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PNC Park: Where Roots Run Deep

My first visit to PNC Park, the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, was a visit to a beautiful park – and host to my family’s fondest memories.

June 22, 2021 – 7:05 pm. PNC Park. Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago White Sox.

I was born and raised in Texas by parents who were born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. We were a baseball family – playing baseball with my uncles using trees as bases was a common pass time whenever the Texas weather was bearable. Many of my family members were Pittsburgh Pirates fans, just as their parents and grandparents had been. I have fond memories of my Grandmother always having a Pirates game on the TV or the radio while she moved throughout the house.

When we decided to visit family in the Pittsburgh are this summer, seeing a ball game at PNC Park was a priority. We were not at all disappointed.

Parking & Entry

We visit a lot of ballparks, so let me start by saying the parking situation was great – our pre-paid parking pass led us to a parking garage very close to the park. We used the MLB Ballpark app to gain entry with our electronic tickets. Security was easy to pass through. The weather was beautiful. It was a perfect night for a baseball game. One of our party uses a wheelchair, and they were treated like royalty while escorted to their seats. The usher even moved our seats around so we could all be together.

PNC Park’s Statues

Willie Stargell greeted us at the Left Field Gate. I stopped for a moment and looked over the statue of a man whose name I had heard frequently in my childhood home. Stargell passed away two days after this statue was dedicated, on April 7, 2001. That was two days before PNC Park officially opened its doors.

Bill Maseroski, forever flying around 2nd base after his immortal winning hit in the 1960 World Series stands in the outfield. My grandfather and father sat on their front porch that night in 1960, and listened to the home run call on the radio. For my father’s 50th birthday, I gave him an autographed Maseroski ball.

Roberto Clemente was practically a saint in my home, so the souvenir I took home from the ballpark was a Clemente T-shirt. I remember using the card catalog to check out a book about Clemente at the library as a child, to write a book report.

Willy Stargell Statue at Left Field Gate, PNC Park

The Honus Wagner statue that stands in front of the ballpark today was originally dedicated in April of 1955 at Schenley Park, an area near Forbes field. It was later moved to Three Rivers Stadium – where the Pirates won the World Series and the Steelers won the Superbowl the year I was born – 1979. Today, the statue stands at PNC Park.

The Wagner statue has followed the Pirates everywhere they’ve moved- a beloved symbol of the glory days past. Using the Library of Congress Digital Newspaper Collection, I found the 1954 announcement that the statue was to be built after a drive to raise $50,000.

Honus Wagner, PNC Park

All of these statues point to better times, where the team contended and won. Young fans likely have no memory of these times – even my memory is of a mostly last-place team about which my parents and grandparents told great stories.

The View

We had seats that were handicap accessible, so we were in section 117, the very back row. These were really beautiful seats with a panoramic view of the whole game. My best advice to any baseball fan is to always get the cheap seats behind home plate – no matter what level you’ll have a great view of the game.

PNC Park is nestled in historic downtown Pittsburgh and offers a beautiful view of the city’s skyline. My teenager said the view was surreal – like they were looking at a painting. A 7:05 game gives you a view of the city as the sun sets. It’s a stunning look at the beauty of an American city that has fallen on tough times and climbed back stronger and more beautiful than before.

The Pirates won this day, and my children loved the celebratory Fireworks. Ok, ok, so did I.

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Shopping & Concessions

We had some local Pittsburgh food nearby – Chickie & Pete’s crab fries were a big hit with my husband. I stick with standard food at any ball game – Peanuts & Ice Cream. It was kind of disappointing that the peanuts were Texas Roadhouse brand. I mean, they’re good but I’ve had them a million times. Call me silly but I’d rather buy “Buccaneer Peanuts” or some nonsense.

PNC Park has an abundance of choices and plenty of staff to see that you aren’t away from your seats for too long. Behind Section 117 was a convenience store setup for canned and bottled beer and soda. You grab what you want from a stand-up cooler and head to one of several waiting cashiers. It’s efficient.

Exiting the Stadium

The walk to the car was not crowded or hurried. We made it right back to the car and exited the garage quickly. Pittsburgh’s roads are confusing but there are enough routes out of there that Waze had no problem getting us back to our hotel on the city’s Waterfront just a couple of miles away. It was a beautiful night for baseball.

Great Moments in Pirates History

In writing this post, I found some great video clips and newspapers of great moments in Pittsburgh Pirates history. I hope you enjoy as much as I did.

Washington D.C. Evening Star, April 9, 1961. Page 5
A tribute to a great year in Pittsburgh sports – and the year I was born to two very happy Pirates fans.

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