Pittsburgh Pirate David Bednar shares a hug with parents Andrew and Sue Bednar at PNC Park.
By Jamie Wiggan
Seventy-five years before David Bednar threw his first pitch for the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier this month, his grandfather George Bednar was starting out his junior year pitching for Stowe High School, whose season opened with an 8-4 home victory over Neville on April 7, 1946.
Forty years later, David’s father Andrew was recruited to pitch for Cornell University after leading Sto-Rox to their first ever WPIAL Championship final the previous season.
When, another 27 years down the road, David graduated from Mars High School in 2013, he hadn’t entirely escaped the pervasive reach of the Vikings. As well as his father — head baseball coach from 2003-2019 — Mars’ athletic department is also stocked by Sto-Rox graduates Joe Cioc and Bob Bell, and is directed by 1978 graduate and hall-of-famer Scott Heinauer.
“We used to call it McKees Rocks North,” Andrew said.
Jokes aside, Andrew said it’s hard to overstate the impact his Sto-Rox upbringing had on his own career and the lessons he has tried to pass on to his children.
Andrew remembers his father regularly coming home from grueling shifts at J&L’s Aliquippa Steel Works and then spending hours with him and his three siblings on the athletic field.
“My father set an incredible example about the value of playing athletics... and the importance of teamwork, he said.
“With me being a teacher and a coach, I like to think I was able to set a similar example.”
In David’s case, it’s doubtful he would have made it to the major league without a formidable work ethic.
His home debut at PNC Park came April 8, where he was cheered on by longtime Steelers pump up music "Renegade" by Styx as he walked up to the mound. He pitched for one batter at the top of the 8th inning during a 4-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs.
Heinauer acknowledged his path to the Pirates looked unlikely at the time he graduated from Mars seven years ago.
“You have to have talent, to be in major league baseball — there’s no doubt,” Heinauer said. “But you have to work hard. David’s always been a hard worker.”
David was recruited late in the game by Lafayette College, a small Division One school in Easton, Pennsylvania, and was later picked up by the San Diego Padres’ farm system in the 35th round of the 2016 draft. From there his game improved steadily, spurring him on to his major league debut in 2019.
“The great story about David is he was a thirty-fifth round draft pick [and now he’s playing major league],” Andrew said. “ He just kept going about his business and performing. He just kept getting better.”
Since moving to the suburbs, Andrew, who was raised in Stowe’s Presston neighborhood, has kept in touch with his roots.
Every month or so he returns for a haircut at Stowe Commissioner Cheryl McDermott’s Island Avenue salon, and he brings his three grown children along, too, whenever they’re in town. Before heading back up North, they make a habit of stopping in at Doughboy’s Pizza down the street.
As he looks back, the memories are fond.
“I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” he said. “The family and the traditions – you don’t see that in a lot of towns like you used to. There was such pride in the community.”