Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Why ‘That’s Amore’ is The Perfect Walk-Up Song for Cervelli

Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli has become loved by fans and teammates alike — and the feeling is mutual.




photos courtesy of pittsburgh pirates

 

If you find yourself crouching behind the plate while wearing Yankee pinstripes, it might be wise to invest in some Pittsburgh real estate.

Since 2012, three catchers have moved from New York to the Pittsburgh Pirates. In a sharp change from the days of the Bucs’ long losing streak, they were not Yankee castoffs picked up by a struggling club; all three have become fixtures in the Pirates’ roster.

Russell Martin played two seasons in Pittsburgh, highlighted by his performance in the 2013 Wild Card game against Cincinnati; the backstop belted two home runs, aiding the Pirates in their first playoff victory in decades. Chris Stewart is entering his third season as the team’s backup catcher; last year, he posted a .289 average through appearances in more than a third of the team’s games, an impressive contribution for a bench player.

And Francisco Cervelli, about to begin his second campaign as Pittsburgh’s everyday catcher, batted .295 in 2015.

Is there some magic in that flight from New York to Pittsburgh?

“It’s a different atmosphere,” Cervelli says. “In both cities, you’re there to play, and the people love it. But the good thing about the fans in Pittsburgh, they’re really intense in a positive way. They just want to see the team win.”

​Cervelli, born in Venezuela to an Italian father and Venezuelan mother, exudes pride in both nations — an easy way to win hearts in an immigrant-rich city such as Pittsburgh. PNC Park routinely erupts in cheers at the sound of Cervelli’s unconventional walk-up music; in a league where most batters choose to approach the plate to modern pop or hip-hop tracks, Cervelli has opted for Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore.” (Cervelli confirms his theme song will not change this season.)

“I had no expectations coming to Pittsburgh; the first month-and-a-half, I used to walk to the field every day and nothing happened,” Cervelli says. “After that, it started changing; people recognize you on the street. It was a good feeling, man. People support you; you see the jerseys outside with your last name. That’s something special.”

Pirates pitchers have embraced Cervelli as strongly as the team’s fans, owing to the catcher’s strong defensive skills — last year, he led the National League in assists by a catcher, with 82, and maintained a .994 fielding percentage — and his ability to call the game.

“He takes time to learn each individual guy,” says Pirates closer Mark Melancon. “His understanding of each pitcher’s mentality helps Francisco be a great game caller.”

Such praise doesn’t come lightly from Melancon, who in 2015 established a new single-season save record for the Pirates, with 51, and was named the National League’s Reliever of the Year. Clearly, Cervelli is a catcher who gives his pitchers a good chance to win.



 

Cervelli defers to his battery mates when asked why he is held in such high regard. “I think you have to ask the pitchers — I don’t have that answer,” he says. “What I can tell you is the way I learned at the position is that you do everything for [the] pitchers. Out there, they are your best friends ... Just let them know that someone is behind [the plate] to protect them.”

The Pirates enter 2016 having won 98 games last season; they haven’t won more than that in a single year since 1909. Yet the legacy of 2015 is a crushing defeat at the hands of the Chicago Cubs on Oct. 7 in the National League Wild Card Game. The last at-bats by those 98-win Pirates were spent swinging helplessly at a barrage of fireballs delivered by Cubs hurler Jake Arrieta, who allowed only five hits in a complete-game shutout. (To his credit, one of those five hits was Cervelli’s.)

Does the specter of that demoralizing loss hang over the Pirates’ clubhouse as the 2016 season dawns?

“I don’t think you can shake off that game,” Cervelli admits. But the task at hand is clear, he says. “You just take the positive side from that — and work harder. And do anything you can to make it happen this year.”  
 

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Amazon Includes Pittsburgh in its Top-20 List for HQ2

The list of 20 was narrowed from 238 proposals Amazon received in October. So which other cities made the cut?

Restaurant Review: or, The Whale

The Downtown restaurant is a captivating, if costly, catch.

Celebrating 5 Pittsburghers Who Built Careers Behind the Bar

Pittsburgh is a city that celebrates its neighborhood bars. In some of those spots, second- and third-generation regulars are pulling up their stools to be served by someone who started pouring drinks decades ago.

Second Chances: Crossroads in the Kitchen

People working to overcome substance abuse problems and ex-offenders discover a welcoming environment in restaurant kitchens.

How to Pamper Yourself in Pittsburgh

Looking to beat the winter doldrums? We round up the best places and experiences for a little personal indulgence.

Miss Pusadee's Garden? We Have Some Good News.

The Tongdee family now operates Burgh Thai in Verona.

