Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Bittersweet Day (Bob: 1927-2013)

Today should be a happy day as the Pittsburgh Pirates are playing in their first playoff game since 1992. After 20 straight losing seasons, it has been an extraordinary year watching Andrew McCutchen stake his claim as the National League MVP, Pedro Alvarez tie for the league title in home runs, and the pitching staff seemingly always getting key outs. Unfortunately, one of the biggest Pirates fans I know, my cousin Bob, passed away Friday night.

I try not to write about my family much, but I'm making an exception today. My cousin Bob is actually my Mom's first cousin. Does that make us second cousins or first cousins, once removed? Regardless, Bob was the youngest of four brothers who spent much of his life in the small town where my mom grew up. He served in the Army around the end of World War II and graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania where he was fraternity brothers with future Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter.

Bob and his brothers owned and operated the family business which was an automotive repair shop that also sold auto equipment and sporting goods. I clearly remember visiting the store as a kid, particularly the distinct smell of new tires. I'm not sure that my cousins were big fans of my brother and I running around the store, though we mostly stayed in the sporting good section. I got at least one baseball glove at the store as well as a set of golf clubs that I still have today. I don't remember whether or not these were gifts, but if not, I'm sure that they were significantly discounted.

Anyway, Bob retired and moved to the Sarasota, Florida area where he golfed regularly and even picked up bocce. He was also a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates Booster Club, where he served as a volunteer security guard at Pirate City in Bradenton. As a result, he attended countless Pirates spring training games either while volunteering or by simply watching the games on his off days. Four years ago, Bob hosted me in Bradenton where we went to two Pirates game, and he showed me around Pirate City. It was an awesome trip! He really liked taking me around Bradenton and talking baseball. Sure, we talked about family and other stuff, but many conversations seemed to revolve around the Pirates. Even then, he liked McCutchen. For the amount of time he spent around the Pirates during the 20-season losing streak, he deserved to see the Pirates in the playoffs again. As illogical and unrealistic as it is, I'd like to think he knew the Pirates defeated the Reds on Friday night before passing away.

Bob was an extremely generous man, and he will be missed greatly. I feel bad that I hadn't talked with him recently or nearly as much as I should have over the past few years. Sure, life has been busier with the addition of a child, but I still should have talked to him significantly more than I did.

While I'll really excited about tonight's game, I'm sure there will be moments when I think of Bob.


Harvey said...

Great piece Sean. Sorry for your loss.

Christian said...

Very nice eulogy, and sorry about your cousin. He seems like a very cool guy.

And to answer your first question, your parent's cousins are your first cousins once removed. Any children that they have would be your second cousins.

Good luck in the playoffs. NY doesn't have a horse in this race, so I can say that and actually mean it.

Unknown said...

Hi Sean. Beautifully written. I may never get that scent of tire rubber out of my memory. Great seeing you last week.

PS, if Bob is your first cousin once removed, what am I, Bob's nephew? Gives me a headache thinking about it!

Sean said...

Thanks Harvey, Christian & David.

David - Since your dad and my mom are first cousins, I think that makes us second cousins.