Our stop in Pittsburgh was short and sweet. We arrived just before first pitch and headed out of town after the game ended. Such is life for us hard-core road trippers, but we were able to (mostly) enjoy PNC Park and the game between the Detroit Tigers and the host Pirates.
This stop got off to a strange start when we had to walk by the gay rights rally taking place in downtown Pittsburgh. Then as we made our way to the box office we were greeted with a funky smell that had Nicole and I both wondering if someone lost their lunch while waiting to buy tickets. (Insert your own joke about the Pirates poor performance here – mine sounds something like this: the fans aren’t supposed to get sick until after they see the Pirates play).
On a good note, we chose a game that included $5 off each of our tickets so we ended up with field level seats for merely $15 each. On top of that, Chiquita received a Pirates ice cream bowl as part of the Kid’s Day promotion. I think this is a plan to get kids thinking positively about the Pirates from a young age. Jam your kids full of ice cream and when they are done, the Pirates logo will be waiting for them at the bottom of the bowl.
We indulged in some of Willie Stargell’s famous French fries and again found ourselves standing with a random family as we ate our lunch. Chiquita had a great time playing with a stroller and hanging on the guard rail with a few other kids from Pittsburgh. I attempted to buy Chiquita some cheap food from the kid’s concession stand but the line was at least three innings long so I quickly bailed and she got some of our lunch.
Unfortunately for us out-of-towners, it was Turn Back the Clock day at PNC Park. It was bad enough that the Pirates and Tigers players didn’t have names on their jerseys, but add an old-fashioned scoreboard and you have a lot of confused fans. Even some of the native Pittsburghites/Pittsburghians/Pittsburghlars were bummed on the lack of names. To add to that old-fashioned feeling, all of the banner boards were turned off and the PA announcer only announced the upcoming batter so there was a strange simplicity to the game that gave us a strange feeling that we were missing something. I guess that’s what corporate sponsors and intrusive advertising have done to sports. While this may have normally been refreshing, it was unfortunate that our one game in Pittsburgh was on a day when no one was identifiable and there was a completely different ambiance than (we think) there normally would be.
The setting for a ballpark does not get much better than that of PNC Park. Just beyond right field is the Allegheny River. Beyond that is downtown Pittsburgh, which can be seen from anywhere in the ballpark with the best view coming from the upper deck behind home plate. Although it opened in 2001, PNC Park has an intimate feel to it. There are only two levels of seats and the press box is above the upper deck behind home plate. This is a great design and makes for a great fan experience.
Overall our brief experience in Pittsburgh was pleasant and we hope to return there someday and get the full modern Pittsburgh baseball experience.
Here are the photos from this stop…