So despite last season being another year of disappointment for the Buccos, I did not let that get in my way. Despite not being a season ticket holder and my age of 16 years young, I went to a grand total of 17 games last season. No at the field and off of it, there were a ton of fun moments. Here they are in terms of most memorable to least memorable:
1. Pirates Trivia Win: If you read one my previous entries, you recall me getting on Pirates Trivia. If you did not read the entry, I managed to leave my outfield seat and make my way on to the Riverwalk (similar to a beach’s boardwalk with souvenir stands as well as concession stands and rest rooms), and ask if I could go on Pirates Trivia. Despite originally being an alternate and the promise of being on next season, the original person never showed up and I was on. Pirates Trivia is one of the games that occurred after the bottom of the fourth inning. In the game, a single person has their name and is on jumbotron. A question is read to them with four possible choices and if you answer correctly, you get to choose between a Pirates jacket (valued at $160) or a mystery box which can be either good or bad. If you get the question incorrectly, you have a choice between a Pirates hat and the box.
After getting my question, I took only a couple of seconds to answer and after being told that I seemed confident, got the answer correct. I then instantly chose to gamble and picked the box. Inside the box was a signed Nate McLouth 2008 All-Star Jersey (valued at $260 at the time) as well as 2 Lexus Club tickets to Pirates Opening Day next year (valued at $160 to $210 a ticket). The victory was even more satifying, because I had tried to get McLouth’s autograph several times before. The most notable time, was right before a game, when after a picture it was just me and him. I called his name, and without saying that he had to go or apologizing, he ran back to the dugout.
Caption: This is the view in the Lexus Club. It is right in front of the park, your food is free and you can see what it is like for a hitter to hit 90 mile per hour heat.
2. Autographs: As I mentioned, I did get Nate McLouth’s autograph, but there were so many others that I got. This was my first year attempting to get autographs, and in large part it was a success. I will definitely be able to get more, as I will be sitting right where autographs are usually given. My autographs ranged from teams and eras, but I was happy to get each and everyone of them.
The fun started at the team’s annual event called PirateFest. The annual event, is usually done as a way for players to say thanks to the fans. There are autograph signings, games and much fun every year. The autograph sessions were done in one area, and there was a line. Each signing involved a current Pirate, a former Pirate and a future Pirate. I actually did get in line for a little bit, but after discovering how long the wait was (2 1/2 hours), I instantly left the line. Immediately afterwards, there was a Pirates Q&A session and I saw my chance. The session lasted around an hour and afterwards I was ready to do some back and forth running. The first person I approached was Tom Gorzelanny and after congratulating him on his marriage and his good season I got his signature. I then proceeded to run back and forth repeatedly to get many more signatures. The signatures were Zach Duke, Xavier Nady and Paul Maholm.
After the running, I got Bob Walk, Matt Morris (more on him later), Bob Friend and Ian Snell all seperately at the radio booth. I also got Matt Capps and Jack Wilson seperately at one of the stages.
Then during the summer, I attended the Parade of Champions, a part of Pittsburgh’s 250 anniversary. The event featured champions in every sport and had a lot of different features. There were several autograph sessions during the day and one was extra special. In fact, it was so special that it was seperate from all of the other signers. I instantly got in line because of the person and because of how long the line was going to be. Any guesses who this person is? If you said Bill Mazeroski, then you are correct. Mazeroski was great, and he was in town because he would in a couple days’ time throw out the first pitch in the Pirates-Yankees game. I also was able to get signatures from Steve Blass, Kent Tekulve, John Candelaria and Bob Friend.
