Baseball Reflections
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Biking for Baseball to PNC Park

Biking for Baseball [www.bikingforbaseball.org] is a youth mentoring organization that cycled 11,000 miles to each MLB stadium this summer to raise funds and awareness for youth mentoring programs across the country. One of the riders, Chase Higgins @chaser_racer32, is a blogger who writes about baseball games they’ve been to and general MLB throughout the trip.

I have to start by saying that PNC Park is awesome. It really is. Leading up to the Pirates game we went to, so many people we met told us how great the stadium is. Our favorite sports writer Jim Caple ranks PNC as his favorite ballpark. We were very worried that we would have such high expectations from all of the praise we heard about the park that it wouldn’t live up to those expectations. PNC Park did not disappoint.

The stadium is located on the north shore of the Allegheny River across the Roberto Clemente bridge from downtown Pittsburgh. The view from the infield side of the stadium is of the beautiful Pittsburgh skyline, which is by far the most picturesque stadium view we’ve seen. If we sat in those seats, I think it would be incredibly difficult to watch the action on the field instead of admiring the skyline. We didn’t have that problem in our seats in section 4, row G, but we definitely got many pictures of the view before he game started.

PNC Park pays a fitting homage to the Pirates 115-year history with the city of Pittsburgh. That is something that I feel is very important for newer stadiums not to lose touch with, and Pirates have A LOT of history. There are larger-than-life statues of Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, and Bill Mazeroski. The stadium itself features old style archways and steel trusses that give it a historic feel.

The concourse is very easy to walk and enjoy the big-game atmosphere. The Pirates are having a great season, and the baseball fans of Pittsburgh finally have a team worth cheering for. It’s been 20 years since the Pirates have had a winning season, and the fans are very excited about their team this year. The buzz at PNC Park was electric for the game we saw against the Padres.

PNC Park features some of the best food in any stadium we’ve been to. Primanti Bros is a Pittsburgh institution, and their sandwiches were so tasty. All of their sandwiches are topped with meat, cheese, cole slaw, tomato, and French fries. Rex tried the capicola, Extra Large had the cheesesteak, and Chase and Adam had the roast beef. The sandwiches were so good; we had to go to the original Primanti Bros location for lunch the following day.

Other great food options at the stadium include Manny’s BBQ behind the center field bleachers. Former Pirates great Manny Sanguillen is the namesake to this food stand, and he greets fans at his stand by signing autographs and posing for pictures. How cool is that? A former MLB star just hanging out at his BBQ joint at PNC Park.

 

The Pirates played the Padres, and after they took a 7-1 lead entering the 5th inning, we thought the home team could cruise the rest of the game with a win. Pirates starter James McDonald breezed through the first four innings, just allowing a lead-off home run and one other hit. Home runs by Garrett Jones and Travis Snider knocked Padres starter Edinson Volquez out of the game after 3 1/3 innings. In the top of the 5th inning, the Padres scored 6 runs on 5 hits and a walk. Chase Headley hit the dagger in the form of a 3-run homer to tie the game at 7. Headley then followed it up with the decisive 2-run homer in the top of the 7th that turned out to be the difference. Final score 9-8 Padres.

Padres closer Huston Street came on for the save in the 9th inning. Street has been having a great season statistically: 0.75 ERA in 36 games, with a 0.528 WHIP. That last stat means he only allows about 1 base runner every 2 innings. Unfortunately, on the last out of the game, he may have injured himself attempting to cover first base. Hopefully he’s okay.

Entering the 9th inning, the Pirates showed a clip from Pirates of the Caribbean where Kiera Knightley’s character gives a very inspiring speech on the deck of the ship. Fans in the stadium went nuts, many of them waving pirate flags. It was a cool moment and a good use of video clips at the correct time. Adam even got chills during the video clip because it was perfect emotion at the perfect time.

 

We definitely say PNC Park is a very great stadium. Pittsburgh did this stadium correctly, and the fans are now being rewarded with a competitive team. The fans were absolutely on the mind of the stadium developers when designing the park. It is one of the only newer stadiums in which the press box is behind the seating in the upper deck, instead of on the same level as the suites. It makes so much sense to reward fans with the best seats in the house instead of media. Well done, Pittsburgh and the Pirates. We can’t wait to come back!

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2 Comments

  1. Gary Humfleet

    October 12, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Hello, Peter!

    I have really been enjoying the Biking for Baseball series that you have been running. When I was young, about 50 years ago, it was my hope to watch a MLB game in every stadium. I almost made it, too. A couple of expansion teams screwed up my plans. Then they started building all these new stadiums and there was no hope. I’m disabled now and can’t travel to see a ball game, but this series has put me in touch with the new stadiums.

    • Peter Schiller

      October 12, 2012 at 4:14 pm

      I’m glad we could help, Gary!

      I like reading them, too. Personally, I’ve only been to the old Veteran’s Stadium in Philly, Citizen’s Bank Park (The Vet’s replacement) & Camden Yards in Baltimore (outside of my home park in Boston, Fenway Park).

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