Penguins ‘Source’ Picks Malicious Time and Ruins Celebration for Maz and 60′s Bucs


50 year celebrations come around but once.  The Pittsburgh Pirates, who for all of the ridicule heaped upon them, never forget their heroes.  It is something that this blog, its’ readers, and frankly, more of Pittsburgh should enjoy.  Life is too short. 

Bill Mazeroski, the unlikely hero of the never say die 1960′s World Series champion Pirates, was in town last weekend for Piratefest.  Maz and some of those boys who gave Pittsburgh something to cheer about when they desperately needed it deserved better.  Remember….. it was a long time since Pittsburgh had much to cheer about back then.  You could say Billy Conn was the closest thing Pittsburgh had to cheer about.  ‘The Pittsburgh Kid” was light heavyweight boxing champion of the world from 1939 to 1941. 

The Bucs beat the Yanks 10-9 with the ONLY  game seven walkoff World Series homerun. Ever.  Huge.  Deal. 

And Maz was going to get his moment in the sun. It’s too bad the dark clouds rolled in. 

The Penguins organization had a ‘source’ that wanted to crash the moment.  And did it ever.  A Penguin ‘source’, probably at the highest level, leaked a story to PG writer Dejan Kovacevic that Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle  made an ‘offer’ to buy the Pirates from majority owner Bob Nutting. 

A moment of celebration for Maz and his teammates was ruined when ‘the source’ pissed in the punch.  No, that’s too easy, more like took a shit in the punch bowl and it floated around all weekend.

So now we are in the midst of rabid speculation.  Certain to be one of the most talked about sports stories of the year was intent on harming the celebration for Mazeroski.  It was malicious at the highest level and it disgusts me.  

But it’s unclear why the Penguins ‘source’ was intent on ruining such a celebration for one of Pittsburgh’s heroes.   Dejan turned and burned the story as any writer would.  He was forced to give it a Saturday release.   The ‘source’ knew the game.  The ‘source’  knew about the meeting, the result of the meeting and just when to leak it as to cause the Pirates the most harm.  Hell, that’s some ‘neighbor.’

What I don’t understand is if Lemieux and Burkle were so serious after the fact, why didn’t they get serious about their offer and make a counter?  Or was it just easier this way?   It’s glowingly obvious that Nutting isn’t interested in selling the Pirates now.  So why ruin the party for Maz?

I mean if you’re going to ruin a party at least tell us your name, doesn’t Maz deserve to know whose shit is floating around in his punch bowl? 

But that would take courage and this fantasy story has none of it.   Courage defined Bill Mazeroski and his tiny infielder’s glove.  Courage defined the 60′s Bucs and how they took down the New York Yankees. 

The retreating Yogi Berra in left field.  The absolute roar of the crowd.  The baseball sailing over the 406FT sign.  The joyous Mazeroski twirling his helmet as he rounded second base.  What seemed like all of Pittsburgh rushing onto Forbes Field.  It was magical. 

That story is fact.  Not fantasy.  Despite being outscored 55-27, the Bucs took the World Series.  Classic.  Yet,’ the source’ was going for Class-less.  So, the most amazing story in the past fifty years of Pittsburgh sports lore missed getting it’s due because some people are more interested in creating empires.

Looking at the average Piratefest attendee, they were far too young to have seen Maz and the 1960′s Pirates.  Most of the people we spoke with were excited to learn more about it.  The lines for autographs from Maz were overflowing.  It’s just a shame that the talk in the line was not about Maz’s great glove work, Hal Smith and his mostly unknown three-run homer, or Harvey Haddix’s World Series ERA. 

No, the Penguins ‘source’ made sure the buzz had been stolen.  

Grandfathers weren’t explaining what they knew about the amazing ’60′s Pirates to their grandchildren.   Hard core fans who could have been discussing the excellent book, Fantasy Camp by Jim O’Brien that detailed ‘Living the Dream with Maz and the ’60 Bucs’ were instead explaining the business advantages of owning two teams and sports media empires.  We even heard Ted Leonis and the Washington Sports Group being discussed between a father and his teenage son.  Ahhh, how refreshing. 

The Maz story will get plenty of play throughout the season.  Also when his statue is unveiled on his birthday, but the well deserved spotlight has veered from Mazeroski and the main stage, to the Penguins board room where business men talked deals.  All the while, the Pittsburgh media force feeds us how first class the Penguins organization is.  Perhaps they are. 

I’m just not drinking the brown punch.

