A newspaper item about an upcoming celebration for Ms. Green had stated: "Green is a homemaker. She loves the Pittsburgh Pirates, especially Andrew McCutchen, casinos and spending time with loved ones." (Does the woman have her priorities straight or what?)
In taping his message for her, the star outfielder invited Ms. Green to come to batting practice. And it got us hoping -- considering the Pirates' unlikely signing a few years back of two Indian cricket players, leading to the Disney film "Million Dollar Arm" -- maybe we'll read the following before long:
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Pittsburgh Pirates, reaching out to an important fan base while trying to bolster their bench in pursuing a second straight playoff run, have signed 100-year-old Regene Green to a contract at the major league minimum salary.
Green impressed general manager Neal Huntington and manager Clint Hurdle with surprising strength and a mature batting eye during an impromptu slugging performance at PNC Park.
The Butler County resident, attending batting practice as a guest of Andrew McCutchen, was invited by the center fielder to take a few swings herself. She hesitated, saying it had been a few years -- possibly 85 -- since she had last swung a bat, but when several of McCutchen's nearby teammates heckled her and suggested she couldn't even hit a slow-pitch softball, Green kicked aside her walker and borrowed a bat.
Using a swing she said was modeled after what she remembered of watching Bucs Hall of Famer Kiki Cuyler, Green began lacing drives off the scoreboard in right and hammered several shots into the bullpen in center field.
After her final swing landed a ball on one bounce into the Allegheny River, she flipped her bat in triumph, prompting pitcher Gerrit Cole to yell that she was "just an old show-off who should go back to your intermediate and skilled care nursing facility team." However, awestruck outfielder Jose Tabata, who has yet to homer this season, asked her to show him how she was gripping the bat.
When Hurdle asked if she could play the outfield, Green said she was willing to try anything, so long as it did not interfere with her Silver Sneakers classes or the upcoming Wii bowling tournament at the Chicora Senior Center.
The ever-upbeat Pirates skipper, after sending Green to the clubhouse to be fitted for a uniform, said, "Heck, it's amazing what modern medicine has done with the aging process, because in my playing days you couldn't have imagined someone 100 still playing. She looks like she could play until 102 or 103 with no trouble, if she does the right conditioning and lets someone else do the driving."
The move continues the Pirates' penchant for out-of-the-box personnel strategies other teams wouldn't consider, such as signing untested Indian amateurs Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel and trading for over-the-hill infielder Akinori Iwamura.
Huntington said that one benefit of adding Green was it allows phenom Gregory Polanco to spend extra time in the minor leagues before the Pirates call him up. He noted that considering the Pirates play in the oldest major metropolitan area outside of Florida, tryouts could be held in hopes of finding talented octogenarians and nonagenarians with the potential for longer careers than what is likely for Green.
"Additionally, there's bound to be a huge impact on attendance," Huntington said. "We've already had calls from several assisted-living centers wondering if we run any group package deals with the nearby casino. If Major League Baseball doesn't have any problem with that, we'll certainly look into it."
The GM said there were messages on his desk from several Hollywood producers wanting to speak with him about possible movie deals, but he felt that was premature until Green proved her ability to hit major league sliders. "I also don't want to overtax Mrs. Green, as we're already going to risk missing her 9:30 bedtime on many occasions during the season."
Outfielder Travis Snider became the casualty of the signing, as he was placed on waivers by the Pirates. He said he understood the decision but had been hoping he would at least be replaced by a male in his 20s instead of "someone who should be overseas paying tribute to that D-Day invasion of World War I, or whenever that was."
Looking to capitalize quickly on publicity, the Pirates' marketing department said that an upcoming Andrew McCutchen Bobblehead Night would now feature a two-headed doll, with Green's head implanted next to his.
Gary Rotstein: email@example.com or 412-263-1255.
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