Pittsburgh Pirates honor Mercy nun as ‘Fan of the Game’

Andrew McCutcheon of the Pittsburgh Pirates greets Mercy Sister Mary Bride Diamond at PNC Park in Pittsburgh April 5. McCutcheon and other players signed a baseball, glove and posed for photos with Sister Mary Bride, who was recognized for her athletic a ccomplishments as a youth, loyalty to the Pirates and service to the community as a Sister of Mercy. (CNS photo/Gary Loncki, Sisters of Mercy)

 

The Arizona Diamondbacks are amid a three-game home series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. That means local fans are learning a little more about the east coast players as they check out the latest stats on the jumbotron or in the program.

Catholic News Service tipped readers off to a profile about one of its fans, one whose last name, “Diamond,” is synonymous with the game she loves and the game for which she was once drafted. The Pirates honored Mercy Sister Mary Bride Diamond as its “Fan of the Game” on opening day April 5. She was granted a seat right next to the dugout.

Here is what Gary Loncki wrote as players started to fill the dugout:

Sister Mary Bride was in uniform, too. Her official home jersey, given to her by the major league team, boldly proclaimed her name across the back: “Diamond.” Underneath that, she wore a black, Pirates’ jersey, courtesy of her niece, Victoria Curran, bearing the name “Bride” across the back and a black Pirate shirt, a gift from a group of Secular Franciscans.

Her eyes grew wide as third-baseman Pedro Alvarez was the first player to pay her a visit. Then came second-baseman Neil Walker followed by centerfielder Andrew McCutchen. Each kissed her on the cheek, chatted and autographed her mitt and several baseballs before posing with her for photos.

“This is just so wonderful. I can’t believe it!” she said as the Pirates honored one of their most loyal fans. Team president Frank Coonelly; Bob Nutting, the Pirates’ principal owner, and Greg Brown, Pirates play-by-play announcer visited, too.

A lifelong Pirate fan, Sister Mary Bride is no stranger to baseball. In the 1940s, she proved herself to be quite a ballplayer in the Pittsburgh area. In fact, a professional girls’ baseball team wanted to sign her to a contract. However, she had to finish high school first, causing her to miss the opportunity of signing with a team.

Once graduated, she worked for a department store and eventually found her way to the Sisters of Mercy. But she continued to follow the Pirates.

Her story went to the Sisters of Mercy news magazine last fall and spread to Catholic News Service and the local diocesan newspaper. Brown, the Pirates’ announcer, read part of that story to a crowd of nearly 40,000 fans. He said the Pirates were recognizing her for her baseball career, loyalty to the Pirates and service to the Pittsburgh community as a Sister of Mercy. The article continued:

  Once formally introduced, Sister Mary Bride, smiling broadly, pumped her arms into the air several times, responding to a thunderous ovation. Fans — including Mercy sisters, family and friends in the stands — watched the ceremony on the Jumbotron screen that towered over centerfield. Back at the convent, sisters and staff watching on television cheered as her jubilant face filled the screen.