Happy 80th Birthday to Pittsburgh PA native and Pittsburgh Pirates trainer Tony Bartirome!
In 1952, Branch Rickey held a special camp for Pirates prospects in the low minor leagues. Bartirome impressed enough people there that he was called up to the bigs as the Bucs regular first baseman. His baseball career was soon interrupted by military service, but he returned to play another 9 seasons in the minors. A hamstring injury ended his playing days, but he was soon hired as a trainer – a position for which he had no prior training and learned on the job. He spent the next 18 seasons in the Pirates training room. Although he left the Bucs in 1985 to join Chuck Tanner in Atlanta, he will always be a beloved member of the Pittsburgh Pirates family.
Tony was a terrific interview for the film, speaking candidly about the Pirates championship years in the early 70s, especially about his lifelong friendship with Dock. He discusses Dock in this LA Times article from 2008:
“I sit in the stands at 9:30 every morning, all by myself, and look for another Dock Ellis and Willie Stargell.”