With the ceremonial halfway point of the Major League Baseball season here, one has to ask this question of the Pittsburgh Pirates: What in the world is going on with this team?
The Pirates came into the season with a solid starting pitching staff, a bullpen that was strong at the back end and a lineup that might lack power, but had some rising stars.
They limped into the break five games below .500 at 42-47 and seven games out of first place. The Pirates have a losing record at home (21-22) and on the road (21-25) and are on their way to a 76-win season.
There are bad breaks in life, then there is the bad break suffered by Norris Vactor.
Vactor, who died Sunday – Father’s Day – at 71, suffered the cruelest blow, an intentional hit on the football field that left him paralyzed and destroyed an opportunity to make it into the pros.
The first glimpses of Vactor’s ability came on the football field at Wash High Stadium, where he thrilled the crowds with his aggressive style and natural ability.
STATE COLLEGE – Many years from now, the phone is going to ring at the home of Bill Simms.
On the other end of the line will be a high school softball coach, maybe from his own West Greene, asking him to give a pep talk to their team.
“We really need it,” they’ll say. “You’ll know what to say.”