Blass makes stop at Carnegie Free Library in Connellsville
By Laura Szepesi
Published: Sunday, July 15, 2012, 7:58 p.m.
Updated: Thursday, August 2, 2012
Just take a look at Steve Blass' face.
Chances are the former Pirates pitcher is smiling.
Not only is Blass announcing home games for the Pirates, he's also promoting a book about himself. Titled "Steve Blass: A Pirate for Life," the book is the complication of Blass and Erik Sherman. Blass will be at the Carnegie Free Library in Connellsville from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday to sign copies.
Blass, a native of Canaan, Conn., was signed by the Pirates in 1960. He debuted in the major leagues in 1964 and joined the Pirates permanently in 1966.
From there, Blass blasted skyward. He racked up a 103-76 record, including 896 strikeouts, earning a career 3.63 ERA over 1,597 innings.
In the 1971 World Series, Blass pitched two games, allowing only seven hits and two runs in 18 innings against the Baltimore Orioles. The Pirates -- considered the underdog -- won the series that year.
In 1972, Blass' record earned him a spot on the National League All-Star team.
Then he suddenly lost control of the ball.
In 1973 -- for no apparent reason, health-wise -- he couldn't pitch efficiently, walking 84 batters in less than 90 innings and striking out only 27. His ERA plummeted to 9.81.
Blass' book addresses his high points and low points with humor and humility. The title of its first chapter -- "They Name a Disease After Me" -- is wry proof of his self-deprecating humor. "Steve Blass" disease is described by several sources as the "inexplicable and permanent" disability when athletes lose their ability to properly throw the baseball.
Blass' book also includes memories about teammate Roberto Clemente, Pirates right fielder and Hall of Famer who perished in an airplane crash on Dec. 31, 1972. Clemente, who had been a member of the Pirates organization since 1955, was en route to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua when his plane went down.
Blass retired from pro ball in 1975, but it was never far away. He had other jobs, but in 1983 he became a part-time color commentator for the Pirates and became full time in 1986. In 2005, he opted to do only home games, which he continues to do on Root Sports.
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