PITTSBURGH - Reviews have been mixed for the new Mario Lemieux statue, but there should be agreement on one thing: Enough with the sports statues.
Lemeiux, cast as "Le Magnifique" on Centre Avenue, raises the city's bronze sports population to six. That's plenty.
You can't negotiate a sidewalk near PNC Park without bumping into the likeness of a former Pirates player.
Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell are on Federal Street, and Honus Wagner is at the home plate gate. Bill Mazeroski, the least demonstrative man on the planet, is ironically forever whooping it up on a remote patch of concrete outside of right field.
Art Rooney Sr. and his cigar are on the Heinz Field plaza, and now Lemieux is standing sentry at the Consol Energy Center.
Lemieux is using two generic defensemen as props, which makes his the first multi-character statue. However, they're not counted in the census of bronze people.
Like Wagner, Lemieux and Mazeroski were alive to see their statues unveiled, and both were suitably humbled at seeing themselves 10 feet tall.
Lemieux is the first sports statue to infiltrate the other side of the Allegheny River.
People have been trying to rally support for a Gene Kelly statue, but it hasn't gone anywhere to this point.
Kelly, the song and dance man who grew up in East Liberty, was to be immortalized in a pose from his famous "Singing In The Rain."
The region's weather patterns would certainly lend authenticity.
As if a statue isn't enough, Clemente has a bridge named for him. Mazeroski and Rooney are further honored by streets bearing their names on the North Side.
Yet when you talk about Pittsburgh heroes, recognition for Dr. Jonas Salk seems to be limited to a building named for him on the Pitt campus.
It's the building where Salk did research on what became the first effective polio vaccine in the 1950s. His work saved lives and untold human suffering. Beyond that, he turned down a chance to apply for a patent, which would have made him wealthy.
His focus was on eradicating a disease that had been a plague.
But he couldn't hit a fastball or go top shelf on a goalie, so his honors are confined to a plaque on a building.
Pittsburgh loves its sports, and has the statues to verify that. But things do seem a bit out of balance.
If we're not going to honor a man who made life better, maybe we can at least have a 30-year moratorium on statues of people who played games.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org