It’s opening day for Major League Baseball, and while football is always foremost on the minds of the Steelers, they are definitely thinking baseball today and supporting the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Defensive end Cam Heyward became a Pirates fan at a young age, hearing stories about the Willie Stargell days from his mother Charlotte, who was friends with Stargell’s daughter.
“I got to hear about all of the Stargell days,” said Heyward. “There is a lot of history in baseball. It’s one of the greatest pastimes in the United States. The Pirates are an up and coming team and that gives us more to root for in the city of Pittsburgh.”
“It’s just the way he works,” said Heyward. “I was listening to one of his interviews and he talked about he doesn’t settle and strives for more. He is a team-first guy. We are lucky to have a player like that in the city.”
Defensive assistant and former linebacker Jerry Olsavsky used to go to games in Cleveland as a kid, an easy drive from Youngstown and a family affair as his uncle was an usher. It wasn’t until he attended the University of Pittsburgh and then played for the Steelers that he became a Pirates fan.
“When I was here playing in the 90s with Barry Bonds, Andy van Slyke and Jose Lind it was good,” said Olsavsky. “We saw some really good baseball, went to games. It was fun.
“The Pirates are playing good baseball now too. They play hard, they play for their manager. They get excited when the city gets excited and they feed off of it. Everyone feels good when your team is playing well. The anticipation for this year is great.”
Spring training visit: Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin, General Manager Kevin Colbert and offensive coordinator Todd Haley visited the Pirates spring training home at McKechnie Field earlier this month.
Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle invited Tomlin to address the team in the clubhouse, something he said he was humbled to do.
“I appreciate having an opportunity to stand before them and Clint giving me that,” said Tomlin. “Just to come and share what they are going through right now is something I don’t take for granted. It’s an honor to be here today.
“I am a big fan of Clint’s and what he is doing with our baseball team. It’s great to have an opportunity to come and spend the day with them.”
Pirates’ second baseman Neil Walker, who is from Pittsburgh, enjoyed the words that Tomlin shared with the team.
“To have somebody as knowledgeable as Mike and as inspiring as he is was great,” said Walker. “We could tell why he is so successful and so much of a players’ coach. It was great to have those guys in camp today.”
Pirates Twirl the Towel: Last season Hurdle, who led the team to their first winning season and playoff appearance in 20 years, and All-Star centerfielder Andrew McCutchen led the Terrible Towel Twirl before the Steelers game against the Ravens at Heinz Field.
“We are getting support from Steelers fans, but we are here to support the Steelers,” said Hurdle before the game. “This is a wonderful opportunity for Andrew and myself. We are giving back, throwing support to Steelers Nation.”
McCutchen and Hurdle both wore Steelers jerseys for the Terrible Towel Twirl, showing how the teams support each other.
“It’s great,” said McCutchen. “The support from all of the teams is unreal and the fans are the same. It helps us come together as a city and as a team.”