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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The best Pittsburgh Pirates by decade, 1920-2017

The best Pittsburgh Pirates by decade, 1920-2017 

Ralph Kiner was in beast mode before beast mode was even a thing

Pie Traynor
click to enlarge
Pie Traynor
Pittsburgh is full of it — civic pride, that is. Any time someone outside the 412 mentions Michael Keaton, Wiz Khalifa or Christina Aguilera, we are sure to remind them from where they came.
However, one celebrity we don’t brag about enough is award-winning playwright August Wilson. The pride of the Hill is a certifiable legend in literature and on Broadway. All of his outstanding plays took place in the sequential decades of the 20th century, and is known as the Pittsburgh Cycle. Since cycle is also a baseball term, it made me start thinking about the best Pittsburgh Pirates by decade. So, with a nod to Wilson, here are the best Pittsburgh Pirates over the past 10 decades — the Pirates Cycle.
The 2010s
If anyone wants to argue that Andrew McCutchen isn’t the greatest Bucco of this decade, I will fight you. Meet me outside the Galleria Mall tomorrow at noon; I’ve got a couple of other fights already scheduled there. 
Cutch ushered in an era of hope and change as the leader and catalyst for a resurgent franchise. Three consecutive postseason appearances seemed like something that would never happen. This season he has his team back in a division race. Early in the 2017 campaign, the former MVP was called washed up by many, but now he is hitting bigly. The latest surge will hopefully put an end to all the rumors of him being traded soon. So far this decade, the Pirates are a winning franchise at 614-567.
The 2000s
This was one of the worst decades in team history. A revolving door of managers led the Pirates to a cumulative 681-936 record. Yes, the team almost lost 1,000 times in 10 years, but at least Jason Bay did a heckuva job. In this decade, we also started checking the Pirates box scores on our phones instead of the newspaper. But that just meant we got the bad news a lot quicker. But our stadium sure looked nice.
The 1990s
Barry Bonds only played three seasons with Pittsburgh in the 1990s, and two of them were MVP years. Pittsburgh loved Sophie Masloff, stonewashed jeans and listening to Paulsen and Krenn in the morning. The last decade at Three Rivers Stadium started with a bang but ended with a thud. Jim Leyland got out of town and won a World Series in Miami, and we never saw another winning season for 20 years. The ’90s were a mixed bag as the team went 774-780. Close to .500 but no cigar (a phrase that would take on a whole new meaning in the 1990s, thanks to Bill Clinton).
The 1980s A brutal decade as the steel mills laid off more than 150,000 workers. All the Atari games and Rubik’s Cubes in the world couldn’t distract us as the city slid farther into decline. The Pirates were no help lifting spirits, as some of the players spent time in court on cocaine charges. On the field, the nose candy wasn’t exactly enhancing anyone’s performance as the team floundered with a 732-825 record. One bright spot was the maddeningly consistent hitting of Bill Madlock. The Mad Dog won two batting titles in 1981 and 1983 and was the only bright spot for fans who had seen much better days.
The 1970s 
The best decade for Pirates fans by far. The Bucs won six division titles and two World Series trophies. People were smoking cigarettes on buses, in restaurants and in libraries. But nobody cared because they were drunk or on ’ludes and heading to the red-light district on Liberty Avenue. Hall of Famer Willie Stargell ruled the decade, with honorable mentions to Dave Parker (who actually smoked in the dugout) and Al Oliver. While disco music blared from 8-tracks in wood-paneled station wagons, the Pirates went a staggering 916-695.
The 1960s 
Roberto Clemente won 12 consecutive Gold Gloves and threw more runners out from right field than anybody in history. No, you weren’t tripping — those lasers were real. A solid decade (848-755) at Forbes Field where opposing teams couldn’t get anything past the team’s second-best player of the decade, Bill Mazeroski. Who, as we all know, started the turbulent ’60s off with the biggest clutch hit of all time.
The 1950s
Yes, Dick Groat won the MVP in 1960, but his 1950s were pretty good too. But the Pirates certainly were not. The Bucs lost 100 games three times and finished 307 games under .500 (616-923). Your grandparents liked Ike, but nobody could dig the Pirates, daddio. There was only one winning season in the decade, so now maybe people can understand how improbable the 1960 World Series win was.
The 1940s 
Ralph Kiner led the league in home runs for a remarkable seven straight seasons from 1947-52. He was in beast mode before beast mode was even a thing. Returning GIs from the last major war we ever won witnessed a new power-hitting phenomenon. 
The 1930s 
Not even Paul Waner, Lloyd Waner or Arky Vaughn could lift the spirits of people during the Great Depression. Paul Waner was the best of a very good class. Big Poison hit .300 in 13 of his 14 seasons in the “Smoky City.” His lifetime .340 average with Pittsburgh is the all-time highest and very likely will never be broken. For the decade, the Pirates were a very respectable 812-718.
The 1920s
A bar in McKeesport is rumored to have coined the phrase “speakeasy.” Which meant “keep quiet about the hooch or some copper will pinch you, see.” You couldn’t drink at the games legally, but the Pirates and Pie Traynor roared through the decade and won it all in 1925. Flappers, Hollywood and the Pittsburgh crime family all had a pretty good decade. 877-666 was their record with no losing seasons. Unfortunately, the Pirates wouldn’t even sniff a World Series for 35 years.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Sam’s Pizza... a mainstay... an institution.

