By SUSAN JONES
While the pandemic has made 2020 difficult for everyone, Lisa Pilewski is grateful she can still go into her office at the Clinical and Translational Science Institute in Forbes Tower a few days a week — not just to see a few of her coworkers, but also to visit her always growing collection of Pittsburgh Pirates memorabilia.
“COVID has been rough, but it’s kind of built a lot of gratitude in me too, like, ‘Oh my gosh, I actually really love my job and, … wow, I’m still employed, and I work for good people and we’re doing good things, still accomplishing things,’ ” said Pilewski, who works as administrator for Steven Reis, director of CTSI and associate senior vice chancellor for Clinical and Translational Research, Health Sciences.
She’s also grateful that Reis doesn’t mind her covering the walls and shelves of her office with Bucco gear. “He comes from New York, but he’s been here in Pittsburgh for a while, so I kind of won him over to the black and gold.”
The collection includes several shelfs of bobbleheads, an umbrella, a nightlight, game tickets, books about baseball and the Pirates, baseballs, and photos. Her favorite item might just be a photo of Roberto Clemente that she got for $3 at a garage sale.
“He represented, so much good — on and off the field, obviously. That’s how he lost his life just giving back to others,” said Pilewski, who was a too young when the star outfielder died in 1972 to remember him playing. Clemente perished in a plane crash while taking supplies to Nicaragua after an earthquake. “And I just think when I look at his face, I just think, ‘Wow he he’s the whole package — the good man and the good player and the unbelievable talent.’ ”
And while the office décor is almost all Pirates related, a few other teams make an appearance. There’s a bobblehead of Steelers running back James Conner from when he was playing for the Panthers, and one from the Cleveland Indians, which became her second favorite team when her daughter was at school in the Ohio city. There also are baseballs from other major league teams that friends and family have given her.
Pilewski usually makes it to about 10 games a season and said it was difficult this summer not being able to go to PNC Park to catch a game. She even went down the Millvale Trail one nice Friday evening and tried to watch a game from the Clemente Bridge. The view wasn’t very good, but it was nice to be around fellow fans, she said.
She already has April 8 — the home opener — marked on her calendar. And despite the Pirates’ ongoing struggles, Pilewski, who first became a fan during the 1979 World Series-winning season, said, “I’m 54 years old, and I’m hoping before I die I see another championship season. I have to remain hopeful.”
Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-244-4042.
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