In central & western Pennsylvania, there really isn’t a whole lot going on. People like it that way. If you don’t, you can get up and drive for two hours and catch a Pittsburgh Pirates game. That being said, I was always thankful that we had sports, no matter how far away they where…it was simply something fun to do around here. There was great fan loyalty that stretched across dozens of counties, towards Pittsburgh teams that brought home the trophies. I’ve seen many other people from across the globe feel this gratitude to their regional sports teams, offering undying devotion as payment. Many of us here possess this endless devotion. So much so that our team’s game-day fortune or, misfortune, will spell out how the rest of your day, or week (in some cases), will go. These were positive values to grow up, but the repetitive 2-hour travel time was a real bummer…never getting to see playoff games, and having to be happy only catching two games a season, if you’re lucky. Then, in 1999, it all changed…
In the late ‘90’s, a group of people from Altoona were able to obtain the Pittsburgh Double A baseball franchise. They built a beautiful, retro-style stadium in the parking lot I used during my first job at Lakemont Park, and dubbed our new team the “Altoona Curve”. This was officially the biggest sports event I had ever been a part of in this rural region.
The Curve dawned retro-style burgundy, green, black, & white sleeveless uniforms, used the same font as the Buccos, and required players to peg their pants just below the knee, just like the old days. From a designer’s perspective, they nailed it. The excitement of catching my first game at Blair County Ballpark in summer of ’99 was only trumped by the fact that they sold $5, 32 oz. Molson Canadian drafts. Oh boy.
Off and on for 15 years, I’ve sat right by the visitor’s dugout on the 3rd Base line, watching the sun go down behind the Skyliner rollercoaster, perched behind the right field wall. To me, it’s a little slice of heaven, which only takes me 4 minutes to get to.
But, any good story has a downside… the rain on the parade. In this case, the “rain” was the fact that the Curve were not helping the Pirates pull out of the basement, which they had been dwelling in since 1993. As a baseball fan, the choice seemed to be to either suffer for those 13 years by focusing on the crappy baseball, or enjoy the fact that you were spending a 75 degree summer night in a scenic-little ballpark, with a paper cone full of honey roasted Cashews. Personally, I kind of wavered in between those two feelings for all those years, never really being able to effectively dance between the two. Hindsight’s 20/20.
But, we prevailed, and started seeing players like Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez come through here. The Curve started winning, and so did the Pirates. For once, we were helping to make Pittsburgh baseball better. It made me very proud of living in Altoona, and reminded me why I focused my loyalty to our regional sports in the first place. It made all of that dedication worth it. Our growing town was actually helping the big city win. And for me, there was nothing like seeing a winner…in person.
*This Altoona Curve tribute tee is printed with two of the colors from the team's original colorway. I did my best to match their style, using specially mixed dark mint green plastisol ink to nicely contrast with a premium American Apparel burgundy fine jersey tee. These tees are incredibly soft, comfortable, and flexible, and have all of the great qualities you have come to expect from AA. Be sure to go one size up when ordering American Apparel tees if you wish to have a roomier fit.