Good morning friends, and a happy Memorial Day weekend to one and all. Take a moment today to thank a veteran for everything they’ve done for you. We may have a new definition today for heroism, but these men and women deserve to lose no attention or gratitude.
Now for today’s remembrance of the game we love, in the city we cherish.
Song of Lacy – 05-24-1984 – “Then Lee said unto the masses, surely you still covet thine previous right fielder and deny my contributions.
The Spring of 1984 and the legendary rivalry of the seventies between the Big Red Machine and the Famalee were becoming a distant memory. Sure, there were holdovers, but the teams were evolving. In 1979 the Pirates brought in veteran outfielder Lee Lacy from the Dodgers to provide them much needed depth. He filled that role exactly as the Bucs had hoped and when the Pirates allowed Dave Parker to reach free agency Lacy was given a heavier workload.
Dave Parker signed with the Reds in the preceding off season to the chagrin of everyone who bleeds black and gold. Nobody wants to lose a player like Parker but to the Reds was like twisting the knife a bit. When Parker and his Red Legs came to Three Rivers Stadium some fans openly pined for Parker to still be in his rightful place patrolling right field, but Mr. Lacy was the unlucky man to replace a legend.
With one out in the bottom of the first Lee stepped to the plate against Joe Price even as some fans were surely trying to get Dave’s attention from the outfield bleachers and belted a fastball over the wall to give the Bucs an early lead. One that would stand as the Pirates took the game 5-1.
As 1984 played out something became clear, Lee Lacy was a pretty good replacement.
Lee Lacy – 138 G, 520 PA, 66 R, 152 H, 26 2B, 12 HR, 70 RBI, 32 BB, .321 BA
Dave Parker – 156 G, 655 PA, 73 R, 173, 28 2B, 16 HR, 94 RBI, 41 BB, .285 BA
Lee himself would be granted free agency the following season as the Pirates continued the downhill climb to total rebuild. For one day in May, Lee Lacy looked every bit what the team needed and today reminds fans there was a time in baseball when moving a veteran didn’t necessarily mean trusting a rookie to step right in.
My friends, players will come and go throughout the time we spend following a club. Sometimes the player who remains or comes in to fill the role is unfairly compared to the icon who left. We must remember that evolution is part of team building, sometimes that hurts as your favorite player leaves town, but it’s never the replacements fault. The player stepping in has worked just as hard to get to this point as the last player you loved, and maybe, just maybe, as Lee Lacy did, he’ll come through and show the faith placed in him by the club was not misguided.
The following year Barry Bonds was drafted number 6 overall by the Pirates as they needed to find a more permanent solution at corner outfielder, but for one season Lacy showed we would find our way through the loss of Parker and his bridge to the future in 1984 eased the loss of a superstar in the city that beloved him.