All good things must come to an end. Depending on what you think is good about the Pittsburgh Pirates, a lot of people may think it is a good thing to not go to anymore games. But for me it was a good thing to spend many of my summer nights and days at PNC Park following this young team. Call me crazy but thats the way I think.
Me and friend Brian decided to start our last game by going down real early. We were in line at 4:30, and we could see the Pirates were in the middle of hitting already. Apparently the Pirates have been holding daily team meetings to vent their frustrations over the losing. In turn, batting practice has been moved up. Thats bad news for ballhawks heading into September.
Sure enough, we were let into the park at 5 PM. At 5:03 the team headed off the field for their impromptu group therapy session. That left us staring at an empty field until 5:25.
The last bp of the year for me was very uneventful. I didn’t get a ball, as the Cardinals didn’t seem to hit many homers or ground-rule doubles. Of course they didn’t throw up any balls at all either.
What we lost in snagging we made up for in other crazy experiences. As we were heading up the riverwalk. My cousin approached me and Brian. He works in the game day entertainment department for the Pirates, and also holds a job with the Independent League Butler Bluesox. His job tonight was following the camera man, holding the antenna that sends the signals from the camera to the Press Box. Every game they do a live commercial for various publications (yearbook, media guide, etc…) he was wondering if we would like to model some of the merchandise on sale. Of course we said yes. Brian got to hold the 2010 yearbook and I got to model the scorecard. Another ballhawk, Zach, got to use the media guide. We got to keep the items, so I had a free souvenir from tonight.
Our good luck wasn’t over yet. After heading up to the 300 level we ran into Joe Klimchak, the in game host, in the empty concourse. He and Brian got to have a discussion during Saturday’s game in the PBC during the rain delay. He recognized him and after some small talk he asked Brian if he wanted to be a contestant on the first game after the second inning. It took him .00001 seconds to say yes, and we were whisked off to the PBC level.
We got to watch the first two innings from the deck on the club level.
Then at the end of the second it was his time to shine.
The games premise is picking a false fact about a Pirate player among three true facts. Tonight’s player was Andy LaRoche.
Could you guess the fact that wasn’t true? I immediately knew the statement about the Backstreet Boys was false. Since Andy comes to the plate to the sounds of Foreigner he didn’t seem like one for boy bands. Luckily Brian was thinking the same thing. He got the question right and the Nike hoodie was his.
Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to stay in the Club Level but we were allowed to head down to the box seats down the first base line where Brian’s grandpap is an usher. Of course I took a million pictures
Albert Puljos was sitting on 399 home runs. He wouldn’t be able to get the milestone homer on this night.
There are a lot of things I hate about being in the NL Central. But being able to see Albert Puljos in person is not.
This vendor is the cult vendor known simply as the lemonade man. He has become a youtube sensation with his shrill voice and funny call. Check him out HERE
Obligatory Andrew McCutchen photos.
John Russel pleads his case
The bullpen shut the door on the Cards attempt of a rally.
and Joel Hanrahan
The real hero of the night was Daniel McCutchen. He gave a very good spot start in a tough spot. The Bucs were able to get timely offense for once, and we were able to take two of three from the contending Cardinals. The fans who treked from St. Louis were beside themselves as they were now 5 games back of the Reds. It was a great note to go out on. After the game I didn’t want to leave.
The Parrot doing some celebrating of his own.
Me and Brian didn’t feel like heading home so we made our way out the right field gate and waited by the parking garage exit hoping to see some players. There weren’t many people out there waiting. Just us, a couple kids with their dad, and an autograph hound who frequents the area following games. Most of the players didn’t stop but they were nice enough to wave. With about half the team gone an SUV finally pulled up to the curb. The tinted window lowered. It was no other than the Pittsburgh kid himself, Neil Walker.
Neil is having an amazing rookie season. He is quickly becoming one of my favorite Pirates and this meeting with him puts him higher in my book.
Some more players left. Then a car, bumping with some intense spanish rap pulled over. Ronny Cedeno also decided to sign.
This one came as a surprise to me. Ronny seemed very shy the first few times i met him but we were all appreciative of him stopping for us.
The amount of cars coming out was slowing down. Third base coach Tony Beasley stopped as well.In addition to coaching, he is a great singer. He sometimes sings the anthem before games which is always a treat
After Tony left, a friendly employee on a golf cart offered to see if any cars were left in the garage. He came out to inform us no one was left. So at 11 PM roughly six and a half hours after arriving, our final night at PNC Park came to an end.
It has been a heck of a ride this season. Through all the ups and downs it has been a great time.
When I was crossing the Clemente Bridge, I looked back at the darkened ballpark.
All of the memories from this season flooded back. All I could think about was Opening Day 2011 and getting back to seeing the game I love live.