PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Pirates announcer Jim Rooker said Tuesday that from now on, he will walk only from his car to the broadcast booth at Three Rivers Stadium.
That was at the end of a 13-day, 337-mile hike on foot from Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia to Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. He and companion Carl Dozzi, a Pittsburgh businessman, set off on their journey Oct. 5 to fulfill a promise fans took seriously in Rooker's live broadcast June 8.
That day, the Pirates held a 10-0 lead over the Philadelphia Phillies in the first inning, prompting the announcer to remark, 'If we lose this game, I'll walk back to Pittsburgh.' The Pirates did lose, 15-11, but Rooker flew home. Friends and sponsors later helped arrange the walk for charity.
'I'm not going to open my mouth and insert my foot again,' Rooker said.
He and Dozzi arrived at the stadium with a police escort, walked through a paper banner bearing congratulations and were surrounded by well-wishers who greeted them with champagne, balloons and a portable foot bath.
Billed 'Rook's Unintentional Walk,' their trek raised an estimated $100,000 in pledges for Children's Hospital and the Bob Prince Charities, Rooker said. About $15,000 came from people met along the way on a route that mostly followed U.S. 30.
Good weather accompanied them across the state but roads were hilly and littered with garbage, Rooker said. When they reached Pittsburgh, Rooker was wearing his fourth pair of shoes, in a larger size; after a few days, their feet swelled and blistered.
But the two, looking fit, said they were ready for a workout. Rooker, a former player in Chicago, Detroit and Pittsburgh, found the experience easier than spring training.
'If my arm was as strong as my legs right now, I could come back and play again,' he said.