Ten Ways Neil Walker Made Baseball Relevant Again For Pirates Fans
By Tom Smith
Don’t look now, but Pittsburgh Pirates fans are going to baseball games again at PNC Park. Yeh, yeh, yeh, we are in the minority here, but feel like it is becoming less about bobbleheads, misprinted 1960 Pirates World Championship Mugs, and Steve Miller and more about the young talent on the field.
But we got this gut feeling and set out to somehow prove that the average or “casual” fan as Frank and Neal call them, is headed
back to PNC Park. We truly discovered little as we can’t prove the fans are being truthful, not that anyone would lie, but we needed to say that fact. We did read however that fans we surveyed are going to the yard more than they did last season. Also, the three-timer is making it four, the four-timer is headed to the Park five times was evident in five of the responses.
While our findings were essentially inconclusive due to such a small sample size, we were able to see that there are numerous reasons why fans are returning, but one reason stood out.
It’s why you come to this God awful website, it’s why you will buy the merchandise at our new store, it’s why when you go out in public that you are now grabbing that Pirates hat rather than the usual Pens or Steelers hat. Something is different. It certainly isn’t winning, because the Pirates aren’t doing that with any regularity again this year, but it just feels different. We wanted to quantify the “it,” the “feeling,” the “why,” and perhaps have something interesting for you to read for once.
Thirty emails were sent out, twenty eight responses responses made it back to our inbox. You rock. One was received about ten minutes ago, it’s too late Hollie B. Anyway, all of these emails were sent to fans that made it to less than four games last year. Roughly 25% of the respondents went to one game last season.
We will use some of their responses in a follow up post, but the bottom line is this. The resounding feedback touched on Neil Walker. We didn’t expect that from our analysis. But nonetheless, here is what we found out.
PS: No cash or goods were exchanged for feedback. None will be sent either. Sorry, Nick.
"1. “We want to see ‘the kids,’ it’s exciting again to go to PNC Park because these are young players with bright futures ahead of them.”"
"2. “Neil Walker is so handsome.”Photo courtesy of TeenagersToday.com"
"3. “It’s about watching Neil Walker making his dreams come true. It’s like a movie is happening right in front of our eyes when my wife and I ….go to PNC.”The Fake HR ball. Property of MLB.com"
"4. “Walker is hot. Do you know if he has a girlfriend?”[LAST TIME WE SAW HIM IN PUBLIC HE HAD A LADY WITH HIM. SHE WAS HOT.]"
"5. “Without Walker who would be playing second base right now? Walker……………. and his hot bat saved Huntington’s ass.”"
"6. “Walker is anti-establishment. He made all of us fans that can’t stand Huntington and Russell believe that these clowns really got it wrong.”"
"7. “Its not all bobbleheads anymore. We like going to see the future of this franchise. Alvarez, Cutch, Walker, Tabata, Jones, …….” [SO BOBBLEHEADS ARE A BAD THING?]8. “We go to see how the ‘corner utility guy’ is making out as a Pirate. He sure has seen a lot of playing time for a utility guy. When Aki comes back up do you think Walker will be sent back down? Maybe he can play OF or Catcher again to stay in the majors?”9. “We go to games because …….. and it’s rather evident that Walker wants to learn, grow, and bring winning back to Pittsburgh”"
"10. “Walker makes the Local kids see you can play ball in PA and make the bigs. He’s doing for Baseball what Lemieux did for Hockey as far as an interest from kids standpoint.”11. “Maz thinks he will be a gold glove 2B.”12. “He brings younger fans back to the Bucs from the hundreds of kids who played against him in Western PA….each had the same dreams of playing on that big league field.”Oh, so Walker burnt you in high school. Nice. Photo: Pittsburgh Post Gazette"