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Tags: Bill Mazeroski Bob Nutting Mario Lemieux Ron Burkle

  • Bobby Clemente

    I think some of the blame…some of it, mind you…just might go to Dejan himself. He said on the blog that the story was fact-checked and approved by his editors on Friday, but not that that was when he got the information originally. It may be pure coincidence that he writes the article, says, “I’m going to let it stand on its own,” then leaves for Vancouver. But it may not be coincidence. Since he used to be the Pens’ beat writer, he certainly has some “sources” (and a strong affinity for the organization). So perhaps he just thought he’d stir up a big pile of mess for people to chew on for awhile and then conveniently abdicate. If the story becomes something, then he was first to break it. If it becomes nothing, it dies down while he’s out of town. Win/Win.

    I may be completely wrong. But I think it’s worth thinking about.

    • Shaftie

      Thanks Bobby for the background. Very well written (maybe you can guest post, cuz our writing is bad but we’re working on it)… we think it seems like a ‘big’ story to sit on for more than an hour or two though? One wouldn’t want Rob at Trib running with it. Good stuff Bobby. Here is an email I just got from JT about the article…. if you wanted to buy the Bucs from an owner who is committed to losing…sorry winning (ahem)….wouldn’t you drop the bomb on Piratefest weekend to get the fans on your side…and put some pressure on Nutting? You are right – Maz deserves his day…and the people who remember that series know about his heroics. I am tired of losing as a Pirate fan….and nothing about the current group gives me any real hope…35 mil payroll – we lose 99 games and cut payroll by 17 mil…?? At least Mario kept a team here and turned them back into a winner…and it didn’t take 17 years…I know I am a little jaded I guess….I just hate to lose…no really….I hate to lose. But when you write….you write from your heart and you expect an emotional response when touch nerves…unfortunately most people who blog or read blogs are too young to understand just how magical that 60 series was (they weren’t even born yet)….or just how really good Maz was as a 2nd baseman…not a great hitter…good, but not great…but man those hands…maybe no one ever that good…

  • Chico Link

    I think you’re a fucking retard. Get over yourself. Unveiling plans to erect a statue is not a celebration and the only people disrespected were those that took the time to read this drivel.

    • Shaftie

      I must have missed your big day on planet earth Chico. Psst..heh, man even though you bash me, I still feel obligated to tell you, there are brown punch stains around your lips.

  • 3rdboss

    Chico I am here to stick up for you because I know you would never drink brown punch.. Come on Shaftie give Chico a break. Those brown stains are actually from kissing Mario’s dirty ass. The recent Stanley Cup makes everyone forgive and everyone forget. Mario is same man that threatened to move the Pens to anywhere with a hockey rink that wasn’t Pittsburgh. God forbid the spotlight is not on him. I can only wish Mario was half the man Maz is. learn to take the low road Mario. I have met Maz several times and you will never meet a more humble and deserving man. This statue is long over do.

  • Pgh Tax Payer = Share Holder of Arena

    Thank you so much for writing this article making all of us aware of Maz’s day being stolen….. I’m ashamed I had no idea.

    It is a crime to have such historic memories taken by those only interested in creating more empire. I’ve heard over and over from people that the Penguins PR really stinks this just proved it to me. It’s amazing how a team so loved can be so stinky, why is that? I think as Pittsburghers we love our sport teams and we are not fair weather fans…we are loyal to a fault. I don’t believe any of us think of ourselves as just Pens, Steeler or Pirate fans…. We are Pittsburgh fans who may love one sport a little more than other but we will always have another Pittsburgh teams back.

    With that I’ll tell you that it appears to me that there are some in the Penguins camp that really don’t like Pittsburgh. If they did why would they be working so hard to tear down an important piece of Pittsburgh’s historic architecture, especially when they got their new arena…..You said it.. to grow there empire!

    Share that with your readers… no doubt that there isn’t anyone in Pittsburgh that doesn’t have some wonderful memory in the Arena that the Pen’s want to see gone…. FYI the arena is not theirs, it’s the tax payers and SEA is the manager.

    • Shaftie

      Appreciate the support. You nailed it. My answer to your question would be that Morehouse runs a loose ship. Thank you fellow shareholder for the useful links on Pittsburgh heritage. We will check them out now.

  • JPL

    OK, for those of you on here who have made reference to the Penguins getting a tax payer funded arena, can you please explain to me exactly what the Pirates play in? Oh yeah, PNC Park, which was built as a party to a promise for competitive baseball. We are entering the 10th season at the Gem of the North Shore and have a whopping 68-win average to show for it.

    Get real!

    You can all sit here and go on about 50 years ago, but it is just that FIFTY YEARS AGO! That is one half of an entire century, for those keeping score at home. I don’t begrudge Maz any honor as he is fully deserving of them all, but to imply that the leak about this offer had anything to do with stealing his moment is absolute blasphemy.

