As I walked to my seat in the bleacher section behind left field at PNC Park, I wasn’t too sure how Starling Marte would be received by fans on that hot July night.
Marte was returning from the 80-game suspension he received for using illegal performance enhancing drugs. He essentially killed the Pirates season when his suspension came down in April, putting an new outfield alignment in jeopardy. People were not happy when the news came about Marte (me included). He just received his second-straight Gold Glove and was arguably the best Pirate on the roster.
We missed his presence, his bat and his defense. No one was sure what we would see last night.
As Marte ran to his spot in left field, we all rose to our feet. We wanted him to feel forgiveness, for it feel as if he’s coming home.
Dominican flags waved in unison. “We love you!” flew into the night. Marte jerseys in all variations parading our section. He acknowledged us by tipping his cap and placing his hand over his heart.
After his worst, he was — is — still loved.
There were boos. Just not from us.
And silent prayers hoping that he wouldn’t put us through all of that again.
This is part of my attempt to write every day in July. You can follow the series here.