I lived in Pittsburgh for one year, 1988, and have not been back since. I’m looking forward to seeing the new (since I was there) ballpark, and other things that have changed in almost 20 years.
I was thinking about my year in Pittsburgh recently. Because my family and I are planning this trip there, I naturally thought about my time there and what I might like to share with them while we are there.
But more than planning this road trip, it was actually all the recent attention focused on Barry Bonds that conjured up memories of that year and specifically that summer of 1988.
As Barry began to hone in on homerun number 756, the media started pumping up the volume, trying to rev up excitement for the event, and as part of that, we began seeing photos and video clips from early in Barry’s career. Seeing one of those clips recently, my daughter could hardly believe that the image she was watching on television was the same player.
"Kinda looks a little different now, huh?" said her father, a bit sarcastically. "But that’s how he looked when your Mom saw him play in Pittsburgh."
"Is that right?" she asked, looking at me for verification.
"Yup. That’s what he looked like all right."
Nothing like seeing the "before" photos and videos to drive home the shock of just how bulked-up Bonds’ body truly is these days.
That prompted me to take a little trip down memory lane. The summer of 1988, I was preparing to move from Pittsburgh to Spokane, Washington.
That summer, I played my final gigs with the woodwind quintet with which I was performing in Pittsburgh. We were affiliated with Duquesne University and, although we gave faculty recitals at the university, the highlight of the summer for me was our weekly gig playing in the lobby of the recently opened Vista Hotel. Why? Because the Vista Hotel was the hotel of choice for visiting baseball clubs playing the Pittsburgh Pirates. I often looked up from my music stand to see well-known ballplayers striding through the hotel lobby!
Around quintet gigs, I spent the summer alternately (1) packing up my belongings in 40 or so boxes to be shipped west via UPS by summer’s end and (2) going to Three Rivers’ Stadium to cheer on the Pirates.
I remember cheering on the likes of Andy Van Slyke, Mike LaValliere, Bobby Bonilla, Sid Bream, and Doug Drabek, just to name a few.
I’ve not heard about some of those guys. Andy Van Slyke, I know, is enjoying success as a First Base Coach for the Detroit Tigers, once again working with Jim Leyland who was the Pirates Manager in 1988.
But, hey, we ALL know what’s happened to Barry.
But if you want to see Barry’s "progression" from 1988 until now, I found someone else who has documented it in an interesting way. To see what’s changed in the past 20 years or so, check it out it out here.
Tomorrow, I’ll see what’s changed on the Renaissance City skyline and check out the new PNC Ballpark!