Pirates

Colin Dunlap: Thanks, Mayor Sophie

(Photo Credit: Colin Dunlap)

(Photo Credit: Colin Dunlap)

dunlap-head-shot Colin Dunlap
Weeknights, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Colin grew up in Sharpsburg and...
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I probably should have written this sooner. My bad.

But, you know how when someone dies, it forces us to do those things — or at least remember to do those things — we should have gotten around to doing when that person was here in an Earthly form? Well, this is one of those times.

You won’t read this, Sophie Masloff.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

You died on Sunday morning at 96 after one hell of a life; an ascent from a first-generation American born up on The Hill who had her father die at 2 all the way to 56th mayor of our gallant City of Steel.

One hell of a life, indeed.

Anyhow — or as many of us say here in Pittsburgh “anyhows” — I just wanted to say thanks.
Current Mayor Bill Peduto has ordered flags flown at half-staff and there will be a regimented celebration of Sophie’s splendid life throughout the week ahead, but as for me, all I can really do is say thanks.

Thanks, Sophie, that I have an opportunity on many nights between April and the autumn time to travel to the North Shore, pass through the press gate and up an elevator and then work at PNC Park with the astonishing skyline of our city serving as the backdrop to America’s grandest baseball venue.

Without you, it wouldn’t be there.

Thanks, Sophie, that since the Spring of 2001, I’ve spent countless other, non-working nights inside that venue with good friends, good sightlines, good beer, not always a good team but always a magnificent time in a place that is one of our true civic treasures.

Without you, it wouldn’t be there.

Thanks, Sophie, for the more-than-few times a summer I get to see someone from out of town on what is their obvious first trip to PNC Park. I don’t interject, but rather absorb it like a drama.

Their reactions are different in ways, but all the same at the very hub of it — they snap photo after photo, look around with expansive eyes, talk about how incredible the atmosphere is and, at some point in time, invariably rank it at or near the very top of all the baseball cathedrals they have ever taken time to nestle into for a game.

Without you, it wouldn’t be there.

Thanks, Sophie, for allowing me to see the first game played at PNC Park. Thanks for also allowing me to see the first one after 9/11, when there was a bond that secured the people inside that place that was something different than I have ever felt before.

And, after all the Pirates’ losing, thanks for the allowing these 37-year-old eyes — that remember those good times back in the 1990s at Three Rivers — to see what meaningful baseball was like inside that gem on Federal and General Robinson Streets.

Without you, it wouldn’t be there.

As a father of 3-year-old twins, a case of a nasty stomach virus got in the way of taking my son to a game earlier this season that we had planned, but it didn’t stop me from taking my daughter.

Her little fingers pointed incessantly at No. 22 and said “Cutch” over and over again, she got a tear when Neil Walker broke his bat thinking it couldn’t be replaced, she was at times more interested in her ice cream than the hometown nine and she waved her mini Jolly Roger flag with all the might in her tiny arm.

It was a day I won’t ever forget.

Without you, it wouldn’t have happened — at least not inside that park.
Thanks, Sophie.

It was way back in 1991 when people laughed at you in this city, when people sneered, snickered and giggled when you first started talking about building the financially-troubled Pirates a baseball-only stadium in town to make sure they stayed here.

No one laughed when it came to fruition after you left office.

Your vision became a reality, which became Pittsburgh’s master showpiece, which became a place that we all became — and still are — incalculably proud of.

Without you, it wouldn’t be there.

All I can say is thanks.

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