For more than a decade, sporting any clothing that had a Pittsburgh Pirates logo on it marked a show of support for a team unlikely to succeed.
Pittsburgh was horrible, with a losing record for years. The Pirates had missed the playoffs every year since they reached the National League championship in 1992.
"It was hard to be a fan of a team that's that bad for that long," said Colin Harris of Red Lion. "It was kind of like having a dirty little secret. Most fans just hanged their heads."
That somber mood gave way to jubilation last week as the Pirates reached the playoffs when they secured a wild card spot.
Now the team will start October and its hunt for a World Series title when it plays the Cincinnati Reds at home on Tuesday.
Prayers answered: For some fans, the team's success was unexpected.
"I can be honest and say at the beginning of the season I didn't expect to make the playoffs," said Amber Patton, who lives in Mount Joy but works at the Pullo Center at Penn State York. "I was hoping and praying to the baseball gods that we might finally break the sub .500 streak."
Now that Patton's prayers were not only answered but exceeded, she said she's unsure what the postseason holds but is hopeful the Pirates can advance.
At times the team's pitching can be dead on and accurate, but other times it can be deathly scary and nerve-wracking to watch.
"There is some inconsistency with this team. But we just need to do what every other team needs to do to succeed in the playoffs - good solid pitching and run support," Patton said.
Long time coming: Former state representative and current state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale was in his last year of college the last time the Pirates made the playoffs.
A native of Pittsburgh, DePasquale, whose grandfather was head usher at Forbes Field, the Pirates' home field from 1909 to 1970, has a number of fond memories attending games.
But for years a lot of the memories of the Pirates were better off being forgotten.
"My son is a baseball fan, and he's never seen the Pirates in the playoffs," DePasquale said.
Mike Kostic, who grew up near Pittsburgh but now lives in Windsor Township, also said postseason baseball is a long time coming for Pirates' fans.
"I've been waiting since middle school to see that happen," Kostic said. "I'm delighted they've come this far."
With a sound team and one of the best regular season records in the National League, DePasquale said this could be the start of a number of playoff appearances for the Bucs.
"Their pitching is good enough to compete with anybody," he said. "Hopefully, we'll get to do this a couple more times."
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