A week later, I got yet another great autograph. The Tampa Bay Rays were in town and it was Sunday. A key hint for autograph hunters who go to PNC Park is to either get seats by the team of your choice or go to the ballpark on Sunday. Sunday is the easiest day to access the players and interact with them. While I did miss Scott Kazmir and James Shields I did manage to get three autographs. I got former Pirate Al Reyes, Edwin Jackson (who is no longer on the team) and the biggest one in Matt Garza. Garza who earlier in the season has tossed a one hitter was a great autograph because he ended up becoming the ALCS MVP. I felt great to add him to my collection. The only in game autograph I got was from the Jolly Roger, one of the Pirates two mascots. He looked over my scorecard and then whipped out a sharpie and signed it. Before the season was over, I also got Freddy Sanchez, John Grabow, Sean Burnett, Ian Snell, Matt Capps, Jeff Karstens and Tyler Yates.
3. 4 Games In 4 Days: Despite not being a season ticket holder, I was able to attend four Pirates games in four days. While that may not sound like much, the way I did it would make it difficult for the average person. Considering that I am 16 and go to bed at 11, it made for an interesting sequence. The first three games were the Skyblasts and involved fireworks and a post-game concert. As a footnote, the Pirates did lose all four games, but to me that did not matter. After each night of Skyblast I went to bed at 2 AM. The fourth game was at 1:35 so I barely got any sleep, and I did get a sunburn afterwards. By the end of all four games, I couldn’t speak because I was yelling so loudly.
4. I Will Do Anything To Get On TV/Jumbotron: Whether it was being the section of the game, or being a complete idiot, I seemed to get on jumbotron quite a bit to get on TV or jumbotron. I played the National Anthem on my clarinet at the Pirates game with the rest of the band and did make it on jumbotron (check my Facebook Profile for proof). I did this despite going to the game the night before and yet again screaming for death and losing my voice. During the game, I warned my bandmates that I will scream and sure enough when Freddy Sanchez got a hit, I screamed at the top of my lungs for him to go to third and then screamed for him to slide. A couple of my band mates looked at me as if they had seen a UFO. We all sat in the upper deck that day, and my friend later told me that he was watching the game, and that my scream was so loud, that he could actually hear it. How about that?
If you thought that was bad, then you are sorely mistaken. My same friend and I went to a separate game and I did Karaoke for the first time (if you want to see it, go on youtube and search Pirate Game Karaoke and I am the first result). It was an ok performance and I can’t believe I did it and as you read my friend recorded it (I sang Don’t Stop Believing by Journey). If that wasn’t bad enough I ended up dancing, and I can tell you honestly, that I am horrible and spastic dancer. Yet, common sense did not stop me from being a moron. My moves made no sense at all, and when my friend put them up on Youtube he edited them to make them look even stupider.
However, I was not done. After dancing during several inning breaks, I somehow did get on jumbotron and I proceeded to do the Soulja Boy Dance (and let me tell you I hit it spot on) and then did a couple other things (unfortunately my friend did not record it, I would have loved to see how it came out).
5. Sights and Sounds From The Pirates: PNC Park was full of great moments during thr 2008 season. One great moment was at the Pirates Q&A session at PirateFest. Nyjer Morgan was battling Nate McLouth and Chris Duffy for the centerfield job and a fan asked Nyjer to describe himself. He first started out talking about being from Walla Walla and his love for hockey. That was when the magic occurred and he talked about his Caddy SGX: “She drives real smooth, so I called her Charlene.” This magic was nearly topped by a fan by the name of Action. Action was sitting right in front of me during Pirates Deal or No Deal at PirateFest and freaked out over a Pirates t-shirt (“Ooo. Pirates….t-shirt”). He made me laugh even harder when he got on Pirates Trivia and took the box and won an autographed Matt Capps jersey.
If I had one vendor that I could buy from it would be the Lemonade Man. The Lemonade Man also known as Ken, is this skinny senior citizen who sells lemonade at all of the Pirate games. Ken has a constant routine that he has not changed for years that always works. He screams (well sort of) Lemonade repeatedly and then if someone wants one, he says, “$4 for 1,” and after he gives you the lemonade, he tells you to, “take it easy.” Every time the Lemonade Man is at PNC Park he is definitely one of the most recognizable faces in the Park.