Family owned Sam’s Pizza is mainstay of community

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERACurrent ownership, David and Kimberly Rhome and Rege and Marti Passante, took over the shop 17 years ago.
One typically associates Canonsburg, Pennsylvania with the big three: Perry Como, Bobby Vinton and Sarris Candies. There is, however, a forth that locals know and have carried with them across the country and in some cases, the world. That institution is Sam’s Pizza.
In business for over forty-five years, Sam’s Pizza shares the same wall space with neighboring Sarris in East End, Canonsburg. I’m not quite sure if anyone still knows the words to ‘Blue Velvet,’ but I guarantee they’ve had a slice or two of Sam’s pizza in the past twenty years.
Current ownership, David and Kimberly Rhome and Rege and Marti Passante, took over the shop 17 years ago growing it into a Canonsburg mainstay.
“We don’t deliver, so we get to know the customers when they come in,” stated Marti Passante. “We have come to share people’s life cycles through the increases and decreases in the size of their orders.”
On-hand customer, Terry Yost echoed that thought, “Our family has had four generations coming in to get pizza. We started with only a couple pieces and now we are up to a full tray when the family is over.”
When asked why Sam’s Pizza, Ms. Yost replied, “It’s consistent. Always good and I don’t have to cook!”
It’s this kind of interaction that the Rhome and Passante families have built. The two families operate the business themselves with no manger and a total hands-on approach. The core of their business? Customer service.
“We’re only as good as our people and we care about our community. It’s where we work, live and play,” reinforced David Rhome, who is also the town’s Mayor. “Our employees start with us at 15 years of age and work up until they enter college, then come back and pick up hours between semesters. They become part of our family.”
The commitment to community goes far beyond pizza. All money collected in tips goes to charities such as cancer research, feeding the underprivileged and homeless outreach.
Then there’s the pizzas and subs, of course.
MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAThe square cuts of Sicilian pizza are old style Italian with ingredients that are never frozen nor recycled.
Sam’s Pizza has won countless awards over the years including 2008 “Best of Washington County.” The square cuts of Sicilian pizza are old style Italian with ingredients that are never frozen nor recycled.
“We pride ourselves in our homemade sauce and dough which is made daily,” said Kimberly. “We even make our own meatballs.”
The shop has such a loyal following that people even make the trip from out of town with Sam’s being one of the must make stops. There is even a customer who frequents from Florida and calls ahead when landing on the tarmac at Pittsburgh International Airport to ensure his order is ready on arrival.
Additionally, tray of Sam’s Pizza have been shipped across the country and even around the world. Customers can simply call in the order, UPS picks up the pizza(s) and off they go. There is a special process that Owner David Rhome describes as “recook” that ensure the pizza is as fresh as it is coming out of the shop’s ovens when reheated after shipping.
In addition to pizza, Sam’s offers a full variety of subs and beverages on site.
In closing, the next time you hear someone humming ‘Catch a Falling Star,’ ask them if they’ve had a slice of Sam’s. I guarantee they have.
To experience some of the best pizza you’ll ever have, visit Sam’s Pizza at 525 Adams Avenue, Canonsburg, PA 15317, 724-745-9861.
They are also on the web at:
Story by Fred Terling for Pennsylvania Bridges

Thursday, July 6, 2017

John McMillan

John McMillan (1752–1833) was a prominent Presbyterian minister and missionary in Western Pennsylvania when that area was part of the American Frontier. He founded the first school west of the Allegheny Mountains, which is now known as John McMillan's Log School. He is one of the founders of Washington & Jefferson College

McMillan was born on November 11, 1752 in Fagg's Manor, Chester County, Pennsylvania. 

McMillan was described as large man, with a height of 6 foot and weighing 200 pounds in his middle age. His voice was described as strong and "swarthy". He was a Federalist and opposed the Whiskey Rebellion.  McMillan served in the militia in Captain James Scott's Company of the Third Battalion of the Washington County Military. He was ordered to duty on May 8, 1782 and received "donation farm" in Mercer County from the government for his service. He was related to Captain William Fife who was a captain during the Revolutionary War from western Pennsylvania.

McMillan collected money to build the Canonsburg Academy in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania and transferred his log cabin students there. He is also considered a founder of the Pittsburgh Academy (later University of Pittsburgh as well as the Pittsburgh Xenia Theological Seminary and the Western Theological Seminary. All told, he educated over 100 ministers and preached 6,000 sermons. James Carnahan, President of Princeton University, said that he had aided church and education "more than any other man of his generation."

"oldest educational building west of the Alleghenys." 
John McMillan's Log School is a landmark log building in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania that was a frontier latin school during the 1780s. 
The school grew into Canonsburg Academy, which eventually developed into Washington & Jefferson College. In 1930, 
The Pittsburgh Press said that the building was "viewed by the pioneers with even more reverence than Pittsburgh now view the towering Cathedral of Learning in Oakland."

In 1949, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission installed a historical marker on U.S. Route 19, near Pennsylvania Route 519, south of Canonsburg noting McMillan's historic importance. In 1949, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission placed a marker adjacent to Hill Church and in 1951, adjacent to Bethel Presbyterian Church, both churches founded by McMillan. His last remaining kin are the Smiths of Avella Pennsylvania.