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Up close and personal

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle (right) and David Miles, CEO of The Children's Institute, cut the ribbon for a new exercise room at the facility. (Sidney Davis/Trib photo)

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle (right) and David Miles, CEO of The Children's Institute, cut the ribbon for a new exercise room at the facility. (Sidney Davis/Trib photo)

I’ve always thought the best thing about the annual Winter Caravan is that it allows fans to get more of an up-close-and-personal look at the Pirates. On the field, they’re pitchers and fielders, all wearing identical uniforms and usually trying hard to keep their emotions in check. But on the Caravan, they’re real people who do ordinary, wonderful and sometimes silly things. You get to see Andrew McCutchen being a human beat-box, James McDonald and Daniel McCutchen shooting hoops, and Evan Meek frantically stacking paper cups in a race against a fifth-grader. One longtime Caravan veteran tells of his group running through the streets of Johnstown late one night in a snowstorm, yelling, “Hello, bowling alley!” “Hello, drugstore!” just like that famous scene in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Today, when the Caravan pulled into The Children’s Institute in Squirrel Hill, I saw manager Clint Hurdle nearly overcome by emotion. It was Hurdle’s third visit this year to The Institute, which has the premier program in the world for patients with Prader-Willi Syndrome. Through Hurdle’s “Wins for Kids” program, he and Pirates Charities raised $54,000, half of which went to The Children’s Institute. Hurdle’s daughter, Maddie, has PWS and as he spoke of the challenges and the joys of being her father, his voice caught in his throat. That was a real moment. That taught me more about Hurdle — what kind of man he is — than I’d learn from a hundred press conferences and post-game briefings.

»»» The Pirates signed reliever Ryota Igarashi, 32, to a minor league contract, though the deal has not yet been announced. The right-hander pitched in 79 games over the past two years with the Mets and put up a 5.74 ERA and 1.71 WHIP. … First baseman Steve Pearce, whom the Pirates cut loose a few weeks ago, signed a minor league deal with the Twins.

30 Comments

  1. Were any of the kids smart enough to ask Hurdle why he has such a piss-poor team?

  2. I think Hurdle got choked up when he thought about the lousy team he’ll have to manage next season.

  3. I just want to thank Clint Hurdle for coming to the day school. My daughter Brianna dosen’t have an easy life. Its nice to know some people think of those who have been sick their whole lives. They gave her something that I could never do. God bless

  4. Hurdle is a big blowhard like the rest of the organization.

  5. Before Fat Pedro talks about being a Hall of Fame third baseman, he might want to be the best third baseman on his team first.

  6. The Buccos are going to sign Reyes!

    Wait — it’s Jo-Jo Reyes?

    Oh, never mind.

  7. Yeah, I get choked up every time I remember what the Pirates were years ago and what they are now.

  8. I would rather stick a sharp object into my eye than attend Pirate Fest.

  9. Sorry to see Steve go, he never could stay healthy to get a real shot.

  10. Hurdle lied. He gave Cedeno a vote of confidence last September.

  11. Hurdle is a hot air balloon. Everyone knows that. Look at his record.

  12. We’re supposed to get excited because of Clint Barmes? The Pirates must think Pittsburgh fans are deaf, dumb and blind.

  13. My kid wanted to go to Pirate Fest this week. I said no way. Let’s save our money for the Steelers plsyoff game. He had a big smile on his face. Priceless!

  14. I wish I could get excited about the Pirates, but what’s there to get excited about? This team is years away from being a contender, maybe decades. .

  15. Guess how many home runs Fats Alvarez hit at PNC Park last season?

    None! That’s right — zippo! And the man still has a job. Only in Pittsburgh . . .

  16. Hurdle should give back to the community even more. Dude hasn’t won anything and is a frickin’ millionaire.

  17. Wow! you guys are real winners here! A man raises $ for kids and all you guys can do is bash him about his job?? Classy!

  18. Does anyone know when Pirate Fest starts?

  19. All you need to know about the 2012 Buccos: Fats Alvarez will be our turdbaseman again.

  20. The Reds will rule the Central next season. Unless the Cubs reel in H. Ramirez and Fielder, that is. Buccos and Astros in a fight for fifth place.

  21. We just stole Anderson Hernandez!

  22. Alvarez looks overweight and out of shape again. Why don’t the Pirates monitor this in the off-season?

  23. Barmes had a .698 OPS and 4.48 chances/nine innings.
    Cedeno had a .636 OPS and 5.04 chances/nine innings.

    Is this really a significant upgrade? Or is this Hurdle taking care of one his former players again?

  24. Hurdle should give back to the community even more. Dude is a millionaire.

  25. Hey, Frank Coonelly, how’s that “dynasty” coming?

  26. Lady Di, Great point. Hurdle did nothing to earn his lifestyle. He got lucky in the gene pool.

  27. Cutch lost hope and interest in the last two months of the season. Who wouldn’t playing with those chumps?

  28. Is it just me, or does Huntington look like he gained a lot of weight and a lot of years this off-season? He looks awful — a lot like his team come to think of it.

  29. Gabe — Think Huntington gives a rat’s rear end? He’s a millionaire do-nothing like the rest of them.

  30. While Beertemple is having fun at his in-law’s house, there hasn’t been a Pirates blog in two weeks. Nice to see the Tribune-Review Country Club is alive and well.

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