I had some time to think about the time I spent with my father and wrote something in my journal I wish to share. It was one of the highlights when I returned home.
In everything I have read, the best experience at PNC Park is to walk to the park and that is what I wanted to do. It is why I wanted to be at a hotel in the downtown area. I tis kind of what I wanted to do for my father to make the experience as memorable as possible. We walked down and under the high way we drove into the hotel. We walked through the canyon of tall buildings, the tallest being the UPMC (University Of Pittsburgh Medical Centre) which has taken over the US Steel tower and is worth over $10 billion annually, far more US Steel which was the most important employer in the city. Now it is the medical field and probably what the city has cleaned up so nicely. Most of the people were wearing Pirates jerseys and such. We walked through old brick buildings. It will be the first time my father will see the park. I wanted it to be special. The walk was a bit long but it was great.
The Roberto Clemente Bridge spans the Allegheny River and connects the downtown of Pittsburgh with the ball diamond of PNC Park. The bridge was once called the Sixth Street Bridge but renamed after one of the greatest Pirates ever who died in a plane crash delivering medical supplies to victims of an earthquake in Nicaragua. The bridge is closed on game days and we crossed as the sun was low in the sky. The crowd on the bridge was not that big but it was still an hour and a half before the first pitch.
The area around the stadium has been transformed into restaurants and bars. The buildings were all old looking, but have recently been built. It is kind of a new restoration thing to make the area more nostalgic and comfortable. We walked around the stadium. There was the usual carnival atmosphere which comes with any sporting event. There were buskers and people selling everything from food to programs to shirts to memorabilia. There were statues to the greats. At the main entrance there was a tribute to Honus Wagner who played in the early days and was a local hero. The statue was erected in 1954 and was moved to PNC after the demolition of Three River’s Stadium.
Father and I walked into the front gates using the phone as tickets. Paperless tickets is a great way to go. We were given a free program which listed the home team in detail but gave few details on the visitors. Having listened to Dan LeBatard, I knew a lot of the Miami Marlins and knew how bad they were. We went in, and I was impressed. I stood behind home plate with the downtown of Pittsburgh as a back drop. It looked stunning. We went up to the 3rd level where our seats where. The seats were perfect, but they should be for $50. A guy escorted us to our seats and wiped them down from whatever was on them. All my father could say was “wow.” The sun was still coming down and the downtown area had a glow to it. The grounds crew were still. watering the green grass and the deep red clay of the infield. We would be able to see everything. We were high but it was a perfect view. My father was happy with the place, so I was as well.
We grabbed some $9 US beers. I wanted an Iron City Beer, since it was the beer I remembered them serving when I was at the old Three Rivers and I am of age to drink. It was expensive but I didn’t care. The crowd was small, but the opposing team is not that good. The Pirates are the best team in baseball at this time. It is the first time they have been over .500 since 1990. They are really popular and in time all the seats were filled. As part of the opening, they wheeled out a Afghanistan Veteran who has no arms, no legs, and lots of brain damage. Everyone cheered and held their hats but I doubt the veteran had any idea about what was going on. It was a show and father and I felt a bit uncomfortable. Propaganda at it’s best to show how the Pirates “care” and how they “support the troops.”
The game started. It was slow. Miami scored first then the Pirates tied it up. The Pirates pitcher was not that good. The Marlins pitcher was a rookie but doing pretty good. The game was tied but father and I were more into the park, the experience and just spending some time together. I got a pulled pork sandwich and ate it in the lounge. In the effort to battle people just watching the game on TV, the parks have more of a theatre feel. There are free arcade games for the little kids who don’t want to see the game. There are a number of bars within the stadium with stools so you can stand on the deck and watch the game. The floors are all carpeted and have a kind of marble floor where there are not carpets. There are tones of TV’s showing the game. The food is expensive but amazing. The beer is over priced but there are many different types not just the big brands. The cliental are business people so the shouting and screaming is not that bad but that could be my section. Between the innings there are give aways and things to keep everyone interested.
It was getting to the 9th inning and the game was still tied. I felt as if the game would go long. We had to get up in the morning. We also didn’t care too much about the results of the game so we decided to head back to the hotel. I wanted to look around a bit so we took our time and walked all the way around to the other side and out. We stopped to look. I always go with the idea of we may never come back and I wanted to see all angles. The game was still tied when we exited but then came this big roar from the stadium. The Pirates hit a bottom of the 9th homerun to win the game. The fire crackers went off and the place erupted. We walked back across the bridge. There were more beggars. The bar patios were empty but soon will be filled with game goers. There were beer specials. We were tired and walked back to the hotel.
It was a time to remember.