a blog about Pgh: via philadelphia

Steel City Cottonworks

Posted in Pittsburgh by napoleonsays on September 17, 2012

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A few months ago, my girlfriend found a groupon for Steel City Cottonworks. Holy cow are these shirts comfortable. I’ve never worn anything remotely this close to perfect in my life.

the pittsburgh pirates were not always black and yellow

Posted in Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Pirates by napoleonsays on August 10, 2012

Pittsburgh Baseball Club, circa 1919

And neither were the Penguins. From their inception in 1882 until the 1947 season, the Pittsburgh Baseball Club wore red, white and blue or blue and yellow. While black and yellow has become synonymous with the City of Pittsburgh, as recently as 1979, only two of the cities’ three teams wore the colors. In January of 1980, three months after the Pirates won their fifth World Series and during the Super Bowl in which the Steelers would prove victorious over the Rams, as a move of city solidarity, the Penguins changed their colors from blue and white to black and yellow.

The colors, for the city, have a history beyond the Steelers, the Pirates and finally the Penguins. Pittsburgh is named after William Pitt and the city colors of black and yellow (with blue as a secondary color) were part of the Pitt family coat of arms. When the city adopted colors for its city flag, it borrowed from the Pitt family coat of arms to establish an historical precedent for the use of such colors. It’s incredible that centuries later, the black and yellow not only fly over the city’s municipal building, but form an informidable city identity as well as a sports identity that spurred on Wiz Khalifa’s rap single “Black ‘n’ Yellow.

Pittsburgh is the only city that boasts the same colors for each of its sports teams and whether it’s the Steelers, Pirates or Penguins, the teams represent the city’s rich heritage as a strategical point during the American Revolution as well as its industrial strength and penchant for winning championships.

heinz at night

Posted in Pittsburgh by napoleonsays on August 9, 2012

Heinz, July 25, 2012

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igloo demo (2)

Posted in Pittsburgh Penguins by napoleonsays on July 25, 2012

The Igloo, with final arm about to fall.

It was a typical early spring day for Western Pennsylvania. The skies were grey, the breeze was chilly and there was a hint of drizzle in the air. The city was barely waking up and so was I as I made my way from my Shadyside Bed and Breakfast to the Lower Hill. There was an eerie silence all around and in the distance a distinct hum was crying out. I parked on Fifth and sauntered up Centre, slowly loading a roll of film into a now barely used Hasselblad. Just a few frames of what was left of this beautiful beast was all I desired on this bone-chilling Pittsburgh morning.

Grey. Grey. Grey.

I trekked across the grey parking lot. And that was all that was to be seen on this day. The Consol looked grey. The skyline looked grey. The Igloo looked grey. Even things that were in color looked grey.

There was a solitary grey Jeep parked in the vast ocean of grey asphalt that surrounded the Penguins’ home of forty-three years. Waves of concrete had fallen in the weeks before and the final pieces were about to crash and break and finally disappear in the sea of surrounding grey pavement.

Two workers on lifts were steadily working on welding through the final grey arms of this difficult to disassemble grey ice-box, but their perseverance was rewarded at about 11.45am on that grey Pittsburgh day. The dome came down. Grey dust floated everywhere. The building that once housed the Civic Light Opera and Mario Lemeiux was now nothing more than grey rubble and dust.

And only a few eyes were there to see it.

A few cameramen and videographers were perched just east of the demo site. I was there more-or-less by happenstance. No one else seemed to be around. Apparently no one else really cared. And perhaps that’s okay – that on that gloriously grey Pittsburgh day, the Igloo fell in near silence.

 

the dark knight rises

Posted in Pittsburgh by napoleonsays on July 20, 2012

It only makes sense that the most recent Batman movie was filmed in the 412. PPG Place is where Bruce Wayne actually lives.

igloo demolition

Posted in Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Sports by napoleonsays on July 20, 2012

Igloo Demo. Saturday March 31, 2012. Appx 11.45am.

 

october, 1992.

