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OMAR MORENO
PABLO S. TORRE
July 13, 2009
The swift centerfielder with the whistle-tooting wife is a figure to be reckoned with in his native Panama
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July 13, 2009

Omar Moreno

The swift centerfielder with the whistle-tooting wife is a figure to be reckoned with in his native Panama

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The whistle has been put away now, gathering dust in a drawer in Omar Moreno's Panama City home. If the Pirates team that beat Baltimore in the 1979 World Series was indeed a fam-a-lee, as proclaimed by the Sister Sledge song that became its anthem, then that ear-piercing instrument used by Omar's wife, Sandra, and heard by all who watched the '79 Series broadcasts, is its most memorable heirloom. But its shrill exhortations were more befitting her husband's former profession, centerfielder, than his new one: politician.

In late May, after observing the success of the Omar Moreno Foundation, a youth baseball charity run by Omar and Sandra for underprivileged kids in Panama, the country's president-elect, Ricardo Martinelli, personally called Omar and asked him to serve as the nation's new Secretary of Sports, an offer the 57-year-old Moreno proudly accepted. "I'll be helping with everything, from representing Panama internationally to overseeing all of the athletics programs across all our provinces," says Moreno, who played 12 major league seasons, eight of them with Pittsburgh, and led the National League with 77 stolen bases in the Pirates' championship season of '79.

The man who caught the final out in that World Series still has the Steel City in his blood. Former Pirates Dave Parker and Manny Sanguillen have visited him in Panama, and Omar rattles off his long list of friends from that team. "It was a real family back then," says Moreno, who batted .333 in the Series as the Pirates' leadoff man and scored the final run in the 4--1 Game 7 victory. As for Sandra, if any more fam-a-lee members want to come down to celebrate the 30th anniversary, she says she's "just waiting to bring out the whistle again."

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