Thursday, December 29, 2016

Day 182 Rocky Bleier in The Play-His story, the life of Chances

Rocky Telling his journey 

Pittsburgh is a sports town so most  Pittsburghers  would jump at the chance to hear  a story from  a former Steeler  running back, who was part of the  “Golden Days” in  the 1970’s, the days of the “Steel Curtain,”  and  4 Super Bowl victories. This show is not really about Steelers team  history or I would have been lost and bored because  I must timidly admit that I am a temperate fan, unlike most  supersonic ones in this town.  What I do love however is  a  good  story (see Day 146). I  got a good story from Rocky Bleier. I heard his story of chance or of “what if’s” in his life.  I think many of us have those kinds of memories. During the holidays when we are together with family and friends, it is our stories that bring the joy of telling and remembering  to life so that we don’t forget. This is what Rocky Bleier accomplished in this one man intimate play.   

Rocky walked out telling the beginnings  of his Italian Catholic childhood in the family bar in  Appleton, Wisconsin.  You experience his life in the bar, his strong mom, his family ties, and  ethnic roots. This mimics many Pittsburgh families or even  my family growing up. I loved that in his family you knew that, 1) if you stepped out of line, you were banned  from the bar for life, (like the “soup Nazi'' in Seinfeld) and 2) you had to play an instrument.   I chuckled when he recalled that he played the trumpet because it was handed down from  his uncle. My son played the saxophone because I had one from my childhood.  Funny how people can have the same stories!

Recalling Vietnam

He took us back to his Notre Dame days, the days of civil rights and protest.  He was the Steelers' 416th draft pick to a losing team in 1968.  Then he was drafted to  Vietnam. I did not know about the  chance grenade  explosion  which  left  most people thinking that he would use a cane for life. I did know about the chance saving of his life by a man of color during the war. I did not know about his ability to overcome  his adversity  and play back on the Steelers team from  1971 to 1980.  Now that is a story!

Although I must admit that his delivery seemed a bit scripted at first, it later felt “real” and heartfelt. He also narrated with punches of humor.  I was surprised that it was almost  70 minutes into the show before there was a focus on his life with the Steelers.  Not to worry football fans, Steelers references  were  infused though out the play.

  He seemed grateful to share his life story with us. A life of chance and of “what if’s”. A life of survival and of perseverance for a guy of  5 feet 9.5 inches. A life of being part of a team,  something great- The Pittsburgh Steelers!

(This Pittsbugh Public Theater  show  by Gene Collier (c/o writer of the Chief)  runs until January 7th at the O’Reilly Theater)

Spiritual Reference
Latter that same day, Jesus left the house and went down to the shore, where an immense crowd soon gathered. He got into the boat, where he sat and taught as the people listened on the shore. He told many stories...(Matthew 13:1-3)

Other sources
 Pittsburgh Public Theater