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'You got some Yinzer in ya': Pirates catcher Joey Bart has deep family ties to Lower Burrell

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As soon as Joey Bart got word that he had been traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates, he called his father. Tommy Bart grew up in Lower Burrell, where he was a multi-sport star for the Burrell Bucs

WASHINGTON, D.C. — When Joey Bart found out he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates, he immediately called his father. Tommy Bart, who grew up in Lower Burrell and was a talented athlete for the Burrell Bucs, instilled his love for Western Pennsylvania in his son.

Joey Bart mentioned that his father, who owns a chain of Zaxbys Restaurants around Atlanta, was incredibly excited about the trade. He expressed how special it is to his family due to their strong ties to the area, with most of their family residing there.

Joey Bart remembered receiving Ben Roethlisberger’s No. 7 jersey as a child, yearly visits to Pittsburgh to see his grandmother, and his mother's roots in Toronto, Ohio. He also mentioned having family in Butler.

The Bart family has a long history in Lower Burrell, going back before they shortened their surname. Tommy Bart achieved significant athletic success, and Joey Bart talked about his decision to attend Miami-Dade Community College instead of immediately joining the Pirates after being drafted.

Joey Bart joked about hearing exaggerated stories from his father.

A former All-American at Georgia Tech, Joey Bart was selected as the 2018 No. 2 overall pick and a top-20 prospect. He aims to rejuvenate his career after facing challenges with the San Francisco Giants, where he was expected to succeed Buster Posey but didn't meet expectations.

Due to injuries and other factors, the Pirates found themselves in need of a catcher with major league experience, leading them to acquire Bart.

Pirates manager Derek Shelton described Bart becoming available as a 'perfect storm' and highlighted the quick turnaround in acquiring him from the Giants.

Shelton pleasantly expressed his excitement to Bart about his connection to the region and the fresh start with the Pirates.

Shelton explained that Grandal’s extended absence influenced the decision to acquire Bart.

In 2020, Bart was brought up to the majors by the Giants during the pandemic-shortened season. His performance was inconsistent, and he moved between Triple-A and the major leagues over the next two seasons, achieving a career .219/.288/.335 slash line with 16 doubles, two triples, 11 home runs, and 38 RBIs.

Last season, Bart hit .207 with five doubles and five RBIs in San Francisco, but he did better at Sacramento, hitting .248 with 12 doubles, six homers, and 28 RBIs in 60 games. He had a strong spring, hitting .414 with a .974 OPS in 15 games in the Cactus League, and made the Opening Day roster as the third catcher. However, the Giants cut him to make room for right-hander Daulton Jefferies, who started Sunday against San Diego.

“I learned a lot. Played with good players, experienced highs and lows, and I believe I can bring that forward with me and learn from those experiences. I feel great, confident, and excited about being in Pittsburgh.”

Bart was thrilled about the trade and packed his bags as soon as he was informed. When Cherington asked Bart when he was available, he replied, “Whenever you need me.” Bart caught a flight from Atlanta in time to be in the Pirates’ clubhouse Wednesday afternoon and catch some bullpen sessions at Nationals Parks.

Bart admitted that he doesn’t know any Pirates players, so getting to know the pitching staff is a priority. Shelton called it “one of the more challenging things” for Bart but noted that the Giants have a good reputation for their advance process.

“The Giants, over the past couple of years, are a team that has used openers and have done different things, so you have to be prepared for a catcher in that space,” Shelton said. “We feel very confident we can catch him up to speed quickly.”

Bart is excited not only to get a fresh start but to join a team that was 5-0 entering Wednesday’s game, with a pitching staff featuring All-Stars in starter Mitch Keller and closer David Bednar and a rookie right-hander, Jared Jones, who recorded 10 strikeouts in his MLB debut.

“I’ve been fortunate to be around some very good pitchers, many of whom are at the top level, and learned a lot from them,” Bart said. “And these guys here, from what I can tell, are really strong, young, and talented. So I just want to bring what I have to offer behind the dish, boost their confidence, and let them know that, ‘Hey, moving forward, I’ve got your back, and we’re gonna find a way through this thing when times get tough or you’re not feeling it, we’ll find a way.’ So I think that’s something that I bring to the table. I try to get guys confident and try to get the best out of them.”

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