HOUSTON -- As soon as Blake Lalli got word to his family that he was getting called up to the big leagues, they circled this coming weekend on the calendar. Lalli is coming home.
The Cubs rookie catcher, called up last Friday from Triple-A Iowa, grew up in Gibsonia, Pa., which is about 15 miles north of Pittsburgh. His parents would take him to Three Rivers Stadium to watch Bobby Bonilla, Andy Van Slyke and Barry Bonds, who were his favorite players. He also went to lots of games at PNC Park as a fan.
His parents, aunts, uncles and more still live there, so he needs tickets for 30 people. Minimum.
"They've probably been waiting a long time for this, too," Lalli said Wednesday.
After an off-day Thursday, the Cubs open a three-game series against the Pirates on Friday. The timing is perfect.
"It'll be neat to get there later tonight and have the off-day there, and get a home cooked meal from mom," he said.
The Cubs needed Lalli, who turned 29 on May 12, after losing three catchers to injuries in a short stretch of days.
"One of the first things [my family] said was, 'You're coming to Pittsburgh,'" said Lalli, a high school teammate of Pirates second baseman Neil Walker. "Obviously, your dream is to play in the big leagues, and then to go back to your home town is unbelievable."
He followed the team closely, including a certain infielder who played for the Pirates and is now his manager on the Cubs. Dale Sveum played for the Pirates in 1996, '97, and '99.
"I'm excited to go home," Lalli said.