I have never been a fan.
I'm a lifelong Pittsburgher. I joke that my father's Steelers season tickets -- which my husband, Joshua, and I now manage -- were a dowry. Dad has an entire room in his house devoted to sports memorabilia. I was almost certainly swaddled in a Terrible Towel as an infant.
Yet I've never been a fan.
Perhaps it was spite, not unlike my 11-year stint with vegetarianism, which Dad said was a phase. I was determined to establish my own identity, and it would not be black and gold.
I know fans. They're all around me -- devoting Sundays to the Steelers and an absurdly large portion of the year to the Penguins. I guess I just figured there had to be a better way to spend my time. There had to be other things worth hoping for and stressing over.
Watching my Dad watch Steelers games made me anxious. He sat on the edge of the seat of his recliner, like a loaded gun, ready to fire as soon as the Steelers scored a touchdown.
You know that saying, about how women marry men like their fathers? It is true. I married a sports fan. Just like Dad.
Joshua, though, is in some ways worse than my father. Dad limits his fandom to Pittsburgh teams -- Steelers, Pirates, Pens, Panthers -- and golf. Joshua loves and thoroughly understands nearly all sports. He tries to engage me in conversations about women's tennis. I know what a "peloton" is. And while he talks to me about all of these sports all of the time, he, like my father, failed to make me a fan of anything.
Until he started talking to me about baseball.
Joshua played baseball in high school -- he was a pitcher, and he was good. Once, when he was 15, he threw a no-hitter. He played in my stead in a Sunday Trib vs. PG softball game when I had to work. After that game (the PG won, by the way), my colleagues would stop by my desk and ask, "Hey, how's the shortstop?"
Joshua wasn't always a Bucs fan. He grew up in Montclair, N.J., right outside of New York City. He was a Mets fan, and thus no stranger to years of disappointment.
When we started dating in 2010, he made it clear he was a Pittsburgher, at least when it came to baseball. (He still roots for the New Jersey Devils and the New York Giants. When the Giants won Super Bowl XLVI in 2012 on our three-month wedding anniversary, he clapped so furiously his wedding ring flew off his finger in the TV room of our 1879 Lawrenceville rowhouse. We briefly feared it'd fallen through the floorboards, but fortunately it was found in a bowl on an end table, saving our marriage.)
For me, becoming a baseball fan was more than jumping on the bandwagon. It was having something to share with my husband and the city we love.
I don't know all the statistics. I still won't read the sports pages. But I felt something new as I sat on the edge of the couch with Joshua when the Pirates beat the Milwaukee Brewers, 2-1, in the 14th inning last Sunday. I get that same feeling every time I've heard someone talk this past week about how the Pirates have the best record in baseball.
So congratulations, Joshua. I now know what it feels like to be a fan. And I'm a Pirates fan.
Annie Siebert is a reporter and copy editor for the Post-Gazette (firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1613). Twitter: @AnnieSiebert.