Longtime Pirates broadcaster Blass to retire after 2019

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PITTSBURGH (AP) Steve Blass’ 60th season with the Pittsburgh Pirates will be his last in the broadcast booth.

The former pitcher announced Tuesday that 2019 will be his 34th and final year as a color analyst. He will step away as the longest-tenured broadcaster in team history. Blass will remain with the club as an alumni ambassador.

The 76-year-old Blass joined the organization after signing a professional contract with the club’s affiliate in the Appalachian League in 1960. He made his major league debut with the Pirates in 1964 and spent a decade in the majors, going 103-76 with a 3.63 ERA in 282 appearances. The defining moment of his playing career came in the 1971 World Series when he pitched a four-hitter in Game 7 against Baltimore to lead Pittsburgh to a 2-1 win and the title.

“Sixty seasons with the Pirates, one organization in one city, I am so very proud of that. It ranks right up there with anything I have ever done on the baseball field,” Blass said in a statement. “It has been a wonderful run.”

Blass retired in 1975 after a baffling loss of control that became known as “Steve Blass Disease.” He returned to the club as a part-time analyst in 1983 before joining the broadcast team on a full-time basis in 1986. His folksy delivery and penchant for sharing offbeat stories from his playing days became a fixture of broadcasts.

“Steve is as synonymous with Pirates baseball as anyone in the history of our organization. Steve leaping up into the air following the final out in his second complete game victory of the 1971 World Series is one of the most iconic moments in Pirates history,” Pirates owner Bob Nutting said in a statement. “For 60 seasons, Steve has represented the Pirates with humility, grace, pride and passion. Words cannot express how appreciative we at the Pirates organization are for his dedication or how beloved he is and always will be.”

The team will honor Blass throughout the season and is planning an on-field send-off for Blass before the Pirates host Cincinnati on Sept. 28.

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No lease extension, but Orioles and governor tout partnership

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The Baltimore Orioles and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore announced a joint commitment to what they called a “multi-decade, public-private partnership” to revitalize the Camden Yards sports complex.

The statement from the team and the state’s new governor came Wednesday, the deadline for the Orioles to exercise a one-time, five-year extension to their lease at Camden Yards. The team was not planning to exercise that option, according to a person with knowledge of the decision. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the club hadn’t announced its decision.

With no extension, the lease is set to expire at the end of this year, but the team and the Maryland Stadium Authority can keep negotiating. Wednesday’s joint release seemed to be an attempt to calm any nerves in Baltimore about the team’s future.

“I am looking forward to continuing to collaborate with Governor Moore, his administration, and the Maryland Stadium Authority in order to bring to Baltimore the modern, sustainable, and electrifying sports and entertainment destination the state of Maryland deserves,” Orioles CEO John Angelos said.

“We greatly appreciate Governor Moore’s vision and commitment as we seize the tremendous opportunity to redefine the paradigm of what a Major League Baseball venue represents and thereby revitalize downtown Baltimore. It is my hope and expectation that, together with Governor Moore and the new members and new chairman of the MSA board, we can again fully realize the potential of Camden Yards to serve as a catalyst for Baltimore’s second renaissance.”

Republican Larry Hogan, the state’s previous governor, signed a bill last year increasing bond authorization for M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens, and Camden Yards. The measure allowed borrowing of up to $600 million for each stadium.

“When Camden Yards opened 30 years ago, the Baltimore Orioles revolutionized baseball and set the bar for the fan experience,” Moore, a Democrat, said Wednesday. “We share the commitment of the Orioles organization to ensuring that the team is playing in a world-class facility at Camden Yards for decades to come and are excited to advance our public-private partnership.”

Angelos recently reaffirmed that the Orioles would stay in Baltimore, although he dressed down a reporter who asked for more clarity on the future of the team’s ownership situation. Angelos was sued last year by his brother Lou, who claimed John Angelos seized control of the Orioles at his expense.