The Growing Popularity of Shooting a Clay Pigeon

Skeet shooting is taking off as a favored western Pennsylvania hobby.

Steelers' No. 1 Problem Makes Others Pale in Comparison

Until they solve it, the Steelers are more of a Fantasy League team than they are a Super Bowl team.

New series ‘$1’ to be filmed in Pittsburgh

The mystery thriller is latest to cash in on the city’s filming opportunities.

Andrew McCutchen: Thanks for the Memories

It's hard to overemphasize McCutchen's impact on the Pirates and its fan base.

How to Make a Mt. Washington Wedding Proposal Even Better

A lot of grooms-to-be propose on Mt. Washington. Not many decorate beforehand.

Bitter End’s Chicken Dinner Fundraiser

Chefs Becca Hegarty and Rick Easton to cook comfort food to help Hegarty’s mother.

Former Art Institute Housing to Be Converted into Condos

Downtown is booming as plans develop for yet another new apartment building.

Big Ben Not Ready to Retire –– But He's Making Plans

Ben Roethlisberger will do as many former athletes have and start the next phase of his career with a dining venture.

The Post is Quite Good, I, Tonya is Even Better

Reviews of "The Post," "I, Tonya" and "The Commuter," plus local movie news and notes.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Amazon Includes Pittsburgh in its Top-20 List for HQ2

Amazon Includes Pittsburgh in its Top-20 List for HQ2

The list of 20 was narrowed from 238 proposals Amazon received in October. So which other cities made the cut?

Comments

New series ‘$1’ to be filmed in Pittsburgh

New series ‘$1’ to be filmed in Pittsburgh

The mystery thriller is latest to cash in on the city’s filming opportunities.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Miss Pusadee's Garden? We Have Some Good News.

Miss Pusadee's Garden? We Have Some Good News.

The Tongdee family now operates Burgh Thai in Verona.

Comments

Bitter End’s Chicken Dinner Fundraiser

Bitter End’s Chicken Dinner Fundraiser

Chefs Becca Hegarty and Rick Easton to cook comfort food to help Hegarty’s mother.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best of the ‘Burgh Gift Guide for 2017

Best of the ‘Burgh Gift Guide for 2017

Here are some of our favorite ‘Burgh-inspired gifts for him, her, kids, foodies and more.

Comments

Meet the Winner of Our 2017 Cutest Pet Contest

Meet the Winner of Our 2017 Cutest Pet Contest

The winner received the most votes among five dogs, four cats and a bunny.

Comments


Tequila Cowboy: Fine For Some, Apparently a Bad Idea for Others

Tequila Cowboy: Fine For Some, Apparently a Bad Idea for Others

The bar, which hosted a bizarre incident involving a top Steelers coach, is fine enough for the post-collegiate set.

Comments

Five Essential January Events in Pittsburgh

Five Essential January Events in Pittsburgh

Country crooners, unsung pop icons, on-ice acrobatics and more winter warmers.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Steelers' No. 1 Problem Makes Others Pale in Comparison

Steelers' No. 1 Problem Makes Others Pale in Comparison

Until they solve it, the Steelers are more of a Fantasy League team than they are a Super Bowl team.

Comments

Steelers Must Avoid ‘Captain Ahab’ Approach to the Jaguars

Steelers Must Avoid ‘Captain Ahab’ Approach to the Jaguars

The Patriots are to the Steelers what Moby Dick was to Captain Ahab and that kind of obsession can backfire.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The Post is Quite Good, I, Tonya is Even Better

The Post is Quite Good, I, Tonya is Even Better

Reviews of "The Post," "I, Tonya" and "The Commuter," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments

Documentary Week at Row House Brings Fresh, Invigorating Films

Documentary Week at Row House Brings Fresh, Invigorating Films

Reviews of "Rat Film" and "Big Sonia," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
How to Make a Mt. Washington Wedding Proposal Even Better

How to Make a Mt. Washington Wedding Proposal Even Better

A lot of grooms-to-be propose on Mt. Washington. Not many decorate beforehand.

Comments

These Elaborate Proposals Were Sure to Get a “Yes”

These Elaborate Proposals Were Sure to Get a “Yes”

Thinking of popping the question? Take a note from these grooms-to-be who set the bar high.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Former Art Institute Housing to Be Converted into Condos

Former Art Institute Housing to Be Converted into Condos

Downtown is booming as plans develop for yet another new apartment building.

Comments

Lesson Learned: How Design Changed a North Allegheny Classroom

Lesson Learned: How Design Changed a North Allegheny Classroom

Frustrated by his sterile white classroom, teacher Greg Geibel earned an A+ from students when he transformed the space into something resembling a modern coffeehouse.

Comments