One thing about Pittsburgh will forever be true…we love superstitions. Especially when it comes to our sports teams. The Pirates have never strayed from embracing superstitions, and might lay claim to some of the most fun and interactive superstitions in Pittsburgh sports history. “We Are Family”, anyone? Most recently, fans have grabbed onto the “Power of the Zoltan” and used wrestler Daniel Bryan’s “Yes” chants to whip the crowd into a frenzy. The Buccos and their fans have always latched onto unique ideas, but let’s take a look at one of the most bizarre superstitious talisman the city has ever seen. Today, let’s celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Green Weenie.
Back in 1966, legendary Pirates broadcaster Bob Prince and trainer Danny Whelan indirectly co-created the gimmick after Prince observed Whelan doing something very peculiar…yelling at Houston Astros pitcher Dave Giusti while pointing and waiving a green, rubber hot dog at the right handed pitcher. During the next broadcast, Prince asked Whelan what he was doing, and the gimmick was born. Within weeks, Tri-State Plastics started manufacturing the idea, and “Green Weenies” were seen all over Forbes Field.
If you’ve never seen an original Green Weenie, imagine a hot dog shaped maraca you would waive at an opposing team to place a “hex” on them. Conversely, if you waived said hot dog shaped maraca towards a Pirates player, he would be graced with great success. You can’t make these things up.
Sounds totally insane, right? Here’s some “food” for thought. Even though the Pirates failed to win the pennant in 1966, Roberto Clemente won the National League MVP Award, Matty Alou won the National League batting title, Bill Mazeroski led the league in double plays, and Willie Stargell had his personal best year in batting. Well, hot dog! Maybe there was something to it after all!
In later years, attempts were made to bring back the Pirates’ bizarre good luck charm. However, the gimmick never showed lasting power, which might be for the better. We’re the greatest city in the United States. We’re Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania! Give us Pittsburghers a Pierogi Race over a Green Weenie any day! 😉