Now batting for the Pirates ...

Written by Reg Henry on .

In light of the Pirates getting rid of their best players as a recipe for future success, a novel theory to say the least, I thought you might be interested in my recent visit to PNC Park.

I was sitting in Row B, Section 123, behind the third base dugout, just minding my own business, eating a hotdog and drinking a cold beer, for which I had previously obtained a mortgage. The Bucs' manager came out and spied me there and a look of recognition came over his face. He came back into the seats.

"Say, aren't you the fellah that writes a column for the paper? It seems like I remember you play cricket," he said.

"Yes," I said modestly. "That would be me." I didn't have the presence of mind to tell him that I don't play cricket very well.

"Come back with me," he said. "We are looking for someone to play for us today and I reckon one ballgame is very much like another and it's not like we want to win or anything."

Well, I was shocked and flattered. "But why?" I said.

"Because after all the recent trades we are a bit short of players, especially veterans. And you look so old you could probably get a pension."

He went on to explain that this was the start of a new crowd-pleasing program called "Be a Bucco for a Day."

Well, I was game, so I went into the player's dressing room where they equipped me with a uniform. I was disappointed to see that instead of Henry written on the back, my uniform was borrowed from somebody else - some guy named Generic. But who was I - a Bucco for the Day - to complain?

They had me play left field. I felt this was type-casting but again I offered no complaint.

My first at bat was a real experience. This was the Major Leagues and, boy, those pitches were fast. By the time the second ball came over the plate for a strike, I was still swinging at the first one. I didn't even see the third strike.

It wasn't an auspicious start but I resolved to do better. On the plus side, I found that fielding wasn't a problem. With most of the Pirates understandably in a funk, the other team's batters mostly hit home runs, which didn't require any action on my part.

When I finally came up to bat the second time, I was ready. My plan was to swing early. In fact, I began swinging when I was still in the on-deck circle. It worked a treat.

The pitcher looked very surprised - as well he should - as the bat cracked and the ball flew deep for what would normally be an easy double. Unfortunately, that hot dog and the beer had slowed me up to the point I couldn't win the pierogi race if I were the only pierogi.

As it happened, I didn't make first base - which reminded me a bit of the old days when I was dating. But the thing is that I was just out. Another two or three seconds and I would have been safe at first.

Well, that's how it goes in the old ball game and I knew that I had not disgraced myself. I had shown promise.

As it turned out, this was my undoing. In the 8th inning, just before another turn at bat, the manager came up to me with the bad news: "Sorry, Reg, but you have been traded."

I was flabbergasted. Yes, my flab couldn't stop flabbering with shock and indignation until I was utterly gasted.

I managed to ask why. "Because you are a veteran player who showed he could swing the bat," the manager said. "We had to get rid of you. It is one of our operating principles."

Later, I learned that I had been traded for one bat boy and a perogi from the minors. So at least they got their money's worth.

I don't think I'll be returning to the Pirates lineup anytime soon - the way things are going, perhaps not even as part of the crowd.


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