Some sports stories spill over the sports pages.
Such is the case with last week’s trade of Andrew McCutchen, the popular face of baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates for nearly a decade, to the San Francisco Giants.
McCutchen is more than a sports pages or TV presence in the Tri-County Area. His wife, the former Maria Hanslovan, grew up hereabouts, in Treasure Lake. He is part of that family, which makes him part of our community whenever he, his wife and their child visit.
The McCutchens’ off-season home is in Florida, an inviting place for family to visit, and a not-too-long haul for return visits to the DuBois area. Of course, his in-season home of Pittsburgh is just a hoot and a holler away.
McCutchen has been, if not a home-grown sports star, then a home-linked sports star. His awesome talents include a career .291 batting average, five All-Star selections, a Most Valuable Player in the entire National League in 2013, and Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards recognizing his offensive and defensive talents, and these don’t even touch on the intangible thrills he has wrought with his speed afoot.
But McCutchen transcends sports in the tradition of the Pirates’ best-ever player, the awesome Roberto Clemente. Clemente was killed trying to bring food aid to earthquake victims in 1972.
McCutchen received the Roberto Clemente award in 2015, testimony to the altruism that is, in his own words, an offshoot of his publicly declared Christian faith. Here is one quotation: “In my life, I want people to see that I’m not just a baseball player. I want them to know me as a Christian and as someone who is not afraid to make God’s name known.”
It makes our entire community feel good to be associated, even in a minor way, with someone who combines such athletic excellence with such personal charisma and character.
Now, McCutchen is off to the San Francisco Giants in faraway California, to the excruciating agony of many Pirates fans who are viewing the dismantling of a team built to end two decades of losing seasons, but not good enough to enter the top tier in pursuit of World Series championships.
Who can’t help but wish him well?
We hope he and his family retain their ties to the Tri-County Area, even after his baseball career ends.
Andrew McCutchen is a good man. That transcends sports.
— Denny Bonavita