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The Ultimate Baseball Fantasy

March 17, 2010 - Alex Marshall
"How sweet it is!"  Mazeroski, Blass, Virdon, Tekulve, Sanguillen and Walk all on the diamond again – or at least close to it. Throw in Jeter, Sabathia, Emmerling, Mathieu and Knight, and you have the makings of the ultimate baseball fantasy – at least for me. After a whirlwind trip to spring training in Bradenton, Fla., this past weekend, I’m back on the ground here at home and ready to blog the experience. In an act of full disclosure, readers are forewarned that I’m not a baseball junkie, have limited knowledge about players, strategy etc., but nevertheless came away with a sense that a new era in Pirate baseball is dawning. 
Welcome to Jimmy’s world. You can visit but you can’t stay.
Oh, how Pittsburgh Pirates fans wish they didn’t have to leave Jimmy’s world especially after the Bucs demolished the New York Yankees Sunday at McKechnie Field in Bradenton.
Jim Emmerling, president of EM Media in Steubenville, Ohio, took all the pride and passion he could fit in his suitcase for his beloved Pittsburgh Pirates to a level that few dare to dream. On Sunday, Emmerling was in the dugout (courtesy of his high bid at a recent Pirate Alumni auction) managing the Pirates against last year’s World Champion, New York Yankees.
It was Emmerling’s pride and passion, along with the talent and hard work of manager John Russell, his coaching staff and Pirates players that provided a lopsided win Sunday as the Bucs bombarded the Yankees with 14 hits including 5 monster home runs before sending the Bronx Bombers to the showers in a 10 to 5 rout. 
Emmerling and his travel teammates Dave Mathieu, Jeff Knight and yours truly arrived in Bradenton on Saturday afternoon. After scoping out McKechnie Field, a relaxing dinner filled with baseball chatter - it was lights out. Well not quite; we did stop at Clancy’s Irish Sports Bar on our ride back to the hotel for a last minute lineup chat.
The next morning, Emmerling was met in the lobby by former Pirate relief ace, Kent Tekulve who was there to accompany the skipper to McKechnie Field for uniform fitting and a closed clubhouse team meeting. Tekulve, you may recall, played most of his career for the Pirates with relief stints in Philadelphia and Cincinnati. 
The lanky submarine sidewinder considers the Pirates HIS team after 16 seasons in the bullpen. The ’79 World Series ring on his finger serves as a constant source of pride and accomplishment forTekulve and those around him. Teke saved 3 games in that ’79 series against the Orioles including the winning game. 
The Teke Record Book
  • All-Star Team -1980
  • National League record for career innings pitched in relief - 1,436
  • Oldest pitcher to appear in 90 games during the season @ the age of 40
  • Appeared in 90 or more games three times (tied with Mike Marshall)
  • Most intentional walks - 179
  • Most career losses without giving up any earned runs - 12
Teke continues to provide relief work for the Pirates in his role as Alumni affairs director. He also serves as an FSN Pittsburgh analyst after each Pirates game. 
The group of Emmerling, Mathieu, Knight and Marshall don’t agree on much, but we were unanimous in our opinion of Kent Tekulve. Besides being a gentleman and wonderful host, he is a great ambassador for baseball and especially so for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Thanks Teke for your hospitality and friendship!
Well obviously there’s a game in this blog somewhere. Here’s my abbreviated report:
Skipper Emmerling, in his mostly ceremonial role as manager, did deliver the starting lineup to a home plate gathering of umpires and opposing coaches prior to the start of the game. (For the record, Mathieu lodged a strong objection to the absence of Crosby in the starting lineup, who later hit two home runs in the game.) The Pirates hit a total of 5 home runs during the game including 3 in one inning. And finally, the Pirates beat the New York Yankees convincingly. "We had 'em allll the way!"
For complete in-depth game coverage I invite you to log on to and read Paul Ladewski’s game account.   You can also log on to to view more than 160 game and related photos. (see links provided on this page)
Not enough coverage? I’ve also provided a video link on this page with some great footage of the game and skipper Emmerling in action.
We celebrated the skipper’s W over dinner with Tekulve that night. It was another rare conversation where Emmerling, Mathieu, Knight and Marshall were all in agreement; the Pirates are going to make some noise this season, and we can’t wait for opening day.
A trip to Pirate City, the Pirates’ world-class minor league training academy on Monday reinforced our dinner conversation from the previous night. That noise you hear from the Pirates is only going to get louder and louder.  Amen!
"Good night, Mary Edgerly, wherever you are."
Weekly Winchells:
  • And while on the topic of the Pirates, opening day is a little more than 3 weeks away and we (the Herald-Star and Weirton Daily Times) have tickets! Infield box seats, charter bus service from Herald Square Park and a box lunch are included in the $52 ticket price.   The Steubenville/Weirton Pirates Community Fan Club is sponsored by Trinity Health System, Health Plan, Choice Brands, Iron City, Wine & Beverage of Weirton, Hancock Savings Bank and EM Media. For more information call 740.283.4711.
  • You have to be kidding me! With only 48 hours until Friday’s midnight deadline, I have only one official response to last week’s blog, Adopt a Pothole Contest.  That means duckieduck will walk away with $250 of tender car care service at ExpertTire in downtown Steubenville if there are no other entries. Frank & Jerry’s Furniture Store has teamed up with the Herald to sponsor this pothole filled with money marketing scheme. You have no excuses; there are no shortages of potholes and registering to share your story on my blog is SIMPLE and FREE! Deadline to blog your pothole tale is midnight Friday. BTW I just got the estimate to repair my Jetta from last week’s pothole confrontation; are you sitting down - $500!!


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Skipper and assistants take nap before the big game


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