Colin Dunlap: Maz Jersey Should Stay In Pittsburgh
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We can’t let this happen.
Not as Pittsburghers.
Not as Pirates fans.
Not as people who have watched that grainy replay time and time again of what happened on Oct. 13, 1960, at a since-demolished baseball Cathedral in the Oakland section of our marvelous city.
The Pirates stood up and defeated the big, bad, reviled Yankees on that autumn day — now we need to band together and defeat this.
The jersey Bill Mazeroski wore that day — the day he hit what could be the most famous home run in Major League Baseball history — shouldn’t be going anywhere outside of this city.
I won’t stand for it. And neither should you.
On Wednesday at PNC Park (in the midst of a resurgence of this too-long-downtrodden franchise) a news conference was held where Mazeroski, 77, outlined his plan to work with Hunt Auctions to sell the famed jersey — and a few other keepsakes — at a public auction in November in Louisville, Ky. The president of the auction company said the jersey could fetch over $100,000.
Until the auction, the jersey will be displayed at PNC Park.
That’s where it should remain.
Or, hell, at that Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Heinz History Center in the Strip District; I will settle for it being on display there.
But, I have a deep, unyielding fear, as we live in a money-talks civilization that seems to have lost regard for nostalgia and doing the right thing for the sake of, well, just doing the right thing.
Here’s the fear: What if some wonk memorabilia collector who lives, say, in Northern California shows up with an armored truck full of cash to this auction, outbids everyone and then takes the jersey home to store it in his humidity-controlled vault where the public never sees it again?
Certainly his right; certainly his prerogative and choice — but would it truly be the best use of an artifact that is so precious to our city?
And, that isn’t hyperbole or embellishment of any kind.
The jersey Mazeroski had on when he connected with that Ralph Terry pitch, forcing Maz to swing his arms wildly and this city to celebrate madly, is the single-most important sports relic that will forever link our present to a glorious past.
If it goes to auction, there’s no telling what might happen.
I am loathe to spend the money of others, think that about 99.9 percent of times it is speaking out of turn, but this is a rarity.
Wouldn’t it be nice for the Pirates to step in and purchase this jersey?
Wouldn’t it be nice for that moment, that meant so much to this proud organization, forever be remembered by a vital surviving tangible object from that game being on display at PNC Park?
Imagine little kids in 2030 pointing to that thing in awe, just before they walk to their seats and take in a Pirates game, curious about something that happened 70 years before and sharing that moment with their father.
Sure beats some guy having it in some private humidor, doesn’t it? Yukking it up with his blueblood friends over a scotch as they look at it and chat about their stock options.
If the Pirates don’t want to pony up the money, that’s fine. Like I said, it is generally speaking out of turn to spend the money of others.
If it comes to it, we should band together as a city and make sure this jersey remains, on display, here in Pittsburgh.
A telethon, a donation bin — hell, pass the hat around at Pirates games. Have a 50/50. Whatever.
I will spearhead the charge; I’ll pledge $500 right now.
I just know one thing, and know it clearly: There’s no way in the world that Mazeroski jersey belongs anywhere in the world but right here in Pittsburgh.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weeknights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his bio here.