The Pirates have a video tribute planned for baseball’s new HR king tonight, and the Beaver County Times’ John Steigerwald, quoting judiciously from Jeff Pearlman’s “Love Me, Hate Me”, encourages his readers to boo the heck out of Barry Bonds. “Not because of Henry Aaron,” writes Steigerwald. “Not because of the steroids or even the female fertility drugs or the head the size of a Volkswagen. Boo him for Paul Scott and Joseph Lang.”
They were the long-time groundskeepers at PNC Park and Three Rivers Stadium who were killed by a drunk driver on their way to prepare PNC Park for opening day in April of 2002. They were both well known and well liked not only by the Pirates players but many of the players on visiting teams. They were also well liked by the photographers who work in the area next to the Pirates’ dugout.
Not long after they died, Peter Diana, a photographer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, got together with a group of people who knew Lang and Scott and decided to raise money for their families.
They figured it would be easy to get Pirates players and visiting players to autograph memorabilia and raise money by auctioning the items. All the players who were asked to cooperate did so without hesitation.
When Diana approached Bonds, who had known both Lang and Scott, and told him about the auction and asked him to sign a few items, he said, “I don’t sign for nobody.”
That’s why Diana is quoted on the inside cover of the book, “Love Me Hate Me: Barry Bonds And The Making Of An Anti-Hero.” Diana’s quote: “Personally, I hope he (Bonds) dies.”
The Pirates know about Diana’s story and they know about the quote. They also know that’s only one of many similar stories about Bonds. One of the biggest misconceptions in western Pennsylvania is that the media dislike Bonds because of the way he treated them. Most in the media despise him because they’ve witnessed and have been privy to information about so many of the rotten things that he has done.
Please keep Scott, Lang and their families in mind if you’re at the game and it’s time to make the decision whether to stand and applaud or sit down and boo.
The Pirates should have been decent enough and smart enough to remember them before they decided to spend one second acknowledging Bonds. This is a guy who wouldn’t be worthy of anybody’s applause if he had hit 7,000 home runs.
This is also a guy who played awfully well for a team that hasn’t sniffed .500 in the 15 seasons since he left town. But there’s only so much space for a creative sort like Steigerwald to question the character of every player who ever blew off an autograph request, so why not single out the most successful?