Like the Pittsburgh Pirates don’t have biggerto worry about this season.
Andrew Kurtz, part of a crew of men who don pierogi costumes and race around the warning track of PNC Park after the fifth inning of every Pirates home game, was canned in June after criticizing team executives on Facebook.
Kurtz’s post questioned the club’s wisdom when it extended the contracts of Manager John Russell and General Manager Neal Huntington. Four hours later, the team’s mascot coordinator asked for his resignation.
Pirates officials, commenting on the firing, stated that Kurtz had previous performance issues, including “miscommunication about his schedule.”
Kurtz said he’d miss the job, which was never about the money. As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dan Majors pointed out, “There isn’t a lot of dough involved in being a pierogi.” Each pierogi gets $25 per race.
“When the Pirates are playing bad, people still want to see that pierogi race,” Kurtz told the Post-Gazette. “I’ve heard people say, ‘That’s the only reason we stayed at the game.’”
At the time Kurtz was fired, the Pirates were mired in last place, 13½ games back in the National League Central Division.
All's well that ends well, however, at least for Kurtz and pierogi racing fans. Following a firestorm of criticism, the Pirates rehired Kurtz, noting that HR wouldn't have approved the dismissal had it been consulted beforehand.
Alas, Kurtz's good fortune didn't rub off on the team. By early August, the Pirates were still in last place, now 24 games back.