    If the breaking of this story came at a bad time for the Pirates and “stole their thunder” during Pirate Fest, then that’s too bad. They are the ones who steal from us on a regular basis. They have the aforementioned ballpark which was built on taxpayer dollars, they have the paying fanbase who keeps pumping in money through ticket and merchandise sales, and they the MLB welfare program supplanting all of that other income.

    Mario Lemieux, on the other hand, was owed a large sum of money and did everything in his power to keep the team here in Pittsburgh. This is the same team who saw the Pirates and Steelers get 2 new homes before they even received serious consideration for a new hockey arena.

    As for the comment regarding ” tearing down a piece of architecture history”: what was your opinion when the Pirates moved from Forbes Field to 3 Rivers, or from 3 Rivers to PNC? Hmm, I wonder.

    The bottom line is that since Mario Lemiuex came here to play in Pittsburgh, he has taken a franchise from bottom of the rung to the top of the mountain twice as a player and once as an owner. Since that same year, the Pirates have made the playoffs 3 times, failing to even qualify for a chance at the top prize.

    If you want to pine over the past, when movies were a nickel and milk was 8 cents a gallon, go for it, it’s your right. But look a little bit harder at the entire scope of the situation before bashing one of this proud cities greatest sports heroes without merit.

    • Shaftie

      Who bashed Mario? The story was written about the ‘source’ within the Penguins. Nothing more, nothing less.

  • JPL

    As for courage, show me another professional athlete who has come back from getting radiation treatment for cancer in the afternoon to play against the most physical team in their hostile home that very night.

    If Mario was half the man Maz is? Wow. Someone has been drinking a little too much of the Smizik Hockey Hate Juice.

  • JPL

    I would say 3rd boss and PGH Taxpayer both are bashing he and his admin.

  • 3rdboss

    Saku Koivu had stomach cancer and almost died. Than came back. Anyway JPL I love the Pens and I am still a little pissed about Mario’s threats to relo the team. He was like the spoiled kids that takes his call and goes home if he is not picked first.

  • Pgh Tax Payer = Share Holder of Arena

    Wow I’ve been missing all the fun I see.

    JPL….you obviously felt some shame or guilt the way your reacted. As Shaftie said no one said anything about Mario. No one said that the Pen’s didn’t deserve a new stadium. No one said that the Pen’s took away the Piratefest thunder…. it was Maz’s day, it was his lost thunder. And what exactly do you know about blasphemy…don’t you think it a little odd that this Penn/Pirate meeting was 3 months ago and the source leaked it so timely? Come on… get real.

    As for Forbes Field I think it was a classic baseball stadium and a shame that it was lost. But I do find it interesting that the new PNC park is modeled after those class ball fields of the past. I was only 7 when they took this building down but understand that it was deteriorating. It was also not a practical field for football games which was the Steelers home before the Three River Stadium was built.

    This of course leads us to discussing that building… first no I wasn’t happy about two new stadiums since we still owed 60 million on Three River Stadium. As for historic Architectural significance the Three Rivers it had none. Don’t get me wrong some great things happened there…ie first world series game to ever be played at night and the greatest play in NFL history happened there..the Immaculate Reception. But Three Rivers was built like all the other Stadiums being built back then, they were all just multipurpose arena…. Cookie cutter.

    So now why is the Mellon (Civic) Arena Architecturally historic. First the obvious… nothing has ever been built like it, the world’s largest dome and it moves!! Eight 300 ton panels, six of which move still today powered by Westinghouse designed and built motors (FYI the big W was founded in 1886 in Pittsburgh). The dome is supported without interior supports designed using bridge engineering… oh yeah are we not called the city of bridges? Its built from stainless steel in case you didn’t know doesn’t rust so it will never deteriorate. Side note this building could not be replicated today for the sheer cost of constructing it.

    My final thoughts… I’m happy the Pen’s are still here, I am a fan… son plays hockey and also loves the Pens. I’m happy they got their new building and think it’s great that they choose green construction and are applying for Council certification. But if they really embrace green why wouldn’t they go green all the way and reuse the arena? Oh yeah I know they were probably only looking for their 20% federally funded tax rebate… and the empire grows.

  • Pgh Tax Payer = Share Holder of Arena


    My final thoughts… I’m happy the Pen’s are still here, I am a fan… son plays hockey and also loves the Pens. I’m happy they got their new CONSOLE ENERGY CENTER and think it’s great that they choose green construction and are applying for Council certification. But if they really embrace green why wouldn’t they go green all the way and reuse the MELLON(CIVIC)ARENA? Oh yeah I know they were probably only looking for their 20% federally funded tax rebate ON THE CONSOLE ENERGY CENTER… and the empire grows.

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