Steve Blass: A Pirate for life

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BRADENTON - Steve Blass grew up in Connecticut and was drafted out of high school by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1960. He has been with the Pirates ever since, and now he has written a book, aptly titled, "A Pirate for Life."

Blass made it to the majors in 1964 and went on to win 103 games over a 10-year career before retiring as a player and writing his book, which he was signing at McKechnie Field the other day.

“The interesting thing is when I was pitching well, the Pirates didn't want to get rid of me. When I was pitching badly, no one else wanted me. So that is part of the reason I hung around all those years."

During that 10-year career, he helped the Pirates to a 1971 World Series victory over the Orioles with two complete game wins. “To pitch 9 innings at all anymore is cause for celebration, so yeah, a 4-hit complete game in Game 7, and I was the last pitcher to win Game 7 in the National League."

After a short time out of the game, Blass has been a mainstay in the Pirates broadcast booth, and a fan favorite for his folksy and excitable delivery. "Drive to right field…it’s gonna get out of here…oh my God, Pedro Alvarez has won the game with a home run! Lord help us and save us by Mrs. McDavis."

"54 years with one organization. That doesn't happen anymore. This is my 50th wedding anniversary, so I have had one team and one wife. That doesn't happen anymore."

In the book, Blass discusses openly the baseball syndrome named after him, Steve Blass disease -- the inexplicable inability to throw the baseball where you want to. “I always try to have a lot of patience with people who inquire about it. It is not my favorite part of the story, but it is a part of the story. Other than those 2 or 3 years when I struggled -- and I struggled mightily -- and it was quite a test to get over that, the rest of my life has been a fairy tale. I have gotten to live the dream. How rare is that?"