Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Why Pittsburgh Remains My Home Plate

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Why Pittsburgh Remains My Home Plate

Article excerpt

Thomas Wolfe was wrong. You can go home again. And when you do, you can feel as though you had never left. I'm not sure it's true everywhere, but it is in Pittsburgh. I know, because it happened to me at the Pirates game last Sunday at PNC Park, when I stood on the mound to throw out a first pitch.

I am part of the first big wave of the Pittsburgh Diaspora: a fifth-generation Yinzer who left the city after college in the early 1970s because challenging job opportunities were few.

Close family ties remain, including my mother, Jean L. Fineman. But I pursued a career and built my own family in Washington, D.C.

Time and distance have given me perspective on Pittsburgh. I am fully aware that there are deep problems in the Tri-State area and that nostalgia and memory cloud clear-eyed realism.

And yet my appreciation has deepened for what the city offered in my youth and for what it has now become. I've traveled America and the world for decades, and I've concluded that there was no better place for a kid to grow up, and that the same may well be true today.

The scope and strength of Pittsburgh's civic institutions, public and private, remain remarkable for a city of its size. Culturally and geographically, Pittsburgh is neither here nor there: not quite East, Midwest or South. It was and still is a region unto itself, with its own language to match.

We are united by a leveling spirit - Pittsburghers acknowledge, but don't worship, big shots - and by an us-against-the-world chip on our shoulders. If I have heard it once, I have heard it a thousand times: "If [name your sports star] were playing in New York, they'd be a bigger star than ."

The hills, valleys and bridges keep the neighborhoods intact (not always for the better), and the ethnic groups within them, and the clubs within the groups. My club at Allderdice High School, the Marquis (don't laugh), was founded in the mid-1960s. Most of us don't live in Pittsburgh, but we still are in touch almost daily via an email thread maintained by our former president. …

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