Pittsburgh Pirates: Margaret Potanko and Her Love for the Buccos


This was one of the hardest things I had to write but I hope that you read about the life of Margaret Potanko, my grandmother, and her love for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The past week and change has been one of the most difficult times in my life. For those of you who know me or have been paying attention, my grandmother passed away. She was one of those people in my life that I never thought she would leave me and would just be there forever. Unfortunately, this way of thinking only brings heartache when the time comes.

My grandmother’s name is Margaret, but, to me, she is Nana. She lived a long 81 years and touched the lives of five children, 12 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. During her time on this earth, she impacted so many lives, and the more I think about it, the more I find it hard to type these words. The one thing I will always cherish is the time I spent watching all of the Pittsburgh sports teams with her. She loved her Pittsburgh Penguins and Pittsburgh Steelers, but let me tell you this woman LOVED her Pittsburgh Pirates.

I can remember the countless stories she told me about the Pittsburgh Pirates during her time as a youth and as an adult. She grew up on the South Side of Pittsburgh with her blue-collar father taking her to Forbes Field to catch those Battlin’ Buccos play ball. You see, my great grandfather never had any sons just three daughters, so, naturally, my grandmother took the role of his “boy” to take to the ball game.

I can remember her telling me in detail how they would go to doubleheaders at Forbes Field and wouldn’t come home till the moon was high in the sky. This woman saw so many baseball legends play during her years, but me being the nerd I am the coolest people she talked about was “The Gunner” Bob Prince, Nellie King, and, my all-time favorite, Lanny Frattare. If you aren’t sure who these people are, we can’t be friends (Just kidding they were legendary Pirate announcers.)

One of my favorite things she used to say was “Go ball, get outta here!” or “There was noooooo doubt about it!” I’m not going to lie as I type out those legendary calls by Frattare I can still hear my Nana’s voice scream it to the rooftops while watching the Pittsburgh Pirates play. Any time she ate chicken, which was actually a rare occasion, she would say, “I’m having some chicken on the hill with Will.” As a kid, I had no idea what the hell she was talking about, but dammit every time I eat KFC, you better believe I say it now too!

She even told me once how she met the Legendary Honus Wagner after he had been done with baseball for a while. I can only imagine the feeling she had when she was face to face with the Flying Dutchman himself. When you would ask her what it was like, she would just shrug and say, “eh, he was just another typical man.” In case you didn’t know, she was one tough Irish/German woman, so it’s going to take a lot to impress her. I’d even argue the pope would have trouble.

As I continue to rack my brain for baseball memories, I can’t shake this feeling of warmth. You see, my Nana and my father were the main influences in my love for baseball. Maybe reminiscing and thinking about her and baseball is my way to cope, I’m not entirely sure, but I can say this writing this right now is making me the happiest I’ve been in weeks.

Next. Two Intriguing Pirate Pitching Prospects. dark

I can’t tell you the number of times I thought about leaving this life of writing behind, and, honestly, I was as close as you could get. Thursday’s Pittsburgh Pirates game against Cincinnati changed my mind. I was listening on the radio at work, and a rush of memories and emotions came back like the flood in the Bible. I know this seems like rambling and incoherent talk, but if you’re still here, I urge you to think about what makes you and your family close. Is it baseball like me and my Nana? Hell, it could be anything; just promise me this sit back and reminisce. You might just feel better.

PS. To all of my family and friends reading this, I love you guys, and I hope even in these sad times, we come closer together and make even more memories because that’s all she would have wanted.