Andrew McCutchen: Thanks for the Memories
It's hard to overemphasize McCutchen's impact on the Pirates and its fan base.
Photos by Dave Arrigo, courtesy of the Pittsburgh Pirates
May 11 is going to be a tough day for Pirates fans. That's when they will next see Andrew McCutchen at PNC Park, only this time in a San Francisco Giants uniform. It's hard to imagine.
McCutchen is part of a shrinking cadre of players who –– as Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington said –– won back the hearts of “that lost generation of fans.” After two decades of losing, they believed in Buctober.
McCutchen came to the Pirates in the first round of the 2005 draft. Eight years later he was the National League’s Most Valuable player.
On Oct. 1, 2013, McCutchen and the Pirates played the team’s most meaningful October game in 20 years before a sold-out, standing-room only crowd that shook PNC Park to its core. McCutchen’s mother, Petrina, even sang the national anthem and the crowd enthusiastically joined in.
PHOTO COURTESY PITTSBURGH PIRATES VIA KEITH SRAKOCIC/AP
The victory that night over the Cincinnati Reds would be the apex of the Pirates rise from irrelevance. They returned to the Wild Card game in the two succeeding seasons but lost both contests.
McCutchen’s final season as a Pirate was not his best, yet he remained a fan favorite. He married a western Pennsylvania native, Maria, and named his baby Steel.
PHOTOS BY NATALIE MORRIS
Off the field, McCutchen made headlines for all the right reasons. He won the 2015 Roberto Clemente Award for humanitarian service. He is stylish, urbane and clearly has a sense of humor. When he cut his hair for the first time in eight years, he donated the locks to charity.
His athletic abilities stretched beyond baseball, even attracting the attention of Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.
But as McCutchen moved closer to free agency eligibility, talk of a trade increased.
“During informal conversations it became pretty clear that it was going to be very hard for us to meet what he deserves and be able to build a championship team around him,” Huntington said in a news conference Monday night to announce McCutchen’s departure to the Giants.
In other words, because of the economics of baseball, the Pirates could no longer afford the face of their franchise.
No hard feelings from McCutchen, who issued a classy farewell on social media.
Pittsburgh.My Home.My Fans.My City. The place that raised me and helped mold me into the man I am today. You will 4ever be in my heart. A tip of the cap to all who have been on this journey with me. With Love and respect,— andrew mccutchen (@TheCUTCH22) January 15, 2018
Back at ya Cutch.