Pirates fans looking forward to Buctober

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Into the lexicon known as Pittsburghese, it has come time to introduce a new word.

Buctober, noun. 1: The month that, for the first time in 21 years, comes after September; 2: A postseason schedule that includes the Pittsburgh 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, you do not need a dictionary.

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 been spreading all over social media. "It's simple as that."

Well, it wasn't that simple. But the morning after the Pirates secured a playoff spot by defeating the Chicago Cubs, 2-1, a two-decade stretch of losing seasons was water under a Pittsburgh bridge. And Mr. Clark, at the Clubhouse Store at PNC Park, was one Pittsburgher participating in a new tradition: buying postseason Pirates gear.

Starting this morning, there was an aisle of postseason hats, T-shirts and hooded sweatshirts at the North Shore store. "Postseason 2013," the merchandise says, and then the long longed-for words on a black background. "We play for October."

Yes, finally. The Pirates victory Monday night guaranteed the team at least a spot in the one-game wild card round.

"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, 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.

Terry Haines was getting himself -- and a couple other people -- postseason hats. 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 this 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 this morning, she was wearing Pirates gear at PNC Park to buy three postseason shirts, for herself and her two children.

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.

Kaitlynn Riely: kriely@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1707.

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