Posted in baseball, Pittsburgh Pirates by napoleonsays on July 19, 2012

When Terry Pendelton doubled down the right field line my heart sunk. I knew what was coming. Behind 51,000 Tomahawk chops the Braves would rally and mercilessly end the Pirates’ 1992 season. Drabek, in all his moustached glory was running out of gas. One hundred and twenty-nine gut wrenching pitches weren’t good enough on this night. Not even the immortal Barry Bonds could throw out the concrete-footed Sid Bream at home. Later that off-season, Bonds would leave for Forty-three million San Francisco dollars and Pittsburgh became the equivalent of baseball’s Siberia — the place where careers went to die or where middle-30s vets could try to earn one final contract from a contender in New York or Boston.

PBC victorious over SF Giants, 3-1.

It’s a hazy, hot and humid day in early July and for the second time in as many years, the Pittsburgh Baseball Club has remained competitive deeper into the season than any of the previous 19 editions. Every Saturday home game is sold out for the rest of the season. Andrew McCutchen is in the midst of a 49-for-100 tear. And JMac has established himself as a top flight starter. Pittsburgh, for the first time in nearly two decades, has baseball fever.

Since my freshman year of college, when Brian Giles was terrorizing NL pitchers, I’ve read nearly every game story and box score of the Pittsburgh Baseball Club. All too often, these game stories were full of disappointment. But now, thirteen years later, the victories are piling up and Cutch and Pedro are launching homers at a ridiculous pace. In years past, getting tickets was as simple as showing up 15 minutes before game time and pointing to the ticket broker which section you wanted to sit it. Now, $24 seats are going for nearly triple. Baseball life in Pittsburgh has surely changed.

Clemente Bridge

The walk from Downtown to the North Shore is always beautiful, even on a typical cloudy Pittsburgh summer day. The magnificent gold bridges span the Allegheny, while sailboats dot the northern river. PNC’s limestone facade and steel frame jut out from the North Shore landscape and that oh-so-typical green Pittsburgh ivy covers select portions of the limestone once inside the gorgeous stadium.

The stadium is awash in Black ‘n’ Yellow. Cutch jerseys abound. To me, it is still unfathomable that baseball actually means something in Pittsburgh. It has been so long. Is this even real? It hardly seems it, but for now, I’ll soak in every last second of it.

baseball, the pittsburgh pirates and 1988.

Posted in baseball by napoleonsays on July 17, 2012

In July of 1985 my family left the small industrial town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania for the greener grasses of Lancaster, Pa. Our elderly neighbor, who’d vacationed in Amish country, told me that there were no mountains in Lancaster, only rolling hills. My five year old mind couldn’t comprehend this. It simply wasn’t true. Shortly after we moved, my dad got me a baseball glove and started teaching me to play catch. I remember standing in frustration in the yard of our new home not being able to catch the ball as I pleased. But there, sometime in about 1986, in a new land, I learned to love baseball. We played whiffle ball in the lot next to our yard and sometime in April of 1988, on a trip back to the western Pennsylvanian mountains, my dad bought me a 1988 wax pack of Topps trading cards. Having been born in western PA, it was only a matter of time before my allegiances would be as thick as blood for the Pirates, Steelers and Penguins. On that opening day of trout season, I opened my wax pack and wouldn’t you know it, my first card was a Pirate — card number 27, RJ Reynolds.

I became obsessed with baseball cards. I devoured them and the statistics on the back. Whenever we’d visit relatives in Johnstown, I’d watch every Pirate game that I could, remembering the player stats from that game and even making my own baseball cards using those statistics (hand-written on the back) and drawings I made of each player on the front. These were sure to be a hit, I thought. My set was rare. One of a kind. Like Honus Wagner!

Baseball was the first sport I loved. And the Pirates were at the forefront of that love. Those two great loves continue to this day, so much so that reading every game story and box score since the late 90s has consumed my summers despite the despicable quality of the team playing. But now, there is hope in Pittsburgh about baseball and maybe, just maybe, after 19 miserable baseball years, those beloved Buccos will land in the post-season once more and forever exorcise the demons of Sid Bream and Barry Bonds.