Francisco Cervelli is the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Very Own Renaissance Man
Interview by Andrea Bosco / Written by Rachel Jones / Photograph by Michael Fornataro / Art Direction by Jason Solak
“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie” — that’s Cervelli. The classic Dean Martin tune fills PNC Park when the catcher steps up to the plate, a lighter alternative to his teammates’ choices of rap or rock walk-up songs. But, that’s more his style. “I just like to be elegant,” Cervelli admits, along with his dream of a closet filled with shoes and suits.
“I don’t need that much, but I could wear a suit every day.” He credits David Beckham’s sleek look as his stylistic inspiration, but adds, “I don’t want to dress like anyone else. I just like to be Francisco.”
We like him to be Francisco, too — the Francisco who battles to contribute to the Pirates’ strong defense, while also blasting the team’s second-highest batting average. Fans still can’t get over No. 29’s first home run of the year. “I think everyone was waiting for that,” Cervelli says of the May 25 event. “It was the right moment. It was special.”
Getting to know his fans, especially during his treks from Downtown to the North Shore on game days, Cervelli has grown to appreciate the support everyone has for the team, win or lose. “Everyone in Pittsburgh is positive,” he explains. “I like the ambiance. It’s good for baseball.”
And, Cervelli is good for the Pirates. Joining the starting lineup for the first time this year, he stepped up as Russell Martin’s replacement. Coincidentally, the two were teammates with the New York Yankees before Martin signed with the Bucs in 2013. Cervelli says that working together made a positive impact on his early career. “[Martin] showed me how to go about the game the right way, and how to always be prepared and ready for anything.”
While their bond remains strong to this day, Cervelli says his biggest role models are his parents. “Without my mom and dad, this would be impossible,” he says. “They’re everything for me.” The self-proclaimed “momma’s boy — in a good way” doesn’t get to see his parents very often, as they reside in Venezuela. But, they will make the trip to the States once or twice a year to catch a few games and cheer on their son.
In the meantime, his teammates fill in as members of his Pittsburgh famiglia. “These boys are my family, you know? I spend more time with them than my real family,” Cervelli says. “The chemistry in the clubhouse is special, and the way we play baseball is special. It’s good. I’m glad I’m here.”