Perfect gift may seem unusual
Trudging through a shopping mall in search of a gift when you have no idea what you’re looking for is a trip through purgatory.
Some people have a knack for picking the right gift. They not only know the recipient’s likes, but spend time in the selection. With forethought, they purchase gifts long before the deadline.
My daughter, Sarah, is one of those people. She doesn’t buy 10 of the same thing and give them to every person on her list at Christmas.
Sarah’s gifts are often the ideal thing that you didn’t know you wanted or never dreamed to request.
My wife, Mary, just proved she too has that ability. In fact, when I told my older son what Mary was giving me for my birthday, he said, “That’s the best gift anybody has ever given you.”
For my birthday, Mary gave me a trip to Pittsburgh.
Those who think that’s a weird gift don’t know that Pittsburgh is no longer the city of steel mill soot. It’s a place of beautiful rivers, hills and architecture that makes a great vacation destination.
People who raise their eyebrows at the gift also don’t know me well.
They don’t know that if asked who I am, one of my first answers would be “a Pittsburgh Pirate fan.”
I’ve followed the Pirates through three world championships and then through 19 consecutive losing seasons.
Though frustrated at times, my allegiance to the team has not wavered since Bill Mazeroski drove a walk-off home run over the left field fence of Forbes Field in 1960 to win the World Series.
Though I’d seen the Pirates play dozens of times in Houston and other cities, I’d never been to Pittsburgh.
Mary’s gift to me included tickets to four Pirate games, but before we entered PNC Park (so named for a financial services company) for the first time, we visited my personal Mecca.
We paid homage at the University of Pittsburgh to Forbes Field. Inside one of the university’s halls, home plate is visible in the floor.
Nearby, is a memorial to Mazeroski’s homer.
More than 400 feet away, stands the portion of brick wall over which the homer sailed as Yogi Berra watched helplessly. Much of the wall is encased in ivy, but distance markers remain clear.
It’s a site to which some fans go to listen to Pirate games on the radio.
It felt like hallowed ground.
As moving as standing by that wall, was the fact that my wife cared enough to take me to it.
What’s even more remarkable is that from the time she arranged the trip, she somehow managed for the Pirates to rise from a losing record to 11 games over .500 and into first place in the National League Central Division. Somehow Mary also arranged for them to win three of the four games we attended.
She’s an amazing woman, who knows how to give her husband the perfect gift.
Advocate Florida Parishes bureau chief Bob Anderson welcomes comments by email to banderson@the