McCutchen pops the question on 'Ellen'


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This really does sound like a Hallmark movie:

He was a young baseball player in the early stages of a major league career.

She was a college student, entertaining fans as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates' "Cannonball Crew."

Pirates' Andrew McCutchen proposes on 'Ellen' show

Pirates centerfielder Andrew McCutchen proposed to his girlfriend, Maria Hansloven, on today's "Ellen" show, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres. She said yes. (12/11/2013)

They met at PNC Park and dated for four years. Two months ago, he secretly asked her father for his blessing, then proposed to her on bended knee -- in front of a national television audience. She accepted.

Maria Hanslovan and Andrew McCutchen are not your typical couple.

It's been a banner year for Mr. McCutchen, who led the Pirates to the playoffs for the first time since 1992. He's a newly minted National League Most Valuable Player, and now a man engaged to be married.

"They are a very, very happy couple," said Ms. Hanslovan's father, Ronald, who lives in Dubois, Clearfield County, where she grew up. "She's a wonderful person, and Andrew is, as well."

Ms. Hanslovan graduated in 2011 from Slippery Rock University with bachelor's degrees in biochemistry and forensics chemistry and now works in marketing. Growing up, she was involved in soccer, gymnastics and cheerleading.

Those skills lent themselves to her job with the Pirate's Cannonball Crew, now called the Bucco Brigade.

"She loved her job so much. One time she told me she'd work for the Pirates for free," her father said.

Although Mr. Hanslovan kept Mr. McCutchen's plans a secret from even his wife, Kathleen, and their two other children, he didn't realize the proposal would take place on television.

Mr. McCutchen, 27, offered his ungloved hand in marriage to Ms. Hanslovan, 25, when he was a guest on "Ellen."

The program was taped Tuesday in the Warner Bros. studios in Burbank, Calif., for broadcast Wednesday. An indication something might be up, however, came in the early hours of Wednesday morning on the player's Facebook page:

"Make sure to check out 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show' tomorrow ... I have a big announcement!"

Ms. DeGeneres posted a short video clip of the proposal on her Vine account before the program aired, so little wonder the Hanslovan family began getting telephone calls.

"It was supposed to be a surprise for everyone, but our family was hearing rumors and we were being asked about rumors that it was happening on the show," Mr. Hanslovan said, adding that he is unaware if a wedding date has been set.

As do many of the guests on "Ellen," a syndicated talk show, Mr. McCutchen danced his way onto the set, which was done up for the holidays with Christmas trees, fake presents and a roaring, virtual fire in the fireplace.

Ms. DeGeneres got right to the point: "Are you single, are you dating anyone?"

Cue a highlights tape of Mr. McCutchen making a diving catch, hitting a home run, and later posing with Ms. Hanslovan. The short film concluded with him standing at home plate in PNC Park.

Cue the request that Ms. Hanslovan come on down from the studio audience and join him on the set.

With a charming nervousness to his voice, Mr. McCutchen produced the classic jewelers box and said he'd always imagined himself proposing to her "so the whole world could hear how much I love you."

It wasn't shouting from a mountaintop, but "Ellen" is a pretty popular platform that rates high among the female demographic.

And what of the ring?

As someone who spends a great deal of time on one, Mr. McCutchen knows diamonds. He has been doing advertisements for Orr's Jewelers in Squirrel Hill and Sewickley, so it was only natural he buy the white diamond engagement ring there. He reportedly picked it up about a month ago.

"Andrew and I met and I made a few suggestions," said Duane McConeghy, manager of the Squirrel Hill location. "It's quite a beautiful ring, custom-made. The center diamond is a round brilliant, with a platinum halo design."

Although he would not specify the center stone's size or the ring's carat weight, "it's an important diamond," he said.

Orr's offers a more modest version of the ring.

"Trends come and go, but it is a pretty classic style," Mr. McConeghy said.

"It is a stunning, beautiful ring," said Mr. Hanslovan, who received an up-close photo Wednesday.

That proposal will be hard to top, but the bride-to-be's father said it was entirely appropriate. "I can't think of a better venue and a better way than he did it. I thought it was absolutely a class act."


Maria Sciullo: msciullo@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1478 or on Twitter @MariaSciulloPG. First Published December 11, 2013 11:49 AM

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