Moments after the Pittsburgh Pirates announced their surprising trade of outfielder Nate McLouth last week, the team also parted ways with several fans who had been with the organization for decades.
“That’s it. I’m done,” said Tom Mazurchek of Pittsburgh. “I can’t take it anymore. That was our best player. Now our best player is … I have no idea. I can’t name one guy who could be considered a best player. I’m out. I’m going to root for the Indians.”
Lifelong Pirates fan Steve Hillsman, who was also lost in the McLouth trade, says that while he enjoyed his years with the Pirates, it’s refreshing to be freed from the organization.
“I have some good memories in Pittsburgh,” said Hillman. “It still hasn’t really hit me that I’m no longer a fan. But I’m not. I don’t really remember the division title years in the early ‘90s. I was a toddler back then. But I remember the Pirates almost going .500 in 1997. That was fun. But it’s even more fun to be away from that losing atmosphere. I really think my enjoyment of baseball is going to go up now. It’s a new start. I’m excited. I think I can really accomplish some things as a fan.”
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said he didn’t want to part with fans the caliber of Mazurchek and Hillsman. But he stressed that he had to make a tough call with the future of the franchise in mind.
“Hey, we have the lowest attendance in baseball right now,” said Huntington. “I don’t want to lose fans. But we need to get a new attitude around here. A winning attitude. Our old fans were expecting us to lose. So if we clear all of them out and get rid of that bad karma, I think we can build up a new fan base full of positive, enthusiastic people.”
For that to happen, the player Huntington dealt in the McLouth trade, as well as in the trades of Jason Bay and Xavier Nady, will have to produce.
“I’m happy for the fans we lost in those trades to be living it up and having fun cheering for more successful teams now,” said Huntington. “But with the young players we got in return, we can build something special here. What people don’t realize is that there are children being born all over Western Pennsylvania every day who have never been subjected to a Pirates season. If things break right, one day they can be our new fan base.”