacations revolved around an annual conference that dad attended for work. We got to go all over the country because of these conferences. In 1990, we visited Pittsburgh.
One of Dad’s contacts had a suite at Three Rivers Stadium and our family was invited to watch a Pirates game. The view was amazing. The food was great. And the Pirates, including the Killer B’s (Bonds, Bonilla, Bell, Bream, and Backman – I think), were phenomenal. I had such a great experience at Three Rivers Stadium that I turned into a Pirates fan right there on the spot.
Perhaps this was my mini form of rebellion as a teenager, but I was a big fan of the Pirates throughout high school. While I never completely abandoned the Redbirds, I gotta say that it was quite a ride cheering for the Bucs. I still remember watching this game up in my room.
(just go ahead and fast-forward to the 1:36 mark if you don’t want to watch the whole game – and why would you want to?)
That ending was heartbreaking. I’m pretty sure this started my severe dislike of all things Atlanta Braves. This distaste for the Braves intensified when I moved to Tennessee, but that’s another story for another day. Let’s just say that I still really don’t like them.
I’ll be honest. It became much more difficult for me to keep cheering for the Pirates as the years went on. I tried. I really did. But their product on the field stunk. And I kind of get the feeling that it was on purpose. Call me a bandwagon fan if you want, but I stuck with the Pirates much longer than most people outside of Pittsburgh did. But I eventually threw in the towel in 1996 and could hear my roots calling out to me. The prodigal son returned to St. Louis and took his rightful place among family as a fan of the Cardinals.
Although I have never again waivered from the Redbirds, there will always be a soft spot in my heart for the Pittsburgh. So I’m happy for the Pirates and their return to the postseason after a two decade slump. I’m happy that Pittsburgh has something to cheer for again.
I just hope they don’t break my heart again.