BRADENTON, Fla. - The Pittsburgh Steelers have had just 3 head coaches since 1969, the same year the Pirates began holding Spring Training in Bradenton. The two teams were brought together Monday before they were rained out against the Yankees.
Since Chuck Noll took over the Steelers in 1969, they have won 6 Super Bowl titles, the last being right up the road in Tampa under Mike Tomlin in 2009. Tomlin showed up at Pirates camp yesterday to talk to his baseball-playing brethren.
"First, I acknowledged that I know very little about baseball, but obviously they are coming to get better on a daily basis. They have things you can't measure, like camaraderie, team building, and I challenged them to embrace that, as well," says Tomlin.
The Pirates have won two World Series in that same time frame, but none since the ‘We Are Family’ team of 1979. But last year they made the playoffs for the first time in 21 years, and Tomlin sees the hunger in their eyes.
“Just to come to share what they are going through right now is not something I take for granted. I am very humbled right now."
Neil Walker, the Pirates 2nd baseman, is from Pittsburgh, so he was raised on the Steelers' success. So having Tomlin talk to his team carried a lot of weight with him, and his mates. "To have somebody as knowledgeable as Mike, and someone as inspiring as he is, it is easy to see why he is so successful and so much of a players' coach. It was great to have those guys here at camp today," says Walker.
The Pirates would like to finish in the winner circle like the Steelers did so recently, and the Steelers would like to get back to their winning ways like the Pirates are doing now.