Former Pirates closer Stan Belinda will get a chance to be reacquainted with the Bucs and the big leagues in three weeks when the team visits Altoona for an exhibition game against the Curve.
The March 30 exhibition at Peoples Natural Gas Field will be broadcast on Fox 8 TV locally, and Belinda will handle the color commentary alongside Curve play-by-play man Mike Passanisi. The game is sold out, although standing-room only tickets do remain.
"I'm excited to see these guys, even if it is an exhibition," Belinda, who lives in Alexandria, said by phone Wednesday night. "It's a good chance for the people in Altoona and the surrounding areas to see the Pirates."
Belinda has done color commentary on about 10 Curve games over the past decade, including the Stephen Strasburg visit to Altoona in 2010. He never envisioned doing broadcast work during his major league playing days, but living in the region made him a good fit when the Curve broadcast some games on TV in the early 2000s.
"It's been fun and exciting getting that adrenaline rush," Belinda said of doing broadcast work. "It's a little bit different adrenaline rush, getting over that fear of making a mistake."
Belinda pitched for the Pirates from 1989-93 and earned the closer job. He's largely remembered by many fans as the pitcher who gave up the infamous game-winning hit to Atlanta's Francisco Cabrera that scored Sid Bream in Game 7 of the 1992 National League Championship Series.
That game conjures up painful memories for Pirates fans, in large part because the organization hasn't had a winning season since that 1992 campaign.
Belinda, 46, said he doesn't hear from many fans bringing up the game and added, "People that are affiliated with baseball that remember that game, they'll bring it up to me in a good way."
Usually the only time he hears about the 1992 game, he added, is when the media bring it up.
"That one game didn't sour me on being a Pirate, absolutely not," Belinda said. "I grew up a Pirates fan. My dad and my family were Pirates fans, and I was growing up listening to Bob Prince on the radio. It was a fun time for me."
Belinda last pitched in the major leagues, ironically enough, for the Braves in 2000. He said he attends Curve games occasionally and has four daughters and one son who are involved in sports.
He enjoys bringing his children to the ballpark so they can see how professional athletes conduct themselves and go about their jobs, and he's looking forward to his kids getting to see that from the big leaguers during the Pirates exhibition game.
His knowledge of the Curve and Pirates organizations make him a natural fit to do color commentary on the game.
"Certainly being a former Pirates pitcher and closer and being in the area, he obviously knows and still follows the Pirates a good bit and is also at our ballpark a good bit," Curve general manager Rob Egan said.
"He can bring you that inside angle, that player's angle. Even though he was a pitcher, he can bring what a hitter's thinking in certain situations."