Monday, February 2, 2009
Pittsburgh Pirates, PA
The Pittsburgh Pirates began play as the Pirates in 1891. The team has been around for well over a hundred years. The team has 5 World Series trophies, and volumes of history.
One of my personal favorite teams ever assembled would be the 1971 Pirates. This team won the World Series, and became the 1st team to field an all black starting lineup. Anyone interested in baseball knows that Roberto Clemente was on this team, and would die at the end of the following year in a plane crash. He was flying with relief supplies to be given to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. His friend and teammate Steve Blass who had pitched brilliantly in the 71 Series was unable to pitch effectively after Clemente's death. He had to retire shortly after that.
One of the most human stories in baseball (and one that is not as well known) is that Clemente's friend and Pirate's catcher Manny Sanguillen was the only member of the Pirate's team to skip his friends funeral. He skipped so he could go diving in the waters where Clemente's plane went down hoping to find him.
PNC park has been around since 2001. I did not get a chance to see the old stadium, but that's fine. PNC is flawless. I do prefer going to games in the minors, but I would never pass on an opportunity to see this park again. I have seen many reviews calling this the greatest park ever, and I cannot think of a reason to argue.
I have set near 3rd base here several times. The skyline is unbelievable. Seriously, it is perfect. You can't take a bad picture here either. The view is perfect. The seats are comfortable and spaced out. This stadium does not have that looking down feel to it that many other parks have. Here, you feel like you are looking straight ahead at the field. A seat here 25 rows back has a much better view than a seat at any other park 25 rows back (and up).
For a stadium in the Major's, the staff here is friendly. I don't think I have had a problem with any one here ever. The staff in general seems to have helping you as a priority over making sure everyone is in their appropriate seat and not standing in an isle.
This park is affordable. In the past, I have bought good seats close to the field for around $30.
I like the way the Pirates do things too. We have been to Piratesfest a couple of times and have had a lot of fun. There are always lines for autographs, but the setting and the other things to do are a lot of fun. We went to an open house at the park once a couple of years ago, and their GM was greeting fans, answering questions, etc. The Pirates are a classy organization.
Pittsburgh is one cool town. I didn't always think that though. It is a big city, and it is rough in some areas, but it is a town that seemed to me to be going down hill once, but it picked itself up. Pittsburgh went from being a big, rough, and dirty city to a really nice happenin' town that takes a lot of pride in itself. The area right around the ball park is alive. Check out the bridges, and the access for walking there during the game times. Check out the boats passing by. This is a scenic area.
This is the nicest park in baseball. They really went out of their way to make sure it was perfect in every way. A great weekend trip would involve getting a room in downtown Pittsburgh, seeing some sights around town (the Andy Warhol museum is walking distance from the stadium!) and getting to the game early to see some batting practice. Oh, the previously mentioned Manny Sanguillen has been at his BBQ stand there at the park signing autographs at every single game I have ever been to. Go buy a sandwich and ask Manny to sign your ticket!
Oh, and the Pirates are generous with giveaways. Check out the promo schedule. I have scored caps, bobbleheads, statues and backpacks at games.
why not go
The only reason not to go to a Pirates game is that, for some reason, the Pirates can't put a winning team together. You should still go though. Some of the guys on the Pirates this season will be star players once they are traded away to a better team.