Pittsburgh Pirates: A Pirate for Life review: Steve Blass tells his story


by Zachary Weiss

Despite being quite the storyteller, former Pittsburgh Pirate Steve Blass never put pen to paper when it came to writing a book. Surprisingly Blass was very apprehensive. It wasn’t until Tim Neverett joined the Pirates broadcasting team (of which Blass has been a part of for 26 years) that Blass even considered the option.

It was when co-author Erik Sherman met another Pirates broadcaster Greg Brown in the fall of 2010. Sherman, who previously wrote a book on Glenn Burke was suggested by Brown to make Blass the subject of his next book. It was only when Blass was told that he would be a co-author and it would be an autobiography when he decided that he wanted to take the project on.

Many people realize Blass for leaping into the arms of Manny Sanguillen after winning the 1979 World Series, however more seem to recognize him for his sudden fall from grace which is now known as “Steve Blass Disease”. This was what made the book so hard to write as Blass and his wife Karen would have to relive that difficult period in their lives.

You have to give Blass credit by starting his book “A Pirate For Life” by tackling the issue. Chapter one is the longest chapter in the book and called “They Named a Disease After Me” and discusses Blass’s sudden fall from grace. The way he tells the story really makes you feel like you are there, and many of Blass’s stories are that way. While the chapter was about a tough time in Blass’s life, he did mention numerous times that Pirates fans supported him, and of course Blass displayed his usual sense of humor, which is bound to make every Pirate fan laugh.

I have to be honest, that I did not quite know what to expect from Blass’s book but I knew that it would be a great story because that’s just how Blass is. The book does go into great detail about Blass’s relationship with “The Great One” Roberto Clemente and how he had to give the speech at his funeral. That chapter “The Clemente Mystique” personally was my favorite chapter in the book and it showed Clemente’s progression and how his personality transformed. Blass’s anecdote about being on a plane with Clemente shortly after winning the 1971 World Series was touching. When Clemente said, “Blass, come here. Let me embrace you”, you felt the warmth and how the two had developed a great respect and friendship.

Blass also handled a very tough subject in his relationship with his wife Karen. It was great to see Blass admit his flaws and how he changed in order to stay with her. Love was an underlying theme whether it was the brotherhood of all of his teammates or his wife, and both were featured throughout the book.

Blass also discusses his post-playing days and what he did before becoming a broadcaster which was interesting. He also discussed the call fans have asked him about which was Pedro Alvarez’s walkoff home run to defeat the Colorado Rockies in 2010 where he went absolutely nuts.

The book is an absolute must for any Pirates fan, but comes with a warning. There is a lot of profanity in this book, however in this instance it makes the story flow and is more natural. It also makes the story much more genuine. Blass has always been a very personable guy and makes time for the fans. The book is a great read, and covers tons of stories in the voice of Steve Blass which is worth the money itself.

Review: 5/5

Basic Info: A Pirate for Life by Steve Blass with Erik Sherman

Triumph Books

256 pages

Will be released May 1, 2012

List price: $25.95

Amazon price: $15.44