Pirates fans are gearing up for Buctober

Alongside yinzer, gumband and nebby, add another word to the lexicon known as Pittsburghese.

Buctober, noun.

1: The month that, for the first time in 21 years, comes after September; 2: A postseason schedule that includes the Pirates; 3: The time of year previously known as Steelers season.

If you speak the vernacular, as does 22-year-old Mike Clark of Forest Hills, no explanation is necessary. You know.

"It's Pirates playing baseball in October," said Mr. Clark, when asked to define the newest word in the Pittsburgh language, a term that has spread across social media, invoked even on the Twitter account of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, a Shaler native. "It's simple as that."

Well, it wasn't that simple. But once the Pirates secured a playoff spot Monday night by defeating the Chicago Cubs 2-1, a two-decade-long stretch of losing seasons was water under the Clemente Bridge. And Mr. Clark, visiting the Majestic Clubhouse Store at PNC Park on Tuesday morning, was not just using the newest Pittsburgh vocabulary.

He was participating in a rite that has long been absent from this town: buying postseason Pirates gear.

On Tuesday morning, PNC Park's Clubhouse Store opened with an aisle of new hats, T-shirts, hooded sweatshirts and other gear. The Pirates' website also had new gear, for the Pirates fan who wants his apparel to reflect the team's playoff status.

"Postseason 2013," the merchandise says. On the Pirates section of the MLB website, a cap was selling for $20, a woman's T-shirt for $23.99 and a hooded sweatshirt for $69.99. Many of the clothing items feature, against a black background, the long longed-for words: "We play for October."

Yes, finally. The Pirates win Monday night guaranteed the team at least a spot in the one-game wild card round, scheduled for Oct. 1.

"I don't think I've ever watched baseball in October," said Lori Wank, 31, of Polish Hill. "I'm usually on to the Steelers by now."

But there she was Tuesday, with a friend, buying postseason swag at PNC Park. T-shirts for her parents, her brother and her boyfriend, and a hooded sweatshirt for herself.

Pirates fans -- some taking a short work break, some visiting from out of town -- milled around the ballpark store the morning after the Pirates' playoff-clinching win, most gravitating toward the just-arrived postseason apparel.

Such as Terry Haines, who was there getting himself -- and a couple other people -- a postseason hat. The 55-year-old consultant grew up in the South Hills but now lives in Alexandria, Va., where he has plenty of friends who are Pittsburgh ex-pats. Back in Pittsburgh for a meeting, he was able to watch the game on television Monday night with his parents in Peters, then stop by PNC Park on Tuesday morning to pick up the newest Pirates merchandise.

He was glad to mark the end of an era.

"For an entire generation, the Pirates have been the penance that Pittsburgh has served for having the success of the Steelers and the Penguins," he said.

Donna Vaughn, 55, of Greenfield served the Pittsburgh penance, and Tuesday morning she was wearing Pirates gear and at PNC Park to buy three postseason shirts, for herself and her two children, including a 23-year-old son who is experiencing, for the first time in his memory, a winning Pirates season now followed by a postseason appearance.

They will be rooting for the Pirates in October, she said.

"It's so exciting to see it finally happen, after 20 years," she said. "We stuck by them, and it's time to celebrate."

Buctober, noun.: Spring, in Pittsburgh.

neigh_city - pirates - businessnews

Kaitlynn Riely: kriely@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1707. First Published September 25, 2013 4:00 AM


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