On Sunday morning when we did the clubhouse march there it was. My two Pirates uniforms: a traditional home white with Pirates across the chest and the alternative black with a sharp ‘P’ on the breast. On the back of each was Berger and the number 60. If I was doing this for a living and saw #60 I wouldn’t unpack my bags too quickly.
We had our choice of numbers. For the past three years I wore #56 with the Pirates, Tigers and Yankees and have all three uniforms at home hanging in a remote closet with no foreseeable avenue to ever wear them again. I could have opted for the number of my favorite player as a lot of guys do during camp. Most popular this week are #9 for Bill Mazeroski and #21 for Roberto Clemente. If I would have gone that route I would have chosen #21 with the Pirates and #15 with the Yankees for Thurman Munson. Never had a favorite Tiger except for those that had bad days against the Yankees and good ones against the Red Sox so a Tiger number didn’t matter.
I wore #56 the last three years because I didn’t want to disgrace the memory of my past favorites, Clemente and Munson, with my play on the field and figured 56 was politically correct for someone born on May 6. This year I went to #60 for my age and to commemorate the 1960 World Champion Pirates- my earliest baseball memory.
I figured nobody else would do this as nobody wears #60. Except of course for a bloke named Bill Goodrich, of Pittsburgh, whose #60 was hanging a few stalls away from mine. Goodrich is 60 years old and vividly remembers the 1960 World Series. Newman!! We now have two #60′s in camp which has to be some kind of record that even the Elias Sports Bureau doesn’t track.
And with the doubleheader sweep, the longest blast I’ve ever hit in a baseball uniform and a couple of defensive stops to help win a game my mind all day was 2200 miles away in Hollywood, California on the production set of Paramount Studios.
Nothing makes a parent prouder than seeing a child reach a goal. Not even a 335 foot shot to the right field wall. My son Jason, 32, has longed to be a television comedy writer. He got knocked around for a few years as everyone in that trade seems to do but at 6:30 am pacific time this morning production began on his first script, the culmination of a dream, an episode of the ABC comedy, Happy Endings, that will air in March.
A huge tip of the Pirates cap to Jason and no matter what happened today in Bradenton, you had a better day than me. Proud of you lad!
By Roy Berger for PeterGreenberg.com