Friday Flashback: Thanks for the memory, Wake.

The following is something I wrote for the Pirates email listserve back in February of 2003. Its not really about Tim Wakefield, but a personal memory in which he played a big part.

In October '92 I was a freshman at Georgia Tech. My friend Matt
and I decided to try to go to Game 6 of the NLCS at the last
minute. We also figured $40 would be enough to get us some
nosebleed seats and would be all we could afford anyway (We had
$90 total between us).
We get to the stadium and search high and low for anyone with
seats in our price range. About ten minutes before the first
pitch, a guy offers 2 seats in the 5th row of the upper deck,
straight down the right field line. These are exactly what we
had been hoping to get, only he wanted $100 for the pair and
won't go down on the price. Then I notice the guy has something
that looks Pittsburgh related on his jacket and I'm getting
desperate to see the game now, so I pull out my fitted Pirates
hat that was under my jacket. (Before I get flamed for hiding
my cap, Bravesmania and the tomahawk chop were in full force at
the time and I was trying to improve my chances of getting a
seat.) I show him the hat and say, "How about a discount?"
hoping he will have some mercy on us and let us have the pair
for $80. Very much to my surprise, he says, "OK, $80 and 
the hat."! I was kind of blindsided by his response, but still
mumbled ok, we had the tickets and were inside an instant later.

Walking up the ramp to the upper deck, I was hit by what I had
just done. I sold my hat. My hat. The hat I wore nearly
everyday. A hat that was very important to me. The hat I had
bought before that season started. The first fitted hat I'd ever 
bought. My PIRATES hat. And it was gone. My friend laughed and
said to come on, we were going to miss the first pitch. 
We find our seats and sit down. The guy next to me is cheering
for the Pirates too. This helps me settle down and get back into
what was going on: I was at a Pirates playoff game! You all know
what happened at the game. Glavine gets SHELLED in an inning and
2/3. Wakefield pitches great. By the 7th inning, all of the
grumbling Braves fans have left and I've moved down behind home
plate in the section next to the players' wives. I leave
jubilant and gloat to all the guys whining in the dorm once I
get back to campus.

Later that winter I bought a new hat. I still wear it a lot and
it fits better than any other fitted hat I've ever had. It is
not, however, MLB authentic like my other one was.

Since that day, nothing seems to have gone right for the Bucs
in any meaningful way. Yes, there have been some good moments,
trades, etc., but nowhere near the amount of disappointment
and frustration that has also happened. I've thought about it
a lot over the years and sometimes it feels like I figuratively
sold my soul for that one game.

I thank all of you who have read this far and I want to say I'm
sorry for causing so much misery the last 10 years. I have a
plan to make amends. I am going to retire my current hat. It
has a lot of good memories of its own in it, just not very good
results on the field. My hat will not make the trip to Bradenton
with me. I will purchase a new, classic black hat with gold P
from the Pirates clubhouse store. I hope this will start a new
era for myself and all of us loyal, die-hard Bucco fans.

Again, thanks for reading.

David Kaleida
Pirates fan.

Sadly, that new hat did not change the Buccos' fortunes. Nor did any of the others I've purchased over the last nine years. But I still have the memory of that game, and no regrets. Good luck in your retirement, Tim.

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