SPORTS & OUTDOORS

Eye on the ball: Centerfielder McCutchen

Tuesday night, Aug. 25, 2009. There are 17,049 paying customers in PNC Park. If they are baseball fans, they are getting their money’s worth.

Along the River’s Edge

Thomas Lippert flicks his cigarette into the ashtray on his wooden kitchen table, its varnish worn away along the edge by years of wrists and elbows. Lippert starts each day here, waking early to supplement his nicotine with a quick breakfast. On the mustard-​colored wall, a prominent image of Jesus…

The Payoff Pitch

Nellie King is lying on a hospital bed, his once-​sinewy muscles flaccid, his face ashen. The man who once hurled sinking fastballs past Frank Robinson and Ernie Banks is so weak from pneumonia that he can barely draw a breath. He has this terrifying sensation of his skin separating from his…

The Coast of Lake Erie

Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie coastline is a place of beauty, drama and hidden environmental treasures. The bluffs and beach along this shoreline and the nearby forested ravines and gorges, seasonal pools and interior tributaries, make a special destination for anyone intent on exploring Western Pennsylvania’s most interesting natural areas.

Rose-​Breasted Grosbeak

There is a veteran haberdasher at a certain long-​established men’s clothier in downtown Pittsburgh who watches birds. Let’s call him Kenny. Seeing this column one day, he asked me about an unusual avian visitor he saw in the trees of his yard. “It was black and white with a big…

Rocks of Ages

The Laurel Highlands. The very name hints of a special place. Its boundaries lie in the eye of the beholder, but most agree that the Highlands are east and south of Pittsburgh in Somerset, Fayette and Westmoreland counties. Thousands of skiers, hunters, hikers and rafters enjoy this unique geography, but…

From the catbird seat

In mid-​November, when daylight dwindles, the sky turns flannel gray and a cold drizzle waterboards Pittsburgh, I flap my old, arthritic wings and fly south to Florida — God’s waiting room.

Word Brains

No two games of Scrabble are ever the same. But when the Pittsburgh Scrabble Club convenes on Wednesday nights, there’s a scene that replays itself over and over again. “Someone will show up for the first time and say ‘I’m here because nobody in my family wants to play me.…

The Man Behind the Players

Kevin Colbert grew up the youngest of five boys living in a house on Pittsburgh’s North Side. The house had one bedroom and one shower. The five boys lived in the attic, and they were orphaned by the time Colbert was 15.

Laurel Hill Creek

In Somerset County, the cold, clear waters of Laurel Hill Creek run through forests and farmland, state parks and backyards, joining the Casselman River and, just downstream, the Youghiogheny.

Full Circle for the Square

At noontime on a summer’s friday, Mellon Square — the green public space that lashes together so many of Downtown Pittsburgh’s office buildings, hotels, and businesses — is bustling. Ties loosen, heels are exchanged for sneakers and brown bags and sidewalk-​stand hot dogs come out as office workers begin the brisk business of a…

The Ruffed Grouse

Imagine a bird like a chicken, but a little sleeker, a little more wild. Rufous, gray, with a tail that is barred with black and white stripes at the tips. When the tail pops open in a half circle, it resembles an earth-​tone parasol. What’s most visually arresting about the…

The Great Blue Heron

Years ago, I found a long, light bone with honeycomb latticework inside that probably belonged to a juvenile Great Blue Heron. After a winter storm, the bone lay in a pile of sticks that had blown down from the crown of an oak tree just off the 18th hole of…

Fall Run Park

The verdancy of summer is best experienced in a narrow western Pennsylvania ravine. These places are particularly inviting after thundershowers wash the air crystal clear, polish the leaves to a glistening shine, and fill streams with roiling water.

Gone Fishing

At various times in a fisherman’s life, it becomes desirable to try a new spot. Perhaps an old place gets too crowded. Maybe the fish move on. Or maybe one simply wants a change of scenery. Of course, truly knowing a fishing spot means getting there early, before the fish…
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