The Pirates took their show throughout the tri-state are of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia this past week. The region that I like to call “my home.” The Youngstown-Pittsburgh-Morgantown area is where I’ve grown up and have many memories throughout.
Neil Walker. Perhaps, the most famed Bucco currently on the roster, Walker is a hot commodity. A majority of the people at the Uniontown Mall were prepared with cards and photos of Walker while wearing his jersey. A notorious stand up guy Walker was everything and more. Complimentary to everyone who came out and honored by my congratulations to him.
While December remains the “most wonderful time of the year,” this week in January isn’t far behind.
If you were anything like me growing up there was always a few days throughout the year that we looked forward to most. Christmas, Birthdays and Opening Day go without saying, but there was always a time, usually in mid-January, when Youngstown, OH would get a little nutty. The world famous Harlem Globetrotters would pay a visit to YSU’s Beeghly for their famous act.
After being picked up by the Pirates with the No. 1 pick in 1996 he ended his career nearly 14 years later with a record of 70-75 and an ERA of 4.42. He had just one 10 win season in his injury laden career.
He left Pittsburgh in 2004 when he was traded to the Mets in exchange for Jose Bautista. Benson faltered even more with another elbow injury in New York and from 2006 on he spent time in Baltimore and Texas but never amounted to even the miniscule success he found in Pittsburgh. It was reported that Benson was toying with the idea of signing with the Arizona Diamondbacks at the end of 2010 but the 36 year old felt it was in his best interest to offcially retire from baseball.
I don’t blame him.
The dissapointing career might not totally be his fault, though. Perhaps the only mistake he made was the fact that he agreed to sign with the Pirates back in ’96. He was just another pawn in the losing chess game otherwise known as the Pirates in the MLB draft.
Let’s start back in 1992, the last winning season for Pittsburgh and look year by year at the first round picks for the Bucs.
1992: Jason Kendall
1993: Charles Peterson
1994: Mark Farris
1995: Chad Hermansen
1996: Kris Benson
1997: J.J. Davis
1998: Clint Johnson
1999: Bobby Bradley
2000: Sean Burnett
2001: John Van Benschoten
2002: Bryan Bullington
2003: Paul Maholm
2004: Neil Walker
2005: Andrew McCutchen
2006: Brad Lincoln
2007: Daniel Moskos
2008: Pedro Alvarez
2009: Tony Sanchez
2010: Jameson Tailon
Four of those players are on the current Pirates roster, four spent ever-so bried stints in Pittsburgh, three look to be major pieces in building the next wave of successful baseball in the Steel City, one had a fruitful major league career, one currently is sweeping the bullpens in Washington and the rest probably haven’t been heard from since draft day.
Even though the Pirates, as well as Benson, have been losers for nearly two decades there is something Kris has that very few others do.
A lingerie model.
photo credits: foxsports.com, si.com
Last spring the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown welcomed me with open arms for a glorious day.